Our view of the Galile

Friday, June 8, 2018

It's My Land- Parshat Shelach 2018 /5778

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
June 9th 2018 -Volume 8 Issue 33 26th Sivan 5778

Parshat Shelach

It’s My Land

I feel terrible for them. It is truly deplorable. 15 houses, 15 families being expelled from their homes by the Israeli government this week. They moved there in good faith. They returned to our ancient ancestral homeland in Gush Etzion in Elazar and yet this week the government of rightwing Zionist government will evict them from their homes in Netiv Avot- the path of our forefathers. It is not the first time this happened. It was just over 10 years ago that the right wing hawk of Israel Ariel Sharon threw out thousands of settlers and pioneers from Gush Katif in Gaza it wasn’t even in exchange for peace. Hamas and Gaza haven’t violated any agreements. They were very clear they want the whole country. They want us in the sea.  I’m not that good of a swimmer though… In fact every inch of this land that has been handed over to our neighbors has been rightwing governments. Begin gave the Sinai back in 1979. Bibi gave the Palestinian authority much of the West bank in 1999. Rabin never gave anything close to that although he perhaps initiated it.  Is there anything more tragic than us handing over our ancestral homeland to our enemies?

I feel terrible for them. These poor Palestinians. They were conquered for 400 years by the Ottoman Turks. They killed and massacred them. Finally in 1921 they achieved their independence and then these strange Jews come from Europe after all they suffered and lost there and they are taking their land from them. Who are these Jews? What makes them think that they think they can just waltz in here and take this land from us. It’s theirs. For 47 years the proud Jordanian flag flew over Chevron over Jerusalem over more than half of this country. How dare they throw them out.

Now those poor Mamelukes are really tragic. These ancient Asian Muslims were salves for centuries to the Egyptians and then they finally had the courage to rise up and to revolt against them. They threw out the Arabs that were destroying and desecrating this holy land of theirs. They built up this land. They protected it. They defended and gave their lives for it and they were here for almost 300 years and then these modern cosmopolitan conquerors the Turks come and throw them out. How dare they. These poor Mamelukes. Besides the fact that they have to suffer with a really funny sounding name that many of my tourists confuse with a cartoon dog, they have no place to go.

Let’s not even talk about those nebech Crusaders. I mean it had been almost 300 years that the cross had flown over “their” Holy Land. They had been slaughtered and murdered by Mohammed and his Arab horse riding marauders. Their holy places were all destroyed. Even when they were successful in coming back again and again, and of course murdering, pillaging, burning and massacring 30% of the Jewish population along the way just for kicks knowing that they had the Popes assurance they would be forgiven when they liberate Jerusalem. And now these crazy Asian Muslim Mamelukes come to destroy them. Who are these occupiers? Why is the world not condemning them? The poor Crusaders just want to pray at their holy sites and make the church and the Vatican rich of course on all that tourist money. How dare they kill them?

Now this of course has nothing to be said about the Pagan Romans that were killed by Christians who made up this new faith in some guy they though was Messiah and was killed on a cross and are trying to destroy the millennia old pagan and idolatry worship that took place in this country. Even the Jews and ancient Greeks who really took Israel out of the dark ages and liberated it from this ridiculous monotheistic Jewish religion that a few crazy old time rabbis were faithful believed in the freedom to worship lots of fun gods. So how dare they come in and kill us and kick those peace loving Romans out of the Holy land. And on and an on and on… the poor Babylonians, the Samaritans, the Assyrians and of course let us not forget where it all started 3300 years ago when those Israelites came here and threw out the Canaanites,  who of course had been here for a few centuries until they got rid of the Egyptians that were here.

Yeah so sad….all these ancient claims. All these people thrown out of this tiny little country that everyone seems to think is theirs. It’s all just so sad. What is it that is driving everyone over here? Everyone of course, except of course for those of you still comfortable in the US of A in Boro Park, Lakewood, Five towns or pretty much anywhere else in the Diaspora. What do all these historical people, nations, empires and even the poor Palestinian get that you don’t. That they are willing to give their life for and that you not even a good slice of Kosher Pizza or Starbucks for. Ouch!

Sorry about being so harsh, but it is Parshat Shelach this week. It’s the week when we read the Torah portion about what happens when we don’t appreciate Eretz Yisrael and I speak to myself as much as to you. As someone who lives here and certainly is exposed to so many things that can be so “challenging” and frustrating, I as well need to reinforce my faith, and my awe of this land which truly is meant to be as special as one’s own child.

The Maharal of Prague in his great work Netzach Yisrael- the Eternity of Israel explains what the sin of the Jewish people was in accepting the bad tidings of the spies about the land of Israel. What was so significant about those tears that they shed that turned it into an eternal day of mourning each year on Tisha B’Av. That caused them to wander in the wilderness for forty years and basically the reason why we remain in exile until today.

“The way of nature is that all things long for their natural environment. And if Eretz Yisrael was our natural environment that we longed for it would have remained ours forever. But the opposite took place. They cried for no reason and did not want to come there. Therefore they showed that it is not their natural place and therefore they could not remain there. This is what it says in Psalms (106) And they were disgusted by the land that was desirous. And it was this crying for naught that became the mourning for generations and caused their exile from the land. For their kvetching about the land showed that the land is not theirs entirely, for the grace of a land is on those who dwell there and everything longs for its natural place….and they cried… and they showed its not their land…. And therefore they were exiled…”

I realized that he repeats himself a few times in that paragraph. And I was considering paraphrasing it, leaving out his repeated crying, his repeated, longing, his repeated therefore we were exiled, but I heard the Maharal in my mind writing this. I heard his tears and anguish flowing from his pen as he described what we lost. What we still don’t have and I couldn’t take it out.

Everything longs for a return to where it came from. Perhaps since the entire world and the first man Adam was formed from the earth of Eretz Yisrael, of the Temple Mount perhaps it is why all the world feels that pull for here. Certainly though our pull is meant to be stronger. For this is the country that is our only natural environment. It is the only place in the entire world where we can become what we are meant to be. How can you not long for the one place that where you can achieve the sole purpose you were put on this world for?

Does Israel have flaws? Perhaps but Shlomo HaMelech writes in Proverbs that
(10:12) Love covers all flaws, all transgressions.

King David goes on and on about Eretz Yisrael and Jerusalem particularly
Psalms (48) “The city of our God, His Holy mountain, beautiful views, the rejoicing of all of the land.”

The Chasam Sofer explains that Mishna in Avot (5:7) that describes the miracle during the temple that no one ever said that “there is no place for me in Jerusalem” when they came up for the pilgrimages. Now I know and you know that there is no parking in Jerusalem and one can certainly imagine with hundreds of thousands of jews what it must have been like. The Talmud even describes that when they would stand on the temple Mount they would be tightly squeezed together (although when they bowed down there was miraculously room). So he explains that there was certainly no room and it was certainly tight. The miracle though was that no one complained. No one even noticed it.

Responsa Chatam Sofer YD (234) For from the overwhelming love of Hashem and the rejoicing of Hashem that they experienced when they were there no one ever said it is too tight.

Jews not kvetching when there is an opportunity to? Not even feeling that inclination in a packed stuffy quarter. Now that’s a miracle! The truth is though. It’s really not. I felt it this year by Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai on Lag Ba’Omer. Don’t get me wrong I was uncomfortable. I don’t like squished places and thousands of people jammed together singing and dancing up and down is not my speed at all. I prefer a Shabbos table with a bowl of chulent in front of me to do my singing. But I looked at the people there. The Chasidim jumping, dancing, frolicking and they weren’t packed in at all. They had all the room in the world. They were so high about being there that they didn’t even notice. The Chatam Sofer writes that the earthquake in Tzfat and Meron that destroyed the city and killed almost 20% of the Jewish population of Israel in 1837 was because of the Divine Zealotyr for Jerusalem for centuries. Jews had abandoned the holy city and lived in the comfortable North

Toras Moshe Parshat Emor “For Hashem is just. For in Jerusalem is the gateway to heaven. It is the city that is connected together. There is Mt. Moriah, there was the binding of Yaakov. There Yaakov dreamt his dream of the ladder climbing up to heaven. There is the Temple Mount and the peak where all turn to and the Divine spirit has never left the Western Wall…the Kotel.

When the paratroopers returned to Yerushalayim and blew the Shofar and said Hallel and screamed Har HaBayit B’yadeinu1 no one complained. When Dovid Hamelech danced and frolicked upon restoring the ark to Yerushalayim, no one didn’t want to see the sight no one felt pressed in. We were witnessing our natural return to our natural place. It is the most basic of instincts. Feeling it again is the secret to our redemption.

There have been lots of other people that occupied our land. Lots of them established “roots” here. But it wasn’t and isn’t their natural environment. It’s not the place where they are meant to fulfill their divine mandate. They each have a job as well. The Divine light is meant to shine all over the world. From Rome to Asia, from Turkey to Boro Park. But it is not our job to shine it out there. It may be our job to gather in the sparks – if you’re a bit of a mystic- but the point is then to bring them all here to our only real home and add them to our flame that can only shine out from here. Perhaps if we believed this a bit more. If we acted upon this a bit more. If we stopped the kvetching and whining and counterproductive if not needless crying, our neighbors would realize it as well. Our government would recognize it. And we would never again be thrown out of our land.  Perhaps….

Have a mind-blowing Shabbos and a blessed Chodesh Tamuz,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

 This week's Insights and Inspiration is dedicated by my dear friends and tourists in Lakewood NJ Gedalia Klein and family in appreciation of the super inspiring family trip we had with Rabbi Schwartz in Eretz Yisrael. Thanks again fro the trip fo a lifetime! Can’t wait to see you again and enjoy and be inspired by your love, passion and knowledge of Eretz Yisrael.
Thank You!



“Besser bay zikh krupnik, eyder bay yenem gebrotns..” - Better barley soup at home than a roast at someone else’s home.

answer below at end of Email
Q:  A desert region is where the annual precipitation is:
A. Above 500 mm
B. 300-400 mm
C. 200-300 mm
D. Up to or less than 200 mm


https://youtu.be/qXDUV03jc2w     - A different type of kite flying movie- Matana great song by Nachas Life is a Gift!

https://youtu.be/yBI94eInM0U - Gershon Verobas newest video in honor the Embassy Im Eshkocheich Yerushalayim

https://youtu.be/B6TDFzQvIN8   - What a gorgeous song in honor of Leah Bracha Felt! By child soloist Shulem Shabbat “Ima”


Parshat Shelach When I learn or teach Tanach, I generally tell my students that that one has to pay attention to the nuances of the stories. Many of them echo previous stories in the Torah and by paying attention to similar wording one can find that one sheds light on the other. Many of commentaries , like the Baal Haturim excelled in this style of comparative study, bu tht the truth is it is really founded in Chazal and the Midrash who also utilize this method.

This week’s Torah portion is a classic example. We read about the spies that Yehoshua sent to spy out the city of Yericho. On the surface it is an obvious choice for haftora, as our parsha talks about the spies that Moshe sent; the failed spies. Yet there is a much greater depth to this hafotrah than that.

The Haftora really spend an inordinate amount of ink on the story of Rahab the “zona” who although Rashi interprets as being an innkeeper, also seemingly was not only running a house of “ill repute” but what herself involved in the activities that took place there. She clearly was not someone you might want to take as your daughter-in-law. Although perhaps revealingly and perhaps even probably meant to teach us something, she ultimately becomes the wife of Yehoshua the leader of the Jewish people. She merits to become the grandmother of the prophetess Chulda as well as Yirmiyahu and Yechezkel. Chazal tell us that there are lines of Kohanim and prophets that all were her descendants. Not bad! Think someone like that could pull off a shidduch like that today?

All of this interestingly enough is in merit of her not even doing something so spectacular. She recognized the miracles of Hashem that he performed for the Jewish people. Egypt, Red Sea, the battles of Sichon and Og. She heard about it all and she realized that she was on the wrong team. This I believe is even more meant to be a stark contrast to the respected and great men that were chosen to be the spies of Moshe. The spies had actually not just heard as Rachav did but acturally experienced Hashems salvation and miracles. Perhaps the lesson is that sometimes being too smart or even too holy can get you in trouble. It is the simple faith of Rachav that is praised and the spies who forever live and died in infamy.

Yehoshua (1270-1245 BC)-  The quintessential student of Moshe who never left his master’s tent was one of the 12 spies chosen to explore the land for the Jewish people and with Calev were the only ones that brought back a positive report and fulfilled their mission. Upon Moses' passing in 1273, Joshua succeeded his master as the leader of the people of Israel. Under his leadership, they crossed the Jordan River on Nissan 10 of that year. For seven years, Joshua led the people in battle, defeating 31 kings and conquering their cities and territories, which comprised the bulk of the land west of the Jordan (Moses had conquered the lands on its eastern bank before his passing). For seven years after that, Joshua oversaw the process of dividing the land amongst the 12 tribes of Israel and allocating a portion to each family. He passed away on the 26th of Nissan, 2516 (1245 BCE), at the age of 110 years.


Egypt in Israel- 1820-1300 BC- We continue with the book of Shemot and historical eras in Eretz Yisrael and we enter Egypt.  Now I don’t take Jews to Egypt although from Eilat one can look over to Taba and many cross in the open borders we have with Egypt. I just don’t do it. I kind of take the biblical prohibition to never go back there and see it again literally, although certainly Maimonides and many great Jews did live there.
But in Israel itself there are plenty of places to visit that have early Egyptian remains. See before even Abraham and the Jews and perhaps even the Canaanites were here Israel was under Egyptian rule. In Jaffa one can see the ancient Tel there that has an inscription from Ramses the II as well as remains of a lion hunt scarab. In Tel Aviv recently they actually found a cave that was an ancient beer making factory. Can’t wait till they make a pub there and you can drink like an Egyptian.
As well in the Eretz Yisrael museum in Tel Aviv as well as the Rockefeller and Israel museum in Jerusalem there are lots of ancient Egyptian artifacts that can be found there that were found all over Israel. Many with ancient hieroglyphics. In Beit Shean there is the house of the Egyptian ruler and it was a significant site for a great battle between the Egyptians and ancient Canaanites there. Of course the Negev was certainly under Israel rule as well as Gaza for centuries. And in truth even until 1967 Gaza was part of Egypt ,not that they really wanted it though.
So yes one does not have to go to Egypt to Israel to see it here. We can certainly learn and speak about it without even leaving the holy land.


The Israelis and Arabs finally realized that if they continued fighting, they would someday end up destroying the world. So they sat down and decided to settle the whole dispute with a dogfight. The negotiators agreed that each country would take five years to develop the best
fighting dog they could. The dog that won the fight would earn its country the
right to rule the disputed areas. The losing side would have to lay down its arms.
The Arabs found the biggest, meanest Dobermans and Rottweilers in the world. They bred them together and then crossed their offspring with the meanest Siberian wolves. They selected only the biggest, strongest puppy from each litter, killed all the other puppies and fed them the best food . They used steroids and trainers in their quest for the perfect killing machine.
After the five years were up, they had a dog that needed iron prison bars on its cage. Only the trainers could handle this beast. When the day of the big fight arrived, the Israelis showed up with a strange animal.
It was a nine-foot-long Dachshund.(Those are the hot dog looking dogs)  Everyone felt sorry for the Israelis. No one else thought this weird animal stood a chance against the growling beast in the Arab camp. The bookies predicted the Arabs would win in less than a minute. The cages were opened. The Dachshund waddled toward the center of the ring. The Arab dog leapt from his cage and charged the giant wiener-dog. As he got to within an inch of the Israeli dog, the Dachshund opened its jaws and swallowed the Arab beast in one bite. There was
nothing left but a small bit of fur from the killer dog's tail.

The Arabs approached the Israelis, shaking their heads in disbelief. "We do not understand. Our top scientists and breeders worked for five years with the meanest, biggest Dobermans and Rottweilers. They developed a killing machine."

"Really?" the Israelis replied. "We had our top plastic surgeons working for five years to make an alligator look like a Dachshund.

What happens when a fly falls into a coffee cup?
*The Englishman*: Throws away the cup of coffee and walks away.
*The American*: Takes out the fly and drinks the coffee.
*The Chinese*: Eats the fly and throws away the coffee.
*The Japanese*: Drinks the coffee with the fly, since it was extra.
*The Israeli*: Sells the coffee to the American, the fly to the Chinese, and buys himself a new cup of coffee.
*The Palestinian* : Blames the Israeli for the violent act of putting the fly in his coffee; asks the UN for aid; takes a loan from the European Union to buy a new cup of coffee; uses the money to purchase explosives, then blows up the coffee house, where: The Englishman, the American, The Chinese, and the Japanese are all trying to explain to the Israeli that he was too aggressive. 

An archaeologist was digging in the Negev Desert in Israel and came upon a casket containing a mummy. After examining it, he called the curator of a prestigious natural history museum.
"I've just discovered a 3,000 year old mummy of a man who died of heart failure!" the excited scientist exclaimed.
To which the curator replied, "Bring him in. We'll check it out."
A week later, the amazed curator called the archaeologist. "You were right about the mummy's age and cause of death. How in the world did you know?"
"Easy. There was a piece of paper in his hand that said, '10,000 Shekels on Goliath'."

The Sunday school lesson had just finished and the Rabbi asked if the children had any questions. Little David quickly raised his hand.
"Yes, David? What question would you like to ask me?"
"I have four questions to ask you, Rabbi. Is it true that after the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, they then received the Ten Commandments?"
"Yes, David."
"And the children of Israel also defeated the Philistines?"
"Yes, David, that's also true."
"And the children of Israel also fought the Romans and fought the Egyptians and built the Temple?"
"Again you are correct, David."
"So my last question is, Rabbi, what were the grown-ups doing all this time?"
Answer is D– This was easy. They said it so many times in our course.  A desert is less than 200 mm of water. Interestingly enough Wikipedia on the English definition of desert says 25 cm which would be 250 mm, making answer C the correct answer as well. But what does Wikipedia know anyways. This one would not get credit if you argued because the notion of 200 mm’s is too ingrained.

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