Our view of the Galile

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Beam Me Up- Teruma 2015/5775

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

February 20th 2015 -Volume 5, Issue 17 -1st of Adar 5775
Parshat Teruma
Beam Me Up
I’m back home. There’s no place like home. Perhaps nothing can make you appreciate Eretz Yisrael more than leaving for a week or two and then coming back again. I remember the first time I went to the States, a few years ago, my wife asked me upon my return what it felt like to go back to the “old country”. I told her that my first reaction was that I never realized how many goyim (a non-derogatory term for non-Jews) there were in America, before- and I was in Brooklyn and Lakewood, NJ, not Des Moines, Iowa. It’s amazing how foreign it felt for me to walk around the streets of America and see so many people that did not share my religion, that weren’t my family. Don’t get me wrong it’s not always easy living in a country where everyone is either your mother, sister, brother-in-law or crazy uncle. But it’s still family. There’s a connection with everyone. In America, it just isn’t.
The second time I went to the States, my wife asked me what I felt like and what it was like. I told her that I realized that they really don’t have Shabbos in America. Jews in America observed Shabbos. They went to Shul, they had Shabbos meals, ate chulent, and even sang Shabbos songs. Yet…yet… yet… It was missing something. It was kind of like Splenda. It looked like Shabbos and tasted like it, but it just wasn’t the real deal. Shabbos in Israel is special. You can feel it coming in the air. You can smell it in the streets. When it’s Shabbos here you can literally feel the entire creation being uplifted. It’s magnificent. The truth is the great 13th century sage Nachmanides writes that all of the mitzvos/commandments that we are biblically required to observe in Chutz La’Aretz/ the Diaspora are merely to keep us in practice so that we will be able to fulfill them ultimately in the land of Israel. The Torah and its commandments were given in order for us to create and live in a G-d filled society which is only really feasible in the land that Hashem promised us. It is from here that we are meant to shine our light out to the rest of the world. I can’t say that I feel different putting on Tefilin, making blessings or even praying in Israel more so than I feel in America. But Shabbos…that I felt. If I went the rest of my life without ever having to spend Shabbos outside of here again, I wouldn’t feel bad.
This past trip my wife joined me for the first time back to the States, It was her first time going back. We shopped a lot, because that’s what you have to do when you come to America. We ate in restaurants a lot because that’s what you have to do whenever you come to NY. Pizza is better there, bagels are really bagels there not just rolls with a hole in the middle, and yes I enjoyed my 7-11 99 cent gallon cup of coffee as opposed to this country where you get a little shot glass for 10 shekel with all types of muddy residue on the bottom of your cup. We also saw lots of family which was…seeing lots of family J… I mean nice of course, especially my wife’s familyJJ. B”H we went in for Simchas a Wedding and a Bar Mitzva. It was weird going to a wedding that didn’t serve schnitzel. I had a moment when they sang Im Eshkocheich-If I forget thee Yerushalayim I shall forget my right arm and I felt my hand start to twitch. I looked around the room and it seemed that no one else’s seemed to though. They were pretty comfortable there. They looked at home. But perhaps the moment that struck me the most was when I went to the Mikva/ Ritual bath as I try to do most Erev Shabbosos. For me the Mikva is the way of washing off the week and preparing my self for its holiest day, yet when I came out of the Mikva in Flatbush, I felt the same. I was still Tamei/impure , still Chol/weekday, still not shabbosdik. The Talmud describes someone who goes into a Mikva while he is holding an unclean insect in his hand. That’s what it felt like. I was still in Galus; in the land where we can never become purified.
I’ll be honest I never felt this way before I moved to Israel. But living here does something for your Jewish soul. It becomes naturalized. It’s at home. I felt bad for my friends and family in the States. Sad that they didn’t come back with me. Sad that many of them didn’t want to or even more tragically couldn’t even imagine themselves doing so. Two thousand years of wandering could do that to a nation. It makes a people want to rest and stay comfortable and live under the illusion of stability and a false sense of security and even imagine that Splenda sense of home as if it was really where we were meant to be. It made me want to cry. Can a house of God be built outside of Israel? This weeks Torah portion in fact tells us that it can. You just have to have right ingredients.
The Parsha this week, Teruma, is the halfway point in the Book of our redemption of Shemos. From here on until the end of the Parsha besides for a brief interlude that tells us the story of the golden calf the rest of the book describes the building and erection of the Mishkan/tabernacle and its vessels. This Mishkan was obviously meant to serve as our temporary Temple until we would build one in Jerusalem, but it also served as our Temple until we got there. The plan of course was never that we should use it for forty years wandering in the wilderness. But when it comes to us Jews it seems that getting to Israel would always seem to take longer than it was supposed to.
One of the more fascinating and perhaps most primary of building materials that was used in the construction the Torah tells us was the Shittim wood beams that formed its frames. The Torahs commandment is
And you shall take The beams for the tabernacle out of shittim wood standing erect
Rashi diverting from his usual style of merely explaining the simple understanding of the verse, launches into a description of the source of these wooden beams, as he notes that the Torah refers to them as “The” beams- with a capital ‘T’, hinting that these are famous beams. Famous beams can only come from one place and Rashi quotes the Midrash that tells us that these beams were in fact brought from Egypt with them for the purpose of building the Mishkan. They arrived in Egypt the Midrash tells us when our forefather Yaakov first came down to Egypt and our Exile began. He brought cedar trees from Israel with him and told his children to plant them there. One day we will leave this country, this exile. One day we will need these trees to build a house for Hashem. We will need these trees of Israel to do it. Can you imagine that? For over 200 years of Exile in Egypt there were trees, parks and forests that were built. Perhaps each Shabbos afternoon the family would go out to play in these parks and sit under the trees of our forefather Yaakov. And they would repeat his message again and again, from generation to generation.
When our ancestors left Egypt, they took the gold and silver and the bones of our ancestor Yosef with them. But they also took the shittim trees. They understood that the house of Hashem could only be built with the trees of faith of Israel. Rashi quotes the poetry of one of the liturgical poems recited in some synagogues on Pessach
The planting of the roused Israel flew from Egypt, to become the shittim beams of our Home/ or Temple.”
It is possible to build a temporary temple for Hashem in exile. It was even possible to bring the Shechina Divine presence down to this world before we got to the Land of Israel. In fact all of the laws that we have to build the ultimate Beit Hamikdash are derived from that temporary temple that the Torah goes to great lengths to describe. But it is all premised on that it’s foundation are built upon the beams of Eretz Yisrael, a longing and a foundation that Yaakov established that we must return there. We have an ultimate home. It’s not in Egypt, Persia, Babylonia, France or another country with lots of good kosher restaurants and cheap coffee. Out homes must be built with the cedars of longing for Israel.
We enter the month of Adar and we increase our happiness as we approach the holiday of Purim. Purim is the only Jewish holiday that was established in the Diaspora; the last Jewish holiday of our exile. That’s a good thing. The descendants of Queen Esther and Achashveirosh according to many commentaries are the ones that allowed us to return to Israel after our exile from the first Temple. Most Jews didn’t grab that opportunity. They celebrated their fake Purims in good old comfortable Iran. We don’t need to make the same mistake again. We can really be happy. We need to increase our happiness, and take it from me there’s nothing happier than coming back home.
Have a Chodesh Adar Tov and a  happy happy (Marbin B’Simcha J) Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


New feature of the WEEK!!
While in the states I picked up a great book with yiidsh quotes and wisdom and I have always wanted to teach my kids Yiddish so here we go each week another great proverb in yiddish maybe you guys will learn it too!!
“Az min esst up dem beigel, bleibt in kesheneh dem loch”
 If you eat up the bagel, than the hole remains in your pocket

"Airplane travel is nature's way of making you look like your passport photo."-— Al Gore
"Oldtimers, weekends, and airplane landings are alike. If you can walk away from them, they're successful."— Casey Stengel
(answer below at end of Email)
 Which of the following streams marks the northern border of the Golan Heights?
A.    The Yarmouk River
B.     Nahal Roked
C.     Nahal Snir
D.    Nahal Sa’ar
This week’s Parsha Teruma begins with the mitzvah of tzedaka the massive contribution for the building of the Tabernacle. The Midrash shares with us an interesting insight into the mitzvah of tzedaka and the three levels of giving as demonstrated by the gold, silver and copper dontaions that were brought.
The charity that a person gives, the midrash says when he and his family are healthy and things go well is compared to gold. It is the tzedaka which has the most powerful effect in heaven. It is like a gift to an Emperor. Although the person has no urgent reason to give, he presents it in order to show honor and have grace with the emperor. Then there is the second type of charity. This is the charity one gives when he is taken ill. It is less effective since it is given in a time of need. It is therefore compared to silver. If a person postponses giving charity until he is dangerously ill and metaphorically speaking standing with a “rope around his neck” the value of the tzedaka is reduced to copper. Nevertheless, a person should not refrain from giving charity under any circumstances. His tzedaka will precede him in Olam Habah and provide him with a good reputation and will be protected from punishment in the world-to-come”
Here at the Young Israel of Karmiel we accept all forms of currency J so feel free to click on our pay-pal link below and make your pre-purim donation today!!!
Click here and visit and contribute on our blog http://holylandinsights.blogspot.co.il/
Arrive in a Jewish airport – Who would of thought that when the Torah describes returning to Israel on the wings of Eagles that there would one day be huge airplanes that would bring us soaring through the sky to the holy land. I love coming back to Israel. It is just so cool landing, the applause getting out of the plane surrounded by Hebrew stores, restaraunts, the people talking in Hebrew. There’s a sense of euphoria. Inevitably one bumps into new Olim that are arriving, people kissing the floor on the tarmac. I don’t think one experiences that in any other country. A Jewish airport with thousands of Jewish travelers! Amazing! What would Rav Yehudah Halevi thought? The Ramban? Moshe Rabbeinu? I got teary-eyed just thinking about the waves of immigrants from all over the world that have landed here and come home. Yup, even the airport in Israel is a cool and inspirational experience.

 A plane was taking off from Kennedy Airport. After it reached a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the intercom, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking.
Welcome to Flight Number 293, non-stop from New York to Los Angeles. The weather ahead is good and, therefore, we should have a smooth and uneventful flight. Now sit back and relax - OH, MY G-D!" Silence followed, and after a few minutes the captain came back on the intercom and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so sorry if I scared you earlier; but, while I was talking, the flight attendant brought me a cup of coffee and spilled the hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!"
A passenger in Coach said, "That's nothing. He should see the back of mine!"
A young and foolish pilot wanted to sound cool on the aviation frequencies. So, this was his first time approaching a field during the nighttime. Instead of making any official requests to the tower, he said: "Guess who?"
The controller switched the field lights off and replied: "Guess where?"


Answer is D:  The Golan, in my humble opinion is one of the most beautiful parts of Eretz Yisrael. It seems I wasn’t the only one that thought that way as the tribes of Reuvein and Gad chose to remain there as well rather than taking a portion on the other side of the Jordan river. It took us until 1967 until we got it back from Syria, but it was certainly well worth the wait. Full of streams and hikes the Golan is an exciting place to visit. The Yarmouk is the southern border that flows from Jordan. The Ruqad river is on the eastern border and Senir/Banias is on the western border. The Saar river is what separates the Golan from Mt. Hermon in the North, which many people confuse with the Golan, yet Israel’s tallest Mountain and ski resort the Hermon, is a region within itself.

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