Our view of the Galile

Friday, February 17, 2012

Home-Work- Mishpatim 2012

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
 Febuary 16th  2012 -Volume 2, Issue 16 –24th of Shevat 5772

 Parshat Mishpatim


Children need two parents. One to do their homework with them, the other to cook, clean, do laundry, clothing-shop, food-shop, make a living to pay for all the shopping, go to parent/teacher conferences and of course to spend quality time and love with them. In Israel one has the added pleasure and responsibility to deal with all the government bureaucracy offices that seem to dominate our lives as well. Maybe children need 10 parents. But I can tell you with confidence and experience that homework is a full time parenting job.

 I thought I was done with trigonometry, biology, history (even chumash and Navi-at least the assignments?) when I passed my regents and received my diploma.

 No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks”.

 Yet, the only thing I seem to have moved beyond is the pencils which really weren’t too bad. So here I sit cracking my head on Pythagorean theorems and Isosceles triangles as my younger daughter awaits help with her “Teva/Science” homework and her questions on the story of Gideon in Navi. My children are in bad shape…Daddy/Abba, deleted this information from his brain a very long time ago. But if they want I can teach them how to write a sometimes humorous Parsha Email, a great inspiring fun tour of Israel or even a mortgage. But they might just need another parent if they have plans of graduating.

The truth is being a parent is not an easy job, or so the more experienced one, my wife tells me. It is a constant balancing job of chores, errands and love. How do people with 10 or 12 kids manage? I have no clue. Yet at the same time people with one or two kids ask me the same question “how do we manage with five?” (Bli Ayin Hora). I tell them to marry well. The one thing that keeps it all together is perhaps the ingrained sense of responsibility and the natural sense to nurture, that our Creator blessed us with. For most of us if someone would offer us a job cleaning floors, picking up laundry, cooking, washing dishes and doing homework, I don’t think it would make it on our top ten of what I wanted to be when I grow up positions. Yet, that’s what we do and we bless Hashem daily for the privilege to be granted such a precious gift.

This week’s Torah portion shares with us a multitude of laws that govern relationships between man and his fellow man. It starts with one’s responsibility to ones servants, his neighbors, his obligation in regards to their possessions, his obligation in regards to watching over his own possessions so they do not do damage. The Torah also delineates ones obligations towards the unfortunate members of society; widows, orphans, converts, charity cases and those needing a loan, or a hand. The Torah even mentions consideration one must have for accidental murderers, thieves, and those that have made mistakes and wish to make things right once again. Basically the majority of civil law can be found in the first few Aliyot of this Parsha. What is blatantly missing though is some guidance on raising ones family. In fact there are not too many verses in the Torah that gives us parenting tips or how to raise a Jewish family. If the Torah is the book of Jewish living shouldn’t there be at least one Parsha dedicated to the eternity and well-being of our family?

The answer suggests Reb Yisrael Salanter the great Mussar giant (as well as many of his students), that all of the clues of how to parent are incorporated in the laws of how one deals with ones society. If one understands the degree of honor, respect and consideration one must treat one’s servants with, one’s neighbors with, and even those who have done wrong, than our spouse and our children are of course to be treated with the same level of dedication. If Hashem provides a special place for one who kills someone to run to as a place of refuge, shouldn’t our child who crashes our computer or consistently doesn’t pick up their clothing be offered that same refuge? If we are obligated to take in the lost object of a neighbor care for it and seek him out to return it, are your kids lost shoes or coat (generally 5 minutes-before carpool) any less? And if we can be mandated to assist our enemy unloading his donkey from his heavy burden, is the homework burden of our children (who sometimes resemble donkeys shelpping a load with all those school books) any less of a mandate?

There’s a great story of one of the great Mussar ethicists whose student asked him what the best way to excel in the attribute of kindness- doing chesed. His Rebbe told him that when he comes home and his wife tells him that the children need a bath he should run to do it with simcha-joy. In that way he fulfills chesed with his wife, his children and perhaps greatest of all with himself. He points out that when the Torah describes the mitzvah of unburdening your enemy’s animal it says

If you see your enemies animal crouching from under his burden, would you hesitate to assist him in unloading? Unload with him!

The Rebbe said the reason one might hesitate is because he feels that he is losing or assisting his enemy. However the Torah tells us in truth what is happening is that he is himself burdened by his feelings of hate or anger and by working together he too will be unburdened. Unload! Azov Ta’azov IMO- Which can also be translated as leave “you shall leave with him”. Put ones personal feelings behind and you will find that you yourself are being helped.

There is no place this truer, the Rebbe said, than when it comes to one’s family and children. Too often our own personal stress, needs and projected expectations weigh us down and pre-occupy us from helping out those that are most important to us. The greatest chesed is when we can put those down for a bit (and many times more than a bit) and help unburden the load of those that we care the most about. In doing so we will find that we ourselves will become unburdened. The chesed that we do with our loved ones can be the greatest chesed. It’s not always easy but that what our real homework is really all about.

Have a rejuvenating Shabbos,

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


 Dalton- Located way up in the Galile above Tzefat is a small but significant Yishuv most recently formed in 1950 by immigrants from Libya. Today it’s most famous for its world class wines who’s grapes grow in the unique volcanic soil. However in ancient times this was a bustling city where some of the great leaders during the period of the mishna lived and were buried Rabbi Yosi Hagalili and his son as well as Rabbi Yehudah Ben Taima- the author of the statement one should bold like a leopard, light as an eagle, swift like a deer strong like a lion to fulfill the will of Hashem. In the North of the Yishuv a synagogue lintel and pillar from times of the Talmud was found which in Aramaic read “may His name be blessed”. There is also testimony that there was jewish settlement here during the arab crusader and mamluk periods. In the Cairo Geniza there were letters that were written to the Rabbis of the city as well.

Today one can visit the industrial area for a great tour of the Rimon pomegranate factory, Adir goat cheese and winery, the Dalton winery and the Butterfly Beer brewery all in one great location!






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