Our view of the Galile

Friday, June 30, 2017

Jewish Warriors- Parshat Chukat- 2017 / 5777

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

June 30th 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 34 6th Tamuz 5777
Parshat Chukat

Jewish Warriors
 I don’t like to tell my tourists where I am taking them before we go there. Certainly not the kids along the trip. I find that if I tell them, then it just leads to more questions and more questions and ultimately I can never describe it as amazing as it will be. For example if I tell them we are going to Rosh Hanikra. The next question is “What’s there?” So then I tell them grottos.
“What’s that?”
Natural water caves”
Sounds boring…”
Well there’s a cable car”
How long is it? Anything else there?”  
“Ummm the Lebanese border”
“Cool! Is it dangerous?” No.
“Oh so it’s also boring….” See what I mean. Now anyone that’s been to Rosh Hanikra knows that it is truly one of the most amazing and beautiful sites in Israel. But if the introduction to it is this interrogation it is  bound to be a downer. I therefore prefer to say to the initial question of where we are going, that we will find out when we get there… End of story. But…but… but… doesn’t change my mind. I’m not saying. We’ll find out when we get there.  If they really put pressure on I just tell them that there’s ice cream there that’s usually enough to hold them off.
Once in a while though in order to build up the enthusiasm I’ll give them a hint, or maybe even distort the truth just to surprise them afterwards. Like the time that I had this family and I told them that I was taking them to the most important and powerful Navy base in Israel. This was where the real navy seals do their exercises. This was a pretty secretive unit and most Israelis were not even aware that they were the force that won most of the wars of Israel. I told them that we were going to be getting there right in the middle of their daily exercises and that we would be able to participate. When they saw that we were arriving in Bnai Brak they began to be a bit skeptical. After-all this was one of the largest and most intense Ultra-Orthodox cities and everyone knows that Chareidim don’t fight. When we pulled up to Ponivizh yeshiva they were even more aghast. This is the Navy base I was talking about?! I told them to just hold their questions and they would appreciate it when we came in.
 Sure enough we walked into perhaps one of the noisiest study halls in Israel. Young men and old Rabbis were literally standing up one across from another and yelling and screaming at one another. They were fighting for truth. They were waving books. They were jumping up and down and waving their hands as they spoke about oxen goring one another, the laws of a levirate marriage and the fine details of which blessing to make over chulent (you knew that I had to sneak that in somewhere J). I explained to my tourists that we were in fact in the Yam Shel Talmud- The sea of the Talmud. These were our soldiers. These arguments and debates over the minutiae of our laws, our traditions our teachings are the secret of what keeps the Jewish people going over the millennia. We are charged with preserving, transmitting and applying the truths and Torah that were revealed to us millennia ago on Mt. Sinai. One could go back for thousands of years to all different societies, countries and exiles that we have sojourned and the one and only constant thing that we would find is this elite group of Rabbis, fighting arguing, defending and refining the eternal teachings that are the soul of our nation. It is in the merit of these boys and young men who truly dedicate their lives to this cause, generally at the expense and with much sacrifice of what many might consider achieving “success”, comforts, and a higher quality of life and livelihood. It is due to their heroic dedication that Hashem has watched over us and provided us with miracles daily here in our fledgling state. Hashem doesn’t need a democratic state for Jews in the Middle East. It’s not why we’re here. He’s looking is for a country that shines out the light of the Torah to the rest of the world. And these guys are our light-keepers.

But why do they scream so much? Why can’t they just talk quietly and nicely to one another? I remember when I first got married and, as is customary, the first year I would be home in the evenings. As opposed to after the first year when I returned to my Kollel for night time studies. Yeah being a Kollel Rabbi is not a 9-5. We went from 8:30 in the morning until 10:00 PM with breaks for lunch and supper. Now being home in the evening wasn’t just chilling out with the wife and watching TV with popcorn. I would still study with my study-partner, but he (a single guy) would come over to my house and he would learn with me there. Now I was one of those really strong Torah fighters. I was the Rambo of the Talmud and I didn’t suffer anyone and took no prisoners. I was fighting for Truth and the Torah way. My wife on the other hand was aghast. As she peeked out the kitchen door, she was aghast as she saw her normally quiet and even mannered husband- OK maybe I’m getting carried away here, yelling, and screaming at my partner.
After he left my wife came over to me with trepidation and asked my why I was so angry at him. I didn’t know what she was talking about. But you were yelling and screaming? I was…? That’s not really yelling and screaming, I told her. Then she got really nervous. No, I reassured her. Nobody takes this personally, and none if it is meant personally. We are both fighting for truth. We respect one another. It’s just the way we hammer things out in yeshiva. She told me that she would probably cry, if she was in yeshiva. And I laughed. Maybe that’s why women aren’t Kollel Rabbis. She corrected me and told me that the reason was because men couldn’t handle being Kollel wives… I started to cry…J
But really what is this fight all about? This week’s Torah portion Zot Chukat Hatorah-which literally means this is the laws of the Torah proceeds to tell us the laws of the Red Heifer that was used to  off  purify the nation from the impurity from coming in contact with death. At the conclusion of this discussion the verse tells us.
Bamidbar (19:2) Zot HaTorah adam ki yamut ba’ohel…- this is the Torah- a man who dies in the tent…
Our sages though read this verse homiletically.
(Brachot 43:) Reish Lakish taught, from where we know that the Torah will only withstand in someone who ‘kills” himself over it? As it says ‘These are the laws of the Torah- a man who dies in the tent.”
See our Rabbis understood and were conveying to us that Torah is different than any other area of study and knowledge. One doesn’t have to kill themselves over math, science, geography or literature. Yet Torah requires the passion and commitment as if one understands that his very life is on the line when one opens up our sacred texts. It’s not something to be studied or read lounging back sipping a martini by the pool on a nice sunny day. It’s in the trenches, it’s revealing the truth it’s connecting with the Divine and bringing His word down to earth.
Perhaps even more revealing is the message that our rabbis find in the end of the Torah portion. When the Jewish people are miraculously saved by Hashem wiping out our enemies without us even knowing about it. The story as told by Rashi is that the Emorites were hiding up in these two huge opposing cliffs with the intent of ambushing the Jewish people as they came through the valley below. Hashem made a miracle and the cliffs were pointed at one end and opened in the other moved to one another, like a hand in a glove, and crushed the Emorites in between. We only found out as we crossed over the pass later and saw their blood rushing through the stream below. We then realized the great danger that Hashem had averted for us. The Jewish people break out in song and the text tells us a very cryptic verse
Bamidbar (21:14-16) Thus it will be said in the book of the wars of Hashem-Et vahav b’sufah ve’et ha’nechalim b’Arnon- that which was given at the Yam Suf-sea of reeds and the streams of Arnon.
Rashi explains that this refers to the miracle that took place at both places the splitting of the sea and the miracle of the mountains here crushing our enemies. But our sages note the strange wording of the word vahav, and the strange book of the Wars of Hashem that this is a reference to the battle of Hashem over Torah-
(Kidushin 30:) Rabbi Chiya Bar Abba taught that even a father and his son, a rabbi and his student that are delving into Torah become like enemies to one another. However they don’t leave from their place until they become beloved upon each other as it says Vahav BSufa- Vahav is from the word ahava- love and sufa meaning in the end. Love comes at the end when you are engaged in the battle of Hashem.
Rabbi Shimon Schwab notes that the reason the Rabbis and the Torah bring this teaching to light over here, seemingly this song has nothing to do with the study of Torah, is because Torah study is in fact exactly like these miracles. The regular flow of the water of the red sea was changed because of the merit of the Jewish people and it split. The Egyptians died however when it returned back to its natural flowing state. Similarly here. The mountains cliffs here as well, were originally connected one to the other, they were separated and the Emorites were killed when they moved back together to their natural state. He suggests that is precisely what happens when a father and son, a Rabbi and student or even a Kollel guy and his study partner engage in that oldest of Jewish pursuits. We fight, we argue as if our life depends upon it, we are willing to die for it, but ultimately we come together again with love with an even greater appreciation of the bonds of love and Torah that unite us.
It is strange, it may even seem disconcerting. It doesn’t seem logical. After-all why fight to make peace. Perhaps it is why these lessons are taught in the Torah portion of Chukat. The inexplicable laws of Red Heifer. The portion that even King Solomon didn’t understand. Rashi tells us that this is a law that the process to get purified from death is by the Kohen himself who sprinkles the ashes himself becomes tamei- impure in the process. We have to become tamei- to become tahor-pure. We have to fight to become beloved once again. When we see death, we are meant to contemplate that there is really eternal existence. These are the laws of the Torah of life that can only be acquired when you are willing to die in the tent over its study. That’s what they taught us in military school of Yeshiva. It’s not much different then what they teach you in any military academy. You’ve got to be willing to give your life to fight for what’s important. You battle and plug away until you reveal the strategy that will insure that your way of life will succeed. That your light will continue to shine bright. For young soliders, or baby SEALs it may not make much sense. But that’s why it’s a chok- an inexplicable law. Follow orders, don’t ask questions. Ultimately the war will be won and peach and love will reign forever. What will be when we get there? Remember I don’t answer that question. But it will be a lot better than ice cream.

Have a stupendous Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


“Ver es kon kain pulver nit shmeken, der zol in der malchumeh nit gaien.”- He who cannot stand the smell of gunpowder should not engage in war.


https://youtu.be/iUz3xuT_0gA    Incredible, fun and inspiring welcome to Camp Simcha 2017 Kol Hakavod to my sister Rivky the heart and soul of this incredible girls camp for children with medical challenges.

https://youtu.be/tXMys2NLXjQ    - I Love this song! Composed by Shlomi Shabbat it is called Bereishit Olam- really amazing.

https://youtu.be/seAUU2K3BYk   Koreans coming to Ponivizh Yeshiva to see yeshiva learning and understand the secret of our eternality.

answer below at end of Email

Q. A festival not emanating from the Torah is:
A. Tu Be’shvat
B. Shavuot
C. Shemini Atzeret
D. Passover

There are so many amazing things in Rashi. His commentary despite its limitations as being only a simple pshat commentary on the text. One just has to think about the ramifications of what he says and one can find some of the deepest and most amazing insights that relate aspects of Judaism. In this weeks’ Torah portion when Moshe sends a message to the nation of Edom in his attempt to persuade them to get over their enmity to us. He “catches them up” on our history since their ancestor Esau last departed from our forefather Yaakov centuries before. He tells them up about our slavery in Egypt and he describes our situation there.
Bamidbar (20:15) And they did evil to us and to our forefathers.
Rashi highlights for us an interesting side point that Moshe seems to feel it is important to mention here.
From here we that our forefathers are pained in the grave when tribulations come upon Israel”
Meaning Rashi is noting that Moshe says to Edom that not only did the Egyptians do bad things to us, but even our forefathers who were in the grave were pained by what was happening to us. This in of itself is an incredible idea about the connection the dead and particular the Patriarchs have with us even after they are no longer in this world. Reb Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov, the great Chasidic Rebbe and author of the Bnai Yissaschar writes in his work Igra DiKalla, who obviously incorporated this message in his life, asks why it was important for Moshe to share this information with Edom. After-all why should they care if our Patriarchs are pained in the grave? He answers that Edom was confident that they would win any battle against Israel as their forefather Esau had the great merit in that he excelled in the Mitzva of kibud av- honoring their father Yitzchak, even more than Yaakov who was not around for many years when Esau took care of him. So Moshe therefore told them, that if they would harm the Jewish people than Yitzchak our “mutual” patriarch would be pained when any tzoris happen to Bnai Yisrael. What an important message, I feel for us to be aware of whenever we deal with our enemies. The best and appropriate response and approach that we should have is by unabashedly mentioning our biblical roots, the merits of our forefathers. It is our job to enlighten the rest of the world to our claim and to Hashem’s promise to us. And it is important to know that our ancestors are rooting for us in their graves as we live out their dream.

HaRav Tzvi Elimelech Shapira of Dinov (1783 - 1841)- When Tzvi Elimelech was a child, his uncle, the chassidic giant Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk, foretold that his nephew would grow up to be an outstanding Torah personality. His prediction came true. R' Tzvi Elimelech was a scholar of eminent stature who applied himself to his studies with phenomenal diligence. When he studied Chassidut under the Chozeh of Lublin, the Maggid of Koznitz, and Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Rymanov, his erudition embraced both Halachah and Kabbalah. The Chozeh of Lublin told him that he was a reincarnation of the great early Torah sages of the tribe of Yissaschar.
A prolific writer, he became best known for his work Bnei Yissas'char, discourses on the Torah and Festivals as viewed from a kabbalistic prospective; Derech Pikudecha, exposition on the 613 mitzvot of the Torah; Igra DeKallah, a commentary on the Torah; and Hagahot Mahartza on the Zohar. He served in the rabbinate of several communities, including Strizhov, Dinov and Munkatch. Known for his ardent love of the Jewish people, he promoted the study of Kabbalah in Yeshivot and led the fight against the leaders of the maskilim, the "enlighted" secularists who threatened to undermine traditional Judaism. His repute as a miracle-worker gained him thousands of chassidim, and his mastery of Torah has earned him the admiration of all contemporary Torah scholars
 Rav Tzvi Elimelech is the patriarch of the Chasidic dynasties of Dinov, Munkacs, and Bluzhev.  He was niftar at the age of 58 on 18 Teves 5601/1841 the same year as the Yismach Moshe and just a year after the Chasam Sofer.  Yehi Zichro Boruch! 

Chabad – The old joke they say that there are two things you can find anywhere in the world. Coca Cola and Chabad. With close to 5000 thousand shluchim-emissaries all over the world and about 3500 institutions in over 92 countries it certainly is not anything to sniff at. In Israel alone Chabad is certainly all over the place. They have over 600 active full time emissaries and 325 chabad houses in our tiny Jewish country alone. But more than that there are not too many streets one can walk around in this country without bumping into a Chabad guy asking you if you put on tefillin yet, or have a set of Shabbat candles, or any other mitzva that they might engage you in. The smile on their face if you haven’t and are willing to join them in filling a short mitzva will absolutely make their day. Particularly holiday seasons one feels the presence of Chabad in Israel. On Sukkot they have Sukkah mobiles they run around in with Lulavs and Etrogs for you to shake. Almost every city has public Menora lighting ceremony led by Chabad and each holiday has its own particularly commandments that they see it as their mission to help their fellow brothers and sisters fulfill. The major solely Chabad communities in Israel is by Lod called Kfar Chabad. It has about 1500 families with over 5000 residents. There are other large communities in Kiryat Malachi, Tzfat and Neve Yackov in Jerusalem. Many of them have central buildings that are replicas of the Chabd headquarters in Crown Heights on 770 Eastern Parkway. As much as I love and appreciate Chabad and their tremendous work around the world, certainly one of the more controversial and frightening aspects of the movement is the Messianic bend that it has picked up since the passing of the Rebbe, 23 years ago this past week, where many of chasidim who had felt that he might be Mashiach continue with that belief that borders on Christianity of him coming back. There are not too many places that once can go in Israel where you won’t see the pictures of the Rebbe heralding him as Mashiach. It certainly has brought Mashiach awareness to the world and it usually doesn’t prevent or even detract many of the non-religious world with connecting with them. Yet at the same time the majority of the Orthodox world has kept their distance from Chabad because of this controversial position. May Hashem bring  Mashiach soon, to bring us all together,

General Marshall is in charge of the American Army, and he is visiting his colleague General Goldstein, who is in charge of the Israeli Army. Marshall arrives at the military camp and is greeted by Goldstein. They both walk around the place, and Marshall asks: "So how are your men?"
"Very well trained, General."
"I hope so. You see, my men over at the United States Army are so well trained, you see, they're the bravest men in the world."
"Well, I'm not so sure about that General," replies Goldstein. "My men are very brave, too."
"I'd like to see that," says Marshall.
So Goldstein calls private Barak and says: "Private Barak! I want you to stop that tank simply by standing in front of it!"
"Are you crazy?" says Private Barak. "It would kill me! Are you some kind of fool?"
Goldstein turns to a Marshall and says, "You see? You have to be pretty brave to talk like that to a general."

A group of British MPs are visiting Israel for the first time and are taken by their host to see all the sights of this wonderful land. On the very last day, they visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. But when they go over to the headstone, on it they read the following inscription: -
One of the MPs can’t really believe what is written on the headstone, so goes over to his host and says, "I don’t understand why this is the grave of an unknown soldier. Surely, if the person is known by name, how can he be an unknown soldier?"
"I understand your confusion," the host replies. "However, take my word for it that as a soldier, he really was unknown. But as a falafel maker, he was the greatest."

The commanding officer at the Russian military academy (the equivalent of a 4-star general in the U.S.) gave a lecture on Potential Problems and Military Strategy. At the end of the lecture, he asked if there were any questions.
An officer stood up and asked, "Will there be a third world war? And will Russia take part in it?"
The general answered both questions in the affirmative.
Another officer asked, "Who will be the enemy?"
The general replied, "All indications point to China."
Everyone in the audience was shocked. A third officer remarked, "General, we are a nation of only 150 million, compared to the 1.5 billion Chinese. Can we win at all, or even survive?"
The general answered, "Just think about this for a moment: In modern warfare, it is not the quantity of soldiers that matters but the quality of an army's capabilities. For example, in the Middle East we have had a few wars recently where 5 million Jews fought against 150 million Arabs, and Israel was always victorious."
After a small pause, yet another officer - from the back of the auditorium asked, "Do we have enough Jews?" 


Answer is A– If anyone guessed Passover. Your really need to start taking some classics in basic Judaism and should certainly be disqualified from being a tour guide. Now in Israel it’s interesting that many Israelis might be more familiar with Tu B’Shvat, the correct answer than Shemini Atzeret, the 8th day of Sukkot which is really a holiday within itself, or Shavuot, the day that the Torah was given, both which are biblical of course. Tu BiShvat which is mentioned in the Mishna as being the day when the counting of new year for trees in regards to the tithing years and seasons of which a tree of one year cannot be tithed for another year. Although I imagine many of them don’t know that significance of the day. Rather they are familiar with it because in the 1500’s that ARI”Zl that great Kabbalist of Tzfat made it into a holiday for the celebration of the fruits of Israel and other mystical ideas. Today in Israel it is celebrated as an environmental as well as one that celebrates the land and crops of Israel. So there are probably some Israelis that believe that this is biblical. They probably should also not be tour guides. One really should know the basic Jewish holidays and their status if you want to inspire people about the land. In my opinion that is.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Lions and Foxes and Wives...Oh my- Korach 2017/5777

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

June 23rd 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 33 29th Sivan 5777
Parshat Korach
Lions and foxes and wives… oh my!

 The lion was hungry. Not that it was anything new. Lions are generally hungry. Hungry and tired. But today the King of the jungle saw dinner out in the hedges; it was that pesky little fox that had been hanging around and today it was time for some tasty lean fox chops for supper. Our friend the sly little fox though had a different plan. He knew that hungry look in the lion’s eye and suggested he dine at a different locale, perhaps that nice juicy chulent filled Jewish peasant sitting beside that brush in the neighboring campground in front of the ditch. (The lion seemed a little hesitant, after-all even the lion knew that you don’t mess with the Jews, especially not those chulent-filled ones, regardless of how tasty they may seem. Everyone knew of the Jew’s extraordinary power of prayer and the God that watches over them. What self-respecting feline wants to get himself involved with something like that?
But the fox reassured him.
 “Don’t worry”, he said “their prayer can’t do anything against you. It can’t even affect your children. At worst maybe they are able to bring down some type of judgment against your grandchildren. But that shouldn’t be anything for a hungry lion like you… that hasn’t eaten for so long…that is rightfully the king of the jungle… that is soooo in the mood for a delicious kosher style meal…mmmmm.”
So the lion emboldened by this reassuring logic went to get his dinner. Five minutes later though he was lying in pain as a lightning bolt came down and struck a tree which fell on top of him trapping him in a ditch. Moaning in pain and cursing his fate he turned to the fox who had come over to visit and asked him how this could have happened. The fox responded in his most inimitable sly fox way. ”I guess your grandfather must have done something wrong”….
 This story was written in the 9th century by Rav Hai Gaon (with a little bit of updated Rabbi Schwartz editorial chulent latitude). He suggests this story contains a significant moral lesson (as most fox and lion stories do). In fact it was sent by Rav Eliyahu Dessler the great English Jewish leader to his students while he was on a boat to the US in the 1930’s  as he studied  this week’s Torah portion challenging them to take heed of its important message.
We read in the about the individual for whom the portion is named called Korach. He is described in the Medrash as someone who was obviously a great person. He was from the carriers of the Ark, and he was able to draw to his cause and rebellion to usurp Moshe and Aaron as leaders of the Jewish people- 250 of the greatest leaders including sages and members of Sanhedrin. He was almost the king of the jungle. In fact the Prophet Samuel who is compared to both Moshe and Aaron is his descendant. So where did he go wrong? The answer, our sages say, is that he was blinded by desire. He was envious for the position of the High Priesthood, he sought to “feed” on that which was never meant for him. And as smart or as learned as one might be when we are operating “under the influence” of envy, desire or lust, or self-aggrandizement then we lose our power of rationalization. We come up with excuses, reasons why our actions may not result in consequences, we become like hungry lions with a sly fox built into us that will give us just the right justification and exoneration to get that meal that will inevitably end us up in a ditch.
So what’s the solution when we’re hungry and not necessarily thinking straight? Well the first thing is to never listen to a fox. Avoid the people that try to convince you to ignore your spiritual “spidey sense”. The ones that tell you to just go for it and don’t worry about the consequences. Rather our sages shares with us the story of the one Our sages tell us in this week’s portion that we can learn individual who did not end up in Korach’s ditch; Ohn ben Pelet. Ohn was on his way over to the big Korach party when his wife pulled him aside and did some old fashioned splain’en to him. She showed him he had nothing to gain and was able to break him out of the moment and he was saved. See that’s why Hashem gave us wives and spouse. It’s a checks and balance. Check out what we are doing before doing it again, and balance out our desires and heat of the moment passion that may be tilting us to the ditch before we fall in. Not all of us are as fortunate to have spouses that can be as great as Ohn’s wife but we all should make sure we have someone. Someone who we can bounce our rationalizations off of. Someone who can be an objective antidote to our natural subjectivity. Someone whose advice we respect and value and someone whose guidance we ultimately will respect and adhere to. It can be a Rabbi a trusted friend or a parent but we each have to have someone.  Lions fall in ditches and people can too. But the ones who strive to be better make sure that we have someone around to keep our balance and on our toes rather than flat on our backs.
Have a marvelous Shabbos and an incredible new month of Tamuz that she bring us all many simchas,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


“Az a leyb shloft, loz im shlofn..”- When a lion is sleeping, let him sleep


https://youtu.be/tiItGCwtavw   Cool party song of the year in Israel Mahpecha Shel Simcha with the Syrian boys choir cool!

https://youtu.be/6HTDN0gYzNA   - What does the fox say in Ramat Beit Shemesh

https://youtu.be/au1CZeY6Xlc  Hakuna Matata in Hebrew JJJ!!

answer below at end of Email

Q. Shabbetai Tzvi was active during the following century:
A. 14th
B. 15th
C. 16th
D. 17th

Rashi doesn’t merely tell us stories. He’s not a magid, one of those wandering Rabbis that would tell parables. He’s there to tell us pshat in the Torah in the easisest and most concise way. If he tells us a story it is in order for us to better understand the text. So if you see a parable in Rashi ask yourself what is he trying to add to his commentary that I might have missed with this. You’ll probably find something interesting that makes you think twice. Which is exactly his point.
In this weeks portion when the Torah tells us about Moshe’s Response to the rebellion of Korach the verse tell us
Bamidbar (16:4) And Moshe heard and fell on his face
Rashi in a lengthy comment tell us
Because of the dispute, for this was already the fourth incident of foulness- they sinned by the golden calf- ‘Moshe pleaded’. By the complainers-‘Moshe prayed’. By the spies- ‘Moshe said and Egypt will hear..’. At the dispute of Korach Moshe’s hands became weakened.
This seems simple enough. Rashi is explaining why Moshe falls on his face here. He goes through the different responses and shows how the fourth time is just too much already for him. I got it. But Rashi then continues with a story.
This can be compared to a story of the son of a king who acted disgracefully toward his father. and his friend placated on his behalf. One time, two times, three times when the son acted improperly the fourth time the friend’s hands became weakened. He said ‘How long can I bother the King? Perhaps he won’t accept any more from me.”
What is this parable telling me more than I would’ve understood from the original statement, asks the CHiD”A? He explains brilliantly that Maimonides has a concept in the laws of Tshuva (3:5) That differentiates between a communal sin and an individual sin. That whereas an individual sin Hashem gives you three strikes before he takes into account all the three sins. By a community Hashem does not punish at all for the first three rather just from the fourth and on. So upon reading Rashi one might assume, and the Rav of Brisk, as brought down by the Shai La’Torah in fact does, that Rashi is telling us this rule. That the fourth Moshe backed off because he knew he couldn’t prevent it anymore. But that is incorrect. It’s why he brings the parable.
The parable tells us that the reason why Hashem didn’t punish the first three times is not because that is the general rule-rather it is because “his friend placated him”. It was Moshe that accomplished it. But why was Moshe necessary. Isn’t the rule that the first three times we get a free pass anyways? So the Chi”DA suggests that that rule applies for all sins except for idolatry and the golden calf which is considered as if they violated the entire Torah; as the verse says “they strayed fast from the path”. So technically speaking they should have been wiped out after the first time. Yet Moshe, even knowing this pleaded on their behalf. He went to bat for us. But here it was too much for him even. The game was up.
See one simple parable, but what an incredible insight.

HaRav Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulai, zt"l, (1724 - 1806)- a great Sephardic sage known by the acronym "Chidah." Considered the Sephardic equivalent to the Vilna Gaon, he was born in  Jerusalem. His father was Harav Yitzchak Zerachiah Azulai. The Chidah’s piety and brilliance in Torah were already apparent in his youth. At 10 he began learning in the beit medrash of his rebbi and uncle, Harav Yonah Navon and; by the age of 12 he was already writing treatises on Hilchot Melichah- the difficult laws on salting meat.
When the Chidah was 18, Harav Chaim Ben Attar, the Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh, arrived in Yerushalayim. The Chidah immediately joined the holy Gaon’s yeshivah, Knesset Yisrael, for a short period until the Ohr Hachaim passed away. For many years he served as a roving emissary for Jews in Eretz Yisrael, traveling to hundreds of Jewish communities throughout Europe and North Africa to raise money. When the Chidah was 29 years old, he was sent as an emissary to collect funds for the community of Chevron, which was suffering from extreme poverty. Perhaps the greatest love and passion of the Chida was exploring ancient texts in museums and restoring an transcribing them.  He spent all available time in the libraries of the cities he visited, studying ancient manuscripts and books.
In 1764, the Chidah left Eretz Yisrael for the second time on a mission to benefit the community of Yerushalayim. Instead of returning to Eretz Yisrael, he became Chief Rabbi of Alexandria, where he served for five years. While in Egypt he unearthed many "Genizoth" (buried treasures of ancient manuscripts) and further added to his vast knowledge of books and authors. In 1769, he left his rabbinical post in Egypt, returned to Eretz Yisrael and settled in Chevron.
In 1772, he was sent on a third mission, his second on behalf of the city of Chevron. Once a
gain the ChIDA rummaged through dusty museums, libraries and private collections in search of centuries-old treasures of wisdom. Only a man like ChIDA, whose love for books was so great, could have the patience to devote all his spare time to this kind of work. Thus, for instance, he was grateful for the opportunity to visit Paris not for its beautiful boulevards and curiosities, but for the five thousand manuscripts he discovered in the Louvre and other collections.
The ChIDA's diary, which was later published under the name "Maagal Tov-the Good Circle records his observations and experiences in the course of his travels. They give us an insight into the political, economic, and religious life of those days. Rabbi Azulal became known as a great authority on books and manuscripts. His wonderful memory helped him to acquire a vast store of knowledge and facts. He used to buy all the books he could afford, but he could not afford to buy many. However, throughout his travels he gathered material, made notes, and planned his writings.
Despite his extensive travels, the Chidah wrote some 80 works, 60 of which were published. They covered topics in HalachahAggadah and Kabbalah. He wrote a collection of responsa known as Yosef Ometz, the Shem HaGedolim (a biographical work on 1300 authors and 1200 writing, dating back to the Gaonim), and the famous Birkei Yosef. He died in Livorno, Italy.and was interred there. In 1960, when the authorities were planning to desecrate his holy kever, his remains were brought to Eretz Yisrael for reburial on Har Hamenuchot. Many open miracles occurred for those who prayed by his gravesite, further attesting to the Chidah’s greatness and holiness.

Tel Avivnikim They call it medinat Tel Aviv- the State of Tel Aviv for a reason. The people that live there in many ways feel like they are living in their own country. They are many times living in la la land. Whether that’s on issues of security and the arab threat to the rest of the country, what religious jews or even the traditional Jewish religion is about, and certainly what the struggles and challenges of those that live on farms or out in the other parts of Israel may have. For many of them, who couldn’t picture themselves living outside of a 5 minute drive from a local cafĂ© where they can socialize, or a pub or bar that they can spend the night hanging out in, lifr outside of Tel Aviv is primitive and they look at the people outside of their medina as being such. Kind of like New Yorkers perhaps. But Israeli-liberal New Yorkers which is always a dangerous combination. Yet it is interesting to note that this city-the second largest in Israel with a population of 450 thousand, which is certainly the heart of finance, “culture” and secularism has a strong religious presence as well. In fact Rav Kook the first chief Rabb of Palestine was from Yaffo right before it moved into Tel Aviv and there were great Chasidic courts in the city as well. But they’re not called Tel Avivnikim. The classic Tel Aviv person is into culture, hip, villagey type of stuff and punkers. They are tolerant and accepting of every type of person-except orthodox Jews and  settlers, and right wing politicians and party voters. OK maybe I’m being too harsh. This is a divisive country and we are an opinionated people. They are on the other end of my spectrum. But you know what the truth is as much as we differ. They will fight for me and I for them. Because in Israel we are family. And Tel Avivnikim are certainly an important part of ours.

When does a fox go "moo"? A: When it is learning a new language!
A man and his pet fox walk into a bar. It's about 5pm, but they're ready for a good night of drinking. They start off slowly, watching TV, drinking beer, eating peanuts. As the night goes on they move to mixed drinks, and then shooters, one after the other. Finally, the bartender says: "Last call." So, the man says, "One more for me... and one more for my fox." The bartender sets them up and they shoot them back. Suddenly, the fox falls over dead. The man throws some money on the bar, puts on his coat and starts to leave. The bartender, yells: "Hey buddy, you can't just leave that lyin' there." To which the man replies: "That's not a lion, that's a fox."
What's a lion running a copy machine called? A: A copycat!
Q. Why did the lion loose at poker? A. Because he was playing with a cheetah
Q: What do you call a lion with chicken pox? A: A dotted lion.
Q: What do you call a lion who chases camels across the desert? A: a chameleon.
 Q: What do you call a lion wearing a stylish hat? A: A dandy lion
Q! Q: Why are lions religious? A: Because they prey frequently, and prey as a family!
Q: What is lion's favorite food ? A: Baked beings !
Q: On which day do lions eat people ? A: Chewsday !
Q: What is a lions favorite state? A: Maine
 A student named Yankel was sitting in class one day and the teacher walked by and he asked her "How do you put an elephant in the fridge?" The teacher said "I don't know, how?" Yankel then said "You open the door and put it in there!" Then Jacob asked the teacher another question "How do you put a girraffe in the fridge?" The teacher then replied "Ohh I know this one, you open the door and put it in there?" Jacob said "No, you open the door, take the elephant out, and then you put it in there." Then he asked another question..."All the animals went to the lions birthday party, except one animal, which one was it?" The teacher a bit confused and said "The lion?" Then the student said "No,the girraffe because he's still in the fridge." then he asked her just one more question...."If there is a river full of crocodiles and you wanted to get across it,how would you" The teacher then says "You would walk over the bridge." Then Yankel says "No, you would swim across because all the crocodiles are at the lions birthday party!" She laughs and walks away.

Answer is D – Don’t get me wrong Shabetai Tzvi is certainly an important figure in Jewish history. Important not in a good way. Kind of like Korach of this week’s Torah portion. This 17th century false Messiah who swayed almost a third of the Jewish world that were devastated after the Cossacks and the Chmeliniski revolution and were ripe for the Messianic picking, traumatized the Jewish people till today and impacted much of the Jewish peoples approach when it came to other revolutionaries and charismatic people in the Jewish world. But I’m not sure why this is necessarily a topic that a tour guide in Israel would need to know. Although Shabetai certainly came to Israel and swayed some rabbis and was thrown out by others here as well as picking up his henchman Nathan of Gaza here I don’t know of any sites where we talk about the story. I mention it a bit when I talk about the Ramchal and why he was thrown out of communities because they suspected him of being a Sabbatean, or even to explain a bt of the debate and hesitation about the fight between the Chasidim and Mitnagdim. But any of my tour guide friends reading this speak about it anywhere else?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Eitza- Gebbers- Shelach 2017/5777

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

June 16th 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 33 22nd Sivan 5777
Parshat Shelach

“Zai nisht kehn eitza gebber” my saba would tell me. Don’t be an advice giver. If you want to do something do something. If you don’t, then don’t. But don’t stand on the sidelines and be the one that tells everyone else how they should be doing their job. How they could do it better.  How they should listen to you… It’s wasn’t easy advice to listen to. I like telling people what to do. To make matters worse, I really don’t like doing other people’s jobs for them. Hmmmm what to do?  So I became a Rabbi and figured that if I was good people might even ask me for advice. I might even get paid for it. I was right about the first thing, getting paid for it though…not so much.
But as time went on I learned an important lesson. Most people don’t really want to be told what they should do. They really prefer telling other people what to do.  There is a whole personal-coaching industry that has developed over the past few decades that is built on the concept that people are looking for guidance-but they don’t like being told what to do. So a personal coach is taught the skills of how to encourage and inspire people to accomplish and do the things that they should be doing and that will enhance their lives, but at the same time make them feel that they are the ones that are in control and are making their own goals and plans. It’s interesting to me that this field caters not only to the “lo yutzlachs, the guys and girls that can’t make it on their own. But in fact many wealthy, successful and powerful people have told me that they have a personal coach that keeps them on track and guides them to even greater heights. Now if the same coach would just tell them what to do, I don’t think they would listen. Despite the fact that it is the same advice. It seems it’s essential for people to think and believe and truly integrate the information as if they came to it on their own.
Now I don’t really work that way. I could never be a personal coach. I’m an ‘eitza gebber’. Probably wouldn’t make a good therapist either, because from what I understand it’s pretty much the same concept. Personally I don’t ask advice too much. My parents and wife would definitely concur. It’s one of the hazards of pretty much thinking that I’m smarter than anyone else. And despite the many proofs to the contrary that the above mentioned relatives might bring to the contrary- they just don’t really understand. I was really right, it’s just that….. Uh huh, they are saying… yeah. But there are times that I do need guidance, times when I’m not sure about which way to go with something, or how to proceed. Or when I have a really serious decision to make that would have tremendous impact on my spiritual existence. Like whether despite my weekly heartburn and Saturday night gastro-intestinally upheavals-emphasis on the first syllable to be delicate, I should continue to have beans in our Shabbos chulent or not. Just joking. Yeah… I cut out the beans already and didn’t even ask. It seems my family voted on that already. But really there are times that I have questions. That’s what my Rabbi is for. I speak to him regularly and he’s amazing at telling me what I can’t do figure out on my own. Come to think of it, he really does the personal coach thing amazing. Usually I walk out of there and feel like it is my own idea. Would I listen, or would he be my Rabbi if he just told me what to do? If he was my “eitza gebber”? I’m not sure. One thing I know is that I thank Hashem every day that I have someone like that in my life.
On the other side of the coin. Or maybe it’s the same side. I find that most people like it when you ask them for their advice or their opinion. I remember when I first moved to Norfolk Virginia and opened up the Kollel as a community outreach organization, the first of its kind, I wanted to meet with some of the influential people in town to get the word out and maybe even garner support. People were wary when we moved there, you know these orthodox Rabbis that come to town just mean trouble…right? Well the biggest players in town were these two billionaire brothers Art and Steve who had made their money by joining forces and ultimately selling their baked goods and fish business to Sarah Lee. They were influential and tremendous philanthropists. In a nutshell they were people I wanted to meet. It took me about 4 months of relentless weekly calling until they realized I wasn’t going away and that they should probably just meet with me and get it over with. I will never forget our first meeting.
When I sat down with them I told them that I was not here to ask them or meet with them for money. I had my funding set up already and that’s not what I was there for. That eased them up a bit. I continued and told them that I was really there more for their wisdom, advice and insight. They were after-all pillars of the community and knew the ins and outs. Whatever they could share with me, what pitfalls to avoid, how I might be able to serve as a resource to the community, how I could develop the necessary “community organization face would help me. To be honest I was hoping for a check as well, but hey, I figured the best way to develop a relationship with them would be asking for their advice. In retrospect, the advice was probably a lot more crucial than that young know-it-all Rabbi thought it was worth. But anyways, that certainly broke down any hesitations that they may have had. As I said everyone loves to share advice and be an “eitza-gebber” especially if they know it’s not gonna cost them anything. We had a great hour long conversation. They shared with me a lot of insights and we really bonded. We joked, we shared stories, it was really good.
I figured as we were finishing that it had gone so well that I may as well make a play. I told Steve as we were leaving and thanked him, that I really enjoyed our conversation and I would love to invite him to come to my weekly Sunday morning class. It would be fun, interesting and inspiring and we even had free bagels and lox each week. Steve looked at me and smiled and said the words I will never forget…
“You’re not gonna get me with bagels and lox, Rabbi!” Yeah I had forgotten that this was the man that sold his fish and baked goods business to Sarah Lee… Maybe I should’ve asked an eitza before I gave that invitation.
This week our Torah portion discusses that tragic story of people that were eitza gebbers. We are told the story of the spies that Moshe sent out to the land of Israel and their plot to dissuade the Jews from going there. The spies that were sent out were the Nasi- of every tribe, the princes, the leaders, good and holy people. Yet at the same time Moshe was concerned. He changed the name of his faithful student from Hoshea to Yehoshua-Joshua, adding on two letters yud and heh that represent Hashem’s name for Hashem to save him from the eitza of the spies. Later on the Torah tells us that the other good spy Calev goes to the pray in Chevron by the grave of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs that he shouldn’t be drawn into the eitza of the spies.
In previous years we discussed what the spies were thinking and what their scheme and plan was. What made such great men make such a great error? Many different commentaries offer suggestions. I want to focus on a different question. If Moshe, Yehoshua and Calev were wary already in the first place why send them? Why not try to prevent it? It’s also fascinating the word that is used here is the eitza- the advice of the spies. Not plot or scheme but advice. The Lubavitcher Rebbe even notes that the term eitza/ advice is used regularly as a good thing as well. In fact he suggests that the spies, who were chosen by Moshe and even Hashem were good god-fearing people, well-intentioned, the Torah tells us so and Moshe wouldn’t have chosen otherwise. They had good ideas, were smart and truly were the best people for the mission. The problem and fear was that they might misinterpret the mission and become eitza-gebbers. Not bad eitza-gebbers, but people that would inflect their own view-point, perspective and advice into a mission that didn’t required it.
See Moshe was very specific about what he wanted them to do in Israel- or better yet the land of Canaan. They were sent la’tour et ha’aretz-to travel through the land. The word for spy which is what Yosef accuses the brothers of when they came down to Egypt and what Yehoshua sends later on right before they come into the land is l’ragel.The word la’tour is from the same root as Torah. To study the land, to read it and learn it like a piece of Talmud, like a page of the Torah with Rashi. The difference is that spying is to check out what are the strong and weak points and how and even more significantly the feasibility of a particular strategy, mission or plan might be. Torah is an entirely different concept. When we study Torah the basic premise is that this is the word of God. It is true. Anything that seems incomprehensible, unfeasible, irrelevant or illogical is only because of the frailty of my finite mortal comprehension that hasn’t grasped the divine wisdom that is there. My brain is too full of chulent. I haven’t cleared it out and reached a level of appreciation of spiritual understanding of a world that is being run constantly by a God that sees and understands all and that is above time and space. The world is on one divinely steered trajectory and we as the Jewish people, the Divine chosen representatives, are in the front car of that train. So when we study, we ask we question we even challenge, yet at the same time we never question the veracity of the page we are studying, the mission that we have.
Moshe prays, he changes Yehoshua’s name, Kalev heads down to Hebron as well to daven that he shouldn’t fall into the danger of being an eitza-gebber. That they shouldn’t lose sight and confuse the role that they are meant to be playing over here. Their job was never to assess the land of Israel and certainly not feasibility of its already ordained conquest, but to study it, learn every tree, every city, every grape and pomegranate. Come back to tell the Jewish people about the 40 day “class”  they just had in “limudei Eretz Yisrael- the study of land of Israel”. You can even tell them how impossible it might seem to conquer it at first glance, and how there were parts of the shiur-class that they couldn’t wrap their brains around-like how the heck this was gonna happen. It’s a shverra gemara- as we would say in yeshiva- a difficult piece of Talmud. But every yeshiva guy knows that we never throw out the gemara if we don’t understand it. We just keep working at it. Because we know it is true. We know it is from Hashem, and we even know that ultimately if we keep plugging away at it and not just jump to the quickest and easiest advice, ultimately that ray of divine sunlight will shine down and it will all make sense.
The land of Israel is full of eitza-gebbers. I believe that it was Golda Meir that one time told President Nixon that he was the president of 250 million citizens were as she was the prime minister of 5 million presidents. The word president or nasi contains the words yeish and ayin- there is and there isn’t. In fact the word anashim- men of distinction is composed of the same letters yeish and mei’ayin- everything from nothing. The world we believe has a Creator that created this world out of nothing. Moshe by Hashem’s command chose people that would exemplify this concept. On one hand men that are yeish- that have everything that it takes to understand, explore and achieve insight and knowledge into the wonders of the land that awaits them. At the same time to not got sucked into that yeish and knowledge and role that they are given to forget that ultimately we all come from nothing. Hashem is the one that is running the show. If you read through the text Moshe uses the words in his mission to them.
Bamidbar (13:20) Hayeish bah eitz im ayin”- is there a tree or isn’t there?”
So yes, we are an opinionated people that feel the need more than any other nation in the world. We more than anyone else have seen the hand of Hashem in our very miraculous continued existence despite any rational and non-God oriented prediction. We live in the modern State of Israel that by any military and strategic forecast should’ve been wiped off the map decades ago. We know that there is a yeish and we are charged with sharing that Torah with the world. But we should never forget the ayin as well. We should never forget that ultimately despite whatever wisdom and knowledge that we may have achieved, ultimately we are but clay in the hands of the master potter. He is the one that will decide the shape and form that everything will take. That’s one eitza, one piece of advice, I believe even my saba wouldn’t mind me leaving you with.
Have a spectacular Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

This week's Insight and Inspiration is sponsored by my dear friend and weekly insights enthusiast Ezra Kohn in honor and appreciation of the weekly inspiration that Rabbi Schwartz provides as well in appreciation and honor of the “best tour guide” in Israel who’s passion, humor and love for the land of Israel is truly contagious and makes us want to come as much as possible, if not forever. May Hashem continue to give you strength to continue your holy work
Thank You!


“Der bester ferd darf hoben a baytsh, der klugster man an eytse, un di frumste mentch a frau.”- The best horse needs a whip, the wisest man advice, and the most chaste man a

https://youtu.be/WH72VNFPDyE  8th day newest video- Got a bit of Moses in Me- although I have no clue what it has to do with basketball

https://youtu.be/MvM8VIS-Sjc  - 732-370-3600- don’t know what this number is from? It’s the new Lakewood jingle! Cute!

https://youtu.be/iRFXqxHyDAU What type of shopper are you? Pretty hilarious, the people you meet in the supermarket
answer below at end of Email

Q. The Piyyutim (musical poetry) for Selichot (penitential prayers) among the Sephardic Jews start:
A. At the beginning of the month of Tishrei
B. At the beginning of the month of Elul
C. On the Ninth of Av
D. On the seventeenth of Tammuz

Learn your Rashi’s every week, don’t just read them. Learn them and remember them. At least the ones that you just learned from the current parsha. If you keep them in mind then you can find connections, things that may seem at first glance like contradictions and remarkable insights once you start to ponder them. It’s worth it. His commentary deserves it and so do you.
In this week’s portion on Shelach in discussing the story and debacle of the spies that Moshe sent out to the Land of Israel that came back with their bad report that ultimately led to us wandering in the wilderness for 40 years and Tishah B’Av becoming an eternal day of tragedy and mourning, the Torah tells us of the return of the spies to Moshe
Bamidbar-(13:26) “And they went and they came to Moshe and to Aharon”
Rashi notes the seemingly extraneous term that they went and came. Obviously they went.  It already told us about their trip there, how they toured the land, went to chevron and even cut grapes. In fact the previous verse already says that they “returned from spying out the land”. So why is this verse seemingly repeating this information?
“To connect their going to their coming-just as their coming back to Moshe was with an evil scheme, so too their initial going was with an evil scheme”
Seems simple enough. A nice explanation. That is unless you remember the Rashi you just read just a few verses back that states in verse 3 that explains that when the Torah tells us that they were all anashim-men it is telling us that at that time they were all kishairim, kosher, honorable. So were they honorable when they left or were they hatchers of an evil scheme?
The Imrei Emes of Ger suggests a fascinating insight. The Talmud tells us good intentions that for some reason are not able to come to fruition, Hashem connects it and views it as if one fulfilled the intent. However an evil intent Hashem does not view it as if he did the action. Those are the merciful ways of Hashem. The Talmud however qualifies that rule that an intent that ultimately does come to fruition than Hashem punishes and holds one liable for the intent as well. With this understanding he explains our quandary and Rashi. Initially when the spies left all they had was an evil plot, to malign the land of Israel and dishearten the people. At that point the intent was not realized. They could’ve backed out. They aren’t held accountable and it doesn’t change their ‘Kosher” status. However when they returned to Moshe with their report- Rashi points out, Hashem connected their evil intent to their action. “Just as their coming was with an evil intent so too was their leaving”. Now the initial leaving is held against them as well.
What an amazing reading and understanding of Rashi! And what a powerful lesson and idea for us to have in our lives. Just because we may have bad thoughts or plans, they won’t be held against us. We can still straighten our way. Vice versa as well is true and inspiring. We shouldn’t get discouraged if we plan to do something good, a mitzva, a kindness or a good deed and it doesn’t work out. Hashem is looking out for all of us and will reward us for the intent as if we did the actual action.
I told you it pays to learn your Rashis.

Rav Avraham Mordechai Alter, the Imrei Emet of Ger, (1866- 1948). The son of Rav Yehuda Leib (Sefat Emet) and a great-grandson of the Chidushei Harim, he was the third Rebbe in the Gur dynasty, the leader of over 250,000 chassidim in pre-WW II Poland. During his leadership of Gur he established many rules that brought the Chasidic world and Lithuanian world closer together renouncing many of the customs of late morning prayer services and lack of serious Torah and Talmud study amongst the laypeople. To a large degree he can be credited with bringing these two worlds that fought bitterly for years back together. He was a staunch member of Agudath Yisrael and visited Eretz Yisrael 5 times before ultimately escaping Europe with his three of his sons to Eretz Yisrael from the fires of the Holocaust. There he began to rebuild the Ger community establishing schools and communities. He died during the siege of Yerushalayim in the middle of the War of Independence on Shavuot, 1948. He is buried in the courtyard of Ger as during the war his body couldn’t be moved to Mt. of Olives where he had purchased land.

Lameds – Huhhhh? You mean you never heard of lameds. Don’t feel bad it’s a Schwartz family made up name for all of those cars that you see driving around town with letter Lamed on the roof.  The lamed stands for lomeid- learner. They are student drivers. In America you see them occasionally. In Israel it seems like every 8th car is a lamed. The reason is because unlike America where getting your license is a very easy process, a few week summer course maybe 10 times or so and your good to go. Here in Israel it’s like a whole year program. It also costs a fortune. Then to get an exam, one has to be lucky enough that the transportation authority is not an strike and are not on their lunch break. I think they only do maybe 10 people or so a month. It’s annoying, it’s Israeli bureaucracy at its finest. Generally speaking they work under the assumption that it will make you a better driver if they fail you a few times first. As well, they get to charge you another exorbitant fee to do it again, and then find the day that they are open and available to retest yourself. This makes them feel powerful, which is important to many Israelis.
Lameds are all over the place. They wait like a ten minutes to enter into a traffic circle. They are always driving too slowly, and in general they are part of the frustrating Israeli driving experience. One would think with all this practice Israeli drivers would be the best drivers in the world…. Ummmm… yeah…. Not really. The one thing that I assuage myself with though is that in general most Israeli Chariedi yeshiva guys and girls are not lameds, because unlike their American counterparts who get theirs a soon as the law permits it. In their circles in Israel it’s not really encouraged until after their married and even then, why not take a bus? It’s cheaper, It’s more convenient. And it’s less lameds on the road.
Olim that move to Israel within the first year can just trade in their foreign license and take the exam without having become a lamed first.  Although it’s good to take a class or two just to familiarize yourself with the Israel laws and roads. But don’t miss the year, because then you have to go through the whole process. Incidentally, I’m sure you all are wondering, Yes, I passed the first time around.

 'I have bad news and worse news ...' a financial adviser says to his client. 
"Which would you like to hear first?"
“The bad news,” the client says.
“All your money will be gone in 24 hours.”
“Oh my gosh,” the client says. “What’s the worse news?”
“I should have made this call yesterday.”

A doctor and a lawyer were attending a cocktail party when the doctor was approached by a man who asked advice on how to handle his ulcer. The doctor mumbled some medical advice, then turned to the lawyer and grumbled, "I hate it when people seek free advice from me at parties."
The lawyer replied, "I know just what you mean. It happens to me all the time."
"How do you handle it," asked the doctor. "It seems rude not to answer a question when you are asked for advice during a social function."
"I just send the person a bill for your time" replied the lawyer.
"That's good," said the doctor. "I'll have to remember that."
The doctor went home and thought about writing a bill to the man who asked about the ulcer, but when he woke up the next day it had already slipped his mind. The night's events came rushing back to him the next day, however, when he opened his mail. In it, he found a bill for $100 from the lawyer for "consultation services rendered."

Bernard goes to see his Rabbi. "Something terrible is happening to me, Rabbi. I must talk to you about it."
The Rabbi asks, "So what's wrong, Bernard?"
Bernard replies, "I’m sure that my wife Sarah is poisoning me."
The Rabbi is surprised by this and says to Bernard, "I'm sure you can’t be right."
But Bernard pleads, "I'm telling you, Rabbi, I'm certain Sarah’s poisoning me and I don’t know what to do."
The Rabbi shrugs his shoulders and says, "OK, if I can talk to Sarah, I might be able to find out what’s happening. I can then let you know what I’ve discovered."
Bernard says, "Thank you Rabbi. What would I have done without you?"
A week later, the Rabbi calls Bernard and says, "Well, I contacted Sarah – in fact I spoke to her on the phone for over three hours. Do you want my advice now?"
Bernard replies, "Yes, please, Rabbi."
"I think you should take the poison!"

Morris the Edgware tailor is worried because his wife Hetty is very ill and needs a good doctor. Everyone knows that Dr Myers is the best doctor in Edgware, so Morris rings him to say that he would like him to treat Hetty.
Dr Myers says, “OK, but can you afford me? What if I’m unable to save Hetty and you decide not to pay my bills?”
Morris replies, “I promise to pay you anything, no matter whether you cure Hetty or kill her.”
So Dr Myers agrees to treat Hetty. Unfortunately, Hetty dies soon after. When Dr Myers invoice arrives, Morris refuses to pay, despite his promise. After much arguing, they agree to take the issue to their Rabbi for a decision.
Dr Myers puts his side of the story to the Rabbi. “He promised to pay me, ‘no matter whether I cured his wife or killed her. “After a few minutes deliberation, the Rabbi says, “So did you cure her?” 
Dr Myers has to reply, “No.”
The Rabbi then asks, “So did you kill her?”
“No, I certainly did not,” replied Dr Myers.
“In that case,” says the Rabbi, “Morris owes you nothing – you fulfilled neither of the conditions on which you agreed that your fee should be paid.”

Answer is B – Now why would a tour guide need to know this, you’re wondering? Or maybe you don’t even know what or when these Jewish months are or what piyutim mean or selichos mean. So quick explanation- before the high holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur(which is in the month of Tishrei) traditional ashkenazic and Sefardic Jews rise up early in the morning to say extra supplications and prayers. For those that are night birds though, in many places you can recite them after midnight instead. Ashkenazi Jews begin reciting these a week before RH and YK. Sefardic Jews, however get a headstart and say the month from the beginning of the preceding month Elul. The Ashkenazi Jews, jokingly of course, attribute this to them requiring extra atonement for the sin of eating kitniyot on Pesach (if you don’t know what that is look it up-too lengthy to explain…). Why do Tour guides need to know this info? Well it’s a big industry in Israel. Selichot tours-mostly for Israeli tourists where they do a late midnight tour around Jerusalem, Tzfat and other religious neighborhoods, usually going Synagogue to Synagogue. It’s actually pretty cool. Come here and try it. Elul is a slow season anyways, so I have some availabilityJ.