Our view of the Galile

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Beautiful Women- Parshat Vayeitzei 2014/5775

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

November 28th 2014 -Volume 5, Issue 6 -6th  of Kislev 5775
(Please check out the video clip of the song I composed in memory of the martyrs of Har nof Massacre below in this E-Mail)
Parshat Vayeitzei
Beautiful Women
David was a young man who had become more religious in recent years. He had studied in Yeshiva in Israel and was now back in the States where he was going to college and trying to make a living to pay his bills which without much parental support was becoming more and more difficult. His parents had offered him to live at home with them, but he knew that Kosher, Shabbat and all the nuances of his observant lifestyle would be too challenging for him to keep there. His parents wouldn't understand, although they respected him, and he felt that he would have a better relationship with them and a fuller religious life in the lower East Side close to his beloved teacher, one of the 
leaders of Torah Jewry at the time Rabbi Moshe Feinstien.

But real estate and rental prices aren't cheap in Manhattan. And after weeks of exhausting, frustrating
 searches David was having a hard time finding a place. Finally he saw an ad in the local paper for someone looking for a roommate, or more correctly for a situation that offered a free living arrangement. When he called the number to find out what the scoop was, however he wasn't too hopeful it was something that he was able to do. The offer that was being made was for him to share an apartment with an elderly Jewish woman. Although she had full time day aides that would spend time with her, her children wanted to have someone with her at night time as well. Being as "Sadie" refused to be put into any type of nursing home, the only feasible solution was to find a young man that would be willing to sleep over and share her Apartment which they would offer for free.  For someone like David, that didn't have any real social life or needs as he was in school and had not started Shiduch dating anyways this seemed like a perfect situation. Except….

Except….Except for one little Jewish law. For David recalled learning in Yeshiva that it was forbidden by Jewish Law for a man to be secluded with a woman who he is not married to or is his close relative for any significant period of time. Certainly David was not that concerened of "anything" ever happening between Sadie and himself, Yet a law is a law and a Mitzva is a Mitzva and as far as he was aware there really was no exceptions to the rule, barring of course life and death situations. On the other hand, maybe this situation was different. Perhaps since this was more of a Rabbinic rather than Biblical law there was more "wiggle" room. After- all she was older, he was in a tight financial spot.  This would really help him live a better religious lifestyle. It was after-all right around the corner from his Yeshiva and Synagogue. The Yetzer Harah is really good at this game and David realized that he needed to seek guidance from his Rebbe, although he wasn't too hopeful. After-all a law is a law regardless if it makes sense or not. Isn't that true?

So David headed over to his Rebbe's house to pose the question to his Rebbe. He began his question with the disclaimer that

 "I know that this is probably forbidden..but I just wanted to check with Rebbe to see if maybe in this situation it would be alright…"
His Rebbe though taught him a lesson though that remained with him for the rest of his life.

"I'm sorry Duvid'l" Reb Moshe said "It is prohibited for you to be together with her. They can find a nice young woman to watch over her or she could be placed in a home with full time help, or perhaps even best of all is the family themselves can take turns watching over her. You however cannot."

And then when Reb Moshe seeing the young man's still questioning eyes taught him the lesson that would remain with him forever.

"Duvid'l remember it doesn’t' make a difference how old someone is a Jewish woman never loses her beauty… A Jewish woman never loses her beauty…"

David found another apartment. He married a nice Jewish woman a few months later and today he is a grandfather himself with a still beautiful Jewish wife. Not a day goes by that he doesn't appreciate her and not a day that he doesn’t' pass down that message to his children as they begin to build their homes. A Jewish woman never loses her beauty. A law is a law.

In this week's Torah portion we are introduced to the last of our Matriarchs; Rachel and Leah (and their hand-maidens Bilha and Zilpa) from whom the entire Jewish people are born. So much time and commentary is spent in the book of Genesis/Bereshis discussing and examining the lives of our forefathers and their trials and challenges and many times the extraordinary personalities and the lives of our Matriarch is glossed over. Yet it is truly this great and beautiful women who more often than not get the sole credit for defining and creating the essence of the Jewish people. Each one of our Matriarchs were different, as each one of our Patriarchs were and each one of them possessed unique qualities that formed our eternal Nation's spiritual DNA, yet one common theme encompasses all of them; a sense of commitment and personal sacrifice for their children, their family and their Jewish home.

Sarah, our first Matriarch, has perhaps one of the most challenging lives imaginable. Orphaned as her father is killed by the wicked king Nimrod she marries her uncle Avraham and together with him create the first Jewish outreach center in the world. Now I can tell you from personal experience that there is not too many things more exciting and fulfilling than having a home where people can come and spend Shabbat meals and are introduced to the beauty of Judaism. I get to give classes, people are excited and inspiration fills the air. But for the Jewish wife who has to cook meals, clean-up and have her house turned into a free for all for anyone her husband decides to bring home on any particular day from shul it's not always so easy. Particularly if you are living in a tent and especially if your husband is Avraham who didn't meet a person, isolator, pagan, vagrant, traveler who he didn't think could use a nice good bowl of hot soup and who’s soul he didn't feel he had to reach out to. Moving along in her life we read story after story of how she is beset with challenges of picking up and leaving her life and community that she had spent decades building to wander into some foreign land; one of the most idiolatrous and pagan societies in the world; Canaan. For Avraham, this came from a command from above with blessings and promise of children and greatness. For Sarah this was faith in her husband and in Hashem.

When they arrive in the new country, they are beset with famines which make them leave the land again and again where she is beset with even greater challenges. She lies about her marital status to protect her husband and is given over to despot kings who, but for the hand of Hashem, would have defiled her. Even in the land of Israel, she still does not see the promise of children yet in order to build the Jewish home she is willing to give her husband her own hand maiden so that at least he may produce an heir. When she finally has her son Yitzchak, she is forced once again to make difficult choices and even stand up to her own husband recognizing that only with by sending away Yishmael her husband's beloved elder son can Yitzchak become the great and pure Patriarch that he is meant to become. Her life ends, the Torah tells us, right after Yitzchak is taken to be bound on an altar before God. Yitzchak has achieved the level of a Patriarch from who’s merit the Jewish people will always depend upon. Her husband Avraham has passed his final test and achieved all that he was meant to. Her life is complete, and she dies as the first Jewish Matriarch who instilled in all the Jewish mothers that would follow the commitment to doing whatever it would take for their children and their family. That, my friends is beauty.

Rivka, our second Matriarch become the symbol of Jewish chesed and kindness that is the Jewish woman that starts at even the youngest of ages as she brings water to Eliezer, Avraham's servant, and to his camels. She as well as all of our Matriarchs is barren for many years. And when she finally does have children, she becomes the first Jewish mother to have to deal with perhaps one of the greatest challenges anyone can ever have and that is the challenge and struggle of a child that is not turning out the way and with the values that he was meant to become and achieve. A child that becomes a thief, a murderer and who's hatred and jealousy of his brother, her other son, reaches levels where he his life is in danger. This is in face of the promise that Hashem had given her that she would have two great nations. That one was meant to become subservient to the other and through the shared special relationship between the two forces of Yaakov and Esau the world could reach its spiritual fulfillment. She, as her predecessor Sarah, are given a deeper level of spiritual intuition and understanding than their husbands as to what she must to make this family whole and create the Jewish Nation. But perhaps even greater than Sarah, she must send away her own beloved son, a son whom she will never see again, and she must send him to a place and to her brother who she knows is certainly going to make life difficult if not even worse try to destroy him, all so that he may become the great Patriarch that he is meant to become. The final epitaph that the Torah tells us about Rivkah, that the Torah tells us at the conclusion of last week's Torah portion is that she is the mother of Yaakov and Esau. She was not only Yaakovs mother she was Esau's as well; equally. If we grasp that and the tremendous sacrifices and life of a woman that is defined by her act and personality of goodness and kindness, than we can slowly start to comprehend that eternal beauty of our Matriarchs.

Finally this week we are introduced to the last of the Jewish Matriarchs, Rachel the beloved first-choice and Bashert/soul-mate of Yaakov and Leah who was meant to marry Esau, but through her power of tear-filled prayers and her recognition that only through Yaakov would she be able to be part of the Jewish destiny became the fourth Matriarch and the mother of half the tribes of Israel. The sacrifice and challenge of these two women is incomprehensible to the modern mind. I saw an insight that explained that although we have a tradition that our forefathers observed the entire Torah before it was given based on their own spiritual understanding of its integral part of Creation, and the marriage of two sisters is forbidden, Yaakov understood that Rachel and Leah were both meant to be married to him. For although once the Torah was given it is prohibited to violate its commandments based on one's own understanding, prior to its being given our forefathers were able to interpret its laws. When it comes to marrying two sisters the Torah says it is prohibited to marry them as they will cause anguish and jealousy between one another. Yaakov knew though that for Rachel and Leah this would never be a problem. Rachel gave her sister Leah the special secret signs that Yaakov gave her fearful that his father-in-law the crook Lavan might pull something like he did switching the sisters on the wedding night. According to one Medrash she even hid in the bedroom and spoke when Yaakov spoke to her in order that her sister not be shamed. Each one of these Matriarch, as Sarah before them give their own hand-maidens to their husband as wives in order to merit having more children. For these two women Yaakov knew that there would never be any jealousy. They were willing to give and do anything to build the nation of Israel. Mama Rachel, Yaakov's beloved is not even buried together with him and Yaakov tells his son years later that it is for one reason. Rachel, would never have wanted to be buried there because she had known that she would one day be able to see her children going into exile years later and she wanted to be buried on the route in order to pray for them. In order to cry before our Father in Heaven for them. In order that they may one day soon merit to build that ultimate Jewish home and return to Israel. The beauty of our Jewish women is forever.

We live in a world where beauty is barely skin-deep. We live in a world where so many of our beautiful young Jewish women are challenged in finding their soul-mates who can find that inner beauty that never fades within them. Jewish homes become threatened and in many cases even devastated because many forget that lesson of Reb Moshe about the eternal beauty of our spouses our holy women. Sadly so many of our women forget that their ultimate glory and beauty is their inner strength and fortitude and they feel the need to obscure that by defining themselves by their externalities and their fleeting physical appeal rather than the eternal beauty that flourishes from within. We live in a world that we were meant to inspire and teach about the essence of relationships, family, homes and marriage and all too often we have allowed them to influence us. It is perhaps for this reason that it is so important that each Friday night Shabbat evening, right before we say our Kiddush and sanctify our holiest day each week,  Jewish custom is to recite the Aishet Chayil/ Woman of Valour psalm composed by King Solomon. The song that was composed as an analogy about our relationship with Hashem is utilized in its simplest form to remind us of our special relationship with our wives, our mothers, the Jewish woman who builds our home. For without that appreciation we can't even connect to God and to the holiness of Shabbos. To appreciate the eternal nature of Shabbos we have to appreciate the eternal beauty of the Jewish woman that gives us that eternity. For it is only when we realize the beauty of our lives that we can bask in the aura of other-worldliness that being Hashem's people truly is.

Have a beautiful Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


On my way home from paying a Shiva call to the parents and family of my dear friend Aryeh Kupinshy H"YD I composed this beautiful song that captured my feelings and emotions. I had a good friend of mine with a beautiful voice sing it for me and make the arrangements and I put together a slideshow that depicts the horror and grief of the terrible, painful tragedies that we have gone through. The words are Avinu Malkeinu Asei L'Maan Harugim Al Shem Kodshecha. It is my hope that as you watch this you offer the heartfelt prayers to our Father in Heaven to bring the redemption already and may these be the last sacrifices that he takes from us.

an edited less graphic slideshow of above song and tragedy


The heart sees better than the eye"-Yiddish quote
 "Man does not control his own fate. The women in his life do that for him."-Groucho Marx

(answer below at end of Email)
 Q.  An arterial tourniquet should never be applied to the
A) Neck
B)  Calf
C)  Thigh
D) Arm
After Yackov leaves Lavans house working for his father in law for 22 years. Lavan pursues him looking for the idols that Rachel stole. When his search comes up fruitless. Yackov tells him
"You have looked through all my possesions and what have you found of all your household goods.?"
There is an important Medrash that says A son-in-law who lived in his father-in-laws house and leaves it would usually be given some item or another from his father-in-law. Who would dismiss a son-in-law empty-handed? But you Lavan have searched all my vessels and have not found a single thread or needle that belonged to you.
That's it... J

Meet inspiring people – When you are visiting Israel you are not only visiting a country you are meeting a people a nation of God. This is a place where you can meet the most incredible people in the world. It's a country where everyone has a story, a miracle that has happened to them, a brother, a cousin, a friend or neighbor that they may have lost in a war giving up their lives for the Jewish people. People that are involved in all types of various activities of community kindness and making the world a better place. There are great Rabbis and Rebbetzins you can and should meet that could share with you insights and words of inspiration. Even the simplest taxi driver in this country has a story to tell a world-view that can change your life. Don't be shy we're all family here and while you are here take the time to get to know them and in the process get to know yourself a little better.

An Israeli mayor in a small town is walking past a construction site with his wife. One of the construction workers stops and calls out to the woman.
 "What's new, Sara?"
 "Why, it's nice to see you again Avi," the woman replies. She turns to introduce her husband to the construction worker, and they speak for several minutes.
 After the mayor and his wife continue on, he turns to his wife to ask how she knows him.
 "Oh," she said. "We went together in high school. I even thought about marrying him."
 The husband began to laugh. "You don't realize how lucky you are. If I hadn't come along, today you would be the wife of a construction worker!"
 The wife replied without hesitation, "Not really. If I had married him, he'd now be a mayor!"


Answer is A:  Yes we Tour guides have to learn 1st aid as well, although Baruch Hashem I have never needed to use it. CPR, what to do in case of animal bites, breaks, electrocution and in Israel in case of God forbid terror attacks. Being a professional lifeguard helps as well. Although having a gun is not a requirement, many guides to carry one. I personally don't. I figure any place I might need a gun I'm not taking people and if I do I'd rather have soldiers around. I think everyone will be safer that way.   A tourniquet is a solution by the way for only arm and leg injuries. You do not want to try strangling a guy with one…don't think you need first aide for that.

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