Our view of the Galile

Friday, December 11, 2015

Sherlock Schwartz- Mikeitz/Chanuka 2015/5775

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

December 11th 2015 -Volume 6, Issue 10 29th Kislev 5776
Parshat Mikeitz/ Chanuka II
Sherlock Schwartz
I’ve always been a fan of detective and mystery stories. I think it started in my childhood when I was introduced to Encyclopedia Brown. Yes he was a skinny little nerdy kid, very different than me, at least the nerdy part J. But we both wore glasses and read a lot. From there I graduated to the Hardy boys and eventually moved on to Sherlock Holmes and Watson and Agatha Christie. Murder mysteries were the best of course. Because someone was gonna be in big trouble and it wasn’t me, which was a good thing. I learned after a while to look out for the little clues. To always suspect the the guy or girl that seemed to be the most innocent and try to see or figure out how they must be the culprit. It also gave me a lot of skills and ideas how I could get away with sneaking the chocolate chip cookies or sneak into the kitchen of yeshiva and pull off some late night chulent heists and cover up my tracks. This proved to be very helpful in my career of a burgeoning young Torah scholar.

The truth is though those detective skills as well help me as well in my studies. When spending hours on a page of Gemara and trying to find or develop an answer to a question that comes up while studying the text. One has to think out of the box. My Rosh Yeshiva O”BM Reb Moshe Shmuel Shapiro was the king of dissecting a Rashi and examining each word that Rashi uses, even the placement of his commentary, why he attached it to a certain text was a clue as to what nuance he was coming to explain, the secret to revealing the hidden meanings in the concise words of our sages in the text and bringing to light a whole new understanding that gives a new and glorious understanding to their holy words. Every Yeshiva student worth his merit becomes somewhat of a detective when we sit down to our Gemaras. You could just call me Sherlock Schwartz.

So that being the case, I’d like to ask you if you could help me solve a case I was presented with this. I’m sure most of you are familiar with it. Hopefully you’ve been reading it every year, but even if you haven’t you probably heard it minimally in Sunday School or in the worst case when you watched some Broadway Technicolor coat production. See the case is about a young 17 year old boy, let’s call him Joseph or Yosef if you want to be more authentic. His ten brothers, it seems, after determining that he was a danger to the family legacy and was a threat to the eventual monarchy with his his petty dreams of grandeur and his obsession with always being a “pretty boy”. So they plotted to kill him but in the end sold him down to Egypt and carried off the crime to their father with some goat blood on his famous colored coat. Allowing their father to think he was killed by wild animals. Not the greatest crime and cover up, but hey these guys were not really professionals, just some Rabbis, trying to make the best of a situation.

Close to two decades have since past and it seems that their father, let’s call him Yaakov, seems to be inconsolable. The brothers decide it’s time to find their brother and bring him back to their Dad. Knowing that Sherlock Schwartz is the best, tour guide, I mean Detective around they have engaged my services to help them find their long lost brother. OK, they didn’t. But it seems they probably should have because these guys, seem to be having a really hard time finding and figuring out where Yosef is. The truth of the matter is all they really needed to do is probably just open up the local newspaper over the past few years or even a quick google search. See I did Joseph in Egypt and I had 52,800,000 hits in .66 seconds. But let’s pretend that they didn’t have wireless service back then, although we know that has always been around, even ask my kids, or maybe they had Kosher phones (if you don’t know what this is don’t ask…). They probably could have asked any Egyptian kid and anyone of them would tell them the story of this poor Hebrew boy that was sold down to slavery to the Executioner of Pharaoh and was scandalized when he was accused of seducing his wife. I mean this was big news in Egypt. Juicy gossip, that I’m sure everyone was talking about. Even more than that this young boy was in prison and became the head of the prison, he interpreted dreams there for the royal baker and butler and eventually was released, by the grace of Pharaoh when he blew everyone’s mind away, being the only one who could interpret the dreams of Pharaoh. He was elected to be the Viceroy to Pharaoh and was pretty much second to the King in the most important Empire of the world. While the whole world was starving, this slave, who’s new name was Tzofnat Panayach- the seer of the hidden, not really a good cover up name for someone trying to hide his identity, comes up with the plan to feed the entire world. This should really not be a hard person to find and connect the dots with. I mean how many Hebrews are there, that are into dreams, that are very pretty and thus worthy of being seduced? You don’t need Sherlock for this.
To make matters a little easier. These brothers actually meet Yosef- I mean Tzofnas- when they come down to Egypt. Sure it’s been a while and yeah he didn’t shave back then, but come on? A little facial hair and these guys can’t see it? To make it embarrassingly simple. Yosef is also not too good this game and keeping a secret, he’s dropping hints right and left. I would never take him as a partner in crime. The first rule of trying to keep your identity secret is too try to blend in to  your environment; stay out of the press and act like the natives. Yet Yosef can’t seem to do that. He goes out of his way to start interpreting dreams, asking the butler and baker if they needed his help. Everywhere he goes he repeatedly keeps talking about this one monotheistic Hebrew God. Certainly not, a popular one in pagan Egypt. Finally when he meets his brothers, he throws them in the prison for three days, separating Shimon and Levi the two that set him up, he keeps asking about their father and their brother-his only one Binyamin from his mother Rachel, He sends them off with tons of a food and in their final meeting with them at the conclusion of this week’s Parsha he sits them all in accordance to age and according to the Midrash even Shechts their dinner in front of them removing the Gid Hanashe/Sciatic nerve a custom that was practiced only by their family. I mean Hello-oh as my children would say. Is anyone there paying attention? It also doesn’t’ help that he keeps excusing himself because he is overwhelmed all the time. Is there a reason that they are not figuring this out by now? Perhaps this is really the case for Sherlock Schwartz. Why don’t they “chap” already?

The answer I heard from one of my great teachers, is very revealing and so tragically true but can be found in the subtle words of our sages. Our sages said that when the brothers came to Egypt they entered through separate gates so as not to arouse suspicion, and then they went o find Yosef, to bring him back to their father. Where did they go? Our sages tell us they went to the one place that they assumed he would be. The Red Light District, the houses of ill-repute. They believed that Yosef was certainly the same Yosef that they had all sat in judgement on and could and would never amount to any good. If he was in Egypt alive still than there was only one place that he would be. They were so confident of their preconceived notion of him, that they were blind to all the other glaring clues that were hitting them in the face repeatedly. After-all they had ruled the nine of them (Reuvien had left for the moment) had sat down and even included Hashem in their court to make a full quorum. They couldn’t be wrong. Even though they were coming down to Egypt to bring Yosef back to their father, it was only to show him what a low-life he was. How right they were to do what they did and get him away from the holy tribes of Israel. I mean in all the families there were bad-apples, Abraham had Yishmael, and Isaac had Esau. Yosef is/was our bad apple.
The greatest irony is even when in next week they discover who he is our sages tell us that they were still considering killing him. According to one Midrash the angel Gavriel had to come down and to save him. It is incredible what our power of belief in our own determinations can be. These are not simple people, the tribes of Israel. Our sages tell us that they were all righteous and this was the only sin/mistake that they ever had made. Yet it is this sin that we still suffer from until day. The sin of suspicion, baseless hatred, the inability to grant someone the benefit of the doubt. To find the righteousness and potential for greatness in those that we automatically assume the worst in. That is the tragedy of the story of Joseph and his brothers. That is ours story that we still haven’t solved until today.

We are celebrating the holiday of Chanuka now. We always are when we read this Torah portion. AS every good detective knows there are no coincidences. The holiday and the celebration of Chanukah doesn’t revolve around the miracle of our victorious battle against the world Empire of the Greeks. It wouldn’t make sense to celebrate that as the Temple has since been destroyed, we’re being persecuted and terrorized and most tragically of all the majority of Jews are still pretty Helenized and assimilated- which is a bad thing- tragic that I even have to even give that disclaimer. The celebration of Chanuka is about the Menora, the ability of the Chashmonaim to go through jugs and jugs of impure oil and to find the one holy one, the smallest pint that might even last for one day only. That’s what we celebrate. The ability of the Jews to fight and do everything to find that last pure spark and to ignite it. To never give up that struggle to see that purity amongst the impure, that little piece of God that still remains. And then light and watch Hashem then preform a miracle as it burns and last until more pure oil can be brought. That is our holiday. That is the lesson that is eternal. And that is the lesson that is always juxtaposed on the Torah portion of Yosef and his brothers so that we learn the consequences and solve the ultimate mystery of why he have not yet been redeemed.

It won’t be too much longer for our mystery and drama to come to its glorious conclusion. The case has already been solved. The solution is clear. There are only a few pages left to the Book. I can’t wait to get to the sequel. Can you?
Have a radiant Shabbos and lichtige light filled Chanuka and a chodesh tov ,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNNJ_bSzaqI – Chanuka with a friend of mine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qPIq2B8Jvg Aish Shtar another friend of mine Chanuka rap cool!


Patsh zikh nit in beicheleh, ven fisheleh iz noch in teicheleh.”-  Don’t rub your belly when the little fish is still in the pond
.I follow in my father’s ways, but not exactly because he never copied anyone else  
“"Who says I do not follow my father's example? I most certainly do. For he did not follow his father's example”- an alternate version
I would love to swallow the whole Torah in one shot, but it is dangerous for it is like food it cannot be swallowed in one bite whole, but it is meant to be chewed first”- The Radzhiner Rebbe
Yartzeit this Weds the 4th of Tevet
Rabbi Gershon Henooch Leiner- The Radzhiner Rebbe (1839-1891)- The Radzhiner Rebbe, the third in the line of the great Izbitzh Chasidic dynasty was one of the most fascinating and remarkable Rebbes of his time. The Izbitze Chasidim which came from the lone of the hard core truth is everything Chasidus of Kotzk, were unabashed of their desire and need for truth no matter how unpopular it might be. The Radzhiner Rebbe certainly personified that ideal. He had many detractors in many of his great activities in life and yet he flourished despite all the challenges. In fact when he was thrown in jail, for some trumped up charges for 12 days until he was released, he wrote his epic work Orchos Chayim- on the will of the Tannaic sage Rabbi Elazar HaGadol, who was as well put in to excommunication by his peers, for sticking to what he felt was the truth.
He also revlotuionized the study of Talmud, particularly the order of the lwas of Purity, Taharot, as he put out a volume that looked like the structure fo Talmud taking all thementions of the laws of Taharot from all over Shas/the rest of Talmud. The work although heralded by the Rabbis of his time, was also controversial as some felt it looked too much like the real Talmud. The great Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik the leading sage of the time suggested that each page should state that this was merely a collection of the sage’s words and he of course accepted and it was thus published.
Perhaps The Radzhiner is most famous for his pursuit of the Techelet and his desire to reestablish this lost mitzva of the blue thread we are commanded to wear on our Tzitzit/fringes that had been lost for thousands of years from the Jewish people. Having extensively studied most science and medical subjects as well as being fluent in many languages he pursued his search for the Techelet to The aquariums in Italy where he spent years examining the various snails and fish that might be the Techelet. Ultimately when he “discovered the Techelel” he met with the Pope to try to convince him to see the garment of the Mikdash in the Vatican of the Kohen to verify his find. Ultimately when he brought his find back to Europe over 12,000 Chasidim began wearing it, including the great Rebbe the Maharsham of Berzhan. Incidentally it was Chanuka when this Techelet first came out.
Ultimatly the TEchelet was proven to be false and many others have and that he was lied to over there although many chasidim continue to wear those Tzitizis, while today many others wear the techelet from the Murex Trunculus that were found here in Israel.
The Rebbe died right after Cahnuka after arising from a coma a day before in time to light the Menora. May his memory be blessed.
answer below at end of Email
The concept of 40 Sa’ah is connected to
A.    Monetary law
B.     The bringing of the Bikurim (new fruits)
C.     The cutting of the wheat
D.    The laws of Mikva (ritual bath)
Ocasionally Rashi will bring the translation of Targum Onkelos if he feels it is necessary for understanding the Pshat. Sometimes if we examine it a little deeper we can see a great cool insight. This week is a classic example. For when Yosef is giving the orders to prepare a meal for his brother the verse says.
V’Tavoach Tevach V’Hachein Ki Iti Yochlu Ha’Anashim BaTzaharayim- And have the meat slaughtered and to prepare it for with me shall eat the men at noon. Rashi notes that the Targum translates the words Tzharayim as Sheiruta which mean the first meal of the day in Aramaic- he even translates it into old French as disner dejeuner in modern French is lunch but petit dejeneur is breakfast. Although generally it does mean the breakfast here it refers to the first meal of the day. Which in this case would be the main meal of the evening.
Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskind knows that the reason the Targum and Rashi are so specific about what meal this was, was because. The Talmud tells us that it was Shabbos. It notes that the word to prepare is used in the context of preparing for Shabbos and it thus derives that Yosef was Shabbos observant in Egypt. He even points out that it is why the next morning when they left Egypt. They didn’t go far from the city so as not to violate that laws of travelling outside of the boundaries of Shabbos. And it is the reason why Yosef was able to send them away and call tehm back so quickly.
See a small little “boring” translation Rashi and so much depth and so much beauty once you start to delve into it!
Siege of Jerusalem December 15th 1947 –  I know that for most people it is hard ot appreciate what life was like back in the day for Jerusalem. But let me put it this way. Meah Shearim was a border city of Jordan. Kind of like Sderot on Gazas Border today. The Old city, the Kotel, were all part of a different country. No- not Palestine. Jordan. There was a fence called the Mandlebaum gate that went right down the street. It remained that way for 19 years until 1967 and it all started on the last night of Chanukah in 1947 when Jordanian Arab Legion laid siege to Yerushalayim.
The Arab Legion surrounded Yerushalayim and isolated its 100,000 Jews from the rest of the Israeli population. By March 1948 the city was under full siege, and in May, Jordan invaded and occupied east Jerusalem, dividing the city for the first time in its history, and driving thousands of Jews into exile.  Miraculously and with great losses, the Hagana was able to get food into the old City during the battles for the road of Jerusalem. But unlimitedly a cease-fire agreement was reached and it ws handed over to the Jordanians.
The Arabs proceeded to destroy all 58 synagogues in the Jewish Quarter, and used Jewish gravestones on the Mount of Olives to build roads and latrines. The Western Wall would be off-limits to Jews (in spite of the cease-fire agreement granting freedom of access to holy places). There were tons of UN Resolutions passed against Jordan and the world loudly demanded that they not do that…just joking. No one cared. I just wanted to see if you were still paying attention. And that’s the way it stayed until 1967 when it was BH returned to us once again


Two cops rush to a crime scene behind a grocery store. The homicide detective is already there.
"What happened?" asks the first cop.
"Male, about thirty, covered in Raisin Bran and dead as a doornail."
"Oh my God," says the second officer. "Didn't we have one covered in Frosted Flakes yesterday? And Captain Crunch last week?"
"You're right. I'm afraid," said the detective as he took a drag from his cigarette, "this is the work of a cereal killer."
A small clothing shop had been burglarized and a detective was questioning the owner about how much she had lost.
"It's pretty bad," she said, "but not as bad as it could have been had he robbed me yesterday."
"Why would you say that?" the detective asked.
"Because everything was on sale today," the woman explained.
Two Mexican detectives were investigating the murder of Juan Gonzalez. "How was he killed?" asked one detective.
"With a golf gun." answered the other detective.
"A golf gun?! What is a golf gun?" asked the first detective.
"I don't know, but it sure made a hole in Juan!"
A tourist asks a man in uniform, "Are you a policeman?"
"No, I am an undercover detective."
"So why are you in uniform?"
"Today is my day off."

Answer is D- Another cool one to fall out when we are celebrating the holiday of purity. Sa’ah is a biblical measurement of volume. So that knocks out answer one. It can be used for wheat and for the Bikurim although the Bikiruim has no measurement it is only the new fruits. However 40 Sa’ah is the measurement of a Mikva. According to standard Jewsih practice a S’ah is about 14.3 liters so a Mikva should minimally have 575 liters. 40 though is a magic number as it is the days Moshe when up to the Mountain and received the Torah. It is a time of birth and whenever one undergoes a transformation of the Mikva from impurity to purity they most immerse themselves in a Mikva. Some have the custom to go every week before Shabbos. It’s a good thing.


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