Our view of the Galile

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Worth-y Dance- Bechukosa i/ Lag Ba'Omer 5776 2016

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

May 26th 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 34 18th Iyar 5776
Parshat Bechukosai/Lag Ba’Omer

A Worth-y Dance
He was close to 85 years old and he was staring at the burning embers of the Lag Ba’Omer bonfire. He didn’t make it to Meron this year. In fact it had been difficult for him to go for quite a while. The crowds, the traffic, the packed mob scene, it wasn’t for a man his age. But he always made a bonfire. He always sang songs about Rabbi Shimon, the great sage in whose death the great light of the Zohar was said to be revealed. It was a day that moved him.
Rav Chaim Druckman’s student asked him when the first time he went to Meron was as he was sitting their watching the bonfire. He told me that it was in 1945, when he had just turned Bar Mitzva, the year he made Aliya escaping the inferno that burnt in the Holocaust on an ‘illegal’ refugee boat. When asked what it was like he told his student that he can’t even describe it. But he wanted him to appreciate it.
“Realize” he told him “there are more people that went up to Meron this year (close to 600,000) then there were in the entire Israel at that time in 1944.” Look at how far Hashem has brought us. Look at the miracle that we are now celebrating. The burning embers, the sparks that can never be extinguished. That is the symbol of Rabbi Shimon. That is the light of the Torah that despite all the forces of the world to wipe us out. The brighter we will always continue to shine.
I’m not 85 yet. My first Meron experience wasn’t 70 years ago it was close to 25 years ago. But even in that short quarter of a century-man it hurts to even write that much time about myself, it makes me sound old- it has certainly changed. Back in my day it was as well a pretty packed mountain top. I remember the bonfires, the people slaughtering sheep for their BBQ’s, the little three year old boys getting their first haircuts and of course the endless singing and dancing all night and day long. But it wasn’t 600,000 probaly more like 50-100 thousand pilgrims that came to celebrate. Today it’s absolutely a different world. Tens of tents set up with free food, literally bumper to bumper human traffic, no cars allowed up anymore shuttle buses only. But the one thing that has stayed the same is the diversity of the people that are there. religious, secular, sefardic, ashkenazic, zionist, hareidi they all join hands. They all are dancing together. They are all drawn to the grave of this 2nd century sage. Rebbe Shimon connects them all together.
If you ask me Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai at first glance doesn’t seem to be the person that would be so popular. In many ways the Talmud description of much of his views seemed extreme. It was he who spoke bad about the romans when Rabbi Yehuda was praising him-which ultimately led to his fleeing and hiding for 12 years in a cave with his son. It was he as well that when he came out of the cave “wherever he would look turned into a pile of bones” as he couldn’t stand to see people not utilizing their time for non-spiritual pursuits, until Hashem sent him back to the cave for another year, lest he destroy the entire world. It is famous explanation to reconcile the contradictory statements of the Torah that one should study Torah day and night and that one will be blessed with gathering in his harvest by saying that when one is full engrossed in doing the will of Hashem the gentiles will harvest for him. The blessing of a full crop that would necessitate leaving Torah to study it, is only when we are not doing the will of Torah. These extremists’ views from the looks of the people dancing certainly don’t seem to be the figure that they would be celebrating over. So why Rabbi Shimon. What made him the magnet, that since the period of the Ari”zl in the 1500’s Jews have been flocking increasingly to his grave?
This week’s Torah portion Bechukosai contains in it the laws of vows that someone pledges according to the value of a person. Someone has a child perhaps and would donate money of his value, or he wants a personal redemption, or perhaps a special merit for a loved one. The Torah gives a price list depending on the age and gender of the person. The number is a Divine number. All men, for example, that are the age of 20-60 are 50 shekel. This has nothing to do with how much the persons earning potential would be, this is just the number that Hashem gave to each person in how much each particular class is valued at in regards to these particular pledges. The Ishbitzer Rebbe notes an absolutely incredible point from this law. He points out that when the Jews sinned with the Golden Calf their atonement was meant to be that each person would give a half shekel coin. Think about this. Perhaps the worst sin in the Torah. Literally 40 days after we had the revelation at Sinai the Jewish the Jewish people were dancing and singing and prostrating themselves before an idol. It probably looked like Meron. However, the Ishbitzer says, what is the atonement that Jewish people are given for this seemingly horrible sin? Each Jew was mandated to give a half shekel. That’s right a half shekel. I was never good at math, so the Ishbitzter does it for me; that’s exactly 1% of his value. 99% of the Jew even after the worst sin is still pure. 99% of him does not need an atonement. The worst damage, a Jew can do to that holy soul that burns inside of him is only the smallest portion of who he is. But to quote Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai “All Jews are like princes of the King”.

The portion of Bechukosai is the 33rd portion of the Torah. The portion that deals with the laws of Erechin-these vows of the value of a person also contains 33 verses. These are meant to be corresponding to the 33 verses that deal with the blessings and curses. If you had a doubt whether the reading of this week should really be according to the custom of Israel…. Bechukosai is the portion of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai who died on the 33rd- Lag of Omer. Rabbi Shimon is the individual that when he came out of the cave and he saw a Jew dancing with two haddasim-myrtle branches running in honor of Shabbos said to his son “see how precious the mitzvos of Hashem are to His children”. Rabbi Shimon is the one who when his son went to someone to get a blessing and he was cursed instead, counseled him that every curse is really a blessing in disguise, a blessing that is yet to be realized. Rabbi Shimon as well said that despite the mandate to study all day and all night and not waste that tremendous soul of ours, one can fulfill one’s obligation of daily Torah study by reciting just the verse of Shema each morning and each night. One verse. Rabbi Shimon understood that despite how different we may look and we may even behave, we all are 99 percenters. We are the children of one King. That, my friends, is something to dance about.

Have an ecstatic Shabbos and a Lag Samayach,

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://youtu.be/rQnTodvonmk   –Lag Ba’Omer Meron 1935 Wow!

https://youtu.be/j5S_uY4riOw  -Funny Gefilte Fish tribute song-Yiddish speakers will really enjoy!

A melocheh iz a melucheh, ober men hot nit kain minut menucheh.”- A trade makes you a king but robs you of leisure


“If I were present at the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, I would have demanded two mouths: one for continuous study of the words of the Torah, and the other for eating However this would not be very wise, since even now when man has but one mouth, he says so many wrong things. How much more so if he had two!”

“Man should rather jump into a fiery furnace than offend another in public”

“There is nothing in the world that stands in the way of Teshuva-Repentance”

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai 18th of Iyar early 2nd century -Every year, when Lag BaOmer (18 Iyar) comes around, we remember the great and holy Tanna (Mishnaic sage) Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who died on this day about eighteen centuries ago. To this day, pious Jews make an annual pilgrimage to Kefar Meron, in the Land of Israel, to pray at the tomb of this great and holy scholar.
When Shimon was a young boy, he studied in the great academy of the scholars of Yavneh, founded by Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, who died just about the time that Shimon was born. Shimon’s principal teacher was the famous Rabbi Akiva, who had his academy at Benei Berak. So attached did Shimon become to his master, Rabbi Akiva, that the latter called him “my son.”
During the cruel persecution by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, when the Talmudic Academies were shut down and the study of the Talmud was forbidden on penalty of death, Rabbi Akiva continued to teach the Talmud publicly, and his devoted pupil Shimon stayed at his side, until Rabbi Akiva was arrested. Even then, Shimon continued to visit his master in prison to receive instruction there. Only death finally separated them, for Rabbi Akiva was condemned to die a martyr’s death forKiddush Hashem (the sanctification of G‑d’s name).
Those were very difficult times for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel under the brutal persecution of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. It was particularly difficult for the sages to study the Talmud and to conduct schools. On penalty of death, it was also forbidden to ordain students of the Talmud. Both the ordaining Sage and the ordained scholar were put to death if caught. The entire Jewish religious life was in danger, until the great Rabbi Yehudah ben Baba publicly ordained five famous scholars, defying Hadrian’s cruel decree. Rabbi Shimon was one of these five scholars. (Rabbi Meir was another one.) The Roman authorities were soon after these dauntless Jewish champions. The ordained scholars escaped, but Rabbi Yehudah ben Baba was caught and put to death.
Finally, the cruel Hadrian died in great pain, and his decrees were no longer enforced with the same brutality as before. Then the leading sages of that time gathered to consider ways and means of restoring Jewish religious life. Among the leading sages gathered at Usha, we find Rabbi Shimon again. For reasons of safety, the sages moved to Yavneh, where they sat in conference in a vineyard. The leading sages were Rabbi Yehudah, Rabbi Yosei the Galilite, and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Discussing what attitude to take towards the Roman government, Rabbi Yehudah suggested a friendly one, Rabbi Yose expressed no opinion, while Rabbi Shimon spoke very bitterly of the Roman tyrants, and advocated every possible defiance. For Rabbi Shimon could never forget the terrible sight of his beloved master and teacher, Rabbi Akiva, being tortured to death by the Roman executioners. The sages were not aware that their conversation was overheard by a certain young man, Judah ben Gerim. At one time a disciple of Rabbi Shimon, Judah ben Gerim later turned spy for the Roman authorities. This treacherous man reported the conversation of the sages to the Roman authorities. At once they decreed honor and rank for Rabbi Yehudah for speaking favorably of them, exile for Rabbi Yosei for failing to do so, and death for Rabbi Shimon, who dared to challenge them.
Rabbi Shimon fled for his life together with his son Rabbi Elazar. For some time they stayed in hiding in the Bet Hamedrash (academy), where Rabbi Shimon’s wife brought them bread and water daily. When the search was intensified, they decided to seek a better hiding place. Without telling anyone of their whereabouts, they hid in a cave. G‑d caused a carob tree to spring up at the entrance to the cave, as well as a spring of fresh water. For twelve years, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son Elazar dwelt in the cave, sustaining themselves on carobs and water. During the time, they studied and prayed until they became the holiest sages of their day.
Rabbi Shimon settled in the town of Tekoa, where he founded a great academy. The greatest scholars of the time gathered there to receive instruction from Rabbi Shimon. Among them was Rabbi Yehudah, the son of Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel, the Nassi, later the compiler of the Mishnah.
One day Rabbi Shimon met Judah ben Gerim, the treacherous spy who had caused him so much trouble. Rabbi Shimon exclaimed, “Is this man still alive?” and soon afterward Judah ben Gerim died.
Once again religious persecution increased. The Romans prohibited Shabbat observance and other important Jewish laws. The Sages decided to send a delegation to Rome, and chose Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai to head the delegation. After healing the Emperors daughter he was able to achieve a dissolution of the decrees.
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is the author of the sacred Zohar (“Brilliance”), containing mystic interpretations of the Torah, and chief source of the Kabbalah.Rabbi Shimon is also the author of Sifri and “Mechilta of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. May his great merit be an advoacate for all of us.

answer below at end of Email
Q. The second crusade was intended to:
A.    Liberate Acre
  1. Liberate the Holy Sepulcher
  2. Liberate Edessa
  3. Fight against Saladin

I’m a tour guide-in case you didn’t know… So when I see the word Tiyul- tour in Rashi, it catches my eye. Who is the tourists in this week’s Torah portion. This week doesn’t seem to have any tours in it. The portion deals mainly with the curses and blessings for following or disobeying the commandments. Well in the blessing portion Hashem says if you will walk in my laws then
VhitHalachti Imachem- I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people.”
Rashi then makes the statement- Etayeil Itchem B’Gan Eden- I will stroll (or tour) with you in the Garden of Eden.
Wow! Talk about having an incredible tour guide? Hashem promises that if we walk in the ways of his Mitzvos he will be our tour guide, he will stroll with us through the Garden of Eden. Not even I can compete with that. Where does Rashi get this from? How does he see this in the verse? Who mentioned Gan Eden? Rabbi Dovid Fohrman notes that Rashi is noting the strange word Mithalech which really means more like I will do something together with someone- like Lihitkasher- to connect or call someone. Or as well it is reflexive as if to say I will take myself for a walk. There is another time where we have that word Mithalech? Guess where? You got it! In Gan Eden when Adam and Eve had sinned the verse says that the voice of Hashem was Mithalech BaGan- it was walking in the garden.
Interesting. There Hashem was looking so to speak to walk with his newest creations. With Adam and Eve. He calls out Ayeka-where are you? But they are not there. They are hiding. Hashem wants to be Mithalech with someone…with us.. Where are we? He therefore has to force Himself to be Mithalech but it is alone. Here Rashi sees in the blessing our ability to restore us to that time. If we follow the commandments He will walk with us. He will be on a Tiyul with us. That is what awaits us. What an incredible Rashi!


19th  of Iyar May 28th 1948- Fall of the Jewish Quarter in Old City of Jerusalem -The Jewish Quarter was under siege during the War of Independence, from December 1947 (following the United Nations’ decision to terminate the British Mandate and establish the Jewish state as part of the Partition Plan) until May 1948. For 150 days, the Arabs laid partial siege to the Jewish neighborhood, while the city was under British control. During that period a large number of incidents exacted a bloody toll on the residents and defenders of the Jewish Quarter.
When the British left in 1948, 1,500 Arabs from the neighboring Arab states and a battalion belonging to the Arab Legion were enlisted to attack the Jewish Quarter. The Jewish Quarter was defended by 200 fighters from the resistance movements, the Haganah, the Irgun and the Lehi (the Stern Gang). The defenders of the Jewish Quarter fought for 13 successive days, driven from house to house until their strength began to fail, their losses mounted and their ammunition ran out. Dawn broke on May 27, but reinforcements still had not arrived. It was clear to all that the end was approaching. The enemy launched an onslaught on the Street of the Jews, and the Hurva synagogue of Rabbi Yehuda Hassid was captured and blown up by the Arabs. This dramatic act symbolized the end of the battle for the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.

On May 28, the area of the Jewish Quarter had dwindled to 20 dunams (20,000 square meters) in which 1,600 residents crowded helplessly. The two rabbis of the Quarter, Minzberg and Hazan, went out to negotiate with the Arab Legion representatives on surrender conditions. The Legion officers demanded that the rabbis bring a Haganah representative and Weingarten as well. After several hours of discussions, in the presence of UN representative Dr. Azcarate, the surrender agreement was signed. The Jewish signatories were the Quarter Commander Moshe Rosnak and Weingarten; the Arabs were represented by Abdullah el-Tel, with Dr. Azcarate signing on behalf of the UN. The document was written in English and Arabic.

The defenders surrendered. 350 residents and defenders were taken captive and 1,400 were expelled from their homes. 68 people from the Jewish Quarter were slain during the six months of fighting: 39 fighters and 29 civilians. There were 180 wounded fighters in hospital when the Legion captured the Jewish Quarter. Abdullah el-Tel gave orders for the healthy fighters to be concentrated and separated from the civilians. Just thirty-five fighters lined up. The Legion commander could not believe his eyes. "You have deceived me," he said. "If I had known your true size, I would have fought you with sticks."

That evening, the residents of the Jewish Quarter, together with the severely wounded fighters, were taken through Zion Gate to the New City. The prisoners of war were conveyed to the Kishle prison, and the following day transported to Jordan.
This marked the end of the heroic struggle of the defenders of the Jewish Quarter.

Children to Pinocchio “Would you like to celebrate Lag Ba’Omer with us?
Pinocchio “But I don’t have any branches or wood?”
Children- :)))))
Pinocchio- :(((((((

So the Breslaver was standing by the grave of Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai and he was pouring out his heart and was overheard saying “Rebbe Shimon, please



Answer is C – Crusaders were bad people. They killed a lot of Jews. In fact most of the mourning customs during the period of Omer, began as a result of the deaths of the Jews during the period of Omer in the period of the Crusades. Truth is I wasn’t that interested in the Crusades, but a lot of killing, a lot of churches, a lot of wars, yadda yadda… But there are some important dates to know and as a result of that I could figure out the answer. The first Crusade was 1099 and the crusaders threw out the muslims. Salaadin came back in the 1187 and reconquered Jerusalem. The Third Crusade was about getting rid of him. Meaning the 2nd Crusade was before Saladin. As a result of that Akko and Jerusalem and the Church where the J-Man was supposedly buried were still under the Crusader control. Meaning the only answer that makes sense is liberating Edessa which isn’t even in Israel. So I really didn’t care about it as I am not a tour guide in Turkey. So there.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Poli-Si- Behar 2016 5776

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

May 20th 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 33 11h Iyar 5776
Parshat Behar

Poli -Si
Ok it’s time for some political science here in our weekly E-Mail. The elections are coming up. There are two distinct parties. I hate all three candidates that are left in the field. See in Israel it’s not as much of a problem. I hate all the candidates here as well. But here we vote for a party. I like parties. They’re fun. So I pick the party that best represents my ideology and I’m done. I pretend to turn a blind eye to the crooks and con artists and self-interested politicians that ultimately distort and subvert the message and ideology of their parties. Some to get a chance at getting photo-op on the Rose Garden with whatever sitting president, some for the chance at an (ig) Nobel Peace Prize, and some just to get extra money, honor, or a good shidduch for their children and the fawning of some big Rabbis. I ignore the realities of how these people play out. After-all they’ll probably end up in jail anyways soon. It’s where all good Israeli politicians end up eventually. We have a lot of empty space in our prisons since it seems we’re letting all out all the terrorists and murderers anyways. So we might as well put our prisons to good use and make them a retirement center for aging crooked politicians. That way we can make room for the aspiring new generation of them. And like I said I like parties.
But American politics are different. You vote for the president. I have bitten my tongue in the past and voted for people I did not like. But this year I’m having a hard time even doing that. A megalomaniac nut-  job, and possible misogynistic racist, a lying Arab loving, Arafat-kissing (sorry I can’t get that image out of my mind) power hungry, stilted wife who has stuck with her cheating husband merely to further her own career and blindly driven ambition or a socialist religiously clueless Jew who is bound to sell out his own people and country just to prove what a goy he can be. Sigh…It’s not even a question of the lesser of which evil. Rather it is which one do I think will pretty much bring the end to that once great country America sooner. Like the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, French, Russians and Turks before them, the great world empire is pretty much getting ready to wrap up shop. It will be interesting to see if the Jewish people and the State of Israel will rise up to fill that void that keeps opening up for us to fill. I’m not too hopeful that we can do it on our own. I am even more hopeful that Mashiach will come and help us get our act together. It would really stink for all those stubborn American Jews to head off to Canada or even China rather than to come home and make it happen. But hey we’ve done stupider things before in our history.
So let’s talk political science for a minute or two. Let’s pretend that in America you could vote for the party. Republican or Democrat which platform is more in line with our Torah’s values? Now the concept of ‘more’ in line is really an oxymoron your either in line or you’re not in line. Your either driving in your lane or your out of your lane. There’s really not much room for grey in the incredible clear system that the Torah describes. And being that the Torah is based on the notion of God and religion defining our system of governance, the American system which is based on the principle of separation of ‘church and State” is already out of line. Don’t get me wrong, the Torah is all for keeping the church out of State and in truth out of this world as well. It is in fact quite clearly fundamentally premised on really getting rid of all the false ‘religious’ systems and fallacies out there. We may not be obligated to wipe them out or kill them-certainly not outside of Israel and certainly not today without the benefit of a King, a court system or in our period of Exile. But we are unquestionably meant to decry the falsehood and the desecration of Hashem’s name that is being distorted by every other faith system. We were put on this earth and our chosen nation status is that we are meant to teach and inspire the world with our ultimate truth, the revelation we alone received on Mt. Sinai. So a system that is based on the premise that religion and Judaism should not play a role in defining the principles of how it is run is already fundamentally flawed.
At the same time the concept of freedom of religion worked out pretty well for the Jewish people. Most places that we have been in our long exile, that had a state based religion ended up killing or expelling us a lot quicker. The freedoms that Jews have had in the US of A are pretty historic and I certainly have a lot of love and patriotism for my birth country and appreciation for it serving as a fairly comfortable resting place for my people until we get to where we need to. Which is why it saddens me somewhat to seeing them go down the tubes so quickly. But hey, let’s not fool ourselves. Let’s not forget our history. 200 years or so is not a bad run for us to hang out in a place.
But I keep digressing. So let’s take the platforms. Conservatism which is pretty much the Republican platform(-although I know that some tea-party and real political scientists may rightfully disagree, but I’m try to keep this simple. There are after-all jokes to get to at the bottom of this E-mail-) is defined by that great source of all wisdom, Wikipedia, as being
“a broad system of political beliefs that is characterized by respect for American traditions, anti-communism, advocacy of American exceptionalism and a defense of Western culture from perceived threats posed by creeping socialism, moral relativism, multiculturalism, and liberal internationalism. Conservatives support capitalism and free market. American conservatives usually place individual liberty as the fundamental trait of democracy, which contrasts with liberals, who generally place a greater value on social equality and social justice for minorities, and the welfare state, and emphasize the need for state intervention to achieve these goals”
OK let’s take this apart. I don’t know what ‘American traditions’ are. I am a fan of apple pie and I respect a good one. I’m not a baseball fan though, although my son is, yet I don’t know if that is something I should respect. Just because a guy could hit a ball with a stick very far and gets paid millions to do it doesn’t mean he should get respect. Although it is pretty impressive that he is able to make that kind of money for seemingly not much intellectual accomplishment. I certainly don’t respect Chevrolet, let’s not fool ourselves the Japanese do the car thing better.
But moving on. I don’t like communists- they killed Jews, although I don’t think it’s a threat anytime soon. ‘American exceptionalism’-hey why not? Not that I think it’s exceptional in all areas but it’s always a good thing to praise the country that’s good to you. ‘Defending western culture from the perceived threats’ is kind of an obtuse statement. Yes there are serious threats facing the US, and yes I think that they should be defended against; although I don’t know if I would include ‘multiculturalism’ as one of them. Sadly a country that won’t allow a Torah perspective to run and direct its defense though is ill equipped to do so. And I’ve never been a fan of ill equipped defenses. Generally that just delays the inevitable defeat.
‘Liberty’ is a good thing-in fact that’s what this week’s Torah portion is about. But as we will see, a Jewish perspective of individual liberty not the fundamental trait of our Torah governance, but rather as a part of the greater picture of communal responsibility and commitment to our religious values. Additionally our values certainly believe- and even at the expense of individual liberty- in the notions of social justice, welfare state and even state and government intervention. So I’m pretty sure I’m not a Republican, although like I said I do like apple pie.
Let’s take the next team, the Democrats, a party that certainly traditionally always had the Jewish vote. It’s kind of hard to define their platform historically as they’ve changed a lot over the years. After all they were the ones that opposed the abolition of slavery and it was Eisenhower a Republican that pushed through the Civil rights act that was opposed for years by LBJ the Democrat (who did eventually vote for it) and it passed with a much greater Republican support then Democratic. Economically as well the Democrats were against the Reconstructionist efforts of the Republicans government intervention after the civil war and were opposed to ‘Big government’ until WWI and FDR’s New Deal. So it’s hard to pin them down. But let’s for a moment take a look at the new current wave of Social Democracy that Bernie is touting and I suspect that Hillary is in line with as well. Again to the Wikipedia Rebbe
‘Social democracy is a political ideology that supports economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the framework of a capitalist economy, and a policy regime involving collective bargaining arrangements, a commitment to representative democracy, measures for income redistribution, regulation of the economy in the general interest and welfare state provisions. Modern social democracy is characterized by a commitment to policies aimed at curbing inequality, oppression of underprivileged groups, and poverty; including support for universally accessible public services like care for the elderly, child care, education, health care and workers' compensation.’
Now how does this sound to you? I like the framework of capitalism part, as we all know that communism and the removal of the profit incentive doesn’t work. I am also a fan of curbing inequality, oppression and poverty-particularly my own. If Social democrats wanna help me or my synagogue out we’re here for you. Certainly as well the premise of income redistribution and correcting income inequality are also not necessarily foreign concepts to a Torah perspective. We are the ones that invented the concepts of the tithing system, of leaving portions of ones field for the needy, of creating institutions of learning and free education for all. The torah in fact and our sages felt the need to legislate all of these things. We can’t trust people to be good and generous on their own. So what can be wrong with a system like this?
I think my problem and perhaps the Torah’s problem is with the social aspect of this engineering. For a man to limit and take money from the rich to disburse to the poor is stealing. For a government, particularly if it is based on the will and ‘revolution of the people’ to do so as well is a recipe for disaster. Remember the French Revolution? The communist Revolution? The peasants, the proletariat, the plebes never really became a better society the just replaced the bourgeois they overthrew.
But leave history aside, the system won’t work. For if I work hard and make it and this guy is just sitting on his laurels and waiting lazily for his handout and he receives all of the benefits that I do, what motivation is there for someone to innovate, to work harder, to produce to get a job, to change the world and achieve the fulfillment of his Divine mandate. I think it is quite telling that despite the fact that Sweden and Denmark have half the poverty rate as the United States does, yet their unemployment rate is higher and they certainly are not even close to the US or any capitalist country in terms of innovation, productivity and even education.
The truth is this thing about equality also troubles me. On one hand we certainly believe that all individuals are equal before the eyes of our Creator, after all we are His kids. We brought that notion to the world. Yet, unlike the Social Democrats we believe there are certainly different roles and limitations that each of has and are meant to play. Roles that prohibit some people from doing things that others can. Roles that are different because of gender, because of lineage, roles that are even different because of deformities and disabilities. It doesn’t mean we’re not equal. It doesn’t mean we are less special. It means that we are just different and our Creator has designed unique roles for each of us to achieve our fullest potential. We each have our own purpose that we are meant to realize, our own piece of fixing the world that only we can do, our won portion in the world to come and our own portion in the Torah. We each have our own bathrooms as well- sorry I couldn’t resist and this E-mail is getting too long without a joke-That appreciation of our differences and our different roles and our responsibilities is what I think is lacking in their perspective and that will ultimately serve as the reason why their system is doomed to failure.
But even more than that troubles with me. I don’t trust people that read the New York Times. I don’t trust people that look at others as morally inferior because I don’t buy into their self-developed visions of what morality is. This is especially true if their morality for the most part is premised on the lack of recognition of God, His Hand in all that runs in this world, and the superior notion that those morally elite are more qualified to engineer society then us primitive God-believing and fearing citizens. When in fact socialist parties and the generally atheistic or at least agnostic leadership has usually turned out to be just as, if not more corrupt and morally bankrupt not only in their personal lives but in their positions of power as the rest of their counterparts. The fact that most of them are so double standard and so removed from the reality of what Israel is facing and the lies of the UN, the Arab world and the threat that fundamental radical Islam poses to the world also prevents me from ever considering to give them my vote.
So I’m stuck. I look at this week’s Torah portion and it’s first words that introduce the laws of the Sabbatical year; that year which even Social Democrats could never come up with. When every single field owner opens up his field for an entire year for anyone to come and take what they want, that every loan, debt and mortgage that I have becomes null and void, and I understand what the Torah is telling me in 2016.
“And Hashem spoke to Moshe on Mt. Sinai saying”
The famous Rashi on this verse says
What does Shemitta/ the Sabbatical year have to do with Sinai weren’t all the commandments said on Sinai? -rather it is to teach you that just as Shemitta and its laws and its fine details were given on Sinai so to all the laws were.”
I am even more astounded by the Torah’s command that in the 50th- Yovel/Jubilee year besides the regular laws of Shemitta any land I purchased returns to its original owners. I have to move out of my rightfully purchase dhouse that I have been living in for the past 49 years and hand it over to that shlub down the  block who can’t even take care of his own field. Huh? Why? Because I understand that the Land is Hashem’s to decide. Not mine. The premise for any law, any ‘social engineering’ can only work because Hashem who gave us this land directs us how to use it. It needs the God component, otherwise it can’t and won’t work.
I read the various incredible laws that are so anti-democratic and anti-republican that the Torah talks about how one should preferably do business with a fellow Jew, rather than who is not Jewish, as the verse says
“When you make a sale to your fellow or when you buy from the hand of your fellow, do not victimize your brother
Our sages derive that this is a mitzva to preferably do business with a Jew, your brother. This would rightfully be considered discriminatory and there is no nation that has ever suffered more from that type of discrimination then the Jewish people historically. Yet the Torah thus commands. It was given on Sinai. It is from the Creator and Father of all mankind that loves all of His children equally and wishes to build a unique special bond between His chosen children that are meant to represent Him to the rest of the world. Think of it as a Divine preferred shoppers only club. Discriminatory? You tell me.
These same club members are obligated to bail out their brother. Obligated! They are prohibited from charging them interest for any loan that they give them. Prohibited! They are obligated to find a job for the unemployed and when they can’t afford to pay for their bills to you and are forced to indenture themselves to you for a limited time it is your obligation to not only support him but his entire family as well and to never have him do any demeaning work- as Rashi explains carrying your stuff after you or helping you put on your shoes. You have to treat him as any other worker that is in your factory, despite the fact that you are paying for his whole families’ entire upbringing. No union would be able to pull off those terms.
You can only hire him for a certain amount of years until the Yovel comes and must assist him in gaining redemption. In fact you are obligated to redeem him from a non-Jewish owner. Get that? A Jew is obligated to take his hard earned money and provide and raise up and redeem even a Jew that has left his faith and has gotten himself into trouble. I am forbidden from turning my eye and from closing my wallet. I am forbidden not only from ever demeaning him but I am obligated to restore him to his former dignity. These laws don’t make sense unless you understand that they were given by Hashem. That the function of these mitzvos is to understand that
“the children of Israel are servants to Me, whom I have taken of the Land of Egypt- I am Hashem”.
Our Parsha as well discusses idolatry the obligation to eradicate it, to have awe of the Temple, to observe the Shabbos, all of these ‘religious laws’ come with the death penalty. There is no religious freedom or liberty in the Torah society. Because it is not about social justice. It is about Divine justice. It is about bringing the world to a recognition that it has a Creator. That the Jew has a Master that he dedicates his entire life to listening to. That this Master is kind, is just, loves His children has created the world for their benefit. That these mitzvas were not made up by popular votes, by Primaries or Supreme courts or through any type of man-made democratic system. Rather they were given to us on Sinai. It’s not something you’ll get in a Poli Sci class, rather in a Poli Sinai class. Those are the elections that will count.
In our daily Amida/Shemona Esrei prayer and blessings when ask Hashem for our personal requests, He is described as many different things. He is Holy. He bequeaths knowledge. He is gracious and forgiving. He is our Redeemer and the Healer of the sick. Yet there is only one blessing that Hashem is described as loving something. In the blessing that we ask for the return to our former leadership, where we ask Hashem to remove from us the grief and despondency of that void of a Divine spiritual God driven leadership. We conclude the blessing with ‘Blessed are You Hashem the King who loves Charity and Justice.’ This blessing is the prelude to the blessing of the request for the great shofar to return the exiles back home. It is the prelude the return of Hashem to Jerusalem, the city he has already returned us to, but yet has to come back to. Hashem loves the principles of charity and justice that He gave to the world through his leaders, because it is only when the fallacies of all the other systems come to the forefront will we be ready to come back home.
We’re there boys and girls. If you haven’t started turning your eyes up to heaven and praying that He finally return us to that only system where His great Name will be recognized and made great in this world. If you still somehow are trying to fit and find yourself and our values in any of the political constructs that are out there or in the representation of any of their proponents or candidates, you’re selling yourselves, the world and Him short. Since there’s really no one to vote for this year anyways, I have an idea for the upcoming election. How about filling in God on your ballot. How about telling the world what- Who we are truly meant to be voting for. What we are praying for. Who really has our vote. That shouldn’t be harder than writing in Trump or Hillary. Should it?
Have an outstanding Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



https://youtu.be/fs2vFiR0bUwAwesome video of NY Jews going to Morroco really cool scenes, customs, grave of son of Shlomo, and the Bais Hamikdash replica there..

https://youtu.be/FfrSKJ2xgS4 HaRabi acapella version

https://youtu.be/uRcc9wd1Cdw -Leiner Yodat another one of my favorite songs acapella version with blinkers as well! 

“Eyn oyg hot mer gloybn vi tsvey oyern”- Trust one eye more than two ears.


“You have friends some will rebuke you and some will praise you Love the rebukers and hate the praisers for the rebukers will bring you to the next world and the praisers will take you out of this world”

“‘When a man comes into the world his hands are clenched tight as if to say that the entire world is mine- I will inherit it. And when he leaves the world, his hands are open wide as if to say I have not inherited anything from this world”

“Even a non-Jew that studies Torah is like a Kohen Gadol/High Priest”

“He who studies Torah and does not teach has desecratd the Name of Hashem.”

"A man should always be accustomed to saying all that Hashem does is for good”

Rabbi Meir Baa;HaNes 14th of Iyar 121 CE this Sunday

RABBI MEIR BAAL HANEIS (Rabbi Meir, Master of Miracles) was a great sage who lived in the Mishnaic era. The name Meir, meaning "Illuminator" in Hebrew, was given to him because he “enlightened” the eyes of scholars in Torah study and to know the light of G-d. The epithet ‘Baal Haneis’ means "the master of miracles” which was added due to the wondrous miracles that G-d performs in his merit.

At the end of 66 CE, there was a Jewish revolt in Judea stemming from Greek and Jewish religious tension. According to the Talmud, Nero Claudius Caesar (37-68 CE) fifth and last Roman Emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, wanted to lead his army into battle against Jerusalem. He wished to determine if he would be successful in destroying her. He therefore shot arrows in all four directions. Miraculously they all fell towards Jerusalem. He took this as a heavenly sign that he would be victorious. He then asked a passing child to repeat the Scriptural verse he had learned that day. The child quoted a verse in Ezekiel 25-14 "I will take revenge of Edom, through the Jewish people". Nero became terrified. He said to himself, "G-d wants me to destroy His House and later avenge Himself in me!" Nero decided to flee to Rome and convert to Judaism to avoid Divine retribution. Vespasian was then dispatched in his stead to put down the rebellion. Jewish tradition reports that Rabbi Meir was a descendant of Emperor Nero.

Rabbi Meir studied under Rabbi Yishmael and then under Rabbi Akiva. He also studied under the famed scholar Elisha ben Avuya, who after becoming a heretic, renouncing the the concepts of Divine reward and punishment and becoming extremely anti-religious the rabbis of the Talmud refrained from relating teachings in his name and referred to him as Acher, the "Other One". Rabbi Meir however continued studying under him while at the same time using their relationship to implore him incessantly to repent his ways and return to the fold. When Elisha was on his deathbed Rabbi Meir was there and one last time begged him to repent. Elisha asked "After all I have done, will I still be accepted? Rabbi Meir said: Is it not written: You return a person to dust (Psalm 90:3) which means, even to the point that a life is ground to the dust one can return. Elisha ben Abuya cried and died. Rabbi Meir rejoiced and said "It seems to me that my teacher departed in a moment of repentance". When they buried him, a fierce fire came and began to burn his grave. They came and told Rabbi Meir: Your teacher's grave is burning. Rabbi Meir went out and spread his Tallis over Elisha's grave and prayed. The fire died down. When later generations questioned how it was permitted for Rabbi Meir to continue studying under Elisha even after he had soured, the response was given that Rabbi Meir was very great and he was able to take only the good and reject the bad.
Rabbi Meir became one of the greatest of the Tannaim. There are three hundred and thirty five laws in the Mishnah that are explicit quotes in the name of Rabbi Meir. In addition there is a rule in the Talmud that all anonymously authored opinions in the Mishnah are attributed to Rabbi Meir. One of the sages of the Talmud, Rav Acha Bar Chanina said There is no question that Rabbi Meir was the greatest scholar of his generation. Nevertheless, the final Halacha is not necessarily established according to his opinion because he was so brilliant, the greatest sages of his generation could not plumb the depth of his great genius and wisdom."
Rabbi Meir was married to Beruriah, one of the few women cited in the Talmud and famous for her great brilliance and wisdom. She was the daughter of Rabbi Chananiah ben Teradyon, one of the ten Jewish leaders martyred by the Roman Government. The Roman Government ordered that Rabbi Chanina and his wife be executed for teaching Torah publicly. They also decreed that their younger daughter (Beruriah's sister) be placed in a brothel. Beruriah asked Rabbi Meir to save her sister. Rabbi Meir took a bag of gold coins and went to the brothel disguised as a Roman horseman. He offered the money as a bribe to the guard. The guard replied, "When my supervisor comes, he will notice the prisoner missing and kill me." Rabbi Meir replied that when you are in danger - say the words, "God of Meir - answer me" and you will be saved." The guard wondered, "How can I be guaranteed that this will save me?" Rabbi Meir replied, "Look! There are man-eating dogs over there. I will go over to them and you will see for yourself." Rabbi Meir walked towards the dogs. They ran over to tear him apart. He cried out "God of Meir - answer me!", and the dogs retreated. The guard was thus convinced and handed over the girl to Rabbi Meir. When the brothel prison supervisors came, the guard bribed them with the money. Eventually, the money was exhausted, and the guard's deed was publicized. The government arrested the guard and sentenced him to death by hanging. When they tied the rope around his neck he cried out "God of Meir - answer me!" The rope tore and the guard escaped.
Rabbi Meir suffered great personal tragedy. He had two sons and a daughter. When his two dear sons suddenly passed away on the Sabbath, his wife Beruriah covered them and hid the news from him so as not to sadden him on this holy day. After the Sabbath she asked him, "What if someone gave me a great treasure to hold for him and he now demands that I return it, must I give it back?" "Of course" he replied, not realizing what she was leading up to. She took his hand and led him into the room where the two dead children lay. When she removed the cover and he realized the great tragedy, he began to cry. She confronted him "Didn't you just say that we must return the treasure to its owner? G-d gave them to us and now G-d took them back. May His name be blessed". In fact, you my dear husband taught that "one is required to bless G-d for the bad just like for the good." (Talmud, Berachot 48).
Rabbi Meir Baal Haneis passed away on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar. He is buried on the shores of Lake Kinneret, only a short distance from the city of Tiberius. The grave of Rabbi Meir Baal Haneis is one of the holiest sites in the Jewish world and thousands of people flock there to pray for their salvation.
Before his death, Rabbi Meir Baal Haneis promised - as his legacy to all generations - that he will personally intercede in Heaven, on behalf of anyone in distress, who will give charity to the poor in Israel in his memory.
To this very day it has been a sacred and hallowed tradition for Jews, in crisis or need, to recite the words “God of Meir - answer me!” while giving Tzedakah. Countless stories abound of men and women who during a personal crisis, experienced miraculous help when they gave charity to this holy fund in memory of Rabbi Meir Baal Haneis.

answer below at end of Email
Q. Harun al-Rashid belongs to the dynasty of:
A.    Umayya 
B.  Abbas
C.  Fatimids
D.  Ayyubids
Ok this is not me. This is Rashi talking. OK this is not Rashi talking this is his understanding of the simple understanding of the Torah. OK it’s not only Rashi its in fact a Gemara, the Midrash and other sources. Pretty much it’s Hashem. So don’t blame me. I’m just the messenger. I’m just underlining a Rashi that I’m sure you read this week as you reviewed the weekly Parsha. Don’t blame me.
The verse in this week’s Parsha says as follows
“I am Hashem Your God that I took you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan to be for you as Elokim-God”
Rashi explains-
 ‘That anyone who lives in Eretz Yisrael I am for Him God, and he ho leaves it is as if he is worshiping other gods.’
Seemingly Rashi is noting the fact that the Torah enunciates the idea that I am Hashem your God is not a separate notion That Hashem took us out of Egypt merely to be our God. Rather he took us out to give us the land of Israel because only there can I be your God. If you live there I am your God if you don’t or worse leave there for the benefits and alternative ‘benefits’ and are willing to give up on that notion of Hashem being your god that can only happen in Israel-the you are no different than an idolator. The Talmud in Kesuvot calls someone who lives outside of the land is compared to someone who ‘has no god’. Ouch! Don’t blame me it’s the Rabbis in the Talmud.
 Our sages write even more harshly then Rashi the Tosefta in Avodah Zarah (5:2) that states as follows: “One should dwell in Israel even in a city where the majority of the population are idolaters rather than in the Diaspora in a city inhabited completely by Jews. This teaches us that living in Israel is equivalent to all the commandments of the Torah.” Meaning even if one’s Torah is greater, even if one’s education might better, certainly if it is only ones comfort level or livelihood is better. It is better to live in Eretz Yisrael rather than Chutz La’Aretz- the Diaspora- despite the fact that it might be halachically permissible to leave for those reasons. The proof the Talmud brings to this is that King David who left Israel to flee for his life referred to himself as an idolator for doing so, despite that it was certainly permissible to do so. Incidentally the opposite is true as well that despite the fact that one is living in a city that is full of gentiles, where there is so much danger of assimilation and connecting with them and losing one’s faith it is better to be in that situation then to live in the greatest Torah community in America, in the Diaspora, in a country where you are considered as if you have no god. That’s not me talking it’s a Rashi, it’s our sages, it’s the Torah. If you don’t get it. Maybe you don’t have a god. What did you think when you learned this Rashi? This Pasuk? I’m just asking. I would never offer my opinion…


14th  of Iyar May 11th 1960- Capture of Adolph Eichman Y’MSH-Agents of Israel's "Mossad" (Secret Service) captured Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann, chief architect of Hitler’s iniquitous “Final Solution,” in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Eichmann was in charge of all transportation required for the shipment of Jews to the extermination camps and implementing the "final solution" i.e. the extermination of the Jews. The height of his career was reached in Hungary, 1944, when he managed to transport 400,000 Jews to the gas chambers in less than five weeks, r”l. After the war, Eichmann fled to Argentina and lived under the assumed name of Ricardo Klement for ten years until Israeli Mossad agents abducted him on May 11, 1960 and smuggled him out of the country to stand trial in Yerushalayim for his crimes against the Jewish people, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Eichmann was captured through the efforts of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal and the Israeli Mossad . He was put on trial in Israel, which was broadcast worldwide and featured the wrenching testimony of over one hundred witnesses, many of them Holocaust survivors. During the four months of the trial, Eichmann took the stand and used the defense that he was just obeying orders. "Why me," he asked. "Why not the local policemen, thousands of them? They would have been shot if they had refused to round up the Jews for the death camps. Everybody killed the Jews."
Eichmann was found guilty on all counts of crimes against humanity, convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. He was hanged at Ramleh Prison, on 27 Iyar 5722 - May 31, 1962, the only capital punishment ever carried out in Israel. His body was cremated and ashes scattered at sea, so that no nation would serve as Eichmann's final resting place.


What is the difference between Capitalism and Socialism? Capitalism is the exploitation of man by man…Socialism is the exact opposite

The word 'politics' is derived from the word 'poly', meaning 'many', and the word 'ticks', meaning 'blood sucking parasites'. 

Here’s some great Ronald Reagan lines
“Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realise that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.”
“The government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it'. 
“'I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I'm in a cabinet meeting'. 
Other great Politic Quotes
Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel.
Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other. 

And finally one last Obama joke
Barak Obama is out jogging one morning, notices a little boy on the corner with a box. Curious he runs over to the child and says, 'What's in the box sonny?' To which the little boy says, 'Kittens, They're brand new kittens.'
Obama laughs and says, 'What kind of kittens are they?  'Democrats', the child says.
'Oh that's lovely, 'Obama smiles and he runs off.
A couple of days later Obama is running with his colleague George Bush and he spies the same boy with his box just ahead. Obama says to Bush, 'Watch this.' and they both jog over to the boy with the box.
Obama says, 'Look in the box George, isn't that cute? Look at those little kittens. Hey son, tell my friend George what kind of kittens they are.'
The boy replies, 'They're Republicans.'
'What?' Obama says, 'I jogged by here the other day and you said they were Republicans. What's changed? 'Well, 'the child says, 'Their eyes are open now.'


Answer is B – I don’t even stand on a chance on this question. I don’t even know if I did when I was studying for my exams. But certainly not now. After I passed my exam I deleted all information that I knew I would never need again. I have a small brain and a limited amount of space and frankly  I don’t care about the names or figures of all of the various arab dynasties and I still don’t. So I googled the answer for those of you that care and for my daughter Rivka who started cheating every Erev Shabbos and checking the E-Mail to see the answer to the weekly question. So that she knows it and ‘wins’ by the Shabbos table each week. But I’m on to her. I figure she doesn’t read this part of the answer so I guess we’ll find out this week. I guess I’ll find out if any of you read this far as well. If you do I’m impressed. Kol HaKavod