Our view of the Galile

Friday, October 27, 2017

A Slice of Love- Lech Lecha 2017 / 5778

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
October 27th 2017 -Volume 8 Issue 2 7th Cheshvan 5778

Parshat Lech Lecha/ Shabbat Project Shabbat!

(In honor of my son Tully (my new favorite childJ’s) birthday and 8th anniversary of his Bris-Day I share with you this golden oldie E-Mail written upon that occasion back in my Seattle days)

A Slice of Love
  It was something I’d always wanted to do for my son. I had just got married my wife was expecting. I was positive it was going to be a boy of course. And I wanted to do the Bris-the circumcision. I know it sounds kind of strange but it just seemed like something absolutely magnificently cool; being able to take out a knife, circumcising my son and entering him into the ancient Jewish covenant between God and the Jewish people- the children of Abraham. I spent three months going around to Bris-es watching and learning everything you needed to know about doing a Bris. And then the day came and my dear daughter Shani was born… the plans were obviously put on hold and the joys of raising a wonderful daughter who was way too much like me kicked in.
  But a few years later I got my chance again once again. My wonderful Rebbetzin was pregnant and although I was not as confident this time around-I still checked out a few Bris-es and dreamed of that moment. Well God certainly has a sense of Humor and this time Thank God I has a son. Mazel Tov it’s a boy!! Except… he was born on Shabbat and as the Mohel (professional circumciser) told me, one is prohibited from performing their first Brit on Shabbat (because he may make an extra bruise by mistake/ thus violating Shabbat). So we had a great Kiddush, the Mohel did a great job and I pretty much gave up. Then there was Rivkah… and then my next daughter Elka. It was girl city time in the Schwartz family.
 9 months ago Hashem blessed us with another pregnancy. I knew it was probably a girl… again…Yonah and I were just meant to be outnumbered and drowning in estrogen and hormones. I was not prepared, my Bris books buried somewhere. Yesterday morning it happened… The doctor asked me if I wanted to cut the cord…I smiled and told him I’ll wait until the 8th day before I get my knife ready. Hashem is good! Another son! This ones Bris god-willing will be this coming Wednesday. Now I just have to convince my wife and the Mohel to give me a shot at itJ. And then my Mother and Mother-in-LawJJ.
Of course non-coincidentally enough my son was born the week of the Torah portion of Lech Lecha, the Parsha where Hashem first commands Avraham with this eternal covenant of Bris Mila. Seems this kid already wants to help Dad out with timely Weekly E-mail messages (Although, Yonah notes, that it is also the first night of the World Series so he must be a Yankee fan). This Mitzvah is certainly one that has always fascinated me.
  The Talmud tells us that it is a specific Mitzvah for the father to perform the circumcision on his child. Nowadays because most people are not skilled in this we generally fulfill this commandment through an “agent” – a mohel. Yet certainly the ideal is for the father to perform the Mitzvah himself if he can. The question of course begs itself why the father? Generally speaking one can hire or appoint an agent to fulfill many Mitzvot. Someone can slaughter and sacrifice an animal for you for your personal consumption or a sacrifice, remove Shatnez (forbidden wool and linen combination) from your suit and even get rid of Chametz- leaven from your house for you for Passover. Particularly a medical procedure where it’s not something that everyone is easily trained in, why would Hashem want the father to do it for their child? Let the Mohel do his thing and let the Dad just pay for the bagels.
 The Chasam Sofer suggests a fascinating idea as he explains this Mitzvah. He suggests that that this Mitzvah is more than just a commandment about removing some foreskin or even marking your child as Jew. It is meant to be a covenant, a bond and a treaty between Hashem and your son. It is linking him to his great-great-great… grandfather Avraham who entered into this bond a few thousand years ago, who had a personal connection with the Almighty and passing that exact contract down to your next generation. He adds even more poignantly that when the father himself does it, it is more than just a procedure. All his intent and love goes into that covenant and it always remains as part of it.

 On a slightly deeper level one can even add that there is a personal message for the son as well in his first experience with Torah and Mitzvot. His first very painful experience. His first Mitzvah where I’m sure if he would know what was coming he might just want to jump off that table and grab a bagel and leave.  Hashem wanted him to know that right from the start that Mitzvah and all the challenges he may face in life are all given to him with love, with the love of his father, with the love of Hashem. Sure you can hire a Mohel, and probably should, if you can’t perform the Mitzvah yourself. But the essence of the Mitzvah is that it should be done with a Fathers love, and it is that which truly bonds our special eternal covenant.
I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do the Bris myself. But the lesson and inspiration of this Bris is surely one that I hope and pray will inspire this newest member to the Schwartz clan and our TLC family. May all his challenges and Mitzvot be performed and charged with love. May the light and spirit of this Eternal covenant be fulfilled in him and all his future generations. And May Hashem continue to shine grace, kindness and happiness on all the children of his covenant for all times with the coming of Moshiach.
 Have a an incredible Shabbos “project” Shabbat with the knowledge that this is probably the largest observant Shabbat in the last half a century, AWESOME!
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://youtu.be/R7wM1-rOrBo  - Shabbos project this Shabbat video join now!!! Cool!

https://youtu.be/5Y9jPvnV5B8 - Havdala at the Shabbat project awesome

https://soundcloud.com/ephraim-schwartz/shalom-aleichem In honor of the World wide Shabbat project the latest RABBI SCHWARTZ  COMPOSITION Shalom Aleichem- awesome song listen again and again and share…

https://soundcloud.com/ephraim-schwartz/eishet-chayil - Once we’re at it already here’s my Eishet Chayil composition from last year as well in honor of this special Shabbat. Enjoy!

https://youtu.be/gVqAWx9OCW0 -Dedi Vkovay Hashem from this weeks Haftorah


“Shabbes hot der rosheh in gehenem oich ru..- On the Sabbath even the wicked in hell have rest.”

New Year-New Exam This is this past summer 2017 Tour Guiding Exam-let’s see how I do…
answer below at end of Email
Q.  Synagogues in The Golan Heights are found in
a. Sussiya and Susita
b. Ein Nashut and Deir Aziz
c. Deir Aziz and Magdala
d. Gamla and Chorazim

New column!!

We’ve covered in the past few years different appreciations of the weekly Torah portion and the ways to study Torah. We’ve done Midrash of the week, Remez- allegories and Gematrios and pshat the simple understanding according to Rashi. This year will try something new. Each week our sages and Jewish custom have connected a portion of the prophets to be read with the Torah portion. In the past it’s usually the time when I best prepare my sermon that I’m about to say in shul or when many doze off or go out to Kiddush club- god forbid – This years I decided to explore the Haftora connection and perhaps a bit about the Prophet that it comes from. The custom of Haftora is our Rabbi’s and tradition ot give us some insight into our Parsha from the works of our prophets let’s discover that ancient wisdom and it’s secrets together
This week’s Torah portion begins the story of the Jewish people with our first Patriarch Avraham. The prophet Yeshaya refers to Avraham as my loved one. Avraham was the one that brought the love of Hashem to mankind. The prophet is talking to the Jews of Israel that had been exiled already and questioned Hashem. Where is He hiding? Why is this happening? The Navi tell us that we need merely look at Avraham who also did not expect to have children, who did everything right, but ultimately did not lose faith in Hashem. He tell us these incredible words of inspiration (that were made into a song by Dedi)
Isaiah (40:31) V’kovay Hashem yachalifu koach-Those who have hope in Hashem will have renewed strength
Rav Saadaya Gaon in the 9th century derives from this verse that if one is doing the will if Hashem nothing can be too hard. Renewed strength is always given and one can overcome what may seem like insurmountable challenges. Once again the connection with this week’s portion where Avraham and his small band of soldiers defeat the largest world empire at that time, is being highlighted for us by the choice of Haftora.
Finally the conclusion of the Haftora describes how all of the other nations of the world seem to miss the boat. In one of the most ironic Jewish songs that miss the boat of the original verse popularized by Avraham Fried Yeshaya tells us.
Ibid (41:6) “Ish es ray’ayhu ya’azoru u’lachiv yomar chazak- each man would help his friend and to his brother he would say be strong”
The reason I say this is ironic is because this verse is talking about how the gentiles would strengthen themselves to make idols and defy God. Even they idols were falling apart they would hit it and fix them up saying that they are good. Not exactly a great song to sing about. Whoever made it up should probably of checked his Artscroll or Tehilat Hashem siddur prophets translation first. It is a fun song though.
Yeshaya contrasts the Goyim with the children of Avraham and Yaakov though ' who never tire and who Hashem will continuously strengthen and need never fear anything for He is with us. Hashem has chosen our ancestors and their descendants to represent Him for eternity. It is a powerful Haftorah and really reinforces as all of the Haftoras do, the themes and messages that our sages wanted us to draw from the Parsha.

Each week I’ll try to give some varied and brief historical insights of the life and personality of the prophet of the haftorah from our sages in order to see how our sages viewed these great men

Yeshaya Hanavi Era of Prophecy (780-700 BC)- Yeshayahu received his tradition in prophecy from his Rebbe the prophet Amos. The Baal Shem Tov suggests that the power of Yeshaya was tha unlike the prophet Yirmiyahu who when he heard of the impending exile of the Jewish people did not pray for them. Yeshayahu, whose name means Hashem should preform salvation, would pray on behalf of the Jewish people. Which is why Yirmiyahu, ultimately suffered at the hands of the Jewish people when he was thrown into a pit whereas Yeshaya was treated with respect.

New Season New column
We’ve covered- Cool places in Israel, Cool Things to do in Israel, Cool Historical events that took place each week in Israel, Types of Jews in Israel. This year I figured we’d try to do…drumroll….

We’ve got 5778 years to cover and it all took place here, I think this will last us through the year!

Man and  the Garden of Eden 3761-2761 BC to be precise- Why did Hashem create Man? The Torah tells us because He made a garden and wanted a gardener. “to work it and preserve it. It is the famous Garden of Eden. Where is this famed Garden? The Torah gives its description of rivers like the Euphrates and other ones flowing out of it. It tells us about angels being posted there with circling swords preventing man from re-entering. Many of our sages look at Gan Eden-Paradise as being the place where souls go to rest after we die, which would seemingly not make it a physical place. In Israel though there are still places that we can get close though. The Zohar tells us that the opening of Gan Eden is near the Tomb of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs- the Mearat Hamachpela in Chevron. In fact the Midrash tells us that when Eve dies Adam returns to this cave and sees a light coming out and it is there that he buries here and eventually where his son Sheth buries him. There are other commentaries that place Gan Eden being on the Temple Mount next to where the mizbayac- altar was. Then of course Reish Lakish in the Talmud suggests based on the delicious fruits that it produces that if the Garden of Eden in in Israel then it must be in the valley of Beit Shean. Once we’re talking about the Garden of Eden already why not talk about Gehenom the other place. The same Talmud in tractate Eiruvin mentions that the entrance to Gehenom can be found in the valley aptly called Gei- Ben Hinnom in Jerusalem on the side of the Temple Mount where they would worship and sacrifice their children to the Molech. As well there are sages that suggest that the Hot springs of Tiberias are heated up from the mouth of Gehenom. One thing is certain in Eretz Yisrael one can find Heaven and Hell.
It was a tight Shabbos in West Seattle and Rabbi Schwartz was nervous that with a few of his congregants out of town he would be short his minayn so he sent out  atext message to one of his more occasional service attendees Yankel asking if he would be joining them. Rabbi Schwartz thought that he was pretty up to date with all the instant messaging and texting lingo going around - with abbreviations like "LOL" and "OMG" and "BTW" , However he when received Yankels response he was a bit puzzled as he just wrote "JFK."
"JFK? What does that mean?", The Rabbi asked asked.
Yankel  answered politely, "Just for Kiddush."

Shabbat morning Rabbi Schwartz was giving his weekly sermon and as Rabbis sometimes do, kept going on and on, and after going way over time he stopped and realized and he apologized saying "I'm sorry, I left my watch at home". One disrespectful guy in the crowd yelled, "But Rabbi, you have a calendar right in front of you!"

After a long cantorial rendition one Shabbos morning service that seemed to go on forever Cantor Chaim told the congregation by Kiddush that his voice is insured with Lloyds of London for 1 million dollars. A voice from the back of the room says "so what did you do with the money?"

Jacob and Sara, a young Jewish married couple, were expecting their first baby. Unfortunately, Sara went into labor on Shabbat and they had no choice but to call for a taxi to take them to the hospital's maternity ward. Because Jacob wanted to try and minimize the Shabbat violation, he told the controller that he must send them only a non-Jewish driver.
The taxi quickly arrived, but when Jacob and Sara were getting in, they overheard the controller on the two-way radio ask the driver, "Have you picked up the anti-Semites yet?

Abie and Sadie had a religious goods store on Delancey Street on the
lower east side of NYC. The neighborhood was changing. The Jews were
moving to Westchester and the Hispanics were moving in.
"Abie, we have to move to Westchester," said Sadie.
"We can't", said Abie. "This neighborhood is our life. We've been
here for thirty-three years. Maybe we can start stocking Catholic
articles too."
Sadie says,"What? Catholic articles? Bistu in gantzen meshuggeh? We're
Jews. No Catholic articles!!!"
Well, a month passed and they sold nothing but two tallisim, three
mezzuzahs and one set of tefillin. Now was the time to fish or cut
Sadie agreed that they had to stock Catholic articles, so she said to
Abie,"OK, call that Catholic supply house on Park Avenue."
Abie: "Hello, Catholic supply house on Park Avenue? This is Abie And
Sadie's on Delancey Street. I want 100 autographed pictures of the
Pope, 200 of those beads - what do you call them, rosaries? 500
crucifixes...and I need those things here tomorrow."
"OK, Sir. I got your order. Let me read it back. 100 autographed
pictures of the Pope, 200 sets of rosaries and 500 crucifixes. But,
tomorrow we don't deliver... .....it's Shabbos."

Let’s see how many of these I can find!

Answer is B – I wasn’t sure of this one but got it right by process of elimination. The logic is like this Sussita is in the Golan but I wasn’t sure and didn’t remember a synagogue there as it was a Roman city, didn’t make a difference because Sussita which does have a beautiful shul from the period of the Mishna is in the Negev. Gamla and Chorazim both have shuls from Mishna and Talmud period but Chorazim is in Galil or down hills of Chermon and not Golan. Which leaves two answers. Magdala I knew was by Kinneret and not Golan, so the correct answer is B Ein Natush which actually I have been at and Deir Aziz which I never heard of and there you go.

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