Our view of the Galile

Friday, December 29, 2017

Stop Eating- Parshat Vayechi 2017 / 5778

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
December 29th   2017 -Volume 8 Issue 12 11th Tevet 5778

Parshat Vayechi
Stop Eating!

 I'm hungry. It's weird; I can go many if not most days without eating until dinner time. I just need my coffee in the morning and I'm all set. Yeah, of course if my tourists want to stop for lunch, or they dilly dally in their hotel by breakfast than of course I will join them. It would be rude otherwise and who am I to turn down an Israeli hotel breakfast. But the honest truth is I would much rather skip breakfast and even lunch and just be busy running around and showing them Hashem's holy land; their Holyland. Now dinner that's something else….But yet here I sit in the early afternoon in front of my computer and I'm hungry. The reason of course is because it's a fast day. I can't eat. That makes me hungry. I'm googling food jokes for you. I bought cheese danishes already. They're downstairs on the counter. Away from Elka and Tully who have been eyeing them way too dangerously. They're not fasting. The danishes are mine.
Over all though it's not that bad of a fast. It's the shortest one on the Jewish calendar. I meant to get up and get a coffee even before the fast; before 5:02 AM. I missed it, but thank god no headache…yet…It'll be over before I finish this E-Mail perhaps. Then I can have my cheese Danish. Am I the only one out there thinking like this? What do you think about on a fast day? Oh yeah… I forgot something bad happened today. Unlike our holidays where they tried to kill us, we won, let's eat, our fast days are about that they tried to kill us, they did, let's not eat. It feels sinful to be thinking about food (danishesJ) on a day that Jews died. Maimonides tells us that the point of the fast day is for us to increase our Teshuva, our sins that have caused this destruction. I guess we have to do something to distract ourselves from the food, so let's talk about what happened today. What are we meant to do Teshuva for? Who died? Why am I not eating? What is this fast of the tenth day of Tevet all about?
The truth is it's kind of a strange fast day. The Talmud tells us that on the Tenth of Tevet the Romans sieged the city of Jerusalem. OK, a siege is a bad thing. But the truth is compared to the other fasts that surround the destruction of the Temple this seems kind of minor. The 17th of Tamuz the walls were breached. The massacres began. On the 9th of Av both temples were destroyed. Even the fast of Gedalia right after Rosh Hashana the last hope post-Temple of Jewish life in Yehuda and Yerushalayim died when one Jew assassinates the leader of the remaining community of Israel. But a siege? We've had plenty of those. And no fasts. Even more fascinating the Talmud tells us that the tenth of Tevet is more severe than any of the other fasts in that if it would fall out on Shabbos (which it doesn’t' as we arrange the calendar so it does not) one would fast even on Shabbat. In fact as opposed to all the other fasts we actually fast it when it falls out on Friday and it is not postponed. The reason is because the verse in Yechezkel (24:2) that describes the day we are told
 "Son of man write for yourself -this day; This very day the King of Babylonia has reached Jerusalem this very day"
Wow! This very day…Those words in Hebrew B'Etzem Ha'Yom HaZeh, are used on very significant moments. The day we left Egypt, the day Hashem brought the flood, the day Moshe died as well as the holiest and most important fast day of the year Yom Kippur. The Abudraham, the 14th century halakhist derives that the prophet is telling us that this day and Yom Kippur would even be fasted on Shabbat. Can you imagine? No chulent! What is it about this day, which in truth is only a day time fast. Tisha B'Av, a certainly more severe fast, begins the night before and we can't wash or even greet people as we are in mourning, compared to that the rules governing the tenth of Tevet seems kind of mild.
This morning in one of the extra fast Selichot supplications which we added in it mentions a few other events that happened on the 8th and 9th of Tevet. Seemingly there is a connection between them and the fast today. We are told that on the 8th of Tevet during the first Temple the Greek King Ptolemy ordered 72 Rabbis into separate rooms and had them translate the entire Torah. Miraculously they all made changes from the literal text that would avoid any mistaken interpretations and they each independently made the same adjustment. (There are those that are more cynical that suggest the miracle would have been greater if you had put them all in the same room and they came out with the same translation in agreement). Although this was a great miracle the Rabbis saw in this a reason to declare a fast day of mourning. Again, the question is why? I'm sure all the newspapers at the time heralded the miracle and advancement of Jewish scholarship. Why fast because of this?
The next day is the 9th of Tevet, yesterday, which was a declared fast day because it was the day of the death of the great leader at the beginning of the 2nd Temple; Ezra the Scribe. This as well seems perplexing. We do not have any fast days for any great leaders. Not Abraham, Not Moshe. Not Joshua not King David, why Ezra? In addition, it's not like he died a tragic death or was killed. He seemingly died of old age. It's sad, yes. We lost a leader, but it happens. That's life…or death. Why the national day of mourning for all of history?
The answer, I heard from one of my teachers, is that all of these days are precisely connected. Who was Ezra? Ezra was the great leader who was given the job of getting the Jews to come back to Israel after 70 years of Exile in Babylonia and Persia and to rebuild the Temple. And you know what? The Jews didn't come. They ignored his call. They were quite comfortable in America, I mean Persia J. They were happy to send donations and contributions, don't get me wrong, but really? Israel? Aliya? The Temple? We'll come visit on our vacation time. But we have Torah and Yeshivos and schools and our community here. In the words of Rabbi Yehudah Halevi the author of the Kuzari who describes that period.
"Alas, King of Kuzar, you have exposed my point of disgrace! Indeed, this sin prevented the fulfillment of that which God had destined for the Second Temple… For Divine Providence was ready to rest upon [the Jews] as at first, if they had all willingly heeded the call and returned to Eretz Yisrael. However, only a minority took heed, while the majority–including the most prominent among them–remained in Babylonia, acquiescing to exile and bondage, just so that they would not have to part with their dwellings and businesses… If we would be prepared to draw near to the God of our forefathers wholeheartedly, He would save us as He saved our ancestors in Egypt. But since that is not the case, our utterances of “Who restores His presence to Zion,” etc. are like the chirping of the birds, for we say these things without proper intent. (Kuzari 2:24)"
The fast of Ezra is the fast of the complacency of the Jews. We didn't heed the call. We didn't see the opportunity.
Similarly, the 8th of Tevet when the Torah was translated. The Jews heralded it as a great thing, a miracle! Now our neighbors can read and learn about us. Now our own children will be accepted into Greek culture, gymnasiums and universities. The UN will smile upon us. We are a nation like every other one. Our Torah is an accepted religious book and they might even start lighting Menorahs in their Greek White Houses next to the other "traditional" winter holidays. The Jews, failed to see that this was the beginning of the end. The Torah lost its neshoma, its soul. The headlines the next day blared "We have made it!" what we didn't realize was that we had really lost it.
Which brings us to today, the tenth of Tevet. It was a regular day in Jerusalem. Everyone clicked on their news apps and whadaya know? The king of Bablylonia has laid siege on Jerusalem. Oh well. Any missiles fall? No. Any injuries? No. Ahhh.. Baruch Hashem Thank God! I guess that's just life in Israel. We should really hold new elections for a new king that will do something about these pesky attacks and sieges. Now back to work. The restaurants and stores all remained opened. Life continued… for the next THREE YEARS! And it got worse and worse. And we seemed to have failed to hear the message. To see the impending doom. We had too much faith that "Jerusalem will never fall" Hashem will never let us lose the temple and the holy city. He needs us as much as we need Him. We continued to eat our danishes….
And then it happened; The 17th of Tamuz, Tisha B'Av and the even the fast of Gedalia. It was over. We are without a home. The prophet tells us that we should remember "this very day". The day we didn't listen. A day that looked and seemed like any other. Write it down and remember that there are no simple days in Israel, not while the Temple is destroyed. Listen for the messages and the cries of Ezra for us to come home, to stop assimilating and looking to the world for light. If the only way we'll wake up is to even take away our chulent on Shabbat- so be it. Stop eating and start fasting. We need that return. We need to hear the call to fix the problems and to start repairing the fighting and lack of commitment to Hashem, His Torah and His land. We need to stop chirping like birds and start meaning and acting on the hopes and dreams of all of our ancestors. That's why we are not eating today and that's why we are not yet home yet.
This week, the book of Bereishis concludes with Yaakov and Yosef's last request to be taken out of Egypt and buried in the land of Israel. The reason was to remind all of their generations. We need to come home. Next week we begin the Book of Exodus, redemption. May it truly herald in the final redemption. I don't want to fast another day. I want all of us finally home.
Have a Shabbos Chazak,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

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Thank You!
 SHACHARIS-8:30 AM- (Please remember to recite Kriyat Shema before Shul as to make the Zman)
The Young Israel of Karmiel would like to wisha a Mazel Tov and warm welcome home to our dear friends, Rabbi Lenny and Lonnie Oppenheimer on their Aliya this week to Karmiel.
We are so excited for you and are so happy that you have finally fulfilled a lifelong dream-your persons have now joined your lev here in the mizrach!
May you have an easy klita.
Welcome home!


“Ganveh nit un fast nit.” Rob not, repent not

answer below at end of Email
Q.   The Samaritans do not observe:
A. Rosh haShana (New Year)
B. Yom haKipurim (Day of Atonement)
C. Hanukah
D. Sukkot (Succoth; Feast of Tabernacles)


https://soundcloud.com/ephraim-schwartz/yesimcha - my Yesimcha Composition on this weeks Torah portion Of Yackov blessing Ephraim and Menashe- Beautiful song!! Like it!!

https://youtu.be/dR3wDdK5NCc  - moving song for a special bar mitzva- an Abie Rottenberg one I never heard.

https://vimeo.com/248680242  – cool Chasidic Woman Judge Rachel Frier interview

https://youtu.be/7pTpdY6_oBY  - Simcha Leiner newest song Ribon HaOlam. nice


The Parsha which discusses the death of Yaakov and his last words and messages to his children, is appropriately connected with the last will and testament of Dovid Hamelech and his instructions to his son Shlomo. Just as Yaakov appoints Yosef his first born granting his two children a double portion, Dovid as well with many children appoints Shlomo to be his successor. Dovid’s final message to his son. One would think that the final messages Dovid would have would be inspirational and meaningful, as one would think that Yaakov’s would. Yet both of them use the opportunity to strengthen their descendants with the missions in life they must fulfill. While Yaakov’s “blessings” are more cryptic, Dovid’s are pretty explicit. He wants Shlomo- the man whose name really means peace and completion to pick up the loose strings from Dovid’s life and right the wrongs. They include killing Yoav, Dovid’s general that went behind Dovid’s back and tried to appoint Adoniyahu as king. To avenge the shame that Dovid received at the hand of Shim’i Ben Gera who mocked and cursed Dovid when he was fleeing from his son Avshalom and to pay back with kindness the supporters of Dovid from the Barzilai family.
Those are Dovid’s final words, yet it is all based on the premise that Shlomo should be strong and “be a man”. Follow the mitzvos, keep the covenant and send the message to the people that there is a judge and justice in the world. Similarly Yaakov, the Torah commands his children after the blessing. Although the Torah doesn’t tell us what the command was, later on the brothers tell Yosef, that the command was that they should forgive him and provide for them. We Jews are responsible for one another. Perhaps that is the message are giving us that we should contemplate as we look towards the end of our lives.

Dovid Hamelech (907-832 BC)- Our sages tell us that when it was time for Dovid HaMelech to die the Angel of Death came for him. Dovid was studying Torah all day and night each Shabbos when Dovid was meant to die, and the Angel couldn’t take him. So he rattled some trees in the garden and when Dovid was disturbed from his learning and went to go see what the noise was, he fell down a stairs and died. The day of his passing was Shavuot and he was 70 years old.


The Binding of Yitzchak  1677 BC – This is the story where our connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount begins. Hashem appears to Avraham in Chevron and tells him that he should take him to the Mountain that he will show him and there he should bring him up as an offering to him. They went for three days and he saw the place from a distance. Avraham turned to his lads-Eliezer his servant and Yishmael- and told them to remain there while he goes up with Yitzchak to the Temple Mount until they return to him. The rest of the story is history. An angel appears tells Avraham to stop, he slaughters a ram that is caught in some brush and we blow the shofar every Rosh Hashana since then to commemorate this critical act that engrained in our people the ability to be willing to give our lives for the will of Hashem throughout generations.
Where is this mountain? Well the road from Chevron to Jerusalem is really not three days. So it’s kind of difficult to place it exactly in the timeline. Although if Avraham was coming from Beer Sheva that might be more reasonably the time frame. It does say right before this story that Avraham lived many days in the land of the Plishtim.
Yet seemingly the first place to really see the Temple Mount when coming along the road of our forefathers from Chevron is in Neve Daniel. There’s a nice lookout point over there at the highest mountain going up to Jerusalem and on most days with visibility you can see the Temple Mount. Its really pretty cool to be standing there and reading the Biblical story and imagining Yishmael and Eliezer awaiting the return of Avraham and Yitzchak. Interestingly enough Yitzchak does not return as he goes down to the Negev. It is only years later that he is reunited with Yishmael as he returns to meet his wife. Rivka and go back home after his mother’s death.

Patient:Doctor! Doctor! I feel like a pastry-based dessert!
Doctor:Well, this is a sur-pies!

My friend's bakery burned down last night. Now his business is toast
Stir-fry cooks come from all woks of life.
There was a cook that had mushroom for improvement.
He got angry at the Italian chef and gave him a pizza his mind.
The father who worked as a baker was a real breadwinner.
A baker always put too much flour in his bread because he was a gluten for punishment
The baker had ten children and there was always a bun in the oven.
The Yo-Yo Diet Guide to the Jewish Holidays
Rosh Hashanah - Feast
Tzom Gedalia - Fast
Yom Kippur - More fasting
Sukkot - Feast
Hashanah Rabbah - More feasting
Simchat Torah - Keep feasting
Month of Heshvan - No feasts or fasts for a whole month. Get a grip on ourselves.
Hanukkah - Eat potato pancakes
Tenth of Tevet - Do not eat potato pancakes
Tu B'Shevat - Feast
Fast of Esther - Fast
Purim - Eat pastry
Passover - Do not eat pastry
Shavuot - Dairy feast (cheesecake, blintzes etc.)
17th of Tammuz - Fast (definitely no cheesecake or blintzes)
Tish B'Av - Very strict fast (don't even think about cheesecake or blintzes.)
Month of Elul - End of cycle. Enroll in Center for Eating Disorders before the High Holidays arrive again.


Answer is C – Now even if you if you didn’t know this answer it’s quite easy to pick out by process of elimination. You know the old Sesame street song “Which of these things is not like the other?” So here that is quite easy, as Chanukah is the only holiday that is non-biblical, and really post-Shomroni period. The Samaritans are a really small group of people- less than a 1000 of them- that live in Israel, by Mt. Gerizim, in the Shomron-West Bank, not far from Shechem. And in Holon. In ancient times they were a very significant force. They claim to be the authentic Jews- From the tribes of Ephraim and Menashe. The Talmud though suggests that were non- Jews that converted under questionable circumstances known as Kutim. Regardless. When we came back to Israel after the destruction of the first Temple, they were here and they made us tzoris. Their religion which they claim to be “authentic” Judaism revers Mt. Gerizim as the holy mountain of Hashem and that is in fact their 10th commandment. The disdain Rabbinic Judaism and therefore Chanuka is not celebrated by them, neither is Purim for that matter.on to them...

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