Our view of the Galile

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Minyan Man- Parshat Emor 2018/ 5778

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
April 27th 2018 -Volume 8 Issue 27 12th Iyar 5778
Parshat Emor
{Acharey Mos-Kedoshim- for Diaspora}
Minyan Man
I don’t sleep much anymore. A few hours a night (with a few middle of the night “visits”) and I’m good to go.  I think I used up all my “sleeping merits” when I was in yeshiva. Then I could sleep for days. I could go through a whole Shabbos with less than 2 hours in a horizontal position with my eyes open. Friday night davening 15 minutes, 15 minutes quick Shabbos meal and in bed. Wake up, make the end of davening (shacharis-while the minyan was davening musaf and Musaf while Chazan repeated it) eat bowl of chulent and back in bed, mincha shalosh seudos and havdala. Boom boom boom. Hamavdil bein Kodesh L’Chol. Yeah those days are over. I don’t miss them much. Maybe it’s because I slept through them.

It’s interesting when I was a kid I hated sleep. I never wanted to go to sleep and I was the first one up. I would sneak out of bed early and watch the early morning cartoons when my parents were sleeping. I think I first started “getting into” sleep was after my Bar Mitzva when I went to Yeshiva. In Yeshiva we had to get up early. We had to go to shul. We got fined if we were late. I guess there is nothing that would motivate me to stay in bed then someone telling me I had to get up. My “sleeping” yetzer hara- evil inclination woke up. See as long as it was not a mitzva, a commandment to get up and go to shul. I wanted to. It was fun. It was extra credit. Once I became obligated…. I got sooooo tired. Needless to say my 9th grade teacher got quite wealthy off of my davening attendance record. It was a second pension. His 401Pray Plan. I didn’t improve much in later years. Don’t get me wrong I davened every day. Three times a day in fact. I just preferred to daven by the “Kotel”- the Western Wall of my dorm room. One of my congregants once told me that he was a Salonimer Chasid, before he found our shul. He prayed in the salon. I could relate.

When I got married, I would say my davening with a minyan definitely improved. Having children gave me an added incentive. Not just to serve as role model to my children, but if I got out early enough I didn’t have to help get them ready for school. Never really my forte. Ultimately I decided if I really wanted to improve my Minyan attendance, I had no choice, I would have to become a Rabbi. I’d have to have my own shul. That would force me to come. And there you have it. I still miss every once in a while, I confess. I treasure those times when we go away for Shabbos to some cabin and it’s just me and God in an early sunrise morning service- see I still can’t sleep in. There’s something nice about that one-on-one time with my Creator. Davening by the “Kotel”. But one can say that I have certainly reformed somewhat. Not Reform with a capital “R” just reformed, changed, better. A minyan man.

This week’s Torah portion contains in it the source for the mitzva to daven with a minyan. It is an interesting verse.
Vayikra (22:32) And you shall not desecrate my name and I shall be sanctified amongst the children of Israel I am Hashem Who makes you holy. 

The Talmud derives from this verse that Hashem’s name may only be sanctified “amongst” the children of Israel. How many Jews are considered amongst? So we find that by the spies they were called an ‘eidah’-a congregation. There were ten spies and thus a congregation is 10. We know that we need a congregation because we derive that from the word amongst that is used by Korach and his congregation, when Hashem tells the Jews to separate from ‘amongst Korach and his congregation’. Anyways the point is that this verse is the source that it is prohibited to recite the Kaddish prayer, read from a Torah scroll, have the priestly blessing- basically anything that invokes Hashem’s holy name, without a minyan ten people.

Now what is interesting is that this same verse is also the source that one has to give their life up rather than violate any mitzva in the Torah when you are in public. Yes, it is true that barring the three “cardinal sins” of adultery, idolatry, and murder, a Jew is not permitted even to give up his life rather than violate them. Better to eat the pig than get killed. Better to violate the Shabbos, or eat on Yom Kippur then to give up your life. But that is only true if it is in private. If however a non-Jew is trying to desecrate God’s name by forcing you to break any commandment, even a Jewish custom, the Talmud tells us one is obligated to give up their life rather than desecrate Hashem’s name in that manner. It’s not about the commandment, it’s about sanctifying Hashem’s name amongst the Jewish people. In front of a minyan.

Wow! The same verse teaches me that I have to martyr myself, I have to allow myself to be killed, it is the source for millennia for all of our heroes and martyrs who gave their lives al Kiddush Hashem-in sanctification of Hashem’s name. And that same verse also tells me that I need a minyan to really daven; for my davening to really be a ‘davar she’bikedusha’ an invocation of Hashem’s name. What is the connection between these two seemingly disparate mitzvot?

The answer the Rebbe of Radomsk suggests is to appreciate the essence of what prayer is. When we pray we transcend this world. We remove our physical restraints and our soul reaches up to the heavens. We recite the Kedusha prayer during the second blessing of the Shemona Esrei Amida- it is the blessing that corresponds to our forefather Yitzchak. Yitzchak is the pillar of prayer. Yitzchak is the forefather that bared his neck as he was bound on the altar by the command of Hashem. Yitzchak is the role model and paradigm for all the martyrs who willingly followed in his footsteps and bared their necks. This second blessing is the blessing of Techiyat Hameisim- the revival of the dead, for as the Midrash teaches us his soul left his body and was returned to him. That is why we recite the Kedusha in this blessing. For prayer is an act of martyrdom. We are sanctifying Hashem as the angels do in heaven when we pray. The two acts are really the same.

The concept of a minyan is that when we are joined together with 10 other Jews, than the shechina the divine presence comes down as well. It joins the group. No matter who or what they are. Hashem doesn’t even view each person and their prayer individually anymore. It becomes one collective prayer of the congregation. No one is judged on their worthiness because they have transcended their physical individuality and bonded with that one holy soul that we all share.

The same is true with the martyrs of the Jewish people. The Talmud describes people that “acquire their world in one moment of martyrdom.” They may not have been observant their entire lives. They may have violated every sin. But when they gave their lives in order to sanctify Hashem’s name they have connected to the souls of all of the great Jews that preceded them. With our forefather Yitzchak, with Nadav and Avihu (there’s your connection diaspora Jews to your parshaJ), with Rabbi Akiva, with all the martyrs of the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Shoah, and all of the wars of Israel. The ones that died with the words Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad- Hear Israel, Hashem is our God Hashem is One on their lips. When we recite the Shema we are meant to connect to them and to imagine ourselves also willing to give up our lives.

When we pray it is not about asking Hashem for the things that I need, acknowledging my personal blessings and supplications, or even the personal conversation. At least that’s not what it is ideally meant to be about. It’s about the community. It’s about sanctifying Hashem’s name in public. Amongst the Jewish people. All our prayers are in the plural. “Heal us”, “Redeem us”, “gather us” “forgive us,” “bless us”. We pray for the Jewish people, for the world. We are meant to do that together as one people, one soul, uniting the past and the present, with Hashem in our presence as part of our Minyan.
It’s not easy always to go to Minyan, even if you can’t sleep at night. The Satan knows how powerful those prayers said with a small group of ten Jews each morning could accomplish. He knows that each time we get together for those prayers the Divine light shines a little brighter in this world. Our prayers for the ultimate redemption soar to the greatest heights. He’s not going to make it easy for us to attend. He may even let us sleep a little longer. But martyrdom isn’t easy either. If we remember that our prayers have that same significance, they are derived out of that same verse, and that our prayers will connect with the prayers of all of those great souls as they break down the heavenly gates, then perhaps we can be the Minyan men that Hashem needs to finally answer all of the prayers for that special day.

Have a magnificent Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



“Nayn rabonim kenen keyn minyen nit makhn ober tsen shusters yo..”- Nine rabbis can't make a minyan but ten shoemakers can.

answer below at end of Email
Q: Palmach is an acronym (short) for:
A. Military forces of overseas volunteers (plugot mitnadvey hutz la’arets)
B. Special forces (Plugot meyuhadot)
C. Units of special operation tasks (plugot messima ve’habala)
D. Strike forces (plugot maִִhatz)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXvFHWWCT6I  - One of my all time favorite songs Minyan Man Shlock Rock, Lenny Solomon and Macabeats don’t’ get much better for acapella version

https://youtu.be/eL4hxGVwcwU  – Simcha Leiner Ani Maamin medley… how many of him can you take?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2uXdZLxr6c   – Ari Goldwag Acapella Emes pretty cool… lots of him too… it looks like this is the new shtick in Jewish videos

https://youtu.be/oxzR9Z-kG6Q     - Shlomi Shabbat and KolKulam with 12,000 people singing Al Kol Eileh magnificent almost impossible not to get chills and emotional…


Acharey Mot/ Kedoshim *{Diaspora reading} - So Sefardim and Ashkenazim have different Haftorah to read this week. The Sefardim read the haftorah of Kedoshim which is from the book of Yechezkel and the Ashkenazim read the shorter one of Acharey Mot from the book of Amos. Both haftorahs contain the same theme though. They are prophecies that discuss the Jews engaging in the evil and licentious ways of Egypt or Kush (a relative of Egypt). The navi tells how Hashem will wipe out those sinners as the land of Israel will not tolerate this immorality. As well it foretells in Amos of the Messianic period after this immorality is eradicated
of the Jews returning to the land of Israel and all of the incredible prophecies that we see fulfilled today are foretold.

Amos (9:13) Behold days are coming, says Hashem, that the plowman shall meet the reaper and the treader of the grapes the one who carries the seed, and the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.           
14 And I will return the captivity of My people Israel, and they shall rebuild desolate cities and inhabit [them], and they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their produce.                    
15And I will plant them on their land, and they shall no longer be uprooted from upon their land, that I have given them, said the Lord your God.
There is not too many mountains that one can drive through in Israel that one doesn’t see the vineyards, the crops, the produce and the ingathering of Exiles. We are back and forever! What an amazing Haftora to read particularly this week as we celebrate 70 years back home.

Amos (646 BC) – Amos began his prophesies during the period of the first temple  when Yeravam ll extended the boundaries of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and under whose reign the kingdom of Israel flourished. Yeravam attempted to banish Amos from the kingdom because of his prophecy that Yeravam's kingdom would not last. Amos criticized the kingdom for persecuting the poor and immersing themselves in materialism and luxury

Emor This week’s Haftora connection is easy to figure out. The Torah portion discusses primarily the mitzvot of the Kohanim and the holidays and their sacrifices in the Temple and the Haftorah is from the book of Yechezkel and describes his vision of the third Beit Hamikdash and the Kohanim’s role there. That part is easy. The problem though is when one pays attention to the Haftorah we find a few interesting laws that seem to be different from our Parsha. Most notable perhaps is that in Yechezkel’s vision Kohanim don’t marry widows, which in the Torah it tells us was only a prohibition for Kohen Gadol. There are other laws as well that seem strange. The commentaries all struggle to find resolutions. Some suggest the third temple will be different. Others suggest that it is personal stringencies the Kohanim took upon themselves. Certainly in his vision he sees the Kohanim being teachers and judges  of the people and more involved in the spiritual educational system as opposed to the traditional of them merely being the conduits of the ritual sacrifices in the Temple. I guess we”ll have to wait, hopefully not too long, to see what the real story will be.

Yechezkel /Ezekiel (590 BC)-  Perhaps known as the most Messianic prophet of the books of the prophets, Yechezkel focuses on the wars of Gog and Magog and the visions of the Temple rebuilt and the services that take place there. He was from a family of Kohanim according to the Radak he was perhaps even the child of Yirmiyahu the prophet as he is called Ben Buzi- the son of the “scorned one”. He was exiled to Babylon in the first Exile and he lived through the period when Ezra was granted permission to rebuild the Temple. His grave is in Iraq and according to the Abarbanel many would go and pray there


Graves of Tribes of Israel- Naftali (1275 BC)– Back to the graves of last of the Tribes of Israel, my personal favorite is Naftali. This is not just because my son is named Naftali. But it’s because that is the region that I live in. Right here in the middle of the Galil. The region from Tzfat, Meron and the Galile panhandle down to the valley that I live in is all the portion of Naftali. In fact the two yishuvim on the road to Meron are Amirim and Shefer named after Jacobs blessing of the tribe of Naftali. Where he praises him and says
Bereshit (49:21) “Naftali is a swift gazelle”
 hanosein imrei shefer- who utters beautiful sayings.
So the burial place for Naftali is in Kadesh in the finger of the Galil. There is a trail by the spring there and some sarcophagus that are there as well some sources suggest that there was a tradition that the judge and prophetess Devora and her general Barak who was from the tribe of Naftali is buried there as well. Others, most notably the Ramban disagree, suggesting that this is not the same biblical site of Kadesh that is mentioned in Tanach as well. The sarcophagi which are a Greek and or Roman period grave and coffin are certainly not biblical. But again we don’t pray to the dead people. We connect to Hashem through the inspiration of the individuals who are meant to be buried there. And this was certainly a place where people prayed in the merit of Naftali the son of Yakokv.


The time is at hand when the wearing of a prayer shawl and skullcap will not bar a man from the White House, unless, of course, the man is Jewish. -  Jules Farber  
Even if you are Catholic, if you live in New York you're Jewish. If you live in Butte, Montana, you are going to be goyish even if you are Jewish. -  Lenny Bruce
I once wanted to become an atheist but I gave up . . . they have no holidays. -  Henny Youngman  

Q: What do you call the steaks ordered by ten Jewish men? A: Fillet minyan. 

Rabbi Bloom was having trouble getting a minyan together. Several families with strong anti-war views had recently left his shul and taken up the Quaker faith.
"It can't be helped," Rabbi Bloom lamented.  "It seems some of my best Jews are Friends."

Q: What do you call an Orthodox Jew in a hat? A: Fedorable 

Rabbi Schwartz answers his phone.
"Hello.  This Rabbi Schwartz?"
 "It is."
"This is the IRS.  Can you help us?"
"I can."
"Do you know a Sam Cohen?"
"I do."
"Is he a member of your congregation?"
"He is."
"Did he donate $10,000?"
"He will."

Yankel was passing through Texas for a few day stay on business checked into a rooming house in a very what you would call a frontier town.
Not to be conspicuous, he dressed himself in western attire and went in to the only saloon in town. He was surrounded by men in cowboy clothes, wearing six shooters and looking very gruff. He ordered a beer.
While sipping his beer and trying to be as inconspicuous as possible the biggest burliest, scroungiest looking specimen walks in and proclaims, "Ah, hears there is a Jew in here!"  Yankel cringes, says nothing. "Ah know you're in here and you better speak up," says the western man. 
Yankel knows that sooner or later he would have to face up to him and accept the consequences of being Jewish especially in such a remote place as this.
He stands up proudly and says," I AM A JEW!"  The westerner stares at him angrily, "What the heck are you hiding for?  Come with me, ah needs you for a minyan."

In a large Florida city, the local rabbi developed quite a reputation for his sermons; so much so that everyone in the community came every Shabbos.
Unfortunately, one weekend a member had to visit Long Island for his nephew's Bar Mitzvah.  But he didn't want to miss The Rabbi's sermon.  So, he decided to hire a "Shabbos goy" to sit in the congregation and tape the sermon so he could listen to it when he returned. Other congregants saw what was going on, and they also decided to hire "Shabbos goys" to tape the sermon so they could play golf instead of going to shul. 
Within a few weeks time there were 500 gentiles sitting in shul taping the Rabbi. The Rabbi got wise to this.  The following Shabbos he, too, hired a Shabbos goy who brought a tape recorder to play his prerecorded sermon machines.
Witnesses said this marked the first incidence in history of "artificial insermonation."

And my favorite of the week… nothing like a joke that laughs at yourself….

An angel is taking new arrivals on a tour of heaven.  He opens a door with a sign on it that says "REFORM" in large letters.
Inside, they see a vast hall where there are multitudes of Reform Jews all laughing, talking, and eating.  When they see the new arrivals everyone smiles and waves. Next the angel takes them down the hall to a door with a sign that says "CONSERVATIVE." 
Again the angel opens the door and there are multitudes of people laughing, talking, eating.  When they see the new arrivals they all smile and wave. Finally, the angel says, "Ok.  Now, when I show you the next room, you'll have to just peek in and be very quiet.  Be careful not to make the slightest sound." 
As they approach the door they see a big sign that says "ORTHODOX."As they were instructed, they peek inside and see multitudes of Orthodox Jews laughing, talking and eating. Then the angel quietly shuts the door.
After the door is closed one of the newcomers asks, "Why did we have to be quiet?"
"Because," said the angel, "they think they're the only ones here!!!"

Answer is D – This one was pretty easy. I mean everyone should know what the Palmach stood for, they were the strike force units of the pre-Israeli army the Hagana. But did you know that they were formed to combat the approaching Nazi threat in 1941 with the British support in case the Germans made it to Israel? Of course once the threat passed, they began to work with British against the other Jewish underground groups, the Irgun and the Lechi. However in 1945 once they British started banning Jews from coming to Israel they switched sides. Ultimatly much of Israels first army and generals and military leaders came from the Palmach.

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