Our view of the Galile

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Addicts, the Jets and the Jews- Shemos 2013

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
January 3rd 2013 -Volume 3, Issue 13 –22nd of Tevet 5772

Parshas Shemos
Addicts, the Jets and the Jews

 Claire is a New York Jets fan. Not a very satisfying and fulfilling pastime, I'm told. In fact, as  she was completing her recovery program for alcohol and drug addiction (a much more satisfying and enjoyable pastime? J ) at Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski's world renowned Gateways clinic she describes her obsession as being absolutely rabid.

 "I have never missed a game" she said. "The Jets are my team. Typically when I would watch a game I would be a nervous wreck. Anxious, pacing, hitting the fridge for sweets to settle my nerves. Under most normal circumstances that's the way I would spend my Monday evenings. One Monday though it was different. I remember I had to be away for the weekend and I asked a friend to record the game for me on her VCR. When I returned she gave me the tape and said 'By the way the Jets won.'

"As I began watching the game I was horrified by the Jets terrible performance. At half time they were 20 points behind. Yet this time though I didn't have any of the usual anxiety that would have normally climbing the walls. I was perfectly calm, because I knew the outcome; they were going to win.

"When I entered this recovery program she concluded I made a conscious decision to turn my life over to the will of God. I know that eventually it will turn out all right, because God is in charge of my life. Sometimes I am 20 points behind at halftime, but I don't panic. I know that I am ultimately going to win."

This week we begin the second book of The Torah the book of Shemos/ Exodus. It is one Parsha, yet it spans the 210 years of Egyptian exile and persecution. 210 years!! That's only a little less than the entire history of the USA . It's the Holocaust for 210 years rather than just the 6.  We are told the of the horrors of Egypt, the infanticide, the back breaking labor, the psychological tortures of meaningless work and of cities that would crumble. And each Pessach we recount and are even meant to relive at least symbolically, in the eating of our bitter herbs, our painful and tormented beginnings.

The Egypt experience, our 'Roots' so to speak, though is meant to be a visceral point of our everyday life as well. Every day in the Shema we are obligated to mention Egypt. Each Shabbat and holiday we talk about our Exodus as we make Kiddush. It is even contained in those black phylacteries boxes we strap on our hands and head in the morning. I believe the reason why we do this is not merely as a history lesson about our heritage. Rather within its knowledge is the secret of our survival and the power by which we can triumph when faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges and inexplicable times of adversity.  

How did we survive Egypt? How was this young fledgling nation able to remain a people after so long? To believe still that redemption was possible and that hope was to be found. Moshe our great leader turned to God and asked precisely this question.

"Vi’Hen Lo Ya’aminu Li Vi'lo Yishme'oo B'Koli - And they will not believe me and they will not listen to my voice.

One can almost hear Moshe our Shepherd asking "After all the suffering, pain, and hidden-ness of Your hand, how can they be expected to believe?"

Yet Hashem knew that we would believe. That we wouldn't lose faith. That we could be redeemed. Because He had already told Moshe those secret words that would remind them what they has always known; that our people would be saved, that Hashem our loving Father is and will always be there with us.The Medrash tells us that Yosef in his final command to the his brothers at the end of Genesis says

Anochi Mes Ve'Elohim Pakod Yifkod Eschem Min Ha'Aretz Hazos El Ha'Aretz Asher Nishba La'Avraham Li'Yitzchok U'Li'Yackov–

 I am dying and Hashem will surely remember you and bring you out of this land to the land that he swore to Avraham Yitzchok and Yackov.


The Medrash suggests that those words Pakod Yifkod were the signal that the redemption would arrive{ interesting aside- the gematriah- numerological value- of Pakod is 190 the amount of years early of the prophesized 400 year enslavement they were in fact redeemed.}


Hashem answered Moshe (previously)

Go gather the elders and say to them "Hashem the God of your Forefathers... appeared to me saying… Pakod Pakadati- I have surely remembered you, and what is done to you in Egypt "

And what do you know? Sure Enough the Torah continues and tells us that when Moshe comes to the sages tells them and shows them the miracles proving his legitimacy


Va'Yeaman Ha'Am Va"Yishmeoo Ki Pakad Hashem Es Bnai Yisrael Ve'Chi Ra'ah Es Onyom-

And the nation believed and the listened because/that  Hashem had remembered  the Children of Israel and because/that  He saw their affliction.


Was it merely a secret code? Was that all it took to restore them to their faith? The answer is that they had never lost their faith. That no matter how horrible and terrible Egypt was, the Jewish people always knew that at the end of the game the Jets. I mean the Jews J.were going to win. That we were remembered. That our affliction was seen. There is no memory or forgetfulness before God- rather all is foreseen all is for our good. The script and score has been written already by our Father, who although for a long time may seem like he is putting us 20 points behind before halftime, ultimately is only trying to create and make us into the best we could ever become.


Chasidic writings suggest that the word for Egypt- Mitzrayim-comes for the root word Tzar or narrow, limited, and constrained. We each will go through in our lives our own personal Galus Mitzrayim and Yetzias Mitzrayim- our own personal exile and exodus from Egypt. There will be times when we are faced with challenges and moments when it is hard to see past. Yet the power and secret that we share is that we need not get anxious. Pakod Yifkod. We will win in the end. The video is pre-recorded and the Screenwriter only can create happy and good endings ultimately for us his loving children. If we are like Claire and are able to see and recognize this than not only will the Jets have won but we will have won as well.

May this Shabbos bring you blessings of peace and sanctity,

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

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 (answer below)

Which of the following trees sheds its leaves (is dioecious)

 Pine (oren)(a)

(b) Lentisk (elat hamastik)

(c) Fig (te'ena)

(d) Kermes Oak (Alon Matsui)



Kfar Kedem The Galile was the region of Israel where the Jews lived for the majority of history. From after the time of the destruction of the 2nd Temple until the late 1800's Jews were not permitted or felt safe and comfortable living in Jerusalem and the center of Israel (although there was always a jewish presence there) and the sanhedrin moved to the North where Jewish life remained. The Mishna was written here, the Jerusalem Talmud as well as the many of the sages in the middle ages found their home in the North of Israel. Kfar Kedem located right outside of the ancient Mishna city of Tzippori in the modern village of Hoshaya is a fantastic place to experience hands-on life in the times of the mishna. Their attractions include donkey riding, cheese and pita baking as well as learning about the process of planting  and agriculture in that period. This is a great place for the whole family and people of all ages and background and they do a phenomenal job of explaining the concepts and significance of the Oral tradition that was first written down in the Galile and the way of life (in period costumes with great pictures) of our ancestors in Israel.





Answer is C- Fig. or at least that's what somebody told me it is… This is another case where the Ministry of tourism- I think is playing with me or not sure of what the answer is. I answered Pine because I know we spoke alot about the Pine tree shedding its needles and the damage it causes to the ground as it is highly flammable and nothing grows underneath it. Incidentally it is one of the core reasons behind the Carmel fire as the pine trees that were planted by the JNF which are not indigenous to Israel can't handle the heat and are now even being de-forested. I also didn't know what dioecious meant ( I took the class in Hebrew and we never had that word-and my yeshiva education forgot to mention it as well remarkably enough J).  My research has shown though that it means it has both and male and female reproductive capability-which the Pine tree has-although this concept has nothing to do with shedding it's leaves-so I'm not sure why they connected the two. The pine tree actually does have male and female on the same tree. But it does not have leaves so that’s why someone told me fig was the right answer. Which obviously sheds its leaves as well although I'm not sure if it is dioecious. Silly question in my humble opinion I'm not even sure as well if they realize the answer. The Medrash tells us the fig tree though is compared Torah- Why was the Torah compared to a fig? Because most trees … are gathered at once and the fig is gathered little by little, so also the Torah, … as it is not learned in one year and not in two years” Numbers Rabbah 12: 9

1 comment:

  1. Rabbi, something that
    Claire did not mention that is equally true of recovery from addictions and Torah observance: you have to be willing to do anything to reach your goal(recovery or torah observance). My personal addition is, "Hashem still runs the world" (in spite of our wants, desires, politics). Yep, G-d runs the world...(check the rise in Lake Kinneret, snow, hail, rain, BIG thunder)
    Oh Aharon just found my Hebrew birthday: 20th of Tevet. This parsha! Shabbat Shalom