Our view of the Galile

Friday, December 30, 2016

Virtual Rea-Lighty- Mikeitz Chanuka 2016/ 5777

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

December 30th  2016 -Volume 7 Issue 10 1st  Tevet  5777
Parshat Mikeitz/ Chanukah
Virtual Rea-Lighty

Do you know what’s cool about living in Israel? Here the various things that you read about, learn about, the religious practices that we have, and the mitzvot we do they actually become real. They happened here. They’re happening here. It’s not make believe. It’s the real deal. For example I tell my tourists that when they bentch after eating in this country. They will thanks Hashem for bequeathing us the eretz chemda tova urichava- the land that its good and expansive. In America they say that and what are you thinking about- if you are even thinking when you say it- Brooklyn? Lakewood? The Rocky Mountains? Definitely not Washington DC. Here it’s for real. It’s amazing, I tell my tourists, for thousands of years our ancestors have ben thanking Hashem for this land that He gave us and now we are actually here and can appreciate it. Cool!
Another example last year we had shemitta/sabbatical year. Until we came back to Israel it was just boring stuff that was irrelevant. Similarly the laws of tithes of teruma, who doesn’t fall asleep when you learn those laws? Here in Israel it’s every time we walk in the grocery store that we are reminded that the fruits of Eretz Yisrael are different, special, holy. Tisha B’Av in America is a day when you fast, you think about the exile, you watch a sad holocaust video or two and perhaps see some inspiring videos that tell you not speak Lashon Hara or hate anyone. In the holy land we are actually looking at the brunt remains of our Beit Hamikdash. When we ask Hashem to rebuild the Temple it’s not an abstract idea. We wake up each morning to the sight of this big golden pimple sitting on the Mountain top where Hashem’s home and the light of the world once shone out. That’s mourning. That’s longing. We walk where Avraham walked, where Rabbi Akiva did, we study where the Mishna was written and where the Sanhedrin once sat. We daven at the tomb of our Patriarchs where the spies that first came into the land prayed and at the foot of the wall of the mountain where the Temple once stood and every Jew came to bring their offerings. It doesn’t get more awesome than that.
In Israel they started by the Kotel a new virtual reality exhibit, there is one as well by the Kikar Hamusica by Zion square. It is perhaps one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had here. You put on these goggle thingy’s and you literally feel you are being transported and walking through the Beit Hamikdash. You look towards your right and there is a kohen sacrificing a lamb, to the left they are putting the show-bread in the shulchan/table. You hear some singing and look around the corner of this glorious heichal and there is a choir of the Levites singing with their musical instruments. Beautiful! There is another kohen lighting the Menora and others giving the blessings to the people. I have been transported to another world. I don’t want to take these goggles off… ever. But the film comes to an end. It was just a dream.  A cool hi-tech Hollywood gimmick. A game. The Beit Hamikdash is still destroyed. The pimple is still up there while we are down below. There are no offerings, no smoke rising from the altar, no heavenly singing choir. I feel as bereft as a Jew in America should feel every day that they are still stuck there where everything is just fake Judaism. I want to do it again. I want it back.
The truth this year I did get it back though. Not only did I get it back but even, you guys living out in the Diaspora got it back as well. Well, maybe you didn’t because you didn’t even realize it. But now I’ll give it back to you. I will share with you a mind-blowing insight that I saw this year that truly inspired me like no other year. The great Reb Yehoshua Kutna notes an interesting thing about the holiday of Chanuka. When the Talmud discusses the question of what Chanuka is all about it discusses the miracle of the lights and says (Shabbos 21:B)
What is Chanuka? The Sages taught: On the twenty-fifth day of (the month of) Kislev there are eight days of Chanuka... for when the Greeks entered the Temple they defiled all the oil in the Temple. When the kingdom of the Chasmonai dynasty (the Maccabees) arose and defeated them, they searched but could only find one flask of oil that was set aside with the seal of the high priest. However, it contained only enough to burn for one day. A miracle took place and they lit from it for eight days. The following year they established them as festival days with praise (of God) and thanks.
He notes that the Talmud tells us that they established it as days of praise and thanks, but the Talmud does not make mention of what seemingly is the most basic symbol, ritual and mitzvah of Chanuka- eating Jelly doughnuts and Latkas- just joking… I mean lighting the chanukiya/menora each night. In fact the prayer we recite each time we bench and daven of al hanissim also does not mention the mitzva to light candles. It merely says “They lit in the courtyards of our holy city”. Even Maimonides who brings down the mitzva to light which he calls a mitzva like the reading of Esther on Purim, in discussing the establishment and reason for the holiday writes “and they lit candles” not that one is obligated to light candles initially? What’s going on? Isn’t the menora the central part of the holiday?
Rav Shialeh, explains with an incredible insight that is truly revolutionary. He writes that the conclusion of Torah portion of Naso where the Torah discusses the inauguration of the Mishkan/Tabernacle and the offerings that each tribe brought. The following Torah portion of Beha’aloscha, though, which begins with the commandment to Aharon to light the Menora seems to be unrelated and misplaced, as the commandments of the job of the Menora lighting is mentioned already and should rightly be in Vayikra where it discusses all of the jobs of the Kohen. Rashi, therefore noting this perplexing placement of the command notes that is was juxtaposed to the previous chapter for a reason. For it was then that Aharon was given this commandment.
Bamidbar (8:1)  For when Aharon saw the inauguration he felt bad for he neither was he or his tribe with them {They did not bring any offerings}Hashem therefore said to him ‘By your life, that your role is greater than theirs for you kindle and prepare the lights of the Menora.
The Ramban asks on Rashi though that the truth is that there are a lot of things that Aharon and the Kohanim do that no one else does. Services that are even greater than the Menora lighting. After-all he actually brings the offerings. He is the guy that goes into the Holy of Holies. He achieves atonement on Yom Kippur. He brings the incense and recites
Hashem’s explicit name. Why is the Menora the thing that is singled out as the greatest thing that would console Aharon? He answers by quoting another Midrash that says that the sacrifices are only while the Temple is in place, however the Menora will be continue to be lit forever as the verse says “the lights will shine”. Rabbi Daniel Glatstien (a descendant of Reb Yehoshua Kutna- and a great lecturer that my brother Gedalia loves and is on my case to quote more often-in fact if you want to hear his classes Email my brother he’ll stick you his weekly whatsapp group of Rabbi Glatstien classes from Torahanytime gandjo914@aol.com) suggests how many of the customs and laws about lighting the Menora that we do are because our lighting is in place of the one that was in the Temple. We can’t benefit from the lights, we light it in the south part of the shul, the blessing we make on the lighting is more similar to a biblical mitzva, all of these is because our lighting is a virtual reality continuation of the lighting that was done in the Temple.
Rav Kutna thus suggests that it is for this reason that the Gemara and the Rambam don’t mention that originally they established the mitzva for the lighting of the Menora. For while the Temple was still around and the Menora was still be lit during the period of the Chashmonaim there was no mitzva to light your own chanukiya. There was no reason to the real thing was still being lit in the Beit Hamikdash. It was only 200 years later when the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed that they established the mitzva to light…or better yet to continue lighting. Sure there were people that lit candles during the Temple as well, as the Talmud says and the Rambam says but the days themselves originally were only established for hallel and hoda’ah praise and thanksgiving. Later on the mitzva to light was made while we were exiled just as the mitzva to read Megilla was established in exile from the first Temple. Wow! Wow! Wow!
Do you get this? What Reb Shialeh is suggesting based on this Ramban is that when we light our menoras we are actually still virtual rea- lighting the Kohein’s Menorah in the Temple. It’s the real deal. We can’t bring sacrifices anymore. We can’t bring go to our Beit Hamikdash. We can’t see the Shechina. But there is one thing that is still around. One thing that every Jew can still do and feel as if we still have it. We can still light our menora. We can still light up the world with that holy eternal light that despite the world’s best efforts to repeatedly try to extinguish will never be vanquished.
Last night I walked around the old city of Jerusalem. From every window those little candles burned strong. I had just prayed and said the words written two thousand years ago of my ancestors who had lit candles in the “courtyards of your holy city” and I had been returned to there. Not just virtually. Not just in my dream. But for real. In each house was another little replacement Kohen lighting the same holy flame. Each one was a real Maccabee. I thought about the parsha we read each year on Chanuka, Parshat Mikeitz-(You know that I had to stick that in here somewhere). It’s a Torah portion of dreams coming true. The dreams that Yosef had last week of his brothers coming and bowing before him to get wheat literally. The celestial beings of the stars and moon which represent a spiritual dominion he has over them the kingship literally as well comes true as they view him as the ruler. The dreams of Pharaoh of the famine the years of plenty. All of them become realized. It is a parsha of dreams coming true. The opposite is true as well. The realities that we sometimes think are just facades. Yosef appears like a prisoner a slave to the Egyptian hierarchy until his greatness is revealed. The brother’s think he is a Ruler, a Goy and the truth is he is the holy Yosef. Yaakov believes Yosef is dead and he is alive. The world is not as it seems is the message our Parsha keeps telling us. The real world is sometimes hidden beneath the surface. The light is just waiting to shine forth. We just need to reveal and believe that we can actually do it. It’s hard when we are in Exile to get that feeling. But once a year on Chanuka Hashem gives us that taste of what it once was like. We experience that Divine. We are back home and the flames we stare into are the exact ones that were up there on the mountain. We have really really come home.

 Have spectacular Shabbos and amazing  Chanukah!
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://soundcloud.com/ephraim-schwartz/haneiros-halalu  -Check out my latest composition in honor of Chanuka Haneiros Halalu- the words recited when we light our menora

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2ZZ4W47GbQ one of my favorite childhood songs Colored candles by destiny with a great video

https://youtu.be/XWuG7bW1P88 How many ptoatoes can you peel while talking on the phone= Shelo Asani Isha!

https://youtu.be/sDR8jDw0sc0 A Bharain Chanuka lighting…

https://youtu.be/ldMZVXPmLxc - Times Square what is Chanuka question?


“Dos lebn iz nit mer vi a chulem—ober vek mikh nit oyf”  -Life is no more than a dream—but don't wake me up.

answer below at end of Email
Q.  The verse: “and you counted the houses of Jerusalem and you pulled houses down to fortify the wall” is usually read to tourists:
A. At the house of Ahiel
B. Near the Broad Wall
C. At the Burnt House
D. In the Davidson Center

Another type of diyuk-or specific examination of Rashi’s interpretation that he wrote is to look closely   when he writes a translation or definition of a word. See Rashi is not a translation of the Torah. He left that for Artscroll. He only translates words that are troubling. This principle can be appreciated best when a word has already been mentioned in the Torah previously. If Rashi didn’t translate it the first few times and waited until a later point to explain the word, it must be because he understood that you knew what the word meant. The problem he is resolving is how it fits in over here. So take this week’s Torah portion for example.
The portion called Mikeitz is a continuation seemingly of last week’s Torah portion when Yosef, still languishing in his Egyptian prison, asked the butler to remember him to Pharaoh when he was released. This parsha starts off and it was mikeitz- at the end of the two years and Pharoah had a dream.
The first Rashi in the parsha notes that And it was Mikeitz- the end- as the targum translation renders itmisof- at the end” and all words related to keitz means end.
Rabbi Yakov Kaminetzky notes that the Torah has used the word Mikeitz numerous times already why has Rashi waited until here to translate it for us and to give that rule that all words related to keitz means end.
He brings examples from previously in Bereshit
(16:3) and Sarah the wife of Avraham took Hagar the Egyptian maidservant mikeitz-at the end of 10 years of Avraham dwelling in the Land of Cannan- Rashi there notes that it means at the end of the 10 years that if a woman is with a man and unable to produce children he is obligated to take another wife (to fulfill his commandment to have children)
(4:3) And it was Mikeitz Yamim- the end of days and Kayin/Cain brought an offering to Hashem from the fruits of the earth.- There Reb Yaakov explains that it was the end of the planting year for farmers.
(8:6) And it was at Mikeitz 40 days (of the flood) and Noach opened the window to send out the bird- as well this is the end of the forty days that was previously established for the flood.
So what’s going on over here? What two years were previously established? Seemingly Yosef told the butler to free him immediately. So Reb Yaakov notes that it is precisely that which is troubling Rashi. And why he notes that over here as well this is the conclusion of a period of time, despite the fact that no time is mentioned. He suggests that the time is in fact explained in the previous Parsha. For the Torah tells us that the Butler was released in honor of Pharaohs birthday. Seemingly the following birthday a yar later is when he should have mentioned Yosef, for that’s when the King goes over his servants- as Rashi noted there, and assumingly would offer pardons. Yet he didn't mention him. So Yosef waited the entire year until the next birthday and when he wasn’t mentioned there as well Yosef realized as Rashi noted then he realized that he can’t count on anyone but Hashem. That is when the salvation of Hashem, at the end of the two years that Yosef in his mind had been counting on the butler to free him. The first year after the butler was released until the following birthday.
I just mention this idea this week because it’s my birthday. Let’s see who reads this and sends me a happy birthday J.

Reb Yaakov Kaminetsky (1891 –1986) was a prominent rosh yeshiva, posek and Talmudist in the post-World War II American Jewish community. He was renowned as the "Chakima D'Yehudai", the wise man of the Jews. His incereible insigh, wisdom is truly something that gave direction to an entire generation in leadership in the new young post holocaust world.
He was born in the hamlet of Kalushkove, Lithuania, in 1891. Shortly afterwards his family moved to the village of Dolhinov where he grew up. He studied in Minsk and then for 21 years in Slabodka yeshiva under Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel. It was there that he met his lifelong friend Rabbi Aharon Kotler, who later founded the Lakewood yeshiva. His younger cousin, Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak Ruderman, also grew up in Dolhinov.
Rabbi Kamenetsky was appointed rabbi of Tzitavyan in 1926 and moved to North America in 1937, where he initially took rabbinical positions in my former home of Seattle and then Toronto. From 1948 to 1968 he headed Mesivta Torah Vodaath in Brooklyn, New York. Along with Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, he led American Jewry in issues of halachic and spiritual guidance until 1986, when both men died. It was a terrible year for the Jewish people losing those two great leaders one after the other
Aside from his extensive Torah scholarship, he was known for his ever-present warm smile and his expertise in Hebrew grammar. His children are leaders in their own right all taking the great mantle of Torah leadership to fill the void that his loss left.


Gedolim/ Sages– So they say that everyone in Israel is a Rabbi. Maybe that’s why they don’t get paid too much… But the truth is although since the building of the second Temple when the Jews returned to Israel while many if not the majority of Jews remained in Babylon, there was always this struggle or competition for where the greater scholarship of the Jewish people would be. Certainly with the return to Israel in the last few centuries and certainly in the last few decades since the founding of the State of Israel, it is I believe undeniable that Torah and Rabbinates largest base has returned to its home Ki Mitziyon Teitzei Torah U’Dvar Hashem MiYerushalayim-Torah from Zion will sprout forth and the word of Hashem from Jerusalem. I’m not knocking the great Yeshivot in America, but the ultimate final word for Torah Judaism for the past 30 years truly is with the centenarian leaders who reside in Israel to whom America turns their eyes to. I believe this true across all segments of Orthodox Judaism interestingly enough. Hareidi-ultra orthodox who turn to the great leaders in Bnai Brak and Jerusalem. The modern orthodox who to a large degree accept and respect the authority of the Israeli Rabbanut (at least until many of them felt that it was hijacked by the ultra’s, but certainly conceptually. And of course the Sefardic world as well. What distinguishes these great men from the rest of the “influential” people in other societies, cultures and religions is their humility, their accessibility to the simple people, the simplicity of the small little one bedroom bare apartments that they live in. There are people that come from all over the world to seek their advice, their guidance and their blessings. Literally hours each day are consumed with meeting, greeting and counseling people. In addition they give classes, teach students, author works of scholarship. Yet their ultimate greatest and perhaps most enjoyable hours are generally 4:00 Am when most of the rise after a minimum amount of sleep or late at night when they can be alone with their Talmud, their Torah and study. Read and learn the word of Hashem, the teachings of our sages from the last two millennia. These are our holiest people. These are the men that are what our sages called the “eyes of the nation”. Although I personally don’t do the “Rabbi-tour” with my tourists- I feel bad for these Rabbis to bother and disturb them with everyone’s photo-ops, I certainly appreciate those that come here to see them to be inspired by the visage of these great holy men. And hey a blessing from people like that can never hurt.


Top eight suggested UN Slogans
8) You can’t spell unethical without UN
7) Genocidal Dictators- beware of our non-binding resolutions
6) The UN bringing peace to our world (actual results may vary)
5) Tommorows corruption Today
4) We take bribes so you don’t have to.
3) If troubles abound, we’ll be nearby. Doing nothing
2) If this an Emergency please hang up and dial America
1) Allah Akbar!

A Native American Indian comes back to the Reservation to visit with his parents after spending some time in New York. He says to his father that he's fallen in love with a nice Jewish girl. His father is mortified and says, "You're betraying your heritage and you'll break your mother's heart that you're not marrying a nice Indian girl. You know how Jews are, they'll feel the same way and you'll be ostracized in both camps."
The son reassures his father, "Don't worry. They must have already accepted the situation because they have already given their daughter an Indian name."
"Really?" says the father. "What name?"
The son answers, "Sitting Shiva."

3 men in Miami were discussing how they had ended up there.
The first person says, "well, there was a fire in old home back in New York, and my insurance company paid for me to move here".
The second person says, "I had a similar story. There was a flood in my home back in New Jersey, and my insurance company paid for me to move here".
The third person says, "I also had a similar story. There was a tornado that destroyed my home back in California, and my insurance company also paid for me to move here".
The other 2 people turn to him and say "how do you make a tornado??".

Herman Cohen was horrible with birthdays and anniversaries. He couldn’t remember them for the life of him so he decided to compile a list so that every time he turned on his computer the dates would be highlighted on screen. Even this didn’t work well enough so Herman went to a computer store to find a software program that would do the job.
He approached one of the sales clerks who looked more senior. "Can you recommend something that will remind me of birthdays and anniversaries?" Herman asked.
"Have you tried a wife?" he replied.

A woman is standing, looking in the bedroom mirror.
She is not happy with what she sees and says to her husband, 'I feel horrible, I look old, fat and ugly. I really need you to pay me a compliment.
The husband replies, 'Your eyesight's near perfect.'
It was the last thing he ever said…
Answer is B – OK who took a tour of Jerusalem with me? You should know this answer. What are all these sites? Ahiel’s house is in the city of David a house where we found a pottery shard with the name Ahiel on it this is from the end of the first temple period. The burnt house is in the Jewish quarter and is pretty much a movie in a house that was burnt from the second Temple period. Tour guides don’t quote verses there. The Davidson center which is down by the Kotel and southern wall deals mostly with the second Temple period as well. The correct answer is though is the broad wall also in Jewish quarter which is the site of the wall that was expanded by Chizkiya the king during the first Temple in which they fortified the wall in preparation for the army of Sancheirev they Assyrian king who had wiped out the northern 10 tribes and camped outside of the walls. It was Pesach night and the great miracle occurred and the army was wiped out by the plague. Pretty awesome!

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