Our view of the Galile

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Shnor Letter- Teruma 2017/ 5777

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

March 3rd 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 19 5th Adar 5777
Parshat Teruma

Shnorr Letters

How’s this for a fundraising letter. We are making an appeal to all of our readers. We only want donations from people that want to give what their hearts inspire them to give. We need flour, sugar, yeast, oil, poppy seeds, chocolate, vanilla and lots of jelly of assorted flavors. You know strawberry, apricot, raspberry and cherry the usual stuff. Oh yeah I forgot to mention, we’re making Hamantash. Hamantash is important. It is the cookie that we eat on the holiday of Purim. It is what keeps all the wine we will drink down. It is bad to drink on an empty stomach. These hamantash are very important because we have to give them to everybody for Shalach Manot. They will fill up people’s fridges and freezers and be dessert and the kids snacks for the next month until we burn the leftovers before Pesach. The Schwartz family manages to finish them all though. OK, not really the family. Just me and Tully. Anyways will you contribute? How does that sound to you for an appeal letter?
Or how about this one. We are making an appeal to the congregants of our shul. We would like you to donate some beans, barley, potatoes, meat, ketchup, honey and pretty much anything else you can throw together. This is of course for our weekly chulent. Chulent is important. It is the essence of Shabbos. It is what keeps us going through the whole davening as its heavenly smell wafts through the shul. Without it even more people would leave by the Rabbi’s sermon and daven in the quick back minyan. After-all for just some soda and cake it’s not worth hanging around. Chulent is what allows us to sleep all Shabbos afternoon. It prevents the desecration of Shabbos because who can move or do anything after chulent. It is important do you think you can help us out with the above requests. Are you inspired?

 Let’s try one more. We would like everyone who’s hearts motivate them for a special unique opportunity of a lifetime. We need bricks, wallpaper, plaster, marble tiles, wood, carpet lighting fixtures, kitchen appliances, bathroom fixtures, windows and tables and chairs. All of this will of course be for our brand new synagogue that we are about to build. This will be a house of God. A place for Jews to pray, congregate, learn Torah, light up the world and of course eat chulent and hamantash. What do you think you can cough up for this campaign? {We do not have a current synagogue building campaign, I’m just practicing for when the city here finally comes up with the building that they promised us two years ago}

Now I imagine you have spotted the problem with all three of these appeals. I imagine this is true because I know the readers of this weekly E-Mail have been on either the receiving or writing end of one of these letters and many of you have the pleasure of being on both ends. We’re Jews. Half of our weekly mail are what my mother calls “shnorr letters”. Every Jewish magazine and newspaper as opposed to regular goyishe gentile ones are filled 70% with ads for charities for different causes. The other 30% are kosher hotels and cruises for Passover, Sukkot and holidays and food ads. Goyish magazines are filled with clothing ads, with deodorant, soaps, perfumes and cool new toys and cars. There market is for people who want to smell good, look good and play good. We just want to eat and either give or get charity it would seem. These ads must work-although I confess that I personally have never given charity to an ad I saw in a paper, despite the promises that very important Rabbis will stop studying their Torah that is holding up the entire world in order to travel to Eastern Europe or other grave of some Rabbi or holy place in order to pray for me. Although I have donated online to E-Mails that I am inspired by each week..ahem ahem… particularly the ones that make me smile every so often and that have changed my life and go to support a wonderful community in Northern Israel. But the method of making an appeal is generally to talk about the great needs, the purpose that your money will help, the families, the orphans, the students, the schools, the army, the victims of terror, the young brides that need to get married and the yeshiva teachers that need to get paid. At the very end the choices of what you can give to are listed. 18,000 for the building name, 10,000 for the Beit Midrash dedication, 5,000 for the kitchen, 1,800 to be a partner, 1,000 for a friend 180 you’re just a nice guy that somehow made it on our list and we thank you. That’s the way to do it. Those are the standard letters you receive. The pitches the guys who come to your door will give you. They’ll show you pictures of kids- hungry ones, buildings that need to be built, and people you will be helping. Not so the Torah though. Hashem it seems has a different style.
This week’s Torah portion introduces us to Hashem’s first building campaign and appeal. Yet strangely enough much like my sample fundraising letters above it does not tell us what the campaign is for until after the pitch of the ingredients that will be needed. Here it is
Shemos (25:2-7) “Speak to the children of Israel and take for me teruma- a portion from every man whose heart shall motivate him you shall take my teruma. And this is my portion which you shall take from them gold silver, copper and blue, purple and scarlet wool, linen, goats hair and ram skins that are dyed red and shittim wood, oil for the light spices for the anointing oil and for raising the smoke of the incense; shoham stones and filling stones for the ephod and the choshen.
Fifteen items in all. But what is this all for? What are we making here?

(25:8) “And you shall make me a Mishkan- dwelling place and I shall dwell amongst them

Strange isn’t it? Why is this not the introduction? Even the name of our Torah portion is strange. It should be called the Mishkan. After all the entire portion talks about what the vessels and the building will look like and how it should be made. Why is it called Teruma- donation or portion? Last week was called Mishpatim- laws and that’s what the parsha was about. The previous parsha was B’Shalach of pharaoh sending us out of Egypt. It makes sense. It’s a good title. Why is this parsha called Teruma?

The truth is the Book of Shemot can be divided in to three books. Kind of like Star Wars I guess (l’havdil). The first part is our slavery in Egypt. The second our Exodus and the revelation at Sinai. The third which begins this week is our building of the Mishkan. On a deeper level this book called Shemot names is about us, the Jewish people finding and receiving our soul, our essence our neshoma. It begins with the Jewish people’s descent to the 49th level of impurity, we are slaves, we are the lowest of the low and the shechina the divine presence has pretty much disappeared. It’s as hidden as it can be as Jewish babies are thrown into the nile and we are persecuted for close to two centuries. The Exodus is the return of that shechina to this world in a fabulous and miraculous manner. Plagues, sea splitting, Manna it is clear as day that the shechina has return. The Heavenly Empire Has Struck Back. The pinnacle of course is the revelation of Sinai. We heard Hashem, we accepted His Torah, our souls flew up and we were created anew. Part II has ended.

 The third part begins this week. Mount Sinai, after all of the great revelation that took place there returned to be a regular mountain Jabbal Musa as it is called today in the Sinai desert. Where is the shechina? What happened to it? Welcome to the Return of the Jedi Yehudi. (bet you never knew that Star Wars had so many Jewish themes. That’s what happens when you watch it again and again and again). Parshat Teruma. The shechina now is meant to be uplifted and is found amongst us. The word teruma my portion is the same root as the word in Hebrew to uplift. In the last part Hashem came down to us. Now it is up to us to bring the world back up to him. How do we do that? With our gold, our silver, our goats hairs, our spices, our oil to anoint and to light up the night. It’s our chulent and our hamantash. Every physical thing that we have in this world is meant to be uplifted. To be used in the service of Hashem. Hashem doesn’t need a house. It’s really quite comfortable up there in heaven. We need Him to dwell amongst us. It’s why we are here. It’s what we are here for. It is the soul of our people that the entire world has been waiting for to show it how we are meant to uplift it. There is no name more appropriate and there is no appeal that is better written to achieve that goal then what is described in the Torah. Bring me everything that you can that you your hearts are desiring to uplift. There is nothing too small. There is no Jew that won’t have something that they can contribute. That won’t have something that they are meant to bring up to Hashem. That they can help build His palace, His home here in the Holy Land. Here where it will shine out to the rest of the world from.

What an awesome Torah portion to begin the festive month of Adar with. We began last week reading about the annual donation of each Jew of a half shekel for the upkeep of the Temple. Each Jew no matter who is part of this. Has a shekel Hakodesh a holy coin that he and only he can bring. On Purim each Jew is obligated to make sure that everyone has something to celebrate with. We are all dressed up. There is no rich, no poor, no scholarly, no simple. We’re all holy and we raise the whole world with the greatest joy that can be achieved when we eat, when we drink, and when we drink more and even some more. For it is all for Hashem. It is celebrating that He is amongst us. The month of joy ends with the description of the completion of the Mishkan and the 7 days of its inauguration. May we merit to see it fully rebuilt and restored.

Have an even happier Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


“Tsvai shnorrers kenen kain ain shabbes nit machen..- Two beggars together cannot afford to prepare for one Sabbath”


https://youtu.be/iObmDYUQa5g   -Ki B’Simcha- who teaches these guys to dance

https://youtu.be/nF-Nggawuuk Kol Zman Shaneshama BKirbi- beautiful motty Shtiemetz

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rU2oOKSf2do Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach The Gevalt Purim  story

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtNvibEnWRc  - Pretty genius and funny Purim Kiddush

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK                                      
answer below at end of Email
Q.  The Abbasid Dynasty ruled the Land of Israel during the following centuries:
a. 8th-10th
b. 7th-11th
c. 9th-13th
d. 13th-14th

We have noted over the years that our sages tell us that that one can understand the Torah on four different levels. PaRDeS pshat- simple understanding, remez- Hints and allegories drasha- deriving stories and insights from the text and Sod- the secret, mystical understandings. Rashi as we noted is coming to teach us the simple pshat understanding. He will sometimes use midrash, remez and very rarely mystical explanation if at all, but only if that is important to understand the simplest pshat. Now the translation of the words of the text are not the only clues to what it is coming to tell us. Sometimes the words are not enough. They can be explained in multiple, alternate explanations. Another clue to use is the trop; the notes and the stop and start points of how it is meant to be read, the punctuation that has been passed on by tradition in how to read the verses. This week we can see how reading a Rashi properly can sow us that he uses that method as well. At least according to the Yad Malachi
The verse in our parsha says in its description of the menora
Shemos (25:34) And the Menora should have 4 goblets decorated, its knobs and its flowers.
Rashi notes our sages teach us that
This is one of five verses whose reading cannot be determined. It is not known whether the verse is saying “decorated goblets” or decorated with its knobs and flowers”.
The Degel Yehuda notes that this seems to be the only place of the five that Rashi mentions this. If this is essential seemingly in explaining the pshat why wouldn’t Rashi note this by the other five places as well?
He quotes the Yad Malachi who writes a whole thesis how these 5 places that are mentioned in where the text can be explained in two ways, can in fact be determined by the punctuation; the trop. For example one of the “timely” verses is in describing our first battle with Amalek. There the verse says
Shemos (18:9) And Moshe said to Yehoshua ‘Choose men for us and go do battle with Amalek tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of Hashem in my hand’
So there the verse can be read either he should do battle tomorrow or that he should do battle immediately and that tomorrow Moshe will stand on the hill. However since in the trop and punctuation there is an etnachta- comma under the word tomorrow we can determine that the verse is read do battle with Amalek tomorrow; I will stand on the hill… That the battle is meant to happen the next day when Moshe will be on the hill. So the Yad Malachi shows that the punctuation can really clarify the verse in almost all of the verses, until of course you get to ours of the Menora where the punctuation still leaves it unclear. There is no comma. So now what does it mean. It is for this reason why Rashi only notes here that there is no determination. So although all five cases can’t be clarified by the translation of the words. It is only here that it can’t even be explained according to the trop either and therefore Rashi only explains it here. Rule to learn and remember to self whenever Rashi quotes something that he suggests is a pattern in a few places. Check out the other places as well. See if he mentions it there as well. If he doesn’t then think about it a bit. He’s certainly trying to teach us something.
Rav Malachi HaCohen –The Yad Malachi (1700 -1771) Perhaps one of the greatest Halachic authorities of Italy in the 18th century. One the great Rabbi’s of his time wrote of him “Every reader of this book will be amazed by the way this living lion, the high priest.....dives in the mighty waters, the sea of the talmud. No secret is hidden from him" He served as the Rav of Livorno and decided on questions of national significance as questions came to him from all over the world. His work the Yad malachi deals with all of the  rules and technical terms found in the Talmud, with explanations; part two deals with rules regarding the codifiers; part three deals with the rules relating to legal decisions, explaining certain general principles of legal response. It was his ruling as well in regards to the blessing on chocolate that came out in that era. The Sefer Torah he wrote became the authoritative reference of Torah scrolls.

“Chapperim” –If one wanted to complain about Israel’s and Israeli’s I would venture to say that the greatest offenders which garnish the most amount of frustration from people are the “Chapperim”. {Pronounced with the letter Chet in Hebrew like Chupa not the C and H like chulent. What are chapperim? They are the Israeli equivalent of the cheap “fix-it man. Except generally they don’t ever fix or do things the way you want them to do it, if at all. The word comes from the Yiddish word “chap” which means to grab. These guys try to grab as much as they can from you and grab as many different fields as they can. The same guy will tell you that he can fix your bath, your roof, your car, your computer, your garden. You name it he can fix it. Not only that but these guys are great and experts at telling you with quite a bit of confidence that everything you have had done until now was terrible and that you should replace this and this and that. And he’s been doing this since he was 6 years old and he knows exactly the right way to fix it, build it and replace it. The problem is he’s is being quite honest with you. At least about his experience. He has been doing this since he was 6 years old and he hasn’t gotten any formal training since then and he will absolutely fix it as well as your 6 year old. Including not cleaning up the mess after himself. Now some of them can do one thing right. The problem is that it makes them think they can do everything. So just because he did a good job installing your shower does not mean you should have him install walls on your porch and roof to enclose it so that your wife could sell clothing from there and have a store there. Not that I would be talking from personal experience or anything of course. The Roof will leak. Because that what he is good at making showers that bring water into the house. Not keeping water out. There are chappers that are mechanics that are computer guys they are everywhere. The rule in this country is and it is more often than not the rude awakening to many Anglos that move here that they are no longer in Kansas Dorothy- is that it is Caveat Emptor- buyer beware. Get references from anyone who he has worked for before for the specific thing that you are having him do for you. Try to get a a guy and its even worth the money to pay for a professional. Trust me it will cost you less in the long run. Never ever ever pay in advance until you see he has completed the work to your satisfaction. Once these guys get their money they will leave and never come back to finish the job. In their minds an 85% job is really good enough. Never rely on what you told them you wanted done, and certainly not on what they told you they would do. They don’t care. Get it in writing. Don’t’ get suckered in to changing or doing other things once they started. They are chappers. They will try to chap as much as they can. Perhaps it’s because we are such a smart people and also not necessarily such a handy one that we are very prone to rely on what these people tell us. But if you ask me the chapper phenomena is certainly one of the least pleasant here in Israel. Although most of them really are very nice people, that mean well. The really think they can do the job. They really think they are giving you a bargain and good advice. Which of course makes it so much harder when we fall and crash or the house does when they’re done. We pay them anyways. We feel bad. And ultimately we blame ourselves. They chapped us. Oh well. Welkam to Eezrael.

What is it you are praying for?" asked the rabbi's wife. "That the rich should give beggar alms to the poor," said the rabbi. "Do you think God has heard your prayer?" "I'm sure God has heard at least half of it," said the rabbi. "The poor have agreed to accept." 
 A man is walking through a forest pondering life. He walks...ponders...walks...and ponders. He feels so close to nature, and even close to God, so close he feels that if he spoke God would answer. So he says, "God, are you listening?" And God replies, "Yes my son, I am here." So the man stops and ponders some more. He looks towards the sky and says, "God, what is a million years to you?" God replies, "Well, my son, a second to me is like a million years to you. "So the man continues to walk and ponder...walk and ponder. Then he looks to the sky and again says, "God, what is a million dollars to you?" God replies, "My son, a million dollars to you is less than a penny to me. It means almost nothing to me. It does not even have a value it is so little. "So the man looks down, ponders a bit, then looks up to the sky and says, "God, can I have a million dollars?" And God replies, "In a second."

Opening his front door, the Rabbi found himself face to face with the local priest. "Rabbi, may I have a few words with you?" asked the priest.
"Of course, Father," replied the Rabbi somewhat nervously.
"Rabbi," began the priest, "It must be evident to you that in this town we are plagued by thieves. Scarcely a day passes without one of my flock coming to me bemoaning the fact that his house has been broken into. On the other hand, I have noticed that thieves do not bother you Jews nearly as much."
"Father, you are correct."
"Yes, but why is that?" inquired the priest.
"Look at this little box here on the side of my doorpost" said the Rabbi. "It's called a mezuza. We Jews believe that when we put a mezuza on the entrances to our houses, the Holy One, may His Name be blessed, protects both us and our property."
"In that case", replied the priest, "I must have one!"
Not wishing to be the cause of an incipient pogrom, the Rabbi reluctantly handed over a mezuza to the priest.
Some two weeks later the Rabbi was awakened by the sound of someone pounding violently on his door. Dressing himself hastily, he made his way down the stairs. "Who's there?" the Rabbi asked tremulously.
"Open the door! Open the door!" screamed a voice on the other side.
Leaving the door on the latch, the Rabbi cracked the door wide enough to see the priest standing in front of him, his eyes wild with great distraught.
"What happened?" asked the terrified Rabbi, "Robbers?"
"No, even worse!" screamed the priest, "Schnorrers!"

True Story- My Father-in-Law told me. In Israel the custom was (is?) that for a son-in-law that was on the track to study for all his life and become a great Rabbi his father-in law would give him an apartment for a dowry. The better the boy the more rooms that apartment would have. While the going rate for the top boy was about 4 bedrooms. Yankel, who was the shnorrers for the local yeshiva would give his son-in-laws five bedroom apartments. When my Father-in-law asked him how he was pulling this off he explained quite rationally
“See I did the math. For me to raise the money that I need for an apartment I have to go to America and collect funds. To collect enough money for a four bedroom apartment takes me about 4 months. I thought about it for a bit and I has this incredible epiphany. If I stayed for another month I could get my children a 5 bedroom apartment. What type of father would I be, If I would not stay and collect for another month so that my children should have an extra room in their apartment. What type of Father would I be?!

Answer is A – Ok I really stink at the different Muslim periods and names in Israel. I mean who really cares? An Arab is an Arab is an Arab. Does it make a difference if he is an Ayubi, an Abassid, a Fatimid or a Umayan? None of my tourists will ever really care and so therefore I never really got them straight. The Muslim period in Israel was pretty much from Mohammed in the 7th century until the Crusaders in 1099 and then a little after that again until the Mamaluks- who I always remembered because they had funny names who were from the 13th century until 1517 when the Turks come. Anyone that has been on my tours know this pretty much and it’s as deep as anyone really needs to get in my opinion. So that being the case there is some process of deduction on this question. The answer is not C or D because the 13th century was already the Mamaluks with the funny names. Which leaves A or B. now since I know there was more than one Arab dynasty in the 400 years from the 7th-11th there was at least 3 or four so the correct answer must be A- The Abbasids were here for the 8th through 10th. See I figured it out and I still don’t’ know or care which group of Arabs these are.

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