Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
June 27th 2013 -Volume 3, Issue 35–19th of Tamuz 5773
A Few Good Men
The year was 1947. Rabbi Berel Wein was a young Yeshiva student in Chicago. The school was all spruced up and everyone was dressed in their finest clothing. They were having a special guest. It was none other than the legendary Rav of Ponovezh, Rabbi Yosef Kahaneman. The Rav had escaped Europe in middle of WWII miraculously, with his diplomatic status. His family and community that were meant to join him, though tragically, never made it out. Yet he had begun to rebuild once again in the British mandated Palestine. He had a dream of renewing the classic Lithuanian style houses of Torah in Israel and he was not sleeping. His visit to the States was to be inspired by the revitalization of the burgeoning Torah community in the States, the "Shearit Ha'pleita-the remnant that had survived" and to raise the funds necessary to actualize his vision in the Holy Land. But as much as he himself was inspired, he gave even more inspiration to the individuals and institutions that he visited.
Rabbi Wein recalls the lecture that he heard from the Rav and he repeats it often until today. He can still see that tall, handsome saintly visage before him and his prophetic words that were embedded within his heart. The Rav had given an intense Talmiduc lecture to the students, after which he closed his Talmud and spoke to them in Yiddish, his mama-lashon..
"Tayereh kinder- Dear sweet young men. Know that today in Palestine...Eretz Yisrael there sits in British prisons..in Akko…in Jerusalem…,young Jewish fighters…soldiers…members of the Lechi…the Hagana…the Irgun. They are a handful. Maybe seven, maybe ten. Some of them are facing the death penalty in their struggle for a Jewish State, others have lost friends, relatives, brothers and sisters in the battle to achieve independence for the Jewish people and our homeland.
Ich zug Dir kinder- I promise and guarantee you. These 7-10 soldiers will eventually succeed and chase the British out of our country. They will win and establish a Jewish country. There will be a State of Israel. And I tell you something else my children and it is important that you listen closely. If I had 7-10 students with the same dedication, determination, self-sacrifice and sheer iron will as they these young men and women have… than we would have a Torah State in Israel as well. We would have the Jewish State that would merit Mashiach… that our ancestors have longed for and that our Father in Heaven is truly waiting to return to…But I don't have such students…We don't have them…yet. It is up to you my dear kinder to become those solidiers. It is up to us to change the world."
A few months after that lecture, the impossible happened. As the Rav predicted, on Novemeber 29th of that year the UN voted to recognize a Jewish State and a few bitter and bloody months later, the State of Israel was born. With blood and fire Judea was redeemed. Sadly, 65 years later that ultimate redemption still costs us too much blood, too much fire and too many tears. The Torah State is not here yet. We yet await the ultimate redemption. We are still looking for those few good men.
This week's Torah portion is aptly named after the figure in the Torah that more than anyone else achieves the impossible through his selfless dedication and sacrifice; Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon Ha'Kohen. While all of the Jewish people stood by the sidelines and watched as Zimri the leader of the tribe of Shimon instigated a licentious rebellion against Moshe with the princess of midyan Kozbi, Pinchas took up his spear and put an end to the Divine plague that was running rampant quelling the wrath of Hashem. 24,000 people died that day. Moshe, the high priest Elazar and all of the other leaders were frozen in shock and horror at the travesty that was taking place. After all the years in the wilderness, the recent battles Hashem had won for our nation. How could they fall back, so fast, so tragically lose their way, literally days before their entry to the land? Was there any hope?
Yet, Pinchas saw that hope. He knew that we needed a wakeup call. Hashem was sending a message with his plague and the message was for someone to stand up to the plate and take the necessary swing to get us back on track. Pinchas was a descendant of Aharon the High Priest, who 40 years before, saw the nation on the foothills of Sinai worshiping the golden calf just days after achieving that Divine revelation and mandate. Even after being told by Hashem how precious we are to him and how much we were meant to achieve as a nation of priests, a holy nation, we still managed to fall of the wagon and back to our former idolatrous ways. Aharon and the tribe of Levi took up their spears following Moshe's call of "He who is for God after to me" and restored the spirit of Hashem once again to the people.
Pinchas, heeding that lesson as well, realized that once again the battle was not over. Perhaps it will always need to be renewed until the eventual redemption. Yet, he put his life on the line even when there seemed to be no hope, even when even all the other great leaders seemed to have been paralyzed and shell shocked by the overwhelming gravity of the situation. Pinchas's zeal and love for the Jewish people and for the honor of Hashem and his belief and certainty that the relationship will be healed and can be redeemed drove him to do what needed to be done. And he succeeded. The impossible had happened. The rift was healed. The nation was saved and the Jewish State would be born. A Torah State. We would enter the land and Hashem would be with us.
Our sages tell us the soul of Pinchas is the same soul of the prophet Eliyahu. Just as Pinchas took up his sword on behalf of Hashem, the Jewish people and our special relationship, so too did Eliyahu do so repeatedly. Perhaps most significant is the fact that Eliyahu who went up to the heavens in a fiery chariot is meant to be the one prophet who will herald in the eventual redemption of the Jewish people. It is Eliyahu who tradition tells us attends every Bris and every Pesach Seder. Those two symbols of the eternal bond of our nation and Hashem, Eliyahu/ Pinchas become the one who witnesses. It is they the eternal loyal soldiers that forever bring that merit before the Almighty. For it is their knowledge and faith that the bonds between us will never be severed. We can overcome all the challenges and battles, physical and spiritual, from enemies from without and even more significantly from within, we just need a few good men to carry that banner. To believe in us and to be willing to put themselves on the line- the front line for those beliefs.
We have come once again to that time of year, sadly enough, when we must confront our exile…our mourning.. the destruction of our Temple and the lack of the presence of Hashem in our midst. We are in the three weeks that lead up to Tish'ah B'Av. For many it seems hopeless. It's been close to 2000 years since we have seen our Father in His palace- our Beit Ha'Mikdash. So many generations so much greater than us have come and gone and yet we still remain bereft. Yet the end is approaching. Like Pinchas, like the Rav of Ponevezh we must be able to believe in the possibility of the impossible. We have seen many miracles happen. We will see many more to come. We just need to become the soldiers that Hashem needs to heal the rift, to restore the peace and love for Hashem and one another. May we soon merit to the final words in our book of Prophets
Behold I will send to you Eliyahu Ha'Navi before the great and awesome day of Hashem and he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers…
Have a Shabbos filled with blessing and peace,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
RABBI SCHWARTZES TOUR GUIDE COURSE QUESTION OF THE WEEK
The tourniquet should never be applied to the neck?
RABBI SCHWARTZES QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"I know for certain that there is no life on other planets for if there was the Ponovozher Rav would have certainly gone there to raise money for his Yeshiva” – Reb Yoel Teitelbaum-the Satmar Rebbe Z"TL
RABBI SCHWARTZ YOUTUBE LINK OF THE WEEK
RARE FOOTAGE OF THE PONEVEZHER RAV
RABBI SCHWARTZ COOL PLACES IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK-
Tayelet Louie/ Louis Promenade-Haifa-This promenade in the heart of the city of Haifa is one of the most beautiful outlook points over the Bahai Gardens and the Haifa coast and port. It’s a wonderful place for a picnic in the park there for visitors to Haifa and the history of the location is commemorated by a monument that was built in 1898 to Kaiser Willhelm II and his wife Augusta Vicotria who came to visit his German citizens who had moved to Haifa and built the German quarter there. (eventually these germans were expelled by the British as being enemies after WWI and during WWII the rest were expelled 34% being card carrying Nazi's). Alongside the monument is a canon that commemorates the British conquest of Haifa which was only conquered after General Allenby's navy was able to quell the Turkish cannons that were shooting from atop this hill. The Promenade dedicated in 1992 was named after Louis Goldschmidt who was killed in a car accident by his parents, Olim from South Africa, who were the contractors for the Bahai gardens.
Answer is D- This was pretty much a give-away question, I hope for most… Athough occasionally you do get a tourist here and there that you might want to strangle (not me of course) but it's pretty obvious that it is not a good idea to tie something around the neck that would stop blood flow to the head..But yes we did have to take a basic first aide course to become a licensed tour guide.