Our view of the Galile

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Toilet Torah- Vaetchanan/ Nachamu 2017

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

August 4th 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 39 12th Av 5777
Parshat Va’Etchanan/ Nachamu
Toilet Torah

They are probably the two most famous brothers in Chasidic lore; Rebbe Meilich of Lizensk and Reb Zusha of Anipol. Their stories fill the pages of all Chasidic tales. I thought I had heard all of hteir stories before but this past Tishah B’Av I heard a new one from Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstien on the Chafetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Videos. And like every good story it has to be shared. After-all what’s a good story worth if there’s no one to share it with. I wasn’t sure how I was going to fit it in, but it turns out that its message and theme fits perfectly with the parsha. I also couldn’t resist the catchy title I came up with. So although some of you may have seen the video and are tempted to skip down quickly to the jokes. Bear with me, it’s a good enough story to hear a second time. And Reb Meilich and Reb Zusha stories are meant to be retold again and again.
So the two of them were arrested once on some false charges that some of their antagonists had fabricated against them. All good Chasidic Rebbes of old had to go to jail. The tradition goes back to Yosef in Egypt. It wasn’t a reflection of their piety or an god forbid negative thing they had done. It was a way of earning your “Rebbe stripes”, lifting up the sparks of holiness in the lowest place, connecting to God from the bottom of the world and experiencing a closeness that can only be felt when you are at the low of the low. That no longer holds true today, in case there are any Chasidic Rebbes reading this and are getting bright ideas.
Well anyways there in this tiny little 7 foot by 7 foot cell that they were thrown in were all these ruffians, murderers, lowlifes, degenerates and basically bad people. The guard upon throwing them into the cell laughed and pointed them to a pail in the corner and told them it was the “bathroom” of the cell and if they needed to go than they should certainly feel free to use it.  It was too much for Reb Zusha to bear. He flung himself on the floor and began to cry and bawl. Reb Meilich, his brother was taken aback. This was not like Zusha who always accepted his fate with joy. Always had faith in their Creator that this was for their own good. He turned to his brother and rebuked him He told him that this was a chilul Hashem- a desecration of God’s name. Their cellmates would think that he had given up hope and had no faith. This was not appropriate behavior. Why was he crying like this?
Reb Zusha turned to his brother and told him tearfully

“How can you not cry? Don’t you understand? We are stuck here in the cell with this pail and we cannot study or think about Torah, it is forbidden to pray when in in an impure smelly place with exposed excrement. What will we do? How can we go on without any mitzvot, Torah or prayer”

Reb Meilich pondered his brothers response for a few minutes and then his face lit up. He told his brother an incredible epiphany he had. He explained that the fact that they are not learning, and that they are not praying is in itself because they are following a mitzva and law that prohibits them to do so. So in fact all of their non-learning and non-praying is listening to the will of God. It’s in fact incredible he pointed out. Every second that we are here we get a mitzva by not studying Torah. When else will we ever have such a holy opportunity to serve God by not serving Him?
Reb Zusha’s face lit up. He started to smile. He started to dance. He got so excited he picked up the smelly pail and waved it around as if it was a Torah or a Lulav and Etrog. How fortunate are we that we get a mitzva with this. How incredible is Hashem that he gave us such a commandment!
Now the cell mates who had first thought this Rabbi a little strange, now really got weirded out, as is quite imaginable when you see someone dancing and singing to God with a potty in their hand. One of them seemingly remembering some of his bible studies noted that there was an idolatry mentioned in the Torah where people would worship human waste. He told the others that this Rabbi was probably praying to that God and he was convincing him to perform a miracle to set them free from the prison. They quickly decided that they didn’t want to be left out of this deal and they got up behind the Rabbi and started dancing and chanting and imitating the holy Reb Zusha as well. It was certainly a sight to behold.

Now this sight was actually in fact beheld by the guard who heard this ruckus and came to the cell to check it out. His eyes probably popped out when he saw this strange dance going on in the cell. When one of the prisoners that he pulled told him what was going on, the guard got a grimace on his faith. No Jewish excrement God was gonna break these Rabbis out of this cell. He would put a stop to this plan right away. He quickly ordered the prisoner to bring him the pail. He then proceeded to wash the entire thing shiny clean. There was not a drop of anything left in it. He flung it back into the cell and told them that they could have the pail back. They were prohibited from using it. In fact the entire cell was prohibited from using it. If someone had to go to the bathroom they should knock on the door and they would be directed to the nearest facility. No more will there be anything here for the Jews to worship their God with. That is that!
As he slammed the door closed. Reb Zusha turned to his brother and they both hugged the empty clean pail. They were now for the first time permitted to recite the words that were in their heart, that was in their dance; that embodied all that they stood for.
“Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad.”
God is one when we can fulfill his commandments. Hashem is one when we cannot fulfill His commandments. He is the same Hashem. There is never a moment when we cannot be connected to him. He is one and we are one with Him always.

This week’s Torah portion, the one that always follows the holiday of Tishah B’av, has these very words in it. Tisha B’Av in itself is also the one day of the year when it is prohibited to study to Torah. The words of Torah make a person heart happy our sages tell us. Tisha B’Av, the day that we recall the destruction of our Temples we are like mourners whose dead is lying before them. We are not allowed to study we are not allowed to gladden our heart in its study. We spend the whole day think about how empty life is without the house of God in our midst. We recall the 2500 years of horrors and tragedies that we endured as a nation in the wake of life without Hashem. Like Reb Zusha we feel empty, forlorn, we stare at that waste-bin with a golden dome on top of His mountain and cry over the loss of our connection to a real spiritual existence. And then comes noon and we get off the floor. We slowly arise from the ashes. We return back to this world because we recognize that our tears are in fact the building blocks of the Temple that is surely soon to come.
We come to shul this Shabbos and we open up our Torah portion and we hear Moshe’s pleas to come to the land that we have already merited to return to. We read the story once again of the Torah being given , the Ten commandments. Moshe tells us that we are in fact Dveikim Ba’Hashem Chayim Kulchem Hayom- We cleave to Hashem and we have life. And we read and learn the Shema. Yes, that prayer that our forefather-Yisrael- heard from his twelve tribes, as the Midrash tells us as they all gathered around his bed and he wanted to reveal to them the “end of days”. When Mashiach and the final redemption would come. They told him "Hear oh Israel, Hashem is our lord Hashem is one". We are all faithful. We are eternal. We will never lose that. 
In good times, in bad times we have recited and continue to recite those words. Little children’s parents whisper it in their ears as they go to sleep, even before they have learned how to speak yet. We say it in the morning when we arise, when we go to sleep at night. Our ancestors recite it when they went to their deaths as their dying words and we say it on Simchat Torah when we dance around the shul without Torahs. Hashem is one. His love for us and ours for Him is through everything. This is the consolation of Shabbos Nachamu, this week after Tisha B’Av. This is the message that we will ultimately scream out and teach the entire world. May Hashem very soon take out that pail of shmutz and clean His home once again, so it will once again be the place where the entire world will be able to see for once and forever Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad.

Have a redemptive comforting Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



“Tsores mit yoykh iz gringer vi tsores on yoykh.” Troubles with soup is easier than troubles without soup.”


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c56iA5YlTwQ    Classic MBD Shema Yisrael

https://youtu.be/S8D1DuVmtVQ   – Shwekey Incredible story Shema Yisrael

https://youtu.be/6J5OIdaEi1k Simpsons in Israel bad tour guides.

https://youtu.be/PELIqtrMAYc - And of course Shabbos Nachamu wouldn’t be complete without Reb Shlomo Carlebach!

answer below at end of Email

Q. Nebi Musa is located in:
a. The Golan Heights
b. The Judean Desert
c. Samaria
d. The Negev


Va’eschanan- Even if you don’t have the time, energy or patience to review Rashi with the Parsha each week, certainly the parts of the Torah that you recite daily and actually have a mitzva to recite you should definitely spend the time to review it. It may open your eyes to a new understanding in your prayers. And we are always looking to keep our prayers new and fresh.
In this week’s Torah portion we have the Shema. Yup, it’s the only portion in the Torah that you have a biblical obligation to recite-( well besides the other two portions of Shema that is found in other portions).The first sentence says
V’Ahavta Es Hashem Elokecha BiChol Livavecha U’Bichol nafsheca, U’Bichol meodecha- You should love Hashem with all of your heart   and with all your soul, and with all your means.
Rashi on these three mitzvos of loving Hashem explains
Bichol Livaveicha- With your two inclinations- (your yetzer tov/good and yetzer hara/bad); Another interpretation is that your heart should not be divided with Hashem.
Seemingly Rashi is noting that the word for a singular heart is libcha.. Livavcha is hearts-plural.Kol Livavcha means the entirety of both hearts and thus his explanations.
Bichol Nafshica- even if He takes your life
Again Rashi is learning that the way that you serve with your entire soul, is if Hashem actually takes away your life.
Finally on the last verse Rashi explains
Bichol Meodecha- with all your money. There are people whose money is more important to them than their lives.
Here Rashi seems to be addressing why the money is after the life it seems like it should be going up in order of demand. Thus Rashi explains that it is referring to someone whose money is more important than their life. Know anyone like that? Seemingly the Torah does. Because that is the basic generic standard that it is using and that we all recite. The guy who loves his money more than his life- or to put it better- people who are willing to serve God with their lives, but when it comes to spending his money for mitzvos and his service of Hashem are not the exception to the rule but the average Yankel.
The Chidushei HaRim notes that since Rashi explains that Bichol Nafshicha means even if he takes your soul. Then the same is true for the first part of the verse Bichol Livavicha- even if He takes away your heart. What the Rebbe is saying is that even if you’re not in the mood. Even if you have no desire-Even if Hashem takes all of that away from you; you still must love Him.
Interestingly enough the Hafla’ah makes quite the opposite deduction in the next part of the verse. He writes that since Rashi doesn’t say when it comes to your means and money “even if He takes away all your money. He just translates that Meodecha means your money. Rashi’s understanding is that even if you have lots and lots of money, don’t become haughty and forget Hashem. Don’t attribute it to your own success. Rather use all the money and blessing that He has given you to love Hashem even more and even more.
See what I told you. Incredible insights that are sure to give you a pause the next time you recite these words. And all you had to do was read and think about a few Rashis.

Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Rothenberg –Chidushei HaRim (1799-1866) – Rabbi Yitzchak Meir was the founder and first rebbe of the Ger dynasty, which at one time counted more than 100,000 Chasidim, and to this day remains one of the largest Chasidic groups. He was a child prodigy who was sought after by all the great Polish Hasidic leaders. The Rim’s mother Chaya Sara, was an orphan who was raised by the Koznitzer Maggid, and the Maggid played a great role in Yitzchak Meir’s early development. The Rim became a disciple of Rabbi Simcha Bunem of Pshischa and Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk. He once said that “according to Pshischa Chasidus a person does nothing with his external limbs, the main thing is the inner self, from which one is inspired to act.”
Ger emphasized the centrality of Torah and self-development, the externals of Chasidus were minimized or disdained. Though Pshischa and Kotzk were elitist, Rabbi Yitzchak Meir showed how their principles could be embraced by all Jews. From Pshischa and Kotzk Ger absorbed a healthy skepticism of human motivation and the demands of the ego.
Rabbi Yitzchak Meir was a true leader and was deeply involved in all political events affecting his flock. His halachic writings are characterized by scintillating brilliance and his non-halachic thought by great depth and warmth. The custom to make siyyumim during the nine days was seen by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir as motivated by a desire to bring Jews together in a harmonious spirit and thus rectify the sin of sinas chinam which had caused the destruction of the Temple.
Rabbi Yitzchak Meir’s personal life was filled with tragedy. Many of his thirteen children died in his lifetime. When he finally consented to assume leadership after the death of the Kotzker he remarked: “I am not a rebbe. I do not want money. I do not care for honor. All I want is to spend my years bringing the children of Israel nearer to their Father in Heaven”.

Tour Guides -You knew I would get around to these guys eventually right? My tour guide badge number from 5 years ago states that I am number 11,026. Yup over 11,000 tour guides were licensed before I was. Today there are probably a few thousand more. We are the guys you see all over Israel with our red badges on necklaces around our chest proudly testifying to the fact that we have completed a two year course of study in the land of Israel; it’s history, geography, archeology, botany, wildlife, geology, religions, art, architecture, wars, politics and more… As well we have had over 80 guided tours that we were guided through by top guides and which we had to submit 20-30 page reports on. We then had written exams and oral exams from the ministry of tourism that we had to pass. Oh and we have attended one annual continuing learning tour and paid our renewal fees. Yeah it ain’t easy becoming a tour guide, But we also wear those badges because it is technically illegal in Israel to guide without a license. See tourism is the the second ot third largest industry in Israel and its tour guides are to a large degree the ambassadors of the country to the rest of the world. As a result of that this is very regulated by the state to insure that the guides are qualified. There are of course drivers and other people that offer tours without licenses and if it’s a private family than the government really has no way of knowing if you’re their guide or their “cousin” showing them around. But tour companies Birthright and other organized group operators won’t use you unless you have a license. There are all types of tour guides there are the old Israelis that all seem to have great war stories, there are your religious ones, your very secular ones, old, young, men, women. It’s a great industry and most of us pride ourselves on our ability to share our love and passion of Hashem’s promised land with the rest of the world. Thank God tourism in this country has been booming and as it does so more you’ll be sure to see more and more of those guys with the red necklaces around the country,

A bus load of tourists arrives at Akko port. They gather around the guide who says, "This is the spot where the Maimonides landed in the land of Israel."
A fellow at the front of the crowd asks, "When did that happen?"
"1255," answers the guide.
The man looks at his watch and says, "OY! Just missed it by a half hour!"

In Alaska's National Forests, a tourists guide was giving a talk to a group of tourists about hiking in grizzly bear territory: "Most bear encounters occur when hikers, being extra quiet along the trails in hopes of viewing wildlife, accidentally stumble into bears. The resulting surprise can be catastrophic." To avoid this, he suggested that each hiker wear tiny bells on their clothing to warn the bears of their presence. "Also," he said further, "be especially cautious when you see signs of bears in the area, especially when you see bear droppings."
One tourist asked, "How do you identify bear droppings?"
"Oh that's easy," the guide explained, "its the ones with all the tiny bells in them!"
A tour guide was talking with a group of school kids at in the Golan Heights when one of the kids asked him if he had ever came face-to-face with a wolf.
"Yes, I came face to face with a wolf once. And as luck would have it, I was alone and without a weapon."
"What did you do?" the little girl asked.
"What could I do? First, I tried looking him straight in the eyes but he slowly came toward me. I moved back, but he kept coming nearer and nearer. I had to think fast."
"How did you get away?"
"As a last resort, I just turned around and walked quickly to the next cage."

A tourist is traveling with a guide through at one of the historical sites in Israel, when he comes across an ancient Jewish synagogue. The tourist is entranced by the synagogue, and asks the guide for details. To this, the guide states that archaeologists are carrying out excavations, and still finding great treasures. The tourist then queries how old the shul is.
"This shul is 2503 years old", replies the guide.
Impressed at this accurate dating, he inquires as to how he gave this precise figure.
"Easy", replies the guide, "the archaeologists said the temple was 2500 years old, and that was three years ago."

Answer is B– Whenever I pass this site on my way down to the Dead Sea from Jerusalem in the Judean desert, I ask my tourists how they know that Moshe is certainly not buried here, where the Muslims believe he is. Many people answer that the Torah tells us that the grave of Moshe will never be known. I point out to them that certainly does not prove that he is not buried here. Maybe he is maybe he isn’t, we just don’t know. I want to know how we know he is for sure not buried here. When they can’t answer I ask them what country we are in. Oh! Israel. Wellll… Did Moshe ecer make it in here? No! so for sure he is certainly not buried here. Now the Muslims as well believe in the Torah that Moshe did not cross the Jordan into Israel. Yet they believe that Muhammed schlepped here after he was dead. Yeah… another bubbe maaiseh.


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