Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
March 30th 2012 -Volume 2, Issue 21 –6th of Nissan 5772
Parshas Tzav/ Shabbos Ha’Gadol
So there we were. Sitting around a campfire on the beach of Eilat at the end of our four day tour for my course through the incredible hills of Eilat and overlooks of Egypt and Jordan a week before Pesach; the perfect end to a perfect week (that didn’t include any Pessach cleaning- my wife is a tzadeikes-it’s rough training to be a tour guide). We were an odd looking group. The widest mix of Israel. Old, young, Native Israelis and olim from Russia, America and Europe, Ashkenazim, Sefardim, Yemenites, Jews that were raised religious that are Chareidi or religious Zionists and Jews that had become religious later on in life, even converts and of course secular Israelis. Yes, an odd mix of Hashem’s chosen people; his children. Yet gathered around the campfire that evening we were all family. We were one and we were home.
Boaz, our guitar player, began to play. There is nothing like a good Kumzitz to bring a group together. We sang songs to Hashem of the wonder of being in Israel, songs from the psalms of King David, songs of the Rebbes from Shlomo Carlbach and back. Dillon and Simon and Garfunkel even made an appearance (with an Israeli accent of course-Da enser mai frrrend eez bloweeng in da weend). And then Boaz began strumming an Israeli song from Arik Einshtein I had never heard before. Yet it was easy to learn and before you knew it the clear skies of the Eilat hills were filled with the singing of our group.
The simple words of the song are (which you can hear by clicking on this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-xL_etajKs ) Ani V’Atah-
You and I will change the world, You and I, and then all will come. They said this before me, It doesn’t matter- I and you will change the world.
You and I will start from the beginning. If it will be rough-it doesn’t matter, it’s not a big a deal.T hey said this before me, It doesn’t matter- You and I will change the world.
You and I will change the world, You and I, and then all will come. They said this before me, It doesn’t matter- You and I will change the world.
I’m sure everybody there had a different understanding of who the “you” in the song might be. For some it might be their spouse, for others it’s a song they sing to their children. For me it was a song about Hashem. What is the change the world needs? Surfing this song on the net (for your listening pleasure, of course-oy the things I wouldn’t do for you J) I found that some saw in it a song of peace, other Israelis changed the words to Ani VHa “tank” My and tank and I will change the world. I saw others that saw as a song about the environment and others for the legalization of marijuana. To each their own. Yet what is fascinating to me is that upon hearing this song two thoughts occur to a person. One he recognizes that the world needs to be changed or fixed. And second that we have the capacity, drive and even inspiration to do it. Now when the song is over and you go back to your “real life” those thoughts might go away. Yet for just those few moments around the fire in the beauty of Hashem’s world everything seemed possible.
This Shabbos is known as Shabbos Ha’Gadol; The great Shabbos. It is called that because of the words of the great Haftora we read
Hinei Anochi Shoeleiach Lochem es Eliyahu Hanavi.Lifnei Ba Yom Hashem Hazeh Ha’Gadol V’Ha’Nora. Behold I am sending to you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of Hashem.
These are the final words of the books of the prophets. They are words of a world that needs to be changed. But how will this change? The prophet describes a world that feels is doesn’t need to be changed.
“Return to me and I will return to you” says Hashem. But you say “for what shall I return”… You have spoken harsh against me… but you say “ Have we spoken against you?”… You have said “It is useless to serve Hashem, what gain is there for having kept his watch”.
The world is the way the world is. Hashem is reaching out to make this a greater world and mankind seems to feel it can be fine by itself. And then the prophet says.
“Then a man will say to his friend those who have the awe of God and Hashem listened and heard and a book of remembrance was written before him for those who fear Hashem and give thought to his Name. they will be a precious treasure to me says Hashem on the day which I bring about …. And I will return the hearts of the fathers with their children and the hearts of their sons with their fathers….”
How will this happen? When a man says to his friend. Which man? Which friend? Ani V’Atah- You and I.
Over three thousand years ago this Shabbat our nation was a nation without hope. Slavery was the world that we knew. It was a God-less world (big G) with many gods (small g). A world that believed in any person or being that would bring them or do for them but one that would never have a relationship with its true Maker. Our ancestors changed the world this on Shabbos Ha’Gadol we took the phascal lamb of the Egyptians- their ultimate god of this month of Aries and slaughtered leaving it all behind for an unclear future with our True creator. Who did this Ani V’Atah, each individual… each family… one nation.
There were many that said it couldn’t be done…a slave had never gotten out of Egypt the world empire. V’Lo Mishaneh- it doesn’t matter… You and I will change the world. Will it be rough? Wandering through the desert? Standing up to a world for principles we know are true, for a faith that is un-popular and to follow the commandments that may at first seem challenging and immense? It doesn’t matter. It’s not a big deal. Ani V’Atah will change the world.
Pessach is always in the season of spring. A few weeks ago the skies were gray, the earth was barren and the days were short. But Pesach is here the world is born again anew; Green, sunlight, plants and trees. The world is changing as it does each year in this season and that is meant to inspire us. It is Hashem saying” I am returning to you will you return to me?” Will you and I change the world and bring that Great Day? As we sit down to our Seder this year and remember the incredible miracles and love of the beautiful world of potential that we actualized, let us turn to our spouses our children, our families our community and the world and answer as one man to his friend “We are ready- Ani V’Atah”.
Have a great “Great” Shabbos
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
RABBI SCHWARTZ COOL PLACES IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK-
Timnah Park- Having been to the beautiful park for the first time this past week I can tell you it is truly a breathtaking experience. The Park located just north of Eilat is a geologists (which I am not) playland. The incredible rock formations from Solomons pillars (although most agree that king Shlomo had nothing to do with them) to the beautiful “mushroom” rocks formed by the water erosion and salt corrosion (I think I got that right) is awesome. As Timna is one of the most ancient sites of the world civilization where most archeologists agree the development of the use of copper as well as iron began (whose underground mines you can crawl through) as well as as many ancient Egyptian and Midianite hieroglyphics and temples are in the area. Besides the multitude of hikes that are available in the area there is also a great campground with paddleboats, activities for children and a real to scale replica of the Tabernacle/ Mishkan with all its vessels. Being in the desert in the Mishkan right next to the Yam Suf/ Red Sea a week before Pesach…It doesn’t get better than that…
RABBI SCHWARTZ FAVORITE QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Why is Pesach 7 days (or eight in the Diaspora)? There’s no way I’m doing all this cleaning for just a one day holiday…”
One of my harried congregants..
Rabbi Schwartzes favorite YouTube Pesach song of the week