Our view of the Galile

Thursday, March 22, 2012

To life1 Vayakhel Pikudai 2012

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
 March 16th 2012 -Volume 2, Issue 19 –7th of Adar 5772

Parshas Va’Yakhel/Pikudei/Parah

 To Life!

I didn’t think I would make it this long. 18 years is a long time. I thought she would have figured me out and gotten rid of me by now. But praise the good merciful God, who seems to always be watching over me for blessing me with my dear wife who through good times and bad, sickness and health, New York, Iowa, Virginia, Seattle, Israel, through thick and thin (actually thick and thicker-never really did the thin thing) has been by my side as we celebrate our chai 18th anniversary together.

18 years is a long time ago. My parents had an 18 year anniversary. They were old when they had theirs. I guess people are having them earlier these days. Life is funny like that when you look back at it. On one hand we have a sense that time flies and where did it all go? On the other hand One can look back at life and see how much one has experienced and accomplished and say Wow, we did all that in just 18 years!

Yes, 18 is a magical number. Its numerical value is Chai which is life in Hebrew. The letters Yud represents 10 which of course is the symbol of God Hashem, or the ten statements that the world was created with. And the letter chet or the number 8 represents above the natural world (7 being the days of the creation, or 8 one above that thus 8 days of circumcision, Chanukah and the 8th day of Sukkot). Life- Chai is a combination of the godliness manifested in this created world and the extraordinary help that comes from above that we can bring into it through our actions.

In the Torah portion of Pikudei that concludes the Book of Shemos- the Story of the creation of our nation, the commentaries note that that the number 18 is mysteriously and of course divinely present as well. For as we read the narrative (which we have already heard quite a few times already) of the Jewish people concluding the construction of the Tabernacle and its vessels, the torah repeatedly says and they made it “As Hashem commanded Moshe”. How many times does it say this? That’s right. 18 times. The Baal Haturim suggests that this is why when we pray our daily davening the Amida has 18 blessings in it (the nineteenth later added one corresponds to the time when it says God did as he told Moshe). Our prayer is in place of the 18 services that were done in the Mishkan others suggest. The Talmud tells us that 18 represent the vertebrae on the human spine. The spine of course being the transmitter of all our movement and the connector between the brain (the world of thought and the divine) and the body the world of action; the world of mitzvot.  The one connecting factor between all of the above is that to pray to Hashem, to build a sanctuary for him and to really even exist in this world and do deeds that have an eternal impact are all defined by Chai- a combination of the divinely created world and the unique other-worldly miracles and connections that allow us to transcend our existence.

As I look back at the past 18 years. There is so much I have to be appreciative of. Hashem has blessed me with an extraordinary life. He has granted me an extraordinary wife. When we got married we began to build our Mishkan/ our sanctuary for Hashem. I can’t say that we have always created that perfect place where Hashem has always felt comfortable. 18 years is a long time. But our Mishkan for Hashem has been one of a working relationship in finding Hashem in one another, in our children, our community and our people. Our Mishkan has certainly been one where Hashem has given us much blessing and much extraordinary help and where we have seen many miracles. It has truly been Chai- a life.

May Hashem continue to bless us with many more years of life here in Eretz Yisrael and may we soon merit to see his true Mikdash restored speedily in our days.


Have a Good Shabbos and spectacularly joyous Purim,



MIGDAL DAVID- The Tower of David- right as one comes through the Jaffa gate we are struck by this incredible tower which is called the Tower of David. A site that truly captures much of Jewish history the one person however that was probably never in the tower was David though although the Crusaders who came to Jerusalem and saw the Tower assumed that it was. The truth is at this site one can find some first and second temple ruins as well as the remaining foundations of the walls of the Hashmoneans as well as Herods Palaces that he built for his beloved wife Miriam (who committed suicide and had embalmed in honey) his brother Phaseael and his general Hiipacus. The main structure fortress and Moat that we see today are from the Crusader and mostly mamluk periods as they used this position to guard over Jerusalem and where many wars tookplace. Today one can enjoy a tour through the museum that leads you from display to display of the history of the Jewish people (and others) and Jerusalem and Israel from the Canaanite period until today. At night there is a beautiful sound and light show as well.


One of life's greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn't good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world


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