Our view of the Galile

Thursday, March 16, 2017

ADD- Aliyah Deficit Disorder- Ki Tisa /Parah 2017/5777

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

March 17th 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 21 19h Adar 5777
Parshat Ki Tisa/ Para
A.D.D- Aliyah Deficit Disorder
So I'm back in the States. The United States that is. Although since the last elections they seem pretty divided it seems. I'm not a big fan of the country anymore either. Which seems to be the current sentiment here so it seems I'm in good company. Although my feelings about the US of A has nothing to do with politics. I just don't' seem to get it anymore. I remember when I lived in the States before moving to Israel and I would hear these- nut-jobbed, fanatical, ideologues that had make Aliya talking kind of the way I'm about to. I remember thinking how ridiculous and pathetic they sounded; how desperate they were to put-down America in order to assuage themselves that they had made the right decision. The truth of course being that it was really a ridiculous thing to do for any self-respecting American. A cold and callous insensitive thing to do to one's children and family. Listen if one wants to follow a dream, then do it when you're young and single or newly married. Or alternatively if you want to retire there with money from your savings after you made a living in the only country where that is possible, than that's alright too. That's your prerogative and I would wish them luck. Perhaps even admire some of their fortitude to not move to Florida like all the other faithful Jews. But with a family and kids?  Middle age? That's just pure irresponsibility.
But as I was thinking what I was thinking I could see this inexplicable look to me that was really almost a mirror image of what I was presenting to them. They had this look like they didn't get me at all. Like they thought I was the nut-job. I was the one that was irresponsible. I was the one that was nebbich just not getting it. It was a very weird experience. I swore to myself that even if I ever ever ended up making Aliya, I would never give anyone a look like that. I would never, could never become that clueless, be that self-delusional, ever feel the need to be that defensive to look askance at the regular people that were obviously living and doing the normal thing. I was wrong. I just don't get you guys anymore.
This morning by services here in Atlanta, the Gabbai came over to me and asked me I wanted an Aliyah. I had not yet recited the traditional blessing that is made upon traveling overseas of Gomel- thanking Hashem for all the kindness that Hashem has bequeathed me. The blessing is made when one has undergone a potentially life-threatening salvation, like after a severe surgery or operation, or being released from life-threatening incarceration, or childbirth. The blessing is recited generally upon getting called up to the Torah, so I told him that I would be happy to "get" an Aliyah. I "got" my Aliya, I made the blessing that Hashem has chosen us from all the nations and given us the Torah and then I recited the thanksgiving blessing, the crowd said Amen and it was over.
I was troubled a bit by the blessing I said. Why was I thanking Hashem for bringing me to America? For having to leave Israel. Sure I was happy, that I survived the flight, although it took some time for me to dislodge my knee from my chest. {They really don't have leg-room anymore. When I booked my ticket they had extra legroom for another $35, which I regretted not having done as I learned that extra legroom actually means room for both legs on the floor....but I'm getting distracted-Holyland ADD Insights and Inspiration.} But really I did not feel too grateful being in this really "unnatural" country for a Jew- to put it mildly. I remarked to the Gabbai as I left the Bima that I understood the difference between Israel and America. In America one can only "get" an aliya. It's a short fleeting spiritual high one feels when you bless the Torah and remember that you are chosen. In Israel, though, we make Aliya. It's permanent. It's in your heart, your blood, your soul. It's the only place that can happen. It's the only place where your Judaism and spirituality becomes truly a building block of the eternal. The Gabbai winced and looked at me unappreciatively and with that "oh-he's-one-of-those-guys". I gave it right back. Yep. It's official. I'm now one of those guys.
 It's a strange parsha that we read this week. Strange because it's kind of mixed-up it seems. It's like a chulent. Not just of laws, like Mishpatim, not just stories, not just boring facts about the Tabernacle...again. No it's just got what seems like little pieces of all of the above. Like an ADD Holyland Insights E-Mail. It starts off with the counting of the half shekel coin, which has to be given to atone for a soul so that there won't be plague. Which incidentally reminded me a bit of the gomel thanksgiving blessing I made for undergoing something that was potential danger. It jumps to the laws of the building of the water basin which seems to have gotten left out of the portion that talked about all the vessels of the Mishkan. It then goes into the various ingredients of the incense and the anointing oil. Which seems to have gotten left out as well from the priestly portions as the priests are told to be anointed with it. Oh then it mentions Shabbos, cause- hey why not? It's a covenant, between us and Hashem. 6 Days work. 7th rest. Guard it for generations in case you forgot. Getting dizzy yet? It seems like a Purim hangover with a bunch of random facts coming from all sides.

The Parsha then continues with the story of the Golden Calf, Hashem's fury then Moshe's fury at the people, smashing the tablets, marshaling the Levi's to kill the offenders and appeasing Hashem and gaining his forgiveness. Hashem tells the Jews that an angel will bring them to the land and get rid of our enemies, but He won't reside among us. It's too risky. He might just wipe us out if we annoy him. We mourn and cry. Moshe camps outside and his face is pretty shiny. He after-all is the only one, the Torah tells us, that actually has the heavenly Facetime account. Moshe then asks Hashem how to get totally forgiveness when he's not around anymore and Hashem hides him in a rock and shows him the back instead of the front and teaches him the 13 attributes of Mercy. Wheww... Summaries were never my strong point. But you have to admit this is really a long, strange, puzzling and even mystical spiritual story in the Torah, if not the most perplexing one.
But the Parsha is not done yet. For then the Parsha and Hashem get back into the Eretz Yisrael mode telling Moshe to tell us that we must remember our treaty with Hashem. He will take us into the land, show us wonders and How Hashem will be in our midst.  We must not make treaties with nations in the land of Israel. They will distract us from our purpose. Smash their Idols, destroy their altars, break down their churches and mosques. Oops I just added that although it really is the same point and law and message. If we don't' do that we'll end up respecting their ways. Eating with them, attending their mutual egalitarian services and ultimately marrying their children. And then the game is over.
And just in case you thought you could tie all this stuff together here's some more random laws for you to piece together. Pesaach eat matzos, first born children and animals should be redeemed, work 6 days rest and Shabbos AGAIN! Celebrate Shavuot, bring first fruits to the Temple, come visit Me three times a year in the Temple and see My face. Don't' delay bringing sacrifices. Oh and finally don't cook the goat in its mothers milk. I am truly dizzy even writing this. It must be the air here in America. I don't remember a parsha getting me so dizzy.
I believe however the connection and theme of the parsha can usually be found in the title of the portion. Ki Tisa- when you shall uplift, Or because you shall raise up the heads of the Jewish people. The portion is telling us the secrets of how to make the Jewish people great once again. It starts with the ideal. The once great that we were meant to have achieved when we stood as one united nation at Sinai and declared we would listen and fulfill the words of our Creator. It concludes with the world and a different covenant and pathway of how to get back up there again after we have sinned. It in fact concludes with a description of the Jewish people actually seeing the light of Hashem radiate from the face of Moshe as he taught us Torah, the word of God. Great once again. Let me explain.
Remember like a bunch of paragraphs ago I told you how troubled I was about thanking Hashem for bringing me to America. About how pathetic I felt being here in this country and just trying to have an Aliyah and just feeling I was merely getting one. That's what it's all about in fact. At least it is this year for me. See when I'm living in Israel. I'm just walking around and feeling good about myself. I made it. I'm here. I'm doing what I'm supposed to. I'm where I'm at, where I belong, doing what I'm supposed to be doing. But I'm wrong. I'm not here, because, you're not here yet. Hashem isn't back here yet. The Temple isn't either. I haven't brought Him back yet. Bentching Gomel reminded me this morning that I thank Hashem who performed good deeds for me, the unworthy one, the chayavim, the one who still has obligations to fulfill. He's given me life still to accomplish. He sent me overseas to realize that there are still things and people I have to visit here that aren't in Israel. I'm still obligated to accomplish more. I am still a half shekel waiting for the other half to unite with mine. I may have not only got an aliya and merited to make aliya, but ultimately it's about the Aliyah of the entire world that we are here to achieve. We're all still suffering from Aliya Deficiency Disorder And this week's entire parsha is about how to achieve that uplifting.
Pre-sin each Jew gives a half shekel and there is no plague. We understand simply that we need one another to achieve the one-ness of Hashem in this world. Without all of us the world is a fuzzy whatsapp video chat that keeps breaking up each time I call home from here. It continues with the concept of the sink where the Kohen would wash his hands and his feet. Nachmanides explains the feet is the lower world the hands represent the upper realms. The Kohen would connect the two worlds. Cleanse it, purify it, serve as the vessel to bring them all together and lift us all up. He would be anointed with oil. The one property of oil is that it rises above everything else. It lifts up. The Kohen, the vessels, the Tabernacle would all be anointed so that it would be clear that this was a place of uplifting. The holy oil, the Torah tells us can and never should be used for the mundane. It's not to stick on your pizza or put in your shampoo. It's to bring us all higher and higher. Same with the heavenly incense. It is a sweet smell for Hashem. It is the aroma of Jews that comes to Hashem and lifting us up to Him. Not me up to me. Don't use it for deodorant to smell better than your friend. You're not better than him. You all are one and have to be one for our job to be fulfilled.
 That was the pre-golden calf world. But we fell. We fell hard. We fell bad. We took the Torah. We took the commandments and figured it was just a law-book to be followed. A way to stay out of trouble, earn a place in the world to come, but ultimately live normal regular lives. Religious, regular lives that is.We lost the notion of a universal plan that we were meant to be bring forth to the world. The Divine plan and mandate for a world of Hashem got lost the second Moshe disappeared. We had turned the entire Torah into a golden calf; a means of 'serving' Hashem in the image we had created for it; one that was bereft of Hashem's universal unifying role for all of us. The Kohen had failed. The half shekel money that was meant to connect us above was replaced with gold of our own purpose and making. The sink that was meant to restore and purify the world was lost as Hashem chose to wash Himself of us. The heavenly incense was replaced with the smell of offerings of cows that Hashem never wanted or asked for. The entire first part of the parsha has been turned on its head.

 Hashem tells us we are Moshe's nation. Not His anymore. We may be people of the Book, but it is no longer His book. His book will start again with just Moshe.
But Moshe doesn't let. He screams out "Who is for Hashem?" That is the cry. We had forgotten it's not merely about the law. It's about Hashem. It's about connecting heaven and earth. It's about a nation that can and will always unite together. A nation that will do anything to connect us all. Moshe and the tribe of Levis restore that balance. They burn that not so sacred cowt like an offering, they smash the calf to earth until it's as ground as the incense was meant to be. It gets mixed with purifying waters, like the water of the basin, with the gold floating like oil above it. It's time to restart. For the first time since we got the Torah. We can begin the process of lifting us and the world up truly from the ground.
Moshe negotiates with Hashem as well. He splains it to Hashem. Heaven and Earth must come together. It's not enough to just have an angel bring us to Israel. It's not enough to just come to Israel and live like any other nation there. We need to see the face of God. We need to always know that this world, and this life has one function for the Jew. Ki Tisa. To raise it up. To bring heaven down and to shine that light out to the world.
And thus we are given the new covenant of mitzvos. The new bris. The covenant of uplifting. Hashem tells us that we will come to the land. It won't be conquered normally. It will be miraculous. It should not be like any other land. Not a melting-pot with all the other nations. For that's not what we are there to do. We aren't meant to live the normal and be satisfied with it. We are here to break free and create a land and country that screams Hashem to the world. Every Jew will do that and see that. We will live lives that will constantly be returning and uplifting that greatness. How? Pesach we will eat; we will break free. Every first born thing, the fruit of our labor. The thing that screams out 'its mine' the loudest to us or at least to those that might consider themselves 'normal people'.  Our children, our fruit, our crops, our livestock. Give it to Hashem. It's the way to ingrain this into our psyche. That it's all from Him and its all about lifting it up to Him.Three times a year by the other holidays we will do the extraordinary and leave our homes and everything to come to Yerushalayim to see Hashem. To pick up that light. Our sacrifices will be immediate. No postponing due to regular day to day delays. We are above that. We have only one priority. Yes, Shabbos again. 6 days work, but every Shabbos stop. It is the key. The stop and go, the change things up from the rest of the world. The falling down, but lifting right back up even higher.
 Last but not least the goat in its mother milk. The commentaries suggest the concept behind this mitzva. Is that the milk is the source of life for the goat. The mother is what bore him. Don't ever mix that source of life with a good piece of steak. Don't desecrate my Torah your source of life and bring it down to give some type of "spiritual" flavor to your physical earthly existence and steak. Bring your steak up to Hashem. Make it holy. Don't profane the holy by using it as a tool to give you enough of spiritual feeling that you forget the picture of what you are here and meant to achieve. I don't' need any more golden calves.
Parshat Ki Tisa this year as it does many years comes out the same week as the special reading of Para. The purity of the red heifer's ashes that is meant to cleanse us of the impurity of death, brought on by the sin of the golden calf. Last time I was in the States I was talking to my Rebbe and he asked me what It felt like being here and I told him that it was the first time that I went to a Mikva and felt just as tamei-impure coming out as when I went in. But the truth is even in Israel coming back, as incredible as it feels. As Messianic as it is, I'm still not pure. I still don't' have a place to bring a Pesach offering. Yet. I still don't have that sense that I should have of how much further I- we still have to go...to achieve... So I thank Hashem for sending me here. For obligating me to thank Him. May the entire world have that Aliyah it's waiting for.

Have an even Mooooving Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

This week's Insight and Inspiration has been sponsored generously by Ruth Israel in honor of the weekly Torah insights and inspiration. Thank you so much for your kind readership and your sponsorship. May Hashem bless you with health, wealth, nachas and bracha!
Thank You!



“Bei nacht zeinen alleh ki shvarts...- At night all cows are black”


https://youtu.be/TrS2AkPHmuA    -ADHD comedian pretty funny

https://youtu.be/vbVOlF87pfI  I wasn’t sure if this was for real or not. But they tell me it is the NASI get married to an older girl advert

https://youtu.be/SuyprtLP70E  It’s my newest Purim song and Its me having fun at our sedua this year Check it out and this song will sit in your brain forever!


answer below at end of Email
Q.  Ablaq is:
a. Muhammad’s winged horse
b. A guilloche pattern made up of different colored stone masonry
c. Drop-like (stalactite) ornamentations
d. Shell-like ornamentation

Read Rashi. Read it again and again. Sometimes he says something and although he is coming ot explain a pshat in a verse. If you think about what he said and what he took for granted it can open your eye to a Torah perspective that can guide you through your life.
This week when Moshe receives the Tablets from Hashem the verse tells us
Shemot (31:18) And He gave to Moshe when he kalato-concluded speaking with him on Mount Sinat two tablets of the covenant.
Rashi there notes that the Torah uses the word kalato- which means concluded because it wants to recall to us another word kallah- like a bride
It says kallah for the Torah was given to him like a bride to a groom, for it would have been impossible for Moshe to learn the entire Torah in such a short time.
Rav Shimon Schwab notes that we see from here that a bride is given to a groom from heaven like a present. It is not possible for him to appreciate, to earn, to grasp the incredible depth and power of a woman…of his bashert. So Hashem gives it to him as a present. Take that guys!
But you see what I mean. Rashi isn’t trying to teach us this. He just says it. If we spent just a few minutes pondering what he writes we can reveal just incredible thoughts.

Rav Shimon Schwab (1908 -1995) If Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch was the powerhouse revolutionary that defined a whole new weltanschauung for the German community in the 19th century spiritual battlefield against the “enlightenment” movement, then Rav Schwab was the foot soldier who built and developed that community on those foundations on the shores of the new world in America. Rav Schwab served as the rabbi and communal leader in Germany and the United States. Educated in Frankfurt am Main and in the yeshivot of Lithuania, he was rabbi in Ichenhausen, Bavaria, after immigration to the United States in Baltimore, and from 1958 until his death at Khal Adath Jeshurun in Washington Heights, Manhattan. He was an ideologue of Agudath Israel of America, specifically defending the Torah im Derech Eretz approach to Jewish life. He wrote several popular works of Jewish though. He was one of the last students of the Chafetz Chaim who inspired him to answer the clarion call of who is for Hashem should follow me.

Security Guards –It struck me as I came to the States this week, that I can walk around the streets, go into malls, and pretty much go anywhere and not see anyone carrying a gun. OK maybe it’s different in Texas, but in most places no one I see is carrying. In Israel it is one of the most jarring things I think that newcomers see there. You pretty much can’t go anywhere without seeing a gun. There is no building, store or office that you will walk into that you won’t be asked to put your stuff into some detector and there are always security people asking if your packing. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing it just is the way it is. But the truth is security is certainly one of the major industries in Israel. It’s like working in McDonalds in the States. Being that most Israelis serve in the army they are automatically pretty qualified to carry a gun and defend their landsman. And they do. Time after time it is this great unsung heroes that stand in between your average grocery shopper and the thousands of our cousins that are trying to kill us. What’s also fascinating to me is that if I had to estimate its probably about 60-40 men to women that are in these positions as well. Which I think is pretty cool as well. That there are so many Israeli women that can scare off baddies.
 One of the nice things though generally that I experience here are as opposed to the States as well as that we do racial profiling here. Most guards won’t drive you too crazy if you don’t look like your gonna kill someone they will usually not bother you to take off your belt, your pants and shoes as they do in the States. The security guards though are really just a back-up nad inspiration to the masses that will carry guns as well; most when asked will tell you its not for self-protection. It’s to protect others. It’s to serve as deterrent. And it’s to let our enemies know that we will not be bullied or terrorized. May Hashem watch over them all.

1)      Q: Why don't cows have any money? A: Because farmers milk them dry

2)      Q: What do you get if you cross an angry sheep and a moody cow? A: An animal that's in a baaaaaaaad moooooood.

3)      Q: Why did the cow cross the road? A: To get to the udder side. Q

4)      Q: Where do cows go for lunch? A: The calf-eteria.

5)      Q: What kind of milk comes from a forgetful cow? A: Milk of Amnesia

6)      Q: Where do Russians get their milk? A: From Mos-cows

7)      Q: What do call a cow that has just had a calf? A: Decalfenated

8)      Q: What do you call a sleeping bull? A: A bull-dozer.

9)      Q: What do you call a grumpy cow? A: Moo-dy

10)  . Q: What is it when one cow spies on another cow? A: A steak out. Q:

11)  Q: What do you call an arab next to a cow? A: Milk Sheikh!

And finally a really terrible joke that someone sent me that only yeshivish people will appreciate. He said that anyone that is getting married this week didn’t really think it out well as his aufruf parsha will be
“ Ki Tisa- Parah” (when one marries a parah..Ouch!)

Answer is B – I knew this answer. I don’t know why I just did. Maybe because this stuff is all over the old city. Not that I know what guilloche is. But I know that it’s the different color tiles thing. Muhammeds horse is called burqa or something like that. I don’t know why I remember that either. I don’t know what the other two are called and I’m not even gonna check it up for you. It’s late. I’m tired and this E-Mail is long enough.

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