Our view of the Galile

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?

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