Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
February 21st 2014 -Volume 4, Issue 19-21st of Adar I 5774
The Wedding of the Century
It was the Oscar's of the Orthodox world. I stood outside the lobby and watched as Escalade after Escalade pulled up with one great Rabbi after another exiting and making their entrance. It was truly a who's who of the holy Jewish world. Unlike the Oscars though, these modest and humble leaders of many of the great Torah institutions across the United States and Israel seemed to be oblivious to the grandeur and pomp surrounding their arrival. They entered, they smiled and awaited the arrival of the true king and queen of the
evening; the chasan and the kallah, the bride and the groom.
There were over 1400 invited guests to what was certainly the wedding of the century. The hotel was transformed into a Jewish wedding hall. The full length swimming pool was gone, covered by a glass floor and carpeting with fresh white rose petals all along. The 40 foot wall on the side of the hotel featured a live stream of the proceedings going on under the Chupa so no one had to strain to see what was going on. Times Square had come to LA. The orchestra with its million piece band (OK I'm exaggerating a little here) was playing songs composed in honor of the Simcha by the father of the Bride. All eyes focused on the young couple at the start of this holiest moment of their lives. The groom places the ring. Harei At Mikudeshet Li- You are betrothed to me according to the laws of Moshe and Yisrael. The Ketuva is read, A song to remember Jerusalem is sung. A glass is broken… MAZEL TOV!!-da dada da da dum Ohd Yishama B'arei Yehuda U'VChutzot Yerushalayim- Once again there should be heard in the cities Judea and Jerusalem the sound of rejoicing and happiness the sounds of grooms and brides… I got homesick…for our real home. The Jerusalem of old... for the sound, splendor and glory of this hotel in Los Angeles, but in Yerushalayim. In our Temple once again rebuilt.
The wedding continued. The ballroom was in what was formerly the parking garage -the hotel ballroom was too small- but you could never tell. It was as if a magical ballroom fell out of the sky. Chandeliers, wall to wall carpeting and a dance floor, curtains, tables bedecked with beautiful white roses and food described in the menu with words I couldn't even understand and that looked too good to eat… though I managed to overcome that hurdle quite quickly. It was truly the wedding of the century. The band struck up the music, all feet came to the dance floor and the dancing was endless. Rabbis, Yeshiva, students, friends family, the wealthy, the not so wealthy, the simple people, the beggars, we were one large family celebrating with my dear friend as he married off his first daughter. I don't believe there was ever a wedding like this in the history of Klal Yisrael. I joked that the last time there was such a party it was by the Purim feast of Achashveirosh in Persia and I asked if they would be bringing out the vessels of the Temple. I was corrected though by the person sitting next to me (MBD!). "These are the real vessels of the Temple…Torah, Tzedaka, Love and brotherhood and most significantly of course Simcha/joy…".
So many dignitaries from all over the country came, just to share in his joy and to wish Mazel Tov to one of the most generous and philanthropic families in the Jewish/Torah world. I'm sure there were some cynics that may have felt it was overdone. But knowing my friend, whose biggest joy in life is to bring joy to others and to sanctify Hashem's name in all that he does, this was meant to be a simcha for Klal Yisrael, for the Jewish people and as such, the Jewish people deserve nothing less than the absolute best. I don’t think that there is a day in my friends life that he does not hear of someone's tzuris; an institution that can't pay its bills, children that need to be healed, Torah that needs to be taught, Jews that need to be inspired, widows, orphans, medical institutions, needy families. I can't imagine what it is to hear this day in and day out. His always generous response, his warm smile and his assistance has raised the banner of Torah and philanthropy to the most personal of levels and all those that came wanted to share in his joy as much as he has inspired them and shared in theirs.
It is after this wedding that I sat down to write this E-Mail and as I turned to this week's portion I was struck as I am each year of how repetitive it is. The Parsha once again recounts for us the building and assembling of all of those parts of the Tabernacle. Once again we read about the Menora, the Ark, the Table and the Altars. It is truly amazing when you think about how much of the Book of Shemos/Exodus is not about the Exodus or even Sinai. Teruma, Tetzave, Ki Tisa, Vayakhel and next weeks conclusion Pikudei are all about the Mishkan the temporary dwelling for the Shechina/Divine presence as we wandered in the wilderness and until the Temple was built. Its cubics and gold, and copper and curtains and dimensions. We got it the first time. Why does the Torah, which is usually so conservative about its words and details spend so much time on this. Why did it have to tell us about it again?
The answer I believe is that in the entire history of the Jewish people this was the first and only project that was an entirely Jewish endeavor and that all of us participated in as one. The first and second Temple were built with the assistance of gentiles, Hiram the king of Tyre and Cyrus of Persia respectively. We've had other campaigns and even wars where parts of our people participated, and as in most Jewish things, parts didn't and perhaps even opposed them. The Mishkan which came as a response to what was certainly the greatest Jewish failing, the sin of the Golden Calf, which was according to our sages and the reading of the text was only a small minority of the Jewish people which participated, was meant to bring the people back together again. It was meant to reunite them with their Creator…with our beloved. It is devastating to think about. After centuries we finally leave Egypt, slavery persecution and attempted genocide. We left with wonders, miracles and signs and became the holiest nation together at Mt. Sinai where we received our Eternal mandate and the Divine revelation. And then…. Idolatry, murder of our leader Chur, breaking of the Tablets and Jew takes sword against their own brothers to remove the evil from amongst the people, and that holy Shechina has departed. It was the best of times that became very quickly the worst of times.
The Mishkan was the solution. We each joined together with our half shekel coins and we built…we donated...we contributed. We did it for Hashem. We did it for one another. We did it because we realized that only as one nation united can we reflect the one-ness of our Creator. That culmination begins this weeks Parsha tells us with the word Va'Yakhel Moshe and Moshe gathered the nation together. It was the day after Yom Kippur. We had been forgiven. It was time to begin and build again. It was time to do it together. It's a story whose every detail needs to be reiterated.
King Solomon writes in Shir HaShirim- Song of Songs-Tzeina U'Reina Bnos Tzion Come out, daughters of Zion and see King Shlomo with the crown with which his mother crowned him on his wedding day and on the day of the rejoicing of his heart" Our sages tell us that the day of his wedding is the day the 2nd tablets were given, Yom Kippur, and the day of the rejoicing is the day the Temple was built. It is fascinating that they understand that day the Torah being given is not the original giving of the Torah which took place on Shavuot, but rather when the 2nd Tablets were given. After we had fallen, after we had almost lost it all. But when we were able to pick ourselves back up again. The Mishkan and Temple seems to have only been built and called the wedding day and the day of rejoicing only once we had overcome challenges and struggles and even failures together. We were able to find joy out of the tragedy. We were able to recognize and celebrate that we are truly an eternal nation and no matter how far we can fall we will rise once again. There will be a wedding we can celebrate at. There will be a Jewish home for the shechina that we can build. There will be singing and dancing once again in the streets of Jerusalem. May that very soon be the next wedding of the century when we celebrate finally Simchas Olam.
Have a majestic Shabbos!
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S PHILANTHROPY QUOTES OF THE WEEK
" People say it's not ambitious, but it is actually quite ambitious wanting to help people.
" We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give"--Winston Churchill
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S "SHLOMO RECHNITZ" FAMOUS VIDEOS OF THE WEEK
GREAT HILARIOUS STORY WITH BILL CLINTON
ON LARRY KING
AT SIYUM HASHAS
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL GEMATRIA OF THE WEEK
Kichu me'itchem Teruma La'Hashem- take a contribution from amongst yourselves for Hashem
Kol Nediv Libo- Yi'vieiah- All who is generous of heart should bring it.
Our sages tell us that all the gifts which included jewelry and gold and silver were only permitted to be brought when both the husband and wife agree and desired to do so.
The Baal Haturim points out that the gematria of Libo Yivieaha-literally his heart (masculine) she should bring (feminine)
Is the same gematraia as the words Libo Hu V'Hi-the heart of his and hers.
A house of peace can only be built with contributions that come from Shalom Bayis!
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK
(answer below at end of Email)
The Nabatean cities in the Negev
a) Shivta, Ketziot, Nitzana, Ovdat
b) Be'er Sheva, Ovdat, Mamshit, Nitzana
c) Shivta, Nitzana, Ovdat, Mamshit
d) Nitzana, Ovdat, Arad, Shivta
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S "TOP OVERHEARD RECHNITZ WEDDING JOKES" OF THE WEEK (If you don’t get them-you just aren't his friendJ)
1) "Aren't there takanos (/religious guidelines in order to insure the modesty of the affair) in the religious community limiting the amount of guests allowed to be invited to a wedding? "
a) there were only 400 guest the other 1000 people were collecting
b) he received a heter me'ah rabbanim (permission from 100 rabbis)
2) Arnold Schwartzenegger was invited but did not attend- he was scared that he would have to pick up the brides father on his shoulders.
3) The Mir Yeshiva will be instituting monthly tests on the kuntras/sefer –that was put out by the grooms father.
RABBI SCHWARTZ COOL PLACES IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK-
Mamshit- Located in the upper Negev who would ever have thought that if it were up to Ben Gurion this might have been the capital of Israel. This was part of his lifelong dream of populating the Negev. This Nabatean city is one of the most beautiful in Israel and is a UNESCO recognized heritage site along with its counter parts (Nitzana Shivta and Obdat) as part of the Spice Trail. The Nabateans, which were descendants of Yishamael that are mentioned in the Torah as passing by and purchasing Yosef from the pit (Bereshis 23:14 "These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam") major period of development was from the 4th century BC when they were tribes of nomads trading in spices and incense from africa to between China, India, the Far East, Egypt, Syria, Greece and Rome. They were pagans who's laws included the prohibition to drink wine, plant trees of houses by punishment of death. Thus maintaining their nomadic lifestyle for centuries traveling through the desert on their 62 day journey covering on camels about 25 miles per day. Eventually however with their wealth and later Hellenist and Roman influence they built cities and converted to Christianity. In mamshit which was a capital city of the negev the Palestina Teretzia of the Romans one can see beautiful remains of the rich mans quarters, the roman stables, ancient churches and pagan nile temples with mosaics. Definitly a cool place to see and feel what life in the desert was like.
RABBI SCHWARTZ' S EXAM ANSWER OF THE WEEK
Answer is C The Ministry of tourism loves the Nabateans a few centuries of nomad arab spice traders that built cities and way stations here in Israel coming up from Africa. The Nabatean cities are actually a UNESCO recognized site Israel. All the cities are in the Negev south of Israel. Eventually the Nabateans became Christians (it paid for them) and they built nice palaces that still exist 2000 years later and are pretty cool to see. If your into that type of stuff. Personally I prefer Jewish sites. Although I don't mind a little incense here and thereJ