Our view of the Galile

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Kid-ding Around- Shabbat Ha'Gadol, Passover

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
 March 21st  2013 -Volume 3, Issue 24 –10th of Nissan 5773

Parshas Tzav/ Ha'Gadol/Passover

Kid-ding Around

"Will you just grow up already!"
 "Why don't you act your age?"
"You want to be treated like an adult? Start acting like one!"
There are perhaps no words more annoying or frustrating for a kid to hear. I should know. I'm still hearing it... and it still hasn't worked. I don't understand. I see all these advertisements about recapturing your youth, all types of anti-aging pills so one can feel like a kid once again, and therapists preaching about finding your "inner child". It seems that I was ahead of the game. Why act like an adult when you’re a kid, only to become an adult looking for his lost childhood? This is a troubling question and you know what we do with troubling questions at this time of year? We save them for the Pesach Seder; the night of questions. And do you know what they answer us inevitably by the Pesach Seder? The reason is…so the children will ask…sigh…they cycle goes on.


Now the reason behind this custom is NOT because the Pesach sacrifice-a goat- is also referred to as a kid. Even though this might be confusing particularly since the last song at the Seder is about this one little kid/goat that a father bought for 2 zuzim. My kids always thought I was the father that sold them for 2 zuzim. I reassured them that I wouldn't sell them for anything less than 20 zuzim and maybe even a Dinar (or a good dinner). They seemed relieved…or maybe not. Thank God for their mother. Back to our E-Mail. Although those are not references to Seder night being "kids night". The rest of the Seder is pretty much all about the kids. In fact the Torah itself seems to revolve the commandments of this very special and important night all about children.

The code of Jewish law discusses the preparations for the Seder as revolving around utilizing all types of tricks to keep the kids up. Hand out nuts and sweets (translate pump them up on sugar and lay off the melatonin), wear a kittel- so children will ask, wash without blessing- so children will ask. The seder pretty much begins all types of strange activities that would usually get us kicked out of the dinner table, leaning while drinking wine over a white tablecloth (not for long), dipping vegetables in salt water and making all types of whiny faces, and stealing the Afikoman and running an hiding it. It continues with each kid getting up and asking their hopefully well-rehearsed four Ma Nishtana questions, which of course then leads into the description of the 4 sons and from there it's the ten plagues with all their appropriate accoutrements. Singing Dayeinu and hallel, dipping marror, fressing matzah while leaning on pillows and then all types of fun songs at the end, it is a night that kids dream of. It's all about them. So to pre-empt the Seder this year I dare to ask the question. Why?


Why is this night different? Shouldn't the most important night of the year be one where we as adults focus on the deep questions and miracles that took place? I understand that kids should know the traditions but why is it so important that it comes in the form of such strange child-like behavior so that they ask questions just to ask them? Why must we do all these strange things-almost behaving like children ourselves- to get them to ask them? Why are we going donw to their level shouldn't we bringing them up to ours.


The answer my friends, the Sefas Emes of Ger suggests, is that is precisely the point of Pesach; to see-rather- to experience the Exodus of Egypt on this night with the wonder, awe and amazement of the innocent eyes of children. Perhaps the most next most essential mitzvah of the night, after the telling/re-enacting of the story, is the eating of Matzah and the prohibition of chametz. The difference between Matzah and Chametz is essentially time; time to rise, time to get bloated, time to mature, time to achieve that perfect state of man-developed food chockfull of wholesome nutrients, preservatives and minerals and vitamins-like my cheerios box says. Matzah on the other hand is cut short in that process. It's stuck in that first state of development. Why is that the main staple? Because we are meant to get away for a few days from all our man-made world with all the answers and envelope ourselves in a world of Hashem. A world in which questions don't need answers, the wonder and amazement of those miracles and that redemption are awesome enough. We ask out of awe. We ask because we just want to be heard and we know that our Father is listening to our voice and basking in our awe. We are all His children and the Seder night is the night that we get back to that moment…through the eyes and questions of our children.


The Sefas Emes suggests that it is for this reason that this Shabbos before Pessach is referred to as Shabbas Ha'Gadol the great or big Shabbos. He suggests that until this Shabbos when we were in Egypt we observed Shabbos in some way but it was entrenched in slavery. It was a day-off from hard work. It was in an un-commanded state like the observances of a minor. This Shabbos when Hashem commanded us in Egypt to prepare for our Exodus and prepare our Pesach offering was the first time we observed Shabbos as a "Gadol" an adult. Our Bar Mitzvah Shabbos so to say. What changed on this Shabbos? We were still in Egypt. The redemption had not yet come? But we were able to see it. For the first time we moved beyond the 210 year realities of our day-to day life of slaves and experienced the Exodus and Shabbos before it had even arrived as a Bar Mitzvah boy on his first Shabbos. We became that youthful, starry eyed young man and we jumped into the commandment to forget about time and place and move above it with the faith and dedication to Hashem and our new exciting reality. It is no coincidence that our first mitzvah Ha'Chodesh Ha'Zeh Lachem- to count the Jewish months is the introduction to all of the mitzvahs of Pesach. Like a child we don't have to think or worry about time. Time revolves around us. Not us around it.


I think about the life through the eyes of a child. The incredible places their tour guide father takes them. There is nothing more precious than the wonder in their eyes as they look out at the world. Sure they ask questions, how did this form this way? Why is it that shaped like that? What type of tree, rock, castle is that?  What's the name of that mountain, that lake, that star? They really don't care about the answer. They just want me to know that they're here with me. That I'm sharing the experience with them. All the other nights of the year we are perhaps slaves to time. Slaves to our responsibilities, slaves to our questions. But on this night of Pesach we are free to return to ourselves and to that wonder. It's a hard thing to do in one night. But that's what kids are for. To help us and guide us into that world of what we once were. Into that beloved child we are to Hashem. It's not about the kids tonight. It's about us. The kids in us. The kids we may have forgotten about. As we say in the Haggada even if we are all wise, knowledgeable like the greatest sages that were sitting in Bnai Brak. Tonight we go back to that simple childlike wonder and simply re-live and tell that story again like the first time. If we could do that seder right and we make it until the end. Who knows maybe Eliyahu might be at the door to sing L'shana Ha'Baah Bi'Yerushalayim with us. Sounds crazy? Sounds like a child –like fantasy that he might be there? Then stop growing up. Don't act your age for a night and you might be surprised. Greater miracles have happened…and will once again.


 Have a wondrously awesome Shabbos and an amazing Pesach

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz










 (answer below)

Where are the remains of octagonal Byzantine churches found

 (a) Mount of Beatitudes (Har Ha'Osher), Sephoris (Tzippori)

(b) Casarea, Mt Gerizim                                                                                          

(c) Southern Jerusalem (Kathisma), The inn of the Good Samritan

(d) Avedat, Mamshit



Park Adulam-Etri, Midras- this 50,000 dunam mostly wooded park in the shefela and hebron hills is a great palce for hiking and archeological finds. Most notable is the 2nd temple and mishna village of Etri where one can see an ancient shul, columbarium, wine presses, and mikvaot, In Midras one can see the ancient pyramid on a roman era grave and some great tunnels from the bar Kochva period. That are super fun for kids to climb through and adults my size and girth should really think twice about going through.. at the site was also found a Byzantine church with mosaics. In the times of king David he hid in the caves of Adulam from the philistines as well as where Yehudah of the 12 tribes friend was from and where he found his wives. A beautiful park a great place to hike through thousands of years of Jewish settlement.




A Seder plate walks into a bar

Bartender says: What can I get you?

Sederplate says: Nothing right now, I got a lot on my plate


A matzah ball walks into a bar

Bartender says: Is this Round on you?


Matzah walks into a bar

Bartender says: Looks like you had a Crumby day?


Moses walks into a bar

Bartender says: Drinks for just you or your staff?


The Jewish Nation walks into a bar.

Bartender says: You thought splitting the sea was hard, try splitting this check


Chad Gad Ya walks into a bar

Bartender says: After that last bar fight with the dog and cat and fire, it's gonna cost alot more than 2 zuzim to get a drink here


Elijah walks into a bar

Bartender says: What can I get for you Elijah?

Elijah says: Wait, you can see me??


A Kiddush Cup walks into a bar

Bartender says: We don't serve whiners here


Matzah walks into a bar

Bartender says: Havent seen you in a while, where you been?

Matzah says: I've had some bad breaks

Charoses and Marror walk into a bar


Wise son and wicked son walk into a bar

Bartender says: What can I get you boys?

Wise son asks for all the details of how the drinks are made

Wicked son laughs: It's on his tab, not mine. Had we been in Egypt I wouldnt have paid either.


Pharoah walks into a bar

Bartender says: So it's a Bloody Mary or well, a Bloody Mary right?


Pharoah walks into a bar, doesnt speak

Bartender: Speak up? What do you have a frog in your throat?

Pharoah: frogs here, frogs there


The Son 'who doesnt know how to ask' walks into a bar

Bartender: Arent you going to order? Helllo?


A Seder walks into a bar
Bartender: Let me guess this is going to be different than all other nights?

Afikoment walks into a bar
Bartender: I'll get you a drink, but dont you get lost because I will find you.


A seder kittel walks into a bar

Bartender says: What did someone die?


A haggadah walks into a bar

Bartender says: The way this guy rambles on, I'm gonna need my own 4 cups




Answer is B- This is one of those ridiculously hard trick questions. Answer A is wrong because although Beatitudes has a byzantine church (on the bottom of the Mt.) and an octagonal church on top it was built in the 1930's- not byzantine, tzippori has a byzantine church as well but not octagonal. Answer C is wrong because although Kathisma has a byzantine octagonal church the Inn of the Good Samaritan has pictures of the Shomroni octagonal byzantine from Har Gerizim Answer D the Nabatean cities both have Byzantine churches neither one is octagonal. Leaving thus just Gerizim and Casarea with the Byzantine Octagonal churches. Aren't you glad you know this now?…don't you feel informed and wiser?… or have you already deleted this un-important irrelevant information that was just created to give tour guides a hard time on their exams…

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Getting "Scent"imental- Vayikra 2013

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
 March 14th  2013 -Volume 3, Issue 23 –3rd of Nissan 5773
Parshas Vayikra

Getting "Scent"imental

I'm an animal lover. I love chicken (preferably white meat on a grill), turkey (with cranberry or on club with sour pickles, gulden spicy mustard and a little toothpick with some colorful plastic stuff on the edge), lamb (chops), cow (free-range, no hormones- I have to worry about my health of course, but you can prepare it any way you'd like) and even this thing here in Israel that they call Pargeet , which I think is a baby hen but it tastes much much better. Yes I love my animals. I can eat them here and there. I can eat them everywhere. On  a train, on a plane but preferably not on a box or with a fox. You get my point. That's what happens when you start writing your E-Mail before dinner… as the smell of roasting meat comes through the window on a balmy sunny late afternoon in March?! Summer got here early this year in Israel and I'm thinking BBQ (The word mangal just does not do it justice-that's only for Israeli meat- a good American steak will always be a BBQJ). Yeahhh Bee Bee Que..


But better than eating the actual BBQed animals, is the incredible smell of the roasting meat. (OK that's a bit of an exaggeration-poetic license…). There is nothing that can get my mouth more watering, my heart singing, my soul soaring like that rich, hearty aroma of cow on a sizzling flame. Memories of BBQ's long gone start to surface; the family and children running around on the grass, crickets singing and birds chirping. It's one big song to the universe and I am happy to be part of it. The grill is my altar and His world is my temple. Hello Summer.


Which brings us of course to this week's parsha and the book of Vayikra, in which we begin the Torah's narratives of the Divine BBQ's that would take place in the Tabernacle and ultimately the Temple. Can you imagine the delicious smell that would welcome you as one would get close to the Beit Hamikdash? Cows, lambs, birds, goats, a veritabl méli-mélo of the kosher animal kingdom and their heavenly aroma would be the first thing that would engage your senses as you entered the holiest place on earth. One can in fact even arguably say that the function of all of these sacrifices, which would be offered for sins, gratitude, fulfillment of vows, guilt and just regular daily offerings, were primary for the smell that would emanate even more than the actual meat itself. In fact repeatedly the Torah tells us throughout the portions of sacrifices that they are all meant to be Ishei Rayach Nichoach L'Hashem- fire offerings that are a pleasing aroma for Hashem. Now I know that I love the smell of roasting meat but somehow when we think about the Hashem the Master and Creator of the world and source of all holiness, I think we can agree that there must be something deeper going on than affinity for a nice piece of sirloin.


It is interesting to note that the commandments of the sacrifices begin with the word Adam Ki Yakriv Mkem Korban la'Hashem- Man when he will sacrifice an offering to Hashem. Our sages note that the Torah uses the word Adam rather than the standard word Ish which means a person in order to allude to Adam Ha'Rishon- the first Man. The sacrifices are meant to take us back to the Garden of Eden to bring us back to the level of Adam prior to his sin, when we were one with Hashem. It was just us and the Divine. We lost that closeness when we sinned by disregarding our only commandment and following our senses. Our sages point out that the verses tells us that Man listened to the snake (hearing), He saw the tree that it was good (sight), He touched the tree (touch) and he ate from its fruit (taste). The one sense that we did not sin with and which remained pure, having never lost that connection is the sense of smell. The word in fact for smell Ray'ach is the same root as Ruach- spirit. It is that part of our soul that remains connected from when Hashem first blew His spirit of life through our nostrils. It is for this reason when we leave Shabbat, our weekly sojourn in Eden, that we make a blessing and smell spices in order to ease the pain of that Exile. In that act we are telling our soul that we are not totally disconnected. We still have that smell of Eden. Our Ra'yach is still satisfying before the Almighty.


What is so special about this sense of smell? If you think about it, out of all of the senses it is perhaps the least essential for our day to day functioning. The scent of smell is more like the icing on the cake. It is there tell us of what is to come and to prepare and awaken the palate for the meal that is soon to be enjoyed. As every good wine or scotch connoisseur knows (of which I have undergone great training to become- as my grandfather would say a fein-shmekker), one most first swirl the glass around to open up its flavors (or bouquet as we like to call it) and then engage the olfactory senses with a deep whiff before imbibing. In a similar vein when we bring sacrifices to Hashem it is a statement of our desire to get close to Hashem once again. Cows, sheep, birds are not cheap, neither is the trip up to Jerusalem. But people would regularly bring their sacrifices to Hashem in order to leave that physical, material world behind and tap into that transcendent universe of the Almighty; to reconnect once again with that aroma of Eden and bring the scent of our desire to return that is so pleasing to Him. When Hashem sees that desire, although he cannot yet "taste" our return but there is nothing He has that is more pleasing than that familiar scent of Adam back in the garden again.


As we get closer to Pesach it is interesting to note that the Pesach offering is unique in that we are told that it was brought even when the Temple was not standing. In fact there were many Responsa written on the topic of its reinstitution in the 1800's when it was thought it might even be feasible again. One of the ideas presented was, that unlike other sacrifices which require that Ra'yach Ni'Choach that has been lost without our Temple, the Pesach offering can be brought even without it. The Hagada Emek Bracha suggests that it is for that reason on Pesach we make the blessing on the 2nd cup of wine and ask Hashem to return us once again to eat from the Pesach offering from the altar Bi'ratzon-with desire. Although in general all sacrifices are with desire, the Pesach offering which was brought originally in Egypt and is primarily to break us out of the idolatry we were entrenched in was not a desirous sacrifice. It was one of necessity, out of sin (similarly many of the sin offerings don't mention the Rayach Ni'choach as well). We on the other hand on Pesach ask to be returned to the Temple where we can bring the ultimate Pesach sacrifice- not like those that were brought outside of the Temple, rather ones of desire…one that returns us to your holy abode.


So as you turn to your holy Shabbos table this week and smell that aroma of Shabbos chulent, or when you pick up that second cup by your Pesach seder as the main course is finally about to come, or as you spend the remaining time before the chag- hoping mashiach comes so that you at least don't have to clean the rest of your house… think about the aroma that is before Hashem in your offerings. Think how incredible it would be to just be back where we needed to be…where we were meant to be… where our souls can still detect that faint fragrance from. And may that smell be the hearkening of that great meal to come with our beloved Father once again.


 Have a heavenly Shabbos

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


                                                                  MATZAH MAN








 (answer below)

The Somekh Junction is name for

 (a) The rabbinic ordination (semicha) conducted by Reb Yehudah ben Bava

(b) It's proximity to Yavne and Shefra'am                                                   

(c) Priestly Ordination (semicha) during the Hasmonean period

(d) Rabbi Ovadia Somekh



Usha- in the southwest portion of the Galil (about a 1/2 hour from our home) there lies a destroyed bedouin village known as Husha. It matches the Talmuds account of where the Sanhedrin sat after the city of Yavneh was destroyed after the Bar Kochva revolt.It was here where Jewish life really started in the North of Israel and where it remained for the next 1700 years primarily. In the 1990's A group of school children, as a school project, have begun digging there over the past few years and have uncovered some remarkable finds such as a mikva with tunnels to hide from the Romans as well as the central pillars of what could very well be the synagogue where the Sanhedrin sat. Not bad for a 6th grade school project! Today one can visit this ancient site and see little statues with quotations from the various sages that were ordained near here by Rabbi Yehudah Ben Bava one of the ten martyrs killed by the Romans




Barbecue Routine


1) The woman buys the food.


2) The woman makes the salad, prepares the vegetables, and makes dessert.


3) The woman prepares the meat for cooking, places it on a tray along with the necessary cooking utensils and sauces, and takes it to the man who is lounging beside the grill - beer in hand.


Here comes the important part:




More routine....


5) The woman goes inside to organise the plates and cutlery.


6) The woman comes out to tell the man that the meat is burning. He thanks her and asks if she will bring another beer while he deals with the situation.


 Important again:




More routine.....


8) The woman prepares the plates, salad, bread, utensils, napkins, sauces and brings them to the table.


9) After eating, the woman clears the table and does the dishes.


And most important of all:


10) Everyone PRAISES the MAN and THANKS HIM for his cooking efforts.


11) The man asks the woman how she enjoyed 'her night off.' And, upon seeing her annoyed reaction, concludes that there's just no pleasing some women....



Answer is A- This intersection located in the lower Galile , the intersection of highway 70 and 79 is right near where Rabbi Yehudah Ben Bava in the 2nd century gave semicha to his students. The Talmud tells us that Hadrian had passed a law that anyone who received or passed down ordination then not only would they be killed but the city where they did it would also be destroyed so he went into this valley between the two hills of Usha and Shefra'am and gave semicha to his 5 students- Rebbe Meir, Rebbe Shimon, Rebbe Yehuda, Rebbe Yosi, Rebbe Elazar Ben Shamua and the romans caught him. He told his students to run as he put his body between them and the Romans and they shot him with over 300 spears. He is included as one of the 10 martyrs that are mentioned in our Tishah B'Av and Yom Kippur.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Reflections of Beauty-Vayakhel pikudei Chodesh 2013

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

March 7th  2013 -Volume 3, Issue 22 –25th of Adar 5773
Parshas Va'Yakhel/ Pikudei/ Chodesh
Reflections of Beauty

This is not my typical Rabbi Schwartz "Happy Anniversary" annual E-mail. Not just because this Shabbos is 19 years since I became the fortunate and blessed husband of my still beautiful bride and every 19 years on the Jewish calendar the Hebrew and English date fall out on the same day ( it's that whole solar/lunar calendar thing). Although that is certainly cause enough to celebrate. This past week in advance of this anniversary, Hashem sent me a reminder of something that unfortunately I forget too often.

This past Purim, my favorite Rebbetzin went into the hospital for what was meant to be fairly standard procedure, which turned into a scary few hours until the doctors were able to get everything under control again. I suddenly went from Purim to Yom Ki'Purim in a few short moments. My mind raced and 19 years of marriage past before my eyes; the good, the better and the best and all those times in between. All the things I should've said (and shouldn't have), the flowers I should've bought more of and the vacations and "quality times" we had always spoken about and haven't yet completed going on (there are still a few States we haven't visited or lived in). But perhaps the most terrifying and sadly eye-opening epiphany of that long night was how incomplete I would feel without her God-forbid… As much as I always prided myself as being blessed with having been able to accomplish so much, it finally hit me like a ton of bricks how little I could do and had been able to do without her by my side. I felt lost and dis-oriented. It was perhaps the scariest moment of my life. When her eyes opened up again and she smiled again at me, it was like I was under that chupah once again. I had my wife back, I re-found myself.

This week we conclude the 2nd book of the Torah Shemos; the book of Exile and Redemption. In the Torah's reiteration in its accounting of the building of the Tabernacle/Mishkan it describes the unique basin that stood in the courtyard which was used to wash and purify oneself with before bringing sacrifices in the Temple and from where water was taken to restore peace between a husband and wife in cases of suspected infidelity. What makes this vessel unique is the donors and the source of the contributions. The verse tells us that the Kiyor/Laver or basin was made from the mirrors of the women. Rashi in one of the few and most elaborate comments on these Parshiyot quotes the following medrash

"The daughters of Israel had mirrors which they looked at while they adorned themselves, but they did not hesitate to give them as voluntary offering for the Sanctuary. But Moses had contempt for them, because they were made for the Evil Urge. The Holy One blessed be He told him: Accept them, for they are more pleasing to me than anything else, for by their means the women built up numerous hosts in Egypt. When their husbands were weary from crushing labor, they would go and bring them food and drink and feed them. And they would take the mirrors, and each one would see herself with her husband in the mirror, and would seduce them with their words, saying “Ani Na'eh Mimcha-I am prettier than you.” And thus they would bring their husbands to desire them, and they would couple with them, and become pregnant, and bear them children. As is said, “under the apple tree I aroused you” (Song of Songs 8:5)".

What a strange and unique gift. What makes this even more interesting is that the Kiyor/basin was not even one official vessels that was used for a service in the Temple. In fact there were times in the Temple itself they would just pour water on the Kohen. The basin rather was used as a preparatory vessel to give one the proper purity and included in that, the right frame of mind to enter the Tabernacle. And it seems to all start with those mirrors that were used back in Egypt to seduce their men with. One last added point of interest is that the Mishkan we are told was meant to be a place of atonement that followed the debacle of the golden calf. The women, our sages tell us did not participate in that sin, and yet it is their donation for this seemingly non-essential fixture that Hashem calls more dear then even the ark, the menorah or the sacrificial altar. What is so special about these mirrors?

The answer can perhaps be found in the strange words of seduction that the women used. They would hold them in front of their husbands so that both of them can be seen at the same time and then they would say "I am more beautiful than you". Now perhaps I am a little self-conscious and need more ego-stroking than others, but frankly those do not seem to be words that would necessarily motivate me. What ever happened to you're so handsome? The beard and mustache are really amazing! If you ask me most guys would respond more to being shown that they are more beautiful than being told by their wives that we're not. We know that they are more beautiful than us it's pretty much (excuse the pun) one of the reasons we married them and not our best friends from yeshiva.

 Yet if one looks deeper into Rashi perhaps the words can be translated differently. The word Ani  Na'eh Mimcha- can also be read as I am beautiful from you- because of you. It is you, my husband that makes me feel and appear beautiful. Look at the two of us together in this mirror. Our inner beauty that radiates in our reflection is when we are joined and when each of us sees one another, the two of us together rather than just ourselves in that mirror. When I see myself- I see that beauty you gave to me and when you see yourself you should see the same.

The women donated these mirrors for their husbands who had sinned at the golden calf- which the Medrash describes was like a bride who strays right after their wedding chupah with Hashem at Mt. Sinai when we received the Torah. They were given in order that they see those mirrors and remember to reflect on the sanctity of our special relationship. We sinned because we were only seeing ourselves. We felt that we had to create a new leader to replace Moshe. We were not worthy enough to come close to Hashem ourselves. We needed something in between. It was all on us. The mirrors remind us that when we come to the Tabernacle to serve Hashem, that we need not worry or carry the burden-just as our holy wives have given us the strength and desire to understand- "His beauty comes from us". Hashem so appropriately tells Moshe- This is the dearest of all the vessels; more than the all the service, sacrifices and gold of the temple that they will do for me. This knowledge is the foundation… the living water… that they prepare themselves with and see their reflection and mine in there as well telling them "My beauty comes from you". He is only great when we know how special we are to him. We can only become our greatest and become the nation we were meant to become when we know that our beauty as well comes only from Him.

An anniversary is a time of reflection. One looks in the mirror (if you're brave enough) after 19 years and you think about who and what you have become…what you still want to do. As I look back at my mirror this year, more than ever, I see the reflection of my wife (who’s resting up at her mother's house now…while I watch the kids… don't worry they're sleeping…happy anniversary dear) and recognize that all that I have and the blessing and beauty is from her. I also see in that mirror the love of Hashem. Our sages tell us that when there is peace in a home it is a sign that the shechina/heavenly presence is there as well. As I look at my beautiful children, the special gifts Hashem has granted the two of us, I see the Divine in the reflection of their faces…which are the reflection of the two of us…which is a reflection of our loving Father. They are our holy mirrors; the place where we can see the beauty that has come from their three partners.

This week as we welcome the new month of Nissan, the month when we were chosen as the beloved of Hashem, we prepare to celebrate our national anniversary on Pesach. As we clean and scrub and remove all of that personal self created ego that is represented by the chametz that we cleanse ourselves from, it is also important to take a break and appreciate that inner beauty that Hashem has endowed in each of us. May this anniversary month once again turn into a redemption month and may we once again soon be able to gaze into those loving mirrors of holiness in our temple rebuilt.
 Have a perfectly magnificent Shabbos
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


 (answer below)
Among the following Nabatean cities, which of the following is the most Eastern most?
 (a) Memphis (Mamshit)
(b) Mo'ah                                                                                                                           
(c) Avdat
(d) Shivta

Tel Shilo- After reading all of these Parshiyot of the Tabernacle a trip to the ancient city of Shilo in the hills of the Shomron (north of Beth-El) and the tribe of Ephraim is just the place to visit. The ancient city the home of the mishkan for 369 years can be visited today and one can see the bedrock carved out where many archeologists suggest the mishkan rested as many sacrificial bones from that period were found there. Climbing to the top of the tel one can look out and read the story of Eli Hakohein who was sitting here when he was told that the ark and his children were lost in battle and who fell and died from the shock. This is the place as well where the prophet Shmuel was raised and the famous prayer of his mother Chana was first said. There is a movie that can be seen here as well ancient synagogues (and byzantine churches-which is a sign that they also had  a tradition this was a sacred spot). A short hop over to the modern city of Shilo is worthwhile as well as one can see the truly beautiful synagogue that is designed in the shape of the mishkan with incredible artistic symbolism to remember our holy Tabernacle as well.

Two simpletons from the city of chelm are walking down the street when one of them looks down and finds a mirror.

He picks it up, looks into it, and says, “WOW! I know this person. I’ve seen this person somewhere before…”

The other chelmite takes the mirror, looks into it, and says, “Duh, of course you have. That’s me!”
Answer is B- Mo'ah is the eastern most of the nabatean sites in Israel. The other three cities mentioned have been recognized by UNESCO as world heritage sites being of significance as major cities along the spice trail that was run by these desert nomads from Africa to the coast of Gaza and out to the world from the first century BC until the the 2nd CE. Mo'ah a lesser site located on the modern day southeastern border of Israel was a Ch'an or inn where those who traveled throughout the desert could find , water and food.