Our view of the Galile

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Donkeys, Dogs, and Rabbis (not rabies) - Bo 2017 / 5777

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

February 3rd 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 15 7th Shevat 5777
Parshat Bo

Donkeys, Dogs, and Rabbis (not rabies)
vYou don't want to start up with Rabbis, certainly not in a religious debate. Our sages tell us that the 
words of our sages can be like fire. You don't mess with fire. It can burn. So when you see two sages arguing or dueling it's best to just sit down and watch the show. There are lessons to be learned so just soak it in and live and learn.
It was in the early days of the British mandate pre-state of Israel. The battle between the old yishuv simple, holy traditional Jews who had lived in the old city of Jerusalem for generations versus the new "modern" secular Zionists that had come to Palestine to build a new country, a new Jew and a new nation. At the helm of the Zionist party was no less of a figure than the Rav of Yaffo, Rav Avraham Ha'Kohein Kook who was known for his love of every Jew regardless of observance level as well as his broad knowledge of Jewish law and philosophy and who saw in the new movement the "beginning of the redemption". On the other side was Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld- the "guardian of Jerusalem" also a man renowned for his love of his fellow Jew but also one who carried the burden of maintaining the sanctity of Jerusalem and preserving the holiness of the city and the yishuv from the forces that sought to transform its 3000 year special nature. The unplanned showdown of these two holy leaders took place by a once in lifetime mitzvah meal that a simple Jew was having to fulfill the commandment of this week's Torah portion of Peter Chamor; the redemption of the first born donkey.
In this most fascinating and mysterious mitzvah the donkey, the only un-kosher animal requiring redemption, has to be redeemed by giving a sheep to the Kohein. If for some odd reason one does not wish to redeem his donkey, the law than states that he must decapitate the donkey as it is prohibited to be used. Rav Kook, being a Kohein was given the honor of receiving the redemption, while Rav Sonnenfeld as the local Rav in Jerusalem was the officiating Rabbi. The fun was about to begin.
Rav Kook, who eventually went on to become the first chief Rabbi of Palestine, always the orator got up to speak at the meal and to explain what he saw as the lesson of this mitzvah. The donkey, he explained, is a symbol of lowliness and degradation (and continues to be so even today in many cultures). It is impure, non-kosher and the word in Hebrew -Chamor is also the term for physicality and the baseness of man. Yet our sages tell us that it merited to achieve holiness in this particular mitzvah, because it assisted the Jewish people in their redemption, as the text tells us that the Jews used donkeys to carry out the booty of Egypt. If that is the case, Rav Kook suggested, we can than derive that whoever assists the Jewish people in their return from Exile to Eretz Yisrael, regardless of their observance and their connection to tradition can also achieve holiness by merely assisting and facilitating the redemption…I'm sure you, as well as everyone there gets his point. Round 1-Zionists 1 point.
Rav Yosef Chaim then got up with the disclaimer that he had not planned to speak. However, he said, since the Rav from Yaffo only started his lecture and did not conclude the lesson; he felt that it behooved him to conclude it for him. Uh Oh… Rav Yosef Chaim then continued and said
"Yes, it is true that even a simple, base and impure donkey has the potential to achieve holiness. Yet the halacha than continues that if it is not redeemed for a sheep-ergo it remains a donkey, it does not upgrade itself after or during that encounter with holiness but chooses to remain that same old impure donkey- than its holiness is removed; the connection to holiness, the neck that could have uplifted it from its status is disconnected forever and all that is left is one dead donkey."
And the Rabbi hits it out of the park. Game over.
It is interesting to note that this battle between secular and religious Jews has been going on in our opinionated people's spotted history for eternity. No less a figure than the great Rabbi Akiva before become the knowledgeable and great leader who's mantra was loving your neighbor as yourself described his hatred of Rabbi in vociferous terms.
"If I saw a scholar I was filled with such hatred I wished I could bite him like a donkey. His students said "Rebbe, at least say that you would bite like a dog" He responded and said that a donkey bites and breaks bones whereas a dog doesn't."
Ouch, Ouch!
It's interesting that these two animals that Rabbi Akiva differentiates between, the dog and the donkey, are both mentioned as helping the redemption. The dog, the Torah tells us remained quiet and did not bark as the final plague takes place. This act gave credit that it was Hashem alone that redeemed the Jewish people and killed the first born of the Egyptians and not the Angel of Death (which seemingly they would sense and naturally bark for). In addition they were quiet as the Jews entered the Egyptians homes and took the booty that the Egyptians had promised them upon leaving as opposed to their natural instinct to bark and prevent intruders. So both the donkey and the dog assisted the redemption. The donkey however was rewarded with his opportunity for greatness and the chance to achieve and transform itself into the holiness of the first born. The dog, our sages tell us, merited was to keep the flesh of the non-kosher meat from an animal that died would be discarded and given to a dog. What is the difference? Why does the donkey achieve the potential for greatness whereas the dog just a good steak?
 Once again we turn to the writings of Rav Kook (they deserve a rebuttal) who suggests that the dogs just remained silent; they broke their natural tendency and held themselves back from barking. Their participation was passive. The donkeys on the other hand were active. They schlepped and carried much more than they could in order to assist the redemption. They pushed themselves for greatness and they thus merited the chance to achieve the ultimate greatness; a chance to be holy.
Rabbi Akiva's hatred for the scholars was not one of a dog that just bites and scares off the competition. Rabbi Akiva hated the scholars because he saw in them the ability for an uneducated person, impure person like himself to achieve greatness like a donkey. He wanted his piece of flesh. He wanted to break bones. (Also interesting that the word he uses is Etzem which is the same word used to describe the moment of redemption- B'Etzem Hayom- in the middle, essence or core of the day we left Egypt. It's also interesting to note that the sheep that we ate for the Paschal lamb we were prohibited from breaking an etzem-bone. The sheep doesn’t have to break bones- the donkey breaks bones to achieve-ponder… drink a l'chaim… it will make sense J). But Rabbi Akiva didn't bite. He studied. He raised himself he took his donkey and made it into a sheep. The Sheep. The one that led a nation in the service of the Almighty, your shepherd. Ro'einu. He taught his students to love their Re'eacha- their friends and in doing so their Divine shepherd.
We are told that when Moshiach comes he can come on a cloud or if we do not merit he will arrive on a donkey. Their description of that generation that doesn't merit achieving the clouds is that "the face of the generation will be like the face of a dog". Our redemption is a foregone conclusion. The question is only how will we look, how will we merit it. Will we be like dogs that sit back passively, not barking, but also not elevating ourselves to merit the clouds and participate in the redemption in the merit of our deeds. Are we satisfying ourselves with the steaks thrown our way? If so than the donkey who lifted himself up to carry Moshiach will redeem us, to remind and teach us the greatness we can achieve. Or will we merit it by transforming ourselves into that pure sheep; ridding ourselves of the idolatry and impurities that plague us and threaten our nation, as our ancestors did when they merited the miracles of our original Exodus. We can achieve the clouds. The redemption is just a ride away. We just have to choose that mode of transport. Let's all fly together.
Have an unbelievably great Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



https://youtu.be/fNsjvW-T7_c   -incredible inspirational story

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztsEf2PdwpA    The Ten Plagues on the Big screen!


“A hunt on tsain varft zikh oich oif a bain..”- A dog without teeth also attacks a bone.

answer below at end of Email
Q.  One of the ancient aqueducts to Jerusalem originated from:
a. Solomon’s pools
b. Wadi El Qelt
c. Rosh Ha’ayin
d. Mei Naftoah

Rashi makes a statement. He clarifies a text, a word, a phrase. WE can read it and move on or we can apply it and see incredible insights and inspirational ideas in other places. The key is when Rashi uses a phrase that suggests he is doing more than just sharing with you an insight here. He tells you that he is teaching you a rule.
In this week’s Torah portion the by the plague of the first Born the Torah tells us
Shemot (12:25) And Hashem smote all the First- Borns in the Land of Egypt.
Rashi on that verse tell us “Anywhere that it says And Hashem- it refers to Him and His heavenly court
The Nezer HaKodesh notes that Rashi is teaching us a rule here. A rule that can be applicable in other places. The reason why Hashem will sometimes include His court is because when it comes to punishment for any action one is only culpable and responsible for doing a bad thing. If one plans to do a sin but for some reason it doesn’t work out then he is not punished for that. Therefore Hashem can give that over to his court to carry out. On the other hand when it comes to good actions, there Hashem rewards even for intent to do good. However Hashem is the only one that can know what is in the mind of people. Therefore He himself alone carries out the reward. He suggests that this is alluded to in the famous verse in Job
Iyov (1:21) God gives and God takes
Hashem alone is the one that gives reward- for only He knows what the thoughts of man are and how he should be rewarded for his good intentions. However when it comes to punishment, Hashem taking from us there the verse says “and” Hashem takes and as Rashi teaches us here that whenever it says and Hashem it means Hashem and His Beit Din- his heavenly court. Because for punishments even the court can punish as one is only liable for his bad actions and not intentions.
Amazing, isn’t it? A simple Rashi that teaches us a rule in reading the text and if we apply it in other places we see a profound and inspiring insight.

Rabbi Moshe Rosen- The Nezer HaKodesh (1871 - 1957) Born in Lithuania, this great Rabbi and author was one of the primary founding Rabbis in early pre-war America. He received his semicha ordination from Rav Yitzchak Elchonon Spector the Rav of Kovna and great Jewish leader of Europe. He became a Rav in Chadivan where he led his community faithfully throughout WWI, the famed Chazon Ish was a member of his community. During the war years he assited many Jewish refugees. In 1928 he moved to America wher he served as a Rabbi in New York for many years and became the president of the Agudath Harabanim organization that was ultimately taken over by Rabbi Moshe Feinstien. He was niftar on th 17th of Tishrei and is buried in New York


Artists – In a country with so much heart, so much soul, so much holiness you know there are bound to be people that are moved by the beauty and divine nature of Eretz Yisrael to capture it and express their own hearts and souls for posterity. And so yes we have artists in Israel. Perhaps the most artists can be found in the city of Tzfat. That is after-all the city that our sages tell us corresponds to the element of wind, air, Ruach. In fact there are those that say that Tzefat stands for Tziyur, Piyut and Tefilla- Art, poetry and prayer all which are very pervasive in there. But the truth is there is nary a city in Israel that doesn’t have an artist quarter. What makes the art here so unique besides the fact that it is really the home of Judaica art, is the diversity of it all. There is clay art, glass art, paintings that are modern, that are spiritual and mystical, that represent our history. There are artists from all over the diaspora from France, Middle Eastern countries, Ethiopian and North and South America. Yet each piece as different as it may seem all connect that one Jewish soul. All sing out the glory of our Creator that can only be appreciated here in Israel. It is not easy being an artist in Israel. It is certainly a very hard market to break into and to make your mark in. Yet as an artist one time told me it is even harder to be an artist and not express that gift and emotion that Hashem has given you.


A man walks into shul with a dog. The shammas (ritual custodian) comes up to him and says, "Pardon me sir, but this is a House of Worship, you can't bring your dog in here!"
"What do you mean?" says the man. "This is a Jewish dog. Look."
The shammas looks carefully and sees that in the same way that a St. Bernard carries a brandy barrel around its neck this dog has a tallis bag (prayer shawl) around its neck.
"Rover," says the man, "kipah!"
"Woof!" says the dog, stands on his hind legs, opens the tallis bag, takes out a kipah and puts it on his head.
"Rover," says the man, "tallis!"
"Woof!" says the dog, stands on his hind legs, opens the tallis bag, takes out a tallis and puts it around his neck.
"Rover," says the man, "daven!"
"Woof!" says the dog, stands on his hind legs, opens the tallis bag, takes out a prayer book and starts to pray.
"That's fantastic," says the shammas, "absolutely incredible! You should take him to Hollywood. Get him on television, get him in the movies, he could make you millions!!
"You talk to him," says the man, "he wants to be a doctor."

Morty visits Dr. Saul, the veterinarian, and says, "My dog, has a problem."
Dr. Saul says, "So tell me about the dogand the problem."
"It's a Jewish dog. His name is Irving and he can talk," says Morty.
"He can talk?" the doubting doctor asks.
"Watch this!" Morty points to the dog and commands: "Irving, Fetch!"
Irving, the dog, begins to walk toward the door, then turns around and says, "So why are you talking to me like that? You always order me around like I'm nothing. And you only call me when you want something. And then you make me sleep on the floor, with my arthritis. You give me this fahkahkta food with all the salt and fat, and you tell me it's a special diet. It tastes like dreck! YOU should eat it yourself! And do you ever take me for a decent walk? NO, it's out of the house, a short pish, and right back home. Maybe if I could stretch out a little, the sciatica wouldn't kill me so much! I should roll over and play dead for real for all you care!"
Dr. Saul is amazed, "This is remarkable! What could be the problem?"
Morty says, "He has a hearing problem! I said 'Fetch', not 'Kvetch'
Jewish woman wants to take her dog to Israel, so she goes to the travel agent to find out how. He says, "It's easy. You go to the airline, they give you a kennel, you put your dog in it, when you get off at Tel Aviv go to the luggage rack, and there's your dog.

So she does, gets off at Tel Aviv, goes to the luggage rack, no dog. She goes to the lost and found, says, "Where's my dog?" They look all over the airport for it, and find the dog in another terminal. Only the dog is dead.
"Oh, my Gosh, they say, we killed this woman's dog. What are we going to do?"
Then one says, "Wait a minute, it's a cockerspaniel. They're common dogs.
There's a pet shop across the street from the airport. We'll get the same size, shape, color, sex. She'll never know the difference."
They bring the woman the other dog and she says, "That's not my dog." Laughingly and making light of it they say, "What do you mean that's not your dog?"
And she says, "My dog's dead. I was taking it to Israel to bury it."
Answer is A – Although they are called Solomon’s pools the construction of this major aqueduct system to bring water to Yerushalayim was likely built during the Chasmonaim period of the second Temple. As the needs for water grew in the city alternate sites and ways to bring water from outside of the city were developed. Yerushalayim has only the Gichon spring. The southern hills of Yerushalayim and the road to Chevron are higher than Jerusalem and therefore a system where water could be brought downhill through the aqueduct system was developed. This was expanded upon when Herod built the major Beit Hamikdash and Temple Mount and later on in the times of the Romans. Solomon’s pools have actually been a source of water in Yerushalayim until 1967. Not bad for 2000 year old construction!

No comments:

Post a Comment