Our view of the Galile

Thursday, December 7, 2017

City of Brotherly Love- Vayeishev 2017 / 5777

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
December 8th 2017 -Volume 8 Issue 8 20th Kislev 5778
Parshat Vayeishev
City of Brotherly Love
It wasn’t that much of change moving from Des Moines, Iowa to Norfolk, Virginia. Sure the weather was nicer in Virginia, We had a flayshig kosher option called the Kosher Place- although in Des Moines we had Maccabees Deli as well. There were less people in our shul driving there on Shabbos in Norfolk. But for your basic New Yorker they were both “Out of Town”. Well that’s not entirely accurate. Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago and even Baltimore are out of town. Norfolk and Des Moines are more like the midbar- the wilderness for NY’ers on the same planet as Timbuktu.
 But I’m not talking about the Jewish experience in these cities, I’m referring to the people there. See Des Moines and Norfolk are both salt-of the earth, warm, friendly and talkative people. Coming from New York it was a major adjustment. I remember the first time I came to Des Moines and was on my way home from shul and someone waved and wished me a good evening. I was taken aback. What did he want? Did I do something wrong? Was he trying to hit me up for money? I waved and walked on quickly. But he came running after me. I was getting nervous. I smiled and lowered my eyes as is the appropriate non-threatening NY greeting. But he insisted on schmoozing. How’s my family, how was my move, what did I have for dinner last night, is there something he could help me with in settling in. I just nodded no and looked at my watch. That is a polite New York gesture for ‘No thank you, I have to go. He gave me a big hug after my pretty much monosyllabic answers- which is what you’re trained to do in NY, and wished me a good night. Once again. hmmmm…. Something is strange here.
Slowly I learned that’s what people do in civilized places. People talk to one another. They greet each other and schmooze. I tacked on a few extra minutes to my schedule each day to say good morning to everyone after Shacharis and talk about the weather, my family and last night’s World News and the same for the evening after Maariv. It was nice.
Virginia was pretty much the same experience, just laced with that special southern draaawwwlll…” How y’all doin?” We were greeted with lots of home-baked apple pies, lots of friendly neighborly conversations. Even our gentile neighbors would schmooze each day as we picked up the newspaper from our front lawn. A lawn is this green stuff that grows from the ground in front of your house- for those New Yorkers that are reading right now. Y’know kind of like what you see in the park. No not Boro Park. I mean a Park-Park, where goyim walk their dogs. J.
Now Seattle was a jarring difference though. In Seattle nobody talks to anyone. They text. They message. They ignore and pretend that you don’t exist. People move to Seattle to get away from everyone else in the country and most of them really want to move to Canada. Most people work in Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing or some other hi-tech place where they don’t really have to interact with anyone that’s not on their computer. Hashem barely brings sunshine to the city because He knows that people really aren’t interested in seeing each other and it’s much easier to run past people or stay indoors all day if it’s raining outside. When I was expressing my culture shock to someone over there. He asked me if it was worse than New York. I told him that in New York people at least had the courtesy to swear at you. You existed. They had strong feelings about the way you drove, you voted, you smelled or you did business. In Seattle they didn’t even see you. He walked away from me. I don’t know if he heard me.
But the truth is, it was precisely that culture that made us successful there. We started off our first week of services in the West Seattle TLC (Torah Learning Center) after weeks of advertising and phone calls with an 11 year old boy and a goy. By the time we left 6 years later we had 30-40 coming every Shabbos ( Yes, Jews- See I know what you’re thinking, although we did have our fair share on gentiles as well). We had hundreds coming to classes and programs, we had a Monday and Thursday minyan as well. We became a family. It was wonderful.
See there’s a natural desire for human connection. It’s lonely being alone. The first statement Hashem tells Man is that it is not good for man to be alone. He gave us our wife. Her job is to make sure we never have any alone time again. And thus the quest for the ultimate man cave began. As well as the migration to Seattle.
Well it wasn’t only to Seattle that man began moving to in order to not have to talk and communicate with others. Our story of our first exile to Egypt pretty much began the same way. This week’s Torah portion tells us what happens when brothers can’t talk to one another. In fact not talking seems to be the subtle theme that follows through the entire saga. Our Parsha begins with Yosef, the favored of the 12 tribes, incurring the jealousy and ultimately the hatred of his brothers.
Bereshit (37:4) And his brothers saw that their father loved him from all his brothers, and they hated him and they could not-dabro- speak to him for peace.
Rashi seems to see in this their praise that they couldn’t speak with him “one with their mouths and one with their hearts”. They weren’t politically correct. They weren’t two faced. They were Israeli. Well almost Israeli. See Israelis, like NY’ers say what is in their hearts. They don’t pull punches. The brothers of Yosef-practiced what my mother used to tell me. If you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything. OK, she still tells me that… The problem with not saying anything though is that it just builds up resentment. It builds up hatred. Our souls want to connect. To be at harmony and peace within one another. With our brother. And if we don’t engage, there is that tension that is always bubbling on the surface. Yosef repeatedly tries to engage his brother in conversation. He shares with them his dreams. His vision of them uniting as sheaves of wheat, as stars, all bowing to him. It is a true dream and vision. They would ultimately do that. Yet, he doesn’t really get it. They are not interested. Their bowing is meant to come from inspiration from a realization of a shared mission and vision. That can only happen through brotherhood and communication. But as the Torah tells us in its perfect and precise language
“Vayosifu od sno oso al chalomosuv v’al devaruv- and they added on to their hatred of him on his dreams and on his-words”.
I say perfect and precise language, because those words keep coming back. Vayosifu- and they added- is the same root as Yosef-He should add. But rather than add brotherhood, they added od sno es devaruv. They added od-more hatred for his dibur; his words.
Yaakov, the father, who like all fathers wanted only one thing, for his children to unite and be one, “guarded the-davar-words”. He waited and hoped that the unspoken words between the brothers would finally come.
When the brothers leave to shepherd, Yaakov sees and hopes the opportunity has come. He sends Yosef on the mission that changed Jewish history forever. He is specific what he is seeking.
Ibid (37:14) Please go and see the peace of your brother and the peace of the sheep. And return me davar- words.
One can almost hear Yaakov talking. ‘Talk to them Yosef, work it out. Maybe talk about the sheep to get the conversation going, but talk, talk and talk. Bring me their words… Return them to brotherhood; to peace’
Yosef arrives at his brothers and the Torah tells us
Ibid (37:18) And they see him from a distance and before he came close to them and they plotted to kill him.
They saw him from a distance. They feared if he came close they might have to confront him with their feelings. They might have to talk. He might be successful in bringing those words of peace. They might have to bring up their resentments. They might have to do the painful self-reflection on their part of this dispute, this fight, this ideological battle. Better to kill him. Better to sell him down the stream. Anything but to talk.
It takes years. But the day comes. Much later on in Parshat Vayigash, decades, lifetimes, and countries apart, the brothers are all in Egypt and Yosef can hold it in no longer. He has met with them, he has schmoozed with them. He has found out about their families. About their father. That longing for family conversation has been actualizing, but it has all been a scam. They don’t know that it is Yosef. They don’t realize that it is their brother they have been talking with. Yosef was sent on a mission to bring back those brotherly words of peace and the moment has finally come to complete that mission. He sends out the Egyptians. He sends out everyone. It is him and his brothers finally alone together in a room, perhaps for the first time. Yosef begins to weep.
Ibid(45:3) And Yosef said to his brothers ‘I am Yosef Ha’od Vai Chai- is my father od- still-alive.
Remember how Vayosifu od- They added on more hatred? Can you now accept me as od Yosef. Can we talk? Can we add brotherhood? Can I bring back your words of peace to our father? It is all he was living for. Is he still alive?
And the brothers could not answer him for they were disconcerted before him
Awwwkwardd…. As my kids would say. They still couldn’t do it. What do you do when the other doesn’t want to talk? When your brother can’t and won’t speak with you?
Yosef gives us the lesson we should never forget.
Ibid (45:15) And he kissed all of his brothers and he cried on them.
Rashi tells us so beautifully and precisely
Hosif baneshika menashek v’holeich- he added kisses. He kissed and continued
Yosef, the man who had been adding words, realized that what he needed to add was kisses, hugs, tears. He was finally able to get close. He was no longer at a distance. There were no more plots. None of Yosef’s, behind their back, or theirs behind his. It was all on the table. It works.
After all these years the verse concludes
V’Acharey Kein Dibru Echov Ito- And after this the brothers spoke to him
The conversation has begun. The mission of us going down to Egypt has been accomplished.
Ibid (45:16) The voice was heard in the house of Pharaoh saying the brothers of Yosef have come. And it was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and they eyes of his slaves.
We have arrived. We can survive our 400 year exile in Egypt. We can make it through any exile that we are ever sent to. We can raise up the sparks of the entire world. We just have to connect with one another, as that is the only way that the rest of the world will ever connect to us. That they will see the good, as Pharaoh and his servants did in us. That they will connect to Hashem, as One.
I have no expectations that in Seattle people will ever talk to one another. It’s not the city that is meant to be the one of “brotherly love”. Hate to tell you, but neither is Philadelphia. There is one city whose name is an acronym of two words- They will see peace. It’s gotten a lot press this week. It is meant to be the capital of Israel. In the historic words of our President (It’s been a long time since I’ve used those two words together) it is “the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times.” We established it as our capital, not because of its strategic or central location. It really is not too strategically located and Shechem is a lot more central. Not because of its great weather, or even because of the great shwarma stores that they have there. It is located in between two tribes. Yehuda, the representative of the children of Leah and Binyamin, of Rachel. It is the place and symbol of brothers sharing. It is the place where all brothers will come and unite in prayer. It is not a place of demonstrations, divisions and strife. It is meant to be a place of extremism. Extreme love. Extreme brotherhood. Extreme peace. Yerushalayim- See its peace. That is the city of Hashem. That is our capital. United forever.
Have a historic peaceful Shabbos of the year!!
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


“Az du krigst zikh, krig zikh az du zolst zikh kenen iberbetn.” When you fight, do it in a manner that will allow you to make up.
answer below at end of Email
Q. “Magic Carpet” is a name given to the Aliyah of Jews from:
a. Ethiopia
b. Morocco
c. Bulgaria
d. Yemen


https://soundcloud.com/ephraim-schwartz/haneiros-halalu - Rabbi Schwartz original Haneiros Halalu composition in honor of Chanukah !!
https://youtu.be/UpgMAmkxgBs   - Israel Prime Ministers on Yerushalayim

https://youtu.be/YRz7UsYhRg4   - Menachem Begin and Shlomo Carlebach Cool!

https://youtu.be/4A6JDyvhvAc  -Rabbi Shalom Gold on Yerushalayim POWERFUL!

https://youtu.be/GvEXuQvTtEM   -An Upbeat Im Eshkocheich Yerushalayim


There are some Midrashim that become so famous and accepted that sometimes we mistake it for the text itself. One of the ones that I recall from my childhood days is that the brothers of Yosef sold him for a pair of shoes. It doesn’t say or even allude to this in the text as far as I am aware. However the source for this seems to be this week’s Haftora, and it just goes to show you how well versed in the Haftorah the Jewish people were that it became to be assumed that this is in the story itself.
The Haftorah begins with the with the statement
Amos (2:6) They have sold for silver a righteous one and the needy for a pair of sandals…”
Yet as we know the Haftorah choice is not just for one verse the entire reading is meant to really interpret and give us the insight of our sages into the parsha. And thus our Haftora talks about a man and his father going to a maiden and desecrating Hashem’s name. This would certainly seem to be a reference to the story in our parsha of Yehuda and his children Er and Onan who all sin with the maiden Tamar and how that was a Chilul Hashem (that ultimately was rectified with Yehuda’s confession). It can also be a reference to Yosef in Egypt being seduced by the wife of his taskmaster Potifar and ultimately he also stops as a result of the desecration of Hashem’s name.
The image that Amos gives us of
Ibid (2:8) “they recline on pawned garments beside every altar and they drink the wine of victims they penalized in the Temples of their gods.”
is not only a warning to the Jews in his era, but it is meant to bring up the memory of the brothers of Yosef who had taken away his colored coat, while he was laying in the pit that they threw him while they ate and drank.
The final part of the Haftora as well reveals to us one of the most important secrets of the Parsha. It is a series of questions Amos poses that all point us to the hand of Hashem in everything that happens in this world. Two people walk together- not by chance- but because Hashem thus decreed. This could be Yosef meeting the Butler and Baker in prison, The angel that Yosef bumps into on the way down to his brothers.
Does a lion roar if he has no captured prey, does a bird fall on a trap if it does not have a snare? Does the shofar sound in a city and the people not tremble? The Lord Hashem has spoken who will not prophesize.
Nothing is random, the Navi is telling us. Hashem sent us to Egypt. He sends us to all of our Exiles in order to hear His voice. That our souls should tremble. The Jews went down to Egypt because it was a divine decree. It was foretold to Avraham years before. It is part of the Divine plan. We need to view history in that way. That is the lesson the prophet and our parsha is teaching us.

Amos (760 BC)-  He wasn’t from a school or yeshiva of prophets. He was a simple shepherd and a dresser of sycamore trees. He lived in one of the most prosperous periods during the first temple. The two kingdoms of Israel the Northern and Southern were reconciling under Yeravam the second and Amatzia the King of Judah. And as in all times of prosperity, we Jews seem to lose our way and thnk that we have finally made it. Amos’s job was to set that notion straight. He speaks of justice, charity and decries the worship of idols and particularly the golden calves that were placed in Beit El. Yet despite all of his rebukes and prophecies of exile and punishment. He also speaks of the ultimate return to Israel that we experience today. The land flourishing once again and ruins being rebuilt.


Abrahamic borders of Israel 1742 BC – The first time Hashem promises Avraham the land, by the Bris Bein Habesarim-the covenant of pieces. It is a big country. One that we have never conquered and still await. You know how the arabs talk about the greater Muslim empire. Well maybe we should start talking about the greater biblical Israel. Which is incidentally probably about as large as Russia and bigger than the United States. The borders Hashem tell us are
Bereshit (15:18-21) From the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates
This would put us not only through Egypt but all the way down through the Sudan in Africa and pretty much till Ethiopia.
The Keini, Kenizi, Kadmoni, Chitti Prizi. Refaim, Emori, Canaani, Girgashi and the Yevusi
Like me you have no clue where all these place are. But one thing I can tell you is that most of them are not in modern day Israel. But Rashi and other commentaries assure us that the first three are Amon, Moav and Edom- which is pretty much Jordan and the Negev. The other countries are in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Yemen Lebanon and parts of Turkey and Syria as well.
Here’s a little map so you can appreciate it.


I like to mention this map and promise whenever I am in places where people wonder if this is really Israel or not. For example the Negev or Eilat area which are outside of the borders that Moshe is given to tell the Jewish people. Or in the Golan or even up by Rosh Hanikra which were not part of the biblical borders- although the Golan and Jordan were in fact given to the tribes of Reuvein and Gad. As well pretty much when anyone looks out from any border of Israel. Be it in the South by Eilat into Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan or in the North to Lebanon and Syria, it’s good to tell your tourists that one day all of that will be ours as well. Take that UN!

A Hebrew School teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds.
After explaining the commandment to "honor" thy Father and thy Mother, she asked, "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?"
Without missing a beat one little boy (the oldest of a family) answered, "Thou shall not kill."

 Shloimy and Yanky were arguing incessantly. Finally their Mom had enough. "Quiet already! You two kids are always fighting.  Why can't you agree once in a while?"
 Yanky said "We do agree, Shloimy wants the largest apple and so do I."

Having had enough she sent them outside to go sledding. Not much later she heard them fighting again. She screamed out the “Don't be selfish. Let your brother use the sled half the time.”
Shloimy shouted back “I do, Mom. I use it going down the hill and he gets to use it
coming up!”

Mom had the perfect solution. Next time Yanky came home from school and said “I hate Shloimy’s guts” She said “OK I won’t put it in your sandwiches anymore.”

Chaim was listening to his sister practice her singing. ' Rivky' he said, 'I wish you'd sing
Chanuka songs.'
'That's nice of you, Chaim' she replied. 'Why?'
'Then I'd only have to hear you once a year !'

What is your father's job?' asked the Morah on the first day of the new academic year.
'He's a magician, Ma'am,' said the Yanky.
'How interesting. What's his favorite trick?'
'He saws people in half.'
'Wow! now, next question. Any brothers or sisters?'
'One half brother and two half sisters.'


Answer is D – OK I know its not easy to remember all of the different names of the aliyahs to Israel. As a tour guide we don’t neccesarily speak much about the different names or types of Jews. I find questions like this to be more like trivia then anything else. But it is certainly a legitimate question. So here we go. The Ethiopian aliyas were Operation Moses and Solomon and a little unknown one recently called Operaion Doves wings. The largesst Aliya to Israel from an arab country with close a quarter million Olim are Moroccans their Aliya is called Operation Yachin, after one of the pillars in the Temple and a lesser known operation called Mural that smuggled in children. I don’t even know any particular name for the Bulgarian Aliya, if anyone does let me know. But the Yemenite Aliya is the Magic carpet one in Hebrew though it is known as Kanfie Nesharim- or wings of eagles- a much more appropriate name if you ask me, as it refers to Hashem’s promise and return of his people back home rather than to Aladdin’s. But they never asked me. Interesting as well it was also called Operation Biat Mashiach-Mashiach is coming- now that’s a cool piece of trivia.

Friday, December 1, 2017

One State Solution- Parshat Vayishlach 5778 / 2017

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
December 1st 2017 -Volume 8 Issue 7 13th Kislev 5778
Parshat Vayishlach
One State Solution
Yaakov was wrong. He shouldn’t have been afraid. Why is he bending the knee? He send Esau presents, he tries to pacify him, bribe him, he humbles himself before him. He calls him “My Master”. Sure he prepares a little secret underground army, just in case it doesn’t work. But there was no need for it. Where was his Jewish pride? Sure he’s been living in a ghetto in a Diaspora for a few decades now. Sure it was anti-Semitism that caused him to originally flee his homeland, the land of his ancestors. But “higiya zman geulaschem- the time for his redemption has come”. Throw the infidel out. Gifts? Bribes? Diplomacy?! That’s not the way he should have announced his homecoming.
Or not. Perhaps the way of the Jew should be to always be wary. To try to win over the nations to agree to let us come home. To try to convince them, that we do not pose a threat to their way of life. That Yaakov, or Yisrael’s , return to Eretz Yisrael, will always respect “our best friend” and brother in shared democratic “values”. We shouldn’t go up against them. We should wait until they allow us to return.
The nice thing about this weekly E-Mail and our reading audience is that there is going to be people that will unsubscribe on both ends of the spectrum. I’ve got Satmar Chasidim that are reading right now, liberal unaffiliated democrat Jewish Hillary voters-of which whom both might be appalled at the association with one another but interestingly enough share similar views on this topic. As well I have my Trumpies, my Kahanists, my settler friends and my bored right-wing yeshiva guys from Lakewood that are sure if they were president of the United State or Prime Minister of Israel, they would solve all of the world’s problems. I am an equal opportunity offender. I try to offend and challenge everyone. Lesser people will unsubscribe, but the stalwarts amongst you that don’t, are either masochists that appreciate my unique style of inspiration or just skip to the jokes and the Youtube clips on the bottom. That’s alright. I love you both.  
It is not easy to challenge everyone. But thank God our sages throughout the generations have given us enough material for each side to justify their position and base it on Torah sources. Some might say Eilu V’Eilu Divrei Elokim Chayim- these are both the word of God. Hashem’s word, like a prism, can be understood and viewed in the many different, yet true, lights that it diffracts. Other’s might say that one side is heresy and only they possess the absolute truth. I generally have a different approach and like to think that all sides are wrong. Even my side. That world view makes it easier for me to offend people regularly and change my previously held strong position instantaneously depending on who I’m arguing with.
 So I sell my Zionists on the fallacies of and heresies of their platforms; their strongly held view that the return to our Promised Land is the realization of the sprouting of the redemption. It’s not hard to do. The current government of Israel returns land whenever it can if for some feeble assurances of peace. They are demolishing Jewish houses, while our cousins build freely without even thinking about permits and paying property taxes. That’s from a Right wing government! The religious status quo is getting thrown out daily by the Supreme Court; Shabbos, Kosher, traditional marriage.  Corruption is all over the place. This is not the State that Hashem envisioned. This is not the miraculous return that the entire world will see the Hashem has chosen us. There is more anti-Semitism than ever before. More people were killed in Israel as a result of the establishment of the State in Israel than all the years prior, not only in wars but as a result of terror attacks as well. Hashem made us take oaths that we would not go up against the nations, not go up against the world to return to Israel with an army. Hashem would bring us back. Most of the great Rabbis- not only Satmar were opposed to the War of Independence, although after the War certainly many felt that every war in which we were fighting for our lives and our existence was a mitzva. So maybe it wasn’t the right play. Maybe we still need to long and pray for a miraculous return, and stop investing so much of our belief in the fact that we have already arrived. Shouldn’t we learn from Yaakov who didn’t come back to Israel with a huge army, but waited for Esau to allow him to come?
Click. I just lost some subscribers.
On the other hand when I am with my anti-Zionists or my two-state solution, poor oppressed Palestinian loving, Jewish occupiers, wait for the geula-Redemption, mashiach type Jews…

They actually just unsubscribed as soon as they read that sentence. They get offended, experience has taught me much quicker. Usually as soon as any confrontation begins.

But for those of you that are still with me. To those Jews, I generally point out how so many of the prophecies are being fulfilled. The land is flourishing despite it being barren for thousands of years. There are more Jews from all over the world that have returned here and that are living here than the entire second Temple people. If this isn’t the ingathering of Exiles what is? There is more Torah being studied here than in the history of the Jewish people over the last few centuries at least. More Jews returning to their heritage than ever before. At the same time look at the decline of Judaism everywhere else. Intermarriage is at about 75 percent. The majority of the “denominations” that are non-orthodox are struggling to engage their youth. Birthright, I just read, has canceled the Reform movement as a provider for their trips because they can’t even seem to sign up enough kids for  free 10 day trip to the Mediterranean- to a country called Israel.

Now I know my frum friends are smiling still and saying, but yeah, Orthodoxy and Torah Judaism is flourishing. But is it? How many kids are connected to Eretz Yisrael? Every single Jewish Rav, Rebbe, leader from the Chafetz Chaim, the Gaon of Vilna and the Chasidic masters dreamed of living here, spoke about its holiness would have in a heartbeat jumped on a plane if Hashem had given them an opportunity, let alone a sal klita- absorption package to move here. How many of the religious children actually know Tanach. Dare I even say Chumash? Is there more than 5% who may have finished a few tractates of Talmud that even have a goal for themselves to learn through all of the books of the prophets? Something that I believe is as unarguably and undeniably essential if not more so. Can’t you see that in Eretz Yisrael you not only learn this but live, visit, see and appreciate Torah as it is meant to be lived. That our sages say that he who doesn’t live here is as if he has no God. That even the most secular Israeli is more likely than not according to all opinions fulfilling a mitzva every second that he lives here, while you are not. Do you still think that you’ve got it right?
Click there they went too.
So now it’s just me and you left. Hi Mom J.
Why am I writing about this this week? Well there’s a few reasons. I was talking to my father-in-law this week, the great Meged Yosef and he related to me that he had heard from his father Reb Leizer Sorotzkin that the reason why Hashem warned Lavan and told him not to start up with Yaakov, as opposed to Esau whom Hashem never appeared to warn him to leave Yaakov alone, was because the battle with Lavan was an inconsequential one for Yaakov and the Jewish people. Whereas our fight with Esau is an epic battle. It is eternal and we are meant to learn from there how the Jewish people should engage with the world of Edom- the Western civilization until today. Does that mean we should be passive, that we should just pray to be saved that we should try diplomacy as Yaakov did? Our sages definitely frowned on Yaakov’s approach. The Midrash Tanchuma says
And he sent to Esau- The Ruach Hakodesh said- Oyyy, Yaakov for sending to Esau.
The Midrash Rabba says-
So shall you say to my master Esau- Hashem said- You lowered yourself and called Esau your master 8 times, by your life I will establish from his children 8 kings (that are mentioned at the conclusion of the Parsha) before your children.
Yaakov had been told by Hashem that he need not fear Esau. To return to his land. That Hashem will be with him. There was no reason for him to fear. To try to play politics. To lower himself out of fear of creating conflict. Rav Mordechai Gifter Z”TL the former Rosh Yeshiva of Telshe noted that even if Yaakov was fearful perhaps of the sin that he may have had, or perhaps the merit that Esau had of honoring his Father Yitzchak that Yaakov didn’t. Or perhaps the merit of living in Eretz Yisrael that Esau possessed that Yaakov didn’t {By the way that statement of our sages and merit alone is worthwhile pondering- Yaakov was nervous because Esau HaRasha had more merit than him, because he lived in Israel- Discuss…} He shouldn’t have trembled. He should have had faith that Hashem was with him.
On the other hand we certainly find that throughout the generations our sages have derived inspiration and direction from Yaakov’s approach. Rebbi Yehuda the prince, the Talmud in Sota tells us, would flatter Antoninus in order to achieve his goals. Rabbeinu Bachaya suggests we should never go up against our enemies with war. Our way is only with prayer, with diplomacy. While others including Rashi suggest that war is the correct approach, as well, The Ksav V’Kabala goes as far as saying that Yaakov split up his family so that one could come to the assistance of the other as they smite Esau’s army. Hmmmm… Where does that leave us? Do we fight? Do we stand? Do we wait? Do we negotiate or even relent and make concessions?

You all have opinions. You wouldn’t be Jewish if you didn’t. Far be it from me to tell you what you should think. I just tell you what you shouldn’t think. There is one view however that I believe I can share with you. It is a story about Reb Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld., he was the leader of the Anti-Zionist movement in the pre-State Israel. He saw in their secular approach and even more dangerously in the approach of the religious that sought to align themselves with them for the sake of the “greater good”, a threat to the Jewish people and the holiness of our land and our people. One day, some of his antagonists who were more aggressive broke into his house and began to threaten him physically if he did not recant his positions and stop his “traitorous” rhetoric against the leaders of the movement. Reb Yosef Chaim didn’t flinch. The aged Rav looked at them and filled his heart with love for them, he told his students afterwards. He opened up his shirt and told them that they were free to kill him right there. But his love for them would not allow him to be quiet. To allow them to go down this path which would lead to the assimilation of so many. He would put his life on the line for them, as all he did was out of caring for them. They looked at the Rav and turned around and left. He hadn’t won them over to his side. But they knew that the fight between them would never divide them. He was fighting for them.
Rabbi Avraham Sheinbaum suggests that the Torah tells us
Bereshits (32:8) And Yaakov became frightened and it distressed him and he divided the nation with him
Yaakov was frightened because he saw that fear divided the nation. We were not one. We hated the other side. We thought only we know what’s right and the others are wicked. Are a danger. Are a threat. Are Nazi’s. And the rhetoric and principled approaches for the ‘sake of heaven’ become our worst enemy. Esau can never conquer Yaakov. There will always be a camp that will survive. We are only in any danger, when we are alone, when we are not one. That is when the angel of Esau attacks Yaakov. When he is separated from his family. Hashem shines his oneness upon us when we are one. Divided we fall.
I said there other reasons why I write about this topic this week. It’s not the demonstrations in the streets in Jerusalem and Manhattan against the State and the Army. It’s not the rhetoric on the other side as well that decries these people as well- despite the fact that misguided, in my opinion, is a polite term that I personally would use for them. It’s also not because I’ve just had enough of the constant fighting and hatred that continuously comes out of our strongly opinioned nation.
This week is in fact 70 years since the 29th of November 1947, when the Nations of the World voted on a two state solution. The State of Israel was created. The majority of the Jewish people saw that as a good sign. The majority of the Jewish people also recognized the perilous situation that we were in as the War of Independence and all our neighbors five armies attacked us and threatened to wipe us off the map and push us into the sea. We were all united in that fight although we may have been divided in ideology. Our lives were on the line. We won. We were spared. It was a miracle. It wasn’t a miracle. I don’t think it makes a difference. Jews put their lives on the line for their fellow Jews. For Eretz Yisrael. We had one shared hope that our history should finally come to its glorious conclusion.  That the dreams of 2000 years should finally be fulfilled. It’s been a long time since we shared a common dream… We are so obsessed with trying to micromanage Hashem’s plan for us, that we have forgotten that His primary objective is that we should remember that we are a family that is meant to be united. Too many of us have unsubscribed already. None of us have it entirely right if we don’t see it that way. Our first exile after the first Temple was destroyed was for 70 year. It’s been 70 years since the world saw fit for us to come home and establish Eretz Yisrael as our homeland. The time has come for us make it Hashem’s homeland as well. We can start by becoming one.

Have a fantastic earliest Shabbos of the year!!
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


“Hint beissen zikh iber a bain un availim iber a yerusheh.” Dogs fight over a bone and mourners over an inheritance..

answer below at end of Email
Q. The year in which Tel Aviv was established:
A. 1906
B. 1907
C. 1908
D. 1909


https://youtu.be/tEZwYHT8HVk  - Nigun Baal Shem Tov- the Holiest in the world…

https://youtu.be/Sbb0L8_f2KM  - The most moving songs of my childhood Yizkereim and Kol Brama by Ohad upon reading of Rachel Imeinu’s death this week.

https://youtu.be/QrIjzUK0FKg -Fascinating about UN vote 70 years ago 1947 for Israel


The Haftora for this week’s parsha was an easy choice for our sages, as our parsha deals with the epic battles between Yaakov and Esau and his guardian angel. What better Haftorah then the prophecy of Esau’s own grandchild, the prophet, Ovadia, who converted to Judaism that would foretell of the ultimate destruction of Esau. Historically Easu is Rome who destroyed our Temple and whose exile we are still in. The prophet tells us that Esau suffers from arrogance.
Who will bring me down to earth?
Hashem responds even if you raise yourself like an eagle…I will bring you down.
Rome’s symbol was the Eagle as was the Germans….Yeah they’re gone.
Hashem says he will eradicate wise men from Edom and understanding from the Mountain of Esau. And once thought to be the elite and the educated the Church, the Crusaders all they represented is certainly viewed as being backwards. The Haftorah issues a warning to Esau that their silence while Jerusalem is being plundered (in the times of Ovadia he was foretelling of the first exile that was to take place by Babylonia- or the Arab nations) will be considered as if they themselves were culpable
On the day that you stood afar, on the day that strangers captured his wealth and foreigners came to his gates and cast a lottery on Jerusalem you too were like on of them.
There’s a reason why the West should stand with Israel. There will be a day of reckoning. Even though it may seem the Jewish people will be wiped out. Just as Yaakov in our parsha who was injured, survived. Just as Yaakov separated a camp that will always live. So too does the prophet tell us
The Mount of Zion will be a refugee
They may throw us out of Spain, England, France, Rome, Germany, Russia…The US? But Israel will ultimately be the final place of refuge. The prophet actually lists, France (Tzorfat) Spain (Sefard) as those places. Yet he concludes with that famous vision that
V’Alu Moshi’im B’har Tzion Lishpot Es Har Esav Vhaysa La’Hashem HaMelucha- The Saviors will ascend to Mount Tzion to judge the mountain of Esau and to Hashem will be the Kingdom.
The time is now. Are you coming home?

Ovadia (850 BC)-  His name means "worshipper" or "Servant of G-d". He wasn't Jewish by birth. He was a ger or convert from Edom, a descendant of Esau. Ovadia wrote his own book, which is the shortest book in the Tanach. It's only one chapter long, consisting of just 21 sentences. Ovadia lived in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He was a very G-d fearing man. Ovadia belonged to the court of the evil King Achav and Queen Jezebel who ruled over Israel or the ten northern tribes called Samaria. King Achav and Queen Jezebel brought in Phoenician Idols in order to worship Paganism. They wanted to destroy the prophets of Israel. Ovadia risked his life to save the prophets. Ovadia took 50 prophets and placed them in one cave and then he placed 50 more prophets and placed them into another cave to protect them. Therefore, he merited the ability to experience prophecy. Ovadia preserved the hidden prophets by paying for their food and oil (for light) with his own money. When he started to do this he was very rich. However, he eventually went into debt by borrowing money from the Royal family. Ovadia died young. He left a widow with debts to pay and two children. Elisha the prophet helped her when he made a miracle happen. He asked her to pour the single drop of oil she had left into many empty barrels. Miraculously they got filled up and she was able to pay her debts off and lived off of the remaining oil.


Biblical World War I 1730 BC – So the first World War is the four kings against the five Kings by the battle of Sodom and its cities. As in most World Wars it ultimately comes down to the Jews, and this war is no different. The Torah tells us that after capturing Sodom, Amrafel or Nimord as Rashi tells us captures Lot Avrahams nephew and Avraham is pulled into the war. He wins, with his army of 318 men or with just Eliezer whose name in Gematria adds up to 318. Where did this battle take place and where can we talk about it in Israel. Well the first part of the battle we can certainly talk about in Sodom. The city of Sodom however is under water in the lower part of the Dead Sea. On the way down to the Dead Sea we even pass places that are named after the biblical cities that are mentioned in the Parsha. Chatzazon Tamar- which Rashi tells us is Ein Gedi, Paran. The pits that were mentioned as well where the king of Sodom fell in, can also be envisioned by looking at all of the sinkholes that are there in the area today by the Dead Sea and the numerous accidents of people that just fall into them. We can look up from the Dead Sea and see the huge mountains of Sodom and picture the enemy fleeing there and how great of a place of refuge it is. Finally we can discuss this great biblical story when Avraham chases the enemy to their city of Dan- a city that is obviously not thus called during Avraham’s time as it is named after his great grandson. However the Torah uses that name to teach you that when you go all the way up to the Golan area, a place incidentally that was called Bashan in the times of Avraham; A country who’s king was a giant named Og, who told Avraham that they were hiding there, there you will find a Canaanite city where this story took place. And in fact we do. Right underneath the Israelite city of Dan archeologists have uncovered one of the oldest archways and Canaanite city gates in the world. It is here that Avraham chased them all the way up from Chevron and here is where his victory took place. An interesting aside is that right across this “Gate of Avraham” in Tel Dan is a Mamaluk Fortress called Nimord’s fortress. It has nothing to do with Nimrod, but its nice to know that these two nemeses are still juxtaposed from one another for eternity.
Sidney Cohen was thinking about how good his wife had been to him, and how fortunate he was to have her.
He asked God, "Why did you make her so kind hearted?"
The Lord responded, "So you could love her, my son." "Why did you make her so good looking?"
"So you could love her, my son."
"Why did you make her such a good cook?"
"So you could love her, my son."
Sidney thought about this. Then he said, "I don't mean to seem ungrateful or anything, but why did you make her so stupid?"
"So she could love you, my son."

Max, a Vaadnik (union head) is addressing a union meeting at a certain unnamed Israeli government- owned company.
"Comrades - Haverim. We have agreed on a new deal with the management. We will no longer work five days a week."
"Hooray!", goes the crowd.
"We will finish work at 3 PM, not 4 PM."
"Hooray!", goes the crowd, again.
"We will start work at 9 AM, not 7 AM."
"We have a 150% pay rise."
"We will only work on Wednesdays."
Silence...then a voice from the back asks, "Every Wednesday?"

An archaeologist was digging in the Negev Desert in Israel and came upon a casket containing a mummy, a rather rare occurrence in Israel, to say the least. After examining it, he called Abe, the curator of the Israel museum in Jerusalem.
"I've just discovered a 3,000 year old mummy of a man who died of heart failure!" the excited scientist exclaimed.
Abe replied, "Bring him in. We'll check it out."
A week later, the amazed Abe called the archaeologist. "You were right about both 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'."

A Swiss tourist in Tel Aviv is looking for directions and pulls up at a bus stop where two Israelis are waiting. Entschuldigung Sie Bitte, koennen Sie Deutsch sprechen?” he says.
The two Israelis just stare at him.
“Excusey-moi, parlez vous Francais?”
The two continue to stare.
“Parlare Italiano?”
No response.
“Hablan ustedes Espanol?”
Still nothing.
The Swiss tourist drives off, extremely disgusted and frustrated. The first Israeli turns to his friend and says, “You know, maybe we should learn a foreign language”
“Why?” says his friend, “that guy knew four languages and that didn’t do him any good!”

Berel is telling a new joke to Yankel.
"Yitzhak and Hymie were talking one day..."
Right away, Yankel interrupts him. "Always with the Jewish jokes! Give it a rest! Why do your jokes always have to be about Jews? Just change the names to another ethnic group for once will you Berel!"
Berel starts again, "Hashimoto and Suzuki were talking one day at their nephew's Bar Mitzvah...."


Answer is D – One can argue with this question as when Tel Aviv was first established in 1909 it was first called AChuzat Bayit and only got its name Tel Aviv in 1910. It was named after the book of Theodore Herzl Alte Neuland- Alte being old as in a Tel which is an old ruin and Aviv spring being new. The mandate to build Tel Aviv was in the worders of Akiva Weiss it’s founder “ to create a Hebrew urban centre in a healthy environment, planned according to the rules of aesthetics and modern hygiene” Ummmm What do you think? Did it accomplish that? The 66 families that started it went out to the beach and divided up the land by lottery of seashells and thus the second largest city in Israel today was born.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Giving Thanks vs Thanksgiving- Vayetzei 2017 / 5778

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
November 24th 2017 -Volume 8 Issue 6 6th Kislev 5778
Parshat Vayeitzei
Giving Thanks vs Thanksgiving
Can somebody out there perhaps explain to me what a secular holiday is? O.K, I understand July 4th as a patriotic commemoration day and an American holiday. It’s a day when one expresses his joy about being an American. Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Mother, Father, Secretary I guess those are all days when we are supposed to show gratitude and appreciation to our troops, parents, secretaries, grandmother, mailman, and anyone else that Hallmark comes up with a “holiday” for. (I’m still waiting for Rabbis Day to finally make it big J). But then we come to Thanksgiving- a day I am told is, and should be celebrated as a secular holiday. Who are we meant to be saying thanks to? Anyone Hallmark hasn’t declared a holiday yet for?
Now far be it for me to argue with more days off from work, and days when people have that once a year (so so sad…), that they get together with their families and actually express appreciation to one another for things in their lives. But for those of us who are blessed by Hashem with the day of Shabbos each week, the time when for observant Jews all of this pretty much takes place, frankly a Thursday night fancy family dinner seems like bad scheduling. Uncalled for and probably even unnecessary. But hey, I like turkey just as much as the next guy so I’m not complaining. But for those of you that will be eating their leftover Turkey on Friday night for Shabbat meal and are still feeling up to re-digesting some Thanksgiving thoughts than perhaps this Torah E-mail might give you a new perspective on gratitude, a revolutionary one; one that the Midrash tells us it took over 2000 years to come up with.
In this weeks Torah portion we are told of the birth of the 12 tribes by the four wives of Jacob- Yaakov. See, Yaakov was really planning on only marrying one, his beloved Rachel. But as fate, his tricky father-in-law, and his unbelievably dedicated (to her sister) and heroic fiancée would have it, he married her sister Leah instead. The Torah tells us that Leah felt hated. After all she wasn’t her chosen and preferred younger sister. But then she started having children, Reuben, Shimon, Levi, each one were named with the anguish and hope that perhaps this one would bring her husband’s affection that she felt she was lacking. But then she had child number 4. And something changed for Leah. She called him Yehudah (praised one) saying “This time I will thank Hashem.”
The Medrash I mentioned before makes a fascinating statement. It says that from the time of the Creation of the world there was none who praised God, until Leah came and named her son Yehudah. The obvious question is what does this mean? Abraham praised God, so did Noah, and Adam. We even find that prayers were instituted by these great men; great songs and beautiful Psalms. What was it that Leah innovated, that the Medrash is referring to? Rav Yisrael Yackov Fisher, one of the great leaders of the Jewish court in Jerusalem who passed a few years ago, suggests a novel, deep insight into Leah’s praise and thanksgiving. In truth, he notes, nothing had really changed for Leah. Yes it was another son, but Rachel still remained wife number 1. Yet, with this child she realized that she had to undergo an incredible paradigm shift. She saw, with the birth of Yehudah, that she would have more of the twelve tribes than any of the other wives would have. Twelve tribes- four wives-should equal 3 tribes a piece. But she had a 4th. She understood that as painful and challenging as her marriage and her life was. Hashem was looking out for her. She gave thanks and praise even for all the challenge and emotional hardship she was undergoing. She saw in the spurning that she perceived from her husband, that it was in fact a Divine hand that was causing her this pain, so that she alone of all the Matriarchs would not have to suffer infertility and would merit bringing the Jewish people into existence.
It was that praise that the Medrash is referring to that had never yet been sung before God. Until then Hashem was always praised and thanked when things were going good; when miracles, good bounty and joy were felt. But finding praise and offering gratitude when the pain and anguish are still there. Discovering and acknowledging the Almighty who only seeks our good and loves us more than we can ever imagine when his hand is hidden from us, that was the invention of Leah. She memorialized it in the naming of that son Yehudah, who not so incidentally became the great great… grandfather – of the king of all praise, but particularly of praise in times of crisis and challenge; the one and only King David the author of Psalms.
Judaism doesn’t believe in secular holidays. Holidays are meant to be moments when we pause from the routine of our daily lives and elevate them, by bringing ourselves one step closer to the Divine. It’s easy and nice to sit around a table and express thanks to one another, particularly, those that you certainly owe that to for, unfortunately, too long of a time. But what about those that you don’t necessarily feel have done too many good things for you? What about the people who have perhaps pained you, troubled you, and even been downright nasty? Can you express gratitude for them too? Can you see the Hand of God in their actions and can you still feel thankful and blessed? Not if it’s a secular holiday. Not if life is just about turkey, Black Friday shopping sprees and nice family get-togethers you can’t.
When Thanksgiving was first established it was a religious holiday. The Pilgrims, although not necessarily coming from a Jewish perspective understood that to be truly thankful and grateful for our existence there had to be an acknowledgement of the Creator of the world, who controls and guides our every circumstance. Our tradition tells us this shouldn’t just be a once a year, but every moment of our life we should live with that thanks and knowledge. So as you enjoy your Shabbos meal this week, why don’t you turn it into a thanksgiving meal? Make Kiddush, appreciate the One who Created us and brings us every circumstance for our good. Remember the weekends not over yet you can still make it a holy Thanksgiving.

Have a thankful Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


“Ven me zol Got danken far guts, volt nit zein kain tseit tsu baklogen zikh oif shlechts.”- If we thanked God for the good things, there wouldn’t be time to weep over the bad.

answer below at end of Email
Q. The buildings at the Suzanne Dellal Center were once used as:
A. Schools
B. Electric power facilities
C. Houses belonging to Aharon Shalush
D. The Saraya


https://soundcloud.com/ephraim-schwartz/yesimcha - My latest composition in honor of the 12 tribes of Israel born this weeks and the Matriarchs. Yesimcha Elokim the Friday night blessing… Beautiful!

https://youtu.be/DR8W_O_TRAk   - “Politically Correct” Thanksgiving Jimmy Kimmel funny

https://youtu.be/-Tnv2AgCcS4    -Chabad Rabbis Make Jokes

https://youtu.be/bguqj7VaZxk - Lubavitcher Rebbe on Thanksgiving- fascinating!

https://youtu.be/5JcJAWK6tCQ - Ari Lesser Give Thanks! Cool!

The Haftora this week as many Haftoras do with a reference at its beginning. However not all of them begin as explicitly as this one does.
Hoshea (12:13) And Yaakov fled from the field of Aram and Yisrael worked for his wife and for a wife he guarded (the sheep)
If one had to put the entire parsha into one sentence that would probably be it. But of course the Haftora consists of more than one sentence. Our sages chose the entire haftorah because within it are the messages that we need to be learning from the story of the parsha. Yaakov, more than all of the other forefathers, underwent challenges and particularly the struggle of a Jew in Exile. Hoshaya is prophesizing in a dark period during the divided kingdom of Israel. The Northern kingdom that had broken off right after the death of King Solomon, with the king Yeravam of the tribe of Ephraim. Broke off out of righteous indignation
When Ephraim spoke there was trembling, he was exalted in Israel.
Yet ultimately the righteous indignation led to arrogance and the worship of the Baal and idolatry. It’s what happens when you think that the ends justify the means. Hashem may not have been happy with Rechavam, Shlomo’s heir and certainly not with the idolatrous queens that Shlomo had brought into the kingdom. Yet that was still better than dividing the people Israel, dividing the tribes and creating an alternate temple. Because ultimately that way leads to idolatry. The idolatry of Baal- that there is another owner and manager of the world besides our Almighty. In our parsha we have Rachel who knows she is supposed to be Yaakov’s wife, but realizes that would come at the expense of her sister Leah’s embarrassment, is willing to give it up. She could have been indignant. She could have said that Leah was not the right person for the job. She could have said that Yaakov would be so upset that he would never marry her after that betrayal. But she didn’t make her own justification. The tribes of Israel were formed from this principled decision. We are best when we are united in cause and don’t try to question the ways of Hashem. If we are focused on “kissing calves” as offerings to Hashem at the expense of “slaughtering men” in the words of the prophet than ultimately we will be destroyed. However if we return to Hashem even if we don’t have the calves, but our prayers our words “will substitute for the calves.”. We just need to know as the prophet and haftorah concludes 
Ibid : (14:10) The ways of Hashem are straight; the righteous will walk in them and the sinners will stumble over them”
One can imagine Yaakov throughout his 20 years dealing with his crooked uncle and father-in-law repeating these words to himself. Let Lavan try what he will, let him change the deal a hundred times, but Yaakov will always be straight. Hashem will do what he needs to do and it is in Him I put my faith.

Hoshaya Ben Be’eri (600-530 BC)- Certainly one of the most fascinating of prophets, the talmud in pesachim tells us that Hoshea prophecized at the same time as Isaiah, Micha and Amos but he was the greatest of all of them. He was a prophet after the division of the 10 Northern tribes from Yehuda and Binyamin in Jerusalem and he lived in the North of Israel. Much of his prophecies revolve around the sin of idolatry that the Jews in the North, whome he refers to as Ephraim, can’t seem to kick and he foretells of the doom that will befall them. He is buried in the old cemetery of Tzfat according to the tradition of the Ari”Zl making it the oldest grave there.


Tower of Babel 1765 BC – No the tower is not in Israel. Bavel is the Iraq and Iran area. Yet the concept of the tower, mankind trying to build something to go up to heaven, the battle of science and technology and its utilization as a weapon against God rather than proof of his existence and his infinite wisdom of His created universe is certainly a topic that can be appreciated in the numerous science and space museums in Israel. Israel has the most museums per capita in the world. Not bad huh! Perhaps the best place to appreciate that longing to reach the skies is the Ilan Ramon museum in Mitzpeh Ramon, where one can see live footage of Israel’s first Jewish astronaut and his tragic death on the Columbia space shuttle in 2003. Perhaps the most visited science and Israel’s largest is the Madatech in Haifa which is in the former home of the Technion, Israel’s science university. With close to a half a million visitors a year the over 600 interactive displays really cover the wide range of Sciences and technological innovations this country has. Tel Aviv has the Weizman museum, Jerusalem has the Bloomfield. All of the museums are geared for families, schools, students and are hands on. Too me however what is most meaningful though is how many Kippas, an religious scientists there are in Israel that correct that sin of the tower of Bavel. They use technology as a tool to reveal the godliness and wisdom of Hashem and in what he has granted us. And that’s what the State of Israel is supposed to be about.

Down South during World War II, a sergeant gets a telephone call from a woman. "I would love it," she said, "if you could bring five of your soldiers to my house for Thanksgiving dinner."
"Certainly, ma'am," replied the sergeant. "Just make sure they aren't Jews," said the woman.
"Will do," replied the sergeant.
So that Thanksgiving while the woman is baking, the doorbell rings. She opens her door and, to her horror, five black soldiers are standing in front of her. "Oh, my!" she exclaimed. "There must have been some terrible mistake!"
"No Ma’am," said one of the soldiers. "Sergeant Greenberg never makes a mistake!"

Laws of Thanksgiving for the very Yeshivish only
Let’s be very careful this Thanksgiving not to get too caught up in the festivities and forget the finer details of the day.

 No turkey allowed to be eaten 30 days before the holiday (some hold starting from November 1)
 The night before Thanksgiving, search for the bread stuffing
 The morning of Thanksgiving, burn the autumn leaves
 In Israel, celebrate one day of Thanksgiving; in chutz l’aretz, it’s a two-day Yom Tov
 On Thanksgiving, start counting the days until you reach XMAS (“Today is the first day, which leaves 29 more shopping days until XMAS)
One must eat at least a k’zayis of cranberry sauce (minimal halachic size) with his turkey past plag on thanksgiving, but should ideally wait for nightfall.
A turkey may be roasted, grilled fried, or cooked in any manner וכל המרבה הרי זה משובח- He who increases is praiseworthy
One who eats packaged cold cut turkey has fulfilled his obligation בדיעבד,- post-facto although not ideal and there or those who say the you can be יוצא- (fulfill your obligation ) with the Tirat Tzvi salami as its contents is majority turkey.
Women are exempt from watching football as it’s considered a מצוות עשה שהזמן גרמה (a positive time dependent mitzvah), but they are obligated in watching the Macy’s Day parade as they too are involved in the parade.
One who forgot to watch football or who was otherwise incapacitated with the necessities of the day may do tashlumin (make up) with NFL replay but must watch the games in the order of their broadcast. One who does tashlumin with NFL shortcuts is called a sinner but has never the less fulfilled his obligation.
One who does not tell over the story of the Pilgrims arrival in Plymouth Rock during the Thanksgiving meal has has not fulfilled his obligation of the day.
 Every participant of the meal should see themselves as if they had left England. We are noheg to act out the interaction between the pilgrims and the Indians. Pilgrim hats are not absolutely necessary והמחמיר תבוא עליו ברכה- he who is stringent will receive a blessing
Everyone must be thankful for at least two things but no more than four as being thankful for too many things is considered יוהרה- haughtiness. One must express what he is thankful for it’s not sufficient just to think of them. דברים שבלב אינם דברים.-thinks in the heart only are not considered binding
Pies and cobblers should be the last food consumed on thanksgiving and should be eaten before midnight.

The Four Questions for Thanksgiving
4) First of the four questions asked at the Thanksgiving table: “On all other weekday afternoons, there are no footbal games on TV.  Why are there football games on TV on this day?”
3) Second of the four questions: “On all other days, the department stores open at noon.  Why are the department stores open before noon on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving?”
2) Third of the four questions: “Why do the right wing yeshivas have classes on Thanksgiving morning, while Modern Orthodox day schools are closed?”
1) Fourth of the four questions: “On all other nights there is some traffic to Long Island. Why is there so much traffic to Long Island on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving?”

Top Ten Ways you know you are  at a Jewish Thanksgiving Dinner
10. Your grandmother asks for the gravy by requesting “the turkey schmaltz”
9. “The turkey is served!” line is followed by someone cracking open an expired Empire deli pack
8. Leftover vegetable kugel is suddenly titled “stuffing”
7. Your neighbor comes over to borrow your hat and jacket for his Pilgrim outfit
6. Someone accidentally starts singing shalom aleichem
5. Dinner is delayed while family clears off the table of Macy’s coupons
4. Meal cancelled due to prohibition on using Indian customs and the fact that your mom is busy cooking for shabbos
3. Homemade pies are from Gourmet Glatt
2. Someone shares a really bad gematria dvar torah connecting Pocahontas and Hashem
1. It’s Friday night.


Answer is A – I would’ve skipped this question, if I was taking this exam. You’re allowed to skip 5 out of 50 of the questions and this would have been one of them. To be honest I don’t even know what the Suzanne Delal buildings are. Perhaps if I did more tours of the architechture and buildings of Old Tel Aviv, Yaffo and Neve Zedek, I would be more familiar with it. But fortunately for me that’s not really what my tourists are looking for… Anyways once I wiki’d it did come back to me. The Delal center is the major dance school in Neve Tzedek. Nice building. Actually it was designed by Shalush, so there was the sneak in their question. But it was formerly the Alliance school- Kol Yisrael Chaveirim and the chibat tzion girls school. The electric station is a park and mall now in Tel Aviv and the Saraya house in Yaffo is actually a theater for Israeli and arab groups- so that’s the other trick in the question. AS I said, not anything most of my tourists are interested in. So I deleted from my limited space in my brain.