Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
February 28th 2014 -Volume 4, Issue 20-28th of Adar I 5774
House of Love and Prayer
What do you call your Shul? How do come up with a catchy name that really hits the essence of the congregation that you are trying to establish? I’ve always found old shuls, their histories and their names to be fascinating. In Seattle where I lived pre-aliyah, we had the Bikur Cholim synagogue and the Sefardic Bikur Cholim both founded by Jewish societies that were dedicated to the mitzvah of visiting the sick. Ezra Bessaroth (Help in times of trouble) was dedicated by a group that would raise funds for their brethren back in the needy community of Rhodes in the early 1900’s. My shul known as the West Seattle TLC, was an acronym of the Torah Learning Center, as well as a play on the Tender Loving Care-( not Totally Love Chulent as some might suspect). Currently my shul, the Young Israel of Karmiel, is part of the International Young Israel Movement, which some have said is neither Young or in Israel and Old America might be a better name for the movement. But we're changing that with every new young family that moves here, each day.
I spent some time researching Synagogue names, as they reflect the heart and aspirations of their founding members and many times provide insight into the history of the various Jewish communities. In early New York you can find synagogues as varied as the Lechet Yashur-straight walkers’ shul, the Nefutzoth Judah- refugees or expansion of Judah Shul, The Tifferet Mizrach- Splendor of the East, Sefardic synagogue and the Chevra Kadisha – Jewish Burial Society or Chevra Shomer Shabbat- Shabbat observers’ shuls. My favorite Shul name was established By Reb Shlomo Carlebach in San Fransisco in the wild hippy late 60’s the House of Love and Prayer. And perhaps the two greatest mission statements I’ve seen were the Beth Hakenesseth Anshei Mieletz: "Composed of a mixed element from the standpoint of age - ranging from 21 up to heaven", and the Wall Street Shul on Maiden Lane: "Synagogue organized by Judge Benjamin E. Greenspan in 1929 for the purpose to help business people of Wall St., not to forget the Almighty God and to remember they are only human beings." I wonder what the Wall Street Synagogue would be called today?
This week as we complete the reading of the 2nd book of the Torah Shemos/Exodus, we read about the conclusion of the building of our very 1st house of worship; the Mishkan or Tabernacle. The agenda for the building of this house for Hashem, was that following the debacle of the sin of the Golden Calf, Hashem had forgiven His people and would once again be there amongst his nation. But who would head up this building campaign? Presumably after 200 years of building pyramids in Egypt there were plenty of architectural talents available. But this was to be not just a nice fancy palace. This was to be a home for God. To build it required a special talent one that it seemed only one person of the millions solely possessed.
Moshe said to the Jewish people,
“See Hashem has proclaimed by name Betzalel the son of Uri the son of Chur from the tribe of Judah”.
Who is this Betzalel? The Torah doesn’t tell us much about him. Yet the early Tosafot commentaries note that it does tell us one seemingly extraneous but very important detail- he was the grandson of Chur. O.K., now who was Chur? Well rewind in the Torah a little bit. We are told that Chur was up on the mountain with Aharon as second in command, holding Moshe’s hands during the battle of Amalek. The Medrash also tells us that during the sin of the Golden Calf, and the panic that arose prior to it when Moshe did not return on time, Chur tried to dissuade the mobs who were trying to make the Golden Calf. For this great act he was murdered by the people. And thus the Israeli method of dealing with the political opposition was born. It's all been pretty tame since then. * Note to self- never try to break up a good (or bad) party, particularly one that has calves and dancing. This also helps explain why Aharon went along with the program and tried to stall it, rather than to try and stop them.
So stop and think about this for a second, Rav Henoch Lebowitz suggests. Out of everyone in the Jewish people who would you think would be the last person to want to build this temple? Can you imagine the feelings of Betzalel? Here this people, this mob, murdered my grandfather a few months ago. If they would have listened to him they would have never needed this building. Hashem was in their midst. And now God wants to forgive them?! As if it didn’t happen!? What would we say? Could we do it?
But Betzalel could. It could only happen if Betzalel would. He was able to forgive. He loved the Jewish people and Hashem so much, and he understood that without a place of forgiveness and hope where our relationship with Hashem could and would be restored and renewed, than there would be no point in our existence. All the miracles of Egypt and all that his grandfather had died for would be for naught. And so Betzalel led the campaign, and the original house of love and prayer was first established. Hashem now motivated by this incredible act of love and forgiveness would reciprocate in kind to his repentant children.
The book of Shemos concludes with the blessing of Moshe to our nation that all our work should be blessed with the Divine presence. Yet just as in that first handiwork of our ancestors, we have to be able to build and to dedicate our homes and all that we do with that same degree of love and inspiration that we wish to see it blessed with. A little TLC can build a great Torah Learning Center and a lot of love and forgiveness can build the ultimate House of Hashem.
Have an inspired Shabbos and happy Adar for the 2nd time!
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S FUNNY "WHAT IT WAS LIKE ON THE PLANE THIS WEEK" YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK
BILL COSBY AND A 4 YEAR OLD ON THE PLAE
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S FUNNY AIRLINES QUOTES OF THE WEEK
"Thank you for flying Delta Buisness Express. We hope you enjoyed giving us the buisness as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride"- Delta Pilot
"Delta Airlines is pleased to have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!"
""In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks wil descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with more than one small child, pick your favorite."".- Unknown
"As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly amoung the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses."
And my favorite from Southwest-" Heard on Southwest Airlines just after a very hard landing in Salt Lake City the flight attendant came on the intercom and said, "That was quite a bump, and I know what y'all are thinking. I'm here to tell you it wasn't the airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it wasn't the flight attendant's fault, it was the asphalt."
RABBI SCHWARTZ COOL PLACES IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK-
Eretz Israel Museum-Tel Aviv- This week is Parshat Shekalim and a great place to see one of the most amazing ancient coin collections in this important museum in Tel Aviv. Built right around an ancient Philistine site (see that also fits into the Q of the week Tel Qasile), the museum has many of the ancient finds of this country including idols, glass displays, a flour mill, and famous four room house from biblical times.It also has a great Planetarium and all types of timely seasonal displays. The Man and his Work section teaches and shows finds of all types of ancient crafts we read about from weaving pottery making, jewelry making. I'm not personally a big museum guy but if you enjoy history and love everything Israel this is a great place to visit.
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL GEMATRIA OF THE WEEK
the Medrash says that Moshe Rabbeinu asked Hashem, if the Bais HaMikdash is destroyed where will Hashem's Shechina rest. Hashem answered that it will rest on the Tzadikim/righteous of each generation. The Gemara in Succah (45b) says that each generation has 36 tzaddikim that greet the Shechina every day.
Rav Shlomo Levenstein in Chaim Shel Torah says there is a hint to this in the first words of Parshas Pikudei. Pikudei according to many commentaries means "missing" or "lacking". Eileh is gematria 36. "Eileh Pikudei HaMishkan". What will happen with the Divine presence when "Pikudei HaMishkan", when the Mishkan is missing, asks the Torah? Eileh, the Shechina will rest among the 36 tzaddikim
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK
(answer below at end of Email)
The coastal cities where the Philistines dwelled are
a) Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod
b) Ashkelon, Gat, Ekron
c) Ashkelon, Yaffo, Ekron
d) Gat, Ashdod, Beit Guvrin
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S JOKES (collecting and airplanes) OF THE WEEK
RABBI SCHWARTZ' S EXAM ANSWER OF THE WEEK
Answer is A & B: The Philistines or as we know them from the Torah the Plishtim who are in no way connected to the Palestinians (a term that was taken for the Arabs by themselves after the British mandate who thus named the country). The original Philistines came from Asia Minor in the times of the Avot our Patriarchs. They invaded Israel and settled here but were mostly seafarers. Certainly not arabs. They built 5 cities Ashkelon, Gat, Ekron, Gaza and Ashdod. So I'm not sure who wrote this question but both A and B seem to be correct so if anyone knows differently let me know. If not I'll just write it off to another brilliant Ministry of Tourism "fashla"