Our view of the Galile

Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Good Investment- Naso 2018 / 5778

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
May 25th 2018 -Volume 8 Issue 31 11th Sivan 5778

Parshat Naso
A Good Investment

It was a death sentence. If not a physical but most certainly a spiritual one. As Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Epstien looked at the telegram from his Yeshivah in Slobodka, he wondered how he was possibly going to rescue his 150 students from the latest edict of the oppressive Lithuanian government conscripting the entire yeshiva into the army. The Army was known to be exceedingly ruthless and certainly not a place where a Jew would be able to practice his faith and the chances of one coming out spiritually intact was almost none.

The Rosh Yeshiva had decided that the only thing to do was to move the entire Yeshiva to Palestine where they would be able to rebuild once again the glory of the study halls of Europe. Yet to raise the $25,000 (at least a few 100,000 dollars in today’s terms) neccesary for that move in the year 1924 seemed an almost impossible task. With much faith in his heart he approached Mr. Schiff, a rather wealthy old friend of the Yeshiva living in New York, and explained the circumstance. He was however unprepared when Mr. Schiff responded that he would undertake the full financial responsibilty and pay for the entire sum to move the Yeshiva. With the incredible grant the Yeshivah was succesful in moving to Hebron and until today the Slobodka Hevron Yeshiva is an institute of incredible Torah leadership and scholarship.

Years later as the great depression hit New York and real estate plummeted and the Market crashed. Mr Schiff found himself almost penniless living in the cellar of a building he had previously owned. Yet when he received a phone call from the unknowing director of the Slobodka Yeshiva (who was coming in from Palestine)to speak at a local parlor meeting that was being held on behalf of the Yeshiva he immedietly agreed to speak.  

"My dear freinds," he began. "I have made millions of dollars in my life and I have over the past several years lost all that I once thought was certain in my life. There is however only one investment that still continues to bear me fruit and will continue to do so for all time and that is the 25,000 that I invested in establishing the Yeshivah is absolutely the best and only real investment that I will always have with me. A person must always know where to invest."

When the attending Rabbi heard about the dire straits of Mr Schiff he immediately tried to raise $5000 to try to assist him in getting back on his feet.  Yet, Mr. Schiff ever the smart, but stubborn business man responded almost in horror.

"All I have left is the 25,000 I invested in the Mitzvah of establishing the Yeshiva and now you want to take that from me as well."

This week's Torah portion shares with us the Mitzvah of giving ones gifts to and tithes to the Kohein to the temple. It however uses a rather cryptic repetitive pronoun
"And every portion from any of the holies that the Children of Israel bring to the Kohen shall be his. A man's holiest shall be his, and what a man gives to the Kohen shall be his."

Although in its simplest interpretation the reference to it "being his" would seem to be talking about the Kohein. Yet rather than saying it explicitly the Torah utilizes a pronoun that the early 19th century author of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (the abridged code of Jewish Law) Rabbi Shlomo Gantzfried suggest is much deeper.

For many of us we spend most of our lives working to spend, save and invest in the hopes of providing security for ourselves. But what do we really have? At the end of the hopefully long day, we call life, what can we say is eternally ours? Stocks crash, and buildings crumble. How real is our estate?

The Torah tells us, what the man gives to the Kohen shall be his. It does not say, "... will belong to the Kohen.” It says, “it shall be his!” What we invest in the eternity of spirituality, in order to proliferate Hashem's eternal message, will never be relinquished. For what we invest for eternity, will be eternally invested. It shall always remain ours.

May all our investments be blessed in becoming "Real" estates that will never be subject to the whims of the economic cycle. They should rather be cherished legacies and investments whose dividends will be guaranteed for us and for our children for eternity.

Have an amazing Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


“Tsedokeh zol kain gelt nit kosten un gemilas-chassodim zolen kain agmas-nefesh nit farshafen, volten geven di velt fil tsadikim.” - If one could do charity without money and favors without aggravation, the world would be full of saints.

answer below at end of Email
Q:  The national watershed passes in Jerusalem at:
a. Mount Herzl – Mount Ora
b. Armon haNatziv – Temple Mount
c. Mount Scopus – Mount of Olives
d. Ketef Hinom – Romema


https://soundcloud.com/ephraim-schwartz/yesimcha   - From this weeks Torah portion my beautiful and inspiring Yesimcha- the priestly and Friday night blessing… a must listen…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwySDNGEjew   - Ari Goldwag great new video Lo Nafsik Lirkod

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62pSeKJU4EU   - Shimshon the cartoon… not sure what I think of this…

https://youtu.be/Mnf0w9UuV4s   – Fascinating interview by an arab of Jewishe settlers and terrorists


Parshat Naso- As we noted in the past for many haftoras it is very easy to find the connection with the parsha. Particularly when they are story haftoras rather than the prophecy ones. Yet the trick is to find and appreciate that the haftora is not just chosen because it has one similarity to the portion. If one digs a bit deeper then you can connect it to an overall theme that each parsha has to it.
A similar concept or exercise can be done when examining the title of each parsha , which although my not necessarily upon surface have significance to them being just a word or two from the first sentence of each parsha. Yet our sages as well claim that if you examine the parsha the word or title chosen, like any other title, will give you the theme of the parsha.
Take this week’s parsha for example. The parsha, the longest in the Torah, has many, what would seem at first glance, random narratives, we have the counting and jobs of the family of the Levi. We have the laws of Nazir, of Sota, of sacrifices, of impure people being sent from the camp. We have the priestly blessing and the inauguration of the tabernacle and its daily identical sacrifices from the leaders of each tribe. Wheww…. Random right. The hafotra which is the story of the foretelling by an angel of the birth of Shimshon or Samson the judge to his unwitting parents and the command that he be raised as Nazir and those laws that pertain to him, seems to be connected by the fact that our parsha as well tells us about nazir. Yet as we explained you gotta go deeper.
The title of the parsha is Naso- which means lift up, or raise or count the heads of the family of Gershom from the Levi. Now this parsha comes right on the heels of the end of last week’s parsha which tells us to count another Levi family Kehat. So it was split up in order to start this week’s parsha with the words Naso. If you think about it is telling us the theme of our parsha it how to lift oneself despite the different challenges you may have or undergo. Each one of us has our peckel. There are priests, there are Sota’s, there are Levi’s there are impure people and there are those that need guilt offerings and those that are princes. Each one of us hasa a way to overcome our challenge and live up to our role. It is predetermined and it is in the Torah. We just have to find it. \
If that is the case then the story of Shimshon really is a microcosm of the parsha. His parents have challenges, they are childless, perhaps according to our sages even marital discord which might be found in some of their conversations. Shimshon as well will have challenges that are far beyond what anyone of us can imagine. The angel tells his parents how to navigate them. How to raise him to be prepared for them. How to Naso- how to lift him up. And there you have the global connection. Isn’t it amazing what you can find when you just dig a bit deeper.

Shimshon HaGibor (950 BC)-   Reb Tzadok Hakohein suggests that the tribe of Dan is the last tribe before Mashiach comes. The one that will gather in all of the other tribes. They are us. As well we know the tribe of Dan was from the most assimilated, the most idolatrous and of course their judge, Shimshon certainly the strangest. Unlike other Judges he does not have an army. He is a one man show, Rambo. As well he seems to be pulled and engage in “inappropriate relationships” and even marriages with Philistine women. Again not something one would expect from the Gadol HaDor. The Jewish leader and Judge. He terrorizes the Philistines in strange ways, with riddles, with donkey jaw bones, he wrestles lions. Yes very strange. Yet at the same time our sages note that in Jacobs blessing Shimshon is literally compared to Hashem. “ Just as I am the one judge in heaven Shimshon is a singular judge below. The story and lessons of Shimshon are not easy to understand, but they are the lessons we need to learn for afterall if we are “Dan” then his leadership is our guide.


 Shimshon/ Samson HaGibor- 950 BC- This most famous of Jewish judges, the one who gets the most “facetime” in the book of the prophets of all the other judges, lived in the Beit Shemesh area. This was the area that was biblically allocated to the tribe of Dan, and he was their judge. The problem was that Dan never successfully conquered their portion because the Plishtim/ philistines would constantly attack them. Ultimately they moved up North to Tel Dan. So where would I talk about this great and unique hero? Well of course when we are in that area not far from Latrun we pass by Tzora and Eshtoel the cities that he walked from and from where he fought and killed a lion with his bare hands. One can actually see the topography as it’s described in tanach and why he went off the beaten track to get there. Namely to avoid the vineyards along the way, which can still be seen today.
As well we can see how the path and road he took to Gaza was from the Beit Guvrin area as that was the crossroads of the major road that led down there. I of course can’t take people to Gaza anymore, thanks to Ariel Sharon and the Gush Katif expulsion but nearby there in Sderot and other communities when we visit the fields that are there I try to describe to my tourists how Shimshon tied foxtails together and set them on fire to race through the philistine fields and wreak havoc on them. Bet they didn’t teach you that story in Sunday school! As well I can’t take you to the place where Shimshon was killed as that is also in Gaza but his grave is however marked with a big blue tomb and dome by tel tzora along with the grave of his father Manoah. Chances are though shhhhh… that more likely than not it isn’t his grave. See that would be on top of the hill of the city that wasn’t there in Shimshons time. As well it says that he as buried between the two cities tzora and eshtoel. As well we don’t bury people in cities in the Jewish world rather outside of the city. There are earlier sources that place the grave in other areas (most of them the graves of sheiks shhhhh.) But regardless, yes tomb, no tomb we don’t daven to dead people. We only daven to Hashem. The grave is a place where we inspired by the individual and this is certainly the area where Shimshon was.


Opening his front door, the Rabbi found himself face to face with the local priest.
 "Rabbi, may I have a few words with you?" asked the priest.
 "Of course," replied the Rabbi, somewhat nervously. "Rabbi," began the priest, "It must be evident to you, that in this town we are plagued by thieves. Scarcely a day passes, without one of my members coming to me, bemoaning the fact that his house has been broken into. On the other hand, I have noticed, that thieves do not bother you Jews, nearly as much".
The Rabbi answered: “Yes, You are correct."
"But why is that?" Inquired the priest:
The Rabbi said: "See this little box, on the side of my door post, it's called a Mezuzah. We Jews believe, that when we put a Mezuzah on the entrances to our houses, the Holy One, may His Name be blessed, protects both us, and our property."
"In that case", replied the priest, "I must have one!"
 Not wishing to be the cause of a pogrom, the Rabbi reluctantly handed over a mezuzah to the priest. Two weeks later the Rabbi was awakened, by the sound of someone pounding
violently on his door. Dressing himself hastily, he made his way down the stairs.
"Who's there?" the Rabbi asked. "Open the door, open the door!" screamed a
voice on the other side.
The Rabbi opened the door to see the priest standing in front of him, in great distraught.
 "What happened?" asked the terrified Rabbi. "Were you not protected from robbers?"
"I was! But these people were worse than robbers!" screamed the priest.
 "Who?" asked the Rabbi.
"The Fundraisers!!" 

One Sunday morning, Rabbi Rabbinovitz goes to visit Samuel Lyons the local miser. "Shalom, Sam. I’ll come straight to the point. I’ve come here because our shul needs your help. You’ve been a member for over 20 years and I realize that you’re always quick to pay your membership fees in full. But as you are aware, we are in a financial crisis. I've come here to ask you for a little extra for the new school building fund."
"How much are you looking to get from me - how big is little?" asks Sam.
"I’ll be honest. £10,000 would be a tremendous help to us," replies the Rabbi."
Sam responds, "Rabbi, my daughter Rebecca is soon getting married and she has asked me for £25,000 to help her buy that house she saw in Hampstead. And my son David is just starting at Manchester University and he wants £25,000 to see him through the difficult first year there. My wife Sadie wants plastic surgery and she has asked for £30,000 for the doctors’ fees and in-patient facilities. And that’s not all. You know from your own experience that to keep my mother in a nursing home, they are asking £35,000.
So Rabbi, if I can say 'no' to them, I can say 'no' to you."

A Catholic priest, a Protestant reverend and a rabbi were sitting together on a jet. They were discussing how they separate their own money from what they give to G-d.
 The Priest said, "I stand in a circle, put all my money in a hat, throw it up and what lands in the circle I give to G-d."
 The reverend said, "I put all my money in a hat, throw it up and what lands back in the hat I give to G-d."
So the rabbi said, "I put all my money in a hat, throw it up and what he wants he keeps…

A doctor, a lawyer and Yankel, the yeshiva fundraiser arrive up to the gates of heaven. The angel in charge tells the doctor that he will grant him one wish before he enters heaven so the doctor asks for a million dollars. The angel grants the wish and the doctor enters into heaven. This generosity did not go unnoticed by the lawyer so when the angel asks him for his wish the lawyer asks for a billion dollars. The angel grants the wish and the lawyer enters into heaven. When the angel asked Yankel, fundraiser what he would like, he says, “If it is not too much trouble could I please get the business cards of the two people who entered heaven just ahead of me?”

A hurricane blew across the Caribbean. It didn't take long for the expensive yacht to be swamped by high waves, sinking without a trace.
There were only two survivors: the boat's owner Dr. Eskin and its steward Benny. Both managed to swim to the closest island. After reaching the deserted strip of land, the steward was crying and very upset that they would never be found. The other man was quite calm, relaxing against a tree.
"Dr. Eskin, how can you be so calm?" cried the Benny. "We're going to die on this lonely island. We'll never be discovered here."
"Sit down and listen to what I have to say, Benny," began the confident Dr. Eskin. "Five years ago I gave the United Way $500,000 and another $500,000 to the United Jewish Appeal. I donated the same amounts four years ago. And, three years ago, since I did very well in the stock market, I contributed $750,000 to each. Last year business was good again, so the two charities each got a million dollars."
"So what?" shouted Benny.
"Well!" smiled Dr. Eskin, "It's time for their annual fund drives. They'll find me."
Answer is D-  One of the fascinating things about Eretz Yisrael is that because of the Syrian Afrtican Rift and really the colliding of the continents here the entire center of the country is a mountain ridge. The middle of that mountain ridge is called the watershed line, because the water flows on both sides of the mountain. That makes it the best place to live beccasue you can collect water on both sides. It’s also the most strategic being up on high. That is where most of our forefathers lived. The road that travels along it is highway 60 or derecho ha’avot which runs from chevron through Beit Lechem, Jerusalem up to Shechem. In Yerushalayim itself the old city was off the path. That fact is noted in tanach, as well it is visible as it is surrounded by higher mountains. Thus the B and C are out. Katef Hinom is the right answer which is the high point on the Chevron road all the way up  King George and Yaffo street through Mekor Baruch and Romema to the French hill and on north.

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