Our view of the Galile

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.

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