Our view of the Galile

Friday, December 25, 2015

Of Grave Concern- Vayechi 2015/5776

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

December 25th 2015 -Volume 6, Issue 12 13th Tevet 5776
Parshat Vayechi
Of Grave Concern
Have you ever thought about where you wanted to be buried? I didn’t used to. I love life. Each day is a new adventure, a new blessing, a new opportunity to accomplish something, to change the world, to make an impact and to lift myself and the world to a brighter place. But yet we know that we are all on a clock. It’s ticking. From the moment we are born the march towards the grave has begun. We are a religion and a people of life, yet in death is when we achieve the only eternal life in the world of truth. When our souls are returned to our Creator and our bodies, the physical clothing of that spark of Hashem that is also very much a part of our identity is laid to rest. Our deaths are revered as well.

Judaism puts a tremendous emphasis on the significance of our burials and that final resting place. A cemetery is called a Beit HaChaim- a house of the living. King David refers to the World to Come-Olam Habah as the Eretz HaChayim- the Land of the Living. We believe in the concept of a Messianic Era when the Dead will once again rise and be united with our Souls once again in a world that is all Shabbos; a world where the clarity of Hashem’s presence in the world will be visible and acknowledged by all. As a tour guide I spend a good portion of my time with tourists that want to visit and pray by graves of many of our great sages and Rabbis that have passed over the past few thousand years, sages from the periods of the Mishna and Talmud, many of the great Rabbis and leaders that led the Jewish people in the middle ages, the kabbalists and halachists of Tzfat, the Chasidim of Tiverya and of course the caves of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs. Many of those graves are painted in blue in Israel. The reason being was to remind people that we do not pray to the souls of the Dead. The only one worthy of praying to is-in the words of the Rambam in his 13 principles of faith is of course Hashem. The graves of the righteous are just a source of connection and inspiration to Hashem. In the same way that the blues string we are commanded to wear on our Tzitzit, the Techelet, reminds us of the sea, the sky, the heavens and Hashem so to are the great and holy people that are buried in those sites. In their merit and our connection with them, Hashem looks favorably upon our prayers.

This is even truer when we visit the graves of our deceased relatives, our parents, grandparents and tragically for far too many here in Israel the graves of their children. Those who have given their lives for the Jewish people, those who have died or were killed because they were part of God’s chosen nation. Those who have sacrificed to bring us to where we are today. It is why there is a concept in Judaism to be buried together with one’s family. So one may go visit and the collective souls of ones predecessors will always serve as a place where one can come pray, contemplate, be inspired and appreciate the life and the long line that has brought us to where we are and the mission we are meant to carry on.

Which brings us to this week’s Parsha ironically although not coincidentally of course called Vayechi Yaakov- And Yaakov lived. If there’s one Parsha that really wants to hit the point mentioned above across with its title it is this one. For in this week’s Torah portion seems to be all about death. We are told about Yaakov’s dying days, his blessings to his grandchildren and children and his death and his funeral, as well as the death of Yosef. Yet it is called the Parsha of life. Fascinatingly enough the other parsha that mentions life in its title Chayei Sara- the life of Sarah is also all about her death and her burial in the cave of Machpela that the Torah goes at length to detail for us. The Parshiyot of life are the Parshas that talk about death and burial the most.

Yaakov, as one can guess, makes his final request to Yosef to be buried in the land of Israel. This is seemingly not a simple request for many reasons. Yosef is of course the 2nd most important person in Egypt. Jews of course have to show their loyalty and patriotism to their country. I’m sure there were many Egyptians that were not comfortable with what they viewed as a “foreigner” running their country. Imagine if for example, there were people doubting the legitimacy of the patriotism of your President. Suppose they believed he was born in a foreign country or worshiped a religion that didn’t think positively of your nation’s religion. And then he goes and buries his father in, I don’t know let’s say Kenya for example. One can imagine the outcry. Not that I would ever think this could happen in today’s world, of course J. So this wasn’t an easy request.

To make this even more complicated, Yaakov knows that Yosef’s own mother Rachel was not buried in the cave of Machpela, rather she was buried on the side of the road in Beit Lechem. Yaakov is asking that Yosef not bury him next his mother rather next to all of his other wives. Ouch! Yosef of course as expected swears to Yaakov that he will bury him there. And in fact the Torah tells us about the incredible burial that Yaakov has. 40 days to prepare him for burial 70 days of mourning and then the entire royalty of Egypt as well as most probably the leaders of the world join on the journey to Israel to bury him there. Amazing, the greatest world Empire shuts down pretty much for almost a third of a year for the burial of Yaakov. Perhaps the largest funeral in the history of the world.

Yet this year I noticed something fascinating about Yaakov’s request to Yosef. When Yaakov brings up the burial of Rachel in Bethlehem, I had always assumed as I had written above that it was part of his explanation in order to explain or clarify to Yosef why he should not hold it against him in regards to his own burial request. After all it is only a few verses after that. Yet the Torah is clear that this is not connected to his request. It is mentioned in a totally different context. Acharie HaDevarim HaEila- After this request, when Yackov was getting close to dying. The mention of the burial of Rachel is mentioned in the blessings of Yosef’s children Ephraim and Menashe. Its mention it seems really doesn’t even have any context. It’s just kind of thrown in. Yaakov tells Yosef that his two children will receive the blessing and be counted among the tribes of Israel. They will be like Reuven and Shimon, they will receive equal portions in the land like one of the tribes. And then it mentions that he didn’t bury Rachel in Machpela, rather on the road. Rashi explains that Yaakov felt that Yosef had “in his heart against him” for not burying her with the rest of the forefathers and he explained that this was done through the word of Hashem. In the future when the Jewish people will be exiled, they will pass by her grave and she will daven to Hashem that they will be returned to the land. Hashem answers her that there is reward for her actions and her descendants, her children will return once again to their borders. This seems like a fine explanation, yet it seems to be misplaced. This would fit well in Yaakovs request to Yosef to be buried in Egypt, not in the blessings of Ephraim and Menashe. There is something else going on; a message that Yaakov is trying to pass on to Yosef.

The truth is, I don’t believe that Yaakov ever felt that he had to be worried about Yosef carrying out his last request and burying him Israel. Yosef, more than any sone loved his father and would undoubtably carry out his request, despite the fact that Rachel was not buried there. Yosef, more than anyone else in the world would never hold a grudge. This is a man, remember, whose brothers tried to kill him and at whose hands he suffered for years and because of whom he was separated from this father for decades, but he never held a grudge. In fact quite the opposite he fed and took care of them and gave them everything. Yosef would never hold it against Yaakov. Yaakov never even felt the need to address the burial of Rachel when he told him of his desire to be buried in Israel. The conversation about Rachel’s burial for Yosef was for a different reason entirely. It was to let Yosef know what his legacy is all about. What he must pass down to his children. The type of person his mother truly was.

Yaakov thought, as Rashi states that Yosef might have in his heart that it was Yaakovs choice not to bury her there. After-all where else would Rachel want to be buried. Hebron, the burial place of all of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, the burial place of Adam and Eve, the holiest point of connection to Hashem and of inspiration, besides the Temple Hashems resting place in Jerusalem. Certainly Rachel would want to be buried there. Yet Yaakov explains to Yosef. You don’t and didn’t really understand your mother. Rachel, was the Matriarch that would give up everything for her children. Rachel was the one who gave the signs to her sister Leah so that she could marry her own beloved Yaakov, because she understood that the 12 tribes would only come out of Leah and the other wives. Yaakov must marry Esau’s wife and take over his role, as he took over his blessing. She sacrificed her own love for the children of Israel. It is for that reason she is called Mama Rachel- the mother of all of the tribes although she is only the actual physical mother of two of the tribes. Rachel, if she would have been asked, would have only one request when she died. Where and how can I still accomplish for my children? That was your mother Yosef. That is why you are her son. You are so much like her. You are also separated from your brothers. You were also not with them in the land of Israel. Your children Ephraim and Menashe, born here in Egypt, far away from the holy land their entire lives, are like the tribes of Israel, because despite their place of birth and their lack of connection have been raised with the genes of your mother Rachel. The genes that despite even the spiritual sacrifice of being separated from the ultimate place of their holiness will be just as significant and essential as Reuven and Shimon. It is in her merit that the children will return to Israel and be home.

The children of Yosef, the Mashiach that will come from Yosef, the predecessor that will come before Mashiach from the house of David and the tribe of Yehuda will come from her. Ephraim, will come before Menashe. Yehoshua, from the tribe of Ephraim will bring the Jews into the land of Israel. Menashe’s tribe will be divided when you come into the land of Israel and half of his tribe will be on the other side of the Jordan to make sure that Reuven and Gad the two tribes that chose to stay there will always still be connected to the land of Israel. That is who your mother was Yosef. Even in her burial and death, she continues to live she continues to work, pray and pass one her legacy for her children. That is her only and ‘grave’est concern.

There have been so many that have died and been killed in the past few months. Rachel is certainly crying for her children. The Jewish people are returning to their land as prophesized. Yet there are so many graves along the way. There are the graves we have left in Europe, Russia in Spain, in Babylonia so many graves. Yet the descendants of Rachel have never lost their sight of our ultimate goal. Her tears, still cry for her children. Our ancestor’s tears are joined with hers, so that we may never lose that dream of returning and rebuilding. It is because of them that we will make it to that day. It’s never easy to think about where we want to be buried. Yet it is even more significant for us to be thinking about where we want to be living. How we need to be living. The portion of death is the portion of life. For ultimately when we think about the significance of that death and our burial, we understand how important and how many before of us have lived for us to continue living and for us to be part of that glorious day when the entire world we live that eternal life. And death will be swallowed up for eternity. May we see it soon.   

Have an invigorated Shabbos Chazak Chazak V’NitChazek,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://youtu.be/1vgE9wdP_qU   A Yiddeshe Mama Avraham Fried


Vos mir Vart, Mer Gna’art.”-  That which one waits (or hesitates), one fools himself.

.There’s two ways to hit a target. The first is to shoot and try to hit it in the center. The second is to shoot and then draw the circle and target around your shot. My parables utilize the second method.
A rich man more readily gives money to a blind or lame person but finds it difficult to support Talmu Scholars, for he feels there is a chance that one day he might god forbid become blind or crippled but he never fears that he will turn into a scholar.”- Rabbi Yaakov Krantz- the Dubna Maggid
Yartzeit this Tuesday the 17th of Tevet
Rabbi Yaakov Krantz- The Dubna Maggid (1740-1804) – There have always been Rabbis that have seen their purpose to travel from city to city and admonish and inspire the people, with their words of Torah. These people are called Maggid’s. Perhaps one of the greatest of all of Maggidim was the Maggid of Dubna. Born not far from the city of Vilna, young Yaakov a gifted Talmud student got married at the age of 18 as proscribed by the Talmud and moved to the city of Mezritch where he lived at his father-in-laws so he could continue his studies. As he grew older, he began to give weekly talks on the Torah portion and he began to draw crowds. When his father-in-law lost his money and he had no choice but to support his family, the city of Mezrtich offered to pay him for his weekly sermons which he refused to take money for. He then wandered from city until arriving in the city of Dubna where he remained for 18 years where he would receive a minimal weekly stipend and lodging for with to study.
What made the Maggid’s sermons so unique and sought after was his tremendous ability to speak in simple parables and story that would touch people on the most simple of levels. At the same time as opposed to many other of the Maggidim who were of the fire and brimstone type that would work with tactics of fear of punishment, the Magid built up an appreciation of the wisdom of the Torah and the beauty of its values. Although many of his sermons were for the regular Yankels the greatest of scholars including the Gaon of Vilna saw in his parables and his sermons words of incredible heart-piercing truth and depth. The story is told that the Gaon of Vilna asked him to rebuke him, after he had undergone a sickness and was unable to study. The Magid of Dubna told him “who am I to lecture you the great leader of the Jewish people, the only thing I can say is that it is no “Kuntz” (trick) to be the Gaon of Vilna if you lock yourself in a room all day.” Perhaps the Gaon should mingle with the people and then see if he can maintain that same piety.” The Gaon’s response was “I am not a Kuntz Macher- a trickster.”
The Maggid never published his works or his lectures. They were published posthumously with the permission and guidance of his son.  They are to a large degree the basic texts for any Rabbi in training and for anyone learning the Torah that is looking for inspiration that would speak to them. There have been many that have followed in his footspteps, but the Maggid of Duban stands out for centuries and the teacher and role model for all those who see their role as one to inspire others. May his memory be blessed.
answer below at end of Email
“Kibla” is a
A.    A Prayer niche
B.     The wall that faces Mecca in a Mosque
C.     The sermon pulpit in the Koran
D.    The name of the 17th Sura in the Koran
There are many times that Rashi would be what seems like more than one explanation in the Pshat- The simple understanding of the text. However unless Rashi tells you that he is offering alternate interpretations than what may seem like unrelated explanations in fact are one Pshat that is all connected. In this weeks Torah portion there is a great example of that.
The Torah portion tells us that Yaakov asks Yosef to bury him in Israel, yet he adds a request “and you shall do with me kindness and truth please do not bury me in Egypt” Rashi on that verse explains
Please do not bury me in Egypt-its earth will eventually be turned to lice (in the plagues of Egypt), and the dead of those buried out of Israel will suffer upon Resurrection the pain of rolling through the tunnels- (to come to life again in the Messianic era in Israel), and in order that Egypt will not make me into a deity that they worship.”
Seemingly three disparate reasons not to be buried in Egypt. Yet the Klei Yakar- one of my favorite commentaries Rabbi Ephraim Lunschitz- notes that in fact that all of the three interpertations are one. He notes that we have a tradition that the righteous will not suffer decay in the grave. Even we have many cases of great sages- including the Gaon of Vilna mentioned above, whose graves were dug up and yet they were in the same condition as the day that they were buried. So Yaakov certainly was not nervous of the lice that would plague Egypt would touch his body. He was nervous though that the Egyptians would notice that his grave was untouched and would therefore turn him into a deity upon witnessing this miracle. These two reasons are why Yaakov explicitly did not want to be buried specifically in Egypt. However he could technically be buried in any other country. It is for this reason why Rashi states that Yaakov specifically to be buried in Israel as well as he did not want to suffer through the pain of rolling. All of this Rashi sees in the simple understanding of the verse as Yaakov does not merely ask to be buried in Israel he asks not to be buried in Egypt. It must be for the reason-not reasons- that Rashi tells us. Egypt would be turned to lice, His grave would not be touched Egypt would make him into a deity and thus he should be taken to Israel in order so as not to suffer the rolling. Incredible. One simple Rashi. But as we see weekly each word has so many layers of depth.


Extra Purims! – Chanuka is over and although we have an extra month of Adar this year until the holiday of Purim, it’s time to get in the mood. This week there are two mini Purims. Purim that were established by communities that experienced a miracle of salvation and established them as day of holiday and feasting to commemorate the date. On the 14th of Tevet is the Purim of Chevron. The story that took place there is as follows
 There was a despotic governor who hated Jews ruled over the city. He constantly sought ways to persecute his Jewish subjects and extort money from them.
One winter day, the governor summoned the leaders of the Jewish community and demanded a tax of one hundred thousand gold shekels the sum to be brought to him by the end of the month, declaring that if the money is not produced within thirty days they would all be killed.
The leaders returned to report the outcome of this meeting to the community. Since the demand was outrageously impossible, for they were all poor, the Jews turned to prayer and fasting. Every day they would congregate in their synagogue where they wept and prayed to Hashem. The days crawled by and the deadline approached. But, the Jews were far from the required sum. They had not even collected close to half of it. They knew that only a miracle could help them. On the day before the time was to elapse, the leaders decided to petition the Patriarchs buried in the Ma'arat HaMachpela Burial Cave in their city to beseech the Heavens on their behalf. They would do this by means of a note. They realized this was their last and only hope.
In those days, Jews were forbidden to enter the Tomb. So they decided to bribe the watchman at the gate. For a big sum of money, he agreed to insert their note through the grating of the tomb.
That night the governor was unable to sleep. All his thoughts were on the huge sum which he would receive the following day.
Suddenly, three figures appeared before him. Three old men with flowing white beards and glowing faces. "If your life is dear to you," they warned him, "give us at once the very sum that you are demanding from the Jewish community."
He scrambled out of bed and opened up his vault. His trembling fingers counted out one hundred thousand gold shekels. He placed this in a large metal chest and thrust it at the men, begging them not to harm him. As soon as they had the money, they disappeared. And the governor, suddenly relieved of his terrible fear, fell asleep at once and promptly forgot all about the money, dismissing the episode as a dream.
The next morning he sent his soldiers to the Jewish community. A unit of armed men, their swords already unsheathed, descended upon the synagogue where they found everyone huddled together. They demanded the money.
Shivering and terror-stricken, the people stood helplessly by. Then, one man noticed a chest in a corner of the large synagogue. Unable to speak from sheer fright, he pointed to it with his finger. The soldiers approached the chest and opened it. They found a treasure of golden coins. Counting them, they discovered that it contained the required sum of one hundred thousand gold coins. They gathered it up and left, their heavy boots thundering in the silence of the large stone building.
The Jews heaved a sigh of relief. A miracle had indeed taken place.
When the chest was placed before the governor, he recognized it as his own and recalled the episode of the previous night. It was his turn to tremble with fear and awe. He summoned the heads of the Jewish community and told them what had happened.
"I am convinced," he said, "that those three visitors were none other than your three Patriarchs -- Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They must have heard your prayers and come to help you, their descendants. Please, forgive me for having made such an unfair demand. I promise to treat you decently and fairly from now on. As for the money, take it; I don't want it." He was afraid to touch the money or the chest, lest a curse fall on him.
The Jews of Chevron celebrated the great miracle and established that day, the fourteenth of Tevet  as a festival, calling it "Purim Chevron"
In addition on the 16th of Tevet is the holiday celebrated by Jews from Bagdad as Purim Bagdad. The year was 1639 and he Turkish leader Sultan Morad IV conquered the city of Baghdad for the second time from the Persians with the help of the Jews.. In general, when the Ottomans ruled the city, life for its Jewish residents improved. When the Persian Shiites ruled the city the situation was very difficult to say the least.
So you can start your Purim early this year by visiting Chevron or if you are from Bagdad


True Tombstones
Merv Griffin- 1925-2007- “I will not be back after these messages”
Rodney Dangerfield- “There goes the neighborhood”
Odell Dill Douglas 1926-2003- “I told you I was sick”
Joel H Cheskin July 1942- Feb 2014 “At last a hole in one” (sadly this grave has Hebrew writing on it)
Here lies George Johnson hanged by mistake in 1882. He was right and we was wrong, but we string him up and now he’s gone.
Here lies John Higgs a famous man for killing pigs. For killing pigs was his delight morning afternoon and night.
Here lies my dear wife Brunjilda Jalamonte 1972-1997 Lord please welcome her with the same joy I sent her to you
Here lies the famous acrobat Benjamin hoops whose famous last words were oh Darn whoops.
“Died from not forwarding that text message to 10 people”
“Here lies my husband Tom… Now I know where he is at night”
Here lies Byron Vickers Died October 10th 1887, 2nd fasted draw in New Austin
Na na na na, na na nan a, hey he-ey Good Bye
I’ve finally quit the habit for good
Here Lies the body of Nathan Blake- stepped on the gas instead of the brake
Here Lies Frank whose life was full, until he tried to milk a bull
Here lies the grave of Dentist De Mille in the largest cavity he’ll ever fill
Here lies good old Fred a great big rock fell on his head.
And my personal favorite…
“Here lies an atheist, all dressed up and nowhere to go.

Answer is B- As much as I am not a fan of Christianity- nothing personal really against my Christian friends and readers, but you know I always say it like it is, Islam is even less fascinating to me. So I’m gonna run through this quickly. Muslims pray to Mecca there is a niche in the wall called the Michbar that directs them toward the Kibla which means the direction of Mecca. The place where they have the Drashos from is called the Michbar and the 17th Sura of the Koran is the fable of the night journey of Mohammed to heaven from the “corner Mosque” which a few centuries later they made up was Jerusalem although it’s not mentioned in the Koran explicitly Al Aktza being corner. On that journey is where he got the command for their prayer to Mecca. And there you have it.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Roving Rabbi- Vayigash 2015/5776

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

December 18th 2015 -Volume 6, Issue 11 6th Tevet 5776
Parshat Vayigash
The Roving Rabbi
So I turned 45 this week. I’m halfway to 90. This is a good thing. 10 years ago I was only halfway to 70. My lifespan is increasing every year Bli Ayin Harah pooh pooh pooh as my grandmother would say J.
With my diet who knows? (19 pounds down- thank you very much.) But a birthday is definitely a time to reflect. Although with our exciting life I think I would need a year just to reflect, and that would be on all the trouble that I have gotten myself into, let alone all the good times, great tours, wonderful people and many blessings that we have experienced. I won’t even start on all the great meals and chulents. I’m on a diet remember.

One thing I can tell you is that it’s been exciting. New places every few years. Although that certainly was never in our plans, Each place we lived. OK. Maybe we were never really staying in Brooklyn forever. Too many Jews L- says the man who now lives in the Jewish country of Israel. I figure if I have to live with so many Jews I may as well get a Mitzva for doing it, here in Israel. But seriously. Many people that I share our life-story with, seem to have two responses. First they don’t believe that I’m only 45 as it would seem to be able to live in New York, Iowa, Virginia, Seattle and Israel, I would have to be at least 60. The second thing they wasn’t to know is how much the therapy bill for my children is. My daughter Shani, for example when we moved here was graduating elementary school in Detroit, where she boarded for 7th and 8th grade. We took an ad in here yearbook. It said on behalf on the Bais Yackov of Brooklyn, the Des Moines Jewish Academy, The Hebrew Academy of Tidewater, the Torah Day School of Virginia, the Seattle Hebrew Academy, The Menachem Mendel Seattle Cheder, The Torah Day School of Seattle and the Bais Yaakov of Detroit we would like to wish you Mazel Tov on your graduation from Elementary School. Not bad, huh? Even here in Israel she went to the Neve Chava High School in Karmiel for two years and then switched to the more American High School in Ramat Beit Shemesh to finish up her High School education, finishing up her education never being in the same school for more than two years. And she still turned out pretty amazing. It must’ve been her grandmothers and Tanta Rivky’s endless prayers for her.

But the truth is we really never planned to move or change so much. My wife always wanted a really stable life. But life is a funny thing, especially when you are involved in G-d’s work. Each place we lived in we felt that we had a job to do. We were sent and placed there to accomplish. We were accomplishing tremendous things. And then one day, it became clear for all types of reasons, that we were meant to move on. Things that were jut bizarre. Things that were out of our hands. The trip was over and it was time to pack. To find the next spot. To start all over again. That is the life of a Schwartz. It wasn’t always easy. In fact most of the time it was pretty hard. We had made great friends. We were just beginning to see many of the fruits of our years of labors and efforts. And then poof, it was time to move on. Why is that? As my mother would say “Do I have ants in my pants?”- (Pardon all the mother quotes this week- she’s in the holy land so I’ve been getting my healthy share of Toras Imecha, (My mother’s Torah) to make up for lost time.)
The answer to that question I believe can all be attributed to my Bar Mitzva Parsha this week; Parshat Vayigash which of course I learned by heart, after practicing it only a million times. There’s a powerful lesson in the story of not only Yosef, but also in the accompanying backstory of Yaakov his father.
Let’s take a look at Yosef first. As a young man and boy he has dreams of uniting his brothers, of leading them of providing for them and for them to recognize that as they prostrate themselves to him. Instead he is hated, he is thrown into a pit. He’s the opposite of a leader he’s a slave. Yet he takes in his new role and he sees this as the hand of Hashem. He has a new job a new shlichus, He’s the servant of the chief executioner of Egypt. Not exactly what he had planned. Later on just when he was getting good at his job and truly inspiring Egypt. Wadda Boom Wadda Bing he’s maligned, becomes the object of scorn and scandal and he’s in Jail. New job description- head of all the prisoners. Teach Torah and God and love of your fellow man to all of the lowlifes of Egyptian society in prison. Again not really the original plan. But hey, this is where he was placed. Then he must have a job there and he steps up to his new task. Once again he is flourishing and doing amazing. And wadda boom wadda bing he gets promoted and now he’s in Pharaohs palace. New job economic adviser to Egypt. Provide wheat for the entire world. Raise your two children in G-d forsaken Egypt and far away from your brothers, your father your land where it was all supposed to take place. But again Yosef rises to the occasion. Is it any wonder if this was my Bar Mitzva parsha that I would turn out the way I did.

Perhaps even more amazing than Yosef is the story of his father Yaakov. His whole life is one challenge after another. He is raised with his psychopath brother, Esau, and has to flee to another country, again far from his life’s mandate and dream, which is to realize the prophecy and his life’s mandate to become a Goy Gadol- a great nation in the land promised to Avraham, his grandfather. And yet he is stuck by his uncle the crook in Charan, He’s busy with goats and sheep and learning all of their mating habits. From over 20 years. He finally makes it back to Israel, and the challenges do not end. His daughter is kidnapped, his wife dies, and finally his beloved Yosef disappears. Over the last thing he is the most inconsolable. Can the dream and promise ever be fulfilled without Yosef; without all 12 of the tribes. It is devastating to him. And yet in this week it all comes together. He finds out Yosef is still alive. He sees the wagons that Yosef sends him and the food he sends for him and he realizes that Yosef was able to pick himself up in whatever situation and to continue to serve Hashem.

Yet he gets a devastating message. Hashem appears to him and tells him that he must go down to Egypt.
“And Hashem appears to Yisrael in the a night vision and he says ‘Yaakov Yaakov’ and He said Hineni-I am here
And He said ‘I am the G-d, the G-d of your father. Don’t be afraid of descending to Egypt, for I shall establish you as a great nation there. I shall descend with you to Egypt and I shall also bring you up. And Yosef shall place his hand on your eyes.”
Poor Yaakov. His whole life was about building a nation in Israel, and here it comes the news. Change in plans. You must go down to Egypt. The opposite of Israel, the 49th level of impurity. He is 130 years old. All of his children are finally together. The dream and all he had gone through his whole life finally has a chance to be realized. And yet he is given a new job, a new country, a new mission. Hashem tells him he will make him a great nation there in Egypt. But really who wants Egypt? That’s not what he was gunning for. That’s not what his life was meant to be about.

Yet Hashem tells him two things that will give him the strength and inspiration to do what he needs to do. First he speaks to him as Yisrael , but he calls to him as Yaakov. He in fact calls him twice in an endearing way. You are Yisrael that can overcome anything even an angel and yet you are Yaakov that still has the power and mission to raise up from the heel. Don’t worry. I am with you. I will go down with you. I will give you the power to go up from there. To raise up the entire Egypt. Rashi notes that Yaakov, never comes back to Israel. Hashem’s promise that he will be brought back up is a reference to after he is dead. He will be buried in Israel. The entire world, the Torah tells us in next weeks Parsha ultimately came to that funeral. Millions of people. The entire world that Yaakov uplifted, with his descent to Egypt. He was able to do that because as Hashem told him in the conclusion of that vision. That Yosef will place his hands over his eyes. Yosef, who as well continually transformed each mission and challenge wherever he was ‘sent’ in to a fulfillment of a new mandate in the service of Hashem. Yosef will help you close your eyes to your previously pre-conceived vision of the how things are ‘supposed’ to work and show you how one must always take on new missions wherever one is placed. Wherever Hashem sends you.

The Parsha next week begins and “and Yaakov lived” When Yosef is meets Yaakov again in this week’s Parsha it says Yaakov’s spirit lived again. In fact his response at that time is that I should Yosef before I die. It is then that Hashem gives him that nightly vision. Yaakov. I’m not ready for you to die. You will live. You will have a new life. It may not be the life that you thought, that you had planned. But it is the new life that I have for you. And Yaakov lives. In fact the Midrash tells us something fascinating, that Yaakov never dies. It doesn’t’ use the word and Yaakov died rather he expired. The spirit of Yaakov lives on. The ability and capacity that truly defines the Jewish people to pick up again and again and replant and rebuild and to take on once again the newest mission that Hashem places before us is the source of life that is in each of us. It is what defines us. It is the secret of our eternality. It is why we are called after him Bnai Yisrael- The children of Israel.

So there you have it a biblical psychological analysis of the life and time of tour friend here in Karmiel. I have no plans of ever leaving Karmiel and certainly not Israel. I pray every day that this is the last stop for the Schwartz family. There’s so much we want to do and accomplish here. There’s so much life that is waiting to be lived here. Yet, when people ask me if this is our last stop. I have gotten old and experienced enough to say, who am I to say? I’m just a shliach, a servant in the service of my Creator. He gives me my itinerary. I just go with the flow. May it be the will of our Creator, Our Father in heaven that he continues to keep the blessings flowing as well as I continue to experience life and live in His service.

Have a happy Shabbos and may the Schwartz be with you J.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJfzOJPH_Sk  – Obama Chanuka Israel and Star Wars

https://youtu.be/EsxB2P9m5cQ     – Lipa and Obama and the Yamaka Chanuka

https://youtu.be/aVz1kBnIDd0 - May the Schwartz be with you


Der koved iz fun dem vos git im, un nit fun dem vos krigt im..”-  Honor is measured by him who gives it, not by him who receives it.

.You gave through your servants the prophets when you said: 'The land you are entering to possess is a land polluted by the corruption of its peoples. By their detestable practices they have filled it with their impurity from one end to the other.  Ezra
Now honor the LORD, the God of your ancestors, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.”- Ezra
Therefore, do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them at any time, that you may be strong and eat the good things of the land and leave it to your children as an everlasting inheritance”-Ezra
“Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”-Nechemia
“But if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.”-Nechemia
Yartzeit this Weds the 9th of Tevet
Ezra and Nechemia (2nd Temple )- Another reason given for the fast of the 10th of Tevet is because it is also meant to commemorate those two prophets and heroes of the Jewish people who began the era of the “return to Zion” Ezra and Nechemia. Seventy years after our Exile from Jerusalem. The Jews were able to get a grant from Darius (possibly the son or grandson of Queen Esther), to rebuild the Temple. Ezra led the 42,000 returnees back and began construction of the Temple. The vast majority of Jews however chose to remain in comfortable Babylonia and Persia, although they were quite happy to make their “alimony” payments and support for the Temple structure. Y’know take my money and leave me alone. The ones that went with him were mostly the shleppers, former slaves as well as Kohanim and Levi’im. The Jews that rebuilt the Temple which was a small wooden structure rejoiced although the ones that had seen the former Temple wept. The process was stopped in the middle because of attacks from the Shomronim, Samarians that lived there. Until it was renewed again when Nechemia, who was an adviser to the King Cyrus was able to get a reprieve and approval and even financial support to rebuild the Temple. The Temple was completed incidentally on Chanuka, although a few hundred years before the Chanuka story happened.
During the years, the Jews began to intermarry and were quite ignorant of the laws. Even the child of the Kohen Gadol had a son that was intermarried- as we read in last week’s Haftorah. Ezra and Nechemia called the Jewish people together and  through his inspiration and the reverence with which he was held created a mass ceremony where the Jews gathered and undertook once gain to observe the Torah and leave their foreign wives and commit to the Temple and the service of Hashem. They also were successful in ridding the Temple of the corruption that was prevalent and the persecution of the poor, declaring all previous debts void and providing them with lands and homes as well as exemptions from taxes. The Talmud tells us that Ezra was so great that the Torah could have been given through him as it was through Moshe. Nechemia, is also credited with building the walls around Jerusalem- Not to be confused with the walls of the old city today as Jerusalem back then was the city of David to the Temple Mount.
answer below at end of Email
The prayer of Chana is considered a prefiguration of the.
A.    Manificat
B.     Benidictus
C.     Pater Nostra
D.    Ava Maria
Rashi didn’t have any extra ink. There is nothing that is written in his commentary that was written arbitrarily, without what Rashi felt was a need to explain something in the Pshat that one wouldn’t’ understand without his commentary. So when you find a Rashi that seems to just be merely translating something, you’re missing something. He’s not a Hebrew artscroll. He’s a commentary and making a comment.
This week is a great example. The verse tells us that all of the nations of the world come to Egypt to buy wheat from Yosef. And the verse says
“And Yosef gathered all the money that was to be found in the land of Mitzrayim and Canaan for the purchases that they were purchasing and Yosef brought all the money to Pharaoh’s palace.”
Rashi explains on the words the purchase that they were purchasing
“They would give the money to Yosef”
Now that would seem pretty obvious, wouldn’t it? I mean how else would Yosef get the money? We know that he was the one in charge. What is Rashi trying to teach us that we might be missing on our own?
The Minchas Yitzchak notes that the lesson that Rashi is trying to point out is that they gave the money to Yosef. The nations that came wanted to get into Yosef’s good graces. They brought money not necessarily just for the wheat, but for Yosef. “They gave the money to Yosef”-not Pharaoh. This was your typical middle Eastern under-the- table Bakshish, bribe money. Yet Yosef went out of his way to bring all the money to the house of Pharaoh. Nachmanides in fact explains that this is the whole reason the Torah is telling us this story about the financial dealings of Egypt. To show how Yosef acted ethically and honorably even beyond what he was obligated to do in his dealings with Pharaoh.
If only all of us and particularly our elected representatives would have that same moral fortitiude.

Targum Shivi’im- The Septuaguint -8th of Tevet the 3rd century BCE  – It was about a hundred years or so before the story of Chanuka. Alexander the Great had brought the Greeks to Israel and given them their own autonomy there. When he died his Empire was divided by his generals the Syrian Greeks in the north and the Ptolemaic Greeks in Egypt. Generally the Jews fared better under the control of the Ptolmeys in Egypt. Sometime under the rule of Talmay II the Talmud tells us that 72 sages were brought in to translate the Torah and the books of the prophets into Greek. The Greeks wanted to examine the Torah to see if there was anything that they found to be offensive. According to Talmud each of the sages were placed in a separate room and were asked to translate it. Miraculously enough each one of them-without prior consultation made various changes from the original text in order to obviate any confusion that the Greeks might have. The Torah was written so that its content might be open to a great variety of possible interpretations. The Torah was given in the Hebrew together with a prescribed method for interpreting its words, verses and letters; thereby eliciting the wide range of meaning which scholars see in them. There is no language whose words are as rich in possible connotation as is Hebrew, the holy language. For example, the sages translated "We will make Man" with "I will make Man" so that the non-Jews would not say that there are more than one God.  All 72 sages translated all of these difficult verses with the same variation. A Rabbi of mine once said the bigger miracle might have been if they had all been in the same room and came out with the same text….
The sages saw in this day, despite the miracle that occurred to be a day of great tragedy and declared it a national fast day, which is commemorated two days later together with the fast of the 10th of Tevet. It even describes how three days of darkness fell upon the earth after this translation was made. The reason why they felt it was a tragedy was in the words of the Talmud
“To what may the matter be likened? To a lion captured and imprisoned. Before his imprisonment, all feared him and fled from his presence. Then, all came to gaze at him and said, 'Where is this one's strength?”
In addition the sages felt that the Jews would now even more so assimilate into Greek culture viewing the Torah as just a historic translated text rather than the holy book it was meant to be.


Luke and Obi-Wan walk into a Chinese restaurant. Ten minutes into the meal, Luke’s still having trouble with the chopsticks, dropping food everywhere. Obi-Wan finally snaps, “Use the forks, Luke.
Q: Which program do Jedi use to open PDF files?
A: Adobe Wan Kenobi

Q: Which website did Chewbacca get arrested for creating?
A: Wookieleaks

Q: Why did Anakin Skywalker cross the road?
A: To get to the Dark Side.

Q: What do you call Chewbacca when he has chocolate stuck in his hair?
A: Chocolate Chip Wookie

Q: Why didn’t Luke cross the road?
A: Because he got a ticket for Skywalking.

Q: Which Star Wars character uses meat for a weapon instead of a Lightsaber?
A: Obi Wan Baloney

And last but not least
What do Jewish Star Wars fans play with? Droidles.!!
Answer is A- So the Christians, never being quite original theological thinkers, believe in this concept call prefiguration, which in a nutshell is the concept that everyone in the “New” Testament is a reincarnation/Gilgul of someone in the Old Testament. It’s how they were able to steal a lot of concepts from us. One of my Rabbis once told me, that a great sage was once asked how is it that Christianity, which is based on such blatant falsehoods able to survive for over a thousand years? Isn’t there a concept in the Torah called “Sheker Ain Lo Raglayim-That falsehood has no ‘legs”-it doesn’t have any sustainability?” And he responded that sinceit is based on the truths of the Torah so therefore despite its distortions and obfuscations it can still hang around. It closer to the truth than paganism. Well anyways I don’t’ even have patience to Wikipedia these things for you, so Ill work off my memory. Benidictus is like a thanksgiving prayer on redemption, Pater Noster or how its more commonly known as the “Lords Prayer” is like our Avinu Malkeinu. And Ava Maria or Hail Mary is a blessing on women and children. The correct answer is Magnificat which is stolen from the prayer of Chana for children in Tanach. In the church of visitation in Ein Karem in Jerusalem its all over the walls there in every language. And there you have it, more than you would ever want to know about this subject.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Sherlock Schwartz- Mikeitz/Chanuka 2015/5775

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

December 11th 2015 -Volume 6, Issue 10 29th Kislev 5776
Parshat Mikeitz/ Chanuka II
Sherlock Schwartz
I’ve always been a fan of detective and mystery stories. I think it started in my childhood when I was introduced to Encyclopedia Brown. Yes he was a skinny little nerdy kid, very different than me, at least the nerdy part J. But we both wore glasses and read a lot. From there I graduated to the Hardy boys and eventually moved on to Sherlock Holmes and Watson and Agatha Christie. Murder mysteries were the best of course. Because someone was gonna be in big trouble and it wasn’t me, which was a good thing. I learned after a while to look out for the little clues. To always suspect the the guy or girl that seemed to be the most innocent and try to see or figure out how they must be the culprit. It also gave me a lot of skills and ideas how I could get away with sneaking the chocolate chip cookies or sneak into the kitchen of yeshiva and pull off some late night chulent heists and cover up my tracks. This proved to be very helpful in my career of a burgeoning young Torah scholar.

The truth is though those detective skills as well help me as well in my studies. When spending hours on a page of Gemara and trying to find or develop an answer to a question that comes up while studying the text. One has to think out of the box. My Rosh Yeshiva O”BM Reb Moshe Shmuel Shapiro was the king of dissecting a Rashi and examining each word that Rashi uses, even the placement of his commentary, why he attached it to a certain text was a clue as to what nuance he was coming to explain, the secret to revealing the hidden meanings in the concise words of our sages in the text and bringing to light a whole new understanding that gives a new and glorious understanding to their holy words. Every Yeshiva student worth his merit becomes somewhat of a detective when we sit down to our Gemaras. You could just call me Sherlock Schwartz.

So that being the case, I’d like to ask you if you could help me solve a case I was presented with this. I’m sure most of you are familiar with it. Hopefully you’ve been reading it every year, but even if you haven’t you probably heard it minimally in Sunday School or in the worst case when you watched some Broadway Technicolor coat production. See the case is about a young 17 year old boy, let’s call him Joseph or Yosef if you want to be more authentic. His ten brothers, it seems, after determining that he was a danger to the family legacy and was a threat to the eventual monarchy with his his petty dreams of grandeur and his obsession with always being a “pretty boy”. So they plotted to kill him but in the end sold him down to Egypt and carried off the crime to their father with some goat blood on his famous colored coat. Allowing their father to think he was killed by wild animals. Not the greatest crime and cover up, but hey these guys were not really professionals, just some Rabbis, trying to make the best of a situation.

Close to two decades have since past and it seems that their father, let’s call him Yaakov, seems to be inconsolable. The brothers decide it’s time to find their brother and bring him back to their Dad. Knowing that Sherlock Schwartz is the best, tour guide, I mean Detective around they have engaged my services to help them find their long lost brother. OK, they didn’t. But it seems they probably should have because these guys, seem to be having a really hard time finding and figuring out where Yosef is. The truth of the matter is all they really needed to do is probably just open up the local newspaper over the past few years or even a quick google search. See I did Joseph in Egypt and I had 52,800,000 hits in .66 seconds. But let’s pretend that they didn’t have wireless service back then, although we know that has always been around, even ask my kids, or maybe they had Kosher phones (if you don’t know what this is don’t ask…). They probably could have asked any Egyptian kid and anyone of them would tell them the story of this poor Hebrew boy that was sold down to slavery to the Executioner of Pharaoh and was scandalized when he was accused of seducing his wife. I mean this was big news in Egypt. Juicy gossip, that I’m sure everyone was talking about. Even more than that this young boy was in prison and became the head of the prison, he interpreted dreams there for the royal baker and butler and eventually was released, by the grace of Pharaoh when he blew everyone’s mind away, being the only one who could interpret the dreams of Pharaoh. He was elected to be the Viceroy to Pharaoh and was pretty much second to the King in the most important Empire of the world. While the whole world was starving, this slave, who’s new name was Tzofnat Panayach- the seer of the hidden, not really a good cover up name for someone trying to hide his identity, comes up with the plan to feed the entire world. This should really not be a hard person to find and connect the dots with. I mean how many Hebrews are there, that are into dreams, that are very pretty and thus worthy of being seduced? You don’t need Sherlock for this.
To make matters a little easier. These brothers actually meet Yosef- I mean Tzofnas- when they come down to Egypt. Sure it’s been a while and yeah he didn’t shave back then, but come on? A little facial hair and these guys can’t see it? To make it embarrassingly simple. Yosef is also not too good this game and keeping a secret, he’s dropping hints right and left. I would never take him as a partner in crime. The first rule of trying to keep your identity secret is too try to blend in to  your environment; stay out of the press and act like the natives. Yet Yosef can’t seem to do that. He goes out of his way to start interpreting dreams, asking the butler and baker if they needed his help. Everywhere he goes he repeatedly keeps talking about this one monotheistic Hebrew God. Certainly not, a popular one in pagan Egypt. Finally when he meets his brothers, he throws them in the prison for three days, separating Shimon and Levi the two that set him up, he keeps asking about their father and their brother-his only one Binyamin from his mother Rachel, He sends them off with tons of a food and in their final meeting with them at the conclusion of this week’s Parsha he sits them all in accordance to age and according to the Midrash even Shechts their dinner in front of them removing the Gid Hanashe/Sciatic nerve a custom that was practiced only by their family. I mean Hello-oh as my children would say. Is anyone there paying attention? It also doesn’t’ help that he keeps excusing himself because he is overwhelmed all the time. Is there a reason that they are not figuring this out by now? Perhaps this is really the case for Sherlock Schwartz. Why don’t they “chap” already?

The answer I heard from one of my great teachers, is very revealing and so tragically true but can be found in the subtle words of our sages. Our sages said that when the brothers came to Egypt they entered through separate gates so as not to arouse suspicion, and then they went o find Yosef, to bring him back to their father. Where did they go? Our sages tell us they went to the one place that they assumed he would be. The Red Light District, the houses of ill-repute. They believed that Yosef was certainly the same Yosef that they had all sat in judgement on and could and would never amount to any good. If he was in Egypt alive still than there was only one place that he would be. They were so confident of their preconceived notion of him, that they were blind to all the other glaring clues that were hitting them in the face repeatedly. After-all they had ruled the nine of them (Reuvien had left for the moment) had sat down and even included Hashem in their court to make a full quorum. They couldn’t be wrong. Even though they were coming down to Egypt to bring Yosef back to their father, it was only to show him what a low-life he was. How right they were to do what they did and get him away from the holy tribes of Israel. I mean in all the families there were bad-apples, Abraham had Yishmael, and Isaac had Esau. Yosef is/was our bad apple.
The greatest irony is even when in next week they discover who he is our sages tell us that they were still considering killing him. According to one Midrash the angel Gavriel had to come down and to save him. It is incredible what our power of belief in our own determinations can be. These are not simple people, the tribes of Israel. Our sages tell us that they were all righteous and this was the only sin/mistake that they ever had made. Yet it is this sin that we still suffer from until day. The sin of suspicion, baseless hatred, the inability to grant someone the benefit of the doubt. To find the righteousness and potential for greatness in those that we automatically assume the worst in. That is the tragedy of the story of Joseph and his brothers. That is ours story that we still haven’t solved until today.

We are celebrating the holiday of Chanuka now. We always are when we read this Torah portion. AS every good detective knows there are no coincidences. The holiday and the celebration of Chanukah doesn’t revolve around the miracle of our victorious battle against the world Empire of the Greeks. It wouldn’t make sense to celebrate that as the Temple has since been destroyed, we’re being persecuted and terrorized and most tragically of all the majority of Jews are still pretty Helenized and assimilated- which is a bad thing- tragic that I even have to even give that disclaimer. The celebration of Chanuka is about the Menora, the ability of the Chashmonaim to go through jugs and jugs of impure oil and to find the one holy one, the smallest pint that might even last for one day only. That’s what we celebrate. The ability of the Jews to fight and do everything to find that last pure spark and to ignite it. To never give up that struggle to see that purity amongst the impure, that little piece of God that still remains. And then light and watch Hashem then preform a miracle as it burns and last until more pure oil can be brought. That is our holiday. That is the lesson that is eternal. And that is the lesson that is always juxtaposed on the Torah portion of Yosef and his brothers so that we learn the consequences and solve the ultimate mystery of why he have not yet been redeemed.

It won’t be too much longer for our mystery and drama to come to its glorious conclusion. The case has already been solved. The solution is clear. There are only a few pages left to the Book. I can’t wait to get to the sequel. Can you?
Have a radiant Shabbos and lichtige light filled Chanuka and a chodesh tov ,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNNJ_bSzaqI – Chanuka with a friend of mine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qPIq2B8Jvg Aish Shtar another friend of mine Chanuka rap cool!


Patsh zikh nit in beicheleh, ven fisheleh iz noch in teicheleh.”-  Don’t rub your belly when the little fish is still in the pond
.I follow in my father’s ways, but not exactly because he never copied anyone else  
“"Who says I do not follow my father's example? I most certainly do. For he did not follow his father's example”- an alternate version
I would love to swallow the whole Torah in one shot, but it is dangerous for it is like food it cannot be swallowed in one bite whole, but it is meant to be chewed first”- The Radzhiner Rebbe
Yartzeit this Weds the 4th of Tevet
Rabbi Gershon Henooch Leiner- The Radzhiner Rebbe (1839-1891)- The Radzhiner Rebbe, the third in the line of the great Izbitzh Chasidic dynasty was one of the most fascinating and remarkable Rebbes of his time. The Izbitze Chasidim which came from the lone of the hard core truth is everything Chasidus of Kotzk, were unabashed of their desire and need for truth no matter how unpopular it might be. The Radzhiner Rebbe certainly personified that ideal. He had many detractors in many of his great activities in life and yet he flourished despite all the challenges. In fact when he was thrown in jail, for some trumped up charges for 12 days until he was released, he wrote his epic work Orchos Chayim- on the will of the Tannaic sage Rabbi Elazar HaGadol, who was as well put in to excommunication by his peers, for sticking to what he felt was the truth.
He also revlotuionized the study of Talmud, particularly the order of the lwas of Purity, Taharot, as he put out a volume that looked like the structure fo Talmud taking all thementions of the laws of Taharot from all over Shas/the rest of Talmud. The work although heralded by the Rabbis of his time, was also controversial as some felt it looked too much like the real Talmud. The great Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik the leading sage of the time suggested that each page should state that this was merely a collection of the sage’s words and he of course accepted and it was thus published.
Perhaps The Radzhiner is most famous for his pursuit of the Techelet and his desire to reestablish this lost mitzva of the blue thread we are commanded to wear on our Tzitzit/fringes that had been lost for thousands of years from the Jewish people. Having extensively studied most science and medical subjects as well as being fluent in many languages he pursued his search for the Techelet to The aquariums in Italy where he spent years examining the various snails and fish that might be the Techelet. Ultimately when he “discovered the Techelel” he met with the Pope to try to convince him to see the garment of the Mikdash in the Vatican of the Kohen to verify his find. Ultimately when he brought his find back to Europe over 12,000 Chasidim began wearing it, including the great Rebbe the Maharsham of Berzhan. Incidentally it was Chanuka when this Techelet first came out.
Ultimatly the TEchelet was proven to be false and many others have and that he was lied to over there although many chasidim continue to wear those Tzitizis, while today many others wear the techelet from the Murex Trunculus that were found here in Israel.
The Rebbe died right after Cahnuka after arising from a coma a day before in time to light the Menora. May his memory be blessed.
answer below at end of Email
The concept of 40 Sa’ah is connected to
A.    Monetary law
B.     The bringing of the Bikurim (new fruits)
C.     The cutting of the wheat
D.    The laws of Mikva (ritual bath)
Ocasionally Rashi will bring the translation of Targum Onkelos if he feels it is necessary for understanding the Pshat. Sometimes if we examine it a little deeper we can see a great cool insight. This week is a classic example. For when Yosef is giving the orders to prepare a meal for his brother the verse says.
V’Tavoach Tevach V’Hachein Ki Iti Yochlu Ha’Anashim BaTzaharayim- And have the meat slaughtered and to prepare it for with me shall eat the men at noon. Rashi notes that the Targum translates the words Tzharayim as Sheiruta which mean the first meal of the day in Aramaic- he even translates it into old French as disner dejeuner in modern French is lunch but petit dejeneur is breakfast. Although generally it does mean the breakfast here it refers to the first meal of the day. Which in this case would be the main meal of the evening.
Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskind knows that the reason the Targum and Rashi are so specific about what meal this was, was because. The Talmud tells us that it was Shabbos. It notes that the word to prepare is used in the context of preparing for Shabbos and it thus derives that Yosef was Shabbos observant in Egypt. He even points out that it is why the next morning when they left Egypt. They didn’t go far from the city so as not to violate that laws of travelling outside of the boundaries of Shabbos. And it is the reason why Yosef was able to send them away and call tehm back so quickly.
See a small little “boring” translation Rashi and so much depth and so much beauty once you start to delve into it!
Siege of Jerusalem December 15th 1947 –  I know that for most people it is hard ot appreciate what life was like back in the day for Jerusalem. But let me put it this way. Meah Shearim was a border city of Jordan. Kind of like Sderot on Gazas Border today. The Old city, the Kotel, were all part of a different country. No- not Palestine. Jordan. There was a fence called the Mandlebaum gate that went right down the street. It remained that way for 19 years until 1967 and it all started on the last night of Chanukah in 1947 when Jordanian Arab Legion laid siege to Yerushalayim.
The Arab Legion surrounded Yerushalayim and isolated its 100,000 Jews from the rest of the Israeli population. By March 1948 the city was under full siege, and in May, Jordan invaded and occupied east Jerusalem, dividing the city for the first time in its history, and driving thousands of Jews into exile.  Miraculously and with great losses, the Hagana was able to get food into the old City during the battles for the road of Jerusalem. But unlimitedly a cease-fire agreement was reached and it ws handed over to the Jordanians.
The Arabs proceeded to destroy all 58 synagogues in the Jewish Quarter, and used Jewish gravestones on the Mount of Olives to build roads and latrines. The Western Wall would be off-limits to Jews (in spite of the cease-fire agreement granting freedom of access to holy places). There were tons of UN Resolutions passed against Jordan and the world loudly demanded that they not do that…just joking. No one cared. I just wanted to see if you were still paying attention. And that’s the way it stayed until 1967 when it was BH returned to us once again


Two cops rush to a crime scene behind a grocery store. The homicide detective is already there.
"What happened?" asks the first cop.
"Male, about thirty, covered in Raisin Bran and dead as a doornail."
"Oh my God," says the second officer. "Didn't we have one covered in Frosted Flakes yesterday? And Captain Crunch last week?"
"You're right. I'm afraid," said the detective as he took a drag from his cigarette, "this is the work of a cereal killer."
A small clothing shop had been burglarized and a detective was questioning the owner about how much she had lost.
"It's pretty bad," she said, "but not as bad as it could have been had he robbed me yesterday."
"Why would you say that?" the detective asked.
"Because everything was on sale today," the woman explained.
Two Mexican detectives were investigating the murder of Juan Gonzalez. "How was he killed?" asked one detective.
"With a golf gun." answered the other detective.
"A golf gun?! What is a golf gun?" asked the first detective.
"I don't know, but it sure made a hole in Juan!"
A tourist asks a man in uniform, "Are you a policeman?"
"No, I am an undercover detective."
"So why are you in uniform?"
"Today is my day off."

Answer is D- Another cool one to fall out when we are celebrating the holiday of purity. Sa’ah is a biblical measurement of volume. So that knocks out answer one. It can be used for wheat and for the Bikurim although the Bikiruim has no measurement it is only the new fruits. However 40 Sa’ah is the measurement of a Mikva. According to standard Jewsih practice a S’ah is about 14.3 liters so a Mikva should minimally have 575 liters. 40 though is a magic number as it is the days Moshe when up to the Mountain and received the Torah. It is a time of birth and whenever one undergoes a transformation of the Mikva from impurity to purity they most immerse themselves in a Mikva. Some have the custom to go every week before Shabbos. It’s a good thing.