Our view of the Galile

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Second Coming of Schwartz- Nitzavim- Vayelech/ Rosh Hashana 2017/ 5777-5778

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

September 15h 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 45 24th of Elul 5777
Parshat Nitzavim/Vayelech/ Rosh Hashana
The Second Coming of Schwartz

It was déjà vu. I was standing in the airport once again. But unlike the other two times this past year when it was just me alone or with one of my children, and it was simple. Two suitcases per person on Aeroflot, you the Schwartzes only fly the airlines that still lets us take two suitcases, despite the fact that we may have to layover in Mosco, Ukraine or some other Eastern Bloc country that killed my ancestors. This time it was different it was all of us. All except Yonah, my yeshiva bachur who won’t leave Israel in middle of Elul, despite the fact that it was his aunts wedding. As well the army probably wouldn’t have been too happy with him leaving again and might reconsider his yeshiva deferment if he had left after just coming back from the States from Summer Camp. But this is not my family update that’s the next E-Mail you are eagerly awaiting, I know. Don’t worry its coming….
Anyways we were all there. Us and 12 pieces of large luggage. Duffle bags of course each packed to between 52.4- 53.7 pounds. We figure that’s the limit that they won’t make us too crazy to repack if we are over, and of course we have to be over. That of course was in addition to the 15 carry-ons that we had. Well of course not 15, because you see a purse isn’t really a carry on, even though it’s the size of a small suitcase, either is a talis bag even though every pocket is full of purchases and stuff that didn’t fit into our suitcases. Then of course there was the four cooler bags of food that Tanta Ricky packed that could feed a small army, just in case we got stuck in some country where there was an army that was in desperate need of some bagels, lox spread, danishes, lots and lots of nachos, chips, cookies and that was just the milchigs cooler. Forget about the pastrami, corn beef, chicken nuggets, salami, turkey, club sandwiches with American Sour pickles in the flayshigs bag. That’s also not carry on of course, as we kept that hidden under my children’s clothing and coats. In short it was crazy. And it was right then that I had my déjà vu moment. I had done this before. I was standing right here in JFK over packed with luggage trying to shlep it all through the airport with four bags slung around my neck wheeling another two and watching my 7 year old and 10 year old do the same. I was even wearing the same baseball hat. It was the first time I actually wore this baseball hat. It was my famous and always present on my tours Nefesh B’Nefesh Aliya hat. Yes it was just over 7 years ago. It was the last time we were all together here in “Amereeka”. The last time we were so overloaded with luggage. I was now experiencing the Second Coming of the Schwartz Family. Coming home once again.
It was different this time. There was this exuberance the first time around, this elation. I had to pinch myself to believe it was true. Were we really making Aliya? Were we really going to move and be able to live in the country that my ancestors dreamed of? There was also these twinges of nervousness. Would it work? Would my kids survive it? Adapt? Integrate? Would I find parnassa? Would I be worthy of living in this land that the Torah tells us Hashem watches all the time and that has a tendency to spit out whoever isn’t living the way we’re supposed to? The one thing I wasn’t really scared about, and I think most Olim will tell you the same is about our security and safety. We knew Hashem watches over this country. It was our home. And home always feels safe and right.
This time though, it was a different experience. I was anxious to return already. I wasn’t elated, I wasn’t nervous. Ok maybe a bit nervous that customs would stop us and find all of the clothing and purchases that my wife had made for her store. But I relied on the fact that it was for a good cause. There was lots of people around Israel who were looking forward to these American clothes for the holidays. I kind of looked at myself as one of these great Rabbis about whose stories I grew up with that would smuggle in Tefilin. Mezuzos, Matzas, Shofars and Lulavs and Etrog into the former Soviet Union under the Iron Curtain. OK maybe it’s not exactly the same thing… And maybe this is not the season to perpetuate our own false justifications. But it worked for me at the time. So leave me alone guilty conscience I have another few days before I have to deal with you.
Yes this time it was certainly different. Whereas the first time it was the magical dream come true. Now it was really our home. My house was waiting. My congregation had lots of work I needed to get back to before the High Holidays. My kids schools were waiting and my tours were going to start up again. In short. We were coming back to a life, not an imagined and longed for dream anymore. I had 10 hours to Moscow and a 4 hour layover and then another 4 hours to Israel to ponder this change in feeling and experience. In between Kosher airline food that I ate, despite the fact that we had four cooler bags and that they tasted horrible, and that came out odd hours in middle of dozing off with no appetite whatsoever. Because I had paid for these tickets and they came with flight. And if you paid for something you eat it. There are starving people in Ethiopia. I think. I even made my kids eat it. Or tried to at least. They tasted it a bit and twirled it around. And I just finished it for them. Why? See above. It’s also chinuch, I guess. {By the way if this E-Mail sounds like I have ADD, I don’t I’m just still very jet-lagged. And did I mention I lost my wisdom tooth last week… There I go again….} Soooo I pondered. What am I to make of this second coming? Is it a good thing? Is it sad that I had lost that excited feeling?
Well, as usual the Torah portion is there for me to find the meaning and message for my daily life ponderings. There’s a reason why we call it toras chayim- the instructions for life. In this week’s double portion of Netzavim and Vayelech, the last day of the life of Moshe Rabbeinu, we are given the last two mitzvos in the Torah. These are the last commands of Hashem that we receive from our shepherd, our teacher the man who has seen us through it all. And these are the last two things that Hashem feels we have to know before we- whadaya know? Get on the plane and start heading home into the Promised Land.
The two mitzvas that we are commanded is the mitzva of Hakhel- gathering together the entire nation, men women children and even infants coming to Jerusalem for a ceremony in which the King reads from the Torah for us. The final mitzva is the command for each of us to write a Torah. To have a personal copy of those instructions that we received on Sinai for ourselves. These last two mitzvos if you think about it share a common denominator. They are both there in order that we should never forget and always have with us that experience that we shared decades before at Har Sinai. It was there on that mountain in middle of the wilderness that we all stood. Shemot (19:17) vayityazvu b’tachtit hahar-we were nitzavim-standing at the foot of the mountain. There we heard the word of Hashem, the lightning the thunder, the elation. It was the moment the entire world had been waiting for since creation. We were all there together and we heard and felt the King. The Mitzva of Hakhel is the second coming. It’s trying to redo and live that again. But this time in the real world.
And finally we are commanded
Devarim (31:19) So now write this song, and teach the children of Israel; Place it into their mouths, in order that this song will be for Me as a witness for the children of Israel.
Throughout generations, we do not find that every Jew or even masses of Jews have undertaken this mitzva, to write a scroll. It’s an expensive mitzva that not everyone can fulfill. Yet according to some authorities when we receive an Aliya to the Torah, the congregation that owns the communal Torah grants it in entirely to the person who makes the blessing and reads from it and it is as if he owns this Torah that he is reading from and is an a way fulfilling his obligation. Interesting then that through aliya to the Torah, we fulfill this last mitzva. Emphasis as can be expected from me on the word aliya.
The Torah though interestingly describes this final mitzva as a song. Not as a book, not as a scroll, not as instructions or a handbook for life. It is a song that must be put in our mouth. Music changes over the years, throughout generations. Different countries have their own tunes and rhythms. There is Middle Eastern, African, Western, Russian, Polish. I’m not sure if there is Chinese but I imagine there is as well. There’s music from the fifties, the 60’s the 70’s. There’s rap, there’s reggae, there’s klezmer. It’s all different. Each one is a representation and an outpouring of the soul, the times and the eras. The beauty of viewing the Torah as a song is that Hashem is telling us that the words and teachings of the Torah are meant to be the eternal and relevant, new and fresh, emotional and uplifting vehicle for us to realize and express the yearnings and experiences of our soul. The words that we heard on Sinai- our first coming of age, are meant to be transformed on a personal level and individual level as we refresh it each year, each day, each lifecycle event and most significantly as we come into the Land of Israel to live in the world and life that everything that has come before this moment has been a preparation for.
The titles of the two parshiyot Nitzavim and Vayelech are in fact opposite terms. Nitzvaim means standing upright. Vayelech means walking or going forward. Perhaps those are the two last messages we are meant to have in these final mitzvos and commands from Moshe. On one hand we are upright. We are meant to look at where we came from. We stand together as a nation and remember that moment on Sinai. We relive it. We were born. We were commanded. We were on the top of the world. We were chosen and beloved. All of us, the wood choppers, the Kohanim, the Rabbis, the women, the children the water carriers and the tour guides. Yet that moment that standing that we recall is not end of the story. We are meant to walk forward, to sing, to build and transform those words and teachings into a symphony that testifies to Hashem’s presence on earth. There are planting songs, marching songs, prayerful devotional songs and festive celebratory songs. But they’re our songs. They are not new. They are not the songs of the first time, fresh, elation type. They’re different than the first time around. They’re more mature. They’re real. They are what it is really all about.
This week and these parshiyot are the last of the year; the Shabbos before Rosh Hashana. The word shana which in Hebrew means year also has the same root as the word shoneh- different. Even more interesting is that it also means to repeat something, like the word sheni, a second time. Each year has its Rosh. It’s head. It is a time when we start again differently. It is a second coming. It is a year that we may perhaps hope to repeat the same basic terms and structure that we have the year before. We will read the same entire Torah once again. We may have the same job, the same family, the same expectations and same basic life structure. But at the same time we need to find and sing the new song and tune that will define and give new music to our lives. The tune of the year. Perhaps hopefully even the tune of Mashiach our final redemption. May Hashem bless all of this coming year that we each find the melody that uplifts us. May it be one that is sweet, that sings of health, of joy, of love, of holiness and parnassa tova and may it be one that rings out to the rest of the world as we sing together in the glory of our King.

Have a perfect last Shabbosof the year and a Shana Tova Umetuka,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



“Tsu itlechen neiem lid ken men tsupassen an alten nigen.”. To every new song one can find an old tune.


https://youtu.be/nJa2KAzTOhk - The story of PickAls by Arthur Cohen of blessed Memory

https://youtu.be/srbqz96Dzao  beautiful Avinu Malkeinu by Reb Pinchas Wolf OB”M of my hometown Detroit sung by Shlomo Simcha

https://youtu.be/yC_OlvUU7_A     – How To Make a Shofar

https://youtu.be/v6bhPzT4mjs Cool Technion Robot Rosh Hashana

https://mostlymusic.com/collections/featured-music/products/mona-7-uteshuva-utelfia-utzedaka-ft-yaakov-shwekey - Yackov Shwekey brand new single B’Rosh Hashana from Mona 7 disc at mostlymusic.com

https://youtu.be/LC-MEfJW1LU  - my favorite Rosh Hashana song Ochila LaKel…
answer below at end of Email

Q A site where a locomotive is stationed as an exhibit for visitors:
a. Oron
b. Nitsana
c. Dimona
d. Beersheba


Vayeilech- In all of my different congregations I have always been a big fan of kids in shul. Maybe it was to get back at all of those shuls that were not kid friendly and shushed me a lot. I don’t know I’ll let my therapist figure it out. So I always gave out candy, after all who doesn’t like the candy man? As well I encouraged families to bring their children, Yeah, I don’t like them running through shul and disturbing but at the same time, I was never a fan of decorum either. So what’s the right thing to do?  It’s the High Holiday season to bring the kids or not? That is the question.
Well good old Rashi is there to help us out. YHou just have to read him carefully, something I’m sure readers of this part of the E-mail are doing anyways. So the Parsha this week’s teaches us the mitza of Hakhel, gathering all of the Jewish people to hear the king read from the Torah on the Sukkot after the Sabbatical year. The commandment is
Devarim (31:12) Gather the nation; the men, the women and the infants.
Rashi explains what everyones there for
The men- to study. The women to listen. And the infants, for what purpose are they coming? In order to give reward to those that bring them.
This is a very nice oft-quoted Rashi. The importance of training children and infants is essential. Yet Rashi is clearly not coming to teach us mere lessons. Rav Dushinsky notes that the truth is that if the parents and all of the people were commanded to come then who was going to watch the children anyways? There were no Moabite baby sitters hanging around that you could just give a few shekel to watch the kids. So why is Rashi asking why are the children coming? He answers that is precisely what Rashi is coming to explain why did Hashem command the children to come, either way they had to come. His answer? In order to give reward to the ones that brought them. Meaning, yes the children had to come anwyays, but Hashem who loves to increase mitzvos made this into a mitzva in order to give the parents extra reward that they were not merely bringing them out of convenience but rather as a mitzva.
The Sefat Emet adds to this notion that we see from here that despite the fact that children may disturb their parents prayers and the decorum, it is still worthwhile and the will of Hashem that they be brought to Shul. It is important for parent to appreciate that they should give up a little of their own spirituality for their childrens benefit of hearing and learning and experiencing the word of Hashem. I think it is needless to say therefore that the shul-going should be a pleasant experience for these children as well. So maybe offer one a candy next time, rather than shushing him.

 Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky- the Dushinsky Rebbe (1867-1948) –  also known as the Maharitz, was the first Rebbe of Dushinsky and Chief Rabbi (Gavad) of the Edah HaChareidis of Jerusalem. Born in Paks, Hungary, he was a disciple of the author of Shevet Sofer, one of the grandchildren of the Chassam Sofer.
After his marriage to Sheindel the daughter of Rabbi Mordechai Winkler, author of Levushei Mordechai, Dushinsky became the Chief Rabbi in Galanta, Slovakia. In an epidemic during World War I, his wife died, leaving no children. He subsequently remarried Esther Neuhaus, daughter of Rabbi Yoel Tzvi Neuhaus. He relocated to the town of Chust to assume the position of Chief Rabbi. In 1921, his only child, Yisroel Moshe, was born.
In 1930, the Dushinsky family moved to the British Mandate of Palestine, settling in Jerusalem. Shortly after in 1932 came the death of the Chief Rabbi and founder of the Edah HaChareidis, Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld. The Maharitz was appointed as his successor. He founded a community of Hungarian Jews in Jerusalem, affiliated with the Perushim section of the Edah HaChareidis. This community gradually developed into a Hasidic dynasty, which is today headed by his grandson, who was named after him.
Rav Dushinsky was known for his strong opposition to Zionism, and spoke to the newly formed United Nations against the creation of the Zionist State.
In fall 1948 the Rav was hospitalized in the Shaarei Zedek Hospital on Jaffa Road under the care of Dr. Moshe Wallach, director-general of the hospital. He died on the eve of Sukkot1948 and was buried in the small cemetery adjacent to the hospital, which was used as a temporary burial ground during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War when the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives was inaccessibleHe was succeeded by Rabbi Zelig Reuven Bengis as Chief Rabbi of the Edah HaChareidis, and by his son, Rabbi Yisroel Moshe Dushinsky, as leader of the Dushinsky Hasidim, which would under the latter's leadership turn into one of the newest Hasidic dynasties.
*Interesting factoid-The Jerusalem Municipality sought to honor Rav Dushinsky after his death with the naming of a street, but his son refused for fear that any Shabbat desecration that occurred on the street (e.g. the driving of cars on the Shabbat) would cause pain to his father's soul. After many requests, his son agreed to the naming of a passageway of stairs in the Pagi (Sanhedria) neighborhood after his father, since cars could not access this path
Breslavers – I’ve never heard the term before but according to Wikipedia there are some who refer to this chasidic group as the “toyteh Chasidim” – the dead chasidim as they follow a Rebbe who is no longer with the living; none other than of course Rabbi Nachman. Yet, I don’t think there are chasisdim that are more alive and more present than the Breslavers as they number 10’s of thousands worldwide and have certainly seen the greatest resurgence in the last two decades. Now like many chasidim there are breakoffs and different opinions on how it should be run, this is particularly true where there is no one accepted Rebbe. One of Reb Nachman’s last statements was that his fire will burn until Mashiach comes and therefore from his student Rebbe Nasan and on, no one has taken the mantle of being the Rebbe of the Chasidut. So there are different groups of Breslavers. There are the more mainstream ones based in Jerusalem “the shul” in Meah Shearim and in Tzfat. These are certainly the largest groups although not necessarily the most visible. They study in “regular” Yeshivos and uphold the customs of Breslav and as well also study the teachings of Rebbe Nachman.
The most visible though and perhaps the most fun and largest growing sect are the Na Nachs. They are the Breslavers that one can see dancing in the streets during traffic, standing on street corners handing out books and in generally just having fun, bringing ‘joy to the world’. The name Na Nach comes from a letter that they believe was sent from the other world to Reb Yisrael Oddesa their leader who passed away in 1994, reassuring him about t*he fast that be broke on the 17th of Tamuz because he was sick and it contains the words Na Nach Nachman Mei Uman. In Reb Nachman’s writing he mentions a sung that will be sung to herald in Mashiach with stanzas of 1,2,3, and 4 letter words and thus it became the song. These Na Nachs consist of many Israeli Baalei Teshuva who have returned to an observant lifestyle and were drawn to the hopeful statements of Reb Nachman, that there is no such thing as giving up hope, that each person should focus on their nekuda tova, that one point of spirituality and goodness that could never be tainted and that the primary mitzva is to be happy and to rejoice. The holiday for Breslavers is of course Rosh Hashana where tens of thousands of Chasidim descend upon the small Ukrainian town of Uman, where Rebbe Nachman is buried, for the holiday. Rebbe Nachman declared Rosh Hashana as his day and promised he will beseech on behalf of those that visit his grave. I love Breslavers. To a large degree they are the happy people of Klal Yisrael. So next time you are stuck in traffic look around for some dancing chasidim, get out and join them. Your day will be much better.


Had my luggage torn to pieces, so I asked my lawyer if I could sue the airline. He said, “you don’t have much of a case”.

A vulture turns up at the airport with two dead animals. The staff member at check in says, “Sorry, only one carrion per passenger”.

A photon turns up at check in for a flight with no baggage. The check in agent says “traveling light?” He says “Yes, I am”.

Someone told me they thought I was in denial about baggage, but that’s definitely not the case.

There was an incident at the airport when a large collection of suitcases fell over in the luggage area. Experts suspect it was pile it error.

At an airport, one of my friends suggested we disguise ourselves as luggage. I said, “let’s not get carried away”.

Took legal action once against someone who tried to copy my innovative self-packing luggage. It was an open and shut case.

Friend of mine works as a baggage handler at the airport, but used to be a lawyer. He kept losing his cases.

Unpacking my bag after a flight, and I have a suitcase full of gloves. Apparently I bought a hand luggage only fare.
I know an elephant who refused to travel by air because he didn’t want to leave his trunk in the hold.
Worried that the airline might lose my bag with all the sausages I’ve bought during my trip to Germany. That would be the wurst case scenario.
A friend was seeing someone who worked for a left luggage company but it didn’t work out. It seems he had too much baggage

Sal, a pilot for a major airline, carries his running clothes in a backpack, freeing his hands for his luggage. On one trip, he told me, he noticed passers-by grinning at him in the terminal. Sal smiled back. Maybe some of them were on my last flight, he thought.
His ego was brimming until he got to the cockpit and stowed his bags. That's when he saw the "Parachute" sign his co-workers had stuck to his backpack.

A passenger piled his luggage on the scale at an airline counter in New York and said to the ticket agent: I'm flying to Los Angeles.  I want the large bag sent to Denver and the two small ones to Cincinnati."  "I'm sorry sir, but we can't do that," said the ticket agent. "That's good to hear because that's where they ended up the last time I flew this route."
Answer is D– Although I have never visited the train station and museum in Beer Sheva of the last steam engine in Israel that was built by Turks during WWI in preparation for the war and attack by the British in order to move troops, I knew the answer. Who knows I may even visit it one day.

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