Our view of the Galile

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Imaginary Worlds- Tzav/ HaGadol/ Passover-5777 / 2017

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

April 7th 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 25 4th Nissan 5777
Parshat Tzav-HaGadol/ Pesach Edition
Imaginary Worlds
It would have been nice to wake up to an imaginary world this morning. I lay in bed thinking about it. In this world, our house would have been cleaned already for Pesach. I would have had a check next to the hundred things my wife had on my list for me to do. All our shopping would have been done. The dishes are all tovieled  (that’s the act of sticking new dishes and utensils in the Mikva before using them) and put away. The Chametz dishes are gone. The car is clean. I can even smell our Kosher for Passover Shabbat meal starting to cook in our already Kosher for Passover kitchen- is there anybody that has the guts to have a non-kosher for Pesach home our chulent this week. If so invite me over for some real chulent J. The Table is even set for the Seder. I can just sit down and open up my Haggadah and start preparing for the Seder.
Back to reality….sigh…
Yeah there is no imaginary world. Right? I don’t know, take a little bit of the world we are living in today. How much of it is real. Everyone I know has imaginary “friends” that “like” or “unlike” things about them in a virtual world. The entire world is connected all day and night to these little electronic devices that beep them things that are happening all around the world. We communicate via little things that we type into these little devices and the things that we write on them literally run the entire world. Hundreds of millions of dollars exchange hands via the few words that we type. Well not what I type, but other people, I exchange a few shekels and E-Mails sponsor donations. Relations can be made and broken via  a few texts. The President of the United States can and might even practically declare World War or Peace with the 140 allotted characters of a “tweet”. A “tweet” can bring down world markets, can get the entire world media sending off tweets of their own, can literally change regimes. And in the real world nothing has changed. Just a few taps on a screen. What makes this a real world?
I hate to sound like an old fogey, I’m not, despite what my kids think. But there was a time when we had to write letters to communicate with people. When we had to switch tapes or CD’s to listen to music. When friends were people who we were there for, who we spent time with who we enjoyed each others company and space with. Going to work meant actually doing precisely that not just sitting in front of a screen and tapping away. We carried around money to pay for things, if we didn’t have any we didn’t buy it. We thought twice about wasting film when we took pictures. And when we developed them and got them back it was really exciting to see them. We would think about who to send them out to, who to share them with. It was a different world. It felt more real.
Now the truth is to be fair, my grandparents probably would tell me about entirely different world. One where you didn’t drive everywhere. One where work meant manual labor. Where there was not even time for a notion called entertainment, or energy for that matter. It was a time when a chocolate bar was a luxury for a birthday present. Friends were people that you ran with, jumped and rode with and even worked with. World leaders were people that had earned that right and were respected, authority was respected. People had a different sense of respect for themselves, for the way they presented themselves, the clothing they wore, the way that they spoke. The things that a decent person wouldn’t talk about because it was inappropriate. I was a 70’s-80’s child and it was an entirely different world then what my grandparents less than year prior had experienced in their world. If someone would have described my world to them they would have thought it ridiculous. Imaginary. The same way that I think anyone of my generation if they actually stopped and though about it would think about today’s world. What will tomorrow’s look like?
Virtual friends, disposable houses, driverless cars, no more shopping stores- as everything is drone-delivered to your house, ordered online by just opening your fridge and talking into some headset. There will no longer be any written media or books, they will have gone the way of 8 Track tapes and record players. There will be no more news outlets as we will automatically be updated regularly of what we want to know as it happens. Food will cook itself or 3D bake itself, even chulent. There pretty much won’t be any sickness as all organs will be able to be reproduced, probably by popping a pill or two. The state of marriage or relationships or entertainment I don’t even want to think about. But we are not on a pretty trajectory. Sounds crazy and imaginary? I’m not sure. One thing is certain. It will be a very different world than what we are living in.
Why do I ponder all this now? Because we are getting ready for Pesach and it will be a night to imagine ourselves in two different worlds. Not just imagine but actually feel, understand and even experience and taste each of those worlds. Literally taste them. The first world with the Matzah and Marror and the second world with the Matza and wine and reclining. The world of slavery and the world of freedom. The world that literally changed for us over night pretty much. That will change for us in our seder night.  That’s what Pesach is all about. In fact it’s why it’s called Pesach. To skip-over, which you have to admit is probably the strangest name for a holiday. Seemingly it’s a minor detail that Hashem skipped over the house of the Egyptian and saved our first-borns. But the truth is that in that moment, the entire world changed. The world skipped from a world before the Jewish nation as the first-born connectors to our Father in Heaven, to a world that would be led and guided by our nation. It would be a world that would forever have us as their conscience, as their soul, as their compass and as their light. One skip of a door-post and it changed. There would now be a voice in the world that would decry slavery and the subjugation of another human being. There would now be a people that would charged with pushing mankind to make a better world, to recognize its Creator, that would shatter the pagan and hedonistic idols and lifestyles and lead the world to its ultimate created purpose. That’s what we do on Pesach. It’s what we remember happened and can and will happen once again. In a hop, skip and a jump. With one tweet, for those that are skeptical.
The world is moving so fast, changing for better and for worse so fast. Pesach is the night for us all to get on the train, to get in our rightful conductor’s seat and start riding it in the right direction. It is amazing when you think about what we do to prepare our house for this holiday. Less than a month ago, on Purim our house was full of nosh, snacks, cakes and Hamantash. Our kids hid their little nosh things all over the house. If someone would tell us that in one month, there wouldn’t be a crumb left in our house. That it would be spotless eat off the floor clean. That we would go a week straight eating three meals a day, big meals without one bit of Chametz, that our fridges and our cabinets would be stocked with all types of strange potato starchy food and weird condiments if any, we would think them insane. But yet we did it and do it every year. We transform our entire house and lives for one week. Even the most secular Jews, at least here in Israel, overwhelmingly participate in some way in this Passover world-changing and certainly lifestyle changing activity. Its wild, it’s amazing. It’s almost imaginary. Now imagine if every Jew did this. Imagine if every Jew lived in Israel, where we are supposed to live. Imagine if we were all heading to Jerusalem to eat our Pesach Sacrifice BBQ and visit our Beit Hamikdash. How unreal does that seem. More or less unreal than you think our world might’ve looked to your grandparents? Or how our grandchildren’s world might look to us?
Yes it might seem imaginary, but on Pessach we realize and remember how imaginary and unreal the world of a destroyed Egypt, a humbled Pharaoh and how a nation, persecuted for centuries, of slaves were within one night redeemed, became fabulously wealthy and stood at the foot of Sinai and witnessed and heard Hashem speak to us. How in one night a people that were on the 49th level of impurity, of assimilation, of idol-worshippers, were able to find the strength to turn it all around. How we slaughtered the sheep, that symbol of the lives before and put that blood on our doorposts, declaring we are the first-borns of God.
This Shabbos is Shabbos HaGadol. It is the day and the Shabbos is that is bigger than any other. When something is big it stands above everything else around it. Picture all the Shabboses of the year in a line, or on a calendar. This one stands above the rest. This one is in bold letters. BIG BOLD CAPPED LETTERS. Its different, it’s a new world it’s a world and a Shabbos that we recognize has the power to change the entire world, just as we’ve changed and cleaned our house. Just as we are getting ready to make our Seder, to sit with our family, to tell our seder and to skip between worlds. Not between imaginary worlds but to the realest world. The world that Hashem has been waiting for since the Beginning to see us realize. It will be the ultimate and only real world.
Have a huuuuuge Shabbos Ha’Gadol and Chag Kasher V’Samayach
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



“Zingen ken ich nit, ober a maiven bin ich”.- I can’t sing, but I’m an expert on it


https://soundcloud.com/ephraim-schwartz/eliyahu-hanavi   In honor of Pesach my latest composition hot off the press..ELIYAHO…YAHOO… HANAVEEEE * warning this song is addictive and you will sing it by your seder

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9Ng9-MZoxgShlomo Katz Eliyahu Hanavi also an amazing version

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8c-iuwpkD0   -My absolutely favorite Pesach song from Rav Nachman Seltzer and Shira Chadasha choir! Chasal Siddur Pesach, beautiful

https://youtu.be/5kgbRusmqjs  Awesomely cool Korban Pesach reenactment of Temple institute. Wow! Can’t wait to do it..

https://youtu.be/rO7MdSIk_uc - Annual Technion Pesach story in one minute cool!

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK                                      
answer below at end of Email
Q The remains of a 19th century winery were discovered in Tel-Aviv in:
A. The Tel-Aviv Port
B. Neve Tzedek
C. The Train Station Compound
D. Sarona


You know that famous story or line about that man that asks his Rabbi why God didn’t answer his prayers. The Rabbi tells him that Hashem did answer. “No” is also an answer. Well this week we learn another lesson from Rashi, about another unlikely answer. It’s one that Rashi teaches us numerous times in the Torah. “I don’t know” is also an answer.
At the end of this week’s Torah portion a week before the month of Nissan when the Tabernacle/ Mishkan was erected, Hashem commands Moshe to gather all the Jews together and sanctify and dedicate Aharon and his children and make them Kohanim. For most of us that’s pretty much all we can absorb and care about in the reading. But as we know Rashi is a details person. Each word counts. He notices that as the Torah describes the ceremony with Moshe pouring anointment oil all over them, the Torah says
Vayikra (8:11) And he sprinkles from it (the oil) 7 times upon the Altar
OK, no big deal. Right? Wrong.
Rashi says- “I don’t know where Moshe was commanded about these sprinkles”
I promise you if Rashi had not said anything I wouldn’t have noticed anything. There was no reason for him to go out of his way to tell me that he doesn’t know something. To spend time, money and ink on letting us know that he didn’t know this one. But Rashi, the ultimate teacher is teaching us something in this as well. “I don’t know” is also an answer. It’s important to point out something troubling you and the text when you don’t know something as well.
The Rama of Pano notes that this text is in fact one of the most important texts in the Torah for it testifies to the fact that there was an oral tradition as well as the written law. For Moshe a few verses back (8:5) states that “This is what Hashem has commanded to be done.” And since it does not say this commandment anywhere, this verse becomes the ultimate proof that there was an oral command that wasn’t recorded in the written Torah which we have through tradition.
It is precisely that which Rashi is noting for us. Hey, there’s no command for this? I don’t know any at least… So what does it mean that this was commanded? It must be there is an oral tradition.” See what one simple humble “I don’t know” can lead to. One of the thirteen primary principles of faith.
An important lesson for us to have the week before the night of questions from our children and family. We don’t necessarily have to have an explanation for everything that is asked of us. But we need an answer. And “I don’t know” is a perfectly legitimate one. Even ask Rashi.
Rabbi Menachem Azariah( The RaMA) of Pano  (1548-1620) – Rabbi Menachem Azariah was one of the outstanding rabbis and poskim of his time but he is even more well-known as one of the leading Kabbalists. During the lifetime of Rabbi Menachem Azariah, which was about three hundred years after the Zohar appeared, Kabbalah was studied and taught by a school of Kabbalists in Safed in the Holy Land, It was no small accomplishment to be an outstanding personality at a time when such great names became famous in Jewish life.
Rabbi Menachem Azariah's teacher was Rabbi Ezra de Fano, the Chief Rabbi of Mantua, who had gained fame as a great Kabbalist. Like his teacher, Rabbi Menachem Azariah became a devoted follower of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero (the Ramak), whose teachings and writings had blazed a new path in the study of the Kabbalah. Later on, Rabbi Menachem Azariah studied Kabbalah under Rabbi Israel Saruck, who came to Italy to teach the Ari's system of Kabbalah and he became an ardent follower of the Ari. He considered the Ari's system to be a further development of Rabbi Moshe Cordevero's system. He wrote an important work called Asarah Maamaroth ("Ten Statements") based on the Ari's Kabbalah. This work was published in Venice in 1597.
Altogether, including the ten of Asarah Maamaroth, we know of twenty-four Kabbalistic treatises authored by Rabbi Menachem Azariah. The following deserve special mention: Yonas Illem, Maayan Ganim, Kanfei Yonah.
Rabbi Menachem Azariah was not only a great Kabbalist but also a great Talmudist and posek. For a time, he was the head of the yeshivah in the Italian city of Reggio and many scholarly young men flocked to study under him. Later he was elected Rabbi in the famous Jewish community of Mantua. He received letters from near and far soliciting his opinions on legal matters. His Responsa were later pub­lished. He also wrote Alfasi Zuta ("Small Alfas"), an abridged form of the great Tal­mudic compendium, the Alfas, by Rabbi Isaac from Fez (the Rif).
Despite his preoccupation with his studies, his teaching and his writing, Rabbi Menachem Azariah de Fano was a man of extraordinary humility and he was most generous with his wealth. Beside the large sums he spent to publish the writings of the great masters of the Kabbalah, when he was a young man of twenty-six years of age, Rabbi Joseph Karo entrusted him with the printing and editing of his work, the Kesef Mishneh, a commentary on the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Rambam). The Kesef Mishneh was first printed in Venice in 5334 (1574). Rabbi Joseph Karo sent it to him to have it printed in Mantua.
Rabbi Menachem Azariah was a man of noble character, of unusual modesty and charitableness. He never sought honor and did not get involved in any heated controversy with anyone who disagreed with his views. He took a keen interest in communal affairs and rendered valuable service to various Jewish communities in Italy, where his authority was widely recognized. He instituted certain regulations in regard to the daily prayers, especially insofar as the nusach is concerned, and it was he who intro­duced the custom of early rising for selichos. This custom started in Venice and later spread to other communi­ties, including those following the Ashkenazic order.
Rabbi Menachem Azariah died on the 4th day of Menachem Av, in the year 1620), at the age of seventy-two.


Protesters – Two identifiable features of Jews. 1) We have opinions and 2) we don’t keep them to ourselves. There was never any question that this was going to be a country with freedom of speech, the right to civilly express your opinion and to gather and to protest and strike. And there are almost no Israelis that can claim to have never been in one type of protest or another. It’s a way of life, here. From the beginning there were protests in this country. Whether we should be democratic, religious, socialist. Whether there should be one, two or even three states here. Whether we should take reparation from the Germans, And of course the famous Shabbos protests in Jerusalem. There has not been any issue in this country that hasn’t elicited some form of organized protest.
In the past few months alone, I can count at least ten different protests and strikes that have wreaked havoc on this country. From most recent and vocal crazy bored yeshiva people protesting the army draft, to disabled people protesting lack of services, to farmers that their crops are not being supported and taxes are too high, to defend the right of soldiers to kill terrorists, to pray egalitarian by the Western Wall, Ethiopians aren’t getting enough support, Communities in the West Bank shouldn’t be knocked down, synagogues shouldn’t be. The courts strike, the train strike, the airport and airlines strike, the garbage trucks strike….I am not exaggerating here all of this in the past few months. And I’m sure I’m missing a bunch.
Now most protests are peaceful, they’re just a hassle. If you’re an American you’re not used to this, you get frustrated and angry at this change in your life, your schedule, your plans. If you’re angry about protesters just organize a protest against them J. Israelis are used to this already. It’s why most of them don’t really make plans. It’s also a great excuse to not being on time for something. “Sorry I was held up at the protest”. It really works and is totally acceptable. The truth is is though as much as I wished these protests would get a life and stop already and everyone would just get along. And as much as I disagree with the majority of the things that people are protesting...It's nice to know that the innate spirit and sense of Jewish outrage and perceived injustice is alive and well no matter how misdirected or distorted that may be... The greatest enemy is complacency in my book. And if there is a soul screaming to get up and make a fuss then there is a Jewish soul that is still alive and seeking the truest tikkun Olam and that is a good thing.


(Only for those old timers like me that remember Manishevitz, Concord Grape and Malaga days)
Pharaoh told Moses the Jews were free to leave Egypt. So the Jews packed their carts with their belongings and tried to leave. The problem was, with all the dead Egyptians, the funeral homes could not handle the
demand. The end result was streets littered with coffins. With the streets impassable, the Jews couldn't get there carts out of their driveways. They complained to Moses. "We can't get out of Egypt unless you
do something about these blocked streets". Moses in turn, called out to G-d. "Lord, please do something about this coffin problem." Understand with all the commotion it was hard for G-d to hear what Moses was saying.He thought Moses said 'Coughin" and responded by turning all the wine into cough syrup. And that is why, to this day, we drink Passover wine that resembles cough syrup.
At Passover, we read the story of Moses and how God brought 9 plagues onto the Pharaoh and the Egyptians. And we read that because the Pharaoh was stubborn and still wouldn’t let the Jews leave Egypt, God had to unleash Plague number 10, despite his previous warning. This was the death of the first-born of every Egyptian family. Only then, after this greatest of terrors, did the Pharaoh release the Jews from slavery and let them leave Egypt to journey to the Promised Land.
But in the face of such convincing evidence that something really bad would happen, why didn’t the Pharaoh release the Jews after the first nine plagues? It took years of research by leading Israeli scholars studying the Dead Sea Scrolls to find the answer. “The Pharaoh was still in deNile”.

Did you know that the horseradish root goes back in time as far as the matzoh does? The horseradish root also crossed the Red Sea with the fleeing Israelites. The Israelites were slaves at the time and only had access to a few vegetables. The hard and woody horseradish was one of them and was a household staple.
Nearly all the fleeing Israelites took horseradish with them. Moshe and Sadie, however, while gathering up their scant belongings, found to their dismay that they had run out of horseradish. Sadie immediately sent Moshe into the field to dig up a large horseradish root to take with them. However, because it was dark and everyone was running around in panic, Moshe dug up a ginger root by mistake.
After forty years in the desert, the Israelites finally entered the Promised Land – all, that is, except Moshe and Sadie. It took them forty-one years to arrive. When asked where they had been, Sadie, now grown old, shrugged her shoulders and replied, "Moshe insisted on taking an alternate root."

And a Seder Song for you to sing
These are a few of our Passover Things
(sung to the tune of "These are a few of my favourite things")
Cleaning and cooking and so many dishes
Out with the chametz, no pasta, no knishes
Fish that's gefillted, horseradish that stings
These are a few of our Passover things.
Matzoh and karpas and chopped up charoset
Shankbones and kiddish and yiddish neuroses
Tante who kvetches and uncle who sings
These are a few of our Passover things.
Motzi and maror and trouble with Pharoahs
Famines and locusts and slaves with wheelbarrows
Matzoh balls floating and eggshell that cling
These are a few of our Passover things.
When the plagues strike
When the lice bite
When we're feeling sad
We simply remember our Passover things
And then we don't feel so bad

Answer is D – I would’ve skipped this one had this been on my exam. (This exam was from winter of 2015). You’re allowed to skip like 5 questions out of 50 I believe. If pressed  I probably would have guessed the right answer. As the train and the port were not really wine places and were at end of 19th century and early 1900’s. Neve Tzedek, the first neighborhood outside of the walls of Yaffo was late 19th century, however it was also not really agricultural just a nice neighborhood. Which leaves Sarona, the German Templar neighborhood which was agricultural. But like I said I would have skipped this one, so it’s certainly alright if you got this one wrong.

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