Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
March 17th 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 24 7th Adar II 5776
Two Names One People
Mazel Tov it was a boy! The Rosen family were overjoyed. Another addition to their family another child to add to Hashem’s precious family. As they were getting ready for the Bris though they began to undertake the process of coming up with a name for their little yingeleh. All the arrangements had been made, they had the Mohel, the bagels and lox had already been ordered, yet they were still struggling with what they should call him. They had talked to their Rabbi about some ideas and their Rabbi had told them that every Jewish parent is blessed with divine inspiration when it comes to naming their child. A Jewish name is not just a moniker by which you call someone. It is a holy soul that comes down from heaven with a specific purpose and mission in this world and the names that we bear based describe our essence and by which we draw our inspiration to fulfill that lifelong aspiration. Yet they were struggling and praying to find that inspiration to “name him right”.
Mrs. Rosen spoke to her father the Thursday evening before their Sunday bris and he mentioned to her that he had a grandfather who was a very special person who had yet to have someone named after him. His name was David Chai and if they would name their child after him it would certainly be a merit for his soul as well as role model for their young son. Sunday came along and as they got up to name the baby the name that they both had came up with that somehow seemed to be just right was…Netanel Yaakov. They weren’t sure where it came from but for some reason it just struck them as being a great name. A great name…
Later that day Mrs. Rosen’s mother called her up and said the she had received a phone call from a friend who told her how meaningful it was that her daughter had chosen to name her child Netanel Yaakov after the father and son Netanel and Yaakov Litman who had been killed on the Friday before the Bris in a terrorist attack that one of our local loose Arab animals perpetuated targeting this family that were driving to the Shabbat Chatan-the Shabbat before the wedding of their daughter. Yaakov age 44 and his son Netanel were murdered in that attack. Now since the attack took place on Friday afternoon here in Israel, after it was already Shabbos in America, the Rosens didn’t have any clue about the attack, let alon the names of the victims. The name to them certainly seemed like a true Divine inspiration and something very meaningful.
The story itself seemed fascinating enough, yet as they started to do research into the family and the names that had been Divinely chosen for their son, they were absolutely blown away. For as they read articles about the special people that they had named their son after they were shocked to find out that each of the two Kedoshim/holy martyrs that were killed for the mere fact that they were Jewish and lived and loved Eretz Yisrael, had a second name. Yackov’s full name was Yackov Dovid and Netanel’s name was Netanel Chai. It was as if the grandfather Dovid Chai that they had thought about naming their son after had chosen these names of these two holy martyrs for them. The living and the dead, the murdered and the newly born, the generations past and the future generations of the Jewish people were all connected. Despite being separated by time zones, oceans, and worlds the Jewish soul is one and can feel and connect with one another; both in their time of joy and tragedy.
This week, the week before the holiday of Purim, we begin reading Parshat Vayikra. Last week we concluded the book of Shemos; the book of the names of the Jewish people. The progression of our nation as one that came down as a family to Egypt in the last book to becoming “one nation, under God, indivisible”- with holiness and sanctity for all, takes place in this week’s Parsha and in its opening commandment to a book that delineates the laws of sacrifices and offerings- the Jewish means of raising up the mundane in this world to the highest of highs. The book begins with Hashem calling to Moshe and commanding him to speak to Bnai Yisrael (Vayikra 1:2)
And you shall say to them –
Adam ki yakriv mikem korban la’Hashem min Ha’beheima,min ha’bakar umin ha’tzon takirvu es korbanchem- A man when he shall bring from you an offering to Hashem from the cattle, the cows and from the sheep they shall bring their sacrifices.
The Torah, which as we know is always specific in the terms that it uses, utilizes the word Adam- man to present this mitzva and in fact to introduce the entire concept of sacrifices. The Talmud tells us in the name of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Yevamos 61a)
“You are are called Adam-man, and gentiles are not referred to as Adam”
Now this would seem strange as the utilization of the name Adam, which as Rashi notes is a reference to the first Man of the world, Adam, and a reference to the first sacrifice that was brought in the world which he brought, was before there was even a Jewish people. Adam was the father of all mankind including our dear gentile neighbors. In addition Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch notes that the sacrifices of the Temple were meant to be brought by all the nations of the world. “For my house is a house of worship for all the nations-says Hashem”, in the ultimate description of the Temple to be built and the role of the Jewish people to build it. Yet at the same time Rav Hirsch notes that the mitzvah here is specifically given to the Jewish people, the Bnai Yisrael.
It is also interesting to note that the Torah keeps switching from the plural to the singular form in this portion of sacrifices. Adam-A man, singular, that brings Mikem-from you plural, they shall bring their sacrifices. There is something strange going on here. Something that our Divine editor wishes us to note.
There is a story of the great Rebbe Yonasan Eibishutz who once met a priest on a train who asked him to explain this statement of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Is the Talmud truly making that rather sounding statement that non-Jews are not considered Adam- people. It seems that the idea that anyone besides the Jews are allowed to be de-humanized, troubled him. Reb Yonasan explained to him that there are many words for man in the Torah. The word Ish is certainly the most common, when it is pluralized it becomes Anashim-men. Similarly the word for soul- Neshoma, which we believe that every human possesses regardless of the fallacies and ludicrousness of the mistaken faiths that they may practice-OK maybe he didn’t say it exactly like that- what can I say I’m not Rebbe Yonasan- can also be pluralized as Neshamot- souls. The word Adam however is a unique word that cannot be pluralized. Adam is a single man and also can be utilized as the plural men. This is a term that is unique to the Jewish people who share one common soul, are connected one to the other, something that each nation in the world which has its distinct identity and for whom each individual that may even join together to form one nation do not possess.
The great Frankfort leader of the 18th century Rav Pinchas Horowitz known as the Baal Hafla’ah after the wondrous work that he wrote, notes that the Talmud states (Yoma 86B)
“That an individual who does Teshuva and repents from having sinned is forgiven and the entire world is forgiven with him”
The reason he suggests why the entire world necessitates forgiveness, when one person sins is because when a Jews sins there is a law of responsibility and connection that each Jew has for one another. The sin and the disgrace of it all is upon all of us. We know this. Is there not a time that we open up a newspaper and read some scandal that a Jew causes-god forbid, that we do not feel mortified about and even somewhat culpable for. It’s not just Jewish guilt. It’s that our souls feel connected to that Jew. It’s as if our own arm stole, our leg wouldn’t feel any less guilty. At the same time when a tragedy occurs, or when a Jew is in danger we all unite as if it is our own. The opposite is true as well. When a Jew preforms an act of Kiddush Hashem- that sanctifies Gods name n this world. When a Jew celebrates a Simcha, a happy occasion a Bar mtizva, a wedding, a birth, it’s the nations Simcha. Go to the Kotel on any Monday or Thursday and watch how many people join in and feel the joy of the celebrations that are taking place there. We are one. The ‘I’ and the ‘we’, the Adam and the “their” sacrifices and offering are one and the same. The individual atonement is one that is for all of us.
That is our introduction to the book of Vayikra. That is the transition from the book when we were a family that became a nation as one, to the next stage when we recognize that ultimately are nation that will create a house of Hashem for the entire world to come close to Hashem, is Adam- a man, one man, one that will always appreciate the connection that no matter how diverse and scattered we are, we are always one.
This week we celebrate the holiday of Purim-stay tuned for the annual Rabbi Schwartz upcoming traditional Purim E-Mail- and the essence of Purim the entire destruction of the Jewish people almost came about because the wicked Haman (boooo…) accused us before Achashverosh as being a nation that is scattered and divided amongst the nations. On face value, that certainly seems to be the case. We are everywhere. We’ve been everywhere. We speak different languages, we have different customs, we dress differently and we raise our families differently. Yet Haman missed the boat. The story of the Megilla shifts when Esther gives that command to the Jews all around the world to gather and unite and pray for her before she enters into the King to beseech for her people. And we did. Because the Jew in Persia, Russia, Iran, Syria, China, Yemen, Africa, India, Timbuktu and the good old US of A are all one people. We share one soul and as such we are eternal. We are invincible and as Divine as the soul that we all share. That is the essence of the Jew. The name Netanel Yaakov means that God has given to Yaakov. David Chai is that the house of King David lives. May Hashem give to the children of Yaakov, who shall sing the song of Shoshanat Yaakov this Purim, the ability to finally see the house of David once again restored as we celebrate our redemption once again together.
Have a memorable amalek Smashingly joyous Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
RABBI SCHWARTZ’S VIDEO OF THEWEEK
https://youtu.be/-EbHfje2WlQ –The name heard around the world video of the story above.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlV0h4JPid0 – Song I’m loving this week Mahpecha Shel Simcha-revolution of Joy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_vKTzGQi-A) with subtitles but not the most dressed of audience at this concert)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=aqt-WpIao3g#t=0 –Haman HaRasha by my dear friend and the best arranger in the world Yitzy Berry!
RABBI SCHWARTZ’S FAVORITE YIDDISH PROVERB OF THE WEEK
“Besser ain freint mit gekechts aider hundert mit a krechts”- “Better one friend with a cooked dish than a hundred with a sigh”
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S JEWISH PERSONALITY AND HIS QUOTES IN HONOR OF THE YARTZEIT OF THE WEEK
“I really don’t know the answer to your question. All I know is that people who come to me with questions of Jewish Law once, often return a second time, with something else to ask. So I imagine they are satisfied with the answers they receive.”- in response to a Seattle judge who questioned how and why he was declared the greatest authority on Jewish law in his time.
“The best response to personal attacks is no response”
“In Europe one would never say the wagon is here rather the ‘Baal Agala’- the wagon-driver has arrived. In America they say ‘the car is here’ and individual is not given the proper respect he is due”
“Tell your son, the Moshe Feinstien knows some short people that know how to learn quite well”-to a father whose son was getting made fun of because of his shortness.”
Rav Moshe Feinstien 13th of Adar this Friday (1895 – 1986)-I remember his funeral as if it was yesterday. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the lower East Side to pay our last respects and to cry and mourn together the tremendous loss of the Jewish people of one of its greatest leaders. It was raining and it covered up the tears that many shed for the Gadol Ha’Dor. It was a strange Purim that year rejoicing after such a devastating loss to the Jewish people. What would we do without him?
Reb Moshe, as the Torah world fondly called him was perhaps the greatest Halachic decisor of the generation of Jews that came to replant our nation on the new foreign shores of America. He dealt expertly and sensitively with all of the questions that faced our people. The first question in his classic work Igrot Moshe the compendium of the various responsa he gave on halachic questions to the hundreds of thousands of Jews including the greatest leaders and Rabbi of the world, is whether a Jew is obligated wear a Yarmulka-head covering if it would mean giving up a job back in the early discriminatory American work place. He addresses issues that include issues as significant and detailed as organ transplantation, “time of death”, Marriages and Divorces performed by individuals that were not Torah observant, permissibility of a husband to ride with his wife in labor on Shabbat in a car, plastic surgery for cosmetic purposes, a seeing eye dog ina synagogue, the status of commercially sold milk that was not observed by a Jewish Mashgiach, the halachic status of a corporation in regards to interest and the status of Eruvs in metropolitan communities. There wasn’t an area of knowledge or a medical or technological development that he didn’t explore and examine in how it would impact the Jewish world.
At the same time, though, he was a man of the people. There was a woman that knocked on his door one day while he was old and sick towards the end of his life who demanded to see him. When Rav Moshe’s son asked what was so urgent she explained that she had a letter from her sister in Russia that she needed translating. When the son asked incredulously, why she felt that this was something that was worthy of troubling the great sage with. She told him that for the past 30 years he had always translated her letters for her. He was someone that knew the name of every nurse and doctor that helped him as well as the garbage collectors and the postman. He once directed his student who was going through one of the automatic toll booths on the Garden State Parkway that he should always use the booth with an attendant that way he can express his appreciation to the person for being there and his service.
Reb Moshe personified someone who’s Torah was the greatest passion of his life. Any spare moment he had was dedicated to its study and his writing. His daughter recalls how she was once waiting outside of his office to speak to him for him to look up from his studying and his books…it never happened. Finally her mother told her that if she is waiting for him to stop learning that was not going to happen if she needed something she should just ask. His students all describe how he encouraged them to go all over the United States and build communities. He would very easily give semicha/Rabbinic ordination to them, writing his phone number on each letter of approbation telling them that they could and should call him with any question that they had.
Rav Moshe was taken from this world in the yar 5746 and someone noted that the 5746th verse in the Torah (Devarim 31:24) is “And it came to pass after Moshe had finished writing down the words of this Torah in a book to the very end.” The books and stories and inspiration of Reb Moshe lives on amongst Klal Yisrael. May his merit continue to serve as well.
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK
answer below at end of Email
Q. An archaeological finding from the Second Temple period in the Israel Museum is:
A. The Shiloah Inscription
C. The Theodotos Inscription
D. The Wadi Mishmar (Nahal Mishmar) treasure
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL RASHI OF THE WEEK
The principles of the Torah and its incredible depth and relevant can be found in even the seemingly most minute details of the wording and laws that tragically we seem to feel are so not relevant and perhaps therefore mot interesting to us. The laws of the sacrifices that were brought in the book of Vayikra are perhaps the area where we find it the most challenging to find relevant messages for our daily lives from. That is until we look at Rashi who gives us insights and understandings that are truly the essense of what it means to be a Jew.
In the third verse of this weeks portion the Torah tells us
“IF one brings a Olah (fully burnt sacrifice) as his offering from a pure male cow he shall bring it to the entrance of the Ohel Moed (the tent of gathering), bring him close according to his will before Hashem”
Rashi noting the superfluous bringing it according to his will and the repetition of the bringing of the offering teaches us that they would force him to bring it even by force, however you might think Rashi tells us, that one might think that this means even against his will. Therefore the Torah teaches us that it must be according to his will. “We force him until he says “I am willing”
The Chatam Sofer notes the incredible insight of this verse and law brought down by Rashi, by noting that is says He shall bring it-even by force only until the entrance to the Ohel Moed, however once he enters the Ohel Moed however it will all change in his great words
“That Jew that lives in afar out village and is busy and overwhelmed head and shoulders in his livelihood and working the earth, eventually becoming so used to and completely accustomed to only the material world, to the point that if you tell him that he should go and study some Torah or involve himself in some Divine service it would seem like a punishment for him, However when he comes to the holy city whose beauty is the ‘song of the land and the nation’s and he sees people who have wealth and abundance and yet their main desire and pursuit is spirituality, Torah and the service of Hashem. He sees the holy work of the Temple and the Kohanim, the servants of Hashem all cleaving to Hashem and His Torah. As well the sanctity of the place will cause enthusiasm and feelings of inspiration and awakening for Hashem. Then his heart will sing like a harp to get close to Hashem, his Torah, His service, to serve Him with a complete heart and a desirous spirit and to be as dust under the heels of the feet of the scholars and their students and the children of Aharon the anointed priests, the teachers of Torah Then the sacrifice he will bring will be according to his will; he will have an offering with great joy.”
Many times we are obligated and we are engaged in doing outreach work or even in-reach work to those that don’t have as inspired Judaism as we all should. We are obligated to “force’ someone to come close, to bring them closer to that inspiration. Yet at the end of the day, we have to recognize and appreciate that ultimately it is only to the front door. The Torah and its wisdom and teachings have the power to inspire themselves. The Torah tells us that if we get them to the door, they will ultimately come close according to their own will. They will say Rotzeh Ani- I am willing. May all of us make it to that doorway soon.
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL HISTORICAL EVENT THAT HAPPENED ON THIS DATE IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK-
Mivtza Uvda liberation of Eilat/ Conclusion of the War of Independence War– 10th Adar 1949- Since November 29th 1947 when the United Nations voted on the two State Solution for “Palestine” a Jewish State and Arab State, when the Jews said “Hooray!” and the Arabs said “No Way” The War of independence started getting hot. In May of 1948 when the British concluded their pullout from the country the fighting was fierce between the fledgling Haganah Israel Defense Force and the 8 Arab countries that sought to push us into the sea. The last action before the end of the war was to conquer the country all the way down through the Negev to Eilat and the Red Sea giving us access to that the strategic port. Two forces the Golani and the Negev brigades raced down opposite ends of the country and the Negev Desert to be the first to achieve the success of the mission and to be the first down. The winners were the Golani brigade and they didn’t even have a flag with them to raise to mark off Israeli conquered territory which would remain ours as agreed upon in our ceasefire agreements that was meant to take place that evening. So they drew the beautiful two blue stripes and star on a white sheet that they had and hung it up until the Negev brigade arrived and it was replaced with a regular Israeli flag. Right after that conquest the agreement was finalized and the interim government of Ben Gurion officially became the first government of the newly born State of Israel. Mazel Tov! Talk about a happy Purim !
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S AMALEKITE JOKES OF THE WEEK-IN HONOR OR ROSH CHODESH ADAR
So the congregation was getting offended that their Rabbi was using the pulpit as a forum to discuss politics. The president had a long talk with the Rabbi and for quite a few weeks the Rabbi struggled and pretty much cut out all jokes from his weekly sermons. If there wasn’t going to be political jokes then there weren’t going to be any jokes. Finally it was Parshat Zachor- the portion that discussed the Mitzva to wipe out that evil nation of Amalek. The Rabbi couldn’t resist so he discussed it with his president and before getting up told him that he would start reintroducing jokes into his weekly Drashot, yet he was going to stick to the Parsha at hand. This week for instance he was going to share with them the only Amalekite joke in his arsenal. The president was quite relieved, that was until the Rabbi got up and began his sermon with “There were these two Amalekites that walked into the bar, Barak and Hillary…”
Haman’s Report Card
Dear Parents of Haman,
I must inform you that although the school year is fresh, your boy is already failing miserably.
Here are a few points to consider.
Frankly, it would make things a lot easier for everyone here – i.e. our teachers, students and the ‘Royal Baker’ who decorates your son’s birthday cake, if we could abbreviate your son’s name from:
Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, son of Agag, grandson of of Amalek, son of the concubine of Eliphaz, the firstborn son of Esau…
to ANYTHING ELSE.
Morning attendance takes forever. By the time we finish reading his name, the class is over.
More to the point; your son is a mess. I blame the ADD for his obsession with woodwork. His attention to detail is excessive. I just can’t get him to put down the wood.
And just what is going on over at your house anyway? What are you… a family of woodpeckers? What are you guys building over at your place? God forbid the kid sees a termite and goes insane.
Shifting gears, I’d like to focus on character development for a moment. Would you not agree that a person’s character is best reflected by the company he keeps? Your boy only talks to people who bow down to him. What does that say?
Although I’m pleased with the exceptional pride he derives from carpentry, I’m not happy with his overall attitude. Specifically, his predilection to play hangman and the lotteries to the exclusion of everything else.
And while we’re on the subject, I find his obsession with astrology and his fondness for gallows humor a little more than slightly disturbing.
I worry that given enough rope, he just might hang himself. Because like the song says: “when Haman loves a woman…”
P.S. Please stop sending 3-cornered pastries for lunch. Your son refuses to share.
Yankel decided he wanted to join the Hancock country club, run by the local “Amalikite New England anti-semites that had instituted a policy that no Jews were permitted in the club. So he changed his name to Haman Aggagi the Third a nice gentile name thought. He retained a plastic surgeon to change his appearance to an anglo-saxon dignified look. And took tutoring lessons to alter his lower East Side Yiddish accent to the honorable upper-class linguistics of Martha’s Vineyard.
The big day comes and he shows up for his interview before the membership committee.
“Please state your name” asks the distinguished WASPy chairman.
“Haman Aggagi the Third” he responded
“And where were you educated Mr. Aggagi?”
“Oh the usual places Eton Oxford, Yale…”
“And your religion?”
Yankeleh hesitated and then answered confidently, “Goy”
An Amalekite is drinking in a bar. He notices a Jew sitting at a table nearby and doesn't like it.
"Bartender!" he says, nodding at the Jew, "A round of the good stuff for everyone except him!"
Everyone happily receives a glass of premium scotch.
The Amalekite looks over at the Jew with a smug grin.
The Jew smiles back.
The Amalekite loses his satisfied expression.
"Bartender! Give everyone a drink of your finest, plus an appetizer!"
He looks directly at the Jew and adds, "Everyone except the Jew."
The Jewish man looks at the Amaleki, and smiles again.
Furious, he says, "Is that Jew just stupid or pretending to be?"
"Oh no, sir, he's the owner."
Answer is C – I liked this question. Not that archeology is my favorite topic but it’s a good one because it makes you think about the different finds and their periods. The Shiloah inscription as everyone who has toured Hezkiah’s tunnel knows was found in the water tunnel which marked where the two groups of diggers/engineers who quqrried out the tunnel to connect the water from the pool to the city of David. Hezkiah’s tunnel was from the period of King Hezkiah obviously in the first Temple period. An anthropoid is a coffin or mummy form the Egyptian period even before Abraham and our forefathers. We have found some in the Jezre’el valley. The Wadi Mishmar treasure found near Ein Gedi was a cave that contained all types of copper and stone vessels and items that date back to the Calcolithic period- you know what that is right? The copper period for those that have forgotten what we mentined here quite a few times. Which of course leaves the correct answer as being the Thodotus inscription found in the synagogue in the City of David one of the oldest synagogues in the world, as the entire concept of the synagogue only starts at the end of the period of the 2nd Temple. The inscription states that Theodotus, who dedicated the synagogue for people from abroad as a place to study Torah and learn about the commandments and even had bathouses as well. Back then synagogues were not places of prayer as we had the sacrifices in the Temple then. Rather they were places of community gathering which is why they are called Beit Knesset not Beit Tefila; JCC’s rather then shuls. And there you have it.