Our view of the Galile

Friday, May 29, 2015

Antidisestablishmenttarianism-Naso 2015/5775

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

May 29th  2015 -Volume 5, Issue 29 -11th Iyar 5775
Parshat Naso

Every fifth grader in my class knew the word. We even knew how to spell it. It was the longest word in the dictionary. We knew that it meant -the doctrine or political position that opposes the withdrawal of state recognition of an established religious entity (originally the church of England-which I’m all in favor of toppling incidentally) although used to refer to being anti the people that are trying to topple the local establishment -That was at least until someone came up with floccinaucinihilipilification (to hear the pronunciation click here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4q7Ki1Ubg-w&safe=active  then try to say it afterwards. Play this game with your kids. You will laughJ). Spelling was a subject that I excelled in. I was a big reader. I liked words. Especially fancy words. They made me sound smart with little effort. I was very big on that concept. I still am. I certainly was not the studious type. In the artscroll book that will be published about me post-mortem (after 120 years). I think it would be kind of cool to have the word antidisestablishmentarianism in it. Although I was more the disestablishment type. But maybe it can be worked in somehow. I know my mother was an antidisestablishmentarian, let me tell you I have the scars to prove it J. Ouch!

Yeah I was never much of a system type of Guy. It was funny when we made Aliyah to Israel the Mishpacha magazine did an an article about three Rabbis who moved here of which I was selected to be one of them. The author of the article and interview who was incidentally a reader of this weekly E-mail asked me if I mind if she could take one of my quotes from this E-Mail that I had written and add ti to the article. And of course quite inspired that I wrote something worth quoting in the world famous Mishpacha Magazine I acquiesced. The next week when I opened up the Mishpacha though and saw the big fat picture of me with the words Quote in really big letters I kind of swallowed, as the quote she seemed to have found most inspiring and that really shared my deepest inner thoughts with their readers was “The reason I became a Rabbi was because I always knew I would talk in Shul and I figured I’d get less dirty looks doing it from the front of the shul than the back.” Ouch. Did I really write that? It’s amazing what comes out of this keyboard at 3:00 AM with my eyes half closed. There were certainly Rabbis of mine that were turning over in their graves at the monster they had created. Yet here I am. And here you are. We’re friends by now. We have no secrets or hidden illusions about one another. I’m a Rabbi here in Israel trying to get someone to sponsor his weekly E-Mail with lots of jokes stories and some hidden insights and inspiration. And you obviously have too much time on your hands to read all million pages of my weekly musings. We’re a team. Don’t you want to become a partner JJ?

 As I was perusing the longest Parsha in the Torah this week- yes we knew that as kids as well-I was struck by the strangeness of the structure of it. Or better yet the randomness of its various components. The portion begins with the jobs and count of the families of Levi around the Tabernacle concluding last week’s Parsha description and counting of the Jewish people and their placements and flags in the camp of Israel. The conclusion of the Parsha is the description of the various identical sacrifices that were brought on the day of the coronation of the Tabernacle. The grand opening, so to speak, as we began our 39 remaining year sojourn in the wilderness, of which the rest of the Book talks about. The Torah than sandwiched between these two narratives though the Torah seems to go on a tangent, or a few tangents to be precise that are seemingly out of place. It talks about the sending out of the impure and the Metzora (those who had a physical leprous type disease that came as a result of spiritual failings such as gossip and Lashon Hara) from the camp of Israel. Perhaps its relevance is part of the description of the camp. But this might be more appropriately placed in the laws of impurity. What than follows is some very random laws. We have the laws of someone who robs and swears falsely how he must pay back and the offering he brings. It even includes the particular laws of one who steals from a convert who has no heirs or a convert. This whole portion would seem better placed in the civil laws of Mishpatim than here.

The detour then continues with the laws of the Sotah woman- a married woman who had secluded herself with another man after her husband had warned her of his discomfort with this and who was suspected of adultery. She was meant to drink from a special water potion that contained in it the name of God that would discern if she was telling the truth or not. Incidentally this did not work if her husband had also been unfaithful. What does this have to do with our Parsha? This would seem to fit much nicer in the laws of illicit relations or adultery.

 Following our detour of random information in our Parsha we introduce the laws of a Nazir-not sure how to translate in the English. But he was someone who would make a vow upon himself of purity that would entail refraining from wine products, no contact with the dead and growing his hair long. This was behavior that was frowned upon by our sages and was done when someone felt that he needed to go to extreme measures to attain spirituality. Offerings would be brought upon the conclusion of the period of his Nazirite period. Again this seemingly has nothing to do with the Jews in the wilderness or the coronation of the Tabernacle. Finally the Torah concludes all these digression with the commandment of the Cohen to bless the Jewish people. And we have the famous blessing that Hashem should watch us and protect us and shine his light upon us that we recite daily and which the Kohen thus blesses us daily here in Israel. To all of these digression we have one question. So we have within the story of the coronation of the temple laws of Blemished and impure, laws of Thieves, illicit women, Nazirites and priestly blessings?  As my daughter likes to say Ma Ha’Kesher-What’s the connection?

This week’s portion is always read either before or after the holiday of Shavuot. It is meant to connect us to that special holiday where we remember the revelation we received on Sinai. When we remember how each and every Jewish soul that will ever be born heard as one the word of Hashem from upon the mountain. Each and every Jew. Perhaps more significant than that we each heard and saw the sound of God speaking to us from amongst the mountain. But as Targum Yonatan Ben Uziel explains we saw each and every one of us also hear it. Each heard it, each saw it and each incorporated into our spiritual DNA. We are one nation that were transformed by God. The problem is that it is hard to hold on to that revelation. We all heard one thing but we all internalized and express it differently. We have different camps. We have different tribes. We will have impure people, those whose challenges will be to pursue healthy relationships, those whose jealousy may overcome them and they may lie, rob and speak badly about others, we have others on the other extreme who isolate themselves from others in their pursuit of that spirituality and holy voice we heard so long ago. We will have priests who have one job and one type of connection and we will have political leaders, heads of tribes and the Levites that serve other functions. All of them need to be counted. They are all part of Klal Yisrael. All of them receive the priestly blessing with love.
It’s an amazing Parsha this longest one of ours. It tells us that there is not establishment, besides the Almighty’s. It concludes with the identical gifts of each of the heads of the tribes but each one is brought with their own strengths their own talents. The establishment the dis-establishment, and the antidisestablishment. We Jews are the Kings of different opinions and different paths. It’s because each Jews has his own special unique way to express that voice of Hashem that lies dormant within themselves. A voice that only he can express, a voice that is different than every other Jews and it is only through the revelation of all of those voices together will the sound of Hashem be heard, as the Parsha concludes from the Temple to the rest of the world.

The Jewish people are never one that could and should be put into a cookie cutter-or any cutter for that matter. We have an elaborate system with a hierarchy in Judaism but there is room for everyone within it. We need to return to that moment on the mountain and reveal that voice of Hashem that we saw in each other. We need to inspire and encourage all of us, our generations, our neighbors our friends to share their voice. To spread their holiness. To bring that light into the world. Hashem is waiting for his voice to be heard once again. It’s up to us to turn up that volume and let it ring.

Have a magnificent Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

This week's Insight and Inspiration once again didn’t have a sponsor. You know you want to share this Torah with others and make a rabbi happy. Send me an Email now and let next week’s be yours!

One of the most touching videos I have seen recently it made me cry..shh.. Am Yisrael Chai ( there is closed captioning option on youtube for those that don’t speak Hebrew)

Wow! Important video to watch-cooking Pizza in a car check it out

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!!

Kratsen un borgen iz nor gut oif a veil.”- Scratching and Borrowing are only good for a while.

Man is certainly stark mad: he cannot make a worm, yet he will make gods by the dozen.
Michel de Montaigne
You know your god is man-made when he hates all the same people you do..” Anonymous
(New exam this week these questions are from the most recent tour guide exam-let’s see how I do)
answer below at end of Email
The “Four Species” are?
A.    Willow, Olive, Fig, Palm
B.     Etrog (Citron), Myrtle, Willow, Palm
C.     Pomegranate, Wheat, Barley, Myrtle
D.    Myrtle, Palm, Willow, Pomegranate
There are two opinions in the Midrash about the meaning of the blessing of the Kohen that Hashem should bless you and watch over you. One opinion is that one Hashem should bless you with much posterity and he should protect you from thieves. The second opinion is he should bless you with much posterity and should protect you from it. I found this Midrash to be particularly inspiring. Sometimes we need to be protected from other people that try to harm us but the second opinion suggests that even more so we need protection from our possessions and wealth itself. It can change us. It can make us think that we are better than others. It can make us stingy or aloof. It can even prevent us from sponsoring weekly E-Mails. May Hashem protect all of us from that JJ

Meet people from all over the world – This is a tourist country. We have been spread over the Diaspora for thousands of years. Yet since the establishment of the State of Israel. We have come home. Not everyone merits to live here yet. But most Jews today at least visit the land of Israel. And it is truly an amazing thing to meet and see Jews from all over the world who return to our 3000 year old homeland in order to partake in that sense of coming home. It’s not only Jews historically Israel has been the country were all religions and cultures would come for pilgrimages. Today there are tourists from Korea, China, India, Nigeria, Russia, Australia and South America. All come to see God’s chosen land and His chosen people who have returned. This is perhaps the greatest miracle of modern times. Everyone wants to see it. So it doesn’t’ make a difference where you go in this country you will see the buses and the tourists. Wish them a Shalom and tell them that very soon. They will have something even greater to see. Our Temple once again restored in the Holyland on the Temple Mt. Won’t that be something amazing!
Q: What's the longest word in the English language?
A: Smiles. (Because there's a mile between the first and the last letter.)

Q: What five-letter word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it?
A: Short 

Q: What is the word that everybody always says wrong?
A: "Wrong". 

Q: Name one eight letter word that has kst in the middle, in the beginning, and at the end.
A: "Inkstand", "in" is at the beginning, "kst" is in the middle, and "and" is at the end.

Q: What do you call a person who speaks 3 languages?
A: Tri-Lingual.
Q: What do you call a person who speaks two languages?
A: (Bi-Lingual.
Q: What do you call a person who speaks one language?
A: An American! 

Answer is B: This should also be an easy one for anyone that was raised with the holiday of Sukkot when we take these four species and shake them fulfilling a biblical commandment on the first day of Sukkot and as a remembrance of the times of the Temple on all of the other days of Sukkot where they would be taken each day. A harder question might be what are the 7 species that Israel is blessed with that the Torah mentions. And that’s what they were trying to trip you up with in this question. Can you name them? Ok here’s the answer Pomegranate, wheat, barley, fig and olive you figured that out because they were listed above as choices and now what’s the last two? … Grapes and dates. And there you have it. Incidentally the last two are not listed explicitly but rather are referred to as Vines and Honey.

No comments:

Post a Comment