Our view of the Galile

Friday, August 2, 2013

Welfare State- Re'eh 2013/5773

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
August 2nd 2013 -Volume 3, Issue 40–26th of Av 5773

Parshat Re'eh

Welfare State

"Why are there so many Beggars in Israel? Where do all these Shnorrers come from?I just want to be left alone so I can pray in peace by the Kotel-the Western Wall…the Holy Graves of tzadikim… my shul. Why can't they just get a job? Aren't the police able to do anything about them? Isn't there some type of law? Shouldn't there be…?"

"Welcome to Eeezrahel!" is the general tour guide response to the above questions. We are certainly home of many of the world's greatest shnorrers. It is true that not all of them are "holy beggars" as the great Rav Shlomo Carlebach would call them. Perhaps a few of them are unbalanced, scammers trying to make a quick buck, or sadly trying to feed their not so healthy habits. But I have always been raised that it is not my place to question. Be grateful that I am fortunate to be on this side of the wallet rather than the other side.

Why do our holy places attract these un or mis fortunate class of our people? Because they know why we are at these sites to raise our spirituality and to connect to Hashem. People that come to holy places that are trying to be holy are and should be the easiest "targets". After all, we all know just as a parent will dedicate and has a special place in their heart for their "special needs" and most unfortunate of children, our Father in heaven repeatedly in the Torah tells us that he dwells amongst the lowest, His heart and mercy are upon those that need him the most, those who have no one else. Time and time again the Torah exhorts us to care and be careful with the feelings of the widow, the orphan, the convert and the impoverished. If we really want "in" with our Father, than there is no better way than to do what we can to help out His most neediest of children. If we are asking the above questions, than perhaps we should really introspect a little bit as to how sincere we really are in connecting with Hashem. Are we at holy sites to connect to Hashem, or are we like the Korean, Nigerian, German, Russian and christian tourists that come to visit the most popular tourist site in Israel? If you are unsure, pick up one of the brown cardboard  Kippas and place it on your head. Personally I would rather take out a few shekels. Why are they there? They are there for us. Because sadly we sometimes we forget why we are there.

This week's Torah portion shares with us the significance of the mitzvah of Tzedaka repeatedly. The structure of the Parsha is fascinating. The Parsha commences with Moshe telling us to see that upon our arrival to Eretz Yisrael we will be presented on Mt Gerizim and Eival with the blessings and curses that depending on what we choose will determine our ability to be blessed in Eretz Yisrael. Our first commands are to conquer the land and destroy the evil that is there, making it ours, making it Hashems. There's a new sheriff in town and the land will finally realize its purpose as will we. We will eat. We will celebrate and Hashems presence will be known. Now the true Jewish state is not just one where we have independence, flags, an army or even kosher falafel. It's about being a launching pad for the word of Hashem; a country that mirrors His holiness. So if and when there are those even amongst us, individuals, false prophets or even entire cities that see this as being a "country like any other" or an "ancestral heritage" or even the 51st State of the Union and try to remove us from our mission of establishing a country of God, they are meant to be dealt with harshly. This was never meant to be a democracy with freedom of speech or freedom from religion. We're here for a purpose. Sounds kind of tough but Hashem tells us he will give us the most essential ingredient for success.

"V'Nosan Lecha Rachamim I will give you the attribute of mercy and I will have mercy upon you- "

"You are children of Hashem your God… you are a holy nation and you were chosen to be a treasured nation from all the nations on the land."

This prelude to the land of Israel than concludes with the laws of Kosher that the Torah mandates which are meant to maintain our souls on a higher level- the diet of the holy, that gives us only the spiritual nutrients we need to serve Hashem; our breakfast of the champions. And than the real deal starts. Charity, charity, and charity.  Support the Levi who doesn't have a portion amongst you, the laws of Shemitta every 7 years, giving tithes to the poor, helping out the needy, granting dignity,redemption and rehabilitation to the slaves. Finally we are given a vision of the three major holidays all that are meant to be celebrated together with all the unfortunate, forlorn and needy. And thus the ultimate Welfare State has been created. Our welfare is linked with their welfare. The land's welfare will always be blessed as much as we understand that our spiritual obligations, the Torah, mitzvos and kosher laws connection to Hashem are there to create a society of caring for one another.

Rav Avraham Pam ZT"L suggests an even deeper thought on this notion on the above verse. He suggests that Hashem promises us that there will always be needy amongst the Jewish people, because we require them in order to receive mercy from Hashem. Hashem says "If you are worried about your ability to build this country, to destroy the evil, to keep the laws and to merit a continued existence in Eretz Yisrael- fear not". I will give you opportunities for mercy, people that will stretch out their hands to you, people that you can invite over for a Shabbos meal, help find their soul-mate, comfort, console, share with, listen to and empathize with or cheer up. I will even send you holy beggars that will appear to you as being needy, because you yourselves need them. Care for them. Help find them jobs. Because you have a job. It's why we are here. It's why we have the land. It's in that merit we will be able to connect to Hashem and create the country he is awaiting for us all to come home to. For Him to return his presence to.

This week we enter the month of Elul. Our sages tell us that it is in this month Hashem, our beloved is approaching us from the field to judge us and our country for the coming year as we approach Rosh Hashana. The work of this month is for us to go to that field and greet our king, our father. In the field outside of our comfortable houses we will meet all types that have no home. The king is there with them. Helping them is our way to show Him how dear his children are to us. They are our ticket in. Our welfare ticket. Make sure not to misplace them. It is those tickets that will bring us all of the blessings this coming year. We don't want to be just tourists here. We are here to make it our home.

Have a truly blessed Shabbos,

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


 (answer below)

(now that all the easy Jewish questions are done its time for the harder non-jewish ones..it hurts my heart to have to list these again but here goes…just for you… )

What do the letters INRI on the crucifix mean?

(a) J, the Nazarene, King of the Jews

(b) J, the Mess______, ____ of God, the Sav___                                       

(c) JC, Shepherd of the Jews

(d) J the Proph____, Liberator of Humanity

(sorry I couldn't bring myself to write the full name or the full offensive choices to this question in this Torah E-Mail…even Rabbi Schwartz has limits…)



"Here I stand, impoverished of deeds, trembling and frightened with the dread of He Who is enthroned upon the praises of Israel. I have come to stand and supplicate before You for Your people Israel, who have sent me although I am unworthy and unqualified to do so…"- Chazan/ Cantor's prayer Yom Kippur before the Musaf service




The shnorrer (a beggar who makes pretensions to respectability; sponger, a parasite) comes to Goldstein for his monthly handout. He knocks on the door, but there is no reply. He knocks again, and a dishevelled-looking Goldstein answers the door.
"What's the matter," asks the shnorrer. "Is something wrong?"
"I've gone bankrupt," says Goldstein, "haven't you heard?"
"Certainly I've heard," says the shnorrer.
"Then what do you want from me?" asks Goldstein.
The shnorrer says, "Ten cents on the dollar."

Mrs. Berger, feeling sorry for a shnorrer (a beggar who makes pretensions to respectability; sponger, a parasite) who appeared at her door, invited him in and gave him a substantial meal: chicken, kugel, wine, and two kinds of bread - black bread and challah.
The shnorrer devoured everything he was given, except the black bread. "The challah was wonderful," he said. "Do you have any more?"
"My dear man," said Mrs. Berger, "we have plenty of black bread, but challah is very expensive."
"I know," said the shnorrer. "But believe me, lady, it's worth it




Reb Shlomo Carlebach "The Holy Beggar of Jerusalem and the song of Shabbos"

A true classic







Meah Shearim- Many of my readers are familiar with this neighborhood in Jerusalem, perhaps most known as being the chariedi stronghold in the entire country. Yet the beauty of Meah She'arim for those that can get past the posters requesting proper attire and the demonstrations that take place frequently in the Kikar Shabbat square against, what the real only remnnants of the old yishuv of Israel still live today, view as affronts to the Torah's mandates of how to live in Israel, be it Shabbos, the draft of torah students, laws of modesty and the like, is that it is the experience of walking back hundreds of years in history and feeling as if we are returned to that old time shtetl. Meah Shearim, which was found in the 1870's as the fifth community to move out of the old city walls, was started by 100 families and thus received its name from the verse of Yitzchak planting 100 portions in the land of Israel. The Gaon of Vilna suggests that the numerical value of the words Meah Shearim is 666 which is in mystical terms a number that corresponds to the redemption and ingathering of the exiles. Today in Meah Shea'rim one can see many Yeshivah students that learn in the myriad of Yeshivot in the area, mingling with the chasidim and tourists shopping for judaica, eating good old fashioned jewish "haymishe" food and holiday season getting all the necessary purchases. Friday is But come early as the stores close hours before Shabbos in preparation for this special day.  


Answer is A- Didn't know this back then and didn't even guess right. The correct answer is Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum and if I would have had patience for this question I probably could've figured out as this was the only answer that had the N for Nazarene in it. And I probably could've deducted that the I in Latin is a J as all of the answers start with the J word and therefore the last letter also must be Jews eliminating answers b & d. But I  just don’t have patience for questions like this.  Christianity is kind of not my thing. I get the stories and history parts of it but the silly parts of the ritual and symbols don't really do it for me. If you want that stuff  find a different tour guide. Incidentally the significance of these words are that they were supposedly the words that Pontius Pilate had written over the J-man's head when he was crucified.


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