Our view of the Galile

Friday, December 30, 2016

Virtual Rea-Lighty- Mikeitz Chanuka 2016/ 5777

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

December 30th  2016 -Volume 7 Issue 10 1st  Tevet  5777
Parshat Mikeitz/ Chanukah
Virtual Rea-Lighty

Do you know what’s cool about living in Israel? Here the various things that you read about, learn about, the religious practices that we have, and the mitzvot we do they actually become real. They happened here. They’re happening here. It’s not make believe. It’s the real deal. For example I tell my tourists that when they bentch after eating in this country. They will thanks Hashem for bequeathing us the eretz chemda tova urichava- the land that its good and expansive. In America they say that and what are you thinking about- if you are even thinking when you say it- Brooklyn? Lakewood? The Rocky Mountains? Definitely not Washington DC. Here it’s for real. It’s amazing, I tell my tourists, for thousands of years our ancestors have ben thanking Hashem for this land that He gave us and now we are actually here and can appreciate it. Cool!
Another example last year we had shemitta/sabbatical year. Until we came back to Israel it was just boring stuff that was irrelevant. Similarly the laws of tithes of teruma, who doesn’t fall asleep when you learn those laws? Here in Israel it’s every time we walk in the grocery store that we are reminded that the fruits of Eretz Yisrael are different, special, holy. Tisha B’Av in America is a day when you fast, you think about the exile, you watch a sad holocaust video or two and perhaps see some inspiring videos that tell you not speak Lashon Hara or hate anyone. In the holy land we are actually looking at the brunt remains of our Beit Hamikdash. When we ask Hashem to rebuild the Temple it’s not an abstract idea. We wake up each morning to the sight of this big golden pimple sitting on the Mountain top where Hashem’s home and the light of the world once shone out. That’s mourning. That’s longing. We walk where Avraham walked, where Rabbi Akiva did, we study where the Mishna was written and where the Sanhedrin once sat. We daven at the tomb of our Patriarchs where the spies that first came into the land prayed and at the foot of the wall of the mountain where the Temple once stood and every Jew came to bring their offerings. It doesn’t get more awesome than that.
In Israel they started by the Kotel a new virtual reality exhibit, there is one as well by the Kikar Hamusica by Zion square. It is perhaps one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had here. You put on these goggle thingy’s and you literally feel you are being transported and walking through the Beit Hamikdash. You look towards your right and there is a kohen sacrificing a lamb, to the left they are putting the show-bread in the shulchan/table. You hear some singing and look around the corner of this glorious heichal and there is a choir of the Levites singing with their musical instruments. Beautiful! There is another kohen lighting the Menora and others giving the blessings to the people. I have been transported to another world. I don’t want to take these goggles off… ever. But the film comes to an end. It was just a dream.  A cool hi-tech Hollywood gimmick. A game. The Beit Hamikdash is still destroyed. The pimple is still up there while we are down below. There are no offerings, no smoke rising from the altar, no heavenly singing choir. I feel as bereft as a Jew in America should feel every day that they are still stuck there where everything is just fake Judaism. I want to do it again. I want it back.
The truth this year I did get it back though. Not only did I get it back but even, you guys living out in the Diaspora got it back as well. Well, maybe you didn’t because you didn’t even realize it. But now I’ll give it back to you. I will share with you a mind-blowing insight that I saw this year that truly inspired me like no other year. The great Reb Yehoshua Kutna notes an interesting thing about the holiday of Chanuka. When the Talmud discusses the question of what Chanuka is all about it discusses the miracle of the lights and says (Shabbos 21:B)
What is Chanuka? The Sages taught: On the twenty-fifth day of (the month of) Kislev there are eight days of Chanuka... for when the Greeks entered the Temple they defiled all the oil in the Temple. When the kingdom of the Chasmonai dynasty (the Maccabees) arose and defeated them, they searched but could only find one flask of oil that was set aside with the seal of the high priest. However, it contained only enough to burn for one day. A miracle took place and they lit from it for eight days. The following year they established them as festival days with praise (of God) and thanks.
He notes that the Talmud tells us that they established it as days of praise and thanks, but the Talmud does not make mention of what seemingly is the most basic symbol, ritual and mitzvah of Chanuka- eating Jelly doughnuts and Latkas- just joking… I mean lighting the chanukiya/menora each night. In fact the prayer we recite each time we bench and daven of al hanissim also does not mention the mitzva to light candles. It merely says “They lit in the courtyards of our holy city”. Even Maimonides who brings down the mitzva to light which he calls a mitzva like the reading of Esther on Purim, in discussing the establishment and reason for the holiday writes “and they lit candles” not that one is obligated to light candles initially? What’s going on? Isn’t the menora the central part of the holiday?
Rav Shialeh, explains with an incredible insight that is truly revolutionary. He writes that the conclusion of Torah portion of Naso where the Torah discusses the inauguration of the Mishkan/Tabernacle and the offerings that each tribe brought. The following Torah portion of Beha’aloscha, though, which begins with the commandment to Aharon to light the Menora seems to be unrelated and misplaced, as the commandments of the job of the Menora lighting is mentioned already and should rightly be in Vayikra where it discusses all of the jobs of the Kohen. Rashi, therefore noting this perplexing placement of the command notes that is was juxtaposed to the previous chapter for a reason. For it was then that Aharon was given this commandment.
Bamidbar (8:1)  For when Aharon saw the inauguration he felt bad for he neither was he or his tribe with them {They did not bring any offerings}Hashem therefore said to him ‘By your life, that your role is greater than theirs for you kindle and prepare the lights of the Menora.
The Ramban asks on Rashi though that the truth is that there are a lot of things that Aharon and the Kohanim do that no one else does. Services that are even greater than the Menora lighting. After-all he actually brings the offerings. He is the guy that goes into the Holy of Holies. He achieves atonement on Yom Kippur. He brings the incense and recites
Hashem’s explicit name. Why is the Menora the thing that is singled out as the greatest thing that would console Aharon? He answers by quoting another Midrash that says that the sacrifices are only while the Temple is in place, however the Menora will be continue to be lit forever as the verse says “the lights will shine”. Rabbi Daniel Glatstien (a descendant of Reb Yehoshua Kutna- and a great lecturer that my brother Gedalia loves and is on my case to quote more often-in fact if you want to hear his classes Email my brother he’ll stick you his weekly whatsapp group of Rabbi Glatstien classes from Torahanytime gandjo914@aol.com) suggests how many of the customs and laws about lighting the Menora that we do are because our lighting is in place of the one that was in the Temple. We can’t benefit from the lights, we light it in the south part of the shul, the blessing we make on the lighting is more similar to a biblical mitzva, all of these is because our lighting is a virtual reality continuation of the lighting that was done in the Temple.
Rav Kutna thus suggests that it is for this reason that the Gemara and the Rambam don’t mention that originally they established the mitzva for the lighting of the Menora. For while the Temple was still around and the Menora was still be lit during the period of the Chashmonaim there was no mitzva to light your own chanukiya. There was no reason to the real thing was still being lit in the Beit Hamikdash. It was only 200 years later when the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed that they established the mitzva to light…or better yet to continue lighting. Sure there were people that lit candles during the Temple as well, as the Talmud says and the Rambam says but the days themselves originally were only established for hallel and hoda’ah praise and thanksgiving. Later on the mitzva to light was made while we were exiled just as the mitzva to read Megilla was established in exile from the first Temple. Wow! Wow! Wow!
Do you get this? What Reb Shialeh is suggesting based on this Ramban is that when we light our menoras we are actually still virtual rea- lighting the Kohein’s Menorah in the Temple. It’s the real deal. We can’t bring sacrifices anymore. We can’t bring go to our Beit Hamikdash. We can’t see the Shechina. But there is one thing that is still around. One thing that every Jew can still do and feel as if we still have it. We can still light our menora. We can still light up the world with that holy eternal light that despite the world’s best efforts to repeatedly try to extinguish will never be vanquished.
Last night I walked around the old city of Jerusalem. From every window those little candles burned strong. I had just prayed and said the words written two thousand years ago of my ancestors who had lit candles in the “courtyards of your holy city” and I had been returned to there. Not just virtually. Not just in my dream. But for real. In each house was another little replacement Kohen lighting the same holy flame. Each one was a real Maccabee. I thought about the parsha we read each year on Chanuka, Parshat Mikeitz-(You know that I had to stick that in here somewhere). It’s a Torah portion of dreams coming true. The dreams that Yosef had last week of his brothers coming and bowing before him to get wheat literally. The celestial beings of the stars and moon which represent a spiritual dominion he has over them the kingship literally as well comes true as they view him as the ruler. The dreams of Pharaoh of the famine the years of plenty. All of them become realized. It is a parsha of dreams coming true. The opposite is true as well. The realities that we sometimes think are just facades. Yosef appears like a prisoner a slave to the Egyptian hierarchy until his greatness is revealed. The brother’s think he is a Ruler, a Goy and the truth is he is the holy Yosef. Yaakov believes Yosef is dead and he is alive. The world is not as it seems is the message our Parsha keeps telling us. The real world is sometimes hidden beneath the surface. The light is just waiting to shine forth. We just need to reveal and believe that we can actually do it. It’s hard when we are in Exile to get that feeling. But once a year on Chanuka Hashem gives us that taste of what it once was like. We experience that Divine. We are back home and the flames we stare into are the exact ones that were up there on the mountain. We have really really come home.

 Have spectacular Shabbos and amazing  Chanukah!
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://soundcloud.com/ephraim-schwartz/haneiros-halalu  -Check out my latest composition in honor of Chanuka Haneiros Halalu- the words recited when we light our menora

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2ZZ4W47GbQ one of my favorite childhood songs Colored candles by destiny with a great video

https://youtu.be/XWuG7bW1P88 How many ptoatoes can you peel while talking on the phone= Shelo Asani Isha!

https://youtu.be/sDR8jDw0sc0 A Bharain Chanuka lighting…

https://youtu.be/ldMZVXPmLxc - Times Square what is Chanuka question?


“Dos lebn iz nit mer vi a chulem—ober vek mikh nit oyf”  -Life is no more than a dream—but don't wake me up.

answer below at end of Email
Q.  The verse: “and you counted the houses of Jerusalem and you pulled houses down to fortify the wall” is usually read to tourists:
A. At the house of Ahiel
B. Near the Broad Wall
C. At the Burnt House
D. In the Davidson Center

Another type of diyuk-or specific examination of Rashi’s interpretation that he wrote is to look closely   when he writes a translation or definition of a word. See Rashi is not a translation of the Torah. He left that for Artscroll. He only translates words that are troubling. This principle can be appreciated best when a word has already been mentioned in the Torah previously. If Rashi didn’t translate it the first few times and waited until a later point to explain the word, it must be because he understood that you knew what the word meant. The problem he is resolving is how it fits in over here. So take this week’s Torah portion for example.
The portion called Mikeitz is a continuation seemingly of last week’s Torah portion when Yosef, still languishing in his Egyptian prison, asked the butler to remember him to Pharaoh when he was released. This parsha starts off and it was mikeitz- at the end of the two years and Pharoah had a dream.
The first Rashi in the parsha notes that And it was Mikeitz- the end- as the targum translation renders itmisof- at the end” and all words related to keitz means end.
Rabbi Yakov Kaminetzky notes that the Torah has used the word Mikeitz numerous times already why has Rashi waited until here to translate it for us and to give that rule that all words related to keitz means end.
He brings examples from previously in Bereshit
(16:3) and Sarah the wife of Avraham took Hagar the Egyptian maidservant mikeitz-at the end of 10 years of Avraham dwelling in the Land of Cannan- Rashi there notes that it means at the end of the 10 years that if a woman is with a man and unable to produce children he is obligated to take another wife (to fulfill his commandment to have children)
(4:3) And it was Mikeitz Yamim- the end of days and Kayin/Cain brought an offering to Hashem from the fruits of the earth.- There Reb Yaakov explains that it was the end of the planting year for farmers.
(8:6) And it was at Mikeitz 40 days (of the flood) and Noach opened the window to send out the bird- as well this is the end of the forty days that was previously established for the flood.
So what’s going on over here? What two years were previously established? Seemingly Yosef told the butler to free him immediately. So Reb Yaakov notes that it is precisely that which is troubling Rashi. And why he notes that over here as well this is the conclusion of a period of time, despite the fact that no time is mentioned. He suggests that the time is in fact explained in the previous Parsha. For the Torah tells us that the Butler was released in honor of Pharaohs birthday. Seemingly the following birthday a yar later is when he should have mentioned Yosef, for that’s when the King goes over his servants- as Rashi noted there, and assumingly would offer pardons. Yet he didn't mention him. So Yosef waited the entire year until the next birthday and when he wasn’t mentioned there as well Yosef realized as Rashi noted then he realized that he can’t count on anyone but Hashem. That is when the salvation of Hashem, at the end of the two years that Yosef in his mind had been counting on the butler to free him. The first year after the butler was released until the following birthday.
I just mention this idea this week because it’s my birthday. Let’s see who reads this and sends me a happy birthday J.

Reb Yaakov Kaminetsky (1891 –1986) was a prominent rosh yeshiva, posek and Talmudist in the post-World War II American Jewish community. He was renowned as the "Chakima D'Yehudai", the wise man of the Jews. His incereible insigh, wisdom is truly something that gave direction to an entire generation in leadership in the new young post holocaust world.
He was born in the hamlet of Kalushkove, Lithuania, in 1891. Shortly afterwards his family moved to the village of Dolhinov where he grew up. He studied in Minsk and then for 21 years in Slabodka yeshiva under Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel. It was there that he met his lifelong friend Rabbi Aharon Kotler, who later founded the Lakewood yeshiva. His younger cousin, Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak Ruderman, also grew up in Dolhinov.
Rabbi Kamenetsky was appointed rabbi of Tzitavyan in 1926 and moved to North America in 1937, where he initially took rabbinical positions in my former home of Seattle and then Toronto. From 1948 to 1968 he headed Mesivta Torah Vodaath in Brooklyn, New York. Along with Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, he led American Jewry in issues of halachic and spiritual guidance until 1986, when both men died. It was a terrible year for the Jewish people losing those two great leaders one after the other
Aside from his extensive Torah scholarship, he was known for his ever-present warm smile and his expertise in Hebrew grammar. His children are leaders in their own right all taking the great mantle of Torah leadership to fill the void that his loss left.


Gedolim/ Sages– So they say that everyone in Israel is a Rabbi. Maybe that’s why they don’t get paid too much… But the truth is although since the building of the second Temple when the Jews returned to Israel while many if not the majority of Jews remained in Babylon, there was always this struggle or competition for where the greater scholarship of the Jewish people would be. Certainly with the return to Israel in the last few centuries and certainly in the last few decades since the founding of the State of Israel, it is I believe undeniable that Torah and Rabbinates largest base has returned to its home Ki Mitziyon Teitzei Torah U’Dvar Hashem MiYerushalayim-Torah from Zion will sprout forth and the word of Hashem from Jerusalem. I’m not knocking the great Yeshivot in America, but the ultimate final word for Torah Judaism for the past 30 years truly is with the centenarian leaders who reside in Israel to whom America turns their eyes to. I believe this true across all segments of Orthodox Judaism interestingly enough. Hareidi-ultra orthodox who turn to the great leaders in Bnai Brak and Jerusalem. The modern orthodox who to a large degree accept and respect the authority of the Israeli Rabbanut (at least until many of them felt that it was hijacked by the ultra’s, but certainly conceptually. And of course the Sefardic world as well. What distinguishes these great men from the rest of the “influential” people in other societies, cultures and religions is their humility, their accessibility to the simple people, the simplicity of the small little one bedroom bare apartments that they live in. There are people that come from all over the world to seek their advice, their guidance and their blessings. Literally hours each day are consumed with meeting, greeting and counseling people. In addition they give classes, teach students, author works of scholarship. Yet their ultimate greatest and perhaps most enjoyable hours are generally 4:00 Am when most of the rise after a minimum amount of sleep or late at night when they can be alone with their Talmud, their Torah and study. Read and learn the word of Hashem, the teachings of our sages from the last two millennia. These are our holiest people. These are the men that are what our sages called the “eyes of the nation”. Although I personally don’t do the “Rabbi-tour” with my tourists- I feel bad for these Rabbis to bother and disturb them with everyone’s photo-ops, I certainly appreciate those that come here to see them to be inspired by the visage of these great holy men. And hey a blessing from people like that can never hurt.


Top eight suggested UN Slogans
8) You can’t spell unethical without UN
7) Genocidal Dictators- beware of our non-binding resolutions
6) The UN bringing peace to our world (actual results may vary)
5) Tommorows corruption Today
4) We take bribes so you don’t have to.
3) If troubles abound, we’ll be nearby. Doing nothing
2) If this an Emergency please hang up and dial America
1) Allah Akbar!

A Native American Indian comes back to the Reservation to visit with his parents after spending some time in New York. He says to his father that he's fallen in love with a nice Jewish girl. His father is mortified and says, "You're betraying your heritage and you'll break your mother's heart that you're not marrying a nice Indian girl. You know how Jews are, they'll feel the same way and you'll be ostracized in both camps."
The son reassures his father, "Don't worry. They must have already accepted the situation because they have already given their daughter an Indian name."
"Really?" says the father. "What name?"
The son answers, "Sitting Shiva."

3 men in Miami were discussing how they had ended up there.
The first person says, "well, there was a fire in old home back in New York, and my insurance company paid for me to move here".
The second person says, "I had a similar story. There was a flood in my home back in New Jersey, and my insurance company paid for me to move here".
The third person says, "I also had a similar story. There was a tornado that destroyed my home back in California, and my insurance company also paid for me to move here".
The other 2 people turn to him and say "how do you make a tornado??".

Herman Cohen was horrible with birthdays and anniversaries. He couldn’t remember them for the life of him so he decided to compile a list so that every time he turned on his computer the dates would be highlighted on screen. Even this didn’t work well enough so Herman went to a computer store to find a software program that would do the job.
He approached one of the sales clerks who looked more senior. "Can you recommend something that will remind me of birthdays and anniversaries?" Herman asked.
"Have you tried a wife?" he replied.

A woman is standing, looking in the bedroom mirror.
She is not happy with what she sees and says to her husband, 'I feel horrible, I look old, fat and ugly. I really need you to pay me a compliment.
The husband replies, 'Your eyesight's near perfect.'
It was the last thing he ever said…
Answer is B – OK who took a tour of Jerusalem with me? You should know this answer. What are all these sites? Ahiel’s house is in the city of David a house where we found a pottery shard with the name Ahiel on it this is from the end of the first temple period. The burnt house is in the Jewish quarter and is pretty much a movie in a house that was burnt from the second Temple period. Tour guides don’t quote verses there. The Davidson center which is down by the Kotel and southern wall deals mostly with the second Temple period as well. The correct answer is though is the broad wall also in Jewish quarter which is the site of the wall that was expanded by Chizkiya the king during the first Temple in which they fortified the wall in preparation for the army of Sancheirev they Assyrian king who had wiped out the northern 10 tribes and camped outside of the walls. It was Pesach night and the great miracle occurred and the army was wiped out by the plague. Pretty awesome!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Our Holiday- Vayeishev 2016/5777

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

December 23rd 2016 -Volume 7 Issue 9 23rd Kislev 5777
Parshat Vayeishev/ Chanukah
Our Holiday
When it comes to Holidays we have the Goyim/gentiles beat. I mean we’ve got only one month a year pretty much when we’re not celebrating or commemorating something. And we don’t just celebrate, we go all out. Pesach with all it’s laws, rituals getting the house ready, the seder- no competition there. What fo they do hide an Easter egg…Really? Sukkos we head out of our house for 7 Days. We decorate we shake our Lulav and Esrog. Simchas Torah-fuggedaboutit, do goyim even know how to dance. Purim- yeah they might be able to drink us under the table, but the simcha , the joy and euphoria of celebrating our survival our eternality, the groggers, Haman even the Shalach Manot and costumes. So what do they do? Huh dress up like witches and shnorr some nosh. Very very lame. Yeah we win the holiday Olympics any day. It’s one of the benefits of having a religion that is given by God and traditions that have been established by the greatest sages with Divine spirit. We are the Kings of holidays. Well almost all of them that is…

Yeah it’s Chanuka time. And we’ve been putting up a good fight to win this holiday playoff as well. We got eight and they only have one, that’s true. I’ll take Latka’s and doughnuts over eggnog, nutmeg and roasting chestnuts as well. We always win the food and the amount of days categories hands down. See even when they try they really can’t celebrate as long as we can and certainly they can’t eat as well as we do and make it feel symbolic, ritualistic and spiritual. Who would’ve thought we could make a potato or a doughnut into holy food? But when it comes to PR though they have been putting up a pretty good fight. In fact it seems like this holiday season is the one where they put all their energy into one-upping us. Huge trees, big lights, TV specials reindeers and fat white bearded (Rabbis?) dressed in red on sleighs in every mall handing out gifts and granting wishes. We got? A little menora and 8 small candles. Hmmm…It’s a rough sell. I still think we have them beat though. But I do find it interesting and not too coincidental that it is over the holiday of Chanukah that they kind of threw down the gauntlet.

See Chanukah is different than all of the other holidays that we celebrate. It is the last one that was established historically. (We’ll leave Lag Ba’Omer, the Israeli holidays of Independence and Jerusalem, the various Chasidic holidays when the Rebbes got out of jail and other customs that cropped let’s keep this as holidays that have been celebrated for more than 2000 years.) For the holiday of Chanuka was in middle of the second Temple over 2100 years ago. So it is certainly a late bloomer. But more interestingly is that Chanuka is the only holiday that takes place and is established here in the Land of Israel. Pesach is in Egypt, Shavuot in the Sinai desert where we received the Torah, Sukkot 40 years in the wilderness and Purim is in Persia. Yup, Chanukah is Made in Israel. Maybe that’s why they are out to get us.  See all the other holidays are not necessarily so scary to the world. Hey, we’re exiled. The Jews wanna celebrate. Let em do it. Let them build their huts, eat their mtazahs blow their Shofars whatever keeps them busy and happy. But when it comes to celebrating a holiday that celebrates our rededication of the Temple. Our Beit HaMikdash on that mountain of Hashem. Uh Oh. We better outshine that. Turn on the flashy blinking lights. This is serious. This is for real.
I read a fascinating story/anecdote this week of the great Rabbi Yisroel Mishklov. Reb Yisrael, one of the last students of the Gaon of Vilna who lived his Rebbe’s dream of moving to Israel in 1808 found a country that was full of trials and tribulations. Poverty was rampant, plagues broke out in every city that he moved to Tiveryam Tzfat, Jerusalem and other places. The arabs were attacking Jews, the Turks were taxing them heavily. There were earthquakes. His wife and children perished in a plague. It was not a fun time to be in the holy Land.  {And yet, I want to point out they still came…Can you imagine anyone of the leaders that dreamed of Israel not coming and moving to Israel to today when there are not nearly any comparable challenges in a time and era when Hashem has given us all the blessing and ease we have of living her today? Oh yeah I forget you still can’t get Ziploc bags and good sour pickles here yet… But I digress} As the leader of the community Reb Yisrael was sent back to Europe to raise funds for the communities in Israel. His first stop was to the primary student of his Rebbe, Rabbi Chaim Volozhin, the leader and founder of the Yeshiva movement.
When Reb Yisrael sat down with his Rebbe, tears poured down his face as he relayed to him all of the struggles life in Eretz Yisrael his people were suffering through. His Rebbe however was not too sympathetic. Rabbi Chaim told him that when Moshe prayed to Hashem to allow him to pass over the Yarden and let him just see the Eretz Hatova- the good land, it was all Moshe wanted and saw. He didn’t care or see anything bad. He only see the good.
His Rebbe then shared with him an idea from this week’s Torah portion. The Torah tells us the story of two of Yosef’s brothers and our sages share with us the seemingly contrary outlook we should have of them. On one hand we have Reuvein, the first-born, who although is not part of the plot to kill Yosef by acutally murdering him, he is the one that convinces the rest of the brothers to throw him into a pit. But not just a pit, rather one that is full of snakes and scorpions. Ouch. That doesn’t seem to friendly and to a large degree it would seem that all that Reuvein has done has absolved the brothers of physically killing him by just indirectly causing what should have been a certain death. Yet the Torah tells us that Reuvein is credited with saving Yosef’s life. Hmmmm
On the other hand we have Yehudah, who gets up before the rest of the other brothers and presents an argument that Yosef is our flesh and blood and how we can murder him. Instead, he suggests and ultimately convinces them, we should sell him down to slavery. This seems to be a good thing. Certainly better than letting him languish in the pit with the snakes. Yet our sages tell us that anyone that blesses Yehuda- for this act is in fact wrong and is making a immoral mistake. What is the difference, Rav Chaim asked his downtrodden student from Israel. What are we missing?
The answer, he told him is that Reuvein threw him in a pit, a dangerous scary pit. But you know what? That wasn’t the worst or scariest thing that could happen to Yosef. For the pit was in Eretz Yisrael. Yosef, was still in the Holy Land. In God’s country, in the land of his forefathers. It is the land that Hashem watches all day. There’s a special protection in our country, Reb Chaim told his student. There it is all good. Yehuda on the other hand sold him down to Egypt. He forced him to leave Eretz Yisrael. That is a fate worse than death. That could be the end of the Jew. In the Diaspora there is none of that special protection. We’re not in our home. We play by their rules. We are subject to the laws of nature, the laws that govern the rest of the world. We can get outshined and out flashed by their big bright lights on their tall wintery trees.
Chanuka is historically the last of our holidays. It is the holiday when we fought and won to rededicate Hashem’s Temple in its proper place. That light lasts forever. That dedication lasted forever. We may have lost the building but the holiness has never left that mountain since we built that 2nd Temple. It took us close to 2000 years until Hashem started letting us come back. It started slowly, with the Exiles coming home from Spain in the 1500’s from Europe slowly with the students of the Gaon, the students of the Baal Shem in the 1700’s and it has continued growing and growing with the early Aliyot and the 600,000 Jews that were here in 1948 when we were granted our independence. And we are still returning. Because the light of Chanuka calls and beckons us like no other holiday to set our sights on Yerushalayim, on a temple rebuilt, on the songs of praise that we wish to sing each day accompanied by the choir of the Levites. It calls us to turn our eyes and yearn for our Father as well to come home. Is it any wonder, why the world is trying to cover up and dim that light. But they can’t. It shines forever.  We’re winning that competition too. Now it’s time to celebrate.

 Have spectacular Shabbos and amazing  Chanukah!
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://youtu.be/k60wCmxTiHs    -I won’t miss Obama but he certainly got this one right in honor of Chanuka Funny.

https://youtu.be/u3UubcYj49k  annual Chanuka Maccabeats video Hamilton

https://youtu.be/qWcd-K8_X34  And it seems that Hamilton is in with 613 Acapella doing their own version
https://youtu.be/3-lnLd2RB70   How to eat a Sufganiya with my good friend Rabbi Pepper!


“Vegn a bisl boyml makht men aza groysn yontev?.”  Because of a little oil we make such a big holiday?
answer below at end of Email
Q.  Biblical sites in the Judean Lowlands (Shephela):
A. Ebenezer and Azeka
B. Tel Gezer and Tel Beit Shemesh
C. Kiryat Yearim and Tel Socoh
D. Tel Qasile and Tel Lachish

I will diverge from our usual Rashi style and column this week to share with you another aspect of Rashi that is mentioned in this week’s Torah portion by none other Tan the CHID”A who in his work Shem Gedolim shares a story and insight about the greatness of Rashi. He writes as follows.
“I heard from the holy mouth of a great Rabbi that Rashi would fast 613 fasts before he wrote his commentary on the Torah. His grandson Rabbeinu Tam wrote that what his granfatehr Rashi elucidated the Talmud he could as well do that however his commentary on Chumash I am not able to do.
And now- the CHIDA continues- I saw written in a great work where he brings the testimony of a great known Kabbalist who describes how the greatest mystical secrets can be found within the words of Rashi and how when he fasted his fasts and wrote his commentary Moshe Rabbeinu himself blessed him and told him how fortunate he was. And the Kabbalist was none other than Rabbi Nachman Bar Shmuel who personally went to the grave of Rash and fasted and cried underwent great tribulations all to understand the Rashi (in this week’s portion that I will share with you) until a fire came up from his grave and the great secrets that lie in these words were revealed to him.
Wow! I can’t explain to you what the secrets are myself. I tried figuring it out but to no avail. I got lost when it was getting into fights between God and angels, Mashiach, and Purim I was getting dizzy. But I’ll share with you the Rashi and hopefully you can figure it out.
The verse is in Chapter 37:18 where it talks about how the brothers saw Yosef coming and it says
And they say saw him from a distance and when he had not yet approached them and they conspired toward him-oto to kill him
Rashi on the word oto-toward him writes
Like eeto which means eemo- with him as if to say eilav- toward him
Seemingly Rashi is troubled that the word oto normally would be read and they conspired him. Which doesn’t make much sense. So Rashi therefore translates the word as eeto which would mean they conspired with him as if to say toward him. The words thought still seem troubling in Rashi because with him doesn’t seem to mean towards him. It would in fact seem the opposite. They conspired with Yosef to kill Yosef. Hmmmm…
The Maharshal Rav Shlomo Luria explains what Rashi is saying is they in fact conspired with him meaning that Yosef also understood their conspiracy. He knew that they meant to kill him. Yet he still went toward them in order to fulfill his father’s command and the mission that he was sent on to check on his brothers. So in a way both of Yosef and his brothers were technichally in on the conspiracy for his death. The Seforno takes another approach different than Rashi and suggests that perhaps the text means that they conspired about him that he was planning to kill them. That was how they were able to convince themselves that he was deserving of death. It’s a rough verse and even rougher Rashi personally I think I”ll go with the ChIDA and wait for Rashi to reveal some type of mystical revelation in his incredibly holy words.

Rabbi Shlomo Luria the MAharShal (1510-1573), The Maharshal was born around the year /1510 in Brisk which was then part of Poland.  Famous for his brilliance and humility, Rav Shlomo Luria known as the Maharshal lived in Europe at the same time Rav Yosef Karo was writing his Shulchan Aruch, and the Maharshal's own relative, the Rema, was writing his own glosses on the Shulchan Aruch.  Despite being one of the most respected Gedolim in his era, the Maharshal employed a magid who would accompany him and give him mussar.  The Maharshal would sit like a child before his master and listen to this mussar.

The Rema wrote about him, "he is great like Shammai and modest like Hillel.  Any bird that flew over him while he was learning burned up like Yonoson ben Uziel."

The Maharshal was a fiercely independent thinker and did not hesitate to criticize both the decisions of his colleagues and their decision making process.  He was staunch critic of the Rav Yosef Karo's landmark work because it relied primarily on the psak of only three gedolim (Rif, Rambam, and Rosh) and did not draw its own conclusions.  The Maharshal also openly criticized the pilpul method that had become popular at the time.  The Maharshal had a strong bond of love for his relative the Rema, but it did not stop him from criticizing the Rema for studying philosophy and secular subjects, as well as the use of incorrect grammar in his writings.

The Maharshal's two most famous contributions are the Yam Shel Shlomo which was a essentially a halacha sefer written the way he thought halacha should be written.  It takes each sugya and then brings the varying opinions of the poskim of previous generations.  He then evaluates each of these opinions based on the gemara itself and drawing his own conclusion. 

His second important contribution is his edits to Shas called Chochmas Shlomo.  The text at that point was full of inaccuracies introduced over the years by misguided publishers.  In his opinion this was the root cause of many of the errors made by other poskim.  The Shas we have today is in great part thanks to the work of the Maharshal.  He also wrote a commentary on Rashi on Chumash called Yerios Shlomo.

Many of the leading gedolim of the next generation were talmidim of the Maharshal including Rav Chaim the famed brother of the Maharal MiPrague, the father of the Shela, Rav Moshe Mos (Matteh Moshe), the Masas Binyomin, the Olelos Ephraim, the Sm'a, and Rav Mordechai Yafeh who was also a talmid of the Rema.

The Maharshal was niftar in Lublin on 12 Kislev 1573


Hilltop Youth– These are probably one of the most maligned and hated groups by the left and peace now people in Israel and the States and probably the UN as well. And they relish in that distinction. The concept of Hilltop youth was started in the late 90’s after Bibi Netanyahu then Prime Minister created the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.Ariel Sharon interestingly enough  was the one who encouraged the settlers to move out to the empty hills in Yehudah and Shomron and occupy them stating  
“Everyone that's there should move, should run, should grab more hills, expand the territory. Everything that's grabbed will be in our hands. Everything we don't grab will be in their hands.”
Today there is estimated to be over 800 of these young men with their families- not just the youth misnomer that they are painted as who live out their vision of truly settling the Biblical promised land and living as our ancestors did. The land that they live on has been unoccupied and barren for decades. Most of it is Government owned land that was conquered in the 6 Day War however unlike the “settlements” they have yet to have received their permits to live and build on those lands. But this is Israel. It takes a long time and a lot of bureaucracy to get any types of permits. So the rule is build and settle first get permission later. So all along many of these hilltops located more than a 100 meters from nearby settlements the hills are alive with the sounds of music played by theses shepherds, farmers and builders who are settling these hills. Most of them really are not radicals and certainly have no desire for war or anything but to be left alone in peace. Peace with their neighbors, Peace with their government and even peace with the arabs. The ones that I have met are pretty humble and modest people. Scribes, teachers, nurses and shepherds. They love the freedom and biblical nature of their lives. They raise their children with a sense of meaning and purpose and pride and love of Israel. I find them inspiring. There are about 1000 or so of these modern day Maccabees in about 100 outposts around the country. Take a trip out to visit one of them. I believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised and inspired. Maybe even a bit jealous of their incredible lives.

Many people have been asking me about the Halachos of Chanuka and I feel it's important to calm everyone down. 

1. Starting today you should start  eating at least 2-3 donuts a day to get your body ready.  

2. Once Chanuka starts you must eat as many donuts a day as you light candles. So day 4 would be 4 donuts,  day 7 would be 7 ..... etc ........ 

3. If you don't remember how many you ate, you eat  as many as possible to eat the Shiur Hayom. 

4. Baked donuts are not counted and should be avoided like Trayf. 

5. At least one donut a day should have jelly. 

6. Most Rishonim agree that custard and jelly donuts are Mitzvha Min Hamuvchar.

7. If you are in middle of eating donuts and you didn't have in mind that it's Lshem Mitzvahs Chanuka. You're NOT YOTZE! And you start over again.  

8. If you had triple bypass and are told by a physician to avoid donuts, some Poskim hold you should eat the donuts, and it's your opportunity for  Mesiras Nefesh Mammosh.  

9. Avoid physical activity on Chanuka. We want the miracle of oils to be visible on you.

 It was Hanukkah and the tiny village outside Budapest in Hungary was frightened that they may not have any latkes because they had run out of flour.
Rudi, the Rabbi, was called upon to help solve the problem. He said, 'Don't worry, you can substitute matzo meal for the flour, and the latkes will be just as delicious.'
Sarah looks to her husband and says, 'Samuel, you think it'll work?'
'Of course,' Samuel replies, 'Everybody knows Rudolph the Rab knows grain, dear.'

Chanuka the one time a year that you can walk around with white powder under your nose and a police officer wishes you a B’Tayavon with a hearty appetite

Several centuries ago, the Pope decreed that all the Jews had to convert to Catholicism or leave Italy. There was a huge outcry from the Jewish community, so the Pope offered a deal. He’d have a religious debate, a disputation, with a leader of the Jewish community. If the Jews won, they could stay in Italy; if the Pope won, they’d have to convert or leave. The Jewish community met and picked a wise, aged rabbi to represent them in the debate. However, as the rabbi spoke no Italian or Latin, and the Pope spoke no Yiddish, both sides agreed that it would be a "silent" debate.

On the chosen day, the Pope and the rabbi sat opposite each other for a full minute before the Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers.
The rabbi looked straight at him and raised one finger.
Then the Pope waved his finger around his head, and the rabbi pointed to the ground where he sat.
Next, the Pope then brought out a communion wafer and signaled to a bishop, who brought him a chalice of wine. The rabbi reached into his pocket and pulled out an apple.
With that, the Pope turned white, stood up, and declared that he was beaten, that the rabbi was too clever, and that the Jews could stay.
Later, the Cardinals met with the Pope and asked what had happened, why the Church had lost.
The Pope told them, "First I held up three fingers to show that I represent the Holy Trinity. He responded by holding up one finger to remind me there is still only one God common to both our beliefs. Then I waved my finger around my head to tell him that God was universal, that He was all around us. The Jew responded by pointing to the ground to show that God was also right here with us. So, I showed him the wine and wafer to prove that God absolves us of all our sins. But the rabbi produced an apple to remind me of our original sin. He had beaten me at every move and I could not continue."
Meanwhile, the Jewish community were celebrating and gathered around the rabbi.
"What happened?" they wanted to know.
"Well," said the rabbi, "First he said to me that we had three days to get out of Italy, so I said to him, 'Up yours.' Then he tells me that the whole country would be cleared of Jews and I said to him, 'Mr. Pope, we're staying right here.'"
"And then what?" asked a woman.
"Who knows?" said the rabbi. "He took out his lunch, so I took out mine."
Answer is A – This is not an easy albeit a truly legitimate tour guiding questions. You need to know three things to answerers of the shefela B) Where the sites are located and C) from what period are they- or are they biblical or not. So let’s go through them starting from the third question Even Ezer is the biblical site where the Jews lost the ark to the plishtim. Azeka is where Yehoshua fought of the Emori who were killed by heavenly hailstones. It’s also where the plishit army gathered to with Goliath and where david slayed in him in the valley between Azeka and Socho- So those are both biblical. The only thing is Evenzer is not in Shefela it’s near Rosh Ayin in the portion of Ephraim or in the Sharon region. Kiryat Yearim which is telz stone today is where the Ark was returned to Jerusalem from so it’s biblical but its also not in the Shefela but right outside of Jerusalem or the Judean hills. Tel Lachish is certainly biblical being the largest city outside of Jerusalem at the end of the first Temple by Nevuchadnezzar. Tel Kasile is a philistine city that cane be explored in the Israel museum in Tel Aviv which is certainly not the Shefela but coastline. Which leaves the correct answer Beit Shemesh where the ark was returned to from the terrified Philistines and Gezer which is mentioned a city Yehoshua conquered and it is a major city that was rebuilt by Shlomo Hamelech along with Chatzor and Megiddo. Both of those are in the Shefela. Whewww. Rough question.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Never Again- Vayishalach 2016/5777

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

December 16th 2016 -Volume 7 Issue 8 9th Kislev 5777
Parshat Vayeitzei
Never Again
We have never been accused of being a stupid people. We’ve been called cheap, crooks, degenerates, sub-human, “savior”-killers, infidels, even land grubbing aggressing terrorists. But not stupid. Yet, sometimes to me it seems that perhaps we are unfortunately quite….naive? Perhaps? For generations Jews have struggled with challenge. As the old joke goes what are Jewish holidays about? They tried to kill us…we survived… let’s eat! Anti-Semitism has been around since we’ve been around. Great Jewish minds have always struggled with how to deal with the problem; how to get them to leave us alone. How to get them to maybe even love us, perhaps even respect us, or at least accept us. Yet it’s at this point that it seems the great Jewish minds all seem to fail.
For those not so familiar with Jewish history I’ll share with you some of the tried but failed ideas. Plan A- the reason they hate us is because we look, act, and dress different than them. Solution A- Let’s throw off the trappings of our Jewish faith- let’s make our synagogues more church-like, let’s intermarry, let’s join their universities, let’s join the enlightened and educated world and then they will accept us. That plan didn’t seem to work well for the most cultured, educated and refined Jews of 1930’s Berlin .
Then of course you had another plan. It’s all religion that is evil. You know that whole opiate of the masses thing. Let’s go Socialist. Communist. Create a utopia where we’re all the same. Didn’t work that well for the Russian Jews either. Then you’ve got more recent game plans. They hate us because we don’t have our own country. We’re nomads without a national language, flag or army. If we had our own state then we would be accepted, loved and respected. Anyone want to ask the U.N. their thoughts on that plan’s success 61 years later? Going back a few centuries, to Spain. There, Jews thought conversion would be helpful. Torquemada and co. felt differently. And if we travel back even further to the times of the destruction of the Temples and when we even had kings like Herod who incidentally was really a very not nice person, but who was buddies with all the great Romans of his time, they still wiped us out.
Which brings us, even earlier, to the story of Chanukah; the victory of a small group of Rabbis against the world Empire, Greece . I say Rabbis although I’m sure that is not the image in most of your heads, due to the modern, more politically correct and less miraculously oriented, Jewish tendency to re-write history. Yet anyone who even briefly peruses some of the history of the time will see that all the big, strong probably tattooed and muscular oriented Jews were Hellenized and pro-Greek, and were quite happy joining forces with the Greeks against the few die-hard religionists that wouldn’t sell their religion to join the prevalent society. After all it was the darn funny dressed, Rabbis that wouldn’t touch pork, kept the Sabbath and refused to partake in the art and beauty of their kind host Empire that were holding them back from truly being accepted; from finally having the opportunity to become one of “them”… Well thank God the Hellenists failed as well. We can eat our Latkes, light our Menorahs and thank God who once again stepped up to the plate and kept his promise that we will be forever. No matter what they, or even we, would like to do about it.
So what is the answer? Why do they hate us? What, if anything, can we do about it? Even the ADL with all their noble intentions and significant accomplishments can’t seem to stop swastikas from being painted on synagogue doors, media slurs, and UN sanctions. Does the Torah offer us any perspective? This week we read about the first Jewish-non Jewish confrontation in the Torah portion. Of course non-coincidentally, it is also the Torah portion that is read as we approach Chanukah (and in Israel they start selling those sufganiyot-jelly doughnuts-which let’s be honest already how many of you couldn’t hold out to Chanukah and already bought and tasted some?J). So perhaps we can get an appreciation of the holiday as well.
We are told about Yaakov’s encounter with his brother Eisav who our sages tell us is the progenitor of all the future Western enemies of the Jewish people; our arch-nemesis. The Torah describes their confrontation with Yaakov sending all types of “Peace offerings” and bribes to stave off Eisav’s attack. Yet, Eisav continues to come to do battle. Finally at that moment when he arrives and sees Yaakov, we are told that he hugs him, kisses him and thirty six years of un-bridled hatred all dissipates. The Talmud tells us that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai taught from these verses that there is a known law- Eisav hates Jacob. No reason. No Explanations. No Questions. No solutions. It was just, he explains, at that particular moment when Yaakov came, bowed and humbled before him that he was overcome with mercy and couldn’t help but embrace him. The Nachalas Tazvi, a Torah leader of the last generation, suggests that this law that Eisav hates Yaakov is particular to Yaakov. The younger brother that comes grabbing on the heel. The one that took his portion. The one that is trying to usurp Eisav and perhaps even dress up and behave like him. Yet, right before this story Yaakov has a different battle and is granted a different name. He became Yisrael. Yisrael-Eisav doesn’t necessarily hate.
It is fascinating when you think about Yaakov’s earlier battle. We are told that Yaakov in middle of the night preceding his battle with Eisav, met a mysterious man, who we later found out is actually an angel- the arch angel of Eisav and wrestles with him. Yaakov is victorious (although the angel wounds Yaakov in his foot and forever Jews can’t eat some of the hind parts of a cow…but that’s a different Email). At the end of the battle the angel gives Yaakov a new name.
“Your name should no longer be called Yaakov rather Yisrael, for you have striven with the Almighty and with man and have succeeded.”
What I find fascinating is that when it comes to a physical battle with Eisav, Yaakov humbles himself and bows. Yet when it comes to spiritual battle with this angel, there Yaakov puts on the punching gloves and takes him (it?) down to the mat. Seemingly when it comes to a spiritual threat, Yaakov is willing to do whatever it takes to put his life and foot on the line. Yet, when it comes to his and his family’s physical well-being, he seems to be willing to lie down and humble himself before the enemy. Perhaps it is that which moves Eisav the most. When it comes to a physical threat from our enemy or the hatred that they innately extend to us, no amount of battle, manipulation or assimilation will help. Yaakov will always be a subject of hatred for Eisav. But Yisrael however has the ability to persevere and overcome and even bring the respect of Eisav. A Jew that is willing to put his life on the line for his spiritual well-being; one who will wrestle until dawn to insure that none of Eisav’s angels or demons has any influence on the holy ways of his descendants. That is a force that not even an Eisav could overpower.
It is for this reason that on Chanukah we are told the Jewish people took up their sword where-as on Purim they sat in prayer. Chanukah was a spiritual battle for the ability for the Jewish people to maintain their traditions and observances. On Purim, it was merely, and I use the word heroically and ironically, a physical threat of genocide, yet there was never a decree against their ability to worship.
Albert Einstein is quoted as saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It’s been close to 2000 years of our long bitter exile. We’ve had up moments and down moments. The only thing that has been constant has been this endless, seemingly unbreakable, cycle of them trying to kill us, we miraculously surviving, moving someplace new, after a couple of decades we try to assimilate and remove that anti-semitism- NEVER AGAIN- and then it inevitably goes back to square one. It’s always been this way. Yet we can break that cycle. We’re not a stupid or insane people. This Chanukah let’s commit to changing the past. Let’s be Yisrael. Let’s bring Moshiach with a re-newed sense of commitment to the only force, power and faith that has ever conquered Eisav; our unswerving dedication to the heritage legacy, Torah and Mitzvot of our Forefathers and to the love of our Father in Heaven.

 Have a restful inspiring Shabbos!
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyJWIDwZcdI   -Why Jews don’t have a Chanuka tree funny Elon Gold.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_-_iaY5iv4 MBD Mama Rachel pre- shwekey tune- a Yiddish version sung by Eli Marcus a golden oldie

https://youtu.be/FNMJ6yheifY A medley of Ben Zion Shenker songs who’s shloshim approaches

https://youtu.be/6d4RuXauXP8  And of course in honor of this weeks Parsha nd the promise of Hashem Lipa’s Mizrach Mariv Ufaratzta


“Ven a ganef kusht, darf men zikh di tseyn ibertseyln.”  When a thief kisses you, count your teeth..

answer below at end of Email
Q.  It is accepted that the first agricultural revolution occurred in the:
a. Iron Age
b. Chalcolithic period
c. Neolithic period
d. Early Bronze Age

Once in a while a commentary in Rashi if you stop to think about it a bit can lead to not only an insight in the text, but can lead to the learning of a halacha- Jewish Law and from there to an insight into life and perhaps to solutions to some of lifes biggest challenges.
In this week’s Torah portion we learn about the fateful meeting/reunion between Yaakov and his brother who had come to kill him Esau. After they make up and Esau becomes enamored with him he invites him to join him and he will accompany him together. Yaakov responds by pushing Esau off. The kids are young, the sheep and cattle will slow  us down and then he says
Bereshit (33:14) Please pass before your servant, my Master, and I will make my way at my slow pace according to the speed of the work that is before me and the sped of the children, until I come to my Lord at Se’ir.
 Rashi seemingly noting that this “catching up and meeting at Se’ir” has yet to have occurred notes that Yaakov was extended or broadened the journey for him.
For Yaakov intended to only got to Sukkos, he said to himself that if Esau planned on harming him then he will wait there until I come and he didn’t go there. But when would he ultimately go? When Mashiach comes as it says and the saviours will arise from the Mt. of Zion and mete out justice to the mountain of Esau.
So basically Rashi is explaining that Yaakov did not tell Esau exactly where he was going so Esau wouldn’t wait to kill him. Rather he “broadened his journey” pretending like he was going further than he was. He wasn’t exactly lying as well because when Mashiach will come we will ultimately be reunited with Esau and Se’ir. This commentary is in fact brough down in Jewish law by none other than the Rambam, who certainly learned Rashi or at least the Midrashim that Rashi quotes for in the laws of Murder and the guarding on one’s life the Rambam notes
Rambam Laws of Murder and guarding one’s life (12:8)-That if a gentile asks you where you are going  one should “broaden the journey”-in the same way that Yaakov did with Esau…
The Lubavitcher Rebbe though takes this one step further. He suggests that the power the nations have over us and the threat that they pose to us is when we feel we have “arrived” we are where we are meant to be. When our Exile becomes our place, our destination; and we feel settled. If that is the case than they in fact have power over us, which is true whether we are in their countries or even in our own. If however we recognize that we are still traveling we are still on a journey. Mashiach has not come yet, and it is our job to continue that path and prepare ourselves and lighten up the world wherever we are and that we are never going to be that way until we arrive at that final destination, than they can’t harm us. They have no power over us. The opposite happens the saviors the redemption will come and judge them. That is lesson of Yaakov. Broaden our journey, experience our life as pathway towards redemption, don’t settle for anything less or feel settled until we get there. It’s the story of our forefather, it’s the law of the Rambam and it’s our message until today

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, The Lubavitcher Rebbe (1902-1994), the seventh leader in the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty, is arguably one of the most impactful figures and Jewish leaders of modern times. To hundreds of thousands of followers and millions of sympathizers and admirers around the world, he was -- and still is, despite his passing -- "the Rebbe," undoubtedly, the one individual more than any other singularly responsible for stirring the conscience and spiritual awakening of world Jewry.
The Rebbe was born in 1902 Russia. There is a story told about the Rebbe's early life that seems to be almost symbolic of everything that was to follow. When he was nine years old, the young Menachem Mendel courageously dove into the Black Sea and saved the life of a little boy who had rowed out to sea and lost control of his small craft. That sense of "other lives in danger" seems to have dominated his consciousness; of Jews drowning in assimilation, ignorance or alienation--and no one hearing their cries for help: Jews on campus, in isolated communities, under repressive regimes. From early childhood he displayed a prodigious mental acuity. By the time he reached his Bar Mitzvah, the Rebbe was considered an illuy, a Torah prodigy.
In 1929 Rabbi Menachem Mendel married the sixth Rebbe's daughter, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, in Warsaw. He later studied in the University of Berlin and then at the Sorbonne in Paris. In 194 the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin arrived in the United States, having been miraculously rescued, by the grace of Almighty G‑d, from the European holocaust. The Rebbe's arrival marked the launching of sweeping new efforts in bolstering and disseminating Torah and Judaism in general, and Chassidic teachings in particular, Shortly after his arrival, per his father-in-law's urging, the Rebbe began publishing his notations to various Chassidic and kabbalistic treatises, as well as a wide range of response on Torah subjects. With publication of these works his genius was soon recognized by scholars throughout the world.

 After the passing of his father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, in 1950, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson reluctantly ascended to the leadership of the Lubavitch movement, whose headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, New York. Soon Lubavitch institutions and activities took on new dimensions. The outreaching philosophy of Chabad-Lubavitch was translated into ever greater action, as Lubavitch centers and Chabad Houses were opened in dozens of cities and university campuses around the world. Under his leadership Chabad took over the world. The joke was that the two things you could find anywhere were Chabad and Coca Cola. For nearly five of the most critical decades in recent history, the Rebbe's goal to reach out to every corner of the world with love and concern has unfolded dramatically. No sector of the community has been excluded -- young and old; men and women; leader and layman; scholar and laborer; student and teacher; children, and even infants.

He had an uncanny ability to meet everyone at their own level -- he advised Heads of State on matters of national and international importance, explored with professionals the complexities in their own fields of expertise, and spoke to small children with warm words and a fatherly smile.

 In 1992 while praying at the gravesite of his father-in-law and predecessor, the Rebbe suffered a stroke that paralyzed his right side and, most devastatingly, robbed him of the ability to speak.
Two years and three months later, the Rebbe passed away in the early morning hours of the 3rd of the Hebrew month of Tammuz June, 12 1994, orphaning a generation and certainly his Chasidus. Sadly there are many that because of that loss. Created a Messianic figure out of him. Which is why many opposed him during his lifetime. Yet he left behind incredible works and a visions of an awareness that each Jew is responsible for the next and that it is our obligation to join us all together and expose one another to a life of Torah.


Gan Kids– If you ask me perhaps one of the cutest and most inspiring demographic groups of Israel are the little kids one sees everywhere on their way to Gan each morning. In America you see carpools perhaps, in New York certainly the streets in the morning are everyone going off to work. In Israel each morning one can look out their window and see the streets full of adorable young kids with their big knapsacks strapped to their back heading off to their kindergartens. The uniforms, the pigtails, as they play and frolic on their way is just touching as it is the future of our people. Although this can been seen all over the country in religious and non-religious areas it is particularly noticeable in the religious communities where the birth rate is about 5% with an average of 5.9 kids per family and growing. Israel in fact is one of the only countries in the world that has a minimum replacement rate of 2:1 more than three times faster than the OECD average of around 0.6%. With an average of 3 children per woman, Israel also has the highest fertility rate in the OECD by a considerable margin, and much higher than the OECD average of 1.7.
In fact close to 30% of the gan children in Jerusalem Israel’s capital and 2nd largest city are Chareidi.
In Israel kids have much more independence than they have in other countries. They shop for the family, they babysit their siblings, they hike, go to the park and even sell stuff as they hustle some times. As well in Israel everyone feels and appreciates the children of the country as regularly people will offer to watch over them for you or tell you what you are doing right or wrong. They are the countries future. they’re all of ours.I believe it was the Satmar Rebbe that once said about Yerushalmi kids- when they are young they are so cute you could eat them up and when they grow up- you wish you had…J Yet jokes aside the gan kids the birth of life once again in our promised land is truly a daily reminder that we aliving in the times the prophets spoke of when once again the streets of yerushalyim will be filled with the sounds of boys and girls frolicking.

How do you know the Flinstones were Jewish? A: Yabba Dabba Jew!
How do you know when your on a Jewish golf course? The players don’t yell ‘FORE’ they yell ‘$3.99!’

David can't get to sleep and is tossing and turning in his bed all night, turning this way, turning that way and keeping his wife Elizabeth awake. Finally she has enough!

"David! What's wrong? Why can't you sleep?"
"Oh, Elizabeth,' says David. It's business."
"What business?" asks Elizabeth.
"I borrowed a million dollars from Samuel next door."
"So?" asks Elizabeth.
"Well, I'm due to pay it back tomorrow."
"So?" asks Elizabeth.
"Well, I haven't got the money."
"Oh my gosh, that's terrible! How will we live if he forecloses on us!" says Elizabeth. And she gets up, goes to the window, throws it open and shouts: "Samuel, Samuel, wake up!" Samuel comes to his window.
"What's wrong, Elizabeth? Why are you making all this noise?"
"My David tells me he owes you a million dollars."
"Yes, that's right," says Samuel.
"And it's due back tomorrow."
"Yes, that's right," says Samuel. "Well, he hasn't got the money and can't pay!" says Elizabeth and slams the window shut again.
David is beside himself. "Oy vey, oy vey, why did you tell him that?" he asks.
Replies Elizabeth: "And you should be the only one to have a sleepless night?"

Moishe is being indoctrinated by the Russian government:
Govt. Official: "If you had a yacht, what would you do with it?"
Moishe: "Give it to Mother Russia."
Govt. Official: "And if you had a palace, what would you do with it?"
Moishe: "Give it to Mother Russia."
Govt. Official: "And if you had a sweater, what would you do with it?"
No reply.
Government official asks the question again.
And still not reply.
Finally he shouts: "Moishe, why don't you reply?"
Moishe: "Because I have a sweater."

Answer is A – Flinstones meet the Flinstones and have a yabba dabba doo time..Yes we have to learn pre-historic man stuff in our tour guiding course. The order of things are the Neolith (new stone age) Chalcoliths second (coper age) then bronze and then Iron. Although according to the Torah scientists are still off a bit in their timing of a lot of these periods as they day the Neoliths as being about 7,000 BC and the Chalcolites at 5,000 BC while we know that man is only 5777 years old having been created about 3500 years or so BC. We know this because I there is a brilliant E-Mail you have been receiving each week with the Hebrew year of creation on top of it that clearly says so. But Science will catch up to us one day. Anyways the Torah tells us that Noach pretty much revolutionized the world with invention of the plow and science certainly recognizes that such a revolution took place. They place it at the late stone age which would be the neoliths.