Our view of the Galile

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sign of all Times- Eikev 2016/5776

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

August 26th 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 47 8th Av 5776

Parshat Eikev

Sign of all Times
There was nothing I could say that could get him to come over. I tried everything. But he was a stubborn Israeli. You know the type. I mean it was Des Moines Iowa for gosh sake. How many Jews were there in this state? Yet he wouldn’t be budged. He came to America to start a new life and Judaism was not in his plans. His wife, Luna was sweet. She would babysit for us. She was interested in yiddishkeit. She would’ve loved to come for a Shabbos meal. But not Marseille. He knew that we were out for his soul. He was not coming.
It was finally Lag Ba’Omer time, providentially I bumped into Marseille in the supermarket. I think it was called Hy-Vee or some other Iowa sounding name. I went over to Marseille and invited him over for our annual BBQ. I assured him that there was absolutely nothing religious about it. It was just a few of us Jews getting together for a “mangal”- an Israeli word for BBQ that always conjures up road-kill in my mind. We would just chill, have some beers, play some music and sit around a fire. C’mon, I told him, how many MOT’s are there here anyways? We gotta stick together.
Much to my surprise it worked. Marseille and Luna showed up. Cool! I sat down with him under a tree, I remember, and we started to schmooze. I asked him a question. I told him that I had once seen a statistic about what percentage of Jews in Israel have a mezuza on their door. He guessed that it was close to 75%. I told him that it was actually about 83%. Then I told him I saw a second poll. This one asked that if it was a law that you had to put a mezuza on your door, what percentage of Israelis would have one. He guessed that it was about 50%. Actually the statistic was closer to 42%. It seems that quite a number of religious Jews would also take it off. The anti-medinat Yisrael government ones would certainly be in a quandary.
I explained to him that the reason why I understood this would happen was because the commandments-the mitzvot were given to us to express our free-will and choose to serve Hashem. If someone is forced or externally-legislated to perform a mitzva, then in truth it is lack that essential component. It’s not the real thing. It’s not the way it’s meant to be.
I told Marseille that I believed in that concept fundamentally. I didn’t believe and would never try to force anyone to do any mitzva. Yet I wanted him to come for a Shabbat meal. If he doesn’t’ want to wear a Kippa, I was fine with that. If he didn’t want to come for Kiddush, didn’t want to make blessings, wanted to leave before bentching after the meal, it wouldn’t impact my desire at all to have him join us for our meal. I just wanted to spend time with my fellow Jew, with my brother, here in Iowa. He agreed! He came over that first Shabbos without a Kippa, he didn’t wash for the bread, he didn’t respond Amen to my blessings and he left before we bentched. But we had a great meal. So much so that two weeks later he came again and again. Eventually he put on a kippa, not long after he started sticking around for the whole meal including the bentching, and eventually he made his own Shabbat meals and even would come to classes.. A short while later he left Des Moines and I still have the letter that he wrote me in Hebrew.
Dear Rabbi Schwartz, I just want to thank you so much for all you hve done and shared with me and my family. You know when I lived in Israel if I saw a religious Jew- Lo Haya Shava Afilu et Harok Sheli-it wasn’t even worth wasting my spit on him. That’s the way I felt. But now out here in Iowa, together with your family, your community, our community. I believe that after 120 and you can go to our Father in Heaven and tell him that you have returned at least one son back home.
Thank You and Shalom,
This week’s Torah portion which continues the rebuke of Moshe Rabbeinu before he passes and before we enter the land contains in it the 2nd of the two parshiyot that command and are written in our mezuzot. The first being Shema from last week’s Torah portion. The Parsha tells us that we should beware lest our hearts will be seduced and we will turn away and serve false gods and Hashem willpersih us quickly from the good land that He has given us. So we should place these words on our heart and our souls and bind them as  sign on our arms and they should be tefillin between our eyes… and we shall write them upon the mezuzos-the doorposts of our homes. Rashi quotes a fascinating midrash that says-
“Even after you are exiled be distinguished through mitzvos. Put on Tefiilin, make mezuzos so that they shall not be new to you when you will return as it says in Yirmiyahu “Erect markers for yourself”.
The Midrash in fact quotes a parable of a King who got angry at his wife and she was sent to her father’s house. Before leaving the King told her that she should continue to wear he fine robes so that when she returns it shouldn’t feel new to her.
Many of the commentaries deal with the strange question of why one would think that we are not obligated in the commandments upon being exiled. Besides the commandments that depend on living in Israel or the Temple seemingly all the mitzvos are always applicable. Also why does Rashi choose these two mitzvos, or better yet, why does the Torah enumerate these particular mitzvos as being the signs and markers that we should be careful with.
Reb Yonasan Eibishutz suggests a fascinating insight where he views the greatest threat to the Jewish people is that we forget how different we are how special we are. After the trauma of the Exile, after the millennia of persecution, the natural desire of our people is to become like all other nations. To assimilate. To give up our mandate, our chosen nation status. To forget how loved we are by Hashem, by the King. We need markers to hang up that the light is still on. To distinguish ourselves. That is the Tefilin that is the mezuzot. The Tefilin is like that incredible hug every morning that our parent gives a child before he sends him off to school. “I love you honey, be good”. A kiss on the head right between the eyes so that it should penetrate our minds and a warm hug that brings that embrace right up to our hearts. We leave our house and we have one last kiss good-bye. That doorway that tells us I’ll be here when you come home. I’ll be waiting for you. We kiss that post. We feel that our house is different than any other one down the block.
The mitzvos of Tefilin and Mezuza are found in the section of the Rambam known as Ahava/ Love. That is the signs that we have to place for ourselves. If we feel loved in our Galut, in our Exile, then it won’t feel strange when we will be redeemed.
Hashem is telling the Jewish people that the redemption will come. He tells us this even as he tells us that we will be exiled. But He wants us to know that we will return to Him, but it should not be like a long-lost son that is first meeting his birth-father. Rather it is like the father that is with us even through allour hardships. That is there to give us that hug and kiss every morning, every night that our house no matter where it may be still has a marker on it that says this is a home with love. This is a home that will be redeemed. Hashem can’t force us to do mitzvos. He can’t force us to accept that love. But what child doesn’t appreciate having it? What child could say no to that precious embrace? Is it any wonder that as distant as we Jews might be from observance yet when someone buys a house they still look for that mezuza. That whenever one puts on Tefilin and closes one’s eyes one can feel that special connection.
Perhaps the most meaningful moment I experienced was when Marseille asked me to find him a mezuza for his apartment. It had been a few months since he had started coming. As we were nailing it to the door I spoke about the sign of the mezuza being that sign the light is still on. As he made the blessing, and I recited amen. I thought about the generations before him that had done this same mitzva. The hundreds of communities throughout the millennia since we were exiled from our Land that his family must have traversed. They each had that sign, that post, that love note tacked onto the door. Am Yisrael Chai. Od Avinu Chai.
Have a great Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

https://youtu.be/yhoeIe-eFJw This is last weeks Parsh but I just thought very cool song vaetchanan by nebi musa- the prayers of Moshe to Hashem to allow him in the land song by Kobi Eved

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wf8CpMduLak  – rare footage of the Satmar Rebbe-yartzeit this week Reb Yoel Teitelbaum- interesting that the song they sing I know as Tzion Tzion which is kind of ironic I guess.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnYXSffZK38 A moving tribute to Esther Jungreiss who passed this week- the mother of the Kiruv movement

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYzXhsMt8vk uncle Moishy Mezuza song


“Az dos harts iz ful, geyen di oygn iber..”- When the heart is full, the eyes overflow.


In the old country, I was a father at home, and could be a Rebbe in the city. But here this is simply not suitable. I have to be a father to my community, and a Rebbe at home”

“If I had the strength (he was in his sixties at the time) I’d also go to work-Poverty can sway a man from loyalty to his Creator.”  Encouraging his chasidim to find gainful employment upon finding many of them sitting in his shul learning rather than going to work

 “How many people did you invite to your wedding?” “At how much per couple? … What did your furniture cost? … So much? And you want the community to support you? Forget about it. Kollel is not for you.”.-  The Rebbe’s screening process to be accepted in his Kollel

“I don’t care if I’m left with only one minyan of adherents. I’ll not refrain from expressing my beliefs.”

Rav Yoel Teitelbaum the Satmar Rebbe (5647 / 1887 - 5739 / 1979).
The Satmar Rav, a direct descendant of both the famed Yismach Moshe and the Chavas Daas, was recognized as a young man for his unusual lomdus, hasmadah and tzidkus – Torah scholarship, diligence and piety. By the outbreak of World War 11, he was Rav of the thriving community of Satmar and had emerged as one of the leading figures in Hungarian Jewry. From childhood, the Satmar Rebbe was a paragon of holiness and purity. Throughout his life, his face shone with the purity of an innocent child, and until his final days no creases marked his countenance.
When the Divrei Yechezkel of Shineva saw the nine-year-old Yoelish at the wedding of his brother, the Atzei Chaim, the Divrei Yechezkel commented, “That child has holy eyes.”
At his bar mitzvah he stunned the entire assemblage by delivering a two-hour drashah, replete with deep and meaningful chiddushim. His father’s ensuring his immersion in the depths of Torah in his young years would yet be of inestimable benefit to Klal Yisrael.
From the time of his Bar Mitzvah until the outbreak of World War I1 – a period of forty years – Reb Yoel never slept on a bed, except for Shabbosos – studying Torah, on his feet, by day and by night … In the internment camp in Bergen-Belsen, not only did he eat nothing that might have been un-kosher, subsisting mostly on potatoes, but he fasted as often as four times a week.
His father, the Kedushat Yom Tov passed away when Reb Yoel was only 17 years of age. He was appointed Rav of Musza in Czechoslovakia and in 1911, when he was in his early twenties, Reb Yoel was appointed Rav of Orshiva. Thirteen years later he became Rav of Kruly, where he founded a yeshivah. In 1934, after the death of the  Harav Eliezer Dovid Greenwald of Satmar,  he became Rav from 1935 to 1944 and transferred his yeshivah there.
The Satmar Rebbe endured his share of suffering during the Holocaust. Dr. P. Kennedy, a Hungarian Zionist leader who was with the Rebbe for five months in Bergen-Belsen, relates that the Rebbe’s beard was unskillfully concealed with a kerchief on the pretext of a toothache. The Nazis nearly cut it on several occasions, but it was miraculously saved and remained intact.
He was one of 1684 Hungarian Jews saved from the Nazi killing machine as a result of the negotiations of Rav Michael Ber Weissmandl with Adolf Eichmann, ym’s. With rachamei Shamayim, Reb Yoel made it out of Hungary during the war, and after a brief stay in Switzerland he arrived in Eretz Yisrael.
In 1946, he arrived in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and rebuilt the Satmar community.
When he settled in Williamsburg shortly after arriving in the United States, he found a handful of his followers in a bais hamidrash all day, saying Tehillim, learning Chok – and spending their time in “the Rebbe’s Court”. He summoned them to him and insisted that they find jobs to support their families. He felt that he could not be oblivious to the stress on material well-being that marks American society. A viable community could only take shape if it is self-supporting on a level comparable to that of the surrounding society. By the same token, he guided his followers to give tzeddakah expansively – not to shy away from a sweeping gesture of generosity. Today, members of the Satmar community are active in all phases of business and commerce, as well as in a wide spectrum of occupations, ranging from grocers to computer programmers. And the community itself supports a host of social services, most notably its bikur-cholim program – administering to the sick, with fleets of cars and vans carrying hundreds of volunteers to hospitals all over New York, throughout the day.
He was a Gaon who’s almost unparalleled genius was respected by all. His piety and sanctity were viewed with awe; indeed, his lifetime was a saga of kedushah. He stood as a bastion of Torah, unswerving and uncompromising through all the raging tempests of the anti-Torah rebellions of his turbulent times.
The Satmar Rebbe vehemently opposed Zionism and secularism in all forms, and was a great kana’i when it came to matters of kiddush Shem Shamayim. He fought the founding of the State of Israel, predicting that it would lead to the destruction of many spiritual values. Most of world Jewry had accepted the Zionist dream. And even many among those who had rejected its limited, secular definition of Jewishness were excited by the emergence of the State of Israel, and the miraculous victories in ’48, ’56 and ’67. The Satmar Rav was often alone in consistently condemning the State as the pure embodiment of a secular ideal, a ma’ase Sattan: dismissing victories on the battlefield as an ideological minefield; opposing mass aliyah as a violation of the Three Vows (T.B. Kesubos 11a : Binding Jewry not to force its way into Eretz Yisrael, nor to rebel against the nations, and the nations not to subjugate the Jews excessively.) for settling the country in defiance of world opinion; and participation in the government in any form – even voting in national elections – as strengthening a reprehensible concept by implied recognition. Like some other schools, those of the Eida Hachreidis, which is in the Satmar orbit, do not accept funding from the Israeli government.
he mainstream of the Torah leadership did not subscribe to his approach toward dealing with the Israeli government. Even those most strongly opposed to the State’s philosophy accepted its existence and, at worst, felt compelled to deal with it as they would with any government that ruled a land where Jews lived. At times they were deeply upset with his unyielding approach – such as Rabbi Aharon Kotler’s vexation with the Rebbe for “publicly opposing the Chazon Ish, Reb Isser Zalman Meltzer, the Belzer Rebbe and the Tchebiner Rav – all of whom held that voting in Israeli national elections was an obligation on every Torah Jew who took the needs of the Yishuv to heart.” Nonetheless, they were always aware of the Satmar position and often measured their stance against the extremes of the Satmar-Neturei Karta ideology. And even the most rabid, anti-religious secularist was aware of the “on the other hand,” represented by this one man’s uncompromising stance.
It was not only in regard to its extreme anti-Zionism that the Satmar Rav had molded his community as “a group apart,” in the manner of Avraham Halvri. He also guided it to being distinguished in its total lack of compromise in mode of dress – not yielding to American pressures, neither in style nor in lack of modesty. If anything, the newer generations have reinforced their dedication to the standards of “Jewishness in dress” that had prevailed in Satmar of old.
Thus, the Satmar Rav’s relentless demands for the highest religious standards proved to be an important contribution toward changing the complexion of a significant segment of Orthodox life in America. Witness: Holocaust survivors and their American-born grandchildren – dayanim (rabbinical judges), rabbanim, diamond polishers, computer technicians, and gas-pump attendants among them – who proudly walk the streets of the New World in traditional garb, making the shtreimel an every week feature of many communities.
His unrelenting search for truth was not reserved for public issues alone, but was also uncompromisingly applied to himself.
Reb Yoel wrote a series of sefarim on Chumashmo’adim and various subjects in Shas, as well as she’eilot u’teshuvot entitled Divrei Yoel. He also wrote the sefer Vayoel Moshe and a kuntres, Al Hageulah Ve’al Hatemurah.
The Satmar Rebbe was niftar on 26 Menachem Av 5739/1979 and was buried in the beit hachaim in Kiryat Yoel in Monroe, New York.

answer below at end of Email
An active monastery in the Judean Desert is:
  1. Martyrius, in Ma’ale Adumim
  2. Euthymius, in Mishor Adumim
  3. George, in Wadi Qelt
  4. Haritun, in the Tekoa area
Every word of Rashi counts. Especially the easy Rashis. If Rashi says something and explains something he does it once. He doesn’t repeat himself. And if he explains himself a second time inevitably if you look carefully at his words you will reveal something incredible in your understanding of the verse.
This week Rashi explains the mitzva of Tefillin. As we read the parsha and the mitzva, we appreciate we have heard this mitzva before. We read it last week in the first chapter of Shema as well as earlier in Bo twice. It’s fascinating to contrast the four times that Rashi discusses this mitzva. The way he reads the verses and the lessons that can be found.
In Bo (Shemos 13:9) And it shall be for you as a sign on your hand and a rememberance between your eyes in order that the Torah of Hashem should be in your mouth that with an outstretched arm Hashem took you out of Egypt.
There Rashi says: And it shall be a sign- The Exodus from Egypt shall be a sign
On your arm and a remembrance between your eyes- that you shall write these parshas and tie them on your head and arm –interesting point Rashi puts head before arm here different then the verse.
Later on at the end of Bo  (Shemos 13:16) the verse says- And it shall be a sign on your hand and totafot between your eyes-
Rashi says-Totafot bein einecha- Tefilin; they are thus named Totfot because of the four ‘houses’. Tat in kaspi (language) Pat in african is 2.
Rashi then brings another interpretation that Menachem connects them with the word taf to speak that one who sees them tied between the eyes will remember the miracle.- Interesting that Rashi brings this second pshat as well. Also it’s interesting that he notes that it’s four because of four houses. Seemingly there are four portions. This is different then what he does in Devarim
Last week’s Torah portion in the first chapter of Shema we have the verse and you shall tie it upon your hand and it shall be for totafot between your eyes
There Rashi says one word (Devarim 6:8) And you shall tie on your hands- these are the tefilin of the arm
Interesting seemingly Rashi told us that already except there he said that by the rosh but what else would it be?
The next Rashi seems even more repitive- And it shall be Totafor between your eyes- these are the Tefilin of the head-and they are thus called by the number of the parshas they are called Totfot; Tat is 2 in Katpi and Pat is 2 in African.
This is very strange why does he repeat this if he told us this already? Here he separates between the head and arm. And here as well he says it’s four because of the portions.
Finally in our portion where we read the second parsha of Shema is read when he brings the mitzva of Tefillin Rashi on the verse
And you shall place them- (upon your hearts and your souls and you shall tie them on your hands and they shall be totafot between your eyes)-Even after you are exiled you should be unique in your mitzvos. Place Tefilin and make mezuzot in order that they shall not be like new to you when you return.
I guess one central question is why the Torah uses a word like totafot that is 2+2. Why not just a word that is four? Another interesting question, that perhaps will reflect and answer all of this is, what did it say in the tefillin that the Jews wore in Egypt after this commandment, or in the wilderness until the 40th year when Moshe said the speech of Shema and Vehaya. Many commentaries, and I believe Rashi as well feels this way is that until Devarim they had four boxes but only the first two parshas. That would explain why there he only says houses- not parshas. Here in Devarim is when they totafot is for the Parshas. Also as well the tefillin of Egypt as Rashi notes are about the exodus from Egypt. It is primarily a mitzva of remembrance. Which is why he focuses on the head. Here in Devarim it is about remembering the love of Hashem acceptance of his Kingship in the first portion kabalat ol shamayim. The second portion is about accepting his mitzvos. Here Rashi divides them up; Tefilin of head and Tefilin of arm- this being the source for two distinct mitzvos. Whereas in Egypt it was primarily one mitzva, as it is one theme. That will answer as well why he goes out of his way to say 2+2. Two concepts in two places. There it is 4 houses 2+2 and here it is 4 parshas 2+2. Rashi notes that this second Parsha the observance of these particular commandments are being repeated to teach us that even in Exile we must observe the commandments. Because we will return. It’s fantastic how Rashi writes that as a given. The mitzvos the tefillin are our signs. They are the sparks that we will return.
Each Rashi a lesson. Each Rashi a world of insight.

Students of the Gaon of Vilna come to Israel 26th Av 5569 - August 8, 1809- A group of 70 "Perushim" Talmidim / Students of the great Lithuanian sage, the Vilna Gaon, arrived in Eretz Yisroel, after traveling via Turkey by horse and wagon. The name Perushim comes from the Hebrew‎‎ parash, meaning "to separate". The group sought to separate themselves from what they saw as the impurities of the society around them in Europe, and the name literally means 'separated (individuals)'. Coincidentally this was the same name by which the Pharisees of antiquity were known.
The Vilna Gaon, himself, set out for the Holy Land in 1783, but for unknown reasons did not attain his goal. However, he inspired his disciples to make the move, and they became pioneers of modern settlement in Eretz Yisroel. (A large contingent of chassidic Jews arrived in Tzefat around the same time.) HaRav Yisroel of Shklov, the leader of the 1809 group, settled in Tzefat, and six years later moved to Yerushalayim where he founded the modern Ashkenazic community. Many minhagei yerushalayim derive from the traditions they brought with them.

Influenced by the Vilna Gaon, who had wanted to go to Eretz Yisrael but was unable to do so, a large group of his Perushim disciples and their families, numbering over 500, with a few dozen younger earlier scouts, were inspired to follow his vision. The perushim began their journey from the city of Shklov, about 300 kilometers southeast of Vilna in Lithuania. The organization they formed was called Chazon Tzion ("Prophecy/Vision [of] Zion"), and was based on three main principles:
a)      Rebuild Jerusalem as the acknowledged Torah center of the world
b)      Aid and speed the ingathering of the Jewish exile
c)      Expand the currently settled areas of the Land of Israel.
Enduring great hardships and danger, they traveled to and settled in the Holy Land, where they had a profound effect on the future history of the Yishuv haYashan- the Old Yishuv.
Reaching the shores of Palestine, however, was not the end of their journey. When the perushim first arrived, they faced a ban on Ashkenazi Jews settling in Jerusalem. The ban had been in effect from the early 18th century when, as a result of outstanding debts, the Ashkenazi synagogues of the Old City had been forcibly closed and many Ashkenazim were forced out of the city and barred from returning. While some managed to evade the ban by entering Jerusalem disguised as Sephardi Jews, most of the perushim journeyed on to Tzfat, where they joined a strong Sephardi community that was already there. Besides the Sephardim, the community included many Hasidic Jews, with whom the perushim had an ongoing feud. However, the two groups set aside their ideological differences and worked hand in hand to settle the land and develop their community and eventually intermarried.
Because flourishing agriculture was seen as a sign of Redemption, the immigrants had brought agricultural implements with them, so that they could observe the biblical commandments connected to working the soil in the Holy Land.
In the year 1837 a devastating earthquaqe hit Tzfat, leveled the city and seriously damaged Tiberias where 4,000 people perished, including about 2000 Jews and 200 members of the perushim community in Safed.
Believing that the catastrophe was a direct product of their neglect of Jerusalem, the surviving members of the perushim community in Safed decided that the only hope for their future in the Land of Israel would be to reestablish themselves in Jerusalem. However, entrance to the Jerusalem could only be gained once the decree against Ashkenazim had been annulled. The perushim could then reclaim ownership of the Hurva Synagogue and its surrounding courtyard and homes, sites that were historically Ashkenazi property.
The refugees succeeded in renewing the Ashkenazi presence in Jerusalem, after nearly a hundred years of banishment by the local Arabs. The arrival of the Perushim encouraged an Ashkenazi revival in Jerusalem, which until that time had been mostly Sephardi.
The group, led by HaRav Yisroel of Shklov, zt"l, experienced many hardships. The early years were fraught with Arab attacks, earthquakes, and a cholera epidemic. Rav Yisroel authored,Pe'at Hashulchan, a digest of the Jewish agricultural laws relating to Eretz Yisroel. (He had to rewrite the book after the first manuscript was destroyed in a fire.) The location of his grave remained unknown until it was discovered in Tverye / Tiberias, 125 years after his death. Today, the descendants of that original group are amongst the most prominent families in Yerushalayim.

Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous
God answers knee-mail
Life has many choices. Eternity has two. What’s yours?
Don’t give up. Moses was once a basket case
Forbidden fruit creates many jams
Don’t give God instructions – just report for duty
Don’t say ‘Our Father’ on Sabbath and spend the rest of the week acting like an orphan
If God were small enough for us to understand, he wouldn’t be big enough for us to worship
Why pray when you can worry?
If you can’t sleep Don’t count sheep Talk to the Shepherd
God doesn’t believe in atheists; therefore atheists do not exist
Where will you be sitting in eternity?Smoking or non-smoking?
We’re all invited to a heavenly feast, but we must RSVP!
As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in schools
Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks up
You can believe in God now – or later. Now is better

Answer is C – The answer is George. A great name for a monk. The Christians monks used to come to the Judean desert for seclusion and meditation in the 4-6th centuries. There’s a bunch of them around. This one is active. Nobody really cares. Except when you take a tour guiding exam.

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