Our view of the Galile

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.

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