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Karmiel
Our view of the Galile

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Going to the Fair-Shoftim 2016/5776

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

September 9th 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 50 6th Elul 5776

Parshat Shoftim
Going to the Fair

“It’s not fair! She got a bigger slice than I did. He got to sit in the front yesterday. How come they get to go to sleep at 10:00 PM? How come you guys don’t have to go to school, get to have soda or ‘shabbos cereal’ during the week? Everyone else’s parents let them do______  _____ ________ go to _______ _____  _______ (you fill in the blanks). It’s just not fair!”
If this conversation does not sound familiar to you. Then it is a sign that not only you do not have children, but that you have a very short memory from when you were a child. However it is a lot easier to deal with the former if you recall the latter. There is no home that does not have that conversation. And although you may look at all the other perfect families in the park where all the children share with one another. Trust me. I’m a tour guide. It may take a few days, but ultimately those three magic words “It’s not fair” will be mentioned. It will be thrown out there like a gauntlet in an ancient medieval knight’s tournament, like a hockey player throwing off his gloves, waiting for someone, generally a parent, to pick it up.
My father’s response, I’m sure as handed down by generations and which I dutifully respond was always “Life isn’t fair”. That’s it. Simple. To the point. And exasperatingly frustrating. But it was usually a conversation ender, after a few “but…but… but…buts.” It is one of those childhood learning moments. That wake-up call that life and the world are not always going to run with your childhood notions of fairness. Some people will get a larger slice than others. Some people will get Shabbos cereal during the week. And despite everything good that you may have done, or how grown-up you may feel, or how unjust it may seem, the harsh and sometimes traumatic reality is you may not get a turn to sit in the front.
Is that a depressing thought? Shouldn’t life be fair? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone got a chance? If everyone got exactly what they deserved. Is life really not fair? Shouldn’t good people get good things and bad people bad? At least until the bad people say they’re sorry and become good once again.- that last caveat, being my own little safety-net of course.
This week’s Torah portion Shoftim- delineates the laws of creating a just society. It starts understandably with the commandment to establish courts and officers that will enforce the law. There is an interesting Midrash on this verse. That states
“A parable to a king that had many children and the youngest whom he loved the most. The king said I will give my orchard that I love more than any other orchard to the son that I love more than all of my other children. So Hashem said from all of the nations I have created I love only Israel- as the verse says (Hoshea 11) For Israel is a young lad and I love him. And from all that I have created I love justice as it says Isaiah 61) For I am Hashem who loves justice. I will give what I love to the nation that I love”
OK, now I know what you’re thinking. Hey that doesn’t seem fair! Why Israel? What does that mean He loves us more than anyone? I’ll tell you what you aren’t thinking as well, and I believe that it is very telling. Hey! Why justice? Why does Hashem love justice more than anything else? Why can’t I have some justice as well? Did that question enter your mind?
 OK, you want justice. How about we punish you for everything that you did wrong. How about we start invoking the ‘law’ and only give you exactly what you deserve? That question didn’t bother you did it? Hmmmm… You just heard what you thought was an injustice. Hashem favoring one nation over another. It didn’t make a difference that the special ‘gift’ the ‘orchard’ that we got was a court system and a police system that would enforce the 613 commandments, that would be ordered to give lashes, carry out the death penalty and create ‘fences’ around the Torah with thousands of rabbinical laws. Still feeling special and favored out? What does it mean that Hashem loves justice and He loves Israel more than anything?
Perhaps a clue can be from the verse that the Midrash quotes. It says that we are the young lad of Hashem. We are like his little kids. The midrash itself goes out of its way to say this is the youngest child of the King in the parable-seemingly it could’ve just said that the King had a favorite child non-dependent on his place in the age order of the children. The one thing I believe that children seem to be naturally obsessed with is that sense of justice and fairness. Kids see the world in black and white. Kids that haven’t been indoctrinated and polluted by their parents telling them that ‘life isn’t fair” that is. Kids inherently understand and appreciate the wonder and awe of this perfect creation, before their teachers fill their tiny brains with all types of scientific theories, tables of elements, big bangs, and the ‘real way’ the world runs. Children have ideals- or at least they used to- about what leaders are. Presidents, government and court officials, police officers and even Rabbi’s and teachers, dare I say even their parents. They’re always supposed to do the right thing. They are always supposed to be interested in the greater good, making the world a better place. They don’t know about the foibles, the scandals, the self-interests and tragically the betrayals that these “perfect people” are capable of perpetrating. They have not-surprisingly what is rightfully called a “child-like” view of the world. Some call that being na├»ve. Hashem calls it His favorite orchard.
The Jews more than any other nation represents that demand upon the world to find that justice. To bring the sanctity and dignity of all humans, all the creations to their rightful and true status of being created in our Father, the Kings image. Hashem ‘loves’ us most because we ae the youth that sees the rest of the world with those bright eyes. Hashem loves justice more than anything else because it is through its carriage, through its revelation that Hs trueness, His one-ness can unveiled before His creation. It is the way that He had originally intended the world to be created; with the middat HaDin- the attribute of justice. But ultimately He recognized that the world couldn’t exist on judgement alone. We couldn’t handle the truth. The world needed a healthy dose of rachamim-mercy. Life isn’t fair anymore.
Our parsha tells us that Hashem gave us, His chosen nation,  judges and laws, the Torah and it’s commandments so that we could serve as the worlds child-like eyes of the Divine way that justice is meant to look like. The Shela Hakodesh says that the verse tells us that we should have judges and police on all of our gates can be understood as being a euphemistic reference to our own personal gates. Our eyes, our ears and our mouths. We need to appreciate and be careful about what we allow our souls and our minds see, hear and speak. In a grey world, there’s freedom of speech, freedom to see and digest anything that a consenting adult might want to engage in. Just as long as nobody gets hurt….right? Not in a just world. Not for a child who understands that fairness and purity and holiness are when one lives fully the ideals he believes in. If I wouldn’t say it, see it or do it in front of my kids- that’s a good sign I shouldn’t be doing it all. That’s what fair. That’s what’s right.
Rav Bunim of Peshicha takes this even a step further. He says that the Torah says tzedek tzedek tridof- justice justice you shall pursue. Why does it say it twice, he asks? Because not only should one always pursue and do everything to create a just world, but the pursuit of justice should also be done with justice. The ends don’t justify the means. The means must be just as well. One has to make sure that when one is carrying out his justice it is done in the purest and fairest of ways. One should always find merit for someone. One should give the benefit of the doubt. One should make sure that when one carries out the law and the commandments it is never at the expense of someone else getting hurt, getting slighted. Otherwise it is not fair. It is not reflective of our Creator. It won’t be that special orchard that Hashem has given us.
As we have entered the month of Elul, we get closer and closer to Rosh Hashana; the beginning of the New Year and the day we are told that we gather in Shul and coronate the Melech HaMishpat- the King of justice. Our eyes turn heavenward and we pray for that day when all will see that glory and the oneness of our Father our King. We have already started to blow the shofar to awaken ourselves from the slumber, the tiredness, the drudgery of living in a world that is so disappointingly bereft of fairness, of completion, of peace and of that glorious Divine justice of His Kingship. May the next shofar we hear be the ultimate one that heralds in that final day when the entire world will finally see the King once again.
Have an uplifting Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
  
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RABBI SCHWARTZ COOL VIDEO CLIPS OF THE WEEK

https://youtu.be/N1g8JlG3aRQ   What an incredibly powerful goosepimply story about a group of Amrican students and the parents of a fallen Israeli soldier. I dare you to try not to cry…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAy8PaExmdM  – In honor of Elul beautiful composition of Ani L’Dodi by my Friend SY Rechnitz and sung by Ohad.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6_8RK9BSy4 Operation Magic Carpet then and now


RABBI SCHWARTZ’S FAVORITE YIDDISH PROVERB OF THE WEEK

“Ver es varft oif yenem shtainer krigt tsurik in di aigeneh bainer.”- He who throws stones on another gets them back on his own bones.

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S JEWISH PERSONALITY AND HIS QUOTES IN HONOR OF THE YARTZEIT  OF THE WEEK

Now it will not succeed, but there will be another time when it will succeed. That will be in the time of the footsteps of moshiach.”-In his commentary on the  narrative after the sin of the spies, Moshe Rabbeinu warned those who regretted their original lack of faith that they should not attempt to go into Eretz Yisrael by force: vehi lo sitzlach, it will not be successful.


 “And our Rabbis have revealed to us stories which discuss the bat kol, which is defined as listening to the voices of everyday people who are discussing daily matters and do have other intentions. Rather one listener is able to be informed, through their words, what is required of him… Namely, Hashem articulates the will of his voice through regular people. Even though they have their own intentions when they speak and the directives do not seem to emanate from Hashem with intention and clarity, rather His will relates to us implicitly…For example when Hashem wishes good it is manifest personally in each of his creations according to their conception of good. The Jewish people relate according to their conception of good, gentiles relate each according to their own conception…and so it is with all creations according to their own conception. And therefore it is nearly impossible to define what is the implicit will that Hashem intends to impart since it is manifest through different being, each with their own conceptions and notions of that message.”

“I heard from our Holy Teacher in the name of R. Bunim (of Peshischa) that even though intellectual abilities decline with each generation, understanding and appreciation of truth (nekudat hachayim shebalev)' increases and has become purified through the tribulations of exile… Therefore, even though later generations are inferior (to earlier ones), they nevertheless maintain their awareness (of knowledge), as dwarfs (on the shoulders of) giants. . . and they themselves continue the process of this opening of new Gates. Even though they themselves are greatly inferior (in comparison to their forbears), their insights are more profound, for they have already passed through the Gates opened by the earlier generations.

HaRav Tzadok Hakohen Rabinowitz of Lublin ,(1823-1900) This  Tuesday, the 3rd of
One of the great lights of Chasidic thought and arguably its most prolific author, was not born a Chasid.  Rav Tzadok HaKohen’s father Rav Yaakov was the Av Bais Din of Kreisberg in Lithuania.  His grandfather Rav Zalman Mireles was the Rov of the three prestigious communites of Altuna-Hamburg-Wansbeck in Germany and was the son-in-law of the Chacham Tzvi.

Rav Tzadok was a child prodigy.  He said about himself that when he was one year old, he would make a bracha on his mother's milk.  At age two he davened from a siddur.  By age three and a half he was learning Gemara with Tosfos.  Before his Bar Mitzva he was already writing Shailos U'Tshuvos-responsa in Jewish law.  He delivered four drashos at his Bar Mitzva which were printed in the Sefer Meishiv Tzedek.  He was a rising star in the Litvishe world.

The turning point came after his first marriage came to a premature end, but his wife wouldn't accept a divorce.  He wandered among the Gedolim to secure a Heter Mei'a-(a halachic dispensation for a man to marry a second wife in extreme cases when his first wife will not accept a get) to enable him to remarry.  During this difficult period he met with many of the great leaders of his time the Shoel U'Maishiv (Rav Yosef Shaul Nathanson of Lublin), Rav Tzvi Hirsh Chayos, Rav Shlomo Kluger and others.  He also met with great Chasidic Rebbes including Rav Shalom of Belz, the Divrei Chaim, the Chidushei HaRim, Rav Meir Premishaln and others.  When he met Rav Mordechai Yosef Leiner, the Izhbetzer Rebbe and former student of the Kotzker Rebbe before breaking away, he found in him a soulmate.  The Litvishe Rav Tzadok became his ardent Chasid.  At the end, his first wife accepted the Get and he did not need a Heter Mei'a.  He then remarried and moved to Lublin.

Under Rav Mordechai Yosef, Rav Tzadok learned together with another Litvak turned Chasid (and broke his father's heart in the process), Rav Leibele Eiger the grandson of Rebbi Akiva Eiger and son of Rav Shlomo Eiger.  After the passing of Rav Mordechai Yosef in 1854, Rav Tzadok refused to take his mantle of his Rebbe and lead the Chassidim.  Instead he pushed Rav Leibele Eiger to become the Rebbe.  In the ensuing 33 years until Rav Leibele's passing he learned in solitude composing his multitude of works.  In 1887 after Rav Leibele's petira, he again refused to lead the Chasidim and pushed for Rav Avrohom Eiger to lead the flock.  This time however the Chasidim refused to give in and he ultimately became the Rebbe of Lublin.
He very much wanted to emigrate to Eretz Yisroel but his Chasidim would not hear of it.  Rav Tzadok was Niftar on 9 Elul, 5660/1900.  Although he did not leave behind any sons, he left the world with his vast writings which have made a profound impact on Jewish thinking moving forward.  His seforim include, Pri Tzadik (Chumash), Divrei Sofrim, Otzar HaMelech (Rambam), Yisroel Kedoshim, Tzidkas HaTzadik, Taanas Hashovim, Kuntras Divrei Chalomos, and many others.  Yehi Zichro Baruch.

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK
answer below at end of Email
Q. Umra is:
A.    The Muslim festival of the Omer
B.  The day the Qur’an was first discovered
C.  The prophet’s night journey
D. Going on a pilgrimage to Mecca not during the Hajj

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL RASHI OF THE WEEK
It never fails to inspire me, and I hope you as well, how if we just think and examine each word Rashi writes in his commentary, the amount depth that we are able to glean from his seemingly easy explanation.
In this weeks Torah portion the Torah teaches us about the mitzva of when we are not sure about a particular law how we should go up to the Sanhedrin and inquire of them and follow what they say.
The Torah introduces the law
Devarim 17:8 “When it will be hidden from you a matter of judgement, between blood and blood, between verdict and verdict, between affliction and affliction; matters of dispute in your gates”

Rashi on the verse explains the various topics the pasuk is talking about-
Blood and blood-between blood that is impure and blood that is pure
Verdict and verdict- between a verdict of innocence and a verdict of guilt
Affliction and affliction-between an affliction that would make you impure and one that would leave you pure.
Simple enough right? The Skulener Rebbe notes that in the first and latter cases of blood and affliction Rashi starts to explain with the negative. Blood that is impure afflictions that are tamei. However when it comes to verdicts of judgement Rashi begins with innocent verdict. He derives from that obviously deliberate nuance in Rashi that when it comes to matters of doubt regarding whether something is permissible or whether it is impure then one should always assume and treat it as forbidden until it is clarified. However when it comes to passing judgment on a person, we are all considered innocent until proven guilty. We must always give them the benefit of the doubt.
Now why didn’t I read that in Rashi? Because I just read Rashi as a simple commentary to the verse for elementary school kids. But that’s the brilliance of his commentary. It’s written so that everyone can get something out of it, the smallest child and the greatest Rabbi. The only question is how are you learning Rashi like a child or like a Rebbe?

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL HISTORICAL EVENT THAT HAPPENED ON THIS DATE IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK-
Operation Magic Carpet-11 Elul 5710 - August 24, 1950:- Operation Magic Carpet, which secretly airlifted 45,000 Yemenite Jews to Eretz Yisrael, was successfully concluded. Many of the Jews had never before seen an airplane; they likened the ride to a fulfillment of the biblical verse, "And I bore you on eagles' wings" (Shmot / Exodus 19:4). According to tradition, Jews had lived in Yemen since the 7th century B.C.E. Upon arriving in Eretz Yisrael they were housed in tent camps; there was very little infrastructure and resources to accommodate them, as the Jewish population of Eretz Yisrael nearly doubled in its first three years. There has been much criticism of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Israel, which abandoned thousands of Jews in the deserts on the border between North Yemen and Aden. Mismanagement or corruption by the imam of Yemen, the British authorities, and the Jewish Agency also played a role. Some 850 Yemenite Jews died en route to their departure points, and in the community which reached Israel infant mortality rates were high, but still lower than in Yemen. According to David Ben-Gurion's diary, the Yemeni children in the Israeli ma'abarot or tent transit camps were dying like flies. Children were often separated from their parents for hygienic reasons, or taken away to hospitals for treatment, but often parents only received notification, often by loudspeaker, they had died. According to some testimony, there was a suspicion that the state kidnapped healthy Yemeni children, for adoption, and then informed the parents they had died. As a result, some decades later, the Yemenite Children Affair exploded, in which it was rumoured that something of the order of 1,000 children had gone missing. The state nearly collapsed under the burden. Calculations made that year showed that the state needed some $3,000 for the absorption of each immigrant, which meant that the state required about $700,000 for the whole campaign; the entire state budget was less than that. Yet, despite everything, the young state was more than willing to do all that was necessary to absorb the immigrants, believing that this was the reason for its establishment in the first place. Within a short time, the immigrants had been absorbed into the fledging Israeli society.
 RABBI SCHWARTZ'S  FUNNY JUDGE JOKES OF THE WEEK
When asked for her occupation, a woman charged with a traffic violation said she was a schoolteacher. The judge rose from the bench. "Madam, I have waited years for a schoolteacher to appear before this court," he smiled with delight. "Now sit down at that table and write 'I will not pass through a red light' five
hundred times."

What did the judge say when a skunk entered the courtroom? Answer: Odor, Odor in the court!!!
The judge said to his dentist: "Pull my tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth."

Taking his seat in his chambers, the judge faced the opposing lawyers.
"So," he said, "I have been presented, by both of you, with a bribe." Both lawyers squirmed uncomfortably. "You, attorney Leon, gave me $15,000. And you, attorney Campos, gave me
$10,000."
The judge reached into his pocket and pulled out a check. He handed it to Leon ... "Now then, I'm returning $5,000, and we're going to decide this case solely on its merits."

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Answer is D – So we have moved on from Christianity questions to Islam questions another subject that thankfully I deleted most of the minor details about a religion that I was confident that my tourists wouldn’t really give two whits about knowing the details. Yet I got this answer right. Process of deduction, don’t worry I didn’t remember it. It was obviously not the omer. That would be too easy and Muslims don’t have that concept. The Koran wasn’t discovered it was ‘revealed’ so I knew it wasn’t that one. Although I thought maybe the ministry of tourism got the translation of the word wrong. The night journey I remembered when Mohamed went from mecca to Jerusalem Al Aksa supposedly and then up to heaven. Because I gave myself hints to remember. The Jerusalem journey is called israa- like Israel-although it’s not mentioned. And the heaven part is called miraj- like mirage which is basically a made up illusion. Thus the right answer is D the optional visit to Mecca anytime imitate Hagars walk back and forth looking for water for her son Yishmael. Now you can delete this information also.


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