Our view of the Galile

Friday, March 30, 2012

Ani V'Atah- You and I- Tzav/Hagadol 2012

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"

March 30th 2012 -Volume 2, Issue 21 –6th of Nissan 5772

Parshas Tzav/ Shabbos Ha’Gadol

Ani V’Atah

So there we were. Sitting around a campfire on the beach of Eilat at the end of our four day tour for my course through the incredible hills of Eilat and overlooks of Egypt and Jordan a week before Pesach; the perfect end to a perfect week (that didn’t include any Pessach cleaning- my wife is a tzadeikes-it’s rough training to be a tour guide). We were an odd looking group. The widest mix of Israel. Old, young, Native Israelis and olim from Russia, America and Europe, Ashkenazim, Sefardim, Yemenites, Jews that were raised religious that are Chareidi or religious Zionists and Jews that had become religious later on in life, even converts and of course secular Israelis. Yes, an odd mix of Hashem’s chosen people; his children. Yet gathered around the campfire that evening we were all family. We were one and we were home.

Boaz, our guitar player, began to play. There is nothing like a good Kumzitz to bring a group together. We sang songs to Hashem of the wonder of being in Israel, songs from the psalms of King David, songs of the Rebbes from Shlomo Carlbach and back. Dillon and Simon and Garfunkel even made an appearance (with an Israeli accent of course-Da enser mai frrrend eez bloweeng in da weend). And then Boaz began strumming an Israeli song from Arik Einshtein I had never heard before. Yet it was easy to learn and before you knew it the clear skies of the Eilat hills were filled with the singing of our group.

The  simple words of the song are (which you can hear by clicking on this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-xL_etajKs ) Ani V’Atah-
You and I will change the world, You and I, and then all will come. They said this before me, It doesn’t matter- I and you will change the world.
You and I will start from the beginning. If it will be rough-it doesn’t matter, it’s not a big a deal.T hey said this before me, It doesn’t matter- You and I will change the world.
You and I will change the world, You and I, and then all will come. They said this before me, It doesn’t matter- You and I will change the world.

I’m sure everybody there had a different understanding of who the “you” in the song might be. For some it might be their spouse, for others it’s a song they sing to their children. For me it was a song about Hashem. What is the change the world needs? Surfing this song  on the net (for your listening pleasure, of course-oy the things I wouldn’t do for you J) I found that some saw in it a song of peace, other Israelis changed the words to Ani VHa “tank” My and tank and I will change the world. I saw others that saw as a song about the environment and others for the legalization of marijuana. To each their own. Yet what is fascinating to me is that upon hearing this song two thoughts occur to a person. One he recognizes that the world needs to be changed or fixed. And second that we have the capacity, drive and  even inspiration to do it. Now when the song is over and you go back to your “real life” those thoughts might go away. Yet for just those few moments around the fire in the beauty of Hashem’s world everything seemed possible.

This Shabbos is known as Shabbos Ha’Gadol; The great Shabbos. It is called that because of the words of the great Haftora we read
 Hinei Anochi Shoeleiach Lochem es Eliyahu Hanavi.Lifnei Ba Yom Hashem Hazeh Ha’Gadol V’Ha’Nora. Behold I am sending to you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of Hashem.
These are the final words of the books of the prophets. They are words of a world that needs to be changed. But how will this change? The prophet describes a world that feels is doesn’t need to be changed.
Return to me and I will return to you” says Hashem. But you say “for what shall I return”… You have spoken harsh against me… but you say “ Have we spoken against you?”… You have said  “It is useless to serve Hashem, what gain is there for having kept his watch”.

The world is the way the world is. Hashem is reaching out to make this a greater world and mankind seems to feel it can be fine by itself. And then the prophet says.

“Then a man will say to his friend those who have the awe of God and Hashem listened and heard and a book of remembrance was written before him for those who fear Hashem and give thought to his Name. they will be a precious treasure to me says Hashem on the day which I bring about …. And I will return the hearts of the fathers with their children and the hearts of their sons with their fathers….”
  How will this happen? When a man says to his friend. Which man? Which friend? Ani V’Atah- You and I.
Over three thousand years ago this Shabbat our nation was a nation without hope. Slavery was the world that we knew. It was a God-less world (big G) with many gods (small g). A world that believed in any person or being that would bring them or do for them but one that would never have a relationship with its true Maker. Our ancestors changed the world this on Shabbos Ha’Gadol we took the phascal lamb of the Egyptians- their ultimate god of this month of Aries and slaughtered leaving it all behind for an unclear future with our True creator. Who did this Ani V’Atah, each individual… each family… one nation.

There were many that said it couldn’t be done…a slave had never gotten out of Egypt the world empire. V’Lo Mishaneh- it doesn’t matter… You and I will change the world.  Will it be rough? Wandering through the desert? Standing up to a world for principles we know are true, for a faith that is un-popular and to follow the commandments that may at first seem challenging and immense? It doesn’t matter. It’s not a big deal. Ani V’Atah will change the world.

Pessach is always in the season of spring.  A few weeks ago the skies were gray, the earth was barren and the days were short. But Pesach is here the world is born again anew; Green, sunlight, plants and trees. The world is changing as it does each year in this season and that is meant to inspire us. It is Hashem saying” I am returning to you will you return to me?” Will you and I change the world and bring that Great Day? As we sit down to our Seder this year and remember the incredible miracles and love of the beautiful world of potential that we actualized, let us turn to our spouses our children, our families our community and the world and answer as one man to his friend “We are ready- Ani V’Atah”.

Have a great “Great” Shabbos
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

Timnah Park- Having been to the beautiful park for the first time this past week I can tell you it is truly a breathtaking experience. The Park located just north of Eilat is a geologists (which I am not) playland. The incredible rock formations from Solomons pillars (although most agree that king Shlomo had nothing to do with them) to the beautiful “mushroom” rocks formed by the water erosion and salt corrosion (I think I got that right) is awesome. As Timna is one of the most ancient sites of the world civilization where most archeologists agree the development of the use of copper as well as iron began  (whose underground mines you can crawl through) as well as as many ancient Egyptian and Midianite hieroglyphics and temples are in the area. Besides the multitude of hikes that are available in the area there is also a great campground with paddleboats, activities for children and a real to scale replica of the Tabernacle/ Mishkan with all its vessels. Being in the desert in the Mishkan right next to the Yam Suf/ Red Sea a week before Pesach…It doesn’t get better than that…

“Why is Pesach 7 days (or eight in the Diaspora)? There’s no way I’m doing all this cleaning for just a one day holiday…”
One of my harried congregants..

Rabbi Schwartzes favorite YouTube Pesach song of the week

Friday, March 23, 2012

Where? - Vayikra/Ha'Chodesh 2012

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
March 23rd  2012 -Volume 2, Issue 20 –29th of Adar 5772

Parshas Va’Yikra/ Ha’Chodesh


How could I say to Him: Blessed be Thou, Almighty, Master of the Universe, who chose us among all nations to be tortured day and night, to watch as our fathers, our mothers, our brothers end up in furnaces? Praised be Thy Holy Name, for having chosen us to be slaughtered on Thine altar?”- Elie Wiesel Night

 Why do you pray?" he asked me, after a moment.
Why did I pray? A strange question. Why did I live? Why did I breathe?
"I don't know why," I said, even more disturbed and ill at ease. "I don't know why."
After that day I saw him often. He explained to me with great insistence that every question possessed a power that did not lie in the answer. "Man raises himself toward God by the questions he asks Him," he was fond of repeating. "That is the true dialogue. Man questions God and God answers. But we don't understand His answers. We can't understand them. Because they come from the depths of the soul, and they stay there until death. You will find the true answers, Eliezer, only within yourself!"
"And why do you pray, Moshe?"
I asked him. "I pray to the God within me that He will give me the strength to ask Him the right questions.” Elie Wiesel, Night

And I, the for­mer mys­tic, was think­ing: Yes, man is stronger, greater than God. When Adam and Eve de­ceived You, You chased them from par­adise. When You were dis­pleased by Noah’s generation, You brought down the Flood. When Sodom lost Your fa­vour, You caused the heav­ens to rain down fire and damna­tion. But look at these men whom You have be­trayed, al­low­ing them to be tortured, slaugh­tered, gassed, and burned, what do they do? They pray be­fore You! They praise Your name!”  Elie Wiesel, Night

I have been reading as you can see. The truth is Elie Wiesel’s book are some of the most leafed through copies of books that I have. As you know I am not a morbid person at all and am certainly not someone that is death or holocaust obsessed. I don’t even like to take tours or groups to Yad VaShem when they visit in Israel- even on fast days. Yet somehow as a Rabbi when I am confronted with people that are going through times of challenge or tragedy, there are not many books that I find to be more of an inspiration and a reality check then the heartfelt words that pour from the pages of his books.

As a grandchild of Holocaust survivors, who didn’t talk about it much, I always wondered what it could’ve been like. I watched my grandparents who were devout religious Jews, live with a strong faith in Hashem; despite each of them having suffered the loss of their families and the world and humanity that they once knew. At the same time I spoke with many individuals throughout my years that used the Holocaust as a proof that it was impossible that there was a God. As Primo Levi a contemporary of Elie’s and an author (who was raised secular before the war) wrote

“Either God is God and therefore all-powerful and hence guilty of letting the murderers do as they pleased, or His power is limited, in which case he is not God”. Yet Elie seems to be unable to fathom a world without God. He struggles with Him. He questions and he screams and yet he somehow knows and understands that Hashem is there. Hashem hears. He sees. He listens and cares. Why the holocaust happened? He has no answers. But unlike Primo the one thing the Nazis could never take from him was his faith that there is a God in heaven.

This week we begin the third and center book of the Torah. We have the birth and creation of the world through the formation of the Jewish Nation in the first two Books. And we have the progression of the Jewish people towards the Land of Israel and the reiteration of the many commandments that we are obligated to observe in the last two Books. The book of Leviticus/Vayikra contains all of the commandments that relate to the service and sacrifices in the Tabernacle and the eventual Temples. For many this is unfortunately the “boring” part of the Torah. For others particularly animal rights activists (or people that hate to see a good steak go to waste without anyone enjoying it) they find the concept of animal sacrifice offensive, outdated or even pagan. Yet observant Jews each day pray for a return to that day when we will once again bring sacrifices to Hashem. Each Jewish holiday we pray for a return to Temple where we might offer the holiday sacrifices. And at times of joy and times of sorrow and tragedy we remember and recall the glory days of when the Temple where we offered those sacrifices once stood.

Why is the return to the service of the Temple so fundamental in Jewish thought and prayer. What makes this the centerpiece of the entire Torah to the extent that our sages in times of old would begin learning with young children the Book of Vayikra as their introduction to Judaism? The answer, I believe is that our sacrifices are statements and a recognition of my personal connection to Hashem. My internal struggle with right and wrong, with times of tragedy and times of thanksgiving would all be brought to the “palace” of Hashem. A simple trite prayer to ask for help or forgiveness would not suffice. We were in a real relationship with Hashem and we would stand before the Kohen/Priest and watch as an animal was slaughtered, its blood sprinkled and portions of it would be eaten, shared or burned depending on the offering. Our actions and the things that happened to us were never “just the way things are”. The slaughter and the sacrifice attested in an unbelievable way to the significance of our relationship with Hashem. The awe of living in such a world was immense. Hashem could never just be ignored or even worse relegated to the “spiritual” moments of our lives. Jews lived with a sense that their lives were significant to the degree that if they messed up, forgot Hashem and sinned they would have to bring that sacrifice and go through the process of re-connecting. If they failed to do a mitzvah, if they were saved from a dangerous situation, if they had a joyous occasion, the birth of a child, first crops, you name the event there is a connection to Hashem that would always be more than just words or blessings but something concrete that would leave an impact and memory as one came to the Temple to connect to Hashem. That is truly the centerpiece of the Torah.

This past week many of us were shaken out of our world by the horrific murder in Toulous France. Others have shared with me the tragedy of the passing of their Rosh Yeshiva Rav Sheinberg this past week. Other individuals I know have been going through their own challenges with sickness, livelihood and other challenges.  It is so sad. So heart wrenching. So difficult “Where is God?” The answer is He is waiting for our korbanos, our sacrifices. He is waiting for us to want Him in a real way. He wants so much for us to wish for the day when we will have Him in our life in all that we do. Where we appreciate that our lives and everything that we have and undergo and are meant to accomplish is all to get close to Him. Sadder than all the tragedies is when we live in a world bereft of that perfect existence that is not more than a few heartfelt prayers away.

We are leaving the month of Adar this Shabbat. It was the joyous month when we celebrated seeing Hashem’s miraculous hand that saved us from the Holocaust of Haman that was meant to be. We see Hashem from the hiddeness. This month we enter the Nissan the first Jewish month. It is the month of the revealed salvation of Hashem. It is the time when we brought our first national sacrifice and renounced the godless life of Egypt and threw our lot with the Almighty becoming the Nation chosen to bring that revelation and the beauty and glory of a God-filled life to the world. Our sages tell us that just as we were first redeemed in Nissan so to the ultimate redemption come in Nissan. May we merit that this coming month Hashem brings us that final redemption.

Have a perfect Shabbos and a blessed new month of Nissan (not the car),

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


CROCO LOCO- Yes, we have it all in Israel, even crocodile farms.  Now what do crocodiles have to do with Israel you ask? Well in ancient times we have testimonies of crocodiles living in Israel. Particularly as we come to the holiday of Passover and we read the story of Pharoh and Moshe throwing the staff to the floor where it turns into a tannin- which is a crocodile (not a snake as many mistranslate it) Croco loco might be a great place to visit this Chol Hamoed to bring the story home to your children. Established in 2006 this crocodile farm raises crocodiles in order to repopulate the species and control the poaching that threatened them for their very expensive skin (up to 30 thousand dollars for some nice ones). The tour of this really cool farm will share with you many of the cool facts about crocodiles, their different layers of teeth that constantly re-grow, their miraculous skin that absorbs the heat and helps them cool off, their eating habits (once every few days-as they digest it all leaving just clear white excretions with almost no waste..) and your children or you can even be pet the baby crocs. Located in the beautiful south of Israel in the Arava and not too far from the Dead Sea Croco-Loco is agreat place for fascinating exploration of one of Hashems most incredible species.


The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history. I mean in this century's history. But we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century.
Dan Quayle

(can you believe this man was our vice-president?)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

To life1 Vayakhel Pikudai 2012

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
 March 16th 2012 -Volume 2, Issue 19 –7th of Adar 5772

Parshas Va’Yakhel/Pikudei/Parah

 To Life!

I didn’t think I would make it this long. 18 years is a long time. I thought she would have figured me out and gotten rid of me by now. But praise the good merciful God, who seems to always be watching over me for blessing me with my dear wife who through good times and bad, sickness and health, New York, Iowa, Virginia, Seattle, Israel, through thick and thin (actually thick and thicker-never really did the thin thing) has been by my side as we celebrate our chai 18th anniversary together.

18 years is a long time ago. My parents had an 18 year anniversary. They were old when they had theirs. I guess people are having them earlier these days. Life is funny like that when you look back at it. On one hand we have a sense that time flies and where did it all go? On the other hand One can look back at life and see how much one has experienced and accomplished and say Wow, we did all that in just 18 years!

Yes, 18 is a magical number. Its numerical value is Chai which is life in Hebrew. The letters Yud represents 10 which of course is the symbol of God Hashem, or the ten statements that the world was created with. And the letter chet or the number 8 represents above the natural world (7 being the days of the creation, or 8 one above that thus 8 days of circumcision, Chanukah and the 8th day of Sukkot). Life- Chai is a combination of the godliness manifested in this created world and the extraordinary help that comes from above that we can bring into it through our actions.

In the Torah portion of Pikudei that concludes the Book of Shemos- the Story of the creation of our nation, the commentaries note that that the number 18 is mysteriously and of course divinely present as well. For as we read the narrative (which we have already heard quite a few times already) of the Jewish people concluding the construction of the Tabernacle and its vessels, the torah repeatedly says and they made it “As Hashem commanded Moshe”. How many times does it say this? That’s right. 18 times. The Baal Haturim suggests that this is why when we pray our daily davening the Amida has 18 blessings in it (the nineteenth later added one corresponds to the time when it says God did as he told Moshe). Our prayer is in place of the 18 services that were done in the Mishkan others suggest. The Talmud tells us that 18 represent the vertebrae on the human spine. The spine of course being the transmitter of all our movement and the connector between the brain (the world of thought and the divine) and the body the world of action; the world of mitzvot.  The one connecting factor between all of the above is that to pray to Hashem, to build a sanctuary for him and to really even exist in this world and do deeds that have an eternal impact are all defined by Chai- a combination of the divinely created world and the unique other-worldly miracles and connections that allow us to transcend our existence.

As I look back at the past 18 years. There is so much I have to be appreciative of. Hashem has blessed me with an extraordinary life. He has granted me an extraordinary wife. When we got married we began to build our Mishkan/ our sanctuary for Hashem. I can’t say that we have always created that perfect place where Hashem has always felt comfortable. 18 years is a long time. But our Mishkan for Hashem has been one of a working relationship in finding Hashem in one another, in our children, our community and our people. Our Mishkan has certainly been one where Hashem has given us much blessing and much extraordinary help and where we have seen many miracles. It has truly been Chai- a life.

May Hashem continue to bless us with many more years of life here in Eretz Yisrael and may we soon merit to see his true Mikdash restored speedily in our days.


Have a Good Shabbos and spectacularly joyous Purim,



MIGDAL DAVID- The Tower of David- right as one comes through the Jaffa gate we are struck by this incredible tower which is called the Tower of David. A site that truly captures much of Jewish history the one person however that was probably never in the tower was David though although the Crusaders who came to Jerusalem and saw the Tower assumed that it was. The truth is at this site one can find some first and second temple ruins as well as the remaining foundations of the walls of the Hashmoneans as well as Herods Palaces that he built for his beloved wife Miriam (who committed suicide and had embalmed in honey) his brother Phaseael and his general Hiipacus. The main structure fortress and Moat that we see today are from the Crusader and mostly mamluk periods as they used this position to guard over Jerusalem and where many wars tookplace. Today one can enjoy a tour through the museum that leads you from display to display of the history of the Jewish people (and others) and Jerusalem and Israel from the Canaanite period until today. At night there is a beautiful sound and light show as well.


One of life's greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn't good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Com-Purim-Mise; Rabbi Schwartzes Top Ten Tour guide List Purim 5772

Outsights and Perspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend, and future tour-guide and Rabbi in Karmiel"

March 7th  2012 -Volume 2, Issue 18 –13th of Adar 5772

Rabbi Schwartzes annual Top Ten List…

In life there are occasionally compromises that have to be made. Nothing is ever black and white-even if your name is shvartz (black). In married life this is even more so. For example my wife-god bless her- wanted to live a nice quiet stable life and I’m compromised and only moved our family from New York to Iowa, Virginia, Seattle, and then to Israel. Notice how we never moved to any countries or states where kosher food was inaccessible (although there were quite a lot of pigs in Iowa and I still have a hard time figuring out what is kosher in this country since seemingly every other person puts another kosher symbol on a product because one as we know is never kosher enough.), we never moved to a place where our family we in mortal danger (although some may argue that New York is close), and we always lived in places where we made good friends and were part of special communities. See, that’s what I mean by compromise. Figuring out what you really want to do, than raising the stakes of what you present that you want to do and than negotiating back to what you really wanted and where the other party/partner feels O.K. I have been given in to. In Israel that is also known as grocery shopping.

Even at an early stage pre-rebbetzin I understood about compromises. My parents who wanted me to become a doctor (there are many healthy people out there today that are quite grateful that I did not go that way) sent me to a yeshiva who of course presented an alternative career choice for me. “become a Ben- Torah- a Torah student” was what I was told would be the ultimate right choice for me. I did remain in Yeshiva for many years and when I did go to college of course it was Touro College-which sounds like Torah. There I received a degree in finance-which assisted me throughout my life in understanding the principles of why I have no money. Something about getting a real job. Eventually though as this conflict grew greater and greater and as my family moved to Israel-the one country in the world where Rabbis don’t really get a salary-maybe because every other guy here is a rabbi; perhaps that’s why there’s so many kosher supervisors. I realized that it was time to find a career (or three) that was of course a compromise between what my parents wanted for me, my Rabbis wanted for me and of course my wife and my children wanted for me. Which is why I became a tour guide.

See, I realized that both my parent and Rabbis wanted me to work with something that had the letters TOR in it. TORah or docTOR and my wife wanted me to constantly to go to the sTORe for her and my kids were really just looking for me to out of the house for most of the week. If you put that together with my college education at Tour-o College, it was really a no-brainer. In truth the story of Purim is really all about Tor as it says that Esther became the Queen when here Tour came in-“u’v’hagia Tour Esther bas Avigayil dod mordicahai-ai-ai-ai” which of course after the unsuccessful Tor’s of the various other Na’ara V’Nara’a  that were mentioned. Of course as well we have the story of Haman giving Mordechai a tour of the city on the kings horse. And we even have at the conclusion of the story Charvona giving Haman and his ten sons a beautiful birds-eye view of the streets of Shushan from the gallows.

So I am a tour guide. As a result I have chosen to dedicate our annual world famous Rabbi Schwartz Top Ten List this year to why when you come to visit Israel, or if you know of anyone coming to Israel, or if you can even pay someone or force them by gunpoint to come to Israel they should use me as their Tour guide. So here you go-drum roll-please….-
Rabbi Schwartzes annual Top Ten list of the year-
10) Biblically- Joshua who was from the tribe of-you guessed it- Ephraim- was the first person to lead the jews into Israel- It’s all in the name and the tribe- and we here at Ephraim tours have been doing it the longest
9)  Gastro-intestinally- do you really want a skinny tour guide that is not going to know where the best shwarmas, falafel and restaurants are?

8) Experience- Having been a rabbi for many years-I am an expert at making up true stories about historical facts and biblical and Talmudic quotes that are sure to fascinate you and that you have definitely never heard before.

7) sense of community- the more tours I have a week the shorter my Shabbat sermons are as I have less time to prepare them. My congregants will reward you heavily for this and you will receive their undying appreciation.

6) Religious- Being a staunch Hareidi Jew I can represent to you all of the terrible things that has happened to the Jewish people as the result of the secular government of Israel and the terrible persecution that we suffer under on a daily basis and how Moshiach will only come when we all leave the army and learn Torah all day long and sit on the back of the bus.

5) Zionism- being a staunch religious Zionist- I can represent to you all of the terrible things that happen in Israel as a result of the Hareidi Jews not serving in the army and being parasites off the community and their not supporting the incredible blessing that we have of having a Jewish State which is in fact the beginning of the Redemption. You may sit in the front of the bus on this tour.
4) Christianity- Being a staunch Christian- I can represent to you… just joking but you get the point. My kippa can change.

3) Financially- think of all the money you have saved since I stopped fundraising from you for my various previous kollel and outreach efforts. You know you don’t want me to have to go back to that business.
2) Jewish  Guilt- Think of all of those poor people that have lent me money to buy a house here in Israel that are waiting for me to pay them back.
Think of my poor starving children who survive off the leftover chulent from shabbos and the Bamba snacks that they mooch off the Israeli cats- I mean kids that go to school with them. Think of all of those stores my wife wants to shop in and can help the entire economy of Israel with. Think of my mother who doesn’t sleep at night wondering if her son will ever make an honest living or if he will remember to brush his teeth or if he will remember to say Shema before he goes to sleep or if he will get rid of his socks with holes…..

10) Fear- some suggest is the greatest motivator- You know those weekly E-Mails you receive from me each week that clog your inbox and that you quickly delete. I know your address- and I have plenty of extra spam I can send your way… Artscroll new book of the day, Vitamins that will enhance your life, and lots of friends from Nigeria, Hodu to Kush that really have been trying to get in touch with you about millions of USD$ that is being held in your name.
Have a Good Shabbos and spectacularly joyous Purim. Wouldn’t you just rather go on a fun tour?

So there you have it the Top Ten reasons to use Rabbi Schwartz as your tour guide. In truth there are about 50 good reasons why having me guide you around the country would be a good idea but in the spirit of compromise I only mentioned the ten most important ones. But I will add one more reason from my perspective why I hope that I might see you here for your next tour in Israel. It is so I may personally express my gratitude to you for reading my email each week and particularly to those of you who have sent me back feedback- (and better yet sponsorships or just money in general J). May Hashem bless all of you with a happy, joyous purim and may we all soon merit a grand Tour from Eliyahu Ha’navi as Hashem returns us all back to Eretz Yisrael
Have ecstatically, euphoric Purim
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


As part of our training to be full-fledged licensed tour guides the ministry of tourism feels it neccesary for us to go on tours to un-cool places as part of our course so that you will know never to bring anyone there, or as a place to bring people to who do not tip you well the first time that you guided them.
The following is a list of some places that fall into that category-or places that Rabbi Schwartz would never take your family
NEBI MUSA- do not be fooled Bullwinkle the moose is not buried here on the way down to the dead Sea. Rather it is a mosque where some muslims who really did not read the Torah that well (or the Koran for that matter) decided that Moshe is buried. We know he never came into Israel. They forgot.
Via De Larossa-the way of the Cross- Old city Jerusalem, they slammed the J-man here- they built a church, they beat him here – another church, he fell here- another church, he bent down to tie his shoe another church, he was crucified here- two really big churches. If you like hearing about Jews getting beaten up and killed Yad Vashem might be the better place to go.

Sartaba- really hard miserable hike for a few hours by the Jordan river valley. You get to the top and there are some stones that might be part of hasmonean fortress. At that point you might want to jump off.

The mens mikva in Geula on Friday afternoon- I won’t tell you which one. Just know that you might need a shovel to get in to the water. Part of it’s miraculous powers is that you can go in fully clean-shaven and come out with a beard. And those that merit to come out alive are rewarded with the promise that they will not die without having thought about doing teshuva one day.

I Like Purim because making noise in shul is a mitzvah

Question: Why didn't Esther receive Mordechai's e-mail, warning her about Haman's plan to kill the Jews?
Answer: She had an AchashVirus.