Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
August 13th 2015 -Volume 5, Issue 39 30th of Av/Rosh Chodesh Elul 5775
I’m missing about seven or eight weddings this summer. I like weddings. Sharing in the Simchas of my friends, seeing new generations moving forward, the beauty of the moment under the chupah, the singing and dancing and of course the food. There’s nothing like a good American smorgasbord. It would be sinful if it wouldn’t be a mitzvah. And I like mitzvas like thatJ. These are weddings of close friends of mine’s children, friends and neighbors here in Israel, my rebbe’s last child to marry off and even students and congregants of mine. It’s really inconsiderate, I think, of people to plan these things during my busisest season. What’s wrong with a nice February or March wedding when I sit at home at night and wonder what I should do as I munch on leftovers from Shabbos? Why can’t people take a tour guides business into consideration?
One of my close childhood friends even offered me a ticket to fly in to the States for their child’s wedding. When I told him how sorry I was that I couldn’t make it. He sent me a cryptic message, a quote from our sages in the Talmud- “Adam Doeg Al Ibud Damav V’Aino Doeg al Ibud Yamav- Damav Einam Ozrim V’Yamav Einom Chozrim”- A man worries about the loss of his money and doesn’t worry about the loss of his days. Money doesn’t help you and Your days never come back.” Ouch. I of course responded that for me this wasn’t a financial decision (at least entirely) as of course I knew that he would cover any losses I might have- he’s good that way J- nice to have friends like that, Isn’t it?- Rather, I had given my word to my tourists that I would guide them and they of course booked their trip here with their family based on that.- Tip- smart prerequisite to booking your trip is to contact me first J. So I could not go back on my word. I told him that I was glad he sent me that message, because it shows he understand as King David rights. Who is a man who desires life and loves his days-he guards his tounge from speaking evil and his lips from speaking falsehood. So obviously his message to me was that I shouldn’t come and should keep my word. But that I would remind him of his quote God- willing by my daughter’s wedding- It should happen soon-…Happy Birthday Shani!
Have to pause now for Shidduch plug- Shani Schwartz is officially on the market to the lucky guy who gets to marry her- she’s looking for someone who will support her father in Kollel for many years JJ Contact my wife with all suggestions Alizaschwartz@ yahoo.com As I have ben banned from talking to matchmakers- I can’t understand why?:)))- Now back to our regular E-Mail.
Anyways jokes aside my friends words struck me. Their important words to live by and lead ones life by. Money doesn’t help and your days never come back. This weeks Torah portion contains in it one of the last messges and mitzvos that Moshe gives to the Jewish people before they will enter the land of Israel. All of the Book of Devarim, known as the Mishneh Torah- the repetition of the Torah, are not merely just additional commandments but rather grousp fo mitzvos that contain the critical principles and mindset one needs to be successful in our fulfilling our mandate and ‘making it’ in the world and land we are entering. Think of it as a father’s last messages to his children from his deathbed. In this weeks Torah portion the Mitzvah that Moshe conveys and the principle he is teaching the nation about is Simcha- joy.
Seven times in this week’s portion this mitzvah come’s up. Incredibly most of it has to do with food and money. We are told about bringing all our sacrifices to Jerusalem and only slaughtering them in the Temple. Sure a Jew understands that we have offer our thanks to Hashem or atone for our sins. By why shlep all the way to Israel. Can’t I just do it in my little shteibel in Brooklyn? Isn’t Hashem everywhere? The answer is, Yes, he certainly is. But for you to really feel happy come to My Home- Hashem says come visit. We are told about the mitzvas of tithes. A man works hard, prays for rain, plows, plants, reaps and it finally grows. OK so I have to thank Hashem, but now I gotta give to the Kohen and then 10% to the Levi. To these guys that don’t’ work and are studying all day? Yes. You know why. So that you’ll feel happy. That you realize that the blessings you have are given to you to share. And there’s a lot more from where they came. In fact Hashem says- test me. Aser Te’Aser Tithe and I will make you rich. Not just that I will cover your losses, but in fact make you rich. Like, bring your best friend in to your daughter’s wedding rich J. It’s like a kid in a magic show and the magician says throw in a nickel and I’ll turn into a hundred dollar bill, and the kid doesn’t want to throw in the nickel. The kid doesn’t want to find the happiness that will come. He’s Doeg Al Damav and not Yamav.
Perhaps even most fascinating is the mitzvah of Maaser Sheni. When we are commanded to take our tithe again 10% of our crops and bring them to Israel, to Jerusalem and….eat them there. And if it’s to long to shlep then you should convert it to money and then take the money and buy food and eat in Jerusalem. But why!!? I like my dining room. My wife’s cooking. I hate driving to Jerusalem. The traffic is crazy. Parking is impossible. I understand my sacrifices to Hashem I should bring to his Home. I understand I have to give to the Kohen and the Levi. But my own food too? The answer again is yes and Yes. I want you to be happy. Spend money on yourself, on your own happiness and holiness. 10% of your earnings should go to your ‘Take Abba to Israel and Jerusalem fund’. You need to feel the joy of coming home to our Father’s house. You shouldn’t just make you alimony payments to charity or to Israel; take my money and leave me alone. This should be your Simcha fund. All of your money should be a Simcha fund.
The mitzvos continue with charity. Helping the poor and the needy, the widows and the orphans. We all understand the mitzvah. It’s our social obligation. We have to be kind and generous. Hashem is telling us your missing the point. It’s not for them. It’s for you. It’s so that you will be happy. Your money won’t make you happy. The act of charity will give you such joy, such connection to your fellow man, to our Father, it’s for this reason we need to give. To bring Joy to the world. Finally the Parsha concludes with the Jewish holidays and pilgrimage festivals combine all of these concepts. We visit Hashem three times a year and we bring and take care of the poor and needy together with us. We give to the Levio the Kohen and we do this three times a year. It all concludes with Sukkos times when we are told. V’Hayisa Ach Samayach- you will be only happy. Entirely and totally happy. Pure bliss. No worries. We’re all together, We’re in our Abba’s house. He’s got a big credit card and is not only footing the bill for everything, but will be giving us all blessing- Bakol Mishlach Yadeinu- in anything we stretch out our hand for this is what it’s all about. This is Moshe’s message to our nation
We are entering the month of Elul. The month where we are getting closer to our beloved. A month and season that will conclude with that holiday of Sukkot. Our work in this month is to begin to return to Hashem to focus on our days. Each one is precious. Tragically many peoples High holiday prayers are focused on their money rather than on their days, rather on the finding and achieving the happiness that is just waiting for us. This month our sages tell us increase your charity. Start to feel it. Be happy. God willing by Sukkot, we’ll all be here together celebrating together.
Have an joyous Shabbos and fantastic Rosh Chodesh,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
RABBI SCHWARTZ’S VIDEO OF THEWEEK
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sr4jSBlk7rM- Rak Simcha- awesome song sits in your brain
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyMrufF1C-c- Nachas simcha song
and of course the classic
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huTq8hWT5pE –Eis Rikod Shwekey
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!!
“A mayse on a moshl iz vi a moltsayt on a tsimes.”- A story without a moral is like a meal without a sweet dish-(tzimmis is a sweet carrot dish)
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S FAVORITE QUOTES OF THE WEEK
"Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”-Denis Waitley
.“ Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”-Abraham Lincoln
“ Money doesn't make you happy. I now have $50 million but I was just as happy when I had $48 million.”-Arnold Schwarzenegger
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
An early synagogue that contains a “catedra D’Moshe” (Moses Chair) can be found in
B. Ein Gedi
D. Kfar Nachum
.RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL MIDRASH OF THE WEEK
The Midrash this week on the mitzva of Tithing tells us the story of the famous donkey of Rav Pinchas Ben Yair who was as meticulous as his master in only eating food that had all of the tithes taken off of it. He once lodged at an inn and the Donkey refused to eat.Whereas Rabbi Pinchas said "Even this poor animal wants to preform the Creators will and yet you offer it tevel/untithed food"!
He went from there to another city as well where they were suffering from a plague of of mice infesting all their food. When the people complained to Rav Pinchas the Midrash says, he summoned all the mice to him and they started squealing and whistling. Rav pinchas turned to the people and told them that the mice are telling him that they were sent from heaven to devour their food because they had not tithed properly. The people repented and teh mice left and were never heard from again. So if any one has a mice problem out there....
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL THINGS TO DO IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK-
That Yonah doesn’t think I can come up with each week…
Jewish outdoor musicians – All of the world you have people on street corners with their guitars strumming and hoping to get some money thrown in to their cases from people passing by. But in Israel it’s all Jewish music. Walk into the Jaffa Gate and theirs a young lady playing a harp and Yerushalayim Shel Zahav. By Ben Yehudah street you’ll find all types of Jewish musicians on the streets. Tiberias on the boardwalk, Tzfat’s fiddlers and ancient musical instruments. And most night cafes in these vacation cities are alive with the sounds of music. Songs to Hashem, Songs about the land of Israel, Songs that warm the Jewish heart. Sure you’ll have some Sinatra or some old 70’s music secular music thrown in as well here and there. But overwhelmingly. The Land Of Israel is a festive country that celebrates. Random people may start to join in and sing and dance with strangers. Some tour guides even join in as well J.
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S JOKES OF THE WEEK
So Moishe comes home and eats the delicious meal his wife prepared and as he is wiping is mouth after he gobbles it all down turns to her and empathetically says
“It must be so difficult for you. You work so many hours to prepare such a meal and I just walk in here and its gone in 10 minutes. I can’t imagine how that must feel.”
“Sure you can” Rivky says “It’s like when you go out and work so hard for a whole month and I go to the mall afterwards and it’s all gone in twenty minutes!”
Answer is C: This one was somewhat easier from me. I’ve been to Tzippori and Ein Gedi and know there’s no Moshe’s chair there. Which left the last two. Moshe’s chair sounds Christian and Kfar Nachum is a Christian place-Jewish city that chucked out the J- Man in the ‘new’ testament. But that would be too easy. The right answer is Korazim a city from the Talmud times that’s actually pretty cool although not cool enough for me to shlep people there yet. The Moshe chair which is what its called in the new testament and also interestingly enough in the medrash of pirkei drav kahana. Is like a stand that the rabbi would speak from. Called Moshe after Hashem gives him the Torah. Others suggest that it was a misreading and really it was the Droshe stand Drosha being the speech. Anyways there you go.