Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
January 24th 2014 -Volume 4, Issue 16 -23rd of Shevat 5774
Trayf!One of the more revealing things about the degree of Jewish integration and influence in American society is the many “Jewishisms” that have made their way into the English vernacular. I am constantly humored whenever I turn on my radio and hear a talk show host inviting callers to call in and schmooze, or when I read in a newspaper about someone behaving with chutzpah or not being so kosher. Gelt, Kvell, Mazel Tov, are all words I have heard, and it even seems that the word Chulent is slowly making its way into the lexicon (at least here in Karmiel, we’re working on it ). Yet there is one word that I recently heard that got me thinking about its roots and the common way it is utilized.
The word Trayf may not yet be as familiar as it converse counterpart Kosher. Yet just as the word kosher has taken on a meaning that relates to more than the proper preparation or halachic status of food, trayf which literally refers to an animal that has been torn (not slaughtered properly) encompasses all non-kosher food and even behavior. It has therefore become common to use the word when talking about one’s not- so- kosher ideologies you may have found offensive, an inappropriate book and yes even the status of a non-meat restaurant or product that is not under halachic supervision although there is certainly no question about any animal being torn.
It is interesting to note that the source for this word which seems to have very specific connotations is found in this weeks Torah portion in a more descriptive fashion than the normally minimalist way the Torah generally uses.
Ubasar Basedeh Trayfah Lo Socheilu- And meat torn in the field you shall not eat.
The Kol Yehuda, a Torah commentary asks the question why it has to mention the location of where the meat is found. Does it really make a difference if it is in the field, your home or your Aunt Tillie’s porch? His suggestion, perhaps homiletically, I believe offers a wonderful insight into not only human nature in regards to kosher meat but in to a general malaise in peoples somewhat perplexing behavior.
I often meet (excuse the pun) people who when describing their observance level refer to themselves as traditional. When I ask for a greater elaboration many times the response is “Well, we keep Kosher in the home”. Even in the more observant of homes one finds that many times there is a certain standard of acceptable behavior for one’s home yet on vacation or in the work place, one’s language, morals and observance seem to be put on hold. It is precisely this that the Torah seems to be addressing. As my Rebbe would often say “Trayf is Trayf is Trayf,” What is kosher in the home is kosher outside of the home. And what is trayf and inappropriate, is even trayf in the field when possibly no one else is around and one doesn’t have the warm comfortable environment and conveniences of the home. Trayf is still trayf.
I often remember the sad story I once heard about a young boy who went to visit his more traditional grandparents for a holiday break. During the week his Bubby taught him how to make blessings to God before and after he ate. He went to Shul with his Zaidy (grandfather) in the evenings and spent a wonderfully warm Shabbat replete with songs delicious food and words of Torah and inspiration. When his less than observant parents came on Sunday to pick him up and he turned to leave and kiss his grandparents he stopped by the Mezuzah on the door and placed his hand gently on the doorpost. As he removed his kippah and kissed the mezuzah he said “Good bye, God, I’m going now. I guess I won’t be seeing you anymore”.
It is a sad story but unfortunately it is true for all of us that many times leave our beliefs at the doorposts of our homes and synagogues. The beauty of our faith is that it can provide light and direction wherever we are and in whatever we do. We can all lead kosher lives. All it takes is to focus and remove the Trayf from our fields and to incorporate the beauty and depth of our wonderful heritage in to all that we aim to accomplish and in every place that we go.
Have an absolutely magnificent Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S QUOTES OF THE WEEK
"Only dead fish go with the flow."-Sara Palin.
"Only live fish get caught with hooks and dragged to a boat and eaten."-Anonymous
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL GEMATRIA OF THE WEEK
In the Laws of Slaves we are told of a slave so entrenched in slavery and exile he says
Lo aitsay chofshee- I will not go free = 521
Hashem though has other plans for those that forget our holiness that perhaps choose to remain in exile that he promises our mother Rachel
521 = V’shavu vanim ligvulam- Your children will return to their borders. Yes they will go free. (Yirmiah 31:17.)
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK
(answer below at end of Email)
The three "regalim" pilgrimage holidays are
a) Chanukah, Pesach, Shavuot
b) Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot
c) Pesach Shavuot, Sukkot
d) Purim, Pesach, Shavuot
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S JOKE OF THE WEEK
So David is invited to a Rabbi for his first Shabbat experience. Having been warned of all of the various laws of the "day of rest" he is quite apprehensive of not making any mistakes. The Chasidic Rabbi who was hosting him brought him to Synagogue where they prayed Friday night. After services they come home to a delicious Shabbat meal, which starts with Kiddush on wine. After the first course of gefilte fish the rabbi pulls out some good single malt in honor of Shabbos and they make their first L'chaim together. One is never enough so of course they have another. After the chicken soup, they have some more. During the delicious brisket dinner they of course have some special Cabernet Saviougn from the Golan (they probably bought it on a tour with me J) and end up finishing the bottle. After the meal the Rabbi tells him there are a few Shalom Zachor parties to attend where they of course once again have quite a few beers to go with the nuts and arbis/chickpeas.
The next morning David woke up with a bit of headache and came to synagogue a bit late but just in time to be invited into the pre Torah reading backroom Kiddush club. After Davening there was of course a Chulent Kiddush with some great bourbon and Sheva Sheva Sheva 777. By the time he came home for lunch he was feeling just great and of course Kiddush once again, Lchaim after the fish and another few shots here and there. When Shabbos finally ended after Havdalah on wine the Rabbi asked Dave what he thought of his first Shabbos. Dave responded with the newly gained holy insight that only a real shabbos could provide.
"Rabbi- I still don’t understand why you can't turn on the lights on shabbos or talk on the phone. But I sure understand why you can't drive on Shabbos!! J J
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S FAVORITE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK
A great inspiring award winning short film "the Kiddush man" think about the ear connection this weeks parsha …worth watchin till the end…I promise
To life to Life Lechaim classic J
RABBI SCHWARTZ COOL PLACES IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK-
Cool Art stores in Tzefat- Tzefat is that city of Ruach/spiritual transcendence and the people that live there express there holy spirituality in art. All along the old city Karo street one can see the various artists incredible works. A few cool stores to pop in and visit are the Avraham Leventhal Kabbala art where you can here Avraham a former Detroiter explain some of the secrets of kabbala that are found in his art. The incredible glass blowing shop where you can see a live hands on demonstration of the art of making mystical glass art. A Roman glass jewelry store.There is as well the Talit weaving store where you can see how they made Talit in ancient days and learn the complex laws of Shabbat that relate to weaving. And my personal favorite is of course the world famous Tzefat candle store where one can just stand in awe of the coolest candle art that comprises of biblical stories, Jewish super heroes, Disney characters, "Minion-minyans" men. and the coolest Rabbi chess set in the world. Whether you want souvenirs or are window shopping give yourself a good hour or two to visit this great city.
RABBI SCHWARTZ' S EXAM ANSWER OF THE WEEK
Answer is C: Once in a while they give a throw away question that is fairly easy for us observant Jews. But sadly this is a pretty difficult question for those that are not religious. And truth is if you think about it for Christians, arabs or others this is a pretty trivial detail question that is quite difficult. Of course we know that pilgrimage means three times a year we go to the temple and this is a biblical commandment which knock out the Purim or Chanukah option which are rabbinical holidays. Leaving the Rosh Hashana Yom Kippur one but again through process of deduction one should know that Pesach is a pilgrimage holiday as well as Shavuot and that RH and YK are right next to each other so they would not be the three. Or just become observant…