Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
November 4th 2016 -Volume 7 Issue 2 3rd Cheshvan 5777
A Whole New World
The screen opened up and I felt like Noach. I felt a little like he must have felt. Total awe. It felt like I had landed on the moon. I now appreciated why they had dedicated this museum for the first Jewish astronaut Ilan Ramon here in Mitzpeh Ramon. I felt like I had landed on the moon. I was staring out at this incredible expanse; this amazing crater that was formed during the Creation of the world in last week’s Parsha and then was given its incredible awesome beauty as the waters of “the Flood” passed through it and eroded it. It was absolutely breathtaking. I imagined it was that incredible of overwhelming reverence that Noach must have felt when he walked out of the Ark. The world that he had once known for the first 600 years of his life was gone. This brutally raw, fresh empty world open in front of him. A world restarted. A world full of potential. A world that he was now given a new chance and a new mandate to rebuild and to form. How beautiful and powerful it is to see Hashem’s incredible Creation in all its yet untainted naked glory.
How overwhelming it must have felt to see this incredible world and to understand the enormity and the sanctity of the task before him. As he walked down those steps from the Ark, as the animals, two by two that he had cared for the year of the Flood began to disembark, he certainly comprehended and felt how significant all of our task in this world is. He was meant to be a partner in this whole Creation thing with God. And what an amazing partner to have. How miniscule one feels standing there. Yet how significant Hashem must feel we are to take us as his partners in this Creation. How precious we must be and how much potential we must have. Hashem wouldn’t take a partner that wasn’t up to the task. Wow! Wow! And Wow! I think I need a drink. Noach certainly did and I can relate and appreciate that as well.
The post-flood world of Noach fascinates me. What does it take to make and create this world? What ingredients were I given? Do I have? What is my job? The first thing that Noah has with him are of course all of the animals; two of each kind. Yet these are not your average run of the field lions, horses, iguanas, giraffes, bluebirds, porcupines and of course bunny rabbits. These animals were and are the only ones in the entire Torah that are referred to as couples. “Ish V’ishto- a man and his wife. Our sages note that these are the only animals that were faithful in the world to their spouses. This is not an easy task for bunny rabbits I can tell you from experienceJ. They were holy animals. The truth is animals are not humans. They do not have the Divine spirit blown into them as we do. They’re job walking off that Ark was to fill the world; To eat, to be eaten and to serve as the reminder to Man that we are different than them. Walking off that Ark. Noach understood that they will be animals, they will no longer be ish v’ishto. He, we, will be responsible for them and it will be left to us to create that Divine home for Hashem as His partner in Creation in creating a world for Him. The snakes will never again be equals in that job. It’s up to us.
Noah is not only though in his job. He has three sons. Three other couples. Ish v’ishto. The names of these children are fascinating and are the ingredients in the forces that will eternally dominate and guide the path of the formation and the ultimate completion of the world. There is Shem. The word Shem means ‘name’. Just as the first act of Adam upon being created was to give names to all of the animals that Hashem brought before him, so too Noach’s son, our ancestor Shem’s job would be to give shem the identifying essence of all of the Created world. It is interesting the two similarly spelled yet opposite words in Hebrew, the Holy tongue. Sham- means there. It is unidentified. It is abstract. It’s over there. Somewhere. It is undefined, it is unrecognized by itself. It has no essence. It’s just there. Shem is the opposite. It has an essence. A spirit. A purpose. A divine purpose that defines it. That makes it unique. It is man’s job to find the shem. To transform the sham and give it its shem. To reveal it and uncover the godliness hidden within it. It is us bringing the heaven down to earth. It is an incredible non-coincidental usage of phraseology that the word and force that has tried and continues to try to destroy the Jewish people is called anti-shem-itism in Hebrew and is the source of the word in English as well. For what evil is truly trying to do is to prevent us from accomplishing our most primary divine role in this world.
Noach’s next son is Cham. Cham, just as his brothers entered the Ark holy. Ish V’ishto. Millions of people in the world and he was allowed to live, not just because he had protektzia- That would not be enough to make it through the divine- holiness, spousal faithfulness meter that determined who could come in the Ark. He was in fact holy. He represents as well one of the most important aspects of Creation. If not the most important. Cham- means heat. It means passion. It is desire. It is fire. It the physical. The land of Israel is never called that by name in the entire Torah. It is always called Eretz Canaan-The land of Canaan; Canaan, the son of Cham. The function of the Jewish people is to take the land of Canaan, the place from where the world was created and lift it up to the heavens. To direct and subjugate it to our Father in heaven. Cham is cursed by Noach for seeing his father’s nakedness and reveling it. According to Rashi he either sodomized him or castrated him. Both of those acts are forces that violate man’s ability to elevate his most essential ish v’ishto relationship. Either by engaging in an act that distorts the the act that can produce life and bring Hashem to this world, or by removing man’s ability to reproduce and bring more of the Divine spirit into this world. The shechina that is found only between Man and his wife with the potential to produce life. Noach curses Cham that he should always be subservient to Shem. Those passions those physical desires that entire physical universe needs to have the Divine essence its shem. It will be us that will inherit Canaan. We will direct that most physical of places to its ultimate holy destination.
Finally there is Yefet. Rashi quotes Unkelos that defines the word Yefet in the blessing given to him by Noach as expand. It is a two letter root, peh and taf; Pat. We have a few words in Hebrew that utilize that root. Mefateh- someone who seduces. Someone who goes beyond his borders and is trying to expand even further. Petach is an opening. Yefet is the expansion of this world. The expansion of Hashem horizontally in this world. It is all the nations of the world. It is the ultimate objective. It is the place that the Hashem’s spirit that Shem has brought down from above and given essence to here in this world will find its universal expression. It is the heat, the energy and the fire of Cham that Shem has channeled in the Land of Canaan and lifted up to the heavens, that will be used to fuel the entire world in a longing for the ultimate revelation. It is the animals, the plants, the beauty of a world that sings out in that three noted harmony to the song of its Creator. It is the Garden of Eden, but this time created by us and Hashem as partners. His dwelling place has finally made it to this world.
Noach’s first act upon disembarking from the Ark is to bring a sacrifice to Hashem. He takes the earth and builds an altar. He takes fire and dedicates it for a holy use to bring an offering to Hashem. The Torah tells us Hashem smells the pleasant offering. The rayach nichoach- the smell of being brought down, of resting, of Noach. At the end of last weeks Parsha the story of the decision of Hashem to bring the flood is because
Bereshis (6:3) My spirit will not contend anymore concerning man.
My ruach . Hashem is out of breath with us. Noach, the new partner in Creation in the new world restores that spirit. Hashem once blew life into us. We now blow it back into Him.
Noach then begins to plant. He plants a vineyard. It is not just that he needs a drink, but rather wine, the Torah tells us is the spirit that is (Psalms 104) Masyamayach et lvav enosh-it gladdens a mans’s heart.It is rightfully called spirits. Noach understands that this new world is meant to be filled with simcha- joy. The curses of Adam and Eve in the old world was etzev- in sadness you shall eat, in sadness you shall give birth. Noach’s world, our world, our job is to fill the world with happiness. With joy. From top to bottom. To uplift Canaan and to turn it into Eretz Yisrael. To shine that light out to Yefet. To create homes of ish v’ishto. To have the shechina and the ruach of Hashem finally and once again walk with us in His garden.
Ilan Ramon before he embarked on his flight to outer space went to Yad Vashem and was seeking something meaningful to bring with him on his momentous and historic journey. He met Joachim Joseph 71 year old astrophysicist who shared with him his most prized possession. Joachim, a holocaust survivor was 13 year old boy in Bergen Belsen when he received his precious gift. It was on 4½ inches tall, yet it contained his entire world. The gift was Sefer Torah- a miniature Torah scroll that his Rabbi, Rabbi Simcha Dasberg had smuggled into the Nazi concentration camp. Today was Joachim’s Bar Mitzva. In the early dawn hours before roll call a small group of men and boys gathered around Joachim’s bed. The stronger ones covered the windows and kept watch on the door as Joachim recited the blessing over that holy scroll. Afterwards the men congratulated him, one gave him a piece of chocolate that he had hidden away, and then Rabbi Dasberg gave him the most precious gift of all. He handed him the Torah and told him
'This little Sefer Torah is yours to keep now, because I'm sure that I will not get out of here alive. And you maybe will. Treasure this Torah. Tell its story. Tell our story. Bring it with you as you will build a new world.”
Rabbi Dasberg was murdered just a few months later. But Joachim survived and ultimately came to Israel where he raised a family. A Jewish family, descendants of Shem so many millennia ago in the land that was once called Canaan but that had recently become Israel. Ilan Ramon took that Torah with him because in his words as he told the word in his broadcast from the heavens from the spaceship Columbia.
“It represents more than anything the ability of the Jewish people to survive. From horrible periods, black days, to reach periods of hope and belief in the future”
Ilan was tragically killed when the Columbia was destroyed coming back down from the atmosphere. But his message, his charge, his inspiration is forever memorialized right in front of me as I look out at this new world here in Mitzpeh Ramon. I don’t think I will ever fly to outer space. My job, our job is to bring the heavens down here. Our partner is counting on us. It’s time to make a whole new world.
Have an other-worldly Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
RABBI SCHWARTZ COOL VIDEOS OF THE WEEK
https://youtu.be/5eLesR7P4o0 – Hillarious! Marcheshvan Song… Watch it again and again and laugh
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mytzwFTmLxc – Mitzpeh Ramon awesome!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKDPY8R5a6I – Ilan Ramon tribute
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpVSAjk3fdA – The great Aharon Razel classic on this weeks Parsha Tzei Min Hateiva!
RABBI SCHWARTZ’S FAVORITE YIDDISH PROVERB OF THE WEEK
“Az der man iz tsu gut far der velt iz er shlekht farn vayb.”– When a man is too good for the world, he's bad for his wife.
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK
answer below at end of Email
Q. The paleo-magnetism site in Israel is in the following rock:
B. Nari (Calcrete)
D. Kurkar (Calcareous sandstone)
B. Nari (Calcrete)
D. Kurkar (Calcareous sandstone)
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S ILLUMINATING RASHI OF THE WEEK
It’s amazing to see how our greatest Rabbis examine Rashi and see in his words hidden meanings and sources. This year we will explore our examinations of Rashi by featuring the ways and idead that our greatest Rabbis explored in Rashi and thus the text of the Torah and a short bio of each Rabbi from around the world and the exiles and societies that all studied this same classic commentary.
Rashi will many times alert us to certain anomalies that the Torah has in the simple reading of the text that we might just gloss over in a periphery reading of the Torah; something we should never just do. The first verse of the Torah in this weeks portion begins
These are the generations of Noach; Noach was a Tzadik he was complete in his generation. And Noach had three sons Shem Cham and Yafet.
Did you catch that anomaly? The verse begins that it will tell us what Noach’s generations are and it then stops and tells us that Noach was a Tzadik before returning and telling us his kids.
Rashi notes this and says
“The generations of Noach is Noach. For the products of a Tzadik are his good deeds.”
A very nice perhaps even homiletic interpretation but what does that really mean? The Yid Hakadosh of Pshisch the great Chasidic Rebbe explains that many people do things for their children. The in fact live their lives and behave and put all their energy so that the next generation will be continue to the tradition. Unfortunatly when it comes to their own personal growth and their own mitzvas they are lax. What happens is that their children do the same thing for the next generation. He said He can’t wait to see the final generation that everyone has been building and working towards. The truly righteous though understand and appreciate the best way to influence and inspire the next generation is by focusing on ones personal growth. Living a life and being a role model by ones personal observance in becoming the best Torah Jew and individual one can become. That is what he understands to be the message that Rashi is trying to convey from the Torah. What are the generations of the Tzadkik; the righteous person? Their own good deeds. Their own action are what ultimately becomes the pinnacle of their accomplishment and it is that which ultimately successfully becomes the bar and the model that the rest of their descendants measure and aspire to achieve.
Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak of Peshischa - (1766-1813 ), The “Holy Jew”of Peshischa, was the leading disciple of the “Seer” of Lublin, but subsequently split off to form the famous Peshischa movement of Chasidut. As opposed to what as he saw as the more miracle oriented and centered Chasidut that was being practiced by his Rebbe. The Yid Hakodesh developed a more an elitist, rationalistic Hasidism that centered on Talmudic study and formed a counterpoint to the simple average miracle-centered Hasidism of Lublin. His moniker the “holy Jew” was given to him by his colleagues as he had the same name as his Rebbe Rabbi Yackov Yitzchak Horowitz and they did not want to call him by name. He was referred to as the holy one because he grew each day greater and greater. Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa and Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotsk were among his many disciples who became great Rebbes in their own right.
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TYPES OF JEWS IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK
We’ve covered cool places in Israel, historical events, cool things to do in Israel this year we dedicate this column to each week appreciating the incredible diversity of Jews we have here in Israel as Hashem brings the ingathering of the Exiles rapidly to its conclusion.
Chasidim (over 2000,000)- Zionists like to think of themselves as the one who began the Aliya movement to Israel. They are wrong. The first major mass Aliyah movement began in the year 1777 when 300 chasidim came to Israel under the leadership of Reb Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk and other great leaders to begin the settlement of the land and to prepare it for the coming of Mashiach. Although 300 does not sound like a lot today. Back then they made up 5% of the population of Israel. The settled mostly in Tzfat, Tiverya and Hebron as Jerusalem was very difficult to live under the Turks as well ultimately they were challenged by the mitnagdim in Jerusalem as well who came there. There are 10’s of different chasidic dynasties in Israel and more than half the world’s chasidim live in Israel. The largest Chasidic group in the world is Satmar numbering over 120,000 chasidim many of which live in Israel and are known for their anti- Zionist beliefs. In Israel the largest Chasidus is Gut or Ger which has over 10,000 families alone. Belz, Viznitz and Karlin Stolin also have courts that numbers in the tens of thousands. Two growing Chasidus are Chabad and Breslav both which do not have Rebbe’s and I will dedicate a column to each of them in their own right as they differ from the rest of the chasidic world in that area.
Besides living in the major cities of Jerusalem, Bnai Brak, Kiryat Sefer and Beitar. Many Chasidim today are actually the ones that are settling the land. May of them moving at the beghest of their Rebbe’s en masse as whole communities for far flung parts of the country where they can create their own ‘safe’ isolated shtetls untainted by the influences of the surrounding Israel.
RABBI SCHWARTZ’S TERRIBLE OUTER SPACE JOKES OF THE WEEK
: How do you know when the moon has enough to eat? A: When it’s full.
What kind of music do planets sing? A:Neptunes!
What do planets like to read? A: Comet books!
Where would an astronaut park his space ship? A: A parking meteor!
The first 3-man space shuttle came splashing down from the moon and the ship the U.S.S. Seagull picked up the capsule.
The first man who got out of the capsule was Protestant and his minister asked him, "How was it, my son?" The Protestant astronaut answered with a big healthy smile, "It was truly a great experience." The second man was Catholic and when he emerged from the capsule his priest blessed him and asked him, "In the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost --How was it?" He replied, "It was fabulous, Father!" The third man was Jewish and with great effort left the space ship. He was still huffing and puffing as his Rabbi came up to him and asked, "How come -- nu, what happened? The other two astronauts came out composed and refreshed -- and you, nu?"
The Jewish astronaut answered, breathing heavily, "Every 90 minutes, shacharit-mincha-ma'ariv, shacharit-mincha-ma'ariv!"
The Jewish astronaut just returned from Mars and was asked all about his journey. He mentioned that while he was there, among other things, he was actually invited to a Martian Bar Mitzvah.
An intrigued reporter jumped right in: "Please, tell us all about it. Was it nice? Was it fun? How was the food?"
The astronaut replied that it was just "OK."
"What do you mean?" snapped the newsman. "Was it the food?"
"No", said the astronaut, "the food was fine."
"Were the people not nice?" countered the reporter.
"No, the people were very friendly."
"Well, then, what was it?" asked the reporter. "Why was the Martian Bar Mitzvah only OK?"
The astronaut looked at him and replied, "There was no atmosphere."
Two astronauts land on Mars. Their mission: to check whether there is oxygen on the planet.
“Give me the box of matches,” says one. “Either it burns and there is oxygen, or nothing happens.”
He takes the box and is ready to strike a match when, out of the blue, a little green Martian appears, waving all six of his arms and yelling…”No, no, don’t!”
The two guys look at each other, worried. Could there be an unknown explosive gas on Mars?
Still, he takes another match…and…
A crowd of hysterical green Martians is coming to them, all waving their arms: “No, no, don’t do that!”
One of the astronauts says, “This looks serious. What are they afraid of? Nonetheless we’re here for science, to learn if Man can breathe on Mars.”
So he strikes a match–which flames up, burns down, and NOTHING HAPPENS!
So he turns to the Martians and asks, “Why did you want to prevent us from striking a match?”
The leader of the Martians answers, “It’s Shabbos!”
Answer is C – Disclaimer: I am not a scientist. I really don’t know much about paleo-magnetic fields. As far as I know magnets are just something you stick on your fridge. That being set. I know that the world has a magnetic field. I saw that on Start Trek when I was a kid. Paleo magnetic means basically that the magnetic field which is the thing that directs the pointer on the compass. Is the opposite of a regular magnetic filed because it retains some of the old magnetism from a long time ago. Don’t ask me what that means. Anyways I got this one right because I pass the place all the time. It is in the Golan heights not far from MT. Bental where the rock is all volcanic and made out of Bazelet or Basalt. Supposedly if you bring a compass there and wave it over some rocks it will go in all types of wacky directions. North is South East is West. I can’t tell you for sure. I’ve never been there. Most of my tourists aren’t really the scientist type.