Our view of the Galile

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Above Average- Nitzavim/Rosh Hashana 2015/5775

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

September 10th 2015 -Volume 5, Issue 43 26th Elul 5775
Parshat Nitzavim/ Rosh Hashana
Above Average
*Please don’t miss our special message at the end of this e-mail
How do you feel about being an average person? Having an average life. Going about doing average everyday things on an average amount of days of the year. You know what an average life is. Going to school, getting in some trouble, having good days and bad days, but nothing too good or too bad most of the time. Getting married, having an average amount of kids- some easy and some hard times with them. Sure every once in a while something extraordinary will happen to you, you’ll even do some amazing things, go to some amazing places, maybe even take some amazing tours with an amazing tour guide if you’re lucky. Average people have and do that type of stuff as well. On the other had average people all have crises at some point, undergo some significant losses perhaps even god forbid have some tragedies or a beset with incredible challenges. It’s the average thing to do. It all balances out though if you put them all together to one big average ordinary life. How does that sound to you? Not bad? Could be worse? A little boring, perhaps?

Let me phrase it a different way. We’re standing at your funeral, hopefully after 120 years-although the average mortality rate is 78.88 if you’re from the States (just two years more than Syria) and 81 if you’re from Israel, Monaco leads with an average of 89-. But that’s for Goyim J. So we’re standing there by your funeral and we’re deciding what to put on your gravestone. What should we say at your eulogy? How does this sound. Yankel, was pretty average. He even had an average name J. He lived a pretty unremarkable life. Pretty much did and lived like everybody else did. Sure he lived a little longer. But overall he was a pretty nice person, who did some really great things every so often and he has a pretty nice family he leaves behind. We’ll miss Yankel. At least those of us that knew him. You know the average people that he used to hang with and do average things with. What do you think about that ceremony? How about your gravestone that will say “Here lies Yankel an average Jew who lived an average life”? How does that make you feel?

Now the truth is if that ceremony and gravestone bother you. Don’t worry. By the average person most Rabbis, family members and other experienced eulogizers will make you sound like you were an extraordinary human being that changed the world in some remarkable way or another. And will speak about how the impact you made and the void that will be left upon your departure will forever be felt. The problem is that although everyone in the crowd might be buying it. If your life was truly average and unremarkable, then you might be feeling a little uncomfortable attending that funeral and hearing everyone go on and on, when you know it’s really not true. I mean in general your own funeral is never a fun thing to attend, but it particularly can’t be that enjoyable if they’re making you out to be someone that you aren’t.

Now how about the opposite. How do you feel about living a truly extraordinary life? How do you feel about being the person that truly changes the world in a really significant way? How do you feel about living absolutely each day not just averagely but remarkably? Can you even imagine yourself as being the person that doesn’t just have some good days and some bad days, but that hits every single ball that’s thrown at you out of the park? Out of the atmosphere? You’re the yeshiva guy that’s Torah is really holding up the world. Not just like in the Mashgiach in yeshiva mussar schmooze way. But really. You’re the father or mother that have inspired your children and watched them transform the world. You’re the guy that works- not just 9-5, but each day has inspired the people who work with you to become better human beings to see Hashem and the beauty of a His Torah values in all that you do and have begun to incorporate that lifestyle into their own. You are a daily role model for all of those that come in contact with you. People, kind of point you out to their friends when you walk down the street and say ‘Check him/her out, can you believe it?! He/She are like the most amazing person around.’ Not that you in any way are looking or need that kind of recognition, appreciation or accolades. Incredible people with truly meaningful incredible lives never do. But you are that amazing and incredible. You are truly an extraordinary person living an extraordinary life. How does that feel on you?

Why am I asking all of these questions? Can you guess? In another few days the King of all Kings, our Creator, our Father in Heaven, will be sitting in front of two Books. The Book of the Tzadikim/The Righteous and The Book of the Reshaim/the wicked. On Rosh Hashana Hashem will write each person into one book or the other. If you don’t make it into either, you enter a category called the Benonim-the middle ones…the average. But unfortunately-wait, delete that- fortunately you can only stay that way for a few days. By Yom Kippur, He makes a decision. His decision is based on your decision. He didn’t create us and certainly didn’t choose us to be average. He created each and every one of us and imparted us with His holy Neshoma/Soul, the spark of His holiness in order that we fulfill our ultimate purpose here. And it’s no small task. It’s not a task for the average guy or girl. The only way we can do it is if we really believe that we can do it. We are special. We have unique gifts each and every one of us that no one else in the world can accomplish. Average is for other people. Not for us.

No matter the year the Parsha that is always read before Rosh Hashana is Nitzavim. The portion begins

“You are standing today, all of you, your leaders, your tribes, your elders, your officers; each man of Israel. Your infants, your woman and the converts who is in the midst of your camp, from the wood chopper to the water carrier, for you to pass into the covenant of Hashem, your God and His oath that Hashem has forged with you today. In order to establish you today as a people to Him and that He be a God to you…. Not with you alone…but whoever is standing here to today before Hashem and with whoever is not here today”

These verses that we read, the words that Moshe tells us on the last day of His life are meant to be read as if it is today; a few days before Rosh Hashana when we are told, just as the verse tells us that we are passed before God, each and every one of us, like sheep under the staff of the shepherd. We are being entered into an oath. For those of you to have been privileged to see a swearing in ceremony of the new chayalim into the IDF, you can appreciate this. It is perhaps one of the most moving ceremonies, here in Israel. Each soldier receives a Tanach and recites this oath
"I swear and commit to maintain loyalty to the State of Israel, to her laws, and authorities. To take upon myself without conditions and without reservations the responsibilities of the IDF.
To obey all the commands and instructions given by the commanders and to dedicate all my strength and even to sacrifice my life for the defense of the homeland and the freedom of Israel."
The soldiers than all scream out together as one. Ani Nishba! I swear! The feeling of unity, determination and single-minded determination is palatable. Hatikva is played and tears flow. It is a an incredible taste of a team of young men and women who have spent the months and years training for this moment. The bulk of their training and boot camp really revolves around one thing, an officer once told me. The Israeli army is not a place for mediocrity. It’s a place for excellence. For extraordinary commitment, dedication and sacrifice. We can’t afford to have average soldiers in this neck of the woods. Each Israeli soldier knows how important he is and it is why the army understands that we must go to the end of the world to save or rescue one of our boys. It’s why the officers of the Israeli army are the last to leave the battle field because they understand that the smallest officer is just as significant as the greatest general. We are all extraordinary.

That’s what Hashem is looking for us to realize and say each year. Are we prepared to take the oath above and replace the words State of Israel with the words Hashem the King of All Kings who we will maintain our loyalty to? Do we commit to take without conditions and reservations the responsibilities of what it meant to be a nation of Priests? Can we commit to heeding all of the commandments and instructions that our loving Father gave to us in His holy Torah that are only there to make us the most remarkable that we can be? Will we be able to love Hashem, as we recite in Shema twice each day, with all of our hearts, our resources and even it means sacrificing our lives? If you are ready to scream “Ani Nishba” with all of your mind and with tears flowing down your eyes, tears of joy at how special we are, how special you are, than you are not ordinary or average. Than you will not have to wait until Yom Kippur to be inscribed into the right Book. There is no Book for average people, because we weren’t created to be average. Hashem needs the best and we deserve to become that best.

Rosh Hashana is the time when we stand most of the day in shul and pray. Although it is the day that Hashem will decide the books that we will be written in. The book of life, of health, of merits, redemption, salvation, forgiveness, livelihood. We all have personal requests, needs and desires, for the many that need their soulmate, for those that are trying to have children, people who have undergone challenges. There is no shortage of things that we have to pray and beseech the Almighty for. But that it is not what the bulk of our prayers are about. Maybe average people would only pray for their small little world. An extraordinary nation, those that wish to be counted amongst the Tzadikim, to be inscribed in that special Book, pray primarily that we are successful in accomplishing our mission of becoming the nation that transforms the world. The righteous pray for us to be worthy for the task in front of us. We pray that we can inspire the entire world as we say in our prayers
V’Al Kein Nikaveh Lecha”- and therefore we beseech you Hashem our God to see readily in the splendor of Your might..to establish the world with the Kingship of Sha-dai and all flesh will kneel and bow before You…all will recogniza and acknowledge all the worlds inhabitants that to you every knee should bend and every tongue shall swear”
Ani Nishba- the whole world will take that oath. We are here to make it happen. V’Ameich Kulam Tzadikim- Your entire nation is righteous. We are all Tzadikim. May this be the year that starts with us recognizing it and that ends with us celebrating that final day, we have been waiting for.

Have an extraordinary Shabbos and may we all be blessed with a sweet magnificent New Year,
Shana Tova,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKz_Y4UPPZ0I’m in love with this song so moving  and so touching Da’ay.. I also love to hear Rivi Shwebels voice.

https://youtu.be/tC8qf-qs9H0    just beautiful Shaka Chama song and story behind song with prayers for a bright new year

https://youtu.be/K_kW_h32PA0- An absolutely amazing story and message The waiter, the service and the prayer! Cool!

https://youtu.be/afttkaVb_eo   - One of the most moving parts of the High Holiday Davening is these words when the Chazan asks Hashem to give him the right words to praise Him and pray to him. This song captures it- Ochila La’El

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!!

Goldene keylim vern ka mol nit shvarts.”-  Golden dishes will never turn black

. Od Tireh Od Tireh, Kama Tov Yihiyeh Bashana Habaa- We will still see we will still see how good it will be the coming year”  Nurit Hirsch- great old Jewish song
“I'm the greatest thing that ever lived! I'm the king of the world! I'm a bad man. I'm the prettiest thing that ever lived.”-Muhammad Ali
 “In the land of the skunks he who has half a nose is king.”-Chris Farley
 “Ah, if I were not king, I should lose my temper.”- Louis the XIV
And finally the only one that got it right
“You had better have one King than five hundred.”-Charles II
(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
Jewish Settlement Before the “First Aliya” was in
A.    Ruchama, Bene Yehuda
B.     Gai Uni, and Motza
C.     Petach Tikva and Sharona
D.    Yemin Moshe and Neve Tzedek
Rosh Hashana is the day that Avraham was commanded to bring his son, Yitzhak up to the altar and offer him to Hashem. We read the portion on RH and one of the reasons why we blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashana is to remember that rather than sacrificing his son to Hashem, Hashem told Avraham that he didn’t have to and Avraham brought a ram who was caught in the bushes by its horns instead. This is the fascinating Midrash on that story.
Hashem saw that the children of Yitzchak will eventually sin and said I will judge them on that very day Rosh Hashana and if you will want me to find a merit for them and remember the binding of Yitzchak. They should blow the shofar of this ram.
That entire day Avraham saw the ram running from bush to bush and getting ensnared in trees, fields and bushes, from one to the other getting stuck and then getting free. Hashem said to him, So wil be your children they will get entangled in their sins and under the kingdoms of Babylonia, Medea, Greece and Edom. Avraham said ‘Will it be this way forever?’ Hashem responded “ They will eventually be redeemed with the horns of this ram. As it says “And it will be on that day, the great Shofar will blast out and the those that have been lost from the land Ashur and those that have been pushed away from the land of Egypt and they will bow before Hashem on the holy mountain in Jerusalem”.
It started up there on that mountain, where the Akeida, binding of Yitzchak took place and ultimately it is there once again that we will return with that shofar blast. May it be this year.
That Yonah doesn’t think I can come up with each week…
Swearing in Ceremony for soldiers – Usually done at the Kotel, these ceremonies are an incredibly inspiring site to witness. Young 19-20 year old boys becoming men. Men who proudly declare that they would readily give their lives for another, men that would travel to the ends of the world to protect any Jew in need. Men that are committed to being part of the most ethical and moral army on the planet earth, despite the daily challenges and provocation that would challenge the best of us to fall to the level of the animals that seek to prey on our innocent civilians. Dressed in their green military uniforms these young men stand tall and proud knowing more likely than not they will all see”action” More likely than not they regardless of what they do and how much they go out of their way to treat our enemies with respect, they will ultimately be condemned. More likely than not they will have a comrade and brother that might be injured or god forbid worse. And yet they march together as one. They lift their heads up high for the Jewish people and they feel proud and feel it is their honor, duty and privilege to be able to bear arms for the defense of our nations. The family members that look from the crowds at these young men, their children, their brothers and their sisters, their friends wipe tears from their eyes and offer their prayers to our Father in Heaven to watch over and protect these defenders of Israel. These Kedoshim. You will as well, when you come to one of these inspiring ceremonies. Of that Ani Nishba.

Brisket is not the same as Corned Beef!

If you are not Jewish, I cannot even begin to explain it to you.

This goes back 2 generations, 3 if you are over 50. It also explains why many Jewish men died in their early 60′s with a non-functional cardiovascular system and looked like today’s men at 89.

Before we start, there are some variations in ingredients because of the various types of Jewish taste (Polack, Litvack, Deutch and Gallicianer). Sephardic is for another time.

Just as we Jews have six seasons of the year (winter, spring, summer, autumn, the slack season, and the busy season), we all focus on a main ingredient which, unfortunately and undeservedly, has disappeared from our diet. I’m talking, of course, about SCHMALTZ (chicken fat).

SCHMALTZ has, for centuries, been the prime ingredient in almost every Jewish dish, and I feel it’s time to revive it to its rightful place in our homes. (I have plans to distribute it in a green glass Gucci bottle with a label clearly saying: “low fat, no cholesterol, Newman’s Choice, extra virgin SCHMALTZ.” (It can’t miss!) Then there are grebenes – pieces of chicken skin, deep fried in SCHMALTZ, onions and salt until crispy brown (Jewish bacon). This makes a great appetizer for the next cardiologist’s convention.

There’s also a nice chicken fricassee (stew) using the heart, gorgle (neck) pipick (gizzard – a great delicacy, given to the favorite child), a fleegle (wing) or two, some ayelech (little premature eggs) and other various chicken innards, in a broth of SCHMALTZ, water, paprika, etc. We also have knishes (filled dough) and the eternal question, “Will that be liver, beef or potatoes, or all three?”

Other time-tested favorites are kishkeh, and its poor cousin, helzel (chicken or goose neck). Kishkeh is the gut of the cow, bought by the foot at the Kosher butcher. It is turned inside out, scalded and scraped. One end is sewn up and a mixture of flour, SCHMALTZ, onions, eggs, salt, pepper, etc., is spooned into the open end and squished down until it is full. The other end is sewn and the whole thing is boiled. Often, after boiling, it is browned in the oven so the skin becomes crispy. Yummy!

My personal all-time favorite is watching my Zaida (grandpa) munch on boiled chicken feet.

For our next course we always had chicken soup with pieces of yellow-white, rubbery chicken skin floating in a greasy sea of lokshen (noodles), farfel (broken bits of matzah), tzibbeles (onions), mondlech (soup nuts), kneidlach (dumplings), kasha (groats), kliskelech and marech (marrow bones) . The main course, as I recall, was either boiled chicken, flanken, kackletten, hockfleish (chopped meat), and sometimes rib steaks, which were served either well done, burned or cremated. Occasionally we had barbecued liver done to a burned and hardened perfection in our own coal furnace.

Growing up Jewish

If you are Jewish, and grew up in city with a large Jewish population, the following will invoke heartfelt memories.

The Yiddish word for today is PULKES (PUHL-kees). Translation: THIGHS.
Please note: this word has been traced back to the language of one of the original Tribes of Israel, the Cellulites.

The only good advice that your Jewish mother gave you was: “Go! You might meet somebody!”

You grew up thinking it was normal for someone to shout “Are you okay?” through the bathroom door when you were in there longer than 3 minutes.

Your family dog responded to commands in Yiddish.

Every Saturday morning your father went to the neighbourhood deli (called an “appetitizing store”) for whitefish salad, whitefish “chubs”, lox (nova if you were rich!), herring, corned beef, roast beef, cole slaw, potato salad, a 1/2-dozen huge barrel pickles which you reached into the brine for, a dozen assorted bagels, cream cheese and rye bread (sliced while he waited). All of which would be strictly off-limits until Sunday morning.

Every Sunday afternoon was spent visiting your grandparents and/or other relatives.

You experienced the phenomenon of 50 people fitting into a 10-foot-wide dining room hitting each other with plastic plates trying to get to a deli tray.

You had at least one female relative who penciled on eyebrows which were always asymmetrical.
You thought pasta was stuff used exclusively for Kugel and kasha with bowties.

You were as tall as your grandmother by the age of seven.

You were as tall as your grandfather by age seven and a half.

You never knew anyone whose last name didn’t end in one of 5 standard suffixes (berg, baum, man, stein and witz).

You were surprised to discover that wine doesn’t always taste like cranberry sauce.

You can look at gefilte fish and not turn green.

When your mother smacked you really hard, she continued to make you feel bad for hurting her hand.

You can understand Yiddish but you can’t speak it.

You know how to pronounce numerous Yiddish words and use them correctly in context, yet you don’t know exactly what they mean. Kaynahurra.

You have at least one ancestor who is somehow related to your spouse’s ancestor.

You thought speaking loud was normal.

You think eating half a jar of dill pickles is a wholesome snack.

Your mother or grandmother took personal pride when a Jew was noted for some accomplishment (showbiz, medicine, politics, etc.) and was ashamed and embarrassed when a Jew was accused of a crime as if they were relatives.

And finally, you knew that Sunday night and the night after any Jewish holiday was designated for Chinese food.
Zei gezunt!!

Answer is B-This is also a not very easy question at all. Before the “First Aliyah”-which began in 1882 and mostly consisted of religious families fleeing persecution from Eastern Europe. Jews until that time pretty much lived in the four holy cities-(Tourists of mine that are reading this name them now please…) Jerusalem, Chevron, Tzfat and Tiverya. There were some settlements that started out of these cities before the Aliyah came the question is which. So process of elimination. Petach Tikva was founded before but Sarona wasn’t Jewish it was German Templers. So X that one. Ruchama in the South and Bene Yehuda in the Golan were both the first Jewish settlements in those regions but they were both founded after and during the Aliyah Rishona and Sheniya. Yemin Moshe and Neve Tzedek which were Jews moving out of the old cities of Jerusalem and Yaffo were also started in the Aliyah Rishona. Which leaves Gai Oni and Motza both which were purchased before the Old Yishuv and even settled but the truth is they were both abandoned and only resetteled after the Aliyah Rishona Gai Oni becoming Rosh Pina of course and Motza becoming a settlement rather than just a stop off point on the way to Jerusalem that it was. Incidentally Motza is mentioned in the Talmud as the place people would get their Aravot from to use on Sukkot in the Temple and walk around the Mizbayach altar with them, which our custom of circling the Bima on Hoshana Rabba comes from.

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