Our view of the Galile

Friday, January 30, 2015

To Be a Chasid- Beshalach/Shira/ Tu BShvat 2015/5775

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

January 29th 2015 -Volume 5, Issue 15 -2nd of Shvat 5775
Parshat Beshalach
To be a Chasid
His child was sick. The Doctors had given up hope. There wasn’t much more he could do but pray. His friends at the eclectic synagogue that he prayed at, consisting of Chasidim with various Chasidic Rabbis and movement affiliations, all encouraged him to approach their Rebbe for a blessing and for prayers. Not particularly affiliated with any Chasidic movement or rebbe he went to a few of them for blessings. The Vizhnitzer, Gerrer, Bobov, Lubavitcher, Satmar, Pittsburger and Bostoner (he never made it out to the Karmieler J), all received him independently heard his woeful story and all blessed him that his child should have a Refuah Shleima a complete healing and promised to pray fervently for his recovery. He left feeling renewed hope and comforted by their deeply empathetic caring and reception.

Returning from his international “blessing tour” he went back to the hospital to find the doctors standing in amazement at what they described could only be a miraculous recovery. The tumor was gone, his organs were recovering, his son would live a long healthy life. Tears flowing down the father’s face he pledged to give a Kiddush the following week in his shul in honor of this incredible news. The mood, as can be imagined in shul that week was jubilant. As the L’Chaims were passed around the room on the special 18 year old single malt just right for the occasion, the Chasidim began the ultimate debate; which Rebbe should get the credit for the miracle that took place. Each Chasid claimed it was their Rebbe that had stormed the gates of heaven and that had ultimately been responsible for the healing of the young boy. Needless to say as in most good Jewish debates of this sort no resolution was found. One of the Chasidim, of the Satmar affiliation, decided after davening to walk down to his Rebbe, the always sharp and to the point, Reb Yoel Teitelbaum ZT”L of Satmar, and ask him who he thought should get the credit.

The Rebbe heard his Chasid’s earnest quandary and responded in the way that only the Satmar Rebbe was known to answer.
“Which Rebbe will get the credit?” he asked his Chasid “Why that’s simple. The Rebbe with the most Chasidim will ultimately get the credit. Because, after all, he has the most adherents and they will be sure to promulgate the story in their Rebbe’s name the most.”
“But who really gets the credit?” he said wryfully, “That is really the Ribono Shel Olam- The True Master of the Universe; Hashem. But unfortunately He has only ‘vainegeh Chasidim’-too few Chasidim so you may never really hear about it.”

What does it mean to be a Chasid of the Almighty? For that matter what does it mean to be a chasid at all? As a child growing up in Detroit there were not too many Chasidim around (besides Chabad which of course are everywhere-but I mean the big furry hats and long coats type). But every year we would have an annual Stoliner Shabbat (or ‘shabbis’ as they would say it), when a hundred or more Chasidim would come for their yearly pilgrimage to their Rebbe’s grave in Detroit for special prayers. The memories of those Shabbosim are etched in my mind. Loud, fervent, inspired davening, Kiddushes and Friday night Tish when the Rebbe would lead his Chasidim in song while sharing his fruit and his drink with them were all just parts of the other-worldly – or better yet old-worldly experience that I had felt I entered in. Watching the Rebbe and listening to him speaks pearls of Torah (in Yiddish- which I didn’t understand) one could sense a feeling of holy awe that permeated the room. You were connected to something higher than life. You wanted to be there forever.

This week is known as Shabbat Shira- a Shabbat of song. The Torah reading of the week contains in it the song our ancestors sang upon their miraculous salvation and the splitting of the sea. The Talmud tells us that even the simplest maidservant achieved a greater level of spiritual prophesy at that moment than even the greatest prophets. They all became Chasidim of Hashem. And Chasidim sing. There is a special custom this Friday before Shabbos Shira to give food to the birds prior to the onset of  Shabbat. One of the reasons given for this custom is because the power of song is the domain of the birds. We borrow their special power this week and share with them our food.

What is the song of the birds? They are the most transcendent of creatures. They fly across the skies and see the incredible beauty of Creation. Their songs are so close to the heavens because they see the Almighty wherever they fly. When a Chasid closes his eyes and sings he can also fly. His soul soars and he is connected to Hashem, our Father… our Rebbe.

This Shabbos is also always connected to the holiday of Tu B’Shvat the New Year of the trees. Look outside and the trees still look dead and barren. The grass is not green and the fruits are not yet growing. Tu B’Shvat tells us to look deeper. Our sages and Botanists both agree that underground the sap is starting to flow. The Creation and flourishing is just around the corner. The song is slowly starting and we should already begin to sing. A true Chasid doesn’t need to see the fulfillment of the blessing to begin his song. As soon as he knows his Rebbe has heard his plea, he begins to rejoice. He can already hear the song. So as you sit down with your family this Shabbat, teach them the song of this Shabbos. Show them who your Rebbe is. Hashem could use a few more Chasidim.
Have a musical Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz




" Dear Friend,
Stand Tall and Proud
Sink your roots deeply into the Earth
Reflect the light of a greater source
Think long term
Go out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings
Embrace with joy the changing seasons For each yields its own abundance

The Energy and Birth of Spring
The Growth and Contentment of Summer
The Wisdom to let go of leaves in the Fall
The Rest and Quiet Renewal of Winter
Feel the wind and the sun
And delight in their presence
Look up at the moon that shines down upon you
And the mystery of the stars at night.
Seek nourishment from the good things in life
Simple pleasures
Earth, fresh air, light
Be content with your natural beauty
Drink plenty of water
Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes
Be flexible
Remember your roots
Enjoy the view!– Ilan Shamir

(answer below at end of Email)
 Q.  What does the term ‘uqal describe
A.    A type of headdress
B.     A type of obeisance in Muslim prayer
C.     The people initiated into the secrets of the Druze religion
D.    A title of respect for pilgrims who visited Mecca outside the Hajj
In Parshat Ki Tisa after the sin of the golden calf when Moshe was pleading with Hashem that he should not destroy the jewish people the Midrash recites a conversation between Moshe and Hashem and the argument that was presented based on our portion.
Rav Berachia said that in the name of Rav Chiiya Bar Ada of Yaffo who said from the name of Rav Shmuel Bar Nachman that when the Jews came to the bitter waters of Mara Moshe began to have suspicions in his heart " Why were these waters created? What benefit does the world have from them? It was better that they were never created. Hashem saw into Moshe's heart and answered him "Don't think this way, for are they not the works of my Hands? There is nothing I have made that does not have a purpose. Instead I"ll share with you what you should say. Let the bitter become sweet…. This became as teaching in the hands of Moshe which he guarded. When they came to the desert and Hashem wanted to destroy them Moshe turned to Hashem and said "Master of the World, You seek to destroy the Nation of Israel? Was it not You that taught me that one should always pray that the bitter should turn sweet? Therefore now you should aprise the bitterness of your nation and heal them.
Turn the bitter sweet…
Plant Trees in Israel   – Not everyone is able to live in Israel (although they should J). Yet anyone can come here and plant a tree and be part of the rebuilding of our holy land. When Iw as a kid growing up I remember the JNF plant a tree Bar Mitzva gifts they used to give out. But today when one comes to Israel it is a great worthwhile thing to contact the JNF and plant  a tree here. It is a mitzvah (just not in shemitta year), and it really shows our settling of the land, as the trees demarcate that this is our land. It is fascinating to stand in the north of Israel and to gaze into Lebanon from the Galil and see the difference between our country and its green trees that have been planted all over and the empty barren hills of theirs. Planting a tree is a great way that everyone can feel they have participated in the mitzvah of settling our land.


How do trees access the internet?
They log on.
What did the tree do when the bank closed?
It started its own branch.
What type of tree fits in your hand?
A palm tree.
How do you properly identify a dogwood tree?
By the bark!
Where do saplings go to learn?
Elementree school.
What is an Oaks Favorite school subject?
What is every single tree’s least favorite month?
What must trees drink responsibly?
Root beer.
Why do trees hate tests?
Because they get stumped by the questions.

Answer is C:  It's a strange religion the Druze. A break-off islam in the 11th century the Druze believe that Islam lost its way and is really meant to be a more spiritual/mystical religion. Thy believe in hidden and revealed prophets. The holiest revealed is Moshe but the real prophet that was hidden that was behind him was Yisro whom they venerate. Because their religion was persecuted it became sealed and no one can become Druze. In addition Druze have a choice if they want to be religious or not and 90% choose not to. The Uqual are the religious ones-men and women and they are given special honor and are the only ones that are allowed to learn the secrets of the religion and practice the faith. Unlike us the Jewish people that each and everyone of us accepted and are blessed with the mitzvah to learn and keep the Torah and mitzvos! Ashreinu Ma Tov Chelkeinu. Asher Bachar Banu Mikol Ha'Amim- how fortunate are we and how fortunate is our portion that Hashem has chosen us from all nations and given us His Torah!

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