Our view of the Galile

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Shleppers- Re'eh 2014/5774

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

August 21st 2014 -Volume 4, Issue 42 -19th  of Av 5774
Parshat Re'eh

“Stop Shlepping your feet!” my mother used to say to me. “Can you please shlep up those tables for Shabbos” my wife says to me. “Where did you did you shlep your tourists to this week?” My fellow tour guides asked. (My tourists never feel like they're schlepping anywhere-it's more like a soaring experienceJ)  “Daddy, can you help me shlep out my bike from the garage” my daughter Elka asks me. I guess there’s no running from it. I’m a shlepper and that’s not going to change anytime soon. Shleppers-R-Us that’s me.
 I met a Rabbi who once told me the origin of the word Shlep. He claimed it came from the Hebrew word Shalaf which means to remove. Interestingly it is used when describing a levirate marriage describing the process of when a man who refuses to take his sister-in-law of his deceased brother as his wife. He is told to take off -V’Sholaf- his shoe and she spits in it. Sounds fun doesn’t it? That’s what you get for shlepping around and not doing what you really should be doing Kinda like Shlepping tables and bikes. Maybe that’s why I used to shlep my feet.
I saw a beautiful homiletic insight in this weeks Torah portion from Rav Moshe Alshich a great 16th century sage and Torah commentator who live in the city of Tzefat that might give inspiration to all us Shleppers and a perspective that might make those schleps a little easier.
The Torah when teaching us about the mitzvah of bringing up our Maaser Sheni tithe to the land of Israel to be consumed there in year 1,2,4 and 5, of the seven year Sabbatical cycle (year 3 and 6 the tithe was given to the poor). The Torah tells us-
"And if the road shall be too long for you, so that you cannot carry it (your tithe), because the place that Hashem your God will choose to place His name there is far from you, for Hashem your God has blessed you (with lots of  grain).
Then you may exchange it for money…go to the place Hashem your God has chosen and spend the money there on all that your soul desires there… and it eat it before Hashem."
 A wonderful Mitzvah indeed. Who wants to haul grain up to Jerusalem when you can just use the cash instead and buy a delicious falafel or Shwarma when you get there on your annual pilgrimage? Yet, the Alshich notes, that there is something redundant about the way the Torah goes to length to describe why he can’t get his grains there. And as we know there is nothing redundant in the Torah; every word is a lesson every verse a teaching.
If the road shall be too long for you, you are not able to carry it “Why is it too long” the Alshich asks? Why does the road always feel too long to travel, the burdens that we all carry too heavy and difficult for us to bear? It is because the place Hashem has chosen is far from you he answers. Hashem has blessed you and yet in your heart he has remained distant; A place to shlep to, rather than a home to return to. If we had the wherewithal within ourselves to look at our incredible blessings and understand the tremendous gifts we have than nothing should seem like a shlep. Shlepping only happens when we’re doing things that we don’t feel motivated to do. Nobody schleps to a Shwarma store or to come taste the Rebbetzin’s chulent on Shabbos. It’s a labor of love. The place we want to get to is not far from us, it's right around the corner. The burden is not too heavy if we feel we are carrying diamonds on our shoulders. We just have to truly appreciate that all the challenges we have are exactly that-custom made diamonds from our loving Father- to make us into the perfect people we were meant to become.
 The Dubno Magid gave a tremendous parable about a straw salesman whose packages got mixed up with the stone salesman. When he hired a porter to carry his packages for him up the flight of stairs from the market place and he tipped a small amount of money, the porter protested.
 “This is what you give me for schlepping these heavy packages of what feels like stones up the stairs!!”
 The salesman realizing that an error must have taken place cried out-
“OY! If the boxes are too heavy then you are not carrying my packages. The packages I gave you were light and easy to carry!”
The Magid concludes that the straw salesman in the parable is Hashem. Hashem, our loving Father, who never gives us a package that is too hard for us to carry. We don’t have to be shleppers in life if we go about our challenges with the enthusiasm that they are all gifts from Him. They were meant just for us. And if that doesn’t get us to stop schlepping our feet than I don’t know what will, but I’ll have my mother call you soon.
Have a fantabulous shabbos
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz 

"We don't have to keep davening for Parnassa/Livlihood..Hashem has given the Torah community ample funds to address our financial challenges. What we DO need to daven for is that those blessed with the money to know what it's for…
The currency in heaven- the way to buy nice things and get good service there- is only with canceled checks."- Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz

(answer below at end of Email)
 Q. The site of Izbet Sarta is usually identified with:
1.      Even HaEzer
2.      Kiryat Ye’arim
3.      Bet El
4.      Philistine Gath

There is a great Chasidic saying that is one should be " A gantz yovhr fraylach" a whole year happy. As in all good jewish things one can find a hint to the concept in the Torah. This week we are told once again about the mitzvah of the holidays and the mitzvah to rejoice upon them. It says by the holiday of sukkot vsamachta bchageicha and you shall rejoice on your holiday which is 7 days and then it says vahyisa ach Samayach and you should only be happy the gematria of samayach is 348 if you add the seven days of the holiday to 348 you get 355 which is the amount of days (generally) of a jewish year which is a blend between the solar and lunar calendars. Interestingly enough on the same subject it does not say to be happy on pesach because the crops have not yet grown yet shavuout it says it once because we are cutting them already. But sukkot after the harvest it mentions three times the mitzvah to be happy!


Achziv Beachs– It’s the last week of vacation and I get phone calls from people asking me about  beaches to take there family to. Many of the people that call me are looking for alternatives to the regular beaches that are either packed and "mixed" men and women together or the "separate" beaches  which along the coastline are usually only one day men and one day women which for people that want to go with their family isn't the right choice as well. Well Achziv which is the coast line north of naharyia up to Rosh Hanikra has some really awesome beach inlets that are along about a 8 mile stretch of coastline that are really great. I haven’t found it too hard to find a nice quiet spot along that stretch and its really a nice peaceful place. There is also a great place to tornado speedboating along the way there as well. So enjoy your family vacation together…

I really "dig"this song and like the whole jewish rock n roll concert scene..-but that’s just me

The real inside scoop of the "peace talks" and why they are not working- with the bobbleheads

Benny’s dog has died and he goes to see his rabbi. "Rabbi, I wonder whether you could find the time to say a special blessing at my dog's grave?"
The rabbi replies, "I'm afraid it isn't possible, Benny. In fact the rules don't really make any allowance for animals."
Benny says, "But I'm really upset, rabbi."
"So maybe you should go to see the Reform rabbi over the road," says the rabbi.
As Benny walks away dejectedly, he turns to the rabbi and says, "What a shame. I was willing to donate £1,000 for such a service."
At which point the rabbi shouts, "Come back, come back."
Benny turns round and says, "I thought you couldn't help me."
"Ah," says the rabbi, "but you didn't tell me your dog was Orthodox."
A reform Rabbi was having an argument with an orthodox Rabbi.
He asked him, “Why don’t you let the men and women of your congregation sit together as they do in my congregation?”
The orthodox Rabbi (who had a mischievous sense of humour) replied, “If you want to know the truth, I don’t really mind them sitting together at all. The trouble is, however, that I give sermons and I can’t have them sleeping together.”


Answer is A:  I skipped this question on the exam because frankly this place sounded like something in a galaxy far far away like on the planet endor out of the Star Wars movies. But as a good guide if we don't know the answer we have to look it up afterwards and it turns out that it is Even Ezer which is incidentally the place as are all of the answers I believe that has to do with the Ark of the Covenant (see I got the Han Solo/Indiana Jones movies mixed up J) in Even Ezer the ark was lost in battle to the Philistines. It was returned and rested in Kiryat Yearim (Telshe Stone today- not far from my mother in laws house J) It was also mentioned to be in Beit El by the story of the Pilegesh BGivah and it was taken by the philistines who lived in Gat. So there you go…

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Good Book- Eikev 2014/5774

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

August 15th 2014 -Volume 4, Issue 41 -19th  of Av 5774
Parshat Eikev
The Good Book

I'm not a mall person. I don't like shopping. I will wear my clothing until it disintegrates on my body before I go shopping. To be fully honest, even then I let my wife do the shopping for me. My wife on the other hand could shop all day. It's why she opened a clothing business. I became a tour guide traveling and exploring the country and having a great time. We're just two people living out their dreams in the Jewish Holy Land of opportunity.

With some cancellations in my touring schedule from people who think that the US is safer than Israel (you know who you are JJ just joking no hard feelings I'll see you soon IYH when you reschedule J) my wife thought it would be a great time to take two days and do the family vacation thing, something that a busy tour guide doesn't always get a chance to do…at least with his own family. Whadaya know we had some free hotel night stays form points with our credit cards. It's amazing what you can get if you build up enough credit card debt L. Suspiciously, though however the only place that had any availability was either in Ashkelon-under missile fire not exactly peaceful get away right now (see even I have my hangups), Nazareth-not my speed, or the Dead Sea…but in Jordan and the last choice and only real one was at the Crowne Plaza in Tel Aviv and whadaya know again right next to the Azrieli super mall. Hmmmm… Sounds like a scam to me, but what do I know?

So never one to be a "party pooper" and deny my incredible Eishet Chayil the vacation of her dreams we checked in for two days to "the mall hotel". It took us about five minutes of dumping our stuff before we found ourselves in the mall and five hours later…we were still there. But I've learned since childhood when my parents would take us to the mall- although my father was (is) always more of a Kmart blue-light special type of guy- the way to survive these wonderful "family" outings. Two words- Book Store. Yup that was my kind of place. My parents would pretty much just drop me off there and I would just sit on the floor and read to my heart's content. So here I was again and as we're walking through the mall I see a Steimetzky book store up ahead. Not sure if I would be able to get out of this "quality" family time safely, I was relieved when my little 4 year old Tully runs  up ahead to the store and starts leafing through the comic books there. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. "Don't worry, Honey, I'll stay here and watch him…you just go on up ahead and have fun.". So there we sat…on the floor. Tully with his Israeli Spider Man comics and me with "The Prime Ministers" book I've been dying to get a chance to read (anyone have a spare copy to "lend" me?). Nothing like quality (without the facetious quotation marks) family time.

What broke my quiet reverie  though was when three young chayalim/soldiers made their way over the section of the floor that we had occupied and started perusing the "religious/spiritual books". The nice part about Israel is that overwhelming majority of them are not about these new fangled eastern religions, meditation and certainly not Christianity or Islam. But even here in Tel Aviv they were all about Judaism. Torah books. Cool! The soldiers though, two of them non-kippa wearing and one older one with a kippa- seemed to be having difficulty making a selection. The older one was making some recommendations. But they seemed to be looking for something more.

"I want something that will connect me more to G-d…something that will teach me more about Shabbat…about prayer…This is my first day back from the war and after the miracles I saw and the spirituality that I personally experience for the first time being in those trenches of Gaza. I know that I need more. I know that there's someone up there, that has been waiting for 22 years for me to talk to Him…to come Home…"

The other Chayal wanted something more about Chasidut/Hasidism (I recommended Eli Wiesels book 'Souls on Fire'). He was introduced to the joy of Judaism while dancing before going out to battle with some of those funny Breslav guys. "I have never felt such inner joy before…and trust me I've had a lot of "fun" in my life. But this was something special. Something real…something I think I need as part of my life."

Fascinated by this exchange I decided to walk around to a few more book stores in the mall and interestingly enough in almost all of them I saw Chayalim around the same area of books in the other two stores as well. Isn't this just an amazing country! Aren't we just an amazing nation. Maybe Tel Aviv malls are not such bad places after all…

This week's Torah portion Eikev to a large degree speaks for itself. Anything that I would want to write has been said and written in the most inspirational and prophetic words by Moshe in this last speech of his to our forefathers right before they entered the land of Israel. Our mandate upon coming to Israel, our objectives, the challenges we face, the dangers of a false sense of personal power and strength and the way that we will succeed are all put out quite plainly and simply for us. I merely excerpt and quote for you.

"And it will be, because you will heed these ordinances and keep them and perform, that the Lord, your God, will keep for you the covenant and the kindness that He swore to your forefathers And He will love you and bless you and multiply you

And you shall consume all the peoples which the Lord your God gives you; you shall not spare them, nor shall you worship their gods, for that will be a snare for you. Will you say to yourself, "These nations are more numerous than I; how will I be able to drive them out"? You shall not fear them. You shall surely remember what the Lord, your God, did to Pharaoh and to all of Egypt. The great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, the wonders, the mighty hand, and the outstretched arm with which the Lord, your God, brought you out. So will the Lord, Your God, do to all the peoples you fear…

You shall not be terrified of them, for the Lord, your God, Who is in your midst, is a great and awesome God.

Not a bad deal? Huh? Yet once we get here Moshe reminds us…
"Beware that you do not forget the Lord, your God, by not keeping His commandments, His ordinances, and His statutes, which I command you this day, lest you eat and be sated, and build good houses and dwell therein, and your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold increase, and all that you have increases, and your heart grows haughty, and you forget the Lord, your God, Who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage…
Sound familiar?

"And you will say to yourself, "My strength and the might of my hand that has accumulated this wealth for me." (the word here for wealth is Chayil which can also mean army…interestingly enough…)

"But you must remember the Lord your God, for it is He that gives you strength to make wealth, in order to establish His covenant which He swore to your forefathers, as it is this day.

And just in case you were feeling good about yourself…
"Do not say to yourself, when the Lord, your God, has repelled them from before you, saying, "Because of my righteousness, the Lord has brought me to possess this land," and [that] because of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord drives them out from before you.
I think that we can figure that out…but sometimes we can be self-delusional..

"Not because of your righteousness or because of the honesty of your heart, do you come to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God drives them out from before you, and in order to establish the matter that the Lord swore to your forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You shall know that, not because of your righteousness, the Lord, your God, gives you this land to possess it; for you are a stiffnecked people.

Remember the golden calf. Remember all the sins in the wilderness, the spies, the longing for those Egyptian pickles…in a nutshell-
"You have been rebelling against the Lord since the day I became acquainted with you."

Really it's pretty simple-
"And now, O Israel, what does the Lord, your God, demand of you? Only to fear the Lord, your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, and to worship the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes, which I command you this day, for your good…You shall circumcise the foreskin of your heart, therefore, and be no more stiffnecked…You shall fear the Lord, your God, worship Him, and cleave to Him and swear by His Name. He is your praise and He is your God, Who did these great and awesome things for you, which your eyes have seen. With seventy souls, Your forefathers descended to Egypt, and now the Lord, your God, has made you as the stars of heaven in abundance

And finally-
"But your eyes, which have seen all the great work of the Lord, which He did. [Therefore] keep all the commandments that I command you this day, in order that you may be strong and come and possess the land to which you are crossing, to possess it, and in order that you may prolong your days on the land that the Lord swore to your forefathers to give to them and to their seed a land flowing with milk and honey.

Not a bad Book, don't ya think?

We are living in truly amazing times. For over 2000 years we have waited for our chance our opportunity to once again return here…to our land… To rebuild…rededicate…re-conquer…and fix the mistakes of our past. Our brave soldiers witness the greatness of Hashem in our victories. They have come looking for Him. Their souls seek to remember, to connect to be one. We are removing the foreskins of our hearts. Even in the malls of Tel Aviv. The time is now. We are writing the final chapter. The happily ever after is on the next page. Let's all finish the book together.

Have a stupendous Shabbos
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz 

"No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world"
"What's right is what's left if you do everything else wrong"
“Some are born great. Some achieve greatness. Some get it as a graduation gift.”
"“In England, if you commit a crime, the police don't have a gun and you don't have a gun. If you commit a crime, the police will say "Stop, or I'll say stop again."- Robin Williams

(answer below at end of Email)
 Q. Which is the most ancient of the following sites?
  1. The Negev desert kites
  2. The temple at En Gedi
  3. Metsad Nekarot
  4. The tunnel wells (fugarot)

This week the Torah introduces the biblical mitzvah to "Bentch" meaning to make an after blessing after eating bread. Vachalta V'Savata U'Verichta and you shall eat, be satisfied and bless Hashem. There is law that when one makes the blessing on bread one should place their 10 fingers on the bread. The Baal Haturim suggests that this corresponds to the 10 mitzvos that are entailed in bringing the bread to one's table. 1) Not plowing with an ox and donkey 2) not plant mixed species( Klayim) 3) leaving in the field the dropped gleanings, 4) the forgotten ones 5) the corners 6) not muzzling your animal 7) giving a portion to the Kohein (termua) 8) the first tithe 9) the 2nd tithe and 10 challa. Also interestingly enough there are ten words in the blessing hamotzi recited on bread, ten words in the verse describing the species of the land of Israel and ten words in the blessing of Jacob/ Yackov Vayiten Licha Mital Hashamayim that Hashem should give us from the dew of the heaven and the fat of the earth. Feel free to use any of those verses or blessings to count people with next time you need to count for a minyan.


Azrieli Mall, Tel Aviv – My oldest daughters favorite spot in Israel this huge super mall, one of the largest in Israel has three floors of "great shopping" great restaraunts (kosher and even a few mehadrin ones!) and lots of different activities. Built in 1999 on the former Tel Aviv dump truck depot the three towers of the Azrieli are a centerpiece of the "new Israel" Tel Aviv experience. There are always fun activities going on for kids and the families here as well. This summer they have a great kids Dinosaur park and exhibit as well as mini water park with slides and bikes and jumpy things. Conveniently the train comes right here to the mall so it is an easy commute as well so you don’t even have to deal with the infamous tel aviv traffic situation to spend a fun day in Tel Aviv.

A new CD by my friend Shlomo Yehudah Rechnitz with all his songs-all proceeds go to Tzedaka

A beautiful song and video tribute to our chayalim Israeli soldiers composed by Reb Michel Twersky- get the tissues ready…very moving

An Amish boy and his father were visiting a mall. They were amazed by almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny, silver walls that could move apart and back together again. The boy asked his father, "What is this, Father?" The father [never having seen an elevator] responded "Son, I have never seen anything like this in my life, I don't know what it is."
While the boy and his father were watching wide-eyed, an old lady in a wheel chair rolled up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened and the lady rolled between them into a small room. The walls closed and the boy and his father watched small circles of lights with numbers above the walls light up. They continued to watch the circles light up in the reverse direction.
The walls opened up again and a beautiful 24-year-old woman stepped out. The father said to his son, "Go get your mother."
בלונדינית אחת אומרת לחברה שלה"ביי מאמי, אני זזה"
החברה שואלת :"לאן?!"
החברה"מה עכשיו קניון?!"
בלונדינית"מה, לא שמעת? יש מבצע! זה בכל החדשות!"
החברה"מבצע בעזה מאמי, יש מבצע בעזה!"
בלונדינית"איזה מפגרים, מי יסע עד שם?"

Translation- although the Hebrew is really much better!!!
"Bye honey, I'm leaving" the "blonde" clueless teen ager says to her friend
"Where to?" her friend asks
"To the mall"
"What! Now to the mall?!"
"What? You didn't you hear there's a Mivtza (the Hebrew word for sale- the word is not mitzva). It's on all the News channels" said the blonde teenager"
"The Mivtza (also same word for battle- I can only guess why this is the same word) is in Gaza dear, Theres a Mivtza in Gaza!"
"That's crazy! Who would go there for a sale!"


Answer is D:  Wheww.. this was not an easy one. I mean parts of it was. The Metzad Nikarot, which was a fortress that watched over the water sources in the desert for the spice trail of the Nabateans was obviously not the answer as they Nabateans nomads of the lived from the the year 90 BC (Bayis Sheni) until the third century or so when they became Roman was not the answer. At least that’s what I thought but the the truth is that the wells in the desert with its cool underwater tunnels was built even later and were in the early muslim 9th century period. (I thought they were earlier…) The hard part was the other two which is the temple in ein gedi which I knew was Chalcholite meaning the copper period which is about 3500 BC (according to scientists calculation-not the Torahs) and the correct answer though was the Desert kites which were ancient ways of trapping wild animals by making stone formations in a triangle kite shape that would lead at the tip to  a trap. Which turns out was the Neolithic period-meaning the new stone age. Like Flintstones times 6-7,000 BCE according to scientists and Hanna Barbara…I Got this one wrong… Maybe because its older than the Torah says…


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Comfort Food- Vaeschanan/ Nachamu 2014 5774

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

August 8th 2014 -Volume 4, Issue 40 -12h  of Av 5774
Parshat Vaeschanan/Nachamu
Comfort Food

It was 1991. I was a Yeshiva student in Jerusalem and we were about to be under attack. Sadaam Hussein had ignored the ultimatum given to him by the US of A whose mantra then interestingly enough wasn't proportionality and restraint, rather it was one of "shock and awe". Over 35,000 Iraqis died in that 5 week battle 4,000 of them innocent civilians men women children, infants that weren’t being used as human shields to launch missiles from and over 75,000 wounded…but who's counting when it's not the Jews. It was a glorious day for General "Stormin' " Norman Schwartzkopf when we finally liberated that important ally of the United States in the Middle East, who has always been there for us…Kuwait. But, I digress…Back to the beginning of the war and my Yeshiva days.

Anyways, we were the brave ones back then. Many of our friends went home for fear of the upcoming war. We had that "I don't want you to tell me it's time to come home" song playing on our answering machine. We weren't going anywhere in Israel's time of need. We didn't want to miss the fun. They had disbursed gas masks to all of us in case of those terrible WMD's that they were sure to launch at us. We knew that they were somewhat problematic when my roommate lit up a cigarette and started smoking through one of them, without any problems. But we knew that we had to prepare regardless. We were given instructions on how to prepare a sealed room that we could run to in case of attack. We taped up the windows. Again that "roommate" of mine got a little carried away and wrote Kahana Chai and Jewish stars with the tape. I was charged with the most important task. I was put in charge of shopping and stocking our sealed room, with the necessary sustenance we would need to survive a prolonged stay in those rooms. I was like Yosef in Mitzrayim biblical Egypt. All eyes were on me to make sure we were going to have what we needed to survive.

So I did my duty faithfully. All eyes were upon me when I returned from the supermarket. As I unpacked the kegs of beer, the all-important sunflower seeds and of course those gooey chocolate rugelach everyone knew that we would be fine. The yeshiva bochur's comfort food had been taken care of. My mission had been accomplished. The food sat there for a full week until that first air raid siren went off. It was a long week that beer and seeds almost didn’t survive in an apartment of hungry yeshiva guys. But we made it. Five minutes after the sirens went off though the party began. It took about a half hour until we got the all clear signal. By then we were ready to come out. The food was gone. The party was over.

It's been many years since that night. But I still think back to it whenever I partake of some good beer, seeds and rugelach, which isn't too infrequent. It's an interesting thing this comfort food thing. According to Webster's comfort food is "food that is prepared in a traditional way that is satisfying as it brings back feeling of nostalgia for family and friends." Did you know that according to a 2005 study, consumption of comfort food in men is triggered by positive emotions and in women by negative emotions; mostly college age women incidentally. I don’t believe they interviewed yeshiva guys in that study. They probably would have been introduced to many of the comfort foods of the stress filled battle fields of the yeshiva world. Chulent, Kugel, chickpeas, matias herring with salt crackers, feeling better already aren't you? It's what gave us the strength to make it through another day in the trenches. It's how we survived. How we stayed in shape. A circle is also a shape.

This week, following what is hopefully the end of the war in Gaza is of course non-coincidentally, called Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of Comfort. It is a well needed Shabbat. One that is certainly hard to imagine for the parents, fiancées, children and loved ones of the 64 soldiers that died sanctifying Hashem's name in their dedication and sacrifice on behalf of the Jewish people and this land. It is hard for all of us as we have passed another day of mourning, of Tishah B'Av, without the Temple being rebuilt once again. Still in Exile. Still without our Father in His home. It is the beginning of the 7 week period of comfort that will conclude with the High Holidays. With Rosh Hashana.. with us asking again for a sweet and better New Year. The Shabbos is called Nachamu/ Comfort after the first words of the Haftorah that we read from the prophecy of Yirmiyahu, in which Hashem promises he will comfort our people.

The word Nachaim in Hebrew which means comfort in its most common form and in the context the Prophet also is used a term for regret. Upon deciding to bring the flood to the world it says Hashem regretted that he created  Man because of his immorality. Interestingly enough as well when the Jewish people left Egypt it says Hashem did not take them the quick route through the Philistines (Gaza…?) because perhaps the people will nacham/ regret and head back to Egypt at the first sign of war. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirch explains that the word in reality means a shift of perspective, a complete change of feelings from the way one felt about something until this point.

“Up until now one had considered something to be right and took pride in that reality, and then suddenly he finds out that one has to be ashamed of it: regret, remorse. Similarly, real consolation is only such, that brings the conviction to one who has suffered pain and grief, that this too leads to ultimate good and everlasting happiness… which awakes the consciousness that if one were able to see through and over all the results and consequences as Hashem can and does, one would not alter what has happened even if one could."

How does one deal with loss, with, grief, with disappointment? How can anyone ever be consoled after a loss or a tragedy that can never be brought back. The answer is only through Nechama. Only through a paradigm shift, taking a different path and seeing things differently than we may have seen them before. I read a story once about a woman who lost a child and who refused to be consoled. She wouldn't leave her home, she stopped talking to her friends, her life was frozen. Yet once she met a woman who herself had lost her family and children in the holocaust and she told her words, the first words, that gave her the nechama and direction that she needed. When she asked her how she stopped crying for her loss the brave holocaust surivivor told her in words that pierced her heart

"Oh, I cry! But I learned that there is no point of crying over the past. I learned to take advantage of my tears and to use them to cry for others. Whenever I cry I think about those who need salvation and I pray for them with my tears.”

Then she put her arms around her and said, “No one should tell you to stop crying. But use your tears and learn how to cry! Use your tears to pray for everyone you know who is suffering”.

Comfort food can only get you so far. Its perhaps one of major causes of obesity in America today. People are looking to drown their worries, sorrows and stress in the quick fix and distraction of some tasty morsels. Hashem tells us after Tishah Ba'Av- Nachamu Nachamu Ami- I will doubly console my nation. I will give you a new direction. Your tears and mourning will not be in vain. They have never been in vain. They are what will ultimately bring the redemption. The Skolyer Sebbe notes that the word nachaim comes from the same root Chinam free, for nothing, baseless. We are told that Tisha B'Av became a night of historic mourning because we cried in vain upon hearing the evil speech of the spies before that filled us with dread and a lack of faith to enter the land of Israel. Our temples were destroyed as well we are told because of Baseless hatred/ Sinat Chinam, the infighting amongst Jews, lack of appreciation of how precious each Jew is before Hashem, how we can only bring his true revelation when we can honor and respect that godliness in each and everyone of us no matter how different they are from us. The rebuilding of the Temple is when we can take that Chinam that free, meaningless god absent existence and change it into Nachem, into comfort into consolation, into a new direction.  Comfort food is good, don’t get me wrong. Especially free comfort food. But we need soul food. We need Hashem. We need peace, and a return to our home. May the consoler of all of the mourners of Zion console all those families who have provided their heroes upon the altar of His Temple as he allows us to finally see the pathway to the Geula that they have forged with their blood for us.

 Have a soothing, relaxing and peaceful Shabbat,

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz 



"The recent challenge could not have been clearer. Saddam Hussein was the villain, Kuwait the victim. To the aid of this small country came nations from North America and Europe, from Asia and South America, from Africa and the Arab world, all united against aggression.
Our uncommon coalition must now work in common purpose to forge a future that should never again be held hostage to the darker side of human nature.
Tonight in Iraq, Saddam walks amidst ruin. His war machine is crushed. His ability to threaten mass destruction is itself destroyed. His people have been lied to, denied the truth. And when his defeated legions come home, all Iraqis will see and feel the havoc he has wrought. And this I promise you: For all that Saddam has done to his own people, to the Kuwaitis, and to the entire world, Saddam and those around him are accountable.
All of us grieve for the victims of war, for the people of Kuwait and the suffering that scars the soul of that proud nation. We grieve for all our fallen soldiers and their families, for all the innocents caught up in this conflict. And yes, we grieve for the people of Iraq, a people who have never been our enemy. My hope is that one day we will once again welcome them as friends into the community of nations.-” –President George H Bush at the end of Gulf War

(answer below at end of Email)
 A hypocaust is the:
  1. Name of the Greek god of medicine
  2. Running surface in stadiums
  3. Warm water room in the bathhouse
  4. Underfloor heating in the bathhouse

The gematria for Nachamu is 104 and nachamu twice is 208 which is also the gematria of Yitzchak. We are told that our first exile to Egypt began with birth of our forefather Yitzchak, but interesting enough his name is the gematria of nachamu nachamu that foretells of the eventual redemption of the Jewish people. Yitzchak who's name means he will laugh is the counter to Yishmael our final enemy. On Yitzchak it is said Az Yimaleh Schok Pinu, when Mashiach comes then we will have the final laugh…


De Karina Chocolate factory, Ein Zivan- Willy Wonka has nothing on the holy land. Up here in beautiful Golan heights one can have a great afternoon at the De Karina chocolate factory. As you enter you are struck by the delicious aroma of that ultimate 'comfort food" and struck by the beautiful and delicious looking chocolate sculptures. Afterwards you can take a tour of the factory with a brief film and demonstration of how to make chocolate. The best part of all though is the end of the tour when you have tastings of all different types of truffles and when you can make your own chocolates and designs and then of course buy all types of hot chocolate drinks milkshakes at their little cafe.  A truly yummy afternoon!

Shlomo Carlebach singing Nachamu Nachamu

Maccabeats singing Nachamu Nachamu

Nachamu composed by my good friend Rabbi Yossi Lowenbraun

So the thrifty Teimani Jew (Israel's stereotype for a cheap guy) is eating in the restaurant… and eating… and eating…He finishes his meal and is waiting there by the table. The waiter approaches him and asks him if he can get him anything else. The young man replys that he is fine- thank you. When asked if he wanted the bill. The young man responded that he is waiting still for something. When the waiter asked him what it was. He looked up to the sky and said….the siren…


Answer is D:  The Romans loved their baths… It was a great way to get away for the day or a few days and chill out, take care of business and oh yeah wash off all that blood. The hypocaust system was basically an underground heating system with this little circular mini-pillars that would raise up the floor where fires could be lit that would heat the water that would flow on top into three rooms. The Caladarium-the hot room, the tepidarium- luke warm room and the frigidarium- you guessed it the cold room and also where are word refrigerator comes from...so there.