Our view of the Galile

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Most Insignificant Significant Ones- Naso / Shavuot 5776 2016

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

June 10th 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 36 4th Sivan 5776
Parshat Naso/Shavuot
The Most Insignificant Significant Ones
So he’s the youngest kid in the family. They were all Levi’s. Actually they were pretty much the first Levis as their father was actually Levi the son of Yaakov. All his older brothers had it made. His middle brother really made it. Kehas, was the grandfather of Moshe, Aharon and Miriam. Not bad. The family of Kehas were the ones that got the most important job in the travels in the wilderness being the ones that got to carry the vessels of the Temple, the menorah, the altars, the table pretty awesome. Best of all they go to carry the famous Ark with the Ten Commandments in them. Talk about a good gig. In fact they didn’t even have to really carry the Ark, because miraculously it carried them. Cool! His oldest brother, Gershon also had a pretty cool job being the one to carry the curtains and the walls of the Mishkan. But Merari was the youngest. He got stuck with doing the real leg-work. He schlepped the beams, the nuts, and bolts. Nothing to fancy or pretty. Just a regular shlepper.
The truth is in general it seems that Merari wasn’t getting much respect. His name is kind of is a lousy one. Every Pesach Seder everybody would take about out of him and rib him about being their bitter herbs/Maror. In addition when it came to giving out jobs Hashem tells Moshe in last week’s parsha to Naso the rosh of Kehas- to count them and lift them up. This week’s Torah portion begins with the command to uplift as well the heads of Gershon. When it came to Merari though Hashem just kind of says and the Children of Merari should be counted. Nothing fancy, no uplifting, just the plain old dirty work of schlepping beams. The Midrash even notes this and says
The family of Kehas and Gershon Hashem gave them honor and uplifting of their head. Kehas because of the honor of the Ark. Gershon because he was the first-born. Merar, however, who was only a simple son and whose work was carrying the beams, poles, and bolts it does not say the words ‘uplift their heads’
Poor Merari. It doesn’t seem fair.
So it’s the holiday that seems to be pretty left out. I mean first of all unlike its two brothers Pesach and Sukkot, the holiday of Shavuot only has one day. Not a week-long holiday. Then its name seems pretty pathetic as well. Shavuot-weeks? Huh? That’s more about counting from Passover, rather than my own holiday. Kind of like the younger brother of Pesach. Next it doesn’t really have any fun things about it. No real mitzvos. No Matzas, no Sukkas, no shofars, no menoras or even hamantash. The Torah doesn’t even tell us exactly when it is. Is it the 6ht of Sivan? The 7th? Not really sure Moshe added another day. Even when I look at the Torah to find the laws of Shavuot it doesn’t have its own Parsha, unlike every other holiday that has a little Peh or Samech in the Chumash telling us that it has its own chapter. This kind of gets stuck in the middle of the conclusion of the counting of Omer thing. I mean ‘hello-oh?’, as my kids would say. Isn’t it even worthy of mention that the Torah was given on this day? Shouldn’t there even be a mention somewhere that this was perhaps the most significant day in the history of the world. As the famous Rashi in Bereshis tells us that and it was morning and evening and it was The 6th day (of Creation) that it is a reference to the 6th of Sivan the day the Torah was given that the whole world was only created for that day, that moment when Hashem would reveal himself to mankind face-to-face and we would accept the Divine mandate, the blueprints of the world the Torah. People even eat milchigs…pizza, quiche…things that would be considered disrespectful to other holidays. Rightfully so I should say, I mean if there’s no dead animal on your plate is it really a holiday?
On the other hand Shavuos has somethings that no other holiday has. We actually count for 49 days up to this holiday. From the month of Sivan we stop reciting tachanun, the prayers beseeching Hashem for mercy. Because these are festive days, special day leading up and preparing for the holiday and the receiving of the Torah. Even more fantastic. In the times of the Temple, there were a lot of Jews that came to bring their sacrifices for the holidays. For each holiday, Sukkot and Pesach, one had the entire 7 days to bring their sacrifices because it would have been impossible to do it in one day. In Shavuot one also has 7 days after the holiday to bring the sacrifices. The only difference is that it’s not even Shavuot anymore. It’s a regular weekday. A regular working day. Yet one can and certainly did bring their holiday sacrifices still. That’s pretty amazing.
What is it with Shavuot? What is it with Merari? Our sages tell us that all the holidays represent a force, a spiritual energy that Hashem put into creation that we can and are meant to tap into. Pesach is freedom, we therefore eat matza, and we therefore recline and celebrate. Sukkos is faith, understanding that Hashem is watching over us and so the Sukka. Even Chanuka and Purim have their energies of light in the darkness, miracles. And of course the high holidays are all about repentance, atonement and the kingship of Hashem, so we blow the coronation shofar and we are busy fasting and repenting. Shavuos is different though. Shavuos is when we became one with Hashem. It was the day that Hashem took us a His nation and we took Him as our beloved. We became one. That is not something that anything can and ever should be symbolized by any particular action or even energy. It’s the basis of everything. It’s above time. It’s above any particular name or even historical commemoration. It transcends even any particular mitzvos. We were forever bound with the eternal. We became the possessor of the Book and the instructions and mandate in how to transform the entire world to the eternal and connect them to Hashem. You can’t put a name, a time, a custom, or even a celebration on that. It can transform a mundane regular weekday to a holiday sacrifice day because it’s all one. It’s all Hashem. It’s the one day that all our sages say that one only fulfills if one enjoys the physical world the ‘lachem’ the you as well. You don’t even need a steak to make that happen. Even a pizza will do. For the ‘you’ is entirely Hashem. The flayshig you, the milchig you.
As well it is the day that each Jew saw each other as no better or worse, not more religious, no prettier, no smarter, no more or less important than the other. Like one man with one heart. Just as my hand and my arm and my leg all married my wife and not one part of me is more or less married and important than the other, so did every Jew look at their neighbor; The Yankel, the Jack, the Saa’dia, the Ayelet, the Ora the Michael, the Bethanny the Shaindel, the Ephraim. The doctor, the lawyer, the Rabbi, the Rosh Yeshiva, the garbage collector, the professor, the tour guide, the soldier, the pizza maker, the farmer, the sheitel macher and the yenta down the block from the grocery store. We are all one. There is no me, him and you. We are all Hashem. There is nothing about that that could ever be picked out to signify it besides the fact that it’s everything. In fact quite the opposite. Picking out one thing and one aspect would lift one piece over the other and minimize it. This holiday is the holiday of total bitul-as the chasidim say- totally removing everything and connecting of myself to Hashem and in that process to His entire creation. The raising up of anything over the other will only serve to negate that oneness.
Which brings up back to Merari and the children of Levi. Levi was chosen to be that tribe that would have no part of the land of Israel. Hashem is their portion. They are above one particular area of residence. They serve in the Temple as the intermediaries between us and Hashem, the connectors. Each family has its own aspect of that connection. Kehas, which comes from the word gathering (v’lu kehat amim) is Ark, the Divine, the vessels, the holy of the holy; obviously raised up above all. They are the goal we strive for. Gershom-from the word chase out, and as well the word dwell there is represented by the curtains. They are the sur mi’ra- the removal of all the negative forces that serve to pull us away from Hashem. Incidentally, the beginning of the process as King David tells us is to be sur mi’ra and then asei tov-do good; the first born. But that process also include as protecting the whole vessels, covering and enveloping them, our commandments that serve as an adornment for the Torah and our external expression to the rest of the world. Also and uplifting process. And then there is Merari- the day to day, sometimes bitter, daily grind, the world that we live it in. The nuts and bolts of our physical existence, the beams of the Tabernacle that really correspond to the entire world all of Creation. The Creation where underneath it all it is all really one and all really Divine. Merari is us. There’s no need to uplift it because it is the foundation of it all. It was built with the blueprints of the Torah. It is the purpose of the entire creation. It was given to us on Shavuot.
We stood this Sunday 3328 years ago on a small simple mountain and connected to Hashem. It was a truly remarkable day. On Shavuot we will have the ability to once again to reconnect with that moment. To experience the Divine once again and feel it burn with in each of us. May we merit to experience it once again in His holy home.
Have an awesome Shabbos and a Chag Shavuot Samayach,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=qFG_2iT-Lm4  Stay up all night with my good friend Moshe Hamburg and friends!

http://mimi.aish.com/click?id=35054.23198223.50911.1.9e3a2397f68bba010d5731fc899d1b1e  – The ultimate love letter cool Aish Shavuot letter

http://www.aish.com/v/ho/The_Day_that_Shook_the_World.html    The day that Shook the world


“Ganaiden un gehenem ken men baideh hoben oif der velt.”- Heaven and hell can both be had in this world.


Hashem laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming.

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than trust in princes”

“One thing I have asked of the Hashem, that will I seek after:that I may dwell in the house of the Hashem
all the days of my life ,to gaze upon the beauty of the Hashem and to inquire in his temple”

King David 6th of Sivan (970-1040 BC) This Sunday-Shavuos – Our sages tell us that when Hashem showed Adam all the generations of the world to come he saw someone being born and died and gave him 70 years of his life. That someone was none other then the least likely of Kings and the greatest of all of our leaders. David melech Yisrael chai v’kayom- King David. If you think the elections in America are insane. Imagine what happened by King David. The first King of Israel was Shaul-Saul. Tall, handsome, good looking, a warrior that united all the tribes of Israel. He lost his kingdom because he didn’t wipe out the nation of Amalek. He had mercy on them. (You can draw whatever modern day political conclusions you’d like from that- I won’t comment). Hashem said He has someone far better. Who? He’s a short, red head, that plays the guitar really well, he hangs out with the sheep and is actually pretty good with them. Not really a trained soldier, but he’s awesome with a slingshot. He’s got a great voice and sings really well and composes some great songs. His lineage? Well… he may not even be really Jewsih as his grandmother is a Moabite convert, truth is some are even questioning if he’s legitimate or not. That’s my man. That’s Dovid HaMelech from which all future Kings and Mashiach will ultimately come from. Hashem always goes for the underdog. Dovid has perhaps one of the most challenging lives. From his youth and the fights with his siblings, his marriages and his fights with his Father-in-Law, trouble with his children one after the other and of course with all the enemies of Israel. Yet in all he composes songs and sees and finds Hashem and gives us the Psalms that we live from and that we find strength from for eternity. Even his failures before God, even not being able to accomplish his life dream of building that House of God, he accepts , he gets close to Hashem and leaves us a legacy that each person can always tap into.
The Midrash tells us that when it came time for King David to die, he would study Torah all day and night so that the Angel of Death would not be able to take him. Finally on the holiday of Shavuot, the angel came and made a crash of something dropping and David was disturbed and he died.  Yet although he is no longer with us. There is perhaps no person in our history that our nation has connected more to in all of our generations. David Melech Yisrael Chai V’Kayam.

answer below at end of Email
Q. The origin of the term “Postal Route” is from the:
A.  Roman and Byzantine period
B.  Crusader period
C.  Mamluk period
D.  Ottoman period (19th century)

Sometimes not only is the words of Rashi and his explanation a revealing insight into a simple understanding of the text, rather even the placement of his commentary , on which words he choses to explain the text. This week’s Torah portion is just perfect to appreciate that. The entire end of the Torah portion goest through the sacrifices of the princes of each of the tribes. All of them were identical. Yet the Torah repeats each one again and again.
On the 2nd day, the sacrifice of the tribe of Yissachar Rashi begins to explain the hidden significance of some of the sacrifices the silver bowls he explains equal the gematria of 970 which is the age of Adam the first man. The 130 shekel weight of them corresponds to the age Avraham was when he gave birth to Sheis from whom mankind cmae out of. The basin of silver is 520 in gematria for the ge of Noach when he started having children. And on and on.. The Chidushei Ha’Rim asks the question why Rashi waits until the verses of the 2nd prince from Yissachar to explain the concept behind all of the sacrifices. Seemingly he should have explained it on day one when the identical words and sacrifices and gifts were brought by the tribe of Yehudah? As well, we know that Rashi is not here to teach us Gematria, his role as a commentary is to explain the simple understanding of the text. Why is he sharing with us all these wonderful but seemingly non-pshat explanations? What was troubling him that should be troubling us about the text?
The answer he suggests is seemingly Rashi is coming to answer the obvious question. Why repeat it all? Just say it once and say that everyone brought the same thing? The answer is that each tribe had their own particular intent and unique intent in each sacrifice, in each gift. Rashi is not here to tell us each of them. Which is why he does not tell us the tribe of Yehudah’s intent. Rather when it comes to the second tribe of Yissachar, Rashi wants to make sure that we understand that this was with a different intent then Yehuda. Yissachar wasn’t merely copying Yehuda, just as the next tribe was not copying Yissachar. They each had their own insight. Therefore Rashi shows us he intent of Yissachar, to teach us that his offerings although the exact same one as Yehuda had an entirely different rationale then Yehuda’s was. From there you will understand that each tribe was unique. Amazing what you can learn if you look at the words that Rashi is quoting on and what he is not quoting on.

7th of Sivan May 23rd 1749- The burning of the Ger Tzedek Avraham ben Avraham  – There was a leading sage of the 18th century who lived in Vilna, Lithuania, and he was known as the Vilna Gaon. During his era, there was a ger tzedek from Vilna who was known as Avraham ben Avraham. He was a count from a leading Polish noble family, and before his conversion, he was known as Count Potocki. His parents sent him to study in the University of Paris, and it was in Paris that he somehow became attracted to the spiritual path of the Jewish people. He left Paris for Amsterdam, where he began a serious study of Torah which led to his conversion. He later returned to his native Lithuania, and settled in Vilna. (Lithuania was then part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.)
In Vilna, he took up residence in one of the batei midrash (houses of Torah study), where he studied all day long. There were righteous Jewish women of Vilna who had undertaken to prepare meals for dedicated individuals who were studying Torah all day in the batei midrash, and these righteous women added the young convert to their list of those receiving meals.
In the meanwhile, Avraham ben Avraham’s family had been conducting a prolonged search for him, and eventually located him in Vilna. His family used all the resources at its command in an attempt to convince him to return to the Church, but to no avail. Despite all the pressure the family could muster, they were unable to convince Avraham ben Avraham to renounce his commitment to the spiritual path of the Jewish people.
Realizing the futility of their efforts, the Poticki family turned their son over to the Catholic Church. Avraham ben Avraham was then subjected to cruel physical torture; however, he showed not the slightest willingness to abandon the path that he had chosen. His inquisitors therefore decided that he should be burned at the stake. Even that verdict gained the youth no relief from the efforts of his inquisitors to convince him to renounce his path, but they did not succeed.
The fate of Avraham ben Avraham moved all of Vilna Jewry, no one more so than the Vilna Gaon. Avraham ben Avraham was being kept in a prison, and while he was there, the Gaon managed to send the young ger tzedek messages in which he offered his support and wished him the strength to withstand all the pressures being exerted upon him. The Gaon also offered to use his knowledge of practical Kabbalah (the secret wisdom of the Torah) to free Avraham from his tormentors. According to the tradition cited by Rav Aharon Kotler, a leading sage of the 20th century, Avraham rejected the Gaon’s proffered help, telling the messenger sent by the Gaon:
“Since I first recognized the true God, I prayed that I might be granted the opportunity to sanctify His Name. Now that I have been granted that opportunity, I do not wish to forgo it.”
The Vilna Gaon also managed to visit Avraham ben Avraham in his prison cell. Finding the young ger tzedek greatly distressed and weeping, he sought to console him by telling him that within a few days he would reach the rung that Rabbi Akiva prayed for all his life when he asked that he would have the opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah to serve Hashem with “your whole life” (Deuteronomy 6:5). The Gaon assured him that for sanctifying the Divine Name in public he would enjoy an exalted place in the World to Come. Avraham explained that he was not crying because he was about to die. He was crying because he had no Jewish parents; moreover, he had no Jewish siblings or Jewish children. He therefore felt sad for “not having set down any roots within the nation of Israel.” The Vilna Gaon began his reply by citing the following Divine statement:
“I am the first, and I am the last, and aside from Me, there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6)
Based on a Midrash, the Vilna Gaon conveyed to Avraham the following interpretation:
“I am the First” – This means that Hashem is the Father of all the fatherless who come under the wings of the Shechinah (Divine Presence).
“And I am the Last” – This means that if such a person has no children, Hashem is His child. Hashem says, “I am better for him than ten children.”
Hashem is therefore the past and the future of Avraham, and others like him.
Avraham ben Avraham was executed by the church officials on the second day of the Festival of Shavuos. (In the Diaspora, Shavous is observed on two days, and in the Land of Israel, Shavuos is observed on one day.) Every Shavuos, the Jews of Vilna would sing the melody and words that Avraham ben Avraham sang on his way to martyrdom. The words are:
 “But we are your nation, the children of Your covenant!”
The above words are from the prayer, “Ribon Kol Ha-Olamim” – Master of All Worlds – an introductory morning prayer. These were the words that Avraham ben Avraham chose to sing before he gave up his life for Kiddush Hashem – the Sanctification of the Divine Name.
Each convert who joins our people through accepting the covenant of the Torah serves as a reminder that we are a people with a spiritual identity. We need this awareness in order to fulfill our spiritual mission in Zion. May these converts therefore inspire all the members of our people to join together and sing to Hashem: “But we are your nation, the children of Your covenant!”
Jewish diet-The Yo-Yo Diet Guide to the Jewish Holidays
Rosh Hashanah - Feast
Tzom Gedalia - Fast
Yom Kippur - More fasting
Sukkot - Feast
Hashanah Rabbah - More feasting
Simchat Torah - Keep feasting
Month of Heshvan - No feasts or fasts for a whole month. Get a grip on ourselves.
Hanukkah - Eat potato pancakes
Tenth of Tevet - Do not eat potato pancakes
Tu B'Shevat - Feast
Fast of Esther - Fast
Purim - Eat pastry
Passover - Do not eat pastry
Shavuot - Dairy feast (cheesecake, blintzes etc.)
17th of Tammuz - Fast (definitely no cheesecake or blintzes)
Tish B'Av - Very strict fast (don't even think about cheesecake or blintzes.)
Month of Elul - End of cycle. Enroll in Center for Eating Disorders before the High Holidays arrive again.

An ode to Cheesecake
C is for the Calories that I exonerate
H is for the Happiness I embrace
E is for Each slice that adorns my dinner plate
E is for Every indulgence of its taste
S is for magnificent Satisfaction
E (when I don't share) is for the Envious reaction
C is for Confiscating the very last piece
A is the grade I give this Amazing feast
K is for the Kismet of this phenomenon
E is for Empty (sigh) when my slice is gone

Put them together and it spells ‘Cheesecake,’ it's true…
but it's the last piece! Hey! Sorry, there's none left for you.

One of my co-workers decided it was time to shed some excess weight. She took her new diet so seriously that she even changed her driving route to avoid her favorite bakery. One morning, however, she arrived at work carrying a gigantic cheesecake. We all scolded her, but her smile remained cherubic.
"This is a very special cheesecake," she explained. "I accidentally drove by the bakery this morning and there in the window was a host of goodies. I felt this was no accident, so I prayed, 'Lord, if you want me to have one of those delicious cheesecakes, let me have a parking spot directly in front of the bakery', and sure enough," she continued, "the ninth time around the block, there it was!"

Answer is C – One thing is clear from the choices of answers is that the “postal route” concept wasn’t a Jewish one. I guess Jews just sent messages with their friends or neighbors- hey you know anyone going toIsrael can you take a package for me”J. The concept of the postal route starts in the year 1268 which is what period? Any one of my tourists know? Ok the Romans were there for the destruction in the year 70 and the Byzantines were the Romans gone Christian in the 4 century. So not them. The Crusaders were the there in the 12th century but the Mamaluks got rid of them and they started the the Posatal route as they being slaves that rebelled from Egypt had a capital in caior and in Damascus and had to get word back and forth between the two cities through Israel, which the postal route afforded them with their network of roads, bridges, and rest areas, in 4 days. The Turks were in only in 1517 so that’s afterwards.

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