Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
July 14th 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 36 20th Tamuz 5777
A Passing View
I love lookout points. Eretz Yisrael has the most magnificent mountains where you can look out and see fantastic overlooks of this beautiful and incredible country that Hashem has given us. Whether it’s on Mt/ Carmel looking over the entire Jezreel valley, Mitzpeh Yericho overlooking the Dead Sea and the Judean desert, places in the Golan, the Negev, and even Jerusalem and Chevron it’s just awe-inspiring. What makes a lookout even more amazing, particularly when I bring tourists there is when I show them the sites and I GPS them as to our surroundings and then while they sit down and take it all in I open up my trusty pocket Tanach and read them the stories, the descriptions of the area as delineated there, the battles that took place, the people that stood there. They feel it. They’re experiencing it. The past, the land, our people, our history. It all clicks. There’s really nothing like it. And then we can go for ice cream and go to the next great place. With a stop at the bathrooms of course along the way.
Ooops! I forgot something. The pictures, of course. Or more recently of course the selfies. Now frankly I’m not a selfie type of person. I still haven’t mastered the art of fitting myself into a picture and holding the I-phone at the right angle to get me and the view I want int. So usually I just get like one eye and half of my smile and the pole in background. But as a tour-guide it is my responsibility to take the family picture by the overlook. To get 6 year old Moishy who’s had enough already on top of this mountain while the Rabbi has been rambling on for the past 10 minutes to stay another minute and even smile. Forget about to stop fighting with Estie who’s been teasing him the whole time. I’ve pretty much mastered the technique of reverse-psychology though where I tell him to stop smiling and to make angry faces already. That usually gets a grin. I learned that a few years ago when my photographer at one of our family simchos did that to me after I‘ve had enough already and wanted to go into the smorgasbord next door and start eating already and pictures seemed to go on forever. Also Rivky, my sister was bothering me and teasing me the whole time J. Anyways, once I get them all together I tell them that they should just know that really this whole picture thing is really a waste. Although it is certainly necessary because if there’s no picture than you can’t really prove you were there. Although I still haven’t figured out why that is something that needs to be proven. But either way, it really is a waste because ultimately the picture will never truly capture the incredible view and feeling that they experienced. They haven’t created such a camera yet. The sense of awe and wonder is just something that they will have to capture in their hearts and souls and embed it in their memory. Or come back and see it again, hopefully. Because somethings are just too awesome to be limited by a little blip on a screen. Most people seem fine with that. They concur and agree. Somethings are just too amazing to for even the newest iphones with even 50 million pixels to capture. I tell them it is called Hashem.
This week’s Torah portion seems to tell us that Hashem is also a big fan of overlooks. There are quite a few times in the Torah that Hashem looks down and even has his faithful servants do the same. Hashem looks down on Creation- what an awesome view that must have been! He sees all that He has made and it is very good and blesses the world. He looks down at the sins of the world just a millennia later and sees the destruction man has wrought upon that perfect Creation and He decides to wash it clean and start again. He calls Avraham out and tells him to count the stars in heaven and promises him his children will be like those stars. Avraham looks out at Sodom after its destruction, He sees the mountain from a distance where he is told to sacrifice his son. Hashem looks down upon our pain and persecution in Egypt. We have that amazing view Hashem tells Moshe as we stand by the Red Sea to stand back and watch the great salvation he will perform us and it splits. How cool was that? On the other hand not long after Hashem calls Moshe”le and tells him to look down from the mountain as we were dancing by the golden calf a few thousand years ago this past week on the 17th of Tamuz. Yup there is certainly a lot of overlooks in the Torah. But this week’s Torah portion definitely tells us of the most famous one.
It is right after the Torah tells us the story of the daughters of Tzlafachad who were nervous that they would not be able to inherit a portion in the land of Israel as their father died without sons and the law didn’t seem to address the issue of whether women inherited land until that point. Right after Hashem commands Moshe to tell them that they would inherit their father, yet they should marry within their own tribes in order that it would at least for the first generation remain as part of their tribal portion. Moshe turns to Hashem and wonders if he himself will be able to have his children inherit him. It is then that Hashem tells him to come on up for an incredible view.
Bamdbar (27:12-14) And Hashem said to Moshe Go up to the Mountain of Avarim and see the land that I have given to the children of Israel And you shall see it and you shall be brought in to your people, you too as Aharon your brother was brought in., because you rebelled against my word in the wilderness of Tzin in the strife of the aseembly, to sanctify Me at the water before their eyes.
How sad and how tragic. Moshe the faithful servant of Hashem who gave his life and soul for this nation is told to come on up to the mountain where he will ultimately die and look down on the land that he will never be able to enter because of his sin of hitting the rock to bring forth water rather than speaking to it.
Moshe the always faithful shepherd asks Hashem who then will lead the people. Who will be able to shepherd this wayward flock. Hashem tells him that he should take Yehoshua/Joshua his faithful servant and place his hand on him and in doing so pass his splendor on to him so that the people will heed him.
Many of the commentaries note the odd placement of this story. After-all Moshe still has some time until he will die. The battles against Midian still hast to take place. He kills Bilaam he writes and speaks the entire Book of Devarim. Why here and why now? Perhaps even more perplexing is, what is the point of this view that Hashem wants him to see? Is it just a tease? Is Moshe supposed to take a selfie over here or something? What is this all about?
Perhaps a clue might be in the name of the Mountain Hashem tells us that he should go up to; Mount. Avarim. It’s an interesting name because we find in other places the Mountain that Moshe dies on is called Har Nevo. What is Avarim- which literally translated means the mountain of passing over, or transference. The word ta’avor or to transfer is in fact in the portion right before this one which seemingly doesn’t have much connection to this one; the portion of the laws of inheritance of the daughters of tzlafchad and of Jewish women. There the Torah tells us
Bamidbar (27:6-9) The Daughters of Tzlafchad speak properly. You shall surely give them an inheritance among the brothers of their father-v’ha’avarta- and you shall cause the inheritance of their father to transfer over to them. And to the Children of Israel you shall speak saying; If a man will die and he has no son, -vh’a’varta- you shall cause his inheritance to transfer over to his daughter.
Hmmm…. Ha’varta-transfer over to the daughters. Hmmm… Moshe go up to Mount Avarim. Is there a connection? Rav Motti Elon notes that there it is an interesting law this law of inheritance. For the truth is that the law of inheritance for women is different and unique then men. By a son or a brother inheriting the Torah uses the term and you shall give inheritance. Seemingly that is a more appropriate term. A person dies his son takes his inheritance of land. Yet by a daughter something else happens it gets transferred. You see when she marries someone else and if that someone else is from a different tribe than ultimately that portion will become part of the other tribe’s portion. So if a woman from the tribe of Benjamin who received property from her father who passed away without sons, for example, marries a handsome young stud from the tribe of Naftali. Then her children are all Nafalites and when they inherit her it will become part of the tribe of Naftali. She is in reality passing over and transferring her portion to another tribe. Guys can’t do that kind of thing if I’m a Naftali then my property and sons and grandsons after me will all keep it within the tribe. Now I’m sure that there are some Benjaminites that might be kvetching about this, but in truth it’s an amazing thing the power of women is to be able to break out of their own tribe and be the catalyst of uniting us all on one land, as property and land rights become exchanged and the nation of Israel becomes closer and closer together. She is in reality passing and transferring her father’s power to inherit over to another tribe entirely. There it will continue. One tribe’s inheritance will mingle and become renewed within another. The people and the land will ultimately become one
It is on that note that Hashem tells Moshe to come up onto the Mountain of Avararim. Moshe is concerned, as Rashi tells us. Perhaps I will also be able to inherit the land. Hashem tells him to come up for a looksee and see that in fact his power will be an even greater one than just merely inheriting a portion of land. In fact Moshe will be the one to be able to be the catalyst to transfer over his power, his splendor to the entire people of Israel. “Look at the land” Hashem tells him. We have a rule that look doesn’t mean merely “Hey check it out” Rather “look” means to put your eyes upon it. As My Heavenly eyes are upon it daily. To watch over it, to make sure it is there protected safe and forever. Hashem is telling Moshe that you, Moshe, have something far more significant than just handing down a piece of property or land to your children. You will be passing forward your soul, your spirit, your leadership, your Torah to the nation that will transcend any tribe, and land and the entire nation. You will pass it to Yehoshua and he will bring that light forward into the land. It is that which will be the soul of the entire country. That is the Mountain of Avarim.
The Jewish people are known as Ivrim. We speak Hebrew which is the same root as that word. We got that name and it defines us because Avraham our forefather tells us was on one side as he spread the word of one true God to a world on the other side that were pagans and idolaters. But it is deeper than just being on one side, one ever, from the other. We are Hebrews/Ivrim because we were charged to transfer that word of Hashem and shine it out to the rest of the world. To be ma’avir it. To pass it on and over. We can see beyond this world. We see the eternity. We are Hebrews because Moshe looked down from Mount Avarim and transferred that power to inherit that to the rest of world. We are told that when Moshe looked down from that Mountain he saw all the generations that would come. He saw the land, the wars, the leaders and he saw his Torah being passed on and on throughout millennia, no matter where we were, what we went through. He infused us with that Divine light. That’s a view that certainly can’t be captured by any I-phone or selfie. Yet it’s a view that stirs within each and every one of us as we stare out in awe and glory at the beautiful land Hashem has given us, the incredible nation that we have become, the challenges that we endured and the light that we continue to shine. May we merit to see that ultimate view as we look out to the that little mountain top in Yerushalayim and we see our Holy Temple once again restored to it’s place.
Have an zealously ecstatic Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
RABBI SCHWARTZ’S FAVORITE YIDDISH PROVERB OF THE WEEK
“Az du kukst oif hoichen zachen halt tsu dos hitl.”- When you look to the heights, hold on to your hat.
RABBI SCHWARTZ COOL VIDEOS OF THE WEEK
https://youtu.be/X5kBeo1e-pU – Shabbas Acapella
https://youtu.be/gYF5A6UtPw0 - Amazing video of footage of 17th of Tamuz fast for the Temple in Jerusalem… If it doesn’t bring tears to your eyes and a longing for Geula there’s something broken…
https://youtu.be/1nNo1RQUgRw – Great interview with Moroccan Jews in Israel of what it means to be Moroccan in Israel
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK
answer below at end of Email
Q. “Stand up, take your mat and walk. At once the man was made well…” is connected to:
a. The Siloam Pool
b. The Pools of Bethesda
a. The Siloam Pool
b. The Pools of Bethesda
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S ILLUMINATING RASHI OF THE WEEK
The Torah is a book like no other. It is not a story book, it’s not a law book, it’s not even an ethical work. It’s the word of Hashem. Each word, each narrative, each phrase was given precisely by Hashem because there is an eternal message in it. Something that we should draw insight and inspiration and to utilize as the light that shines our lives. We don’t always see that when we read the text. Which is why Rashi is there. To show us that the simple meaning of every word should be pondered and examined and taken seriously. If we read Rashi with that light we can truly tap into important life-messages.
In this week’s portion when Moshe asks Hashem for a leader that will replace him Hashem tells him that he should take Yehosua for he is a man
Bamidbar (27:18) Asher Ruach Bo- who has spirit in him
Rashi on these words explains this strange term that Hashem was responding to Moshe’s request and directing him to Yehoshua for
He is able to go according to the spirit of each individual.
Now seemingly one might assume that this means that he is a leader that can “work” the crowd. He can relate to everyone on their own level. Yet the Shoe’el U’Meishiv has a deeper understanding. He notes that Rashi utilizes the word k’neged- opposite each person. Which would be even more perplexing, Is a leader supposed to go against the flock that he is meant to lead? He explains that a real leader neve will judge anyone based on their prespective and world-view. To truly lead, to guide, to inspire and to connect. You have to understand where everyone is coming from. See and understand their spirit. Only then can you properly adjust, direct and personally address and lift up each person. The Jewish people particularly can never be lead by cookie-cutter leaders. Each soul is different and each soul needs a leader that can appreciate and understand them, only then can they and will they be able to be uplifted. Only then can you oppose them because you are mirroring them that you understand them and hey can see the higher places that they can rise to.
Think this is a timely message?
Rabbi Yosef Shaul Nathonson-The Shaul UMeishiv - (1810-1875) -- The gaon Rabbi Yosef Shaul Nathanson Zatzal was among the great figures of his generation and one of the outstanding Poskim of the last centuries. He could fully explain the Halachah with his great insight, and people from every corner of the globe came to see him for G-d’s word, meaning the Halachah. In his youth he studied with his father the gaon Rabbi Aryeh Leibush (the author of Sefer Beit E-L), and following his marriage to the daughter of the gaon Rabbi Aharon Halevi Ettinger, he went to study with his brother-in-law Rabbi Mordechai Ettinger Zatzal. The two brothers-in-law studied together for a long time, and they both wrote a number of well-known books, works such as Magen Giborim (on the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim), Me’irat Enayim (on the Halachot of Treifot), Ma’ase Alfas (on the Rif), Ner Ma’aravi (on the Jerusalem Talmud), and many others. However Rabbi Yosef Shaul is best known for his great work Shoel U’Meishiv, a book of responsa covering all areas of Torah. It also became the name by which he was known. After the death of his uncle Rabbi Yaakov Meshulam Orenstein (the author of Yeshuot Yaakov), Rabbi Yosef Shaul was appointed as the Av Beit Din of Lvov. Although he accepted the position, he refused to take a salary because he was very wealthy. He gave his approbation for the book Sidrei Taharot by Rabbi Gershon Chanoch, the Rebbe of Rozhin, saying that not in 300 years had the likes of such a book been published. Rabbi Yosef Shaul Nathanson left this world on Adar 17, 5635, having had no children. May the memory of the tzaddik be blessed.
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TYPES OF JEWS IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK
Moroccans – The 2nd largest Jewish community in Israel-after the Russians are the Moroccan Jews. At least that’s what wikpedia claims and who am I to argue with them, numbering them at about 1,000,000. Certainly Morrocans are very recognizable in Israel and probably the largest sefardic kehilla here. Although arguably they are not really sefardic as they come from North Africa. But they they are definitely very visible here. The chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Rav Amar is Moroccan, the leader of the sefardic party Aryeh Deri is as well. Morocco is one of the oldest and most important Jewish communities which dates itself back to the times of Shlomo Hamelech in the first Temple. Some of the greatest Jewish halachists like the R”IF Rav Yitzchak Alfasi is from there. And much of our Jesih songs and poetry come from there. The songs of Reb Yisrael Najara that we sing on Shabbat, the tune of Bar Yochai that is sung by Jews each Lag BaOmer were all composed there. In addition many of the customs have become widespread in Israel The Mimuna party on Pesach and the Hinna before Sefardic weddings are two festive and favorite ones.
Moroccans came to Israel legally with establishment of the State of Israel over 28,000 came over the first few years to realize the messianic dream of living in the Holy Land however once it became independent from France in the 50’s it became more difficult to emigrate as the Arab countries put pressure on them not to allow the Jews to come here. The Mossad worked very hard smuggling Jew quietly out, paying $250 per Jew to secure his release from Morocco to leave. By the 70’s hundreds of thousands had already come over. The integration for the Moroccans here was very difficult though. The State brought them in here to help settle the land and moved many of them into agricultural areas. The Moroccans were not interested in being farmers though as many of them came from cities. They were also known for their very quick and strong tempers and more aggressive nature. It led to them falling on public assistance and much discrimination in the work place until ultimately a revolution of the people against the mostly ashkenazic elitist leadership led to the election Menachem Begin as the Prime Minister who championed their rights. Today Moroccans have certainly established themselves well into the country and their rise to leadership and influential positions have secured them an everlasting place in their role as being the banners of Sefardic Jewry here in Israel.
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S MOROCCAN JOKES OF THE WEEK
(Continuing on the theme from last week with my disclaimer and a bit of an explanation to get the jokes here I’m not a stereotyping type of guy but from what I grasp Moroccans are stereotyped as a hot-headed, aggressive and a little more than slightly over-bearing or abusive husbands with a love for good food and lots of salads.I got these Jokes fromHebrew websites- the only place where you’ll find them of course. So the translation may not always do them justice. )
How can you tell a Moroccan faucet? It heats up very fast….
How does a Moroccan cookbook begin? First of all cool off…
The Moroccan young man took his University acceptance exams (psychometric-in Hebrew) they showed him a table with three legs and asked him what was missing. He looked hard and answered “The salatim –salad dips…”
A Christian a Muslim and a Morrocan go into their holy place to pray. The Christian enters first and all of a sudden a ghost jumps out and screams “I am a spirit with one eye…..”
The Christian hears and runs away. The Muslim goes in to pray and all of sudden a ghost jumps out and says “I am a spirit with one eye….”The Muslim picks up his robe and runs out as well. Finally the Moroccan comes into pray. The ghost jumps out ans days “I am a spirit with one eye….”The Moroccan responds “Quiet already or I”ll poke out your other one soon…”. And the ghost runs away.
The Moroccan calls the police and says that he found his wife passed out in their apartment. The police asks him where he lives.
“ Chernikovsky 15” he responds.
“Can you tell me how to get there?” the police asks.
“I’ll tell you what I”ll shlep her over to Herzl and you can pick her up there…”
A Moroccan couple were arguing and fighting with one another. It led to screams and shouts and finally the man runs away and hides under the bed. His wife comes after and screams at him to get out from under the bed. Moshe says loudly no. His wife yells again “get out from under the bed right now before I hit you with my broom. Moshe takes a deep breath and announces in a strong voice. “I am the man in this family and if I say no that means NO!
Answer is B– I confess Christianity was not my favorite subject in my tour guiding course. I didn’t really see that as my client base. I didn’t move to Israel to inspire chritsians about their “holy” sites here in Israel. And although tour guides have a reputation for making up “bubbeh maaisehs”- (grandma’s tales) but I don’t even think grandma could sell the baloney that the “New” testament tries to make up. So I basically just googled “yoshka –J-Man” stories that entire part of the course. I mean do I really need to know every where the man went to the bathroom in this country or everyone he supposedly healed. He was a renegade Jew that was the cause of more deaths than anyone in the history of our people who were martyred in his name. So anyways the answer to this question is Beit Saida- google it if you want to know more. Because I deleted all the information from my brain the second I passed my exam.