Our view of the Galile

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Most Powerful Weapon- Korach 2016/5776

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

July 1st  2016 -Volume 6, Issue 39 25th Sivan 5776
Parshat Korach

The Most Powerful Weapon
I was a captive audience. I began to understand what my congregation might feel like during my sermons. But I was stuck. I never liked visits to the dentist. But this was just supposed to be just a cleaning. Yet this was Israel. My hygienist was an Israeli albeit a Ukrainian immigrant. A Jewish one of course and obviously she had picked up one of the most important Israeli annoying traits. We never pass up an opportunity to share, talk and ‘enlighten’ audiences that can’t really answer and argue with you. The fact that I was a Rabbi made it too much to resist. Particularly as I sat in her chair with this paper bib strapped around my neck, a bit of dribble oozing out of the side of my mouth and this miniature vacuum cleaner sucking any sound that might come out of my mouth. Just in case I didn’t appreciate the precariousness of my situation, she began to ask me questions. Obviously knowing that I could only garble out words or make hand signals to respond. She clearly wanted me to know my place.
So you’re a Rabbi?
 “Uhh Huhh…”
You have beautiful, children, you know...”
Aaank Uuu
I’m trying to have children also
Nod Nod. “Please, don’t move your head”.
 “Oh Ay” Dribble dribble.
You can spit now” whewww…
Now open again”. Sigh…
And then her life story began. She was raised quite secular in the Ukraine and she was fortunate enough-she said to meet the Chabad shluchim over there. They connected her to the faith of her ancestors and gave her an appreciation of her Jewish identity, certainly to the extent that she knew that she would only marry someone Jewish. She met the love of her life there in the Ukraine and they both decided they wanted to live in Israel, a place where they could feel they are amongst their people. When she came here she started to light Shabbat candles weekly and she even started attending services. Particularly she enjoyed Friday night; the singing, the holiness and the connection she felt deeply with her Father in heaven. She told me that she loved Judaism and even did a lot of mitzvos, although she wasn’t as observant as she knew she should be. She had even made three shiduchim-matches for friends of hers with their Jewish spouses. ‘Isn’t that like the biggest mitzva?’ She asked me. I nodded.
But she wanted kids and she had been trying for a while and it seems she was having difficulty. ‘Did I have any ideas of what she could do’-she asked with her hand stuck halfway down my throat?  I garbled a little bit. She let me rinse. I had a pretty radical suggestion for her. I asked her if she ever prayed and asked Hashem to help her out. She seemed a bit taken aback. “Really? I could do that?” Sure I told her. In fact that might just be what He is waiting for. She was so happy. She glowed. She said that she knew that would be the solution, because she has experience before that which let her know that Hashem can and does perform miracles. She made me open my mouth again and continued her story.
It seemed that she had gone on her honeymoon with her husband to some Greek Island. They were swimming in the sea and whadda boom wadda bing when she came out she was nadda ring. Her precious wedding ring was gone. It had somehow fell off in the water and was gone. She was devastated. For two days she was broken and distraught. She loved that ring. It was her symbol of the moment that she was wedded forever to her beloved. She told me that the last night she was there she prayed and cried to Hashem to somehow give it back to her. She said she felt her prayers were certainly being heard. The next morning when she came down to breakfast, sure enough. Someone came over to her with the ring he had found along the sea shore that morning. It had seemingly washed up. A miracle. I dribbled out a ‘Wow’.

Welcome to a dentist office in Israel. I left the office with her thanks for helping to teach her that she could and should pray for everything. The doors of prayer are always open. I thanked her for teaching me how holy Hashem’s people are and for the miracles that he will perform for His children. All they have to do is ask. There is nothing beyond the Almighty. It’s kind of why He’s called that. But there is nothing beyond our power of prayer as well to bring down his beneficence.

As I was reading this week’s Torah portion I was struck by an incredible insight that really hits that point home. The Torah tells us about perhaps the ‘mother of all’ Jewish fights. We have Korach, Moshe Rabbeinu’s cousin, who is challenging Moshe’s leadership, accusing him of nepotism in the appointments that he had made that of course all came from Hashem.  He joined forces with the two big constant dissidents and trouble makers Dasan and Aviram. The politics and bashing began, Egypt is a land of milk and honey, all types of spurious rumors about Moshe were spread. 250 people joined Korach. Moshe begs for peace, implores them to back down. But to no avail. Finally he decides that the only way to settle it is with a ketoret/sacrifice cook-off. Whichever ketores becomes accepted by God will have the right to be the High priest. The die is cast. Everyone is ready. And then Moshe, the greatest and most humble of all men, does something seemingly strange.

Bamidbar (16:15) This distressed Moshe greatly and he said to Hashem ‘Do not turn to their gift-offering’. I have not taken a donkey of anyone of them, nor have I wronged even one of them.
This verse and prayer of Moshe jumped out at me. First of all how many of us could ever make that statement in our lives. They have never wronged any Jew. Particularly a leader of Jews. Who could honestly state that they have never done anything bad to anyone. Isn’t there always someone that is going to get hurt? Or who among us can ever make that claim even that they never ‘took a donkey’. Rashi notes that Moshe said that even when he came to redeem the Jewish people from Egypt, he paid for his own transportation to get there. Can we ever say that we have never wasted any time on our work computers or our employers money for our own purposes? Have you ever stopped along the way during your week day for a bit of personal time a quick understandable and perhaps even justifiable break or nosh? Yet Moshe, the most righteous of all of our leaders certainly checked all his ways and never violated anything. Amazing!
But what amazed me even more than this was that if this was all true. If Moshe’s appointments were all by Divine command. If Korach and his cronies were trouble makers, liars, who were challenging the greatest and most honest and faithful leader. The only person in the world that Hashem had previously said that He spoke to face to face with. The man who brought down the Torah, redeemed the nation from Egypt that achieved forgiveness after the golden calf. They were challenging God Himself to a large degree. Why then did Moshe then feel the need to implore Hashem not accept their prayer and their sacrifice? Was there ever any chance that He would?
The Masaat Melech points out from here, that we see that Moshe recognized and appreciated how great the power of prayer could be before God, that we have yet to appreciate. Moshe was entirely right, Korach was entirely wrong. If his sacrifice would have been accepted it would have wreaked havoc amongst the Jewish people. Yet Moshe knew that a true heartfelt prayer by Korach still had the power to achieve that impossible. Despite his evil plans, despite the chaos it would cause, despite the fact that it was Moshe he was going up againss. It was like a nuclear arsenal that Korach still possessed that intimidated even Moshe. So much so that Moshe felt the need to ask Hashem not to heed Korach’s prayer. So much so that Moshe, the most humble of all men, felt the need to explain, beseech and even justify to Hashem why he should not accept that prayer based on Moshe’s own merits. That is how far the power of prayer can go. Imagine what we could accomplish with our prayers for good.
I am concluding this E-Mail this Friday morning, the day after this horrific, barbaric attack by the animals that we have allowed to remain and run rampant in our country. A society that celebrates death, terror and views the murder of a 13 year old girl, who just wanted to be a dancer and who loved everyone she met, in her bed as something that is heroic. There is anger, there is fear, and there is disillusionment and pain in our nation today. When will this end? When will it stop? People are posting, commenting, yelling, sharing, tweeting and condemning. None of that will change anything. There is one thing that will though. I know it sounds crazy and naïve. But my dental hygienist said it works. It’s called prayer. Talking and asking Hashem to make it stop. To avenge our blood. To open up the ground and swallow these beasts up.
But do we really have to pray? Isn’t it obvious that these are the bad guys and we just want to live in peace? That we want to dance and they want to kill and destroy. Doesn’t Hashem know this? Why do we have to ask him? The answer, as we can learn from Moshe and Korach, is that these animals and terrorists are also praying. And their prayer as distorted and twisted as it may be, has power to it, Just as Korach’s prayer would have, despite the chaos that would’ve rained down on us had his prayer been accepted. The most powerful weapon our enemies- Yishmael (which means God will listen {to our prayer}) has, is not their rocks, their knives, their media, their United Nations support or even their hatred or our wimpiness. The most powerful weapon they have is their prayers and our lack of counter prayers. So let’s stop posting. Let’s stop commenting. Let’s stop lobbying an apathetic- at best- world or even worse our own pathetic politicians. Let’s start turning our mouths and our hearts, as Moshe did, to the One that can perform miracles. That can make it all better. May he finally avenge the blood of our children.
Have an holy Shabbos and a blessed new month of Tamuz,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ForS09KA29o   A song I composed Avinu Malkeinu a year ago after the horrific murder in Har Nof whose words sadly are still applicable today May our Father and King avenge the blood of our innocents.

https://youtu.be/KnHiSttJ4Gk   – Still in love with this song Ribon Haolomim Yodati

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87Ooph8w1pk&feature=youtu.be   Acheinu Kol Bais Yisrael IDF and Yitzchak Dadya

“Ale tseyn zoln bay im aroysfaln, nor eyner zol im blaybn oyf tson veytung”-. All his teeth should fall out except one to make him suffer.


If two people sit together and there are no words of Torah between them, it is a session of mockers...But if two people sit together and there are words of Torah between them, the Divine Presence rests between them”

The parchments are burning, but the letters are soaring on high.

Reb Chananya ben Tradyon - 27th of Sivan this Shabbos 2nd CE- One of the greatest leaders of the Mishna period. He lived up here in the North of Israel during one of the worst periods in Jewish history since the destruction of the Temple. The Revolt of Bat Kochva had been put down by the Romans led by Hadrian the Temple mount had been plowed down and the Jews had been thrown out of Jerusalem and moved up North.  Rabbi Chanina was a third generation Tana. He lived in Sichnin, in the Lower Galilee. He was the rosh yeshivah and head of the beit din in Sichnin. The Talmud tells us a story of about the piety of Rabbi Chanina and how once charity money had gotten mixed up with his own money and how he donated all of it to charity to remove any question. This led the great Rabbi Eliezer Ben Yaacov said of him, "A person should not give his money to the charity purse unless it is supervised by a Torah scholar such as Chanina ben Teradion

R' Chanina had two sons and two daughters. One son associated with robbers and was put to death, and the other was a Torah scholar. His well-known daughter was Beruriah. Who was an incredible scholar in her own right whose teachings are told in the Talmud. She was the wife of the famous Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes. His other daughter was sentenced to a house of ill repute when R' Chanina was killed, because she was once walking in front of Roman notables who remarked "How beautiful are this maiden's steps," hereupon she was particular about how she stepped. She was later saved miraculously from the brothel by R' Meir Baal HaNes, and it was as a result of that miracle that he got his famous name.

  Lupinus the Roman Emperor at the time was studying Torah and asked the ten great sages of that time: "What is the law according to your Torah, for a Jew who sells another into captivity?" (referring to the sale of Joseph by his brothers) "Capital Punishment," answered Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues. "But, Yosef's brothers were never punished for their crime!" the Roman protested, and then began to set his deadly trap. "Justice must be done, and there has been no leaders to take their places until the ten of you!".   When R' Nechunya ben HaKana heard of this decree, he told R' Yishmael Ben Elisha to asend to Heaven to ascertain whether this was the result of heavenly decree. R' Yishmael purified himself, uttered God's secret name, and ascended to Heaven. He asked the angel Gavriel about the decree, and Gavriel responded, "Accept it upon yourselves, righteous and beloved men, for I have heard behind the partition that this is to be your destiny," and R' Yishmael was told that the ten sages would be given to the evil angel Samael as a
punishment for the selling of Yoseph. R' Yishmael reported to his colleagues what he had been told, and they accepted the heavenly decree.

Rabbi Chanina was sentenced to death by the Romans, for teaching Torah and holding public gatherings despite the government's prohibition against it. He was burnt at the stake on the 27 of Sivan, wrapped in the Torah scroll that he had been holding when he was arrested. Tufts of wool soaked in water were placed over his heart so that his death should be prolonged. His daughter Beruriah cried out, "Father, that I should see you like this!" He answered, "Had I been burnt alone, it would have been difficult for me. Since I am being burnt with a Torah scroll with me, He who avenges the plight of the Torah scroll will avenge my plight." His students said to him, "Rabbi, what do you see?" He responded "The parchments are burning, but the letters are soaring on high." He was told to open his mouth to allow the fire in to hasten his death, but he said, "It is better that He who gave [my life] should take it." The executioner offered to remove the tufts of wool in exchange for a portion in the World to Come. R' Chanina agreed, and when he died, the executioner jumped into the flames, whereupon a heavenly voice proclaimed that the two were assigned to the World to Come. At the conclusion of the famous story of the death of Rabbi Chanina ben Teradyon, Rebbi wept and stated that "there are those that acquire the Future World in a moment while others must work for it for many years" .
answer below at end of Email
Q.  A settlement established after 1948 is:
     A.  Afula
     B.  Ma’aleh haHamisha
     C.  Nahariya
     D.  Arad

The Chatam Sofer derives a powerful lesson this week from a Rashi interpretation of one of the most incredible stories about Moshe Rabbeinu. The Torah tells us that even after Korach and his group had hooked up with perhaps the two worst Jews and trouble makers who had been making trouble for Moshe from day one back in Egypt, the notorious Dasan and Aviram. For it was they who snitched on Moshe to Pharaoh that forced him to flee Egypt. It was they that convinced the Jews that Moshe couldn’t produce the goods when Pharaoh upped their quotas, It was them by that disobeyed by the Manna and that were of the complainers. Yet even so the Torah tells us that Moshe tried to meet with them and appease them.
Bamidbar (16:12) “And Moshe sent for Dasan and Aviram the children of Eliav and they said we will not go up.”
Rashi notes
From here we see that one should not be ‘maachzik’ –keep up or establish a dispute for Moshe went after them to restore harmony with them with words of peace’
Although the Torah doesn’t ‘tell us what the words of peace and merely says that he sent for them, but perhaps the fact that the Torah tells us they were the children of Eliav, meaning he was reminding them of who their father was and what a shame their actions would be for him what they were doing.
But the Chatam Sofer notes another incredible lesson that Rashi is highlighting. The word chazaka or machzik is utilized as a halachic term as establishing something as permanent. Whether it as an ox that gores three times as a goring ox, whether it is my ownership of a field after three years, whether it is whether something is pure or tamei, in regards to the death penalty in every area of Jewish law the laws of chazaka that past precedent can give us a status and establish a basis and determine something.
That is true the Chatam Sofer says except for when it comes to creating a fight, holding up a fight. One can never say this person can not make peace. This person is not someone who can ever come back. This individual is just out to make trouble and there is no hope of reconciliation. ‘ein machzikin b’machloket’- one can never make a chazaka or a determination when it comes to fighting and establishing peace. That is the lesson of Moshe and Korach. These were certainly two individuals, who I don’t think anyone would ever think there was a chance or hope of getting to back down. And in fact they didn’t. Yet Rashi notes that it is irrelevant. When it comes to fighting and machloket past behavior is no proof that reconciliation is not possible. There is always a chance for peace.

1st Political Jewish assassination in Israel- 29th  Sivan July 1st 1924.-Politics they say makes strange bedfellow and in Israel that is certainly the case more so then anywhere else. There are perhaps no stranger bedfellows then Yackov Yisrael De Haan and Reb Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, The Agudat Yisrael and eventually the radical Neturei Karta and this formerly secular respected Dutch poet, writer and activist. In the wake of the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin in 1995 for his support of peace with the Arabs and the Oslo accords by a Jew, history seems to forget that a mere 70 years ago it was the Hagana and Rabin’s compatriots Ben Gurion and Yitzchak Ben Zvi that had ordered the first political assassination of another Jew, De Haan, for his support for peace with the Arabs and what they felt were anti-zionist actions. It’s a strange world.
Yackov Yisrael De Haan was raised a religious Jew in the Netherlands. His father was a shochet and Chazan. He was one of 18 children and at an early age left his religious upbringing associating with Socialists and rising up in the world of culture and art as well as engaging in a personal lifestyle that was an antithesis to his religious upbringing having known to have throughout his life many intimate male ‘partners’ with whom he lived with. Ultimately after WWI he made Aliyah to Israel with a renewed belief in Zionism and the the promise of the British mandate. However he very quickly became disenchanted with the Zionist leaders and he felt more drawn to the religious community despite his personal proclivities. He felt that Zionism and the desire for a Jewish State would endanger the Jews of the old Yishuv who were fine living in peace under the Arab rulers. And thus he developed a relationship with the leader of the old YIshuv Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnefeld to oppose the Zionists and their desire to establish a Jewish State. Originally this was the position and led to the founding of the Agudath Yisrael orthodox organization.
On the behalf of Rabbi Sonnefeld, De Haan met with the King of Jordan and discussed the renouncing of the Balfour Declaration and the establishment of a Jewish homeland in exchange for peace. He traveled extensively to Europe as well on the behalf of the Chareidi community to present their position to the European representatives. Obviously he was perceived as a major threat to the Zionist movement as here he was an educated and respected member of the European bourgeois and yet he was presenting the views of the ultra-religious backward primitive Rabbis that they were opposing and could easily discredit. So on July 1st of 1924 on his way home from synagogue De Haan was assassinated by Avraham Tehoumi under orders of the Zionist leaders. This was the first assassination of Jew against Jew in the Zionist period.
De Haan’s funeral on Mt. Olives was attended by great Rabbis, Jewish and Arab leaders. Thousands of people attended as well as many European representatives. In the end the State of Israel was established as you know. The Agudah’s policy shifted to accept and work with the new reality of the State of Israel. The Neturei Karta though until today views De Haan as a martyr for their cause. They see his murder as the embodiment of the evil of Zionist ‘regime’ and they feel they continue in his path of establishing relations with the Arabs and identifying with them in what they believe is the only way to peace through the process of the dismantling of the Zionist State of Israel.
I find it ironic though today in what many call the post-zionist world. Where it is those same Early Zionist leaders that felt that it was important to murder someone who considered making peace with the Arabs and renouncing the Jewish claim to the land of Israel are today the biggest proponents of the ‘peace movement’ and the return of arab lands ‘unjustly’ taken from them. It is ironic as well that the most ‘ultra-religious’ Jews who protest at parades that they view as being immodest and abominations, pay homage and view as their trailblazer an individual who clearly led a lifestyle that was excactly what they are protesting against and is noted and wrote books, poems and articles about the beauty of those relationships even after he was associated with them. A strange world. Only the Jews and only in Israel….  

 A little boy was kneeling beside his bed with his mother and grandmother and softly saying his prayers, "Dear God, please bless Mummy and Daddy and all the family and please give me a good night's sleep."
  Suddenly he looked up and shouted, "And don't forget to give me a bicycle for my birthday!!" 
 "There is no need to shout like that," said his mother. "God isn't deaf."
  "No," said the little boy, "but Grandma is."

 A 4-year-old boy who was asked to thank Hashem after their Shabbos dinner. The family members bowed their heads in expectation. He began his prayer, thanking God for all his friends, naming them one by one. Then he thanked God for Mommy, Daddy, brother, sister, Grandma, Grandpa, and all his aunts and uncles. Then he began to thank God for the food. He gave thanks for the turkey, the dressing, the fruit salad, the cranberry sauce, the pies, the cakes, even the desert. 
 Then he paused, and everyone waited--and waited. After a long silence, the young fellow looked up at his mother and asked, "If I thank Hashem for the broccoli, won't he know that I'm lying?"

A journalist was assigned to the Jerusalem bureau of his newspaper. He gets an apartment overlooking the Wailing Wall. After several weeks he realizes that whenever he looks at the wall he sees an old Jewish man praying vigorously. 
The journalist wondered whether there was a publishable story here. He goes down to the wall, introduces himself and says: "You come every day to the wall. What are you praying for?"
The old man replies: "What am I praying for? In the morning I pray for world peace, then I pray for the brotherhood of man. I go home, have a glass of tea, and I come back to the wall to pray for the eradication of illness and disease from the earth."
The journalist is taken by the old man's sincerity and persistence. "You mean you have been coming to the wall to pray every day for these things?" 
 The old man nods. 
 "How long have you been coming to the wall to pray for these things?"
The old man becomes reflective and then replies: "How long? Maybe twenty, twenty-five years."
The amazed journalist finally asks: "How does it feel to come and pray every day for over 20 years for these things?"
"How does it feel?" the old man replies. "It feels like I'm talking to a wall."

Three preachers sat discussing the best positions for prayer while a telephone repairman worked nearby. "Kneeling is definitely best," claimed one.      
 "No," another contended. "I get the best results standing with my hands outstretched to Heaven."
  "You're both wrong," the third insisted. "The most effective prayer position is lying prostrate, face down on the floor."
 The repairman could contain himself no longer. "Hey, fellas, " he interrupted, "the best prayin' I ever did was hangin' upside down from a telephone pole.":

Answer is D – I got this one wrong. Nahariya I knew was founded before the State as a German Yishuv that was already here during the British mandate. Afula as well I knew was before the establishment of the State. I though the correct answer was Maaleh Hachamisha-named after 5 hmembers of the kibbutz that were killed south of the kibbutz- which I reasoned was a settlement (the only one of the choices incidentally) as the rest are all cities. However that was also established before the State in the late 1930’s. The correct answer is Arad which although the first attempt to establish it was in the 1920’s that failed and it was only established later on in the 1960’s. Interestingly enough Arad is although the oldest of the above cities as ancient ruins from the first Temple period have been found there that are really cool!..

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