Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
January 2nd 2014! -Volume 4, Issue 13 -1st of Shevat 5774
God’s GoogleI believe it was Richard Nixon who was once quoted as saying “You would be paranoid too if everyone was out to get you”. I like that quote. It’s kind of Jewish. We live in a world as Americans who are now being full-body digitally searched by the airports security. Every thing you type on your computer and every search you make on Google can be tracked. Our cell-phones all have GPS and we can be traced anywhere. George Orwells “Big Brother” is now a reality. How does that make you feel? Imagine how Nixon would have felt. Who’s looking over your shoulder?
A colleague of mine just sent me an E-Mail that brings out this point even more viscerally. I share his story with you.
Smile for the CameraThe Mishna in Pirkei Avos (2:1) tells us that if one ‘looks’ at three things, one will never come to sin. One of those things mentioned is ‘eyin ro-eh’- ‘the Seeing Eye’. The Mishna is teaching us that if we would realize that all of our actions are constantly being observed then all of us would certainly not sin at all or at least have our sins reduced. Unfortunately, for the most of us the Mishna just remains only imagery in the mind without any practical application; and that is unfortunate.
Yesterday, thanks to one of my good friends, I was able to have real-life experience of ‘Ayin ro-eh’- ‘the Seeing Eye’. Someone sent me an email which stated that I am on Google-maps. Initially, I figured that he meant that if you go to the address of the shul, you will see a group of men near the shul and perhaps maybe, if you look closely, you could “see” me. However, that was not the case at all. Indeed, the sighting was not near the shul.
The sighting was for 232 Passaic Av. in Passaic NJ which is about a half mile from the shul or my house. See: http://goo.gl/b7cJUS As you can see, it is just a picture of me just taking a walk on Passaic Ave minding my own business and not being bothered by anyone. However, the realization that this picture of me- irrespective of the fact that the picture is totally innocuous and mundane- is now recorded for posterity on the ‘web’ for anyone in the entire world to access and see, was, and remains a somewhat humbling realization for me. That is the true meaning and realization of ‘eyin ro-eh’- ‘the Seeing Eye’. If only I would keep that realization with me always. If only I would remember that before the word Google was a word in the English language, Hashem’s camera was up and recording everything, how better off I would be.
*****************************This week's Torah portion we read about the conclusion of the ten plagues and our exile in Egypt . The great Nachmanides suggests that the reason for this long drawn out Redemption story and the remarkable miraculous revelation of God’s hand in Egypt was to teach us this very lesson. It was in order that the world, and particularly the Jewish people, should know for all time that Hashem not only is the Creator of the world but is intimately involved with every aspect of what happens in it. The water, the reptile, animal and insect kingdoms all act upon His command. The sun shines or doesn’t, fire and ice come together and ultimately every breath we take and every we move we make is all from His grace and under His supervision.
This might be an intimidating thought to many. Yet to me, it is one of the most empowering ideas of Judaism. There is nothing that we do that is not significant. Every bit of charity we give, every prayer we offer and every Torah E-Mail we read is recorded. Hashem cares about us. The story of Egypt tells us that He is the ultimate micro-manager. Each day we are presented with opportunities that will be recorded for posterity. Even more than that, the Talmud teaches us that every thought we have to perform a mitzvah or a good deed is recorded and credited to us, regardless if we are successful in fulfilling it. The Jewish people have always lived and known with the idea that there is nothing that we do that we will ever “get away” with. It’s an idea that gives one pause before they make some terrible mistakes that they may regret for all their lives. In todays world of Google searches and Big Brother watching the rest of the world is finally catching up. Yet our Heavenly Father’s google Map is one that should never make us feel paranoid. His searches are for our good. He seeks only nachas from His children. Shouldn’t we try a little harder to give him the “hits” He’s looking for?
Have a spectacular Shabbos and blessed Rosh Chodesh Shevat,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S NEW YEARS QUOTES OF THE WEEK
One hundred trout are needed to support one man for a year. The trout, in turn, must consume 90,000 frogs, that must consume 27 million grasshoppers that live off of 1,000 tons of grass. -G. Tyler Miller, Jr
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL GEMATRIA OF THE WEEK
The 1st commandment of the Jewish people is to observe the new months. Nisan we are told is Rishon Hu LChodshei Hashana –It is the first of the months of the year (not January 1st). The gematria of Hu heh=5 vav=6 Alef= 1 thus equaling 5+6+1=12. Nisan is the first of Hu the 12 months.
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK
(answer below at end of Email)
Beit Achiel is the name of an archeological excavation at:
a) City of David area (shetach) G
b) Kateif Hinom
d) The Jewish Quarter
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TERRIBLE LOCUST/GRASSHOPPER JOKES OF THE WEEK
Why do locusts stay inside in the winter? Swarm
What is green and can jump a mile in a minute? A grasshopper with hiccups.
A grasshopper walks into a bar. The bartender says to him, "Hey we have drink named after you." The grasshopper replies, "You have a drink named Murray
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S FAVORITE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK
This past Pesach Locusts hit Egypt very cool video…
RABBI SCHWARTZ COOL PLACES IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK-
"The Roaring Lion"-Kfar Giladi- Actually right in between Tel Chai and Kfar Giladi one of the oldest and most important monuments of the modern State of Israel, the famous statue of the Roaring lion, draws thousands of visitors a year. The statue was built in 1934 over the graves of the 8 fallen members of the Tel Chai battle on the 11th of Adar 1920. The battle which is considered the first arab attack against the new Jewish Zionist settlers before the establishment of the State ended tragically as the leader of the group Jospeh Trumpledor (not Dumpledor.. silly) a former decorated officer in the Russian army who lost his arm in battle and eventually turned Zionist died there. His dying words which are memorialized on this monument "Tov Lamus Ba'ad Artzeinu" it is good to die for our land. Became the inspiration for many Israeli soldiers as they put their lives on the line to protect our homeland. The Lion roaring is a symbol of the pain of losing such heroes and was carved of the local stones by the famed sculpture Joseph Melkinov. Each year a few days before Purim thousands of bnai Akiva youth flock to this site to give honor to those who gave their lives for us to be here today.
RABBI SCHWARTZ' S EXAM ANSWER OF THE WEEK
Answer is A: There is perhaps no place in Israel where we are finding more and more important archeological finds than in the city of David. The house of Ahiel which is the largest house that was excavated there contains ash on the floor from the time of the destruction as well as otracons (clay tablets ) that were burnt that contained the name of Ahiel who presumably lived there.