Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
December 28th 2012 -Volume 3, Issue 12 –15th of Tevet 5772
The Beginning of the End
Did you survive? I'm still here. It was a close call though. I mean who would've of thought that that great bastion of wisdom and prophecy, the Mayan's, and their apocalypse would be wrong? For those who don't know what I'm talking about, the ancient Mayan civilization's calendar concluded on December 21st of this year, leading many with not much purpose in their lives to predict and prepare for the "end of the world". Incredibly according to our dear friend Wikipedia
" In May 2012, an Ipsos poll of 16,000 adults in 21 countries found that 8 percent had experienced fear or anxiety over the possibility of the world ending in December 2012, while an average of 10 percent agreed with the statement "the Mayan calendar, which some say 'ends' in 2012, marks the end of the world", with responses as high as 20 percent in China, 13 percent in Russia, Turkey, Japan and Korea, and 12 percent in the United States, where sales of private underground blast shelters increased noticeably from 2009".
I guess the Mayan's were wrong. Maybe their calendar ended- as a friend of mine put it- because they ran out of "inca"… oyyy…
But once we're on the topic of the end of the world, let's take a peek at this week's Torah portion, (maybe that's the reason the Mayans picked this week for their prediction- they knew I needed something to write about). And what do you know? We have no less of a figure than our forefather Yaakov on his death-bed trying to tell his children
"What will happen to you at the end of days".
Rashi notes though, how when one examines the following blessings that Yaakov gives to his children though there is no sign of when the end of the days will come or what will happen then. Talk about a tease… The truth is Rashi says that Yaakov wanted to tell them, yet he was over-ruled by Hashem. "the Divine spirit left him". The information suddenly became highly classified. And until today the when and what of what the coming of moshiach and redemption will be like is shrouded in mystery.
Yet that hasn't stopped Jews from trying to figure out when that will happen. The Talmud tells us that the timeframe of the world is a macrocosm of the 6 days of Creation. There will be 6000 years of the world's existence (according to the Jewish calendar this culminates in the secular calendar equivalent of the year 2240). The classic work of Jewish mysticism, the Zohar talks about how just as before Shabbos man prepares himself for Shabbos so to before the 6000th year is up there will also be preparations and a hearkening of Mashiach.
From the start of that 6th millennium in 1240 (the evening of that "last day") the Ramban/Nachmanides (who came to Israel) and other great Jewish leaders have predicted and seen the opportunity for the potential redemption. Many sages have calculated that last few hundred years of that "day" and the morning, afternoon and twilight periods of that millennium and seen historic events that were prologues to the redemption. The morning is when the light of Kabbala of the ARI"ZL start to develop (1540 ish). The pogroms of the Chimlinizki revolution which wiped out of 1/3 of the Jewish population in 1640's the messianic movement that followed of Shabtai Tzvi were also misconstrued as harbinger of the redemption. In the 1740's we find the start of the Chasidic movements and the following Aliyot to Israel by the students of the Baal Shem Tov and the Gaon of Vilna. The 1840's saw the start of the industrial revolution and based on verses in Song of Songs (Kol HaTor Nishma B'artzeinu- the voice of pigeons are heard in the land- Tor being the year 1840) many felt the redemption was imminent. The 1940's were the Holocaust and the from ashes to the re-birth founding of the State of Israel. Yet Mashiach is still not here- notwithstanding what some may claim after the recent American election J. We are still waiting… although most of us have given up on trying figuring out exactly when. Yet every so often we get an E-Mail, a link, a prediction or a current event on the news that tickles that natural Jewish inclination. Is it now? Could it be? Does it really say that in that verse… this year…this war… this leader? Has the day finally arrived?
How much simpler it would've been had Yaakov revealed that date to us, when our Exile would finally be over when we would finally be redeemed. So why wasn't it revealed? Or was it?
If one takes a look at the blessings that Yaakov gives his children, the 12 tribes of Israel, after he is unsuccessful in telling them the end of days, one can see that within each blessing lays a hint of future events. Reuvein's losing of the birthright, Shimon and Levi's future rebellion (Zimri and Korach) Yehudah's leadership, the future prophets and leaders that will come from the tribes of Yosef, Dan and Binyamin. The blessings also include words of rebuke and deep insights into each of his children's personalities, strengths, and weaknesses giving them the "roadmap" they would need to achieve their own personal and our national fulfillment. Mashiach will come when we are able to achieve the mandate he gave them
"Hi'Asfu- gather together…and I will tell you. HiKabtzu- form a group (like the word kibbutz) and listen children of Yaakov; listen to Yaakov your father."
From that moment on we have longed for that day. Only Hashem knows when the Acharis Ha'Yamim- the final end of days will be. But our sages tell us that it is in our hands to bring the end earlier. The keitz- the finish of our Exile will happen when we can all, as 12 tribes, as a nation achieve our personal greatness that will bring it closer; when we hearken to the final words of our ancestor Yaakov.
Rabbi Noach Weinberg used to tell his students to observe people coming off a roller coaster ride. At first they giggle and laugh then there is a somber silence for a few minutes and then they try to find the next ride to go on. He suggested that what happens is that people laugh and are relieved that they are still alive they have experienced an encounter with death. Suddenly they then are forced to think about what this new gift of life means for their lives. What will they do differently? What are they meant to accomplish? Why are we here for? They are silent. It is momentarily troubling. The solution? Let's find another ride to distract me from the reality of living.
We Jewish people don't need an apocalypse to wake us up. Each week we have a Shabbos when we leave the mundane of this world and elevate ourselves to a higher place and return to our blessings and to our Divine mission. Our sages tell us that the Gematria/numerological value of Acharis Hayamim/End of days is the same as Teshuva/ returning. We await Mashiach daily for that day that will be completely Shabbos. The day of rest for the world. The day when we can return to Hashem and see His Kingdom once again complete on this world. Yaakov told us how we can accomplish our mission by focusing on our personal areas of growth and becoming the united chosen nation of Hashem. The day is not far. Our belief and our actions will bring it closer. May we merit to see and celebrate in it soon.
Have a Shabbos as if it was the first of your new life,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz*****************************************
RABBI SCHWARTZ MAYAN VIDEO OF THE WEEK
(see if you can make out the song at 40 seconds)
Something you didn’t know about Santa
RABBI SCHWARTZES TOUR GUIDE COURSE QUESTION OF THE WEEK
The updated Coastal Plain Plan prohibits construction at a distance of less than:
50 meters from the coast(a)
(b) 100 meters from the coast
(c) 300 meters from the coast
(d) The law sets not limitations
RABBI SCHWARTZ COOL PLACES IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK-
Shechem/ grave of Yosef – Not a place one can visit today sadly enough, although ironically it is one of the three cities (along with Jerusalem and hebron) that the Talmud tells us that that the non-jews could never have a claim against the jewish peoples ownership over as all three traditions believe in the authenticity of the bible that explicitly tells us that they were purchased for full paymen by our ancestor. Today once can overlook the city from the mt. of Gerizim and visit the tomb of our forefather Yosef buried there. Modern Shechem is the 2nd largest Palestinian city and was formerly a Byzanine capital built by Vespasian called Neapolis after he destroyed the Temple. It was handed over to the Palestinans in 1995 Oslo accords with the understanding that its religious sites would be open to all three religions. However very shortly afterwards with the outbreak of the intifada the tomb and yeshiva built there was vandalized and burned by our cousins… Rabbi Hillel Lieberman (a cousin of the US Senator Joe Lieberman) was murdered upon assessing the damage done. Along with Yosef's grave there is two pillars that tradition tell us are the graves of Ephraim and Menashe his two children that were buried with him and the well of Yaakov who first camped in this city and created a monetary system and wells for its inhabitants. Shechem was the first city Avraham came to when he first came to Israel as well as where Joshua came with the Jewish people on their way up to Mt. Gerizim and Eival upon our entrance in Israel. In Kabbala the first letters of the name B'Shechem stand for Baruch Shem Kvod Malchuso-Blessed is God's name and his kingdom. Maybe we see it revealed once again soon.
RABBI SCHWARTZ MAYAN QUOTES OF THE WEEK
(I Am not making this stuff up)
Nya b’a’n tu’n tnicy’in yol mo tu’n t-xi tewin jun ti’la cywutz ttijila, ku’n nokx ti’la c-ocila k’o’niy.-It is not good to lie or hide anything from your parents because you don’t know what they will change into.
Nya b’a’n tu’n t-xi t-xon tsmal twiy, t-xcy’aka, mo tstey, ku’n ka mina× i jet aj tcyima, ocx cok’ila cyi’j.-It is not good to throw away your hair, fingernails or teeth because if you don’t find them upon your death, you will regret it.
Nya b’a’n tu’n tchub’ key toj b’e, ku’n nlay ch’iyl twe-It’s not good that you sit on the road because you will no longer grow
Nya b’a’n tu’n twa’n toj chuj, ku’n b’e’x cy-elil chuj tc’u’ja.-It is not good to eat in the bath or your stomach will grow that size.
Answer is C- 300 m. or at least I think it is… This is a classic case of the ministry of Tourism playing with my mind (or maybe they are not sure themselves what is the right answer). According to the Protection of the coastline of Israel act of 2004 the law states that "a 100 meter stretch from the coast is prohibited in building and specifies that any construction or building improvement within a 300 meter line will be subject to a strict and specific permitting restriction." What do you think is the right answer?