Our view of the Galile

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment