Our view of the Galile

Friday, March 27, 2015

Kid-ding Around- Tzav HaGadol 2015/5775

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

March 27th 13th 2015 -Volume 5, Issue 21 -29th Adar 5775
Parshas Tzav/ HaGadol
Kid-ding Around
"Will you just grow up already!"

 "Why don't you act your age?"
"You want to be treated like an adult? Start acting like one!"
There are perhaps no words more annoying or frustrating for a kid to hear. I should know. I'm still hearing it... and it still hasn't worked. I don't understand. I see all these advertisements about recapturing your youth, all types of anti-aging pills so one can feel like a kid once again, and therapists preaching about finding your "inner child". It seems that I was ahead of the game. Why act like an adult when you’re a kid, only to become an adult looking for his lost childhood? This is a troubling question and you know what we do with troubling questions at this time of year? We save them for the Pesach Seder; the night of questions. And do you know what they answer us inevitably by the Pesach Seder? The reason is…so the children will ask…sigh…they cycle goes on.

Now the reason behind this custom is NOT because the Pesach sacrifice-a goat- is also referred to as a kid. Even though this might be confusing particularly since the last song at the Seder is about this one little kid/goat that a father bought for 2 zuzim. My kids always thought I was the father that sold them for 2 zuzim. I reassured them that I wouldn't sell them for anything less than 20 zuzim and maybe even a Dinar (or a good dinner). They seemed relieved…or maybe not. Thank God for their mother. Back to our E-Mail. Although those are not references to Seder night being "kids night". The rest of the Seder is pretty much all about the kids. In fact the Torah itself seems to revolve the commandments of this very special and important night all about children.

The code of Jewish law discusses the preparations for the Seder as revolving around utilizing all types of tricks to keep the kids up. Hand out nuts and sweets (translate pump them up on sugar and lay off the melatonin), wear a kittel- so children will ask, wash without blessing- so children will ask. The seder pretty much begins all types of strange activities that would usually get us kicked out of the dinner table, leaning while drinking wine over a white tablecloth (not for long), dipping vegetables in salt water and making all types of whiny faces, and stealing the Afikoman and running an hiding it. It continues with each kid getting up and asking their hopefully well-rehearsed four Ma Nishtana questions, which of course then leads into the description of the 4 sons and from there it's the ten plagues with all their appropriate accoutrements. Singing Dayeinu and hallel, dipping marror, fressing matzah while leaning on pillows and then all types of fun songs at the end, it is a night that kids dream of. It's all about them. So to pre-empt the Seder this year I dare to ask the question. Why?

Why is this night different? Shouldn't the most important night of the year be one where we as adults focus on the deep questions and miracles that took place? I understand that kids should know the traditions but why is it so important that it comes in the form of such strange child-like behavior so that they ask questions just to ask them? Why must we do all these strange things-almost behaving like children ourselves- to get them to ask them? Why are we going down to their level shouldn't we bringing them up to ours.

The answer my friends, the Sefas Emes of Ger suggests, is that is precisely the point of Pesach; to see-rather- to experience the Exodus of Egypt on this night with the wonder, awe and amazement of the innocent eyes of children. Perhaps the most next most essential mitzvah of the night, after the telling/re-enacting of the story, is the eating of Matzah and the prohibition of chametz. The difference between Matzah and Chametz is essentially time; time to rise, time to get bloated, time to mature, time to achieve that perfect state of man-developed food chockfull of wholesome nutrients, preservatives and minerals and vitamins-like my cheerios box says. Matzah on the other hand is cut short in that process. It's stuck in that first state of development. Why is that the main staple? Because we are meant to get away for a few days from all our man-made world with all the answers and envelope ourselves in a world of Hashem. A world in which questions don't need answers, the wonder and amazement of those miracles and that redemption are awesome enough. We ask out of awe. We ask because we just want to be heard and we know that our Father is listening to our voice and basking in our awe. We are all His children and the Seder night is the night that we get back to that moment…through the eyes and questions of our children.

The Sefas Emes suggests that it is for this reason that this Shabbos before Pessach is referred to as Shabbas Ha'Gadol the great or big Shabbos. He suggests that until this Shabbos when we were in Egypt we observed Shabbos in some way but it was entrenched in slavery. It was a day-off from hard work. It was in an un-commanded state like the observances of a minor. This Shabbos when Hashem commanded us in Egypt to prepare for our Exodus and prepare our Pesach offering was the first time we observed Shabbos as a "Gadol" an adult. Our Bar Mitzvah Shabbos so to say. What changed on this Shabbos? We were still in Egypt. The redemption had not yet come? But we were able to see it. For the first time we moved beyond the 210 year realities of our day-to day life of slaves and experienced the Exodus and Shabbos before it had even arrived as a Bar Mitzvah boy on his first Shabbos. We became that youthful, starry eyed young man and we jumped into the commandment to forget about time and place and move above it with the faith and dedication to Hashem and our new exciting reality. It is no coincidence that our first mitzvah Ha'Chodesh Ha'Zeh Lachem- to count the Jewish months is the introduction to all of the mitzvahs of Pesach. Like a child we don't have to think or worry about time. Time revolves around us. Not us around it.

I think about the life through the eyes of a child. The incredible places their tour guide father takes them. There is nothing more precious than the wonder in their eyes as they look out at the world. Sure they ask questions, how did this form this way? Why is it that shaped like that? What type of tree, rock, castle is that?  What's the name of that mountain, that lake, that star? They really don't care about the answer. They just want me to know that they're here with me. That I'm sharing the experience with them. All the other nights of the year we are perhaps slaves to time. Slaves to our responsibilities, slaves to our questions. But on this night of Pesach we are free to return to ourselves and to that wonder. It's a hard thing to do in one night. But that's what kids are for. To help us and guide us into that world of what we once were. Into that beloved child we are to Hashem. It's not about the kids tonight. It's about us. The kids in us. The kids we may have forgotten about. As we say in the Haggada even if we are all wise, knowledgeable like the greatest sages that were sitting in Bnai Brak. Tonight we go back to that simple childlike wonder and simply re-live and tell that story again like the first time. If we could do that seder right and we make it until the end. Who knows maybe Eliyahu might be at the door to sing L'shana Ha'Baah Bi'Yerushalayim with us. Sounds crazy? Sounds like a child –like fantasy that he might be there? Then stop growing up. Don't act your age for a night and you might be surprised. Greater miracles have happened…and will once again.
Have a big Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
Really cool Pesach Seder from Technion

AKA Pella Pesach cleaning medley
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!!

Kleyn Shlufn Lozn Nit Shlofn, Groyse Kinder Lozn Nit Ru’in.
Small children don’t let you sleep, Big children don’t let you relax.

“But it’s your barmitzvah photo. Couldn’t you do something about your hair?”,”-Albert Einstein’s Mother on his Bar mitzvah day J
A bar mitzvah is defined as the day when a Jewish boy comes to realize that he is more likely to own a professional sports team than he is to play for one.” –Billy Crystal
(answer below at end of Email)
 The first stop Wilhelm II made on his visit to the Land of Israel was at:
A.    Jaffa
B.     Haifa
C.     Akko
D.    The Nahal Taninim delta
The Parsha begins with the mitzvah of the daily burnt offering in which the Kohanim do not get a portion and he urged them with the word Tzav/command them knowing that since there is financial loss for them they need extra encouragement, as people would be lax about it when it hits the pocket. The Midrash tells us the story of the righteous King Munbaz who when there was a drought in Jerusalem opened up his vaults to the people to distribute his treasures to assist them. When his family protested he responded.
“My forefathers gathered a treasure on this earth, I am storing a treasure in heaven. My fathers stored their treasure in an insecure place. I store it securely. My fathers stored it without profit and I am investing it beneficially. My fathers accumulated treasures of money and I am accumulating treasures of souls. My father’s put aside for others, I am putting aside for myself. My fathers stored for this world I am storing for the world to come.”
Did you donate money for Maot Chittim/ to help needy families for Pesach yet. If not you can contribute at the following link to Yad Eliezer.
 And once you wallet is out why not click on my link and sponsor a weekly E-Mail J
Celebrating a Family Simcha – Whatever your Jewish occasion is Israel is the place where the celebration of the event will be most meaningful.  A Bar or Bat Mitzva in Jerusalem with prayers by the Kosel, or at Kever Rachel, or maybe even on top of Masada or in Tzfat. How meaningful is that? Getting your start as a young man or woman in Hashems country, fulfilling your first mitzvas as an adult in the country where they were meant to be kept the most ideally. Combine that with a tour of your homeland with the right guide (hint, hint) and you have a trip and an experience that will remain with our newest adult members off the tribe that will last them forever. Weddings are also an amazing place occasion to have here in the holy land. Starting your Jewish home in your Jewish home. Besides they are a lot cheaper here from what I understand. A Jewish joyous occasion is only one when you include the entire Jewish people in it. Here in Israel the whole country will celebrate your simcha with you. And that is cool!
Bob, not a real practicing Jew, is invited to his nephew's bar mitzvah. The invitation also says that they would like him to do an aliyah. Not being a regular shul goer, he learns how to do it. Every day he practices, "barachu et hashem hamevorach... baruch hashem hamevorach leolam vaed."
On the day before the bar mitzvah, he practices it one more time and when he went to sleep that night, he was confident that he knew it well.
The day of the bar mitzvah arrives and soon it was his turn in the shul. He goes up and says, "barachu et hashem hamevorach."
Everyone behind him then said, "barach hashem hamevorach leolam vaed."
"Be quiet” he shouts, "I can do it myself!"
Rivkah wakes up one morning and utters a loud "Oy Vay" She has a nagging pain in her left shoulder. She immediately goes to see her doctor.
After examining her, her doctor says, "Do you own a full length mink coat?"
"Yes doctor, mine Hymie bought me one for our silver wedding."
"Good," he says, "you must wear it for 3 weeks, then book to see me again."
Rivkah returns after three weeks and says, "Well doctor, my shoulder has cleared, but I now have a pain in my left index finger."
After examining her, he says, "Do you own a 3 or 4 carat diamond ring?"
"Yes doctor, mine Hymie bought me a 4 carat ring to celebrate the barmitzvah of Moshe, our first grandson."
"Good," he says, "you must wear it for 3 weeks, then book to see me again."
Rivkah returns after three weeks and says, "Well doctor, my finger is OK but I'm now getting terrible headaches behind my eyes."
After examining her, he says, "Do you own a platinum and diamond tiara?"
"Yes doctor, mine Hymie bought me one to wear under the chuppah at our Sarah's wedding."
"Good," he says, "you must wear it for 3 weeks, then book to see me again"
Rivkah returns after three weeks and says, "Well doctor, it’s a miracle. My shoulder feels great, my finger feels great and I'm not getting any further headaches. Thank you very, very much. But I have one question to ask you."
"What is it Rivkah?" asks her doctor.
"Doctor, how do you treat your non Jewish patients?"
Avrahom is a 12year old known for his total lack of religious study, so when his bar mitzvah day arrives, Rabbi Bloom is not about to let this go without comment. Avrahom performs his bar mitzvah as best he can with his minimal preparation and when it comes time to receive his presents, Avrahom gets what most bar mitzvah boys are given - a daily prayer book; a set of Jewish Festivals prayer books; a kiddush cup from the congregation’s ladies guild; an encyclopedia - “The History of the Jewish People from Bible Times to the Present”; a humor book called, “The Ultimate Book of Jewish jokes”; and a bible (old testament).
Rabbi Bloom then addresses the bar mitzvah boy, "My dear Avrahom. You have received today a number of treasures of Judaism in book form that will surely enrich your life and make it holy in the eyes of God. I also have a gift for you."
With that, Rabbi Bloom pulls out an umbrella from behind the lectern and says to Avrahom, "I present you with this umbrella because I want to give you something that at least I know for certain you will open."

Answer is D:  1898 Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany visited Eretz Yisrael in what was one of the most heralded visits in Israel’s history. With over a year of preparation, new roads paved, garbage cleaned off the city streets that had all been going to pot under the Turks this trip to fortify Germany’s hold and relationship with the Turks in Palestine against the imperialistic Russians, and British. Israel ahd many German residents amongst them many patriotic Jews as well as the Chritisan Templers. The occasion was officially to dedicate the Lutheran church in the old city of Jerusalem. The first stop was in Haifa where he landed and a special port was built for him. As Haifa was German owned land and they didn’t want him to land in Yaffo the main port of Israel on Turkish land. Form there a special bridge was built for him by Nachal Taninim that he crossed over on his way to Jerusalem where they had broken down the gate of Yaffo which used to be sealed with a moat in his honor. And the legend goes so that he would not have to bend down with his tall pointy hat upon entering the gate. He did make a top at Mikve Yisrael where Theodore Herzl ran to meet with him while he was on his horse leaving and tried to take a picture with him, to bolster his own position for his Zionist dream. The picture didn’t come out, they only got Herzl’s feet so they doctored it up and cut and pasted it in. and there you have it.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Post-Bechirot/Elections Analysis- Vayikra 2015

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

March 20th 13th 2015 -Volume 5, Issue 21 -29th Adar 5775
Parshas Va'Yikra/ HaChodesh
Post Bechirot/Elections Analysis

It’s over thank God. And not soon enough if you ask me. After two months of electioneering, endless phone calls, unsolicited text messages, and being accosted by signs, teen-agers and bumper stickers wherever I have gone, I pretty much have had enough of Israeli politics to last me for a long time. It’s a shame that they can’t seem to keep a government for more than two years here without it falling apart. At least my friend who works in the sign publishing company is happy. On the other hand, with a seemingly endless supply of corrupt and self-interested motivated politicians with none of them really with the power or guts to do what needs to be done here without selling out to either other local coalition parties or foreign influences and fear tactics. It seems that this process and vicious cycle will continue until Mashiach comes… or I run for office. At least it’s over for now I hope…pray… One good thing that has come out is that at least my prayers three times a day for Hashem to return us to the leaders and judges of old and to restore us to the Temple and Jerusalem have been stronger during these past weeks.

But of course even when it’s over its not really over. There are all the post-election analyses. If he wouldn’t of run, had we responded better, if only we would’ve promised this, lied more about that, paid off more thems and campaigned harder in the cemeteries (This year it seems that many of the dad were the largest voting bloc), or had more rabbis praying more days at more graves in Uman or offering more blessings and curses, than we would’ve done better. I have a bit of my own post-election analysis although that of course is not what this E-Mail is about, despite the title. We pretty much had a right-wing government before and will have one again after the only change perhaps is that the “religious” parties regardless if they will be a part of the Government or not lost about 4 or 5 seats because they could not all get along and all the infighting and the Arab parties gained about 4 or 5 seats because they all united. How pathetic is that... Not much need for anymore commentary, I say.

I always like to read the Parsha with current events in mind. Not always international or Global events but even my personal ones like in-grown toenails and bunny rabbits hopping around my house. Maybe that’s why you like reading them as well. It’s interesting people asked me who I would vote for and I answered tongue in cheek that Ani Bocher LMi Shebachar Bi- I voted, or chose, He who chose me. Asher Bachar Banu Mikol Ha’Amim- Hashem chose us from all other nations. He chose me, so I choose or vote for Him. (Although, I did vote for a party as well-parties unlike elections are a good thingJ). The word Bechirot which in Hebrew means elections also means choices. Perhaps one of the fundamental concepts of Judaism is the notion of Bechira Chofshi- Free will. What separates mankind from the all of the other Creations is idea that we are created in the image of Hashem. Not image in that we look like God. Hashem doesn't look like me or anyone else. Rather, our great Jewish philosophers explain, that just as Hashem has the ability to choose, and to create and to effect change in the world based on those choices, He has given us that power as well. We have total free-will to make choices and those decisions ultimately will determine what our fate will be. That’s a pretty powerful idea, and one that even today many may not agree with.

There are psychologists that debate whether all our decisions are based on either nature or nurture. Those two choices pretty much say we are either born or ingrained by our upbringing with a certain nature, predilection or tendency and therefore we are pre-programmed for the decisions we will make. That pretty much would wipe out the notion of free-will if it was true and certainly excuse a lot of terrorists, ghetto youth or spoiled rich kids for their behavior. Judaism does not deny that each of us are born and raised and possibly even programmed with a whole set of personality challenges and with inclinations that will confront us in our lives. Yet, it in no way ultimately excuses our behaviors for not overcoming those challenges. Perhaps even more than the fact that it doesn't excuse our “mistakes” and misdeeds, it challenges to utilize those failures to grow even more, even higher, from them. Nature or nurture is a question of why I am, Judaism is far more concerned with who will I be? The answer to that question for every single human being, in that you will be as great as the choices you make when you exert that spark of godliness, that image of God within you. You can be limitless, just as He is, or you can be as small and as finite as a pile of clay without any breath of life blown into it. The choice to choose or not is yours.

This week we begin the third book of the Torah. The Book of Vayikra is unique in that there is almost narratives in the book. It’s laws and descriptions of that relate to the Temple for the large part. Sacrifices, Purity, agricultural laws all the things that always excited you when you started learning Torah. Right? OK maybe not so much. Yet fascinating enough our sages tell us this book is the one that little children should first start learning when they start to study. Yup. Not the story of Creation, or the cool plagues in Egypt, or even the story of giving of the Torah in Sinai. Start with sacrifices. Kids love that kind of stuff. Slaughtered birds, and cows and sheeps and all types of leprosy and blemishes. This is where you should start learning with them from. Which begs the deep and penetrating question. Huhhh???
The answer our sages tell us is “Since the korbanot (sacrifices) are pure and the children are pure, let the pure come and deal with the pure." 
I think this might even be more troubling for people. I mean, they’re pure they’re innocent. You want to buy them a goldfish, puppy hamster or bunny rabbit (although I advise against the latter), not slaughter them a sheep or goat…and skin…and gut and roast and then even eat them. As my phone app say whatsapp? The answer I believe is that perhaps one of the most fundamental lessons we can teach children and that they still grasp in their purest of states, before they start seeing Disney films of talking animals or reading Grimms fairy tales, is that we are not animals. We are different we have souls. We can make decisions, develop meaningful relationships, show appreciation. We are meant not only to contemplate our existence, but to develop our futures and elevate the world to an existence that knows its Creator and the soul that lies in each of us. The pure get this. The pure can appreciate that. The pure should learn the Book of the pure.

What are Sacrifices? Sacrifices, make one basic statement. My choices and actions have meaning. Every choice I make is an eternal life decision. I see an animal be offered up and I’m impacted by watching its life go out of it and its being brought to Hashem, and think that it is in place of me. Its what happens to me if I do not change my ways. Poof…smoke. I’m just a dead animal. When one has something significant in one’s life recognize it comes from Hashem, who is watching over us bring a thanksgiving or a peace offering. The pure get this. As we age we think we accomplish everything on or own. The only thing we can accomplish though is our choices. Our Bechirot…

Vayikra is the all about post-bechirot analysis that all of us are meant to make in our lives. The important choices that we make are not in the ballot boxes, rather they are in our day to day lives; our hour to hour and minute to minutes. Did my thoughts and actions bring more Godliness into the world?  In to my life? Did the way I treat my community, my neighbors, my family elevate me and express a Godly soul. The Temple of Hashem, may it soon be rebuilt, is and will be the place for those analysis. Even more significant is that it will be the place where I can re-cast my vote and my choices and rectify perhaps the wasted votes I may have had. The pundits and the polls got it right. Every vote counts. Every vote for Hashem, every act that we do unlike the Knesset or US elections actually change the world. (Unless of course, you’re of the opinion that voting in elections is also a mitzvah than it would be as well-see quote of the week below). We celebrate the new month of Nissan this coming Shabbos. Our sages tell us that just as in Nissan we were once redeemed, the redemption will come once again in Nisan. That certainly is something our vote will definitely count for.
Have a peaceful and relaxing without a thought or worry about Pesach cleaning,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


Lego Pesach commercial funny

Here Comes Pesach Bluesc

New feature of the WEEK!!

A shlekhter sholem iz beser vi a guter krig.
A bad peace is better than a good war.

"Last night Benjamin Netanyahu apparently defeated Barack Obama… and the Palestinians,”-John Stewart 
(answer below at end of Email)
 Which of the following is an educational institution whose design was inspired by the Jerusalem Temple?
A.    The Hebrew University campus at Giv’at Ram
B.     The Haifa Technion
C.     The Mikve Yisrael Agricultural School
D.    The Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium in Tel Aviv
The bird offering differed from the other animal sacrifices in that it was not slaughtered rather its neck was merely slit with the really long fingernail of the Kohen. The Chinuch explains this Mitzva as a lesson to teach you that the bird offering was brought in general by a poor person who could not afford a Cow, goat or sheep. One should act swiftly when taking care of the needs of a pauper and not delay him at all. Therefore the lengthier process of slaughtering is replaced with the quicker process of Melika. In addition the place on the neck did not need to be searched for. Think about that next time a poor person asks you for help. Hashem, overlooked details of slaughtering to hurry him back on the road to help him out. So should we…
Participating in the Elections – Yeah, you can do this in whatever country you live in. But there’s nothing like Israeli elections. 74% voter turn-out means that 3 out of the 4 people on the bus have a strong enough opinion to actually get out and vote. (I think the US was 58% in the last elections). The other 24% probably also have strong opinions as to why they are not voting. In Israel, what makes it exciting is that there are so many different parties most of them probably not fully representing your opinion-after all you’re Jewish. Each party will pull out everything they can to get you to vote for them. Each one of them will spend time convincing you how your vote will make a difference and change the world. The truth is in Israel because of the system and the minimal thresholds and the per seat representation the votes actually do have more meaning and significance. The Elections here have the bad, the ugly and the really tragic, as it brings out all the divisiveness amongst our people. Yet as someone who tries to find the good in everything-and then tell his tourists and faithful readers about it. It is truly inspiring and moving how passionate Israelis are about trying to do their most to better the Jewish people and country-each in their own way. We are not apathetic. The Jewish people care and understand how much needs to be fixed and how important each of us are in being part of our future. Israel politics are like no other because it’s the future of the world. And that is cool…
The Israeli was sitting Shiva for his father and it was election day. He was torn on one hand he knew that while he was sitting Shiva he should not leave the house. On the other hand his Rabbis told him that it was mitzvah to vote. Not knowing what to do he went to take a nap and his father appeared to him in a dream and told him to vote. He objected telling his father that he was still sitting Shiva. His father responded “Listen a few hours ago, I voted-even check my ballot, If I could vote you can J.

The Chazon Ish in the 1950’s gave a strong speech about how it was a mitzvah to vote in the upcoming elections. One of his students approached him after the speech and asked his Rebbe if the Rav felt that it was truly a mitzvah. When the Chazon Ish affirmed his decision, the student asked if this was a mitzvah just like eating Matza? The Chazon Ish responded “No, it is a mitzvah like eating Maror! JJ


Answer is D:  The Alma Mata of none other than this past election loser Yair Lapid as well as former Prime Minister Moshe Sharret and Natan Alterman and many other famous early and modern Zionist leaders and politicians. It was built as the first “Hebrew” High School in Israel. Its prfessors included Ben Yehuda who established the modern Hebrew language. The design of the building was blasphemously meant to imitate the Beit Hamikdash of Shlomo in Jerusalem. This was a new temple for the new Jew “modern Jew”; one that would replace the Temple of old of Sacrifice with the vision of Theodore Herzl, a Temple of Knowledge, Science, Art and Culture. The design with the two pillars of Yachin UBoaz on the outside and the gateway like the Temple was meant to send that very message. The truth of the matter In the Technion in Haifa as well blueprints were submitted for that design and the Hebrew U in Jerusalem as well in its choice of location on Mt. Scopus overlooking the Temple Mount. On the dedication of the Hebrew U building Ushiskin was quoted as saying to Albert Einstien “Professor Einstein , Opposite this place you see Mount Moriah . Three thousand years ago one of the greatest leaders of our nation, King Solomon ,built a house of prayer to the God of the world , and when he inaugurated the house he prayed that this house will be a house of prayer for all nations. And we pray now, that this house, the Hebrew University, that we dedicate here on Mount Scopus, shall be a house of knowledge for all nations”
At least he prayed…

Friday, March 13, 2015

Israel Store-y Vayakhel /Pikudei / Parah 2015/5775

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

March 13th 2015 -Volume 5, Issue 20 -22nd of Adar 5775
Parshas Va'Yakhel/Pikudei/Parah

Israel Store-y
 Being raised in America one gets used to a certain type of shopping experience Stores are there to serve you. Wal-Mart’s has its greeters with their little smiley stickers that cheerfully welcome you their store. The customer service desks are exactly that. There are refund policies. Social loyalty programs. It’s nice. We take it for granted. At least until you make Aliyah….

  Here in Israel the laws of the Shuk reign supreme. There are no prices on items. It’s not about how much it costs but how much you can pay. Convenience stores are generally inconvenient, opening and closing at their own whims and hours. Supermarkets expect you to bag your own items, pay for your shopping cart and buy what you need quick and get out of the way very fast, so that someone else can move along the line. Perhaps most frustrating to many is the tease you get when you call a company’s customer service line and are delighted to hear “Press 3 for English”, only to find out that it is really just a ploy to push you to the end of the line and delay your being answered another 10 minutes. Only then to be connected to an Israeli that doesn’t speak a word of English- although she could ask her friend who speaks Russian to help out.

 But on the other hand, and of course you knew I would ask you to look at the other hand there are many special things that you experience here in your shopping that you don’t get other places as well. Most stores will extend you credit if you are a little short. They’ll watch your kids while you run out for a second. Many times you can be lucky enough to catch a Minyan in your grocery store. It’s nice to see the man behind the counter learning a Jewish book, playing Jewish music or just even talking our ancient language.
 Even more touching though, is that more often than not if they see you purchasing something they’ll recommend you buy a cheaper alternative or one on sale that may even be of a better quality. Many times I was even told don’t buy it today wait until tomorrow the prices are going down. It’s funny, how Israelis respond to you in this way. They aren’t –God forbid trying to offer you customer service- it’s just that their natural instinct of seeing you pay more than you should or being put in a bind for a silly reason overcomes their natural shuk instinct to take advantage of you. Whereas in America in general there is a concept of maintaining customer loyalty with good service excellent refund policies, and in general a helpful demeanor, here in Israel there is no long term vision or agenda about getting you to become a repeat customer; they feel that they’re doing you a favor selling to you in the first place. Rather the help and perks you get are more of a sincere family nature; they are more about one Jew helping another.

 I read a story this week that really encapsulates this attitude. There was an older Yerushalmi carpenter who struggled daily to build bookcases for a living in a neighborhood where people barely had money to put food on their tables. One day an older American retiree came into his shop and asked him if he would build him a living room shelving unit that was comparable to the nice ones that he used to have in America. After taking the elaborate order for this rather ostentatious unit the carpenter asked who he was purchasing it for. When the American informed him that he had recently moved to Israel and wanted to retire and live his last years here in Israel similarly to the way he did in the States. The carpenter refused to build it for him. Though he was desperate for the business, he couldn’t bring himself to complete the order.

 He explained to the would-be customer,
  “If a young couple comes to me and asks for a strong, sturdy, beautiful piece of furniture, I look at them and think that this young, happy couple is just starting out, with many years ahead of them. I am thus more than happy to build them the stuff of their dreams. But you are already older. You should know by now how temporary life is. How can you build yourself furniture like what you’re describing to me?”
  Customer service? Not so much. An incredible shopping and learning experience that you can’t get anywhere else? Definitely.

This story sheds light on perhaps the greatest lesson of this weeks Torah portion. We have spent so many weeks discussing the building of the Mishkan. Yet once again the Torah recounts for us in full detail the donations of all the particular materials that each Jew gave to the building campaign. What is perhaps most remarkable is that this building is only meant to be a temporary structure. It should have lasted for a mere few weeks until the Jews arrived in Israel and built their permanent Temple. Yet the outpouring of money and donations was unparalleled to any other campaign since then, The Torah tells us that there was enough money and even extra. Does it make sense that for such a temporary structure, there should be such a huge campaign? Even more perplexing is that this Mishkan was meant to be atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf. Can it be that by merely donating money to the “synagogue coffers” the Jews can rectify perhaps the most grievous sin of all of Jewish history? How does one thing fix the sin of the other?

  The answer is that it was precisely the process of donating as much as they could for a temporary dwelling, that they were able to begin the process of undoing the roots of the problem of the Golden Calf. The Calf was created because the Jewish people took a long look at their future. How will we make it in the Wilderness without Moshe our guide and our leader? Who will provide for us? What will become of us down the road? We need a long term plan and the Golden Calf was created to provide and fill that role. What Hashem was telling the Jewish people was, don’t worry about the big picture. Rather you put your all into doing the right thing for the here and now. Build me a home that is temporary, with all that you can and I will reside in it. You need not fear or worry about what will come tomorrow. Your job is to make sure that everything is being done right and to the utmost for today.

 Interestingly enough, that “temporary” Mishkan and its vessels lasted longer than each of the Batei Mikdash Temples. The Tabernacle was with them their entire sojourn in the Wilderness. It was in Gilo, Shiloh and rebuilt in Nov and Givon and lasted about 480 years. The temporary merited longevity. The building that was donated with a mindset of doing the right thing in the here and now ended up being the place that they called the home of Hashem for the longest period of time.
 The lessons of that campaign 3000 years ago still ring true for us today. Are we focused on long term projects at the expense of missing out on opportunities to do chesed and achieve spiritual goals today? Are we too focused on our “permanent” homes in our temporary existence and forgetting our eternal lives and our connection to the transcendent? Maybe we spend too much time checking out prices and finding the best deals and worrying about how we’re being treated. The Israeli shopper is certainly not looking for the “shopping experience”.  They are more focused on the living experience. Maybe it is because the people here feel life and time are more fragile and precious. Perhaps it is the lessons engrained so long ago in psyche of that temporary Mishkan. We all have our “Golden Calf” weaknesses fears and projects that hold us back. That may be preventing us from contributing, from growing or from becoming as great as we could be. May Hashem give us the wisdom and strength of faith to let us move beyond them and create an Eternal life.

Have a Divine Bovine Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


Check out that tongue!

Smart Cows!

Dancing Cows!

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!!

A beheyme hot a lange tsung un ken keyn brokhe nit zogn
 Even though a cow has a long tongue, it can’t recite a blessing.

"When a cow laughs, does milk come out her nose?”  ~Author Unknown 
"Scientists tell us that the fastest animal on earth, with a top speed of 120 feet per second, is a cow that has been dropped out of a helicopter.”  ~Dave Barry
“Sacred cows make the best hamburgers.”  ~Mark Twain

(answer below at end of Email)
  Which of the following was the earliest Jewish neighborhood?
A.    Neve Tsedek
B.     Neve Shalom
C.     Ahuzat Bayit
D.    Kerem HaTeimanim
The Mishkan was completed be being built on the 25th of Kislev , The Midrash tells us, however that Hashem wanted it to be erected on Rosh Chodesh Nissan. However to make it up to Kislev, Hashem gave it the holiday of Chanukah instead. For almost three months, the midrash says Moshe would put it up and take it down. All of the scoffers made fun and said that moshe would never be able to bring the Shechina down. When the first of Nissan came everyone else tried to put it together, but were unsuccessful. Moshe finally came and merely touched the beams and wadda boom wadda bing it came together. Pretty amazin!

Kibbutz experience – This is the only where real socialist societies still take place. Sure the Kibbutz movement is pretty defunct and mostly privatized, yet there are still many young teen-agers and young adults that come here and join the kibbutz pick bananas, oranges or take care of cattle. Most get pretty burnt out after a while and get back to their nice comfortable capitalist lifestyles. But its definitely a cool thing to do and experience. Work without getting paid having to share responsibilities, watching how group decisions take place and to a large degree a loss of privacy and autonomy for the group. It’s not an easy life but to a large degree its an interesting one, your needs are taken care of and you are part of a community and society for better and for worse. One thing si certain there’s really not too many other places in the world where you can try out this lifestyle and certainly none where you can do this at a shomer Shabbat place. For a taste of the ideologues that started this country a Kibbutz is certainly a place to get that feel.
“Why was the calf afraid? He was a cow-herd
Why wouldn’t anyone play with the little longhorn? He was too much of a bully!
What sound do you hear when you drop a bomb on a cow? Cowboom!
What would you hear at a cow concert? Moo-sic!
What’s a cow’s least moosical note? Beef-flat!
What do cows do for entertainment? They go to the mooooovies.
What do cows like to do at amoosement parks? Ride on the roller cowster
What kind of cows do you find in Alaska? Eski-moos!
There were these two cows, chatting over the fence between their fields. The first cow said, "I tell you, this mad-cow-disease is really pretty scary. They say it is spreading fast; I heard it hit some cows down on the Johnson Farm." The other cow replies, "Hell, I ain't worried, it don't affect us ducks."
Who’s old enough to get this one J?
There was a herd of cattle all standing on a hill when an earthquake struck. All of the cows fell down, but the bull remained standing. The farmer noticing this went out and asked the bull, "Why didn't you fall down like the rest of the herd. The bull replied, "We bulls wobble, but we don't fall down."
And finally…
 Knock knock.
Who's there?
Cows go.
Cows go who?
No, silly. Cows go MOOOOOO!


Answer is A:  First thing to do is figure out what these things have in common. Most of you if not all of you don’t know… That’s because you didn’t go to a tour guiding course like I did J or if you did you may have deleted that information. But anyways the above except for one are early neighborhoods outside of yaffo that led to and eventually became the development of Tel Aviv. Neve Tzedek was the first in 1887. It was established by religious Jews after the success of the neighborhoods that were built outside of Yerushalayim. Acutally called that after the verse in yirmiyahu (31:22) “ So Said Hashem god of Hosts, they will again say in the land of Yehuda and its cities, when I return their returnees. Hashem will bless his Neve Tzedek-His abode of Justice, the Holy mountain..”. The community was established to offer more affordable housing and fresh air for the returning immigrants as Yaffo was overstuffed within the walls. Rav Kook was first chief Rabbi there. The Teimanim came afterwards in early 1900’s from the Yemenite Aliya. And Ahuzat Bayit was the predecessor to Tel Aviv. Neve Shalom has nothing to do with the question, they’re just hoping you get confused between that neve tzedek but it also helped me figure out the right answer because I realized that they were trying to trick me although I wasn’t sure if tzedek or teimanim was first… cool!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Purim 2015- To Jew or not to Jew that is the..Top Ten List

Inslights and Perspiration
from the
 Holy Gland
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your tour-guide, Rabbi, mortgage broker, clothing sales shlepper and most importantly your friend in Karmiel"
March 4th 2015 -Volume 5, Issue 18 -13th of Adar 5774

To Jew or not to Jew that is the….Top Ten List

So I was in the States a few weeks ago, for those of you who have been bored enough to be following the life and times of Ephraim Schwartz which are covertly hidden in what a purports to be a weekly Torah E-Mail, in case your boss or wife-which in some cases is one and the same- is looking over your shoulder asking you why you’re not doing the jobs they asked you. “Oh I’m learning the Parsha” you say. Some of you even fool yourselves into thinking that the reading of my jokes and stories absolves you of your obligation to review the weekly portion. That only works if you read it twice with targum translation though. Anyways you faithful know that I was in the States, the rest of you shame on you!
While I was there it struck me how American everyone is there. Not the goyim, they were mostly Mexican and Russians, I mean the Jews. Everyone had their nice big comfortable American cars, or mini-vans and gas guzzling Suburbans with not a care that some of us here suffer with French made cars and American knockoffs that still have to pay 7 dollars a gallon for gas. There were like a million restaurants all American of course I mean Mexican, Italian, and Israeli American and of course your good old Kosher fast food BBQ joints all packed. Bagels, Bialys, Danishes and real doughnuts. Papers were all in English-although some of the chareidi ones could work on their English a bit (as if I’m one to talk...). There was American flags on people’s doors and bumper stickers, people were talking about American sports and politics shows and music. It was strange coming from our very Jewish country to see how acclimated and assimilated everyone seemed to be. It made me think about our history. The glatt kosher restaurants and newspapers our people had in Germany before the war, in Spain before the Inquisition in France before the Crusades. How French, Spanish and German our people must have felt. Like it was paradise to go on forever.

Truth is the same thing even happened before medieval times the times of the Temple, there were Jews felt more Greek than the Greeks and more Roman than the Romans. Till they started to burn our Temple and kill us that is. That always seems to put a damper on our attempts at assimilation. Each new society mind-bogglingly enough failed to learn from their predecessors and though that “this time it will be different”, “this place is better” and the always popular “Never Again!” 60-70 years of no one trying to kill us generally does that to us. Now Hashem knows that history was never our strong subject, he chose us for our good looks our chulent making skills and for some reason our chiropractically incurable stiff-necked-ness. He also knew about our proclivity for liking to eat big meals regularly. So instead of making us sit through history classes regularly he gave us holidays so that we would hopefully remember some of the fun events that happened over our 3000 year existence. Hey its spring time eat some cracker like substance over a big meal without bread and remember something about Egypt and slaves. Hey its winter let’s eat some oily pancakes and doughnuts and remember something about Greeks. It’s the heat of the summer let’s not eat and remember a Temple or two burnt by the Romans and Babylonians. This time of year we are told to eat a lot of candy and cake and drink ourselves into a stupor to remember the last established holiday while we were in exile in pre-nuclear Iran (thank you very much Mr. Netanyahu for reminding the US congress and boosting yourself in the polls too bad you’re not running in American elections. It sounds like you would be a shoo-in). We had a big party while we were assimilating there and then we were saved and most Jews decided that’s not too bad and decided to stay there for the entire second Temple period. Sadly they disappeared as most of our people have if the goyim don’t kill us and exile us fast enough. Sighhh…
I know, I know you’re sick of these anti-living-outside-of-Israel rants. As if Israel was like the only place Hashem promised the Jews should live or something. C’mon get a life. Where would Israel be without Jews in AIPAC paying off people in congress to clap when Netanyahu speaks? I know it’s getting old already. I mean I would probably hate reading me by now when I lived in America. Mashiach is not here yet. Israel is not perfect…not even close. So stay in America…enjoy the bagels. Just use me as tour guide when you come visit and bring some bags of clothing for my wife as well. But in order to help you exist in the United States of America and not assimilate I decided out of the goodness of my heart and burning in my chest (I just had meatballs for supper) to dedicate this year’s annual Top Ten List to give you a nice handy list to keep in your pocket at all times to remind you why it’s better to be a Jew than a Non-Jew. Now many of you, my precious readers, I know are very religious, despite the fact that many of you would find it easier to sacrifice your son on altar to Baal rather than move to Israel. Some of you go to the Mikva regularly and fool yourself that you’re now pure enough to last a lifetime albeit in what the Talmud calls the land of impurity. You’re not too worried about your children assimilating and leaving the path of Torah tradition because your Rabbi told you that that only happens to people who move to Israel when their kids are “the wrong ages” never in Lakewood, Boro Park or any other religious community in “God’s other promised land”. But who knows maybe they’re wrong. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have something worthwhile that you can hand to your children as you try to explain to them why it is worth giving up all the “wonderful things a true blue goyishe life can afford them, although it is not enough to that they should pick up their family ever and move to Israel for. So here it is my dear readers who have not yet unsubscribed…


10) Chulent. Yes, that wonderful food that no goy has ever been able to make and that most can’t even imagine eating. They can try making some type of bean stew, but they could never leave it cooking over night or over two nights as we in the Schwartz house like to put ours up on Thursday already so we can have chulent for breakfast Erev Shabbos. It is truly the gift that keeps giving and giving and giving until you have it again the next week. Yes chulent alone is a good enough reason to be Jewish

9) Jewish music- especially since I started composingJ. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy some goyishe music here and there. But there’s nothing like a good Jewish niggun to raise your soul. Or a kumzitz when twenty yeshiva guys who have had way too much chulent sit around in a small room with candle singing their hearts aflame like coyotes crooning to the moonlight. It’s really beautiful, goyim don’t do that. They just have the Karaoke thing and you have to be pretty drunk to do that.

8) Jewish dancing- kind of a continuation of the above. But goyim have all these complicated dances and moves and they’re pretty much trying to impress and feel up the opposing gender as much as possible in the process. It’s kind of like a mating call for them. Jewish dancing is all about the opposite of that, its about getting sweaty while shuffling around in a circle squished together next to someone who smells worse than you and then running around faster and faster until you have a cardiac arrest. Its really quite fun. The best is the guys that break loose from that tight death clamp of a circle to get to the middle and they flap and flail they’re hands and feet around as they look like they are having some type of horizontal epileptic attack. This is fun Jewish style. A non-Jew will never get too experience this.

7) Shnorrers/Jewish beggars- Non- Jews that can’t or won’t work go homeless. They sleep on street corners outside subway stations and heat themselves by the steam coming up from the manholes. Jews, even the ones that can work are never homeless, they just run around town in the morning from synagogue to synagogue harass people enough while they are praying until they pay them to go away and then they go back to their fancy homes and live another day. Along the way they enjoy some nice hot coffee and snacks that many synagogues provide. It’s a wonderful way of life for many. Gentiles don’t have that luxury. The nice part as well is that the Jews that give the charity feel good about it as well, because it’s a mitzvah in fact one that promises a return by Hashem Himself. So it’s a win-win all around.

6)  Jewish Geography-Two goyim meet in an airport one does not turn to the next one and say “Shalom Aleichem my name is Bob. What’s yours? Where are you from? Oh Atlanta, do you know Frank?” They each read their own newspapers and much on their trayf sandwiches. Not so our family. Every Jew knows someone, who knows someone that you must know. They want to tell you about that connection. And another one and another one. Jews never get stranded anywhere. Everyone knows someone somewhere that would have no problem putting him up for Shabbos. And worse comes to worst there’s always Chabad. Motel 6 is for gentiles. We always have the Shabbos lights on for you.

5) Israel- whether you live here or not, only Jews can experience the sense of coming home that occurs when one comes to the Holy Land surrounded by your people, your army, your holy and historic places. Greeks can go visit their “old country” Germans can enjoy a good knockwurst at their old German hangouts, but only Jews no matter where they’re from will feel their souls uplifted even as they are being ripped off at the shuk, or yelled at by a taxi driver. Just to have that sense even once in your life that your ancestors longed for for thousands of years is something that someone who is not a MOT will ever get.

4) Kosher- not that it tastes any better than non-kosher food. In fact many people that were not raised on kosher and then started a kosher lifestyle have told me that they still miss some of those creepy crawly bottom feeders or some good “other white meat”. I don’t mean kosher cuisine as well or Jewsuine I should say like Gefilte Fish, Kugel, Matzah Ball soup, lukshen, or schmaltz herring. Goyim can get that as well, although they probably won’t appreciate it much more than chulent. I mean the joy of knowing that everything you put in your mouth is GOD approved. It’s right for your soul. There is also nothing more exciting and exhilarating than being stuck out in some fardurbeneh place and as you look from aisle to aisle all of a sudden you come upon a jar of Manishevitz something or other or some Empire chicken or even a kosher restaurant. That is a pleasure that a non-Jew can never appreciate.
* true story- the Schwartz family was camping out in Zig Zag (that’s really its name) Oregon one summer and sure enough in the local grocery in this little hick town under the ethnic food section they had not only cans and jars of every imaginable kosher food from soup croutons to borsht but they even had boxes and boxes of hand made shmura matza, for a dollar a box! We’re probably the only family that came home with more food than we left with…J

3) Shabbos-Goyim have Sunday, they mow the lawn and fix their cars and go to the mall. Whoopee doo… We have Shabbos. We eat, pray, sleep eat some more, sleep some more and we sing with the family around the table a lot. We do this every single week. It’s heavenly. The truth is I really don’t do the sleep thing that much or very well anymore, certainly not during the week. I think I used up all my sleeping points in my high school and yeshiva years. But Shabbos comes around and I’m out like a light on the couch after our multi-course meal of a million salads, fish, soup, chicken, kugels leafy salads my wife always puts on my plate, for decoration I think, and of course sunflower seeds a bissele cake and tea for desert. Goyim only get to exercise their stomach muscles like that on thanksgiving. We do it every week. But it’s also so incredibly holy. No phones, no computers, no business or work except for Rabbis like me that have to prepare and give their sermons- but that’s a labor of love for me at least- although some of my congregants might feel otherwise. It’s a day of bliss. One that non-Jews are even prohibited by Jewish law from fully observing. If you could only be Jewish for one day a week. Pick Shabbos

2) Torah study- now until recently this had an added benefit of getting one out of Israeli military service. All you had to do was register in a yeshiva attend classes and live in poverty for the rest of your life. From what some of my parents friends told me it helped quite a few get out of active service in Vietnam as well in the US. Talk about shared traditions and values Mister Netanyahu. But the truth is for anyone that has ever engaged in serious Torah study it is perhaps one of the most fantastic experiences one can ever have. We’re not just reading some silly novels about changing thrones or witches that play some silly English ball games on brooms, nor are we studying laws, history or Bible. Jewish Torah study is literally like listening to a tape recording of works on thought, history, spirituality, ethics, and morality with all kinds of neat stories, parables and hidden messages from thousands of years of Jewish sages. All incidentally passing down traditions and ideas that we’re given to us by God Himself on Sinai. When we pray, a Rabbi once told me, we are talking to God, but when we study Hashem is talking to us. Now how awesome is that! Even more awesome though is that if you get really good at the Torah study thing, you can eventually become a teacher yourself. In fact you’re meant to become. All Jews were given the mandate to teach the world that wisdom. The really good ones even figure out a way to make a living out of it. Maybe become a rabbi that doesn’t have to be a tour guide as well to pay his bills or beg each week in his weekly E-Mails. Who knows? The sky is the limit. But once again this is an opportunity that is only open to the people of the Book. 
1)        And the number one reason why its better to be a Jew than not is... drumroll....
Miracles- yup. Miracles. Goyim have miracles too, don’t get me wrong. Not any of the baloney made-up yoshki or muchamed stuff, but Hashem breaking the laws of nature to take care of his children; and all mankind is His children. But the Jewish people are like the kings of miracles. Our entire existence after 3000 years of everyone and his horse trying to kill us is nothing short of pure unadulterated extraordinary Divine manipulation. It doesn’t make any sense otherwise. The fact that we haven’t assimilated and disappeared despite our various really try-hard-to-dump this chosen-people-thing time and time again and generation after generation, but have been unsuccessful is only because Hashem inevitably steps in and somehow finds a way to protect us from ourselves. Being Jewish means that one is connected to Hashem and to the Master Plan of Creation. We are the world’s miracles, because the world needs to see miracles to appreciate the Divine, to tap into the ultimate goodness of a God-filled life. So being Jewish means being part of a miraculous existence and that my friends truly rocks!

So there you have it our Top Ten list of the year. I know there were many things that I left out that were equally important. Jewish wives, Jewish Mothers, Jewish children and of course Rabbi’s sermons, kiddushes, Jewish politics, the joys of Yiddish, Teshuva/repentance. But hey God had a lot of commandments and yet only shared Ten as well to start off with as we stood on Mt. Sinai. The rest of course we are meant to study and find for ourselves. Much of the other reasons can actually be found in this E-Mail’s numerological Gematria values and its Midrashic accompaniment. Much more can be discovered if you read this by your Purim feast and finish off the bottle sitting in front of you. Regardless Perhaps the last and greatest reason to appreciate our yiddishkeit is because god-willing very soon Mashiach will be here. It will be quite embarrassing if you threw it away like the day before he comes. Almost as embarrassing as the fact that you chose bagels and customer service over living in God’s chosen land. Sorry I couldn’t resist one last line. But really drink a LChaim- Cheers to being Jewish and God willing very soon the whole world will be drinking together with us as we welcome Hashem and you back forever to Our Home.

Have an exuberantly joyous Purim,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

(PS For previous years funny Purim Rabbi Schwartz's Top Ten List click on the link below
(Top ten reasons to use Rabbi Schwartz as a tour guide)
(Top ten symbols suggestions for israel's government ministries)

(Top Ten reasons to read Rabbi Schwartzes weekly E-Mail)
This weeks Insights and Inspiration has not been sponsored by you. Why not? Maybe you're hoping I will stop sending you these already. I won't. Maybe you think we have enough money and plenty of extra time on our hands to write these for you. We don't. Maybe you think I wouldn't notice or appreciate it if you just sent me an E-mail or clicked on our paypal link and dropped us a few bucks. I would. I will even send you a personalized autograph first copy of my book. When I decide to write it....sponsor... sponsor... sponsor...

"Odem yesodo meofer vesofo leofr,” beyno—lveyno iz gut a trink bronfn.."- A man comes from the dust and in the dust he will end”—and in the meantime it is good to drink whiskey
 And one more
“Az men krigt zikh miten rov, muz men sholem zein miten shainker”- If you’re in a fight with your rabbi, make peace with your bartender

The megilla tells us the story of Purim but the midrash Ephraim shares with us the reasons behind the story. Why were the Jews punished so our Parsley Sages (Rose married Time) explained it was because the Jews ate from the feast of Achashveirosh. Now the problem with eating at the feast and the diabolical plot all revolved around the fact that Haman knew the Jews could never turn down a free meal. Especially a kosher one. Some Jews actually came just for the photo-op on the Persian Rose Garden. They would actually sell their grandmothers down the tubes for that opportunity. Those Jews eventually ran for the Israeli Knesset. But anyways back to our story. The Jews ate for free. They got so accustomed to that when the vessels of the Temple were brought out they got used to attending Temple for free as well and not paying Synagogue dues. Even worse than that when Haman bribed the king with 10,000 shekels to kill the Jews. The Jews didn’t’ even try counter-bribing. I mean c’mon 10,000 sheks is only about $3000. My shul costs more to run than that. But the Jews sadly had become accustomed to a free ride. They couldn’t even save themselves. Maybe they figured if they had a Jew from the tribe of Binyamin (also known as Bibi) go speak in front of congress or the UN and a lot of gentiles clapped that would be enough and they wouldn’t have to pay anything. But it didn’t work. Finally Esther decrees a fast. Now when Jews don’t eat we realize it must be serious. When it’s for three days it’s really serious. So We did Teshuva. We contributed to needy families in Israel/particularly those in the North and Hashem saved us. The conclusion of the story is that Hashem put into place a new system in Persia and for all of Jewish life. He had the King declare taxes. Those taxes would of course have exemptions for charitable giving kind of like the 401c3 that we enjoy here for all checks made payable to American Friends of Young Israel and mailed to me. The Jews thus realized that they should always give tzedaka because if not the tax man will take it away. The End of the Megilla with its Midrashic interpertation

COOL-Get out of your car and pray on the side of the road
UNCOOL- doing it next to someone who also stopped to take a leak

COOL- burying your head into the Wailing Wall and praying to Hashem after putting in a letter
UNCOOL- sticking in a piece of gum your chewing into the crack so that the cool guy’s hair gets stuck

COOL- Stopping your car in the middle of the highway to get out and dance with some wacky breslaver chasidim
UNCOOL- letting the air out of their tires while they’re not looking

COOL- taking out an Uzi and blasting the heck out of some stupid terrorists that have just thrown rocks at your car that are trying to kill you and your family.
UNCOOL-driving off sighing and calling the police to help out the situation.

COOL-voting in Israeli elections and arguing with everyone you meet about why their particular party stinks.
UNCOOL-actually believing that anyone that is running for office in this country will not rob you blind and can be counted on to offer any type of protection or security from arabs or nations that will try to destroy us.

COOL- having a talented Rabbi, Author, composer, Kiruv professional, restaurant and wine connoisseur with the first name Ephraim and the last name Schwartz be your tour guide in Israel.
UNCOOL- having anyone else or at least the people that don’t give me a commission for recommending me J

Vnahapoch Hu New tune

coolest IDF megilla reading!

cool Chabad Purim invitation

shlomo carlebach purim kumzitz


1) How soon is it to the next bathroom stop? A: being as the last one was 10 minutes ago and I repeatedly asked if anyone needs to go then...soon J

2) When can we eat? A: Being that the last food break was 10 minutes ago and you are still chewing and haven't stopped noshing since we have gotten back in the car...soon J

3) What type of tree is that? A: an avocado tree (all trees I do not know are avocado trees) Follow up question- Why are there oranges growing from the avocado tree?

4) Is that really true? A: No, after years in the Rabbinate and being involved in Jewish outreach work as well as being a highly experienced tour guide I have become adept at making up stories and sources at random intervals in order to pique your interest and inspire you.

5) Are we supposed to tip? A: Of course, especially the tour guide J

6) Is this dangerous? A: No of course not, I wouldn't knowingly take you anywhere dangerous. (Now only if I knew where we are...where was that turn I was supposed to make again...)

 So Yankel turns to his friend and tells him about his visit to the doctor this past week.
“The doctor said he has to limit my drinking. I can only drink one shot a day”
“So how are you doing with it”
“Not bad, I’m already about July 7th 2055!”

So the Israeli Knesset member turns to his fellow Knesset member and asked him if he fasted Yom Kippur this past year. The Jew answers no, why should he fast he hasn’t stolen all year around.
“What a freyer you are?” He tells him “In order not to fast one day, you don’t steal all year!”

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