Our view of the Galile

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Facebuker Rebbe- Bo 2015/5775

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

January 22nd 2015 -Volume 5, Issue 14 -2nd of Shvat 5775
Parshat Bo
The Facebuker Rebbe
It was at an AJOP (Association of Jewish Outreach Professionals) convention that I met him a many years ago. The convention was a great place for all of us outreach guys from around the world to get together and commiserate each year of what life out in the boondocks was like. We'd kvetch about fundraising, exchange "war" stories about what life on the "front lines" of the battlefield for Jewish souls was like, and of course share different ideas programs and strategies that we had utilized in order to reconnect Jewish souls to their heritage. My highlight each year was our "Rosh Kollels at Risk" late night sessions, when we would break out the scotch and cigars, chuck off our black hats for a few hours and have a good old fashioned bull session, just like back in the dorms in our old yeshiva days before we became heads of institutions of higher learning. We were going to change the world one Jew at a time. It was our life's work. We were entitled to one night once a year of letting our Payot down.

I'll never forget Dovid though. He was the guy with a constant smile. He wasn't really a Kiruv professional. Just a regular baalabos (Yiddish for working guy- although I always tell people that in Hebrew it translates as the husband of the boss:)), who worked for a payment processing company, that for some reason couldn't stay away from this convention. Every year he had different ideas, different strategies, all types of money making schemes for our organizations so that we could make more money, reach more Jews, connect more souls. He had business cards, TV shows, radio programs, websites, he was unstoppable a "Kiruv hurricane of ideas and enthusiasm. I don't think there was anyone there that didn't get a hug from Reb Dovid. His love for every Jew was palpable. His commitment to sharing the beauty of our heritage with every one of Hashems children was contagious. It wasn't only with non-observant or un-affilaited Jews either. He was connected with so many community organizations, for the sick for the needy, for helping people find their bashert. Even non-Jews were on Dovid's  "hit list". He would hand out cards to people that would make them smile, start random conversations with people he bumped into on line, on the train at work and share with them the enthusiasm he had about living in a God-filled world and some inspiring Jewish Torah thought. He even numerous times helped raise money in times of crisis or tragedies, hurricanes, terrorist attacks for the victims and perhaps even more significantly requested prayers for them. He was a true child of Avraham and he was out to shine Hashems light to the world.

I remember when he excitedly told me about his newest project. He decided to become a "Rebbe" of the largest Jewish population in the world. In fact he told me he was becoming the "Rebbe" of the country with the largest amount of inhabitants on the planet. It seems that this country had been Rebbe-less for a long time and he intended to become it's Rebbe. The name of country- some of you may have heard of it- Facebook. And Dovid Winiarz became the "Facebuker Rebbe".  I don't know how many followers the Chasidim of Ger, Satmar or Lubavitch have. But the Facebuker had over 13,000. And that does not include the 10's of thousands that read his posts, his jokes, his stories that were shared by his followers all across the globe. As I read some of the recent posts and the condolences that were sent to the family after his untimely passing in a car accident this past week on the way to the convention, it was mind blowing to read the stories people shared.

"He just sent me my first pair of tzitit and a mezuzah" commented Mark, "He introduced me to my husband" Stephanie said. "My first Shabbat was only because of our conversations and I haven't missed one since"- remarked David." I was out of job and he helped me find one and he didn’t' even know who I was, I was just a Jew in need coming to the only Rebbe that I felt comfortable communicating with" Allan kvelled. "I just sent him a Shabbat Shalom and he sent me back a "ditto" Sarah tearfully posted "I can't believe, I'll never hear him say it again". I can't believe it either…

There are some that were hesitant about becoming a Rebbe on facebook, social media can be dangerous. The internet is perhaps appropriately called a web, a place and trap which you can fly into and get stuck and die in. But for Dovid it was a no-brainer, As he told me he explained to his Rabbi in order to get his blessing, "There are Jews, that are out there, that are hungry, that won't come to classes and prgrams, but just need a Rabbi, a friend a hug, how can I not be there for them". The Facbuker Rebbe died this week. The world has lost a tremendous light. Hashem took him on the Torah portion that discusses our redemption from Egypt and our last minutes in Exile. I believe in this weeks portion we can find as well the message and legacy that the Rebbe has left us.

This weeks Torah Portion of Bo shares with us the end of the story of the plagues of Egypt. We have reached the final countdown. Hashem tells Moshe to tell the Jewish people to put blood on their doorposts in order that when Hashem comes to smite the first-borns of Egypt, he will see the blood
"And the blood will be for you for a sign upon the houses where you will be, and I will see the blood and spare you, and there will be no destructive plague in you when I smite the land of Egypt."
Rashi notes that the seemingly repetitive phrase of sparing you and no plague in you, will come to include even the Jew that is in the house of the Egyptian at the time of the plague. It's a simple Rashi that one could read through quickly and move onward; however the Lubavitcher Rebbe sees in it the deepest of ideas. Think about it for a second. The Jews were told by Moshe do not leave your houses on this night. The plague will hit, the first borns will die and the blood on your doorposts will serve as your sign before Hashem. You're on his team. And yet there still seems to be some Jews that will decide to go and sit with their Mitzri/Egyptian "brothers" in their Egyptian homes. Perhaps in solidarity. Perhaps because of their assimilated state. Perhaps because they refused to identify themselves religiously in any visible way. There are and were always Jews like that. Yet Hashem tells Moshe. That those Jews as well in the house of the Egyptians will also not be subject to the plague. They are also still my children. They are also My First-Borns, whether they know it or appreciate it or not.

The plague of the First-Borns is different than all the other plagues. It is this plague that Hashem first tells Moshe to tell Pharaoh about.
"Speak to Pharaoh and tell him, My First Born is Israel, and I tell you- send out my children and they shall serve me and if you refuse to send them out I will kill your First Born son."

Whereas the other plagues were meant to teach Pharaoh and the world about Hashem and His power and constant managing of the world. This plague was his punishment for not listening. The plague takes place precisely at midnight, Hashem says. Midnight is the time when the Darkness and the night gets as dark as it can and when it starts to begin to get lighter. Our Kabbalists tell us that midnight is the point when Din and Rachamim, judgement and mercy meet. The Jewish people very likely were just as assimilated and certainly our sages tell us were idol worshippers as the Egyptians were. Yet the difference Hashem tells Moshe from the beginning is that we are his children. We are His First Borns. No matter how much a child sins, disappoints and is disconnected. He is always his father's child. The father will always have mercy.
It's interesting that our Pesach Seder there is a custom that the children steal the Afikoman. It is returned however before midnight to  the father who than rewards his cute little crook and continues the singing and the praise until the end of the seder with.his son by his side. At midnight even the little "gonif"  who just stole from his father an hour ago, finds the mercy and grace. That is the love of a father to a child. That is the love of Hashem to His children.
The Talmud tells us that we are meant to emulate the ways of Hashem. If Hashem can go down to the house of the Egyptian to rescue and pull out one of his children in order to tell him how loved he is, then we must as well. Facebook may not be Egypt, but it is a place where so many are looking for "friends". We need to not only "friend" people but "brother" them, "sister" them connect each Jew no matter where they are to us to our Father. Last Shabbos, the day before Reb Dovid Winiarz, was taken from us he was in shul most certainly as all Jews were when we recited the blessing for the new month of Shvat. The blessing we said concludes

"He who had done miracles for our Forefathers and has redeemed them from slavery to freedom, He will redeem us soon and will gather in all who have been pushed to the four corners of the earths. Chaverim Kol Yisrael-All Jews will then be "friends" and we shall say Amen."
Hashem has taken back the Facebuker friend who is certainly praying before our father for that day to come soon.
Have a friendly Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

Dovid Winiarz was a special individual who lived to make the world a brighter place. Never content to just enjoy his own little corner of the world, Dovid was a people person who wasn't happy unless he was doing something for others. Constantly widening his circle of friends with his trademark humor, his genuine smile and his perpetual good mood, Dovid literally lived his life for others.
Dovid died in a tragic car accident on his way to a kiruv (Jewish outreach) convention in Baltimore, leaving behind a wife and ten beautiful children, seven of whom are still single. Dovid spent his life helping others and now it is our turn to perpetuate his legacy by helping his family face the future.
Every penny contributed to this campaign will go directly to the Winiarz family.

(This site charges no fees.) Please give what you can in honor of a man who made the world a better place, each and every day he was in it.

Tizku L'Mitzvos!

The audio recording of the Levaya (funeral) is available here:https://app.box.com/winiarz
**For recurring donations, please use this page:https://www.fidelipay.com/winiarzfamily**

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The Rebbe for Shabbat.com
Dovid's birthday video speech two weeks ago..



" Count your joys instead of your woes.
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your courage instead of your fears,
Count your laughs instead of your tears.
Count your full years instead of your lean.
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth,
Count on G-d instead of yourself – The Facebuker Rebbe

(answer below at end of Email)
 Q.  The term Jizyah denotes:
A.    The commandment of charity
B.     The northern Arabian Peninsula
C.     The protected religions
D.    The per-capita tax levied on non-Muslims

The Midrash shares with us the symbolism of the lintels and the doorpost of where the Jewish people were meant to put the blood as representing our forefathers. The lintel represent Avrahams the two doorposts represent Yitzchak and the Yaakov in the merit of our forefathers the children are redeemed although our merits may be insufficient. Additionally the foods consumed Seder night the Midrash tells us are reminiscent of our patriarchs and Matriarchs. The lamb roasting over the fire remind Hashem of Avraham who was thrown into a fiery furnace and saved. The matzos allude to Sarah who baked Matzos for her guests, the three angels, The maror represents Yaakov who was persecuted by his brother Esau and whose life consisted of a succession of tribulations.
It is interesting that we are a nation that is called in tanach by the moniker of Bnai Yisrael, All other nations are called by the country they live in Moabites, Amonites, Egyptians, Americans and Russians. The Jewish people are called the Bnai Yisrael, the children of Israel. Our national identification and title is as children of our Forefathers. Children of our Father,

Explore unique Geological sites   – Eretz Yisrael is truly the place that has everything in it. The Midrash tells us that this was the starting point of the world, so it would make sense that we have every type of geological formation here. Being at the center of the Syrian African Rift has afforded Israel the prestige of having the lowest place on the planet earth.  And one can experience that at the Dead Sea, We have hot springs in Tivera, and Hammat Gader, We have volcanoes, and we have beautiful Craters known as Makteshim down in the Negev -our mini Grand Canyons, but nicer with all types of colored sands and unique formations and rocks as well.


"Whiskey probably won't help your problems, but it's worth a shot."

"What kind of job is a rabbi for a good jewish kid anyway"



Answer is D:  Although today the world suffers most from the terrorism of muslim radicalism, for millennia the Jews suffered much more from our Christian neigbors who killed us massacred us and pillaged us. Under Islam though non-musilims were permitted to live in relative peace. They did have to pay the Jizya though, which was an extra tax on non-muslims. This would show the subordination to Islam and Jews and Christians had to pay it. Until the late 1800's this was common in the muslim world and it remained that way in Persia until the 1900's. Today ISIS is the only ones that would like to see that be reinstated, which if Jews could or non Christians would be able to keep their heads on their shoulders might not have a problem paying. The rationale for the Jizya as described by the 12th century muslim philosopher is
"The intention of taking the jizya is not to approve the disbelief of non-Muslims in Islam, but rather to spare their lives and to give them some time; in hope that during it; they might stop to reflect on the virtues of Islam and its compelling arguments, and consequently converting from disbelief to belief. That's why it's important to pay the jizya with humiliation and servility, because naturally, any sensible person cannot stand humiliation and servility. So if the disbeliever is given some time watching the pride of Islam and hearing evidences of its authenticity, and see the humiliation of the disbelief, then apparently this might carry him to convert to Islam, and that's the main rationale behind the enactment of the jizya".
It would be nice if this was the way they went about things today.

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