Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
November 13th 2015 -Volume 6, Issue 6 1st Kislev 5776!
The Biggest Winner
The time has finally come. The holidays are long over. I’ve finished my trip to the States and attended my friend’s weddings and ate in all my requisite restaurants and eateries. There are no more excuses left. It’s time to go on a diet. I’ve had some added inspiration as well. Seeing all my friends who lost weight for their weddings or perhaps more significantly for their health. My trip with my little five year old son to Tzfat a few months ago, when he told me he wanted to become a tour guide, but then after a few minutes stopped and contemplatively asked me if that meant he had to become fat as well. Ouch! And then of course the final incentive on our family whatsapp group a challenge was presented. We will be having a “biggest Loser” contest.
It seems that there is this concept out there pitting people against one another in a weight loss contest. Each week everyone but the “biggest loser” has to pay $5.00 into the pot-although it has been argued that the Israeli contingent should only have to deposit 5 Shekel, which was quickly knocked down. At the end of the assigned time, which is as of now January 1st, although I assume it will go a bit longer as 6 weeks is not nearly enough time for us Schwartzes to accomplish what we gotta do, the one who loses the most takes all. Now as badly as I could use a few bucks, that;s not the incentive here. It’s that I have to pay money to someone else in my family and lose to them, that’s what the real motivation is.
So I’m in. I joined. I’m officially on track to becoming the biggest loser. Are you rooting for me? How badly do you want your loveable weekly Rabbi to lose weight? Are you willingot kick in with an added incentive as well? I figured you would. See, I think about you all the time. How about this anyone want to contribute a dollar, or five dollars or maybe even 10 dollars for every pound I lose with a 50 pound minimum. The proceeds will of course go to our shul here in Karmiel, supporting our programs, Aliyah to Israel and our inspiration that reaches over 1700 each week. Yes, you Israelis can do 5 Shekel, 10, Shekel and 20 Shekel amounts as well. I’ll tell you what I’ll even post my weekly weight loss so that you will be updated, after all I’m sure your fascinated by how much weight you Rabbi can lose and if he indeed will be the biggest loser. I still haven’t thought of a catchy name for the campaign. Maybe you can help me with that as well. So what do you say are you in? Remember, if I don’t lose at least 50 then you don’t owe anything, and chances are I’m not gonna lose a hundred so what do you say? If you’re in Email me and that way I can keep tally right next to my weekly weight update, because g-d knows we don’t have enough “things of the week” in this weekly endless E-Mail. Looking forward to hearing from you and any tips as well.
Now for the diet plan. So my brother-in-law who lost like a million pounds and now like rides his bike around the country for a living and for Chai Lifeline, gave me the deal. Simple easy. No flour products, no sugar. That’s it. He claims, he never gets hungry. I never understood what getting hungry has to do with eating. I eat because I like to eat. I’m rarely hungry. But I’m willing to try. I have to win. The good news is I can have as much chulent as I like according to him. Chicken, Steak, burgers all Kosher. I can even have potatoes. So I have to give up on Pizza for a while. I had my fill at Amnon’s and Pizza Time when I was in New York last week. Ok no falafels or Shwarmas either. I’ll survive. I’m really not a nosher, so that’s not a big deal. I think I can handle this. I’ve lasted 5 days do far and have taken off quite a few pounds since I left the U fresS A last week. What are the odds out there on me. Think I can make it? Maybe a little added spiritual incentive as well would help. Let’s take a look at this week’s Parsha and see what we can find.
Well this week definitely has some nice food themes in it. The Parsha begins with the story of the twins Yaakov and Esau. Esau is the hunter, Yaakov the Yeshiva Bachur. Yaakov, however like every good yeshiva bachur, who really can’t cook much besides grilled cheese, or a fried egg or instant oatmeal, does have on special skill. He can make a killer chulent. Or at least a chulent that would satisfy even a killer like Esau. So the Torah tells us how Esau comes home one day exhausted from his hunt, according to the Midrash, he had killed the evil king Nimrod that day. He was desperately starving, again according to the Midrash even deathly starving. And whadaya know the house smells like chulent. Yaakov is making his famous “red lentil stew” we know what that is. So he begs his brother for some chulent. Yaakov, never one to miss an opportunity offers him a delicious bowl in exchange for that small little thing called a birthright. No, not a free 10 day trip to Israel with some skinny Israeli tour guide.. The real birthright. The right and role of being the one for whom the line of our Patriarchs will be passed down and will fulfill the Divine mandate upon the world for which this family has been charged. Esau, never being one to pass up an opportunity for some of Yaakov’s chulent, chooses curtain number 1. So Yaakov, true to form puts out a nice Jewish spread some pitas and laffas, a nice bottle of wine and of course a full pot of his red hot chulent. The deal is done. The birthright is his. Or is it?
The truth is one can feel quite sympathetic for Esau at this point. I mean the man was literally starving to death. And Yaakov’s chulent is hard to resist on any day of the week, but after a day like he just had. Isn’t this an unfair advantage? I know if Esau would take his case to the Israeli Supreme Court they would probably rule in Esau’s favor. This was a deceptive manipulative move on Yaakov’s part. His claim to the birthright should be illegal occupation. He used cruel and unusual measures to achieve this goal. He didn’t even text him first. The truth is that even from a halachic perspective this deal could be questionable as Esau’s acquiescence was certainly under duress.
It is for this reason though that the Torah goes out of its way to tell us the aftermath of Esau’s chulent meal. The story concludes “And he ate and he drank, and he got up, and he left, and Esau scorned the birthright.” Esau perhaps could have claimed that the deal was under duress. He could have and certainly should have arisen from the meal and told Yaakov the deal is off. It was unfair. There’s no way that I am giving you this birthright. Sure your chulent was good, but I was dying, nothing I said under that situation could be held against me. But he didn’t Esau scorned the birthright. He ate got up and left. As a Rebbi of mine once put it “Who gets up and leaves after a bowl of chulent? Only Esau. A yid sits and sings praises to Hashem, some Shabbos zemiros, some words of Torah, a hartzigeh bentching. To eat and run, that’s called scorning the birthright.”
The conclusion of the Parsha brings the corollary to the Esau approach as it is contrasted through the Yitzchak and Jewish approach. The Torah tells us that Yitzchak realizes he is getting old. It is time to pass on his blessings to his children. As Esau is the hunter, who certainly made a ‘killer’ stew as well- I hesitate to call it chulent, and he is the oldest whom he wishes to pass on the blessing to he tells him to go out and to rustle him up some cow “and make me delicacies that I love and bring it to me and I will eat so that I may bless you.”. And there you have it my friends food is not there to eat because we are hungry. Food is not a necessary evil that we must consume in order to survive and satiate our animalistic desires either. Food is something that we are meant to love. In fact When Rivka tells Yaakov to dress up like Esau and to pretend to be him she tells him “bring me two good goats and I will make delicacies for your father that he loves” and again it reiterates this notion “and he (Yackov) went and he took and he brought it to his mother and his mother made delicacies that his father loved”. But we don’t love food for its own sake or even for the way it makes us feel. Food is loved because it brings us closer to Hashem. It is his gift for us to appreciate his kindness. He created really delicious things, he gave us taste buds that can appreciate the nuances of our food, the flavours ahhhh the chulent J J…We are not meant to choose between this world and the next world, we are meant to elevate everything on this world and bring it to its Divine appreciation, to raise this world to the next. That is the blessing Yitzchak in fact gives to Yaakov. “May Hashem give you from the dew of the heavens and the fats of the earth much grain and wine, those who curse you will be cursed and those who bless you will be blessed” Yaakov and the birthright is the role of the conduit of the blessings of high and the fats, grains and wine down here. We must show the world. We can bring this connection to the world. We don’t live to eat or eat to live, rather it is through eating that we can bring eternal life to the world. This was the mistake Esau had made. He realizes this mistake when he comes back with his food for his father, but it is too late. Esau had lost his chance. The carrier of the mandate and the birthright was going to be through the descendants of Yaakov. Esau received a blessing as well, when shed tears at the brutal recognition of the loss of being the carrier of this mandate. Yitzchak blesses him that he will have the fats of land which will be his dwelling place and he can also achieve the dew from above. He just wouldn’t be that conduit as Yaakov would be. He wouldn’t be able to have the spiritual elevation naturally through the eating of his chulent.
The day that is most fortuitous to achieve the blending of these worlds is of course on Shabbos. It is the day that we sing songs of the pleasurable foods that we eat. “M’erev Mazminim Kol minei Matamim Mbo’od Yom Muchanim Tarnigolim Mifutamim V’Laroch bo Kama Minim Shsos Yeinos MivusamimVsafnukei Maadanim Bchol Shlaaosh Paamim Lithaneg BiTanugim Barburim USlav VDagim- From the evening they prepare all manner of delicacies, While during the day we readied fatted chickens to arrange on it many varieties, drinking scented wines and luxurious delicacies. To enjoy pleasurable foods, fatted fowls, quail and fish” goes one Shabbos song. B’Mishneh Lechem VKiddush Rabba Brov Matamim Vruach Nediva-With double loaves and a great Kiddush with abundant delicacies and a generous sirit, they will merit much goodthose who take pleasure in it- Goes another song. On Shabbos day we sing how “Rochev Baravos Melech Olamim Es Amo Lishbos Ezen Baneimim-He who rides atop the heavens, the King of the universe told his nation to rest and made us hear it with pleasentness”.How? “B’Maachalei Arayvos Uminei Matamim Bmalbushei Kavod VZevach mishpacha”- with tasty foods and every manner of delicacy with elegant garments and with a family feast. It is perhaps why Chulent became the Shabbos food. To remind us of that first chulent mentioned in the Torah. The chulent by which we became the biggest winners. Where we took on the role to elevate and to bring the glory of Hashem to the world through our eating.
So here goes the diet. The Chulent diet. A Jewish diet. It is my hope that in the process of watching what I am eating I will have a better appreciation of the role of food in my life. Maybe even earn my birthright. I don’t just want to be the biggest loser, as Jews we all have the opportunity to be the biggest winners as well.
Have a delicious Shabbos and Chodesh Tov,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
RABBI SCHWARTZ’S VIDEO OF THEWEEK
https://soundcloud.com/ephraim-schwartz/ma-yedidus –song I composed in honor of Shabbos Ma Yedidus the words are mentioned in my Email about the fatted quails J
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OjFNBOy-k4 – Advertisement for Israels Couples “Biggest Loser-Laredet BiGadol”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42yGK7pvgVc – Bill Cosby Fat Albert Classic “Buck Buck”
RABBI SCHWARTZ’S FAVORITE YIDDISH PROVERB OF THE WEEK
“Vi dem klugen iz bitter iz der nar alts frailech..”- What the smart one bewails, makes the fool all happy
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S JEWISH PERSONALITY AND HIS QUOTES IN HONOR OF THE YARTZEIT OF THE WEEK
.“The work is great and it is tragic that we were not able to get here sooner. We have brought a little light and hope to their darkened lives. Every day that I live is a gift from heaven. I live with only one thought to save as many as possible”
“We must paratroop into Europe as a mother would into a burning home to save her children”- Haviva Reich
Yartzeit-4th of Kislev this Monday
Haviva Reich (1914-1944)- In just a mere 30 years this Jewish heroine achieved the level of one of the Kedoshei Yisrael, the martyrs of Israel. She was not a religious woman, born and raised in pre-war Slovakia. At a young age she joined the Shomer HaTzair The underground secular Zionist movement. At age 25 she immigrated to Palestine where she joined a Kibbutz and eventually joined Israel’s Palmach strike force unit and became a paratrooper. When the war broke out in Europe. The British recruited Jews to assist them that were natives and spoke the language to better be able to get behind enemy lines and assist the wounded and help the uprising and partisans fight against the Nazi’s. Chaviva feeling it was her life mission went with 32 other paratroopers. However when it became her time to fly out, the British refused to let a woman go behind enemy lines much to her disappointment. Instead however she hitched a ride with the Americans and made it there before her own unit got there. While in Slovakia she set up medical centers, training facilities and soup kitchens for the wounded and needy. She also arranged clandestine transports for many Jewish children to be smuggled out to Hungary and to eventualy to Israel. In 1944 the Nazi’s eventually decided to put down the revolt, engaging Ivan “the terrible” Demjanjuk. The rebels fled to the hills however on November 20th the Waffen SS captured and slaughtered them in a mass grave.
Haviva’s remains were brought to Israel in 1952 and she is buried in Har Herzl Jerusalem. May Hashem avenge her death.
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK
answer below at end of Email
The turning point in the War of Independence from defense to offense took place in Operation
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL RASHI OF THE WEEK
In the Blessing of Esau when Yitzchak promises him that he will receive the fats of the earth Rashi comments that “This refers to Italiya of Yavan-Italy of Greece.” Seemingly as we always note Rashi does not merely quote Midrash, why does he feel it necessary to bring this down in order to explain the simple Pshat understanding of the verse. The Chanukas HaTorah has a beautiful insight. He explains that Rashi was troubled how Yitzchak could promise Esau the fats of the land when it had already been promised to Yaakov? He said therefore Rashi explains that this fat of the land is referring to Italy which had not yet been formed. For the Gemara says that when King Solomon married the daughter of Pharaoh of Egypt. There was an outcry in heaven and the angel Gavriel stuck a reed in the sea and the city of Rome was formed which is the Italy of Greece. (This was a symbol that the foundation of the eventual destroyers of the Temple were then formed). Thus Rashi understands that Yitzchak promised Esau the “fats of the land” that had not yet been given to Yaakov as it would only be formed when his descendants sin.
Pretty amazing insight once again into the small little words of Pshat that Rashi brings down.
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL HISTORICAL EVENT THAT HAPPENED ON THIS DATE IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK-
The Last Prophecy – Rashi in the Talmud Yoma notes that the era of prophecy ended during the period right before the completion of the second Temple. The last recorded prophecy he notes is that of Navi Zecharia that took place “In the fourth year of the Kingdom of Darius of Persia (Queen Esther’s grandson?) on the fourth day of the ninth month” which is Monday the 4th of Kislev. The Prophecy, which is quite a moving one is when the people who are rebuilding the Temple-after it had been stalled for 18 years after Cyrus’s initial grant-come and ask the Navi if they are still obligated to fast the fast days of mourning of the destruction of the first Temple. The Navi gets annoyed and tells them “Are you fasting for me, for my sake?! If so you should eat and drink. He reminds them that they must still remember why the Temple was destroyed and to repent and do justice and kindness. Finally he concludes with the famous prophecy that we await still which is that when the Divine presence does return to Jerusalem and the Temple then the days of fasting the fast of 4th and 5th and 7th and 10th month (17th of Tamuz, 9th of Av, Tzom Gedalia, 3rd of Tishrei, and the 10th of Tevet) will turn to days of celebration and happiness and then they will no longer be days of fasting but days of celebration. May we see it very soon…
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S DIETJOKES OF THE WEEK
Doctors say that if you eat slowly you eat less. This is certainly true if you are a member of the Schwartz family
I don't exercise at all.If God had wanted me to touch my toes He would have put them up higher on my body.
What do you call a man who abandoned his strict diet? A: desserter!
I went to my Doctor last week he prescribed me Diet pills and said "I'm prescribing these pills for you," said the doctor to the overweight patient, who tipped the scales at about three hundred pounds. "I don't want you to swallow them. Just spill them on the floor twice a day and pick them up, one at a time...."
YOU KNOW IT’S TIME TO DIET AND EXERCISE WHEN......
You try to do a few push ups and discover that certain body parts refuse to leave the floor....
You go to the zoo and the elephants throw you peanuts.
Your driver's license says, "Picture continued."
I was walking down Beverly Hills Blvd. when I saw a 400 pound and plenty homeless man sitting on a milk crate, holding a cardboard sign that read: WILL WORK FOR FOOD.
I looked at his humongous stomach and I said to him, "Man! You must be a really good worker!"
Why are the first three letters of diet DIE? No wonder this diet is killing me
I've decided to make money writing dieting books. I'm told they appeal to a very wide audience.
OK that’s enough already…