Our view of the Galile

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bamid-Bar Parhsat Bamidbar 2011

Insights and Inspiration
from the 
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

"Your friend in Karmiel"
May 27th 2011 -Volume I, Issue 31–23rd of Iyar 5771
Parshat Bamidbar


        The kindergarten class were all seated around the little table in their finest Shabbat outfits. It was their favorite time of week. It was the last hour before their Gan was out on Friday afternoon and that meant that it was time for Shabbat party. Little “Chaim*(* name changed to protect the young and innocent) was the Shabbat Abba and Dina the Shabbat Ima. They looked so adorable in their Shabbat outfits. Chaim, wearing his black hat that covered his eyes and the tie that he was tripping on, and Dina in her white outfit and the tichel over her pigtails and eyes as she lit the make believe candles. The children all joined into sing Shalom Aleichem to welcome the Shabbat angels and then all eyes were on Chaim. It was his turn to make the blessing on wine but he seemed somewhat unsure of himself. The morah tried to prompt him.” So what comes next Chaim?” she asked patiently “what do we do after Shalom Aleichem?” All of a sudden Chaim remembered. He sits down in his big “Abba” chair and leans back and says in his most adult-like 6 year old voice….
“Oy it’s givein a shevere voch- wheew has it been rough week”.

This week we begin the 4th book of the Torah; Sefer Bamidbar or as it’s referred to by our sages; Sefer Pikudim, the Book of Numbers. It is called that because this week’s portion begins with once again another command to count the Jewish people. What is interesting about this count and the verses that accompany it is that the Torah repeatedly notes that the count should be done
L’Mishpichosam L’Bais Avosam- according to their families and their father’s houses. The commentaries all note this and explain that for each Jew to be counted they would bring their “books of lineage” showing their parents home and with that understanding they can than be counted as part of the Jewish People.

 The message in short- you are what your parents have made you. For an individual to be able to stand and up and take their rightful role amongst the Jewish people they must understand that their particular upbringing will have a tremendous impact and who they can become, the challenges they might have to overcome and the core individual influences they have developed their psyche. For our Chaim in the above story, Friday night dinner was a ritual of a krechtz and sigh over a long hard week  that he had witnessed his father each Shabbos carrying out. For other children it may be the look of joy, exuberance and excitement in their fathers face as he sits down to Kiddush. The way the father treated and approached the holy day leaves an everlasting impact on the eyes of that innocent pure soul that looks up with great eyes trying to understand the world he is growing into.

This morning I looked into that little boy’s eyes…. My son Yonah was “bar Mitzvahed” today at the Kotel in Israel. As he recited the blessings of the Torah and read from our holy scroll, I wondered what he saw there. Was it just a job to do to impress all his relatives who have traveled so far to hear him “perform” or was it hopefully something more? Was I able to integrate in him a sense of awe and inspiration from those holy words that he might be able to find and see a personal message in them for his daily life? I hope so. What about the way he prays or puts on Tefiilin? Will they be something that he just takes for granted and does by rote, or will he appreciate that he can talk to the Creator of the World, our Father in Heaven. That Hashem wants to hear him- yes him, my little Bar mitzvah boy, personally each day? Was I able to convey that? I’m not sure… do I feel that way each time I daven?

It’s a scary moment for a father. The Zohar writes a story about Rav Shimon Bar Yochai (remember him from last weeks E-Mail) who on the day of his son Eliezer’s Bar mitzvah is described as having made a huge feast for all the leaders of his community. When asked what the feast was all about- this story could very possibly be the first Bar Mitzvah party- Rav Shimon told them that on this day his son is like a groom. He is entering a new phase, he can even receive a newer holier neshama/soul if he merits and thus just like any groom… he deserves a party to help him rejoice.

It is a powerful connection this groom of a Bar Mitzvah. In Marriage I believe most understand that one’s approach to marriage for better and for worse is highly dependent upon the marriage one witnesses in their own home and of their own parents. Rav Shimon is telling us that this is true in regards to the life of Torah one leads as well. Know your home. Know your family. They have set you a framework. Go out and develop that new neshoma utilizing the best of all you have seen and understanding the negative influences that you may have overcome. That is your pre-requisite to being a “counted” person amongst Klal Yisrael. That the only process by which you can become the man you wish to be.

As Yonah completed his blessing, I recited my customary blessing.
Baruch Shepatarani Monsho Shel Zeh- Blessed is He who has now exempted me from the punishments of this one. The commentaries explain that this blessing at this moment is there to praise Hashem who has given me the opportunity to framing this young man’s values. The mistakes that he made until now were all on my shoulders. I have lost that opportunity now to be the one who is solely responsible for Yonah’s actions. It was a privilege that is gone, and that each father hopes he did to his utmost to achieve and inspire. It is a blessing that is both sad and happy. It is a thanks and a prayer. It is a hope and a dream. But the time for the fulfillment of that blessing given to him by his Bris 13 years ago” Zeh Hakatan Gadol Yihiyeh- may this little one grow big one day” has finally come. The child has become a man and his father in that last and first moment conveys to him- that your new status is linked with the best and worst of what we have instilled in you. The Baruch’s and Onshim- the blessings and the punishments.

In less than two weeks we will all have the opportunity to become “Bar Mitzvahed”. We have been counting our Omer  since we left Egypt at our Pessach Seders so viscerally a month and a half ago, and we are moving closer each day to that moment at Sinai when we received the Torah enthusiastically. Like Bar mitzvah boys. Like a groom on their wedding day. The framework of the Jewish calendar and the glorious mitzvot of the holidays give the opportunity each year to go back to being that little boy once again with a world of mitzvot and Torah. God willing (and he certainly is)   we should all do as good of a job as Yonah did today as our Father looks down upons us and smiles.

Have an enthusiastic inspired Shabbos,Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

This weeks Insights and Inspiration is dedicated by Art and Rivky Huntly/Isseroff and family in honor of their cousin Yonah’s Bar Mitzvah. May Yonah continue to be the great source of Nachas he is to his parents, grandparents great-grandparent, friends and family. May he continue to light up the world with his love and joy and may he always be blessed with all that is good.
Mazel Tov!

Holyland Insights is now available for weekly sponsorships of the Insights & Inspiration E-mail, Our E-Mail is sent out weekly to close to 1000 subscribers. Your sponsorship is a great way to honor a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, family Simcha, yahrtzeit, friend, or any occasion while lending support to Rabbi Schwartzes efforts in furthering Jewish education and an appreciation of Eretz Yisrael. Please help us continue this weekly offering of inspiration through your generous dedication and sponsorship. To register as a sponsor or for more information, send an e-mail to this address, rabbschwartz@yahoo.com or call Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz at  050-597-0649 (from States it is 011-972-50-597-0649)
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Rabbi Ephraim and Aliza Schwartz would like to invite you to join us and the entire Young Israel congregation for Yonah’s Bar mitzvah this Shabbos.
In honor of the Bar Mitzvah and die to the limeited space and the incredible amount of guests who have come from out-of-town and from abroad
Friday night mincha and kabbalat Shabbat – 7:20 PM
Shabbos morning -8:30 AM
Mincha followed by Shalosh Seudos- 6:45 PM

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