Our view of the Galile

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Back to the (near) Future- Behar 2014/5774

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

May 8th  2014 -Volume 4, Issue 29-8th of Iyar 5774
 (24th day of the Omer-three week and three days!)
Parshat Behar
Back to the (near) Future
The year is 2014 or 5775 from the Creation of the world. You as well as all of the Jewish people are living in Israel. Mashiach has arrived. You sold your diamond business, your neighbor gave up his accounting practice and pretty much everyone you know had to find some new trade to get into, except of course that falafel guy down the block. We were back home again, and now it was time to find a job.

You had thought about being a tour guide, particularly because there was a huge influx of tourists from around the world who wanted to see the new Messianic kingdom and Temple. But you heard that there was this guy out of Karmiel, that pretty much had cornered the market on tourism J. So, being an entrepreneur most of your life you checked out the market and realized that the two major upcoming industries were cattle raising and agriculture. See, lots of people had a lot of sacrifices that they had to bring for all of those years in exile; sin offerings, peace offerings, thanksgiving offerings and the like. Being that you really can't stand the smell of cows and you've always had this funny nightmare about sheep attacking you (perhaps too many years of counting them before you went to sleep), you decided that you were going to be a farmer. You always liked gardening and being from the biblical portion and tribe of Issachar, the Jezre'el valley where you received your allotted land was just perfect to start your wheat field. Things were good.  This year in fact you received a bumper double crop. Your wife couldn't be happier. You might even be able to add on the extra room of the kitchen that she had been hoping for. And then you went to class last night and everything changed.

You like your Rabbi. He's a good guy and very knowledgeable. Tribe of Yisachar people kind of pride ourselves on our Torah scholars. But last night the Rabbbi announced that this coming year, our business was to be shut down. No planting, plowing, or reaping. In fact he said we pretty much had to open up our gates and let whoever wants to come in and take whatever they wanted. Something about this year being the Shemitta year. Now don't get me wrong, I love these Yissachar Kollel Rabbis as much as the next. I always support them, have contributed whenever asked and have been meticulous about my annual tithes. But a full year free-for-all with everyone and their 10 kids trampling through my beautiful, hard worked fields and cleaning me out is getting a bit carried away, don't you think? If that wasn't enough, the next thing he said really through me for a doozy. All those loans that I had so generously made over the past few years to various individuals were all to be called off…nada…gornisht…bupkas. It kind of feels like one of those old Ponzi schemes back in the States. The Rabbi informed us that, sure in the period of Exile or even the second temple the great Hillel was able to work out some type of Prozbol loophole where the debts were handed over to the courts and were collected afterwards. But that was because back then not all of the Jewish people lived in Israel and the nature of the prohibition was only Rabbinical. But today Baruch Hashem- he said with a big grin- we are blessed to have all of the Jews living here, just as the Torah predicted and Hashem wanted it to be. Therefore no more Prozbol…no more debts... no more money…no more crops…no more extra room off the kitchen. Maybe we can send a few Jews back to America… Russia… Ethiopia… India… My wife is not going to be a happy camper. "I told you that you should just have gotten over your meshigas and gone into the sheep business"- I can just hear her already. 

The year is 5825 from creation (no one knows what 2064 anymore). Over fifty years ago your grandfather moved to Israel with the coming of Mashiach. This past year was the shemitta year and it was an amazing year. As in the years past the crops that you had from the 6th year carried over and lasted for the whole year. It was exciting to experience that incredible miracle. It was fantastic in the beginning of the summer to read Parshat Behar/Bechukosai and hear about that promise and guarantee Hashem makes and watch it actually occur. The Sabbatical year is perhaps the most essential one of your family's life. It was nice being able to tell all those people that owed you money and were not able to pay you back not to worry about. Their slates were cleared. Hashem was in control and you had no doubt that you wouldn't lose out and would probably see some miraculous return. You were able to take off from work, pray at a later minyan in the morning (you really never got used to that getting up at sunrise work ethic that your grandfather had established) attend classes, visit Jerusalem more often with the kids, enjoy some fantastic tours around the country from this really special tour guide in Karmiel and just luxuriate in that extra time growing spiritually…in that extra room off the kitchen.

You felt kind of bad for your buddy in the sheep industry who worked all year and could never enjoy the beauty of the Shemitta year. For you it was like trying to imagine a week without Shabbos. You could never do it. You had heard that there were people in the "old days" that would work 7 days a week and you could never understand it. I mean like...why? It was obvious that Hashem provided for everything and all that you would have was decreed on Rosh Hashana each year. I mean, here you were taking off a whole year and were doing even better than ever. Why would people miss out on the beauty of Shabbos? How could they really ever focus on God and their family if they were working all week long. You barely can imagine how life life would be without this year off. This year for yourself…your family…for Hashem.

This coming year 5826 was even more exciting for your family. It was the 50th year, the Yovel jubilee. The first one since the times of the 1st Temple, when all Jews lived in Israel. This year would be able to give back all those lands that your family had purchased over the past decades to the original owners. You might even get back a few yourself. It was going to be another year off and you were looking forward to seeing the great miracles from your crops and sharing them once again with all who wanted. Maybe you would final fulfill that lifelong dream of finishing that semicha/rabbinic ordination you were thinking of doing years ago. The highlight of course was Sukkot when millions of Jews, men, women, children and even infants would all converge on the holy city to hear the king read from the Torah in the Temple court. Although we did this every Sabbatical year, this year was bound to be even more spectacular. You're getting shivers down your spine, just thinking about this amazing gathering, the festivities and just being together with the entire Jewish people as a whole, just like we were by Sinai so many millennia ago.

Somebody told me on the way to shul today that the word Yovel/Jubilee comes from the word Hovala- to transport. Each Jubilee year we fulfill what the verse tells us- "It is a Yovel, and it shall be so unto you. You shall return each man to his ancestral heritage, and you shall return each man to his family." If on the Shemitta year we remove ourselves from any sense of ownership of the land of Israel, recognizing that it is all from Hashem. During Yovel we are transported back to that experience of Sinai. In the times of our ancestors all slaves would also be freed in the Yovel year. It is a time when we truly experience our freedom in its entirety. You think about all those poor generations before you, that were slaves in Egypt, slaves to the Babylonians and Romans, and most significantly and tragically slaves to their jobs, their silly and mundane pursuits and slaves to the various pre-occupations, temptations and distractions of those last societies of our Exile in the USA, Europe and even in the pre-Messianic State of Israel. You can't imagine how people lived in those days. How much they must have longed to be where you are today. What they would have given to finally be free. You raise your eyes up to Hashem, who you are so familiar and close to, and you thank your Father in heaven. It is so good to be home…

Have a precious Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz 


" And you should sanctify the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land …”"
-The Liberty Bell (and this weeks Torah portion J-so much for separation from State)

(answer below at end of Email)
The New Testament account (or fableJ -comment my own) "healing of Tabitha" by Peter took place -
a) Emmaus
b)  Yaffo/Jaffa
c)  Casarea
d)  Jerusalem

Many of our great sages see in the verses that discuss the Shemitta and particularly the Yovel 50th  Jubilee year as being hints and the secret of our redemption and return to Israel as it is quite explicit that the exile is as a result of the non observance of these mitzvos. One of the more interesting Gematriot I saw is that the verse
"יובל הוא שנת החמשים שנה תהיה לכם   ‘It is Yovel, the fiftieth year it should be for you
Is the same Gematria as the prophecy of Yirmiyahu/Jeremiah who our Haftorah tells us was imprisoned in the pit in the kings palace before the exile and who Hashem gave the ultimate consolation prophecies to that says that once again it will be heard in Yehuda and in the streets of Yerushalayim
קול ששון וקול שמחה קול חתן וקול כלה-"The sound of Rejoicing and and the happiness the sound of a groom and a bride" Both their gematriot equaling 2078. Just as Adam and Eve were once one and were separated and come together in marriage again. So do is Yove lwhen each man returns to his home a reunion like marriage. May we see the ultimate reunion and redemption and return of the Shechina to our holy places.

Har Bental-high up in the Golan, at 1700 meters above sea level, Mt Bental stands out as a beautiful and historic place in Israel. It has incredible overlooks of Syria, the Golan and the Hermon and what has been called the "Valley of Tears-Emek Habacha" underneath it. The valley is called that after a fierce battle in the Yom Kippur war when we were outnumbered by attacking Syrians 10 to 1. Yet heroically our soldiers stood their ground fighting blindly in the night, jumping from burning tank to burning tank, in what can only be referred to as a miraculous battle until we regained this highly strategic site.
The mountain is called Bental which is translated as the son of dew because it is smaller than its counterpart in the called Avital- father of dew. "dew" to the 60 mm of dew that falls a year there. There is another volcanic mountain as well nearby called Ortal the light of dew, which is kind of nice until you think about the father, the son and the.."Light?" hmmm who named these things anyways? There is a nice cafe at the top of the mountain humorously called Coffee Anan after the former UN general (anan in Hebrew meaning clouds as well-it's an Israeli play on words). There are all types of bunkers and lookouts over here that you (or your kids) can walk through as you get a feel for what the experience must have been. All in all a classic Golan heights site.

During Sefira the custom is not to listen to any instrumental music thus the development of cool acapella genre of jewish music here's a few cool clips…

Shemitta in Israel coming up check out the prep…
 A New Maccabeats from my friend Rabbi Klatzko Boi Kalla

Most people don't know that back in 1912, Hellman's mayonnaise was manufactured in England. In fact, the "Titanic" was carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled for delivery in Vera Cruz, Mexico, which was to be the next port of call for the great ship after New York City. The Mexican people were eagerly awaiting delivery and were disconsolate at the loss, so much so that they declared a national day of mourning which they still observe today.

It is known, of course, as...Sinko de Mayo.
Answer is A:  Yeah as readers of my weekly Email know I'm not a big fan of Christianity and its stories-although I know plenty of nice Christians-don't get me wrong. But in our course we had to learn all of the great stories in the new testament and of course every place that all the "miracles" took place. Not surprisingly most of the stories in their Bible and almost all of their "miracles are pretty much replicas of what our prophets and tanach stories already have. They pretty much copied them. Anyways Peter was one of the J-Mans students who fascinatingly enough I have heard according to some interesting reliable Jewish sources (although controversia See Machzor vitry student of rashi and kol bo as well as WikipediaJ) that he actually repented and in fact was the author of the Nishmas prayer we recite each Shabbos. Anyways again-see how much I try to digress on questions like this- he healed this sick woman in…Yaffo. Actually the story is he raised her from the dead-like Eliyahu and Elisha both did-except they really did it. Yaffo is a big Peter city incidentally big church there dedicated to him as well. Aren’t you glad you know that now?


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