Our view of the Galile

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Toe-tally Awesome-Tetzaveh 5774/2014

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"

February 7th  2014 -Volume 4, Issue 17-7th  of Adar I 5774
Toe-tally Awesome
 Ouch… I'm in pain. Yet I still write to you. Maybe it will take my mind off of this big bulging, throbbing Band-Aid on my foot. I never thought much about my large toe before. Just one of those nice little strange appendages on my foot, that I once in a while stub on some lego pieces that my kids leave lying around the house. It was also kind of handy (or footy) I guess when you need to step up on your tip toes to reach the chocolate my wife sometimes hides in far up places. (I thought by marrying a short woman, I wouldn't have to worry about this too often… she turned out to be quite capable). But in general I never paid much attention to that little stubby digit that hangs off my foot. Until the pesky little thing decided to start messing with the toe-nail and the two of them decided to have it out becoming ingrown. Two and half weeks later when I finally realized these guys wouldn't work it out on their own I'm sitting in a doctor's office as he hacks them all apart. As I said Ouch…

So I've been thinking a bit about these toe things that we have. What are they really about? According to an online discussion on this important topic neilwep AKA "too much time on my hands" suggests that toes are just left over from the evolutionary process when we had to swing from trees as monkeys. Being a Jew that believes that God created man Himself, as the Torah describes not just upgrading us from the monkey farm, together with the obvious proof that I'm not a big banana eater, I didn't find that too meaningful. Although neilwep-at least when it comes to himself- might not be too far off base as to his own evolutionary roots from the level of intelligent thought that I found on his blog. Other people suggested that toes are good for Yoga and ballet, both two art forms that I don't really think I was created for either. The guy that said that they were there for feeling out the chair on the floor in the dark room was a little closer to home. But come on, there must be something more meaningful about toes.

My next stop was of course that great Rebbe of the cyberworld Reb Google, who shared with me some cool facts about toes that I 'm sure you're interested in. Did you know that Stalin was web-footed (syndactyly)? Ashton Kutschter and Dan Ackroyd as well. How about the fact that modern science now very commonly replaces hand thumbs with your toes when necessary. Or that each year in the English village of Wetton there is a well-attended toe wrestling contest-sponsored by Ben and Jerry's ice cream (huh?). The Toe-nament(oy) was denied entry by the International Olympic committee (IOC) upon their application but yet seemingly after 10 years this new sport continues to grow. Ingrow J.

Some other cool facts are that the oldest prosthetic limb ever found seems to be a wooden toe that was found in 2000 that belonged to a mummy dating back to the times of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba-The famous "Cairo Toe" of course. Slaves in the US pre- Abe Lincoln used to have their toes cut off so that they would have a difficult time escaping. And perhaps most fascinating is that August 6th has officially been declared as "wiggle your toes" day. I wonder if you have to say Toe-chnun that day or not. (oy, oy, oy-see how I want you to share my pain).

Anyways, obviously not getting much meaning or inspiration out of my good friend the googler rebbe, I turn instead to this week's Torah portion and of course whaddaya know? Bloody toes find their way into the parsha in perhaps one of the most important ceremonies of our history. This week we learn about the Kohein/Priests in the Tabernacle/Temple the clothing and special garments they would wear and the inauguration and induction sacrifices that were brought to sanctify and dedicate them to their service. Aharon and his sons we are told were brought into the Ohel Moed/gathering tent where they would be dressed, anointing oil placed on their heads, meal offerings were brought and then the ram would be slaughtered. After which we are told 29:20 Exodus
"And you shall take the blood and place it on the earlobe of Aharon and the right lobe of his children and on their right thumbs and on their right toe and then pour the blood upon the altar."
Now Hashem could have just as easily sent me an E-Mail to inspire me to write about this topic, but hey, who's complaining?

It's interesting to note that this same ritual is also found by the purification of the Metzora/Leper and his return to the camp. The Ibn Ezra notes that that these extremities are the point of connection of a human body and thus they are the point that had to be sanctified. The Toldos Yitzchak elaborates on this point and suggests that the human body that was made in the image of God corresponds to three different spheres of holiness that Man has; the head, the body and the feet. With all of them the point of connection is ear, thumb and toe. The lobe of the ear represents man's obligation to hear the word of Hashem and to block out words of Lashon Hara. It is why we pierce the earlobe of the slave who wishes to remain in slavery, and why the purity process of the Metzora who sinned with evil talk is to once again sanctify the ear. I will not comment on what this means for the piercing of ears with earrings for women and men.

The thumb which is the point of connection of the hand-when we give a good handshake- or grip things with, represents our world of kindness. Giving charity, embracing and comforting a loved one and of course the famous yeshiva guy thumb ritual of understanding when we explain a complex piece of Talmud. Finally we have the toe. The toe represents the world of action, traversing this world to spread the word of Hashem.; the feet that direct us to place Shul/Synagogue, study halls Torah classes or to do mitzvos. (PS it's not easy driving with your toe out of commission as well to all of these places). The image of Hashem that is reflected in our body is meant to inspire us to direct and uplift our lives to a holy existence. Our limbs that are led by these nifty little appendages are there to guide us on our holy trail.

The Kohen whose life is meant to be dedicated to being the intermediary between us and Hashem is like these limbs. He is our point of connection. The process of his induction into the service of the people is to sanctify him with these three limbs. His ears are meant to hear the needs and prayers of the people, his hands not only to receive the sacrifices and offerings to Hashem but to in turn lay his hands and bless the nation granting them inspiration, light and peace. And the role of the Kohen as well was to go out amongst the people and teach and guide them in the ways of Hashem. They are our ears, thumbs and toes.

What is even more fascinating the Chesed L'Avraham ( A 16th century Kabbalist and grandfather of the Chida) reveals that the secret signs that our forefather Yaakov gave to his bride-to be Rachel (which she in turn gave to her sister Leah) before their wedding night, in order that he would know that it was her, were that she should tug at these three places; his ear, thumb and toe, The original holy secret handshake. The deep symbolism as well being that at this holiest moment of consummation, we are creating a human, the twelve tribes whose role is to be that image of Hashem and whose lives would be dedicated to sanctifying our Creator in this world in all that they do.

Rav Simcha Weinberg relates a story of how he was once sitting in front of Reb Shlomo Carlebach Z"TL when a young man, depressed and broken, cried out, “Holy Rebbe, I have sinned so much that I can no longer connect to God!”

Reb Shlomo sang the following words, “The Kohen shall take from the blood of the guilt offering, and the Kohen shall place it on the middle part of the right ear of the person being purified and on the thumb of his right hand and the big toe of his right foot. Some of the oil remaining on his palm, the Kohen shall put on the middle part of the right ear of the man being purified, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot; on the blood of the guilt-offering. And the rest of the oil that is on the Kohen’s palm, he shall place upon the head of the person being purified; and the Kohen shall provide him atonement before God (Vayikra 14:14-18).”

"Why the ear? Why the thumb,” and why the toe?” You also wonder, “Why the head?”

Everybody knows that our Holy Father Jacob designed secret signals with the love of his life, Rachel; secret signals so that Laban couldn’t switch the sisters. Did you ever wonder what those signals were? What signals would such a holy man and woman choose?

Listen, and I’ll tell you the deepest secret; I know what those signals were: Rachel was to touch Jacob on his right ear, and on his right thumb, and on his right big toe. These were the deepest secrets of Jacob and Rachel, and their secrets are holy.

The Kohen comes to the man and he says, “Do you remember Jacob and Rachel? Do you remember their love? Would you like to know their secret signals? God loves you, and He wants you to know. He wants you to feel that His love for you is as powerful as the deepest holiest love between two people.”

The Kohen places the blood on the man’s ear, thumb and toe, with each touch saying, “This is how Jacob and Rachel signaled their deepest holiest love.”
After the first three touches with the blood of the guilt-offering, the man says, “No! I don’t deserve it! I am a sinner! You must be wrong!”

And the Kohen puts down the blood and takes the oil and says, “No, my holy brother, there is no more guilt, there is the same oil that is used to anoint a Kohen and a King, the same oil that is used to anoint the vessels of the Mishkan. God is anointing you with His love.”

Reb Shlomo lifted his cup of wine and sang, “L’chaim,’ drank, dipped his finger in the wine and touched the young man’s ear, thumb, and his toe that was sticking out of his sandals.

He then poured some of the wine on the young man’s head and said, “I anoint you to be the holiest servant of God.”The young man is now a rabbi; a very holy yiddele.
I think it was worth it to have an ingrown toenail just for that story. Don't you?
Have an Toe-riffic Shabbos!,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

" You will never stub your toe standing still. The faster you go, the more chance there is of stubbing your toe but the more chance you have of getting somewhere"- Charles F. Kettering

"Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on their toes".- Chinese Proverbs

" The man with the boots does not mind where he places his foot."-Irish Proverbs 

This is the only parsha from the birth of Moshe in which his name is not mentioned. Our sages tell us it is because by the sin of the golden calf Moshe demanded Hashem forgive the Jewish people and if not his name should be erased from the book "Asher Kasavata-which you wrote". This portion the one proceeding the story of the golden calf and also always the week in which Moshe died (the 7th of Adar) is the week where those ominous words found there fulfillment. The Gematria of the extraneous word Asher= 501 which interestingly enough is also the gematria of this weeks portion Tetzaveh
-Tet=400 Tzadik=90 Vav=6 Heh=5 Total=502

 It is also interesting that  The Gaon of Vilna notes though  that there are 101 pesukim in this week's parsha. He points out that this is the hidden gematria of the name Moshe.. [Gematria nistar means the following the letters that spell out each letter that are pronounced but there):
Moshe is Mem Shin Heh You simply spell out those 3 letters how they would sond phonetically; Mem = Mem: mem     =40
                      Shin = Shin: Yud Nun,=60
                         Heh = Heh: Aleph    = 1
So although his name is not written it is still alluded to in the hidden form via the Gematria of the verses in the portion.

(answer below at end of Email)
"Kitvei Ha'Ma'arot" the Execration texts date to which period
a)  The Chalcolithic period
b)  The 10th century BCE
c)  The Persian period
d)  The Middle Bronze

1.      Why isn’t your nose 12 inches long?
Because then it would be a foot
2.      Why couldn’t the two feet get along? 
Because they both thought they were right.
3.      What do you call a dinosaur with stinky feet?
ex-stinked (extinct)
4.      How did the bubblegum cross the road? 
It was stuck to the bottom of the chicken’s foot.
5.      What type of hat does a leg wear?
A knee cap.
6.      What did one knee bone say to the other knee bone?
“Let’s get out of this joint.”
7.      What do you get when you play the piano with your feet? 
8.      What kind of shoes does a plumber hate? 
9.      If athletes get athlete’s foot, what do terorists get? 
10.  What does a shoemaker use to repair shoes? 
11.  What kind of vehicle did the podiatrist (foot doctor) drive?
A toe truck
12.  Why didn’t the Mother like her kid’s foot jokes? 
They were too corny.
13.  What do you call the Super bowl victory dance? 
The Foot Ball
14.  Did you hear the joke about the gym sock? 
You don’t want to. It stinks.




Teffilin Stam Visitor center-Tzefat Located in Har Canaan above Tzefat the Teffilin visitor center is a cool place to visit for the whole family. A tour through the center includes a lesson with scribe who demonstrates the process of the ancient way of writing our holy scrolls as well as a hands on experience where all get a chance to use the quils and write your names. There's a computerized Sofer trivia game that all participate in and compete to see who knows the most information about writing Torahs, and Tefillin as well as a great multimedia presentation that shows the process in a fun, and musical way. If you're up in Tzefat make yourself an appointment in advance to get a really inspirational and memorable tour.

Answer is D:  As you know there are lots of ancient archeological finds here in Israel and part of our tour guiding course is to know what each of them are and from what periods they are found. The Execration texts were found in Egypt and they were names of places that were enemies of the Egypt that were cursed and then the shards of pottery were broken. Like a kind of voodoo thing. What makes them interesting to us is they contain many of the names of cities in Israel from that time frame including the earliest mention of Jerusalem. If you know this then you know that the middle bronze era which is when ancient Egypt ruled over this area is the only time frame when these could be from. Chalcolithic is prehistoric copper period the 10th century was King David after the Jews already conquered the land and the Persians were after the Temple was destroyed. So the correct answer is the Middle Bronze around the period of Avraham.         


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