Our view of the Galile

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Destroyed City- Devarim Chazon 2014/5774

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

August 1st 2014 -Volume 4, Issue 39 -5th  of Av 5774
Parshat Devarim/Chazon
The Destroyed City

I'm not writing about the war. It's too much already. I'm writing about something else. But still not the fun, jokey, laughy, Rabbi Schwartz E-Mails that we're used to yet. Maybe after Tisha B'Av…maybe when this is all over. Maybe when we can all celebrate.

But yet…I looked at the news pics and the clips and I see a devastated city. Buildings blown up, women and children crying in the streets holding their babies, the cynic in me says it for the cameras, the Jew in me is even more enraged at the animals that are using them as pawns. I think of the fear and terror that those in the city must feel when flyers are landing on their homes, phones are giving them messages and texts that it's time to leave. Our missiles will fall. They will feel the full brunt of our force. We laid a siege first warning them the time was coming. Air attacks, Sea attacks, and they just don’t seem to get it. We want peace. We want their success. We want them to be productive to realize their opportunities of posterity and prosperity. But they just don't understand no matter in how much we give them, how much we help them, how much we have invested in them, that we truly want only their best interests. They are not seeing it.

Can't they see that there is nothing more painful for us than to have to go in and kill them?  Can't they see how saddened we are to have to be here once again, destroying their cities, their villages, their hospitals, their schools? Why have they not used the blessing and opportunity that they have been given and instead used it to spit in our eye, to return the goodness with evil…with treachery…with sin? Can’t they see that all of this could stop? It could all turn around. It could be over, if they just put down their weapons and chose peace and love and a future, rather than the path which is certain to lead only to their destruction. Couldn't we have seen this as well?

As I said I'm not writing about the war. In fact almost all of the above could very well have been written about 2500 years ago by the prophet Yirmiyahu/Jeremiah and before him Yishaya/Isaiah. In fact they did write it. The only difference is that they were not writing about Palestinians and Gaza. They were writing about us and Jerusalem. Sadly they were not only writing for their times and days but they were writing and prophesizing for us who still live with a destroyed Temple and the Shechina exiled from our Holy Land. They were writing about this week in the month of Av.

"Eicha Yashva Badad Ha'Ir Rabasi Am Hoysa Ki'Almana-How does she sit alone, the city that was great with people has become like a widow.." says Yirmiyahu. 

Do you see the smashed buildings and destroyed cities on TV these days.  Yirmiyahu describes the vision on his news networks

 "Haya Hashem K'Oyeiv Bila Yisrael Bila Kol Arminoseiha Shicheis Mivtzaruv- Hashem has become like an enemy. He consumed Israel; He consumed all her citadels, he destroyed all her fortifications"

He describes the endless "missiles" falling on his city "Mimarom Shalach Aish Batzmosai Vayirdena- From on high he has sent fire into my bones and it crushed them Nisonani Shomema Kol Hayom Dava- He has made me desolate, in constant misery" 

 Weeping mothers, children infants, young, old destruction and even the deaths od innocents and pure ones, , Yirmiyahu mourns them all. We were the "victims" then.

The Lamentations we read on Tisha B'Av describes sieges; describe attacks and the spilling of so much of our blood. But yet the words of our prophets before the destruction, which we have read in the past Haftoras are even more poignant. For the words of those prophets continuously express the incredulousness and the head banging words and questions that we have asked above of our enemies today. 

"Even an ox knows its master a donkey its master trough, Israel does no know, My nation does not understand"
"Why do you seek further beatings, that you continue to offend? Every head is ailing, And every heart is sick.  From head to foot No spot is sound: All bruises, and welts… Your land is a waste, Your cities burnt down; Before your eyes, the yield of your soil Is consumed by strangers — A wasteland as overthrown by stranger…"
  "Come, let us reason, --declares Hashem—Even though your sins are like crimson, They can turn snow-white; Be they red as dyed wool, They can become like fleece."
19 If, then, you agree and give heed, You will eat the good things of the earth;  But if you refuse and disobey, You will be devoured [by] the sword…

We have been asking these questions of our enemies, but the truth is our prophets ask those same questions of us. We could have it all. But we failed to see. We didn't believe the Chazon the vision. We thought we could continue avoiding our divine mandate, ignoring the purpose for which we were given this land. We are here not just because we earned the right after all the years of persecution, attempted genocide, and wandering. We are not here to build a national homeland and a safe haven and refuge for Jews from all over the world. We aren't even here to build a country that will shine the light of innovation, technology, democracy and scientific advancement to the entire world although we have done so and it is certainly a worthy cause. A natural one for the Jewish people. And we are certainly not here to build a country where all religions and faiths can feel comfortable in their errant ways and worship serving gods that are not real and beliefs that are misguided, as politically incorrect as that might sound.

We were given this country for one purpose. To create a true Bais Tefila L'Kol Ha'Amim- a home of prayer for all nations to the one true God, their Father in Heaven that loves all of humanity and is anxiously waiting for us to share that love and the truths of his teaching and light with the entire world. We were put here in order to show the world what a Shabbos is. To show them how a society that is united in its dedication to its Creator can overcome all of their personal gripes and in-fighting in order to glorify His name. How there is nothing more important to each and every Jew than achieving that goal of bringing that knowledge of Hashem and the beauty of the Torah and its ways to our fellow Jews. There is nothing more meaningful and inspirational that a Jew can do than to show his love for Hashem's Pomised Land than by coming back here to help build that country of love and peace and to fill it with his Torah and its light. But we fail to see that vision. Even as we scream from our blogs, our "pages" our shares, our networks and our papers about right and wrong and the battle against evil we fail to see Hashems Blog, his pages and hear His pain, sighs and groans as we remain stagnant after 2000 years, still not bringing that Shechina back home.

This Shabbos is named after that Haftora that we read it is called Shabbos Chazon the Shabbos of Vision.  The great Hasdic Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev explains that on this Shabbos, the week before the day of Tishah B'Av when  we mourn the destructions of our Temples and all of the tragedies and persecution throughout our Exile, every Jew is given a vision of what the 3rd Temple and the redemption will look like. He compares this vision to a father who gives a child a garment and the child rips it up. The father than gives him a second garment which again the child destroys. Finally the father makes one more garment for the child, but this time rather than giving it to him, he waits. Each year the father brings out the garment and shows the child what he could have if only he would show the maturity and appreciation for what the garment is. How it could envelop him, it could bring out the best of his soul and his personality. It could be his sign that he is part of society in the most basic and fundamental of ways. Without it he is naked, bereft and lacking.

This Shabbos we need not do more than look at the pictures of the destruction we are thank god inflicting on our enemies to think about our destruction, our own lacking to see the vision of our own Temple that is so close. That our Abba is taking out of the closet and showing us. If we see the vision so clearly this Shabbos than hopefully we will not have to mourn once again this Tishah B'Av. Rather than spending one more naked year on the floor with our candles mourning, we can be standing and shouting with celebration from the roof tops as we once again welcome the Shechina back home. I am not writing about the war…I am writing about our redemption

 Have a Shabbos that brings the light and vision of peace to the world,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz 


"“I am from the Land of Israel, but because of our sins we were exiled from there, and I must live in Ostrovtza. Any man who is asked where he is from must answer, ‘I am from the Land of Israel, but at the moment I am temporarily in the Exile’” -The Admor of Ostrovtza

(answer below at end of Email)
The following animal species was successfully restored to nature in northern Israel:
  1. The mountain gazelle (tsvi eretsyisraeli)
  2. The Nubian ibex (yael)
  3. The Persian fallow deer (yah’mur)
  4. The red deer (ayal adom)

Moshe begins the parsha and book of devarim with a description of their location
11 days journey from Chorev- which the commentaries note is Mt. Sinai. Rashi notes that the reason is to show the Jewish people how close they were to being here 40 years prior if not for their sins. The Klei Yakar notes that the 11 days correspond to the 11 days a year that we in exile mourn for our our Temple. The 9 days of the month of Av and the fast of the the 17th of Tamuz and the Tenth of Tevet. We are also just 11 days of mourning away from entering the land once again for it states that  he who mourns the temple will merit to see it being rebuilt. May it be this year…


Ari Shul, Tzefat- There are two of these in the old city of Tzefat. The Ashkenazi one is up on top and the Sephardic near the cemetery on the bottom. The Sefardic one where he prayed was dedicated to Eliyahu Hanavi where he studied with him in an alcove. The Ashkenazic one was originally a field where the great 16th century Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Luria the Ari'Zl would go out and greet the Shabbat Queen each Friday night and sing Kabbalat Shabbat Lecha Dodi that was composed and instituted as part of the service during that period. The Shul was originally built by Greek Jews and was taken over by the Ashkenazi students of the Baal Shem Tov who came in the 18th century. It was destroyed in an earthquake and rebuilt with a beautiful ark and wood d├ęcor that is like the forest with all types of mystical and fascinating designs. In addition the Bima has in it a hole where shrapnel hit during the 48 war of independence, miraculously no one was hurt. Finally there is a chair for Elijah the prophet that is used for circumcisions that was donated by a great Chasidic Rebbes daughter upon which it is said that all who sit in it and pray it is a great omen for fertility. The Ari's Yartzeit is the 4th of Av!

A childrens view of Tisha B'Av…beautiful


It's Av we minimize Simcha/joy in order to mourn the destructions of our Temple. Shame on you for even looking here..:) … Instead I give you ..

Rabbi Yehoshua from Kotna once traveled to Eretz Yisrael, and took in all the holiest sites amidst their destruction and desolation.  When he returned, the inhabitants of his city arranged a large banquet in his honor, and asked him to describe his impressions. “As you are all well aware,” Rabbi Yehoshua sighed, “the country still lies in desolation.  However, there is one thing which is as fresh and vibrant as it was all the way back in the times of the Second Temple.” All those present strained to catch what the Rabbi would say next.  “And that is unwarranted hatred.  Alas, it is still in existence in full force….


Answer is C:  One of the big projects of the State of Israel in addition to planting and bringing back the trees and crops of biblical times is to restore the animals as well. That being said there are many types of deer and most of them seem the same to me which is why I would not pass this question in English. But in Hebrew I do know that the Yachmor the prsian fallow deer was restored to mountains not far from me in the western galilee by nachal kziv. Interesting that we got the first ones from Iran during the times of the Shah because he had good relations with the head of the nature society. Right after that he was overthrown. So the deer made it just in time…

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