Insights and Inspiration
From Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
“Your friend in Karmiel”
September 22nd 2010 -Volume I, Issue 2– 14th of Tishrei 5771
The Right Foot Up
So let’s pretend it’s December 22nd. Your driving to the mall and you turn on the radio. Of course no matter what station you flip to you, you hear the usual Jingle Bell- Rudoph, holiday music. You get to the Mall there are decorated trees all over the place, lights for sale, socks hanging out of store windows and big red suited guy with a white beard bouncing children on his lap and asking them in they have been naughty or nice. If you go to the right mall there are also usually a bunch of little elves running around helping you with your purchases and of course the always traditional Israelis standing in their kiosks and selling you
Dead Sea mud.
Scene II- Yesterday the 13th of Tishrei 5771, our bus, which incidentally had Moadim L’Simcha-(Happy Holidays) emblazoned on the digital number slots in the front, pulls into the Meah Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem. We are greeted by a variety of Jewish music coming from every corner; Hasidic, Sefardic and even a little bit of Matisyahu reggae in the background. There are tree branches all over the floor being sold as Sechach- the Sukkah cover. All types of beautiful hanging decorations, plastic fruits and even lights with some words that start “ChrXXXmas lights” crossed out and replaced by the word “Sukkot” in Hebrew. There are quite a few big black suited guys with white beards standing around on each street corner peering through magnifying glasses and looking at their Etrogs (Citrons) and Lulavs to see if they are spotted or nice. There are quite a few cute little Israeli elves height five – 10 year olds trying to sell me everything from Lulav holders to posters and pictures of Rabbis, to little homemade Lulav bands to wrap my four species together with. To make it just perfect, this Christian arab approaches me and offers to sell me a flag and map of the
to hang in my Sukkah. He is the American equivalent of the US Dead Sea mud guy in the States.
Where do you belong? Where do you feel more comfortable? Which scene is the one that you feel should be the place you are raising your children? I think it’s amazing and tragic but unfortunately true that the average Jewish American-of any denomination, feels at home with the December 22nd scene and would feel that they had landed in Mars- although an incredibly pleasant and even somewhat weirdly but deeply spiritually familiar Mars in Scene II. It shouldn’t be that way. We shouldn’t be that way. The question is, Is there anything we can do about it?
The Gaon of Vilna, who spent a good portion of his last years of life doing whatever he could to move to
, at tremendous sacrifice and who was ulimatly not successful. Use to say that there are two mitzvoth that one can fulfill with ones entire body, just by living and breathing in a certain environment. The first is the mitzvah to live in the Israel , where truly every breath one takes and every step one make is settling our Divinely destined land and absorbing the holiness of the country. The Second mitzvah though you can fulfill in your very own backyard. It is the Mitzvah of Sukkah. Leaving your home. Leaving your flags. Putting aside all the material trappings of your “world” and entering in to the Divine Shade and palace of the Almighty for a week. For those in Land of Israel America it’s like a little visit to . For those of us here- It’s like a visit to what the world will be like when Moshiach comes. Israel
In the times of the
there was a mitzvah for every Jew to make an annual Pilgrimage to Yerushalayim for the holiday of Sukkot. This mitzvah was know as Aliyah Li’Regel- literally translated, this means an uplifting-or going up for the foot or festival. The three festivals are known as the three Regalim or three feet as a result of this mitzvah. Our Chasidic masters however see in this word and homiletically in the words chosen to describe the mitzvah as it being one of raising up ones footsteps in life. Where are you walking and marching to? How do we make our pathways in life become one that leads to Temple ? By taking the time a few times a year and immersing ourselves in the seasons that guide us there. Jerusalem
Sukkot is the last of the triumvirate of holidays before we enter the long winter. Its our last chance to raise up our footsteps and to set the scene for how we want the rest of the year to look like. Spend a little time in that special hut. Think about what it could and should be like all the time. Daven for it a little and tell your family as I will where we really belong and what we are still holing for. And may Hashem bless us all that our mitzvah of Sukkah inspires heavenly mercy to build us the ultimate Sukkah of Peace once again
Have a ecstatically Happy Sukkos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
RABBI SCHWARTZ IMPORTANT ISRAELI HAPPINESS AND SHOPPING TIP OF THE WEEK
IF YOU BUY SOMETHING BE IT AN ETROG, DECORATION, OR EVEN PIZZA OR FELAFFEL. DO NOT GO INTO THE STORE NEXT DOOR AND ASK HOW MUCH IT WILL BE. BECAUSE IT WILL BE CHEAPER AND YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO RETURN IT STORE NUMBER ONE. IT IS ALWAYS THIS WAY. IT IS ALWAYS MORE EXPENSIVE NEXT DOOR UNTIL YOU HAVE BOUGHT IT. ADDENDUM TO THIS RULE. DON’ T TELL YOUR WIFE HOW MUCH YOU PAID SHE ALWAYS SHOPS IN THE STORE NEXT DOOR.