Our view of the Galile

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.

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