Our view of the Galile

Friday, February 24, 2017

Complete Authority- Mishpatim 2017/5777

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

February 24th 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 18 28th Shevat 5777
Parshat Mishpatim / Shekalim
Complete Authority
The great of Rav of Minsk, Reb Aizke Charif was sick. Although his last name was Shapiro, Everyone called him by his moniker Charif, because of his sharp tongue and wit that he would use to
“tell it like it is”.  Yet now the Rav was sick. He had been bedridden for days and the family called the doctor fearing the worst. Rab Aizik himself had never been a big fan of doctors. One of his lines was “Why are they called rofi’im- doctors in Hebrew. Because it is the same letters as the word refai’m- ghosts. Just like dead people don’t know anything, neither do doctors.” He told his family that the reason that doctors use Latin a lot is because since they are partners with the Angel of Death, they use a dead language. Ouch and double ouch! But now he was laid up and there seemed to be no choice. The doctor arrived and after his examination, sadly informed the family that the sword of the angel of death hung over the Rabbi’s head and according to his best diagnosis that Rabbi will if he’s lucky not even make it through the week. They should begin to get their affairs in order. Nobody makes it up from this time of illness, he told them.
The doctor left and whadaya know? The Rabbi made it through the week. And the next. And slowly but surely he returned to his former self. It was a miracle.
Sure enough a few months later Reb Aizik is walking up the block and he sees the doctor walking on the other side. He runs over to the doctor who seems shocked to see him. The doctor rather shamefacedly tells Reb Aizik how happy he is to see him. “Wow how incredible a miracle happened and you were cured, he exclaimed. Reb Aizk corrected him though.
“You are wrong on both accounts”, He said. “First of all I didn’t get better. I actually died. Second of all a miracle didn’t happen to me- in fact it happened to you. You see after I died I came up to heaven and I saw a very small line in front of one gate and a large line on the other gate. I asked the angel there what the two gates were for and he told me. The first gate was for the souls that were destined and decreed that were meant to go to heaven and the second gate was for Gehenom; the other direction. When I asked him why there was such a long line going downstairs. He told me that this was line of doctors. As the Mishna (Kidushin 4:14) tells us ‘the best of the doctors are destined for Gehenom’. Yet low and behold I saw you standing there in that line. And I quickly went over to the angel of Death and told him to take your name off his list. As I explained you were not really a doctor. For a doctor cures people, you merely pass out death sentences.”
Bada boom Bada Bing!

I’m not that big of a fan of doctors myself. I like to avoid them. Nothing personal, of course. I have lots of friends that are doctors. Heck, I’ve got a brother and brother-in law that are great doctors. I just prefer to stay away from them. The truth is many of the greatest of Jewish leaders and Rabbis were doctors; Maimonides, Nachmanides, Reb Yehudah Halevy and the Sforno just to name a few. The Maharsha notes that when the Mishna states that the best of the doctors are to Gehenom, it means that doctors that think that they are the best. That the power of healing and life and death is in their hands. That is a dangerous place to be in. That can lead to denying God. He notes that it doesn’t say the most righteous of the doctors. It says the ones that believe that the power comes from their personal expertise. The one’s that feel that it is their power of healing, those are the ones that are destined to go downstairs.

This week’s Torah portion  in discussing the lwas of someone who injures someone describes the damages he must pay. He pays for the damage he caused, any humiliation, hs unemployment, his pain and the Torah tells us as well
Shemos (21:19) V’Rapo Yirapeh- And heal him he must heal him
Rashi noting the double terminology quotes that Talmud that says
“From here we derive that the doctor is given reshut- permission to heal.”
Seemingly this is a very strange interpretation. For isn’t it obvious that a qualified doctor should not only have permission to heal. He is in fact obligated to heal. Saving lives is an obligation, if not the greatest obligation for a Jew. We violate the majority of the laws of the Torah in order to save a life and heal someone. And even if the verse is not referring to life an death matters. We are obligated to return a mans lost object, his sheep, his, caw, his car, his wallet to him, shouldn’t his health be even more-so of an obligation, if one has the ability to do so?
Rav Benny Alon (who should have a refuah shlaima), the former dean of Beit El yeshiva Beit Orot, suggests an interesting explanation. He said the word reshut – does not only meant permission, it can mean authority as well. For example the naure parks authority in Israel is called the Reshut Haganim, or the antiquities authority is called the Reshut Ha’atikot. There are two authorities or bodies that are “authorized” to deal with sick people. There is the doctor. His job, and his privilege is to he heal. He was given that authority by Hashem. Yet there is another authority. That is Hashem himself. In the blessings we say when we leave the bathroom we refer to Hashem as the rofeh kol basar- the healer of all flesh. In our daily Shemone Esrei Amida We ask Hashem to heal us for He is the Healer of the sick of Israel. Hashem’s authority works with prayer. His ability to heal is separate from the authority of the doctor. It’s the rank above. A doctor has the authority to heal. But he is not the only authority. And he should never confuse his reshut- with Hashem’s reshut.
This revolutionary outlook can transform the way that we view doctors and that doctors should view themselves. Their job and their place is really only one thing. To heal. They are not authorized to tell you how long you will live, what the chances for recovery are, how permanent the damage may or not be. They don’t get to decide that. It’s not part of their job, or even their training in a real way. Sure they may be trained to tell people that, but ultimately Hashem is the one that will make that determination and it has nothing to do with medical prognoses.
If you appreciate that concept and integrate it then it can help explain something that we are fond of saying to someone who is sick. We wish them a refuah shlaima- a complete healing. Now if someone is merely ill or has something that seems like he can recover from it. That would make sense. But how about when one is facing a “terminal” illness. How about when someone is in a situation when the doctors best hope is that he the person will be able to “function” at best if anything from a terrible accident., from a horrible disease. Can we really expect and wish a refuah shlaima- a complete healing? Meaning that they should be just as good as they were beforehand!
There is a vort- an idea that I once heard that says that there are four things that we wish someone with the blessing or prayer of shlaima- complete. They way to remember them is the acrostic. ETRoG- Like a complete perfect Etrog-citron that we take on Sukkot. We pray and we say that we believe “B’Emuna Shlaima” with complete faith. We ask Hashem to return us to him and accept our repentance as “Teshuva Shlaima”. There is as we said “Refuah Shlaima and finally we want to be redeemed “B’Geula Shlaima” a complete redemption.
What are these four things? I think that each one of them we all are challenged and doubt whether they can full happen. We’re willing to settle for ‘mostly’. For even 70-80%. Can I really have total and complete faith? No doubts? No questions? Always and forever? Aren’t lapses something that are inevitable? The answer is no. It is Emuna Shlaima- that we pray for and claim to be able to achieve. Total, complete, absolute.
What about Teshuva? I mean do you know how many bad things I have done. How far I have fallen from Hashem. How difficult it is for me to truly even experience the regret. Can I really come back all the way and totally wipe the slate as clean as snow. Become like a Bar Mitzva boy who has never sinned? The answer is again, Yes. Yes We Can. Teshuva Shlaima is in our hands. Hashem can and wants us to return. Not just half-way. But shlaima. All the way back home. All the way to Him.
If we start thinking like that then it is not doubt when it comes to illness that we know that we can have a truly refuah shlaima as well. No just ‘regain 80% of our functioning again”, not just “be happy if he is able to do what he or she could do before. But fully and entirely healed. Emuna Shlaima and Teshuva shlaima are the steps to achieving the necessary faith that we can have a refuah shlaima. If we do that we can achieve as well and really start to integrate the concept that a redemption to the land of our forefathers alone is not merely enough. Having the right to live in Israel, to visit, to practice our religion and to do mitzvos and even study here is not enough. Even an ingathering of all of the exiles and even if Hashem will wipe out all of our enemies, that’s still not enough. We want and pray for a Geula Shlaima- a complete redemption. Hashem, the Beit Hamikdash, Mashiach, World peace. We want it all. It can happen. It’s what we daven more. And I really really believe that it’s right around the corner. Don’t you?

Have unifying and Torahdike Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



https://youtu.be/J2dGSptIweU  -Mishenichnas Adar Pey Daled

https://youtu.be/kgJInVvJSZg   Maccabeats Purim song

https://youtu.be/XBqY6cJD3CE   - One of my favorite  funny childhood bits Bill Cosbyon Dentists! Hilarious!


“Mit a groissen roifeh gait a groisser malech.-A great doctor is accompanied by a great angel.”

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK                                      
answer below at end of Email
Q.  It is possible to view remains of Eudocia’s Wall in Jerusalem:
A. At Ketef Hinnom
B. At the Ophel
C. Next to the Mamilla Pool
D. On Mt. of Olives

Ponder Rashi’s words. The lessons that he brings down. Sometimes if we just think a bit about the lessons that he has chosen to mention when explaining the text of the Torah we an glean incredible life lessons that can and should impact our daily lives. This is particularly true if you are a giant in Mussar like Reb Eliyahu Lopian.
In this week’s Torah portion when the Torah teaches us the penalty for stealing a cow or a sheep and slaughtering them the Torah gives us two separate fines. For a sheep one pays 4 times the price of the sheep and for the ox five times. Rashi explains
Shemos (21:37) Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai said Hashem had pity on the dignity of his creations.  An oxe that walks on his feet and the thief was not humiliated having to carry it on his shoulders-pays 5 times. A sheep that the thief carried on his shoulders the thief pays 4 times as he was humiliated.
Now being that you and I are not cattle russlers, I can’t imagine that this would have too much relevance for us. Yet Rav Eliyahu Lopian notes that think about this for a moment. Really how much embarrassment does this thief really have? He’s running away. He’s just trying to get away. Is he really thinking about how people think he looks with a sheep on his shoulders. Yet Hashem understands the hearts of men, and he realizes that despite his crime which he will have to pay for yet there was a slight aspect of shame as well. That negates part of his punishment. He only pays four. What does this have to do with us?
Rav Eliyahu Lopian notes that if this is the way Hashem deals with criminals, how much more so for someone who endures some shame or humiliation in preforming the mitzvos of Hashem. Imagine the reward one achieves! If we see something on the floor and although it may seem embarrassing to return it. Hashem will give you extra reward. If one prays in a place that he is scared people might humiliate him. He will be rewarded. If people are doing something inappropriate, or speaking Lashon Hara and you are embarrassed to leae or say something. Think about this thief that Hashem pays accordingly for the humiliation one suffers for one who is violating the law how much more-so it must be for one who is fulfilling His will. Pretty deep. Pretty relevant. Never though you could learn a life lesson from a cattle russler huh? That’s what Rashi is for.
Rav Elya Lopian (1876 -1970) Reb Elya Lopian was born in Grajewo, Poland in 1876. In his youth he studied at the yeshiva in Łomża and at the Kelm Talmud Torah of Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv. He emigrated to England in 1928, where he served as the rosh yeshiva of the Etz Chaim Yeshiva in the East End of London, working for many years alongside his distinguished colleague Rabbi Nachman Shlomo Greenspan. His wife Soroh Leah Rotman died in 1934, shortly after the engagement of their daughter Leiba to Rabbi Leib Gurwicz.
For many years, Rabbi Lopian had wanted to make his home in the Land of Israel, and spoke a great deal about the Vilna Gaon's intense yet unfulfilled desire to live there. In 1950 he left the Etz Chaim Yeshiva and moved to Israel] At first he stayed in the home of his wife's brother, Yisrael Luria, in Jerusalem. That Sukkot, he visited the Brisker Rov, Rabbi Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik.
He initially refused to lead mussar seminars in Israel and sought to occupy himself with teaching and private moral work. Yet with the blessing of Rabbi Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz (the Chazon Ish), he finally reconciled himself with leading mussar courses. Despite his old age, he agreed in the end to act as Mashgiach Ruchani at the Knesses Chizkiyahu yeshiva located originally in Zikhron Ya'akov and later in Kfar Hasidim), headed by Rabbi Noah Shimonowitz.
From the moment of his arrival, Reb Elya became a magnet for the young men. The yeshiva became firmly established and even drew many young people from neighboring yeshiva high schools such as the Bnei Akiva Kfar HaRo'eh yeshivah and Midrashiat Noam in Pardes Hannah.
Reb Elya died in Israel on 21 September 1970 and was buried in the Har Hazaisim cemetery


Archaeologists -As the center for the world’s three major religions Israel and for pretty much all of Biblical history Israel is the place for someone who wants to really get a feel for the history of the world and its religions to come to. Any visit to any most of Israel’s historical sites will bring you in touch with that fascinating breed of scientist called archaeologists. Archaeology has been going on in Israel in a scientific way since the Turks were here in the late 1800’s. Back then though, the Ottomans only allowed you to dig and excavate on the condition that you put it all back the way you found it. In the process of doing so though tons of stuff and sites were obviously destroyed. Under the British it got a little better. But really Archaeology in Israel takes off with the founding of the State. As Jews wanted to prove our historical connection to the Land by uncovering sites and showing the consistent Jewish life here throughout the millennia. Today in Israel Archaeologists primarily work through the Israel Antiquities Society, which really gets most of its jobs when new roads are being built and ultimately they have to be cleared archaeologically first or when construction leads to discoveries. Israel has been built and destroyed thousands of times over the millennia and there is not too many places where you can dig and not find some ancient finds. Things that date back form the pre-historic periods through all of the periods of the Biblical era, the periods of the Mishna the Talmud, the Temples and everything afterwards. There are religious archaeologists who see their study as complementing and proving the authenticity of the Torah and the accounts of our sages of their various periods. There are of course non- religious ones as well that deny the Divine nature of the Torah, but ultimately even they use the Tanach and the Mishna as historic tools to identify what they uncover. The enemies of Archaeology are generally the nationalist Arabs that are trying to hide, bury and destroy much of the evidence of our history particularly in Jerusalem and the West Bank. As well there are antiquities thieves that loot sites for profit. The field of archaeology is not necessarily the most lucrative and easy to get a job in. The only places that hire are either universities that are licensed to do digs for scientific purposes or the Antiquities authority. Neither pay too much, and most utilize a lot of volunteers. However if that’s your passion there’s no better place to work at it. There is nothing like the thrill of finding something that is incredible ancient and that can open up a whole new appreciation of our ancestor’s lives that dwelled here in the land.
The poor Jewish tailor is beside himself with worry. His wife is very ill and he wants the best doctor in town to treat her. But the doctor is somewhat reluctant because the tailor is so poor and, it being unlikely that his wife could be saved, the tailor might not pay him should his wife die. However, the tailor promises he will pay anything, no matter whether the doctor cures his wife or kills her !
This is sufficient for the doctor and he agrees.
Unfortunately, the doctor cannot save her and the tailors wife dies.
However, when the doctors bill arrives the tailor refuses to pay it despite his promise. After much argument, the doctor and the tailor agree to let the Rabbi decide the case since they both are, after all, Jewish.
The doctor puts his case to the Rabbi that the tailor promised to pay “no matter whether the doctor cured his wife or killed her”.
After much thought the Rabbi asks the doctor, “Did you cure her?” “No” admitted the doctor.
“And did you kill her?” “I certainly did not,” expostulated the doctor.
“In that case,” said the Rabbi, “the tailor has no case to answer because you fulfilled neither of the conditions on which you agreed that the fee should be paid.”

It’s a few days after the end of the “6-Day War” between the Arabs and the Israelis, and the victorious Israeli Prime Minister, Mrs. Golda Meir, is giving a press conference.
Asked how such a small country as Israel could beat such large neighbors, she replies,
“Well, boys, it’s like this. We called up all the doctors, and we called up all the dentists, and we called up all the lawyers, and we gave them all a gun each and put them in the front line.
“And when we yelled “CHARGE”….BOY ! ! Do they know how to Charge.”

Abe came home one day and found his wife Esther in tears. "Darling, what's the matter?" "Oh Abe," cried Esther, "Doctor Cohen says I have tuberculosis." "What! A big healthy woman like you has tuberculosis? Ridiculous," said Abe, "I'll call Doctor Cohen and get this sorted out right now." So Abe called his doctor. "Doctor, Esther says you told her she has tuberculosis." The doctor said something to Abe and with that, Abe began laughing. "So what's so funny about my having such a dreadful disease?" asked Esther. "Esther, Doctor Cohen didn't say 'tuberculosis', he said 'too big a tuchus'

A man goes to the doctor complaining about his eyesight. "Doctor, there's something wrong with my eyes," he says. "Everywhere I look I see blue and gold dots." "Hmmmmm," says the doctor, chin in hand. "Have you seen an ophthalmologist” No," says the patient, "just blue and gold dots."

"You're in great shape," says the doctor. "You're going to live to be 70." "But I am 70," the patient replies. "Nu," says the doctor, "did I lie?"

Answer is B – I am willing to bet that besides tour guides on this list nobody here has ever heard of Eudocia. Why would you? Who cares? So she was a queen in the mid fifth century Byzantine Empire. Theodsus was her husband. She was Greek and then converted to Christianity.  To prover her religiosity she came to the HolyLand and ultimately she was kind of banished here-never a good thing to leave your husband for too long when there are all types of people trying to gain the powere you wield by bad-mouthing you in your absence. She actually was quite good to the Jews here in Jerusalem and alleviated a lot of the persecutions we had been suffering since the Destruction in the year 70 AD. She rebuilt the first walls around the old city which had been opened since they were breached by the Romans. The name Eudocia means goodness and she read the verse Tehillim  (51:20) Haitiva Birtzoncha Et Tzion Tivne Chomot Yerushalayim- Do goodness with Your Will and build the walls of Jerusalem. And she did. Remains of the wall can be seen by the Davidson Center Southern Wall excavations above the City of David in the area called the Ophel which is the plateau between the Temple mount and the City of David.

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