Our view of the Galile

Friday, January 29, 2016

Sleeping Beauty-Yisro 2016/5776

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

January 29th 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 17 19th Shvat 5776
Parshat Yisro
Sleeping Beauty

I don’t sleep much. Certainly not lately. I have a lot on my mind, tossing and turning, worrying and praying, happy things and scary tragedies. Yeah, all those thoughts that get pushed to the side during the day time, as I’m running around the country and sharing the beauty of our holy promised land, seem to pop up in my head the second I hit the pillow and try to close my eyes. I remember about twenty years ago talking to my uncle one morning, and I asked him how if he slept well that night, after a long previous day. His response still echoes in my ears, that I can only now begin to appreciate. He said “Oib ich Shlu iz shoin gut- If I sleep it’s already good”. I can now say that I relate. Three four hours a night and man am I grateful.

I attribute my lack of sleep, to a large degree, to the fact that I must have used up all my sleep zechusim-merits to when I was in Yeshiva. Then I could sleep. A bagel was nothing to me. {For those non Yeshiva educated out there’s benefit and translation- a bagel is sleeping around the clock}. There was nothing like a good winter Friday Night when you can crawl under your covers by 8-9 o’clock and wake up the next morning and hey- it was still 8-9 o’clock. Maybe even 9:30…or 10? AM of course. Yeah, So I used up all my sleep merits back then. Now it’s just tossing and turning and of course, after a while just getting up and heading down to my computer and composing this E-Mail to you. Now you see why there’s so may spelling and grammatical mistakes. I can write with my eyes half shut, but fuggetabout editing.

It’s a strange thing sleep though. It’s amazing that Hashem created the world and there’s so much that we are meant to accomplish and do and yet almost 1/3rd of people’s lives are pretty much spent lying horizontally in a comatose state, dead to the world. It doesn’t seem like a productive way to create a world and mankind. Wouldn’t the world have been better served, if Hashem created us without the need to sleep? I know that there are a lot of Yeshiva guys and even more teenage girls for whom their bed is their favorite piece of furniture in their house and for whom bedtime is their favorite time of day, are groaning upon reading this. But it’s true. I mean eating is an important time of day as well, but imagine a boss who 1/3 of the time allotted for his employees to get their job done they spend eating. I can understand perhaps even that sleeping for some point is perhaps an important thing for people and for humanitys role in creation. Perhaps Hashem wants us to get a sense that we can start fresh, each day. That each day can start anew. But he could’ve created us like a computer or my internet modem that I regularly have to restart. Hit a button. Hold it down for a few minutes and boom it starts clean again. But 6,7,8 hours a night. It seems to be a long time to get that point across.

I think about this topic this week, of course because of the fantastic and perhaps most pivotal story in the history of the world that we read about in this week’s Torah portion. I speak of course about the revelation of Hashem and the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people. All of us stood together and heard the words of Hashem from ‘His mouth’. We saw the sounds and noises, the thunder and world shook. It was the moment the entire world was created for. We didn’t come to this moment though instantaneously. Much of the Parsha discusses the preparation for that incredible moment. Three days, of separating from marital relations, purifying oneself, fencing up the mountain, one can imagine the incredible excitement, nervousness and pure spiritual adrenaline that must have been pumping through them. And yet, as everyone who is familiar with the custom throughout the Jewish world to not go to sleep on the night of Shavuot night, the night we were given the Torah, knows. The reason behind this custom, the great 17th century sage known as the Magen Avraham suggests, is based on a Midrash that writes how the Jewish people slept in the morning the Torah was given and Moshe had to awaken them. We stay up, he writes, to rectify that sleep. It’s an astounding Midrash and a perplexing custom. How could they have slept in? Not set an alarm clock? Perhaps an even better question is how could they have even gone or even fallen asleep? I don’t imagine they had Melatonin back then. I think my wife discovered that. What’s going on there?

Rav Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin offers a powerful and revolutionary perspective. There is a Midrash that discusses four kings of Israel and how each of them made a request of Hashem, each one a greater one than the previous one, and yet Hashem answered all of them. King David, the first of the Kings told Hashem that I can organize and army and lead them into battle and wage war against our enemies, yet I need to light up my darkness, to provide the light that will win the battle. Hashem acquiesced. King Asa was next. He told Hashem that he was capable of forming an army and marshalling the troops to battle but he would require Hashem to wage the war on his behalf. Once again Hashem agreed to do this. King Yehoshafat followed and he told Hashem that he was not even able to get the Jewish people to go out and join the army and wage wars. Maybe there were a lot of Chariedim back then J-no insult intended, I just couldn’t resist. All that he was capable of doing, he said was singing songs of praise to Hashem. The rest, he asked, is up to You. And once again Hashem, came to the rescue. Finally the last King was Hezkiah. He told Hashem I cannot even sing to You, forget about forming an army and going out to battle. I instead, he said will go to sleep and You Hashem should take care of all of the business that needs to be taken care of. The end of that story and that battle that took place in Seder night against the army of Sancheirev and his 180,000 troops was that the next morning when the Jews woke up they were all dead outside the walls of Jerusalem by plague. Pretty impressive.

Rav Tzadok explains that the Midrash is not telling us merely that one King was greater or less, mightier or weaker then the previous one. And it certainly can’t possibly be telling us that Hezkia and Yehoshafats faith and prayers were stronger than King David, Hashem’s most beloved. Rather he suggests that it is coming to explain and show us the incredible process of how our prayers need to work and to contrast that with our own efforts. King David, the greatest of all Kings certainly believed that all the battles that he won and all his incredible wars all come from Hashem. He said I could arrange armies, inspire an army and even take my sword and wage powerful and incredible wars and that would not for a second give me any sense that I have done or accomplished anything at all on my own. It was all You. I just need you to keep my light burning. Asa on the other hand said Hashem I can inspire and put together an army, and the power to do that I readily understand comes from You. But, if I actually have to go out to battle and fight and pursue an enemy than I am fearful that I will start to believe that it is me, not You that is waging that war. I need You to do it for me. Yehoshafat was even more aware of the frailty of his faith. He didn’t feel comfortable that he could even put together the army and not attribute it to his own charisma, his own inspiration leadership. All he felt that he could do is say and sing the praise of Hashem afterwards. Chizkiyah, 100’s of years after King David, distant from even the sense and appreciation of the incredible appreciation that there is nothing that we do, absolutely nothing that happens if not for the hands of Hashem, turned to God and said. If I even do anything besides go to sleep, than I will not truly attribute this victory, this accomplishment to its rightful source. It is all You. All I can do is close my eyes and hit the sack and wake up the next morning and see my enemies decimated. Only if You do that will I not stand any risk of taking some credit for myself.

Hashem created us with one function our Torah tells us. It is come to the realization and appreciation that Ein Od Milvado-there is no other force or power in the universe besides Him. He created us in a way that each night we would have the need and understanding that we can’t keep going. We can’t do it all. We need to close our eyes and He will take over. Even more than that though, He wants us to appreciate and teach us that we can close our eyes and turn off the lights. Our problems, our worries are only there, because we fail to appreciate that He is running the world, not us. Everything that is happening and that will happen is because Hashem wants it to happen. The world is running just right. Sure we need to do everything we can to accomplish, to build, to fix, to earn and to resolve. It’s why we were put here. But that should never be anything we should lose sleep over. The Boss has it under control. Hashem created us this way so that a third of our life is spent in a state when we can’t do anything, while in truth we are being taught what should be the most important lesson of our lives.

The Jewish people came to Mt. Sinai on the eve of that fateful day, Rav Tzadok suggests and they achieved that great level. In the greatest act of faith, they went to sleep that evening and they slept like babies. Not a worry, in the world. Hashem was totally in control. They understood that there was nothing that yhey could possibly do to prepare themselves more for that incredible one time in history revelation. They were totally in Hashems’ hands. We find a similar story as well in Tanach. The story of our forefather Avraham’s command to bring his son Yitzchak up to Hashem as an offering, begins with the Torah telling us that Avraham awoke early the next morning. If he woke early, our sages point out, that he means he went to sleep the night before hand. Amazing. Can you possibly imagining get a good night’s rest after hearing such a chilling command. Knowing that this might be the last evening you may spend with your beloved child and that you are commanded to do perhaps the most chilling thing in the world. Yet Avraham who understood that all that Hashem had ordained for him and commanded him to do was for good, with the same peace and calm as if Hashem would have told him to shake a Lulav the following morning. It is all from Him. Hashem’s will runs the world and I am merely a pawn that is privileged to carry out what he commands me. Layla Tov.

As I finish this E-Mail, my eyes begin to close. Maybe yours are as well. It’s almost Shabbos. The 13th Jewish leader Rabeinu Asher-the Rash, notes that Shabbat is an acronym of the three words Sheina Bi’shabbat Ta’anug-sleep on Shabbos is a pleasure. Those of us in Yeshiva certainly know that. There’s no sleep like Friday night after our Shabbat meal or Shabbos day after a big plate of chulent. But it’s more than that. The essence of that most special day, the pinnacle of creation is precisely that concept of sleep. We can turn out the worlds, our responsibilities, our worries and our obligations. Everything is taken care of. Hashem created the world in 6 days and established the day of rest when we don’t have to do anything. We can put ourselves in sleep mode and merely bask in the joy and pleasure of an existence where the Creator is taking care of it all. It’s the lesson we learned that was the prelude to our acceptance of the Torah. It is the lesson that we learn and repeat each week as we sit down to our Shabbos tables. It’s what we spend most of our life doing. How amazing is that.  Truly truly amazzzzzzzzzzz…..

Have a restful Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://youtu.be/w-Y_5brDUSM -Gadi Elbaz and Nissim Black the Rapper and the Israeli singing a song about Hashem

https://youtu.be/H2_QuIJVWak - The powerful and unfortunately tragic in that it needed to be said speech of the century by a leader in our time, my dear friend Reb SY Rechnitz

https://youtu.be/AF_nfazQaek   -WE take no responsibility for this product, but you’ll never need melatonin again. Buy Naptime J

“A nacht on shlof iz di gresteh shtrof” A night without sleep in the greatest punishment

All that is thought should not be said, all that is said should not be written, all that is written should not be published, and all that is published should not be read.”

He who thinks he is finished is finished.”

Once when there were cold mikvahs there were warm Jews, now there are warm mikvahs and cold Jews.”

Everything must be done Lesheim Shamayim (for the sake of Heaven), even [actions done] Lesheim Shamayim.” -Rabbi Yaakov Yehoshua Falk-The Pnei Yehoshua Yartzeit this Sunday the 14th of Shvat

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Of Kotzk -Pnei Yehoshua (1787-1859) --His whole life he waged a war for the truth. The external and internal truth. This was the essence of Rav Menachem Mendel Morgenstern better known as the Kotzker Rebbe. The word Kotzk has become synonymous with a burning and piercing kind of truth. A truth so hot it singes anyone who dares to delve deep enough to uncover it.
The Kotzker was born in 5547/1787 and lived at a time when Chasiddus was making great inroads into the mainstream of Jewish society. He felt that Chasiddus needed to be tuned up by correcting some of its basic flaws. Chasiddus had become too Chassidishe for him. He wanted to restore Torah as the focal point of all Avodas Hashem and get people to become more self-reliant and not subjugate their God given minds to the Rebbe. A person, he felt, needed to take responsibility for his life, his ways, and develop his own personal relationship with Hashem.
He left no seforim written works-, no tales of miracles, and no biography. He did not seek honor, fortune, or fame. He sought to raise Chasiddus to a movement for the elite. He longed to metamorphis Chasiddus into a movement with truly inspired service of Hashem and intense Torah learning as its cornerstone. His lone legacy is his short sharp sayings that he became famous for, to the world outside of Kotzk.
When the Kotzker was asked why he does not put his teachings into writing and publish them he said that in Kotzk they work hard all week. The only time to read his sefer would be Friday night after the meal. Then however a person is tired from the entire week and will lay down on the couch with it. He will shortly thereafter fall asleep without reading anything and the sefer will fall on the floor. So why should I write a sefer whose only use will be to lie on the floor in shame? Such was the Kotzker truth.
He was born into a family of a Misnagdim-the antagonists of the Chasidim and eventually became a student of the Chozeh of Lublin and then later leaving Lublin for Peshischa where he became a student of Rav Simcha Bunim of Peshischa. After Rav Simcha Bunim's passing, most of his chasidim who were peers of Rav Menachem Mendel, including the Chiddushei HaRim the founder of the Gerer dynasty, chose to follow Rav Menachem Mendel and make him their leader. His other main student was Rav Mordechai Yosef Leiner who eventually broke away and founded the Izhbetza Chasiddus. Rav Laibele Eiger, the grandson of Rebbi Akiva Eiger, was also attracted to Kotzk much to his father's great dismay. The Kotzker's son in law was the Avnei Neizer who succeeded him.
The Kotzker passed away in 5619/1859. He spent the last 20 years of his life in seclusion frustrated by his inability to create the flock of his ideals while refusing to play the role of the ideal Rebbe as the Chasidim wished. The story goes that once while he was secluded in his room for weeks on end, a chasid wanted to see him so he went right outside and opened the window a crack to listen to the Rebbe learning.... a few minutes in without even looking up, the rebbe said "farmacht de fensters, dem velt shtenk" close the windows, the world stinks. The world perhaps cannot and could not handle the unrelenting truth of the Rebbe of Kotzk, yet every generation requires someone to take that unthankful role to bring that to the world. Yehi Zichro Boruch!

answer below at end of Email
A Tel in Golan Heights
  1. Facher
  2.  Hadar
  3. Avel Beit Maacha
  4.  Kadesh
One of the most incredible things about Rashi’s commentary on the Torah is that it is written for the 5 year old that begins learning Chumash, as well as the greatest Torah giant of the world that will see in his simple words and the nuances of his wording the greatest lessons and insights into ones day to day life and spiritual journey. In that way Rashi is truly the greatest commentator on the Torah, because in essence that is what Torah study is inherently all about. For the young for the old and for the greatest sages thousands and hundreds of years ago and for us here and today.
This week’s Torah portion Rashi tells us on the verse that Moshe went down from Mt Sinai to the nation- to bring the message of Hashem about the giving of the Torah to the people, That Moshe went directly to the people “this teaches us that he didn’t deal with his own affairs, rather he went directly from Hashem to the people” On a simple level Rashi, noting that the Torah is writing that he went to the people is pointing out that it is coming to teach us a lesson, after all seemingly that is pretty obvious. It must be that the Torah is telling us that despite Moshe had other things to take care of he went directly to bring the message of the people to the nation. Lesson to us being that one should put aside one’s own affairs to carry out the will of Hashem. The Rebbe of Kuzmir however noted to his student Reb Shlomo of Radomsk, who wanted to spend more time with his Rebbe, in his Rebbe’s court, basking in the holiness of his master, that what Rashi is telling us here is something even deeper. For what was the affairs of Moshe Rabbeinu, he asked. Moshe’s ‘affairs’ were to grow and stay with Hashem, to bask in the holiness of the Almighty and to absorb as much Torah and spirituality that he could. Yet, “Moshe did not deal with his own affair”. He gave up on his own personal spirituality in order to ‘go down to the people’; to raise the Jewish Nation up to Hashem. To meet them ‘on the bottom of the Mountain’ and to spend time lifting them up, although it may be at the expense of his own spiritual goal. That is what the Torah is teaching us. That is the lesson that the great Rabbi of Kuzmir saw in the same simple words, that we read. Truly beautiful.


Julian “The Apostate” orders rebuilding of the Temple- 22nd Shvat 363 CE – The Temple was destroyed in the year 70. After the Bar Kochva revolt about 65 years later the Romans banned Jews from living in Yerushalayim for centuries. The Romans in the early 4th century under the rule of Constantine became Christian. There were bitter wars. But ultimately Christianity took hold and became the national religion of Rome. To a large degree paganism was falling to the trash heap of intellectual progressives who had recognized the truths that Judaism had shared with the world of Monotheism. Of course they still got it wrong when they made up the story of the abandonment by God of the Jewish people and the whole son of God worship bubba mayse-fairy tale. But they were half way there.
The Emperor after Constantine was Flavius Claudius Julianus or as he was known by his enemies “Julian the Apostate”. Julian, saw the wars and blood shed that Christianity had adopted to spread their faith, massacring pagans and Jews around their empire and he rejected Christianity and tried to reintroduce paganism. In the process he gave permission and even provided funding for the project of the Jews returning to Jerusalem and rebuilding their Temple. It didn’t last though, as he was called to war against Persia and killed merely two years after taking power.
If one visits the Kotel today and goes to the southern part of the wall right by Robinsons Arch if you look up you can see some ancient “graffiti” that was written from that time period on the actual stones of the wall. A bit below the arch you can see one of the stones from the wall that bears an inscription from Isaiah 14: “And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like young grass,”. In Hebrew of course. Archeologists suggest that this was written as the work began during this period of time. We still await the Temple being built may we see it soon in our time.

Chaim, an Israeli government worker went to the doctor and complained of being unable to sleep.
Doctor: 'Oh! Don't you sleep well at night?'
Chaim: 'Yes, I sleep very well at night. And I sleep quite soundly most of the mornings, too - but I find it's very difficult to sleep in the afternoons as well.'

Two siblings, Sarah was talking to her brother Bobby and asked how come it was that grandma didn’t have any teeth. Bobby in a very knowing voice explained that Grandma had gone to sleep one night with her head underneath her pillow, and what do you know? The Tooth Fairy came and took all her teeth.

 Yankel came to the doctor and told him that he was having trouble sleeping and he assumed that it was because he had High blood pressure problem in his family.
The physician doctor asked him from which side in his family it was from youur mother's side or your father's?
"Neither," Yankel replied. "It's from my wife's family."
"How could your wife's family give you high blood pressure?"
He sighed. "You oughta meet 'em sometime, Doc!"

I have a sleeping disorder…its called children

Tip of the Day- How to fall asleep faster-decorate your bedroom

Finally a real quote from President Ronald Reagan I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I'm in a cabinet meeting.
Answer is A – A tel is an archeological man made hill that is one civilization built on top of or over the destruction and ruins of a previous one. There are quite a lot of them in Israel. The old city of Jerusalem and even Tzfat to a large degrees are Tels. The Tels listed above are all in the Galile. Except for Tel Facher, the site of one of the most significant and heroic battles in the 6 Day War, which is in the Golan. Kadesh is the biblical site in the portion of Naftali where Barak came from to fight Sisra in last weeks Haftorah. Avel Beit Maacha is near the border of Lebanon and Metula is where the story of Yoav the General of King David conquers the city. And to be honest I’ve never even heard of Tel Hadar, which I’ve since googled and found that it is on the Eastern Banks of the Kinneret. But since I knew where Tel Facher was I got the answer right-as should any slef-respecting tour guideJ.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Family Business-Beshalach 5776/2016

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

January 22nd 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 16 22nd Shvat 5776
Parshat Beshalach
Family Business
My father’s dream was always that I should join the family business. He was, what he likes to describe himself as, a MD. That stands for metal dealer in guess you were wondering. He spent most of his life building up this wonderful business, buying and selling metal of all types, sheets, bar, tubing, stainless, you name it he sold it. In his words he did for me and the children. It was a lifetime of work that he hoped would continue to the next generation of Schwartzes.

 One of the fun parts of my childhood was to go with him to “the shop” and watch as he conducted business. The fun part was off course going on that Hi-Lo forklift, up and down and up and down, picking up the heavy bars and sheets of metal and loading it on the truck. I was in awe of that machine. I even got to ride on top of some sheets of metal many times and it could lift me. Cool! Another fun part of my visits to his shop was playing with his dog that he had there. The German shepherd, whose name was originally and coincidentally named Meco, the same name as his company, was a Jewish dog. I know this because his basic diet consisted of left-over chulent from the Schwartz family; a perfectly good waste of quality Shabbos food, if you ask me. But Meco, who courageously stood on guard in my father’s yard protecting his shop from all his not-so friendly slummy Detroit “ethnic” neighbors, who were perhaps going to steal some of that chulent, deserved to be fed only the best. I liked my Meco, I liked the forklift truck. However the idea of sitting on a phone and selling metal all day was not so enticing to me. Math was not my favorite subject growing up, and my father’s assurances throughout my years at school that I better buckle down and pay attention in class, because it was essential in his business, didn’t inspire me much. Neither did the buckle, ouch!

Yeah, my father-god bless him, had an interesting way of trying to inspire me to take over his business. He would tell me regularly what a great business and how it was a clean and honest way to support one’s family. Yet, at the next moment he would tell me that WHEN I came to work for him, I should realize that I would have to start from the bottom. No privileges for me, just because I am the Boss’s son. I would have to spend hours schlepping metal around, I would sweep the floors and clean up the shop and most significantly I would be charged with cleaning up after Meco, who was not fully ummm how shall we say it... fire hydrant trained yet. Yeahhh not really that an inspiring sales pitch, especially to the man who didn’t really do diapers that much as well. So instead I became a Rabbi, instead of selling metal, I sold God. My words could lift up the lowest of souls, kind of like the Hi Lo and I got to feed chulent to Jews that were as hungry as Meco, although I did have to clean up after them. It wasn’t really the family business but it worked.

When I moved to Israel and became a tour guide and my parents had since retired and moved to the “other Jerusalem” in Boca, I remember having a conversation with my Dad. I was, as I usually do, trying to convince him to make Aliyah. When he asked me what he would do here in Israel-it seems that there are not enough Targets to shop at or shuffle board games going on- I suggested he join me in my business and become a tour guide. I told him what a wonderful way it would be to support his family. How he could use his fantastic schmoozing skills and his love for Israel to sell the land and share it with so many. I couldn’t resist though telling him that if he came he would have to start from the bottom-up though; cleaning up after the bunny rabbits and other important tasks. After all he shouldn’t get the idea that just because he is the Boss’s father that should get him any privileges. Yeahhh... he’s still in Boca. I guess I’ll have to wait for Yonah or Tully to come of age and join in their father’s family business.

This week the Parsha and particularly Rashi shares with us another great Family business that the Jewish people possess. There we were standing by the Red Sea-the Yam Suf. 600 chariots of Pharaoh charging after us, swords drawn, they were ready to take us back to the sweatshops and slave pits of Egypt that we had just left. What to do? Jews, being the opinionated and innovative bunch that we generally are came up with a few plans. Of course each camp arguing that their plan was the best and only way to deal with the crisis. There were some Jews that argued for surrender. It’s a battle that can’t be one. Let’s just eat some humble matzah and return. Others of course, the hill-top Jews argued that we should not go down without a fight. Let’s pick up our swords and at least die taking the “Philistines” with us. Then of course you had the Masada Jews, that recognize the uselessness of fighting against the Egyptians and of course the danger of losing and falling in the Egyptians hands suggested the honorable path of suicide. Better to die as free men by our own hands then by the hands of our enemies. And then of course you had the Hareidim, who suggested that we turn our eyes to heaven and pray to God.
Moshe responds to all four camps in this incredible verse

“Stand and see the salvation that Hashem will make for you today”-meaning there’s no need to jump in the sea.
“For as you see Egypt today, you will not see them again forever”- So there’s no need to go back there.
“Hashem will fight for you” -so you could drop your swords, there’s no need to fight.
“And you can be silent”-There’s no even a need for prayer.
And so it was. Hashem tells Moshe to stop praying and to tell the Jewish people-Ya’alla into the Sea. The rest is history.

There’s a fantastic Rashi though, when the verse tells us that the Jewish people cried out to Hashem. Rashi notes that the Jewish people grabbed on to the “craft” of their forefathers. By Avraham it says that ‘he returned to the place where he once stood’ {and prayed}, Yitzchak- as it says and he went out to ‘converse’ {pray} in the field’. And by Yaakov it says ‘and he ‘encountered’ the place’ {prayed}. As those who follow the Rashi of the week section of this weekly E-Mail, or who sometimes glance at it on their way down to the Joke-of the Week section J, know every word of Rashi is measured and is there for a reason. Rashi doesn’t needlessly quote sources. His role as he often says is merely to explain the Pshat-the simple understanding of the verse. So what is Rashi telling us on seemingly this easy to understand verse that the Jewish people cried out to Hashem.

The Rebbe of Lubavitch explains, beautifully, that Rashi was troubled as to why the Jewish people would cry out. They had just witnessed all of the miracles of Egypt, the ten plagues that destroyed the country and the incredible fulfillment of the prophecy that they would leave with great wealth and would go to the Land of Israel. Was there any doubt that would cause them to fear? One does not have to be a great believer to have faith after all of the evidence that they had just witnessed that Hashem controls the entire world and the fate of the Jewish people- as per His promise would be guaranteed.

So Rashi therefore comes to explain that the reason why the Jewish people cried out was not out of lack of faith, or even out of lack of any pressing need-despite the clamor of the troops of Pharaoh. The reason why the Jews prayed was because “it was the ‘craft’ of their forefathers”. It was the family business. That’s what Jews do. He brings proofs and verses from the lives of our forefathers- not from circumstances when they were praying out of any need. He does not bring the verses from when Avraham prayed on behalf of Sodom, or Yitzchak for a child or even Yaakov when he asked to be saved from his brother Esau who was coming to kill him. Rather he brought verses from the ordinary day-to day prayers that our sages told us our forefathers established. Morning Shacharit by Avraham, Mincha,afternoon prayer by Yitzchak and the evening prayer of Maariv by Yaakov. That’s what the Jews were praying. Their regular daily prayers-for that is the business of the Jew.

The word in Hebrew-the Torah’s holy language, for business, livelihood or craft isUmnus. It is no coincidence that that word has the same root as the word Emuna-faith. It is a word that repeats itself throughout the Torah portion. After the splitting of the sea the Jews had Emuna in Hashem and his servant Moshe. The food that the Jews ate in the wilderness they called Man, which interestingly enough shares the same root as the word as Emuna and is in fact referred to as the “bread of faith by the holy Zohar. Finally at the end of the Torah portion when the Torah describes our first battle as a nation with the nation of Amalek, the Torah describes Moshe’s hands which were held up in prayer to Hashem, as the Jews fought down below as being held in faith.

Our sages tell us that the Jewish people are Maaminim Bnai maaminim- believers the children of believers. Throughout our history through countless of persecutions and attempts to remove the world of its conscience, our faith has held us strong, has seen us through. We have kept that 3000 year old Family business going on. Our daily prayers are opportunity to rise above this world and to connect with our Creator gives us the eternal perspective of our family. Three times a day we begin our silent Amida prayer by noting that we are speaking with the God of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. We have stayed true to their legacy. We don’t pray only when there is a crisis-which tragically enough is more often than not. Rather we pray because that’s what a child of Abraham does. He checks in with his boss. He reviews everything going on in his division. He notes the global opportunities that are yet to be realized and fulfilled and he itemizes the different faculties he will require to achieve those goals. Finally he thanks his boss for all that he gives him and requests his blessing for success, parting with a nice traditional Jewish good-bye and blessing of Shalom-Peace. That is our business. It’s been in our family for a long time. Sure at times we our prayers start from the bottom. But there is never any doubt that they reach the tippy top. Right to the CEO, The boss of us all. It’s a pretty good business. The returns are awesome. And the Boss is truly the King of us all.

Have a sensational Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFhv5L3t2ZQ    Siyum Hashas-Daf Yomi through the ages on the week of the anniversary of its first one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnignqBw4CY   - A classic funny Archie Bunker’s eulogy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOPpeGhek1o  -Inspiring video from Project Inspire The Shabbos Queens

“Got helft dem oreman: er farhit im fun tei’ereh avaires.”- God helps the poor man: He protects him from expensive sins.

The Jubilee year{when slaves are biblically mandated to be set free by their owners} brings freedom not only to the slaves but also to the slave owners, freeing them from the dehumanizing situation of having such power over other human beings.” -Rabbi Yaakov Yehoshua Falk-The Pnei Yehoshua Yartzeit this Sunday the 14th of Shvat

Rabbi Yaakov Yehoshua Falk -Pnei Yehoshua (1681-1756) -From the time of the Rashba {the 13th century Spanish famed commentator on the Talmud Rabbi Shlomo Ben Aderet } was printed no work was a great as that as the Pnei Yehoshua." Thus stated the great Chasam Sofer Jewry’s leader in the 19thcentury in Frankfort, whose every word was measured and precise without exaggeration. 

Revered in the Yeshiva world, the Sefer Pnei Yehoshua has earned itself a special place on the Yeshiva Shtender lectern as a symbol of excellence.
This great work came to be when there was a terrible catastrophe in the town of Rav Yaakov Yehoshua Falk who was then 22 years old. A fire ignited a barrel of gun fire which caused a tremendous explosion killing 36 people including the Pnei Yehoshua's wife and daughter. The Pnei Yehoshua himself was caught in the wreckage and made a promise to learn the depths of Torah day and night if he managed to survive. Miraculously, as he writes in his introduction a path opened up from between the rubble that he was trapped under and survive he did. Shortly thereafter he began writing his famed work. Rav Menachem Mendel MiKotzk testified that the Pnei Yehoshua finished The entire Talmud 36 times before he began writing his sefer; one time for each Jew that died in the tragedy.

His learning was so intense that he would sit in the cold without noticing. His students write how one bitter cold day the students could not leave their homes until the sun came out in the afternoon. There they found the Pnei Yehoshua still wrapped in Talis and Tefilin learning with icicles hanging from his beard.

The Pnei Yehoshua was born in 5441/1681 the town of Reisha. He was named after his illustrious grandfather who authored the classic work Maginei Shlomo which defended Rashi from the attacks of Tosfos, both of whom he was descended from. The Pnei Yehoshua served as Rav in a number of cities including Lvov, Berlin, Metz, and Frankfurt. He lived in the same era as the Vilna Gaon, Noda BiYehuda, The Chacham Tzvi, Rav Yaakov Emden, and the Pri Megadim and was respected by all. Along with Rav Yaakov Emden he was a great antagonist of Rav Yonosan Eibushitz, in that tragic dispute over Reb Yonosan’s alleged Sabbatean influences that tore apart the Jewish people.

Although he was less successful as community Rabbi due to his unwillingness to bow to the whims of the local wealthy lay leaders that sought to control and censor his sermons and rhetoric, among the Torah giants he was an icon. His word was regarded as law by his peers. He was made famous by the Chacham Tzvi who eventually suggested him as his replacement in Lvov. He was visited by the great Chida-the illustrious chief Rabbi of Jerusalem when the latter traveled through Europe. The Chida writes about his visit, "I merited to beMikabel Pnei Hashechina- Perceive the countenance of Divine Presence for a number of days. His appearance is like that of an angel of God".
He passed away in 1756 but his legacy will last forever as the world that studies his Torah daily we will continue to aspire to achieve the great merit of intuiting and asking his great questions and insightful answers.

answer below at end of Email
The city of Akko can be found in the portion of the Tribe of
  1. A.    Zevulun
  2. B.     Asher
  3. C.     Naftali
  4. D.    Yissachar
This week once again a brief comment by Rashi has the power to highlight and send a powerful ethical message and charge for those of us that take the time to examine his holy words. In the battle at the end of the Parsha with Amalek. The Torah tells us that Moshe sat on the mountain top up above, after charging Yehoshua his faithful student to gather the army and to fight the battle against this enemy that came from the North specifically to wage war against us. The verse tells us that, although we had the clouds of glory that protected us, yet Amalek attacked those that were outside of the clouds. {Rashi, in Ki Teitzei where this mitzva to wipe out Amalek is repeated, notes that they attacked those that were thrown out of the clouds for their sins.}.

Yet in the heat of the battle the Torah tells us that as Moshe had his hands raised up in prayer the Jews were winning and when they fell down the Jews would lose. Rashi notes on the verse that Moshe’s hands became heavy a startling condemnation on our greatest leader. He notes that Because Moshe was lax in fulfilling the Mitzvas and appointed another (Joshua) in his stead his hands became heavy. Seemingly Rashi is coming to explain why it is that the Torah is telling us that Moshe’s hands became heavy. Yet to call Moshe lazy or lax, seems very harsh. 

Many commentaries explain Moshe’s behavior as he knew that only Joshuah who came from the tribe of Yosef had the power to destroy Amalek. One beautiful insight that I saw was. That since this was the sinners of Israel that were at risk, some might think that it was below Moshe’s dignity to go out and physically fight and save them and he therefore delegated the job out. Incidentally, the job he delegated out was to his 2nd in command and the future leader of the Jewish people Yehoshua, who Moshe told to take with him the most god-fearing whose merits will protect them. Moshe perhaps rightfully felt that he could better serve the people by standing in fast and prayer on their behalf. Yet Hashem felt that the message was more important to be sent that even for the greatest sinner of Israel, no Jew should ever feel that he should not take up a weapon and fight for them. Even Moshe, was considered lax because he stayed in prayer-although that ultimately saved and inspired the people, rather then to lead the troops personally in battle.
What a message that is to us in how far we must go to help and protect a fellow Jew efrom any physical danger and certainly as well from any spiritual danger.


The First Siyum HaShas of the Daf Yomi 1931 - If you ask me this was one of the most pivotal moments in the last century in regards to Torah proliferation in the Jewish world. There are hundreds of thousands of Jews that have completed the entire 2711 pages of the Talmud. A page a day for 7½ years and one has completed this incredible feat. Today there are Daf Yomi classes in hundreds of countries, on the internet on phone apps. There are classes on the internet, trains and buses for commuters, and even on the music system of El Al flights. It all started with a dream in 1923 of one person, Rav Meir Shapiro who realized that the majority of Jews were ignorant of so many areas of Jewish scholarship, so many tractates of our sages that were written almost 1500 years before that made up the basis of all of our Oral tradition and law, that were not being studied even by the students in Yeshiva. This was a tragedy that he could not bear. That he felt that he needed to rectify.
Rav Shapiro approached the two great Jewish leaders of his time, the Chafetz Chaim and the Rebbe of Ger and they both enthusiastically gave their approval. The idea was made public at the first World congress of Agudath Israel in Vienna and the first cycle began on Rosh Hashana of that year and tens of thousands attended in Europe and even in the slowly growing pre-war community in America.
One of the most amazing accomplshments of the Daf Yomi movements is that each Jew commits to learning every single day. Come rain, hail, vacations, or holiday. On Yom Kippur there is a Daf Yomi class as there is on Purim. There are those that will get up extra early each day and some that despite how long and how difficult their day was will not put their head down to sleep without learning their daily Daf.
For Rav Shapiro, though, the greatest part about the Daf Yomi is that it would connect Jews all across the globe with the same page of Gemara that they would be learning each day. In his words
“What a great thing! A Jew travels by boat and takes gemara Berachot under his arm. He travels for 15 days from Eretz Yisrael to America, and each day he learns the daf. When he arrives in America, he enters a beis medrash in New York and finds Jews learning the very same daf that he studied on that day, and he gladly joins them. Another Jew leaves the States and travels to Brazil or Japan, and he first goes to the beis medrash, where he finds everyone learning the same daf that he himself learned that day. Could there be greater unity of hearts than this?”
80 years later and in middle of the 12th cycle this is truly an amazing accomplishment.

This old guy named Joe invested in Microsoft stock in the early eighties and just died a wealthy man. He had no family, so his business associates were at the reading of his will, where it was learned that the old man wanted to be buried with most of his money.
His banker, doctor, and Rabbi were each given envelopes with $500,000 cash with the instructions to deposit the money in the casket at the funeral. Three days later at the service, the envelopes were put in the casket.
The next day, the three met for lunch. The pastor said that was an odd request, to be buried with all of that money. The others agreed.
The lawyer asked the banker, “Did you put all of that money in the casket?”
The banker said, “Of course I did. It was my legal responsibility to do so!”
The banker then asked the doctor, “Did you put all of that money in the casket?”
The doctor said that he was going to, but he thought of all the good causes in the community and gave most of the money to them. He said that he hoped the Lord would forgive him, but that it made more sense to support the research of medicine and its cures as well as hospitals and medical centers use that money wisely rather than simply having it buried.
The pastor then turned to the lawyer and asked if she put the money in the casket.
She said “If that casket is ever opened, rest assured that they will find my personal check for the full $500,000 made out to old Joe.”

Moishe a very successful businessman had a meeting with his new son in-law Yankel. “I love my daughter, and now I welcome you into the family,” said Moishe. “To show you how much we care for you, I’m making you a 50-50 partner in my business. All you have to do is go to the factory every day and learn the operations.”
Yankel interrupted, “I hate factories. I can’t stand the noise.”
“I see,” replied the father-in-law. “Well, then you’ll work in the office and take charge of some of the operations.”
“I hate office work,” said the son-on-law. “I can’t stand being stuck behind a desk all day.”
“Wait a minute,” said Yankel.  “I just made you half-owner of a moneymaking organization, but you don’t like factories and won’t work in an office. What am I going to do with you?”
“Easy,” said the young man. “Buy me out.”

Mr. Greenberg was an illiterate immigrant, but he worked hard, saved his pennies, and started a small business. It did well, and soon he had enough money to send for the wife and children. The work kept him very busy, so he never had time to learn to write, but the bank was happy to do business with him, even though his signature consisted of two X’s.
 He prospered, he opened more stores, the kids were transferred to private schools, the family moved into a fancy house (with one staircase going nowhere just for show)...you get the idea.
One day his banker, Mr. Smith, asked him to drop by. “So vat’s the problem?” Greenberg asked, a bit anxiously. Smith waved a bunch of checks at him. “Perhaps nothing,” he said, “but I wanted to be on the safe side. These recent checks of yours are all signed with 3 X’s, but your signature of record has just 2.”
Greenberg looked embarrassed. “I’m sorry about making trouble,” he said, “but my vife said that since I’m now such a high class rich guy, I should have a middle name!”

Once there was an Accountant. The business had been in the family for generations and generations. Over time, with the countless clients that had gone in and out of the office, the marble step in front of the building had developed a big, deep dip in it from all the wear and tear.
His friends kept telling the accountant that he had better get it replaced, otherwise he`d be sued for everything he had if anyone ever slipped and fell.
Reluctantly, the accountant called a stonemason to get a quote for the repairs.
When the stonemason got there the accountant demanded a price for a new step.
`Hmmmm, big job that` said the stonemason, `But I suppose I could give you a new step for a ten thousand dollars.`
The accountant was stunned. `Are you mad, man? I can`t pay you that much!`
Thinking about it for a second he turned to the stonemason and asked: `What would you charge me to dig up the step and turn it over so that the worn part is in the ground and I`d get a new step?
The stonemason hesitated and said, two thousand`.
`Do it!` demanded the accountant, `and call me when you`re done.`
The accountant went back inside to his books, but after only 15 minutes the stonemason rang the bell.
As the accountant opened the door he saw the stonemason standing in a hole with the step, laughing as he said. `Your great-great-great granddaddy thought of that a hundred and fifty years ago!!`

Answer is B - This is I think is a great question, although a difficult one for many that are not familiar with the Biblical division of the land of Israel according to the tribes. But it’s important to know. After-all if our job as Tour guides is to show the historical connection to the land, then what better way than to show the various portions as it was divided up by the 12 tribes of Israel when we first entered and conquered it. All four of those tribes incidentally are in the North of Israel. I live in Karmiel which lies in the portion of Naftali and Yisachar and Zevulun or South of me in the Lower Galile. Asher, the correct answer, is the northern coast line which of course includes the city of Akko. Although the Talmud does discuss whether Asher was included in the borders of Israel or the line cut inland or not. Incidentally the leader of the tribe of Asher was Achihud Ben Shlomi two villages that are located in the portion Shlomi and Achihud are both named after them today. Which is usually a good way to tell what tribe your in, as many of the villages were named and have a connection with the tribe, whose portion they are located in.