Our view of the Galile

Friday, February 26, 2016

Mask-er Aide- Ki Tisa 5776/2016

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
February 26th 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 21 17th Adar I 5776
Parshat Ki Tisa
Mask-er Aid
There's one thing I never really got about Super Heroes. I can accept the whole radioactive spider thing or Kryptonian planets that they may come from or even some type of chemical occurrence that will cause them to be
super-fast, strong or even green when they’re angry. I'm cool with all that. But perhaps someone can explain to me why it is that when they put on a small little mask some tight leather and a cape or in the case of Superman just slick back his hair and take off their glasses that no one can recognize them. Now c'mon, I've tried those masks on and have lost or broken my glasses plenty of times and even donned a cape (or at least a Tallit quite often) although admittedly I avoid tight leather pants, and somehow no one seems to have a hard time figgering me out. So what's up with this whole mask bit? Am I missing something?
 Now I don't want you to get the wrong idea here. I am not a frequent dresser- upper and no matter how long I lived in Seattle it didn’t inspire me to change any time soon, despite the common bizzare attire that you might find on those that seem to be celebrating Purim all year that walk around Capitol Hill. No I'm quite comfortable in my own clothes and have never been particularly tempted to even wear lighter colored pants or colored shirts. Black and white suits me well. Yet, there is that once a year Purim season that I do get involved in that fun creative costume-ish type of mode.  It's then when my mind turns to ponder those earth shattering as to the nature of masks and costumes and what makes them tick.
 This weeks Torah portion introduces to us one of Judaism's greatest superheroes and lo and behold he too, the verse tells us dons a mask (probably a Tallit as well). For all those who are familiar with our Biblical hero Moses from the Torah rather than from Charlston Heston's depiction you would know, as we are told that post the sin of the Golden Calf when the forgiveness of God was granted as a result of Moshe's super heroic pleas for mercy he came down from the mountain and put on a mask. Now certainly he had no secret identity he was trying to protect so what was the function of this mask.
 The verse tells us.
Exodus 34:30
"And it was when Moshe came down from the mountain... and he did not know that his skin of his face shine when he was speaking with them. And when Aharon and the 
nation saw Moshe they feared to approach him."

The Parsha then concludes with Moshe's response. That when he finished speaking to them he then placed a mask upon his face and so it would be that whenever Moshe would speak with God he would remove the mask and then speak with the people. After he would speak the word of Hashem to them, he would then place the mask back on.
Now obviously this mask was not to hide Moshe's identity it doesn't even seem to be there to protect the Jewish people from his glowing countenance as he would remove it when he taught them the Torah. Rather Rabbi Moshe Feinstien suggests was to teach a lesson to a nation that sought to idolize (Golden Calf-literally) their leader and at the 

same time to teach a lesson to all teachers for all time.
 Yes, it is true that Moshe achieved a level of holiness and a relationship with God that the Torah tells us will never be replicated. "Face to face I speak to him" says the Lord. Yet at the same time the nation of Israel have to be able to view their leaders mask-less when it comes to the study of our Torah and teachings. There should be the realization and appreciation that they can also be a Moshe. That the study of Torah is not just for an elite that talks to God and hide behind a mask. It is for all Jews. It is our inheritance, our portion and our legacy. Our greatest leaders came from all parts of society, the wealthy the poor, the convert and even the very young. And so Moshe removed his mask so that they would be able to connect with that ray of light that was 
also theirs.
 There is also a lesson for our teachers and leaders, Rav Feinstien continues. They, no less than Moshe have to be able to see their students face to face as well. (I don't know what he would say to E-mail Insights, but I do invite you guys every week for Shabbos for face to face time and chulent too ). Without any masks or distance in a way that will connect with them. To understand their needs and challenges for their vantage 
point, so in turn they can best be there for them in the ways that are most meaningful.

 Maybe that's the difference between our heroes and the comic book heroes. Superheros in Judaism, unlike those caped crusaders, wear masks not to make themselves unrecognizable and to preserve their private lives so that the masses enthralled by their powers will be in even greater awe of their seemingly unattainable powers. No, our heroes, teachers and leaders wear their mask sometimes to cover up and hide that greatness so that the masses will never feel that they can't become heroes themselves. Their job is to teach and develop each of our own unique super powers to show their students their own humanity and mortality. To teach all of us the lesson that in the eyes of our Super- powered Creator all of us can bring down rays of glory and Godliness in our special role in the universe.

 Have a Moiridikeh Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
http://itvideo.me/watch/?v=exjR_JuVJNE -Tribute to Reb Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Yartzei this week
https://youtu.be/-oCstfrjb_E - Cool Dancing Chasidim catch that beat
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sWcBy-tNqI-Getting into the Wedding mood-like these Chuppa songs?
“A lustiger dales gait iber alles” Happy poverty overcomes everything
““Learn well. Eat well. Sleep well. And always smile.”
“It is customary to request forgiveness from the deceased. However, I have nothing to ask you forgiveness for. During the course of our marriage never did anything occur that would require either of us to ask the other’s forgiveness....”
“It’s alright if you quote my thoughts in your own name, just please don’t quote your thoughts in my name”.” -
HaRav Shlomo Zaman Auerbach, zt"l, 11th of Adar this Shabbos (1910 - 1995)-There are great men, holy men, brilliant men and warm friendly sensitive people-  a true Gadol a great man a real jewish leader is someone who embodies all of the above. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman was one of those individuals. Fortunate is the generation that merited to have him as its leader.
The future leader of the last generation was the first child to be born in the Shaarei Chesed neighborhood of Jerusalem founded by his maternal grandfather, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Porush, after whom he was named. (A cousin of my wife’s great grandfather) His father, Rabbi Chaim Yehuda Leib Auerbach, was rosh yeshiva of Shaar Hashamayim Yeshiva, pone of the primary yeshivos of the city. The conditions back then were of abject poverty, many times he was sufficed with some stale bread and a piece of halva. Rav Shlomo Zalman one time told a student, who had missed yeshiva because he was feling ill, that if he had to miss every time he felt ill, the chances are he would never been able to learn at all”. By the age of eleven he was proficient in the entire talmudic tractate of Kiddushin. As a teenager he attended the Etz Chaim Yeshiva in Jerusalem. He was known for his diligence which is illustrated by an event which occurred while he was in yeshiva. On the day the first automobile rolled into Jerusalem along the Jaffa Road, all the students left their studies to marvel at the horse-less wagon. Only young Shlomo Zalman remained in his chair immersed in his studies. Following his marriage, to his spouse Chaya Rivka Ruchamkin which took place on Purim Meshulash in order not to waste time from learning, he moved in with his in-laws in order that he could dedicate himself fully to his learning..
His first major published work, Meorei Esh, was the first ever written on the subject of using electricity on Shabbat. The work was endorsed by Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski who read it and declared: "Or chadash al Tziyon ta'ir" - "A new light will shine upon Zion" - a quote from the daily morning prayers.
He had a close association with Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski, as well as the Chazon Ish and Rabbi Elazar Menachem Shach, the two iconic and preeminent leaders of Haredi Judaism of the first and middle segments of the 20th century. He became the pre-eminent halachic decisor of his time in Israel, respected by all streams of Orthodox Judaism. He was unique in his approach to halacha through thought experiments.
In 1949, he took a position as the Rosh Yehivah of Kol Torah, a position he heled until his death. One of his students note that perhaps his greatest lesson, was when he was asked a question during his first class that he gave there Reb Shlomo Zalman got up and said that he had erred, although he later said that he had three different responses, yet the question was stronger than the answers. His salary there interestingly enough was linked to that of the chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, as the Rabbinate had tried to poach him and with the urging of the Chazon Ish the yeshiva countered that they would always match that salary so as not to lose him. Renowned for his lucid classes as Rosh Yeshiva, his thousands of students continue to influence the Torah world today
But perhaps what most defined Rav Shlomo Zalman was his deep love and respect for every Jew. It didn’t matter what their background or religious perspective was. He met counseled and delighted in his interactions with everyone he met. His personal driver still treasures his music tape that Reb Shlomo Zalman gave him as a gift for being not his nahag-driver but rather as his manhig- his leader. He met with troubled children and families. He inspired with his appreciation that the Torah’s ways are of pleasantness that its laws must reflect that. His only periods of outrage when he saw others distorting that. Stories of how some people would allow their parents to carry in the Eruv on Shabbos for them because they would not use it, families that were nervous about relying on leniencies in regards to technology that would assist their families in regards to Shabbos usage, or those that would not rely on the leniencies in regards to the laws of Shemitta at the expense of shaming others, were all things that he decried. He raised his family to visit one another each week to show them how significant it was to have strong family ties. So many children in Jerusalem recall fondly how he would stop and schmooze with them. No one was beyond his scope of caring. This is what made him a Gadol.
After his wife died his health deteriorated. Yet until the end he would attend shul and greet and meet the many that came to him, getting upset when he found that his children were trying to keep people out and limit their access to him. His final acts were writing out checks to Tzedaka for needy families and making sure that his house keeper would get paid enough to sustain her family even after he was gone. An estimated 300,000 - 500,000 people attended his funeral in 1995. He was interred on Har HaMenuchot. Yet his legacy remains strong for all those that he inspired to follow in his ways. Fortunate is the generation that had him as their leader..
answer below at end of Email
Q. The Gihon (inverted syphon) in the Amud stream is associated with:
  1. A.    The national water carrier
  1. Electricity in Naharayim
  2. Water to Magdala
  3. The early aqueduct to Tiberias
There are times that to appreciate and fully comprehend Rashi’s understanding of the Pshat one has to really see the entire line of thinking that Rashi has in his understanding of the story being explained. More often than not, what he says in one place will shed light on another place. Not everyone can keep that line of thought but the Rav of Brisk certainly can.

In this week’s Torah portion Rashi has a consistent view that the story of the Golden Calf takes place before the commandment of the building of the Mishkan. On verse 33:11 Rashi gives his view of the timeline. Where he suggests that the 17th of Tamuz the Tablets were broken, on the 18th the Egel was burnt and the sinners judged and on the 19ht Moshe went up to plea on their behalf. The Ramban disagrees with Rashi, however and suggests that the Egel was burned and sinners punished all on the 17th. What is the reason for this debate?

The Rav suggests that this is really based on a previous debate between Rashi and the Ramban on the circumstances for why they were punished. Earlier in verse 32:20 Rashi suggests that three penalites were carried out. Those that had witnesses and that were forewarned were punished by sword as is the ruling for a city that worships idolatry (an Ir Nidachas), those that had witnesses but no warning died in the plague, and those without either were killed when the water they were forced to drink bloated their bellies. The Ramban on the other hand learns that there were too many people to bring to court and as a result this was considered extenuating circumstances and each Jew were told to carry a sword and carry out the judgement against the sinners in order to sanctify the name of Hashem.

The difference between the two opinions, the Rav states is that according to Rashi that the judgement was carried out in front of a court, then then the law that the court cannot issue its judgement for a death penalty on the same day that it is brought. They muse “sleep over” it for a night perhaps there may be a way to find an out for the accused. Therefore Rashi understands that the penalty wasn’t carried out until the following day. The Ramban, on the other hand who explains that the entire procedure was extra-judiciary would not require the overnight, and in fact quite the opposite the penalty must be carried out immediately. Two different views to understanding the story and the applicable laws that would impact the date on when it took place. So much depth when one sees Rashi as not just an independent commentary on the verse but rather as a whole commentator of the entire Torah.
Death of Joseph Stalin- 18th of Adar 1920- There is a joke that was once said, although the names can be changed, that the Rabbi had foretold that Jospeh Stalin would die on a Jewish holiday. When asked how the Rabbi knew that, he answered that any day that Stalin died would become a Jewish holiday. I don’t know about the 18th of Adar being a holiday but certainly the month of Adar is a time to celebrate the downfall of our enemies.
Stalin who polluted the world with his existence from 1878-1953 ranks right up there with Hitler as one of the most evil people of the last century. According to estimates he is responsible for anywhere from 10-60 million deaths under his regime of fear and terror. Stalin, like Hitler, was an anti-Semite and the Jews of the Soviet Union suffered immensely under his rule. Many Jews were forced into slave labor under Stalin upon fleeing Nazi-controlled areas. Jewish refugee children also grew up under horrendous conditions in the Soviet gulag. By 1953, the status of Soviet Jewry had deteriorated even further and Soviet Jews faced a possible genocide. Inexplicably, Soviet dictator Stalin collapsed on Purim. Soon afterward, he died, sparing the Jewish people another Holocaust. It was a miracle!
Stalin’s Final Solution
Stalin’s plan to annihilate the Jews of the Soviet Union, which he formulated immediately prior to his death, remains one of the lesser known facts of historyNot even ten years after the conclusion of the Holocaust, there was a full-scale attack upon Soviet Jews, complete with purges, executions, imprisonments, and the imposed exile of tens of thousands of JewsIn early 1953, the Soviet media alleged that Jewish doctors had conspired to poison top-level Soviet officials, thus increasing the level of hostility directed toward Soviet Jews. The Jews lived in terror under Stalin, especially in the early 1950s. In the midst of the so-called doctors’ plot, Stalin planned to deport two to four million Jews to Siberia and Central Asia, where they would be annihilated as a collective punishment for a conspiracy invented by the Stalin-controlled Soviet media.
During a meeting with top-level Soviet officials, there were government members who did oppose Stalin’s plan. Vyacheslav Molotov, who was married to a Jewish woman, staunchly objected to Stalin’s plans and had the audacity to tell the dictator that such a move would be horrendous for public relations. Another official, Kliment Yefremovich Voroshilov, actually went as far as chasing away Soviet agents from his home using a rifle in order to protect his Jewish wife. He then told Stalin that he no longer wished to be a member of the Communist Party. An enraged Stalin responded that only he had the right to determine who was a member of the Communist Party. Soon after that, on Purim day, Stalin collapsed on the floor and died not long after.
Interestingly, on the same day that Stalin collapsed, the leader of the Chabad movement, the Lubavitch Rebbe, lead a Purim gathering. Members of the Jewish community had asked him to pray for the Soviet Jewish community. However, instead of doing this, the Lubavitch Rebbe told a story. He proclaimed, “After the czar fell in Russia, it was announced that the government would be holding elections. The Rebbe Rashab, fifth to Chabad dynasty, sent word to the Chasidim that they were to participate in the voting process. There was one particular Chasid who was completely removed from the affairs of the world; to him the political arena was foreign territory. Nonetheless, having received an explicit instruction from the Rebbe, he set out to fulfill his command. With a sense of awe and reverence he immersed himself in a mikvah (ritual bath), donned his gartel (belt for prayer) and set out for the polling booth. Of course, when he got there, he had no idea what he was expected to do, but some of the more worldly Chasidim helped him cast his vote. Adjusting his gartel, the Chasid did what everyone else was doing. When the votes were cast, everyone cried out ‘Hurrah!’ Taking his cue from those around him he likewise cried out, ‘Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!’”
In this holy man’s heart, he meant to cry out in Hebrew the phrase, “hu ra,” which means “he is evil.” As the Lubavitch Rebbe stated the words “hu ra,” his face shown in such an inspiring way that his Purim gathering also began to shout “hu ra” with regard to Stalin. Soon after that, Stalin passed away. It is as if the Jewish people were praying for a miracle, and they got one.
According to Dr. Alex Rashin, author of Why Stalin Didn’t Murder All of the Jews, Stalin’s death “in itself [is] such a happy end to a huge threat [that] deserves to be remembered and commemorated by all Jews.” Traditionally, Jews believe that whenever the community is miraculously saved from disaster, this date should be celebrated on the appropriate date. Thus, in 1996, Dr. Rashin initiated Little Purim celebrations in honor of Soviet Jewry being saved, a tradition which continues in over 100 synagogues across the United States.
(In mockery of Stalin may his name and memory be erased, death day)
 A Russian is informing the KGB. “I think my neighbors have suspicious contact with the West.”
KGB agent: “How can you tell?”
Russian: “I hear them eating every night!”
An Englishman, a Frenchman, and a Russian are spending a day at an art gallery. They come across a portrait of Adam and Eve.
The Englishman says, “Look how noble and dignified they are! They seem to be wise and cultured. Clearly, Adam and Eve were English.”
The Frenchman scoffs at this. “Look at how beautiful and sensual they are! They’re so graceful and in love, I’m certain that Adam and Eve were French.”
The Russian man is listening, and laughs at what he hears. “Comrades,” he says, “Adam and Eve have no clothes, no shelter, and all they have to eat is apples- and they are being told that this is paradise! Adam and Eve are obviously Russian!”
Khrushchev was busy denouncing Stalin at a public meeting when a voice shouted out “If you feel this way now, why didn’t you say so then?” To which the Soviet leader thundered “Who said that?”
There was a long and petrified silence which Khrushchev finally broke. “Now you know why.”
Five precepts of the Soviet intelligentsia (intellectuals):
Do not think. If you think - do not speak. If you think and speak - do not write. If you think, speak and write - do not sign. If you think, speak, write and sign - don’t be surprised.
Brezhnev sees a man carrying a watermelon while on a car ride on his way to home. He asks the driver to stop the car and approaches the man. He tells him that the watermelon is looking nice and asks him to sell it to him.
The man replies “Sure, pick the one you want” and Brezhnev asks “How can I pick? There is only one”.
The man replies “Just how we elected you.”
Rabinovich appeared at an October demonstration with a sign:“Thank you Stalin for my happy childhood.”
The party organizer runs up to him. “What are you trying to do? You’re an old man! When you were a child, Stalin wasn’t even born yet!”
“Yes, and for that I thank him.”
Four dogs - Mexican, American, Polish, Russian - are discussing their lives. The Mexican dog says, “the servants used to leave meat out for me, but now I have to bark for it.”
The American dog says, “you have servants in Mexico?”
The Polish dog says, “they feed you meat?”
The Russian dog says, “they let you bark?”
Brezhnev is making a speech to his comrades. A man stands up and asks “Comrade Brezhnev, what would be our war strategy if China attacks us. There are more than a billion Chinese people”. Brezhneve thinks for a minute and replies “We will fight same way Israeli Jews fight with the Arabs - they rely on quality, not quantity”. Another man stands up and asks “Comrade Brezhnev, are you sure we have enough Jews?”

Answer is A - OK anyone out there know what an inverted syphon is? No, don’t feel bad either do I. I’m not an engineer. I’m just a tour guide, remember? That being said I got this right, as I do a lot of these questions by process of elimination. Nachal Amud is up by Meron a beautiful hike with options for a circular hike, or a longer one to Tzfat or an even longer one that goes all the way down to the Kinneret. So once you know that, then you can eliminate right away naharyim as this is nowhere near there. I was not aware of any reason to have an aquaduct going to Tiverya or Magdala as they both sit on the Kinneret, with plenty of fresh water so what would be the point? Which leaves the Movil Artzi-national water carrier, which has its Sapir plant by the Kinneret. Seemingly the way this thing works is that water is pumped from the Sapir plant to the national water carrier and it has to cross over the Amud stream so it is sent down a funnel like tall channel that builds up pressure and speed so that it can shoot up and out over the other side and continue on its path. That’s it.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Be- Leading Hearts- Tetzave 5776/2016

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

February 19th 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 20 10th Adar I 5776
Parshat Tetzave

Be Leading Hearts

It’s pretty scary over there, I thought. There I was up in the Golan Heights looking down over to our neighbor Syria to the East of us. Kuneitra was pretty much in ruins, the soldiers that were standing on guard by their posts, told us about how each night they hear the ‘booms’ and machine gun fire and on many nights the sky is lit up with rockets and missiles shooting back and forth. It’s Jabal al Nusra- an Al Quaida break-off group fighting against Assad, with some other Isis and rebel groups mixed in for good measure. Pretty much a bunch of lunatic Muslims killing each other over who will get the right to wipe Israel and eventually the entire civilized West off the face off the world. Nice. I wish them all luck in their battles. May Hashem continue to have our enemies kill each other off, saving Him and us the work later on.

Yet perhaps one of the great tragedies of this insane civil war are the hundreds of thousands of death and millions of casualties suffered by the truly innocent civilians, Men women Children families, old and young that have lost everything. In Syria today, according to the officer that was showing us the border, there are close to 8 million refugees. That’s close to 1/3 of the entire population. Those are almost Holocaust Level refugees. For a world that can’t seem to stop being ‘concerned’ about the Palestinian refugee problem which from 1948 only numbers 711,000, and if one counts all the descendants of those refugees-which the UN does count numbers about 5 million and that’s over 68 years or so. It is remarkable that the Syrian atrocities merit so little media time and world condemnation. Yet Israel can’t even kill a terrorist who has stabbed people without the world calling for us to practice restraint. Incidentally the Jewish refugees that were thrown out and expelled from Arab countries in from 1948 was over 850,000 and in total over the years number close 1.5 million. Yet that seems to concern the world too much either. Hmmmm… they probably figure we’re used to it already over the millennia.

As we were standing there on the border though, our tour was cut short we were hurried off the outpost for it seems that there was an operation in process. The army it seems was meeting with the UN by the border as they were bringing over some injured refugees to be treated in Israeli hospitals. From what the officers told us this seems to be quite the regular and sometimes even weekly if not daily occurrence. Isn’t that heartwarming. The evil despotic apartheid occupying State of Israel, bringing in Syrian refugees, perhaps even former Al Qaida members to heal them, care for them and get them back into shape. All on the Israeli tax-payers shekel. Yet when I want to go to the doctor or my wife wants to get an appointment for some check up in one fo the hospitals it’s like a three month wait. Maybe I should start claiming to be a refugee from America. Who knows? Israel seems to be suckers for the refugee thing.

The truth is it’s not even just a refugee. As I’m sure most of you area aware Israel is perhaps one of the leading countries in the world, in offering and sending boots on the ground to any country that is in need or undergoing some type of crisis. In the past 60 years Israel, which itself underwent more than a couple of major wars, has sent aid to over 140 countries including Albania * Angola * Argentina * Armenia * Azerbaijan * Belarus * Bolivia * Bosnia * Brazil * Bulgaria * Gurundi * Cambodia * Cameroon * Chad * Chile * China * Columbia * Congo * Costa Rica * Cyprus * Czech Republic * Democratic Republic of Congo * Dominican Republic * Ecuador* Egypt * El Salvador * Eritrea * Estonia * Ethiopia * Fiji * Gambia * Georgia * Ghana * Greece * Guatemala * Guinea * Guinea-Bissau * Guyana * Haiti * Honduras * Hungary * India * Indonesia * Jamaica * Jordan * Kazakhstan * Kenya * Kyrgystan * Laos * Latvia * Leshotho * Liberia * Lithuania * Macedonia * Madagascar * Malawi * Malta * Mauritania * Mexico * Micronesia * Moldova * Mongolia * Morocco * Myanmar * Namibia * Nepal * Nicaragua * Nigeria * Palestinian Authority * Panama * Papua New Guinea * Paraguay * Peru * Philippines * Poland * Romania * Russia * Rwanda * Singapore * Slovakia * Somalia * South Africa * South Korea * Sri Lanka *Swaziland * Tanzania * Thailand * Togo * Tonga * Tunisia * Turkey * Uganda * Ukraine * United States * Uruguay * Uzbekistan * Venezuela * Vietnam * Yugosloslavia * Zaire * Zambia  and Zimbabwe.

I don’t know how those poor countries Russia, China and the good old US of A would have made it without us.  Are there even places really called Tonga and Togo?  In addition by Hurricane Katrina, Israel was from the first responders there and during the Tsunamis Israel sent over 60 tons of aid to Indonesia and 80 tons to Sri Lanka alone. They must be really glad to have friends like us. Similarly after the earthquakes in Japan and in Haiti, Israel were the first responders with over 200 men on the ground doing search and rescue. Not bad for a tiny country who probably has nothing else going on its own playground to be busy with.

Now we are a smart people. One thing I can guarantee you is that the Jewish people are good business men. We are not doing this for PR or for even good-will. After about 60 years or so, we have kind of learned that we will not be getting credit or even earning any brownie points from the world media for any of our efforts, certainly not from the countries that we are helping as well. These aren’t marketing stunts. If they were we would have changed our agency and techniques long ago. Rather, Israel does what it does, because of the sense of responsibility we feel to the world. We help because we can. Because Hashem gave us the gifts that we need to shine out to the world. It is this concept that I believe makes every Jew proud. There’s nothing like seeing a world-crisis and the Israeli flag or the Magen David Edom symbols being proudly in the center of it, doing what Jews are meant to be doing. Helping and caring for the world. We were meant to be a light unto the nations, and when we live up to that mandate it is truly inspiring.

Yetttttt… at the same time, it does strike me that there is so much poverty and need in our won country. So much that we have to take care of and invest in. Why don’t we find that same amount of concern, generosity and magnanimity for our own brothers and sisters? Our own fellow Jewish citizens.

Now I’m sure the answer is that, it is much easier to do kindness and care for others than for one’s own family. For some reason when it comes to our own flesh and blood, we expect more of them. We look at their weakness, their failings, their lack of success as something they should have been able to avoid, overcome and supersede. If we made it they certainly could’ve. We forget that our own success, prosperity and ability to overcome our challenges and adversity is only because Hashem was there for us. We have a hard time connecting the dots that Hashem perhaps gave us what we have not only to help those that are distant from us, but rather those that are closest. The Jewish nature is not to judge another until we stand in their shoes, and we therefore help whoever we can precisely because we have judged them of being incapable of helping themselves. Yet when it comes to helping those closest to us, our spouses, our children, our best friends and our relatives, we are fearful that perhaps their frailties and lack of being able to ‘make it’ or ‘do it’ on their own, will reveal that we are ourselves are weak and only have what we have by the grace of Hashem. We may be viewed and judged by our connection to them. We may be considered to be just like them, no better than them. And most terrifying of all, the judgement we know is probably correct.

This week’s Torah portion, Parshat Tetzave, is the only one as we note almost every year, that does not contain the name of our great leader Moshe, whose Yartzeit and birthday always falls out around this Parsha. The Parsha in its entirety really is focused on his brother, Aharon the first Kohen Gadol/ High Priest of the Jewish people. The Parsha talks about his clothing, the sacrifices and services he would perform and his inauguration as the Mishkan was being dedicated. Interestingly enough, and perhaps even more poignant is that all of this was really meant to be happening to Moshe. Moshe should’ve been the one doing all the service. He was meant to be the Koehn Gadol. Yet he lost it. The Midrash tells us that when Hashem spent a week with Moshe by the burning bush trying to convince him to go back down to Egypt and take out His and his people, Moshe was reluctant. Moshe tells Hashem “Shlach Na Biyad Tishlach-send them please with whomever else you may send them with”. Rashi explains that this was a reference to his brother Aharon, who didn’t’ have the same speech impediments Moshe did. Hashem, the Torah tells us, gets angry at Moshe and agrees that Aharon will be the speaker of the two. Yet, Rashi notes that the anger of Hashem expressed itself in the punishment that the priesthood would be removed from him and instead be given to Aharon. From then on it would be Aharon and only his descendants that would serve as the Shaliach/ the intermediaries for the service in the Temple, between Hashem and his people.

So here we are a few Parsha later and it’s the portion of the priesthood and Moshe’s name is left out. It’s a Parsha about Aharon. Yet Rav Shalom Shwadron notes a fascinating thing about this first verse and an even more mind-blowing Midrash.
“And You shall command the Children of Israel that they shall take for you olive oil, crushed for illumination to light the lamp{of the Menora} continually.”
Rav Shwadron asks why is it that they are commanded to bring the olive oil to Moshe. Moshe doesn’t light the Menorah, Aharon does? There is a beautiful Psalm by King David. Many of you are familiar I’m sure with the first part of it
Hinei Ma Tov U’Ma Naim Shevet Achim Gam Yachad- How good and pleasant is it when brothers sit together.
The rest of the Psalm is a bit strange and disconnected though. It continues
Like good oil that runs down the beard, the beard of Aharon that comes down the collar of his garments
Like the dew of Mt. Hermon that runs down the mountains of Zion
There Hashem commands the blessing, life forever.
Huh? What does any of this have to do with brothers sitting together by a campfire arm around each other’s shoulder and singing together?
The Midrash tells us an amazing thing. It says that when Moshe anointed Aharon with the oil, the oil ran down Aharon’s beard and Moshe was so happy for his brother, that he took the oil and rubbed it into his own beard. That it is why it says ‘ran down the beard’ and again the beard of Aharon. The first beard being Moshe’s beard as well. The Midrash then continues that Moshe was concerned that being that the oil was sanctified, he had misappropriated a holy item, for his own pleasure unlawfully. So Hashem reassures him that the oil he had used was like the dew of the Hermon. Yeah that Hermon. That magnificent now snow-capped Mountain that overlooks the border of Syria where I was standing. Now if you ask me the Hermon is the one Mountain where you don’t really see much dew. It’s all covered in snow. That is what Hashem is telling Moshe. You have so bonded with your brother. His joy is so much your joy. The oil is like the dew of the Hermon. It is not even visible. It is one with the snow. The holiness and closeness with your brother, Your Shevet Achim Gam Yachad has made you one. It is when that closeness can flow down from the Mountains of Hermon to the rest of Tzion, to the rest of our Jewish brothers, then Hashem will bless with the eternal life, we have waited so long for.

Moshe is the eternal symbol of leadership of the Jewish people for this reason. The incredible strength it would take for any of us to not just be able to see our brothers getting the greatest prize in the world; the eternal promise and guarantee that your descendants would forever be the holiest teachers and intermediaries between Hashem and his nation. But even more than that to know that it should have been ours. It was our job. And after-all that to then be the ones that have to not only anoint him and hand him that incredible gift, and to have our name left out of the entire Parsha. Think you could do it? Think that you could take that oil and rub it in your own beard because you are so happy for him. Think that you can reach a level that Hashem would testify that total connection with your brother doesn’t have an ounce of personal begrudging. That’s what makes a leader. That’s what we need. Someone who can look at those closest to them and feel their joy, their pain, as if it was their own.

We are in the month of Adar now. It is a time when we are meant to increase our happiness as we prepare for the holiday of Purim. The pinnacle of course will come when we celebrate that special day. Yet the Megilla explicitly says that the way to achieve that highest Simcha is not necessarily by getting drunk, making a lot of jokes and wearing funny costumes, although that is all admirable, it won’t give you the true Simcha and joy of the holiday. The way the Megilla says it should be celebrated is by giving presents to the needy, the destitute and not just the ones that you don’t know. But rather send gifts to your friends. Those that are closest to you. The ones that you may forget about, take for granted or perhaps feel that your association with that relative or friend might not play out well. That’s how a Jews gets the joy. That’s how we become one. Syrian refugees and Tsunami victims are all very important and even essential things for a Jew to participate in, and even lead the world in caring for. Yet, can you have that same compassion for your brother as well. For the needy Haredi Jew in Jerusalem that may bother you by the Kotel when you are trying to pray. For the person knocking on your door at night, again and again asking for a handout so he can support his family. For your children’s teachers who haven’t seen a raise in years. For your estranged sister and brother who have never really connected to you yiddishkeit and who you can share an invitation to, A Shabbat meal, a kind phone call, a Purim Seuda ,despite how embarrassing they may seem standing next to you? The answer is of course you can. We all can. It’s Adar. Let’s get happy. Let the brothers sit together. The dew of Hermon will flow down and we will receive that blessing of eternity. I can just taste it already. Can’t you?
 Have an increasingly Happy Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFxUMReL-TYIsrael International Humanitarian aid- amazing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NL4z3IOIP-U   – Cool Video of Trumpledor (in Hebrew) founding Migdal

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sWcBy-tNqI Getting into the Weddin mood-like these Chuppa songs?

“Di kats hot lib fish, nor zi vil di fis nit einnetsen” The cat likes fish but she doesn’t want to wet her paws

“Through Torah study, we serve Hashem with our words.
Through prayer, we serve Hashem with our thoughts.
Through acts of kindness, we serve HAshem with our deeds. ”

“The truest- Segula-forutitous omen, that can help for any matter is to be truly modest in heart and spirit and to give charity as much as one can afford and to toil in the word of Torah for the sake of heaven.”
“We the undersigned friends in spirit in this world and the next in prayer and in mercy to move the blood of our friendship so that it may never be stagnant, to be as one man, friends for the sake of heaven, to give pleasure to our Creator. We all accept the 12 of us like the number of the tribes of Israel that we will love one another, a great love in spirit and body. Each man will be bonded to his friend in to be as one glorious spirit. And each man will feel his friend is literally in body and soul as himself with is very all. And if god forbid there shall be pain or trouble to one than he will assist him, all of his together and each man independently. We primarily join together in this to reprove one antother if we see a sin in one another and to elevate each other in the mightiest of bonds in any way we can with as much as effort as we can.” – From the Agreement of the love of Friendship written by the Chida

HaRav Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulai, zt"l, 11th of Adar this Shabbos (1724 - 1806)- a great Sephardic sage known by the acronym "Chidah." Considered the Sephardic equivalent to the Vilna Gaon. He was born in Yerushalayim / Jerusalem. His father was Harav Yitzchak Zerachiah Azulai. The Chidah’s piety and brilliance in Torah were already apparent in his youth. At 10 he began learning in the beit medrash of his rebbi and uncle, Harav Yonah Navon, author of Nechpah Bakesef; by the age of 12 he was already composing chiddushim on Hilchot Melichah- the difficult laws on salting meat.
On 15 Elul 5502 / 1742, when the Chidah was 18, Harav Chaim Ben Attar, the Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh, arrived in Yerushalayim. The Chidah immediately joined the holy Gaon’s yeshivah, Knesset Yisrael, for a short period until the Ohr Hachaim passed away. For many years he served as a roving emissary for Jews in Eretz Yisrael, traveling to hundreds of Jewish communities throughout Europe and North Africa to raise money. When the Chidah was 29 years old, he was sent as an emissary to collect funds for the community of Chevron, which was suffering from extreme poverty. When he presented his letters of introduction to the wealthy men of the Frankfurt community, they told him they could not give him any money, for they had no one among them who could verify the authenticity of the signatures.

The Chidah’s solution was to visit Harav Yaakov Yehoshua Pollack, the Pnei Yehoshua, zt”l, who was able to match the signatures from letters he himself had received from the Rabbanim of Yerushalayim verifying the authenticity of the Chidah’s letters. With the warm haskamah, he was able to collect huge sums of money.Perhaps the greatest love and passion of the Chida was exploring ancient texts in museums and restoring an transcribing them.  He spent all available time in the libraries of the cities he visited, studying ancient manuscripts and books.

In Shevat 5524/1764, the Chidah left Eretz Yisrael for the second time on a mission to benefit the community of Yerushalayim. Instead of returning to Eretz Yisrael, he became Chief Rabbi of Alexandria, where he served for five years. While in Egypt he unearthed many "Genizoth" (buried treasures of ancient manuscripts) and further added to his vast knowledge of books and authors.

In 5529/1769, he left his rabbinical post in Egypt, returned to Eretz Yisrael and settled in Chevron.
On Erev Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan 5533/1772, he was sent on a third mission, his second on behalf of the city of Chevron. Once again ChIDA rummaged through dusty museums, libraries and private collections in search of centuries-old treasures of wisdom. Only a man like ChIDA, whose love for books was so great, could have the patience to devote all his spare time to this kind of work. Thus, for instance, he was grateful for the opportunity to visit Paris not for its beautiful boulevards and curiosities, but for the five thousand manuscripts he discovered in the Louvre and other collections.

ChIDA's beautiful features and majestic bearing made a deep impression on everyone, Jew and non-Jew alike. He was regarded as a saintly man, whose prayers were acceptable On High and whose blessing was therefore very desirable. Many a diplomatic mission took him to the courts and castles of kings and princes. When he visited King Louis XVI of France in the beautiful castle of Versailles, and before he had a chance to introduce himself, the king was obviously so greatly impressed that he asked what country's ambassador this visitor was. The king, one of the most powerful rulers in Europe, had never seen a more stately and impressive looking ambassador!
This and many other incidents we learn from ChIDA's diary, which was later published under the name "Maagal Tov," (the Good Circle). In it, the author records his observations and experiences in the course of his travels. They give us an insight into the political, economic, and religious life of those days.
Rabbi Azulal became known as a great authority on books and manuscripts. His wonderful memory helped him to acquire a vast store of knowledge and facts. He used to buy all the books he could afford, but he could not afford to buy many. However, throughout his travels he gathered material, made notes, and planned his writings.
Despite his extensive travels, the Chidah wrote some 80 works, 60 of which were published. They covered topics in HalachahAggadah and Kabbalah. He wrote a collection of responsa known as Yosef Ometz, the Shem HaGedolim (a biographical work on 1300 authors and 1200 writing, dating back to the Gaonim), and the famous Birkei Yosef. He also served for a time as chief rabbi of Egypt. He died in Livorno, Italy.and interred there. In 5720/1960, when the authorities were planning to desecrate his holy kever, his remains were brought to Eretz Yisrael for reburial on Har Hamenuchot. Many open miracles occurred for those who prayed by his gravesite, further attesting to the Chidah’s greatness and holiness.

answer below at end of Email
Q. In afforestation in Israel Pine trees are often used because they are:
A.    Fire resistant
B. Resistant to diseases and pests
C. Suitable to the local climate and fast growing
D. Used for industrial purposes

Once in a while Rashi will quote a Talmudic dispute to shed light and perhaps point us to a lesson that is meant to be addressed when reading the simple meaning of a verse. There is probably not a verse, maybe even a word in the Torah that our sages did not discuss and explain in numerous ways throughout the Talmud. Yet if Rashi is choosing to bring down one then he is telling us it is certainly worth thinking about when reading the text. In this week’s Parsha Rashi does exactly that. It’s probably a Pasuk that would have slipped our eyes and seemed quite understandable. In describing the daily offering-the Korban Tamid-the Pasuk tells you that
“It shall be for you for generations at the opening of the Ohel moed- the tent of gathering before Hashem fromw where I will arrange a gathering for you to speak to you there.”
Rashi notes there that-There are from our Rabbis that learn from here that Hashem would speak to Moshe from above the copper Altar-where the sacrifice was brought from. There are others however that quote a verse that says that Hashem would speak from the covering above the Ark-the Paroches. They therefore understand the end of this verse- that Hashem will speak to us there- as referring to the Ohel Moed, the Mishkan in general.”

The Meshech Chachma notes that this is not merely a dispute about where the historical voice of Hashem would come from. This is a lesson for generations- he brings a dispute in the Talmud between Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi and Rabbi Yochanan if one is permitted to transform a synagogue into a Beit midrash for the study of the Torah and vice versa. The question being that once something has been dedicated to a holy purpose it is prohibited to move it to a lower degree of holiness. So the question inherently that they are debating is what is more spiritual. What is holier? A house of prayer or a house of Torah. He connects that debate to our very verse. Where did the word of Hashem emanate from? Was it the Altar where the sacrifices took place-and being that our prayers are in place of that sacrifices, the service of Hashem they are holier? Or maybe the word of Hashem came from the Ark which contained the Torah. Perhaps the Torah study is more important. Rashi doesn’t tell us which view is correct. Perhaps they each have their own legitimacy. Eilu VEilu Divrei Elokim Chaim- each one is the word of Hashem. Rashi is perhaps telling us that those whose service of Hashem is through their prayer and who are perhaps not as fortunate to spend their time studying Torah all day have equal standing. The word of Hashem maybe coming through them just as it is possible that it is coming from the Torah Scholars. It’s an interesting idea. What do you think? That’s what Rashi wants you to know and do. Discuss.


Battle of Tel Chai and death of Joseph Trumpeldor- 11th of Adar 1920– Jews have been fighting Arabs since forever we assume. Yet according to modern history of Israel the first battle and fight began right up here in the North in what became known as the battle of Tel Chai and the story of our hero Yosef Trumpledor.
 After WWII the north of Israel was under the control of the French mandate. The Jews led by Yosef Trumpeldor, had established a farm settlement there. Near the border of Syria. Trumpeldor’ father was conscripted into the Nicolai army, where he served for twenty-five years, he maintained his Jewishness and influenced Yosef in the spirit of Judaism. Yosef knew that he was a Jew and was proud of itAfter attending the gymnasium school, he studied dentistry. Yosef Trumpeldor became interested in Zionism after the first Zionist Congress, when he first learned of Theodor Herzl. 
In 1902, when the Russo - Japanese war broke out, Trumpeldor volunteered for service in the Russian Army. He explained that, even though Jews were persecuted in Russia, he felt obligated to fulfill his duties as a citizen; and, what was more important he wanted to prove by his action that the charge of "Jewish cowardice" was false. During the defense of Port Arthur he volunteered for service in the commando troops, which bore the brunt of the Japanese attacks. His name was soon the pride of the regiment. Once the commanding officer expressed the hope that, as he had no Jews in his section, there would be no cowards or traitors. Trumpeldor immediately stepped out of line and announced: "I am a Jew, sir." 
During a fierce battle in 1904, Trumpeldor was hit in his left arm by a piece shrapnel. The arm had to be amputated. On leaving the hospital, he wrote to his commander, requesting permission to return to the front: "True, I have now but one arm, but it is the right one capable of handling a sword or rifle."
Trumpeldor was promoted to a non-commissioned rank. He displayed such outstanding heroism that he received all four of the highest decorations for bravery - the only Jew in the Russian army to receive such honors. He was taken prisoner when Port Arthur fell, and spent a year in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, where he organized five hundred fellow Jewish prisoners into a Zionist society. 
In 1906, when the war was over, Trumpeldor was by royal order was promoted to the rank of officer - the first Jewish officer in the Russian army. But he was more interested in preparing a group of Chalutzim (pioneers) to go to the Land of Israel. 
In 1912 he went with his first group of Chalutzim to EretzIsrael. He worked in Degania  until the First World War broke out in 1914 when he was deported by the Turkish Government. In Alexandria, Egypt, he met Ze'ev Jabotinsky, who fascinated Trumpeldor with his idea of forming the Jewish Legion. 
In August 1919, Trumpeldor set out on his third and last journey to the Land of Israel. The war was over. There seemed to be fresh hope for the Jewish People's age old dream of a Jewish return to the Land of Israel and the creation of a National Jewish Homeland. 
On the morning of March 1, 1920 (the eleventh of Adar 5680) a group of several hundred Arab raiders made their first attack on the settlement of Tel Chai. A fierce battle erupted. At the height of the fighting Trumpeldor exposed himself when he attempted to close the gate to the settlement. He was fatally shot. When his comrades found him, he smiled and said "Ein davar (It is nothing) I only want a bandage." He then calmly directed the bandaging of his wound. 
"These are my last moments. Tell our comrades to defend the honor of our people until the last." Trumpeldor said as he still directed the battle raging outside. 
When a doctor finally arrived, he was too late to help Trumpeldor. His last words were: "Ein davar, tov lamut be-ad artsenu." (It does not matter, it is good to die for our land). Six Jews and five Arabs were killed in the fighting. The survivors of Tel Hai found their position untenable and had no choice but to withdraw, whereupon the Arabs set fire to the village. The city of Kiryat Shmona is named after the 8 Jews-6 men and 2 women killed in this battle. Trumpeldor was memorialized by Jabotinsky who named the militant youth group Betar, Brit(covenant) of Yosef Trumpeldor, after him. A monument was erected over his grave at Tel Chai in his honor - a huge roaring lion. May their memories be blessed.

(If you are a liberal please do not take offense- I promise to equally insult conservatives next week in the spirit of fair play-but I figured I’ll start with you guys. You can handle it better? Right? If not just unsubscribe and I’ll shame you next week for it J- after all you’re a liberal I’m allowed to express my view right?)
Why can’t a liberal dance? Cause he has two leftist feet.

They say that Christopher Columbus was the first Liberal. When he left to discover America, he didn’t know where he was going. When he got there he didn’t know where he was. And it was all done on a government grant.

Question – What is the only thing worse than an incompetent liberal President? Answer -A competent liberal President.

A Liberal found a magic genie's lamp and rubbed it. The genie said, "I will grant you one wish." He said, "I wish I were smarter". So the genie made him a Republican.

Q: What do you get when you offer a Liberal a penny for his thoughts? A: Change.

Q: How do you confuse a Liberal? A: You don't. They're born that way.

Q: What is the Liberal doing when he holds his hands tightly over his ears? A: Trying to hold on to a thought

Q: How many Liberals does it take to change a light bulb? A: None. They prefer to walk in the dark.

Q: Why do so many Liberals live in L.A.? A: Its the only city that is easy enough for them to spell.

 Q: What's five miles long and has an IQ of forty? A: A Liberal parade.

 Q: What is it called when a Liberal blows in another Liberals ear? A: Data transfer

 Q: What's the difference between God and a Liberal? A: God knows He's not a Liberal.

Answer is C – I did not like this question and I disagree with the answer although I got it right. I’m sure I’m not the only one that did. Pine trees are all over Israel. The real reason why the used them is because they were familiar to the Jews that came from Europe. They also spoke to Americans who liked that nice Christmassy look and would give them to kids for Bar Mitzva presents. I hated those presents. It was essential to plant trees because the Turks had pretty much chopped em all down. For the railroad and coal trains they were fueling. Yet the truth is they are pretty lousy trees that are really not indigenous to Israel. They catch on fire very easily. As those who remember the Carmel fire a few years ago. So that answer is wrong. I have no idea if they are resistant to disease and pests but nobody really cared about that. And they definitely were not planted for industrial use. They were planted to ‘green’ the country. To help the ecology, to show that the Jews came back and the land flourished again and to demarcate Jewish property and land. They are very fast growing. But the truth is they really are not made for our climate. They are fo cold winter places. Not Mediterranean climate Israel. And they are dying and falling down all over the place and nothing really grows underneath them In fact you can see the JNF deforesting them all over. Shhhhh… there goes your Bar Mitzva tree. But that is the correct answer, despite my objections. Oh Well..