Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
August 18th 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 41 26th Av 5777
He showed me around his brand new house and it was really unreal. There were like 14 bedrooms, ornate ceilings, stain glassed windows, kitchen and entertainment rooms with all the fanciest gadgets and toys. His wife had a dance studio built downstairs, and he had a pretty decent sized gym as well. As I said it was really not something to believe. He then took me outside to show me what he did with the three backyards he bought from all of his neighbors and combined into one huge lot. I stood there gawking at the beautiful basketball court-full sized of course, swimming pool- it wasn’t Olympic size (I pointed out to him this glaring oversight), and of course hot tub with a grilling area and little orchard surrounding it. This was not a house, I noted to him, this was an estate. “So what do you have to say”, my buddy Moishy asked me, “Whadaya think?” Not being someone who was ever at a loss of words, or one that could miss an opportunity for a good line I told him that what I really thought was that there was no way in the world that he really could ever say that he truly wants Mashiach to come. I mean, who wants to give up something like this, their “dream-house” and move to Israel. Nahhh, he can’t possibly ever really mean it when he says the words “Please, Hashem return us to Zion”. He was quite comfortable enough right here. He abashedly agreed… I believe, but as I’m not one to just leave my friend on a downer, I suggested that what he might do is open up a synagogue in his home. After-all our sages tell us that when Mashiach comes, all the shuls will fly up to Jerusalem so maybe if he has one in his house, then the house will come along. I don’t know about the basketball courts though.
It’s one of the problems I think that too many people complain that I consistently talk and write about when it comes to Jews in America. Jews there really, I don’t believe want to come home to Israel. “Enough with your Zionistic-come-live-in-Israel agenda”, they tell me. It’s very nice and even admirable that you live there, but it’s not for everyone. Just drop it already. Can’t you find anything else to write about?! Not long ago I had a potential client call me up and ask me if I was available to tour them in Israel. They had heard that I was a fantastic tour-guide and they wanted to use me to tour their family on a trip here. He just wanted to ask me in advance one question. Was I going to try to convince them to move to Israel? It didn’t sound like he was looking for that, from the way that he was asking. He wanted more of the come see the beautiful ancient country that Hashem once promised us would belong to us and Im Yirtzeh Hashem- God willing when Mashiach comes we will get to come back here to live, because than it will be much better, type of tour. I told him unequivocally that I did not feel it was my place to tell anyone to make Aliya. I felt that was personal decision that everyone had to make for their own families. Who was I to tell people what they should do and what was right for them? However I did caution him that one thing I would certainly do is make him and his family feel absolutely miserable about the fact that they don’t live here. That they are stuck in America. That they don’t have the zechut/merit to be fortunate enough to live in Hashem’s “chosen” country for His nation. That I felt was the minimuim responsibility that I would have. What they chose to do with that information would be there problem. But I guaranteed them that they would never feel good about not-living here again. He took me as his guide J. And whadaya know they’re talking about Aliya… One more Jew, back where he’s supposed to be. Mission accomplished JJ
It’s an interesting thing that we find throughout the Torah and particularly in the book of Devarim. The land of Israel is always referred to as the chosen land, the land promised to our forefathers. The Temple mount is called the makom hanivchar-the chosen place.
Devarim (12:5) rather only at the place Hahem your God will chose from all the tribes to place His name there, you shall seek out His resting place and come there.
ibid (12:11) Then it shall be that the place where Hashem, your God will choose to rest His name- there shall you bring everything I command you
(12:14) Only in the place that Hashem will choose, among your tribes, there shall you bring up your offerings
12:18) Rather you shall eat them before Hashem your God in the place that Hashem your God will choose, you your son, your daughter, your servant and maid and Levi in your cities.
(12:21) Because the place where Hashem your God will choose to place His name there shall be far from you, you may slaughter your cattle flock that Hashem has given you as I have commanded…
Are you getting the point yet? It’s the place- “the place” Hashem has chosen. It’s not called Israel, It’s not called the Temple Mount, despite the fact that Moshe and Hashem both know where it is. Despite the fact the world was created from there, the binding of Isaac was there, Abraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov all prayed there. But that’s not what it is called. It is called “the place I will choose”. The Rebbe of Radomsk suggests a very powerful insight into this. He suggests that, although Hashem and everyone knew where the Temple was meant to be. The only way the country, the city, the Temple would ever happen is if Hashem chooses it. Hashem chooses it he tells us because we pray and long for His place. He reads the words of the verse homiletically. “The place Hashem chooses from all the tribe’s- meaning as a result of all the prayers, hopes, longings of all of the tribes, Hashem chooses this place. “you shall seek out His resting place” and then He “will come there.”.
The Rebbe than proceeds to give an incredible powerful parable. He says imagine if a father is sitting in prison-go forbid. He was thrown there unjustly. His children come to visit him. When they see him there behind the bars, what do they do? They ask him for money, they ask him to pull some strings for them to better their lives, they complain to him about all the hardships they are having. Their brand new swimming pool broke, the air conditioning isn’t working well, and the weather is really hot outside. Y’know major tragedies. They kiss their father and then leave. This happens week after week, year after year. How tragic is it? How pathetic that none of those selfish ingrate children, will do anything to try to get their Father out, to return him home, to at least tell him that we need you, we want you back, we are longing each day and our lives are incomplete and we will never rest until we see back in your rightful place. That is our situation, suggests the Rebbe. That is what our main focus and primary desire should be for. It’s the real house we should be dreaming of.
I remember once talking to a very wealthy client of mine. He actually built himself a beautiful home or palace here in Jerusalem. He actually comes here in fact numerous times throughout the year. In fact he told me that he loves Israel so much he would move here tomorrow…There is just one problem, he said. There are Israelis that live there. If I could just do something about that he would make Aliya in a minute. I smiled and I think anyone that moves here could certainly relate. But Israel is not about Israelis. Israel is and always should be about one thing and one thing only. The Land that Hashem chooses and wants. Our prayers and hopes have to be for Him, for his pain and 2000 years exile. For His house that remains desecrated. For our loss of not being able to share it and live it together with Him, like we were meant to.
This week begins the month of Elul. It is the last month before the New Year 5778 years from creation. That is 5778 years that Hashem will be waiting for the final destiny of the world to be fulfilled. For His dream house to be built. Let us not get distracted in our prayers and ask for the small stuff. It’s time to move into His estate.
Have an amazing Shabbos and a chodesh Elul tov,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
RABBI SCHWARTZ’S FAVORITE YIDDISH PROVERB OF THE WEEK
“Besser bay zikh krupnik, eyder bay yenem gebrotns.” Better barley soup at home than a roast at someone else’s home.
RABBI SCHWARTZ COOL VIDEOS OF THE WEEK
https://youtu.be/kpIJghyQknM – Love this video and song- pinny Shmeltzer tov lhodot looks like they had fun
https://youtu.be/o_kxWKB5vPM – Nefeshe B’nefesh- the video that if doesn’t bring tears to your eyes your not Jewish
https://youtu.be/ar_aqBSGAtM – 233 Olim this week Come back home highlights!
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK
answer below at end of Email
Q. An altar in the shape of a boat is located in:
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S ILLUMINATING RASHI OF THE WEEK
Re’eh- OK I’m gonna read you a verse and then you tell me what the problem is with it, now that we have developed a feel for reading like Rashi. The verse in this week’s Torah portion is as follows
Devarim (15:11) For destitute people will not cease to exist within your land; because of this I command you, saying, “Open, you shall open your hand to your brother, to your poor one and to your destitute in the land.”
Now right away the open you shal open double terminology jumps out at you, and although Rashi doesn’t comment on it we know in the previous verse when it discusses that giv you shall give Rashi tells us it means even a hundred times and as we noted in the past Rashi doesn’t tell us the same thing twice.
What else that seems extraneous though is the words and I shall command you saying. It could have just said command you to open your hands. What does it mean when it says “saying”, asks Reb Eliyahu Mizrachi? He explains that this is why Rashi, seemingly troubled by this tells us an incredible insight if you ponder it.
Etizat litovatecha ani masiaeka- I am giving you advice for your benefit.
Wow! Ever got a good stock tip from someone who is in the “know”. Can you imagine how lucky you might feel if someone tells you that there is this opporotunity that no one else can imagine will be something big; penny stock. But it is gonna make it. Just drop in a few coins and walla you will see what will come of it. Imagine if that person was in fact the inside guy that knows that this company has an incredible innovation that they are about to launch. How grateful would you be? Here Hashem is going out of His way to tell us exactly that. Eitza Tova- good advice. See that poor person over there, help him out, it will be amazing, you can’t imagine the benefit you will reap by doing that. The Torah doesn’t have extra words. One word- Leimor-saying and you just got the biggest tip in the world from Hashem.
Rabbi Eliyahu Mizrachi– (1450-1526) – Rabbi Eliyahu ben Abraham Mizrachi, known as the ROM (or R'EM), is well known to anyone who studies the Rashi commentary on Chumash with any depth. For the ROM's major work is a commentary on Rashi..
Rabbi Eliyahu was born in Constantinople (Turkey), approximately in the year 1450. Before he became the Chief Rabbi of his native city, he headed a great Yeshiva. He attracted many students, whom be taught the Talmud and the Codes of Jewish Law. Certain pupils he also taught mathematics algebra and astronomy, in which he was proficient, for these sciences are useful aids in the understanding of certain laws of the Torah.
At that time, the Chief Rabbi of Constantinople was the famed Rabbi Moshe Kapsali, who was well known for his great scholarship and piety was unfortuantly had many enemies at that time as he was responsible for raising the taxes from the wealthy community members for the sultan. When they tried to depose him and replace him with Rav Mizrach he refused to get involved and remained out of the foray. When Rabbi Moshe Kapsali died, in the year 1494 Rabbi Eliyahu Mizrachi was chosen to succeed him as Chief Rabbi of Constantinople and of all Turkish jewry. He occupied this exalted position until his death.
Like his predecessor, Rabbi Eliyahu was the official Jewish representative at the Court of the Sultan. In his capacity as Chacham-Bashi (Chief Rabbi), Rabbi Eliyahu was a member of the Supreme Council, as were also the Mufti (the spiritual leader of the Moslems) and the Greek Patriarch, the leader of the Christians.
At that time many of the Karaites desired to come closer to Judaism. For hundreds of years the Karaites had been a separate sect, believing only in the Written Law (T'NaCH) but not the Oral Law (Talmud, etc.). Many of them had fought bitterly against their own people, in an effort to "justify" their beliefs. They formed their own communities, their own houses of worship, and their own religious way of life. At first, Rabbi Eliyahu, like most other Rabbis before him, would have nothing to do with them, since they had excluded themselves from the community of the Jewish people. Later, however, when he saw that some Karaites truly and sincerely wished to return to the fold, he was friendly to them and tried to help them come back.
The main work of Rabbi Eliyahu Mizrachi, as already mentioned, was his commentary on Rashi, entitled Sefer Mizrachi. It contains deep insights into Rashi's commentary on the Torah, and explanations of all difficult passages in Rashi. In this way he also removes many objections raised by Ramban in regard to Rashi's explanation of some passages of the Torah. This work was published soon after the author's death, by his son Rabbi Israel, in Venice, in the year 1526.
Other works by Rabbi Eliyahu Mizrachi included Responsa (Shaaloth uTeshuvoth), published in two parts (Constantinople, 1546, and Venice, 1647, respectively). He also wrote treatises on mathematics and astronomy.
Rabbi Eliyahu Mizrachi was regarded as one of the greatest Rabbis and scholars of his time. The Jewish community in Constantinople was one of the largest and most important in those days, especially after the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain (in 1492), when it became a haven of refuge for many prominent Spanish and Portuguese Jews. Rabbi Eliyahu did his utmost to help these refugees. Moreover, many "marranos" (Jews who had been forced to declare their acceptance of the Christian religion, but remained Jews at heart) were able openly to return to the faith of their fathers in Constantinople, and other cities of the Sultan, where the Jews enjoyed a goodly measure of freedom.
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TYPES OF JEWS IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK
Doctors –Welcome to the country of Kupat Cholim and socialized medicine. See in Israel there are two ways to go when you are sick. A) your medical clinic and B) Private practitioner or as they say in Hebrew Praiiiveht. Doctors in Israel do not make the money they make in America. They also don’t have the college bills and student loans to pay off as it is a much quicker process to become a doctor here as one doesn’t need to have an undergrad degree to being their medical school subjects. I think that’s just an American scam to make money. Here they go the army first instead of 4 years of fraternity parties. They also don’t have the huge malpractice insurance expenses that they have there. Because here if the mess you up it’s just your tough luck. That’s not to say they don’t rip you off here or mess up. The Kupah/clinics are really like a factory. It’s in and out and exaggerated fees sometimes, or unnecessary procedures so that they can bill insurance companies for their services. It’s why a lot of people when they need to go Priiveht.
Priiiveht doctors are generally cheaper than the clinics if you are on the regular insurance plans and for anything that requires more than a basic checkup or typical doctor work it usually pays. Certainly for more serious stuff, you want someone that has a vested interest in you and is not bound by “clinic protocols or agendas” that may not be in your best interest. I have found the doctors in Israel to be for the large part different than doctors in America as a result of the above. Here they are more down- to-earth, they dress in slacks and T-Shirts more often than not, they will call you themselves on your cellphone to find out how you are doing after the check-up randomly. Something I don’t think ever happened in the States. They are also pretty Israeli they’re tough with you and there is generally a sense that you are visiting a relative of yours that is a doctor, rather than just some gentile doctor who might have good bedside manner but it just feels fake. This is not the country to come to if you want to make a lot of money as a doctor, but if you really want a life of helping out your fellow Jews this is certainly a place where you can do that.
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S MANSION JOKES OF THE WEEK
Bill Gates died and went to Heaven, the angel showed him to his house, a small cottage on a tiny plot in the woods. The closets were full of simple but serviceable clothing, and the kitchen was stocked with the basic needs. Bill slowly settled into a modest and quiet life in heaven. One day, Bill was walking in one of Heaven's many fine parks, when he ran into a man dressed in a fine tailored suit. “That is a nice suit, my friend," said Gates. "Where did you get it? “Actually," the man replied, "I was given a hundred of these when I got here. I've been treated really well. I got a mansion on a hill overlooking a beautiful lake. I have a huge five-hundred acre estate, a golf course, tennis courts and three Rolls Royces.""Were you a great Rabbi, or a doctor who healed the sick?" asked Gates. “No," said his new friend, "Actually, I was the captain of the Titanic. “Hearing this made Gates so angry that he immediately stalked off to find the angel. Cornering him Bill told him about the man he had just met, saying, "How could you give me a paltry new house, while you're showering new cars, a mansion, and fine suits on the Captain of the Titanic? I invented the Windows operating system! Why does he deserve better? “Yes, we use Windows here in heaven," replied the angel, "and the Titanic only crashed once."
A California Highway Patrolman pulls over a speeding motorist. He walks up to the window, and says
“Can I see your real estate license, please?”
The driver responds “Don’t you mean my driver’s license?”
“No,” says the patrolman. “Not everyone in California has one of those.”
A man's home is his castle..-In a manor of speaking….. Oyyyy…
The newly wealthy Bernsteins went on a vacation to England. While they were in London, they decided to hire a butler and bring him back home with them to their mansion in Westchester.
One Sunday morning they invited Mr. and Mrs. Cohen over for breakfast. As Mr. Bernstein left the house to go get some fresh bagels, he asked the butler to set the table for four. When Mr. Bernstein returned home he noticed that the table was set for six, so he asked the butler, "Why is the table set for six?" The butler replied, "While you were out the Cohens called and said they were bringing the Knishes."
Answer is C– I’ll be honest I didn’t’ know the answer to this one. At first I thought it was because it was one of the myriad of Yoshka stuff that I deleted from my brain. After three days of Christianity stuff around the Kinneret, during my course, I had lost total interest already. I was however still able to get the correct answer though via process of deduction. See I was in the ancient Roman city of Susita “shaped like a horse city, and Kursi- where the pigs drown in the Kinneret story takes place, and Ginnosar where the famous J-Man boat is found. And none of them had altars shaped like boats. So Midal being the one place I had not gone to must have been the correct answer. After googling it to be sure, I was relieved to know that my memory had not failed me. See the altar was built in 2014 by some church. After I completed my course. So I had not forgotten. It just wasn’t there when I was learning in my course. And I certainly wasn’t going to explore any churches after my course.