Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
July 27th 2012 -Volume 2, Issue 36 –8th of Av 5772
Parshat Devarim/Tisha’a B’av
The Suit that fits
We’ve come back home. We’ve planted, We’ve seen the blood of our youngest and finest shed as we established our new home. We’ve prospered and we’ve built. Not only cities of stature, affluence and beauty, we’ve built houses of Torah, spirituality, schools of study and holiness. Yet, we have still failed. The holy land is far from its once holy stature. The holy chosen nation is so far away from the ideal that we were meant to be. That we could be…The world is meant to look at us and see Hashem, our Father…our Creator… the God of Peace and Love… the Eternal one and instead… instead it’s just us. Us, just struggling to find our way, to pay our bills, to raise our families and to find a little spirituality, if we’re lucky, every once in a while. Israel is not what it should be and neither are we.
My 14 year old son, Yonah, went off to camp last week in the States. I spoke to him after a few days (don’t worry my wife spoke to him a few times before that J) and I asked him how it felt to be back in the U.S. of A with English speakers, Baseball games, slurpees…He was after all raised there and has only been in Israel for less then two years. His response though took me aback.
“It feels strange here Daddy” he said “I don’t know what it is. It’s like something is not right. I feel out of place and like that special Jewishy feeling I have in Eretz Yisrael is just not here. That holier feeling… I don’t know if I want to come back again next year…”
This is not a homesick child he went to camp in the states last year and for many years before. But something in his precious soul was rebelling. It was like a fish out of water. That heightened natural kedusha of Israel that the soul drinks was missing and even he was aware of it. And then something inside of me started to long as well. I longed for the Temple. I longed for a world that would inspire me. I longed for a better me, a stronger soul and for a return to the world that our Father wants for us.
This Shabbos is known as Shabbat Chazon/Vision, The Shabbos when we read the vision of the prophet Isaiah of the destruction that would befall on our people. Yet many of the great Chasidic Rebbes see in the name of this Shabbos as the Shabbos when we can possess an extra measure of vision. For it is on this Shabbos, after three weeks of increasing our mourning for the Temple and as we approach that day of Tisha’a B’Av when our Temples were destroyed and our world changed, that we can start to see more than ever how tragic our lives are… what failures we are… how much is missing in our lives and how we have acclimated to our exile… to the Shechina/Divine Presence’s exile. Like Yonah whose soul was jarred awake by being out of Eretz Yisrael, while the rest of the Jews there go about their everyday lives without a clue that something is amiss, during this time and on Tisha’a B’Av we also have the opportunity to tap into that loss that can jar our souls back to the “real” reality that we have been without for so long we can barely remember how it should be…how we could be…
The great Chasidic master, Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev explains the holiness of this Shabbos with a parable of a father who buys his young son a beautiful new suit. As children generally do his young son went out and played ball in his suit and of course it ripped and got sullied. Once again the father went out and him another suit. The second suit was a little more durable then the first suit. It was polyester, cheaper, not as fancy. Abba warned his son to be extra careful this time, but once again little Chaim’l came back with a ripped torn suit. His friends convinced him to play again and he just couldn’t resist…he forgot he was still wearing his suit. So his father decided this time to do things differently. He bought and prepared him the most beautiful suit of all. Yet he kept it in the closet. And every year he would take it out and show it to him. Letting him see what is awaiting him if he could just show that he had changed. That he was a “big boy” now. That he could take care of the suit, treat it with the respect and be the person that who when wearing that suit will inspire the world around him to also be “people of the suit”.
On Shabbos Chazon, the Shabbos of vision, Hashem shows us that suit, that holy temple, that we can be wearing. He is waiting for us, his little Chaim’l to look at our filthy ripped clothing that we have patched up with our little patches of Torah, good deeds, prayers and spots of holiness and say that we want the real deal. We want to be dressed anew. We want Eretz Yisrael the way it should be. We want our prayers to give us the ultimate connection. We need to become the people and nation that wears that glorious suits and become the children our Father is waiting each year for us to become. We can see it this Shabbos. We can climb out of the hole. We can succeed and put the failures behind us.
May the vision that we have this Shabbos transform our day of Tish’a B’Av to a day of rejoicing as Hashem hears our prayers and hands us our new garments as we rejoice in the building of our Temple and our mourning comes to an end.
Have a Shabbos that brings you and your family peace,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
This week’s Insights and Inspiration is dedicated in honor of my good friends and fellow tour guide Nati and Michelle Kahn of Nachalaot on the bris of their new son- Yonatan Elyashuv this past week. May their newest addition be a source of joy and Nachas to their entire family and a source of comfort and light to Klal Yisrael
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RABBI SCHWARTZ COOL PLACES IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK-
The Kotel/ Western Wall/ Wailing Wall- It is the most visited site in Israel today. Since the destruction of the Temple this remnant of the retaining wall of the Temple mount was the place that Jews have directed their prayers according to Talmudic tradition it is where all prayers go up to heaven from. Yet it is only in the last half century when we have had access to the full wall most of it which is 7 stories underground, and to pray and cry as we touch those stones and remember the glory that was once here.
The wall itself as can be seen is a few different levels of construction the most recent being on top from before we got it back in 1967 from the mufti of Jerusalem. Lower then that is from Sir Moses Montifiore who wanted it to be shady for visitors and from there it goes into periods of the arab conquest. The wall that we see is 187 feet there is another 1600 feet that one can follow until we reach the actual mountain ground of Mt. Moriah where Avraham was commanded to bring Yitzchak as on offering to Hashem.
Until the 16th century this was unfortuantly a dumping ground for garbage for the arabs. In 1967 when Chaim Weizman came to the very small area that was in front of the Kotel there was a toilet attached to it. It was then that it was decided to clear out the houses connected to the Kosel and build the current plaza we have today.
Tisha B’Av hundreds of thousands of jews from around the world come to the kosel and pour out their hearts that we see it soon rebuilt. May it happen this year.
RABBI SCHWARTZES LINK OF THE WEEK
Watch the kotel live this tisha bav with the following link!!
WESTERN WALL KOTEL CAM- http://english.thekotel.org/cameras.asp