Our view of the Galile

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Holy Prophet- Kedoshim 5774/2014

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

April 25th 2014 -Volume 4, Issue 27-25th of Nisan 5774 
(9th day of the Omer-one week and two days!)
Parshat Kedoshim
The Holy Prophet

We do not have creepy, fat, old men with beards and red suits coming down our chimney to stick things in our socks. That's the other team. We don't even have a chimney. We also do not believe in bogey men, whatever they are, or bunnies that hide eggs on our front lawns-not that we have any of those either. (front lawns-I mean, eggs we have plenty of, we bought way too many for Pesach). We believe in Hashem, who watches us and protects us and we are pretty much not into these mythological figures that are there to somehow frighten or trick children into behaving. I'm good with this. Which is why I had difficulty understanding why in middle of our Pesach Seder our little Elka, (my little Elka J), was hiding underneath the table. At first I thought it was where she hid the afikoman, but the look of terror on her face was telling a different story. No amount of kosher for Pesach chocolate which always seems to work to resolve any major issues in life and put a smile on her face (mine as well) seemed to work. Finally my wife, who seems to understand my children a lot better than I ever will claim to, got the story. It seems that my daughter was suffering from Eliyahu Hanavi phobia- the fear that some ancient prophet with a long white beard and donkey was going to visit our Seder and drink some wine. Not that we have any shortage of wine by the Schwartz Seder and not like Elka even likes wine. She was scared, I was getting tired, we still needed to sing songs and "who knows one?" it and make lots of animal noises by Chad Gadya. The Schwartz Seder was in jeopardy
What was I to say? Obviously, we could not tell her Eliyahu was not coming. That would be heretical on Pessach night, the night when we pass down our age-old traditions. We had already resolved, using my Rabbinic acumen and training that it was not necessary to sneak around the back door and dress up like Eliyahu and scream "BOO!" when they kids opened the door, as this seems to be a more recent Jewish custom (perfected by my father) without any basis in anything besides frightening and tricking children-see other teams customs above. We even agreed that we did not have to shake the table and spill out any of the wine from Eliyahu's cup while the kids weren't looking to get them to believe that he really came; also a later custom and frankly a waste of good wine. So what was left? To convince her that Eliyahu was a nice prophet that loved little children, didn't really seem to be the way to go either, although the story of him bringing a child back to life might attest to that, I didn't think the resurrected dead child thing would give her any less nightmares.
Meantime, our little 4 year old Tully was getting all antsy already. He was excited to meet Eliyahu. He even told Elka that he would protect her as he would open the door and she could go upstairs. Interestingly enough that seemed to work. Daddy, Mommy and her older brother, 15 year old Yonah weren't protection enough for her, but Tully our little Israeli, all brave and ready was all she needed. She knew that only a fearless Israeli raised kid could deal with this situation. Tully after all kills the cockroaches in the house and will chase the cats away as his mother and sister cower behind one another. He's kind of like King David with the slingshot in that way, forget about a donkeys jawbone. So Elka went upstairs. Tully opened the door. Yonah jumped out and said "BOO" dressed with his jacket over his face and a hat covering his eyes. And Tully laughed and laughed. We even got to shake the table and show him the wine Eliyahu had drunk. When Elka came back down, Tully told her. "Elka, it wasn't scary. Eliyahu even looks like Yonah...". And so another Schwartz Seder comes to happy ending. Next Year in Jerusalem, hooray!
As we continued the holiday, I had a chance to ponder Eliyahu HaNavi a bit more and his special place amongst our Pesach holiday. One of our traditions is that Eliyahu who was taken to heaven alive in a fiery chariot was told that he must always return to the Jewish people, whom he maligned, accusing them of not observing Hashem's covenant. He will be present at all Jewish circumcisions and Pesach Seders, which interestingly enough historically no matter how far we have fallen from religious observance, seem to be two rituals that we have never abandoned. Although one might think they would be the first to go. In addition the last prophecy in the Books of Prophets tell us that Eliyahu will be the harbinger of the ultimate redemption heralding in Mashiach and the Messianic era. Pesach being the time of redemption it's no wonder he's there.
 Throughout our history there has always been a tradition as well of Eliyahu revealing himself to individuals, generally holy ones, and assisting them in some mystical way. The Talmud is replete with stories of him and one of the traditions of the Schwartz family Seder is the story of my great Uncle Henry (Hershel) and my grandmother Bubby Zeldy O"BM being visited by him, assisting them in escaping the inferno that was to be Europe during the Holocaust. Who is Eliyahu and what is he really all about?
There is a story that I was recently reminded of, as I read a great new book by my friend (and former chavrusa/study partner) Rabbi Yechiel Spero. It is the story of a simple Chasid whose greatest wish was to see the great prophet Eliyahu himself. As every good chasid, does he went to the Baal Shem Tov and asked him how he may merit such a revelation. The Baal Shem Tov instructed the Chasid that if he was truly serious about his request, he should travel to a small village two days travel away and bring with him a large basket filled with food for the weekend. Dutifully the Chasid followed his orders and as he came to the small village in time for Friday night services he hoped for an invitation for a place of lodging. Much to his dismay though, no invitation was forthcoming so he knocked on the closest door with a mezuzah where he was greeted by a young widow with small children. He offered them his basket of food and spent Shabbat there with them, all the while on lookout for that heavenly prophet. When Shabbos was over and much to his disappointment he didn't meet any one that even resembled anything close to Eliyahu, he returned back to the Baal Shem with his failure.
The Baal Shem Tov however told him that he must try once again if he wanted to see the great prophet. So off again he went with his basket of food, arriving at the town and stopping off once again at the widow's house where he spent Shabbos with her children, waiting and waiting…But to no avail. Returning once again dejected, the Baal Shem Tov told him that the third time is "Gleeda (ice cream)". {He didn't really say that, it's just an Israeli maxim, whose meaning I have yet to understand, but kind of a more positive outlook than the" three strikes and you're out" American adage}. So off he went the third time. This time he figured maybe he should wait around in shul a little longer. Maybe Eliyahu would then pop in. But after waiting another hour he decided it was time to head on over to his usual place of lodging. As he reached the door though, he overheard the young child talking to his mother.
"Mommy, we don' have anything in the house to eat. I'm so hungry… What will we do?"
His mother answered him in words that pierced our Chasid's heart.
"Don't worry, my dear child. The past two weeks we also had no food and Hashem sent Eliyahu HaNavi to us to bring us a full basket of food. I'm sure he will come again this week…"
This week's Torah portion begins with the commandment to Moshe to
"Speak to the entire congregation of Israel and tell them they should be holy, for I Hashem their God is holy."
Rashi notes that this Torah portion and it's commandment contain most of the principles of the Torah and it was therefore read in front of the entire nation gathered together. The Torah's tips for holiness though might be somewhat counterintuitive to the modern day "spiritually seeking" ascetic viewpoint. There are no commandments to make random fasts, or meditations or to dip oneself in ritual baths frequently, practicing abstinence and being a vegetarian. Sorry to disappoint. The laws and directions here to becoming holy are pretty basic. "Don't steal, don't lie, don't curse, don't seek revenge, revere your parents, give charity, pay your workers on time, respect your elders, Don't gossip, don't hate your brother in your heart and of course love your friend as yourself." How are you ranking on the holiness scale?
How does all this make me holy? The answer suggests that great 19th century sage, the Chatam Sofer, is that holiness doesn’t' come from separating oneself from society and hiding in some cave somewhere and meditating on oneness of God and the universe. Holiness means recognizing that there is holiness already in each and every one of us. We are charged to treat our neighbors our friends, our employees, the world with the dignity of being in the presence of the Holy one Blessed be He, Hashem. We are meant to see ourselves as already being holy beings. Moshe was commanded to make this statement unique by gathering all of the people together so that even the lowest rungs of society, the sinners, the idolaters, the gossipers would all know that they also possessed that holiness. They would know it and the most righteous would know it about them as well. We all have the power to be Eliyahu HaNavi. We can all bring Mashiach today.
Pesach has ended, but it is not over. On Pesach we began the process of counting up to the ultimate function of our Exodus; to receive the Divine Revelation on Sinai and in the process achieving that highest level of human holiness possible. We became one with our Creator. We received His spirit within us and we were commanded to reveal that inner spark to all of mankind. Eliyahu came to our Seder to tell us that we are up to that task. Only holy people can experience that revelation. We don't need to hide under the table. We just need to appreciate our holiness enough to open up the door.
Have an absolutely Divine Shabbos and enjoy your Chametz Challah J!
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz 

"In a sense, we have all wandered away from our true selves. Birth is the beginning of our soul’s journey, sent off from its divine source to live in an unnatural state, a land of materialism. Throughout our lives, therefore, we crave to be reunited with our real selves. We search for our soul, for the G-dly spark within ourselves. We long to reconnect with our source”."- Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe

(answer below at end of Email)
The "Pools of the Arches" in Ramla was built by -
a) Haron Al Rashid
b)  Ibn Tulun
c)  Baybars
d)  Salaadin

"You shall love your fellow as yourself, I am HaShem' (V'yikra 19.18)

The end of the verse 'I am HaShem' is difficult to understand.  Why is it necessary for the verse to add this as a summation of the mitzvah? Rav Mendel of Kassov suggests that  the Gematria of  the word 'ahava/love' Alef=1 Heh=5 Beit=2 Heh= 5 is the same  as the Hebrew word for 'one' [Echad] - 13. This is to tell us that each person is supposed to love his fellow completely as if they were really one person. If he loves his fellow in this manner, and his fellow loves him in the same way, than together they have made the name of HaShem. This is because two times 'ahava' [2 x 13] has the same value of the four-letter name of HaShem [26]. This is the meaning of 'You shall love your fellow as yourself, I am HaShem.' When a Jew loves another completely and they
are as one, then they complete the name of HaShem. 


Amat HaTaninim, Beit Chanina-I had the opportunity to visit this neat little place over Pesach right in between Zichron Yakov and Hadera near the coastline. Its' really a great little place for families with little kids (although Pesach it was quite swamped). They have two crocodiles over there that are pretty neat to watch, a little pond and paddle boats, little train ride through the swamp/nachal that was once full of crocodiles. There are little water slides and fun sprinkler/watergun shooting things there as well for the little kids and they aoffer all types of activities by pre appointment making pitas and crafts. There is also a great little campground there. The spring is here so go camping and see our cool country!


Reb Shlomo's classic "you never know..you never know"

 Awesome and rare clip of the Kotel on Pesach from 1913

Zaidy and his little granddaughter  (let's call her Elka) were sitting talking when she asked, "Did Hashem make you, Zaidy?"
"Yes, Hashem made me," the grandfather answered.
 A few minutes later, the little girl asked him, "Did God make me too?
 "He most certainly did,sweetheart" the grandpa answered.
For a few minutes, the little girl seemed to be studying her grandpa, as well as her own reflection in a small mirror. Her grandfather wondered what was running through her mind. At last she spoke up. "You know, Grandpa," she said, "Hashem's been doing a lot better job lately." 

It was a small town and the Catholic Priest, the Protestant Minister and the Jewish Rabbi were very good friends. Of course, there was a lot of kidding and joking between them all year long.
To their surprise one year, the Priest and the Minister received a Christmas card from the Rabbi. It read:
"Roses are reddish, Violets are bluish When the Messiah really comes You'll wish you were Jewish."

Answer is A:  If you have not yet visited the pools of the arches it’s a really neat place to see it is one of the oldest remains from the Abassid Arabic period in the 8th century  more than 1200 years ago! It served as a water reservoir that was filled by an underground spring and was connected with aqauducts. Today it’s a cool place to take the family indoor boating through the glorious arches and ceilings that encase this pool. I know that probably most of the names don't have meaning to most of our readers and truth is I can't even tell you what the first two are known for. However the correct answer is A Good old  "Harry"..


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