Our view of the Galile

Thursday, May 25, 2017

May Showers- Bamidbar Shavuot- 2017/5777

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

May 19th 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 31 23rd Iyar 5777
Parshat Bamidbar/ Shavuot
 May Showers

If April showers bring May Flowers, what do May flowers bring? Oh come on? You know this one, you are already groaning when you here this riddle. It is like the first one we ever had in when I was a kid. Mayflowers bring pilgrims, of course. Now I’m not sure if kids today still know what the Mayflower is. Sadly my younger kids probably don’t. But hey they do know about 4000 years of history which includes,Babylonians, Romans, Crusaders, Turks as well as of course the entire Jewish history of Israel, which most American who think that Hashem created the world in 1776. So I’m not complaining if they don’t know the name of the boat that brought the early Americans to this country. After this week if I asked my kids how the first Americans got there, they would probably say Air Force One. But anyways I’ve been thinking about this April showers think because, I had another question. What do May showers bring?

See I’m in the States right now and it’s raining. I was about to complain and say this is annoying because, after-all in Israel it is clear beautiful and incredible. Our rainy season ended Pesach time. Now we’re just enjoying the plentiful water that we have, as I have already done a fair amount of water hikes and even rafted down the Jordan and did not scrape my backside as I have been doing the past few years when the water level has been very low. But despite how much I enjoy kvetching and complaining and pretty much putting down the American experience whenever I come here. After-all I want ot appreciate Eretz Yisrael even more when I come back. I can’t really do that this time, or at least not about the rain. See it’s been raining in Israel in May as well. Not a lot, don’t get me wrong, but certainly quite a few very unseasonal ‘scattered showers’.
 It’s is weird seeing rain in Israel in May. Our rainy season is barely even in April. Mostly it’s in December- March at latest. You know when you guys have that white stuff called snow that falls down. In Israel snow is something we see on the top of the Chermon for a few months, and once every years it will shut down the city of Tzfat. But not in the winter. Just rain. But Rain in May? Certainly not something that happens often. In fact I tell my tourist when we are in Tzfat about the incredible miraculous rainfall that happened in 1948 in the War of Independence when the Jews shot off their loud and smoky Davidka mortar. I say loud and smoky because it didn’t really do much damage. But when you shot it off it was heard miles away and a huge mushroom cloud rose up. Because the Jews described it as their secret weapon and it started to unseasonably rain right afterwards, the Arabs fled the city assuming that it was a nuclear shower that followed an Atomic blast. See that happened because it doesn’t rain in May. The story does not go over that well though when it is raining in May outside as you are telling it. So I just did Masada instead that day. A Tour guide has to always be flexible and make things us as the circumstance present themselves. It’s our sacred duty J.

Now if Hashem is sending us rain in May then there must be some message in it for us. Obviously there has to be something there for my weekly E-Mail. It’s always about the E-mail, right? SO I opened up my Chumash and it’s a new book this week. Whadaya know? Bamidbar- the Desert or wilderness. Hmmm… That doesn’t seem like a water oriented place. In fact in my tour guiding program they taught us that in fact the defining aspect of a midbar is that it is lacking in water. Less than 200 mm a year if I recall. Not that I know how much a millimeter is yet. But it’s a little as opposed to the north which has like 800 mm’s a year. So that may not be the connection. Or maybe it is? Come to think of it, this would seem to be a strange name for a book of the Torah. I mean all of the other books really define an aspect of the Jewish people and our story. Bereshit- in the beginning. Shemot- our name, our essence, Vayikra- the personal call that Hashem has to the Moshe in each of us and Devarim- the words, perhaps the most important aspect of who and what we are, the bearers of the words of Hashem and the teachings of Moshe. But midbar? Desert? That seems to be just where we hung out for forty years. Is there something deeper perhaps?
Our sages tell us that there is no coincidence that the Torah was given to us in the midbar. In fact the Torah was specifically given in the midbar to teach us that Torah can only be acquired if one makes oneself like a midbar- a wilderness.
Midrash Rabba (1:6) Why was the Torah given in the Midbar? Our rabbis taught that the Torah was given with three things fire water and wilderness. Just as these things are free to all those that come so to Torah is free for everyone.
Now this certainly needs some explanation. For I don’t know if you saw your children’s tuition bills lately but they certainly are not free. In addition either is water or tours of the desert. At least not my tours. And why is it so important to teach us that the Torah is free. Fire is free though. That’s one thing they can’t charge you for. The Eitz Yosef explains that the things that we need for basic living Hashem gives us in abundance of and should not cost money. Fire is free we need it for cooking, we need for warmth, man can’t exist without it. Water is necessary as well and if one truly needs it they can get it for free. In the olden days everyone had a water cistern where they would collect the water, it was straight from Hashem and it didn’t cost a nickel. The wilderness/ desert is also free. Ask the Bedouins that live there. They’re not paying a nickel in property taxes and they have some of the most amazing views in the country.
But the truth is we are not Bedouins. We weren’t meant to be Bedouins. We want planting agricultural lands. We want lands that will grow, that our animals can graze, that we can build our houses, cities, shops, malls shuls and Yeshivos- not necessarily in that order. Hashem didn’t promise us a midbar, He promised us a beautiful country. But he spoke to us in the midbar to let us know that the Torah is like the midbar. To learn Torah is a basic necessity of life, it’s like water. It needs passion and fire to warm our souls, and it can be done and we can flourish in even the most simple conditions, we can take it wherever, we go, wherever we may be exiled to. It can never be taken away from us. The Kotzker Rebbe suggests on a an even deeper level, that the Torah is free because each Jew has his own specific portion of the Torah, his only letter, his own holiness, his own spark of Hashem that only he can reveal. No one else can ever infringe on that. It is his and our gift from Hashem.
There is another connection that directly connects water, the wilderness and Torah that the Baal Shem Tov shares with us. In the psalms of King David he writes
Psalms (63:1-3) A Psalm for David when he was in the Midbar Yehuda, Hashem you are my God,
    earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
Dovid Hamelech is in the Judean Desert. We see a barren thirsty land that looks like a desert. King David on the other hand sees a land that is turning upward to Hashem and is longing with thirst for the great flow of rain and benevolence from Hashem. That is what a midbar is. A place that is always thirsty, that is never satisfied. That is always turning to Hashem with longing. The Baal Shem Tov suggests that is the conclusion of the statement that the psalm describes. That as much as we dream about seeing the mikdash and Hashem’s presence that is best described the feeling of a parched earth waiting for Hashem. The Torah was given in the midbar to teach us that unlike anything else in Creation, this life that we have should always be filled with a longing and connection to Hashem. The Temple, the Mishkan and yes even the heart of the Jewish people was formed in the midbar. Because it was the place that we most longed and hoped for Hashem and to see and connect heaven to earth when we would arrive in the land of Israel. It is perhaps the most fitting title for a book of the Torah because it is the essence of our nation.
There are other allegories that connect Torah and water. Water flows to the lowest point, Torah flows to the most humble. The Torah was given on Mt. Sinai, a low mountain that is humble. I think about the midbar in Eretz Yisrael and how in the summer it looks desolate, hot an expanse of brown and yellow, and yet how in the winter right after it rains it is all green, flourishing and beautiful. Rain and water are similar as well. When it is raining it is wet, soggy, cloudy and dark, yet that water collects and becomes beautiful lakes, wondrous streams and waterfalls and of course it makes everything grow.
There’s a lot to be said about May showers. Particularly if it falls the week before Shavuot, the day that we remember the day we received the Torah. Our sages tell us it is the day that we are as well judged on the Torah that we will be granted for the coming year, for it is the day of judgement or Rosh Hashana for trees-{Tu Bishvat is the date that we count the year od fruit from, but Shavuot is the judgement day}. Our sages explain that man is like a tree and Shavuot our fruits, our Torah study, how much we will merit to reveal is judged. I listen to the water rushing beneath my feet in the sewers of New York and I imagine the flourishing of the trees in Eretz Yisrael. The fruits and Torah that are yet to come forth. The rain has fallen, the sky is turning blue. May the showers of May this year bring millions of ‘pilgrims’- Jewish ones of course to Eretz Yisrael may we all reveal the light and beauty of the day when the entire world will sing the songs of Hashem in the Beit Hamikdash rebuilt.
Have a bountiful Shabbos an amazing Rosh Chodesh and a Chag Shavuot Samayach,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



“Fun ain tifeh grub hot men mer vasser vi fun tsen flacheh.”- From one deep ditch comes more water than from ten shallow ones.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ugvJSYnXXI    Shavuot shtei halechem offering reenactment

https://youtu.be/jy295taH08Q    - Gershon Veroba Let Me Be- new cool video!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f50wbHmycjkShlomo Carlebach on the song Lord Get me High… the backstory

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il4dtzUaMwM – Ayal Golan Beautiful song about planting flowers in the Midbar- a great metaphor for Hashem and us

answer below at end of Email

A site where a boat stands commemorating the ships of the clandestine immigration (“haapala”):
a. Atlit
b. The Caesarea Beach
c. The Kefar Vitkin Beach
d. The Palmachim Beach

Always check the facts that Rashi brings down. Many times in doing so you will notice something that may not be the way you remember it. When that happens take a second look at Rashi. Read his words again. Generally if you do that then you might reveal something new, an idea he wanted to point out. Maybe even something that will inspire you.
In this weeks first Rashi of the Torah portion and the book of Bamidbar that we commence this week, the Torah begins with a recounting of the Jewish people. ‘Recounting because it seems that the Torah seems to be doing a lot of this counting us business. Rashi notes that and brings down the Midrash that describes the Torah or Hashem’s obsession with counting us.
Bamidbar (1:1) Because of their dearness before Him He counts them at all times. When they left Egypt He counted them, when they fell by the eigel-golden calf He counted them to know how many remained and when He came to rest his shechina-divine presence upon them He counted them. On the first day of Nisan the Mishkan/Tabernacle was erected and on the first of Iyar (the second month) He counted them.
So Rashi in of itself is a fantastic as is the Midrash he quotes. Hashem always counts and loves the Jewish people. When we first became a nation-when the excitement is still fresh and we are brand spanking new, He counts us. When we fall to the lowest point, Hashem is still counting us, He finds the good, what’s left of us. And finally on the day to day basis when He finally moves in and rests His presence amongst us He counts us as well.
There is one problem though if you think about it for a moment. As far as I recall the book of Shemos which concludes with the erecting of the Mishkan before the interlude of Vayikra with all of the laws of sacrifices and the Tabernacle, tell us that the cloud of glory and the Shechina descended with the erection of the Mishkan in Nisan already.
Shemos (40:35) And Moshe could not enter the Tent of Assembly because the cloud had descended upon it and the glory of Hashem filled the Mishkan.
This seems to be a little bit of a fact check on Rashi, who we know never tells us ‘fake news’. Why over here does he say it didn’t happen until the first of Iyar? Reb Chaim Kanievsky suggests taking another look at Rashi. Rashi here says that on the first of Iyar the Shechina ‘rested upon them’. Yes, it is true the Shechina came down in Nisan on the Mishkan. But it still did not fulfill ultimately the purpose of the Mishkan which is that the Shechina should reside B’Tocham- within each and every one of the people as Rashi notes in the beginning of the commandment to build it. The Shechina was in the Temple, but it wasn’t until the first of Iyar when they assembled each family according to their tribes, their families, their flags and their banners. Then the Shechina entered each and every Jew. Why did it take a month until that happened? Why only now a month later? I’m not telling you. I have some ideas. But I want you find your own pshat and inspiration. So think about it. That’s what Rashi would want you to do J.

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky (1928-till Mashiach comes J) – I believe it is non-debatable that Reb Chaim is the unchallenged Gadol HaDor- leader of the Jewish people today. This is certainly true of the Yeshiva world, but even in Chasidic and modern orthodox world the name Reb Chaim requires no last name to identify him. It is hard to argue about a man who is literally a walking Torah scroll, who completes the entire Torah (Mishna, Talmud, Midrash and all other accompanying early works of the Oral tradition). Yet at the same time sits hours each day and greets and blesses and guides those that seek his leadership and guidance from all over the world in his tiny little apartment in Bnai Brak.
Born of an illustrious Torah home Reb Chaim Kanievsky was born in Pinskto Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky as the Steipler Gaon and Rebbitzen Miriam Karelitz, sister of Rabbi Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz or the Chazon Ish. He married Batsheva Elyashiv, daughter of Rabbi Yosef Sholom Eliashiv (grandson of Rav Shlomo Elyashiv, also known as the Leshem) and granddaughter of Rav Aryeh Levin the "Tzaddik of Jerusalem. It doesn’t get more prestigious than that.
A fun fact that you may not have been aware of though was that during the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, Rav Kanievsky, then a student at the Lomza Yeshiva, was conscripted for temporary army service in the general mobilization. He was assigned to stand guard on a large hill near Jaffa.So one could say he was a soldier as well.
Perhaps one of the most incredible things that Rav Chaim has been pushing over the last few years, interestingly enough, I have heard from many that have visited him, is that Jews should move to Eretz Yisrael. He feels strongly that Mashiach is literally around the corner and has said as much, and feels it would be good for all of us to be here already for the time is now. May his words be readily fuflfilled.

Jeep Guys – Yes this is a legitimate type of cool guy in Israel. Jeep Guys are a type. The longish hair, terrible Eengleesh, funny floppy green dirty hat and pants and usually a bit of a corny sense of humor. They are rugged, Israel’s Marlboro men. They love the outdoors and they try to share that love and passion of it with their tourists. See, there are so many magnificent places in Israel that can only be seen of-road. Viewpoints overlooks, and even holy places that are just in the middle of the mountains or hills. The jeep guy’s job is not only to give you a fun thrill ride. It’s also to share with you a part of Israel that only they can. I can’t think of any regions that one can’t do jeep riding. The hills of Eilat, the Dead Sea and Sodom Mountains, The Negev, Jerusalem and Gush Etzion/Hebron hills, The lowlands, the coastline, the Golan and the Galile. Yup. I just went through all of them in my head and have done jeeping in all of them, and each one the jeep guy is the same type of guy-although some religious and some not. But the same rugged type of guy. Unlike Americans, most Israelis serve in the army and have all driven jeeps there. Many of them have kept those habits on the  streets as well in their driving practices. But for American tourists there is certainly not a lot of things more fun than ripping around with these guys in all of the different terrains. They are the ambassadors of the off-road experience, because for them it is not just a thrill ride it is their way of sharing the beauty history and their incredible love of Eretz Yisrael with those that come to visit. I believe there is truly a special place in heaven for these amazing people, and its not just because of all the prayers to Hashem that take place in the back of their jeeps as they rip around or down the edge of cliffs and mountains just to make sure you really are connecting to Hashem.

Q: When does it rain money? A: When there is "change" in the weather.
. Q: What do you call it when it rains chickens and ducks? A: Foul (fowl) weather.
 Q: What did one raindrop say to the other? A: Two's company, three's a cloud
Q: What's worse than raining buckets? A: Hailing taxis!
 Q: How can you wrap a cloud? A: with a rainbow.
Q: What goes up when the rain comes down? A: An Umbrella.
Q: What do you call two straight days of rain in Seattle? A: A weekend.
Q: What is the Mexican weather report? A: Chili today and hot tamale
 Q: What do you call a wet bear? A: A drizzly bear
Q: What does daylight-saving time mean in Seattle? A: An extra hour of rain.
Q: Why was the blonde standing outside the department store in the rain? A: She was waiting to cash her rain check


Answer is A – Atlit is really a great and fascinating place to visit. It was a camp where the British who did not allow Jews to immigrate to Israel during the pre-State British mandate, would keep Jews that had smuggled into the country. A visit there will give you a sense of what life was like back then, how they would shower them and fumigate them when they first came- a frightening thing for a people that just were released from concetration camps. As well there is a great audio visual display there on a boat that smuggled Jews in. The Hagana led by Yitzchak Rabin ultimately stages a breakout from the camp and released the Jews. It makes you appreciate how easy it is to come to Israel today and the great sacrifices and struggles our ancestors had just to be able to step foot in Eretz Yisrael..

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Jubilant Tomatoes- Behar Bechukotai/ Yom Yerushalayim 2017/5777

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

May 19th 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 30 23rd Iyar 5777

Parshat Behar-Bechukotai/ Yom Yerushalayim

 Jubilant Tomatoes
It is a big week in Eretz Yisrael this week. It is the start of the 9th Yovel. Huh? What does that mean? It’s not a Jubilee year. Yes I know the Torah portion this week, does talk about the mitzva of the 50th year being special. The year after the 7th cycle of 7 years is a year of redemption, of freedom throughout the land the Torah tells us, but this is not a yovel year. So what am I talking about?
Now those of you who have been on one of my tours, should already have an inkling, as I mention this quite often. But for the rest of you who have yet to have made it on a Rabbi Schwartz tour, I’ll share with you a pretty awesome idea that will give you a bit of a teaser. Now certainly all of you are aware that this week is Yom Yerushalayim, right? Yeah even you guys in Lakewood and Boro Park now that this year because you know that your President is coming to Israel for that special occasion. And if Trump is coming you know it must be a big deal. Believe me. It’s a big deal. Believe me…. But the 50 year celebration of the return to Jerusalem after 2000 years to Jewish sovereignty is not merely a 21st century celebration. It is in fact possibly the fulfillment of an 800 year old prophecy or prediction by one of the great sages of the 13th century, none other than Rebbe Yehudah Ben Shmuel of Regensburg or as he is more commonly known as because of his famous ethical will, Reb Yehudah HaChasid- The Pious. In his work Sefer HaGematryiot he is quotes as given a historical timeline for Eretz Yisrael in it he writes the following (or as I have seen it paraphrased to be precise-as I have not been successful finding it inside).
When the empire of which is on the Bosporus (Ottomans (Turks) which were not yet a powerful force in the time of Judah Ben Samuel) – will rise up they will conquer Jerusalem and they will rule over Jerusalem for eight jubilees. Afterwards the Jews will begin to return to Israel en-mass, yet Jerusalem will be without owner for one jubilee, until the 9th Jubilee when it will once again come back into the possession of the Jewish nation – which would signify the beginning of the Messianic end time which would culiminate in the 10th Yovel.”
Now I mention this to my tourists just to give them a recap of Jewish history. From the year 1250 the Mamaluks ruled Israel having wiped out the Crusaders that were here when Rebbi Yehudah wrote what he did. They were here from the year 1250 until 1517 when the Turkish Ottaman Empire rose and conquered Israel. The Turks lasted here exactly 4 centuries- or eight yovels until the end of World War I 1917, when Israel/Palestine came under the League of Nations appointed British Mandate to maintain the country until a Jewish State as promised in the Balfour declaration would be established. Jews however returned for the first time by the thousands and tens of thousands until the establishment of the State in 1948. Yet Jerusalem remained no-man’s land until this week 1967 exactly 50 years from the fall of the “Empire of Bosphurus”. That would then make the year 2017 the tenth yovel. The one in which the Messianic Era is meant to culminate. Ummmm start packing guys.
Now whether this is authentic or not, I can’t verify, although the dates certainly are. I have seen people debunk this, and claim they can’t source it. I actually saw it mentioned on Bibi Netanyahus facebook page a few years ago, although I can’t seem to bring it up now. But the truth is I don’t believe we need Reb Yehuda HaChasid, Bibi or Trump to tell us that Mashiach is on his way. We can merely look at the words and promises in this week’s Torah portion, a few statements from some of our sages and perhaps even read a letter from a tomato (!) to let you know what we are truly, I believe on the precipice of experiencing.
Let’s start with the letter from the tomato who really says it all
“"After the destruction of the Second Temple 2000 years ago, a message came from Heaven to all the flora and fauna of Eretz Yisrael to stop growing. The word went from cedar to hyssop, to vine, to olive, to flowers, to grain, to all plant life – The Master of the World has decreed that we stop growing until we receive new instructions. We were told that only when Klal Yisrael begins to return from golus will we come back to life. We were all very sad to see our people going off into exile – but we heeded the 'Word of Hashem.'  As He said in this week’s portion Bechukotai –
 'And I will make the land desolate.'
 We were told not to respond to enemies of Israel who will enter the land, and we obeyed – Romans, Byzantines, Moslems, Crusaders, Tartars, Saracens, they all came and we did not respond to their attempts to bring us to life. We were told that we would be informed in good time before the Children of Israel begins to return so that we could wake up from our long slumber. 
During that long period there were moments at which we thought that the end of our sleep is coming. We thought that our children are coming home. In the twelfth century we heard reports that 'they are coming.' The rumor went underground from root to root, the cedar to the hyssop, the vine to the olive, the tomato to the cucumber – we heard that they are coming home. Then we learned to our utter dismay that 300 Baalei Tosafot from the Rhineland arrived but no more. 
"We had other false alarms. The Ramban in 1267, Rav Ovadiah miBartenura in 1492, Rabbi Yehuda Halevy HacChasid and his followers in 1700 (different Rabbi Yehudah than the one mentioned above), the students of the Baal Shem Tov and the students of the Vilna Gaon, but we did not receive the message from Hashem. So we waited, we hoped, we prayed. Then, toward the end of the 19th century rumors began again beneath the surface of the earth. There was a report that after Mark Twain left Emek Yizrael that there were angels telling blades of grass: 'grow, grow.' We were skeptical at first. We didn't want to be disappointed. 
But the reports became increasingly urgent. Birds flying overhead, clouds cruising the skies said, 'They are coming.' You should have seen (but of course you couldn't) what was going on beneath the surface of Eretz Yisrael. We were all cautious but excited. More and more reports of sightings were coming in. 'They are coming – they are coming home' – and then the word came directly from Hashem:
Yechezkel (36:8-12) And you, the mountains of Israel, will produce your branches, and you will bear your fruit for My people Israel because they are about to come. 9. For behold I am for you, and I shall turn to you, and you will be tilled and sown. 10. And I shall multiply men upon you, the whole house of Israel in its entirety, and the cities will be settled, and the ruins will be built up. 11. And I shall multiply upon you man and beast, and they will be fruitful and multiply, and I shall settle you as in your early days, and I shall make you better than your beginnings, and you will know that I am the Lord.

'They are finally coming home! Grow! Respond to the work of their hands! Don't check their tzitzis, it makes no difference whether they are religious or not. Grow – they are My children and they are coming home. Grow, give out your fruits. Grow.' 
"You should have seen the joy and jubilation beneath the surface. You didn't know but we knew. You should have seen how they all started waking up from the 1,900-year slumber, stretching their roots, yawning, smiling. I had not seen such activity in millennia. We were told by the Master of the World that we are commanded to turn little, dry, arid, dusty, nearly dead Eretz Yisrael into a verdant, fruitful, agricultural world super power. And we did it with joy
"I don't understand how Jews don't realize that we are the bearers of a message that G-d wants all His children home”
So there you have it a letter from a tomato-{credit to the great Rabbi Sholom Gold for passing on this letter as it was communicated to him from his tomato}. The Talmud in Sanhedrin makes it even clearer.
Sanhedrin (98) And R' Abba said There is no clearer indication of the "End" than this, as it is stated: But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and bear your fruit for My people Israel, etc.
Rashi comments that when Eretz Yisrael gives out its produce in abundance that is the greatest sign that 'the end – the keitz' is coming.
But it is deeper than that. The commentary on the Tur Shulchan Aruch, the Bach (Orach Chaim, Siman 208) says that the Shechina, the Divine Presence, enters the Jew through the produce of Eretz Yisrael. They are the conduit to bring sanctity.  Rav Kook writes that "The produce of Eretz Yisrael brings 'internal sanctity.'" Be careful, he warns, of food from out of Eretz Yisrael. If one longs for Eretz Yisrael, then even his golus-produce gains in sanctity. "It is a mitzvah to taste with one's full mouth the delight and sweetness of the brilliant and fresh sanctity of (the fruit) of Eretz Yisrael. The tomatoes are spirituality, ruchniyut, not gashmiyut -merely physical and material sustenance.
 This week’s Torah portion shares with us the incredible horrific tochacha the troubles and punishment that will be inflicted upon the Jewish people for not fulfilling the commandments while we are in Israel. We have suffered them all. Not just 75 years ago our nation was at the brink of destruction. Yet like a phoenix we have arisen from the ashes. The Beis Halevi of Brisk wrote that when all the sages saw the foxes climbing on the burning embers of the Temple in Jerusalem and were mourning Rabbi Akiva laughed because he saw that if the prophecy of its destruction will be fulfilled so will the prophecy that it will be rebuilt. He explains that the connection between the two prophecies was that the first one foretold that the land would be desolate and barren and the nations of the world would not be able to settle it. He said if that is true than it is a sign that Hashem and the land will await for the Jewish people to return. Because Eretz Yisrael is different than any other country. It will only respond to us. It will await for us. So once Rabbi Akiva saw that it remained barren and it functioned differently he knew that day of the Return would ultimately happen.
The day is soon coming. I hope it will be this week. It would be pretty neat if The Donald and his Jewish family were here to see it. If you don’t believe that its right around the corner come visit and take a walk through the Shuk/market of Machane Yehuda. Look at the stacks and stacks and shops full of the fruits of the land of Israel. Rabbi Gold’s most famous quote describes it best. “If you want to talk to God, go to the Western Wall, but if you want to see him- Go to the shuk. The yovel year is here. It’s time to start packing. But no need to pack any fruits or vegetables. We’ve got all that you need over here.
Have a bright and mystically uplifting Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


“Fun fartrikenteh baimer kumen kain paires nit arois..”- From a withered tree no fruits will come out


https://youtu.be/qunVQoSNMsY - The Battle for Jerusalem 50 years ago this week

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMXRtZsAusE Reb Shlomo Carlebach on Yerushalayim and Reb Nachman

https://youtu.be/q7p6gpsNB4s?list=PL9w_0PxsHZzNV0oeCLVoWNfOHXCrzDZVW     In honor of President Trumps visit-Reb Shlomo the whole world will come to Yerushalayim

https://youtu.be/51yRI9t85og   - Yerushalayim Shel Zahav- not easy finding a mens singer version and lucky me found Ari Goldwag knocking it out of the park on this one.

answer below at end of Email

Q  The Sinai Campaign (war) took place in:
a. 1953
b. 1954
c. 1955
d. 1956

The Torah is truly an incredible work. Any moral code developed by man doesn’t even come close to the sensitivity our Divine author has and insight into human nature that only the “discerner of all hearts and innards” truly has. Yet sometimes we don’t neccesarily notice how true that is because we miss the nuances of the text. That’s where Rashi comes in and why our sages felt it was so important to learn Rashi when one reviews the weekly portion. Because he wrote his commentary in order to point out those little, yet big things that are essential to appreciating the incredible detail of the Torah and our commandments.
In this weeks Torah portion we are told about the mitzva of giving charity. The Torah tell us
Vayikra (25:35) If your brother becomes impoverished and his hand falters with you, you shall hold on to him-(ger)-proselyte and resident- so that he can live with you.
Rashi notes the nuance of the words in the verse of him faltering and you holding on to him with a very deep insight and an incredible moral and ethical teaching
And you shall hold on to him- Don’t allow him to to decline and fall, rather strengthen him fomr the time when his hand begins to falter. What is this comparable to? To a burden on a donkey. While the donkey is still in his place one person can grab him and stand it up. Once it falls to the ground five people can’t pick it back up again.
Rav Shach notes that Rashi is pointing out that the mitzva of charity does not begin when one sees a person that is needy, hungry, has lost their job or is in some type of difficult circumstance. The essense of the Torah’s command is to assist someone before they hit rock-bottom. When they are starting to struggle. It is the perfect introduction to the laws of the prohibition to take interest that follow. One might think this guy has a business he’s struggling with some cash flow issues. But he’s not a charity case. Why can’t I charge him interest. I’ll even give him a better deal then he would get at the bank or off his credit cards. The Torah is telling us that we are then missing the point. Charity begins before the person is needy, when his hand is only beginning to falter. That’s when one has the obligation to lift him up. To give him the break or assistance that he needs. To see him and love him as you would your own brother. As you would want someone to be there for you. Rav Shach adds an even deeper idea quoting the our role model of kindness, our patriarch Abraham, who upon seeing the three men/angels standing the verse then repeats he saw them and he ran towards them. The repetition of the word “He saw them” (Bereshit:18:2) teaches us that kindness means and starts with perceiving the needs of the others. The Talmud describes one who is not charitable as someone who “hides his eyes from charity”. Not someone who closes his wallet, rather someone who doesn’t see his friend, or even the stranger as someone he is responsible for caring for before he stumbles and falls and needs charity rather than a loan. Something certainly to think about. Which is why Rashi points it out for us.

 Rabbi Eliezer Menachem Man Shach (1899-2001) – As a young yeshivas student growing up there was one name that dominated and perhaps even defined the essence of what we were meant to strive for and become and that was none other than the person that could certainly be considered the Rosh Yeshiva of our generation; Rav Shach. He lived in a small simple apartment in Bnai Brak, he studied and taught all day, yet he was the address everyone went to for any personal crisis, for advice and who ultimately became the kingmaker in Israel in various elections and who set the path for any major decision that was needed across the Jewish world.
As a young child Rav Shach was absorbed in the study of Torah day and night. He left his family at age 11 to go off to yeshiva and did not return for years. He studied in all of the great yeshivas in Europe. Ponivizh, Kletz, Solobodka, Mir and  Novardok where he developed relations with all of the great leaders of the time and earned their trust and respect. In 1940 he fled with his family to Palestine and became the head of Eitz Chaim Yeshiva and ultimately in Ponivizh in Bnai Brak where he served until his death.
Despite what would seem to be his isolation from the rest of the world outside of the pages of Talmud, Rav Shach was knowledgeable and felt a responsibility to pass down and share the world-views that he received from his teachers to the rest of the world He became the face of Torah Judaism and founded political parties that were outspoken and unabashed about the role and significance of Torah in guiding every aspect of Jewish life. At the same time he was an extremely sensitive person known to literally break down in tears over any Jewish tragedy whether it was a religious Jew or not. As well he was outspoken and controversial about many issues that he saw as being a threat to Torah life in the orthodox qorld particularly, whether it was assimilation and modernization of Torah values through the incorporation of studies that he felt were foreign. He felt that every Jewish child had the potential to be the next Jewish leader and as a result all children should be taught and raised with that ideal and goal. He opposed various Chasidic groups when he felt their customs violated Jewish law and was particularly concerned with Messianic strands of Judaism that he felt were dangerous. Yet through it all his sincerity, his complete dedication to Hashem and his Torah as well as his caring for the Jewish people shone through and made whatever statements he made to be something that needed to be reckoned with if not ultimately followed.
Rav Shach died in November of 2001 and over 200,000 people attended his funeral. Since then millions have come to his grave in Bnai Brak making it a holy site in Israel where the inspiration of this great Tzadik assists our prayers in reaching the highest heavens.

Farmers – For 2000 years the land was empty and bare. Nothing grew. It’s desert. It’s hard rock. It doesn’t get much water. Only 20% of the land is naturally arable. Those that read the Torah until our century thought it was made up that this was a land flowing with milk and honey and the 7 species. And yet just as the Torah in this weeks parsha predicts as long as the Jews are gone it will be that way, but when we return it will flourish like it never has. Today agriculture is a 30 billion dollar industry. Israel grows 95 percent of all of the needs for our own country here in Israel. It serves as 3% of our GDP and 4% of our exports. How’s that for what our sages tell us will be the sign that Mashiach is on his way.
Almost ¾ of Israel’s famers live in either Moshavs or Kibbutzim, the difference between the two being the former is privately owned land with co-operative purchasing and marketing, whereas the Kibbutz everything is owned and shared jointly. Initially the vast majority of the Kibbutzim and Moshavim were secular, but in recent years more and more are becoming observant and there are not too many that don’t have Torah classes and weekly services. Because of Israel’s diverse climates and topography we are able to produce a wide array of crops. Fruit and vegetables grown include citrus, AVOCADOS (capped and underlined as an inside joke for those that have gone on tour with me), kiwifruit, guavas and mangoes, grapes from orchards located on the Mediterranean coastal plain. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and zucchini are grown commonly throughout the country; melons are grown during winters months in the valleys. Subtropical areas in the country produce bananas and dates, while in the northern hills apples, pears and cherries are grown. Furthermore, grape vineyards are found across the country, as the country's wine industry has developed to become a world-player.
Israel has also become a world leader in agritech developing drip irrigation, alternate water resources, new types of seeds vairieties that grow crops with longer a longer shelf-life, as wells different soil conditioners that boosts local crops.
To a large degree our sages tell us that farmers are the most connected to God. They pray for rain, they see Hashem’s blessings and miracles. And certainly more than the rest of us they appreciate how amazing it is that this once barren land is now seeing the bounty that Hahsem has promised us it will produce upon our return to the land.


Where does a Jewish farmer become a man? At his Barn Mitzvah

Schwartz, an elderly man, is resting peacefully on the porch of his small hotel outside Boca when he sees a cloud of dust up the road. He walks out to see who could be approaching: It is a southern farmer with a wagon.
“Good afternoon,” says Schwartz.
“Afternoon,” says the farmer.
“Where you headed?” asks Schwartz.
“What do you have in the wagon?”
“Manure, eh? What do you do with it?”
“I spread it over the fruit.”
“Well,” says Bernstein, “you should come over here for lunch someday. We use sour cream.

In the early days of pre-State Israel there was a Kibbutznik farmer who had just come over from the old country. Walking through his hay field, he notices a man kneeling down and drinking from his farm pond. The farmer shouts,"Trink nicht die wasser. Die keyen haben gesmacht orten." (Which means: "Don't drink the water, the cows ‘made’ in it")
The kneeling man shouts back, angrily, "I'm a Muslim, I don't understand you. This is Palestine, I speak Arabic and English. If you can't speak in the Sacred tongue of Islam, speak to me in English."
The Jewish farmer replies, "Use two hands, you'll get more."

There was once a Jew who wanted to buy a horse. He went to a few dealers, but without satisfaction. Finally, he came to a farmer who said to him, "I have just the horse for you. Here, try him." The Jew mounted the horse and said "Gidiyap", but the horse didn't budge.
Said the farmer: "I told you. This is a horse for Jews. You have to say to it, Boruch HaShem." The Jew was skeptical, but when he called out "Boruch HaShem" the horse sprang into motion. "Whoa!" said the Jew, but the horse kept going.
"Hey, how do you stop this horse?" he screamed to the farmer. "Say Shma Yisroel", the farmer shouted back. "Shma Yisroel!" cried out the Jew, and sure enough, the horse stopped.
Delighted at this extraordinary find, the Jew promptly made the purchase.
A few days later, he went for a ride on his new horse. As they galloped along, the Jew suddenly realized they were headed directly toward the edge of a steep cliff. He tried to stop the horse, but in his fright, he forgot the correct words. He tugged on the reins, yelled "Whoa! Stop! Halt!", but nothing worked. Then, remembering it was a "Jewish horse," he screamed out every Hebrew phrase he could think of, but the horse kept going.
The Jew saw that he and the horse would momentarily be over the cliff. In the way that Jews have always done in their final moments, he put his hand over his eyes and shouted the great affirmation of our unique faith: "Shma Yisroel, G-d is our Lord, G-d is one."
The horse stopped right at the edge of the cliff.
"Whew," said the Jew, taking out his handkerchief and wiping his forehead, "That was a close one! Thank G-d!-Boruch HaShem!"
Answer is D – This is certainly a legitimate question, although it’s not something I often guide about since Sinai is not really part of Israel any more. But certainly the dates of the wars of Israel are significant. The Suez Campaign in 1956 was the result of Egypt closing the straits of Tiran by the Suez Canal, which was really an international violation of the Suez Canal. Israel responded in October of 1956 by parachuting deep into Sinai and launched its attack.  Britain and France demanded a cease fire once it became clear that Israel was really kicking their posteriorsJ. Israel backed off Egypt did not and then Britain and France launched an aerial attack and the joint forces captured all of the Sinai desert. In the course of the war hundreds of Egyptians were captured and much weaponry fell into the hands of the IDF. At the end of the war the Straits of Tiran were opened, free passage on the waterways was assured and the Egyptian threat was removed. An indirect outcome of the war was the immigration of the many Egyptian Jews to Israel. The war cost the lives of 172 IDF soldiers. America and the rest of the international community pressured Israel to retreat to the armistice border, and an international emergency force was stationed on the border between Israel and Egypt. American guarantees ensured that quiet was maintained in the region until this week fifty years ago right before the outbreak of the Six Day War in June 1967.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Kabbalistically Beautiful- Emor Lag BaOmer 2017 / 5777

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

May 12th 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 29 16th Iyar 5777
Parshat Emor / Lag Ba’omer

 Kabbalistically Beautiful

I am not a Kabbalist. I don’t even wear a red string. I hang out a lot in Tzfat, the city of Kabbalists. But mostly I tell stories and show people lots of cool art. Now don’t get me wrong. I respect Kabala, I certainly am a huge fan of the Ari”Zl the one who really promulgated the widespread of Kabbala teachings to the masses in the 1500’s. It’s good for business. After-all almost all of the graves in Israel that lots of tourists come to visit, are identified pretty much by him. He’d walk around and divine the different spirits and tell us where they were buried. Most of our customs throughout the year actually are based on kabbalistic teachings. Certainly a lot of the ones; Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat, Simchat Torah dancing, Hoshana Rabba braches klopping, kreplach eating, chicken swinging kaporas, regular Mikva going…Ok maybe I’m getting a bit carried away with the last few. Certainly the one kabbalistic day of the year. The day that really didn’t start until the ARI”Zl in the 1500’s is the day that will be celebrated all over the Jewish world this week, none other than Lag Ba’Omer, the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer.
Until the Ari”zl no one even knew that the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the one who revealed the primary work of Kabbala known as the Zohar to the world and whose anniversary of his passing is commemorated on Lag Ba’Omer, was in Meron. There was in fact an ancient tradition that there was a cave on this mountain and in the cave was a spring and both Jews and Arabs would come and pray by the graves there. It was known to be the grave of none other than the great Hillel. In the 1500’s the ARI arrived there one fine Lag Ba’Omer morning with his 3 year old son in hand. He gave him the first three year old ‘first haircut’ or chalaka or upsherin (depending on where you’re from on what you call it-another fun custom in any event) and revealed to the world that this was in fact the grave of Rebbi Shimon. The mountain top hasn’t been the same since. The day hasn’t been the same since. Every year more and more Jews join the bonfire parties here up in Meron and all around the world. This is good for tourism J, as I said I’m a fan of Kabbala.
The truth is though it is certainly a strange phenomenon. There is no other sage in the history of Judaism that has all of the Jewish people celebrating on the day that passed away. Not Moshe Rabbeinu (although Chevra Kadishas (Jewish burial societies) generally have a special day on the 7th of Adar), not Avraham Avinu, not Aharon HaKohen, Yehoshua, King David, or Eliyahu Hanavi. None of them. Now don’t get me wrong, Rebbi Shimon is certainly a tremendous figure in Jewish life, in fact there is not a perek in the entire Talmud that doesn’t mention his name, making him the most quoted rabbi in the Talmud. Yet he was certainly not on the levels of our Patriarchs or Matriarchs or any of the prophets mentioned in the Tanach. So why him?
As I said I am not a kabbalist, but in the 49 day period of the counting of the Omer from Pesach to Shavuot it seems that all of us become a bit of a Kabbalist. There is a prayer that has become a custom to recite andis printed in most siddurim. It asks Hashem to purify us in the merit that we have counted the Omer of this particular day that corresponds to one of the 7 heavenly emanations that corresponds to the 7 weeks of Omer. Now Kabbala warning alert. Whenever you see the word emanation you have to say uh oh, this is about to get spooky. Well sorry to disappoint you, as I said I’m no Kabbalist. If I were I would probably be selling you some red strings with every sponsorship of this weekly E-Mail. I can however share with you some basic words that I have heard that describe this concept, more than that I’m scared that you might turn into a toad. Besides the fact I don’t know how many of you are reading this in the bathroom.. where you can certainly not study Kabbala or any Torah for that matter. So just skip down the bottom jokes if you are. Any way from what I understand the world was created and organized with 10 different ordered emanations from Hashem. They correspond to different attributes by which way we can elevate and connect the universe to Him. The truth is there are really 10 sefirot-(the Kabbalistic word for these emanations). Yet the upper three chochma-wisdom bina-understanding daas-knowledge (or Chabad) are the methods of perceiving them. The seven other ones are chesed-kindness, gevura- strength tiferet-beauty, hod- splendor, netzach- eternity, yesod-foundation and malchus- kingship. Now if you’re eyes are starting to glaze over don’t worry I’m not going to explain any of this. Just keep saying it like every good Jew after you count the Omer without paying much attention to its meaning, it will score you points, trust me. I will however focus on one of the 7. It is after all Lag Ba’Omer time, and Reb Shimon did reveal the Kabbala to the world so we can dabble a little bit on his special day.
See Lag Ba’Omer falls out on the sefira of hod sheb’hod splendor of splendor. [Each day we mention a sefira and each sefira is composed of all the other 6 sefirot so each one is really two-if this doesn’t make sense, you’re just as much of a Kabbalist as I am]. The word hod is an interesting word. It is in fact the same root as the word hodu-which doesn’t only mean turkey in Modern Hebrew, but in fact means praise or thanksgiving. There is another word as well for beauty it is called hadar. In this week’s Torah portion in describing the mitzva of Etrog, the citron that we take on Sukkot is referred to a pri eitz hadar a fruit of a beautiful tree. The Malbim explains the difference between the two that hod refers to inner beauty and hadar is external beauty. The Etrog is meant to be beautiful on the outside. It’s why every examines its color, it’s shape, they make sure there are no blemishes and pay a lot of money for a really nice one. We are told as well not to be (Vayikra 19:16) mehader the face of a great man in judgement-meaning don’t externally show favoritism.  Hod on the other hand is the internal beauty. Hodu thanksgiving is an internal appreciation of the beauty and greatness of something. It is an internalization that leads to praise.
The secret of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai is that he was an individual that was always able to see the pnimiut ; the deep hidden greatness of Hashem’s creation and his people. He personified hod she’bhod- the beauty within the beauty. In fact Rav Zevin has an incredible piece that he wrote on Rav Shimon where he follows this theme through all of Rabbi Shimon’s’ halachic positions in the Talmud. Rav Shimon is the one that suggests that one who does a forbidden act on Shabbat without any intent is exempt biblically, if he does the act even with intent but not for specific purpose of the act he is also exempt. (Melacha She’ein Tzorich Lgufo and Davar She’eino miskaven for my more learned readers who are certainly not in the bathroom). Wherever the internal does not connect to the external according to Reb Shimon it’s not the real deal. It is the hod, the internal that always defines something. It is why he is the one that can reveal the Zohar, the secrets of the world. It is why, our sages tell us that when it looks like he has departed an even greater beauty and appreciation of him can be achieved. For he becomes entirely hidden, he becomes hidden in each of us. Reb Shimon is the one sage who saw in each Jew that despite their externalities and their observance level even on the soul level we are all bnai melachim-children of the King. Forever, never to be tainted by anything that may happen in the external world.
It is no wonder than that we are told that mourning period for the students of Rabbi Akiva who died during this period ended on Lag Ba’Omer. For they were punished for not treating one another with the proper honor. Yet when Lag Ba’Omer the day of Rebbe Shimon, the day of beauty within beauty arrives. Then the true glory of each Jew comes out. It is impossible to not be an awe of every single Jew, It is the day when our inner shine shows the most. We all break out in song, we all break out in thanksgiving. You don’t have to be a Kabbalist to appreciate this for the light is shining as bright as the bonfires that light up the otherwise dark night. It is our huge yartzeit candle for this great tzadik who gave us the power that is so critical to receiving the Torah on the upcoming holiday of Shavuot. The power to unite as one people and to stand before Hashem and all accept together responsibility and an appreciation of the Divine part that each Jews has to play here in this world. So fire up flames, lets’ sing and dance. It’s Bar Yochai time once again.
Have a bright and mystically uplifting Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

This week's Insight and Inspiration is sponsored anonymously by a dear friend in honor and appreciation of the really great Joke about the wasps and the bees last week. It is really nice to know that there are those of you that actually make it all the way down to the end. I mean I can’t imagine that anyone would just open up this weekly E-Mail just for the jokes right?!
Thanks so much- we’ll take it for whatever it comes for, if we bring a smile on your face, I’m happy tooo.. And I think Hashem is as well…
Toda Rabba

We are currently in need of sponsors for the upcoming weeks. Anyone wanna grab the merit of being the sponsor of our weekly Insights and Inspiration. The price of sponsorship is a donation of your choice. Our past sponsors have ranged from $10-$500 whatever you feel you want to contribute. Each person according to their means. Anyone can participate and share in spreading our joy, love and inspiration each week with our close to 1900 weekly subscribers around the globe. It is a great opportunity to honor someone special, a loved one, a yartzeit, a special occasion or just express your appreciation and become our partner in building our community here in Israel as well as spreading Torah throughout the World.
Your sponsorship can be made by clicking on the following link
and contributing via PayPal.
Alternatively you can mail a check made out to

American Friends of IYIM C/O Rabbi Schwartz
10 Eshel, Karmiel, Israel, 21681

Or in the States to

25441 Gardener
Oak Park, Mich, 48237
Thank You!


“Mit fremdeh hent iz gut feier tsu sharren.”- It’s good to poke the fire with somebody else’s hands.


https://youtu.be/rQnTodvonmk      - Lag BaOmer 1935 In Meron…hasn’t changed much…NOT

https://youtu.be/7ZgkZKN1rtY     – Beautiful Acapella song by my good friend Gershon Veroba BaYom Hahu

https://youtu.be/4RXRRx3WKbc    Lipa making Lag Baomer music with bow and arrow.

https://youtu.be/7l498XL3ChU - The Living Wells- Flicker-Lag Baomer rap

answer below at end of Email

Q  A Nobel Prize Laureate:
A. Dr. Chaim Weizmann
B. Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz
C. Prof. Ada Yonath
D. Prof. Yuval Ne’eman

At the end of this week’s Torah portion the Torah tells us the story of the person blasphemed using the name of Hashem. Hashem tells Moshe the way to carry out the death penalty.
Vayikra (24:14) Remove the Blasphemer to the outside of the camp, and all those who heard shall lean their hands upon his head: the entire congregation shall stone him.
On the words “their hands” Rashi notes an interesting halacha
“They say to him, ‘Your blood in on your own head and we will not be punished through your death, for you caused it to yourself.’
As we know there are tons of laws and nuances that realte to every mitzva the Torah mentions. Rashi though did not write his commentary to teach us the laws and mitzvos. He is there merely to give us insight into the pshat-the simple understanding of the verse. So why does he bring this law down?
Rav Isaac Cher suggest an interesting idea based on the above law. With that seemingly he seems to be answering the question that Rashi seems to be troubled with. Why are the witnesses and judges placing their hands on the mans head. That type of ritual seems to be an act of contrition similar to when one brings a sin offering. What sin did they commit? Or what sin would it seem like they are atoning for?
He answers that the Talmud tells us that when a man is being sentenced for blaspheming Hashem’s name the witnesses must repeat for the testimony before he is taken out to be killed the actual name of Hashem and the words that the condemned man recited in order that the court is certain what he said before he is executed. It is for that reason that they do semicha-the laying of their hands upon his head. They tell him as Rashi notes- that we will not be punished ‘through your death’-meaning that we who had to utter Hashem’s sacred name in order to give you the death penalty will not be punished for doing so. See, there is always an insight in Rashi in the reading of the text. Some times you need to go back to the sources and check out the laws he is pointing out. But if you do, you are sure to learn something new.

Rabbi Yitzchak Aizik Sher  (1875-1952) – In Lithuania perhaps one of the most prominent yeshivot was in Slobodka. The ideology of the Slobodka Yeshiva was premised on the ideas of its founder Reb Nosson Tzvi Finkel, better known as the Alter of Slobodka. It posited the idea of the greatness of man, created in the image of God, with a supreme mandate to repair and uplift the entire world. The students of Slobodka were taught to behave and act with aristocracy, for as being the ones privileged to study Torah all day, they were chosen to be the elite of the world. This was not a form of arrogance which obviously would be a negative trait, but rather a sense of obligation and responsibility and of esteem building. Rav Isaac Sher the son-in law of the Alter was the one that transmitted that legacy to the post World Wars Torah world. He served as a teacher in his Slobodka Yeshiva in Europe and when the yeshiva moved to Israel he was a co-Rosh Yeshiva until ultimately he founded the yeshiva in Bnai Brak. He is most known perhaps for really beginning the concept of the Rosh Yeshiva not merely being the one that would give the Talmud discourses but would as well give the Mussar and ethical lectures in Yeshiva. One of his primary ideas that took hold in the modern yeshiva study of Torah is that the great men in the Torah and even the wicked ones were all acting on levels way above what we can comprehend and their flaws and sins should not be understood in the way that we would relate to them in our small 21st century outlooks

Reb Arehlech- Toldos Aharon – Anyone who has ever been to Meah Shearim has seen them. They are the chasidim with the “zebra colored frocks. On Shabbos they wear beautiful gold ones. The story goes that when the Old Yishuv of Jerusalem was first founded in the late 1800’s the arabs did not want to let them back in the city until the repaid the debts that were owed to them, when the ashkenazic Jews borrowed a lot of money for the building of the Churva shul of Reb Yehudah Hachasid. They therefore put on the more colorful caftans of the sefardic Jews and denied being ashkenazic in order to move back in. Whether the story is true or not, I can’t tell you. I heard it from a tour-guide and you know us tour guides. But the Toldos Aharon chasidim certainly are the core and history of the ultra-chareidi neighborhood of Meah Shearim. Walking amongst them one feels as if he has stepped back in time to the old ghetto in Europe. Although the current leader, Reb Dovid Cohen, was actually a Rav in Monsey New York until he moved back to replace his father who had passed away in 1996.
The original chasidus was established and named for Reb Aharon Roth a student of the Satmar Rebbe who moved to Israel- or Palestine as it was called then and that they most probably prefer for it to be called today, in the 1920’s. He was very connected to the mitzva of reciting Amen, loudly and with fervor and his chasidus was called the Shomer Emunim. The chasidus has split a few times with different internal fights and sibling groups opening up. The customs of the community, which number about 1000 families (and they ain’t small families) consist primarily of maintaining the old modest and certainly highly spiritually oriented way of living. Their dress, their lifestyle their homes, the language they speak and the way that they celebrate and live their yiddishkeit is truly old country. They also staunchly oppose the State of Israel, as the Satmar Rebbe and their chasidim which they come from do. They will not take money from the government and they see the establishment of a secular State in Israel or any state for that matter before the coming of Mashiach to be an act of the Satan and obviously not a good thing. The two times a year when they are most visible and it is truly amazing to see them are on Sukkot when they have Simchat Beit Hashoeiva parties each night and this Saturday night on Lag Ba’Omer in Meron where they traditionally have the major central bonfire and festivities.

At the local Talmud Torah School they brought in a fireman to talk about safety before Lag Ba’Omer. He brought some visual aids with him including a smoke detector. The fireman pressed the button to demonstrate and asked the children if anyone knew what it meant when an alarm sounded from the smoke detector.
Little Moishie Mehlman immediately raised his hand and said, "It means my Abba is cooking dinner."

Top Ten Signs Your Rabbi lost count of the Omer
10.    Claims “It's too early to count.”   It's 10pm.
9.      Wishes the entire congregation a “Happy Lag Baomer!” on day 23
8.      When you ask him “what night did we count last night?” He asks you for multiple choice
7.      Keeps wondering when Tishabav will be so he can shave already
6.      You're pretty sure you just heard him count the 84th day of the omer
5.      You just realized, he's counting down
4.      Apparently Day 13 now has “9 weeks and 3 days” to it
3.      First time in the history of man: rabbi actually passes an honor off to cantor
2.      As he's reciting the blessing, you notice his son in the back of the synagogue who is trying desperately to sign 17 with his hands
1.      Proudly recites blessing and day off of his handy dandy Omer-Count calendar, dated 2006

Answer is C – Since 1966, there have been twelve Israelis who were awarded Nobel Prize, the most honorable award in various fields including chemistry, economics, literature and peace. To be honest I did not know the answer to this one and to be more honest it was the only guy that I never heard of on this list. Chaim Weizman the first president and I believe it is certainly an important name to know. As well Leibowitz the brother of Nechoma lebowitz the religious author was a controversial religious figure and scholar that was associated with the Left wing of Israel and was an Israel prize winner. Neeman was also a Israel prize winner for laying the foundation for the discovery of the quark and founded the Israel space program. The correct answer was this lady Ada Yonath who was the first woman in Middle East to win and the first woman in 45 years to win for chemistry. She discovered something to do with the ribosome. Why I would possibly know that or should any tour guide know that I have no clue.