Our view of the Galile

Friday, January 15, 2016

Hitting the Jackpot-Bo 2016/5776

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

January 15th  2016! -Volume 6, Issue 15 5th Shvat 5776
Parshat Bo
Hitting the Jackpot

One Point Four Billion Dollars. Capitalized. It’s capital, after all. Right? That’s a heck of a lot of Shwarmas even for me. Yeah I know the chances of me winning are as much as me getting hit by a bolt of lightning or not liking a Kiddush with Chulent. But somebody’s gotta win. Right? Now I know it’s not easy being a winner. Everyone comes banging on your doors. Most Lottery winners lose or gamble all their money and it destroys their family life. But I’m willing to take a bullet for the team. After all, like every other Jew out there. We’re not thinking about the vacations we’ll take (I really would like to see Africa), or the new house (Just one for me, with all my sefarim, and a storehouse for my wife and the clothing she sells…maybe one for the rabbits as well). Nor are we thinking about the new car (although an SUV wouldn’t be a bad thing), or even cool new computers, phones and toys I could have. Neahh… not thinking about any of that. What good Jews think about is all the charity we would give. The orphans and needy families we could help marry off, the Torah scholars we could support, the school and yeshivos we would donate new buildings to, the shuls we would build and causes we would fund. Sure we would make our lives a bit more comfortable, but we wouldn’t spend a dollar on a ticket if it was merely about us-God Forbid. This is all about Hashem. Right? Or maybe not.

The truth is I never had a drive to become wealthy, as my employment resume of years of working the non-profit Jewish educational workplace can attest to. We took the non-profit thing very seriously. I wanted to make a difference in the world, to teach, to study and pretty much to enjoy myself along the way and that made me happy. Sure at times it would be nice to have some extra change and not to have to worry about paying my bills, or how I was going to marry off my kids or pay their tuitions. But then when it was getting rough, I figured I‘d just move to Israel where nobody seems to worry about these things. Not that they have them figured out, but we’ve got bigger things to worry about, over here. Each day we’re glad to be alive and fulfilling the Mitzva of living in the Holy Land that our ancestors dreamed of. The bills?…Ahhhhhh. What did you say? Each day we’re glad to be alive and fulfilling the Mitzva of living in the Holy Land that our ancestors dreamed. Yeah like I said they kind of ignore them and change the subject.

On the other hand I have quite a few friends who thank God have been blessed with making a lot of money. I say blessed, although I believe and know that their lives are certainly more stressful and hectic than mine, because they know how to use their blessing of money properly. They are truly investing huge amounts on a daily basis on building the future of the Jewish people from a financial and even spiritual perspective. They are supporting Jewish education, funding programs and projects that help families in need, with illnesses, networks and projects for Jewish educational  outreach projects that share the beauty of our faith and people with so many who were raised without a clue of what it truly means to be a Jew and how special that is. What a blessing. What sacrifice it must entail. I have friends that literally spend hours each day just hearing about the troubles of the Jewish people, and who take leadership roles investing hours of their personal family time, fully absorbed with it. Unlike many who have made millions and are focused on making more millions, these Tzadikim are focused on using the resources that Hashem have given them for the purpose that they were given to them. Many times I wish I used the resources Hashem gave me with the same fierce determination that they do. It’s truly awe-inspiring. It is certainly the most basic challenge that we were put here on this world to accomplish. The truth of the matter is that it really goes back to the very beginning of our people. Of course to this week’s Torah portion.

This week, in Parshat Bo, we have finally come to the end-game of the saga of us in Egypt. The 210 year genocide, enslavement and first holocaust of our nation is almost over. The light is in sight. Well almost, because we’re up to the plague of darkness. Pharaoh’s Egyptians have had enough. They complained before the plague of locusts and finally Pharaoh is ready to negotiate. He asks Moshe “buying questions”. What do you need to leave? Moshe seemingly is not up to any simple negotiations. “From our youth to our elders, we shall go, with our sons and daughters with our sheep and our cattle we will go, because it is a festival for Hashem for us.”

Pharaoh was not playing ball though. He only would allow the men to “serve God”, no children. After the plague of darkness though he was singing a bit of a different tune. “Go, serve Hashem. Just leave your sheep and cattle, even your children shall go with you”. This seems to be the magic words, we were waiting for. We’re free. The holocaust is over. We can go. For Moshe though this is not enough.

“Also you will give us sacrifices and offerings and we shall make them for Hashem our God. And also our cattle will go with us. Not a hoof will be left behind, for we will take them to serve Hashem our God and we do not know with what we will serve Hashem until we arrive there.”

Really?! Let me ask what you would have done had you been there. Maybe it’s time to call Moshe over and to tell him to tone down the rhetoric a bit. We got what we want. Let’s just get out of here. Do we really need the a few more sheep, and cows? I’m sure there were plenty of Jews that probably weren’t interested in even touching any of that Egyptian “blood” money. Pharaoh has even recognized Hashem, calling him by name.  He admitted he was wrong. For a few lamb chops and steaks is it really worth making a fuss?

Seemingly Hashem though sides with Moshe, and even ups the ante in his next command or actually request from Moshe
Please speak in the ears of Israel and they shall ask each men from his friend and each women from her friend for their vessels of silver and gold.”
Later on in the Parsha the Torah tells us “And the Children of Israel did as Moshe had spoken to them and they asked for the vessels of silver and gold and their clothing. And Hashem gave the favor of the nation in the eyes of Egypt and they gave it to them and they emptied out Egypt”.

What is it with emptying out Egypt? Why is this so significant? It is obvious that the Jews, knee jerk reaction would have been to leave, by the fact that Hashem had to request from Moshe to please convince them to stay for the money. Rashi even notes that it was because Hashem had promised Avraham years ago that the Jews would leave with great wealth. But c’mon, do we really need to stay in Auschwitz for some financial compensation. Isn’t it enough that the city was pretty much leveled and that they have recognized the power of Hashem?

The answer is a very basic one. Hashem didn’t want us leaving Mitzrayim with the sense that we “survived”. If that’s what it all was about, the why did we have to go there in the first place. Just to survive? The purpose of us going down to Egypt was so that we could take the entire Egypt with us and elevate it and recognize Hashem and his purpose in everything that we have and do. Pharaoh and Egypt had to know and even more so we had to know it. When we left Egypt, it was as victims or survivors it was with the Egyptians honoring and respecting us. It was them giving us their finest gold and silver-not out of guilt, but rather out of honor for Hashem’s chosen people. We departed as the Torah says each man from his friend and each women from her friend-these friends were the former Nazi’s. The verse says that the Eruv Rav a mixed multitude of nations went out with them. According to our sages they numbered at least twice to four times as many as the Jewish people. We truly emptied Egypt and the world recognized the glory of Hashem, the glory of his people. Pharaoh asks Moshe for blessings. It’s amazing. This is what the story of the Exodus is about. This is what Hashem promised Abraham his descendants would achieve. This was a nation that would now be ripe to go to the Holy Land and build a Temple that would be a “House of Worship for all Nations”. It wasn’t all about the money. It was all about us appreciating that every situation we are given, as far down as we may go we must make a festival from Hashem out of it. “For we do not know with what we will serve him”. Even the hoof of the smallest sheep in Egypt, can become holy through us.

I didn’t win the Powerball. I didn’t even have one number correct. That wasn’t the playbook Hashem had for me. My brother pointed out to me though, that the truth is there is a winning in this past drawing-the largest ever in history that perhaps each Jew does have. The winning numbers 08+27+34+04+19+10 equals 102. 102 in Gematria, Jewish numerology is the same value as the word Emuna-Faith. The greatest wealth that we have and that Hashem gave us to share with the world is our Emuna in Him. Our faith, as an eternal nation, that there will come a day when the entire world will be elevated, as they were when we left Egypt. It is our inheritance from that day. That is the true jackpot. Mazel Tov on our winning it.
Have a Shabbos filled with fortune and blessing,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR3-sczuyZU&feature=youtu.be   – A Bravery Fiercer than Death: The 35 Heroes of Gush Etzion A fifteen minute short film of the story of the 35 who died in their attempt to rescue the Jews of the Gush 68 years ago this Friday.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8M4-mBGLPeE    – Ten unluckiest Lottery winners.

“Gelt iz keilechdik—amol iz es do, amol iz es dort.”- Money is round, sometimes it rolls here sometimes roll there.

We break a glass by a wedding to show that to destroy a marriage all it takes is one improper action; one moment of not caring….

“One of the greatest religious problems is that people fear having a relationship with God and consequently distance themselves from Him. Just as angels serve God without fear despite their lower status in comparison to God, so too human beings should take their model (walk amongst them) and not be afraid of developing a relationship with God and serving Him. This represents a wholeness that we as human beings are capable of only if we think of ourselves as walking amongst angels.”
-Rabbi Yehuda Leib Alter-Sefat Emet Yartzeit this Friday the 5th of Shvat
Rabbi Yehuda Leib Alter-Sefat Emet (1847-1905) – It was said that there were 10’s of thousands of Gerrer Chasidm that did not wear teffilin and that ate on Yom Kippur each year-all boys under the age of Bar Mitzva. Each year extra train lines would be added in to the train line to Gerrer to accommodate the thousands of Chasidim that would flock to their Rebbe for the High Holidays. All of this took place under the leadership of The Sefas Emes, who created the largest Chasidic following in Poland prior to WWII.
Rabbi Yehuda Leib Alter was the son of R' Avraham Mordechai zt"l, the eldest son of the Chidushei Harim of Gur. He was born on erev rosh chodesh Iyar 5607 (1847) and as a boy of only two, he was orphaned of his mother. When he was about nine years old, his father too was passed away and he was brought up by his holy grandfather who treated him as a son, even rebuking him when necessary. Once when the young boy came late to the morning class, the Chidushei Harim rebuked him publicly which he accepted in silence. His friends, who knew that he had been up all night learning asked him why he did not tell his grandfather so. "It wouldn't have been worth forfeiting my grandfather's rebuke," replied the boy. 
The Sefat Emet slept the bare minimum and ate very little throughout his youth, but when he became weak in his later years he admitted. "I feel that my body is weak probably due to my minimal sleep and food when I was young. I don't regret the missing sleep because a minimization of sleep is one of the ways with which Torah is acquired but I do regret not having eaten properly for now I am suffering the consequences."
 After his bar mitzva he married the granddaughter of R' Boruch Taam, and continued living in Gur with his grandfather. After his grandfather passed young Yehuda Leib was appointed av beit din. He refused however to act as rebbe and travelled together with the chassidim to R' Chanoch Henoch of Alexander  until the latter's passing 4 years later.
On Shavuos, when he saw the massive crowd which had gathered around him, he agreed to join the chassidim in "giving ourselves chizuk" but still did not say divrei Torah in public until Succos the following year. Even then he refused to sit in his grandfather’s seat at the head of the table and sat in the middle of the table-which remains the custom of Ger until today. Finally, when he started giving forth his pearls of Torah wisdom, the world was astounded. These divrei Torah were printed in his famous sefer Sefat Emet al hatorah. His seforim on Shas were also printed many times.
During the Russo-Japanese War, many of his young followers were drafted into the Russian Army and sent to the battlefields in Manchuria. The Rebbe was very worried over these devotees and would constantly write to them. During the entire period of the war the Rebbe would sleep on the floor, rather than in his own bed and would cry bitter tears each night on the fate of his students. Unlike the custom of many of the Rebbes, the Sfas Emes refused to take money from his Chasidim that wished to support him and instead sufficed himself from the income his wife’s store would bring in. In fact he encouraged all of his chasidim to learn a trade rather than to make a living off of their Torah study or even seeking rabbinic positions.
 On Sunday 24th Teves 5665 (1905) a rare illness poisoned his body and at dawn of the 5th of Shevat he returned his pure soul to its Maker. At his funeral there were 10’s of Chasidim that attended and mourned. Today Gerrer Chasidim is alive and well carrying out his legacy and the largest Chasidic group in Israel numbering 15 thousand families.
answer below at end of Email
The Memorial Monument for the Bedouin fighter can be found
A.    Ilabun intersection
B.     Kadarim Intersection
C.     Negev Intersection
D.    The Movil intersection
A lot of times we can just read a verse and move quickly through the Torah portion and perhaps miss out on one of the most important and fundamental lessons that are there for us to appreciate. That’s where Rashi comes in. He’s kind of like a big yellow Highlighter on a verse and he points out something that we may have missed. Unfortunately though we don’t always take the time to think about what Rashi is telling us and we miss that as well. In this week’s Torah portion in Hashem’s command to the Jewish people to put the blood on the door post. And Hashem then says “And the blood will be for you as a sign on the houses that you are there, and I will see the blood and I will skip over you and there will not be a plague upon you.” Rashi notes something truly amazing. First he notes that the function of the blood was not for Hashem to see it. As the blood is for you for a sign. The blood unlike the movie version was put inside of the door post of the house. Hashem had a very good Waze and very good database of every single Jew. He did not need the blood as a sign. We did. To know that we are not Egyptians, to know that we are separating ourselves from them. But then Rashi notes something even more amazing. Hashem says He will see the blood and he will skip over us and there will not be a plague upon us. Rashi notes that the additional words, and there will not be a plague upon us, refers to even a Jew that was in the house of the Egyptian. Even he would be saved. 
Think about that for a second. What the heck is a Jew doing on this night in the house of the Egyptian? They Egyptians certainly weren’t holding anyone hostage at that point. Our slavery had already ended at the beginning off the plagues almost a year before. The answer is that there were those Jews- and we always seem to have those Jews- that wanted to show solidarity with the Egyptians. They would stay with them. Their fate would be shared with them. We are one people. We are all Egyptians. Know anyone like that? And yet what does Hashem say and promise and in fact carry out? That even those Jews would be spared and would not suffer the plague. Even the Jew in the house of the Egyptian. For him as well there will be salvation. For he is also a child of Hashem and part of the Chosen people. Wow! That’s worthy of a high liner isn’t it?


The “Battle of the 35”-the heroes of Gush Etzion 1948 – By January 1948, Jewish settlements in Gush Etzion near Bethlehem had been under siege for months. They had fought a difficult battle on January 14 as part of the War of Independence, and they suffered from a shortage of ammunition, medicine and other medical supplies. To ease their suffering, additional fighters were sent to offer the devastated settlements their aid.  Being that the British did not allow for the Jews to carry weapons-even to break the siege and help the settlements' defense forces means that they were could not carry out missions that a regular army, soldiers, technical means could more easily. Left with no alternative, these brave people decided on the most difficult path: walking under cover of night in the dry riverbed and valley between high mountains where hostile Arab villages are located.

The first attempt to reach the four kibbutzim was made on the night of January 14. However, when the fighters sensed that their presence might be discovered, they doubled back and retraced their steps. Once again, before dawn, a unit of 38 soldiers set out for the kibbutzim. But on their way, one soldier sprained his leg and was forced to return, accompanied by two others. The remaining 35 continued the 20-kilometer journey with less than five hours to go before sunrise would expose them to the enemy. The next day, they did not arrive at Kibbutz Massuot Yitzhak as expected, and planes were sent to survey the area. The planes were unable to locate the soldiers, although the pilots did report seeing concentrations of forces and army vehicles in several Arab villages.

The rescue team was spotted, however, by two Arab women who were gathering wood at 6 A.M., which accorded with the estimated schedule on the day of the battle. This news was relayed to the commander of the Arab soldiers stationed at Kafr Tsurif, who set out with his men to attack the rescue squad. Unit commander Danny Mas ordered his men to hide among the boulders; thus when airplanes circled the sky over Gush Etzion, the pilots were unable to locate the Jewish soldiers.

It is said that the 35 soldiers ran into an old Arab shepherd, whom they considered killing but ultimately decided to release. As they did not want to shed innocent blood and could not take them with. They trusted that he would not tell the neighboring Arab army that they were coming. A big and fatal mistake as after they let him go, he is said to have reported their presence to the Arab residents of nearby villages. That afternoon, the 35 fighters were attacked by 2,000 soldiers of the Jihad forces. In the evening, when their ammunition ran out, the last soldier was killed.

Many of the soldiers' bodies were discovered the next day during a patrol by a British police commander, and two days later Haaretz reported that "35 soldiers of the Haganah [who were] killed while coming to the aid of the settlement will be buried in a common grave in Kfar Etzion." The article reported that the corpses of the 35 Jews will be interred by British soldiers of the Royal Sussex Brigade.
The Lamed Heh affair (representative of the number 35, the total number of soldiers killed ) has served over the years as an example of the moral values of Israeli fighters in battle.  In the words of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion.
 “I don’t know if there was any company in the Israel Defense Forces or in any army in the world that assembled such splendid manpower, pure bravery, and spiritual abundance as this company, who will forever be known by our people as the “lamed hey, These lions of Israel were a mix of youthful spirit and glory, superior wisdom... and bravery fiercer than death.”
May Hashem Avenge their blood.

“There is this very pious Jew named Goldberg who always dreamed of winning the lottery. Every Sabbath, he’d go to synagogue and pray: “God, I have been such a pious Jew all my life. What would be so bad if I won the lottery?”
But the lottery would come and Goldberg wouldn’t win. Week after week, Goldberg would pray to win the lottery, but the lottery would come and Goldberg wouldn’t win.

Finally, one Sabbath, Goldberg wails to the heavens and says: “God, I have been so pious for so long, what do I have to do to win the lottery?”
“And the heavens parted and the voice of God came down: “Goldberg, give me a chance! Buy a ticket!”

A Redneck buys a ticket and wins the lottery. He goes to Mobile, Alabama to claim it and the man verifies his ticket number. The Redneck says, "I want my $20 million."
The man replied, "No, sir. It doesn't work that way. We give you a million today and then you'll get the rest spread out for the next 19 years."
The Redneck said, "Oh, no. I want all my money right now! I won it and I want it."
Again, the man explain that he would only get a million that day and the rest during the next 19 years.
The Redneck, furious with the man, screams out, "Look, I want my money! If you're not going to give me my $20 million right now, then I want my dollar back!"

Two Yerushalmi Jews had just won $5000,000 in a lottery. Making a L’Chayim in a pub Yankel says to Berel, “What about all of those “Shnorr” (begging) letters?” Yankel replies, “I guess we'll just keep sending them!”

Q. Difference between a man buying a lottery ticket and a man fighting with his wife...
A. A man has a chance at winning at the lottery.
Answer is D- This is a really stupid question if you ask me. Why would one need to know the intersection where the monument is located. There is no historical significance to its placement. Do I need to know the address for the Tel Aviv Musuem? Just a dumb question. Ilabun, Movil and Kadarim are all in the North of Israel. The Negev is obviously in the South. I guess one might guess that Bedouins are in the South which is where the majority of them live. But I knew it was in the North because I’ve passed it so many times. The answer is Movil which is the intersection by which the water lines that run from the Kinneret run not far from the Eshkol Reservoir runs. It’s a nice monument for all of the Bedouins who have fought from the independence war with Israel. Not a place that I would ever take tourists though. Just a dumb question. 

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