Our view of the Galile

Friday, July 29, 2016

Getting Back Together- Pinchas / Mattos 2016/5774

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

July 29th  2016 -Volume 6, Issue 43 23rd Tamuz 5776
Parshat Pinchas and Mattos!

Getting Back Together
I miss you guys in America. We’ve been separated by a Torah portion for months already. I know many of you click on the link I send for a previous year’s torah portion on the Parsha you are reading. But it’s time we got back together again. As one of the recent presidential candidates said it’s time for us to get together. “We are stronger together”. “Be wary of someone who says only I can bring change and save you”. We know better- or at least she does- All of us together is what makes us great. Or not?

So let’s try that with our weekly E-Mails again. Let’s talk about the Parsha that brings us all together. Interestingly enough, it’s named not after a group of people together, rather it’s named after one person; Pinchas. So maybe one person can make us great again. Oh… Yet on the other hand this week’s Parsha in Israel seemingly a more democratic one is called Matos- tribes. Oh…Who should we vote for? Can one person bring us together or can one make us a great and we need all of us. I’m confused. As you can see I didn’t have any tours this week so I’ve spent way too much time following these campaigns. Don’t worry they start up again next week so hopefully I can try to forget about the mishegas that doesn’t look like it will end for another few months.
The truth is though these two Parshas are really one story which is nice to bring us all together. But they are a strange story; perhaps the strangest broken narrative in the Torah. One that is screaming out one big question. What is going on?
The beginning of Pinchas seems to be the conclusion of last week’s Torah portion. The epilogue of the story of the Jewish people sinning with the daughters of Midian and the subsequent plague which led to the greatest amount of casualties of all of the battles and punishments in the wilderness. The plague was brought to an end by Pinchas taking his spear and kabobbing Zimri and the daughter of the king of Midian who were flagrantly consorting in front of Moshe and the Jewish people. This week the Torah tells us the identity of Zimri and Kazbi and the reward of Pinchas to be the winner of the covenant of peace award. The Torah then commands us to wipe out Midian and wage battle against them. The next thing we would expect though is for the war to take place. Just like every other war in the Torah. Yet the Torah does not do that. Instead we seem to have a very long intermission with many different and diverse topics which take us all the way into this week’s ‘Israel’ parsha of Matos where the battle takes place. Incidentally the battle against Midian is not only the most described battle in the Torah covering about 4 aliyas, but it contains a greater description than almost all of the other wars in the entire Torah from the times of Avraham put together. It’s obviously an important one. If not the most important one. Yet at the same time it seems to be the strangest description with this long break and narrative from the time it was commanded until it was actually carried out.
Let’s examine all of the different topics that are covered. Seemingly an understanding of them are critical to us preparing for the battle against Midian. First the Torah counts and lists the families of Israel. This would seem understandable, after all they are going to war and we have to round up the troops. Yet there seems to be a lot of extraneous information. The list includes various stories Korach’s sons not dying. Lots of names of families each with a yud and heh in front of them to show Hashem’s name in each of them. It mentions Serach the daughter of Asher who was certainly not a major solider at age 280 or something. Strange. The Torah then proceeds to talk about the division of the land and the tribe of Levi- as well as Yovheved and Miriam- who do not go to war and enter the land. What this is doing here? Again strange…  

But then the Torah really seems to get off topic with the story of more women, the daughters of Tzlafchad who want their portion in the land of Israel, because their father died and the law that girls could inherit in that circumstance was not yet taught. {Who says a woman can’t bring up issues that us men miss? Although it ultimately had to be a man, Moshe that raised it to Hashem. Hmmmm…there I go again- enough with the politics.} But what does this have to do with the war against Midian. Why here and now? The Torah then really goes off topic telling us about Moshe being told he would die, his request for someone to take over him; a candidate that would truly uplift each man and deal with their individual personalities and unite them. {Hmmmm again- I’m trying, I really am}. And that we shouldn’t be like a flock of sheep without a shepherd- I think I’m gonna give up soon on not seeing the connection here to politics and the sheep that flock to leaders. But again what does this have to do with Midian?
To bring it all to an end the next two aliyas deal with the laws of the daily sacrifices, the holiday additional musaf offerings, just in case you thought we finished all of that already back in Vayikra. It’s like a little review. Then the beginning of Matos pretty much starts off with the concept that once you covered the laws of land, division, inheritance, sacrifices and holidays, why not talk about oaths and vows and family members that can nullify them. Huh?! Really what is going on? Where is all this coming from? It’s like one big chulent. I feel ADD jumping from topic to topic. The torah then finally goes back and continues for the next five aliyot the story of the war we have been waiting for. The war incidentally where we wiped out five kings and their armies and not one soldier died or was captured. A war which was led by that one man Pinchas. It seems that the prelude to this battle must have worked.

Rav Mordechai Alon suggests an incredible insight into this battle. He suggests that the secret can be found in the way that Hashem commands Moshe and that Moshe commands the Jewish people. Hashem commands Moshe that this battle be one of the (Bamidbar 31:2-3) ‘vengeance of the Jewish people against Midian’. Moshe however commands us to fight because this is the ‘vengeance of Hashem’ against them. Rashi notes that a battle against us is like a battle against Hashem. Our vengeance is His and His is ours. We are one.

Midian led by Bilaam understood after witnessing the annihilation of the giant armies of Og and Sichon realized the only way they can get to us is to divide from Hashem. “Their God hates zima- licentiousness”. We can seduce them and their God will abandon them. That was the plan and the battle of Midian. The nefarious final solution to break us up from Hashem. The word zima can be an acronym of two Hebrew words zeh ma- what’s this? What is this ideology that Hashem has chosen you? What is this concept of the sanctity of your relationships between you and your Creator, between a man and his wife, between your nation and other nations? That is Midians objective. That is their plan.
Hashem therefore gives us the arsenal we need to fight and conquer a Midianite ideological battle. First recognize that His name is found in each Jewish family, name by name-family by family. Even a Korach who claimed that we were all special and there was no room for individual roles and relationships that are different, such as the Kohanim, was swallowed up. His own children though were accepted back and did Teshuva. We have matriarchs like Serach who revived Yaakov after Yosef was kidnapped and who thought all was lost. We have Yocheved, Miriam and the daughters of Tzlafchad whose faith that the Jewish people are eternal and that each of us has a portion in Israel divined by Hashem.; A personal homestead where each and every individual Jew will have a connection to fulfill his personal role in service of Hashem and realize the greatness of their spiritual potential.
The Torah continues with the necessity for leaders that will follow Moshe that will inspire that personal spark that Hashem is one with us. Who better than Yehoshua whom Moshe himself added the yud and heh to his name giving him the appreciation and spirit that will become his identity representing Hashem in each of us. The Torah then moves to the idea that each us will bring Hashem His daily bread- the daily sacrifice. ‘Bring Me My daily bread so I may bring you yours’-the Midrash says. We will have linked eternal relationship. We will have holidays that we will congregate together each one with its own specific message and link and sacrifices that we will become one together. Finally the Torah concludes the narrative in this week’s Torah portion that we will have the almost god-like power to create prohibitions that have Divine ramifications through the vows that we make. But the truth is. It’s really not necessary. They can be annulled, when you recognize that all that needs to be prohibited is already. The holy spark is within us. A father can pass that down to his children, a husband to his wife, the wise man and even a simple Jew can show you and help you find the petach- the opening to realize that Hashem is one with us without any unnecessary man-made restrictions. We have the power and ability to make vows and create Divine laws in this world. But even more powerfully we have the even greater ability to remove those vows and reveal the oneness that Hashem already put into the creation that is revealed through us and our families. Only then can we begin to fight a battle that is vengeance of Hashem and the vengeance of us. Revenge is when we recognize that anyone that says something or does something against our God is doing something against us. It’s personal. It’s who we are. Hashem in turns feels and does the same for us.
The battle against Midian is an eternal battle. It is the final battle before entering the land of Israel and meriting in our inheriting of the land. The biggest challenge we will face in coming to the land of Israel is to recognize that we are not a nation like any other nation. To merit the land we have to appreciate we each have a unique divine job to accomplish here. A spark of holiness that only we can reveal and that we can only reveal here. It is also a spark that we can only reveal together. When we are united. When we are one. This spark was awakened in us by Pinchas, who are sages tells us is also Elijah the prophet. Eliyahu Hanavi who will herald in the Messianic era that we so desperately long for. As we mourn during this three week period to the 9th of Av and reflect upon the hatred, the fighting, the distance between us and Hashem that led to the destruction of the Temple, let us resolve to repair that. To see the Divine in each one of ourselves and to shine it out unabashedly to the world. If we do that, who knows, we may not have to suffer with too many more self-serving politicians’ rhetoric elocutions and invocations. We may just hear a shofar blast instead. See I’m almost made it to the end…

Have a holy meaningful Shabbat and a blessed new month of Av
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NmCE8ftufQ   - Funny Breslav against Maccabbe soccer game

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZtWWbbQVLY  Bernie Sanders in a movie as a Rabbi Manny Chavitz

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCFGPo6LI3s  – One day Acapella version from Matisyahu

“Verter zol men vegn un nit tseyln”-. Words should be weighed, not counted.


A man may hide himself from his enemies, but not from his friends.”

“Obeying from love is better than to obey from fear.”

“There are many Midrashim and the Explanations of our sages and I have only come to explain the simple explanation of the text in a clear fashion”-

Rav Shlomo Yitzchaki- Rashi 19th Tamuz  this Thursday (1040-1105)-
Readers of our weekly E-Mail are familiar with the name Rashi. In fact if you ask me what makes Rashi so unique is that he is probably the last person in Klal Yisrael to ever study the Torah or the Talmud without Rashi. From Rashi and on every commentary or student young and old beigns their study with his commentary. It is not even debatable I believe that Rashi perhaps became the greatest commentary and most accepted one of all times.
"Rashi" is not the full name of that great man. It is merely a combination of the three Hebrew letters, Resh, Shin, Yud, which stand for RabenuShlomo Yitzchaki - our Rabbi Solomon, the son of Yitzchak.
Rabenu Solomon Yitzchaki, or Rashi as he is generally referred to, was born almost exactly 900 years ago, in the year 4800. He lived 65 years. Rashi is said to be a descendant of King David.
Rashi was born in the town of Troyes in France; some people believe he was born in Worms. His father Yitzchak was a great scholar, but very poor. He made a meager living from the sale of wine.
A wonderful story is told about the birth of Rashi: His father, Rabbi Yitzchak once found a rare diamond. "Now, there would be no more poverty," he thought and went to sell the precious stone to the local jeweler. The jeweler hadn't enough money to pay for such a large diamond, and suggested to the bishop to buy it. Now the bishop had been looking for such a diamond for he wanted to put it on his cross. He offered a huge amount of money for it. When Rabbi Yitzchak heard for what purpose the bishop wanted the stone, he refused to sell it. He knew, however, that if he did not sell the stone, it would be taken from him forcibly, and so he threw it into the sea. A Heavenly Voice then resounded: "For this great sacrifice you will be blessed with a son that will outshine all the precious stones in the world, and the light of hisTorah will shine for ever." The following year a son was born to him, and he called him Solomon, saying, may G‑d grant him wisdom like unto King Solomon.
Rashi was still a youngster when he left his home town and went to Worms and other towns that were known for their great Torah scholars. With great zeal Rashi learnt Torah and Talmud, and after some eight years of ardent study, he returned to his home town again. He was then about 25 years of age, but he continued to study on his own. Soon he became known as a very great scholar, and thousands of students and scholars flocked to him, to learn from him. Rashi, was elected Rabbi of his town Troyes, but he did not accept any wages, and made his living from the sale of wine, like his father used to do.
Rashi began to write his famous commentary on the Tanach and Talmud at an early age. The Torah was very difficult to understand properly, and the Talmud was even more difficult. Rashi decided to write a commentary in simple language that would make it easy for every one to learn and understand the Torah. But Rashi was very modest, and even after he had become famous far and wide, he hesitated to come out into the open with his commentary. He wanted to make sure that it would be favorably received. So what did he do? He wrote his commentaries on slips of parchment and set out on a two years' journey, visiting the various Torah academies of those days. He went 'incognito,' never disclosing his identity.
Rashi came to a Yeshivah and sat down to listen to the lecture of the Dean of the Yeshivah. There came a difficult passage in the Talmud which the Rabbi struggled to explain to his students; but did not succeed very well. When Rashi was left alone, he took the slip with his commentary, in which that passage of the Talmud was explained simply and clearly, and put it into the Gemora of the head of the academy. On the following morning, when the Rabbi opened his Gemora he found a mysterious slip of parchment in which the passage of the Talmud was so clearly and simply explained that he was amazed. He told his students about it, and they all decided it must have been sent from heaven. Rashi listened to their praises of his commentary and was very happy to know how useful it was to the students, but he did not say that it was his. And so Rashi went on visiting various academies of the Torah in various lands and cities, and everywhere he planted his slips of commentaries secretly. The way these slips were received, made Rashi realize more and more how needed they were, and he continued to write his commentaries on the entire Chumash, Prophets, and all the tractates of the vast 'Sea of the Talmud.' These "mysterious" slips of parchment were copied and widely circulated throughout all the academies of the Torah, but nobody knew who the author was.
Once Rashi was discovered planting a slip of his commentary in the usual manner, and the secret was out. Immediately he was acclaimed by all as the great author of that wonderful commentary. Rashi's name became known throughout the world. In every Yeshivah, in every Torah school, Rashi's commentary was used by young and old, and he literally opened the eyes of all the Torah scholars. No other Rabbi or commentator gained so much popularity as Rashi. There are very few Chumashim or Gemoras printed without Rashi, and the study of the Torah and Talmud is now almost unthinkable without the aid of Rashi's explanation.
Rashi had no sons, but he had several daughters, some say two, some say three.
His sons-in-law and grandchildren were famous scholars and commentators of the Torah and Talmud. One of his grandsons was Rabenu Tam, another one - Rashbam (Rabbi Samuel ben Meir). Rashi's grandsons and disciples were the authors of the 'Tosefoth' known to all students of the Talmud.
In the last years of his life Rashi lived to see troubled times. It was the time of the crusaders, when thousands of Jews were massacred by wild and mad mobs that participated in the crusades, and wiped out whole communities on their way. Rashi's heart was broken and full of sorrow about the plight of his unfortunate brethren, and he wrote Piyutim, some of which have become part of our prayers (especially in the 'Selichoth').
At his old age Rashi's health failed him. He was weak and ailing and could no longer write. His daughter then acted as his secretary, and he dictated to her his answers to the many queries that used to come in to him from the greatest scholars of his time.
On the 29th day of Tammuz, in the year 4865, Rashi passed away. Rashi, however, continues to live in his works which are studied by all the students of the Talmud Torahs and Yeshivoths, and by the adult scholars too. ncidentally, Rashi's commentaries are the primary source of information for the study of French language and culture in the Middle Ages. The recent 900th anniversary of his death was widely commemorated in France, with public ceremonies, conferences, and a postage stamp issued in his honor.

answer below at end of Email
In the peace accords with Jordan it was agreed, inter alia, that:
A.    Jordan will provide Israel with water
  1. Israel will provide Jordan with water
  2. Israelis will be allowed to cross into Jordan on the Allenby Bridge
  3. Two more crossings will be opened between the Arava crossing and the Allenby Bridge

The problem with Rashi is that its sometimes so easy to read what he writes and continue and move on without actually thinking about what he writes and one then misses the perplexing questions tht need to be asked and that once answered reveals a powerful insight into a Torah teaching.
In this weeks Torah portion the verse tells us that (Bamidbar 31:5) a thousand from each tribe were given over to fight in battle. Rashi notes that the Torah uses a term that seems to mean they were given over against their will
“In order to teach you the praise of the shepherds of Israel how dear they are to Israel. Until they heard that Moshe would die (as part of the aftermath of the battle with Midian) what did he (Moshe- say about them) ‘ A little more and they will stone me”. Once they heard that Moshe’s death would be connected to the vengeance of Midian they did not want to go and they had to be forced.”
If one thinks about this Rashi for even a second, the question is why did Rashi have to bring up the dirty past to tell us that we love our leaders and Moshe? Just say that we didn’t want to be given over if we knew that Moshe would die. Why does Rashi have to tell us that previously we wanted to stone him?
The Steipler Gaon, explains based on a concept of Rabbi Yisrael Salant explains that the love Israel has for its leader is so deep that even when we are holding externally by stoning him deep down the true love will come out ultimately. He brings an example of a parent of a difficult child who he constantly fights with, at the same time that parent might be a teacher who has a student who he loves and always treats with pride and praise. However in time of danger, the parent’s internal love for his child would come out and if given a choice he would save the child first, despite all of the trouble he gives him. It is almost inexplainable. It is just a deep-seated natural love he has for his child. That is what Rashi is trying to convey about our connection with Moshe. This can only be shown this internal love by contrasting it with the external strife. That is the depth of the love and connection we have to Moshe.
If that is true about us and Moshe- the shepherd of Israel, how much more so is that true about our love for Hashem who is our shepherd. Despite how much we might rebel, under it all we are faithful and would give our lives for Him and our belief in Him. That is the history of the Jewish people from even the least observant of our people, when given a choice or threat of life they will martyr themselves before denying God.
What an amazing Rashi and lesson

Battle of Horns of Hittin-Crusaders gone or the Muslims strike back!- 27th Tamuz July 4th 1187- As we mentioned last week about the Crusader capture of Jerusalem it took less then a hundred years until the Muslims came back this week by the Egyptian ruler Saladin- who’s doctor was none other than the  Rambam. During the 1170s, Saladin began expanding his power from Egypt and worked to unite the Muslim states surrounding the Holy Land. This resulted in the Kingdom of Jerusalem being encircled by a unified enemy for the first time in its history. Attacking the Crusader state in 1177, Saladin was defeated by Baldwin IV at the Battle of Montgisard. In the wake of the battle, an uneasy truce existed between the two sides. As the Muslim states were uniting, there was increasing dissension in Jerusalem with the elevation of Guy of Lusignan to the throne in 1186.
Claiming the throne through his marriage to Sibylla, mother of the late child-king Baldwin V, Guy's ascension was supported by the Knights Templar. Others, such as Raymond III of Tripoli, who had been Baldwin V's regent, were angered by the move. Tensions quickly escalated between the two parties and civil war was only avoided through mediation by Balian of Ibelin. Despite this, Guy's situation remained tenuous as Raynald repeatedly violated the truce with Saladin by attacking Muslim trade caravans.
This came to a head when his men assaulted a large caravan travelling north from Cairo. In the fighting, his troops killed many of the guards, captured the merchants, and stole the goods. Operating within in the terms of the truce, Saladin sent envoys to Guy seeking compensation and redress. Reliant on Raynald to maintain his power, Guy, who conceded that they were in the right, was forced to send them away unsatisfied, despite knowing that it would mean war.
This deal backfired when Saladin requested permission for his son, Al-Afdal, to lead a force through Raymond's lands. Compelled to allow this, Raymond saw 7,000 men enter Galilee and defeat a Crusader force at Cresson on May 1. Calling his allies to assemble, Guy hoped to strike before Saladin could invade in force. Renouncing his treaty with Saladin, Raymond fully reconciled with Guy and a Crusader army of around 20,000 men formed near Acre. Advancing, they occupied a strong position near the springs at Sephoria.
Possessing a force nearly the size of Saladin's, the Crusaders had defeated earlier invasions by holding strong positions with reliable water sources while allowing the heat to cripple the enemy. Aware of past failings, Saladin sought to lure Guy's army away from Sephoria so that it could be defeated in open battle. To accomplish this, he personally led an attack against Raymond's fortress at Tiberias on July 2 while his main army remained at Kafr Sabt. That night, the Crusader leaders held a war council to determine their course of action.
While the majority was for pressing on to Tiberias, Raymond argued for remaining in the position at Sephoria, even if it meant losing his fortress. He wasn’t listened to and that was pretty much the end. Moving slowly and under constant harassment by Saladin's cavalry, they were guided towardsthe springs at Turan (six miles away) around noon. Concentrating around the spring, the Crusaders eagerly took water.
Though Tiberias was still nine miles away, with no reliable water en route, Guy insisted on pressing on that afternoon. Under increasing attacks from Saladin's men, the Crusaders reached a plain by the twin hills of the Horns of Hattin by mid-afternoon. Advancing with his main body, Saladin began attacking in force and ordered the wings of his army to sweep around the Crusaders. Attacking, they surrounded Guy's thirsty men and cut off their line of retreat back to the springs at Turan. Under increasing pressure, the Crusader rearguard was forced to halt and give battle, stopping the entire army's advance.
 Though advised to fight on to reach Tiberias and water, Guy elected to halt the advance for the night. Surrounded by the enemy, the Crusader camp possessed a well but it was dry by Sa;adins troops previous. The next morning, Guy's army awoke to blinding smoke. This came from fires set by Saladin's men to screen their actions and increase the Crusaders' misery. With his men weakened and thirsty, Guy broke camp and ordered an advance towards the springs of Hattin. Despite having sufficient numbers to break through the Muslim lines, fatigue and thirst badly weakened the cohesion of the Crusader army.
Advancing, the Crusaders were effectively counterattacked by Saladi. Desperate for water, much of Guy's infantry attempted a similar breakout, but failed. Forced onto the Horns of Hattin, the majority of this force was destroyed. Without infantry support, Guy's trapped knights were unhorsed by Muslim archers and forced to fight on foot. Though fighting with determination, they were driven onto the Horns. After three charges against the Muslim lines failed, the survivors were forced to surrender.
Precise casualties for the battle are not known, but it resulted in the destruction of the majority of the Crusader army. Among those captured were Guy and Raynald. While the former was treated well, the latter was personally executed by Saladin for his past transgressions. Also lost in the fighting was a relic of the True Cross which was sent to Damascus. Quickly advancing in the wake of his victory, Saladin captured Acre, Nablus, Jaffa, Toron, Sidon, Beirut, and Ascalon in rapid succession. Moving against Jerusalem that September, it was surrendered by Balian on October 2. The defeat at Hattin and subsequent loss of Jerusalem led to the Third Crusade. Beginning in 1189, it saw troops under Richard the Lionheart, Frederick I Barbarossa, and Philip Augustus advance on the Holy Land.

The two U.S. cities with the highest alcohol consumption are Las Vegas and Washington, DC. The difference between the two is that in Washington the drunks are gambling with our own money.

On his deathbed, a lifelong Republican supporter suddenly announced that he was switching to the Democrats. “I can’t believe you’re doing this.” said his friend. “For your entire life you’re been a staunch Republican. Why would you want to become a Democrat now?” “Because I’d rather it was one of them that dies than one of us.”

A thief stuck a pistol in a man’s ribs and said, “Give me your money.” The gentleman, shocked by the sudden attack, said “You cannot do this, I’m a United States congressman!” The thief said, “In that case, give me my money!”

A presidential candidate was a guest speaker at the golf club dinner. As the politician stood up to speak, a few of the men saw it as an opportunity to sneak off to the bar. An hour later, with the politician still talking, another man joined them. “Is he still talking?” they asked him. “Yes.” another man answered. “What on Earth is he/she talking about?” “I don’t know. He’s/She’s still introducing him/herself.”

A bus full of politicians was moving along the country road. Then it crashed into the tree and overturned. Blood and glass were everywhere. A middle-aged farmer working on the field nearby saw the accident and decided to help: he dug a huge hole and buried all the politicians who were still alive. He thought he did his country a good service.

Q: How many politicians does it take to change a light bulb? A: Two: one to change it and another one to change it back again.
Answer is B – The main accomplishment of the peace agreement with Jordan where Jordan recognized Israel’s right to the lands it liberated in the 6 day war were and renounced its claim was that Israel would give about 13 billion gallons of water a year to Jordan. Until today the Allenby crossing is only for foreigners and diplomats Israelis must cross through Akaba/Arava or the Jordan river crossing by beit shean. There is nothing between Arava and Allenby.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The "Noble" Peace Prize- Pinchas 2016/5776

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

July 22nd 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 42 16th Tamuz 5776
Parshat Pinchas
(For my Diaspora readers that are a week behind us in the Torah reading you can click on the following link for Parshat Balak
The "Noble" Peace Prize
Rav Moshe Feinstien was aghast. He couldn't believe how his students misunderstood him; how they had read him so wrong. Did they really say what he just thought he heard them say? They had come to him about his most recent controversial ruling in the early 1950's in America . It was after the war and too many of the recent refugees and immigrants to this "Goldeneh Medina" had thrown off the traditions of their ancestors. Whether it was out of fear of the anti-Semitism and persecution they had just suffered or whether it was because the challenges of keeping Kosher, refraining from work on Shabbos and providing Jewish education for their children was too great, the future of this Chosen Nation was certainly not something the new generation was willing to sacrifice anymore for. To make matters worse there were new leaders that were advocating for the renunciation of Halacha, which and spoke publicly from their pulpits about a new, more ‘Secular Judaism’; one that was bereft of the God of our forefathers and the commitment and dedication to the values that have kept us a nation for 3000 years. Perhaps most tragic of all, Reb Moshe felt, many simple Jews were being drawn into these movements under the enticing lure of being able to have your ‘tree’ and traditional bar mitzvah too.
So Rav Moshe issued his ruling. It was prohibited for any Rabbi, who held the values of tradition dear, to participate in any religious event or community panel that legitimizes any strain of Judaism that was not true to our Sinaitic tradition. Certainly he felt that to publicly acknowledge "alternative" definitions about what the Jewish faith had always been, as if anyone who chose to create a new stream of Judaism should be legitimately recognized, would be a very grave mistake and would dilute the message of a Torah True Judaism.  But his students living in communities where all religious institutions joined together and upholding camaraderie with varying Jewish representatives was essential to maintaining an image of a united Jewish front, felt differently. They approached their Rebbe and explained their position.
"Rebbe," they said "We don't like these people as much as you do. They are misguiding people and we despise who they are and what they are doing. But to the public we have to show that we are together and that we get along. Isn't that the way of peace?"
Rav Moshe looked at his students in shock, disgust and total confusion. "What are you talking about?" he said in a sad tearful voice "Despise them?!! Hate them?!!! They are your brothers and sisters. How can you even speak that way? First you must love them as much as I do. You must care for them as they are your flesh and blood. But then to the rest of the world you must show that they are incorrect. That their self-created ideologies don't represent the Torah Judaism that we have cherished for so long, and that their path is not one that will lead to Jewish continuity or re-birth rather it will bring apathy assimilation and the loss of millions of Jews from the faith of our forefathers."
Would Rav Moshe's ruling have won him an award for political corrected-ness Man of the Year? I don't think so. Were there many that saw this decisive position for Traditional Judaism as being divisive and non-pluralistic? Most certainly. Yet when the Torah and the Almighty gave out its award for the Peace Prize this weeks Torah portion shares with us an equally unlikely figure and position to be its recipient.
The portion begins with the Hashem granting the special covenant of Peace and eternal priesthood to none other then Pinchas the son of Elazar and grandson of the High Priest Aharon (the brother of Moshe). In Hashem's speech to why He felt Pinchas was deserving of this special award we are told;
 He turned back my wrath from upon the children of Israel when he zealously avenged my vengeance among them.
For those of you who missed the end of last week’s Torah portion this incredible act of zealousness occurred when an individual, the leader of the tribe of Shimon publicly consorted (to be polite in this G rated E-mail) with a Midianite woman in front of Moshe the elders and the Jewish people. Everyone was in shock. Perhaps after 40 years in the wilderness even apathetic. Who are we to judge? What a man does in his own private life shouldn't be a matter for the court. But not Pinchas- He loved Hashem and the Jewish people too much to allow this flagrant desecration and the nations silence and therefore acquiescence to take place. He picked up his spear and miraculously put the act to an end (see G-rating above which precludes mention of the shishka-bobbed sinner).
Would he be your first choice for the Man of Peace? He was God's. Why? The answer is that the Torah reveals to us what true peace is. It is not two people just "getting along", "ignoring our differences", or "putting aside our conflicts" in order to achieve a mutually desired goal of living in a non-combative way. That's not peace; its survival, it's comfortable. Peace is achieving a unity of individuals in its truest sense. It is a caring and love for one another, for the greater community and the world that seeks to bring each person to that place of total harmony with creation and its Creator. It is very easy to sit back and let everyone do what they want to do. To live in one’s own personal world and worry about yourself. But it's not the path of peace and love and not the path of responsibility for mankind that Torah has charged this nation with.
We are not Pinchases, nor are we even Rav Moshe's. I do not believe that there are many today that can act in a zealous fashion for the love of God and the Jewish people and know in their heart that their actions are motivated solely for that altruistic level of peace and love. But it’s sad, it’s something we should mourn. It’s a question we should challenge ourselves with each night before we go to sleep. What are we doing for the world, for the Jewish people for our family and our fellow neighbor? If we really care about them than what are we doing to make their lives better, more fulfilled. Are we too scared to invite someone for a Shabbat meal, too busy to call up someone and offer them encouragement or a kind word, too cut off to even shoot them an e-mail (or forward them a really great dvar torah that you know will inspire them ahem ahemJ).
This week begins the three week period of mourning for the Destruction of our two Temples that culminates on the ninth of Av. One of the primary reasons we are told the Temple was destroyed was because of sinat chinam- baseless hatred. Pinchas teaches us that apathy can be the worst form of hatred. It is in our hands to bring that era of the re-building of the Temples back again. We can do it by caring enough about heralding in that era of universal peace by actually doing something about it. By showing that we care about one another enough to try draw them closer to us. Only then will our Loving Father in Heaven reciprocate by spreading upon us that sukkat shalom- the Temple of Peace for all time. May it be soon in our day.
Have a harmonious Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://youtu.be/1YgRvJfQ2PY  - Jewish Pokemongo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5BnY5c1QvA American Ninja Orthodox Rabbi cool!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARikT-8lKos Im Eshkocheich from Lev Tahor- my favorite version that I suse for Kabalat Shabbos in preparation for the three weeks


“Keyner veys nit vemen der shukh kvetsht, nor der vos geyt in im.”-. No one knows whose shoe pinches except the person who walks in it.


We cannot agree to the White Paper. Just as the prophets did before me, I hereby rip it in two”

“Throw our enemies out lock the place up and throw away the key,”-To David Shaltiel in 1948 on the military objective for the Temple mount

“Tell London my clear knowledge that there is no reason to fear, for a victory for the Nazis in the middle East would mean a third destruction of Jewish settlement in our holy land and our prophets only prophesized that there would be two destructions. The third return will be eternal”- Ti Lord Halifax urgin him to stay in the US rather than return to Palestine.

Rav Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog 19th Tamuz  this Monday (1888-1959)-
Rabbi Herzog was born in Łomża, Poland, the son of Liba Miriam (Cyrowicz) and Joel Leib Herzog. He moved to the United Kingdom with his family in 1898, where they settled in Leeds. His initial schooling was largely at the instruction of his father who was a rabbi in Leeds and then later in Paris.
After mastering Talmudic studies at a young age, Yitzhak went on to attend the Sorbonne and then later the University of London, where he received his doctorate. His thesis, which made him famous in the Jewish world, concerned his claim of re-discovering Tekhelet, the type of blue dye once used for the making of Tzitzit which was ultimately proven wrong.
Rabbi Herzog served as rabbi of Belfast from 1916 to 1919 and was appointed rabbi of Dublin in 1919. A fluent speaker of the Irish language, he supported the First Dáil and the Irish republican cause during the Irish War of Independence, and became known as “the Sinn Féin Rabbi”.
He went on to serve as Chief Rabbi of Ireland between 1922 and 1936, when he immigrated to Palestine to succeed Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook as Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi upon his death.
 He was unique, different, out-of-the-box, apolitical, fearless in his views and decisions while at the same time being humble, self-effacing and modest to the extreme in his personal and private life. 
Rabbi Herzog was a linguist, having a grasp of a dozen languages including many ancient ones such as Sumerian and Acadian as well as the classical Greek and Latin. He was a biblical scholar of note, a Hebrew grammarian and a scholar of Talmud, rabbinic writings and halachic decisions, of enormous proportions.  His memory and genius were of a prodigious nature.

He also explored the sciences such as zoology, botany, astronomy, physics and chemistry with diligence and perspective. But his main passion, intellectual, emotional and commitment wise, was Torah in all of its variety and ramifications. His many volumes of response as well as his opinions on halachic issues and cases brought before the High Court of the Chief Rabbinate here in Israel during his years as its head judge and Chief Rabbi are a treasure trove of Torah erudition, hard-headed logic and a practical and yet compassionate worldview of life, people and Jewish society.

Worldlier than his predecessor Rav Kook, Rav Herzog was the Chief Rabbi during one of the most turbulent and decisive times in Jewish history - from 1936 to 1959. He saw the Jewish world destroyed and rebuilt during his tenure in office. He never flinched or faltered in front of the pressures exerted upon him by the non-Jewish world generally, the Catholic Church particularly, the then avowedly and militantly secular Zionist leadership of the emerging state, the violent zealots of Jerusalem who opposed him without truly knowing him, the British rulers of the country and the complexities of being the Chief Rabbi for hundreds of rabbis of different personalities, ideologies and ambitions. His gentle personal nature belied his iron determination and stubborn love for Torah and the Jewish people.
 In May 1939, shortly before the Second World War, the British put out the White Paper of 1939 restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine. After leading a procession through the streets of Jerusalem, with an unusually united Jewish following from all sects, on the steps of the Hurva Synagogue and ripped it in two.
Some 40 years later, on 10 November 1975 Ambassador Herzog, his son, repeated his father’s gesture with the UN resolution that Zionism is equal to racism.
During the Second World War, Rabbi Herzog travelled with great risk to the US, and back, not before he was able to secure a meeting with Roosevelt. Roosevelt smiled and did not reply to the Rabbi’s pleadings for a promise to help the Jews of Europe. His biographer records that several people noticed that his hair turned white when he left the meeting, which he perceived as a failure.
Following this, he immediately returned home, missing the ride on a ship that was sunk by a U-boat, and taking what was said to be the last civilian ship to cross the Atlantic during the war.
After the war, Rabbi Herzog dedicated himself to saving Jewish children especially babies and bringing them back from their places of hiding throughout all of Europe, to their families or to Jewish orphanages. Many of these were hidden in Christian monasteries or by Christian families, and refused to return them.
In his biography, he tells of the difficulties he had of meeting the Pope who avoided him, but did receive in the end assistance from the Vatican. In later years it was found that Karol Wojtyła, future Pope John Paul II, was the contact who helped the rabbi out.

answer below at end of Email
 The aim of “Mivtza Yiftach” (Operation Yiftach) was to free the:
A. Gilad
B.  Eastern Upper Galilee
C.  Eastern shores of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee)
D.  Western Lower Galilee

Generally Rashi in his commentary quotes sources; Midrash, Talmud, his teachers. Not always does he say where he is quoting from because that is not his role. He is coming ot explain the simple pshat of the text. Yet occasionaly we get an insight into Rashi’s chiddush- his own thought. When that happens and he lets you know that it is his idea, then it is certainly worthwhile taking a second look.
In this week’s Torah portion we have such an example on a seemingly innocuous verse. It says in th list of the children and families of Israel. That the children of Gad were
Bamidbar (26:16) Azni to the family of Azni- Rashi there makes a fascinatingly humble comment.
“I say that this is the family of Etzbon and I don’t know why they are not called after their family name.”
How many people could write that? I don’t know. As simple as that. He could’ve avoided explaining this verse and the can of worms by just skipping the text. But he doesn’t he shares with you his interpretation and leaves the question hanging. Perhaps he learned from Moshe who in this weeks verse as well tells the daughters of Tzelafchad he doesn’t know the law and turns it to Hashem.
The Shela Hakadosh suggests that Rashi’s rationale perhaps between Etzbon and Azni. Is that Azni is from the word ozen- ear. Etzbon on the other hand is from the word etzba- finger. The Talmud tells us that the finger were created long and thin in order that if one hears lashon harah or inappropriate talk he can place his fingers in their ears.
Thus Rashi notes the similarities between the names and their Talmudic connection and suggests that they are one and the same.
Yet just the mere fact that we see the humility of this great man is in itself perhaps the greatest lesson that is worthwhile cleaning out our ears and hearing once again. I don’t know….

Crusader capture of Jerusalem- 17th- 22nd Tamuz July 15th 1099- 917 years ago,  one of the most heinous and barbarous war crimes in the long bloody history of the human race occurred on the soil of perhaps the most contested place on planet Earth: Jerusalem. After a siege of a little more than a month, European knights of the First Crusade forced the Muslim Fatimid governor of Jerusalem, Iftikhar al-Dawla, to yield the city. When the Crusaders entered their holy city on that blazing afternoon, the bloodbath that resulted still has the capacity to shock the world today, even against the backdrop of the horrific brutality of the Middle Ages that makes our own nuclear era look like a paragon of peace. The Christian crusaders proceeded to slaughter thousands of Jews and Muslims within the walls of Jerusalem in cold blood, possibly killing as many as 10,000 innocent people.
The story of the First Crusade is an extremely long and involved one, as you might expect from so complex a topic in medieval history. The idea of a coalition of Western European knights, with papal blessing, carrying out a military expedition against the Muslim world was originally hatched by the Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnenus, who appealed to Rome for European military help against the Seljuk Turks who had recently delivered a terrible blow against the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert. Pope Urban II, however, decided to think bigger, and suggested instead that Christian knights should set their sights on Jerusalem, the holy city that had been held by Muslims since 614 C.E. Essentially, it was a war of religious conquest by a coalition of French, German, English and Italian nobility, held together more by convenience and religious ideology than by nationalism, seeking to encompass a crucial part of the Middle East into the Christian, rather than Islamic, world.
Nearly four years after the Crusade was called in 1095 the armies of Raymond of Toulouse, Godfrey of Bouillon and several other knights drew up against the walls of Jerusalem, after a long series of battles and massacres across europes where they wiped out the Jewish communities with the promise of atonement when they would reach and liberate Jerusalem. The Crusaders believing this was divine mandate thought to conquer the city as Joshua had and circled it seven times and blew Shofars. Surprise! It didn’t work. Al-Dawla, anticipating the siege, had already expelled the 5,000 civilian Christians from the city before the siege began and poisoned wells in the area to deprive the Crusaders of water. Indeed, the siege was initially harder on the Europeans than it was on the Muslim and Jewish defenders of Jerusalem. In sweltering desert heat with limited food and dwindling water, it didn’t seem that the Crusaders could hold out for long. However, two Genoese ships arrived at Jaffa just in time, bringing fresh supplies. More important were the ships themselves. The Crusaders dismantled them and used the wood to build siege towers. On the evening of July 14, 1099, they sent them against the thick stone walls of Jerusalem.
When Flemish knights crossed over the walls into the city and Muslim and Jewish resistance began to flag, the end was in sight. Each group–Muslims and Jews–retreated to their holy shrines within Jerusalem to wait for expected death. They didn’t have long to wait. Rampaging Crusaders tore through the streets, slashing, spearing and bludgeoning warriors and civilians alike. A terrible slaughter of Muslims occurred inside the Dome of the Rock mosque, spilling blood across the floor and walls. Traditional histories of the siege speak of thousands of Jews being barricaded inside their synagogue, which Frankish knights then set on fire. This massacre was completely senseless. With the city in Crusader hands there was no military need to kill all the defenders who’d already surrendered, much less civilians. Religious fervor and the desire to loot, pillage and kill drove the Crusaders to commit this horrifying war crime.
When the dust settled and the bodies stopped moving, ironically the Crusaders had some trouble finding one of their commanders who wanted to be King of Jerusalem. Raymond refused the dubious honor. Godfrey of Bouillon agreed to become the secular political leader of Jerusalem, but refused the title “King,” claiming that only their “saviour’ could be a king in Jerusalem. He lived barely a year, dying in 1100 and was succeeded by his brother, Baldwin of Boulogne, who became King Baldwin I of Jerusalem. Jerusalem itself remained in Christian hands until surrendered in another siege in October 1187, where French knight Bailan of Ibelin yielded the city to the Sultan Saladin.
It’s hard to know exactly how many people died in the Jerusalem massacre of 1099. Casualty counts from medieval battles and massacres are almost always grossly inflated in surviving sources, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that 10,000 people died. As we begin to mourn the Roman capture of Jerusalem and massacre of Tish b’Av this week as we enter the three week period it behooves us to remember  as well the destruction of Jerusalem a little over a millennia later once again by the Christian descendants of that Roman empire. May all our enemies be wiped out and may hashem avenge the death of our people returning once again the city of Yerushalayim to the city of peace it was meant to be.

The man who made knock knock Jokes should get the no-bell prize

A man is driving down a country road, when he spots a farmer standing in the middle of a huge field of grass. He pulls the car over to the side of the road and notices that the farmer is just standing there, doing nothing, looking at nothing.

The man gets out of the car, walks all the way out to the farmer and asks him, "Ah excuse me mister, but what are you doing?"
The farmer replies, "I'm trying to win a Nobel Prize."
"How?" asks the man, puzzled.
"Well, I heard they give the Nobel Prize . . . to people who are out standing in their field."

An unidentified person nominated Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton- insert your candidate of choice. for the Nobel Peace Prize. I was not aware you could nominate yourself.


Answer is B – I got this wrong. I was never good at remembering the names of each and every battle. There were sadly too many of them. Now most of them you can figure out by their names. Kades, from last week was down south, Hiram near Lebanon where the biblical Hiram was king. Yiftach I assumed was near Gilad which is across from Beit Shean which is today in Jordan so knew it wasn’t that, so I thought it might be the lower Kineret not far from there. The truth is though the name Yiftach is really an acronym for the General who led the battle of cleaning out the upper Galile including Rosh Pina and Tzfat in 1948. His name was Yigal Allon or as he was born Yigal Feikiovitz thus the Yud Feh of Yiftach the ta”ch is Tel Chai. So there you go. Now remember it… or not.