Our view of the Galile

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Time to Drink-Shelach 2016/5776

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

June 24th 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 38 18th Sivan 5776

Parshat Shelach

A Time to Drink

It was a strange evening. I was on my way home from the wedding of my wife’s step-brother. It was a beautiful simcha. The chupa, the music, the dancing, the incredible holiness of a new jewish family in Israel and what an awesome smorgasbord! I love simchas and family simchas that I don’t have to stand and pose for pictures for hours or pay for are the best of all worlds. On the way home though as I was absking in the afterglow, I had a call to make. It was to my brother-in-law who was sitting Shiva in America on the tragic untimely death of his brother. So sad. So sobering. A young man just starting his family and in the prime of his life. Someone who will never see his little kids grow up, will never walk them down the chupa. Who leaves behind mourning parents, siblings, and his wife. How sad, how tragic. As I said the traditional words of consolation and prayed that Hashem, the Omnipresent, should comfort him along with the mourners of Zion, my thoughts were jumbled. I wondered what King Solomon meant in his book of Proverbs when he said that it is “better to go to a house of mourning then a house of feasting, for it is the end of all man and the living will place it upon his heart.” I liked the wedding better. Now I was all somber. It may perhaps be better to go to the funeral house then the feasting wedding house, it might make one a bit more contemplative of Hashem and my mortality. But it sure felt better coming backing from a wedding then coming back from the Shiva call. One thing was certain I had gone quite literally ‘from’ the house of feasting ‘to’ the house of mourning exactly as King Solomon had described and I knew that for some reason this was meant to be tov-good.
My next call in the car through me for an even greater loop. It was from a dear friend and student of mine, whose wife who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and who according to the doctors should have been gone a few years ago on the line. We hadn’t spoken for a while. She had been doing better. It was almost miraculous. She went from being pretty much paralyzed to getting up and walking around. She had two more years with her husband and her children, then they had ever dreamed of. The doctors couldn’t really explain it. I told him that it was because they didn’t know that he had a Rabbi in Israel praying on his and her behalf J. But he wasn’t calling with good news. It seems she had a seizure and a relapse. They didn’t feel that they could continue with the therapy (which did not include chemo, incidentally, rather some Israeli invention thingy). They were moving her to hospice. He was scared. He had unwavering faith though that it could still turn around. ‘Miracles happen’ he told me. The fact that she is here today is one.

He told me that he really hasn’t done anything religious over the past time, he kind of fell out of it. I contradicted him though. I told him that I believe he had done the most religious thing a Jew does. He prayed. He talked to God. He may have not used a prayer book. It certainly wasn’t in a synagogue. But that’s irrelevant. We use those things to get to the point of real prayer. A real conversation with the Almighty. I told him that I knew that he has been doing that. He agreed. Although he conjectured that they weren’t always the friendliest conversations. I assured him that one only gets upset with someone that they love. Someone that they have a connection with. Someone that they feel should be there with them. Someone that they know is on the other end of the phone. That spoke to him. He certainly falet close to Hashem. He had been with him until now. He would always be with him. We parted with words of hope and prayer. As I said it was a strange evening.

It is not often one has such an experience of such diverse emotions. Rising to the pinnacles of joy, experiencing the tragedy of death and then the emotional roller-coaster of hope, faith and prayer of an illness. It was the range of human emotions. The different extremes of spiritual connections. They all related to Hashem though. I was cognizant of His presence in everything that goes on.

This week’s Torah portion Shelach also comes at that moment of incredibly diverse emotions. The Torah portion begins with the Jewish people on the cusp of our redemption. We have finally arrived…almost. We are just a few days out of our divinely promised destination. The Land we were promised, the milk, the honey, the land of our forefathers that we had left and were exiled from centuries before. Moshe sends out the 12 heads of the tribes to explore the land and bring back the news of their experience. The sights, the sounds, the holiness, the potential. The spies, as we all know fail in their purpose. The offer their own opinions. It’s not something that can work. Huge abnormal fruits, giants, armed cities. They are stronger than us. We can not conquer them. The nation mourns. Hashem gets annoyed. The decree that we will wander for forty years and none of the men of age will be ever make it into the land is put into place. And the 9th of Av becomes a day of eternal mourning.

The story tragically continues with a group of the tribe of Ephraim that decides to try to come up anyways and the tragic massacre of their tribe by the Canaanites and the Amalekites. We went from the top of the world, from a future that was so bright to the depths of mourning, sadness and tragedy. It is a hard parsha to read. It is so sad. We were almost there. I think I want a drink. But hey, what’s that in the next Aliya-the next Torah portion we read?  A mitzva, a command that contains wine. A L’Chaim. Seems like Hashem would like a drink to.
The Mitzva that Hashem has chosen to place right after the narrative of the spies is certainly a strange one that feels out of place.
“And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: When you will come to the land of your dwelling places that I have given you and you preform a fire offering to Hashem-an Olah or a peace sacrifice or on your festivals to produce a pleasant fragrance for Hashem from the cattle or the flock-the one who brings his offering to Hashem shall bring a meal-offering of a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil and a quarter of a hin of wine for a libation…”
Didn’t we finish up the laws of sacrifices in Vayikra already? What does this have anything to do with the story of the spies? Why here? Why only now does Hashem command Moshe to tell this mitzva that with each sacrifice they should bring a wine libation and some flour offering? Our sages explain that although the mitzva of libations was given already but that was for public sacrifices. The new command given here was that every personal offering should also have the wine brought with it. A little L’Chaim it seems.

Rashi explains that Hashem over here is giving them tidings over here and now to let them now that despite the decree they will still enter the land. But that makes it even more perplexing. For seemingly they will not enter the land. It’s almost like rubbing salt-or wine in their wounds. Which is certainly not the intent. The Torah is telling us that on some level this is considered that theyw ae ‘coming to the land’ it is still the land of ‘their dwelling place’. And again what does this have to do with wine?
It’s interesting if you note that there are many references to grapes in the story of the spies. The story begins with the introduction to their mission into Israel with the term
(Bamidbar 13:20)  And the days were the days of the ripening of the grapes.
As well the Torah tells us (Bamidbar 13:23-24) that they came to the valley of Eshkol (which is a cluster of grapes) cut a vine with a cluster of grapes and they carried it on a pole by two. Which the commentaries explain that eight spies had to carry this one cluster. And then it says the called this place the valley of Eshkol because of the cluster they cut. Obviously grapes have quite a role in this whole story.
When you want to understand something in the Torah you have to go to the first time it is mentioned. The truth is that grapes and vineyards and wine seem to have a story. Perhaps the first story in the Torah of a new world, a missed opportunity and a tragedy. I refer to the story of Noach. Here we have a man who’s whole world was destroyed and he was meant to make a new start. As the Jewish people were about to enter their new land so was Noach about to enter his new world. The future was bright. It was certainly built upon the destruction of the old world. But the sun was shining and it was time to get started. Noach had prepared for this moment and he brings a sacrifice. He thanks Hashem and the covenant of the rainbow is made. And then he plants a vineyard, grapes, gets drunk and its downhill from there. Our sages tell us that Noach brought all the animals that Hashem told him to bring on the Ark, but he also chose to bring grapes. He knew that he would need a drink after all of this and it is the first thing that he brings. Some of our sages point out that the reason he chose grapes was because this was the tree of knowledge that Adam had eaten from. It was the grapes and the wine-certainly not an apple, that he ate from that led to the first downfall and exile of Creation. {It is interesting that the word eshkol-cluster shares within it the word sechel knowledge or intelligence} Noah planted vineyards and wine to symbolize that return to Eden. The incredible potential of this new world.

There is an interesting Jewish custom. The rest of the world stole it from us. We make a L’Chaim at almost all occasions. When someone gets engaged or married we drink and take a small little shot-perhaps a quarter of a hin of wine- and wish To Life. On the day of the anniversary of someone’s death- a yahrtzeit, or a house of mourning, we make a L’Chaim. There is even a custom by chasidim that after the passing of one of their Rebbe’ they take a drink as the new Rebbe is appointed immediately.  I have researched this L’Chaim toast a bit and will share with you some of the interesting sources for this custom. The great Wikipedia suggests that this ancient custom has its roots to a time when people were suspicious that their hosts would poison them. So their host would raise his glass, say L’chaim and even clink the glasses together so that the wine from their cups would mix and then drink it to show it was not poisoned. Doesn’t sound too inspiring to me. Another source suggested that when one drinks wine all the senses are ignited. The color of the wine is one’s sense of sight, the smell and aroma the sense of smell and the taste and texture of the wine as well. The clinking of the glasses is for the sense of sound. Nice as well but perhaps something a bit more meaningful.

Wine we are told is the revelation of the hidden potential. Unlike other things wine gets better with age. The Talmud in Shabbat (67) tells us that when the great Rabbi Akiva would make a feast for his son he would raise his glass and say “Wine and life for the sages, life and wine for the sages and their students”. The Maharsha explains that wine has the power to connect to extend life, to ‘gladden the heart of man’. Yet if misused if taken to excess then it can be a source of death of tragedy. Thus Rabbi Akiva would bless them first with wine to gladden them and the life with it. Yet after they drank he would switch it around and bless them with life first and then wine. The wine should be one that connects them to eternal life. To Hashem.

When the spies enter the land of Israel they find grapes, the find that potential to make that connection to Hashem. The y see the sechel and name the river after it. Yet they lost it. They lacked the faith. They didn’t make their second L’Chaim. The wine became their focus and they didn’t clink glasses with the Almighty that brought them there. After that great tragedy Hashem tells Moshe to tell His children, that it will never be the case anymore. They will come into the land. Perhaps not that nation- who will die in the wilderness, but they are not dead. They will always be connected to life. The land will be considered their dwelling place. It will be as if they themselves came into the land. Their children will come in and they will bring offerings. Sometimes those offerings will be times of joy, sometimes they will be for sins, sometimes for tragedies for purity, for atonement. The offerings will have a L’Chaim associated with them. A L’Chaim for generations that did not merit to be here with them who are bound in eternal life. A L’Chaim to recognize that each of us is always connected to Hashem no matter what happens in our lives. A L’Chaim for Hashem who has waited so long for this day for this moment when His children are home with him and are bringing those offerings that will always connect them to Him. That will remind Him of that pristine world when we were there with Him in the Garden of Eden. That will rectify the failure of Noach to return us to that world. A L’Chaim that we hope soon to sing and drink with our Temple returned in His home, Yerushalayim. L’Chaim!

Have an amazing Shabbos,

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=di5Etd1iDvs  I know you’ve been waiting for this. It’s here! Shani and Yackov wedding video I made from the pictures we just got! Enjoy!

https://youtu.be/AaEBa3CuItc  – Lipa Shmeltzer-the self described Chasidic “Lady Gaga” Pepsi Max commercial
https://youtu.be/aHf7d4LvPVo  in honor of the wedding this past week of Zalmy and Yael Sorotzkin..a Jewish ‘My Way’


“Az men krigt zikh miten rov, muz men sholem zein miten shainker”-. If you’re at odds with your rabbi, make peace with your bartender.

Almost all of our sages (poskim) have agreed with the opinion of the MaHaRit that even in our times we are commanded to go up to Eretz Yisrael. Therefore I was much surprised at some of the great leaders of our nation who are learned in Torah and Hasidut, when they expressed opposition to living in the Holy Land and causing its reclamation by buying field and vineyards for Jewish farmers to settle upon it. They based such opposition on the fact that a majority of these farmers, specifically the young ones, don’t adhere to the Torah. Their words are not correct, for it has already been written that the Holy One Blessed Be He would rather His children remain in the land, even though they do not keep His commandments, than reside in the Diaspora and keep the commandments.””

The basis of Hibbat Zion is the Torah, as it has been handed down to us from generation to generation, with neither supplement nor subtraction. I do not intend this statement as an admonition to any individual regarding his conduct, for, as our sages have said: “Verily, there are none in this generation fit to admonish.” I am nevertheless stating in a general way, that the Torah, which is the Source of our Life, must be the foundation of our regeneration in the land of our fathers.
In conclusion, I lift up my voice to my brethren : Behold, it is now two thousand years that we await our Messiah, to redeem us from our bitter exile and to gather our scattered brethren from all corners of the earth to our own land, where each shall dwell in security, under his vine and under his fig tree. This faith, strong within us, has been our sole comfort in the untold days of our misery and degradation. And even though in the last century some have arisen in our midst who have denied this belief, tearing it out of their hearts and even erasing it from their prayers, the masses of our people hold fast to this hope, for the fulfillment of which they pray morning, noon and night, and in which they find balm for their suffering. Of late certain orthodox rabbis have arisen in Western Europe, among whom one has even declared that the promises of future bliss and consolation made by our seers were in the form of symbols and parables. The coming of the Messiah, they say, will not be to bring Israel back to the Land of its Fathers and put an end to its long dispersion and many sorrows, but will be to establish the Kingdom of Heaven for all mankind, while Israel continued in exile as a light to the gentiles. Others of these rabbis assert, without qualification, that nationalism is contrary to our belief in the advent of the Messiah. I am therefore constrained to declare publicly that all this is not true. Our hope and faith has ever been and still is, that our Messiah will come and gather in all the scattered of Israel, and instead of our being wanderers upon the face of the earth, ever moving from place to place, we shall dwell in our own country as a nation, in the fullest sense of the word. Instead of being the contempt and mockery of the nations, we shall be honored and respected by all peoples of the earth. This is our faith and hope, as derived from the words of our prophets and seers of blessed memory and to this our people clings!”

Reb Shmuel Mohliver, - 19th of Sivan this Shabbos (1824–1898))-The concept that Jews should return to Israel, that it is necessary and part of the redemptive process for us to come back home, that Jews regardless of their religious observance level need to unite around are certainly concepts that go back through the centuries from Nachmanides in the 13th century to the Gaon of Vilna in the 18th century. Yet perhaps the individual who can be attribuited and even called the father of religious or Torah Zionism-that the return to Israel in the present century is based not on secular values but rather is founded on Torah principles is Rav Shmuel Mohliver the founder of the Chibat Tzion in the 19th century and eventually the forerunner of the Mizrachi Movement.
Rav Mohliver was born in 1824 in a village near Vilna, the intellectual center of Lithuanian Jews. He was so brilliant a student of the traditional talmudic curriculum that he was ordained a rabbi at the age of eighteen. At first Mohliver refused to practice this calling and instead was a merchant of flax for five years. Business reverses and the death of his well-to-do in-laws constrained him to accept the office of rabbi in his home village. A period of six years there was followed by successive calls to ever larger communities. In the 1870’s, when he first displayed signs of an active interest in work for the Holy Land, Mohliver was the rabbi of Radom in Poland. Already notable not only as a scholar but as a communal leader, he was elected to a much larger post, also in Poland, in Bialystok, which he occupied for fifteen years until his death in 1898.
Mohliver was moved to practical Zionist labors by the pogroms of 1881. Tens of thousands of Jews had fled across the Russian border to Galicia, in the Austrian-held part of Poland. Mohliver attended a conference of western Jewish leaders that was called on the spot, in Lemberg (the capital of Galicia), to decide what to do with these refugees. He suggested, without effect, that they be diverted to Palestine. On this journey, Mohliver also visited Warsaw, where he had better success; he was instrumental in organizing there the first formal section of the then nascent Hibbat Zion. While in Warsaw, he convinced two of his most distinguished rabbinic colleagues to join with him in issuing a call for emigration to Palestine, but these men soon fell away from such activities. The Hibbat Zion movement was dominated by secularists like Leo Pinsker and Mohliver remained one of the few distinguished figures among the rabbis of the old school to be active within it.
His decision to remain in Hibbat Zion, side by side with avowed agnostics who did not live in obedience to the Law, was the crucial turn in the history of religious Zionism, for it determined not only its future as an organized “party” but also the nature of the problems it would have to face henceforth. On the one hand Mohliver, like his successors to the present, were opposed and battled by the yeshiva-orthodox; it was no small matter for an undoubted pietist to announce that all Israel was in peril and hence “would we not receive anyone gladly and with love, who though irreligious in our eyes, came to rescue us?”
 Even seventy years later, though this fight is now largely won, there are still those among the orthodox who do not accept the notion of a Jewish national loyalty that all should share, which is greater than religious differences. On the other hand, Mohliver inevitably exercised constant pressure – and here, too, he has been followed by his successors – on the national movement to be more responsive, at least in practice, to the demands of the orthodox religion. This note is sounded in what was in effect his testament, the message to the First Zionist Congress that he sent through his grandson. Earlier, in 1893, a long series of differences between him and the main office of Hibbat Zion in Odessa, which was largely secularist, had led to a decision of the movement to create another center, headed by him, to do propaganda and cultural work among orthodox Jews. This office was given the Hebrew name Mizrachi (an abbreviation for merkaz ruhani, or “spiritual center”); when the presently existing Zionist organization was re-founded in 1901 by Rabbi Jacob Reines and others of Mohliver’s disciples, they continued the name, the spirit and the stance.
It should be added that Mohliver was active not only in organizational and propagandistic affairs but also in the labors in behalf of colonization in Palestine. His single greatest service to this field came early, in 1882, when he went to Paris to meet the young Baron Edmond de Rothschild. Mohliver convinced him to take an interest in the struggling settlers in the Holy Land; Rothschild remained, until his death in 1934, the greatest single benefactor of the Zionist work there.
Days before he died he received a letter from Theodore Herzl for him to sign upon the establishment of the first Zionist Congress. He died before he could sign it and was buried in Bilaostok, however after WWII when the Nazis destroyed the city his grave and body were moved to the State of Israel one that he had dreamed of seeing and ultimately living in. May he be bound in the bonds of eternal life.
answer below at end of Email
Q. A Moshava established by Romanian Jews was:
A.    Motza
B. Gedera
C. Petah Tikva
D. Rosh Pina

Rashi’s job as he tells us is not only to tell us the simple understanding of the text and the words but also to give us an overarching view of the whole story. And sometimes if we look at not just one Rashi and we understand the choice of his words, what he says, what he doesn’t say then we can get a larger picture and appreciation of a story that on its face might seem contradictory.
In the story of the Spies we find different messages in the story. In the beginning Rashi seems to say that the idea of the spy was Moshe’s not necessarily Hashem’s plan. In fact Hashem even seems to oppose the idea claiming that He had already said the land was good. Rashi also notes that the spies were ‘kosher’ in the beginning. They were good people where did they go wrong? On the other hand it seems that Moshe is nervous about the spies. He changes Yehoshuas name adding the letter from the name of God Yeho to his name Hoshea so that “Hashem should save you from the plot of meraglim- the spies” If that is the case then why did he send them in the first place? The Lubavitcher Rebbe notes that the words meraglim-spies is nowhere to be found in this weeks Torah portion and the mission that Moshe sends them on. The words that Moshe uses are La’Tour es Ha’aretz- to tour the land.  The difference between a tourist and spy. Is that the job of a tourist is to be in awe and appreciate all that he sees. Not to criticize, not to plot, not to figure things out. In Hebrew we say L’Hitrashem- to take it all in. The failure was that they decided to become spies. It was that which Moshe prayed for. Let Hashem protect them from the plot of the ‘spies’. It was spying that Hashem was opposed to. The spies failure when they came here was that they assumed they were here on a pilot trip. To check it out. To figure it out. Therefore they offered their opinions, their ideas and the practicalities and statistics of their chances to conquer it. That wasn’t their mission. They were moving to Israel. They should’ve understood that this wasn’t a can we- what if – trip. It was a ‘we are coming; wow isn’t this incredible trip.’
An important lesson every tourist should remember. You’re here to tour not spy, not to justify your life in America or anywhere elese. This is your home. Come and be in awe of it.

The division of the 10 Tribes under Yeravam Ben Nevat- 23rd Sivan 797 B.C.E.-After Shlomo HaMelech / King Solomon's passing in 797 B.C.E., Yeravam ben Nevat, a member of the tribe of Ephraim, incited ten of the twelve tribes of Israel to rebel against Shlomo's son and heir, Rechavam .The Holy Land split into two kingdoms: the "Kingdom of Israel" in the north, with Yeravam  as its king and the city of Samaria as its capital; and the southern "Kingdom of Judah" with its capital  Jerusalem, where Rechavam  ruled over the two tribes (Judah and Binyamin ) that remained loyal to the royal house of David. The spiritual center of the land, however, remained Yerushalayim, where the Beit HaMikdash built by Shlomo HaMelech stood, and where every Jew was obligated to make a thrice-yearly pilgrimage for the festivals of PesachShavuot and Sukkot. Seeing this as a threat to his sovereignty, Yeravam, King of Israel, set up roadblocks to prevent the people's aliyah l'regel (pilgrimage) to Yerushalayim. As a substitute, he introduced the worship of two idols, in the form of golden calves, which he enshrined on the northern and southern boundaries of his realm. (those who have gone on my Tel Dan tour know why he chose those symbolsJ)
These barricades remained in place for 223 years, until Hosea ben Elah, the last king of the Northern Kingdom, had them removed on the 15th of Av of 574 B.C.E. By then, the ten tribes residing there were already being expelled from the land in a series of invasions by various Assyrian and Babylonian kings. The last of these occurred in 556 B.C.E., when Shalmanessar of Assyria completely conquered the Kingdom of Israel, destroyed its capital, exiled the last of the Israelites residing there, and resettled the land with foreign peoples from Kutha and Babylon. These peoples -- later known as the "Samarians" -- assumed a form of Judaism as their religion, but were never accepted as such by the Jewish people; they subsequently built their own temple on Mount Gerizim and became bitter enemies of the Jews. The "Ten Lost Tribes of Israel" were never heard from again, and await the coming of Moshiach to be reunited with the Jewish people.


The CIA lost track of it’s operative in Ireland “Murphy. ” The CIA boss says, “All I can tell you is that his name is Murphy and that he’s somewhere in Ireland. If you think you’ve located him, tell him the code words, “The weather forecast calls for mist in the morning. ” If it’s really him, he’ll answer, “Yes, and for mist at noon as well. ” So the spy hunter goes to Ireland and stops in a bar in one of the small towns. He says to the bartender, “Maybe you can help me. I’m looking for a guy named Murphy. ” The bartender replies, “You’re going to have to be more specific because, around here, there are lots of guys named Murphy. There’s Murphy the Baker, who runs the pastry shop on the next block. There’s Murphy the Banker, who’s president of our local savings bank. There’s Murphy the Blacksmith, who works at the stables. And, as a matter of fact, my name is Murphy, too. ” Hearing this, the spy hunter figures he might as well try the code words on the bartender, so he says, “The weather forecast calls for mist in the morning. ” The bartender replies, “Oh, you’re looking for Murphy the Spy. He lives right down the street. ”

Israel University decides to create a crew team. Unfortunately, they lose race after race. Every day, they practice for hours and hours but always come in dead last. Finally they send Yankel to spy on the USA Harvard team.
Yankel shleps off to The USa and hides in the bushes off the Charles River from where he secretly watches the Harvard team practice. After two days, he returns, satisfied.
“I figured out how they do it,” says Yankel to his eager teammates. “They have eight fellows rowing and only one fellow screaming!”

A mummy was found in Egypt, and to determine its age and whatnot, three best forensic teams of the world decided to start a competition.
The CIA went first. They studied the mummy for a year, and then came up with a result: the person lived around 1000 years BC, plus or minus 200 years.
The Mossad goes next. They study the mummy for a month, and conclude: it was a pharaoh who ruled 1000 years BC, give or take 100 years.
The KGB team goes next. They hold the mummy for a week, and then come up with this: it was Pharaoh Ramenhotep the Second, born 1022 BC, became king after murdering his uncle, ruled for five years, on the third year of his reign the Nile flooded Luxor, on the fourth year the hittites attacked.
Everyone is perplexed: "How did you find all this out?"
"He confessed"

The CIA, Mossad, and Syrian Intelligence decided to play a game. Each would send 2 agents into a forest to find a special white rabbit. So in they went. After 1 hour, the Israelis returned with the rabbit. An hour later, the Americans returned, having determined that the Israelis had already captured the rabbit. An hour passed… two, and still the Syrians had not returned. The Israelis and Americans decided to mount a search party for their Syrian friends. In they went, were they found a donkey, with a black sack over its head, and all 4 legs tied to trees, being beaten by the Syrians. “Admit it!” shouted the Syrians, ” You’re a rabbit!”
Answer is D – Now although the mother of all Moshavim-settelemnts or villages from the period of the Aliya Rishona the late 1800’s is known to be Petach Tikva founded in 1878 by Jews that had left Jerusalem-who were Hungarian and Lithuanian, the true first settlement was in fact Gai’ Unni or as its known today as Rosh Pinna that was founded by Jews that had left Tzfat originally but ultimately was settled by Jews from Romania. Gedera was founded by the famous socialist Bilu’nikim, and Motza was by Syrian Jews. Besides Gedera almost all of the new settlements and 1st Aliya were religious families that moved to Israel with the ideology that this was biblical fulfillment of the commandment to settle the land.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Lovely Father-in-Law- Behaloscha 2016/5776

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

June 17th 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 37 11th Sivan 5776
Parshat Behaalotcha

The Lovely Father-in-Law
So my daughter Shani had gone out a few times with him. She called to let me know that things were looking good and perhaps I might want to come in a meet the young man who would eventually become my son-in-law. Now I come from America. In the ‘old country’ if someone wanted my daughters hand in marriage or if they even wanted to date my daughter, they would come to the house where they would pick her up. I would sit and schmooze would him for a few minutes and get a bit of a feel and then they would go out. Here in Israel it is not done that way. First of all most of the young yeshiva men do not have licenses or drive. So they young man and lady just make up to meet for their first date in a lounge where they would sit and schmooze. So the parents don’t really get a chance to meet the boy unitl later on in the game. Then to make it worse, I lived in Karmiel. They were dating in Jerusalem. For them to get up to me would be a major hassle. Since I drive and come into Jerusalem anyways regularly, why don’t I just come in and meet the boy before their 6th date in the hotel. I heard the logic. I grudgingly agreed.
The next morning I went to my shul in Karmiel and started having second thoughts. “Really… I gotta shlep in. Why can’t he just get on a bus to come here. After-all he wants to marry my daughter.” My thoughts were interrupted by my name being called out in shul. I was given an Aliya and called up to the Torah. I hate when that happens right in middle of your musings. I took a look at the scroll, made my blessings and looked inside as the chazzan read from the Torah. The words that started off the Aliya jumped out at me “And Yisro traveled to his son-in-law Moshe…” Uhhhhh…..I got the point. I’ll be quiet now. I made my after-blessings on the Torah. Thanking Hashem for giving us His Toah of eternal truth andfor its eternal life which he implanted within us. Thank You Hashem giver of the Torah…and corrector of kvetchy Rabbis and future now humbled Fathers-in-law. 2 months later I was standing under the chupa with my son-in-law and daughter and having looked back. Baruch Hashem.
I have kind of gotten attached to Yisro this past few months. This weeks Torah portion once again mentions a story about Yisro, though this week’s Torah portion Yisro has a new name. It’s really nice that this week we read on Shavuot from the Parsha of Yisro, he was after-all the introduction that most pivotal moment of the revelation at Sinai and the Ten Commandments and once again we read about him in this week’s portion of Behaalotcha. This week again we read about him at perhaps the most potentially critical moment since leaving Egypt. We have left Sinai. We have been forgiven for the sin of the golden calf. We have built our Tabernacle and we are just verses and days away from entering the Holy Land. We are almost there. The bags are all packed everyone is ready to go. We are merely awaiting the traveling of the Ark, the clouds of glory and we will finally be home. And it is precisely at this juncture the Torah tells us that there is one tent that is not packed up. That is still deciding what to do. It is the tent of Yisro, the father-in-law of Moshe, or as the Torah calls him now by his new Jewish name Chovav- the lover and the beloved. It is he for whom all are awaiting.
And he said: ‘Please don’t forsake us; forasmuch as you know how we are to encamp in the wilderness (the miraculous way that we exist-Rashi}, and you have been to us as eyes. And it shall be, if you go with us, then what ever good Hashem will do unto us, the same will we do for you.'
The Torah doesn’t tell us what Yisro’s decision was. The Torah merely continues with.
Our sages tell us that Yisro in fact returned to his country, according to some opinions to convert many of his brethren and family, however he subsequently rejoined the Jewish people and entered the land with them. He was given the incredible city of Yericho with its rich date palms and his descendants lived there for over 400 years even becoming eventually leaders amongst the Jewish people.
Who is this Yisro? Why does he appear at such critical moments? The Torah is obviously trying to send us a message with this story. Perhaps we should first examine this incredible name. Chovav- lover or beloved What an incredible name! The Midrash suggests that it was his name because he was beloved by Hashem. He loved the Torah. He was loved by the nation, being of course the first convert whom we are commanded to love repeatedly in the Torah. He was chovaiv amim- the beloved of the nations. Yisro- the father-in-law is the beloved one.
On Shavuot as well we read the story about the convert that is beloved. Who is tov, who is good ‘better then 7 sons’ as yisro is good. It seems strange that upon the giving of the Torah seemingly the most personal day for the Jewish people, the day that we alone are chosen as the nation of God that we share that stage and moment with the converts. Yet perhaps that is precisely the message the Torah is telling us. The Torah is not an elitist badge in as much as it is a message and light that we are meant to share with the world. We are certainly not a proslytising religion when it comes to converting, yet on the other hand we are a nation that should have the faith and knowledge that the light of the Torah can and is meant to shine out to the entire world. So the story of the giving of the Torah is precluded with Yisro-the high priest who according to our sages worshiped every other faith in the world. But ultimately sought out and found the truth of the Torah and Judaism. We read the story of Rus on Shavuot and again are reminded how the daughter of the king of Moab, that tribe that tried to spiritually destroy the Jewish people and quell our meassage to the world. Yet she as well comes to find our light and is ultimately the grandmother of King David and Mashiach.
As well when we arrive at this most pivotal and seemingly personal moment of our arrival to our national homeland. The country and place that was promised centuries before to our forefather Avraham. The place where we are ultimately meant to build a Temple and home for Hashem here in this world. Once again the father-in-law, the convert now called Chovav shows up. Moshe feels that it is essential that Yisro joins, In fact most fascinatingly enough. Yisro is the first person to get a portion of the land. He is promised the city of Yericho, before the land of Israel has even been divided up by the tribes. Before we even get there. For the function of Israel is not a Jewish homeland and place of refuge where we can have the freedom and ability to worship and practice our faith. That is the danger of it becoming that way, without a yisro with us. That is the danger of receiving a Torah without a Yisro with us. The function of Eretz Yisrael is to create a Bais Tefila L’Kol Ha’Amim- a House of prayer for all the nations of the world to connect with Hashem.  This is the final message the Jewish people need as they embark upon their journey home. It is irrelevant to the Torah to tell us whether he came or not. What is important is that we know that this was the final thing Moshe and the Jewish people were busy with. That’s the purpose of us coming home.
Throughout our generations our greatest leaders have been descended from converts. The great Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Meir, the Unkelos translation of the Torah just to name a few. The words of our Torah are meant to inspire the world. The perspective of those that were not raised in the Torah world or in an observant environment are meant to serve as our greatest resource in appreciating the tremendous gift that we have. Their embracing of our holy Torah make them the beloved of Hashem and of us. Over the past generations there has been tremendous return by people who have not been raised with a connection to their Jewish roots, to the traditions of Sinai, to the faith of our ancestors. The prophet tells us in the final prophecy of Tanach that the final great day will come with Eliyahu Ha’navi and the description is that of the fathers returning the hearts of the children and the children the hearts of their fathers towards Hashem. Just as the story of our first entry into the land of Israel can only come with the entrance of Yisro-to receive that first promised portion in the land. The day is coming. The children are returning. The light is beginning to shine brighter and brighter as the world gets darker and darker. It’s time to enter Eretz Yisrael.
Have an fantastic Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=di5Etd1iDvs  I know you’ve been waiting for this. It’s here! Shani and Yackov wedding video I made from the pictures we just got! Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Kj3Lmnt4w4beautiful new song video from David Lowy “Abba Sheli”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cABHw5kpkys&list=PLS4mc0Fgqr8i84OirDpQXOj5PuWaUHN-W&index=9 For Hebrew speakers this is hilarious. What you always wanted to do to Israeli automated operators.


“Fun leydike feser iz der lyarem greser..”- Empty barrels make the most noise.


I יhave seen that I have been referred to a Harav HaGaon (the Rabbi the genius) and I have been called thus because he has called me his his student. However It behooves me to tell the faithful Israel that this is a mistake for all the years that I have studied with him I have only bgun to understand the style of what learning is after much diligence”

 “This is my path from the time that Hashem has graced me with the understanding of my own path. And even if Will find in earlier sources that are different then my own or disagree with my approach. It is not my way to bring their opinions down and to contradict them. Rather he is seeking to find the truth will find it, as our eyes are only there to establish and find the path of truth. Blessed is the true God, whose guards His promise of Truth that the Torah of truth will never be forgotten from His true seed.”

“If a Jew doesn't make Kiddush (to sanctify himself by maintaining a distinctly Jewish lifestyle), then the non-Jew will make Havdalah for him (by making the Jew realize he is truly different)."”

HaRav Chaim Volozhin, - 14th of Sivan this Monday (1749 - 5581 / 1821)-Harav Chaim of Volozhin (Belarus) was born on 8 Sivan 5509 / 1749, to Harav Yitzchak, a wealthy and pious Jew, and Rebbetzin Miriam, the daughter of Harav Yisrael Rappaport, Rav of Peisk. The brilliance of the young Chaim was apparent from his earliest childhood. In his youth he studied under the Shaagat Aryeh, who was then Rav of Volozhin. His diligence and erudition were striking; by the age of twenty-two he had completed the study of Shas with all its commentaries. Rav Chaim was the most prominent student of the Vilna Gaon, who greatly influenced his way of thinking and approach to Torah study.
In 1790 he became Rav of Wilkomir, but refused to take a salary; instead he opened a factory that produced wool, thereby serving as Rav “shelo al menas lekabel pras.” Many merchants were displeased with the new Rav, especially those who dealt in wool, and eventually this drove him out of the city.
Once, during Shabbat davening, a vicious person inquired of him when the molad would be. The Rav replied that he did not know, adding that it could be checked in the luach. This reply “invoked” a storm, with some arrogant townspeople claiming, “What kind of Rav doesn’t know the time of the molad?” And so Rav Chaim returned to Volozhin where he served as a dayan, also without pay.
Eventually, in 1803, due to declining Torah study amongst the youth and the growing influence of the maskilim-‘enlightenment’ movement, Rav Chaim founded Yeshivat Eitz Chaim, the Volozhin yeshiva, which was Judaism's main Talmudic study center throughout the 19th century, with tens of thousands of students passing through its doors. The yeshivah became the prototype and mother of all yeshivot in Eastern Europe that were established during the 19th and 20th centuries. The Volozhin yeshiva remains the classic model of Lithuanian yeshivas today.
The day the cornerstone was laid for Yeshivat Volozhin, Rav Chaim fasted. He cried so profusely for the future of the yeshivah that, as his son Rav Yitzchak of Volozhin put it, “the hole for the foundation stone was ‘dug’ with Rav Chaim’s tears.”
Indeed, the yeshivah suffered much persecution due to its refusal to offer secular studies. The yeshivah was eventually closed down by the Russian authorities in 1892, but by then dozens of yeshivot that followed Volozhin’s derech had sprouted. Reb Chaim set high standards for admission to his yeshivah, insisting on extreme diligence. His students numbered in the hundreds.
The yeshivah’s ultimate accomplishment was the defiance of the various enlightenment movements that were threatening the sanctity of Klal Yisrael. With Reb Chaim at the helm, Yeshivat Volozhin restored a measure of pure, Torah-minded guidance and leadership to Klal Yisrael.
Rav Chaim's most famous work was Nefesh HaChaim, a kabbalistic work which emphasizes the importance of Torah study and mitzvah observance for coming close to Hashem. He also authored Ruach Chaim on Pirkei Avot and Nishmat Chaim, a collection of responsa. His most important responsa are found in Chut Hameshulash and in Kedushat Yom Tov.
He was niftar on 14 Sivan 5581 / 1821 at the age of 72. His son Reb “Itzele” Volozhiner, replaced him as head of the yeshivah in Volozhin. Succeeding Reb Itzele, after his petirah, were his two sons-in-law, Harav Eliezer Isaac Fried and Harav Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, the Netziv.

answer below at end of Email
Q. The first Jewish neighborhood outside Jaffa was:
A.    Ahuzat Bayit
  1. Neve Shalom
  2. Neve Tzedek
  3. Kerem haTeimanim
We know that each word in the Torah is written with precision. There ae no extra letters and certainly not words. The Torah is meant to be a concise document that was accompanied by an oral tradition that would extrapolate from it the details and nuances of the law, the lessons and the stories. So when we arrive at a verse that seems to repeat a phrase seemingly for no reason, our first question should be why. And the first place to look to explain that Pshat is of course Rashi.
In this week’s Torah protion Bamidbar 8:19 the verse is as follows-let’s see if you can pick up on the extra words.
“And I shall give the Levis to be given to Aharon and his children from amongst the Bnai Yisrael, to serve the service of the Bnai Yisrael in the Ohel Moed, and to atone for the Bnai Yisrael, and there shall not be a plague amongst the Bnai Yisrael when the Bnai Yisrael comes close to the holy.”
Got it? Bnai Yisrael, Bnai Yisrael, Bnai Yisrael..five times in one verse. Rashi notes this and explains and explains that this is in order to show the love of Hashem that their name is mentioned five times corresponding to the the five books of the Torah. Beautiful.
The Chidushei Ha’Rim notes that this does not answer neccesarily why this is mentioned over here at this particular juncture or verse though. He explains that the Torah here is describing how the Levis will be replacing the First-borns in the service of the Temple. Meaninf that until now each family had ‘their guy’ in the Temple working on their behalf. Now there will be different classes. There are Kohens, Levis and Yisrael. One might therefore think that some Jews are better then others, are greater then others. The Levis themselves might be at risk for the power going to their head. Thsu the Torah here tells us precisely here that the Jewish people are like the five books of the Torah. Just as each word, each letter, each book although is different and yet each is essential and each is beloved so too are the Jewish people. Although there are different roles we each play, each of us are no more or less beloved before Hashem.

First Lebanon War “Shalom HaGalil-Peace of the Galile”- 15 Sivan 5742 - June 6, 1982:  – The 1982 First Lebanon War, began on 6 June 1982, when the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) invaded southern Lebanon, after repeated attacks and counter-attacks between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) operating in southern Lebanon and the IDF that had caused civilian casualties on both sides of the border. The military operation was launched after gunmen from Abu Nidal's organization-a break-off organization from the PLO- attempted to assassinate Shlomo Argov, Israel's ambassador to the United Kingdom. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin blamed the PLO, for the incident, and treated the incident as a casus belli for the invasion.
After attacking the PLO – as well as Syrian, leftist, and Muslim Lebanese forces – the Israeli military, in cooperation with the Maronite allies and the self-proclaimed Free Lebanon State, occupied southern Lebanon, eventually surrounding the PLO and elements of the Syrian Army. Surrounded in West Beirut and subjected to heavy bombardment, the PLO forces and their allies negotiated passage from Lebanon with the aid of United States Special Envoy Philip Habib and the protection of international peacekeepers. The PLO, under the chairmanship of Yasser Arafat, had relocated its headquarters to Tripoli in June 1982. By expelling the PLO, removing Syrian influence over Lebanon, and installing a pro-Israeli Christian government led by President Bachir Gemayel, Israel hoped to sign a treaty which Menachem Begin promised would give Israel "forty years of peace".
Following the assassination of Gemayel in September 1982, Israel's position in Beirut became untenable and the signing of a peace treaty became increasingly unlikely. Outrage following Israel's role in the Phalangist-perpetrated Sabra and Shatila massacre, of mostly Palestinians and Lebanese Shiites, and Israeli popular disillusionment with the war would lead to a gradual withdrawal from Beirut to the areas claimed by the self-proclaimed Free Lebanon State in southern Lebanon. After Israeli forces withdrew from most of Lebanon, the War of the Camps broke out between Lebanese factions, the remains of the PLO and Syria, in which Syria fought its former Palestinian allies. At the same time, Shi'a militant groups began consolidating and waging a low-intensity guerrilla war over the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, leading to 15 years of low-scale armed conflict. The Lebanese Civil War would continue until 1990, at which point Syria had established complete dominance over Lebanon.
The war which caused the evacuation of Israel’s northern cities led to the death of over 1200 Israeli soldiers as well as civilians that died in attacks and close to 4000 wounded. The war was roundly condemned in the UN as could be expected and to a large degree was the end of Begin’s right wing rule over Israel, with the left coming back to power. That’s generally what will happen if you leave a job undone. Too bad we fail to learn the lessons of the past.

What do you call a Torah with a seat belt? A Safer Torah!
Two five year-olds are playing in a sandbox. One is Jewish, the other is Catholic. The Catholic boy says to the Jewish boy, "Our priest knows more than your rabbi!" To which the Jewish boy replies, "Of course he does, you tell him everything."

Four friends are sitting in a restaurant in Israel. For a long time, nobody says anything. Then, one man groans, "Oy." "Oy vey," says a second man. "Nu," says the third. At this, the fourth man gets up from his chair and says, "If you guys don't stop talking politics, I'm leaving!"

Sam and Joe are taking a walk, when they come upon a church. A sign says "CONVERT AND RECEIVE A THOUSAND DOLLARS". Sam says "You stay here. I'm going in to convert. "Some time later, he comes back out. Joe says, "Well, did you get the thousand dollars? "Sam says, "What's the matter? It that all you people think about?"


Answer is C – Tel Aviv- Yaffo as it is called was founded on the fifth of chol hamoed Pesach 1909 as the first official Jewish city built with the return of Jews to Israel. Unlike the other settled cities that were built on ancient cities Tel Aviv was built fresh and new on the sand dunes of the coast. It’s roots as well though is an outgrowth of the city of Yaffo. Neve Tzedek-which was originally incidentally meant to be called Neve Shalom although that name was not used ultimately, was the first neighborhood that was built 1887. It was named after the verse in Yirmiyahu “Once again they will speak this word in the land of Judah and in its cities when I restore their fortunes, 'May Hashem bless you, -Neve Tzedek -abode of righteousness, O holy hill!'. It was built after the success of the settlements in Yerushalayim that opened outside of the walls. The idea of the new neighborhood was that there would be more room nd cleaner air then the overstuffed Yaffo and it would be more affordable. The Teimanim came later as did Achuzat Bayit.