Our view of the Galile

Friday, July 15, 2016

Survivor! -Balak 2016/5776

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

July 15th 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 41 9th Tamuz 5776
Parshat Balak

There is one topic unfortunately that unites as diversely opinionated nation as the Jewish people. It is our hope and determination to bring an end to anti-Semitism and persecution. Historically we have undoubtedly held the “most persecuted nation” status from time immemorial and it is therefore those experiences collectively held in our national consciousness that has always motivated us to combat the forces that threaten the peaceful existence of God’s creatures on this planet. However to a large degree many of our solutions have failed.
 There were many Jews that believed (and still believe-just ask Bernie :)) that socialism, a world governed by the people with no differences in classes was the answer. When that failed many saw the solution in assimilation and intermarriage. (Perhaps as well still today-Ask Chelsea’s husband, Hillary’s son-in-lawLL) The idea being if we mingled in their societies and became part of them we won’t be singled out anymore as Jews. “Berlin is our new Jerusalem” then became the calling cry for many in the early 1900’s as many Jews attempted through intermarriage and assimilation to become more German than the Germans. Even earlier than that, in the 1600’s many Jews referred to Poland in Yiddish as “Po-Lin” translated as “here we will be our resting place”. The Chemlinitzki revolutions, pogroms and Hitler’s selections quickly put an end to those dreams. 
The aftermath of the Holocaust led to the development of the belief in Zionism and the establishment of the modern State of Israel as the antidote for the nations looking at us negatively. In Herzl’s ideology, developed after the Dreyfuss trial (That tragic anti-semitically prosecuted and convicted officer Alfred Drefyfuss’s yartzeit is this week) was that the reason they hate us is because we don’t have our own country. Because we ae nomads in their countries. Once we we were a nation like any other then they would respect us. They would learn from us. They would love us. Yeah....can’t you just feel that love overflowing to God’s chosen nation from the UN, the college campuses, from Europe. Having our own State hasn’t bought us many more friends or even greater security from genocidal threats. These are just “solutions” from the past century, when one looks farther back in our history there are countless more.

 This week’s Torah portion suggests one of the most unique attempts at the destruction of our people. The portion begins with the Balak the king of Moav enlisting the support of the Midianite prophet Bilaam to curse the Jewish people. Bilaam having being blessed with prophesy ( a quid pro quo  grant from Hashem to the nations of the world for having given the Jewish people Moses, says the Medrash)  knew the moment of Divine wrath and by cursing the Jewish people the hope was that Balak would finally be successful in destroying the nation of God.
 Rav Moshe Feinstien one of the greatest Jewish Halachic decisors and leaders of the last generation notices a subtle yet very insightful incongruence in Balak’s request and Bilaam’s repetition of it in his unsuccessful attempt to ask God’s permission to go.
 And he (Balak) sent messengers to Bilaam...saying 
Bamidbar 22:5-6)“Behold a Nation has gone out from Egypt and it has covered the Face of the earth....please come and curse this people for me.”

 And Bilaam said to God Balak has sent to me ibid: (22:11)
Behold the Nation coming out of Egypt and will cover the face of the earth. Now come curse them for me.”
 Whereas Balak who hopes to destroy the Nations sees them merely in terms of their past, having left Egypt and their present danger of covering the land, Bilaam the prophet intuits something else. Bilaam recognizes that this nation is one that hasn’t merely left Egypt but is still existing and identifying as the Nation coming out of Egypt; the nation who carries with them and lives with the memory of  the dedication and sacrifices of the their forefathers in whose merit their salvation and survival ultimately came. It is about this people that Bilaam ultimately predicts will cover the face of the earth. For we are a nation that lives with the knowledge that the place from where it came and the experiences that it underwent are not merely the sad facts of history that are relegated to classes and legends of our past, rather, they are the pivotal focus of the way we approach our everyday lives and the challenges that face us. The secret to our survival has not been to remove or even combat those that threaten to destroy us. It has been our incredible tenacity in the face of persecution to remain faithful to the knowledge that we are dedicated to the ideals our forefathers learned upon leaving Egypt.
 We are a nation of survivors. Perhaps Cecil Roth in his decidedly secular work "History of the Jews" put it best
“Our survey of three and a half millennia of Jewish history is closed. But the story which we have set ourselves to tell is unending. Today the Jewish people has in it still those elements of strength and of endurance that enabled it to surmount all the crises of its past, surviving thus the most powerful empires of antiquity.

Throughout our history there have been weaker elements who have shirked the sacrifices which Judaism entailed. They have been swallowed up, long since, in the great majority; only the more stalwart have carried on the tradition of their ancestors, and can now look back with pride upon their superb heritage...

From a reading of Jewish history, one factor emerges... the preservation of the Jew was certainly not casual. He has endured through the power of a certain ideal, based upon the recognition of the influence of a higher Power in human affairs. Time after time in his history, moreover, he has been saved from disaster in a manner which cannot be described as 'providential'.
The author has deliberately attempted to write this work in a secular spirit; he does not think that his readers can fail to see in it, on every page, a higher immanence."
Cecil Roth, "A History of the Jews" Shocken (1961) Pp. 423-424

We are living in a time when it is not only our nation that is struggling and finding its survival a struggle. It is the whole world that is getting swallowed up by the hatred that comes from and evil that has distorted and are hijacking the name of our God. The God of love and peace. The God who’s light is waiting for us to shine out and declare to the world. May our continued dedication to those ideals bring us to an era where the world will finally know peace and the unity of mankind under our Creator.
Have super-duper Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0PwSI4aJcI&spfreload=10 - The place where I belong- Torah scroll song beautiful and meaningful clip

https://youtu.be/rReuXhvP7qg -Sad video dedicated to families of terror victims filled with hope beautiful song AKA Pella

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Rj-Lun1NEU- Classic Abie Rottenber Joe Dimaggio card clip/song


There is no action or movement that takes place in this world that does not have a foundation in spirituality”

Fortunate is the world that this nation (Israel) is within it.”

“One should not be happy unless he is settling the land as it says then will his mouth fill with joy”

Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar- the Ohr HaChaim Hakadosh 15th Tamuz  this Thursday (1696-1743)-
Born into a well-respected family in Sali,Morocco, his father, Harav Moshe Ben Chaim, traced his lineage to the distinguished and well-known Ben-Attar family of Rabbanim and leaders of Klal Yisrael.
Rav Chaim spent his early years learning with his grandfather, whose name he shared. Very soon his grandfather realized that the child possessed rare talents and needed to be taught privately.
The young Chaim excelled immensely in Torah, and at a rather young age became well-known as an prodigy and diligent student. He also lived and taught in Algiers, Italy, Acco and Yerushalayim, where he settled a year before his passing.
He married his relative, the daughter of Harav Moshe ben Harav Shem Tov Ben-Attar, who was a pious and wealthy layman and a well-known baal chessed. His father-in-law supported them generously, and even founded a yeshivah in which the Ohr Hachaim quickly became a superior proliferator of Torah. His Rebbetzin took care of the physical needs of the talmidim,and was a great tzaddeket in her own right.
His father-in-law was niftar in  1725, and with that came a change in the Ohr Hachaim’s material situation. Envying the great fortune he had inherited, many people conspired against him; high government taxes were thrust upon him.
The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh earned his livelihood as a silversmith, yet he always made Torah study his primary occupation. He would sit engrossed in study, and only when his last coin was spent did he engage in worldly matters.
The Ohr HaChaim once mistakenly caused an affront to the King of Morocco, who had him thrown into a pit of lions. The Ohr HaChaim put on his tallit and tefillin, and when he was thrown into the pit, the lions gathered around him respectfully. Seeing this, the king proclaimed, "Now I know there is a God of Israel."
Finally, he was released from prison on the condition that he leave the city. After traveling to several cities he ended up in Livorno, Italy, where he published some of his great works: Ohr Hachaim and Chaifetz Hashem.
The Ohr Hachaim had always yearned and aspired to ascend to Eretz Yisrael and settle in Yerushalayim. With 30 followers he arrived in Eretz Yisrael, four days before Rosh HaShanahin 1742 and settled in Acco. HaRav Chaim and his students spent Yom Kippur in the cave of Eliyahu HaNavi / Elijah the Prophet, on Mount Carmel. Purim was spent in Tzefat and Miron, where a great deal of time was spent studying the holyZohar.
On the 15th of Elul of 1743, Rav Chaim finally arrived in Yerushalayim with his group. He immediately established a yeshiva called Knesset Yisrael where throngs of talmidim made their way to learn under his guidance. and a second secretive yeshiva for the study of Kabbalah. One of his new students was Rav Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulai, the Chida, who at that time was only 18 years old.
The Ohr Hachaim authored a number of sefarim, including Pri Toar, on Yoreh De’ah; Rishon L’Tziyon and Chaifetz Hashem on the talmud; and Ohr Hachaim on Chumash. The sefer Ohr Hachaim became a treasured and revered work. Gedolim and laymen alike throughout the generations treasured the fiery, priceless words of the Ohr Hachaim, which provide a guide to and assistance in the service of Hashem.
The Ohr HaChaim is credited with initiating the idea of placing a note in the Kotel HaMaaravi / Western Wall; he gave this advice to his student, the Chida, who was traveling from Morocco to Eretz Yisrael.
Legend says that he would study in Yerushalayim with Eliyahu HaNavi in the same building where the Arizal was born two centuries earlier. Many stories are told of his holiness and greatness, and of the repeated unsuccessful attempts by HaRav Yisrael Baal Shem Tov to reach the Holy Land and meet with him in the belief that together they could bring the Moshiach and the final redemption, as is evident from correspondence between him and his brother-in-law, Harav Gershon Kitover.
Unfortunately, the Baal Shem Tov’s ascent to Eretz Yisrael, partially for this purpose, was never completed. Many tzaddikim used to say their meeting would have hastened the coming of Moshiach.
The Ohr Hachaim was niftar on 15 Tammuz at the age of 47; he had no children. There is a story that at shalosh seudot that week the Baal Shem Tov declared, “The western light has been extinguished,” referring to the Ohr Hachaim.A problem arises in regard to this story since 15 Tammuz never falls on Shabbat; rather, it was 14 Tammuz that fell on Shabbat that year. According to some, the yahrtzeit is on 14 Tammuz, and he was buried on Sunday, 15 Tammuz
Today, the grave of the Ohr HaChaim, located on Har Hazeitim / the Mount of Olives inYerushalayim, is a popular place of pilgrimage and prayer.

answer below at end of Email
Q “Mivtza Kadesh” (Kadesh Operation) took place in:
A. 1948
B. 1956
C. 1967
D. 1970

Some Rashi’s become more famous then others. Usually it is the ones that add some midrash to explain the simple pshat. Sometimes it becomes so accepted and taught that people actually confuse the midrashic story with the actual text. However as we know Rashi only bring as midrash to explain the text not to add a colorful story.
One of those midrash’s that I always remembered this week’s Torah portion where the Torah describes the post Bila’am story of the Jews getting seduced by the daughters of Moav and worshiping the idolatry of Ba’al Pe’or. Rashi Bamidbar (24:3) notes that this idolatry which means exposed, was worshipped by ‘because they would expose their backsides before it and expel excrement upon it.’ I guess you figured out why I remember it…
Yet as we know Rashi is not coming to tell us stories he is explaining something in the text. The Divrei Hillel Kalemai explains that the verse tells us that the prelude to their worship was
‘They invited the nation to the feasts of their gods; the people ate and bowed to their gods and Israel became attached to the Baal Pe’or.’
It seems that there was a process to their sinning that began with them eating first. Rav Hillel notes that Rashi previously told us that the Jewish people who ate the Manna did not have any need to go to the bathroom, as the food was entirely spiritual and had no waste product. Thus the Midrash tells us that the daughters of Moav offered them their own cows and sheep to slaughter ‘kosherly’ thus seducing them as they knew that the Manna would not provide them with the necessary ahem…materials to worship with. Once they ate then they were fully primed to worship the idolatry. Thus Rashi explains what the worship was so that you would understand why it was necessary for them to eat first.
I guess you won’t forget this Rashi anytime soon either.
Bon apetit

Burning of the Talmud in Paris- 9th Tamuz June 9th 1244- We have always been known to be the pople of the Book. The Book of course being the Torah, yet the Talmud written from the 5th-6th century remains the key to understanding and extrapolating all of Jewish scholarship and our oral tradition that was meant to be extrapolated from the Torah. It is perhaps more than any other Jewish work the basic and most studied work that has served as the crux and foundation to any Jewish scholarship and perhaps most defines us that people of the Book.
The process that led to the setting of the bonfire, in which it is said that 24 wagons piled with copies of the multi-volume work of Toah law and tradition, took place over several years. It began with the accusations of an apostate Jew, Nicholas Donin, of La Rochelle, France. Donin was excommunicated by his Jewish community around the year 1229 for his heretical views. In 1236, he traveled to Rome and presented Pope Gregory IX with a list of complaints about the Talmud.
Among Jews, the Talmud - which is comprised of the Mishna, the 3rd-century C.E. compendium of law, as interpreted by the Rabbis; and the Gemara, the 6th-century work of commentary on the Mishna and other subjects – is also referred to as the Oral Law. And indeed, it is understood to be no less divinely inspired – or binding – than the Torah, the Five Books of Moses.
Nicholas Donin’s principal concern was that the Talmud had begun to supersede the Bible for the Jews, and that this constituted a theological problem for Christians. The Christian claim was that  the Jews had the responsibility of upholding the “Old Testament” so as to provide living proof of the New Testament. If the Jews now gave precedence to the Oral Law, and allowed themselves to reinterpret the Bible, they were no longer fulfilling their historic role, and were no longer candidates for conversion – and hence no longer justified the protection of the Church.
In 1239, Pope Gregory sent around to other church leaders, and to the kings of Spain, England and Portugal, a list of 35 arguments against the Talmud compiled by Donin. The missive concluded with an order to confiscate the book on the first Sabbath in Lent, in this case March 3, 1240, while the Jews were at prayer. The charges made against the Talmud included the claim that it blasphemed the founders of Christianity (or just told the truths that they couldn’t handle), and attacked non-Jews, among other things. Donin himself traveled back to Paris with the pope’s letter, which also ordered that “those books in which you find errors of this sort you shall cause to be burned at the stake."
The next stage in the process, at least in France, was a “trial” for the Talmud, ordered by King Louis IX, in what turned out to be the first so-called disputation between Jews and Christians, which was held in Vincennes in May and June of 1240. Again, it was Donin who argued the case against the holy book; speaking on its behalf were four distinguished rabbis, led by Rabbi Yechiel ben Joseph of Paris.
Not surprisingly, the Talmud was found to be blasphemous, and the consequence was its public burning two years later, on this date. One estimate is that the 24 wagonloads included up to 10,000 volumes of Hebrew manuscripts, a startling number when one considers that the printing press did not yet exist, so that all copies of a work had to be written out by hand.
Subsequently, Pope Innocent IV, who became pontiff in 1243, ruled that the Talmud should be corrected, rather than outright banned, making it possible to censor offensive passages while Jews were able to continue studying the work.
Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg, the Maharam, is said to have witnessed the Paris burning, which took place at the Place de Greve compared it to the destruction of the Temple In a lamentation he wrote Sha'ali Serufah ("Ask is it well, O thou consumed in fire") included in the kinah of the Ninth of Av, he described how “My tears formed a river that reached to the Sinai desert and to the graves of Moshe and Aharon. Is there another Torah to replace the Torah which you have taken from us?” Rabbeinu Yonah of Gerondi , who had led the anti-Maimonists, is said to have connected the burning of the Talmud with the burning of the Guide  and to have bitterly repented his attacks on Maimonides.
Subsequently the burning of the Talmud was repeatedly urged by the popes. In France, Louis IX ordered further confiscations in 1247 and 1248 and upheld the principle in an ordinance of December 1254. It was confirmed by Philip III in 1284 and Philip IV in 1290 and 1299. A further burning was ordered in Toulouse in 1319 by the inquisitor Bernard Gui and in Perpignan. In his manual for inquisitors Gui also singled out the works of Rashi , David Kimḥi , and Maimonides for condemnation..
The Shibbolei Leket on Hilchot Taanit discusses the aftermath of the burning of the Talmud. "We heard that they asked a she'eilat chalom, whether it was a Heavenly decree or not, and they were answered, "Veda gezeirat Oraisa" [the Targum of the verse, Zot chukat HaTorah]. They understood that this hinted that the Friday of Parshat Chukat [the day the Talmud was burned] is a day of evil decrees. From that day on, individuals fasted every year on that day [of the week], the Friday of Parshat Chukat, but not on the day of the month." 
As I have always noted we are our worst enemies and cause the more damage to ourselves then anyone else.

The Italian says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have wine.
The Scotsman says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have Scotch.
The Russian says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have vodka.
The Jew says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have diabetes.

An Orthodox man was traveling on El Al, when his seat mate asked what he did for a living.
"I'm a rabbi."
“Well,” said the man condescendingly, “I was born Jewish. I don't know much about it, but I presume you could sum it up in one sentence: ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.’"
The rabbi smiled, then said, "And what do you do for a living?"
"I’m an astrophysicist,” he replied smugly.
Well," said the rabbi, "I don't know much about it, but I presume I too, could sum it up in one sentence: ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star -- how I wonder what you are.’”
Rivka Baumgarten tottered into a lawyer's office.
“I vant a divorce.”
“A divorce?” asked the shocked lawyer.
“You hoid me, sonny! A divorce.”
“Mrs. Baumgarten ... how old are you?”
“And your husband?”
“Irving? Ninety-two – next month.”
“Well ... how long have you been married?” he asked in disbelief.
“Tomorrow, 70 years."
“Seventy years?! Why a divorce now?”
“Sonny,” said Rivka ... “enough is enough.”

A new flood was predicted and nothing could prevent it. In three days, the waters would wipe out the world.
The Dalai Lama appeared on worldwide media and pleads with humanity to follow Buddhist teachings to find nirvana in the wake of the disaster.
The pope issued a similar message, saying, “It is still not too late to accept Jesus.”
The chief rabbi of Jerusalem took a slightly different approach. “My people,” he said, we have three days to learn how to live under water.”

Answer is B – This should not be too hard, although you may not know the official.names for Israeli wars. How about if I told you that it was called the Sinai Campaign in English, does that help you? OK let’s take this slowly. You know that 1948 is the war of Independence. Now there were a lot of battles then or mivtzaim-operations as they call them in Hebrew, however Kadesh is not one of them. 1967 was the 6 day war and 70 was the war of attrition over the Suez canal and with Egypt, However the 1956 war over the Suez Canal is called Mivtza Kadesh- Kadesh being the biblical city in the South of Israel where Moshe sent the spies out of to check out the country from.

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