Our view of the Galile

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Animal Hospital- Ki Tisa Parah 2013

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
February 28th  2013 -Volume 3, Issue 22 –19th of Adar 5773
Parshas Ki Tisa/ Parah
Animal Hospital
I spent the better part of this week in the hospital dealing (thank god) with healing family members. Not necessarily the funnest place to spend your post-purim days. But it beats spending your time with non-healing relatives. Thank God everyone's doing fine and life will start to get back to normal. But all that time in an Israeli hospital and left me with a lot of impressions…inspiration… new insights… and perhaps a little bit of a cough J. So I'll share the first three with you and I'll drink a tea for the cough and who knows we may even get to the Parsha as well.
The first thing that struck me about the hospital is that all the signs are in Hebrew, Russian and Arabic…uhhh aren't we missing something here? It became a little clearer when I realized that those were really the only languages I heard here. I guess all the Americans that move to Israel stay pretty healthy. Over the entire week I don't think I heard one English speaker. Now lest you think I live out in the Jewish boondocks I don't think I have ever gone into the Supermarket and not heard English. So we're certainly eating well.
 The second thing I noticed was that the care in the hospital felt different. It was tougher in many ways not as sweet and caring that doctors and nurses are trained to treat their patients with in the States. I felt that these hospital staff members had seen some pretty scary things and acted in a stronger almost warlike military way. At the same time I felt a strong sense of personal caring from them- not the fake American "trained to treat your patients with" kind. But the extra way they scolded, or the personal family questions and comments that they made. It felt like family that really cared about how their patients were doing. They broke some rules here and there to keep their patients happy or go the extra mile and it was heart warming.
 The third and perhaps most startling thing was how many of the doctors, nurses and patients were Arabs- Christian, Muslim and Druze. I guess I expected a Jewish hospital to have mainly Jewish staff, but that wasn't the case. Even more interesting was the many conversations that I had with them. One older arab (typical look with a kafiyeh white mustache and cane) visiting a sick relative introduced himself and told me about the synagogues he helped build and how we are all the children of Nebi Abraham/Ibrahim. He then wished me well and asked how everyone was doing and said he would pray for them. The doctors and nurses as well that weren't Jewish, that were part of the tens of different doctors and nurses that we saw also truly gave me a very similar sense of that dedication and caring for my family's well-being that I got from their Jewish counterparts. (although having lived in America and studied way too much Israel history I had a healthy/un-healthy(?) sense of suspicion and skepticism I found it hard to accept it as such).
 But perhaps the most interesting was watching everyone sitting around and talking throughout the hospital. It's fascinating, there was no talk of politics, sports; no one was really interested in the News that was on the various TV's. People were just all pretty much united in concern for the life and health of one another. Some were sadly crying over some bad news, other looked hopeful praying and others were waiting to see their newest additions. Old people were there visiting their children, Parents holding babies or  sick toddlers and boyfriends and girlfriends seeking out the latest prognosis's of their loved ones. We were all united in the hospital. We were all in a situation where we understood that we were no longer in control of our destinies and future. We all wanted Hashem to step in and give us another day of life. There is no place where I think that life is ever thought about or valued more.
 Which brings us to this week's Parsha, or two Parshiyot, I should say. The first Parsha that we read describes right next to each other both the most beautiful and the most tragic moments of Jewish history. The verse re-describes the moment of the giving of the tablets to Moshe as "And he gave to Moshe Ki'Chaloso-when he completed talking to him... the two tablets of written with the finger of God". Rashi quoting the Medrash notes that usage of the word Ki Chaloso can also be read as Ki Kallah to- as his bride. The moment of the giving of the tablets was like a bride and groom and the greatest expression of love. The next verse however tells us of the rapid fall to the great sin of the golden calf described again in the medrash as bride that is unfaithful on the moment of their chuppah. The greatest and most tragic moment. The debacle of the Golden calf is one that Hashem declares will always be with the Jewish people when they are punished. We lost our status (Stahtoos-in Hebrew), our crown, our potential for eternal life and that perfect world at that moment. And although Moshe was able to achieve atonement we were changed forever as a nation.
 The second Parsha we read is the third of the 4 special Parshiyot that are read from before Purim to Pesach, this one being the Parah the laws of the red heifer that would be used to purify the Jewish people from the Tuma'ah that comes from coming in contact with death. The intricate laws of this heifer include burning it with hyssop (a lowly bush symbolizing humility) and cedar (a towering tall tree symbolizing arrogance) and sprinkling the ashes upon those who had become impure. We read this before Pesach in order to prepare the Jewish people for the Phascal lamb that must be eaten in purity. Two Parshiyot seemingly not connected and also not "the funnest" to read post-Purim yet here we are.
Upon examining this strange mitzvah of the red heifer our sages tell us that it is in fact very connected to our 1st Parsha. In the words of the Midrash "Let the mother clean up after her child" The cow should clean up the sin and the impurity of death that was brought into the world by the golden calf. Why is there impurity when one comes in contact with death?  In Judaism we believe that there is a world to come- Death the moment when we enter that eternal resting place to be joined together with Hashem should be a holy moment-not one of impurity? The answer is that Tum'ah which comes from the word blockage is a description of when something is blocked from accomplishing the purpose of its existence. Man was created to be alive to accomplish When one dies his ability create a Divine world has ended. There is a void and all that come in contact with that emptiness and void need to go through a process of re-building.
 There was perhaps no greater moment of Tuma'ah then when the Jewish people fell from their heights and their potential then by the golden calf. We were as alive and set to accomplish the world and we lost it. We defiled it. Moshe burns the calf and sprinkles its ashes upon the nation. Those ashes of death though are mixed with the water of life. We can rebuild again. We must. The mother will atone for the children. We can bring a Korban Pesach and be renewed each year again. We read this each year after Purim when we celebrate our physical survival from death, because we realized that just being granted the gift of life again is not enough. We're not just going to go back to our regular day-to day anymore. We are going to try to purify and rebuild our souls and our lives spiritually once again as well. We will be cleansed of the Tuma'ah and we want to restore our souls and bring back that moment of our bride once again. Purim was our hospital that we left with good news. Parah and Ki Sisa that follows is us taking that renewed appreciation of the life we have been given again and choosing to this time make it better… Purer… holier. Back to our source. Back to the mountain. Being one with Hashem.
 So perhaps hospitals are not such a bad place to visit after Purim. May Hashem grant his entire beloved nation and certainly all those that need that loving healing touch that only the Almighty can give, a complete restoration of body and soul and may we all serve him together renewed.
 Have a remarkable and inspiring Shabbos
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz









 (answer below)

Which of the following sites was destroyed in the Great Revolt ?

 (a) Beitar and Yavne

(b) Yodfat and Gamla                                                                                               

(c) Sephoris (Tsipori) and Beit She'an

(d) Jerusalem and Akko



Yodefat- This archeological not far from Karmiel in the lower Galile was at one point one of the most important strongholds for the Jews in the great Revolt. The city itself is mentioned in the gemara as a city that was walled from the times of Joshua yet the earlies remains are from the 2nd temple Chashmonaim period. Walking around the site one can see the remains of the ancient walls of the city that were built to protect the rebles from the Roman troops. Archeologists have found thousands of arrow heads and ballistas that were shot as well as the siege wall that Titus breached the city with, as well as cisterens with skeletons of the bodies of the Jewish fallen. One can also see the ancient water cisterns that provided the water for the city of 40,000 according to Josephus who was the general here. When the Roman's finally broke through the soldiers similar to Masada agreed to commit suicide. Josephus being the last man standing gave himself over to the Romans here and became their historian and chronologist of the eventual destruction.




A panel of doctors was asked for their opinions concerning a proposal to build a new wing to their hospital. This was what they said:

*       The Allergists voted to scratch it.

*       The Dermatologists preferred no rash moves.

*       The Psychiatrists thought it was madness.

*       The Radiologists could see right through it.

*       The Gastrointologists had a gut feeling about it.

*       The Neurologists thought the administration had a lot of nerve.

*       The Obstetricians stated they were labouring under a misconception.

*       The Ophthalmologists considered the idea short-sighted.

*       The Pathologists yelled, "Over my dead body."

*       The Pediatricians said, "Grow up!"

*       The Plastic Surgeon said, 'This puts a whole new face on the matter.'

*       The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward.

*       The Urologists felt the scheme wouldn't hold water.

*       The Surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing.

*       The Anesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas.

*       The Cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no




Answer is B- The Revolt against the Romans that started in the year 66 started primarily in the North of Israel and then spread to the rest of the country. Yodfat was one of the major strongholds and Gamla was the final stronghold before Vespasian and his three Roman legions marched down to destroy Jerusalem and the Beit Hamikdash

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ministry of Purim-Rabbi Schwartzes annual Top Ten List- Purim 2013

Enitces and Palpitations
from the 
Holy Lamb
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your tour-guide, Rabbi, mortgage broker, clothing sales shlepper and most importantly your friend in Karmiel"
February 21st 2012 -Volume 2, Issue 20 -12th of Adar 5772
The Ministry of Purim
Rabbi Schwartzes annual Top Ten List...
So here we are again another year in Israel. One would think that the longer one is in this country, the easier it would be to make heads or tails of how this country works. After all I'm Jewish, and believe I have a Jewish head. I speak Hebrew fairly well, although as a friend of mine told me once, the longer he is here it's not that his Hebrew gets any better rather his English gets worse. Although he's not that bad off because Hebrew is very rapidly turning into English. He is me'od optimisti about this and he doesn't want to be negativiti but his diahloug with his fellow sabras is aktualli very amerikani. Yet still I remain perplexed.
I figured if I took a tour guiding course and becoming a licensed tour guide (shameless self-promotion http://ourholylandtours.com/ ) that I would than know more about this country and its culture. I don't. But I can share with you some great information about Christianity and all the places where "his" "miracles" took place or where Muhammed tied his magical horse and even why the Bahai like their gardens so much. Yet I remain clueless about so many things in this country. I was hoping that after the most recent elections I would understand things a little better. Instead I found myself even more confused. Who needs 47 parties including the 'pirate" party and the marijuana one, 3 arab parties, 5 religious ones and a bunch of left ones... all with Hebrew letters that are somehow supposed to represent those parties- we vote for letters. Why?
One of the primary platforms in the recent election, that I happen to agree upon, is the immense the amount of government ministries that there are in this country. This was an important issue in the elections until those who ran on that platform realized there may not be an open ministry for them for them to fill. We most certainly will see a few new ones open. It is certainly understandable how this developed, after all what else are you going to do with all those old retired army generals that are so used to shooting at people and barking orders. Why not put them in a position of authority, where their job is to serve the people and give them that special army sense of dedication and commitment and in your face "you can't handle the truth" service with smile. Kind of like how football developed in the States in order to keep big scary criminals who like to beat people up off the streets. Except here they drive around in tax-paid-for limousines. Yet in order to simplify all of these various ministries one can easily check out the government website which is sometimes working and learn to identify them by their symbols and logos. Except you really can't. It seems they all like the menorah and the star of David and pretty much like most Israeli signs they are more confusing than helpful.
Being that the holiday of Purim is about Jews turning around the government of Persia and coming up with all types of witty symbols to remember this festive holiday when we hung the government official who made our life miserable when we didn't bow to him on a gallows 50 feet high. We came up with Hamantash or Haman's ears (tash meaning pockets, Israelis being nervous about symbols that have to do with their pockets and the government, changed it to Oznei Haman). We wave Graggers to blot out decrees; kind of like what happens in the Knesset (with an occasional water fight thrown in for good measure), and we give money to the poor so they can eat (our jewish socialists are blushing). It is in that spirit that I have dedicated our annual top ten list this year to restructuring our governments symbols. So here we go... drumroll please...
Rabbi Schwartz's annual Top Ten list of the year-
10) Ministry of Transport and Road Safety-
Your guess is as good as mine what this is supposed to symbolize. But I guess that is par for the course for the ministry in charge of Israel's transportation. Since I can never figure out who gives these guys licenses (and from me you know that has meaningJ) and who creates the roads and signage in this country. Perhaps more appropriately their logo should just have a bunch of Israel road signs like sefat, tsfat, zafed, safed or karmiel, carmiel, quarmiel, kiryat Araba, Quryat Arba Tiberya, Tiveryas, Tiberias, Bnai Brak, Bnei Braq. This symbol should of course be in a letter Q to explain this ministries inexplicable obsession with this letter.
9) Ministry of Foreign Affairs-
foregin affairs  
- So this is a strange one, a star of David with lines coming out of it. Being that they are involved in foreign affairs and we live in a world that pretty much hates us and condemns us maybe just a big UN with a slash through it like the ghost-busters symbol might be more appropriate.
9) Ministry of Education- they seemed to have wimped out on a symbol, nervous perhaps that not only can't their students read but perhaps they can't identify symbols as well. So they just used the basic government menorah/ olive branch symbol the message being that they children should aspire to become government officials perhaps. My recommendation is that they adopt as their symbol the Korean flag (which recently translated the Talmud) so that we might set a standard for our children that they might aspire to if we would forget about filling their heads with all types of shtuyot, political propaganda, divisionism (sounds like a good word maybe modern HebrewJ), and infighting. Also if you noticed this is number 9 the second time-they should working on teaching counting better also.
8) Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
- OK you've got that menorah again with wheat growing out of it for this ministry that seemingly no-one ever hears about. Maybe because most Israeli's (like their American counterparts) believe that fruits and veggies come from the "super"- another great Israeli word. How about making this one have a picture of some kibbutznik with a Kova Temble? To make it even more authentic, why not have him have a wad of government shekels hanging out of his back pocket which of course is paying for the failed kibbutz movement.
7) Ministry of Health-
This one's meaningless logo is a wavy green and white star of David lying flat on its back. hmmm what does that mean? As Israeli's are very concerned with their health and all. Perhaps picture of a typical Israeli with a greasy Shwarma in one hand and a cigarette in the other yelling at his Kupat Cholim while they send him out for his fourth referral might be more realistic as people will easily identify with it.
6) Ministry of Immigrant Absorption
This one is kind of shaped like a flag with our star in the middle surrounded by boxes with little colors. Perhaps to symbolize the overwhelming need for Israelis to put every Oleh in a colored box. Being that I was always too fat to fit in a box perhaps a symbol that would more represent the process of Aliyah- maybe a picture of a bunch of dollar bills, euros, sterlings and rubles (what do they use in Russia?) in a garbage bin with star of david on the outside underneath a big flashing sign that says "CHANGE- NO COMMISSION". They could also throw in the Nefesh b'Nefesh symbol which it seems olim are more familiar with anyways.
5) Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor
- Another one I'm not sure what it represents a blue, white and blackish/grey triangle pointing to the left. Maybe the symbolism is that Israel business is a little blue and white and a little black and grey and the half triangle/half star of David symbolizes that you really can only halfway make it, if you are planning on living solely on what you make here. Regardless since most people will not understand this. Perhaps a symbol that shows open hours Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 8-11 and 14:00 -16:00 with a big red Socialist sickle and crescent on top might make it more understandable.
4) Ministry of Justice-
This one is perhaps the most appropriate with the scales of justice over the backdrop of the Israeli Flag. Perhaps they should switch the Israeli flag to the right and the scales to the left to be more accurate. Maybe they can also put in a picture of some Israeli citizens as well. Ashkenazi Secular in the front, Ashkenazi Daati Leumi after him, Russian next, Sefardi Secular, followed by Sefardi religious maybe Teimani, Ethiopians after that tied with Chareidim in the far background.
3) Ministry of Defense
This one is a shield with an eight pronged menorah shape. Not sure why. Now this one is a big dilemma in what we want to emphasize do we put a big picture of a chariedi guy with payot and a Talmud with an X through the middle. Do we put a Daati Le'Umi Hesder boy there with an Uzi in one hand and Talmud in the other standing in the shomron with a sign that says the entire land is ours? Perhaps our defense symbol should be a group of left wing Tel Aviv elite with a map of the State of Israel on a silver platter with a carving knife being handed to ...anyone? Or maybe it just might be easiest to put the flag of the USA with 50 single dollar bills instead of stars.
2) Ministry without portfolio- What does this even mean? I always envision this open shirt hariy chest israeli in a chai necklace sitting at a desk with a full ashtray of half smoked time ciggarettes with a sign on his desk that says the buck never even came here. Maybe a symbol of a naked Israeli politician to symbolize lack of any real purpose or maybe one that t is cloaked in a bunch of shekels in a limousine?
1) Ministry of Tourism-
Why use a symbol of the spies that bad mouthed Israel? And what is it with this grapes on a stick thing? Do you really think tourists will come for grapes on a stick? Now if had some shishkabob or a lamb that might be something. But I have a better idea How about just a picture of a smiling Rabbi Schwartz holding a falafel on top of the banias. That would certainly bring more people to the holyland. Doesn't that make you want to come?
Well there you have it once again Rabbi Schwartzes top ten list to try to make this country a more user friendly place. I have of course left out the most important symbol and that is of course the office of the Prime Minister. But that symbol I believe that we should certainly merit to have filled by the one true leader of Am Yisrael. May Hashem soon once again this Purim bring a final redemption to his nation and may we all sing and dance with Moshiach Ben David in Jerusalem the capital of the world.
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
(PS For previous years funny Purim Rabbi Schwartz's Top Ten List click on the link below
(Top ten reasons to use Rabbi Schwartz as a tour guide)
A Fellow Oleh once told me that the reason he moved to Israel was not because he wanted to keep only one day of Pesach Shavuot and Sukkot rather it was because he wanted to keep two days of Purim. As many of you know the holiday of purim is celebrated on the 14th of Adar outside of Eretz Yisrael and in Israel in all cities that did not have a wall around it from the times of the original jewish settlement of Joshua which celebrate it on the 15th of Adar. Today in Israel besides in Jerusalem according to many authorities one can celebrate Purim on the 15th of Adar in the cities of Tiverya, Tzefat, Akko, Chevron, Haifa, Yaffo, Lod, Ramle Beit Shea'an and according to some in Ashkelon and Be'er Sheva as well. (source Piskei Teshuvos)-most of these cities actually celebrate both days as it is a matter of doubt. For the more daring or seriously drunk one can also celebrate (according to the above source) in Gaza city and Shechem. Although this tour guide does not recommend it. Other cool places to hear the megilla is in some of the ancient 2nd temple synagogues in Gamla, Masada, or the city of David to name just a few.
One last place to check out is in the ancient city of Bar'am there is a 900 year old tradition that the graves of no other then Mordechai and Esther (originally Esther- Mordechai's tradition came later-why not). I believe there is a minyan there as well.
Finally if you really want to get in touch with your inner Purim spirit the Talmud tells us that the grandchildren of Haman are learning Torah in Bnai Brak. Let's see if you can find them J
If you have a tourist who is coming from China, she is a woman and a vegetarian. She is also a religious Orthodox Jew who converted. Does she have to worry about anything here in Israel in regards to Kosher? Huh? Why Chinese? why woman? Why convert? My mind is still spinning...but I passed and that's all that counts J
In honor of the mitzvah to drink on purim I offer you this year...
(Disclaimer-this is meant to be funny not any type of approval of drunkenness which of course I and my mother would frown upon-she would like you to know you can fulfill your obligation by going to sleep)
A cop pulled over a car and finds a couple in the front seat - Morris and Mindy Epstein.
"Where's your seat belt sir?" asked the cop.
"Oh, I just took if off now when you were walking up to the car," responded Morris.
"No you didn't!" exclaimed his wife, "You never wear your seat belt!"
A little taken aback, the cop asked to see his license.
"Aw darn!" cried Morris, "I must have left it home!"
"Yeah right!" screamed Mindy, "You know it expired 3 months ago!"
At a loss for words, the cop asked Mindy, "Are you always so tough on him?!"
"No" responded Mindy, "only when he's had too much to drink!"
Q: What do Russians get when mixing Holy Water with Vodka? A: The Holy Spirit!
Q: What did the man with slab of asphalt under his arm order? A: "A beer please, and one for the road."
. Q: How does a man show he's planning for the future? A: He buys two cases of Miller Lite instead of one.
Q: Why don't Jewish Mothers drink? A: It interferes with their suffering
Q: What does an alcoholic ghost drink? A: BOO'S
Boy: "I love you so much, I could never live without you." Girl: "Is that you or the beer talking?" Boy: "It's me talking to the beer."
If you drink too much alcohol you are an alcoholic. If you drink too much Fanta, does that make you Fantastic?
You say alcoholic, I'll say alcohol enthusiast
You lost me at "non-alcoholic" I'm a recovering alcoholic. Or as my mate describes me, hungover.
I only drink twice a year. When it's my birthday, and when it's not my birthday.
Bar One Liners
A hamburger walks into a bar and the bartender says, "Sorry, we don't serve food in here."
A horse walks into a bar. The bartender says, "So, why the long face?"
A soccer ball walks into a bar. The bartender kicked him out.
A magician walks down an alley and turns into a bar.
A man walks into a bar. OUCH! You would have thought he would have seen it!
A neutron walks into a bar and orders a beer. The bartender sets the beer down and says, "For you, no charge!"
An Irishman walks out of a bar. Hey, it COULD happen!
A man was walking through a rather seedy section of town, when a bum walked up to him and asked the man for two dollars. The man asked, "Will you buy booze?" The bum replied, "No." Then the man asked, "Will you gamble it away?" The bum said, "No." Then the man asked the bum, "Will you come home with me so my wife can see what happens to a man who doesn't drink or gamble?"
The drunken wino was stumbling down the street with one foot on the curb and one foot in the gutter. A cop pulled up and said, "I've got to take you in, sir. You're obviously drunk" The wasted wino asked, "Ociffer, are ya absolutely sure I'm drunk?" "Yeah, buddy, I'm sure," said the copper. "Let's go." Obviously relieved, the wino said "That's a relief - I thought I was a cripple."