Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
July 24th 2015 -Volume 5, Issue 37 8th of Av 5775
*(SEE BOTTOM OF E-MAIL FOR SPECIAL LAWS OF WHEN TISHA BAV FALLS ON SHABBOS)
Imagining the Imaginable
We live in a world of imitation stuff. We’ve got fake sugar to put in our coffee. Fake designer clothes and watches. I’ve been eating these fake burgers and chicken stuff made out of soy, tofu or some other things all week long. I miss my cow. I have a friend of mine that was complaining to me about how his fake plants died the other week, because he forgot to pretend to water them… No, but seriously When our sages describe this world as an Alma Di’Shikra- a world of falsehood as oppsed to the Worldto Come as the Olam Ha’Emes the World of Truth, I don’t think that they were referring to the notion that when I go shopping in the supermarket half the foods there are imitation something or other, or that when I walk down the street half the people are not really who they seem to be- their hair color might come out of a bottle or be covered up by a wig or toupee, their face is makeup or cream, even their tan could come out of a bottle. Sometimes I think my belly is the only thing real around. And I do mean a round.
This fake world that were living in extends of course to the Political realm. We have fake leaders that are not leading anyone rather they are following the masses and the polls to wherever hole we may be burying ourselves in. We have a fake United Nations that was formed to insure world peace and instead seems to be united in only one thing, bringing the world to its Jihad fulfillment and to passing resolutions against Israel. We have world media spreading fake stories about our country, supposed brutality by the most humane army in the history of military warfare. We murderers and terrorists and despots who have regimes that persecute it’s citizens and that keep them impoverished and that treat women with less respect and freedom that they do their own dogs, that are presented to the world as peace makers and humanitarians worthy of peace prizes and sympathy. All the while decrying Israel and threatening them with boycott and divestment and arming our enemies. Falsehood and malicious accusations and double standards are the world that we live in.
The truth is the global and political worlds and outlook is merely a reflection of each of our personal worlds. Entertainment today is watching imaginary people, have imaginary dramas to generally happily ever after endings. Kids and way too many adults are sending me invites to play some silly games that consist of angry birds and farming some sheep. Secular music is about fantasy love songs at best and much more damaging and illicit behavior that has become normalized at worse. People have “friends” that they “like” and sometimes “poke” and share silly details of their existence with and they still are able to wake up in the morning and look at themselves in the mirror and feel that they have healthy lifestyles and social interactions. We are no longer living in a real world, it’s not even a virtual world anymore. It’s just fake, artificial, and one big plastic universe that has eaten away the core of our soul and our humanity. The robots have taken over and we are them.
The process of this fake world many can and will attribute it to the last half century or so. Old timers remember the good old days when kids would play in the park, when the news was meaningful and people were engaged in the pursuit of something higher than their immediate gratification as fake and fleeting as it might be. And to a certain degree they are correct. The world used to be different. Although it could be argued that things weren’t always happy and healthy back then as well. The world was perhaps repressed more, but under the surface and in different periods and eras all had their fleeting fake worlds that were never truly a connection to Emes- to the creating a society where our souls and our worlds were working in synch. Where meaningful true relationships built upon values that tap into the essence of what we are here for, are what is the guiding force of how we lead our lives and is the fuel that drives the worlds existence. From the Greeks who spoke about philosophy and meaning out of one side of their mouths while pursuing every imaginable form of hedonism, to the Romans and their barbarism, to the “religious” zealotry of our Christian and Muslim cousins as they massacred and decimated the world in the name of their fake God created in the image of their fake prophets and religious leaders. Not that the atheists, communists, and Nazis were any better in their pursuits of a utopian society and the early Puritans in the States were no great picnic either ask the “witches” and slaves. It’s pretty much been a lousy world for a long time. Little islands of sanity in a sea of tears, wars and the obfuscation of truth and the world that Hashem had planned for us.
It’s been so bad for so long it’s hard to think about how it could be; how it should be. Not to steal from a guy that had a band named after an annoying household bug, but “Can you imagine a world” with the Temple rebuilt? Whereas he imagined a world without a heaven or hell below us and nothing to kill or die for and ohhh no religion too. Rather a brotherhood of Man sharing the whole world as one and being dreamers together, I also have a dream. But my dream, the Jewish dream is of a world quite different than I believe most people want to even consider dreaming about. I dream of a world without religions but certainly with a heaven. A world that is connected to our Father who lives there and who also has a place over here on a small mountain top in Jerusalem. I dream about the brotherhood of the Jewish people uniting in that one mission of bringing Hashem’s glory to the world. I long for the day when we finally realize we are a family and that there are different paths towards sanctifying our Fathers name in this world, but that all of them revolve around us observing all the words of His Torah, the parts that govern our daily lifestyles in the way we interact with one another and the way that we connect with Him. There are no more denominations in this glorious world I dream of, no religious and no secular, no Jew more holy or privileged than another, just as there is no one part of a body that is more privileged or holier than another.
In this world, families uplift one another, our souls connect with one another, the betterment and love we feel for each other is as natural as the betterment and love of ourselves. Mankind as a whole looks at that model Godly universe we have created here, around our Temple in the land Hashem repeatedly has told us is the only place where this is meant to happen, and in turn finally sees us as the light we are meant to be, as the emissaries to the nations and as the empire of Priests who have been charged and chosen to create that reality that will bring the world to its ultimate glory. The Supreme Court will declare that Jerusalem is not only the capital of Israel, but that it is the capitol of the world. The United Nations will truly be united in the principle that Hashem is Echad, the only true force that can create unity. Ein Od Milvado- There is none besides Him and everything is Him. It is the one soul we all share. It is the only thing that can truly bring the brotherhood that will be true.
I am dreaming. No, neither are you. At least not if you’re a religious Jew. You’re praying. For this. Each Rosh Hashana, when you daven the Shmona Esrei the above is almost a word for word translation of those prayers. Each Friday night when you sing Lecha Dodi and recite the Psalms preceding it, the vision of Hashem’s reign upon the world and a Jerusalem rebuilt from the ashes is all you are singing about. Every time we recite an after blessing over bread, every Jewish wedding and every Bris these are the prayers and blessings we make. Three times a day we daven and map out this world. We just don’t always see it. There is a time that you can see it though. That time, Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Beriditchev says, is this Shabbos; Shabbat Chazon, the Shabbos of vision. It is not just a Shabbos when we read the vision of Isaiah of the impending destruction of the Temple and our exile during his times. But it is also the time when we can actually visualize the Temple being built and the world finally being perfect.
It has been said that one doesn’t really appreciate or see things clearly until they have been taken away from us. No one loves their parents or appreciates them more than when they are sitting Shiva for them, tragically enough-(it should be after 120 years). This week have been sitting Shiva. Mourning for the world that isn’t. Remembering what it was meant to be. What it could be. What we can bring it to. This year in particular Tisha B’Av falls out on Shabbat and our sages note that although, the fast is pushed off until Sunday. Yet one can fulfill the mourning and loss of the Temple through the celebration of life and joy that Shabbos, which transforms the world and is a taste of that World of Truth, can bring. In fact the Mishnaic sage Rabbi Yehudah is of the opinion and rules that once Tisha B’Av has been postponed it is gone, one does not have to mourn again or even fast on the following day. His ruling was not accepted by the sages, perhaps because they did not feel we could truly take this Shabbos and envision in our joy and celebration the perfection of the world that will be restored to a “day when everything is Shabbos”.
Yet I believe we can. We won’t have to fast this Tisha B’Av if we can all not just imagine but really visualize the perfection of a world that has Shabbos. A world that is united. A world that will unequivocally speak truth and lead civilization to our glorious future. It’s time for the imagination to turn into a vision, for our prayers to lead to our actions, our home to become Divine.
“You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
some this day you'll join
And the world will live as one”
But I'm not the only one
And the world will live as one”
Have a Shabbos of eternity and a Chodesh that truly is Menachem our Av-that consoles our Father,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S VIDEOS OF THE WEEK
A Different kind of Imagine
The children are ready
Great Rabbi Orlofsky Tisha B’av
RABBI SCHWARTZ’S FAVORITE YIDDISH PROVERB 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!!
“Vos lenger a blinder lebt, alts mer zet er”- The longer a blind man lives, the more he sees.
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S FAVORITE QUOTES OF THE WEEK
"The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum” -Thomas Paine
.“From the time of the destruction of the Temple, Hashem has left his palace in heaven and awaits outside, until his children will rebuild his Temple in Jerusalem”- Zohar
“Rav Lach, Shabbos, B’Emek Habacha, Vhu Yachmol Alayich Chemla-Great is you- the Shabbos- that falls out in the valley of tear-ie Tisha B’av- for it is from you that we will have the mercy for the redemption”- Maor VaShemesh-Rav Kloynamous Kalman Epstien
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK
(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 words of the vision of the “dry bones” were found at
.RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL MIDRASH OF THE WEEK
The special Haftora of Chazon is the beginning of the prophecy of the book of Isaiah-Yeshaya Hanavi. The Midrash tells us that Yeshaya’s prophecy began on the day that a great earthquake took place in Jerusalem. It seems that the king Uziya at the time, got it in his mind that he would bring the daily sacrifice in the Temple, something that is of course only permitted for the Kohen to do. When the Kohanim tried to stop him, Hashem stepped in and caused a huge earthquake that split the Temple Mount. Also an angel came down and made the King into a Leper where he had to flee and was never heard from again. On that day Hashem asked who will be my prophet to admonish the Jewish People-my children. When Yeshaya/Isaiah volunteered for the position.
Hashem said “I sent Micha and the prophet and the people did nothing but slap him. I sent Amos the prophet to rebuke them and all they did was ridicule him for his stammer. Isaiah, My children are rebellious and a great burden. If you are willing to be humiliated and beaten by them, you can go on my mission. If not, I cannot send you.”
Yeshaya responded “I fully accept this condition ‘I surrender my body tot hsoe who smite me, my cheek to those who pull out the hairs of my beard (50:6).
So Hashem responded that Yeshaya has ‘chosen righteousness’ – “To make my children more righteous. ‘And you have despised evil’-to see my children as evil. Therefore I have anointed you above all my other prophets. Whereas all other prophets will be guided by a human master, you will be guided by Me. Whereas all other prophet’s will speak in single phrases yours will be in double phrases-as it says Arouse Arouse, I will rejoice, I will rejoice in God, I am, I am your comforter, Console, Console, My people.. And thus his prophecy begins..
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL THINGS TO DO IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK-
That Yonah doesn’t think I can come up with each week…
Experience first hand the destruction of our Temple – Jews have been mourning the destruction of our Temples for over 2000 years in every country we have ever been in exiled to. Yet with the return of the Jewish people to our homeland on one hand we feel closer to the redemption. Yet on the other hand there is no place more prominent than to experience the destruction than in Jerusalem. One need only look up to our holy mountain and see that monstrosity that stands proudly where our Temple is meant to be a house of prayer for all nations. One can tour underneath the ruins of the old city and literally see ashes from the burnt city. One can walk along the southern wall and see the remains of the rocks of the Temple mount walls that had been cast down precisely as described by our sages into the streets below. Perhaps most moving-although I have never experienced it-although I have been told, is to recite the Kinos lamentations from the top of Herodian the exact spot where Jews stood and watched the Temple burning while the destruction was here. The Talmud says he who mourns the Temple merit to see it be rebuilt. Here in Israel God willing will be the best place to experience that happening as well. God willing it should be this year.
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S NO JOKES OF THE WEEK
No Jokes this week…shame on you for looking for them…
Answer is D: If you had to ask me what is one of the most moving and amazing finds in Israel it would be this scroll with the prophecy of Yechezkel/Ezekiel that describes a field of dead dry bones come to life again in the Messianic period. What makes this so amazing is that this scroll was found as Yigal Yadin was excavating on Masada, the place where the Romans thought they had wiped us off the face the earth. We were dry dead bones. And then wadda boom wadda bing less than 25 years after the holocaust the Jews have returned to this exact place and have dug up the ruins and out of the ground comes this scroll with the words of the prophecy. An E-Mail from God. Our Rabbis tell us that we have more prophecy today than they had 3000 years ago. For they had to take the prophecies on faith while we are living the fulfillment. May all the prophecies of our redemption likewise be fulfilled.
Due to the many requests Here is a posting for the unique laws of Tisha'a B'Av which falls out on Shabbos and is postponed to Sunday. Everyone should feel free to ask their own local Rabbi for guidance This is just the general orthodox Ashkenazic tradition for observances of the day of the destruction of the Temple.Of course the primary obligation is remember the destruction and mourn its loss.
When Tisha B'Av falls on Shabbat or Sunday
by Rabbi Elozor Barclay and Rabbi Yitzchok Jaeger
Special laws that apply when the Tisha B'Av observance begins on Saturday night.
Note: The following laws are based on Ashkenazi tradition, and some points are subject to varying opinion. When in doubt, AYLOR (ask your local Orthodox rabbi)
1. What are the main changes when Tisha B'Av falls on Shabbat or Sunday?
When Tisha B'Av falls on Shabbat, the main changes are:
The fast is postponed until Sunday.
Marital relations are forbidden on Friday night.
Washing any part of the body with hot water fro pleasure is forbidden on Shabbat.
There is no special Seuda Hamafseket before the fast.
Some of the laws of Tisha B'Av begin only at nightfall on Saturday night, instead of at sunset.
Havdalah is postponed until Sunday night.
2. When Tisha B'Av falls on Shabbat and is postponed until Sunday, is the preceding week considered as "the week in which Tisha B'Av occurs"?
There are different opinions about this. Therefore:
One should be strict about this concerning laundering and haircuts.
One may be lenient about matters concerning cutting nails and making clothes. As for meat and wine, Sefardim could eat without restriction; for Ashkenazim certain leniencies apply (for example, regarding who can eat meat at a Bris).
3. May a woman immerse in a mikveh on Friday night that is Tisha B'Av?
Yes. In this case, marital relations are permitted.
4. Are there any changes to the prayers in this situation?
Tzidkas'cha is not said at Mincha.
Pirkei Avot is not said at Mincha.
5. May one hold a public kiddush on this Shabbat?
If the kiddush can be held on a different Shabbat, it is preferable to defer it.
If the kiddush cannot be held on a different Shabbat -- e.g. for an aufruff (groom prior to his wedding), it is permitted.
6. May one eat meat and drink wine at the Shabbat meals?
Yes. This is permitted even at Seuda Shlishit.
7. May one invite guests to the Shabbat meals?
Yes. However, one should not invite guests for Seuda Shlishit unless he does so regularly.
8. May one sing zemirot at the Shabbat meals?
Yes. This is permitted even at Seuda Shlishit.
9. May one go for a stroll on this Shabbat?
When the ninth of Av is Shabbat, one may not go for a stroll at any time of the day.
10. May one visit family or friends?
11. May one learn Torah on this Shabbat?
Before halachic midday, it is permitted to learn Torah.
After halachic midday, many opinions permit learning Torah. If a person can limit himself to the topics that are permitted on Tisha B'Av, it is praiseworthy.
It is permitted to read the weekly parsha and its translation all day.
12. May one take pills on Shabbat to alleviate the pains of fasting?
It is permitted to take them on Shabbat until sunset only if they are mixed with a food or drink. One should preferably prepare the mixture before Shabbat.
One may take them without water even on Saturday night, unless they are pleasant tasting.
13. May a communal Seuda Shlishit be held in shul?
No. Everyone should eat at home.
14. Are there any changes to Seuda Shlishit?
Although any food may be served, including meat and wine, and zemirot may be sung, the mood should be somewhat subdued.
A person should not say that he is eating in order to have strength to fast, but he may think this.
One must stop eating and drinking before sunset, since the fast begins at this time. People should be reminded about this, as it is unlike a regular Shabbat.
15. Must one say Grace After Meals before sunset?
It is permitted to say the Grace after sunset, but one should try to wash mayim acharonim (after waters) before sunset, if possible.
16. May one say Grace After Meals with a 3-man zimun?
Yes (unlike when the eve of Tisha B'Av falls on a regular weekday, where one should not make a zimun).
17. May one eat or drink after Seuda Shlishit?
If one said Grace After Meals before sunset, one may eat or drink until sunset. It is not necessary to have this in mind when saying Grace After Meals.
18. Which prohibitions of Tisha B'Av commence at sunset?
All the prohibitions except wearing shoes and sitting on a chair commence at sunset. These two activities are permitted until nightfall.
19. When should one change one's shoes and Shabbat clothes?
There are two customs:
Some go to shul before nightfall and begin Ma'ariv at the usual time of Saturday night. The chazzan should say "baruch hamavdil bein kodesh lechol," remove his shoes, and then say "barchu." The congregation should respond to "barchu" and then remove their shoes. Care must be taken not to touch one's shoes when removing them. The Shabbat clothes are not removed until one returns home after Ma'ariv. This is the prevalent custom in the Diaspora.
Some shuls delay the commencement of Ma'ariv, allowing people to remain at home until nightfall. At the time of nightfall, everyone should say the phrase "baruch hamavdil bein kodesh lechol," remove his shoes, and change into weekday clothes before Ma'ariv. This is the prevalent custom in Israel.
20. According to the first custom, may one bring Tisha B'Av footwear to shul before Ma'ariv?
Even if there is an eiruv this is forbidden, since one may not prepare on Shabbat for after Shabbat. It is also forbidden to change one's shoes before going to shul, since this is disgracing the Shabbat. It is therefore advisable to leave suitable footwear in shul before Shabbat to wear after Shabbat.
21. Is the blessing recited over the spices?
No. It is forbidden to smell spices, since a person must refrain from such a pleasure on Tisha B'Av.
22. Is the blessing recited over a Havdalah candle?
Yes. According to one custom, it is recited in shul before the reading of Lamentations. According to another custom, it is recited at home before Ma'ariv, if there is time. According to some opinions, the blessing should be recited over two regular candles and not over a braided Havdalah candle.
23. May one wash the Shabbat dishes on Saturday night?
No. They may not be washed until Tisha B'Av afternoon.
24. Should a person who is not fasting recite Havdalah before eating?
Yes. However, if he only needs to drink water throughout the fast, he should not recite Havdalah.
25. Should such a person recite Havdalah immediately after Shabbat or wait until he needs to eat?
He should wait until he needs to eat.
26. Which sections of Havdalah are recited?
The introductory verses and the blessing over spices should be omitted. The blessing over a candle should be omitted if he already recited or heard it at the termination of Shabbat, or if he is reciting Havdalah during the day.
27. Should Havdalah be recited over wine, grape juice, or another drink?
According to most opinions, beer is the most preferred drink.
If this is not possible, some opinions prefer the use of a drink that has national importance. (A rabbi should be consulted to ascertain which drinks qualify for this purpose.) Other opinions question the use of such drinks, and prefer the use of grape juice.
If nothing else is available, wine may be used.
28. If wine or grape juice is used, should the cup be given to a child to drink?
If a child above the age of six is available, the cup should be given to him.
If not, the person who recites Havdalah should drink the cup himself.
29. How much of the cup should be drunk?
A cheekful only.
30. Are children obligated to recite Havdalah before they eat?
According to most opinions, they do not recite Havdalah before eating.
31. After the fast, may one eat or drink before Havdalah?
With the exception of water, it is forbidden to eat or drink anything before Havdalah.
32. Which drink should be used for Havdalah?
One should use wine or grape juice. The person who recites Havdalah should drink the cup himself.
33. Which parts of Havdalah are recited?
Only the two blessings "borei p'ri hagafen" and "hamavdil." The introductory verses are omitted, as are the blessings over the spices and candle.
34. When are the various restrictions lifted?
Some are permitted immediately upon completion of the fast (e.g. bathing, laundry and haircuts), while others remain prohibited until the following morning (meat, wine and music).
Excerpted from "Guidelines" - over 400 commonly asked questions about the Three Weeks (Targum/Feldheim).