Our view of the Galile

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Smarter Path- Lech Lecha 2015/5776

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

October 23rd 2015 -Volume 6, Issue 3 10th  Cheshvan 5776!
Parshat Lech Lecha
The Smarter Path
“The road is smarter than he who walks upon it.” I kept hearing those words again and again race through my head. It was like one of those “ear worm” songs that you can’t seem to get out of your mind. The words that our tour guide instructor hammered into our brains just kept repeating themselves and I stayed the course.

So there I was all alone in the middle of Mt. Carmel. I had come here to prepare for a tour that I was supposed to be doing the following week. It was meant to be a two hour hike with some college students. Rule number one for me obviously is not to take someone on a tour or hike to a place that I haven’t been to recently. Things change, trails shift and it is a tour guides responsibility to make sure he knows where he’s going. It was a about three years since I had done a hike on this mountain so I went to scout it out. I brought water, my hiking shoes and was looking forward to a nice little hike. The problem was once I got there the information booth was closed and I wasn’t sure how to do the hike, being that there were a few different trails some 6 hours and four hours which weren’t circular. Meaning it wouldn’t’ bring me back to my car. The only one that would it wasn’t clear to me where to start and end it from. So I figured I’d try a different hike instead. Why not? Right?

So I headed down to the bottom of the mountain for a hike that promised to be circular as well and that would stop off at a beautiful “bat” cave. All you had to do was leave the red trail and go down to the blue trail and it would take you to a nice spring and a straight trail back to the car. 2 hours back and forth. Not big deal. Sounds simple. But like all things in this country nothing ever is.

My first clue should have been that I was starting from the bottom of the mountain. Which would mean that I have to go up. OK I’m used to climbs. But it couldn’t be that bad. Right? Wrong. It was pretty steep. Where was this cave? So I kept going. following the red trail. It was beautiful. It would have been nice if there was some shade along the way, but how much longer could it be? After about an hour and a half I realized that I would be coming back a little later than I thought I saw the cave up ahead and so I decided to call my wife and let her know that she shouldn’t worry. I probably should have caught my breath before I called. But I just wanted her to know I was fine. The last thing I wanted was for her to call the search parties and helicopters. It really wouldn’t be good for business if tomorrows headlines were “The search for the lost Tour guide.” Of course trying to reassure my wife when I’m half out of breath on the top of a mountain that everything was all right was about as successful as convincing my doctor that a little bit of chulent wouldn’t be breaking my diet. I told her that I had water and that I should hit a spring soon and would call in about an hour and a half or so when I was done. And then my phone died. Oops.

About 10 minutes later I arrived at the cave. It was beautiful. But I didn’t see any blue trail. The red trail continued and whoever the practical joker that made this trail was, thought it would be funny to see me crawl on my belly through the dark to get to the other side of it. Of course, it would have been helpful to have a flashlight but my phone was dead. But clearly the red trail was going through the cave. So I got down and started crawling when I got to the other end. Still no blue trail. I thought I saw a cement building that might have been the spring down below. But then the words of Noam are instructor started up. “The trail is smarter than he who walks on it.” Stay the course. So I did. Another 10 minutes. Still no trail. Maybe if I cut across that little hill it would lead me to the spring. “The trail is smarter” Of course I had no watch so I couldn’t tell how much time had passed. I had visions of my wife calling people. Should I just climb down by the cave and try to find the spring? No. I will stay the course, but this time follow it back. I’m a tour guide, not an adventurer. I will just follow the path back. And I did.

It took about an hour or so. I still had water and was fine. Nothing happened, besides me deciding not to ever bring a group of students to this hike. I got in my car. And of course did the next important thing. I headed to the first Shwarma store and picked up the necessary nutrients in a laffa of course with a beer. Hey, I needed to hydrateJ. Then I called my wife. She was very relieved to hear me. She told everyone to stop saying tehillim and then she asked me to hold a second so she could call off the park authorities that she had already contacted when she couldn’t get through to me. Just in the nick of time! No headlines. I was only a half hour later than I had told her. I told her she had nothing to worry about I learned the lesson of staying the path. It didn’t matter. She didn’t’ think that I would listen to the path. Hey, since when have I listened to anyone? She’s right of course. I’m not complaining. It was nice getting relieved hugs and kisses from my family when I got home. They love me. Maybe I should do this more often.

This week’s Torah portion we are introduced to the Jewish story of the Torah. Bereishis was creation. Noach was the world civilization post-flood. And now the story of the Jewish people begins with out first Patriarch and forefather, Avraham. We start our story of Avraham though a little bit late in the game. He is already 75 years old when Hashem first appears to him. The Midrash tells us stories and stories about little Avraham. His “origin story”. He broke his father’s idols, he was thrown in a fiery furnace by Nimrod and miraculously saved. He opened up school and taught humanity about Hashem. He would give people food and teach them to thank God for it. He had thousands of students. Yet none of this is relevant to the Torah in teaching us about Avraham. Our story begins with the command for him to go on a journey, a long hike. To leave behind everything and go to the land that Hashem would show him. Our story begins with this journey.

It is interesting to note, that in truth the journey that Avraham is being commanded had already started many years before hand. At the conclusion of last week’s Parsha the Torah tells us that Terach began a journey to the land of Canaan. Yet he landed in Charan and decided to call it quits there. He left the trail. It was nice in Charan. It was perhaps an alternate place where one can serve Hashem without going to Israel. It was fine for world that was before Avram was meant to become Avraham. Our first story of Avraham comes when Hashem tells him to pick up that journey. To not leave half way and find another route. More than that some of early sages note. The Jewish story starts with a command. A directive. A God that tells us what to do. A trail that he is blazing for us. The story of Avraham begins not with him voluntarily and intellectually convincing and teaching the world of the Omnipotence of its Creator, not even with his willingness to sacrifice his life and get thrown in a furnace for a belief that he understood from examining the world. Its admirable to be willing to die for ones beliefs. It’s noble to dedicate one’s life to sharing ones faith with the unknowledgeable. But that’s not what Judaism is about. There are many people that do that daily around the world and who dedicate themselves selflessly to causes that they believe in. Here in Israel tragically we have a whole nation of our cousins that seem willing to do that, daily. Judaism is about something else entirely. It’s about listening to the command from God, perhaps even against your own “better” judgement. It’s about taking the journey that he sent us on. And staying that path. The path and way of Torah.

There is something though inside of each of us that wants to go off that path. To try a different route. To cut through a few bushes and find the short cut the way back to where we need to go. But the path is always smarter than the person that walks upon it. It’s a divine path. It’s a journey that our ancestors began and we are privileged to live in the generation that will god-willing see its completion. If we stay that path Hashem promised our first Patriarch, then he will make our names great. Those who bless us will be blessed and those who curse us and seek to destroy us will get their just rewards. Hold the course. The end is almost there. It’s right there in the clearing. The path is smarter. Take it from an experienced tour guide.
Have spectacular Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

https://youtu.be/NF5Lo8x_BS4   –Shabbos Project singing together

https://youtu.be/nwQas8WuqVM    – Kever Rachel history

https://youtu.be/-_llTjTPxto   Simcha Leiner Rachel Mivaka moving

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXhYn1lZNbI   – and the classic London Boys version I grew up with

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k67yR0hsiwoFinally an adorable version of Abie Rottenbergs Mama Rochel with Shwekey singing and a class of children performing


Dos lebn iz nit mer vi a Cholem, ober vekt mikh nit oif!.”-  Life is not more than a dream- but don’t wake me up…

Another new feature of the week. Decided to feature not just a quote but a important Jewish personality whose yartzeit falls out each week
. What is the lesson of the Holocaust? As you know, during the Holocaust, the people were transported in the worst possible, inhumane way by railcar. They thought they were going to a work camp. We all know they were going to a death camp. After hours and hours in this inhumane corral with no light, no bathroom, cold, they arrived at the camps. The doors were swung wide open, and they were blinded by the light. Men were separated from women, mothers from daughters, fathers from sons. They went off to the bunkers to sleep. As they went into the area to sleep, only one person was given a blanket for every six. The person who received the blanket, when he went to bed, had to decide, 'Am I going to push the blanket to the five other people who did not get one, or am I going to pull it toward myself to stay warm?'"
 "It was during this defining moment that we learned the power of the human spirit, because we pushed the blanket to five others. Take your blanket. Take it back to America and push it to five other people."-  Rabbi Noson Tzvi Finkel –as told over by Howard Schultz CEO of Starbucks upon his visit with him.
Yartzeit-11th of Cheshvan this Shabbos
Rabbi Noson Tzvi Finkel-Rosh Yeshiva of Mir in Jerusalem (1943-2011)- The great Rosh Yeshiva of the largest Yeshiva in Israel who it is estimated had over 25,000 students in his lifetime and who suffered from Parkinson’s disease for the last 20 years of his short life stands as a symbol of greatness and inspiration to todays American Jews. Born in Chicago and attending co-ed modern Orthodox Jewish Day Schools, Natie Finkel, the star centerfielder of his baseball team was inspired by his trip to Israel to meet his illustrious family there, the great Rosh Yeshivas and leaders of the Slobodka and Hebron Yeshiva. He returned to Israel where he studied for many years under his uncle. He eventually married his 2nd cousin and when his father-in-law passed in 1990 he took over the responsibility of the Yeshiva.
The Yeshiva had about 1200 students at that time. Under his tenure the Mir Yeshiva expanded to close to 6000 yeshiva with branches and Kollels all over Israel. Despite his sickness and weakened state he would repeatedly travel to raise the necessary funds for the Yeshiva. It is estimated he raised over a half billion dollars to support the Yeshiva and through its expansion. Despite his trips and his own personal rigorous Torah study schedule, Rav Finkel made sure to learn the names and be the father of each student that crossed the doors of his yeshiva. He studied personally with over 80 students a week anyone that wanted to study with him he would set up time for. Although his disease was very painful he refused to take medications for fear that it would stifle his learning slur his speech or cause memory loss and jeopardize the teaching that he lessons he lived to give. Story after story of the personal anecdotes each student had about how he cared for and inspired them, how his classes and lessons will always serve to inspire them. Many of the students themselves following in his path to inspire the next generation and pass on his legacy. His funeral was attended by over 100,000 people from all walks of Judaism and Israel. He is buried in Har Menuchos in Jerusalem. Yet his legacy and spirit lives on in the great Yeshiva and his student that continue to share his teachings.

Answer below at end of Email
Q. A Monument that is connected to the War of Independence is
A.    Yad L’Yud Daled (the fourteen)
B.     The Bell Tower by Ramat Rachel
C.     The Negev Brigade
D.    The Valley
(Each year we’ve focused on a different aspect of torah two years ago we did the gematria/remez of the week, the past year midrash. This year i decided to focus on the simple pshat/understanding-which of course is best understood with rashi who defines his classic commentary as “only coming to explain the simple understanding.-pshuto shel mikra- so this year, i hope to bring you each week a fascinating ….
This week the Torah introduces us to the journeys of Avraham-or actually Avram at that time still. After he came to Israel he went to Shechem first. The place where the Jewish people as well would come to and then the Torah tells us
“And Avraham journeyed on, going and traveling to the South.”
Rashi’s comment in explaining this verse (12:9) is that Going and Traveling- “at intervals. He would dwell here for a month or so and then travel from there and pitch his tent in another place”
Rashi as we know is coming to explain the simple meaning of the text- Pshat. How and why does Rashi feel it necessary to explain that going and traveling is that he spent a month in each place, why can’t it mean he just wandered?

The Maharal explains that Rashi si troubled by the word “traveled” One only travels from a place that one is a resident of that place. The Talmud tells us that the minimal amount of time for one to be considered a resident is 30 days; a month. Thus Rashi in understanding the simple meaning of the text is explaining that the Torah by telling us that Avraham traveled from each place that he stopped off in, had to have been there at least a month.

The reason and lesson of this is perhaps is that although Avraham was heading South, he felt it important to become part of the community that he passed through. We find a similar lesson that when Avraham traveled once again he stayed in the same places that he previously stayed. To show his appreciation to each place he stayed in. One that moves to a community for how ever little he may be there, shouldn’t wait to be part of the community. Even after one month he or she can and should be a part of contributing to that community. As the Baal Shem Tov used to say, If Hashem brought you some place it is for you to accomplish something there.

Two years ago we did cool places in Israel, last year we did cool things to do in Israel, this year we will try to cover cool things that happened on this date in Israel.
Passing of UN Resolution 3379 “Zionism=Racism”  – Yeah it wasn’t the first time or the last time our favorite world organization passed a resolution against the State of Israel. But it was certainly one of the most blatant and anti-semitic resolutions ever passed. It was the period of the Cold War between Russia and the United States and after Israels victory in the Yom Kippur War. Victory is actually not the right word as we had close to 2000 deaths and thousands of casualties. But we survived. The United Nations had already welcomed Yasser Arafat and the PLO to the UN and granted them observer status and this was the next step in delegitimizing the Jewish State.
Some of the more touching language of the resolution included the statements that
“any doctrine of racial differentiation or superiority is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous”
“that the racist regime in occupied Palestine … have a imperialist origin, forming a whole and having racist structure and being organically linked in their policy aimed at repression of the dignity and integrity of the human being"
“…severely condemned zionism as a threat to world peace and security and called upon all countries to oppose this racist and imperialist ideology,…Determines that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”.

The resolution sponsored by our 25 Arab neighbors was passed with another 72 countries including Russia, China, Brazil and Mexico with another 32 absentations which included Argentina, Greexe, Japan, Jamaica and Venezuela.
The 35 countries that stood up for Israel were of course the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Belgium, Sweden and others.
The Israeli Ambassador Chaim Herzog made his powerful speech to the UN at the time condemned the council
"another manifestation of the bitter anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish hatred which animates Arab society. Who would have believed that in this year, 1975, the malicious falsehoods of the 'Elders of Zion' would be distributed officially by Arab governments? Who would have believed that we would today contemplate an Arab society which teaches the vilest anti-Jewish hate in the kindergartens? … We are being attacked by a society which is motivated by the most extreme form of racism known in the world today"

He then took the resolution and ripped it up making the statement

“On this day 37 years to the day of Kristalnacht, For us, the Jewish people, this resolution based on hatred, falsehood and arrogance, is devoid of any moral or legal value. For us, the Jewish people, this is no more than a piece of paper and we shall treat it as such."

It took 16 years until this resolution was repealed and George H Bush was president and the cold war was over and the US had just won the first Gulf War. The world had an agenda to get Israel to join the Madrid Peace conference and we made it conditional on the repealing of the resolution. The repeal was sponsored by 90 countries and passed with 111 the same 25 arab countries of course opposed it.
When it was passed President Bush then made the statement

We should take seriously the UN charter's pledge "to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors." UNGA Resolution 3379, the so-called "Zionism is racism" resolution, mocks this pledge and the principles upon which the United Nations was founded. And I call now for its repeal. Zionism is not a policy; it is the idea that led to the creation of a home for the Jewish people, to the State of Israel. And to equate Zionism with the intolerable sin of racism is to twist history and forget the terrible plight of Jews in World War II and, indeed, throughout history. To equate Zionism with racism is to reject Israel itself, a member of good standing of the United Nations.
This body cannot claim to seek peace and at the same time challenge Israel's right to exist. By repealing this resolution unconditionally, the United Nations will enhance its credibility and serve the cause of peace.”
Too bad they have forgotten that pledge once again.


I’ve actually heard quite a few of these by my tourists on my tours. You know who you are…  You just couldn't make them up; yet, on the other hand the things that people moan about are unbelievable.
  1. A small deer came into my camp and stole my bag of pickles.  Is there a way I can get reimbursed?
  2. Escalators would help on steep uphill sections.
  3. Trails need to be wider so people can walk while holding hands.
  4. Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill.
  5. Too many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the area of these pests.
  6. Chairlifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to hike to them.
  7. The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals.
  8. A McDonald's would be nice at the trailhead. (Kosher one of course)
  9. Too many rocks in the mountains.
  10. The places where trails do not exist are not well marked.

A lawyer invites his cousin from the Czech Republic to come and stay with him in Canada. The Czech cousin arrives, determined to enjoy himself. Soon they decide to go rambling. They're right out in the middle of the forest when a big grizzly bear appears. The bear hugs the poor Czech cousin to death and then eats him.
The lawyer runs to the nearest village and tells everybody what has happened. The villagers form a search party and return to the forest. They come across some bears and ask the lawyer to identify the one that killed his cousin.
'It's that male bear over there.'
They kill the bear and rip open his stomach, but there is nothing there. They decide to kill the female bear nearby, and when they rip open her stomach, they find the poor Czech cousin.
So it all goes to show: 'Never trust a lawyer when he says the cheque is in the mail.

Yankel and Ahmed were on a camping and hiking trip.
They had gone to bed and were lying there looking up at the sky. Yankel said, "Ahmed, look up. What do you see?
"Well, I see thousands of stars."
"And what does that mean to you?"
"Well, I guess it means we will have another nice day tomorrow. What does it mean to you, Yankel?"
"To me, it means someone has stolen our tent."

Yankel and Ahmed, two hikers on a trail came around the bend to find an enormous brown bear about 85 metres up the trail.
The bear spots the two hikers and begins running towards them at a full tilt.
Yankel drops his backpack, sits down, throws off his boots, and starts lacing up a pair of running shoes.
Ahmed says to Yankel 'What are you doing? You will never be able to outrun that bear.'
Yankel replies, 'I don't have to outrun the bear...............................'

Answer is C-There are too many monuments to fallen soliders in this country. We shouldn’t have that many fallen soldiers. But this is the fate of our tiny country surrounded by enemies. So here we go with the monuments above. Yad LYud Daled near Nahariya is for the 14 soldiers that died attacking the British on the “Night of the Bridges” Where the Palmach in response to the British refusing to let the Jews into Israel, blew up all the bridges leading in to Israel thereby preventing them from coming is as well. This was the only place where there were losses. Ramat Rachel Bell monument was dedicated for the soldiers that died in the 6 Day war conquering Jerusalem. The Valley monument was for the soldiers that fell in the war of attrition to terrorists that came in from Jordan in the early 70’s as well as for all terror victims. Which leaves the Negev Brigade in the South not far from Be’er Sheva that remembers the battles of the Negev in holding off Egypt in the 48 War of indepence. May all of the soldiers who gave their lives on behalf of the land and the people- our Kedoshim/Our martyrs memory be blessed and may Hashem avenge their blood.

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