Our view of the Galile

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Oblivious Witness to Redemption- Emor / Yom Ha'Atzmaut 2016/5776

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

May 12th 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 32 4h Iyar 5776
Parshat Emor/Yom Ha’Atzmaut

Oblivious Witness to Redemption
I was a young pretty yeshivish yeshiva bachur studying in Israel. My years in my yeshivas had ingrained in me a distaste for Zionism and the whole State of Israel. After all the early Zionists were not only secular and anti-religious but in the early State of Israel they were actively waging war on the ultra-religious Jews of the Old Yishuv. They viewed them as the old ghetto type Jews that they not only disdained, but that they felt was their mission to assimilate in the new State leaving behind the shackles of their past primitive beliefs and observances. The Zionists couldn’t be trusted, they were out to destroy Torah, the redemption would not come until they were gone. The State of Israel was chazer trayf and we were meant to always be suspicious of them. Certainly not give them any credence or respect. Perhaps the fact that my father was an ardent Zionist and I was always a bit of a rebel, also motivated my ideological perspectives as well. I knew better then my parents of course. I was a yeshiva student and schooled in Torah. They were not. They were sold a bill of sales of a country that was not what the Almighty wanted.
I remember my first year here in Israel I was on the bus to on Yom Ha’atzmaut going to the Kotel. Not of course to celebrate, but merely to ‘check out the scene’. Hey, even the yeshiva student in me was curious to see what the whole thing was about. It probably helped as well that my Rabbis told me that we shouldn’t go. I don’t know why they never figured out that was the wrong thing to tell me… Anyways on the bus,  I remember bumping in to my good friends father Rabbi Shalom Gold. He was a more Zionistic Rabbi in Har Nof, and I frequently would eat at his house on Shabbos where we would endlessly and quite forcefully debate Zionism and the State of Israel. While we were sitting on the bus and looking out the bus windows, I pointed out to him what was going on outside. Boys and girls dancing together-rather inappropriately, people jumping up and down and drinking and cavorting. It looked like New Years Eve in Times Square. I said to him quite superiorly 
Nuu….what do you have to say about this? How does this make you feel to see all this ‘prtizus-inapropriate frivolity”
Rabbi Gold’s response to me that seemed so strange and crazy at the time was, without even batting an eyelash 
“Actually this makes feel quite spiritual. It makes me feel so filled with holiness to see this amazing sight”
I looked at him like he was crazy. Like he didn’t get it . Like he was living on another planet. Certainly not one that had anything to do with a Torah outlook. What was wrong with him?

Fast forward about 20 years. Rabbi Schwartz was in Israel once again on Yom Ha’Atzamut. I was riding on the bus to the Kotel. I looked out the window and saw the same site. The dancing, the kissing, the partying. Yet much to my surprise and even concern. I felt inspired. It was beautiful. I heard the prophecy of Isaiah of boys and girls dancing in the streets of Jerusalem once again, although I don’t think that this was exactly what he had meant and I felt that this was something. I heard them singing Hakadosh Baruch Hu Anachnu Ohavim Otcha- Hashem we love you, Od Avinu Chai Am Yisrael Chai and I saw past their barely dressed bodies and bizarre crazy face paint and saw that Jewish soul reaching desperately for its Creator, for our Father- and you know what it even felt like they were connecting. I was troubled by my feelings. What happened to that starry eyed, zealot, yeshiva student?

 I remember calling my Rebbe that evening and telling him about my feelings. He explained myself to me. He explained how for the past 15 years in Jewish outreach across America I had seen the other side of the coin. I had for the past decades been dealing with Jews, who had totally disconnected from Yiddishkeit, Intermarried families, college students who it would take miracle if any of their children would even know that they are Jewish. I had seen firsthand the almost total spiritual destruction of almost half of our nation, of millions of Jews, of generations to come that will barely even know that there is promise and millennia old hope that we will return to Eretz Yisrael. That it is our home. That we are in Exile. After seeing and living all of that. It is therefore understandable that when I see Jewish kids dancing with Jewish kids, despite their lack of observance, or even their lack of knowledge, yet they are celebrating our return to our Land, they are singing about Hashem. They recognize that we are still AM Yisrael and that we have a Father, that I would feel spiritual and inspired. Mi K’Amcha Yisrael- Who is like Your nation is Israel, I understood what Rabbi Akiva meant when he said Yisrael even if he sins is still call Hashem’s children. I had changed. My world-view had become different. I was only now first able to appreciate the gift of the Eretz Yisrael.
Recently I heard another lecture from Rabbi Gold. He told over a story of the liberation of Yerushalayim in 1967. Abraham Rabinovitch, an Israeli reporter for the Jerusalem Post, accompanied the paratroopers as they entered the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967. Following the war, he wrote a book in which he described the scene of the brave young soldiers as they searched for a way to the Kotel, the Wall that had been closed off to most of them since their birth

“The brave men fought their way into the city and had but one thing in mind: where is the Kotel? They entered alleyway after alleyway, passing houses with flags of surrender flying from their windows-but there was no one in sight. Many of these young men were 19-20 years old. Their entire lives they had never been in the Jordanian controlled old city. The Kotel did not yet have the great plaza it does today as the arabs had built up to the wall where they would dump their garbage.
Suddenly, at the end of one street, they spied a slight young man, clearly frightened, standing in his doorway. The soldiers assured the Arab that he would not be harmed. All they wanted, the men explained, was to find their way to the Temple Mount, to the Har HaBayis. The twenty-something year old shakily pointed them in the right direction and remained standing and watching.
He stood and watched as his enemy ran to the Mount; he saw as they raised the Israeli flag over his mosque; he heard the shouts of joy and the songs of celebration.
But he did not react.
He stared as if in a trance; not absorbing what he saw
He just didn't get it
He didn’t have a clue.
As it turned out, the young man, was a reporter for the local Arab paper. His name was Muhammed Daud and he would become a fairly well-known newsman in the Arab world. Except......except he wasn’t born Muhammed Da’ud. At his bris he was given the name Mark David Schleifer-perhaps Mordechai David.But after meeting his future wife some years before the Six-Day War he converted to Islam.

So here was this Jewish Muslim who had just been part of one of the most remarkable moments in all of Jewish History....... and he hadn’t a clue! He felt nothing! He was so alienated from the nation of his birth that he couldn’t identify with their joy in seeing the dream of two millennia being realized
Rabbi Gold then commented that as painful as this story might be, you needn’t be divorced from Judaism to be blind to a miracle. You could be a fine upstanding Jew; you could learn Daf Yomi regularly; you could be a scholar, -but you still could not have a clue! You could be missing the boat that we are living the fulfillment of the period of the ingathering of exiles where we are almost at the tipping point of the majority of the Jewish people having returned and living in the land of our forefathers. We could be oblivious to the incredible miracle that the land that has been desolate for 2000 years and occupied by almost every major world Empire has never been fertile or produced for them and today with the return of our people to our country, we have become the most fertile country in the Middle East who exports its produce all over the world. We can be focused on the negativity and the headaches troubles and flaws of our yet to be fully realized dreams, that we don’t see the tremendous explosion of Jews returning to the faiths of our forefathers and the tremendous heroism and merits that even the most secular Jew in Israel has as he is willing to fight and give his life for his fellow Jew and to defend Hashem’s country. 

We can all be Muhamad Daud Shleifers rather than children of a generation that should be in awe of being part of the greatest moment in our history. We can be as clueless as many of our ancestors might have been who thought that Europe, Poland, Hungary were our homes until Hashem took us out of there, or that many of the our Sefardic brethren felt about their Arab countries where they dwelled and flourished for centuries, or as many of the French, English, and other wonderful EU country Jews are first realizing today are not their real homes. Nor as tragically my American friends, despite all the “crisis’s” the struggles to make a living, to pay tuition, the growing anti-Israel and anti semitic stirrings, and despite which ever lunatic is the next President have yet to realize. We can just continue to be oblivious bystanders to the greatest moments in our history and the incredible opportunity that Hashem has offered us; to really come home.

This week’s Torah portion contains in it the verses that command us to give up our lives for the sanctification of Hashem’s Name.
And you shall not desecrate my holy Name and I will be sanctified amongst the Children of Israel-I am Hashem who sanctifies you Who takes you out from the land of Egypt to be for you as a God. I am Hashem”
The mitzva and verse that precedes this Mitzva is the obligation to bring a thanksgiving offering. The connection between these two mitzvos seems to be that to sanctify Hashem’s name, the Seforno suggests is that once we see the awesomeness of Hashem we are obligated to thank Him. That will be the motivation to sanctify Hashem in all that we do. The opposite is true as well there is no greater desecration of Hashem’s name then to ignore the goodness and kindness that He performs for us. He does all that He does in order to sanctify His name amongst us. Don’t be oblivious, don’t’ be Mark David Shleifers or even worse, Torah Scholars, Observant God fearing Jews that miss the boat and not sings the songs of praise for the kindness and miracles I preform. I am Hashem who takes you- an eternal present tense- out of the constraints and bondage of that close minded enslaved we are eternally exiled mentality. You can be redeemed. You are being redeemed. Sanctify my name amongst the Jewish people with your thanksgiving offering. I am Hashem.

We are guaranteed that by the ultimate final redemption Bal Yidach Mimenu Nidach- there will not be anyone that will left behind. Not Mark David Shleifer, not my former college students, not the assimilated Jew, not the comfortable Lakewood Torah scholar, Yeshiva guy, Satmer Chasid, or that really incredible Jewish philanthropist and Baal Chesed that built himself the most beautiful house down the block from you that somehow feels that he actually might be staying there in America for a while and that may not yet appreciate the greatness of what we are experiencing. How close we are to the end. We will all return. We will all sing the ultimate songs of praise to the rest of the world.  Let’s start saying our thanks already now.
Have an incredible happy 68th Birthday Shabbat and awesomely holy Yom Ha’atzamut,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SP63KzQO9Xs   – My Great Friend Gershon Veroba Blue and White (What Michael Jackson meant to sing..)

https://youtu.be/1w1L1D7-EZ8   –Nefesh Bnefesh 68 years of Israel “With my Hands” amongst the featured my dear friend from Seattle Reb David Gottlieb

https://youtu.be/ZmPK7ady1F4  Great Funny Video about Anti- Israel Media Bias

“A ligner hert zikh zeineh ligen azoi lang ein biz er glaibt zikh alain- A liar tells his story so often that he gets to believe it himself.


“Give me a chavruta (study partner) or death”

“‘"Lord of the universe, as the besieged and the besiegers both belong to Your people, I beseech You not to answer the evil prayers of either."

"Master of the Universe! Your people, Israel, that You have brought up from Egypt, they cannot live with too much good nor with too much affliction. You were angry with them, they could not withstand it. You showered them with goodness, they could not take it. May a will come forth from within You that the rain will stop and there will be respite in the world!"”

Choni HaMa’agel 5th of Iyar 63 BC this Friday
It was not long after the period of Chanuka and the great victory of the Maccabees-forerunners but not to be confused with Maccabeats Acapella group
J. They threw the Syrian Greeks out of Israel and rededicated the Temple restoring the service and the Jewish people to their once sacred observance level. Unfortunately it didn’t last long within a century the Jews were back being Greek and corrupt again. In fact the descendants of the original Chashmonaim themselves became once again a corrupt Priestly class. In fact it eventually led to civil war on the Temple Mount between two brothers for control of the Temple. That was the period where the Talmud tells us the great Sage and miracle worker lived.
The Talmud tells us two stories about Choni. The first was that he said that he always had difficulty understanding the verse in Psalms that when Hashem will return to us to Zion we will be like dreamers. He said that since the period of our Exile between the first two Temples was 70 years, whoever heard of someone sleeping for 70 years? It then tells us that he went for a walk and so an individual planting a carob tree which usually takes 70 years until it produces fruits. When he asked the man why he was wasting his time on such a tree, as the chances are he will not see its fruit the older man responded that he came in to the world with carob trees and so he will leave the world with trees for the future. Choni then went to take a nap. He awoke to see a young man picking those same fruits. He figured out that he had slept for 70 years. The original Rip van Winkle! Ultimately He was not able to find someone that could study with him on the level that he was accustomed to and he prayed for death.
The other story the Talmud tells us that he was called Choni the Ma’Agel the circle maker because when it did not rain the sages came to him to pray for rain. He then drew a circle around himself and stated before God that he will not leave until it rains. It first started to drizzle, but Choni responded that it was not enough. It then started coming down very hard, but he also protested that this was not the rain of blessing he had intended either. Until ultimately Hashem made tit rain just right…- The original Goldilocks Hmmm…. The sages were going to excommunicate him for his audacity to speak to God like that but they held back because they said “What can we do, he is like a child that cries to his Father and he gives him his every wish”.
Josephus writes that Choni as killed when he refused to curse one of the sides of the Chashmonaim against the other side. Being that they are both children of Hashem. The Maharsha suggests that perhaps that perhaps it is during this period that he disappeared and it was assumed that he was killed. Although his yartzeit is according to tradition on the 3rd of Iyar it is celebrated by his grave on the 5th of Iyar, Israel Independence Day by the early Yemenite Community that established themselves as the first settlers in Hatzor HaGlilit in the Galile where he is buried.

answer below at end of Email
Q. Synagogues from the Byzantine period were found in:
A.    Modi’in and Sephoris (Tsipori)
  1. En Gedi and Magdala
  2. Bet Alpha and Bar’am
  3. Capernaum (Kfar Nahum) and Gamla
I’m writing this on Yom Hazikaron- Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror; the day that we focus on those who gave their lives for Kiddush Hashem the sanctification of Hashem’s name. So naturally I am drawn to the verse in this week’s Torah portion that describes this Mitzva and Rashi’s explanation.

And you shall not desecrate my holy Name and I will be sanctified amongst the Children of Israel-I am Hashem who sanctifies you- Rashi comments on the words and you shall not desecrate-That the desecration would be violating Hashem’s words intentionally. He then notes that the seeming redundancy that Hashem will be sanctified is there to teach us “Surrender yourself-(to martyrdom) and sanctify my name”. Rashi then continues and explain that this rule that one is obligated to give up one’s life rather than violate any commandment only applies ‘amongst the Jewish people” when there are many Jewish witnesses around.

Rashi then continues with seemingly a halachic point-that after all this time of learning Rashi- we know is important and critical to understanding the simple pshat. He says that ‘when one gives himself up for martyrdom he should do so with the intent of dying-not for a miracle to happen and save him. For he who does so in order for a miracle to save him, will not have a miracle happen for him.’ And he brings a proof that Hanania Mishael and Azariya in the book of Daniel who were thrown into a fiery furnace did so saying that knew not if they would be saved or not and regardless they went to their martyrdom and then a miracle saved them.
The Sefas Emes of Ger explains that the function of this mitzva is so that the Jewish people will know that there are some things that worth dying for. That the life that we have is about sanctifying Hashem’s name and following His word. Someone who is banking on a miracle to save themselves, is really not showing that and sanctifying Hashem’s name despite their willingness to be willing to offer their lives up. Therefore Rashi explains that one should not desecrate Hashem’s name in their surrender of their lives to be killed for any other reason besides giving up ones life. It is possible then they will merit a miracle. But regardless Hashem’s name will be sanctified.
As I said I read this Rashi on the day we remember all of those who have fallen with no hope or even prayer of miracles. They died because they were Jews that were willing to give their lives for Hashem, His land and His people. There is no greater Kiddush Hashem then that. May Hashem avenge their deaths and bring us the final redemption.

5th of Iyar 1799- The siege of Napoleon on the city of Akko ends in failure-We here in Israel celebrate the 5th of Iyar as the date of establishment and declaration of the State of Israel in 1948. Did you know however that the seeds of that State and the concept of a return to Jerusalem had it its roots 149 years before? In 1799 Napoleon was on his way to conquering the world. After his invasion of Egypt Israel was next on the hit list in order to incite a Syrian revolution against the British. He wiped out Jaffa and came to the city of Akko. Within the city the Turkish Governor El Jazaar had a Jewish advisor Chaim Farchi. Napoleon as the story goes really wanted the city bad. He engaged the Rabbis in Israel at the time in a dialogue about the reestablishment of the Sanhedrin and ultimately returning to them “Solomon’s Temple”. Farchi wasn’t biting and he was loyal to his governor and did not trust Napoleon, particularly after he had heard about the massacre in Jaffa.
In order to hold of Napoleon who had laid siege upon the city, Farchi advised and had the Turks build a new siege wall within the former Siege wall. Therefore when Napoleon breached the first wall he was repelled by Jazaars forces from behind the second wall. On the 5th of Iyar Napoleon turned his troops back and headed back to Europe. One of his few major defeats and certainly a major downward turning point in his aspirations of world conquest. Breslaver Chasidim note that Rabbi Nachman of Breslav was in the city at the time of the siege and of course attribute the salvation to his great merit. Yet the seeds of the imagination of a Jewish independent homeland becoming a reality with the approval of the world powers had begun to sprout. It took 149 years to see the first stage of its fulfillment may we see the ultimate conclusion soon as well.

10 . On your morning commute, block the aisle of the subway to put on teffilin with a minyan

9.  Negotiate down your morning coffee guy on price, then ask why he doesn't serve cucumbers and choco

8 . On calls with hostile clients, make it clear you will not negotiate with terrorists

7.  Come late to meeting and use excuse that you ran into someone you knew from America

6 . Spit sunflower seeds throughout presentation at your boss

5.  Make sure to make a To-DuDu List

4 . Put on your formal Naots when clients come in to the office

3.  Your Out of Office Voicemail says to leave messages in the kotel

2.  you stick post-its on your wall with a mashed falafel ball

1 . Sign emails with 'Next email in Jerusalem'

Answer is C – This is a tricky question. But I’m pretty sure I got it right. There are quite a lot of Shuls around from the Byzantine 4th -7th century in Israel. This is the period of the Mishna and Talmud. The Byzantines being the Romans that had destroyed the Temple in the year 70 that eventually converted to Christianity becoming the “Holy” Roman Empire.  It’s the early stages of synagogues which only first got started at the time of the destruction of the Temple. Until that point there were no synagogues. Everything revolved around the Temple. The tricky part of the question is that each of the answers does have a Byzantine period synagogue in the answer. Tzippori has a great synagogue and was the place where Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi wrote the Mishna yet Modi’in does have synagogue in Um al Umdan but it was from the second temple period-modi’in being the city where the Maccabees revolted from. Ein Gedi as well hs one from the Byzantine period, a fantastic one with very interesting Mosaic about the secret of the Synagogue. Migdal has one as well but that’s the second Temple as well- period of where the Christians believe Mary Magdalene was from. Kfar Nachum a city from the time of the 2nd Temple has a synagogue there from the Byzantine period interestingly enough it was built to look like it was built on the ruins of a second Temple synagogue- a synagogue built by Christians to support their New Testament fable about J-Man lecturing and getting thrown out of there. However Gamla is only 2nd Temple period, as it was destroyed by Vespasian and Titus before heading down to Jerusalem. That of course leaves Bait Alfa and Bar’am both magnificent synagogues from that time period.

No comments:

Post a Comment