Our view of the Galile

Friday, October 12, 2012

Intorducing... Us- Bereishis 2012/5773

Insights and Inspiration
from the 
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"

October 11th 2012 -Volume 3, Issue 1 –26th of Tishrei 5773



Here we are again. The holidays are over and with it our summer season comes to an end. No more Tiyulim- sunny hikes through our country, no kayaking, our sukkas are down, any renovations before the winter rains God willing have to be completed. Back to the “real world”; our jobs, our schools and the mundane realities of what to a large degree fills up our every day- ho-hum- existence. Yet we still have our Shabbos. Hashem in his infinite Divine wisdom granted us that one special day a week to rise above it all, to come back to Him and to hear his Holy word.
How do we hear the word of Hashem? One of my teachers once put it nicely to me. He said that when we pray we are talking to Hashem. When we learn and read his eternal Torah though, it is Him talking and communicating to us. How do we hear that word? Each week when we are in Shul we read the portion of that week (for those that are members of the Kiddush club or who come to shul to conversate- this generally happens about an hour into the service when they take out the Torah scrolls.) and our sages tell us that if one pays close attention he will find within each weekly portion a message from above that relates to one’s personal life. It could be a word of needed inspiration, a story from our forefathers that relates to ones current dilemmas, or a mitzvah that one should analyze or enhance that is sure to lift up ones spiritual connection to heaven. It also gives the chance for a simple Rabbi from Karmiel Israel to share with you his weekly insight and E-Mail making sure I get in my Torah Parsha time while trying to maintain some of my rapidly waning English writing skills.

So from wher do we start? Why the beginning of course- a very nice place to start, wouldn’t you say? However Rashi quotes a medrash that seems to feel that there may be a better place to start. Perhaps from the first commandment given to the Jewish people before our Exodus from Egypt “This month shall be given to you as the first of the months.” Why from this mitzvah, you ask. Well, it’s never too early to start thinking about Pesach (5 months,13 days for those who are keeping count)- just joking J. Seemingly the Torah, being Hashems book of laws and messages for the Jewish people that was given to us on Sinai should be directed to our nation. Why do we have to hear the whole story of the world from Day one of Creation. Imagine if a Rabbi tried to get up and tell his congregation a sermon in Detroit ,New York, Iowa, Virginia or even West Seattle relevant to their community. Yet he prefaces his sermon with a history of the United States of America the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I and II, Korea and Vietnam Wars, for good measure he also includes a discussion of the development of the constitution it’s amendments and then the history of the particular State that you are sermonizing in. Needless to say he would not be a Rabbi much longer and would probably have to move out to some city up in the distant Galilee in Israel. So why does Hashem start his eternal message for life for the Jewish people with 2448 year of prelude history and 1948 years before even the first “Jew” Avraham was even born?

The answer Rashi shares with us is quite non-intuitive
“God gave an account of the work of Creation in order to give the Jews (Eretz Yisroel) the heritage of the nations. For should the nations of the world say to the Jews (Bnei YIsrael), ‘You are robbers, because you took by force the lands of the seven nations [of Canaan,]’
The Jews (Bnei Yisrael) will reply to them ‘The whole earth belongs to (God) the Holy One, Blessed be He.He created it and gave it to whom He pleased. Of His own will He gave it to them, and of His own will He took it from them and gave it to us”

Meaning the reason that we have this whole introduction, Rashi in 10th century germany quoting Rabbi Yitzchak who lived in Israel a few centuries after the destruction of the Temple tells us  , is that there will come a time one day in the future, perhaps 5773 years from Creation when the nations of the world will claim that we have no right to the land of Israel and we need a response for them. So Hashem aptly provides us with one in this narrative. Now I may be a pretty optimistic person, yet even I might be skeptical about Bibi’s chances of getting up in front of the UN and explaining to them the Medrash’s explaination of “Hashem created the world and he gave it to us”. For some reason this doesn’t seem like a message that would fly for the 99.98 % of the world that are not “from the tribe” (let alone the infamous 47%). So what is this all about?

In fact, in1948 Ahmed Shukri the representative of the Arab Legion stood up in front of the United Nations and made exactly that claim
“We have dwelt in this land for generations, in Jaffa, Ramla, Lod, Haifa, Akko, in hundreds of villages. With what permission do you have to push us out? With what right do you have to take our lands? What do you have here?”
David Ben Gurion the head of the Jewish agency at that time stood and with the Tanach that he held in his hand called out
“This is our document of claim, our Torah is right to Israel”
Certainly, aproud historic moment for the fledgeling Jewihs nation…until…
Shukri stood up once again and responded.
“Sir, from Tel Aviv, you wave that Tanach as if it is your deed of claim to Israel. But doesn’t it say in that book “You shall observe the Shabbos for it is holy to you and it’s violators shall be put to death’? Are they not driving in Tel Aviv on the Sabbath?”
Oops… Once in a while even the other team can say something smart. Perhaps it is that reason that when the laws of the State of Israel were established. Ben Gurion insisted that all public functions and transportation cease to operate and rest on our holy day.

Perhaps it is for this reason that the Torah started with this history lesson for the Jewish people. It is not the nations of the world that need to be convinced sadly enough of the authenticity of our Torah, the relevance of its message and the eternal binding nature of the commandments. Sadly enough it is we that more often than not need to that strengthening of faith. Our link to Eretz Yisrael and our claim to it are bound inextricably with our mandate to be God’s nation and light to the world. We can’t legitimately expect or claim one without the other. The entire world, that Torah tells us in our introduction of Sefer Bereishis, was created so Hashem would have a resting place and presence here on this world; So that the world would know of and have a relationship with our great Creator, the Father of us all. That will only happen if we live up to our mandate as His nation. If we bring Shabbos to the world. If we live in that special way the mitzvoth he gave us direct us to. If we do it all with joy and a sense of honor, pride and humility that we have been chosen not only to share that knowledge with the world and serve as their beacon, but we have been given the perfect little country in which to establish His holy kingdom here on earth. That’s what it’s all about.

So we start once again this Shabbos. Our mission begins. The Torah is read. We have a chance now more than ever to live and build a response that the nations will be inspired by. They will see the lifestyle that the Torah proscribes and our dedication to Hashems principles and as our prophets have told us, they will themselves come to us and ask us to share with them the beauty and knowledge of Hashem. It is hard to imagine. Perhaps, because it is hard to imagine us ever living up to that mandate and fulfillment of the Torah and its mitzvoth. But that’s what new beginnings are for. Hashem has chosen us and believes we can do it and He is usually a good assessor of our potential. Let’s make him proud.

Have a magnificent Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

Tel Chai- Up in the Etzba Ha’Galile (Galilee Panhandle) lies a small little Yishuv where one of the earliest stories of modern Israel’s return to its homeland took place. Formed under what was then post WWI French occupation (the border of the British mandate was south of there). As much as the arabs hated the jews they hated the French more and the Syrian/French war began in the 1920’s. The jews remained neutral in this war yet as they had little too gain and certainly not enough forces or munitions to protect themselves. In Tel Hai re-enforcements where sent and a total of 18 people (6 men and 2 women) under the leadership of the “one-armed” former Russian war hero Yosef Trumpledor and stood ready to continue protecting the border of what they had hoped would one day revert back to the British and then fall under the mandate for the future state of Israel. On March 1st the 11th of Adar 1920 the small walled in settlement found itself surrounded by Arabs and Bedouins that claimed to be searching for “French spies, soldiers and munitions” When they arrived seemingly a mis-communication took place and one of the women opened fire and a shoot out took place. After a few hours of fire and Trumpledor being wounded and eventually dying on the way to Kfar Giladi nearby 8 were killed in what is attributed as being first Arab Israel conflict concluded in tragedy.
Until today a national pilgrimage of Israel’s Zionist youth go up to Tel Hai on the 11th of Adar. Trumpledor’s last words "Never mind, it is good to die for our country- En davar, tov lamut be'ad artzeinu” are repeated and his vision for Israel and story of heroism is passed on to the next generation. The nearby city of Kiryat Shmona is named for these 8 heroes.
Today one can visit the museum of reconstructed site of Tel Hai watch a movie of life their and be inspired by these early settlers who died so that we may return to our homeland.




If all Jews would observe one Shabbat properly,
the messiah would come immediately-Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Taanit, Page 3B:

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