Our view of the Galile

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Chanukah without a Prefix- Mikeitz 2013/5774

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

November 29th 2013 -Volume 4, Issue 9 -26th of Kislev 5774
 Parshat Mikeitz/Chanukah
Chanukah without any Prefixes

It's the word of the season. You've all heard it. Thanksgivukah. I don't like it. I think it's wrong and there probably aren't too many things that are further apart than those two days. Yes, it's certainly better than Chrismukah. But hopefully not many of my readers ever think that's a good idea. But it still stinks. It's wrong to celebrate it as such and probably the only thing to give thanks for is that it won't happen again for another 79,043 years. There, I said it and got it off my chest. Now we can move on and have some latkas and jelly doughnuts.

Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy turkey as much as the next guy. Probably even more. Cranberry sauce, stuffing, pumpkin pie, the whole carving thing and even celebrating and giving thanks to God for miraculously providing the Jewish people with a true safe and friendly harbor where many of our people have prospered and flourished and can practice our religion with total freedom, (despite the fact that many feel even too comfortable and actually have fooled themselves into believing it is our real home..but that's another E-Mail). I liked Thanksgiving and even since moving here still miss it. Even the football part, and I'm not a fan. My problem is more about the combining of the two. The news articles, special "Jewish events" surrounding this weekend and even the weekly Parsha E-mails that  I receive from Rabbis that are trying to connect the two."Chanukah is a holiday of thanksgiving". This is true and I agree. It's just not a holiday of Thanksgiving (with a capital T).

Let's review the story of Chanukah for a second. We have the Greeks that come to Israel. Before them the world is pretty much in the "dark ages". Persia and the Babylonians were rough, uncultured and pretty backward pagans. With the advent of the Greeks the world became civilized, beautiful, cultured, worldly. Stadiums, art, philosophy, mathematics, architecture, to quote Aladdin it was "A Whole New world". It was a shiny one, and in fact the Jews according to our sages where the only country that Alexander the Great allowed to retain its autonomy and it's independent government. And like all things shiny and new and whenever we meet Gentiles in our history that pretty much don't want to kill us (we have a very low standard of what it will take from us- "hey they don't want to wipe us off the map-this is really great, they must really love us....") we start to assimilate. We become Greeks, Hellenists, patriots that almost certainly celebrated the Greek equivalent of Thanksgiving. I'm  sure we used glatt kosher turkeys and we even recited words of Torah as we went around the table and asked everyone to say what they were thankful for. Most probably said, Thank God for the Greeks.

But we were wrong. We weren't wrong just because later they turned on us and persecuted us and took away our freedom and tried to quash our faith. We were wrong because they weren't really the light. All the culture and the advancement of society, the glitter and shiny gold was really, our sages teach us, darkness. We are taught that when Hashem  created the world the verse says
"And the world was empty and bare and darkness on the face of the depths." Each one of the above adjectives our sages teach correspond to each one of the exiles of the Jewish people. Rabbi Shimon Ben Lakish explained that it refers to the Exiles. "Empty" is Babylonia, "bare" is Persia/Medea, "darkness" is Greece and the final exile which goes on and on like "the depths" is "the wicked kingdom" (Edom/Rome).

The truth is you knew that Greece represents darkness, because we celebrate our victory by doing one thing and one thing only. We light candles. We light them for our house, for our family and for the world. We are the light. They are darkness. This is not an easy thing I think for many of us to really wrap our heads around. How can it be? How can so much culture, and so much advancement, so much wisdom and so much beauty be dark? How can they be the symbol of darkness? The Darth Vaders of world history (sorry I couldn't resist the Dark Lord connection was too much)?

The answer is that we really don't understand what darkness is and what is light. Our sages tell us that there really is no such thing as darkness. Darkness is merely the lack of light. What is light? Light is totally clarity. It was the first thing created. "And Hashem said 'Let there be light'. The world has a Creator. The world has a purpose. The world has one truth. We are meant to uplift this glorious universe and our souls to appreciate and develop a holy, loving and eternal relationship as we connect with our Creator. We the Jewish people were chosen to be the intermediaries that will shine that light to the world. As much as the world does not see that light, as much as the world feels that there can be light by the mere existence of culture, art, "democratic values", freedom and liberty all without a connection to Hashem, than there is no greater darkness than that. When the world was full of bloody and uncouth pagans, murderous romans and uncivilized nations it was clear that there was a light that was missing. The realization in itself being a light. It was when the Greeks came and offered an alternative light that contained no real God or truth, when the world said this is "light enough". When the Jewish people the possessors of the real true light, stopped trying to shine it and picked up that shiny fluorescent at the local Greekmakolet (grocery store) for his Thanksgivukah dinner. It is then that real darkness fell on the earth.

But then there were a group of Jews that stood up. They had the audacity to stand up against the Greek's decrees which seemingly were not so extreme. They just wanted us to stop maintaining that we were the only ones with the truth. They were fine with us being Jewish and worshiping God. Lots of people under the Greek empire had gods. They just said stop with the circumcision thing that makes you different than us that says your truth is the real covenant. Stop with your Shabbos that states you were created with a purpose to reveal to the world that Hashem is truly the Creator and running the world. Join us at our parties, sacrifice to our gods too.  Throw up another idol, another "holiday" in your many Jewish holidays as well. We are all right. There are many paths to God or gods. It's really just an irrelevant cultural thing. Eat your latkas with a ham sandwich and light your candles and eat a turkey. It's all really the same. It's all light and its really all dark. Happy Thanksgivuka.

But the Maccabees said no. They put their lives on the line, because they understood that the whole purpose of our life is to get our message out there. To get Hashem's message out there. There is a real light in this world. It is in each ones soul. It is as pure and untainted as a small little vial that was found in the Temple that the Greeks had not succeeded in defiling. We can light a menorah and unabashedly stand up and tell the world that there is really only one truth. Hashem our Creator, loves each and every one of us. He is one. There are no other gods. He never fathered any children and then killed them on a cross. He never told any prophets that they should commit holy jihads. He never told Buddhist's or Hindus to bow down to cows or any other idols. There is no need for nonsectarian prayers that don't offend any religions, because there is only one real light. Chanukah is our celebration of that one point in our history when we were able to bring our message to the world. We didn't need big trees with glitter. We didn't need fancy thanksgiving dinners to share that with the world. All we needed was a few brave Jews and a small little candle and oil.

We read this week and every Chanukah, the Torah portion of the story of Yosef our forefather in Egypt and there is truly no more appropriate Parsha to give us that inspiration. For as we read the story, we read of Yosef the sole Jew in the land of pagans and idolaters that are ruled by a king who declares himself a God and yet time and time again at great risk and sacrifice. Yosef stands up and says the truth. He refuses the never-ending seduction of the wife of Potiphar "How can I do this act and sin to Hashem". He is in prison and all recognize "that Hashem is with him. and all that he does Hashem has made successful". He is finally brought to Pharaoh himself perhaps the most impossible person in the world to ever convince of the notion of one true God. Perhaps the one person that Yosef should have been most politically correct with. And yet Yosef tells him that only "Hashem will grant the peace of Pharaoh". And lo and behold this most dramatic statement to king of darkness shines a light so a powerful in which Pharaoh in all his glory in awe and in a moment of total light says "Can there be found someone like this who has the spirit of Hashem in him".  Now that is what I call a true Chanukah experience. It is why Yosef is called the Tzadik, the Righteous one, the restorer of Justice and the revealer of secrets. For he revealed to the world what the true light is really about.

It is interesting the word in Hebrew for Greece is Yavan (Yud, Vav, Nun). Greece has all the beauty of the world we are told yet they are dark. They are missing the tzadik, the righteous one to give the soul and light to the world. If one adds the letter Tzadik to Yavan the word that is spelled is Tziyon, Zion which is of course Jerusalem, the light of the world. As we light our candles, spin our draydles, eat our doughnuts and tell our children the story of Chanukah. Let us tell them that we are thankful on this special day that we have this light, we have this gift to share with the world. They should never be scared or frightened or too politically correct to share our truths with our fellow brothers and sisters (although one should certainly responsibly weigh and never in anyway offend those that don't yet have the wherewithal to "handle the truth and the light") . We should never sell ourselves short. We don't need to adopt or adapt our incredible heritage, traditions or birthright to fit in or to participate in any darkness. The light is all here...in our Torah...in our menorah...in our souls.
Have miraculous Shabbos and a Chanukah that lights up the world,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

(answer below at end of Email)
What is the origin of the name Golan?
a)      Mounds of rocks, such as Rujm-el-Hiri
b)  A settlement from Talmudic times
c)  The Golani Brigade
d)  A city from Biblical times

Chanukah is never complete without a new Maccabeats song of the year- here it is "Burn")

In honor of the beginning of the rain blessing in the Diaspora
The classic and hillarious Frisco kid
God makes Rain clip


Mitzpeh Ramon  visitor center- The south is and particularly the Negev is the place to visit during the winter, when the weather is pleasant and beautiful. Mitzpeh Ramon the largest of the Makteshim craters in Israel has always been an inspiring place to appreciate the beauty of Hashem's creation. Now it is even better with the recent opening of the visitor center which has 4 great films to inspire you. Dedicated to Ilan Ramon the first Israeli astronaut and hero that took out the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 and who died in the fatal 2003 Columbia space shuttle crash, one can see films and moving footage of himfrom space with his family as well as his life story. There is also a great multimedia film on the formation of the crater and a great film on the wildlife of the maktesh. It is nice to see when tourist sites in Israel do a great job and the visitour center in Ramon is certainly one of those.
 "Every Jew has a spark in his soul from the light of God above that illuminates
his way during difficult times. And when it seems that to him that he is lost and that
there is no way out, the spark flares and lights his way. This is the little jug of oil that is revealed in time to save the Jew in times of despair and to light up his life in desperate times" -Nesivos Shalom of Slonim


It was Hanukkah and the tiny village was in fear of not having any latkes because they had run out of flour. 
Rudi, the rabbi, was called upon to help solve the problem.
He  said, "Don't worry, you can substitute matzo meal for the flour and the latkes will be just as delicious!"
Sheila looks to her husband  and says, "Mortey...you think it'll  work?"
and Mortey says, "Of course!    Everybody knows..............Rudolph, the Rab, knows grain dear!"

Answer is D: The Golan is mentioned as being a city in Tanach in the borders of Israel on the other side of Jordan in the portion of Reuben. The city was one of the cities of refugees that an unintentional murderer would flee to that was under the jurisdiction of the Levites. It did have many cities in the times of the Talmud and Rujm El Hiri are a bizzare rock formation that is there, kind of like Stonehenge. The golani fought many battles there but of course the only correct answer is D.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Favorites- Vayeishev/ Chanukah 2013/5773

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

"Your friend in Karmiel"
November 21st 2013 -Volume 4, Issue 8 -18th of Kislev 5774

 Parshat Vayeishev/Chanukah


 Do you have an f-a-v-o-r-i-t-e child (I have to spell it out so the kids don't understand)? "I love you all equally" is of course the politically and parentally correct answer. But really? There's gotta be one that really grabs your heart? That can get away with anything. That just gives you that look, that smile, that reminds you of yourself when you were that age and that can absolutely do no wrong in your eyes. That you can spend all night just watching them sleep- actually as my mother used to say they're all good when they sleep J)  Yes, you love all of your children and you would do anything for any of them. You're proud of them, you thank Hashem for each and every one of them and your world and family would never be same without them. But then there's that favorite one. My kids all assume that it's not them. Being the disciplinarian in the family (ironically enough), I'm mean to all of them equally-according to them, and regularly will have contests to see who will get to be my favorite child. They've all stopped trying to win a long time ago …

Now everyone knows that Tully, the baby of the family is Mommy's favorite. But that's because my rebbetzin just loves babies-she always loved the newest addition the most.  Me, though? They can't figure out. Shani, my oldest and first born of course has her special place and love as being loved the longest in our family. Yonah's our first born boy, the yeshivah bachur, named after my father OB"M. Rivkah is our princess, the studious, always helpful, organized, neat and goes to sleep on her own ( and takes after my wife the most) and Tully our youngest is our little Israeli kid that is of course the youngest in the family. And then there's Elka. My Elka. Maybe it's because she's six (as opposed to my wife my favorite age is 3-6, when I think that we should just freeze them at that age forever). Maybe it's because she looks the most like I did at her age (until I was three and got my first haircut everyone thought I was a pretty little girl). Could be because we are the only ones that share green eyes in the family or it could be because she is named after my Savta (who's yahrtzeit was this past week) that I loved and was closest with( I was her favorite JJ). But, that little devilish grin and twinkle in her eyes, those juicy cheeks and adorable hearty laugh and giggle and that affectionate hug and cuddle that she has in her own special way, gets me every time. Now don't get me wrong. It's not like I went out and bought her a special multi-colored coat and told her to go shepherding somewhere in Shechem. I'm a Rabbi and have read the Torah and learned you're not supposed to do that kind of stuff. Yet, having a favorite? It seems to be part and parcel of our ancient biblical tradition. The question is only what you do with it.

The tradition it seems does not start with Avraham who clearly states that both Yitzchak and Yishmael are equally loved by him. Although, interestingly enough he always seems to stand up for Yishmael, not wanting to send him away, either time and even upon hearing about the tiding that Yitzchak will be born seems to say it should be enough Yishmael should live before You, Hashem. The first time where we see a difference though is when Isaac and Rivkah each seem to have the child that they love.

"And Yitzchak loved Esau because he was a hunter with his mouth and Rivkah loved Yaakov."

 Of course their love for their favorite did not detract from their other child. The Torah goes out of its way to tell us what we know is impossible not to be true, that Rivkah was the mother in the fullest sense to both of her children and Yitzchak blesses Yaakov even after he knows that he "stole" the blessings. Yet they each have their favorite, which sometimes blinds them to the reality of their children's faults.

This week's Torah portion shares with us the next story in the line. "These are the generations of Yaakov, Yosef…and Yisrael loved Yosef from all his children for he was the son of his old age". Once again the Torah, tells us that Yaakov obviously loved all of his children, he just loved Yosef his favorite more. Seemingly this personal love that Yaakov had for Yosef would not have been much of a problem. It was when he made him the multi-colored coat and treated him differently that the brothers hated him. But the question begs itself, certainly for the parentally correct of us who have been raised on Dr. Spock (not the "live long and prosper" Star Trek Vulcan one) what is this favoritism thing doing in the greatest of families and by the greatest of men?

The truth is, the Midrash notes, that when the Torah tells us that the generations of Yaakov was Yosef , although Yaakov had 12 children, it is alluding to something much deeper about the connection between the two.

"It is to teach us that all that happened to this one happened to this one-

This one was born circumcised and so was this one

This one's mother was barren as was this one's,

This one's mother had two children as did this one's

This one had the birthright as did this one

This one's mother had difficulty in birth as did this one

This one's brother hated him as did this one's

This one's brother tried to kill him as did this one's

This one was a shepherd as was this one

This one was hated as was this one

This one was blessed with wealth as was this one

This one left Israel, married a woman from outside Israel and had children there as did this one,

This one had angels accompany him as did this one

This one became great through dreams as did this one

They both went down to Egypt, had famines, brought blessing, died and were embalmed in Egypt

Both of their bones were carried with the Jewish people from Egypt to be buried in Israel.

(PS believe it or not I actually left out a few for brevity…)

Wow! Talk about the apple not falling far from the tree, or walking in your father's footsteps. Does this mean that Elka is meant to go to Detroit, New York, Iowa, Virginia, and Seattle? I believe what the Medrash and Torah are trying to share with us, is the function and idea behind the favoritism of our forefathers. The word love/ahava as we have mentioned many times comes from the root word Hav- to give; a deep emotional and everlasting connection. Unlike the modern idea of love which is about how much I feel about something and how it makes me feel. The Torah reaches into a much deeper level, in which true love comes from the act of altruistic giving and the connection that is engendered as a result of those acts. It is why we can be commanded to love someone, to love Hashem. For love is not just a baseless romantic, chemical or even emotional reaction, rather it is the connection that is developed when giving selflessly to another. To a large degree it is why we are told a parent will always love a child more than the child loves the parent. For the parents love is selfless, we get nothing in return and have no such expectations. Whereas the child's is a response to the love received and in order to receive from their parents. It's interesting that in general this will change when the parents are older and the child gives more to the parents in caring for them selflessly than the parents have to give to their child.

  When our forefathers are described as having a particular extra love of one child more than the other, it is telling us that they have given more to this child than the other ones. Our sages tell us that Yaakov loved Yosef more, as he taught him all of the Torah that he had learned in his younger years. Why Yosef more than the other brothers? For Yaakov saw that Yosef was meant to undergo the same challenges and struggles that he had gone through in life. Their mission was the same. Yaakov was the culmination of our Patriarchs and thus embodying and bringing to fulfillment the role of our forefathers in establishing the tribes of Israel. It was Yitzchaks role to develop Esau and thus his love for him. Rivkah though, who had the prophecy that Esau's role would be fulfilled only when Yaakov was on top, put her energy into Yaakov's development as he would ultimately inherit Esau's role as well. When Yaakov became Yisrael, he had thus completed the Patriarchal foundation on which the tribes would be built. Yosef's role was to bring those tribes together and unite them. It was he who would have the Divine premonitions and dreams of all the tribes together united. It was he who would prepare the land of Egypt for them as they would have to undergo exile for not recognizing his role; as they felt that "we are children of one father", there is no one "unitor". They didn't understand that the multicolored coat was meant to symbolize the incredible tapestry that could be when we are all united.  And it was he and Yaakov that would be brought back with our people to the land of Israel when that first return to our holy land occurred.

 It is not easy being a favorite child as we can see from the Torah. It is certainly not about mushy feelings and getting away with mischief. We are the special, favorite and chosen of all of the nations.

"You have chosen us from all nations, You have loved us and exalted us and sanctified us with your commandments." we say each holiday, each Kiddush, each time we recite the Shema and express our love for our Creator. It is not that Hashem does not love all mankind. They are all His creation, His children. Yet it is in us, His favorite, which He has given and invested so much more in. We are His light upon this world and it is through us that His world will ultimately be lit. As we light our Chanukah candles this week and recite our blessings, we remember the miracles Hashem has done for us, his favorite children.

"Blessed are you Hashem, our God the King of the universe that has sanctified us and commanded us to light the candles of Chanukah…that has done miracles for our forefathers in those days at this time… that has given us life and sustained us and brought us to this day."

May the favorite children finally succeed in achieving harmony with all of our brothers and bring that special Divine light unto the world.

 Have an amazing Shabbos and a de-light-ful Chanukah,

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



(answer below at end of Email)

The "language war" began in :
a)  Jerusalem
b)  Rishon LeTzion
c)  Haifa
d)  Petach Tikva


(Lipa… chanukah… it doesn't get better than a rockin chasid)


 Kesem HaGolan-Katzrin- Going to the Golan? This is a great place to truly appreciate and get an overview of this beautiful region of our country. Located in the convenient visitor center in the city of Katzrin with a fantastic array of restaurants (mehadrin café café)  the IMAX film is a multimedia nature experience that will excite all your senses as you feel the wind, water, and sounds and sights of the Golan. After which you can go see an incredible topographical exact model of the Golan as you learn about the ancient and modern history and wars that took place here. A trip to this visitor center can include a visit to wineyr, brewery and olive oil factory as well as a trip to the ancient Talmudic city of Katzrin.



 "Always end the name of your child with a vowel, so that when you yell the name will carry."-Bill Cosby

  (Shaniiiii, Yonaaaaaah, Rivkaaaah, Elkaaaaa Tullyyyyy-note Ephraimmmmm doesn't have a vowel because there was never a need to shout… or they knew it wouldn't help…Sooooo …they found alternate ways of getting my attention Ouch! L.


When I was a young turkey, new to the coop,
My big brother Mike took me out on the stoop
Then he sat me down, and he spoke real slow,
And he told me there was something that I had to know;

His look and his tone I will always remember,
When he told me of the horrors of..... Bleak November;
"Come about August, now listen to me,
Each day you'll get six meals instead of just three,"

"And soon you'll be thick, where once you were thin,
And you'll grow a big rubbery thing under your chin;"
"And then one morning, when you're warm in your bed,
In'll burst the farmer's wife, and hack off your head;"

"Then she'll pluck out all your feathers so you're bald 'n pink,
And scoop out all your insides and leave ya lyin' in the sink;"
"And then comes the worst part" he said not bluffing,
"She'll spread your cheeks and pack your rear with stuffing".
Well, the rest of his words were too grim to repeat,
I sat on the stoop like a winged piece of meat,
And decided on the spot that to avoid being cooked,
I'd have to lay low and remain overlooked;

I began a new diet of nuts and granola,
High-roughage salads, juice and diet cola;
And as they ate pastries, chocolates and crepes,
I stayed in my room doing Jane Fonda tapes;
I maintained my weight of two pounds and a half,
And tried not to notice when the bigger birds laughed;
But 'twas I who was laughing, under my breath,
As they chomped and they chewed, ever closer to death;

And sure enough when Bleak November rolled around,
I was the last turkey left in the entire compound;
So now I'm a pet in the farmer's wife's lap;
I haven't a worry, so I eat and I nap;
She held me today, while sewing and humming,
And smiled at me and said;
"Ess Ess little birdy, Chanuka is coming..."


Answer is C: I got this one wrong too! I answered Jerusalem because religious Jew that I am I remembered the great battles in Jerusalem with Ben Yehudah over religious legitimacy of Hebrew (which until today still has many of the old yishuv of Yerushalayim speaking Yiddish rather than Hebrew). The correct answer though is Haifa and the battle was over the school which eventually became the Technion, which was initially funded by the german "Ezra" organization to train and create engineers, technical and professional administrators. The germans felt that the school should be taught in German the "educated" language of universities in the early 1900's. The early Zionists which had already opened up many schools in Israel (starting in Rishon-another trick answer) wanted it in the new "old" language of Ivrit/Hebrew) after many years of fighting, firings, strikes and debates eventually the Ezra organization closed down and the Zionist organizations took over the educational systems in Israel.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pack it in- Vayishlach 2013

Insights and Inspiration

from the

Holy Land

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

"Your friend in Karmiel"


November 15th 2013 -Volume 4, Issue 7 -12th of Kislev 5774

 Parshat Vayishlach

Pack it in


 I have conceded. It has taken me almost 20 years of marriage but I have finally accepted that I can no longer reasonably expect to go on vacation or a trip with my knapsack, extra pair of underwear and toothbrush. For what was for the first couple of years one of the most frustrating events of our marriage has now become something that I not only accepted as a necessity but as an opportunity to stand back and appreciate how many things we have that we need to go away for a weekend. Diapers, wipes, Shabbat shoes, weekday shoes, shirts, pants, extra changes just-in -case, toys, books and that’s before we even start with kosher food and all the accoutrements. Ok, maybe I haven’t totally conceded…After all it’s only a weekend. I’m sure you guys out there are relating. But I have learnt at least one lesson. No matter how much we do pack and prepare; there will always be that one really important thing that we forgot on the way to the airport.


Well, don’t feel bad. It seems that this week’s Torah portion may be able to help us out once again. You see our story picks up with our forefather, Yaakov, on the move once again as he returns home with his family. And what do you know, the text tells us that after transporting his family and possessions across the Yabok stream, Yaakov remained alone. The Midrash explains that Yaakov appeared to have returned by himself to fetch the small jugs that he had forgotten behind. Given that this was before the times of the strict recycling laws and that Yaakov’s rather impressive financial portfolio of sheep hardly made him desperate for a few small containers, one has to ask the question men have asked for eternity: Is it really worth going back for that? 


The Talmud, troubled with the necessity of Yaakov’s return for what seems to be a triviality, particularly in the  face of the upcoming danger of his “reunion “ with his murderous brother Eisav, derives a peculiar yet intriguing lesson. “ We learn from here that the righteous treasure their valuables even more then their own bodies “. Is that supposed to be a good thing?  Doesn’t righteousness preclude worrying about the mundane? Shouldn’t they be above that?


The answer as stated by the Ari Z”L (one of the greatest 18th century Kabbalists) is that to be able to recognize the gift of God in even the small things in life can only happen when one is truly righteous. Yaakov understood that if he possessed small jugs it is only because God had felt he needed them. To him these were not merely convenient containers for leftover lamb stew, they were divine gifts from a Creator that watches over and takes care of his every need. To leave them behind would be to turn his back on the most valuable possession he had: his relationship and his appreciation for his Maker.


There are so many things in life that we know we shouldn’t take for granted: Our homes, our spouses, our health and our families and we even make an effort at certain times to express our thanks and appreciation for these gifts that we have. But what about the small stuff? What about the diapers, the shoes, the pillows, the sale items at the market, the thumbtacks for our post-it notes? Do we view them as gifts from God? How much more powerful would our lives be if we had the ability to perceive the incredible love that is present in every aspect of our lives. If we are able to incorporate that, we will not only be well packed for this weekend but hopefully for life.

Have a spectacular Shabbos,

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


(answer below at end of Email)

The first "communal neighborhood" built in Jerusalem was:

a)  Mishkenot Sha'ananim

b)  Machane Yisrael

c)  Nachalat Shiv'a

d)  Beit Dovid



(Tunisian Synagogue Akko)


 Ohr TorahTunisian Synagogue, Akko- The coolest Shul in the world can modestly on rechov Kaplan street but its glorious building inside is a testimony to the pure love of its founder, who is still there daily , may he live long and be healthy the 87 year old, Ben Tzion Badash. After arriving in 1948 from Tunis, Ben Tzion received the empty land from the new Jewish municipality to build a shul, and until today the building continues. The shul which boasts 4 floors of wall to ceiling mosaics is truly a work and testimonly to a love of everything Jewish and Israel. Every tree, plant, flower, fish, bird and coin that have been found in Israel are depicted there. Stories from Tanach of our forefathers, the prophets and kings of Israel, The Temple, the city of Akko and the four "holy cities" of Israel and ancient maps that show the land in different eras as well as an entire room dedicated to the communities of Europe. The glorious ladies section has pictures of our matriarchs, a ketuva and the blessings that a woman makes. The main sanctuary has beautiful windows depicting the different armed forces of Israel and the crowning glory is the silver Ark doors that are dedicated to the community of Tunis, The martyrs of Akko, the holocaust and Israeli soldiers that have fallen in the various wars. A visit to the shul (the morning hours or for afternoon and evening services) one can meet with Ben Tzion hear his life story and receive a blessing of a true simple tzadik who is an inspiration to us all. (see youtube below to hear ben zion and see shul)



 "I was addicted to hokey pokey, but I turned myself around"-good bumper stickers..



A mother goes into her son's room. "You've got to get up for school Bernie."

 Bernie pulls the blankets over his head. "I don't want to go to school."

"But you have to," his mother said.

 "I don't want to. The teachers don't like me and all the kids make fun of me."

 Mother pulls the blanket back a little, "Bernie, you don't have any choice. You've got to get up for school."

 "Yeah," say Bernie, "Give me one good reason!"

"You're 52 years old and you're the principal!!!"



Answer is B: I got this one wrong! I answered Mishkenot Sha'nananim which I knew was the first settlement outside of the walls. However that walled in community right across the Mt. Zion was built by Moshe Montifiore and not "communal". The right answer Mahane Yisrael by the Mamila pools was started by the mugrabim (north Afircan and Morrocan Jews) under the leadership of Rav Doid Ben Shimon known as the Tzuf Dvash who dedicated his life inspiring love for Eretz Yisrael and charity work for the poor. The neighborhood established in 1865 had about 30 families two synagogues, mikva and communal water cistern. After the Ravs death the community was abandoned and rebuilt several times. The other two choices were the next two communities that were built outside the walls of the old city in the mid 1800's.