Our view of the Galile

Friday, December 29, 2017

Stop Eating- Parshat Vayechi 2017 / 5778

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
December 29th   2017 -Volume 8 Issue 12 11th Tevet 5778

Parshat Vayechi
Stop Eating!

 I'm hungry. It's weird; I can go many if not most days without eating until dinner time. I just need my coffee in the morning and I'm all set. Yeah, of course if my tourists want to stop for lunch, or they dilly dally in their hotel by breakfast than of course I will join them. It would be rude otherwise and who am I to turn down an Israeli hotel breakfast. But the honest truth is I would much rather skip breakfast and even lunch and just be busy running around and showing them Hashem's holy land; their Holyland. Now dinner that's something else….But yet here I sit in the early afternoon in front of my computer and I'm hungry. The reason of course is because it's a fast day. I can't eat. That makes me hungry. I'm googling food jokes for you. I bought cheese danishes already. They're downstairs on the counter. Away from Elka and Tully who have been eyeing them way too dangerously. They're not fasting. The danishes are mine.
Over all though it's not that bad of a fast. It's the shortest one on the Jewish calendar. I meant to get up and get a coffee even before the fast; before 5:02 AM. I missed it, but thank god no headache…yet…It'll be over before I finish this E-Mail perhaps. Then I can have my cheese Danish. Am I the only one out there thinking like this? What do you think about on a fast day? Oh yeah… I forgot something bad happened today. Unlike our holidays where they tried to kill us, we won, let's eat, our fast days are about that they tried to kill us, they did, let's not eat. It feels sinful to be thinking about food (danishesJ) on a day that Jews died. Maimonides tells us that the point of the fast day is for us to increase our Teshuva, our sins that have caused this destruction. I guess we have to do something to distract ourselves from the food, so let's talk about what happened today. What are we meant to do Teshuva for? Who died? Why am I not eating? What is this fast of the tenth day of Tevet all about?
The truth is it's kind of a strange fast day. The Talmud tells us that on the Tenth of Tevet the Romans sieged the city of Jerusalem. OK, a siege is a bad thing. But the truth is compared to the other fasts that surround the destruction of the Temple this seems kind of minor. The 17th of Tamuz the walls were breached. The massacres began. On the 9th of Av both temples were destroyed. Even the fast of Gedalia right after Rosh Hashana the last hope post-Temple of Jewish life in Yehuda and Yerushalayim died when one Jew assassinates the leader of the remaining community of Israel. But a siege? We've had plenty of those. And no fasts. Even more fascinating the Talmud tells us that the tenth of Tevet is more severe than any of the other fasts in that if it would fall out on Shabbos (which it doesn’t' as we arrange the calendar so it does not) one would fast even on Shabbat. In fact as opposed to all the other fasts we actually fast it when it falls out on Friday and it is not postponed. The reason is because the verse in Yechezkel (24:2) that describes the day we are told
 "Son of man write for yourself -this day; This very day the King of Babylonia has reached Jerusalem this very day"
Wow! This very day…Those words in Hebrew B'Etzem Ha'Yom HaZeh, are used on very significant moments. The day we left Egypt, the day Hashem brought the flood, the day Moshe died as well as the holiest and most important fast day of the year Yom Kippur. The Abudraham, the 14th century halakhist derives that the prophet is telling us that this day and Yom Kippur would even be fasted on Shabbat. Can you imagine? No chulent! What is it about this day, which in truth is only a day time fast. Tisha B'Av, a certainly more severe fast, begins the night before and we can't wash or even greet people as we are in mourning, compared to that the rules governing the tenth of Tevet seems kind of mild.
This morning in one of the extra fast Selichot supplications which we added in it mentions a few other events that happened on the 8th and 9th of Tevet. Seemingly there is a connection between them and the fast today. We are told that on the 8th of Tevet during the first Temple the Greek King Ptolemy ordered 72 Rabbis into separate rooms and had them translate the entire Torah. Miraculously they all made changes from the literal text that would avoid any mistaken interpretations and they each independently made the same adjustment. (There are those that are more cynical that suggest the miracle would have been greater if you had put them all in the same room and they came out with the same translation in agreement). Although this was a great miracle the Rabbis saw in this a reason to declare a fast day of mourning. Again, the question is why? I'm sure all the newspapers at the time heralded the miracle and advancement of Jewish scholarship. Why fast because of this?
The next day is the 9th of Tevet, yesterday, which was a declared fast day because it was the day of the death of the great leader at the beginning of the 2nd Temple; Ezra the Scribe. This as well seems perplexing. We do not have any fast days for any great leaders. Not Abraham, Not Moshe. Not Joshua not King David, why Ezra? In addition, it's not like he died a tragic death or was killed. He seemingly died of old age. It's sad, yes. We lost a leader, but it happens. That's life…or death. Why the national day of mourning for all of history?
The answer, I heard from one of my teachers, is that all of these days are precisely connected. Who was Ezra? Ezra was the great leader who was given the job of getting the Jews to come back to Israel after 70 years of Exile in Babylonia and Persia and to rebuild the Temple. And you know what? The Jews didn't come. They ignored his call. They were quite comfortable in America, I mean Persia J. They were happy to send donations and contributions, don't get me wrong, but really? Israel? Aliya? The Temple? We'll come visit on our vacation time. But we have Torah and Yeshivos and schools and our community here. In the words of Rabbi Yehudah Halevi the author of the Kuzari who describes that period.
"Alas, King of Kuzar, you have exposed my point of disgrace! Indeed, this sin prevented the fulfillment of that which God had destined for the Second Temple… For Divine Providence was ready to rest upon [the Jews] as at first, if they had all willingly heeded the call and returned to Eretz Yisrael. However, only a minority took heed, while the majority–including the most prominent among them–remained in Babylonia, acquiescing to exile and bondage, just so that they would not have to part with their dwellings and businesses… If we would be prepared to draw near to the God of our forefathers wholeheartedly, He would save us as He saved our ancestors in Egypt. But since that is not the case, our utterances of “Who restores His presence to Zion,” etc. are like the chirping of the birds, for we say these things without proper intent. (Kuzari 2:24)"
The fast of Ezra is the fast of the complacency of the Jews. We didn't heed the call. We didn't see the opportunity.
Similarly, the 8th of Tevet when the Torah was translated. The Jews heralded it as a great thing, a miracle! Now our neighbors can read and learn about us. Now our own children will be accepted into Greek culture, gymnasiums and universities. The UN will smile upon us. We are a nation like every other one. Our Torah is an accepted religious book and they might even start lighting Menorahs in their Greek White Houses next to the other "traditional" winter holidays. The Jews, failed to see that this was the beginning of the end. The Torah lost its neshoma, its soul. The headlines the next day blared "We have made it!" what we didn't realize was that we had really lost it.
Which brings us to today, the tenth of Tevet. It was a regular day in Jerusalem. Everyone clicked on their news apps and whadaya know? The king of Bablylonia has laid siege on Jerusalem. Oh well. Any missiles fall? No. Any injuries? No. Ahhh.. Baruch Hashem Thank God! I guess that's just life in Israel. We should really hold new elections for a new king that will do something about these pesky attacks and sieges. Now back to work. The restaurants and stores all remained opened. Life continued… for the next THREE YEARS! And it got worse and worse. And we seemed to have failed to hear the message. To see the impending doom. We had too much faith that "Jerusalem will never fall" Hashem will never let us lose the temple and the holy city. He needs us as much as we need Him. We continued to eat our danishes….
And then it happened; The 17th of Tamuz, Tisha B'Av and the even the fast of Gedalia. It was over. We are without a home. The prophet tells us that we should remember "this very day". The day we didn't listen. A day that looked and seemed like any other. Write it down and remember that there are no simple days in Israel, not while the Temple is destroyed. Listen for the messages and the cries of Ezra for us to come home, to stop assimilating and looking to the world for light. If the only way we'll wake up is to even take away our chulent on Shabbat- so be it. Stop eating and start fasting. We need that return. We need to hear the call to fix the problems and to start repairing the fighting and lack of commitment to Hashem, His Torah and His land. We need to stop chirping like birds and start meaning and acting on the hopes and dreams of all of our ancestors. That's why we are not eating today and that's why we are not yet home yet.
This week, the book of Bereishis concludes with Yaakov and Yosef's last request to be taken out of Egypt and buried in the land of Israel. The reason was to remind all of their generations. We need to come home. Next week we begin the Book of Exodus, redemption. May it truly herald in the final redemption. I don't want to fast another day. I want all of us finally home.
Have a Shabbos Chazak,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

This week’s Insights and Inspiration is not sponsored… again…
It’s the end of the year It would be really nice to receive a donation and sponsorship on my birthday… today… for the end of year contribution. Click on our link http://holylandinsights.blogspot.co.il/   
Make a Rabbi  Smile J

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Thank You!
 SHACHARIS-8:30 AM- (Please remember to recite Kriyat Shema before Shul as to make the Zman)
The Young Israel of Karmiel would like to wisha a Mazel Tov and warm welcome home to our dear friends, Rabbi Lenny and Lonnie Oppenheimer on their Aliya this week to Karmiel.
We are so excited for you and are so happy that you have finally fulfilled a lifelong dream-your persons have now joined your lev here in the mizrach!
May you have an easy klita.
Welcome home!


“Ganveh nit un fast nit.” Rob not, repent not

answer below at end of Email
Q.   The Samaritans do not observe:
A. Rosh haShana (New Year)
B. Yom haKipurim (Day of Atonement)
C. Hanukah
D. Sukkot (Succoth; Feast of Tabernacles)


https://soundcloud.com/ephraim-schwartz/yesimcha - my Yesimcha Composition on this weeks Torah portion Of Yackov blessing Ephraim and Menashe- Beautiful song!! Like it!!

https://youtu.be/dR3wDdK5NCc  - moving song for a special bar mitzva- an Abie Rottenberg one I never heard.

https://vimeo.com/248680242  – cool Chasidic Woman Judge Rachel Frier interview

https://youtu.be/7pTpdY6_oBY  - Simcha Leiner newest song Ribon HaOlam. nice


The Parsha which discusses the death of Yaakov and his last words and messages to his children, is appropriately connected with the last will and testament of Dovid Hamelech and his instructions to his son Shlomo. Just as Yaakov appoints Yosef his first born granting his two children a double portion, Dovid as well with many children appoints Shlomo to be his successor. Dovid’s final message to his son. One would think that the final messages Dovid would have would be inspirational and meaningful, as one would think that Yaakov’s would. Yet both of them use the opportunity to strengthen their descendants with the missions in life they must fulfill. While Yaakov’s “blessings” are more cryptic, Dovid’s are pretty explicit. He wants Shlomo- the man whose name really means peace and completion to pick up the loose strings from Dovid’s life and right the wrongs. They include killing Yoav, Dovid’s general that went behind Dovid’s back and tried to appoint Adoniyahu as king. To avenge the shame that Dovid received at the hand of Shim’i Ben Gera who mocked and cursed Dovid when he was fleeing from his son Avshalom and to pay back with kindness the supporters of Dovid from the Barzilai family.
Those are Dovid’s final words, yet it is all based on the premise that Shlomo should be strong and “be a man”. Follow the mitzvos, keep the covenant and send the message to the people that there is a judge and justice in the world. Similarly Yaakov, the Torah commands his children after the blessing. Although the Torah doesn’t tell us what the command was, later on the brothers tell Yosef, that the command was that they should forgive him and provide for them. We Jews are responsible for one another. Perhaps that is the message are giving us that we should contemplate as we look towards the end of our lives.

Dovid Hamelech (907-832 BC)- Our sages tell us that when it was time for Dovid HaMelech to die the Angel of Death came for him. Dovid was studying Torah all day and night each Shabbos when Dovid was meant to die, and the Angel couldn’t take him. So he rattled some trees in the garden and when Dovid was disturbed from his learning and went to go see what the noise was, he fell down a stairs and died. The day of his passing was Shavuot and he was 70 years old.


The Binding of Yitzchak  1677 BC – This is the story where our connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount begins. Hashem appears to Avraham in Chevron and tells him that he should take him to the Mountain that he will show him and there he should bring him up as an offering to him. They went for three days and he saw the place from a distance. Avraham turned to his lads-Eliezer his servant and Yishmael- and told them to remain there while he goes up with Yitzchak to the Temple Mount until they return to him. The rest of the story is history. An angel appears tells Avraham to stop, he slaughters a ram that is caught in some brush and we blow the shofar every Rosh Hashana since then to commemorate this critical act that engrained in our people the ability to be willing to give our lives for the will of Hashem throughout generations.
Where is this mountain? Well the road from Chevron to Jerusalem is really not three days. So it’s kind of difficult to place it exactly in the timeline. Although if Avraham was coming from Beer Sheva that might be more reasonably the time frame. It does say right before this story that Avraham lived many days in the land of the Plishtim.
Yet seemingly the first place to really see the Temple Mount when coming along the road of our forefathers from Chevron is in Neve Daniel. There’s a nice lookout point over there at the highest mountain going up to Jerusalem and on most days with visibility you can see the Temple Mount. Its really pretty cool to be standing there and reading the Biblical story and imagining Yishmael and Eliezer awaiting the return of Avraham and Yitzchak. Interestingly enough Yitzchak does not return as he goes down to the Negev. It is only years later that he is reunited with Yishmael as he returns to meet his wife. Rivka and go back home after his mother’s death.

Patient:Doctor! Doctor! I feel like a pastry-based dessert!
Doctor:Well, this is a sur-pies!

My friend's bakery burned down last night. Now his business is toast
Stir-fry cooks come from all woks of life.
There was a cook that had mushroom for improvement.
He got angry at the Italian chef and gave him a pizza his mind.
The father who worked as a baker was a real breadwinner.
A baker always put too much flour in his bread because he was a gluten for punishment
The baker had ten children and there was always a bun in the oven.
The Yo-Yo Diet Guide to the Jewish Holidays
Rosh Hashanah - Feast
Tzom Gedalia - Fast
Yom Kippur - More fasting
Sukkot - Feast
Hashanah Rabbah - More feasting
Simchat Torah - Keep feasting
Month of Heshvan - No feasts or fasts for a whole month. Get a grip on ourselves.
Hanukkah - Eat potato pancakes
Tenth of Tevet - Do not eat potato pancakes
Tu B'Shevat - Feast
Fast of Esther - Fast
Purim - Eat pastry
Passover - Do not eat pastry
Shavuot - Dairy feast (cheesecake, blintzes etc.)
17th of Tammuz - Fast (definitely no cheesecake or blintzes)
Tish B'Av - Very strict fast (don't even think about cheesecake or blintzes.)
Month of Elul - End of cycle. Enroll in Center for Eating Disorders before the High Holidays arrive again.


Answer is C – Now even if you if you didn’t know this answer it’s quite easy to pick out by process of elimination. You know the old Sesame street song “Which of these things is not like the other?” So here that is quite easy, as Chanukah is the only holiday that is non-biblical, and really post-Shomroni period. The Samaritans are a really small group of people- less than a 1000 of them- that live in Israel, by Mt. Gerizim, in the Shomron-West Bank, not far from Shechem. And in Holon. In ancient times they were a very significant force. They claim to be the authentic Jews- From the tribes of Ephraim and Menashe. The Talmud though suggests that were non- Jews that converted under questionable circumstances known as Kutim. Regardless. When we came back to Israel after the destruction of the first Temple, they were here and they made us tzoris. Their religion which they claim to be “authentic” Judaism revers Mt. Gerizim as the holy mountain of Hashem and that is in fact their 10th commandment. The disdain Rabbinic Judaism and therefore Chanuka is not celebrated by them, neither is Purim for that matter.on to them...

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Things that happen at Rest Stops in Georgia- Vayigash 2017 / 5778

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
December 22nd  2017 -Volume 8 Issue 11 4th Tevet 5778

Parshat Vayigash

Things that happen at Rest Stops in Georgia

 There are some times in life that things happen that are so incredible that you just have nothing to do but stand back in total wonder and awe. Fortunately these things happen to me I think more often than I ever would imagine. It is as if there is a cosmic buzzer spiking me with these flashes of acute awareness, which in turn allows me to share with you a great story.
 This past Thanksgiving weekend (this was written 13 years ago in 2004) my family and I were invited to join my parents and siblings in Hilton Head, South Carolina. As we were unable to fly into Savannah / Hilton Head airport (tickets, particularly of the free frequent flyer kind, were sold out) we resolved ourselves to flying into Atlanta and driving the four hours into Hilton Head. Realizing that I would probably have no idea how to get to the condominium where we would be staying, I planned with my father that I would call him when I arrived at the rest area in Savannah and he would meet me so that I could follow him to our place of lodging! Simple enough, right?  Wrong.
 Pulling up to the rest area I realized my first problem: my cell phone had died (never happens to you, right?) “Not to worry” I thought to myself. I’ll just use the public payphone.
{Remember this was written 12 years ago- for all you young ‘uns. There was a time in our ancient history when one could make a phone call from this box that was attached to a wall and that you would insert money into to dial with….In fact they were quite common, until they were all eaten up by dinosaurs in the Great Flood}
Wrong again, for they were all out of order. Struggling with what to do next, I remembered I had a phone charger but it would need an outlet to work and charge my phone. As you guessed, the rest area’s main building was closed and the bathrooms did not have any outlets. I knew I was reaching the bottom when I started leeringly eyeing the Coke machine’s power outlets a little too hopefully. Then suddenly I heard a voice.
Do you need to borrow a cell phone?”
 After responding with grateful appreciation my bareheaded friend said, “Y’know with a few more people we can get a minyan (required quorum of 10 for prayer)”.
My tongue was caught in my throat, but somehow I managed a casual query: “Oh you’re Jewish?”
 I then began to engage in the ancient Jewish tradition of “Jewish Geography”. Much to my delight I found out that Ed was from Charleston and was a congregant of one of my close friends, Rabbi Ari Sytner. Marvel, however, turned to intrigue when upon on telling him that I was from Seattle he turned pale and shared with me something incredible.
 “We recently koshered our home and have begun to take our Judaism more seriously. Our greatest wish was that our son who is in the military should also be able to share in some of the beauty we have found in our heritage. We spoke our desires over with Rabbi Sytner and he mentioned that he had a friend in Seattle not far from the Fort Lewis base where he was going to be stationed and that he would be happy to forward him that info once he got settled.
“This was a few weeks ago and my son just got settled in this week and I wasn’t sure if we should forward that info or not, but it seems that the good Lord in heaven sure resolved that one for us.”  
 The feeling of awe and amazement at how an experience that at first seems so discombobulating turns out to be so Divinely orchestrated, gave me insight into a fantastic Midrash in this weeks Torah portion. We find our forefather Yaakov reuniting with his long lost, presumed to be dead, son, Yosef. The Torah tells us that upon that reunion Yosef falls on his father and cries. The Midrash points out that the text does not mention what would seem to be the more appropriate Hollywood reaction: both father and son weeping together. The reason, our rabbis explain, is because Yaakov was reciting the ancient Jewish prayer of Shema ‘”The Lord is Our God the Lord is One” at that moment, and therefore was not crying.
Praying? You ask in disbelief. Now, of all times to pray!
 The Maharal of Prague (sixteenth century scholar and author) explains that Yaakov was not merely reciting his morning prayers. What he expressed through the recitation of the Shema was the reaction that most succinctly expressed the awe that he was feeling: the almost unbelievable sensation that everything that had happened and occurred was through the hand of God. Famine in Israel, loss of his son - two seemingly unrelated tragedies but under the unseen hands of our Father in Heaven - both happened in order to propel Yosef to his position in which he was most suited, to prepare Egypt for the arrival of the tribes of Israel.
 Incredible things happen daily, some in Egypt to our forefathers, some at rest stops in South Carolina, and some in each of our daily lives. Would that we could utilize the recitation of Shema to focus on these events than not only will our prayers be more complete and meaningful but our lives and all our experiences will be connected to the eternal hand of our Maker .
Two weeks ago I wrote an E-Mail about a story that happened at a rest stop in Georgia. At the time I thought it was an incredible example of how the hand of God reveals itself and directs all that we do. Since then the e-mail and story has taken on a life of its own, being published on the internet website www.jewishworldreview.com and eventually made its way across the country (and world!!) on the   radio and in newspapers. My close friend and colleague Rabbi Ari Sytner from Charleston, South Carolina, the Rabbi of the individual Ed who I met at this rest area has written a follow up to my story, once again revealing to me how wrong and how small my interpretations of events and the actions of the hand of God really can be. Read on and be amazed
 A tiny glimpse into the Divine's reality
By Rabbi Ari Sytner
Miracles are G-d's way of letting us know that He is a part of our daily lives. At times, G-d orchestrates extraordinary and unexplainable events as a means of showing us that, despite our perceptions, life may actually appear differently when seen through the prism of Heaven.
Last week, I was given a tiny glimpse into G-d's reality.
JewishWorldReview.com featured an article that described what was initially thought to be a chance encounter at a highway rest-stop between a Seattle rabbi and a fellow named Ed from Charleston, South Carolina. As the story unfolded, and the two men began to speak, the nature of their meeting was soon revealed to be nothing short of miraculous.
To recap, Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz had just moved to Seattle. Ed's son had just been stationed at a base in a suburb there. Ed explained to the rabbi that he was concerned that his son would not have any Jewish contact while in Seattle. His new young rabbi in Charleston, however, had assured him that a friend and colleague in Seattle would be more than happy to embrace their son.
Sure enough, the friend and colleague that Ed's rabbi, myself, referred to was none other than Rabbi Schwartz himself, who Ed "happened" to stumble upon in the South Carolina rest-stop after what the rabbi presumed were a series of annoying circumstances!
The JWR essay concluded with the two men exchanging information, and agreeing to remain in touch, as it was a surely sign from heaven that the two were destined to cross paths.
After JewishWorldReview.com published this amazing story it was widely circulated over the Internet, and served as a springboard of inspiration for thousands of people.
However, I would like to inform you that this was only the beginning of the story.
Allow me to fill you in a few details that transpired behind the scenes and which I would not have believed myself, had the Divine had not allowed me to personally witness them.
Initially, when Rabbi Schwartz met his new friend Ed at the rest stop in South Carolina, Ed broke the ice with a joke about getting 8 more men together for a Minyan for afternoon prayers. The two men laughed. But deep down, Ed was not kidding. The reason Ed had commented about Minyan was because he's still in the period of mourning after having tragically lost his 28 year-old son. He needed to recite the Kaddish prayer.
After that "coincidental" meeting at the South Carolina rest stop, Ed and his wife, Judy, were greatly comforted. They knew that their remaining child, now living in Seattle, would once again be reconnected to the Jewish community through Rabbi Schwartz.
But for Ed and Judy, the comfort did not end there. After JewishWorldReview.com published their story, they were overwhelmed and flattered by the amount of encouragement and feedback they received from its many readers. It truly gave them strength and comfort they so need during their difficult time of grieving.
But the story still does not end there . . .
On Friday morning, I was preparing for the Sabbath while listening to the popular JM in the AM radio show broadcast over the Internet. Suddenly I jumped to attention after hearing my name. I listened attentively as the substitute host, Mayer Fertig, recounted the entire story about Ed and Rabbi Schwartz, as it appeared on the Jewish World Review website.
Once again, I couldn't believe just how much attention this one story was getting. I was so surprised that I immediately emailed Ed and told him how impressed I was to hear the story over the radio. I concluded my email by telling Ed that I believe that G-d was trying to tell us something. I wrote:
"All of the unexpected attention that this story has gotten seems to be the Almighty's way of letting you and Judy know that you are not alone in the world. There are thousands of people around the world that are now inspired by you. Despite the incredibly difficult and painful time that you are going through, G-d, together with your son in Heaven, must be smiling down on you, letting you know how proud they are over your recent growth and progress in your observance of Mitzvos," religious duties.
Within 10 minutes of sending the email, my phone rang. I recognized the sobbing women's voice on the other end. It was Judy. She revealed that during the last few weeks of dealing with the pain of losing her son, she began to have questions and doubts about G-d. Suddenly, however, through the unexpected publicity of the story of Ed's encounter with Rabbi Schwartz, first by email, then on websites, and now on the radio, she now sees with absolute clarity the hand of G-d. Through her tears, her pain, and her grieving Judy explained that she no longer questions G-d. Rather, she understands that G-d is watching over her family with love and compassion!
Many of us originally looked at this story as some form of spiritual entertainment, merely a cute story. However, I would like you to consider that G-d is not in the entertainment business, and does not run the world for our amusement. Quite to the contrary, G-d is in the profession of healing the sick, comforting the mourners and bringing hope to the destitute, serving as the ultimate role model for us to learn from.
That being said, this story has given us a glimpse into life through the eyes of Heaven. Despite all the media, emails and publicity that swirled around this story and despite all the lives that were inspired by the miraculous event of two Jews meeting at a highway rest stop, the true purpose of this entire event was simply G-d's way of reaching out to a inconsolable, grieving mother, and saying, "Judy, I still love you, please don't stop loving me."
Have an amazing heartfelt Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



“Az men darf dem ganef, nemt men em arop fun der t’liye.” When you need the thief, you take him down from the gallows.

answer below at end of Email
Q.  The southernmost bird sanctuary in Israel is found in:
A The Hai Bar in Yotvata
B. Yoash Mountain
C. Timna Mountain
D. Eilat


https://youtu.be/ClfI5zhnc2A - A composition of Yossi Green that went viral upon the commuting and freedom of Shalom Rubashkin- Motzi Asirim U’podeh Anavim-He frees the prisoners and redeems the humble and helps the downtrodden and he answers his nation when they call out to him. Nice!

https://youtu.be/z7wJsg1rQLQ - Rubashkin bentching Gomel in 770 this morning!

https://youtu.be/BDur6BEm3M8     - I got really into this golden oldie song this week. Eishes Chayil by Abie Rottenberg from his Aish album. It’s addictive.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3Sx5ynlRGU&list=PLD9uToE4LLvKFf2uPKUs4usAwXiC1F-FG&index=2    - Not sure if this link will work in the States. It doesn’t in Israel but try it. It’s Rechnitzes Ani Yosef – Simcha Leiner singing. If it doesn’t work then buy the disc. It’s worth it! Great song from the parsha


This week is my Bar mitzva Parsha and therefore as well it is my Bar Mitzva Haftorah. As we know not only is the parsha that one is born have some connection with his neshoma, but obviously the haftora which is what our Rabbis chose as the accompaniment to our parsha and the insights we should have in it as well will have some connection to us.
Now besides the fact that it mentions my name twice, the past few years I felt an even stronger connection to this haftorah. Yechezkel HaNavi has this incredible vision of two sticks that become joined together as one, this symbolizes the tribes of Yosef and Yehudah that come together in this week’s Torah portion, as well as the divided kingdom in Israel that are represented by the tribe of Ephraim, whose king Yeravam Ben Nevat, led the 10 tribes to split off from Yehudah. Yechezkel then sees the return in Messianic times.
Ezekiel (37:21) So said Hashem behold I take out the children of Israel from amongst the nations which they went there and I will gather them and I will bring them to their land.

Ibid (37:25) And they will dwell on the land which I gave to my servant Yaakov which their fathers dwelled there. And they will dwell there, them and their children and their grandchildren forever and David my servant will lead them forever.
It took me 37 years since my Bar mitzva to see at least my personal return to Eretz Yisrael from amongst the nations. I read the Parsha many years and never saw in the story of the reunion between Yosef and his brothers, his father, and the beginning of our exile in Egypt to have some type of eternal consequence. I’m sure those that lived during the exile from Israel after the first Temple in the time of Yechezkel that didn’t see it as well. Yet, the prophet, reminded the Jewish people that they would be returned. It took them only 70 years to come back and rebuild the 2nd Temple. We have waited over 2000 years for the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy that has already begun. May we soon see the fulfillment of the last words of this week’s prophecy.
Ibid (37:28) And the nations will know that I am Hashem who sanctifies Israel when my Temple is amongst them.

Yechezkel /Ezekiel (590 BC)-  Perhaps known as the most Messianic prophet of the books of the prophets, Yechezkel focuses on the wars of Gog and Magog and the visions of the Temple rebuilt and the services that take place there. He was from a family of Kohanim according to the Radak he was perhaps even the child of Yirmiyahu the prophet as he is called Ben Buzi- the son of the “scorned one”. He was exiled to Babylon in the first Exile and he lived through the period when Ezra was granted permission to rebuild the Temple. His grave is in Iraq and according to the Abarbanel many would go and pray there.


Gerar and Avimelech  1700 BC – Famines hit the land of Israel. This year particularly we are not in great shape as this is the 5th year of drought. Many of my former water hikes in this country are depressingly dry. I’m dreading the summer bumping my backside as I raft down the Jordan river, if we don’t get rain soon. Back in the times of the our forefathers the Torah tells us about the famines that hit Israel and both Avraham and his son Yitzchak make their way down from Beer Sheva  a place called Gerar to the land of the Plishtim-Philistines or Gaza. We are told of the non- god fearing people that lived there led by Avimelech. The name Avimelech, like Pharaoh or Caesar are generic names for the leaders of their particular countries. Now I can’t take my tourists to Gaza today. There are some people there that are not that fond of Jews. I guess some things don’t change. But thankfully I don’t have to. See Gerar is in Israel.

 Now I know that when I go to the Gush Katif Musueum they talk about it being in Gaza. I believe the former yishuv of Kfar Darom claim that it was near there. However archeologists place it by Tel Haror about 35 KM north of Beer Sheva and about the same from modern day Gaza. At that site they found a lot Philistine artifacts and religious items as well as an upper and lower city. Although I have never been there personally. However Those that visit Be’er Sheva or make pilgrmages to Netivot to the grave of the Baba Sali can pass by and talk about our ancestors who made their way along that route. Now one thing I like to point out to my tourists is that this area is certainly considered Israel despite whatever deals the Israeli government might make or what the UN may want. For we are told that Yitzchak was ordered by Hashem never to leave the Land of Israel. Yet he went to Gaza, to Gerar ergo that must have been Israel.
Why did the picture go to jail? Because it was framed.
Why did the belt get arrested? Because he held up a pair of pants. 
What do prisoners use to call each other? Cell phones.
Where can you find a bunch of clowns who deserve to be in jail? Silly Con Valley.
What do you give prisoners for dessert? Jaily-Beans.

The town thief Berel Shmerel was on trial for, what else, stealing. “Berel Shmerel,” announced the judge, “for breaking into a house in the middle of the night, I sentence you to two years in prison.”
“But your honor,” pleaded Shmerel, “last time I was in court you sentenced me to a year in jail for breaking into a house in broad daylight If not in the middle of the night, and not in broad daylight, just when am I supposed to earn my living?”

Chaim Yankel made some terrible decisions early on in life that landed him in prison. After 12 years behind bars, he feels like he just can’t take it anymore, and decides to break out.
When he gets home, filthy and exhausted, his wife Rachel takes one look at him and says, “Where have you been? You escaped eight hours ago!”


Answer is D – Interesting question as the sites listed are all in the Eilat area. The Hai Bar is a nice animal reserve in the nearby city of Yotvata. Yoash is a nice mountain overlook into Sinai. And Timna is also the beautiful mountains right outside of Eilat. Yet the correct answer where one can check out the 500 million birds that land in Israel is Eilat, in what was once the garbage dump there and was turned into the first bird conservatory in Israel in 1980. Best time is to come in March when the birds start to return from the South and they have the festival there.

Friday, December 15, 2017

No Small Thanks- Mikeitz /Chanuka 2017 / 5778

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
December 15th 2017 -Volume 8 Issue 9 27th Kislev 5778
Parshat Mikeitz/ Chanukah
No Small Thanks
How can they be such ingrates? Are they insane? Do they want to lose it all? Do they know who they are messing with? I’ve heard of Chutzpa, but that is a Jewish trait supposedly. Where did our cousins pick it up from? The vice President of the United States is coming to the region. OK you’re not happy that the US declared Jerusalem as our eternal capital. I got that. You rioted, you had your days of rage. Booya and Allah Akbar. But really you’re not going to meet with him? You’re going to stand him up? To make it even better, Palestinian Prime Minister Hamdalla ( Abbas is the president- this guy is the prime minister- for those of you like me that were wondering who he is), announced that the US has declared a financial siege on Palestine and they have received no money from them since 2016. Ummmm…. What is $357 million dollars in aid just this year alone considered? Falafel and chummus? Last year the US contributed as well $355 million dollars to the UN relief fund of which $95 million was meant to be directed to the PA. Yes, with a total of of over 700 million dollars the US is that largest supporter of the Palestinians and they won’t even meet with the Vice President who is schlepping all the way out to the Middle East during his “Yom Tov” Season. That my friends is chutzpa.
Truth is this is just an escalation of the lack of appreciation that they have for us. I mean who provides them with their electricity, their water, their jobs, and their health care. How can they in turn lob missiles and declare war against us. In 1967 we liberated our holy city from their hands. The Kotel was used as a dumping place for their garbage. Har HaBayit- the Temple mount was in our hands. And then we handed it over to them. We gave them the best piece of Real Estate in Jerusalem. Mind you, this was just a mere 19 years after they threw us out of our holy city. There is no nation on this planet that would ever give their holiest place to an enemy, let along one that tried to destroy us and maintained that it would still do so. And yet all have gotten in return is blood, war, and hate. They should be bending over in gratitude. They should be waking up every morning and thanking Allah that the Jews are the ones that are in charge of this country and that provide them with their welfare, rather than one of their corrupt cousins. And yet..and yet… and yet…
It reminds me of the time I went to the Kosel and this beggar came over to me. I reached in my pocket and pulled out some change and came up empty. I asked him if he had change of a 20 shekel bill. He said he did. When I handed it to him, he started to walk away. Now my Hebrew is pretty good and I was pretty sure there was no miscommunication there. So I went after the guy and asked him where my change was. He looked at me and smiled, and said “Oh you wanted me to give you money now?!” I let him keep the change. Like my grandfather used to say it’s better to be on this side of the exchange than the other. But really I’m a nice guy. I don’t think the Donald will be so accommodating. But who knows? We live in an upside down world. Good is bad. Immoral has become moral. Terrorists have rights, the victims not so much. Maybe lack of gratitude is the new gratitude.
Yet, there is a rule from the great Baal Shem Tov, one that I try to live by. He said that if Hashem sees fit for us to see something negative then it is something that we are meant to self-reflect and examine ourselves for precisely that negative trait. In the words of the great Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. If you see someone stingy than it must be that I have something stingy inside of myself. If I see someone doing something or behaving immorally than I need to check where that is within me. If someone looks ugly than oyyyy….Gevalt maybe I’m ugly as well… So if the Jewish people are being faced with an enemy who are such kifuyei tov- so lacking in appreciation, we need to see if Hashem is showing us that to find it in ourselves.
The truth is there is probably no better time of year to reflect upon that than Chanukah. Unlike many of the songs about this being a festival of lights, or a time when we play dreidel, eat latkes and exchange presents for 8 crazy nights, when our sages established this holiday it was meant to be in their words- Yemei Hallel V’Hodaa’h – Days of Praise and Thanksgiving. That’s right although we spend so much time and energy focusing on lighting the Menorah and eating latkes and doughnuts the essence of these days is fulfilled by thanking and praising Hashem through the recitation of hallel and the appreciation for the miracles that Hashem does for us Ba’zman Hazeh at this time. Have I done that yet this Chanukah? Have I stopped and spoken with my family about how much appreciation I have of Hashem for all he has done for me. When I recite Hallel in the morning, am I bursting out in song, or rushing out to make my tour and be thankful that there is no tachanun which takes about as much time as Hallel. C’mon be honest, tell me I’m not the only one that thought that way. Am I as unappreciative as our cousins?
One thing that I did notice and the question comes up each year is why when we recited the blessing after our jelly doughnuts of al hamichiya do we not mention Chanuka as we do when we say our regularly bentching- grace after meals. Or even as we do other holidays in al Hamichiya itself I think everyone is jarred by that and looks in the bentcher for where it is. By the way, that may even be the point. Let us notice when we are not saying thanks. It should jar us, particularly on this holiday of praise and thanksgiving, that when we have the opportunity we are not saying it.
But I saw an even more powerful insight into why we do not mention it, although I can’t remember where. It is because al hamichiya is a shortened blessing- it is the essence of the three blessings of bentching on the land, asking mercy for our people and rebuilding of the temple. Chanuka is mentioned not as a special day in our regular bentching in yaa’leh v’yavo as there is no specific sacrifice or even holiness of the day. Rather it is mentioned in the thanksgiving blessing. Since there is no specific shortened blessing of thanks of hoda’ah and thus there is no mention of Chanukah. The question though is why than is there no specific shortened blessing of thanks. And the answer I saw, which was beautiful is that there is no shortcuts when it comes to saying thanks. Saying thank you, expressing our appreciation, recognizing how indebted we are to Hashem for everything that he does for us, it’s not a short, quick get-it-over-with prayer. In fact the longest blessing in our Shemona Esrei- daily amida is Modim- saying thanks.
It is then perhaps no wonder that this week’s Torah portion always read on Chanuka begins with the story of Yosef who had in last week’s portion implored the butler to remember him to Pharaoh. Here he had brought him good tidings. Yosef had interpreted his dream for him and the butler would be returned to his former position. He asked one small favor. Remember the kindness. And yet our parsha begins that two years had passed. The butler had not only forgotten him, he had deleted him from his memory. One would think with Pharaoh and his dreams and looking for an interpreter that he would remember him. But no. All the other “all the interpreters and all the wise men” were brought first and they couldn’t put Humpty back together again. Sorry… Just spacing out there a second. Finally with no choice he mentions Yosef, however he demeans him. He tells Pharaoh about the “Naar eved Ivri- the Jewish slave boy” that had interpreted his dream in the pits of Egypt. That story is the start of our Chanukah. Contrast his ungrateful behavior with ours. Look at him and think if perhaps we need to work on our gratitude as well.
Maybe we need 8 days of straight gratitude, of singing praise. Perhaps we need to stand and fulfill this special unique mitzva and the only one of its kind with ner, ish v’beiso- a candle, a man and his house; with his whole family, together, the family that Hashem has blessed us with. Look at the eyes of those loved ones in the glow of the candlelight have we thanked Hashem for these miracles? We have the mitzva to light by the entrance to our house. Do we take for granted the fact that we even have a home? Have we thanked Hashem for this? Have we burst out in song? Or are we as guilty as our cousins are of standing God up when he comes to visit us. Do we demand that He hasn’t given us support in so long? That we are under a financial siege; that we need this, and that. Are my longest blessings in Shemona Esrei the requests and supplications or is it modem. The thank you that I should never shorten.
Perhaps as well it is why we celebrate the holiday with the lighting of the menorah. A small little light. Is there anything perhaps that is a greater kindness from Hashem than a little bit of light? I remember once going to the blind museum here in Israel. For an hour we walked with a cane through pitch black as someone who is blind does. It is terrifying not to be able to see the world. One of the first blessings we make each morning is pokayach ivrim- that Hashem has opened up the eyes of the blind. When we are sleeping we can’t see. In the morning Hashem gives us our eyesight back. Are we still sleeping? Can we thank Hashem for the light. To see our loved ones, to see this beautiful world, to see His miracles shbichol yom imanu-that He does for us each day. As we light our menorahs this year, let’s stop and ponder that incredible light. It is that light of gratitude that can light up the world. May it lead to Hashem revealing His great light with the coming of Mashiach.

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

“Es iz nit azoi tei’er der geshank vi der gedank.” The gift is not as precious as the thought.

answer below at end of Email
Q.  The gravesite of Baba Sali is found in:
A. The town of Sali
B. Sderot
C. Netivot
D. Amuka


https://soundcloud.com/ephraim-schwartz/haneiros-halalu - Rabbi Schwartz original Haneiros Halalu composition in honor of Chanukah !!

https://youtu.be/dx0jvrlV_EQ    - Maccabeats newest Chanuka song-Candle on a sill

https://youtu.be/lMjJltbJ0yc    - Mordechai Shapiro newes Lecha Great- My kids think I dance like the chubby kid…

https://youtu.be/HVhE7_AUtNI   -8th Day miracle of Light!

https://youtu.be/Q4j65GbP4Lw    -Pretty funny Chanuka cartoon Sufgi the doughnut- Hebrew

https://youtu.be/-3_DPZcGTy4    -Great 90’s Chanuka remash 613 Akapella


Now as we know Haftorahs were generally chosen because of their connection to the Parsha. They are the insight of our sages into the eternal lessons of the parsha that can be enhanced or highlighted by the books of the prophets. As well on holidays, or special shabbosos the haftoras change giving us insight into the times. In some communities on Shabbat Chatan or other special occasions a different haftora would be chosen. I believe that the messages of the haftorah can connect as well to the Parsha and even to special current events. You just have to give it a little thought. This past week still on euphoria of the recognition of Jerusalem by the most powerful nation of the world; The United States of Edomica, the haftora talks about the
Zecharia (2:14-16_ Sing and rejoice daughter of Tzion because I am coming and I will dwell in your midst… And the great nations will accompany you to Hashem on that day…And Hashem will inherit Yehudah his portion on the holy land and will choose again Yerushalayim…Be silent all flesh before Hashem for He is aroused from His holy abode…
Ummmm was that really written 2500 years ago about the day that we are experiencing. How’s that for a prophecy that is meant to be read this week?
As well the haftorah is connected to the Torah portion and Chanuka for it discusses the vision of Satan trying to badmouth the High Priest Yehoshua who has “dirty clothing” on. Our sages discuss that this was his or his children assimilating and Hashem is telling the Malach that he dare not persecute or judge Yehoshua for the sins of Galut. We have returned. We get a new set of clean clothing. We just need to be strong and each man will speak with his friend in Eretz Yisrael renewed. Finally he sees a vision of a Menora with olive branches that he is meant to light and the political leader from the house of David will return again as well. But he should know that it will not be with strength or with great armies, but rather with word and spirit of Hashem. The connection to Chanuka when a small band of Rabbis left the sins of assimilation behind and fought against the largest army in the world with the word of Hashem, and the connection as well with our Parsha of Yosef who despite being in a position to assimilate refuses to. Instead he as do the Chashmonai Maccabees millennia later cry out. Only Hashem has power. That is how the Temple was rededicated and that is the message Zecahria brought to his generation. It’s the message of ours today as well. May we soon see that Menora shining bright again.

Zecharia (520 BC)-  The Temple has been destroyed, the Jews were exiled the time of return had come with the declaration of Cyrus 18 years before, and yet the Jews were stalling. Faced with opposition from the nations around them and from the Shomronim from within as well as overwhelming poverty the initial enthusiasm had waned and Zecharia arrived on the scene to rejuvenate the spirits of the people. His prophecies in the first few chapters are visions of an angel that encourage the Jews to follow the mitzvos and build the Temple. The latter chapters are visions of the end of days after the destruction of the Temple when the nations will be punished and the streets of Jerusalem will once again be filled with its children


Sodom  1713 BC – Sodom and Gomora two of five cities that were destroyed by Hashem in the famous Biblical story. Where are they? Have we found any remains of them. Archeologists for the last half century have tried to discover these cities. General Torah faithful Archeologists place them under the Dead Sea. However with the receding of the Sea over the last century greater effort has been placed in trying to place them. All of the sites that are attributed to being from this era are on Jordan’s side of the Dead Sea so one really can’t go there. They range from the Northeren part of the Dead Sea today by the city of Safi and the Archeological site of Bab ed Dra and Numiera to further South almost to the Arava valley at the bottom of the Dead Sea. In many of the sites mentioned above there have been burnt houses and lots of lava, rocks and sulfur which non-believers suggest may have come from an earthquake that shook these things up, although the dating may have been before the Patriarchs. There were certainly cities and even gates of cities that were found similar to the gateway that Lot was sitting in when the angels arrived. The bitumen and sulfur pits are certainly in Israel and can be described there. Yet if you want to see something that dates back to that biblical story a few miles south of Ein Bokek by the Dead Sea one can see famous pillar of Eishet Lot- the wife of Lot, described in the story as having disregarded the command not to look back at the destruction of the cities. When she did, the Torah tells us she turned to a pillar of salt. That there is such a pillar is mentioned in Josephus from the end of the second temple period. As well the Talmud discusses blessing Dayan Ha’Emet- the True Judge upon seeing it. The majority of Halachic authorities however suggest that as we do not know where it is, and which salt pillar it is one need not make any blessing. So there you have it, Torah story, Archeology, History and Halacha all at one stop. Only in Eretz Yisrael!
There was a tailor named Mendel and he was worried about his business. Mendel was down to his last $50 and was torn between buying a sign and getting food for his family. Mendel decided to pray.
“Dear G-D,” he said, “I don’t know what to do. If I buy a sign it may bring in business, but I need to buy groceries for my family…and if the sign doesn’t bring in sales, we will starve.
G-D replied, “Mendel buy the sign. Don’t worry, your family won’t starve.”
So, Mendel bought the sign and business took off. The tailor fed his family and all was well. However, as time passed it became evident that Mendel couldn’t keep up with orders all by himself. He contemplated hiring on a helper, but wondered if he could afford it. So, he asked G-D if getting help would be a prudent move.
“Go ahead,” G-D tells Mendel, “hire some help, you’ll do okay.”
And so Mendel did. And business took off beyond his wildest dreams. After a time, the tailor decided to move to a larger site that would accommodate the growing demands of his business. As he surveyed certain locations, he found a perfect storefront, but the rental price was really steep.
“G-D” Mendel again prayed, “I found the perfect place to relocate my business. But the cost of the lease worries me. I don’t want to get in over my head.”
“Go ahead and a get a lease on the store, Mendel,” said G-D. “Trust me, you’ll be okay–I haven’t steered you wrong yet, have I?”
So Mendel signed a lease on the 5th Avenue store and profits from his business went through the roof. Out of heartfelt gratitude, Mendel proposed to the Almighty that he dedicate the store to Him.
“How do you like the name “Hashem and Mendel,” the tailor asked.
“Nah,” G-D said. “Let’s go with ‘Lord and Taylor.'

One Sunday a pastor told the congregation that the church needed some extra money and asked the people to prayerfully consider giving a little extra in the offering plate. He said that whoever gave the most would be able to pick out three hymns.
After the offering plates were passed, the pastor glanced down and noticed that someone had placed a $1,000 bill in offering. He was so excited that he immediately shared his joy with his congregation and said he’d like to personally thank the person who placed the money in the plate. A very quiet, elderly, saintly lady all the way in the back shyly raised her hand. The pastor asked her to come to the front.
Slowly she made her way to the pastor. He told her how wonderful it was that she gave so much and in gratitude asked her to pick out three hymns. Her eyes brightened as she looked over the congregation, pointed to the three handsomest men in the building and said, “I’ll take him and him and him.”

President Trump/Obama {Insert your candidate of choice} was at the beach and got into trouble while swimming. He called for help, and three young men went to his rescue and pulled him ashore.
Trump/Obama wanted to show his gratitude, so he offered to give each of the young men what they would like, within reason.
The first young man said that he would like to have a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Trump/Obama told him he could select it and to just send him the bill.
The second young man said he would like an All-Terrain ports vehicle. Again, Trump/Obama told him he would have it.
The third young man declared that he would like a state-of-the-art wheelchair. Trump/Obama was puzzled and asked him why an obviously healthy and athletic young man such as he was would want a wheelchair.
The young man replied that when his dad found out he had helped rescue him, he would break every bone in his body.

Three sons left home, went out on their own and prospered. Getting back together, they discussed the gifts they were able to give their elderly Mother. The first said, "I built a big house for our Mother." The second said, "I sent her a Mercedes with a driver." The third smiled and said, "I've got you both beat. You remember how Mom enjoyed reading the Bible? And you know she can't see very well any more. I sent her a remarkable parrot that recites the entire Bible. It took Elders in the church 12 years to teach him. He's one of a kind. Mama just has to name the chapter and verse, and the parrot recites it."
Soon thereafter, Mom sent out her letters of thanks: "Milton," she wrote one son, "the house you built is so huge. I live in only one room, but I have to clean the whole house."
"Gerald," she wrote to another, "I am too old to travel any more. My eyesight isn't what it used to be. I stay most of the time at home, so I rarely use the Mercedes. And the driver is so rude!"
"Dearest Donald," she wrote to her third son, "you have the good sense to know what your Mother likes. The chicken was delicious!".'


Answer is C – OK so this is a cute question. I mean doesn’t everyone know who the Baba Sali is? Right? I mean his picture is in every pizza, falafel, Shwarma store as well as in many taxis. He was the great Kabbalist. He was the great Kabbalist who passed away 1984 that was known to be an incredible miracle-worker. But did you know where he lived? Interestingly enough he as well as his children all lived in far our places in Israel away from the religious masses preffereing to live next to secular Jews who he hoped he could be successful in influencing and inspiring. He lived in Netivot near the Gaza border in the South not far from Sderot. I remember a few years ago in the Gaza war when I was there and a siren went off. All the people around rather than run into a bomb shelter ran to his grave for protection. It was pretty cool. Amuka, of course is the burial place of Yonatan Ben Uziel- the greatest student of Hillel, and also a place for pilgramages. Particularly for people seeking to get married and find their bashert. Sali- by the way means prayer-like the Aramaic word Tza’ala- Baba means father- So he was called the father of prayer!