Our view of the Galile

Friday, April 1, 2016

A Father's Blessing- Shemini 2016/5776

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

April 1st 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 26 22ndAdar II 5776
Parshat Shemini/Parah

A Father’s Blessing
It’s finally here! She’s getting married. My cute little girl who would tag along with me wherever I went, who would wait anxiously by the door when I would come home from Kollel each night, who would wake up in the middle of the night and raid the fridge with me while Mommy was out cold is now gonna be someone else’s girl. OK, that little girl was gone a long time ago. Maybe from around the time she found her first cellphone, or maybe it was when she realized that I would get upset if she killed the other siblings that came along after her, and that also seemed to receive some attention from their father. I get upset at those little things once in a while, I confess. What she didn’t realize was that each of them was a dependent tax deduction and were important for the family finances. Or maybe it was when she stopped acting like that cute little girl, that would smile and laugh every time I made a joke and walked into the house, at about age 6 or so. I don’t remember when it happened, it doesn’t matter. She grew up. She became her own person. There should be a law against that. Some type of sin that is being violated. I miss my little girl. And now she’s getting married. She’ll have, God willing, little girls of her own, although I think girls prefer boys. Actually guys do also, that was until they get their first little girl. But I digress, I’m rambling. I haven’t slept in weeks. I keep tossing and turning. Where did time go? Where did my cute little Shani go? Who is this young woman? Who am I?
This coming Weds, the 27th of Adar, will be the day. I will dance and celebrate, I will pray and cry, I will tremble and probably perspire quite a bit. I remember my wedding. It was only a few days ago. It was a overwhelming. The Chupa felt like Yom Kippur and then we broke the glass and remembered the destruction of the Temple- Tisha B’Av, We had a little private room to eat alone- Sukkot. Which quickly evolved into Simchat Torah and Purim with dancing and maybe a tad of drinking. We even had a guy that swallowed fire in honor of Lag Ba’Omer. An entire year of holidays all rolled into one night. After it all I felt like I as wiped as if it was the morning after Shavuot night. My father when he got the bill afterwards said that he felt pretty “cleaned out” kind of like Pesach. I think I can say I finally understand that feeling.
But it’s all worth it. It’s a night when a new Jewish family is starting. A new world. The next generation. It’s what every Jewish parent hopes and prays for. This Wednesday night…
The moment that always gets me at the wedding is right after the Chasan places the veil over the bride; right after the Badeken. The father of the bride then comes and gives his daughter a blessing. A hush falls over the crowd. She’s his little girl again…for the last time. As the father recites the ancient blessing, the same blessing he has given her each Friday night, the same blessing he used to recite to her when he would tuck her into bed at night after reciting the Shema…the tears start to dribble. One feels that prayer and those whispered words soar up to the heavenly throne.
Yevarecha Hashem v’yishmerecha- May Hashem bless you and guard over you
Ya’eir Hashem panav eleicha v’chuneka-May Hashem shine His countenance upon you and give you grace
Yisa Hashem panav eleicha v’yaseim lecha shalom-May Hashem turn his countenance to you and establish you with peace
The words of this blessing are of course the blessing that the Kohanim would bless the Jewish people with. It is the priestly blessing, the one that the Torah commands them to bless the Jewish people with. The first time that blessing is given…well whadya know? It’s in this week’s Torah portion. How convenientJ.
This week’s parsha named Shemini, as it begins with the 8th day of the miluim, was the day when the Tabernacle was to be erected. On that day the Kohen completed his week of dedication and induction into his service and role as the conduit of that blessing and intermediary between Hashem and the Jewish people; the Father and His children. It was the long awaited day. Since the sin of the Golden Calf the Jewish people had been waiting for that place and the connection with the Almighty to return to their midst. The moment had arrived, the Shechina was coming back and the Torah tells us that, Aharon gets up and gives his blessing. The people fall on their faces. They sing they praise Hashem. We are one, we are forgiven that light is once again upon us…almost.
The blessing works for the most part. Yet tragically for two of Aharon’s own children it doesn’t. They bring a ‘strange fire’ and they are killed. They are killed for whatever their transgression was and the Tabernacle and Hashem is sanctified with their deaths. At the pinnacle of our glory, that deepest and most powerful of blessings didn’t seem to work.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the blessings this week. They are an incredible structure. Each blessing is really two blessings. The first part of each phrase is one of boundless goodness. The second part of each phrase is that the blessing should not turn bad. Each one counters the other. It’s truly amazing. The first sentence, Hashem should bless you-imagine someone gets an incredible gift, whatever blessing you can think of that you feel you need. Hashem gives it to you. The first thing that we wish is that He should also watch over you. He should make sure you don’t lose it. It should be eternal, it should never be distorted. V’yishmerecha. The second sentence- Hashem should shine his countenance upon you. You should be filled with that heavenly light. The radiance of the Divine presence should bring light to the entire world around you. The danger of having that incredible glow of holiness and light, like that glow of the bride and the groom on their wedding day, is that you might come to think that the glow is all about you. It’s your personality, your inspiration, your charisma. You’ve forgotten the source of that light, and you become disdainful of those that don’t possess it. V’yichuneka- the Kohen blesses you. You should always have grace. You should always utilize that light to find favor with all and bring favor and grace to each other. You should remember that your light is a matnat chinam- it is a free gift that comes from Hashem. That is the light that you should never lose. It’s the protection of the blessing.
The final blessing is perhaps most fascinating. Aharon blesses the Jewish people that Hashem should turn His face towards them always. That no matter what they do He should be able to find favor for us. In Israel we have a word for that, it’s called protektzia. He’s got our back and advocating on our behalf despite our failings. The Midrash tells us that the angels in heaven complained when they heard this blessing. They asked doesn’t it say in Your torah that a judge is not permitted to find unwarranted favor for a defendant. Lo Tisa Panim and do not take bribes? So how can you find favor for them? Hashem responds
“What can I do for this people? They are special. I gave them a mitzva that they should bless me when they eat and they become satiated. Yet, they are careful in their mitzvos and they bless me after they eat k’zayit or a beitza even the size of an olive or an egg.”
The Chatam Sofer explains this strange response of Hashem. Hashem is not merely saying that the Jews are extra strict about making their blessings. For in truth is one is not satisfied one should not make the blessing. Rather, he explains is that the Jewish people are satisfied with their lot. The k’zayit that they eat, they recognize comes from Hashem. It is all that they need to feel a sense of satisfaction that they have received something special from their Father in Heaven. So if they are satisfied with what I have given them, how can I in turn not be satisfied with them?
Nadav and Avihu, the two children of Aharon, did not merit this blessing. They wanted more. While the people fell on their faces and sang the praise of Hashem, the verse tells us that they looked and saw God and they ate and they drank. They were holy people whom Hashem Himself when He consoles Aharon testifies that they were motivated for a higher connection and that they were the kedoshim, the martyrs. But they did not merit the blessing of peace that would protect that special extra favor that the Jewish people would always have. For peace, true inner peace, true harmony, a true home where the Divine presence will always rest only can come when one isn’t looking elsewhere for their fulfillment; not looking at someone else’s place and portion. When one looks at the beauty and gift that Hashem has given him and the blessings and love that he or she has and appreciates how special that is, then one can achieve and protect that bracha that they have been given. They can have a house of shalom. A place where the shechina will always reside.
I don’t have words of wisdom to share with my daughter on this special day. I certainly don’t have any insight in how this whole marriage thing actually works. I’m still figuring it out. The best tip I can say is marry someone like your mother-because she pretty much knows how to make this thing work. Or better yet be someone like her. Also a good plate of chulent helps when your husband is not in a great mood. At least it does for me. Even a k’zayit’s worth No, I don’t really have any wisdom. But I do have a blessing.
Yivarachecha Hashem vyishmerecha,
Yaer Hashem panav eleicha v’chuneka
Yisa Hashem panav eleicha-V’yasem lecha shalom
I love you,
Have as happy of a Shabbos as I am having,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://soundcloud.com/ephraim-schwartz/mi-van-siach   –New Chupa song composed in honor of my daughters wedding this week

https://soundcloud.com/ephraim-schwartz/asher-bara – And another song I composed Asher Bara

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mByRlZtDIQAnd finally a hilarious explanation on the difference between Men and Women’s brains… MUST WATCH!!

“Ven di kinder zaynen yung dertseyln di eltern zeyere khokhmes; ven di eltern zaynen alt dertseyln di kinder zeyere narishkaytn.”- “When children are young, their parents tell over about how smart they are; when parents are old, their children talk about how crazy they are.”


“‘I follow the Torah! Treating people as human beings created in the Divine Image, keeping the laws of Shabbos or keeping Kosher. It is all one Torah, inseparable.”.

“‘Human’ is a very great thing. To be human is to be Godly. To internalize the Torah is to become Godly. Godliness touches everyone in it’s path”- When people would say they are only ‘human’ to him.

“Almost every child who is struggling with their religion is seeking attention they could not get at home from their parents.”

Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg 27th of Adar this Wednesday (1910 – 2012) - Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, died at 101 years of age. Volumes could – and probably will – be written on his many unique qualities. In Poland, the place of his birth, on his own initiative he arose at 4 am every morning to tie his elderly grandfather’s shoes, enabling him to go to morning prayers at sunrise, and would then ask to join him at those prayers. His grandfather predicted that this boy will grow to be one of the greatest leaders of the Jewish people. He was then 5 years old.
He immigrated to the U.S. at the age of nine and notwithstanding the complete void in Jewish education and the spirit of mass assimilation at that time, the young Chaim Pinchus became a Torah scholar. He attended public school until age 14, when he left home to study in a Yeshiva in rural Connecticut. At age 16 he was tested and celebrated the completion of an in-depth study of the entire Talmud, an accomplishment usually found in a select few advanced and elderly scholars. By the age of 19 he was tested on all of Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law.
At his wedding ceremony he was presented with a Semicha, Rabbinic ordination, signed by the most renowned Rabbis of Europe and America. And still, he was able to relate to his peers; he became an all American teenager. Old timers would call him Lefty Scheinberg for decades for his proficient ability to play shortstop. But beyond his down to earth mannerisms, there was a very deep fire burning. An almost unexplainable yearning to help restore Judaism and Torah to its prominence and majesty.
He returned to Europe after his marriage to continue his studies in the famed Mir Yeshiva where he soon became know as the most diligent student in Mir. The great dean of the Mir Yeshivah, Rabbi Lazer Yudel Finkel, would say, “I have two very diligent students, Reb Chaim Shmuelevitz and Reb Chaim Scheinberg.” During that period he visited and spent time with the saintly Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan, who went on to become his guiding light in life.
He considered every moment precious, until his very last moments. Eventually he opened his own Torah institution which went on to become one of the most prestigious yeshivot in the world. To describe his Torah knowledge could only understate the case – he taught generations of scholars, and spread Torah to many thousands of students.
That being said, the 80,000 people who attended his funeral did not do so simply for his Torah knowledge. Those who met him sensed something unique. His schedule was grueling: up at 4 am to study and pray, receive hundreds of visitors all day and night until I would finally close the doors around 12 or 1 in the morning. On one Saturday night  while he was in Monsey by his student Rabbi Yaakov Haber he recalled how hundreds of visitors arrived soon after Shabbat ended with questions and requests for blessings. There must have been at least 200 visitors that Saturday night, and thousands during the preceding week. But the Rabbi was not jaded, not detached, and not neutral. A person told him a tragic story and he cried. Five minutes later someone shared a simcha and he was happy. Someone gave him charity money to distribute and he took it. Someone asked for money and he gave it. He certainly wasn’t an actor, and had no pretenses; the Rabbi was virtually selfless.
He lived for others and fully identified with the person he was with. When someone spoke to him he felt his pain or his joy. When people spoke, he truly listened. He often taught that when someone is speaking to us we should listen with all of our mind and heart. We should not be waiting for a chance to speak or even be formulating a response in our minds. When someone speaks we should be selfless and just listen. He lived for others. It wasn’t about him. It was about finding the good in others, and enabling them to become greater.
Another lesson he taught was that we should always try to find one special thing about every person we meet. After doing so, that trait becomes their ‘signature’, enabling us to always think well of them, be concerned for them, and build them up.
To be in his presence was in itself an experience. Totally unpretentious, he would tuck in a child’s shirt, tell him to tie his shoelaces, caress the cheek of a troubled father. There was literally an aura of peace, of tranquility, surrounding him. His faith and trust in God was so complete it actually transcended his own personal space to effect a change in anyone who approached him.
Students of his would return to Jerusalem after many years of being away and Rav Scheinberg would remember their stellar qualities (‘You still have that amazing memory?’ ‘You never lost your smile!’). He did this for many thousands of students. He taught us many times that we can make another person’s day – and sometimes their life – different with a well- placed, albeit simple compliment. We have the power to make people great.
He was a great mensch and much more. He bonded with every single person he met. Some people are impressive from afar, but the more you get to know them, the more blemishes appear and the more ordinary they seem. Not so with truly great people. The closer you are to them, the more you see greatness that you never noticed before. Tens of thousands saw in Rav Scheinberg an example of Torah personified.  That is why the tens of thousands attended. That is the legacy that we are meant to live up to.

answer below at end of Email
Q. Standing stones in a cultic context from the First Temple period were found in:
A.    Tel Arad
  1. Hanemerim shrine
  2. Timna
  3. Tel Be’er Sheva

The Laws of Kosher are all about what you can put in your mouth right? Wrong. It’s about what Hashem decided is healthy for us right? Wrong. Take a look at Rashi in this week’s Torah portion and the lessons he teach are that these are much more about the sensitivity of the Jewish soul rather than our stomachs. If it was about health he wouldn’t let non-Jews eat non-kosher either. He loves them too.
One of the non-kosher birds is called the Chasida- I believe it is a stork. You can’t eat them What Rashi notes is that it has a strange name. Chasida, as you guessed is a Chasid a righteous person. You can’t eat Chasid’s either. {Aside extra bonus joke for those that actually read this part of the E-Mail- The Satmar Rebbe said that Yerushalmi kids are so cute you could just eat them up. And then when they grow up you wish you had… And here’s one more my mother was fond of telling me; what’s the difference between a Vulture and a Jewish kid?  A vulture waits until your dead until it eats your heart out J} Why such a nice name for a seemingly bad bird? Rashi explains that it was called a Chasid because it does kindness- and shares its food with its friends. OK then if it’s a good bird then why can’t I eat it. And why is Rashi telling us this- he must be coming in that statement to tell us that there is something wrong about this Chasida. The Chidushei HaRim of Ger explains that Rashi is telling us the problem with it. “It does kindness with its friends. If someone only does kindness with those that are their friends then that’s a problem. Sharing ones food should not be determined based on whom I consider my friends. Rather it is meant to be with those who need it. One’s friends may call him a Chasid but at the end of the day you’re trayf. You’re tamei-impure if that’s your outlook. See I told you it’s not just about food.


The Naharyim Masacare22nd Adar 1997- They were a group of girls from Beit Shemesh, 7th and 8th grade girls. They were visiting the famous Island of Peace. It is a small inland between Jordan and Israel that was established in the 1930’s with the building of the Ruttnberdg water Power plant that had provided electricity for much of the country by which Israel-actually Palestine and Jordan would share the power and resources that this plant would provide. It’s a nice place, a historic place, a place that is pretty and it was a safe place. Israel was at peace with Jordan. Yet it was there on this date that 7 girls were shot and killed by a deranged Jordanian guard who opened up fire on them. The aftermath of this horrible tragedy is that he was arrested and sentenced to life in jail. But what makes this story so unique amongst all of the too-many tragedies that are people have suffered, is that King Hussein himself came into Israel to apologize and pay a shiva call to the parents of the girls and even got down on his hands and knees to beg forgiveness from them. This is certainly something that has never happened before. He received much backlash and over the past few years there have been people in Jordan that have written petitions to get this murderer out of jail early. I hope that never happens. He should rot there forever. There are memorials there for these girls. May their memories be blessed and their families comforted.


Every man should remember that a happy marriage is a matter of give and take; the husband gives and the wife takes.

If you ever discover that your credit card was stolen think before you decided to report it … may be the thief is spending less than your wife.

“Man who sinks into woman’s arms;—Soon has his arms in woman’s sink”.- Confucius

Don’t marry for money; you can borrow it cheaper. – Scottish Proverb

The most effective way to remember your wedding anniversary is to forget once.

Whenever you’re wrong, admit it. Whenever you’re right, shut up. – Ogden Nash

My wife says I never listen, or something like that.......................

A woman worries about her future until she finds a husband, but a man never worries about the future until he takes a wife.

Marriage is an institution in which a man loses his bachelor's degree and the woman gets her master's.

Early in your marriage you will find it difficult to get the last word in any discussion. With time, though, you will learn how to always get the last two words in every discussion; just make sure the words are: 'Yes dear.'

And my favorite…

To be happy with a man, you must understand him a lot and love him a little. To be happy with a woman, you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all.

Answer is A – Jews worshiped idols throughout our early history. We found lots of them. They fill the musuems of Israel. We should destroy them. It’s a mitzva. I know this would upset a lot of people, particularly archeologists. But they upset God more. They remain a testimony of our unfaithfulness to our Lord. Imagine a bad husband that repented for being unfaithful to his wife and kept around pictures of his old girlfriend. Not a good idea. Anyways the answer here is Tel Arad where they found a mini temple that seemd to be made illegally for the people that didn’t want to shlep to Jerusalem during the first Temple period. They found these stand up shaved rocks that were idols and an altar that was taken apart and buried. It seems that this was from the period of Hezkiah who ordred all altars destroye. They took it apart but buried it nicely, figuring that they could probably use it again after he was gone. Seems like we Jews never learn…sigh

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