Our view of the Galile

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Sacrifice Story- Vayikra 2017/5777

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

March 31st 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 24 4th Nissan 5777
Parshat Vayikra
A Sacrifice Story
It was really a simple request. I don’t know why he couldn’t listen to me. But perhaps knowing my customer I should have known; my wife certainly knew he couldn’t be trusted. But it made for a great story and that’s what it is all about anyways, isn’t it? But let’s rewind.
It was Erev Shabbos. To be precise it was about an hour to Shabbos, when I heard the knock on the door. We were living in Des Moines Iowa at the time. I was starting my career as a Kiruv Kollel Rabbi. I opened the door and the smell hit me before I even saw who it was. It was not pleasant at all, to be polite. The man at the door was someone that I had met in Shul a few times. It seems he was a former shochet (ritual slaughterer) who had worked in Postville a few hours away. He was short, dressed in dirty, smelly jeans and a T- Shirt, oily wrangled hair and he smelled really bad. I asked him what I could help him with and he told me that he needed a place to stay for Shabbos. It seemed I figured out that he had been living in his car for the past few days…weeks? Never one to turn down a needy Jew, and being that we had a pretty big house out in Iowa ( 5000 square feet for $106K- this was Iowa after all), I told him it would be my pleasure. Then he threw out one last request, a request you only get in Iowa-probably one you only get if your name is Ephraim Schwartz.
“Do you think it would be alright as well, if my sheep and two chickens would be able to stay by you as well? I saw that you have a fenced in dog-run on the side of your house”
It seems that they had been living with him in his beat-up Cadillac. I then finally identified that odor that I was smelling… that he reeked of. Well I certainly was not one to allow the abuse of animals by keeping them in a car, and I figured my kids would probably get a kick out of it as well, and hey it was only for Shabbos so why not? At least I thought it was only for Shabbos…
After a rather entertaining Shabbos with this guy, let’s call him Yankel, where he showed us his rock collection. Hmmmm…. He also talked to himself a lot….double Hmmmm…. He asked if he could stay a bit longer as he had some job interviews…by Wendy’s ….Triple Hmmmm… and he needed a place until he could close on his own place. It would only be another day or two. Or three…four? The following Shabbos he was still there. The sheep was grazing. The chickens would get fed corn every day. This was Iowa there was no shortage of corn. The kids were getting a kick out of it. I felt like a real Iowan. After another week, my wife was getting a bit nervous. The smell was wafting upstairs already. The soap and shampoo and towels we had left for him seemed to be unused. Her grandparents had come to visit and it was time for him to go, I was told in no uncertain terms. We were heading out of town for Pesach and we certainly were not leaving him in our home. So I sat down with him to have the conversation.
I explained to him that we were leaving and that we were sorry but he would probably have to leave the next day. I offered to help him find another place, but he said he would be fine. A bit later he came over to me and asked me another one of those only in Iowa and only to Ephraim Schwartz type of questions.
Do you think it would be alright if I shechted/slaughtered the animals before I left. I just want to have something to eat for the holiday?”
I don’t know why I think these things are cool. My wife and mother really don’t either. But I do. I told him I have no problem with it, what he chooses to do with his animals is his choice. The only thing I requested is that my wife and kids, and certainly not her grandparents see what he is doing and everything is cleaned up afterwards and is gone. I was savvy enough to know that slaughtering chickens and goats was not something my wife would appreciate my kids being witness to. I certainly was not interested in traumatizing them into god-forbid becoming vegetarians. Where would I eat chulent after I was old and retired if my kids swore off meat? See I do understand things.
Anyways the next morning I woke up and saw the goats, chickens and Cadillac still there. I was on my way to shul and figured I would have to take care of it when I got home. It was a simple request, as I said. Right? Yankel had obviously slept in a bit. I came home about an hour later and as I approached my house I heard fire engines. Uh Oh. I pulled up to my house and I saw a sight that I would never forget. Yankel was standing there in the dog-run. There was goat roasting on a fire. Yankel was standing over a chicken with his knife waving in the air like the angel of Death and the other bird was flapping around. Two fireman were approaching, as it seems someone had called them about a fire in my side-yard. Worst of all I looked at the window in my house and my wife’s grandmother was sitting there trying desperately to keep my kids, who were waiting for car-pool, from gawking at this horrifying sight. Uh Oh…
I spoke to the firefighters and explained that this was an enclosed fire and a BBQ and there was nothing to worry about. They left, but before I could go over to Yankel another car with sirens pulled up. It was the Protection of Animals Association people. It seems that my neighbors who were also looking out their windows with horror had been busy on the phone. I spoke to the animal people and told them that this was a certified butcher and these were livestock he was slaughtering and it was all under control. They left and I realized that I had better talk to my neighbors quickly before more phone calls are made.
So I knocked on their door and I will never forget the looks on their face as they opened it up a crack and spoke to me through it. I apologized and told them that I am sorry for disturbing them, and that all of this was a misunderstanding and there was this guy staying in my house who was a butcher who without my knowledge was doing this but it would be cleaned up and take care of. It didn’t seem that they had appeared to be too convinced. For they then asked me.
It’s alright Rabbi, We are just curious, are you planning on offering a lot of sacrifices here?”
Boom. They don’t have many Jews in Iowa it seems and these poor people thought this was kind standard behavior of us “Rabbis”. I explained to them that this wasn’t sacrifices. It was just a hungry guy that wanted something to eat. That was a Christian concept as well. They didn’t seem too convinced. But what could I do? I made my way over to Yankel, who by then had finished his “work”. He apologized, cleaned up and was gone. A few months later corn-stalks grew up in our dog-run. It seems the chickens had pecked the kernels into the ground. It was a nice memorial to the sacrifices offered at Hotel Schwartz. The final epilogue of the story is about a year later someone in shul asked me if I saw the newspapers as it seems my “friend” Yankel was highlighted in a recent article. It seems he was arrested for stabbing someone 17 times in the chest. Apparently he had some Messianic delusions and voices telling him to do it. Maybe they really were sacrifices that were offered at my house. Needless to say, it was quite a long time before my random Shabbos invitation privileges were reinstated. OK maybe not too long… It seems my holy rebbetzin can’t avoid the opportunity for a good story as much as her husband.
This week we begin the third book of the Torah that begins to discuss almost for its entirety the laws of korbanot- sacrifces. The truth is that it is not only this book but every one of the books of the Torah includes commands about sacrifices. From Cain and Abel in Bereshit through the commands of the sacrifices when we come into the land of Israel in Devarim the Torah is just full of sacrifices. Of the 613 mitzvos, that we have Over 350 of them are related to sacrifices and the service and laws regarding the Temple. It’s a big deal in Judaism. Every one of our daily prayers includes supplications for a returning of the Temple where we could bring them. As much as we like to think about Judaism and Torah as being a religion or system of belief that is about loving your friend and neighbor, and being a light unto the nation in our moral and ethical behavior and study of Torah, any even periphery reading of the majority of the Torah will reveal that our faith is at least about and obsessed with the notion and mitzva of sacrifices. At the same time though, I believe that for most of us, even those of us that are not hillbilly neighbors in Iowa, there is probably no mitzva that we have more difficulty really wrapping our brain around.
In previous years we have discussed different ideas about this mitzva. We mentioned that sacrifices are our way of getting close to Hashem. We spoke about the some of the different symbolism in the different offerings. Maimonides seems to view sacrifices as a Divine response to idolatry in his work the guide to the perplexed, whereas Nachmanides sees it as a spiritual secret connecting the physical worlds and our physical selves to the Almighty and the eternal. Other commentaries suggest the entire concept is just a chok- one of those unexplainable commandments that we follow and obey merely for the sole reason that Hashem commanded us to. Far be it for me to interject my own opinion into these debates and insights. I can however just dream and think about the outcome and the days when Jewish life was occupied and –excuse the pun- consumed with korbanot.
The life while the temple was standing and ideally as well when it will return to its proper place and service was full of Jews from all over Israel and the Jewish world. Any event that happened in my life would require a visit to the Beit Hamikdash- the house of Hashem. A birth, a sin, a holiday, purification after a death, a sickness, new crops whatever was going on I had to connect it to Hashem. I had to visit the Temple. I would see and participate in the slaughter of an animal, an offering being brought to the Kohen, on the altar. I would see blood being sprinkled, for some sacrifices I would also enjoy part of the sacrifice and have a good steak. It would be a moment that would be eternal. It was a story I would never forget, as I’m sure my former neighbors in Iowa have never forgotten. I can’t think of anything in this world that would have a greater impact on me then regularly going through this process. No inspiring torah lecture, no uplifting prayer service or even Saturday night musical kumzitz with even Shlomo Carlebach would have as much impact and be as life changing and awe-inspiring then the process of bringing sacrifices to the Temple.
The truth is it’s intimidating to even think about such a life with such and overwhelming awareness of the significance of every one of our actions and how the hand of Hashem plays into absolutely everything that takes place in our lives. Sure we know that all intellectually, but experientially is something else entirely. It’s so much easier to live our lives, even tragically our observant religious lives, doing mitzvos, going to , shul, making blessings, keeping kosher and even learning Torah as things and mitzvos and good deeds that we do but not as defining the essence of our existence. Our existence is our jobs, our family, our community, our friends and our neighbors. It is the politics of the world, the struggles that we undergo, the simchas and achievements we celebrate and the day to day grind of the world. We pay our respects to God, we acknowledge Him all the time, but does it enrapture our lives? That’s really what we lack without the sacrifices, that sense and those experiences that would always define what life was really about. Our sages established prayers three times a day in place of those sacrifices. When I tell my tourists to imagine a world without a synagogue, without prayers they can’t imagine what Jewish life would look and be like. I’ll pause for a second for you to contemplate that…. No shul, No community gathering place, no place Shabbat services, no kiddush chulent in shul, no holiday prayers, not shacharis, mincha or maariv three times a day…. What would it look like?
The answer is that while the Temple was standing and we had sacrifices, there was no need for any of this. Our Shuls are a pathetic band-aid on the awareness of what life felt like when we had the Beit Hamikdash, when every act we did had Hashem’s presence and Temple korban bringing significance. That’s the way it was supposed to be. That’s the majority of the mitzvos in the Torah and arguably the most discussed topic in the entire Torah, for that’s what Jewish life is really all about.
We have entered the month of Nissan. The Book of Vayikra and the sacrifices always envelope the holiday of Pesach. Pesach is that one holiday when we are meant not only to observe rituals…a lot of rituals. It’s the holiday when we are supposed to experience something.
“Every Person is obligated to view himself as if he left Egypt”
We actually start off as slaves, and are meant to create the feeling for ourselves, and we end off with the euphoria of being freed. We transcend time, space, our Seder table. We have left Iowa, Boro Park, Lakewood, Detroit and even Karmiel and Jerusalem of today and are sitting in the Temple eating our Pesach Lamb. We can get there. We can skip over everything that is holding us back as Hashem passed over each house. It’s the beginning game and the end game. We’re almost there. “Are you going to be offering a lot of sacrifices here, Rabbi?” Yes, yes, yes…
Have a pleasurable Shabbos and an amazing Chodesh Tov!
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



“Hob nit kain moireh ven du host nit kain ander braireh.-Don’t be scared when you have no other choice 


https://youtu.be/GzL3PmHxtMU    It’s beginning to look a lot like Pesach funny and cute!

https://youtu.be/6LeGjoYcDF0 -Stuff women say Pesach time

https://youtu.be/U_72gadkeXY?list=PLtLLdnWnTrTLzDLhWPS-WrCIrWCXsSHh2  Moshe Rabbeinu interview in Hebrew..funnyJ

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK                                      
answer below at end of Email
Q.  An agricultural settlement established by members of the Old Yishuv is:
A. Motza
B. Zichron Ya’acov
C. Ruhama
C. Rishon Le’Tzion

There are a myriad of drashot-derivations that we have from words in the Torah. We know and understand that the Chumash that we study is only the written law. There is an oral law that was given as well at Sinai and the text of the Torah serves a the source for which the entire oral Torah can be derived. That’s what the Talmud does for the most part. Finds the sources in the Torah for the nuances and different aspect of how to fulfill the law according to the Torah SheBaal Peh- the oral tradition. Rashi does not bring down every drasha and every law in his commentary on the Torah. When he does it is to teach us that this law gives us a new fundamental insight in the pshat- the simple readin and understanding of the Torah.
In this week’s portion The Torah tells us that when a man brings a sacrifice
 Vayikra (1:3) He should be bring it (or him) close according to his will before Hashem
Rashi notes that
 This teaches us that he we force him, how is this possible does not the Torah say according to his will? We force him until he says he wills it.”
The reason for Rashi bringing down this drasha is because the verse already says that the owner should bring it to the Ohel Moed. It repeats this a second time to teach that the animal must be brought regardless. Yet, this concept is obviously problematic and dangerous. How do you force someone until he says he wants to do something? What type of free-will is that?
Now Maimonides explains this law particularly as it applies to the laws of divorce mentioned in the Talmud. There the law is that get- divorce document  that permits a Jewish married woman to remarry when she gets divorced, must been given willfully. Yet the Talmud tells us that if the man refuses to give the get the court has permission to literally hang him up on a tree until he becomes amenable and willfully gives his get. The Rambam asks, how is this possible? What type of willful divorce is this? His answer sheds light onto the essence of a Jew and with that the fundamental concept of sacrifices.
He writes in hi work Yad Chazaka Laws of Gerushin/divorce (2:20)
The idea of forcing only applies when one is forced or pressured to do something that he is not obligated to do the Torah-e.g. to give a gift to his friend or buy something from him. But that which his bad thoughts forces him to violate a commandment or not observe a mitzva, and we pressure him not to violate or to fulfill it is not called by force. Rather the opposite- he is overcoming his evil inclination that is dominating him and not allowing him to fulfill it. For every Jewish person has a true desire to fulfill all of the commandments and to not sin, however his yetzer hara doesn’t’ allow him to and is coercing him to do bad. However if we pressure him that he not submit and hit him until his physical desires are weakened and his body then calls out “I want” this reveals the realization of his inner desire and he is fulfilling it from his truest will.”
Wow, talk about insight into the nature of the Jew. If this is the case perhaps Rashi and the Torah chose to reveal that concept here more-so than anywhere else. For the entire function of these sacrifices is for a person to separate the physical aspect of oneself that drew him to sin and the purest essence that only wants to fulfill the ratzon of Hashem. We slaughter the animal and bring it close to show the person, the Adam that atonement is possible because it was never his true essence that sinned. It was the animal side of him that dominated him. He has the power to overcome it. He wants to overcome it. That is his real will. And even if he is screaming no. It’s not him. It’s like the baaaiing or mooooing of the cows. His neshoma will eventually scream out rotzeh ani- I want.
Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon- The Rambam/Maimonides (1135-1204) – If one did not know that Maimonides was the name of a man, one would assume it was the name of a university. The writings and achievements of this twelfth­century Jewish sage seem to cover an impossibly large number of activities. The Rambam was the first person to write a systematic code of all Jewish law, the Mishneh Torah; he produced one of the great philosophic statements of Judaism, The Guide to the Perplexed; published a commentary on the entire Mishna; served as physician to the sultan of Egypt; wrote numerous books on medicine; and, in his "spare time," served as leader of Cairo's Jewish community.
Not that the Rambam had much free time as from morning to night he would be in the Kings palace serving the masses and only in the evening and nights after returning home would he have time to meet people answer questions and deal with his community and the world issues. And yet he still managed to become perhaps one of the most influential Jews and sages of all times. Born in Spain he fled the country from the Arabs there to Morocco, Israel and ultimately to Egypt where he lived until his death, as he was not allowed to leave the service of the Saladin the sultan of Egypt. Yet from that place in Egypt his word carried throughout the Jew world. His letters to the Jews of Yemen and to another country that had suffered persecution became classics in understanding and giving faith and hope to a down trodden persecuted people. His works and influence in Egypt saved the city which was under the influence of the Karaites a break off heretical fringe group of Jews that threatened the spirituality and future of our people, almost entirely ridding them from the city. There is almost no serious student of Torah today that does not study his works, this is despite the great opposition many of them faced during his lifetime when many of them were excommunicated and even burnt in the streets of France.
On his grave in the city of Tiberias, where he had ordered he be taken to and buried upon his passing, it is inscribed that “From Moshe until Moshe there has not been another Moshe that has come”. The Rambam, it is said chose to be buried in Tiverya for our sages tell us that when Mashiach comes the reestablishment of the Sanhedrin, which ended in that city, will occur once again. The Rambam wishing to be part of that. May we see that day soon.

Makolet guys –Despite the modernization of the State of Israel and the take-over of the food industry to a large part by the big supermarket chains, the makolet industry still seems to be thriving and for the average Israeli family it certainly is a way of life. After-all you can’t send your three your old to SuperSol to pick up groceries, but the makolet guy however is happy to greet her give her a candy and send her home with your stuff. You can’t pay Osher Ad on credit, but Avi down the block in his little mom and pop makolet grocery is more than happy to extend you as long as you need. In fact he has a book full of half the people in the neighborhood that he does that for. Now don’t get me wrong he probably still won’t bag your stuff for you, the supermarkets won’t either, Israelis work under the assumption that you are fully capable of doing that yourself. He also won’t offer you discounts or coupons. He may not even remain open for you a few minutes longer than he’s supposed to. He is after-all the classic Israeli institution that was developed under socialist ideals. He’s doing you a favor by selling to you. He won’t thank you and wish you a nice day. He thinks you should thank him. But yet there are plenty of Israelis that will only shop in the makolet. It gives them something to complain about as well. The guy knows who they are and to Israelis that is more important than anything else. It’s all about who you know and who knows you. What does this have to do with buying some cottage cheese, I’m not sure. But I’m still new here. But shopping and meeting makolet people while you are here is certainly part of the Israeli experience.

Abe goes to see his boss and says, "we're doing some heavy house-cleaning at home tomorrow for Pesach and my wife needs me to help with the attic and the garage, moving and hauling stuff."
"We're short-handed, Abe," the boss replies. "I just can't give you the day off."
"Thanks, boss." says Abe, "I knew I could count on you!"

Benjamin is offered a high powered job as Head of Finance at Utah Life Assurance Inc. He and his Sarah sell their house in New York and move to Utah. But Benjamin is unaware that it had been a difficult decision for the ULA President to offer him the job.
Even after Benjamin starts work, the ULA directors continue to put pressure on the President behind Benjamin’s back. "We’re all Mormons on the board and we’ve never had someone Jewish on the board before. We find this very difficult to accept."  But they also know that Benjamin is proving to be the best. He’s a financial genius, a financial guru.
After much careful thought, the President decides on a course of action and calls Benjamin to his office. "I’m afraid I’ve run into some opposition to your appointment. If you want to keep your $400,000 a year position, you’ll have to convert.  Please let me know by tomorrow what you decide."
Benjamin has no choice. However difficult it might be to convert, it’s easier than losing his great new job. So he goes home and tells Sarah, "It’s simple, from this Sunday we’ll be going to church with our children."
Over the months that follow, Sarah doesn’t stop nagging. "It’s so difficult for me…I miss shul…shabbes….lighting the candles…kiddush…festivals etc. You know Benjamin, money isn’t everything."
The more she nags him, the worse Benjamin’s conscience bothers him, until finally he’s had enough. He goes back to the ULA President. "I can’t go on like this, sir, my troubles are eating me up inside. Money isn’t everything to me. Neither I nor Sarah can sleep at night.  It’s too much for us. I made the wrong decision. We were born Jews and we want to die Jews. If you want me to quit, I’ll go without making a fuss."
The president looks at him in amazement and says, "Listen Benjamin, I had no idea it was so tough for you. I thought switching religions would be simple. But you are doing an excellent job here and I don’t want to loose you. Stay here and you can be as Jewish as you want - I’ll take care of the directors."
Benjamin goes home to Sarah feeling absolutely great. "Our troubles are over at last, darling," he says to her, "I’ve spoken to the President and he’s letting me keep my job and he said we can go back to being Jewish immediately."
Sarah looks at him with anger in her eyes. "Tell me, are you stupid or what?"
Benjamin is shocked. "But I thought that was what you wanted all along, to be Jewish once more. Don’t you want to go back to being Jewish?"
Sarah looks very upset and replies, "Of course I do, but now, just 2 weeks before Pesach?"
A bio-research institute in Israel is developing plans for cloning sheep. "When the Holy Temple is rebuilt, there will suddenly be a tremendous demand for blemish-free lambs to use for the different sacrifices on the festivals, the Korban Hagigah, the Korban Shelamim, and of course, on Passover, the Korban Pesach (Passover sacrifice)", explained its director. "We will be able to meet that demand by cloning. Each lamb thus produced will be known as a... Korban Copy".

All year round:
Wake up, go to the bathroom, go to the kitchen make a cup of coffee
Before Pesach:
Wake up go to the bathroom, got to the kitchen to prepare cup of coffee, go to the shower to get the cup and spoon (moved there for cleaning purposes),return to the kitchen to get coffee, remember that the coffee and sugar is on by the sink outside on the porch, go and bring it and return to the kitchen for hot water and milk, remember that you left the spoon in the sugar by the sink on the porch, stir the coffee with your finger, go to the medicine cabinet by shower to get cream for the burn on your finger, return to drink your cold coffee in the stairwell of your building…

Family Whatsapp group
Mom: Time to start cleaning for Pesach cleaning
Dad left group…

If the woman had to build the Sukka and the man had to clean for Pesach they would both start Erev Pesach. But since the woman needs to be the one to clean for Pesach. So they both start erev Sukkos.

Answer is A – This was a tricky one, I got it right though. I believe the trick in this question is that it is established by people already in Israel rather than Olim of the early Aliya. Ruchama in the Negev was established by Russian Olim and the secular Hashomer. Rishon as well was run by Biluim initially until the Baron got involved. Zichron as well was founded by 1st Aliya olim from Romania and later funded by the Baron they were religious and technically speaking Aliya Rishona is still considered part of the old Yishuv as they were religious as opposed to the other Aliyot. Yet I imagine the more correct answer was Motza right outside of Yerushalayim, which really moved people that were already here and part of the old yishuv to these farms.

No comments:

Post a Comment