Our view of the Galile

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Kvetching-behaloscha 2013

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
May 24th 2013 -Volume 3, Issue 30–15th of Sivan 5773

Parshas Behalotcha



Manny is pretty pleased with himself and calls his neighbor over,

Hey watch this. I taught my dog some new tricks.”

He picks up a tree branch, throws it, turns to his dog, and says “Fetch!”

The dog then immediately lies down, and starts complaining,

“I’m tired and hungry, I didn’t sleep well last night, my dog house needs a new roof, I can’t run as fast as I used to...

“Hey,” asks the neighbor,” what’s he doing?”

“Oh” said Manny” he must’ve thought I said Kvetch!!”

 Yes, kvetch. An ancient Jewish tradition it seems. The stereotypical old Jewish mother kvetching about her children not calling, the Jewish son kvetching about mom kvetching too much, the cycle has been continuing from time immemorial. Kvetching has become such a prevalent word that Microsoft Word’s spell check doesn’t even put a green line under it to correct it as a foreign word in this email. Let it not be said that we have not left our imprint on America.
The Torah portion this week of Behaloscha is probably the one that most qualifies as the Parsha of Kvetching. We find various incidents of the Nation, fresh from their grand revelation of Sinai, bound for the land of Israel incessantly despairing, whining, and yes; kvetching.

Chapter 11:1“And the nation was complaining and it was bad in the eyes of God”

Chapter 11:4 “ And the rabble that was among them cultivated a craving, and the children of Israel also wept once more, and said “ who will feed us meat? We remember the fish we ate in Egypt… the cucumbers and melons…But now our life is parched we have nothing to anticipate but Manna’”

 11:10 Moshe heard the people weeping of / to their families (Rashi commenting notes they were upset about the forbidden relations prohibited by the Torah)

 11: 18-20 To the people you shall say “Prepare yourselves for and you shall eat meat for you have wept in the ears of Hashem….Because you have rejected Hashem who is in your midst…”

Yes, a parsha of kvetching, but one with severe consequences. We are told of a fire of God breaking out in the camp, a mighty blow being struck against the people and of meat eating until nausea, eventually leading to death.  I’m sure many of us might relate to a certain amount of kvetching and might even feel a little bit sympathetic to the Jewish people. After all haven’t we all had one of those days?  Hashem’s punishment certainly seems a bit extreme.

The Ohr Hachaim the 18th century Sefardic commentary and leader was also troubled with this question. He suggests that although to us it may seem like simple kvetching. To Hashem who knows the inner thoughts and desires of a man, the Jewish nation effectively was renouncing a life of the spiritual connection to the Almighty for the baser illusory pleasures of this world. The enthusiasm of the “Naaseh Vnishmah- We will do and We will hear” uttered on Sinai (from which they had only departed three days prior),  that could’ve only come  when one has an appreciation of true fulfillment in life, had been  replaced with an abandonment of our Divine role in humanity. How would the world reach its high spiritual expectation if the Nation of God wasn’t able to reflect a sense of appreciation for how overwhelmingly satisfying our relationship with our Creator can be?

 We are not the Nation that left Sinai merely three days ago. We have been through much pain, suffering and persecution as we wandered these past millennia through our Exile. Perhaps we have a lot that we can legitimately even kvetch about. Yet the secret to the eternality of our people is that we were always ready to recognize and appreciate that there is nothing more precious than being that special nation of God and come what may there is nothing worth relinquishing our heritage for.

 Rav Moshe Feinstein one of the great sages of the last generation once commented that that the reason why we have lost so many Jews to assimilation and un-affiliation in Post- War America, perhaps even more than any other generation since the destruction of our Temple, can be attributed to the lack of this sensitivity.   While many parents from the “old country” came over and were still observant and connected to the heritage of their ancestors. When it came to conveying that sense to their children, they failed. Many children unfortunately heard the oft quoted statement “Isz Shverrer tzu zain ah Yid- It’s tough to be a Jew”. If only the message would have reflected that which is said in our morning daily prayers and what so many of our forebears knew and sang even as they were led to their certain deaths.

Ashreinu Ma Tov Chelkeinu UMa Naim Goraleinu –How fortunate are we and how good is our lot and how beautiful is our portion.”

Yes, we may kvetch but let us never lose focus of that incredible precious lot and heritage that we have and may we successfully be able to convey that to all our future generations.


 Have an absolutely amazing Shabbos

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



 "Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain - and most fools do."- Benjamin Franklin



COOL Jewish music video in my old hood..(Tzur yisrael)




 (answer below)

Where was the first power plant in Israel located?

(a) Naharayim

(b) Haifa                                                                                                                             

(c) Tel Aviv

(d) Afula



Misgav Am- located up north in the Galile panhandle the "Etzba HaGalil" and just a stones throw (literally!) away from Lebanon, Misgav Am definitely qualifies as a cool place to visit. Besides the incredible views of the Hermon, Lebanon, Syria, the Hula valley and on a good day even the Mediteranean,(!!!!), the guides at this visitor center Aryeh and Betzalel are two of the most incredible people you can meet. In their radical, funny and yet rife with life experience filled way they invite their guests to understand what life in Israel on the border is like.You are bound to be inspired with their Zionism and sacrifice and amazed at the strength of the Jewish people in sticking it out in this most critical part of our country.


Answer is C- This is a trick question once again. But one I got lucky on. The knee jerk answer of course is Naharayim which is the most famous power plant and the first to be powered by water right by old gesher and built by Ruttenberg in the 30's. However the first power plant was actually in Tel Aviv and it was diesel powered. I knew the answer to this question because I had managed to come across it the night before when I was studying old exam questions. I mentioned it to a few people as well before the exam (just by "chance") and they also got the right answer. Hashem was on my side J.

1 comment:

  1. and 'kvetch' has the connotation that the complaining is not based on a real complaint. Which was the case of the incidents in the sedra and why G0d took no brooking with it. complaining about the Manna??? were they serious? evidently not. they were looking for things to complain about.