Our view of the Galile

Friday, September 2, 2016

Welfare State- Re'eh 5776/ /2016

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

September 2nd 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 49 29th Av 5776
Welfare State
"Why are there so many Beggars in Israel? Where do all these Shnorrers come from?I just want to be left alone so I can pray in peace by the Kotel-the Western Wall…the Holy Graves of tzadikim… my shul. Why can't they just get a job? Aren't the police able to do anything about them? Isn't there some type of law? Shouldn't there be…?"
"Welcome to Eeezrahel!" is the general tour guide response to the above questions. We are certainly home of many of the world's greatest shnorrers. It is true that not all of them are "holy beggars" as the great Rav Shlomo Carlebach would call them. Perhaps a few of them are unbalanced, scammers trying to make a quick buck, or sadly trying to feed their not so healthy habits. But I have always been raised that it is not my place to question. Be grateful that I am fortunate to be on this side of the wallet rather than the other side.
Why do our holy places attract these un or mis fortunate class of our people? Because they know why we are at these sites to raise our spirituality and to connect to Hashem. People that come to holy places that are trying to be holy are and should be the easiest "targets". After all, we all know just as a parent will dedicate and has a special place in their heart for their "special needs" and most unfortunate of children, our Father in heaven repeatedly in the Torah tells us that he dwells amongst the lowest, His heart and mercy are upon those that need him the most, those who have no one else. Time and time again the Torah exhorts us to care and be careful with the feelings of the widow, the orphan, the convert and the impoverished. If we really want "in" with our Father, than there is no better way than to do what we can to help out His most neediest of children. If we are asking the above questions, than perhaps we should really introspect a little bit as to how sincere we really are in connecting with Hashem. Are we at holy sites to connect to Hashem, or are we like the Korean, Nigerian, German, Russian and Christian tourists that come to visit the most popular tourist site in Israel? If you are unsure, pick up one of the brown cardboard kippas and place it on your head. Personally I would rather take out a few shekels. Why are they there? They are there for us. Because sadly we sometimes we forget why we are there.
This week's Torah portion shares with us the significance of the mitzvah of Tzedaka repeatedly. The structure of the Parsha is fascinating. The Parsha commences with Moshe telling us to see that upon our arrival to Eretz Yisrael we will be presented on Mt Gerizim and Eival with the blessings and curses that depending on what we choose will determine our ability to be blessed in Eretz Yisrael. Our first commands are to conquer the land and destroy the evil that is there, making it ours, making it Hashem’s. There's a new sheriff in town and the land will finally realize its purpose as will we. We will eat. We will celebrate and Hashem’s presence will be known. Now the true Jewish state is not just one where we have independence, flags, an army or even kosher falafel. It's about being a launching pad for the word of Hashem; a country that mirrors His holiness. So if and when there are those even amongst us, individuals, false prophets or even entire cities that see this as being a "country like any other" or an "ancestral heritage" or even the 51st State of the Union and try to remove us from our mission of establishing a country of God, they are meant to be dealt with harshly. This was never meant to be a democracy with freedom of speech or freedom from religion. We're here for a purpose. Sounds kind of tough but Hashem tells us he will give us the most essential ingredient for success.
"V'Nosan Lecha Rachamim I will give you the attribute of mercy and I will have mercy upon you-"
"You are children of Hashem your God… you are a holy nation and you were chosen to be a treasured nation from all the nations on the land."
This prelude to the land of Israel then concludes with the laws of Kosher that the Torah mandates which are meant to maintain our souls on a higher level- the diet of the holy, that gives us only the spiritual nutrients we need to serve Hashem; our breakfast of the champions. And then the real deal starts. Charity, charity, and charity.  Support the Levi who doesn't have a portion amongst you, the laws of shemitta every 7 years, giving tithes to the poor, helping out the needy, granting dignity, redemption and rehabilitation to the slaves. Finally we are given a vision of the three major holidays all that are meant to be celebrated together with all the unfortunate, forlorn and needy. And thus the ultimate Welfare State has been created. Our welfare is linked with their welfare. The land's welfare will always be blessed as much as we understand that our spiritual obligations, the Torah, mitzvos and kosher laws connection to Hashem are there to create a society of caring for one another.
Rav Avraham Pam ZT"L suggests an even deeper thought on this notion on the above verse. He suggests that Hashem promises us that there will always be needy amongst the Jewish people, because we require them in order to receive mercy from Hashem. Hashem says "If you are worried about your ability to build this country, to destroy the evil, to keep the laws and to merit a continued existence in Eretz Yisrael- fear not". I will give you opportunities for mercy, people that will stretch out their hands to you, people that you can invite over for a Shabbos meal, help find their soul-mate, comfort, console, share with, listen to and empathize with or cheer up. I will even send you holy beggars that will appear to you as being needy, because you yourselves need them. Care for them. Help find them jobs. Because you have a job. It's why we are here. It's why we have the land. It's in that merit we will be able to connect to Hashem and create the country he is awaiting for us all to come home to. For Him to return his presence to.
This Shabbos we enter the month of Elul. Our sages tell us that it is in this month Hashem, our beloved is approaching us from the field to judge us and our country for the coming year as we approach Rosh Hashana. The work of this month is for us to go to that field and greet our king, our father. In the field outside of our comfortable houses we will meet all types that have no home. The king is there with them. Helping them is our way to show Him how dear his children are to us. They are our ticket in. Our welfare ticket. Make sure not to misplace them. It is those tickets that will bring us all of the blessings this coming year. We don't want to be just tourists here. We are here to make it our home.
Have a fantastic Shabbos and an inspiring Rosh Chodesh,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LC-MEfJW1LU  My favorite song to get in the mood fro Elul- Ochila La’el

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rhgkztlid_Q&list=PLL_w2nu7O3i6gQ0xKqT8zRuVHER76fy2j&index=6   – rare footage of Rav Kook and Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1qMGsJSUtg  Reb Shlomo Carlebach "The Holy Beggar of Jerusalem and the song of Shabbos" 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87XlDRjmPME 1st Aguda Kenisya in Vienna 93 years ago 1923 this week with Chafetz Chaim.


“On mo’es iz tomid a to’es.” Having no money is always a mistake

(extra long this week but he has so many amazing quotes I couldn’t resist and choose which ones I liked better)

We are great and our faults are great and therefore our problems great and great are our consolations.”

“The pure righteous do not complain of the dark, but increase the light; they do not complain of evil, but increase justice; they do not complain of heresy, but increase faith; they do not complain of ignorance, but increase wisdom.”

 “There are free men with the spirit of a slave, and slaves whose spirit is full of freedom. He who is true to his inner self is a free man, while he whose entire life is merely a stage for what is good and beautiful in the eyes of others, is a slave.”

“I don't speak because I have the power to speak; I speak because I don't have the power to remain silent.”

“The great dreams are the foundation of the world.... The crudeness of conventional life, wholly immersed in its materialistic aspect, removes from the world the light of the dream.... The world is in convulsion with pains engendered by the destructive toxins of reality, devoid of the brightness of the dream....The free dream, which is in revolt against reality and its limitations, is truly the most substantive truth of existence .”

“The more difficult you find it to tolerate the atmosphere outside the Holy Land and the more you are aware of the unclean spirit of an unclean land, then the more have you intimately absorbed the holiness of the Land of Israel.

“The imaginative faculty of the land of Israel is lucid and clear, clean and pure, and suitable for the appearance of divine truth... On the other hand, the imaginative faculty in the lands of the nations is turbid, mixed with darkness, in the shadows of impurity and corruption”

“There is a sense of being a stranger that you may feel outside the land of Israel.That sense connects the entire inner desire of your spirit ever more strongly to the land of Israel and its holiness.  Your hope to see it grows.  The impression, the inner image, of the holy structure of that land upon which God always gazes grows increasingly deeper.  There is a depth of holy yearning for beloved Zion, a recollection of that entirely desirable land.  When that grows in even a single soul, the wellspring flows for everyone: for tens of thousands of souls connected to that soul.”

 “In the land of Israel, it is possible to draw the joy of holiness from the site of joy itself.  Outside the land, however, it is impossible to draw down this joy, because of the opposition and wrath of the powers of judgement outside the land.  We can draw down this joy only by drawing it from the source of delight, where neither obstacle nor damage reach.  This is why, in consequence of the destruction of the temple, “joy” is halachically forbidden, but those things called “delight” are allowed.
  When we delight in love from the delights of the source of holiness, there descends a pure joy, enriched with delight, which draws the atmosphere of the land of Israel—to some degree—outside the land, to revive the spirit of those who hope for the mercies of God, who yearn to see it and to rejoice in its joy.
        “Recall me, Hashem, when you desire your nation, visit me with Your salvation...to rejoice in the joy of your nation, to take pride in Your inheritance”

“This brings us to the essential difference between the Torah of the land of Israel and the Torah of chutz la’aretz (outside the land of Israel).  Whatever is small and individual (whether in the general context of spiritual ideas or, more particularly, of those ideas that deal with the great breadth of Torah and faith) when viewed from the perspective of the Torah of chutz la’aretz becomes great and inclusive as soon as it draws to itself the atmosphere of the land of Israel.
        The Torah of chutz la’aretz is only aware of how to care for the individual, for his spiritual and physical completion, his temporal as well as eternal condition.  But the Torah of the land of Israel is concerned with the totality, with the nation: with its soul and energy, its body and spirit, its total present, its total future, and the living imprint of its past—simultaneously.  All details enter it and are subsumed in its exalted state.  This is the inner renewal, deep and broad, of the Torah of the land of Israel.  It declares that all individual thoughts and ideas proceeding in an impoverished and scattered state—the atmosphere of the land of other nations—must form one bundle, must clothe themselves in one general intent related to the life of the entire nation, under the influence of the land of Israel.”

HaRav Avraham Yitzchok  HaKohain Kook,(1865 - 5695 / 1935) This  Tuesday, the 3rd of Elul marks the 81st anniversary of the death of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, arguably the most influential and revered rabbi of the 20th century.
The first Chief Rabbi of the Holy Land in modern times, Rabbi Kook's breadth of thought, knowledge, leadership and piety were unmatched. Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer, who headed the hareidi-religious Council of Torah Sages, once said to the famous sage Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky of Vilna, “We are considered Torah giants only up until the point that we reach the door of Rabbi Kook’s room.”
Rabbi Kook was born in 1865 in a village in Latvia. When he was 19, he both received rabbinical ordination from Rabbi Yechiel Michal HaLevy Epstein, the author of the Arukh HaShulchan, and became engaged to the daughter of the Aderet, Rabbi Eliyahu David Rabinowitz-Teomim. She gave birth to a daughter, but died just a few years later. Thereafter, Rabbi Kook married her first cousin, daughter of the Aderet’s twin brother; she bore him two daughters and a son, the famed Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook.
He served as Rabbi in Zeimel (Lithuania) and Boisk (Latvia) before being offered the position of “Rabbi of Jaffa and the Farming Villages.” He arrived in the Holy Land in 1904, and served in this position for ten years – until he departed for Europe in 1914 to take part in the Agudat Yisrael convention, and found himself trapped by World War I. He became the rabbi in London’s largest synagogue, having set a condition that he would return to Jaffa as soon as feasible.
After he returned, he was appointed Rabbi of Jerusalem, and shortly afterward established the Chief Rabbinate. Rabbi Kook became Chief Rabbi of the Holy Land in 1921, with Rabbi Yaakov Meir chosen to serve as the Chief Sephardic Rabbi.
In 1924, Rabbi Kook founded the Central Universal Yeshiva, known even today as Merkaz HaRav, the flagship yeshiva of the religious-Zionist public. He formulated its objectives as “a yeshiva to which the best students will stream from all over the world, outstanding in talent, inspiration, idealism… to return the crown to its former glory, and to become expert in the Torah of the Land of Israel and in the revival of sanctity in the Holy Land.”
Rabbi Kook was the officiating rabbi at the weddings of many future rabbis, including the contemporary Torah giant Rabbi Shlomo Elyashiv, as well as the late Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach.
Rabbi Kook died in 1935, and no funeral in Israel was larger than his for decades afterwards; approximately one-fourth of the entire Jewish population in the country was there. 
"It is unbelievable,” writes a modern-day student of Rabbi Kook, Har Bracha’s Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, “how so many varied talents could be integrated into one soul. His knowledge encompassed every field of Torah study and philosophy, his memory was phenomenal, his piety was unrivaled, he was courageous and a man of truth who paid a high personal price for standing up for truth, he was friendly, charming and fascinating, he was both intellectual and poetic, and he was very active spiritually and publicly on behalf of the Torah, the nation and the land…”
His vision of national and personal redemption led him to love and view the entire world in both its macro and micro formats.
Rav Yitzchak Hutner told:
        I once took a walk with Rav Kook and another man amidst the mountains of the land of Israel.
        Rav Kook told how impressed he was by the landscape.
        The other man asked him, “But you were in the Alps.  What is so special about these mountains?”
        Rav Kook replied, “The Alps didn’t speak to me.”
Someone once told Rav Kook, “God willing, we will move to the land of Israel.”
        Rav Kook replied, “God is certainly willing.  What counts is that you be willing.”
An American Jew, who came to the land of Israel due to the influence of Rav Kook, initially intending to settle there, reconsidered and decided to leave, and came to Rav Kook to take his leave.
        Rav Kook asked him, “Why are you leaving?”
        “Rabbi, I am tired of the life here in the land of Israel.  I can’t stand the irreligiosity, desecration of the Sabbath and of the religion that has spread through the pioneers and the different groups.  And that is why I have decided to leave the land of Israel and return to America.”
        These words, that came from the mouth of a sincere Jew in the midst of his turmoil, deeply upset the heartstrings of Rav Kook.  But he held himself back, and with a smile asked him where he lived in America.
        “I live in Denver, Colorado,” the American Jew replied.  And with a patriotic pride, he began to describe the city and its beauty to Rav Kook: “It is surrounded by mountains, its atmosphere is clear and pure.”  He added, “There are no little, dirty streets, as there are here in Jerusalem.  There the streets are broad, the houses are large and beautiful, electric lights light up the whole city....”  And he continued speaking about the natural beauty that surrounds the city of Denver.
        Rav Kook interrupted him and said: “It seems to me that in Denver there are many people who suffer from tuberculosis.  I heard from someone who recently returned from there, that he himself, when he was in Denver, met many people with chronic, serious disease, without any hope of a cure.  And if, as you say, Denver has such a healthy atmosphere, why does it have so many sick people?”
        The American Jew replied, “Does the rav believe that those sick people are natives of Denver?  They come from other cities that doesn’t have a good atmosphere, where they grew ill, and on doctors’s orders, they came to Denver to breathe its air and get better.  Obviously, some of those who come have long[-standing diseases, because they had delayed coming to Denver.  Their lungs are already badly damaged and they are practically beyond hope.  When it comes to such sick people, it must be, that Jew you spoke to met on the streets of Denver, and he simply thought by accident that the city is responsible for their chronic diseases.  That simple person didn’t know that that city, with its healthful atmosphere, has healed thousands of people who came there from across the country.”
        Rav Kook replied to the man, “Listen to what you yourself are saying!  The atmosphere of our holy land also gives wisdom and heals, and to it have come and continue to come poor Jews from all the lands of the exile, whose atmosphere influenced their souls badly, poisoned their souls, and they might have, heaven forbid to assimilate amidst the gentiles and to die a spiritual death in a foreign land.  But the Healer of the sick of the nation of Israel made the cure before the disease, and breathed into them the breath of life and love and yearning for the land of Israel, and they come to this place of health and breathe the atmosphere; and if you see so many ill people, spiritually ill in our holy land, they were born outside, and if they hadn’t come here sooner, they would have assimilated there.  They are seriously ill, but with their coming here, we must treat them, just as people with tuberculosis are treated in Denver.  And I completely believe that the air of the land of Israel will influence many of them to good and to blessing, and to the health of their body and soul.”

answer below at end of Email
Q. An octagonal Byzantine church is found:
A.    On Mount Gerizim
B.  In Jaffa
C.  In Arsuf
D.  On Mount Beatitude

The Hebrew language has many nuances to it. A little extra letter, a different pronunciation, how it is spelled and the context that it is used all can change the meaning of the word. It’s why we are so specific and demanding with our Torah readers in how they layn and pronounce the words. This is why it is so critical to learn Rashi, who certainly feels it is his job to guide us in appreciating and noticing those little differences and teaching us those rules.
Rashi, unlike many of my teachers though, doesn’t feel the need to repeat himself. Once he tells us the rule it is our job to remember it an apply it. Now if you are anything like me, then I’m happy if I remember how many children I have and their names, forget about their birthdays. So remembering a Rashi is beyond me. On the other hand if you are the Chafetz Chaim, then when you get to a Rashi in this week’s Torah portion you can see a great question and if you are the Rebbe of Gur then you can derive an incredible insight from that question.
The story goes that the two of them were on their way to the 1st ever Agudah convention in Vienna.
(see the youtube clip above of him)  The Chafetz Chaim asked the Rebbe of Ger a question on this week’s Torah portion. The verse says
(Devarim 13:5) Acharei Hashem Elokeichem- after Hashem your God you shall follow and Him you shall fear, and His commandments you shall observe and his voice you shall listen to; Him you shall serve and to Him you shall cleave.
The Chafetz Chaim notes that Rashi back in Bereshis (15:1) notes that when ever the word ‘achar’- after is used then it means a closeness, ‘acharie’ on the other hand means after- as in far away. There the verse is talking about a period of time. ‘Achar hadevaim haeileh’- after these things took place-meaning right after.
The Chafetz Chaim therefore asked that seemingly over here the Torah should use the word ‘achar Hashem Elokeichem’- after Hashem yourGod you shall follow. As we are meant to draw close to Hashem, not the far away that the extra “ei” of ‘acharie’ connotes?
The Rebbe of Ger answered the Chafetz Chaim with what he called a “Chasidic answer”. He responded that the further one appreciates the he is from Hashem the closer that one can get to Hashem. The verse in Tehillim, he quoted, says ‘karov Hashem l’nishberei lev’- God is close to those of a broken heart. Someone who feels his is close to hashem and is super holy generally suffers from arrogance. However someone who feels ‘acharei’- that he is far from Hashem, he is the one that will ultimately get closer.
If you understand that nuance in Rashi you can better appreciate Rashi’s comments on this verse that seemingly at first glance seem unnecessary. However if you read them in the light of Rashi explaining how someone who feels distant can get close then it is really beautiful.
Rashi says on the words
And you shall observe His commandments- Torat Moshe- Rashi is telling us, if you feel distant connect to the Torah of Moshe- the humility of Moshe, who was humble and became the closest to Hashem
And listen to his voice- Rashi says to the voice of His prophets- You feel distant? Listen to the prophets those humble people that Hashem speaks through them
Him you shall serve- Rashi- in His Temple- you feel distant? Go to Hashem’s house. He wants you to visit Him
Finally Rashi says on the verse and to Him you shall cleave-cleave to His ways preform acts of kindness, bury the dead, visit the sick; just as Hashem did.- How can one cleave to Hashem if you feel distant . Start acting and behaving like Him. You’ll see that you are really not that far. He visits the sick He buries the dead. So do you. But even more than that. There are probably not too many times like when one buries the dead or when one is god forbid sick that one feels close to Hashem. Sickness and death bring out the strong truth that we are not invincible. The frailty of man. It is the ultimate distance between us and our Creator. It is the ultimate time when we can get close.
See how one little nuance in a word can open up a whole new world. I would’ve missed it. I forget my Rashi’s, but not the Chafetz Chaim. See. Now you can understand why it pays to review those Rashis every single week. So that one can remember those rules and apply them everywhere. Amazing.

Uganda proposal at Zionist convention in Basel 30th Av 5663 - August 23, 1903-The 6th Zionist Congress met in Basle, Switzerland. Herzl presented a British proposal for a temporary Jewish homeland in Uganda, as a refuge for Russian Jews in immediate danger. This settlement would be politically independent, with a Jewish governor and a Jewish administration. Herzl believed that the plan conferred an important stamp of legitimacy upon Zionism. The Zionist Congress approved the plan, and decided to dispatch an exploratory expedition to Africa. However, the idea was met with stiff opposition, and it split the Zionist movement. The Uganda Program was rejected two years later, but later exploratory missions were sent to Iraq, Libya and Angola. One project that gained traction was the Galveston plan which sent 9,300 Jews to Texas. In the end, it was understood that only the Land of Israel, with its deep historical and spiritual connections, would succeed as the Jewish homeland.
The shnorrer (a beggar who makes pretensions to respectability) comes to Goldstein for his monthly handout. He knocks on the door, but there is no reply. He knocks again, and a dishevelled-looking Goldstein answers the door.
"What's the matter," asks the shnorrer. "Is something wrong?"
"I've gone bankrupt," says Goldstein, "haven't you heard?"
"Certainly I've heard," says the shnorrer.
"Then what do you want from me?" asks Goldstein.
The shnorrer says, "Ten cents on the dollar."

Mrs. Berger, feeling sorry for a shnorrer (a beggar who makes pretensions to respectability; sponger, a parasite) who appeared at her door, invited him in and gave him a substantial meal: chicken, kugel, wine, and two kinds of bread - black bread and challah.
The shnorrer devoured everything he was given, except the black bread. "The challah was wonderful," he said. "Do you have any more?"
"My dear man," said Mrs. Berger, "we have plenty of black bread, but challah is very expensive."
"I know," said the shnorrer. "But believe me, lady, it's worth it

Opening his front door, the Rabbi found himself face to face with the local priest. "Rabbi, may I have a few words with you?" asked the priest.
"Of course, Father," replied the Rabbi somewhat nervously.
"Rabbi," began the priest, "It must be evident to you that in this town we are plagued by thieves. Scarcely a day passes without one of my flock coming to me bemoaning the fact that his house has been broken into. On the other hand, I have noticed that thieves do not bother you Jews nearly as much."
"Father, you are correct."
"Yes, but why is that?" inquired the priest.
"Look at this little box here on the side of my doorpost" said the Rabbi. "It's called a mezuza. We Jews believe that when we put a mezuza on the entrances to our houses, the Holy One, may His Name be blessed, protects both us and our property."
"In that case", replied the priest, "I must have one!"
Not wishing to be the cause of an incipient pogrom, the Rabbi reluctantly handed over a mezuza to the priest.
Some two weeks later the Rabbi was awakened by the sound of someone pounding violently on his door. Dressing himself hastily, he made his way down the stairs. "Who's there?" the Rabbi asked tremulously.
"Open the door! Open the door!" screamed a voice on the other side.
Leaving the door on the latch, the Rabbi cracked the door wide enough to see the priest standing in front of him, his eyes wild with great distraught.
"What happened?" asked the terrified Rabbi, "Robbers?"
"No, even worse!" screamed the priest, "Schnorrers!

A schnorrer, who was allowed as a guest into the same house every Sabbath, appeared one day in the company of an unknown young man who was about to sit down at the table. “Who is this?” asked the householder. “He’s my new son-in-law,” the schnorrer replied. “I’ve promised to provide him with his Shabbos meals for the first year.


Answer is A – I got this wrong. Frankly I don’t feel bad this is really not a question that I think I will ever need to know and so I deleted it from my limited brain cells to make room for more information that is much more important like where the good kosher restaurants are J. Anyways I guessed Mt. Beatitudes which has a octagonal church built in the 1930’s. Which is obviously not the byzantine period from the 4th to 7th century. However it is built on the ruins of a byzantine church, so technically it is a Byzantine period church that is today octagonal. But that’s not the right answer. Mt. Gerizim in the Shomron actually has ruins of an octagonal church. I’m not even sure if we ever went there, I certainly have never brought anyone there and don’t plan on it anytime soon. So delete…now you can as well.

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