Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
February 14th 2013 -Volume 3, Issue 19 –5th of Adar 5773
(A Re-Run Email from last year but in honor of me passing my final Exam and becoming licensed by the Ministry of Tourism (and to give you a taste of what you're in for when you book me on your next trip to Israel J I share with you once again)
Rabbi Ephraim’s Tour
There is a rule about love. The more that you love something, the more you should want to know and understand the object of your affection. One, who loves, wants to understand the little nuances; the things that make it tick. Things that to other people may seem innocuous, dull or even annoying, but the lover is enthralled and can’t wait to dig even deeper into the heart of their beloved.
I have a love that grows every day. Actually I have quite a few. My wife, my family, my shul and of course chulentJ. But most recently the object of my affection of which I have been putting most of my effort into understanding is my love of Eretz Yisrael; my new “old” homeland. To further my love for the land and perhaps to be most capable of sharing it with as many people as possible (and hopefully to make a living off of soon as well), I was privileged to complete my tour guiding program at Machon Lander/ Touro University in Jerusalem (Mazel Tov to me!!!). The course is an amazing one. Subjects that never really interested me such as geology, archeology, and even botany and zoology all become fascinating as we walk among the places where all of these studies come alive.
The best part of course, is the history of our country and people. There are not too many places that you can go to here that do not have a story, a battle and perhaps even most enchanting a lesson to be learned. Daily drives that I take as I pass by what seems like innocuous rock formations and beautiful valleys now have new meaning as I delved deeper and deeper into the story that is our country. One of the most wonderful things about the course is the variety of tour guide “trainers” that we get to spend time with. Each a professional in their own area of expertise with a true love of the places and subjects that they share with us.
This evening though I was privileged to take a different type of tour. It was on my 2 hour bus ride home from a full day trip; a time whose quiet I cherish (before I get home to our busy Erev Shabbos home), to pull out my Chumash, prepare the weekly portion and review my day. This week's Torah portion, Parshat Terumah, is certainly one that is on the slow side, following all the exciting Torah portions we have had until now. The Exodus is over, the laws have been given and the portion begins and tells us of the commandment to build a Tabernacle for the Divine presence to reside amongst the Jewish people. The Torah tells us the dimensions of the Ark, The Menorah, the Table the curtains and on and on and on. I will be honest. Architecture ….I don’t love. A table is a table, a cubit is a cubit. Dimensions don’t speak to me and neither do all the little bells and whistles on each holy vessel. But that was until I found my tour guide. Deciding to dig a little deeper into a text that I guiltily knew I should be loving a little bit more, I came across the commentary of the Klei Yakar- Rabbi Ephraim Lunshitz The 16th century Rabbi of Prague. (I liked his first nameJ). And does he give a tour. Wow! The Mishkan-Tabernacle came alive. I don’t think it will ever bore me again.
Here are a few snippets of his tour with my paraphrasing. As you read it you can almost hear him guiding you.
As we enter the Parsha the Torah tells us that 15 different materials that were used to build the Mishkan. These 15 each have tremendous spiritual significance. King David tells us Ki B’ Yah Hashem Tzur Olamim. With Ya” H (an acronym of God’s name) the universe was formed. Ya”H in Gematria Jewish numerology is 15 (yud =10 and Heh=5) It with 15 the universe was formed and the Tabernacle being a microcosm of the universe is also formed with 15 materials. This explains as well, why in the temple King Solomon built (the 15th generation from Abraham!), there were 15 steps into the Temple. In addition the gold, silver, copper and red skins correspond to the four exiles of the Jewish people Babylonia, Persia/Media, Greece and Edom/Rome as he quotes verses that show this connection.
Moving on to the first of the Temple vessels, we are introduced to the Ark. Interestingly enough we are told that it is coated in gold inside and out, with wood as its core. This is to show that the Torah is a tree of life and both those who support and study it have an equal portion in it. We are told of the Badei Shitim- the poles that carry the Ark. This, he notes one again through Gematria, represents the 16 (the numerical value of Badei- Beis=2 Daled=4 and Yud=10) individuals that are called to the Torah weekly for an Aliyah. When? Easy to remember, he suggests. They are coated in Zahav-gold spelled Zayin-7= Shabbos, Heh- 5 =Thursday, and Beis-2 Monday.
Finally we are told of the covering of the Ark and the cherubs in the shape of angels with children’s faces. This is to teach us of the importance of covering the secrets of the Torah and the importance of having teachers who transmit the Torah who are similar to angels and clean of sin as a child. The cherubs face one another in loving embrace so that we learn that the Torah can only be studied when we are at peace with our fellow man. Perhaps most fascinating, is that unlike other dimensions the Ark’s are all not complete numbers 2 ½ x 1½ x 1½. This is so that one who studies should know that he has never learned it all and still needs to study more.
Moving along to the next vessel we reach the Table. The table is of course symbolic of ones livelihood and the Table he eats on. Its dimensions are partially whole numbers and partially fractions 2x1x 1½ to teach you that one should feel that on one hand he has all the blessings that he needs and is satisfied with his portion (the width and length), however on the other hand the height is a broken number and he should never be haughty about it. The table, if you notice, has rings upon it. They are there to remind us that one’s success is like a circle and cycle that goes around. There are times that are good and times that are bad. One should use our good times to support the needy and merit an eternal world that has no end (like a circular ring). In fact, the functions of these rings are to be “homes for the L’Badim-poles” the word L’Badim switching around the letters spells B’Dalim- for the poor. The Table also as you notice on our tour has a rim around it called a Misgeret. This is to symbolize that one should close and fence in ones desires and not let them run rampant.
The last I will share with you is as we exit into the Courtyard we see the Copper Sacrificial Altar. Its dimensions are all complete numbers 5x5x3. This is to show that through ones remorse and the atonement of the Altar one can become fully complete. The Altar has copper netting around it to symbolize the net of sin that one’s evil inclination has wrapped around him that has brought him to this state. We also find miracles that were present with the Altar. The fire never scorched it, the water never damaged it and the wind never blew its constant pillar of smoke (although it was outside in the open air) and it was formed out of stone and earth upon which no blade ever cut. This is to teach us that through the offerings upon the Altar man will be protected from all four elements- fire, water, wind and earth. (For those of you who have toured with me what are the four holy cities in Israel and which element does each one represent-E-mail your answer for a discount on your next tourJ) In addition it will protect a man from all four capitol punishments; stoning, fire, sword and strangulation (water). All three of these vessels (Table, Ark and Altar) have a crown upon them which symbolize the three crowns of our existence the crown of Torah the crown of Kingship and the Crown of the priesthood.
He continues on for each of the vessels, and next week as well in the lengthy description of the clothing of the priesthood (I was never into style or clothing much either… but who knows with the right guide?) but I don’t want to spoil your own personal tour with the Klei Yakar. The Torah is perhaps the greatest place to start your tour of life. We recite each day that its words should be the ones that we carry when walk on our paths. The more one studies the more one can fall in love. May the sweetness of Rabbi Ephraim’s tour give you inspiration as you take a new look at the beautiful world of the Mishkan.
Have a joy filled Shabbat and can't wait to see you here soon,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
RABBI SCHWARTZ FAVORITE YOUTUBE CLIPS OF THE WEEK
in Hebrew but beautiful
Begin and The Rebbe
and funny Begin joke story
RABBI SCHWARTZES TOUR GUIDE COURSE QUESTION OF THE WEEK
A workshop belonging to the Legio X Fretensis (10th Roman Legion) was uncovered at
(a) The northwestern corner of the Temple Mt
(b) The Tower of David
(c) Underneath the International Convention center at Binyanei Ha'Umah
(d) Abu Ghosh
RABBI SCHWARTZ COOL PLACES IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK-
Jerusalem- Begin Heritage Center/ Museum– This past week was the Yartzeit of our 6th Prime Minister (the 4th of Adar). Arguably of Israel's most loved Prime Minister the Begin Center is really a great place to learn about the life of this great man. You can follow his life from room to room watching films and clippings from his life in Poland, as head of the Irgun, (even hiding from the British in Tzefat as a Chasidic jew, and as Prime minister. The museum is located across from the Old city in Katef Hinnom. Behind the museum one can check out the 1st Temple grave site where a amulet with Brikat Cohanim was found. For someone who loves Israel history this is certainly a great enjoyable well done museum to get a feel for Menachem Begin.
RABBI SCHWARTZ QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"Israel is still the only country in the world against which there is a written document to the effect that it must disappear." – Menachem Begin in a speech in Washington DC
“What kind of expression is this – “punishing Israel”? Are we a vassal state of yours? Are we a banana republic? Are we youths of fourteen who, if they don’t behave properly, are slapped across the fingers? Let me tell you who this government is composed of. It is composed of people whose lives were spent in resistance, in fighting and in suffering. You will not frighten us with “punishments.” He who threatens us will find us deaf to his threats. We are only prepared to listen to rational arguments. You have no right to “punish” Israel – and I protest at the very use of this term.”-- In response to words from the U.S. Government condemning and “punishing” Israel-Menachem Begin
Answer is C- The Roman X legion was brought in by Hadrian after the Bar Kochva revolt to build the Aeilia Capotelina of Jerusalem. The Har Ha'Bayis was plowed a temple for Jupiter was built in its stead and Jews were prohibited from living in Yerushalayim. Jewish life then moved to the Galile for the next 800 years for the large part with small numbers of jews living in the center. Under the Binyanei HaUmah a pottery factory was found that was seemingly used to make vessels and roofs for the Romans. Today that site hosts concerts and conventions and is across from the central bus station in the jewish capital of Israel in Jerusalem. And the Romans… are just a question on my exam J