Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
November 10th 2017 -Volume 8 Issue 4 21st Cheshvan 5778
Parshat Chayei Sarah
Highway to Heaven
Unlike the story in my E-Mail last week, 23 years ago I wasn’t in a rush to get anywhere. I didn’t have a home to go back to, to children to hug, a comfortable bed to lie down in. I was heading back to the “Irv” our dormitory in the great BMG yeshiva. Back to my wonderful smoke-filled room with lots of lonely yeshiva guys talking about their dates. It was a great place of solace for guys waiting for their “ship to come in”, or as we in yeshiva used to say our soup to come in. See girls were called soup back then. It started when my roommates and I were all laid up in bed with the flu, and one of them noted how nice it would be to be married and to have a wife that would come in and offer us a bowl of soup. Yeah we had really high aspirations for marriage back then. So I was not in a rush to get back there. You see, I already had my soup. I was engaged. My fiancée not only could make a great soup, but she had an awesome chulent as well. I was avoiding my dorm room. I was out of the club. I was “one of them”. Those googly eyed in love chasanim with a perpetual smile on my face. No I was definitely not in a rush.
So I was kind of taken aback when I saw lights and heard sirens in my rear view mirror. Was I speeding? I definitely wasn’t aware of it. I was just in chasan la la land, or nai nai land in the yeshivsh lingo.of our day. I was just humming along to the wedding songs blasting in my car thinking about my beloved. Oh well… The officer took my license and registration and wrote me out a ticket for going 75 in a 55 zone. I knew better than to argue with a New Jersey State police officer. They have heard it all. Nothing I could or would say was gonna change his mind. He had a quota to fill and I was there for the picking. So I took my ticket, apologized and headed back to the “Irv”. I wasn’t smiling when I came into the boys. So they let me back in the club for the night.
I wasn’t that nervous about the ticket. It wasn’t the first one that I had got. The way that I would play it generally, is that I would appear in court on the day that it said I had to appear before. Since I never set up a court date in advance, the police officer would usually not be there. They would then set up a “2nd“ court date and at least half the time the cop wouldn’t show up to that date, because the law was that they had at least two dates to appear. He wouldn’t realize that on the record I had appeared once already and I would then be let off. Who says they don’t teach you important things in yeshiva J?
So I showed up to court. The judge looked a little scary. He was not smiling. I think he knew what I was up to. When I told him why I was there, he right away noted that this would not count as a first appearance, as I had not informed the court in advance I was coming. Busted! The judge pulled out his calendar and asked me when I would be able to make another appearance. I closed my eyes and offered up a quick prayer to Hashem and figured I would try Plan B. I turned to the judge and told him that it would be very challenging for me to get back here, as I was getting married the following month and I was “moving out of State”. I failed to mention that “out of State” was just across the Goethals Bridge in New York. The judge looked at me and his faced softened a bit and asked me when the wedding was. When I told him that it was March 9th he looked at me and said.
“Well some might say that is punishment enough… I of course don’t feel that way… Congratulations! Case Dismissed“
And there you go. Another great reason to get married. Another reason to love my wife.
Now where am I going with this you want to know? Come on you could figure it out. OK I’ll tell you. Unlike the judge’s joke there definitely seems to be some precedent in the Torah for speeding to get married and it’s certainly not a punishment. There is even divine assistance in the matter. See I had mine after the fact when Hashem answered my prayer and I didn’t get hit with a fine. Eliezer the servant of Avraham, charged with the mission to find a wife for the first Jewish man, gets his prayer answered even before he hit the road. For after he asks Hashem
“Hashem the God of my master Avraham, may You arrange for me today and do kindness with my master Avraham”
He then sets up the “camel bucket” challenge, so as to be sure that Rivka will be the right one for his man Yitzchak. What happens? Eliezer hops on his camel and faster than you wave a wand and say “Apparate!” poof he was there standing by the spring with Rivka just pulling up. See what happens when you’re in the process of connecting a Bashert. In fact Eliezer, specifically put the challenge to Hashem that it would happen the same day. Now I don’t know how fast he was planning on going with that camel but Chevron to Saudi Arabia or Iraq wherever Aram Naharayim is located is more than a day’s travel. So it is no wonder that when he arrives and tells the story over to Lavan and Besuel, Rivkah’s father, he tells them
Bereshit (24:42) “Va’avo Hayom El Ha’Ayin -And I arrived today to the spring”
Rashi notes on this verse
V’Avo Hayom- Today I left and today I arrived. From here we derive that the land “jumped” for him.
Amazing, he made it the whole way without even one speeding ticket. The truth is according to the understanding of the words, it wasn’t even that he went fast. The land literally just contracted together and jumped him over there. See Eliezer had said that he wanted it to happen that day, and so the only way that it could happen is with this kfitzat haretz- the jumping of the land.
Interestingly enough we find years later Yitzchak’s son Yaakov leaves to go find his shidduch and he prays as well, the land we are told contracted there too. Now this seems like a pretty neat trick. One that I could certainly use. Fortunately, it seems that this trick is not one that is only used by our Patriarchs and their servants, but any chasidic story enthusiast worth their mettle knows that many of the great Chasidic Rebbe’s favorite “miracle” was the jumping road trick. The source for the secret goes back to the Baal Shem Tov- the founder of the chasidic movement who with his wagon driver Alexi traveled mystically all over the place connecting Jews using the special trick. His student the Koznitzer Magid tells us that it comes from our verse and a careful reading of the above Rashi.
See Rashi somehow sees in the words that Eliezer said that “I arrived today” that he came and left the same day. Where does he, or the sages he’s quoting see that? Maybe Eliezer was just saying that he arrived today. Perhaps he left a month before. The Baal Shem Tov thus reveals that the secret words to meditate on when one wants to jump the road are the first letters of the phraswe of Creation
Bereshis (1:1) ‘Es Hashamayim V’es Ha’aretz’- the heavens and the earth
or Alef, Hei, Vav, Hei. Thinking about the connection between heaven and earth and how the entire universe is all one- time and space are all an illusion, that meditation is what can cause one to move from place to place. When Eliezer says Va’avo Hayom El Ha’Ayin - the first letters of that phrase are Vav Hei Alef and Hei. The first letters of those words are the same letters as the heaven and earth, just out of order. The Vav and the Hei are first. Eliezer put the earth before the heaven. The earth so to speak jumped to the beginning of the verse. The earth jumped for him. Rashi tells us from here we derive the secret of the earth jumping for him. Meaningn literally from the words that he used we learn the formula of jumping the land.
Eliezer was engaged in creating a marriage. Not just a marriage, but the first Jewish marriage that would birth the Jewish nation. Eliezer understood that a Jewish marriage needs to connect heaven and earth. It has to have the ability to engage in super-human kindness embodied by Rivka. Kindness that this world, this earth was built upon. Kindness that would be embedded in this nation through a Matriarch like Rivkah. As well it needs as to practice a level of divine restraint, holiness, the willingness to sacrifice all of the physical desires in this world and all it has to offer in order that one becomes an Olah Temima a sanctified offering to heaven that our forefather Yitzchak embodied. Eliezer sought the Eretz before the Shamayim. The earth that would raise the world up to the heaven. And the land jumped in front of him and a marriage was made.
We live in a fast paced world. We’re always running. We’re always trying to get somewhere. There’s never enough time. There’s a sense that if we don’t make it there soon we’ll miss the whole thing. We’re looking for new ways to beat the traffic and make it there faster. We want kfitzat haderech. There’s a secret though to achieving it. Meditate on heaven and earth. Think about the eternal ramifications of the places we are trying to get to. Is the ultimate destination heaven? Are we trying to raise the earth up? Or are we just spacing out at the wheel and stepping on the gas without any eternal plan or significance. Or is our destination the World To Come raising the world to the highest spheres. You don’t have to be the Baal Shem Tov to ride on this highway to heaven. There are no cops handing out tickets either. It may even take a bit longer, but trust me when you finally arrive it will be “soup”er J!
Have a remarkable Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
RABBI SCHWARTZ’S FAVORITE YIDDISH PROVERB OF THE WEEK
“Aroif kletert men pavolyeh; arop kolert men zikh shnell.”- Uphill one climbs slowly; downfall one rolls fast
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK
answer below at end of Email
Q. A prime minister who is NOT buried in Har Herzl (Herzl Mount) is:
A. Levi Eshkol
B. Golda Meir
C. Moshe Sharet
D. Yitzhak Shamir
RABBI SCHWARTZ COOL VIDEOS OF THE WEEK
https://youtu.be/uhA5gGa-wBQ - Absolutely Majestic Carlebach Mimkomcha by Simcha Leiner
https://youtu.be/0__ZgeqxaPA -secrets of Mearat Hamachpela with Yishai Fleisher in honor of Shabbat Chevron
https://youtu.be/BVEc-bV9Dxk - Chevron Ir Havot- the classic Dedi!
https://soundcloud.com/ephraim-schwartz/asher-bara -In honor of the first Jewish wedding in the Parsha my Asher Bara composition-first featured at my daughter Shani’s wedding
https://youtu.be/J4mTkpVF9AY - Dovid HaMelech from our haftorah Eli Marcus!
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S HAFTORA CONNECTION OF THE WEEK
As I like to note haftorah’s always have a connection to the parsha and more often than not it’s not just a word here and there a theme here and there, the entire haftorah really contains in it different ideas and parts of the Torah portion. The stories of our forefathers are echoed in the stories of their children. Perhaps the greatest stories are the ones about King David. It is his soul, the singer of Israel, the line of our kingship that the one individual who had the most challenges yet always overcame them that I always am most drawn to.
This week’s haftora, deals with the end of Dovid HaMelech’s life, as it does with the end of the life of Sarah, and Avraham. It begins with telling us that King David was ‘ba bayimim- coming with his days’, just as the parsha tells us Avraham prior to his death was as well. Although Avraham still had another few decades in front of him and David was 70 years old they are considered coming inot their days, as they move into the next and final stage of their lives passing on the baton to the next generation. The Parsha that discusses the death of our first Patriarch begins with the death and burial of Sarah. The portion of Haftorah begins with Dovid not being able to be warmed by his clothing (the midrash tells us that this was a punishment for cutting the garment of Shaul years before- by the caves of Ein Gedi as my tourists all knowJ). Neither is his wife Batsheva or other wives cutting it for him. Being in a bind as he could not take a new wife as he had reached the 18 wife max allowed for Kings, and of course not wishing to divorce anyone of them. He was permitted to be alone with a woman who might be able to get his blood running once again, although he would not be permitted to have relations with her. This was in fact his opportunity to do practice incredible restraint and do teshuva by having that restraint on the sin of having not restrained himself with in taking Batsheva as a wife, despite that she was married.
The major part of our Torah portion is the finding of a wife for Yitzchak and to a large degree setting him up with the force behind the man, his wife Rivka who will be his Eizer Knegdo- his faithful partner. In our Haftorah Batsheva the mother of Shlomo is the force behind him- (as most of his wives ultimately are idolators) and she makes sure that Dovid appoints Shlomo the King in the face of Adoniahu, Dovid’s other son and his band of followers, who try to usurp the throne. It also tells us of the separation between Yitzchak as the legitimate heir and Yishmael who does teshuva ultimately and merits to have many nations but is not Avraham’s heir. Dovid as well in our haftora appoints Shlomo to inherit him and not the child that he loved and spoiled Adoniyahu.
The Haftora concludes with the words ‘yechi adoni hamelech Dovid lolam- the King David shall live forever, although the next chapter discusses his death. Perhaps that is the perfect connection to our parsha named Chayei Sarah- the life of Sarah, despite it really discussing her death. Because when the Torah refers to life and particularly the life of the righteous we are talking about eternal life; the world to come. The life of Dovid is insured when his son Shlomo will step into his shoes and carry on the reign of his kingdom, and Sara’s life as well is eternal as Yitzchak and Rivka take their place as the next set of Patriarchs and Matriarchs of our people. Truly an amazing and appropriate Haftorah!
Dovid Hamelech (907-832 BC)- Kabbala tells us that after the Patriarchs who represent the 3 legs of Hashem’s throne. Dovid is the fourth. As opposed to King Saul the first King of Israel, who was tall, handsome, a warrior and a political leader. Dovid is a polar opposite, poor shepherd boy, people questioned if he was Jewish, if was illegitimate. He a redhead, he played the harp really well. The most unlikely of candidates. Yet he becomes Dovid Melech Yisrael Chai V’Kayam. He is the one that finally conquers Jerusalem, the city that the Temple would ultimately be built in and restores the Ark of the Covenant to it. It is he that finally puts down the Philistines that had persecuted the Jews for centuries. There is no one like Dovid. All this in 70 years of life that our sages he wasn’t even supposed to live. They were granted to him from Adam the first man who gave 70 years of his life Adam died at 930 years old ( I guess he had a few to spareJ) when Hashem showed him that he would die right away.
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S ERA’S AND THEIR PLACES AND PEOPLE IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK
Noah and the flood 2105 BC That was the year of the flood according to Jewish tradition 4122 years ago this month. Now whether the flood hit the land of Israel is a question amongst our sages. There are certainly Midrashim that state that it did not. In fact one Midrash suggests that the city of Akko is thus called because when the waters approached the land of Israel Hashem said “Ad Koh- Until here” and thus it got its name. Talmud in Megilla (6A) quotes Reb Yochanan that the hot springs of Tiberias and seemingly Hammat Gader are remainders from when the earth opened up and the hot water came pouring out to fill the world. Now although it didn’t necessarily come to Israel. That would be biblical Israel, modern day Israel and particularly in the Negev which was not part of the biblical borders of Israel one can certainly best see the impact of the Great Flood by Mitzpeh Ramon and the other great craters that are there that are the only ones in the world that are clearly formed by erosion. The visitor center over there at the Ilan Ramon center has a great multi-media that really describes the formation of Craters that clearly describes the land being covered by water. Pretty cool!
RABBI SCHWARTZ’S TERRIBLE CHAREIDI IN THE ARMY JOKES OF THE WEEK
A man was speeding down the highway, feeling secure in a gaggle of cars all traveling at the same speed. However, as they passed a speed trap, he got nailed with an infrared speed detector and was pulled over.
The officer handed him the citation, received his signature and was about to walk away when the man asked, "Officer, I know I was speeding, but I don't think it's fair. There were plenty of other cars around me going just as fast, so why did I get the ticket?"
"Ever go fishing?" the policeman suddenly asked the man.
"Ummm, yeah... so," the startled man replied.
The officer grinned and added, "Ever catch ALL the fish?"
Chanie was driving through a school zone when a policeman pulled her over for speeding. As he was giving her the ticket, she said, "How come I always get a ticket and everyone else gets a warning? Is it my face?"
"No, ma'am," explained the officer, "it's your foot."
"What am I supposed to do with this?" grumbled a Yankel as the policeman handed him a speeding ticket.
"Keep it," the cop said, "when you collect four of them you get a bicycle."
A police officer pulls over a Moishie and Sadie as they were speeding down the highway. The officer says,' I clocked you at 80 miles per hour, sir.'
Moishie says, 'Gee, officer, I had it on cruise control at 60; perhaps your radar gun needs calibrating. '
Not looking up from her knitting tSadie says: 'Now don't be silly -- you know that this car doesn't have cruise control.'
As the officer writes out the ticket, Moishie looks over at his wife and growls, 'Can't you please keep quiet for once!!'
Saidie smiles and says, 'Well, you should be thankful your radar detector went off when it did or your speed would have been higher.'
As the officer makes out the second ticket for the illegal radar detector unit, Moishie glowers at her again and says through clenched teeth, 'Can't you be quiet?'
The officer frowns and says, 'And I notice that you're not wearing your seat belt, sir. That's an automatic $75 fine.'
Moishie says, 'Yeah, well, you see, officer, I had it on, but I took it off when you pulled me over so that I could get my license out of my back pocket.'
Sadie says, 'Now, you know very well that you didn't have your seat belt on. You never wear your seat belt when you're driving.'
And as the police officer is writing out the third ticket, the driver turns to his wife and barks, 'WILL YOU PLEASE BE STOP YAPPING ALREADY??'
The officer looks over at the woman and asks, 'Does your husband always talk to you this way, Ma'am?'
'Only when he's been drinking
RABBI SCHWARTZ’S SHABBAT CARTOON OF THE WEEK
Answer is C – I wonder how many of you have even heard of Moshe Sharett and knew that he was the 2nd Prime Minister of Israel, despite the fact that his face is on every 20 shekel bill in this country. He was the first foreign Minister of Israel and was the one that therefore accepted the Partition Plan upon the declaration of the State of Israel and the historic United Nations vote. He was for only about a year and half January 1954-1955 in between the two terms that Ben Gurion served. At the end of his life he and Ben Gurion did not see eye to eye, Sharett being more of a pacifist then BG. Sharrett decided to be buried in Trumpledor Cemetery in Tel Aviv between two of his close friends who were also his brother-in-laws Dov Hoz and Eliyahu Golumb.