Our view of the Galile

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Priest's Dvar- Vayakhel Pikudey HaChodesh 5777 2017

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

March 24th 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 23 26th Adar 5777
Parshat VaYakhel/ Pikudei/ Chodesh
A Priest’s ‘Dvar’
You meet some interesting people when you do Jewish educational outreach. One of the most interesting people that I developed a relationship with, when I was starting out in Kollel in Des Moines Iowa , was a priest. Well, a sort of Priest. He was a Presbyterian minister but after many years in the ministry he had begun to see many of the fallacies of Christianity. So he started to learn more intensely. His sermons were pretty much becoming isolated to only “The Old Testament”. He started keeping some Jewish holidays, lighting Chanukah candles, Shabbat dinners. He even started trying to keep a Kosher home, which he told me didn’t go over well at Priest conventions in Iowa where pork is the “chulent” of the day. We would meet regularly as he struggled to figure out what his next step in life would be.
My advice to him was of course, to leave his pulpit. I felt it would be dishonest to be in a position representing something he didn’t believe in. (Not that taking a salary was such an issue, because seemingly like rabbis- L’havdil – he pretty much wasn’t getting paid…sighL). At the same time I did not recommend conversion- as Orthodox Rabbis generally never do- but particularly for him I felt that he had a wife and children that were not on the same page as him, to whom I felt he owed his 1st responsibility to. In addition, Judaism is in fact the only religious system out there that does not believe you have to be Jewish to go to “heaven” or even more significantly to develop a meaningful relationship with God. Hashem created all of us and loves all of His Children. He created and has a plan for non-Jews and Jews. One may convert and join the Jewish people but it has to be the right decision for them and one that works for their lifestyle and family. One thing is for sure, Chosen doesn’t mean better or superior, it means leading a lifestyle that and fulfilling a mandate that one can observe.
On one of our discussions about Shabbos, I shared with him a fascinating idea that I always felt was very powerful. It is, that although there is a concept of a year in society and a month and day as well. These notions are based on solar and lunar calendars and the changes in nature. The concept of a 7 day week though really is just an arbitrary number. There is nothing in nature that would determine such a time frame and there are probably many people that wouldn’t mind a 5 day week or a 9 day week. The only reason for the 7 day week model, and in every single society around the globe there is such a concept and very few alternate ones,  is because built into the psyche of the world is the concept that God created the World in 6 days and the 7th he rested. He then shared with me something astounding that he had studied once and I share with you his ‘Dvar Torah’.
You see we were both puzzled by the question, that although all societies had 7 day weeks, yet for some reason the three major religions each had a different day for Shabbos. The Muslims celebrate it on Friday, Christians on Sunday and us Jews on… well Shabbos I guessJ. What he discovered and suggested was that the day of the celebration of Shabbos really is reflective of each ones fundamental theology; what this world is all about and what the next ones is.
Christians believe, according to what he told me, that this world is “tainted” from the first Sin of mankind. As a result all things physical are bad for you, thus Monks and asceticism, celibacy and absence of worldly delights are considered a higher form of service. The next world is all spiritual- angels and harp music. That being the case, for Christians the most spiritual day of Creation is Sunday; the day before all things physical came into the Universe.
Muslims, on the other hand, do not look down on all of the worldly pleasures. They view them as Divine gifts and the ultimate aspect of creation. The only caveat is that they are not meant to be indulged in, this world, they are meant to be enjoyed in the World-To-Come. Wine, hashish, 72 brides, they’re all great and the reward for the true believer in their ‘holy’ Prophet. You just have to wait until you get there to earn them. Thus for Muslims the greatest day of Creation is Friday when all things physical finished being created.
Now for the home team; the Jews. We believe that everything Hashem has created is for us to enjoy and to appreciate. We also believe that the World to Come is entirely spiritual, yet its rewards and our appreciation of it come from the degree with which we elevate our creation and cultivate our souls in the process. Thus in the Creation of the world, Hashem spent six days creating the world, but on the seventh he infused it with spirituality and holiness. We eat and we make a blessing and our bodies enjoy as do our souls grow closer to the Almighty. We avoid those things in the world, the non-kosher, the forbidden relationships, and the things that God has told us are not infused with that holiness because it would distance us from our ultimate purpose. Our avoidance of these things and the heeding of Hashems command brings us closer to God as well and it shows that all that we do partake in is only because of His Purpose. Jews obviously have more restrictions than non-Jews based on their functions and the roles that their meant to accomplish here.. Thus we have the day of Shabbos as our ultimate celebration of Creation. For it is the day when the physical also became spiritual.
The great Rebbe, Reb Yonasan Eibeshitz of the 18th century, points out a fascinating comment in this weeks Torah portion. As the Jews complete the Mishkan/Tabernacle Hashem commands them once again to observe the holy day of Shabbos.
Six Days a week you shall do work and on the seventh day it shall be holy for you, a Sabbath of Sabbaths for Hashem.
He notes how all the mitzvos in the Torah in one way or another can be found by the nations of the World. Yet Shabbos, ‘our Day of rest and holiness, that is only found by the Jewish people. (this was pre seventh Day Adventists- but seemingly even they don’t have it the way we do) It doesn’t make sense. Why should they switch it to Friday or Sunday? His response- because Hashem has gifted the special-ness of the day for us. We were Chosen for Shabbos. Shabbos is our bride and we are her groom. The Medrash tells us that each day of the week had a partner. Sunday and Monday Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday. But Shabbos we are her partner.
As I celebrate my anniversary this week and my parents celebrate theirs, and now my daughter and son-in-law as well- so weird even writing that still- But we love this week. I guess it’s  now the official Schwartz family marriage week. Listen it’s hard to remember a lot of dates. Birthdays are challenging enough why throw anniversaries into the pot. Anyways in honor of the occasion I can share with you something special about partners. Love grows with consistency to one another, it flourishes as you spend time enjoying each other’s presence and special-ness, and it is greatest when you know that no matter what happens your bride will always be there for you. It doesn’t make a difference what the week has wrought and what challenges you undergo. You have a place to call home and a warm, accepting and loving place to strengthen yourself and delight with.
Each year I appreciate that even more so with my incredible Rebbetzin and each week we can all appreciate that with our weekly anniversary with Shabbos and our Creator who has given this day special for us. So Happy Anniversary to all of us and of course…



“Halten shabbes iz gringer vi machen shabbes.”.- To observe the Sabbath is easier than to make it

https://youtu.be/di5Etd1iDvs   In honor of the one year Wedding Anniversary of my daughter Shani and Yaakov this week. The wedding recap video!

https://youtu.be/3TiY_DuuYUA     -Ma Nishtana funny and cute by Rabbi “K” Klatzko

https://youtu.be/lzi2G68CMiE?list=RDZTMq4tQizjs The Classic Harry and Sally old couples interview…J

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK                                      
answer below at end of Email
Q.  The Empress Theodora was the wife of Emperor:
A. Justinian
B. Hadrian
C. Theodosius
D. Augustus

The Grammar Rashi probably serve, to me at least as the most boring of Rashis. After-all who knows or needs grammar? In fact I heard that Rav Hutner once said that since the Maskilim- enlightenment movement hijacked biblical grammar and turned it into their main topic of study, so the yeshiva world stopped learning it. Yet Rashi was before the enlightenment movement and there is quite a number of Rashi’s where he utilizes the rules of grammar to reveal an idea in the simple pshat of the text. If you pay attention to those Rashis as well it will reveal interesting ideas that you may never have noticed before.
The Parsha begins Vayakhel Moshe es kol adas Bnai Yisrael- And Moshe _______________ the entire congregation of Israel.
Now I always assumed that Vayakhel meant and he gathered. However Rashi notes here that is is a lashon Hifi’il which is translated as a causative expression- meaning to make something happen. Vayikahel- would mean he gathered or assembled them Vayakhel means and he made them gather.
Rashi explains for one cannot gather people with their hands(directly, or by force). It means therefore that they gathered through his (Moshe’s) word.
Now this would seem obvious enough. Although it is certainly an enlightening point upon reading and understanding the basic text. But the Rebbe of Satmar Reb Yoel Teitelbaum derived an important lesson in Jewish politics from this Rashi. He felt strongly that it is impossible to unite with people or groups that do not believe in God and the Torah. The whole function of this gathering he suggests is to separate from the Eruv Rav- intermingled non-observant masses that joined the Jewish people. He said that we see that you can’t assume that people can “put aside their differences” and join together and focus on the things and issues that we both share. For, he quoted Rashi “you can’t gather them together by force” The only way that you can successfully gather them together is if they are all united in the “word of Moshe”. They are all drawn to and coming on their own with the sole motivation of the word and honor of Hashem. But each one’s individual agenda that happens to coincide with my agenda is never going to work.
All that from a grammar Rashi!
Rav Yoel Teitelbaum the Satmar Rebbe (1887 - 1979)- The Satmar Rav was recognized as a young man for his unusual lomdus, hasmadah and tzidkus – Torah scholarship, diligence and piety. By the outbreak of World War 11, he was Rav of the thriving community of Satmar and had emerged as one of the leading figures in Hungarian Jewry. From childhood, the Satmar Rebbe was a paragon of holiness and purity. At his bar mitzvah he stunned the entire assemblage by delivering a two-hour drashah, replete with deep and meaningful chiddushim From the time of his Bar Mitzvah until the outbreak of World War I1 – a period of forty years – Reb Yoel never slept on a bed, except for Shabbosos – studying Torah, on his feet, by day and by night. In the internment camp in Bergen-Belsen, not only did he eat nothing that might have been un-kosher, subsisting mostly on potatoes, but he fasted as often as four times a week.
His father, the Kedushat Yom Tov passed away when Reb Yoel was only 17 years of age. He was appointed Rav of Musza in Czechoslovakia and in 1911, when he was in his early twenties, Reb Yoel was appointed Rav of Orshiva. Thirteen years later he became Rav of Kruly, where he founded a yeshivah. In 1934, he became Rav from 1935 to 1944 and transferred his yeshivah there.
The Satmar Rebbe endured his share of suffering during the Holocaust. The Rebbe’s beard was unskillfully concealed with a kerchief on the pretext of a toothache. The Nazis nearly cut it on several occasions, but it was miraculously saved and remained intact.
He was one of 1684 Hungarian Jews saved from the Nazi killing machine as a result of the negotiations of Rav Michael Ber Weissmandl with Adolf Eichmann, ym’s. With rachamei Shamayim, Reb Yoel made it out of Hungary during the war, and after a brief stay in Switzerland he arrived in Eretz Yisrael.
In 1946, he arrived in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and rebuilt the Satmar community
When he settled in Williamsburg shortly after arriving in the United States, he found a handful of his followers in a bais hamidrash all day, saying Tehillim, learning Chok – and spending their time in “the Rebbe’s Court”. He summoned them to him and insisted that they find jobs to support their families. He felt that he could not be oblivious to the stress on material well-being that marks American society. A viable community could only take shape if it is self-supporting on a level comparable to that of the surrounding society. By the same token, he guided his followers to give tzeddakah expansively – not to shy away from a sweeping gesture of generosity. Today, members of the Satmar community are active in all phases of business and commerce, as well as in a wide spectrum of occupations, ranging from grocers to computer programmers. And the community itself supports a host of social services, most notably its bikur-cholim program – administering to the sick, with fleets of cars and vans carrying hundreds of volunteers to hospitals all over New York, throughout the day.
The Satmar Rebbe vehemently opposed Zionism and secularism in all forms, and was a great kana’i when it came to matters of kiddush Shem Shamayim. The mainstream of the Torah leadership did not subscribe to his approach toward dealing with the Israeli government. Even those most strongly opposed to the State’s philosophy accepted its existence and, at worst, felt compelled to deal with it as they would with any government that ruled a land where Jews lived. It was not only in regard to its extreme anti-Zionism that the Satmar Rav had molded his community as “a group apart,”. He also guided it to being distinguished in its total lack of compromise in mode of dress – not yielding to American pressures, neither in style nor in lack of modesty. If anything, the newer generations have reinforced their dedication to the standards of “Jewishness in dress” that had prevailed in Satmar of old.
Reb Yoel wrote a series of sefarim on Chumash, mo’adim and various subjects in Shas, as well as she’eilot u’teshuvot entitled Divrei Yoel. He also wrote the sefer Vayoel Moshe and a kuntres, Al Hageulah Ve’al Hatemurah.
The Satmar Rebbe was niftar on 26 Menachem Av 5739/1979 and was buried in the beit hachaim in Kiryat Yoel in Monroe, New York.

Shnorrers –For those that are not familiar with term, you obviously haven’t been hanging out in Synagogues anywhere. Shnorrers are Jewish beggars. People that come over to you and ask you for money. Israel is the home, sadly, for most of these people. You can’t hide from them. They are at the Kotel and holy graves, they are in your shuls, they are on street corners. They come in all shapes and sizes, ages, genders and ethnicities. There are little kids that will come over to you while you are dining in a restaurant or filling up with gas and ask for some money for food or gas. When one goes to pray at a holy site it seems that all these people see this as a great vulnerable time for you who are seeking to have your own prayers answered get an extra merit by answering their prayers. This is a country that seems to be built on the notion that it is certainly a way of life for many to approach others and ask them to help them out. The truth is the entire country was founded on charity on a national level. UJA, Federation, Hadassah and the JNF. So it’s been engrained in our culture and history. And the truth is we are up to the task. If no one gave- nobody would be in the business. We Jews have always looked at our own wealth as something that was granted to us to help those less fortunate. As my grandfather would tell me we have to be thankful that we are on this side of the giving. Yes, someone of them can be pushy, some can act entitled. They have pride too despite their status-for they know that they are just as loved by Hashem as the next Jew. That is the chutzpa and insight of an Israeli shnorrer. So give with a smile. Give with a blessing. Generally they will also give you a big long and great blessing from the depths of their heart. They mean it. Answer Amen and be thankful that you could help another Jew out.

At a conference on religion a priest, a minister and a rabbi were all asked the same question, "What would you like people to say about you after you die?"
The priest said, "I hope that people will say that I was able to rise above the scandals that are plaguing the Catholic Church at this time. I hope that people would say that I was able to shepherd my flock through this crisis and help them to understand the absolute love that God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit have for all of them as Catholics."
The minister then said, "When I die I hope that people will say that I saved many souls by bringing them to Faith. I hope that I will be remembered as a caring, thoughtful man who always spread the Word, the love and faith everlasting in God. I hope that my preaching and converting will be carried on in my memory and to the glory of God
Finally, the rabbi was asked, "Rabbi, what do you hope people will say about you after you have died?"
Without pausing, the rabbi answered, "Look. He's breathing."

A Rabbi, a priest and a minister are discussing when life begins.
The priest says: "In our religion, life begins at conception."
The Minister says: "We disagree. We believe that life begins when the foetus is viable away from the mother's womb."
The Rabbi responds: "You both are wrong. In our religion, life begins when the kids graduate college and the dog dies."

Rabbi Bloom gets on a tube train on its way to Golders Green. As soon as the doors close, a priest gets up, goes over to the rabbi and says, "Good morning rabbi. I have a question to ask you. Why is it that everybody thinks Jews are smarter than Gentiles?"
Rabbi Bloom, who is not up for an argument, says, "I’m sorry, but I am just a simple rabbi and I’m not really able to participate in such a discussion."
But the priest insists. "Look, no harm meant rabbi, but I have a theory and I need to test it out in the form of a bet. I’ll pay you $100 if you can ask me a question that I can't answer. But if I can ask you a question that you can't answer, you must pay me $100."
Rabbi Bloom replies, "But I’m a poor rabbi - I only have $10 on me."
The priest hesitates then says, "OK, rabbi, it’s my $100 against your $10."
Rabbi Bloom realizes he can't get out of this so he agrees, but on condition that he asks the first question. The priest agrees.
"OK," says Rabbi Bloom, "what animal has scaly skin, the body of a cat, the face of a squirrel, the ears of a mouse, webbed toes and swims under water?"
Surprised, the priest admits that he doesn't know and asks the rabbi for a few more minutes to think about it. The rabbi agrees.
2 minutes later, the priest takes $100 from his wallet and gives it to the rabbi. The priest then asks the rabbi, "So what animal was it?"
Rabbi Bloom replies, "How should I know?" and gives the priest $10.

A Rabbi, a minister and a priest, played cards every Wednesday for small stakes, but their problem was that they lived in a ‘no gambling allowed’ town. One day, the sheriff raided their game and took them before the judge.
After hearing the sheriff's story, the judge asked the priest, "Were you gambling, Father?"
The priest looked toward heaven, whispered, "Oh, Lord, forgive me," and then replied aloud, "No, your honour, I was not gambling."
"Were you gambling, Reverend?" the judge then asked the minister.
The minister replied, "No, your honour, I was not."
Turning to the third clergyman, the judge asked, "Were you gambling, Rabbi?"
The Rabbi eyed him coolly and replied "With whom?"

Answer is A – I got this one wrong I guesses Theodosus because I thought that would have been a cute name for a couple. I knew it wasn’t Hadrian or Augustus who were leaders and and powerful in their own right. An empress is only mentioned if there was something significant about her. Not that I really care to much. I will never mention her name to any of my tourists because after-all your not hiring Ephraim Schwartz to teach you and guide you about Byzantine era Eastern Church Empresses. That’s not what my clientele is coming to Israel to learn about. So the answer is Justinian, by the way. Thank you google.

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