Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
June 6th 2013 -Volume 3, Issue 32–28th of Sivan 5773
The Rule of Three
This is not a country for the shy, meek or faint of heart. If you want something done in Israel you need to ask for it loudly and forcefully. If you are told no, the old time natives will tell you, that you have to ask again more forcefully. Despite what it may seem from the lack of smiley customer service representatives in this country, things do get done. You just have to demand it. It took me some time to understand this, coming from the free-market customer loyalty plans of America. Until someone (our electrician-who never showed) explained it to me. "If you really need something done than you should yell about it- and if you're not yelling about it, than you probably don't need it- so than why are you bothering me" Yet it's amazing what can get done here once you learn the dialect of the country. What I always found funny was that after every customer service call I would receive these annoying SMS's texts asking me to fill out a survey about how I rated there service. I would never respond. And they would send them again and again...I finally YELLED in caps in a response SMS and they seemed to be satisfied. Another fruitful conversation in the holy land.
We are a stubborn people. We are an argumentative people. We are a nation that thinks we're always right and we expect others to know that about us. The truth is, despite our minority and most persecuted nations status we have been right and the banner bearers of truth, knowledge, wisdom and innovation more than any other nation in the history of the world. Yet when it comes to us dealing with one another- another MOT (Member of the Tribe) we can't seem to imagine that they may also be part and parcel of this great wisdom filled nation. We're right- we get it-the other guy is wrong- they missed the boat. It ain''t easy living in a country where everyone feels that they're right 100% of the time. But it's our home, our family and we learn to acclimate.
This week's Torah portion, Parshat Korach, brings to the forefront the story of the arguing Jew. Our nation has traveled from Sinai and it's been a sad and difficult journey to follow since. The memory of us standing as a nation-"K'Ish Echad B''Leiv Echad-Like one man with one heart" is long gone. Truth be told it was probably the last time in our history when we are all right...all complete... all one. Since we left Sinai three Parshiyot ago it's been downhill. We have the story of the Jews complaining about food " we miss all the free fish, melons and veggies we used to eat in Egypt (we Jews always remember the free mealsJ)" and we complain about the Manna. Hashem responds with more meat than we can handle and wipes out the complainers with a plague.
Next stop we have the tragic story of the Spies, the leaders of the tribes, who for fear of losing their positions and of coming to the Land where they would have to conquer and build the country instead of the cushy leadership roles they had in the clouds of glory in the wilderness, spoke Lashon Harah and badmouthed the land and even Hashem's ability to bring us there. The result the spies die, the Jews who lost faith die in the wilderness over forty years and Tish'ah B'Av becomes a day of mourning and tragedy for the rest of our history.
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse we open up this weeks portion of Korach where we have our first major rebellion against the leadership of Moshe. Korach and his followers each with their own agenda challenge Moshe and Aharon's leadership. "The whole nation is holy" we were all by Sinai, we heard Hashem speak to us, we were all given the Torah, we are all a "kingdom of Kohanim and a holy nation". Why you should you be the chief? Moshe tries nicely to talk them down, bring the peace, see if there was any way to even get them to realize the error of their ways. Maybe he should have tried yelling louder. However finally realizing that only Divine intervention could ever solve a fight between Jews, he held an incense/Ketores bake-off with the loser having to literally eat dirt. Hashem-giving new meaning to the statement "another one bites the dust"- opens up the ground, swallows the challengers up into the earth and destroys the rest with fire. For a nation that thinks it's always right, we seem to be getting a lot wrong. What is up with us?
The great Rebbe of Slonim, the Nesivos Shalom, suggests that these three Parshiyot contain in them, what I refer to as the rule of three. The Mishna in Avot tells us that there are three sins or more correctly pursuits, that take a man out of this world- Ha'Kinah, Ha'Ta'avah, V'Hakavod- Jealousy, Desire and Honor. In contrast to that our sages tell us that the world rests upon three pillars, Torah, Avodah and Gemilut Chasadim- The study of Torah, Service or prayer to Hashem, and acts of kindness and generosity. The rule of three. The three pillars of the world are the antidote and contrast to the three that take one out of the world. Kindness counters the self-focused pursuit of jealousy, Prayer infuses one with humility and prevents the pursuit of honor and the study of Torah has the power to channel and elevate ones base desires and lusts into a Godly expression of one's essence and soul.
On a deeper level these three principles really define the three ultimate relationships we are meant to have and fulfill in this world; Between Man and himself, Man and God and Man and his fellow man. Jealousy a flaw in ones relationship with his fellow is perfected by kindness. One's relationship with his Creator is threatened by a pursuit of one's own personal glory and honor and tempered by the sense of humility that prayer engenders. And the biggest challenge to ones satisfaction and personal growth is the never-ending pursuit of lust and gratification that the incredible experience, light and wisdom of Torah conquers and raises man up in it's study.
If one follows this theme, he suggests, we can see it repeated throughout the Torah. He notes that the first three sins after leaving the Garden of Eden before Avraham also were the pursuit of these sins and the lack of the principles that form the foundation of the world. Cain is jealous of his brother, the Dor/generation of the Flood chases after its lusts and desires in unnatural ways and the tower of Babel is the sin of honor- with their attempt to conquer god and becoming the new kings of the world. In contrast to that, the world was saved-so to speak, by the arrival of our forefathers. Avraham represents kindness as his life story is abound with stories of his always open tent, Yitzchak who was bound to an altar is service and who the Torah tells us prays for children for many years is service and Ya'akov, the father of the twelve tribes who studied for many years in the tents represents Torah. The generations of the tribes of Israel that are born are meant to be that foundation of the world to teach its principles and to unite us all with our Creator. Our destiny is to form the ultimate three. Hashem and his children, in the land of Israel.
Yet sadly enough after that one moment on Sinai, we fall back into that ancient habit. We desire better food in the sin of the complainers, we fail in our ability to have faith in Hashem and our place in the land of Israel and give up our own pursuits in the sin of the spies and finally in this weeks Torah portion the jealousy of Korach and his congregation divides the nation and literally in that most visceral lesson of Hashem takes them out of this world.
We have left the holiday of Shavuot a few weeks ago. That moment on Sinai is fading. The inspiration has gone with the cheese blintzes and cheese cake. We enter the month of Tamuz and the summer season that approaches us brings with it the days of mourning for our Temple. It is a cycle we have gotten used to. But it was not meant to be an annual cycle of holiday and tragic events. We were meant to and have the power to bring the Exile to its end, to put us back in the world and be the light, the source of truth and inspiration that reveals the pillars of the world to all of Hashem's children. To live in this country and to be the nation of Hashem is not for the shy, meek or faint of heart. Neither is it to be arrogant, running after our desires or trying to be right and out do the next one. To truly merit the land and live up to the role that we were born to fill we must learn from the lessons of the past and become the nation of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov. As we bless the new month of Tamuz, may we truly merit that this month is one that will bring us blessing and the final redemption that we have waited so long to achieve.
Have a magnificent Shabbos!
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
RABBI SCHWARTZES QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"My idea of an agreeable person is a person who agrees with me.
"- Benjamin Disraeali
"- Benjamin Disraeali
RABBI SCHWARTZ YOUTUBE LINK OF THE WEEK
( Nachal Charedi-I found it inspiring and interesting-certainly thought provoking-in Hebrew though)
RABBI SCHWARTZES TOUR GUIDE COURSE QUESTION OF THE WEEK
The "Burma Road" was a bypass road forged during the?
(a) Arab Revolt in 1936
(b) Independence War
(c) period between the Independence War and the Six-Day War
(d) Six Day War
RABBI SCHWARTZ COOL PLACES IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK-
Kfar Etzion-One of four settlements created in the 1920's that formed the Etzion bloc. Originally called Migdal Eder it was purchased by Shmuel Holtzman who Hebraicized his name to Etzion in the 1930's. The Jews were forced to leave Kfar Etzion in the arab revolt in 1936 and came back in 1943 and the Masuaot Yitzchak, Revadim and Ein tzurim joined them creating a block of settlements on the road between Jerusalem and Hebron. On the day of the establishment of State of Israel in May of 1948 the block was massacred by the arab populace in one of the most horrific attacks on the fledgling State. Today one can visit the museum of Kfar Etzion and see an inspiring multimedia film about the story of Kfar Etzion and the return of the Jews in 1967 to rebuilding the Gush Etzion today.
Answer is B-While the Arabs sieged Jerusalem in 1948 as they held the overlook of the Latrun Fortress, the Jews led by the first General of the Israeli army, the American Mickey Marcus planned an alternate route in to save the city through an old shepherds goat path. The road named the Burma road after the WWII road paved by the US and British troops to bring supplies avoiding Japan. Eventually Highway 38 & 44 was captured and paved which turned into the main road to Jerusalem until 1967 when the current route 1 came into Israeli control. The paving of the road just beat the deadline by a few days of the imposed cease fire to Jerusalem and saving the old city yishuv.