Our view of the Galile

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Good Eyesight- Balak 2018 / 5778

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
June 29th 2018 -Volume 8 Issue 36 16th Tamuz 5778

Parshat Korach

Good Eyesight

I’m not a huge fan of the red strings. I think it’s a scam. Now I won’t go so far as other people who say that it is idolatry and if you want to wear one then who am I to tell you what to do. And if a few poor people can make a buck or two selling them to some American supersticios tourists, who am I to begrudge a Jew from making a living. But it’s just not my thing. Now don’t get me wrong, I certainly believe that there is something called an “evil eye” or “ayin hara” that we should be wary of. But I believe that directs us to be more modest in the way we live and not to flaunt our blessings or wealth in front of others. They might begrudge us. They might cause the heavens to look down upon us and perhaps take another look at the merits that we may have to be given these blessings. I certainly believe in ayin hara. I say kneinahara whenever I get a new blessing or see my grandson. I just don’t spit three times like my grandmother did when she said it and I don’t put red strings bracelets on them.

There is an interesting gemara that describes the angel of death or Satan looks like. It doesn’t give him a red cape and horns and a trident. Don’t know where that image comes from. As well he doesn’t look like  Donald Trump despite what many liberals im America think or like Obama as well. Although, I can understand perhaps where they may be coming from. The Talmud in fact tells us
Avoda Zara (20:) They say the angel of death is entirely full of eyes. When a man is abut to die he stands above his head with his sword unsheathed and poison on its tip. When the sick person sees him his body trembles and his mouth opens and he throws it in and that is what he dies from and why his face becomes yellow and his body decays.

Not a pleasant sight. Quite frightening actually. Which is seemingly the point of the gemara. We are always meant to be conscious of our mortality. It is what keeps us focused on the limited time we have here and to make the most of it. But what’s with the eyes? Why is he full of them? What are they trying to teach us with this particular image?

This week the Torah portion tells us about someone who really had a bad eye. Or maybe not. It is the Torah portion that tells us about the evil prophet Bilaam who was called and even refers to himself as the shesum ha’ayin- the one with the pierced eye or opened eye. Rashi notes that he was blind in one eye. It was hanging out even. You know like Professor Moody from Harry Potter. ( I actually forgot his name and googled OK...so I’m not such a nerd) On the other hadn the Targum says he is someone who could see very good. Hmmm well which one is it? Does he have a good eye or an “evil” one?  The Chasam Sofer suggests that every person has four eyes. Two physical eyes that can perceive this world, and two intellectual or spiritual eyes that can see beyond this world. And he writes

CS drashos (volume II pg 318) he who wants to open up his physical eyes it closes his eyes of wisdom, for when these are open these are closed.

In another place he suggests that is the reason why we close our eyes when we recite Shema or when we pray for that is the way we can see with our spiritual and intellectual eyes, by shutting out the “real” world that is around us. Bila’am was someone who was blinded in one eye he had the ability to see beyond this world. His prophecies that he said in this weeks Torah portion are in fact the source of the Torah for the coming of a Messianic era.

Bamidbar (24:17) “I see it but not now, I view it but it is not near a star shot forth from Yaakov and a rod has risen from Israel and he shall strike down the extremities of Moav and undermine the children of Sheth.
Edom shall be a conquest and Seir shall be a conquest of his enemie- and Israel shall attain his wealth. One from Yaakov shall rule and destroy the remnant of the city.
He sees Amalek and he says the
Amalek is the first of nations and its end will be eternal destruction”

The Shvilei Pinchas points out something very poignant that in truth the first sin of Adam and Chava began in the garden when the Torah tells us that the tree of Knowledge was “tempting to the eyes “.  The temptation of the snake was that by opening up their eyes and eating from it they will become like God. The problem was that it it was opening up their physical eyes and closing their spiritual ones. It is for this reason the Panim Yafot suggests that Hashem decreed death on the world, because only by remembering the day of our death and our mortality will we have the power to overcome the evil inclination that is just trying to get us to see the world in the right here and now. Perhaps that is what it means that the Angel of Death is made up of eyes. It is the physical eyes which we used to see the things we shouldn’t have in this world and that were closed to the spiritual realities of the next. It is that thought, that vision at the final moments of one’s life that causes his death

That ayin- that eye to be able to see the future is what define the chacham the wise man. Our Rabbis teach us a wise man is someone who can see what is to come. A fool is one who only sees what is in front of him. King Solomon says that

Kohelet (2:14) “The wise man has his Ayno B’rosho his eyes in his head and a fool walks in darkness. And I know that there will be one fate for them all.

Rav Ephraim Margalis explains that epitome of impurity is a blemish in Hebrew it is called a NeGA on the other hand the greatest delight in this world is called ONeG pleasure. The difference between the two words are where you put the ayin. In Nega the ayin is the last letter ( nun, gimmel, ayin) in oneg  the ayin is first. Where do we put the eye before we act, do we see the future. Do we see the consequences of what we do? Or do we act first and pay the price and regret it later. The chacham, he explains has the ayin-the eye before he acts. The rasha walks in darkness. Both at the end will see the evil and wrongness of sin.

Bilam predicts the final nation that will fall before us is Amalek. Interestingly enough Amalek as well if you break up the word is ayin- malek- the eye has been removed. Amalek is the force that tries to prevent us from engaging our spiritual eyes. That is the force that will be ultimately eradicated when we will all see the redemption.

It is amazing to think that this non-Jewish half blind prophet so long ago saw our generation. He saw that we have the power to use our eyes to see the good. That the only power we will have over our evil inclinations is when we utilize our minds to see beyond this world. To see Hashem’s hand in our history and in the significance of all of our actions. This week we begin the three week mourning period for the Destruction of our Temples. It is a time more than any to open up our eyes and mourn our ways that caused the Temple not to be rebuilt until today. It is those eyes that will hopefully- bli ayin hara see the redemption already this year.

Have a eye-deal Shabbos
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



“Der mentsh hot tsvai oigen, tsvai oiren, ober nor ain moil”.– Man has two eyes, two ears, but only one mouth

answer below at end of Email
Q. A Philistine burial site was recently discovered in:
a. Gaza
b. Gat
c. Revadim
d. Ashkelon

https://youtu.be/8uTbCRnNVXw   - Chasidish guy Shulem Lemmer signs a contract with Universal records when the agent heard this rendition.

https://youtu.be/Nx3HchQQYqg    - Strange video… don’t get it exactly but I like Miochoel Shnitzlers song Es Hakol-You can take everything from me besides my Creator

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggU3crEXdsU   - Ani Maamin last year by the Kotel on the 17th of Tamuz… beatuiful


Parshat Balak One of my Rabbis once told me that we have more prophecy now then we ever did as we are living in prophetic Messianic times. It is amazing to think that the prophets who lived in the time of the Temple thousands of years ago would describe not only the ultimate exile of the Jewish people hundreds of years later, but the also foresaw our exile and our ultimate return to Israel.
The haftorah this week of Micha describes the Jewish people in Exile as the remnants of Yaakov amongst the nations. We were weak, we were destroyed and we were outnumbered. Yet, he tells us that Hashem will wipe out our enemies and destroy all of their false places of worship, as well as ours. We certainly have come up from the ashes and returned to the point where we are truly a world power. Yet we still have not fulfilled the will of Hashem.
Hashem cries out to the mountains
Micha (6:3-4)“My nation what have I done to you, how have I wearied you? Testify against Me. For I brought you up out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. My people, remember now what Balak king of Moab planned, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him. From Shittim to Gilgal, may you recognize the righteous deeds of the Lord.”
The Jewish people answer so naively that they don’t even know how to serve Hashem. One thing is certain, he tells us that Hashem doesn’t want “thousands of rams”, or “myriad streams of oil
The only thing Hashem is looking for and this really becomes what should be our mantra for life is
Ibid (6:8)“He has told you, O man, what is good, and what G‑d demands of you: but to do justice, love kindness, and walk discreetly with your G‑d."
We’re at the end game. Let’s follow this through with this message and see the rest of the miracles that are soon to come.

Micha the prophet (758-742nBC)-  Little is known about the personal life of the prophet Micah. He came from a town called Moreshet, and was therefore called Morashti. He lived during the reign of king Jotham of Judah, and succeeding kings, about 150 years before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. In this time, as often before him and after him, the people of both Judah and of the Northern Kingdom, had abandoned the ways of G‑d. Jerusalem and Samaria, the capitals of the two Jewish kingdoms, were centers of idol worship and bad living. The rich oppressed the poor, and the laws of the Torah were rejected.
Fearlessly, as the prophecy of G‑d rested on him, Micah came out to denounce the evils that had filled his beloved land. He warned that Samaria and Jerusalem would be destroyed. The prophecy about Samaria was fulfilled only a short time later, less than a quarter of a century; it was destroyed by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, in the year 3205 (after Creation). Jerusalem existed for another 133 years, and was destroyed until it was destroyed.


Pesach Offering- 1312 BC-  The 290 years of exile was over. The plagues which lasted about a year were almost over and now it was time for the final plague. Hashem commanded us to take the pascal lamb and tie it to our beds to show that we were faithful and that it wouldn’t blemish and then right in the face of the Egyptians we would slaughter this object of their idolatry. Yes, the worshipped the sheep. The month of nisan was in fact the astrological sign of the ram. They put the blood on the doorpost and then Hashem skipped over our homes and killed he Egyptian first borns. And thus the Exodus began.
Now where would we speak about this historic event? Well if you want to actually watch the Pesach offering service today, there are two places where one can watch a replication of this, well almost one. The first is each year before Pesach the Temple Institute does one by the Davidson centerin the old city of Jerusalem. With attendance by Chief Rabbis and hundreds of others this annual event replete with Kohanim and Levi’im in the Kohen garb and playing trumpets and instruments.
Here’s a clip of it

As well up in the West Bank live a group of people who call themselves Shomronim or Samaritan. They believe that they are Jewish and are from the tribe of Ephraim and Menashe. They’re not. And they were trouble makers that are mentioned in Tanach who tried to stop the building of the 2nd Temple. Their holy place is by Mt. Gerizim, which they feel is the real Temple Mount. They have a different calendar then we do. So their Pesach offering is not on our holiday usually this year it was a month later. The leader Yefet claims to have discussed his communities customs (which are only based on the written Torah and not Rabbinic law) with Rav Shach and Rav Kanievsky. It may not be our Korban Pesach but it certainly gets you in the mood for the real one.
Hopefully we can see it this year already, anyone want to join my Korban Pesach group?


Harry makes an emergency appointment to see his doctor.
“Doctor,” says Harry, “just look at the mess I’m in. When I awoke this morning, I looked in the mirror and was shocked to see my hair all wiry, my skin wrinkled and blotchy, my eyes bloodshot and bulging out of their sockets and my face so white that I looked like a corpse. What on earth is wrong with me, doctor?”
The doctor looks at Harry and calmly says, “Well, for a start, there’s certainly nothing wrong with your eyesight…”   

At his 100th birthday Moshe was asked to explain his longevity. 
"Onions." Onions? 
"Yes, onions. Every morning I eat a whole onion for breakfast. At noon I eat 2 onions. In the evening I have 2 onions, and before bed 1 more onion. Then at night when the Angel of Death comes and calls out "Moshe, Moshe", I face him directly and answer "Whoooooo?"    

Chaim is in the hospital, recovering from a massive heart attack, with his wife, Yenta, at his side. As he comes out of his drugged stupor he turns to his wife and says,
"Yenta, you remember when I had my appendectomy"?
"Of course!" says Yenta.
 "And you were sitting by my side then" says Chaim,
 "I wouldn't have been any where else" replies Yenta.
"And remember the emergency hernia operation when I almost didn't make it?" asks Chaim, "you were by my side then too".
“of course" replies Yenta demurely with tears in her eyes. "And now I wake up from a massive heart attack and here you are- by my side!" exclaims Chaim,
"yes, yes" says Yenta, wiping away a tear. "so you were by my side by the appendectomy, you were right there when I had the hernia and here you are when I have a heart attack. Yenta, you think maybe you bring me bad luck"?

A Polish immigrant goes to the Department of Motor Vehicles to apply for a driver's license and is told he has to take an eye test.
The examiner shows him a card with the letters:
"Can you read this?" the examiner asks.
"Read it?" the Polish guy replies, "I know the guy!!"

Morris Schwartz is dying and is on his deathbed.  He is with his nurse, his wife, his daughter and 2 sons, and knows the end is near. So he says to them:
"Bernie, I want you to take the Beverly Hills houses."
"Sybil, take the apartments over in Los Angeles Plaza."
"Hymie, I want you to take the offices over in City Center."
"Sarah, my dear wife, please take all the residential buildings downtown"
The nurse is just blown away by all this, and as Morris slips away, she says to the wife,
 "Mrs. Schwartz, your husband must have been such a hardworking man to have accumulated all this property.
Sarah replies, "Property shmoperty...my husband   has a seltzer route."

Answer is D– I’m not a big Plishti person. They were from the first terrorists that came to Israel and tanach doesn’t pull punches in describing the myriad of battles we had with them. They lived on the central and southern coastline of Israel. Gaza, Ashdod, Gat and Ekron were their capitals. Ekron is Revadim in the Gush Etzion area. Gat is Tel Saffi not far from Ramla, Asdod and Ashkelon are in their current cities. Ashkelon is where the cemetery was found. The graves had weapons, jewelry and spices with them and revealed to arcehologists a lot about this ancient civilization. Never been there on a tour myself. But who knows maybe one day after my repeat tourists have visited all the Jewish sites we will start on the Philistine sites.

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