Our view of the Galile

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Good Book- Eikev 2014/5774

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

August 15th 2014 -Volume 4, Issue 41 -19th  of Av 5774
Parshat Eikev
The Good Book

I'm not a mall person. I don't like shopping. I will wear my clothing until it disintegrates on my body before I go shopping. To be fully honest, even then I let my wife do the shopping for me. My wife on the other hand could shop all day. It's why she opened a clothing business. I became a tour guide traveling and exploring the country and having a great time. We're just two people living out their dreams in the Jewish Holy Land of opportunity.

With some cancellations in my touring schedule from people who think that the US is safer than Israel (you know who you are JJ just joking no hard feelings I'll see you soon IYH when you reschedule J) my wife thought it would be a great time to take two days and do the family vacation thing, something that a busy tour guide doesn't always get a chance to do…at least with his own family. Whadaya know we had some free hotel night stays form points with our credit cards. It's amazing what you can get if you build up enough credit card debt L. Suspiciously, though however the only place that had any availability was either in Ashkelon-under missile fire not exactly peaceful get away right now (see even I have my hangups), Nazareth-not my speed, or the Dead Sea…but in Jordan and the last choice and only real one was at the Crowne Plaza in Tel Aviv and whadaya know again right next to the Azrieli super mall. Hmmmm… Sounds like a scam to me, but what do I know?

So never one to be a "party pooper" and deny my incredible Eishet Chayil the vacation of her dreams we checked in for two days to "the mall hotel". It took us about five minutes of dumping our stuff before we found ourselves in the mall and five hours later…we were still there. But I've learned since childhood when my parents would take us to the mall- although my father was (is) always more of a Kmart blue-light special type of guy- the way to survive these wonderful "family" outings. Two words- Book Store. Yup that was my kind of place. My parents would pretty much just drop me off there and I would just sit on the floor and read to my heart's content. So here I was again and as we're walking through the mall I see a Steimetzky book store up ahead. Not sure if I would be able to get out of this "quality" family time safely, I was relieved when my little 4 year old Tully runs  up ahead to the store and starts leafing through the comic books there. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. "Don't worry, Honey, I'll stay here and watch him…you just go on up ahead and have fun.". So there we sat…on the floor. Tully with his Israeli Spider Man comics and me with "The Prime Ministers" book I've been dying to get a chance to read (anyone have a spare copy to "lend" me?). Nothing like quality (without the facetious quotation marks) family time.

What broke my quiet reverie  though was when three young chayalim/soldiers made their way over the section of the floor that we had occupied and started perusing the "religious/spiritual books". The nice part about Israel is that overwhelming majority of them are not about these new fangled eastern religions, meditation and certainly not Christianity or Islam. But even here in Tel Aviv they were all about Judaism. Torah books. Cool! The soldiers though, two of them non-kippa wearing and one older one with a kippa- seemed to be having difficulty making a selection. The older one was making some recommendations. But they seemed to be looking for something more.

"I want something that will connect me more to G-d…something that will teach me more about Shabbat…about prayer…This is my first day back from the war and after the miracles I saw and the spirituality that I personally experience for the first time being in those trenches of Gaza. I know that I need more. I know that there's someone up there, that has been waiting for 22 years for me to talk to Him…to come Home…"

The other Chayal wanted something more about Chasidut/Hasidism (I recommended Eli Wiesels book 'Souls on Fire'). He was introduced to the joy of Judaism while dancing before going out to battle with some of those funny Breslav guys. "I have never felt such inner joy before…and trust me I've had a lot of "fun" in my life. But this was something special. Something real…something I think I need as part of my life."

Fascinated by this exchange I decided to walk around to a few more book stores in the mall and interestingly enough in almost all of them I saw Chayalim around the same area of books in the other two stores as well. Isn't this just an amazing country! Aren't we just an amazing nation. Maybe Tel Aviv malls are not such bad places after all…

This week's Torah portion Eikev to a large degree speaks for itself. Anything that I would want to write has been said and written in the most inspirational and prophetic words by Moshe in this last speech of his to our forefathers right before they entered the land of Israel. Our mandate upon coming to Israel, our objectives, the challenges we face, the dangers of a false sense of personal power and strength and the way that we will succeed are all put out quite plainly and simply for us. I merely excerpt and quote for you.

"And it will be, because you will heed these ordinances and keep them and perform, that the Lord, your God, will keep for you the covenant and the kindness that He swore to your forefathers And He will love you and bless you and multiply you

And you shall consume all the peoples which the Lord your God gives you; you shall not spare them, nor shall you worship their gods, for that will be a snare for you. Will you say to yourself, "These nations are more numerous than I; how will I be able to drive them out"? You shall not fear them. You shall surely remember what the Lord, your God, did to Pharaoh and to all of Egypt. The great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, the wonders, the mighty hand, and the outstretched arm with which the Lord, your God, brought you out. So will the Lord, Your God, do to all the peoples you fear…

You shall not be terrified of them, for the Lord, your God, Who is in your midst, is a great and awesome God.

Not a bad deal? Huh? Yet once we get here Moshe reminds us…
"Beware that you do not forget the Lord, your God, by not keeping His commandments, His ordinances, and His statutes, which I command you this day, lest you eat and be sated, and build good houses and dwell therein, and your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold increase, and all that you have increases, and your heart grows haughty, and you forget the Lord, your God, Who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage…
Sound familiar?

"And you will say to yourself, "My strength and the might of my hand that has accumulated this wealth for me." (the word here for wealth is Chayil which can also mean army…interestingly enough…)

"But you must remember the Lord your God, for it is He that gives you strength to make wealth, in order to establish His covenant which He swore to your forefathers, as it is this day.

And just in case you were feeling good about yourself…
"Do not say to yourself, when the Lord, your God, has repelled them from before you, saying, "Because of my righteousness, the Lord has brought me to possess this land," and [that] because of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord drives them out from before you.
I think that we can figure that out…but sometimes we can be self-delusional..

"Not because of your righteousness or because of the honesty of your heart, do you come to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God drives them out from before you, and in order to establish the matter that the Lord swore to your forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You shall know that, not because of your righteousness, the Lord, your God, gives you this land to possess it; for you are a stiffnecked people.

Remember the golden calf. Remember all the sins in the wilderness, the spies, the longing for those Egyptian pickles…in a nutshell-
"You have been rebelling against the Lord since the day I became acquainted with you."

Really it's pretty simple-
"And now, O Israel, what does the Lord, your God, demand of you? Only to fear the Lord, your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, and to worship the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes, which I command you this day, for your good…You shall circumcise the foreskin of your heart, therefore, and be no more stiffnecked…You shall fear the Lord, your God, worship Him, and cleave to Him and swear by His Name. He is your praise and He is your God, Who did these great and awesome things for you, which your eyes have seen. With seventy souls, Your forefathers descended to Egypt, and now the Lord, your God, has made you as the stars of heaven in abundance

And finally-
"But your eyes, which have seen all the great work of the Lord, which He did. [Therefore] keep all the commandments that I command you this day, in order that you may be strong and come and possess the land to which you are crossing, to possess it, and in order that you may prolong your days on the land that the Lord swore to your forefathers to give to them and to their seed a land flowing with milk and honey.

Not a bad Book, don't ya think?

We are living in truly amazing times. For over 2000 years we have waited for our chance our opportunity to once again return here…to our land… To rebuild…rededicate…re-conquer…and fix the mistakes of our past. Our brave soldiers witness the greatness of Hashem in our victories. They have come looking for Him. Their souls seek to remember, to connect to be one. We are removing the foreskins of our hearts. Even in the malls of Tel Aviv. The time is now. We are writing the final chapter. The happily ever after is on the next page. Let's all finish the book together.

Have a stupendous Shabbos
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz 

"No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world"
"What's right is what's left if you do everything else wrong"
“Some are born great. Some achieve greatness. Some get it as a graduation gift.”
"“In England, if you commit a crime, the police don't have a gun and you don't have a gun. If you commit a crime, the police will say "Stop, or I'll say stop again."- Robin Williams

(answer below at end of Email)
 Q. Which is the most ancient of the following sites?
  1. The Negev desert kites
  2. The temple at En Gedi
  3. Metsad Nekarot
  4. The tunnel wells (fugarot)

This week the Torah introduces the biblical mitzvah to "Bentch" meaning to make an after blessing after eating bread. Vachalta V'Savata U'Verichta and you shall eat, be satisfied and bless Hashem. There is law that when one makes the blessing on bread one should place their 10 fingers on the bread. The Baal Haturim suggests that this corresponds to the 10 mitzvos that are entailed in bringing the bread to one's table. 1) Not plowing with an ox and donkey 2) not plant mixed species( Klayim) 3) leaving in the field the dropped gleanings, 4) the forgotten ones 5) the corners 6) not muzzling your animal 7) giving a portion to the Kohein (termua) 8) the first tithe 9) the 2nd tithe and 10 challa. Also interestingly enough there are ten words in the blessing hamotzi recited on bread, ten words in the verse describing the species of the land of Israel and ten words in the blessing of Jacob/ Yackov Vayiten Licha Mital Hashamayim that Hashem should give us from the dew of the heaven and the fat of the earth. Feel free to use any of those verses or blessings to count people with next time you need to count for a minyan.


Azrieli Mall, Tel Aviv – My oldest daughters favorite spot in Israel this huge super mall, one of the largest in Israel has three floors of "great shopping" great restaraunts (kosher and even a few mehadrin ones!) and lots of different activities. Built in 1999 on the former Tel Aviv dump truck depot the three towers of the Azrieli are a centerpiece of the "new Israel" Tel Aviv experience. There are always fun activities going on for kids and the families here as well. This summer they have a great kids Dinosaur park and exhibit as well as mini water park with slides and bikes and jumpy things. Conveniently the train comes right here to the mall so it is an easy commute as well so you don’t even have to deal with the infamous tel aviv traffic situation to spend a fun day in Tel Aviv.

A new CD by my friend Shlomo Yehudah Rechnitz with all his songs-all proceeds go to Tzedaka

A beautiful song and video tribute to our chayalim Israeli soldiers composed by Reb Michel Twersky- get the tissues ready…very moving

An Amish boy and his father were visiting a mall. They were amazed by almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny, silver walls that could move apart and back together again. The boy asked his father, "What is this, Father?" The father [never having seen an elevator] responded "Son, I have never seen anything like this in my life, I don't know what it is."
While the boy and his father were watching wide-eyed, an old lady in a wheel chair rolled up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened and the lady rolled between them into a small room. The walls closed and the boy and his father watched small circles of lights with numbers above the walls light up. They continued to watch the circles light up in the reverse direction.
The walls opened up again and a beautiful 24-year-old woman stepped out. The father said to his son, "Go get your mother."
בלונדינית אחת אומרת לחברה שלה"ביי מאמי, אני זזה"
החברה שואלת :"לאן?!"
החברה"מה עכשיו קניון?!"
בלונדינית"מה, לא שמעת? יש מבצע! זה בכל החדשות!"
החברה"מבצע בעזה מאמי, יש מבצע בעזה!"
בלונדינית"איזה מפגרים, מי יסע עד שם?"

Translation- although the Hebrew is really much better!!!
"Bye honey, I'm leaving" the "blonde" clueless teen ager says to her friend
"Where to?" her friend asks
"To the mall"
"What! Now to the mall?!"
"What? You didn't you hear there's a Mivtza (the Hebrew word for sale- the word is not mitzva). It's on all the News channels" said the blonde teenager"
"The Mivtza (also same word for battle- I can only guess why this is the same word) is in Gaza dear, Theres a Mivtza in Gaza!"
"That's crazy! Who would go there for a sale!"


Answer is D:  Wheww.. this was not an easy one. I mean parts of it was. The Metzad Nikarot, which was a fortress that watched over the water sources in the desert for the spice trail of the Nabateans was obviously not the answer as they Nabateans nomads of the lived from the the year 90 BC (Bayis Sheni) until the third century or so when they became Roman was not the answer. At least that’s what I thought but the the truth is that the wells in the desert with its cool underwater tunnels was built even later and were in the early muslim 9th century period. (I thought they were earlier…) The hard part was the other two which is the temple in ein gedi which I knew was Chalcholite meaning the copper period which is about 3500 BC (according to scientists calculation-not the Torahs) and the correct answer though was the Desert kites which were ancient ways of trapping wild animals by making stone formations in a triangle kite shape that would lead at the tip to  a trap. Which turns out was the Neolithic period-meaning the new stone age. Like Flintstones times 6-7,000 BCE according to scientists and Hanna Barbara…I Got this one wrong… Maybe because its older than the Torah says…


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