Our view of the Galile

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Sea-ing it All- Pesach II Acharay Mos 2016/5776

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

April 28th 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 30 20th Nisan 5776
Passover/Pesach II/ Acharey Mos

Sea-ing it All
I used to like long Seders. I had piles of and piles of notes and questions prepared. I would shlep out Hallel and songs as long as possible. Singing every last thing. We did the Nishmas with all the fervor of the Jews that had just left Egypt. I was that guy at the Seder that would want to say a Dvar Torah or question on the Vayehi BaChatzi Halayla about Gideon’s battle in the Tanach..Forget about eating the Afikoman before Chatzot/Midnight.  We knew the loophole that you can just grab a piece of Matza beforehand and the halachic intricacies of how you could make that count. Rabbi Akiva and the sages of Bnai Brak were my role models. Till Shacharis. I wanted to even out do them and got till the time to recite Mincha. It was fun. And then I turned 8 J.
No just joking I really enjoyed doing it till a few years ago. And then my body for some reason started getting tired. It’s different when I was leading a community Seder or when I was the one pontificating to my children. But lately I’ve been pretty wiped. This year it really hit home. The Seder you see, was Friday night. My body and mind know when its Friday night. That’s the night that it’s supposed to sleep. To make things worse I always try something new by my Seder-in order to make the kids ask, of course. So I decided to fulfill the mitzva of eating the Seder the ‘real way’ it was meant to be done; reclining of course. But reclining doesn’t’ really mean sticking a pillow on a chair and kind of hanging off it and balancing off the side of it while trying to chew down some matzah or drink some wine without redecorating the color of my white Kittel or the tablecloth. No reclining means the good old Roman wine. The Rabbi Akiva and the sages did it. On couches, of course. Ous’g’shprayt-spread out like a King. Julius Caesar would have nothing one me. So I moved the couch next to the table for our Seder. Put it on some blocks to raise it up to the right height, and I was good to go.
The problem was that it was Friday Night. It was Friday Night and I was lied out on a couch. It was Friday night, I was on a couch, the table was set like Shabbos, there was no way my body was ever gonna be convinced that my eyes were meant to be open. From the second I said Kiddush it was over. Ma Nishhhh…zzzzz.. Avadim Hayinuuuhhhh….By the time I read about the Seder in Bnai Brak Iwas ready to call it tops with Kriyat Shema one makes it before bedtime. But the Seder kept going and going. I made it through and we even finished about 1:00 AM- a little earlier than usual admittedly. But it was still fun. I didn’t make it upstairs though to my bed. Shir HaShirim the traditional Song of Songs of King Shlomo that I usually sing after the Seder happened in my dreams. But in the end I had the Seder like a King…kind of…It’s not easy being king.

Now by the Seder as it was going on and on and on and on. I was struck by a question that I didn’t ask. See above for why not. But it struck me as something worth pondering about-at least when I was quasi-conscious. There’s a lot of extra information that seemingly has nothing to do with the night of leaving Egypt. Particularly it hit me was the whole story of the splitting of the Sea, which took place on the 7th day of Pesach. Which is also a holiday that we will be celebrating tonight. Why do we have to cover that Seder night as well? Particularly at the end of Maggid when everyone seems to be pretty ready to get the meal started already, we spoke about Egypt, the slavery, the plagues, and the leaving of Egypt with all their money. We spoke about the Pesach offering the blood on the door posts. We’re ready to eat our Marror and our Matzot. Save the sea splitting for the last day. Stay tuned in a few days, we could say for the end of the story. Not only do we talk about the splitting of the sea, but we get even more intensive about it. We mention the three way dispute about how many different plagues the Egyptians received at the Yam Suf. Being that in Egypt they were hit with the finger of God and the Sea it says they were struck with the hand five times as much. Was it fifty plagues, two hundred or two hundred and fifty? Do we really care? Be honest. You’re just thinking about matza balls by this time. What is this all about?
Perhaps even more interesting is one of the Dayeinu’s that we say. If Hashem split the sea for us but would not have brought us through on dry land-Dayeinu, it would have been enough. What’s that all about? The Avudraham and other commentaries explain that our sages tell us that when we went through the sea, it was totally dry. Nice and carpeted and comfortable. Not a drop of dirt. No mud. No sludge. That’s nice. But compared to the rest of the Dayeinu’s it doesn’t seem so significant. Taking us out of Egypt, killing their first-borns, their gods, giving us the Torah, bringing us to Israel, the Manna, the Shabbos. A nice comfortable walk through the sea doesn’t seem like it makes it up to that level of making it into the top 15 list of things to thank Hashem about our Exodus and redemption. The truth is why was it really necessary to do it that way? Let’s say we came to the sea and Hashem brought helicopters to take us out Egypt. Or maybe even wings of eagles if you want to get more biblical or Harry Potter about it. Would we then have a helicopter celebration, eagle or broomstick celebration about it? Is there something more about the splitting of the sea that perhaps is the pinnacle of the redemption that is essential about understanding even on the Seder night?

In the teaching of the Chasidim it is explained that the world was created with dry land and water. The dry land is the Olam Ha’nigla- the revealed world, everything we can see and experience. The water, the entire world that is under the sea, where there are big creatures, small creatures, plants, trees…everything, is the Olam Ha’nistar- the hidden world. Upon creation the entire world was filled with water. The hidden was all revealed. Then began the process of Olam-hiddeness. The dry world, the land, where we don’t see Hashem, the Creator and manager of the world, so clearly. The Exodus from Egypt, from Mitzrayim, which comes from the root word Meitzarim-constraints, was not just about getting out of slavery. It was about understanding that we can find redemption and break free of all things that are holding us back in life. We can rise above the nature and limitations of this world. The forces of nature are subject to the will of our Creator, and He wills us to break free and connect that world to him. Egypt can hold us back no longer. We can break free.

But there is breaking free and still having muddy feet, and there is breaking free and seeing that the entire world has no hiddenness in it any more. It is a world where the most hidden, the deepest recesses of the sea are open to us and clear to us as the dry land is. We see the entire real picture of the Creation. The maid servant at the splitting of the sea had a greater vision the prophet Ezekiel. We have entirely done Kriyat Yam Suf-ripped up the concept of a hidden non-understandable world. That’s what the Exodus was truly about. We didn’t just merely get out and walk through the sea. We left Egypt through the sea-on dry land. The land and the sea were one. We were one with our Creator. There was absolutely no hiddenness left. We burst out in song. We were like angels, who sing daily as they appreciate that each day is a brand new moment of creation. There is only Hashem.

The three sages note and the way that we culminate the Maggid is with this idea. The Exodus from Egypt was the finger of God. The finger is used for pointing something out. Check out that thing of there. When there’s a lot of other things that are distracting you. Forget the other stuff. Look at that. It’s Hashem. The splitting of the sea was an entirely different concept it was the hand of God. The hand is used to grab something. To show ownership. It’s mine. I have it totally in my possession. There’s no room for any doubt. It’s all Hashem. The revelation is complete.
The leaving of Egypt was not a one-time deal. It’s the reason we go through this exercise each year. Perhaps the only real challenge and difficulty in life is when we feel stuck, when we feel limited, when we feel we are facing something that seems insurmountable. Sure there’s Hashem. Sure He runs the world. Sure he can preform miracles. But there is also the ‘natural’ way the world works. There is all the dirt, mud and physical restraints that the natural way things work that make somethings seem impossible. That we have to sludge through to get there. The splitting of the Sea and the entire Exodus from Egypt was to give us an entirely different perspective of the ‘real’ world. There is no real hiddenness. We can not only make it to the other side of every single sea that stands between us and our ultimate redemption. We can make it through without not even one speck of dirt on the white carpet laid out before us as we cross through. Not a wine stain on our Kittel, not a shpritz of mud on our suits. We can come out as fresh and clean as the day that we walked in. That’s Redemption. That’s what can happen this last day of Yom Tov. This year we go from the last day of Pesach into Shabbos. May it be that this year we enter into the ultimate Shabbos. The Shabbos when the entire world sings together with us the song of Moses and the Jewish People. Hashem yimloch l’olam va’ed- Hashem rules for ever and ever.  

Have a Happy Pesach and a Shabbos full of Redemption,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://youtu.be/y-DIpnr2If4    – Acapella Season begins Vehi Sheamda Kippalive

https://youtu.be/V5fc2qO48bIA spoonful of Pesach

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8c-iuwpkD0  My favorite Pesach song from shira Chadasha

“Az der vorem zitst in Chreyn, meynt er az es iz keyn zisers ni do..”- “When a worm sits in horseradish, it thinks there's nothing sweeter.”

answer below at end of Email
Q. One of the reasons that led to the Great Revolt was:
A.    Hadrian’s decrees
  1. The establishment of Aelia Capitolina
  2. A dispute between Jews and Gentiles at the Hakra fortress
  3. A dispute between Jews and Gentiles in Caesarea

24TH OF NISAN 4 CENTURY BC-Egyptian representatives appeared in the court of Alexander the Great, demanding that the Jews pay restitution for all the Egyptian gold and silver they took along with them during the Exodus. Gevihah the son of Pesisa, a simple but wise Jew, requested the sages' permission to present a defense on behalf of the Jews. Gevihah asked the Egyptians for evidence that the Jews absconded with their wealth. "The crime is clearly recorded in your Torah," the Egyptians gleefully responded. "In that case," Gevihah said, "the Torah also says that 600,000 Jews were unjustly enslaved by the Egyptians for many, many years. So first let us calculate how much you owe us..." The court granted the Egyptians three days in which to prepare a response. When they were unable to do so they fled on the following day, the 25th of Nisan, and never returned. In Talmudic times, the day when the Egyptian delegation fled was celebrated as a mini-holiday.

As we know Rashi is there to teach us the simple understanding of the verse. But sometimes something is so simple we have to ask ourselves if we are missing something. Maybe we just ignored something obvious that Rashi thought we might stumble upon and he is clarifying it. If we take a second look then we might understand what ws troubling Rashi and in turn then understand what should have perhaps been troubling us.
This week’s Torah protion of Acrharey Mos begins with the conclusion of the death of Nadav And Avihu and how Hashem then commands Moshe to tell Aharon about the holiday and the special service o Yom Kippur. At the conclusion of this commandments and the entire order of the day, which is our Yom Kippur reading, theh Torah says and Aharon did as Hashem commanded him. Rashi on that verse(16:34) notes  that Aharon did this ‘when it came Yom Kippur like the order of this command’. Now I  don’t know about you. But it should seem obvious that he did this when it came Yom Kippur. I mean when else was he supposed to do it. On Purim? Obviously we are missing something.
The truth is if you think about this command it is kind of strange when it was given to Moshe to give to Aharon. The Parsha begins that this was after the death of Nadav and Avihu which took place on Rosh Chodesh Nissan; the beginning of this month. Why is Hashem commanding Aharon about Yom Kippur now? That seems to be what Rashi is struggling with. He is telling us that the yhom Kippur mitzva although it was given around Pesach time a few months before. But Aharon didn’t fulfill the order of the day of Yom Kippur until Yom Kippur. He is highlighting the discrepancy in time for us.
The question though is still why? Why now after the death of Nadav and Avihu? The answer can be found in the last words of Rashi. ‘To tell us the praise of Aharon that he didn’t wear the white garments of Yom Kippur for his own honor only as one who is fulfilling the decree of the King. The Lubavitcher Rebbe notes that the mitzva of the changing of the white garments and its’ difference between the gold garments. The gold garments would be worn by the Kohen again and again, as opposed to the white garments on Yom Kippur, Rashi previously teaches us that it would only be allowed to be worn that Yom Kippur. The difference, the Rebbe explains, is that each Yom Kippur the Kohen would have to reach anew the perfect exalted level of purity and atonement on behalf of the Jewish people. Last years clothes won’t work. Each year has its own struggles and new levels that must be achieved. One would think that after achieving such an incredible level that it might go to the Kohen’s head. Look at this level I achieved. Me., My clothing. This year. Wow!. Rashi tells us that Aharon wasn’t like that. Despite his and every Kohen’s incredible spiritual achievement they fulfilled it and wore those garments only because of the command of Hashem. It wasn’t about them.
This command was given right after Nadav and Avihu, because they messed up. They wanted to bring a fire and grow spiritually to Hashem for their own spirituality. It was about them and not what Hashem commanded. The command is given right before Pesach, Rashi notes despite the fact that it wasn’t observed until later, in order to teach us the most important lesson about Pesach. We weren’t redeemed because of any greatness on our part. Hashem Himself takes us out while we were one lowest level of impurity that we could still be picked up from. We will achieve the greatest levels possible of closeness to Hashem over Pesach, but it should not go to our head. The opposite. It’s about Hashem. If it were up to us, if Hashem Himself would not have taken us out, we would still be slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt. Small little Rashi what a powerful insight and lesson. And isn’t the timeliness amazing as well…  

What do you call someone who spent hours preparing the Seder plate???? Egg-zosted!
Why do we eat horseradish with the four cups. When it chrains it pours.
Why did the Egyptians have the Jews do the pyrimaid building? They were ant-cementic

Top Ten Ways You Know Your Son Isn’t The Wise Son

10. He used up all the saltwater on Urchatz
9. Asks you what page is it in the Rosh Hashana Machzor
8.Thought the 6th Plague was ‘Don’t Steal’
7. Asks what other kinds of fish can be used to make Carp-as
 6. Wonders why there is no honey around to dip the apples into
 5. Confuses 4 Questions, with 21 Questions (“Is it something round on this table?”)
 4. Keeps asking when Elijah will come down the chimney
3. Really wants to know how Egyptians became so stupid during the plague of Dumb
2. Asks if he can read the part of Charlton Heston
 1. He already ate the afikomen
Answer is  D – Not a bad question. Not an easy one either for the non-historian but important I believe for everyone to know. Let’s go through them one by one. Hadrian was post-destruction as you should have known he was the Emperor/General that put down the Bar Kochva Revolt about 65 years later. He eventually plows down the Temple Mount and at that point in time he bans Jews from living in Jerusalem and declares the city to be Aelia Capitaolina the Roman capital of Israel- a pagan city. The Hakra fortress which was according to most archeologists on the South side of the Temple was a Hasmonean fortress and was the site of the major battle of the Maccabees in the story of Hanuka about 200 or so years before the destruction of the Temple. The eventual return of the descendants of the Maccabees to the ways of the Greeks led to an eventual power struggle between to corrupt Hasmonean kings and we invited the Romans in to settle our problem. Eventually they took control of Israel and the rebellion began after they began to desecrate the Temple and with the revolt and civil war that took place in the city of Caesarea which was the Romans northern capital.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The First Seder- Pesach 2016/5776

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

April 21st 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 29 13th Nisan 5776

The First Seder
OK, there’s no time to seduce you into reading this E-Mail with a cute line, joke, story anecdote or provocative statement. It’s Erev Pesach and there’s still cleaning that needs to done. Or as my wife says “We’re not even close to being ready yet”. Get off that computer. You haven’t been home all week. The kids have done enough already. The little ones are jumping off the roof. I imagine that it’s because they probably haven’t eaten in a week, as the fridge is pretty bare. I think my bunnies are the only ones getting any food. I am married long enough though not to say anything though. I do want to eat this Pesach. Shani’s married and not here to help. Yonah’s making money cleaning other people’s houses in Jerusalem. And although my wife wanted to try to hire him to clean our place, it seems that we can’t compete with those fancy Rechavia Americans. And here I thought we might have earned a little protekzia with my son. How can he give up helping his mother around the house just to make a few shekels? What type of education is he getting? Who would leave this poor hapless woman all alone with two little mischievous kids and people knocking on the door all day to buy clothing and a whole house to clean for Pesach by herself? How could my son do that? I wonder who his role model must be…Oh…I guess I’ll be quiet now.
Anyways there’s no time here. I’m getting nasty looks. Let’s talk Seder. The night that we have to get it all on. The night that we have to pass on eternal messages to our family. We will bond. We will create memories, traditions, and truly tap into the essence of our souls. It’s also the night that we have absolutely no time to properly prepare for. We’re so busy cleaning, cooking, and in my case touring -thank God. Yet we know we should prepare. It has to be meaningful. We can’t be falling over our faces. We want to have what to share, what to inspire with. This is particularly true for those of us that live in Israel, where you don’t get a chance to make-up on a second Seder what you missed the first night. Ok maybe it’s because we don’t need the extra time to explain to our children, how and why America is not the golden ‘Promised Land’ and that they are still in Exile despite the plethora of Kosher Pizza shops, Yeshivas, synagogues and Jewish organizations and presidential candidates that they have there. Yeahhh…those of us over here figured that out already. But still there’s so much to pack in and it’s only one night. So what to do?
Now many of you were fortunate enough to purchase this great brand new book that came out this Pesach aptly titled “The Most Enjoyable Book You’ll Ever Read About Pesach” by some Tour Guide/author in Karmiel. It’s the other 1824 of you that I’m concerned about. Yes I am keeping count J.  (You can still order by the way…). So what to do. Well in college and high school for that matter, you know that period in life when ‘who had time to study?’ We were too busy doing far more important things like…ummm… sleep? It was also that period when we honed our fine skills of cramming at the last minute. Cliff notes, were our text books. Sound bites were what we developed our essays from. We saw the movie or the TV version and we were good to go. It’s how we passed. So with that in mind it seems that the author of the Hagadda also understood our predicament and he gave us the long and short of it in the first few paragraphs. A short little ‘movie’ or picture of the Seder that was done from which all Seders can be learned from. A Seder that the Hagadda tells us took place in the city of Bnai Brak, Israel at the home of none other than the great Rabbi Akiva in which all the great Rabbis of his time joined him for. Let’s take a look at that and then we’ll be ready to go. The Hagadda goes as follows.
And even if all of us were wise, all men of understanding, all elderly, all of us knowing the Torah, there is still a mitzvah upon us to tell about the Exodus from Egypt. And whoever talks about it at length is praiseworthy.
It once happened that Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Elazar Ben Azaryah, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarfon were reclining in Bnei Brak. They were discussing the Exodus from Egypt all that night until their students came and said to them: "Our teachers, the time has arrived to read the morning Shema."
An interesting story certainly. But as far as information goes, there doesn’t seem to be much to go on or learn from here. Great Rabbis get together and they spend all night talking OK, I got that, but what did they say. What was it all about? What are we supposed to learn from this and how can it make our Seder more meaningful? Is there anything more that we can derive from here besides a pressure to find things to talk about all night and to try to stay up as long as possible?
So now is the time to become a little Talmudic with me. Every word of the Hagadda is precise. There is a tremendous amount of information in this little snippet. We just have to scratch it a little and poof it will come out. The first thing we should examine is that why was it necessary to tell us that the Seder took place in Bnai Brak. We generally don’t have information as to where any particular speech or teaching takes place. In addition it’s interesting to note that the sage that lived in Bnai Brak was Rabbi Akiva. The Head of the Sanhedrin who attended was Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariya who lived in Lod. And yet he came to Rabbi Akiva. As well interestingly enough was that all of these Rabbis came. Rabbi Tarfon is perhaps one of the most important protagonists of Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Eliezer Ha’Gadol and Rabbi Yehoshua were from Jerusalem and also debated and had vociferous arguments as well that even ended in the excommunication of Rabbi Eliezer. Yet they all joined Rabbi Akiva in Bnai Brak. Why? Didn’t they have a Seder of their own with their own families to attend? Even more than that it seems that their students were there as well. Something was going on. This was a great meeting of the minds. This was the Seder of all Seders. And its how our Seder is meant to start off.
Perhaps the Baal Hagadda wants us to note where the Seder is not taking place. It’s not in Jerusalem. All of these sages lived at the time of the destruction. The Jewish people were broken. There was no more Temple. There was no more Pesach Sacrifice, for the first time since we had entered the land. Perhaps this is even the first Seder after the destruction. The Rabbis all came to Rabbi Akiva. Who better to come to? Who besides Rabbi Akiva who was sitting at the edges of the burning ruins of the Temple along with his colleagues, and who the Talmud tells us was laughing as they were crying, to come to. Who else could see in the foxes running around in our once sacred places and see the fulfilment of the prophecy of the destruction was going to be the harbinger of that second prophecy that the children will return and rebuild once again. That the streets of Jerusalem will be filled with grandparents sitting in parks and shmozing, boys and girls playing and the sounds of brides and grooms getting married will once again fill the cities of Judah and the suburbs of Yerushalayim. So they came to Rabbi Akiva. All of them. They came for hope. They came for inspiration. They came to find the redemption that can be seen in the darkest moment of our Exile. They came to Bnai Brak and they were up all night.
In the morning their students came in and told them that it was time to recite the morning Shema. According to older texts of the Hagadda the next piece and statement of the Hagadda is the response that Rabbi Eliezer Ben Azaria had to them. It was said right there that morning after the first Seder. It was the epiphany and the conclusion of that great seder when they were all reclining and celebrating together.
Rabbi Elazar Ben Azaryah said: "I am like a man of 70 years, and yet I was never able to merit to prove that one is obligated to mention the Exodus at night, until Ben Zoma explained it thusly: It says in the Torah, ‘In order that you shall remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt, all the days of your life.' ‘The days of your life' refers to the days; ‘All the days of your life' refers to the nights." And the Sages say: "'The days of your life' refers to this world; ‘All the days of your life' indicates the time of the Messiah."
To clarify what this is referring to, there is a biblical obligation to recite the Shema twice a day morning and evening. Our sages added in the third paragraph of Shema that includes the mention of the Exodus from Mitzrayim. It seems that third paragraph to remember the Exodus was only recited during the daytime Shema. The rule followed the sages which were the majority that the verse that obligates us to remember the Exodus is in Messianic times. The truth is as long as the Temple was standing it wasn’t that important. We had it all. We had come to our fulfilment. The Shechina was home. The concept of finding Hashem and remembering Hashem in our darkest moment and the night of the Exile wasn’t there. Perhaps they didn’t even know how to relate to that world. Yet that morning, after the Seder of Rabbi Akiva in Bnai Brak, Rabbi Eliezer walks out with a whole new weltanschauung. We can see Hashem and the redemption even in the dark. Even in the night. We must remember it even more so then. We can turn the night into light. That’s why we are being put here.
The Baal Haggada tells us this story of the first Seder to teach us that ‘Kol ha’marbeh l’sapeir bi’yitziyat Mitzrayim harey Zeh mishubach- All who elaborate to speak about the Exodus from Egypt, He is praise worthy. The Ba’al Shem Tov explains this phrase in his characteristic homiletic beautiful fashion notes that the word ‘l’sapeir’ is from the word sapphire a shining bright gem. The same one that was used to describe the vision the Jewish people had by the revelation at Sinai of the heavenly throne. He who can increase the brightness of the tremendous light of that redemption of Sinai. Then Zeh is mishubach. This is praiseworthy. Which ‘Zeh’? Which ‘This’? The zeh E-li v’anveihu- this is my God and I will glorify him that we recited by the splitting of the Sea. The ‘this’ that our sages tell us that all the righteous will stand in a circle on that final day and will point to Hashem and declare Him as our God, our Redeemer, Our Father.
That first Seder took place in Bnai Brak. The word barak means lightning. The children of lightning. That’s what we all are on Seder night. It is that flash of lightning in the darkness of Exile. It is that bolt that tells us that the darkness can change. The redemption is around the corner. It might seem like the worst of times. It is that flash of lightning of the Seder that gave our eternal nation the strength through all the horrors and persecutions throughout the millennia. We celebrated our Seder all night during pogroms, in basements during the inquisition, in the lagers of the Nazi death camps and perhaps just almost as  tragically in the most distant from Judaism and our Father, assimilated homes of the Diaspora. Pesach time is that light. That shock to our system that tells us that the night is not permanently dark. We can reveal the light there. We can rebuild. We can come home. No one will be left behind. Not the simple son, not the wickd one or the one who doesn’t even know how to ask anymore. They are all by the Seder. It’s our night. We can all recite Shema together.
My times up. I’m done. We’ve got a Seder to make. I’ve got a lesson to give over. But hey if and god willing when Mashiach comes this Pesach Seder if you need a tour when you get here, look me up. I should be off the hook after the holiday.
Chag Kasher V’Samayach- Have a Happy and Festive Pesach

 Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



https://youtu.be/WSlvWPPRPuI   – God split the Ocean Six13 Jam

https://youtu.be/Bh0vPbFDyeI     –How the pyramids were built by the Jews Funny!

https://youtu.be/nOW4spRm7d4 Jews leaving Egypt Cute

https://youtu.be/MLDHbAvWgmI - Cool Technion Passover Story

Ven me zol Got danken far guts, volt nit zein kain tseit tsu baklogen zikh oif shlechts.”- “If we thanked God for the good things, there wouldn’t be time to weep over the bad.”

answer below at end of Email
Q. “Give me Yavneh and its sages” was said by:
A.     Hillel the Elder
  1. Rabban Gamliel of Yavneh
  2. Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai
  3. Josephus

A Seder plate walks into a bar
Bartender says: What can I get you?
Sederplate says: Nothing right now, I got a lot on my plate

A matzah ball walks into a bar
Bartender says: Is this Round on you?

Matzah walks into a bar
Bartender says: Looks like you had a Crumby day?

Moses walks into a bar
Bartender says: Drinks for just you or your staff?

The Jewish Nation walks into a bar.
Bartender says: You thought splitting the sea was hard, try splitting this check

Chad Gad Ya walks into a bar
Bartender says: After that last bar fight with the dog and cat and fire, it's gonna cost alot more than 2 zuzim to get a drink here

Elijah walks into a bar
Bartender says: What can I get for you Elijah?
Elijah says: Wait, you can see me??

A Kiddush Cup walks into a bar
Bartender says: We don't serve whiners here

Matzah walks into a bar
Bartender says: Havent seen you in a while, where you been?
Matzah says: I've had some bad breaks
Charoses and Marror walk into a bar

Wise son and wicked son walk into a bar
Bartender says: What can I get you boys?
Wise son asks for all the details of how the drinks are made
Wicked son laughs: It's on his tab, not mine. Had we been in Egypt I wouldnt have paid either.

Pharoah walks into a bar
Bartender says: So it's a Bloody Mary or well, a Bloody Mary right?

Pharoah walks into a bar, doesnt speak
Bartender: Speak up? What do you have a frog in your throat?
Pharoah: frogs here, frogs there

The Son 'who doesnt know how to ask' walks into a bar
Bartender: Arent you going to order? Helllo?

A Seder walks into a bar
Bartender: Let me guess this is going to be different than all other nights?
Afikoment walks into a bar
Bartender: I'll get you a drink, but dont you get lost because I will find you.

A seder kittel walks into a bar
Bartender says: What did someone die?

A haggadah walks into a bar
Bartender says: The way this guy rambles on, I'm gonna need my own 4 cups

Answer is C – I liked this question. There’s not too many of them that demand a Talmudic background. Feel bad for those secular Israelis that may not know this one as that all the Rabbis are pretty much the same for. But this famous request was made by Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai who the Talmud tells us snuck out of the old city of Jerusalem during the siege of Vespasian in the year 70 CE to meet with him. The rebels didn’t want him to negotiate peace, but he saw that it was a lost cause. The Talmud tells us that he arrived to Vespasian and bowed down and called him the Caesar. The general told him that was treasonous as the Caesar was still in Rome until a few minutes later when a messenger told him that the Caesar was killed and Vespasian was elected by the Senate as the next Emperor of Rome. Rabbi Yochanan told him that he knew that it must be so as Jerusalem will only fall in the hands of the head of State and not a general. In exchange for his “good news” Vespasian granted him his request that the city of Yavne where the Sanhedrin had escaped to be spared as at least the Torah will be able to be continued and the tradition and transmission passed on. That was 2000 years ago. Rome is long gone but the Torah and its traditions and our Seder are still here.  Tell that to your kids Seder night..

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Moments- Metzora/HaGadol 5776/2016

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

April 7th 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 28 7th Nisan 5776
Parshat Metzora/HaGadol

There are moments which mark your life. Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts, before this, and after this. It was the quote I was looking for and it best described my feelings. I’m not familiar with the slimy horror movie that google popped out when I searched for the quote, but hey our sages tell us that we have to learn from everyone and everything. So there you are.
I was looking for that quote to try to best describe my feelings about the wedding of our daughter last week to my son-in-law ‘Yankeleh’. I was reminiscing to him about my wedding. The excitement, the euphoria, the ecstasy and the pure jubilation of that moment. Five minutes before the chupa I was single, I was carefree, I didn’t have a worry or a responsibility in the world. I barely knew what those words meant. I could go where I want, when I wanted and didn’t have to explain myself to anyone-although it did upset quite a few of my Rabbis. Even better than that, I did not have to go where I didn’t want, or do what I didn’t want. I was free. I was single. It was all pretty much about me. And then 5 minutes later, it all changed.  My life was now meant to revolve around someone else. I had to tell her where I was going, when I was coming, what I had been up to and what ‘our’ ‘plans’ were going to be. I didn’t know what a plan was. I thought it was something you put on your windowsill and let the sunshine in on it and watered it every so often-which I usually forgot to do. I became a Ba’al HaBOSS. She was the Boss I was the Ba’al and not in the ancient idolatrous sense of the word either. In one moment my life had changed.
The truth is I could say that in that one moment, my life really began as well. Our sages tell us that under the chupa all the past misdeeds can be forgiven and atoned for. It’s a fresh new start. It’s not just a nice idea-that is incidentally derived from the name of the wife of Esau, who certainly could’ve used a fresh start. It’s real. It makes sense. It’s the moment of newness when you can redefine or as in my case really begin to define and find yourself. The past is before this. The future is whatever you make afterwards.
There are a few of those moments in life. The moment I found out my wife was pregnant. Wow, that really hit home. There’s gonna be a family now. This is for real. It’s not just the two of us anymore. There will be generations of little Schwartzlings running around. I was becoming a father. My father is a father. I was just me. OK, I was married me, but still a little bit like the old me. Certainly not the father type. It was one of those moments once again. Everything changed. Everything was new. When my son was born, it happened again. This time I was a father of a boy. I did the Bris myself, so I was pretty sure of that. When he became Bar Mitzva. When we moved to Israel. And last week… Walking my daughter down the aisle and handing her off to her Chatan…my son-in-law. That little cradle snatching son of a gun…Just joking. I love him. I looked into his young innocent eyes and realized that the two of us were sharing that moment. The past was now gone there was only a bright new and very different tomorrow before us.
This week’s Torah portion is about leprosy. While not really leprosy as this is a spiritual ailment that is reflected in blemishes on the body as a result of the spiritual anti-social behavior of the afflicted. But regardless it’s not the greatest Parsha or the most exciting Parsha to have a week after the wedding. Or a week before Passover as well. The truth is however the portion is really more about the purity of the Metzora, rather than his impurity. It’s about him-or her, starting fresh again. Starting a new and different life. It is about creating a moment, when there really isn’t any special moment. It all started as just a regular mindless day.
Who is our Metzora? According to our sages he is someone that talks a real a lot about other people. A gossip. He also alternatively might be someone that walks around all the time thinking the world revolves around him-or her. What our sages called a ‘gahs ruach’ A bloated spirit. Someone who’s full of hot air. Know anyone like that? Married to anyone like that? How about any Rabbis that write weekly E-Mails. Life could go on for this young man forever. But Hashem, our loving father, has decided to give him a moment. Yes, one of those moments. His life changes. He becomes afflicted. He gets thrown out of the camp ultimately. He loses his friends, his community everyone pretty much besides the loving Kohen that comes to visit him and help him back again.
That week is his moment. The process of purification is incredible. He goes to the Mikva, he shaves off all his hair and ultimately he brings his sacrifices. Rich, poor, each with their own offering, yet both will undergo the process of watching the birds and sheep slaughtered, having the blood sprinkled upon them; on their ears, their hands their toes and then they are atoned. Then they are new. They are no longer the same person. A new moment has begun and with it a brand new future. Who would’ve thought speaking a little bit of gossip around the water cooler could lead to a life-transforming opportunity.
The truth is all of the sacrifices that we focus on this book of Vayikra-Leviticus are precisely about that. There is nothing in life that could not and should not be a moment. Every sin, every mistake we make, every time we create unintentionally a barrier of impurity between us and our Creator has a sacrifice process so that it becomes a meaningful experience. A lesson that can raise us up. We go to the Temple, we see the glory, we stand in awe, we hear the music of the Levites and experience the warmth and love of the Kohanim. It becomes transformative. The opposite is true as well, anytime something fantastic happens, we want to bring a thanksgiving offering, we want to bring peace offerings when we want to reconnect. Moe than 1/5th of the Torah is full of all of these different sacrifices, because the Torah and Judaism and ultimately our all-knowing Father in heaven knows that without them, we wouldn’t have these moments. We would just shrug it off and keep on going. And how tragic would that be. How tragic is it that to a large degree that is what happens to us now that we don’t have that Temple anymore.
This Shabbat, the one before Pesach is called Shabbat Ha’Gadol. It was the Shabbat before we left Egypt. The Shabbat when we truly had our first moment as a nation. Our sages tell us that being that the Jews left Egypt on Thursday, The Shabbat before is when we took our lamb, the idolatry of the Egyptians, the idolatry that we had been so mind-numbingly following and prepared it to be our first sacrifice. We put the blood on the door post and we were leaving Egypt behind. It was like our chupa. 210 years of assimilation, disconnect and same old same old get up in the morning make bricks, build a pyramid or two and get a few lashes on our back and hit the sack and start again, was all going to be over. The moment, our first moment was here. It is called Shabbat Ha’Gadol- because in truth it is the greatest Shabbat of the year, because we realized and tapped into that basic fundamental concept that life always has moments. Each Shabbat is a moment when we leave the week behind. When we turn it all off. When we start fresh again. Shabbat is great. And being that it is our gift, our treasure, then we are possessors of that greatness. We are the ones that can bring the world to that ultimate time. To that ultimate moment, when all of the past is the past and the future will be more glorious then we can ever imagine.
So there I was. Musing to my son-in-law about marriage, about life, about moments, and before you know it. I was imagining that great moment. I became and still feel quite excited about how all of it will change. Our Rabbi’s teach us that just as we were redeemed once in the month of Nisan, the final redemption and return will take place in Nisan as well. I’m game for another wedding next week. But this wedding should be the reunification between our Beloved and His nation. This wedding should have awesome Pesach sacrifices brought in Jerusalem, by all of His children that will hear the Shofar blast calling them home. The scattered around the world will see and hear Eliyahu HaNavi, before the Seder happens this year. Maybe even tomorrow already. The moment is close. The future is just ready to begin.
Have a momentous Shabbat of greatness,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://youtu.be/5kgbRusmqjs  – Very cool Temple institute reenacts the Pesach offering

https://youtu.be/Tzrrk2ToFr0    –A ‘Thriller’ Pesach Seder

https://youtu.be/QwKBIzzlzvY  Aish Annual Pesach video- Justin Bieber Seder Mashup

“Vos iz dem indik far a khilek tsi men koylet im af purim tsu der sude oder af peysekh tsum seyder?”- “What difference does it make to the turkey whether it's slaughtered for the Purim feast or the Passover seder?.”


“‘'Believe me: In all my days I have taken care never to pluck a blade of grass or flower needlessly, when it had the ability to grow or blossom. You know the teachings of the Sages that there is not a single blade of grass below, here on earth, which does not have a heavenly force above telling it, Grow! Every sprout and leaf of grass says something, conveys some meaning. Every stone whispers some hidden message in the silence. Every creation utters its songs.”

“‘To be a lover of truth is a higher level. Someone who hates falsehood will see the falsehood that exists in every person, and he will come to despise them or even hate them, G-d forbid. A lover of truth, however, will see the truth in every person, and he will come to honor them and even love them."”- When asked by his grandson the question: "Is it better to be a 'hater of falsehood' or a 'lover of truth'

"Doctor my wife’s foot is hurting us." On a visit to the Doctor when he was asked what was troubling him.

Rav Aryeh Levine 9th of Nisan this Sunday (1885 – 1969) - On the eve of Shabbat Hagadol, Nissan 10, 5729 (1969), Rav Aryeh Levine rendered his soul to his Creator. Following his casket were thousands of people, among them Rabbis and Rebbes, Roshei Yeshiva and their students, the President of the State of Israel, and thousands of men, women, and children. Jerusalem had never before witnessed such a large funeral.
Just exactly who was this Tzaddik, Rav Aryeh Levine, about whom so many amazing things have been said? Why exactly did everyone so greatly appreciate him? I will tell you a few things about this marvelous man that everyone recognizes as having been one of the greatest figures in Jerusalem, a man simply called Rav Aryeh, without any titles or qualifications.
A young immigrant from Lithuania describes how he went to visit one of the greatest of Roshei Yeshiva, the Gaon Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer of Jerusalem. Upon coming back home, he passed through some narrow streets in the Yemenite “Mishkenot” neighborhood near Mahane Yehuda. He was walking with my friend and we were speaking about the Gaon Rabbi Isser Zalman, who was the last remaining Rosh Yeshiva from the spiritual giants of the previous generation.
All of a sudden we sensed someone running behind us, and in fact someone was coming near. With a sweet and pleasant voice, he began to say, “Dear children, I beg you, please come to my home for some tea. It’s now fall, and the wind blows hard in Jerusalem. I can see that you are cold. I beg you, I’m asking you to do me a favor and come with me to my home!” Without waiting for a response, he took them by the arm and brought them to his house. In the darkened, narrow street he could not make out this man’s appearance, but inside his illuminated home he saw him for the first time. He was a short, portly Jew with eyes glimmering like crystal and filled with love and kindness. He face was radiant and smiling, and his white beard extended to his chest. He put some water to boil and served them a glass of tea with cookies. He chatted with them and asked various questions, encouraging us to study Torah with extreme diligence.
In returning to the yeshiva, they learned that the man who had served them, and indeed who had thanked them for giving him the opportunity to carry out the great mitzvah of hospitality, was Rav Aryeh Levine, the Mashgiach of the great Etz Chaim Talmud Torah in Mahane Yehudah.
Rabbi Aryeh Levine was born in 5645 (1885) in the tiny city of Orla, near Grodno in Russia. In his youth, he studied in the yeshivot of Slutzk, Halusk, and Volozhin.
At the age of 20 he left for Eretz Israel, where he continued to study in the yeshivot of Jerusalem and became familiar with the great men and sages of the city. Eventually Rav Aryeh himself became famous in Jerusalem, and the administrators of the Etz Chaim yeshiva named him as the Mashgiach of their Talmud Torah.
The yeshiva students loved Rav Aryeh. He never yelled at a child, but rather approached him and spoke to his heart in order for the student to become diligent in his studies. He lovingly would caress a student and ask that he study Torah as a favor to him. Thus these children, who did not want to cause their beloved Rav any heartache, studied with diligence in order for Rav Aryeh to be happy with them.
Rav Aryeh behaved with love and affection to all his students, treating them as adults. One day he was seen going to a certain neighborhood and asking where a particular boy lived. This took people by surprise, but it was later learned that this boy had gone to see Rav Aryeh at noon on the same day to ask him something. Rav Aryeh was busy at the time, and he had asked the boy to wait for him. The boy waited a long time, but Rav Aryeh still did not come to see him, for he had forgotten about him. That night when Rav Aryeh arrived home, he remembered the boy and the fact that he had told him to wait. The boy was certainly disappointed to have not seen him, and Rav Aryeh could find no peace of mind for himself. “Who knows what sorrow the boy may have felt by my failure to see him?” he said. He gave himself no rest until he decided to go see the boy and hear what he had to say.
Rav Aryeh had an extraordinary love for the Jewish people, and in his heart burned a great passion for every Jew. The door to his home was always open to whoever was in distress, and people constantly came to see him to relate their worries and problems, and he encouraged and consoled them. When asked to pray for someone who was sick, not only did Rav Aryeh pray for him at his home or in synagogue, he rushed to see the sick person and would pray by his bedside for his healing. R' Aryeh Levin was also known for his visits to the sick, especially patients who had no family of their own. "It was Reb Aryeh's practice to go to the hospitals of Jerusalem every Friday, to visit the sick who were confined there. First he would always go and speak with the nurses, to find out from them which patients received no visitors as a rule. At the beds of these forgotten souls whom no relatives came to see, he would linger, caressing each one's hand and giving him words of encouragement and cheer. He would sit for hours near the beds of the sick, especially at Bikur Cholim hospital in Jerusalem." "He was also a frequent visitor at hospitals for lepers, including a hospital in Bethlehem where most of the patients were Arabs. Reb Aryeh began this holy practice after he had found a woman weeping bitterly by the Western Wall. Reb Aryeh asked her, "what made her cry so intensely." She told him that her child had no cure, and was locked up in the leper hospital in Jerusalem." He immediately decided to visit the young child, and when he arrived all the patients burst into tears. It had been years, since they had the privilege to see any visitor from the outside world." His pious wife Chana Levin, cooked regularly for them, and he would take the prepared food to the hospital.
A Tzaddik once said, “There is nothing greater than the broken heart of a Jew.” Rav Aryeh Levine had such a heart.
His love for Eretz Israel was enormous. He always said, “The Torah and Eretz Israel are one.” His mouth never ceased to sing the praises of Eretz Israel and those of its sons/builders. In particular, he showed great love for the “prisoners of Zion” – young people whom the British authorities had imprisoned.
During the time of British control over Eretz Israel, various movements arose that wished to liberate the country from the yoke of foreigners. Many young people who dared fight the British were sent to the infamous Latrun Prison, where they were subjected to all sorts of physical mistreatment and many hanged. The only person who visited these prisoners – who encouraged them and lifted their spirits during the most trying times of their lives – was Rav Aryeh Levine.
He would pray with these prisoners and give a small course after prayers. He spoke of Rabbi Akiva, who sanctified G-d’s Name, and the fact that the Torah, Israel, and Eretz Israel are one. A person who was hanged for the Jewish people or Eretz Israel was like one killed for the Torah. “How I envy each of you, you who have merited to be among those whom the Holy One, blessed be He, has chosen to sanctify His Name on the soil of our Holy Land.” His words, which emerged directly from his heart, entered the hearts of his listeners. He treated the prisons like beloved children, and the prisoners treated him like a dear father. It is with just cause that Rav Aryeh Levine has been called the “father of prisoners.”
At the end of his life, the city of Jerusalem conferred upon him honorary citizenship. He was very much surprised by this honor, saying: “I don’t know why I deserve this! What merit do I possess? I only benefited from Jerusalem, and even more than what I did for her, Jerusalem has done for me.”
answer below at end of Email
Q. Ezra and Nehemiah lived in the:
A.    Seventh century BCE
  1. Sixth century BCE
  2. Fifth century BCE
  3. Fourth century BCE

Our Parsha this week describes the process of the purification of the Metzora, one who has become tamey-impure and afflicted with a spiritual form of leprosy. Rashi understands that this occurs as a result of the sin of Lashon Harah-negative gossiping about others and he thus explains that it the reason why he brings bird sacrifices that make a lot of noise and speak way too much. He also attributes it to the negative character trait of haughtiness. He thus suggests that he must take a cedar branch which is a very tall tree and mix it with the blood of the bird along with a crimson dyed wool referred to as a tola’at and hyssop and sprinkle it on the Metzora.
There is a seemingly fascinating Rashi that seems simple, but as we have shown if one scratches the surface a bit there is an incredible life lesson as well. Rashi states “What is the remedy that he shall be healed? He should lower himself like a tola’at-which can also be translated as a worm and like an hyssop-a very low branch-which incidentally Maimonides notes is the Za’atar that Israelis seem to like on everything they eat.
Reb Shlomo Vilna notes that if the function of the hyssop and the tola’at-worm symbol- is lowliness then why do you need both. Also he asks shouldn’t the hyssop be before the worm as it is higher up? He answers that the ideal that one should reach is to find the middle golden path of all of the attributes. We don’t go to extremes. However one who suffers from too much must go to the opposite until he can find his way back. He therefore should lower himself first like a tola’at, a worm, a nothing creature, yet then he should recognize that with his new found humility he can rise up a bit higher like the hyssop-still a lowly humble plant but yet something that has the potential to grow and even taste good on Pita J. Thus Rashi’s words are quite precise He should lower himself from his haughtiness- how? Two steps; first like a tola’at and then like a hyssop. See how amazing Rashi is!


Death of Miram 10 Nisan 2487 - 1273 B.C.E. This Monday.
Miriam, the sister of Aharon and Moshe passed away at the age of 126, 39 years after yetziat Mitzrayim (the Exodus) and exactly one year before the Children of Israel entered the Holy Land.
Miriam means "bitter sea," because she was born at a time when the Egyptians embittered the lives of the Jews. Despite the hardships, Miriam remained strong, and it was she who convinced her parents to remarry and have more children, in the face of Pharaoh's decrees. The result was the baby Moshe. It was Miriam who watched over Moshe as he was set afloat in the Nile River. Miriam is also noted in the Torah for leading a victory song after Pharaoh's army was drowned in the Red Sea.
The be'er shel Miriam (Miriam’s well) which miraculously accompanied the Jews during the 40 years of wandering in the desert, dried up when Miriam died. It was later restored in thezechus (merit) of Moshe and Aharon. This well is located today in the Kineret (MasechetShabbat 35). In Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 580:2 it states that today is a Taanit Tzaddikimin commemoration of her yahrtzeit.
It is in deference to her passing that the "Great Shabbat" is commemorated on the Shabbat before Pesach rather than the calendar date of the miracle's occurrence, 10 Nisan.


You never know what you have…until you clean your room.
I love cleaning up messes I didn’t make. So I became a mom.
My room is not dirty. I just have everything on display. Like a museum.
A clean house is a sign of no Internet connection.
And the true, short story of every parent: “My house was clean. Then the kids woke up. The end.

A man comes to a great Rabbi and asks him if he is obligated to clean the cracks between the tiles of his floor one by one in case some Chametz fell there. The Rabbi responded yes, but it is a very important job and therefore he shouldn’t give it to his wife to do rather he should do it himself….

AND BONUS in honor of the person that noted that the cover or my book picture looks like the Sound Of Music here’s some Pesach Sound of Music songs
Our Passover Things
(To be sung to the tune of "My favorite things", from The Sound of Music)
Cleaning and cooking and so many dishes
Out with the hametz, no pasta, no knishes
Fish that's gefiltered,
horseradish that stings
These are a few of our Passover things.
Matzoh and karpas and chopped up haroset
Shankbones and kidish and Yiddish neuroses
Tante who kvetches and uncle who sings
These are a few of our Passover things.
Motzi and maror and trouble with Pharoahs
Famines and locust and slaves with wheelbarrows
Matzoh balls floating and eggshell that clings
These are a few of our Passover things.

When the plagues strike
When the lice bite
When we're feeling sad
We simply remember our Passover things
And then we don't feel so bad.

Just a Tad of Charoset
(to the tune of "Just a Spoon Full of Sugar")

Just a tad of charoset helps the bitter herbs go down,
The bitter herbs go down, the bitter herbs go down.
Just a tad of charoset helps the bitter herbs go down,
In the most disguising way.
Oh, back in Egypt long ago,
The Jews were slaves under Pharoh.
They sweat and toiled and labored
through the day.
So when we gather pesach night,
We do what we think right.
Maror, we chew,
To feel what they went through.
So after years of slavery
They saw no chance of being free.
Their suffering was the only life they knew.
But baby Moses grew up tall,
And said he'd save them all.
He did, and yet,
We swear we won't forget.


While the maror is being passed,
We all refill our water glass,
Preparing for the taste that turns us red.
Although maror seems full of minuses,
It sure does clear our sinuses.
But what's to do?
It's hard to be a Jew!!!

Answer is C – This is a really not fair question. It seems simple enough until one gets in to the dating of everything. Conventional ‘modern dating puts the destruction of the First temple at 586 BC Ezra coming by the building of the 2nd Temple would therefore be at the beginning of the 5th century in the late 400’s or so. However according to tradition that he was 120 years old when he died then he could have been living in the 6th century as well. Jewish tradition according to Seder Olam though puts the destruction of the Temple in the year 420 and its being rebuilt in the year 350 which would put him in the 4th century as well. So I’m sure they were looking for the 5ht century answer and he certainly wasn’t the 7th century but the other answers could technically and arguably be correct as well… What o you think.