Our view of the Galile

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Unlikely Candidate-Lech Lecha 5777/2016

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

November 11th 2016 -Volume 7 Issue 3 10th Cheshvan 5777
Parshat Lech Lecha
The Unlikely Candidate

The world came to an end last week. It was corrupt. It was evil in the eyes of God. It was a world that had little hope. It was once great, but that was long ago. It was before those self- declared children of God came down and took control. But now the game was over. It was destroyed. This week we wake up to a new world. A world still corrupt, but it is a world with a promise. There is one man that will change it all. One man whom God has selected. He stands on the opposite side of everyone else. To the right and the left. He is not afraid of kings, of fiery furnaces. He will travel the extra mile and will preach to whomever might listen. Many people wrote him off. They attacked him, his family, his beautiful wife, his children from his other wives. But miracles seemed to always surround this unlikely candidate. Those that cursed him were cursed and those that blessed him seemed to be blessed. At the end of the day he became the father of the nation. The light of the world. The one that would make it great once again.
So now that we reviewed last week’s and this week’s Torah portion of Noach and Abraham let’s talk a little about politics. Why what did you think I was talking about until now J?. The truth is I changed my mind. I don’t want to talk about politics. I’ve had enough. It’s coming out of my ears. It’s over. Move- On.org. I do want to talk about leadership though. Actually it seems that it’s not only me, but rather it’s the Torah that wants us to talk about. After-all it is to a large degree what this week’s Torah portion is all about. The unlikely leader. The leader that went against the popular opinion. The one that waged a world war. The man who became the wealthiest person in the world. The man who gave birth to both the arab nation and the Jewish nation. Who was promised that both of those descendants would become great both of them would have 12 tribes descend from them. Both would enter into a bris a covenant and treaty with Hashem. Sound familiar, at all? It’s the story of Avraham. The story of the world. The story of once upon a time a long time ago and the story of forever after. But I will not talk about politics.
As a child growing up we always were given this image of Avraham as this kindly old man that had a tent that was open on all four sides. He was a hospitality junkie. He loved having people over his house for Shabbos. Jews, non- Jews, idolaters, seminary girls and yeshiva bochrim. He’s that warm friendly outreach professional. That is true. But that’s probably not the way he was portrayed in the local media. Not that they seem to be able to ever get anything right. I’m not talking about politics. In the media of his days I imagine they would talk about the scandals of Avraham. His radical childhood roots breaking into his father’s idol store and smashing all of the icons of the other religions and faiths. That sounds pretty scary, extreme and intolerant. As he gets older he’s running around the world preaching about his faith and his god is really the only true. I mean doesn’t he know that there are a lot of gods out there? How arrogant is that to assert that only you have the real god? How dare he call the other ones false? Each person should be allowed to worship as he wishes to. What’s with diversity, respect, multi-culturalism?  No I don’t think the left wing media would have approved that much.
It gets even worse as the story of his aggressive meddling imperialistic tendencies take root. Avraham pretty much leads an army into a fight that has nothing to do with him. Yes his nephew was captured, but come on that’s not a reason to throw yourself into a full-fledged war. Negotiate, diplomacy, take it to the World court and Geneva. But not Avraham. He heads out from the south of Israel all the way up to the Golan to wage war and the largest and most violent army of his times. And not satisfied with just pulling an Entebbe like rescue. He actually liberates entwines himself in the Middle East politics restoring the government of Sodom back to its former ignoble glory. He’s a warmonger, they say. He’s certainly not fit to lead. To make matters even worse and just in case you wanted to suggest that he was trying to build a new type of Middle Eastern alliance. He doesn’t do that as well. Rather than making nice-nice and getting a great photo op with them. He spits the King of Sodom in the face as well spurning any of his gratitude. Who knows where he will take us next. This man just is a danger to the world
How about the Lox news network, right wing radio- Rasha Limboff, Shoin Henity and that once sweet Jewish kid Micho-el Savage Weiner. What would they say about this candidate? I’m not sure. I’m pretty sure that they were not too happy with what they might term his pacifist tendencies. He goes down to Egypt and tells his wife to lie about the fact that they were married in order that they should not do him any harm. Even worse when Hashem wreaks vengeance on them for kidnapping his wife. Avaraham leaves without any of his own personal vendetta. As well when his shepherds and his nephew Lot’s shepherds start fighting Avraham once again does not stand up and fight for what is rightfully his but rather tells Lot that they each would go their own separate way allowing Lot first choice of whatever he would want. I’m sure these pundits really freaked out when Avraham makes himself into the defense attorney for the worst and greatest, criminals and terrorists of mediaeval times; the 5 cities of Sodom and Gomorah. I mean even Hashem Himself is fed up and ready to wipe them, quite literally, off the face of the earth. And all of a sudden Allan Dershowitz- I mean Avraham Avinu gets up and wants to defend these slime. Maybe they’re not so bad. Maybe there’s some good in them? There’s no need for any civilian casualties. Oyy… they must have been going nuts over this horrible liberal candidate. Later on his pacifist peace accords that he makes with the wicked King of Gaza Avimelech, the man who as well stole his wife seem incomprehensible to any self-respecting gun-slinging Texan. Avraham even prays on his behalf when Hashem takes revenge on him for Avraham. I mean really? Let him get what’s coming to him. Enough with this let’s all hold hands and be friends Kumbaya.
I imagine both sides of the political spectrum would have been aghast at the personal life of Avraham. I’m sure there were quite a few Rabbis that weren’t happy that he went and married Hagar the daughter of Pharaoh, the wicked King of Egypt. Quite a few marriage counselors would probably be pretty upset that he just threw hew out on his first wife Sarah’s behest. I mean why not try counseling or something. Think of the children. Poor Ishmael. I’m sure many people noted as well quite cynically how it is obvious that this God that he claims to love and worship so much doesn’t really love him too much. I mean no children, no heirs. He’s already a hundred years old. Yeah God told him he’s gonna bless him. Right…I won’t even mention what the newspapers had to say about this guy when he takes his son up to an altar and ties him down and holds a knife to his neck. There is no way in the world that this man should ever have any position of leadership ever. If he does, I’m sure they promised, We are all moving to Canada. Right, Left, any sane person. This cannot ever work.
But you know what? They were all wrong. Avram’s name which meant the exalted father would now be Avraham the father of a multitude of nations. He will be the world leader. The one person that will change, transform, uplift and light up the world. The most unlikely of candidates. That is who Hashem has chosen. Mind-blowing isn’t it? He was probably the one candidate that anyone could’ve beaten in a popular election. But the world doesn’t work with popular elections. We have a divine electoral college that has chosen. What are we missing all the pollsters wanted to know the day after? How could we have been so wrong? What aren’t we seeing about this man? About ourselves? About Hashem.
And that is precisely the answer. It’s about Hashem. Avraham is chosen because he has no agenda. He is not a politician. He’s not a diplomat. He actually is a really nice guy that like to have people over for chulent. But he has one driving force that motivates everything that he does. Whatever God wants is what he transforms into his own will. Hashem and the Torah give Avraham a few titles. He is known as the one who fears God; a true servant who lives, breathes and is guided only by what Hashem wants him to do. He is also known as the Ivri- the Hebrew. The man who stands on one side- always while the rest of the world stands on the other. But he does not stand there in isolation. He stands there and draws the rest of the world to the source of the river that stands between them. He doesn’t read the daily paper and the media reports because he knows from the get-go that they are all on the wrong side. They are each on their own side. They each have their own world view and they will all read, interpret and distort the world based on that flawed and Divinely lacking view. His job is to be the bridge. To cross them over. To clear away the darkness where one human being feels he can assert themselves over another. It doesn’t matter if it is Egypt. If it is Sodom. It is the largest army of Nimrod or the King of Gaza. They all have to be taught that the only force in the world that can rule is Hashem; our creator. It’s not about politics. It’s about holy-tics.
Finally perhaps the greatest title given to Avraham is Ohavi- my Lover. Avraham is madly in love with Hashem our father, the source of all goodness. He sees that in every single person and will never write off anyone. He sees a world where the every blade of grass, every animal-even of Sodom has the potential to sing out the song of its Maker. He looks at the most evil and wicked of despots and he doesn’t foolishly or blindly close his eyes to their actions in some self-delusional dream of peace. But rather he sees in them the true spark of Hashem If God put them here in this world there must be some potential that they have. Some light that must be revealed. A piece of my beloved that I have yet to understand and appreciate.
It’s a new world this week. Every week in fact we are told is a new world. Every week we have an opportunity to shine the light of Creation. Hashem did not choose the president of the United States to be the revealer of that light. He has better taste than that. He chose the descendants of that first unlikely candidate, Avraham Avinu, to be the bearers of that mandate. It is our job. To be the ones that are not scared to stand opposite the rest of the world and draw them in. We are the Hebrews. It is our jobs to put aside all of our personal agendas, our political strategies and pathetic self-righteous campaigns and start talking about and exhibiting a God-righteous one. We have to stop condemning, alienating and radicalizing everyone that doesn’t agree with our prospective and tap into that inherent love that filled the father of our nation for every created being because they represent Hashem in this world. A Shabbos chulent meal is a great place to start that process. A Shabbos meal with guests that perhaps have never experienced one before is an even better one. This Shabbos is dedicated around the world to precisely do that. There will be over a million Jews all the descendants of Avraham voting for that love, that restfulness and appreciation of our Creator and His universe this weekend. That’s an election that I know will certainly be a winning one. A winning one for us, for Hashem and for the entire world.
Have an absolutely amazing Shabbos!
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7Aj5td_fpw Hillarious! Marcheshvan Song… Watch it again and again and laugh

https://youtu.be/Uzumwtp7kfc   My favorite English Shabbos song

https://soundcloud.com/ephraim-schwartz/ma-yedidus And my Shabbos compostion Ma Yedidos!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8TwRmX6zs4The video that inspired Donald Trump to run for President…


“Tu on a khazer a shtrayml, vet er vern rov?.”– If you put a shtreimel on a pig, would it make him a rabbi?
(I told you I’m NOT talking politics…J)
answer below at end of Email
Q.   Cumulonimbus is a term connected to:
A. Geology
B. Botany
C. Anthropology
D. Climatology

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.
As we always noted Rashi sees his job as explaining the simple understanding of the text. If Rashi brings down two explanations it is because there is something that he sees as problematic in the first one, despite it being the more simple explanation. Sometimes though there can be even a greater lesson in the second interpretation than the first. In the beginning of this week’s portion Hashem tells Avraham his first famous command and mandate.
Lech Lecha- You shall go for/to you from your land, your birthplace and your fathers home to the land that I will show you.
Hashem then makes Avraham a promise
And I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you and I will make your name great and you will be a blessing.
Pretty amazing! It almost sounds like a no brainer. But the blessings seem a bit vague. Almost-dare I say it- like campaign promises. I will make your name great- Sound familiar? What specifically does this blessing mean?
So Rashi opens his commentary and explains
 A great nation- refers to the promise of children. I will bless you refers to material monetary wealth.  A great name means I will give you stature and a good reputation and finally being a blessing means that Avraham will have the Divine power to offer blessings that will be fulfilled to those that he chooses.
Nice simple and detailed. Seemingly this would be a good pshat- simple understanding of the text.
Yet then Rashi brings another pshat.
I will make you a great nation- this is that they will say the God of Avraham
I will bless you- this refers to that they will say the God is Yitzchak
I will make your name great- is they will say the God of Yaakov
And you will be a blessing- that all of the blessings that will be said will conclude with you.
As you can imagine this seems to be a puzzling alternative pshat in the text. It certainly does not seem like the simple reading.
The Ohev Yisrael of Apt notes that Rashi brings this interpretation not as the simple understanding of the text but rather fascinatingly enough how Avraham understood the text. For, he suggests, that Avraham’s challenge and test over here, as this is a test, was not whether he would follow Gods command but rather- after-all he was just offered the deal and promise of a lifetime. Rather it was what would be his motivation. Was he out for himself and the promise of reward, children and a legacy or was it for Hashem?
The simple understanding of the text and promise was certainly what Rashi first said. Yet Avraham upon hearing this ignored the simple pshat. He had an alternate pshat. He told himself that the blessing meant that Hashem will be blessed as the God of Avraham, Hashem’s name will be known as the God Yitzchak and Yaakov. That’s all that counts. It was never about his own self-aggrandizement. It was about the Divine always. That is the motivation of a true leader. That is our father of Avraham!

Rabbi Avraham Yehosua Heschel of Apt - (1748-1825), A scion of famous rabbinic families, on both his father's and his mother's side, Avraham Yehoshua Heshel showed great promise even at an early age. Acquiring fame as a talmudic scholar, he studied chasidut under the all-time great master sRabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk . Becoming one of the foremost spokesmen of the growing chasidic movement in Poland and Romania, he began his career a Rabbi of Kolbasov. In 1800 he accepted the post of Rabbi of Apta. Although he held many other rabbinic positions, to the chasidim he remained always the Apter Rav. In 1808 he was chosen as Rabbi of Iasi, Romania. In the wake of communal strife there he was forced to leave his post and settled in Medzibosh, the birthplace of the Baal Shem Tov and the cradle of Chasidism, where he devoted himself completely to the study and dissemination of Chasidut.
It was during this period in his life that he gained the veneration of thousands of followers, among whom were a number of the preeminent rabbis of the age. His outstanding character trait was his burning love of the Jewish people, which earned him the title of Oheiv Yisrael, Lover of Israel. Oheiv Yisrael became the title of his book, a collection of his thoughts arranged according to the weekly Torah portions. The work abounds with lofty kabbalistic insights and interpretations. It is one of the basic chassidic texts, and bespeaks the Apter Rav's passionate love of his fellow Jews. The Apta Rav lived to the age of 77 and was considered the elder tzaddik of his generation.
The day before his petirah, Reb Avraham Yehoshua Heschel walked through his house, taking leave of every object. He kissed each sefer and took leave of all his talmidim. He was buried in Mezhbizh, near the Baal Shem Tov. According to one hasidic legend, angels subsequently carried his body and buried him in the Holy Land, and in the Jewish Cemetery in Tiberias

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.

Russians (over 900,000)- Who would have dreamed 35 years ago when the Iron Curtain was still up that in a few decades the largest Jewish Russian population in the world would be in Israel. It seems that Hashem takes this ingathering of the Exiles- kibbutz galuyot thing seriously. Today Russians comprise almost 20% of the population of Israel. There are over 300,000 of them though that are not halachically Jewish, making them an even greater political force as even those that are not Jewish 95% of them identify as such. In recent years Aliya from Ukraine has gone up over 50% as well in 2014 over 11,000 made Aliya, far more then Jews from North America. The first wave of Soviet Aliyah began began in the mid 70’s after the Yom Kippur war. It was very difficult and from 1970-1988 only 165,000 immigrated to Israel. When Gorabchev opened up the gates in the early 90’s mass Aliyah started to take place in the first two years over 200,00 immigrated right away to Israel and over the next decade and a half close to a million came. By 1996 the Russians had their own political party Yisrael B’Aliya led by Natan Sharansky a former refusenik. By 2009 they were the second largest right wing party after the Likud. An educated and yet non-observant people due to years of lack of Jewish education in Russia has created the Russian stereotype as a hardworking secular and even potential anti-religious right wing Jew. Particularly they face the challenge of the integration and confusion that surrounds many of their Jewish status because of the influx of either non-jewish spouses or relatives that moved here under the Law of Return but however are unable to marry and integrate into a Jewish halachic run Rabbinate and population. Yet at the same time over the years there have been a plethora of Jewish outreach programs and yeshivot as many of them are returning to the faith of their fathers in addition to their return to the Land of their forefathers. After-all isn’t that what the redemption is all about?

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei calls Trump and tells him, "Donald, stay out of political office because last night I had a wonderful dream. I could see America, the whole beautiful country, and on each house I saw a banner."
"What did it say on the banners?" Trump asks.
Ali replies, "United States of Iran."
Trump says, "You know, Ali, I am really happy you called, because believe it or not, last night I had a similar dream. I could see all of Tehran, and it was more beautiful than ever, and on each house flew an enormous banner."
"What did it say on the banners?" Ali asks.
Trump replies, "I don't know. I can't read Hebrew

How do you know you're reading one of Donald Trumps books? It starts on Chapter 11.

What airline does Donald Trump aspire to fly? Hair Force One!

Why does Donald Trump prefer E.T. to illegal immigrants? Because E.T. eventually went home!

Answer is D – I have no clue what the answer to this question was. I never heard the term. I checked the Hebrew exam to see if there was perhaps a word in Hebrew that I was more familiar with but whadaya know the word in Hebrew is kumulnimboos as well. Hmmmm. Well I studied Geology well and never saw it there. It didn’t sound like botany either. Maybe anthropology. Where have I heard that word nimbus before? Hmmmmm. Oh yeah! Wasn’t that Harry Potters broomstick? So maybe it is anthropology. The truth is though the answer is climatology. Which I never studied. I don’t even think they even taught it in our course. Nimbus is a rainstorm. Cumul is a big heap. So it’s a big rainstorm. This is obviously a very important thing and term to know before becoming a tour guide in Israel. Huh?!!

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