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.

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