Our view of the Galile

Thursday, August 29, 2013

It's All About Us- Nitzavim/Vayeilech Rosh Hashana 2013 5773/5774

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
August 30th 2013 -Volume 3, Issue 44–24th of Elul 5773
Parshat Nitzavim/Vayeilech
It's All About Us

OK, it's the end of the Jewish year and like all major publications we have an end of the year poll or short quiz that we'd like to run by you. Let's see how knowledgeable you are.

Question 1) Name the prime minister of China?

Question 2) Name the prime minister of India?

Question 3), 4), 5), Indonesia? Brazil? Pakistan?

So you don't know even one? Do you know that the above countries together have almost half of the world population's, and you can't even name one of the leaders? Don't feel bad. Most people can't. In a recent world poll the most recognized leaders of countries in the world by the average human (taken from 156 countries) was of course Barak Obama, followed by Putin (from Russia-shame on you, if you didn’t know that)  and then, holding the number 3 spot of leaders that people were able to identify was none other than Bibi Netanyahu. Now let's think about this for a second. Israel's ranking on world populations with our very proud 8 million mark is number 97, which make us smaller than  Azerbaijan which most people can't even pronounce forget about spell (9.2 million), Benin and Berundi (10.6 and 10.1 respectively) which most people have never even heard of, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (67.5!)-which I know that you didn't know was Democratic or a republic and pretty much thought it was just a convenient country on the Risk board game where monkeys, elephants and lions ran around. But little Israel with our 8 million strong has a famous prime minister that everybody seems to know. How's bout dem falafel balls?

But it's not only Bibi that is famous (or infamous-depending on what news source and search engine you run), Israel is one of the top ten mentioned countries in all media outlets and searches since it declared its independence in 1948. Africa, Asia, even South America have each had more wars in their region in the past 60 years and greater amounts of deaths and casualties, yet for some reason no one can name what they were or who they were against. Yet everybody seems to know about the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur war and even the battles going on from our 7 1/2 mile wide x 25 mile wide strip known as Gaza. Can you name a 7 mile strip in Asia? There are ranches in Texas larger than this, yet Israel is on everyone's mind.

If the United Nations is any sign of what the world seems to be interested in (which is certainly debatable) as well, Israel ranks as the number one country with resolutions against it. Sudan, Syria, Cuba, Iran and Afghanistan are just pillars of moral righteousness, yet us little yidehelach here in the Holy Land that are just trying to hold on to our tiny little country (number 153 in size ranking, smaller than Moldova and the Solomon Islands?) seem to be really dangerous and full of bad people that seem to be impeding the glorious world peace that awaits if we only just______ -fill in the blank. What is it about us that just seems to garner so much attention?

 I'll be honest, I don't care much about tiny little countries and tribes in Africa, Asia, or South America. In all honesty I really don't care much about, Idaho, Wyoming or Oaklahoma or even Tennessee. They're really not too important to me and seemingly to the world either. I, like most of the people I know on this planet, care about things that are relevant to my life and that might impact me in some way or another. If I ain't going there and they ain't coming here then I've got a lot better things to spend time following. I do however care about Israel because I'm Jewish, because I believe it's holy, because it's my small little few thousand miles in the billions of miles in the world that was promised to us. But why should anyone else care? What is the world's obsession with us?

Now you've all read the blogs and posts about how many noble prize winners were Jews, and all the great contributions to modern society that has come out of Israel from cell phones, antibiotics, Hi Tech and Kosher Shwarma. So I won't bore you with that. OK, so we impact the world inordinately and disproportionately more than anyone else on the planet. But shouldn't that be a reason that they should like us more? Be nice to us? Help us bring them even greater and more wonderful things? What is it with the world? What are we missing?

Being Jewish and seemingly being in Israel long enough the answer of course typically is that it must be us and not them. .  If everybody is telling you something, than there must be some truth to it.They can't all be wrong. We deserve it. We are responsible for all the world's problems. They know it-although I don't believe they can put their finger on exactly what it is. But this week's Torah portion tells us that they are correct. Not only are they correct now, but they have always been correct. The Egyptians, Babylonians, Romans, Greeks, Crusader, and even todays' Arab world all recognized that this small little piece of land is the heart of the universe and our small little nation has the keys to the world's ultimate redemption.

"And the final generation will say-your children who will arise after you, and the gentile who will come from distant lands…"

"And all the nations will say- For what reason has Hashem done this to the land, what is all this wrath? And they will say because they forsook the covenant of Hashem the God of their forefathers…."

For me these verses are perhaps one of the most remarkable statements of the Torah. Would any man ever be able to write and predict that in the future-the final generation- three and a half thousand years later, the world which is a pretty big and busy place would all be interested in what is going on in our tiny little country; that they would be creating commissions to try to understand what is happening in our little corner of the world  Who would've even thought that we would still be around? But yet we are and all that was predicted has occurred and continues to occur throughout the millennia.

The Torah than continues with the ultimate prophesy, after describing the incredibly accurate description of our exile, whether by boats, the attempted genocides and overwhelming desolation of the land in our absence.

"Then you will return it to your hearts, amongst all the nations where you have been cast off by Hashem your God, And you will return to Hashem your God and you will listen to His voice, according to everything that I command you today…..than Hashem will return your captivity and have mercy upon you and he will gather you from all the nations where he scattered you… and Hashem will bring you to the land which your forefathers inherited it and you will possess it"

It is an amazing thing to live in a world where thousands of years of prophecy are unfolding right before our very eyes. The nations of the world are all "United" in keeping their eye on the ball. If the world has not reached its ultimate fulfillment yet, the Torah is telling us it is because we haven't finished all returning to Hashem.

We're getting there. We're very close, closer than perhaps we ever were in the history of the world. Jews are coming home, Our brothers and sisters that were assimilating and throwing off the covenant are coming back in masses. It is another fulfillment of prophecy. 60-70 years ago many of the break-off denominations of traditional Torah observant Jewry predicted the demise of Orthodoxy. No one would keep the mitzvos in the "new world". "This is America, get real" Judaism has to change with the times. They forgot the eternal covenant of this weeks portion. In the beginning of the establishment of the State of Israel, it is well known (and in most recent times the source of much controversy) that Ben Gurion offered the exemptions to Yeshiva students from serving in the army and most of his financial government benefits for the study of Torah (inadvertently and quite meritoriously making the modern State of Israel the largest benefactor of Torah in the history of the world), only because he was quite certain that it was a dying breed. There would be no observant Jews in a few years. The "secular Zionist Jew" was the new Jew, the Jew of the future. Except he wasn't. In the past elections if all of the religious parties would have been able to vote together, there would have been a majority of religious Jews in Knesset and possibly even a Shomer Shabbat prime minister of Israel. Wouldn't you love to see the look on BG's face. We haven't done it yet, though. But we are so very close. The nations of the world know it. Hashem knows it. The Satan-that Divine accuser and tester whose job it is to try to subvert us and challenge us in accomplishing our message knows it as well. It seems that the only ones that haven't totally grasped it yet are us.

We are still waiting for the Bobs, Larrys, Samanthas and Dianas out there who have yet to have been introduced to their heritage and been invited to re-connect to their roots. The Yankels, Shloimy's Berel's and Chaim's who don't yet appreciate that all our infighting, Lashon Harah and baseless hatred is holding back that day from coming. The Yarons, Ittais, and Noams that know how important serving in the army is to protect our nation just need to value as much the how essential our Torah learning and fulfillment of mitzvot are in us achieving that miraculous ultimate peace and victory that we have been longing for. There are still Jews from all over the world who have not yet realized that it is time to come home, that the land is waiting for them. That Eretz Yisrael is holy and that their ultimate fulfillment of mitzvot, their ultimate learning or Torah can only take place in the land Hashem created and endowed with that special kedusha. They have yet to recognize how much of an impact and how dramatic of a change that they could bring to this country if they would only come home. Sefardi, Ashkenazi, Americans, Israelis, English, young and old, we are such a small people with such a big role and we are all the children of Hashem that everyone in the world looks at with the same eyes of expectations. When already? Is it almost here? What are you or aren't you doing to bring that day closer.

We read this Torah portion each year as the last reading of the year. More significantly we read it as the final Torah portion before we come into Rosh Hashana. On Rosh Hashana which we know is our day of judgment for the year. Whether we will live or die, be healthy or sick, share in simchas or god forbid tragedies. Whether we will have money to pay our bills, some extra to help others or will we be on the other side of the door with our hand outstretched. It is a serious day, if not the most serious. Yet none of our prayers, revolve around our individual needs. The focus of our Rosh Hashana prayers is only one thing; Hashem's kingdom on this world. The ultimate redemption. Our prayers on Rosh Hashana are for the entire world. We are their representatives. We are the only ones that will be praying on that day. It's the day that we finally get what we have forgotten and perhaps even buried for so long. The shofar will stir our souls and we will be back again on Sinai when it all started and we heard that first ancient Shofar blast. It all becomes clear. The nations will rejoice. We will finally merit. May the upcoming year 5774 years from creation be the last year that we count from creation, as the new year will bring with it a new era of peace, blessing as time will start anew with the coming of Mashiach.

Have the greatest Shabbos of the year and a Shana Tovah,

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


 (answer below)

(and now we move on from the Christian questions to the Islam ones, sigh….)

Which festival concludes the month of Ramadan?

(a) Eid al-Fitr

(b) Eid al-Adha                                                                                                              

(c) Milad al-Nabi                                                                                   

(d) Laylat al-Qadr


"Lord of the world, you must forgive Israel their sins. If you do this--good. But if not I'll tell all the world that the tefillin you wear are invalid. What's the verse enclosed in your tefilln? A verse of David. your anointed king: 'Who is like your people Israel, a unique nation on earth?' If you don't forgive Israel…(this) verse is untrue, and the tefillin are invalid.- Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev


§  Avoid riding in automobiles because they are responsible for 20 % of all fatal accidents. 

§  Do not stay at home because 17 % of all accidents occur in the home. (that's 37 % already!) 

§  Avoid walking on streets or sidewalks because 14% of all accidents occur to pedestrians.(now that's 51%) 

§  Avoid traveling by air, trains or buses, 16% of accidents involve these forms of transportation. (that's 67%) 

§  Of the remaining 33 percent, 32% of all deaths occur in hospitals. Above all else avoid hospitals. 

You will be pleased to learn that only 0.01 % of all deaths occur in a synagogue!

...and these are usually related to previous physical disorders. 

 Therefore, logic tells us that the safest place for you to be at any given point in time is in Synagogue.
 Torah Study is even safer! The number of deaths during Torah Study is too small to register!
 For safety's sake, go to Shul as often as possible, and attend Torah Study!

It could save your life!   

 This message has been brought to you by your local synagogue's membership drive.

PS: You don't have to be Jewish to go to shul. Sure, you may not understand what the old guys are saying but they sometimes they serve schnapps in mini paper cups.


What's your wish for the new year interviews


Aish music Get Clarity Rosh Hashana-cool yeshiva guys moves




Me'arat Ha'Netifim/ Stalagtite caves- One of the most beautiful and amazing sites in Israel is this glorious cave right outside of the Beit Shemesh area in the Judean Hills. Discovered in 1968 while working in a quarry this cave has perhaps one the most dense concentration of stalagtites and stalagmites in the world. Formed by water dripping through cracks in the cave and then the CO2 leaving it as it leaves the stone residue, the shapes of this icicle like formations from the ceiling of the cave and the formations of the pillars that grew up from the ground make it a virtual playground for ones imagination where you can spot smurfs, giants, weddings, and just the ultimate beauty of this special part of creation to recognize the glory of the world Hashem has created. One can also enjoy a nice hike fown to the caves and back up again following the steps up with their cute signs that tells you how many ice creams and blintzes calories you burned doing this hike.

 Answer is A- Eid- in Arabic is like the Hebrew word mo'ed- appointed time al fitr the fast breaking holiday is after the month long-day time fast day of ramadan. It is also known as the lesser holiday as opposed to eid al-adha (adha comes from word zevacha the daled and and zayin interchangeable) which is the sacrifice holidaywhen abraham according to their tradition too ishmael their ancestor and borther of yitzchak our forefather up to bound as an offering- the akeida. We celebrate Rosh Hashana this week because that’s when the real story of Avrhams Akeida of Yitzchak took place. Like most religions that stole their foundations from us they distorted and got it wrong. Milad holiday is the birth of nabi muhammed and laylat al-quadr is the night he ascended to heaven and received the Koran-kind of like our Shavuot but of course false.

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