Our view of the Galile

Friday, May 15, 2015

Hunger Gains- Bechukosai Yom Yerushalayim 2015/5775

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

May 15th  2015 -Volume 5, Issue 27 -26th Iyar 5775
Parshat Bechukosai
 Hunger Gains

Uh Oh. I know I’m in trouble when I begin to wax philosophical about dieting. Usually that is a sign that my post-Pessach -get rid of all those potatoes and Matzoh lbs- diet is in serious jeopardy. I know how it works. It starts with some brilliant insights on the principles of effective weight loss. Very slowly it then moves to some weak justifications of why a little piece of ……. really won’t impact my firmly committed resolve. After all I have just intellectualized the significance of why this is so critical to my lifestyle. I rationalize that one cannot go over board though. I quote Maimonides that one must choose the middle “golden path” avoiding extremes. Sponge cake is golden. Yet in the back of my mind I know that one I start quoting Maimonides, I’m in trouble. Before you know it I have reached the recognized reality that my justifications were indeed weak and I admit that I am not on my diet any more. This of course means that I will have to try harder next year post Pessach to find something else to write about for my weekly email so that it doesn’t happen again. Yet this week’s Torah portions contains in it two such beautiful insights into the Torah’s perspective of eating (and life for that matter), that I feel that it is worth the risk just to share them. Oy, what I don’t do for you. I will not quote Maimonides though.

The first insight comes from an interesting blessing that Hashem promises to the Jewish people if they follow the commandments.
You will eat your bread and will be satisfied”.
 Now even for those of us not on Atkins, the blessing may seem quite lame. I imagine that when many of us think of a blessing or reward for following the sometimes daunting commandments and restrictions of the Torah, we would hope that the good Lord might provide us a little something more than the promise of satisfying bread. Yet Rashi, the great 11th century most basic of Torah commentaries, quotes the Medrash that takes this blessing even further.
 "One eats just a bit and it will be blessed within his belly”.
So the reward is not even a lot of bread. Rather interestingly enough it seems to be the feeling of satisfaction that we are promised to feel after eating just a little bit.

Rabbi Yissochar Frand draws a very powerful insight from this rather humble blessing. All too often when we think of blessing we think of prosperity. Someone who has made it on our society is one who has the most and the best and the latest of everything. Unfortunately, I have encountered too many of these people and can attest that for a large part, many of them do not live with a sense of appreciation and feeling of blessing. On the other hand I have been privileged in my younger Yeshiva years in Israel to spend Shabbos with many families that feel they live the most blessed lives in the world. Many of them live in small apartments with families of ten children. Many do not own those basic western “necessities” microwaves, food processors, and computers. Yet the joy and feeling of blessing that fills these homes resonates with that special blessing of Hashem.

In a very similar vein the Seforno an early 15th Scholar notes another strange promise by God. We are told in Parshas Behar about the Mitzvah of the sabbatical year- Shemitta. After being commanded to leave our fields fallow for the entire year giving them a year of Shabbos, free from producing any fruit. The Torah then addresses that most primary concern.
“And if you may say, What will we eat in the 7th year if we do not plant and gather our crops? I will command my crops for you in the 6th year and it will produce for three years.”
The implication, it would seem, is that we only receive this blessing by virtue of the question "And if you will ask, what shall we eat?" What would happen, if they would not ask the question? Are we to infer that in that case, the crops would not double? Precisely, says the Soforno. If they would not ask the question, there would be no NEED for a quantitative blessing. The blessing would instead be something even greater. They would be satisfied with the smaller amount, and not fall into the never ending cycle of the unsatisfying pursuit for more.

One of the most difficult parts of dieting I find is eliminating “mindless eating”. Just turning off the brain and eating not for satisfaction purposes rather just eating for eating’s sake. This is not only true for eating unfortunately I believe it is true in our pursuit of “stuff” as well. Mindless impulse buying, things we have to have, places we have to go to, we lose focus on developing a mindset of satisfaction and instead hope upon hope that more of whatever, will make us feel better. Yet the Torah shares with us the true path to happiness. “Who is a wealthy man? He who is satisfied with his lot.” says the Mishna in Pirkey Avot. The road to true wealth and happiness is not going to be determined by how much food one has on one’s plate or how much money one has in the bank. Rather the truest happiness will only be found when we can feel satisfied and blessed with all that our loving Father in heaven has given us.

As we move closer to the holiday of Shavuot and work on building up to that spiritual peak of that anniversary of our receiving the Torah on Sinai. Let’s work on stepping back from our mindless pursuits (eating and otherwise) and begin a process of dieting. For as we focus on those actions that will truly bring us to a true state of satisfaction, we will be opening our lives up to the greatest blessing that Hashem has to give.

This week many celebrate the holiday of Yom Yerushalayim here in Israel. It is the day that 48 years ago. Hashem returned Jerusalem to our hands. It was not something we planned on, It wasn’t even a planned military objective. We turned around the corner as our soldiers entered through the Lion’s Gate in the 6 day War and wadda boom wadda bing we were there. Har Habayit BiYadeinu- The Temple Mount was in our hands. A true fulfillment of the verse Omdot Hayu Ragleinu B’Shaarayich Yerushalayim.- Our feet were standing at the gates of Jerusalem. We merited Jerusalem because we were never satisfied with the stuff of the Diaspora. Our Forefathers longed for it. They dreamed of returning and building once again the Temple of Hashem that will shine out to the world. Hashem created us with a hunger and a drive that is seeking to be satisfied and that can never be satisfied until it is fulfilled. Until the day that it will ultimately be rebuilt, our Jewish souls will always have a sense of void that needs to be fulfilled. It certainly isn’t meant to be filled with the quick fix noshes, luxuries and comforts that a few decades of no one trying to wipe us out in our foreign countries of existence might have provided us. It shouldn’t even be satisfied with the miraculous establishment of the State of Israel and the return of millions to our homeland. Even a day like Yom Yerushalayim when we celebrate the return to our holy city should cause us to look at the Kotel and see merely a candy wrapper; a retaining wall of the Temple Mount that was meant to envelop the home of Hashem that still needs to be built. It is what Hashem craves. Ratza Hashem Dira BaTachtonim.- Hashem desires a dwelling place here on this world. We can’t stop longing for that desire to be fulfilled. The Book of Vayikra concludes with the blessings and curses that can be achieved or that we will suffer if we forget that desire. If we forget that master plan. It’s time to give up the nosh. It’s time for the final glorious and eternal banquet that awaits us.

Have a spectacular Shabbos and festive Yom Yerushalayim.

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

Love song for Jerusalem cute!

Jerusalem Flash Mob Eis Lirkod – at time to dance

Israel police – our pride and joy- doing the lion sleeps tonight

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!!

Fyn a kargn gvir in fet bok genist men ersht nukhn toyt!- A rich miser and a fat goat are of no use until they are dead!

I often hear them accuse Israel of Judaizing Jerusalem. That's like accusing America of Americanizing Washington, or the British of Anglicizing London. You know why we're called 'Jews'? Because we come from Judea." – Benjamin Netanyahu
“You ought to let the Jews have Jerusalem; it was they who made it famous.”– Winston Churchill
"Ten measures of beauty descended to the world, nine were taken by Jerusalem."-Talmud: Kiddushin 
(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
Citrus orchards in Israel in the modern era began in what region?
A.    The coast line
B.     Western Negev
C.     Judean Lowlands (Shefela)
D.    Jezre’el valley
This weeks Parsha tell us of that if we follow the mitzvos/ commandments Hashem will bless us with his “our rain in its time”. The Midrash explains what this means. One interpretation is that it will rain at the time of year when it si neede in Spring/The month of Nissan and in Cheshvan the fall month for they will not make the fruits soggy or flood the ground and will not harm houses our tress. Interestingly enough this year Israel has had the past month or two very unlikely rain in the month of April even and May. Someone pointed out to me that since this year is meant to be A Shemitta year and we are not meant to be working the fileds the only ones getting harmed by this are the farmers that are not keeping the Shemitta. Ouch!
Another interepertation in the Midrash is that it will rain when people are not outdoors like night time particularly on Wednesday night when there are evil spirits running around and Friday nights when all are home with their families. I added to that list when tour guide are not touring J
Celebrating “New” “Jewish” “Holidays” – Three sets of Quotation marks depending on your orientation. Yeah in America you have July 4th, but here we have Yom Ha’atzmaut. How meaningful is Memorial day compared to Yom HaZikaron or Yom HaShoah? And only Israel has Yom Yerushalayim. Israeli holidays are not just days off to go shopping, the beach or catch up on work. These days are meaningful as we reflect on the miracle of the State of Israel and the return to Jerusalem. One literally feels they are part of the process of the unfolding of History and our destiny here. The last time new days were added that were celebrated by Jews was Chanukah over 2000 years ago. If you want to push it maybe Lag Ba’Omer 500 years ago. But here since the establishment of the State we’ve been getting these wholesale. Not everyone considers these Jewish there are some that see them as nationalistic, some that see them as holy days to thank Hashem. We Jews can never agree of course. But regardless here in the Land of Israel these days are celebrated as we await the return of the Biblical holidays with the coming of Mashiach to be experienced in our Temple hopefully very soon rebuilt.
A Jewish man was walking around Jerusalem when a bill board caught his eye. It read, "We would rather do business with 1000 Arabs than one single Jew!"
The Jewish man stopped and asked himself what place would advertise such a racist proclamation. Then he got it... The Funeral Directors.

A good, old American Jew felt the death is close and asked his sons to take him to the Holy Land, to die there and be buried in Jerusalem.
 The loving sons did as he asked, brought him to Jerusalem, put him in a hospital and waited for death to come. However, once in Jerusalem the old man felt better and better and in some weeks was again strong, healthy and full of life. He called upon his sons and told them: " Take me quickly back to the United States."
 The sons were somehow disappointed and asked: "Father how come? You said you want to die in the Holy Land and be buried in Jerusalem!'
 "Yes," answered the father, to die it's OK but to live here....!?"


Answer is A: If you got this wrong you should be ashamed. What you’ve never had a Jaffa orange before. The coastline which is called the Sharon area is where all of the Jewish orchards started, which was quite a feat being that the salt water isn’t great for them and fresh water wasn’t plentiful. The industry originally started with the Arabs in the late 1800’s but the Jews took it to whole new level with exports and drip and motorized pumped irrigation. Today Jaffa Oranges are grown mostly in South Africa and South America and Spain so as to maximize the world wide demand and to cover us in seasons when there is no rain.

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