Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
August 21st 2015 -Volume 5, Issue 40 6th Elul 5775
“A Rabbi ??!!, What type of job is that for a nice young Jewish Boy?” My Savta didn’t pull any punches, neither did my great Auntie Franka of blessed memory. My parents weren’t too thrilled with the idea as well. “Eef you want to stahdy and learren a leetel beet- dat’s fine-eet’s wanderfool even,, but you have to provide for your faahmilee too” Let the goyim become rabbis, A Jew should be a doctor or a lawyer, worst case an accountant, but a rabbi wasn’t gonna cut it for my family. So I went to college. I got my degree. In finance, of course- it was shorter and easier than law or medical school and allowed me to pursue my Semicha rabbinic ordination at the same time while I was in Kollel. It helped me tremendously in life, this degree of mine. I know understand the principles why I have no money. I think it’s something to do with getting a real job.
My father really would have loved me at least to join him in his business. Although he’s not a doctor, but he prides himself on being an MD… a metal dealer. Selling metal was never really my thing. Why sell metal when I can sell God. So I spent many years doing exactly that. My yiddishkeit was enhanced by meeting and growing off the inspiration of my fellow brothers and sisters and their inspiration as we introduced them to Judaism. I even got to work on Shabbos J. After moving to Israel, when it was time in life to find a “real” job. I chose tour guiding once again relishing the opportunity to sell not metal but rather ‘Eretz Sh’Avaneha Barzel’- A land flowing with milk and honey whose very stones are compared to metal. And there you have it my Jewish career.
The truth is though it’s a fascinating thing about the Jewish people. According to my informal google searches Ivy League schools have anywhere from 15-30% Jewish students in grad school. In medical and law schools it’s even higher. We are about 2-3 % of the population but are overwhelming represented in the fields that require higher education, the US supreme court and even in the hi tech world. This is not only explained by the higher IQ that Jews possess which has certainly been documented. But rather by a intense drive by Jews to “make it”; to fix the world. We have something in us as a nation driving us to create a complete society that functions, with laws, with longevity, that solves the problems the world faces with poverty and dysfunction. Now if only we could get everyone to realize that the place that we are meant to do that from is Israel… Than we could really get things done.
This week’s Torah portion describes for us the process of setting up our country when we arrive here. It begins with the fascinating mitzvah of setting up judges and officers of the law in all the gates of our cities. Our sages explain this mitzvah and qualify and quantify it. There is meant to be a court in Jerusalem where whenever we have a difficult case we shall “Go up the place to that I have chosen for you and you shall come to the Kohen and Levi that will be in your days and you shall ask of them and they will tell you the law that you shall follow.”. Our sages teach us that the court in Jerusalem would have 120 members on it, each minor city would have a court of 23 Judges. A city incidentally would have to have at least 120 people in it. This is a pretty mind-blowing concept if you think about and crunch these numbers a bit. Where’s my Jewish accountants to do the math here? Each Judge had two understudies. Which would mean that in a city of 120 people 69 of them would be part of the court system. I know we need Jewish lawyers and judges, but really?! More than half the population? I mean I know that we are a litigious people, but we don’t really do the petty crime thing, how much court do we need.
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig offers a fantastic insight, which is that the function of a Jewish court system is not to merely enforce the law. In fact he argues, that if a court and justice system is only about enforcing, punishing and delivering verdicts and justice than the legal system becomes a game of “is it worth the risk-or not?”. Jews are not meant to uphold the laws because “crime doesn’t pay” rather it’s because crime is wrong. It’s a sin. It’s a mistake that will remove you from Hashem and ultimately prevent you from fulfilling yourself and achieving the Divine mandate for which we are here. A Jewish court system is meant to create a society that appreciates Hashem; that teaches and serves the world as role models of the beauty of the Divine system of Law that Torah and Mitzvos provide. It is for that reason, the Torah tells us that the most important part of our society is to have the court system not merely to enforce, but rather to inspire society, to serve as a place where we can hear the word of Hashem. It is for this reason, he suggests, that our Torah portion is adjacent to the portion, from last week’s Torah portion that describes the mitzvah of the holiday of Sukkot. Sukkot is the holiday when we leave our physical homes and enter into the Divine Shade of Hashem’s glory for a week. When all our physical surroundings are of being in the presence of Hashem and the Divine glory. That’s what our cities are meant to look like. That’s what our land is meant to look like. It is that light we are meant to shine out to the world.
There is a story told about Rav Avraham Pam, the great and most humble of Roshei Yeshivas of Torah V’Daas in New York, who was once summoned to Din Torah. It seems that someone had some financial claims against the Yeshiva and they went to the Jewish court and subpoenaed the great elderly Rabbi to come to court. His students were aghast at the audacity of this individual. How dare he summon the Rabbi to court like one would any simple litigant? Didn’t he realize this was one of the greatest Rabbis of the generation? When they approached Rav Pam though, he was perplexed. He couldn’t understand what the tumult was all about.
“I have been called to a holy Jewish court, to seek out the word of Hashem. This is a mitzvah of the highest order. It is an opportunity to hear what Hashem wants us to do. This is an honor. How could one think otherwise?”
We are in the month of Elul and it is a time when we begin to prepare ourselves for Rosh Hashana-our annual day of Judgement. These are days that are reffered to as Yamim Noraim- Days of Awe. There are many that tremble during these days, out of fear for what the New Year holds for us. Many are busy doing the mitzvah of Teshuva, bettering our ways, aking forgiveness from those that we wronged. These are all important things. Yet the bulk of our prayers on the holy days that approach us will be about the “big plan” for the world. That Hashem’s kingdom will reign supreme. That sin will be destroyed and that the land will rejoice in the ultimate fulfillment of our Divine mandate. We will feel the holiness. The world will acknowledge the truth. Parshat Shoftim, which is always read in the beginning of this month serves as a reminder to us of this big picture. A world of justice. A world where there will be no need for lawyers and even doctors, as we will have achieved the perfection and brought the world to its ultimate Tikun. We’ll still need Rabbis and tour guides though… I think
Have a magnificent Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
RABBI SCHWARTZ’S VIDEO OF THEWEEK
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l463vS68reA&safe=active – Hakol Lavtova great new song from my friend Yosef Chaim Shwekey
https://soundcloud.com/ephraim-schwartz/asher-bara - My latest song composition “Asher Bara” composed in honor of the wedding this week of my dear friend’s daughter..Mazel Tov!
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!!
“Aider me zogt arois s’vort, iz men a har; dernoch iz men a nar”- Before you utter a word you are the master; afterwards you’re a fool.
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S FAVORITE QUOTES OF THE WEEK
"Doctors are just the same as lawyers; the only difference is that lawyers merely rob you, whereas doctors rob you and kill you too..”-Anton Chekov
.“ Where there are too many policemen, there is no liberty. Where there are too many soldiers, there is no peace. Where there are too many lawyers, there is no justice.”-Lin Yutang
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 first Crusader King was
A. Godefroy de Bouillon
B. Baldwin the First
C. Richard the Lion Heart
D. Fredrick the First
.RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL MIDRASH OF THE WEEK
The weeks Portion tells us about the mitzvah to build cities Arei Miklat of refuge for someone who kills someone else unintentionally to flee there. The law is that the court is obligated to put up signs all over telling people how to get there, so there would not be any need for them to ask people directions. The signs probably said Ir Miqlat though with a “Q” as it seems Israelis have a thing for that letter in all the cities here. The reason for this specific mitzvah for signs, the midrash tells us is so as not embarrass the murderer and force him to humiliate himself. Rabbi Chama Bar Chanina applied the verse “Good an upright is Hashem, therefore he instructs sinners the way”. If Hashem is so concerned that even sinners find the right way certainly much more so he does so for the righteous.
It’s interesting that the counter to this mitzvah is the pilgrimage road to Jerusalem, there were no signs in order that people would ask others and increase the glory of the mitzvah inspiring others to come with them to Jerusalem. They would be forced to ask directions. And others would then join them. I can tell you the way if anyone out there wants to come. I’m heading there next week J
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL THINGS TO DO IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK-
That Yonah doesn’t think I can come up with each week…
Finding your Bashert – They tell me that there is a Shidduch Crisis or as others refer to ita Shidduch Catastrophe in America. Maybe it’s another sign and gentle push from Hashem for people to come move to Israel. Here in Israel it seems there are plenty of nice guys and girls to marry (I know one of the latter J). But many people have told me that it is much easier here. First of all being an American is an added benefit here as well as speaking English helps. Second since there are a much smaller population and demographic of American Olim here so there’s great networks and a pretty much even playing field without all the competition that goes on in the States. In addition, weddings are cheaper here, people are much more laid back about them and everyone is your family and participates in your simcha. Finally finally how cool is it that finding your Bashert here and marrying her is a fulfillment of the ancient promise and prophecy that the streets will once again be filled with the sounds of Brides and Grooms from their wedding feast. Jeremiah never said that about the Terrace on the Park in New York….
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S LAWYER JOKES OF THE WEEK
lawyer and an elderly Hasidic man are sitting next to each other on a long flight. The lawyer is thinking that Hasidim are so dumb that he could get over on them easily. So the lawyer asks the Hasid if he would like to play a fun game.
The old Hasidic man is tired and just wants to take a nap, so he politely declines and tries to catch a few winks. The lawyer persists and says that the game is a lot of fun. "I ask you a question and if you don't know the answer, you pay me only $5. You ask me a question and if I don't know the answer, I will pay you $500".
This catches the Hasidic man's attention and to keep the lawyer quiet, he agrees to play the game.
The lawyer asks the first question. "What's the distance from the Earth to the Moon?" The elderly Hasid doesn't say a word, reaches in his pocket, pulls out a five dollar bill and hands it to the lawyer.
Now it's the Hasid's turn. He asks the lawyer "What goes up a hill with three legs and comes down the hill with four?"
The lawyer is stumped, so he uses his laptop and searches all references he could find on the Interet. He sends emails to all the smart friends he knows, all to no avail. After one hour of searching, he finally gives up. He wakes up the Hasidic man and hands him $500. The old Hasid pockets the $500 and goes back to sleep.
The lawyer is going nuts not knowing the answer. He wakes up the elderly man and asks "Well, so what goes up a hill with three legs and comes down with four?"
The Hasid shrugs, reaches in his pocket, hands the lawyer $5 and goes back to sleep.
Q: In the Jewish doctrine, when does a fetus become a human?
A: When it graduates from Law school.
Q: How can you tell if someone is half Catholic and half Jewish?
A: When he goes to confession, he takes a lawyer with him.
A lawyer, a Jew and a Hindu were on vacation. They were taking a road trip through the backwoods of Tennessee and they were tired but could find no hotel with a room to rent for the night. They came across a farmhouse and thought they might as well try to convince the owner to let them stay there.
“Sure, y’all can stay here tonight,” the farmer said. “But the guest bedroom only sleeps two so one of you will have to sleep in the barn. Don’t worry about that barn — it’s nice out there and I sleep there myself when the wife is mad at me.”
The barn sounded good to the Hindu.
“Y’all take the bed and I’ll sleep out in the barn,” he said.
So, the lawyer and the Jew were getting settled down in the bed when they heard a knock at the door. It was the Hindu.
“There’s a cow out there,” he said. “It’s against my religion to sleep with a cow.”
“No problem,” the Jew said. “You two take the bed and I’ll go sleep in the barn.”
So the lawyer and the Hindu were getting settled down in the bed when they heard a knock at the door. It was the Jew.
“There’s a pig out there. There’s no way I’m sleeping with a pig.”
“Fine,” the lawyer said. “You two take the bed and I’ll go sleep in the barn.”
The Jew and the Hindu were getting settled down in the bed when they heard a knock at the door.
It was the cow and the pig.
Answer is B: So this is a really trick question. First of all a bit about the Crusaders. They were really bad people. They slaughtered Jews and destroyed Jewish communities on their way to Israel to redeem the land from the Moslem infidels. They killed them too. The first Crusade was led by Godfrey and his brother Baldwin. Godfrey was the first ruler but…. He chose not to take the title King. Believing that there was only on “king” of Jerusalem. Sadly it wasn’t “The King” Hashem but someone who impersonated as “His” prophet/son/Messiah. His brother though didn’t have some compunction and had no problem declaring himself as king. Richie and Freddy were in the Third Crusade, after the Crusaders were thrown out by Salaadin. Freddy also known as Barabarossa never made it here, he drowned along the way, which is a good thing. Richard did make it here and setteled it up with Saladdin, when he lost his battle at the Horns of Hittin and he they then moved the capital from Jerusalem to Akko