Our view of the Galile

Friday, July 10, 2015

Grandpa "Joe's" Values-Pinchas 2015/5775

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

July 10th  2015 -Volume 5, Issue 35 23rd Tamuz 5775
Parshat Pinchas

Grandpa "Joe's" Values

Avi was my cab driver as I was heading back home after a long few days on the road touring. There’s nothing like Israeli cab drivers to truly give you the full flavor and "feeling on the street" of our country and I always relish my time spent in those cabs to get the "real scoop" about what's going on.

"Medina Metumtemet" he began- An insane country (say that word 5 times forcefully and you'll appreciate what a great word it is to describe insanity-I'll translate the rest for you though). If I had my way I'd get out of here tomorrow and move to Seattle . I tried explaining to him that there were only 5 kosher restaurants here and all of them are vegetarian and he certainly would have to kiss his Shwarmas a sad Shalom, but he just continued on his tirade.

"My son was just enlisted in the army to become an officer and I told him that he should move out before serving in this army".
"I myself," he shared, "served in 56', 67', Yom Kippur, and in Lebanon I and was honored to fight for our country the dream of a Jewish homeland. But today none of it has meaning anymore. All the blood that's been shed feels as if it's meaningless. When I was a solider the cardinal rule was that if someone was captured we would lose thirty men if we had to but no one was ever going to be left behind. But today this country has lost its sense of pride and honor. We trade land for just more terror and our soldiers are just expendable pawns to further the political ambitions of our "leaders". Our young boys have to go into terrorist houses and warn them, putting the protection of Hamas’s women and children above the protection and safety of our own. We lost 67 of our children last summer because we refused to blow them up from the air. Our enemies know this and are using it to kill more and more of us.  Lot threw his daughters out to the street and the mob but at least it was to protect angels. Who are we sending our sons out to the mob to protect? Is that who and what my son should give his life up for- the fear of a UN resolution or a world condemnation that will come no matter what happens whatever we do? For a Medina Metumtemet?!

I left his cab feeling sad. The experience unfortunately wasn't a unique one in the cab drives that I have taken since I have moved here. Israelis seem incredulous that there are Americans that want to make Aliya? They think of us as ideological naïve “Fryers”. People that were sold a bill of goods. People that don’t know what this country is really about. Perhaps as a result of this impression, they feel that we’re easy marks. Maybe we are. How did this happen? How could people who have sacrificed so much for an ideal not have the ability to pass those values down to the next generation; the next generations of leaders and the next generation of children?

In truth this is not just a question about the State of Israel and post-Zionism. It's a question we each have to ask ourselves in all area of our values. How can we pass them down to our children? Is there anything we can do to set a foundation to see that those things that are important to us will be carried on and be an everlasting eternal legacy?

This week’s Torah portion tells us about a family that was able to do that. We are introduced to what were perhaps the first pre-Zionists, the Daughters of Tzelofchad.

And the daughters of Tzelofchad, son of Chefeir, son of Gilad, son of Machir, son of Menashe, son of Yosef drew near (to Moshe, the leaders and all of the people of Israel).

They then requested that they should be granted a portion of the land of Israel as an inheritance and legacy of their father who had died without sons, rather then just marrying and sharing in their husband’s portion.
"Why should our father's portion be lessened?"

Rashi notes the strange, lengthy and seemingly insignificant introduction of the family tree of these women that gets traced back to their great-great-great-great grandfather (that’s grandfather to the fourth degree). And he explains that the Torah was sharing with us the incredible source and nature of their request.
“Just as their grandfather Joseph loved the land of Israel -as he in his dying request he asked that his bones be carried up from Egypt to be buried in Israel- so to his granddaughters acted and requested out of that same love for the land.”

How fascinating! Can any of us claim that we have and act out of the same desire that our grandfathers have? Do we even know their names? Where they lived? How did they manage to do this? Rav Moshe Feinstien suggests the answer is that not only was their knowledge and ancestry so integral to their own self-identity, but they lived by a mandate to carry on those values and even to enhance and translate them into something that they could call their own. These daughters were going to live in the land of Israel regardless. They were going to live the dream grandpa Yosef had only dreamed of. But that wasn't enough for them. They understood that for the values to be transmitted further they had to do something more. They had to have their own portion, their family's portion, the piece of land and heritage that they could tell their children this is what we did to show our love and dedication. Not just sit back and rely on the love and vision of their grandfathers.

We all have traditions values and legacies we hope and wish will be carried on after us. But the question we have to ask ourselves is what have we done and are we willing to do to make sure they get passed down. Is our Shabbat the same as our parents and grandparents or are we making them more meaningful and enhancing them? Are our values about morality, right and wrong being practiced, enhanced and reflected as we believe they should be or are we too swayed by the easy route of going with the flow and society and not fighting the fight (as did the Daughters of Tzelofchad) to bring those values to reality. Do we pay lip service to our Torah study and significance of prayer or are our prayers and learning growing in devotion and meaning as we wish and know they should be?

I turned to Avi in my cab before I got out and asked him that question. Is the Medina Metumtemet or is it perhaps the people who have inherited that land not doing what it takes to make it into a Medina Muvcheret-a Chosen land? The land has not changed. Sadly we have. We've lost our appreciation and dedication to making it the place it should be. We received a gift and we put it away and didn't raise it and transform it into that special holy heritage it was meant to be. We let it become a place that we could get buried in and didn't turn it into the place our children will appreciate and have awe for as the place where we can get closest to God; the homeland that will be the light for the world and the harbinger of the Redemption and return of the shechina.

This week we began the three week period of mourning for the destruction of the Temples over 2000 years ago. We mourn today not only for the destruction millennia ago but for the destruction and for our failure to merit its rebuilding today. As we start this process once again this year it might pay for us to ask ourselves the questions of what that destruction means to us and what it should mean to us. And then perhaps we should ask ourselves the most important question of all; what are we prepared to do about it? May this be the last year we have to go through this process and may we soon merit to live that dream of the Yosef and his granddaughters in Eretz Yisrael.
Have a awe-inspiring Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


Beautiful Yerushalayim song by Malchus Choir (all vocal)

  Heartwrenching father at son’s funeral singing

Entebee Raid in Cartoon!
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!!

Fun naches lebt men nit; fun tsores shtarbt men nit”-  One isn’t kept alive from joy and one doesn’t’ die from troubles.

People who wonder whether the he glass is half empty or half full miss the point – the glass is refillable"— Anonymous
" People who argue whether the glass is half empty or half full are probably not thirsty.” ― Ljupka Cvetanova
“Men see themselves in women’s eyes; women trust the mirror.” ― Ljupka Cvetanova

(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 statement “{the laws of} Purity spread throughout Israel, can be shown at
A.    Tel Arad
B.     The Herodian Quarter
C.     Beit Shean
D.    Tel Lachish
The Midrash discusses the daughters of Tzlefchad coming to Moshe and the reasons why he turned to Hashem for the answer to their question about inheriting the land of Israel rather than answer it himself. One Midrash suggests that Hashem hid the answer from Moshe because when Moshe was giving the laws about the court system he said “any difficult decision shallbe brought to me.” Rather than saying that the people should ask him and he would ask Hashem. Hashem said “Oh you think you know it all… Here is a law that even a woman will know better than you.” Another Midrash suggests that Moshe deffered the law to Hashem in his humility because since all the other judges in the lower courts didn’t know the law he decided to also show humility and defer to Hashem. The last Midrash which to me is the most inspirational is that because they had said that their father was not one of those that had died in the sin of Korach who had challenged Moshe, So Moshe felt that might influence his judgement so he had to recuse himself. Which is fascinating as the group of Korach was only 250 men. There were another few million people as well that had not been involved. But that slight knowledge that they weren’t from the worst people that had been swallowed up by the ground was enough to possible influence his judgement. Wow!
Host or be hosted by random strangers that are your family – This is a country filled with Yeshiva students, seminary girls, and students that are looking to experience “Israel” and with many Jewish families that remember fondly their days of being in those same shoes. The Yeshiva/ seminary foods if they are even provided for on Shabbos are nothing to write home about so there is lots of opportunity to have the most amazing Shabbos experiences by sharing them with families and fulfilling that most Jewish mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim/welcoming guests-just like our Patriarch Avraham and Sarah. It is really amazing to be able to have these idealistic young men and women share their thoughts about Israel and their future and with us and it is so much fun to share our families with them. Some of them even bring a bottle of wine or cake others bring some flowers that I can’t eat L. But all of them bring that special Jewish flavor to our Shabbos tables as we share with them our experiences here in Israel. How do you hook-up? Many schools have people in charge of making Shabbat matches and today we have thanks to my good friend Rabbi Klatzkow Shabbat.com an awesome website that helps people “find their Challah”. And that is really cool!

The optimist says the glass is half full.
The pessimist says the glass is half empty.
The project manager says the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
And the cynic... wonders who drank the other half.
The school teacher says it's not about whether the glass is half empty or half full, it's whether there is something in the glass at all.
The worn out mother of a persistently demanding five-year-old says sweetheart it's whatever you want it to be, just please let mummy have five minutes peace and quiet.
The consultant says let's examine the question, prepare a strategy for an answer, and all for a daily rate of...
The inquisitive troublemaker wants to know what's in the glass anyhow... and wants the rest of it.
The homebuilder sees the dirty glass, washes and dries it, then puts it away in a custom oak and etched glass cabinet that he built himself using only hand tools.
The worrier frets that the remaining half will evaporate by next morning.
The fanatic thinks the glass is completely full, even though it isn't.
The entrepreneur sees the glass as undervalued by half its potential.
The computer specialist says that next year the glass capacity will double, be half the price, but cost you 50% more for me to give you the answer.
The boss expects the half-empty glass to be filled in half the time it took to fill half the glass, at half the going rate.
The drill sergeant says make the glass do push-ups until it sweats itself full!!!
The police officer says: "I'll ask the questions."
The opportunist says, "Thanks, folks! While you were debating it, I drank it."
The marketing professional convinces the buyer that what's left is more valuable than the first half.
The politician says that under the last government the glass was half-empty, and becoming emptier, but thanks to his own party's new leadership, the glass is definitely now half-full, and becoming fuller; but if the other party were to return to power, the glass would once again undoubtedly empty rapidly.
The economist says let market forces decide.
The call-centre operator asks if you'd mind holding while she finds out for you. (Your call is important to them...)
The IT support person asks if you've tried emptying the glass and then refilling it.
The insomniac will be up all night wrestling with the question.
The existentialist wonders what is the point of the question.
The nihilist breaks the glass.
The glass half-full person is optimistic the barman is still serving.
Google would try to find out for you in under 0.48 seconds.
The activist stages a protest either way.
The sceptic says: I doubt both the existence of this glass and the validity of this question.
The agnostic says: I accept both propositions to be neither true nor untrue until solid proof one way or the other becomes available.
The feminist says: Seeing the glass as half-empty or half-full has to do with equity or lack thereof. Surely, we see this as a sore gender issue. For women, the glass has always been empty to half-empty. For men, on the other hand, the glass has always been half-full to full.
And Last but not least Rabbi Schwartz says- It’s not about whether the glass is half full or half empty, it's about who is paying for the next round.


Answer is B: The Talmud in Shabbat makes that statement in reference to the period of time of the 2nd Temple. It gives an example of how the Kohen and others who would be strict about eating their food in a state of ritual purity would only eat together with those that had no suspicion of being impure. There’s a tragic and fascinating story in the Talmud about how two Kohens were fighting for the right to bring an offering and and one pulled out a knife and and slaughtered the other one. The father of the boy who was dying quickly ran and pulled out the knife in order that the knife would not become impure before the boy died. The Talmud makes the statement to depict the period of time of destruction where some people were more concerned about purity that the sanctity of life. Ouch! Anyways I tell this story as do many tour guides- though not nearly as good as I do J- in the Herodian Quarter underneath the Old city of Jerusalem. There one can see the many Mikvas and the many stone vessels- which as opposed to earthenware- do not become impure with contact of the someone or something impure. There may have been stone vessels found in Arad- I’m not sure but it was a Jewish settlement and even had a fake temple there. Maybe in Tel Lachish as well. But Jerusalem in the Herodian Quarter is definitely the place to talk about this as it is the story of the corruption and misplaced values of the priests/kohanim that lived there before the Destruction.

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