Our view of the Galile

Friday, January 27, 2017

Savlanut- Parshat Vaeira-5777/2017

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

January 27th 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 14 29th Tevet 5777
Parshat Vaeira
I don’t understand how Goyim do it. How do they manage to live without Shabbos? How can they continue day after day, week after week without ever turning it all off? Without stopping, turning off the noise, the cars, the phones, the computer, the internet, the physical world and just keep going and going. It boggles my mind. I couldn’t imagine it. Besides that they don’t have chulent. As difficult as that alone is for me to comprehend. But not menucha…no rest…no time to focus on Hashem...on their own spirituality…on their families. How can they go one week without it?
Now I’m not an ignorant person. I know they have weekends. I know they have Sundays. I miss Sunday here in Israel. Sunday is a great day to sleep in, have a nice bagel breakfast, and lounge around in my PJ’s for a few hours. Maybe go to the Mall, maybe just hang with the kids. It was a nice perk of living in America. But Sunday ain’t Shabbos. Shabbos, I get dressed like a King. Shabbos our table is set for angels. White tablecloths, candles, silver goblets, challah board; once in a while they even remember to put the salt shaker on the table as well. Shabbos we have a feast. A few of them. Wine, meat, Shabbos songs to Hashem. The kids say their Torah, We bond with community. We have guests. We spend “real time” in shul- not the quick run in and say your prayers that we do during the week. Shabbos I have time to open up one of the many books on my shelf and learn for the sake of learning, for its pure enjoyment, to get close to Hashem, to find my heart, my brain, myself…
Shabbos I can appreciate my wife. Her hard work throughout the week. How much she put into making this day every weekend special, clean, orderly, aromatic and best of all delicious. The smells of Shabbos are holy. It’s like the incense in the Temple. I know it must have smelled like chulent there. Shabbos reminds me how disconnected the rest of my week is from what my real priorities have to be in life. What I’m really here for. What all my work and labor is all about. It’s the neshoma-soul to my weekly body. How can Goyim make it without it? How can they not implode?
I don’t understand how we did it. 210 years of slavery. Working backbreaking work, watching our children be captured and killed. Our babies drowned, our women abused, our lives and spirits removed from us. And yet we went on and on and on. Could we really never revolt? Could we not fight back? How did we let ourselves get suckered into this thing? How throughout our history have we repeatedly been persecuted? How were we sheep to the slaughter? We seem like such a smart, bright, intuitive, politically savvy, influential people, yet it never seems to help us. I know this is such a post-Holocaust, Zionistic, small-minded question. A question that any survivor would tell you- unless you were there you would not understand. You could not understand. You’ll never understand…
I think the early Zionists prided themselves on the concept that “We have finally arrived”. We will never again allow our nation or any Jew for that matter to be persecuted, to be enslaved, to be killed with no one to stand up for him. But somehow I don’t think that it has happened. It still feels like we are getting killed. On the streets of our Holy Land, in Europe, and yes in America- How many JCC’s got bomb threats the past few weeks? Is this the United States of America or is Kristallnacht USA right around the corner? And if there was god forbid such an outbreak, would the Jews of America leave? Or would they wait it out and see? Would they say those famous traditional Jewish last words “it couldn’t happen here?”. And in Israel has it changed, as well? Are Jews more secure with a Jewish army and country, or has that only increased the hatred of us, the jealousy, the murder and terror. Do we feel more emboldened to defend ourselves or are we still living under the worlds microscope and measuring every action that we take-based on what the rest of the world feels is the way that we need to be treated or persecuted? How can we keep doing this to ourselves? Why do we consistently allow ourselves to implode?
This week Hashem begins the Torah portion with his response to Moshe’s questions at the end of last week’s Torah portion-although question is kind of a polite term.
Shemos (5:22) “Hashem-Why have you done bad to this nation? Why have you sent me? From when I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your Name he has done evil to this nation, and You have not rescued Your people”
Ouch! That’s a rough question. Feels like a Donald Trump press conference J.
But Hashem doesn’t flinch.
“Now you will see what I shall do to Pharaoh for with a strong hand he will send them out and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land”
Now seemingly, although this is a very encouraging tiding for the Jewish people. But if one thinks about it Hashem really did not answer the questions. Which if this was a press conference I’m sure the reporter would have followed up with. But why? Why have You done bad? Why did you allow this to go on? Where were you until now? That’s why this week’s Torah portion picks up the conclusion. Hashem outlines the entire game-plan. But first one more associated follow-up question. Why would he need to drive the Jews out? Who asked for that? I can imagine that if the gates were opened we would head straight for the door? Or maybe not…
The Parsha begins with Hashem reminding Avraham about the covenant with our Patriarchs to bring us to the Land of Israel. He then continues and tells Moshe that He has heard the cries of the Jews whom Egypt enslaves and He has remembered his covenant.
Therefore say to the children of Israel that I am Hashem and I shall take them out from the under the sivlos-burdens of Egypt
He continues that He will save us from their slavery, He will redeem us, and He will take us to be His nation and He shall be our God-
And you shall know that I am Hashem your God who takes you out from under the sivlos-burdens of Egypt”
Hashem concludes this speech that he will bring us to the land and it will be our heritage…oh yeah and in case you forgot “I am Hashem”
The Chidushei HaRim of Ger as well as many other commentaries explain this dialogue and Hashem’s response to Moshe based on an alternate translation or understanding of what seems to be the key wordin Hashem’s response; sivlos- burdens. Li’sbol- as all Israeli’s know means to bear something. Savlanut, is a term that is used quiet often in this country, generally with the waving of two fingers touching the thumb and generally when you are trying to get somewhere to pick up your children or to an important meeting. That hand signal with the accompanying tskk tskk… is coming from the socialist government official, or supermarket teller, or annoying person in front of the line ahead of you decides that she wants to start rearranging her whole purse, or finish schmoozing with her friend on the phone about her dinner that she made last night. It’s usually pronounced slowly-in order to aggravate you even more. Each syllable is pronounced by itself. SAV…LA…NOOOOT…Patience. If it’s during a traffic jam and the guy in front of you can’t seem to understand why you would have a problem with the fact that he stopped in middle of the street to talk to someone he knows on the sidewalk-and why you felt that this was reason to engage your horn. He usually will say SAV-LA… NOOT…CHABIBI the warm endearing term of friendship that you seemed to have forgotten you must have for him. But Savlanut literally means patience. Similar to the root of bearing the burden. Patience, my friend, patience…
Patience means accustoming oneself to a situation. It means that you are not expecting things to change. You can bear it longer and longer and longer…It becomes your way of life eventually. As any honed Israeli can tell you the secret to success here is to just stop asking why and get used to the situation. You learn savlanut. It’s not a bad thing once you’re living in Israel. It’s a terrible thing though, when you’re living in Egypt. It’s a dangerous thing certainly if you have a mission in the world to fulfill and you’re wasting your time drudging along all day schlepping heavy bricks for pyramids. That was happened to the Jewish people in Mitzrayim. That is what Hashem answered Moshe.
“Moisheleh, you want to know why, what, and how this whole thing has happened. It’s because the Jewish people have ultimately reached a point where they will need to be chased out of Egypt. They have become savlanim- of Egypt. They’ve accepted this as their new reality. They cry out from the work, the pain, but they haven’t cried out for the redemption. They got used to it. They might just want a little less labor, a little less killing, They have lost touch with their soul. They have forgotten that I am Hashem.”
I don’t often quote Martin Luther King. But being that his bust is still in the White House from what I understand and being that this is the parsha that he spoke about I believe his words really hit the concept on the head.
“Oppressed people deal with their oppression in three characteristic ways. One way is acquiescence: the oppressed resign themselves to their doom. They tacitly adjust themselves to oppression and thereby become conditioned to it. In every movement toward freedom some of the oppressed prefer to remain oppressed. Almost 2800 years ago Moses set out to lead the children of Israel from the slavery of Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land. He soon discovered that slaves do not always welcome their deliverers. They become accustomed to being slaves. They would rather bear those ills they have, as Shakespeare pointed out, than flee to others that they know not of. They prefer the "fleshpots of Egypt" to the ordeals of emancipation.
There is such a thing as the freedom of exhaustion. Some people are so worn down by the yoke of oppression that they give up. A few years ago in the slum areas of Atlanta, a Negro guitarist used to sing almost daily: "Been down so long that down don't bother me." This is the type of negative freedom and resignation that often engulfs the life of the oppressed.”
That my friends is the description of the Jewish people for the past 2000 years. We’ve been down so long that down doesn’t bother us. When Moshe came to tell the Jewish people they would be redeemed they didn’t listen. They couldn’t listen. It was insane. “Leave Egypt?! Promised Land? Mashiach? Temple? Hashem?! What are you talking about?” And then our education began. Blood, Frogs, Lice…you know the rest. Pharaoh and his world of blind meaningless non-stop labor would become symbols ingrained in our minds and souls forever,-that life should never be just about building pyramids, sky scrapers, bank accounts and corporate palaces. It’s not about getting our candidate in office and our politicians and ‘important’ issues and platforms and bills passed by whatever country we happened to be living in. It’s not even about the 6 days a week that we have to earn a living. It’s about bringing the world to a Shabbos. It’s about the entire planet recognizing how holy we all are. How much joy, life and inspiration there is in elevating this world and connecting it and us to our Creator. How have we tolerated it for so long? Why are we waiting for the world to implode, when it is in our hands to redeem it?
Every Shabbos when we sit down at our Shabbos table and we recite the Kiddush we mention that it is zecher l’yitiziyas Mitzrayim- It is a remembrance of when we left Egypt. For the Exodus from Egypt was truly the moment that most connects us to the concept beauty and essence of what Shabbos is all about. It is the day when we realize and bask in the knowledge that we live here in this world but we do not control it. We are merely here to elevate it. We can stop everything and the world runs even better. We can be holy. We can transcend. We can be one with the Divine. May we soon see the Yom SheKulo Shabbos- the day when the whole world will be filled with Shabbos.
 Have an elevating Shabbos and a fruity Chodesh Tov of Shevat,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://youtu.be/esvKmfr9vuY  -Pretty funny Netherlands welcome Trump in his own words J

https://youtu.be/XaxvBH2z6Fghttps://youtu.be/XaxvBH2z6Fg  Cool Africa Music with Kippalive

https://youtu.be/2Ha4SUJkTvg   Nigun Habaal Shem Tov in Medizubzh

https://youtu.be/87XlDRjmPME Rare footage of Chafetz Chaim


“Kolzman es rirt zikh an aiver, klert men nit fun kaiver.”- As long as one limb stirs, one does not think of the grave

answer below at end of Email
Q.  Alexander the Great arrived in the Land of Israel as a result of his wars with:
a. The Romans
b. The Persians
c. The Carthaginians
d. The Babylonians

Briskers- students of the Rav of Brisk utilize the methodology of  the meticulous study of each word and its precision in all of their studies be it in the Talmud, the Rambam and certainly in Rashi as well. The Chumash calls of the Rav of Brisk and his children and students were renown for taking a look at every word and deriving great halachic lessons out of the terms and nuances of the text. They are a great source for examining and appreciating the pshat according to Rashi.
In this week’s Torah portion when Moshe once again ties to tell Hashem that he is not the man for the job as the Jews and Pharaoh will not listen to him. Hashem tells Moshe
Shemos (7:1) “See, I have made you elokim- a master to Pharaoh”
Rashi on those words comments –“ A judge and ruler; to rule over him with plagues and tribulations”
Seemingly Rashi is translating and explaining that the word elokim- over here is not a term that is meant to be a Divine term as it is usually used as a term for Hashem, but rather as a judge as it used later on in Mishpatim. The Rav of Brisk however asks why is this the response Hashem gives over here? What does judge and justice have to do with anything? Isn’t the function of all of this just to get Pharaoh to release the Jews from slavery? He therefore notes that we see from this terminology that the agenda here was in order to punish Pharaoh for his persecution of the Jewish people. Moshe would serve as the judge of Hashem. This was meant to be a fulfillment of the promise Hashem gave to Avraham by the Brit Bein Habesarim- the covenant between the pieces that he made where he said Bereishis (15:14)  “And also the nation which will enslave them I will judge and afterwards they will leave with great bounty.” It is for this reason he suggests that the mishna tells us the judgement of Egypt was for 12 months. This wasn’t in order to send the Jews out rather this was the judgement of Egypt. With this he also explains that back when Moshe hesitated to be the one to take out the Jews he told Hashem Shemos (3:11) “Who am I to go to Pharaoh, and can I take the Jews out of Egypt?” Seemingly this would be extraneous. All he needed to say that he cannot take the Jews. But with this new understanding he explains that there was two things going on. One, the judgement and punishment of Egypt and the second the taking of the Jews out.
He utilizes this concept to explain many of the different statements in the Hagadda and the songs of praise of Tehillim where it seems to separate the plague of the First Borns which he suggests was to get Pharaoh to realease the Jews as opposed to the other plagues which were punishment. See that’s what Briskers do. One word, one idea in a Rashi and with a little bit of understanding light can be shed in so many different areas. Classic Brisk.
HaRav Yitzchak Ze'ev Halevi Soloveitchik-The Brisker Rav (1886 - 1959). Son and most prominent disciple of Rav Chaim Soleveitchik, he succeeded his father in Brisk, survived WWII after fleeing from Brisk, where his wife and four of his children were murdered, and moved to Eretz Yisrael in 1941. He was never a Rosh HaYeshiva in the usual sense of the word, and never stood at the head of any institution, rather he gave shiurim (classes) to chosen students in his Study Hall. He continued educating students as his father did, in what would come to be known as the Brisker derech (Yiddish: the "Brisk method”) of analyzing the Talmud. This form of analysis stressed conceptual understanding combined with strict adherence to the text; it is also characterized by its emphasis on Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah. After his death, the yeshiva split, each son taking part of the following of the yeshiva.
The Rav as he as fondly and respectfully reffered to by his students was a leader of the Haredi community in Israel and advocated complete withdrawal of participation with the Israeli government, the secular ideals and values of which were, in his view, antithetical to the principles of Orthodox Judaism. He went as far as opposing the reliance on government funding in support of yeshivas and other Torah institutions.In fact he was particular that all the money to his yeshiva would only come from “Kosher-Shabbat observant sources”. He refused to appear in public and was completely removed from worldly affairs. After the Chazon Ish passed away he assumed the mantle of leadership of the Yeshiva world.
He wrote a Sefer on the Rambam’s Mishna Torah, which is known as the “Chidushei HaGri’z HaLevi,” and also Chidushim (insights) on the Torah. Among his descendants are Rav Dovid and Rav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik. 


Egyptian Jews – Probably one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world, today the country of Egypt is virtually judnerein. Despite the Torah’s prohibition on returning to Egypt, it seems that even during the first Temple Jews were living in Egypt. During the 2nd Temple under the Greeks and Romans Alexandria became home to one of the largest Jewish communities and congregations in the world. The community was ultimately wiped out by Hadrian. But later on flourished again during various Arab dynasties. There was a large Karaite community when the Rambam- Maimonides arrived there and he pretty much was successful in restoring them to the traditional Jewish faith. It is estimated that in 1948 there were close to 75,000 Jews living in Egypt. By 1950 40% had already left with about 14,000 making Aliya to Israel. After the 1956 Suez invasion by Israel, Britain and France 25,000 more had left and their properties were confiscated and after the 6 Day War the rest of the Jewish community cleared out with another 35,000 moving to Israel. Like most Sefardim in Israel they are a very traditional group devout in their prayers, their respect for their Rabbis and leaders although not necessarily as Torah educated as many of them became assimilated into the general Israeli secular society upon moving here. Yet fascinatingly enough many of them feel a tremendous pride and connection with their Egyptian heritage, following the news there closely and going back and visiting there. Perhaps one of the most famous Egyptian Jews to impact the state of Israel in modern times was our great spy Eli Cohen who infiltrated the Syrian intelligence and military community providing us with the necessary intelligence and strategies to win the 6 Day War.
What Do We Want? – PATIENCE!!>>When Do We Want It? – NOW!!.- Protest Sign…
Patience: The quality you admire in the driver behind you but can’t stand in the driver who’s in front of you.
Before you marry a person, you should first make them use a computer with slow internet service to see who they really are.-Will Ferrell
I'm a patient man; and when I say I'm a patient man, I mean I'm a patient man-George W. Bush

Did you hear about the teacher who was helping one of her kindergarten students put his boots on? He asked for help and she could see why. With her pulling and him pushing, the boots still didn't want to go on. By the time she got the second boot on, she had worked up a sweat.
She almost whimpered when the little boy said, "Teacher, they're on the wrong feet." She looked and sure enough, they were. It wasn't any easier pulling the boots off than it was putting them on. She managed to keep her cool as they worked together to get the boots back on -- this time on the right feet.
He then announced, "These aren't my boots." She bit her tongue rather than get right in his face and scream, "Why didn't you say so?" like she wanted to. Once again she struggled to help him pull the ill-fitting boots off.
He then said, "They're my brother's boots. My Mom made me wear them." She didn't know if she should laugh or cry. She mustered up the grace to wrestle the boots on his feet again.
She said, "Now, where are your mittens?" He said, "I stuffed them in the toes of my boots ..."
Ever have one of those days?

A man observed a woman in the grocery store with a three year old girl in her basket. As they passed the cookie section, the child asked for cookies and her mother told her "no." The little girl immediately began to whine and fuss, and the mother said quietly, "Now Ellen, we just have half of the aisles left to go through; don't be upset. It won't be long."He passed the Mother again in the candy aisle. Of course, the little girl began to shout for candy. When she was told she couldn't have any, she began to cry. The mother said, "There, there, Ellen, don't cry. Only two more aisles to go, and then we'll be checking out."The man again happened to be behind the pair at the check-out, where the little girl immediately began to clamor for gum and burst into a terrible tantrum upon discovering there would be no gum purchased today. The mother patiently said, "Ellen, we'll be through this check out stand in five minutes, and then you can go home and have a nice nap."The man followed them out to the parking lot and stopped the woman to compliment her. "I couldn't help noticing how patient you were with little Ellen..."The mother broke in, "My little girl's name is Tammy... I'm Ellen."
Answer is B – Ever hear the Jewish name sender. Our Talmud tells us that when Alexander-who modestly referred to himself as “the Great” arrived in Israel he got off his great white horse and prostrated hmself before the High Priest Shimon Hatzadik who cae, out to greet him. When he was asked why, he responded that he always saw the face of this Rabbi before he went to battle in a dream. So as opposed to everywhere else he conquered he allowed Israel to maintain it’s autonomy in the Greek Empire. To thank him the jews adopted the name Alexander or Sender as a Jewish name. Just ot go over a brief second Temple timeline the first Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians. They were quickly replaced by the Persians where the whole story of Purim takes place. Ultimatly Darius- the grandson of Queen Esther and Achashveirosh allows the Jews to return to Israel, this is reinstated later on as well by Cyrus. The Jews return rebuild the Temple and then Persia is wiped out by the Greeks and Alexander. He is knocked out by the Romans who have some wars against the Carthaginians..and there you have it.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Chow Up- Shemot 2017 / 5777

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

January 20th 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 13 22nd Tevet 5777
Parshat Shemot
Chow Up!
He spoke of watermelons and I have forever been inspired. For many years as a Kollel student in Yeshivas Bais Yisrael in Brooklyn, I had the privilege of attending the great Mussar Lectures of Rav Avigdor Miller. One of his primary themes was recognizing the incredible wonders of the universe in the every day things we take for granted. Watermelons were one of his favorite topics. It is one of my favorite desserts. It was a match made in heaven.
Let’s start with the watermelon seeds, a great roasted Israeli delicacy. I’m sure you know that when you bite into a juicy watermelon they are extremely slippery and they fly out of your hand or mouth. This is unlike orange seeds which are not. The reason according to the Department of Agriculture report (so I’m told) because the watermelon seeds are palatable and therefore need protection so they will fall on the ground and be re-planted, whereas orange seeds are bitter and will naturally be discarded by the eater. The watermelon vines thus know that its eaters might eat them and creates a special mucus around the seed to make it slippery. The orange tree obviously knows that its eaters don’t like bitter things so it doesn’t have to. It also implies that these trees and vines know that the future of their species depends on the protection these seeds.
Next, the fruit itself has an enticing, red, luscious, look. In fact almost all fruits have very delectable colors. Being made for the consumption of human beings it must know that we have an appreciation for colorful food and makes sure it stands out just perfectly. Fascinatingly enough, its outer non-edible shell and even its inedible rind is green a different color, the color of unripe fruits, so that we know not to eat that part. As anyone knows, that unripe fruits and melons can cause stomach cramps. The green protects it from animals eating it, as it blends in with the color of its vines, until it becomes ripe when we can partake in it.
The texture of its taste is also incredible. It is soft and yet has a little bit of crunch, it is juicy but not liquidy. Science and technology, with all their wisdom, still cannot create anything even close to the texture of a watermelon, an apple or an orange. Yet a tree with some sunlight, water and soil, and with the all the programming instructions and raw materials contained in the small factory of a seed, produces daily these miraculous little products that are perfect for sustaining and delighting humanity. How do you like “dem” apples J?
This week’s Torah portion in a very subtle way shares with us an incredible insight into not only in how we can become Rabbi Milllers, but even how we can become like Moshe. We begin the book of Shemos this week and we are told the story of Moshe Rabeinu. Raised as an Egyptian in the house of Pharaoh, he was put on trial and escaped the death penalty for murdering an Egyptian. He fled to Midian and became a shepherd in the home of a former Idolatrous Priest Yisro. He certainly would seem to be an unlikely figure to be the great Jewish leader that would bring about the redemption and to be God’s personal spokesperson for all times. Yet, the Torah tells us about the transformative moment when Moshe the Egyptian shepherd becomes Moshe the Leader.
An angel of G-d appeared to him in a blaze of fire from amidst “the bush”. Moshe saw the event and behold, “the bush” was burning in fire and yet “The bush” was not consumed. Moshe said, ‘I will turn from my course and see the marvelous sight — why does “The bush” not burn?’ Hashem saw that Moshe turned from his path to see the sight and He called out to him from amidst “the bush and said, ‘Moshe Moshe… ‘”
This narrative, from the moment that Moshe notices the burning bush until Hashem speaks to him from its midst, seems overstated. After Moshe sees the amazing sight, why does the Torah mention that Moshe says “I will go look at the amazing sight?” Further, why does the Torah preface Hashem’s charge to Moshe with the words “Hashem saw that Moshe turned from his path to see the sight, and He called out to him from amidst the bush?” It seems that only after Hashem openly acknowledges Moshe’s interest in the spectacle does he call out, “Moshe, Moshe,” thus beginning the process of redemption.
The answer, Rabbi Miller would suggest was that it was precisely this criterion and test that clinched Moshe for the job, He turned from his path to see. The Kotzker Rebbe suggests that the bush was always there burning and not being consumed, as is the implication of the text referring to the bush as “The bush”. Yet until Moshe nobody ever did more then maybe slow down their camels, clogging up the camel freeway, look out their turbans and say “Hey, check out that cool bush burning”. They didn’t see the obvious miracles. They didn’t recognize that there must have been a message, a Hand, and a Greater Power that was involved in this World. They refused to get off their path and open themselves up to the True one. Moshe did and it was his defining moment. When Hashem saw the intellectual curiosity and willingness to examine and re-examine his path, his world and his ways, he began to speak for the first time with Moshe. He knew he had the perfect man to lead and transform a nation from 210 years of brain-less, mind numbing, and order-following slaves, into one that would be bold and holy enough to challenge all of the world’s conventions and lead them to the path of truth.
We don’t have bushes burning today to wake us up. We already received the Torah, we left Egypt, and we have the knowledge. But, are we somehow living in the fast lane and missing the inspiration that surrounds us? What are you thinking about when you’re eating a watermelon? Are you chowing down instead of chowing up? Has that been something that has brought you closer to the loving masterful Creator that placed it there on your plate? If not, than are we any different than those who missed out on the Bush. Creation is remarkable. It bespeaks a designed universe created for us. Hashem wants us to appreciate the love of his universe in the same way a mother, wife or chef would want their children, husband, or dining connoisseurs to appreciate the delicious meal that she worked so hard to cook, prepare and present the day they came home from culinary school. Can you imagine having that appreciation each day of your life? I don’t have to imagine it. The image and lectures of Rabbi Miller will always be with me. I have enclosed a youtube video below of him. May his life continue to be an inspiration.
 Have a fantabulous Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

This week's Insight and Inspiration has been sponsored by my parents Abe and Esther Schwartz in honor and as a merit for my father's parents and aunt whose yahrtzeit is this week Moshe David ben Hersh and Zelda and Itka Sarah bas Yisrael Mordechai all of them holocaust survivors. My Bubby Zeldy raised her sister raised my father on their own and remained committed after all that they had been through to raising him with Torah values even in the most financially challenging of times. She was a tremendous Baalas Tzedaka that dedicated her spare moments to raising funds for needy families and to a large degree it is in her merit that all of her descendants live lives and have families that remain true to the life of Torah that she inspired. May their memories be blessed.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx_NgHIBRt4  Rabbi Avigdor Miller on Apples…Amazing!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRkpblJzAb8 Hasneh Boe’eir Ba’ish by Aharon Razel the Burning Bush

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUZsmxUxfBk&t=554s  VerPlanck- a pretty funny clip from a yeshivish TV sitcom- The Shidduch and Red Heifer

https://youtu.be/87XlDRjmPME Rare footage of Chafetz Chaim


“A mentsh zol leben shoin nor fun neigerikeit vegen”- A man should stay alive if only out of curiosity.

answer below at end of Email
Q.  One of the leaders who led the Return to Zion immediately following Cyrus’ Declaration was:
a. Ezra
b. Nehemiah
c. Gedaliahu Ben Ahikam
d. Zerubbabel
We’ve pointed out many times that Rashi’s role is not to quote Midrash and quite the opposite actually is true. If the Midrash contradicts the simple understanding of the verse Rashi will generally not mention it unless it explains the simple meaning of the text. So whenever Rashi mentions a Midrash that seems to contradict the simple phsat it behooves us to explore what we may have missed in the text.
Take this week’s portion of Shemot for example, when Hashem commands Moshe to go down to Egypt He tells him that he need not fear the death sentence that was given to him by Pharaoh for having killed the Egyptian there.
Shemot (4:19) For all of the men that seek your death have died.
This seems simple enough. The men be they Pharaoh or the ones that Rashi tells us earlier had snitched on Moshe had died namely Dathan and Aviram. Yet Rashi leaves the simple pshat and tells us that
They were alive. Rather they lost all of their possessions and a poor man is considered like a dead man.
This is certainly an interesting idea, but where does Rashi get it from and why does he not explain the pshat the way it states it? The truth is we know that later on Dathan and Aviram are still alive. So obviously they are not dead. Yet again that doesn’t necessarily justify Rashi explaining that this is Dathan and Aviram in the first place. AS the text doesn’t name the people who Moshe intervened in saving. The Chafetz Chaim however sees that Rashi is obviously using this explanation because it is the only one that fits the actual text for the verse says “the men who seek your death”  If they were dead already the verse should have said that sought your death –past tense. It must be, the Chafetz Chaim says, that they are still alive.
The Skulener Rebbe notes how it is amazing that the entire redemption and the delay of the 60 years until Moshe could take them out rested on the potential for Jews such as these who would snitch on Moshe. Even Jews who had benefitted where Moshe was defending them against the Egyptian and they should have been grateful Yet their warped moral indignation of Moshe having neutralizing an Egyptian terrorist who was trying to kill a Jew which seemingly was in violation of  international law- or at least how it applies to Jews-wouldn’t allow them to be quiet. They demanded an investigation, a commission and ultimately a sentence to be passed against Moshe. The redemption couldn’t come until these types of Jews lost their power… OK maybe he didn’t say it exactly like that… But you get the point. J

Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan- The Chafetz Chaim (1838 –1933) Rabbi Israel Meir HaCohen Kagan is commonly known as the “Chafetz Chaim,” the name of his famous work on guarding one’s tongue. Born in Zhetel, Poland on February 6, 1838, he was taught untill age 10 by his parents and then moved to Vilna to further his Jewish studies. Refusing the pulpit rabbinate, the Chafetz Chaim settled in Radin (Poland) and subsisted on a small grocery store which his wife managed and he did the “bookkeeping”-watching every penny to make sure that no one was cheated. He spent his days learning Torah and disseminating his knowledge to the common people.
As his reputation grew, students from all over Europe flocked to him and by 1869 his house became known as the Radin Yeshiva. In addition to his Yeshiva, the Chafetz Chaim was very active in Jewish causes. He traveled extensively (even in his 90s!) to encourage the observance of Mitzvos amongst Jews. One of the founders of Agudas Yisrael, the religious Jewish organization of Europe and later the world, the Chafetz Chaim was very involved in Jewish affairs and helped many yeshivos survive the financial problems of the interwar period. Exemplifying the verses in Psalms 34:13-14, “Who is the man who desires life…? Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit,” the Chafetz Chaim passed away in 1933 at the ripe age of 95.
The Chafetz Chaim’s greatest legacy is the 21 sefarim (holy books) which he published. His first work, Sefer Chafetz Chaim (1873), is the first attempt to to organize and clarify the laws regrding evil talk and gossip. He later wrote other works, including Shmirat HaLashon, which emphasized the importance of guarding one’s tongue by quoting our Sages. The Mishnah Brurah (1894-1907), his commentary on the Daily Laws of a Jew (his first series in the Shulchan Aruch), is found in many Jewish homes and is accepted universally to decide Halacha.
Firmly believing that he was living right before the time of Moshiach and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, the Chafetz Chaim wrote a work that stressed the learning of laws concerning sacrifices, the Holy Temple, and related topics. He also published seforim to strengthen certain aspects of Jewish life including kashrus, family purity, and Torah study.


Birthright Students – They’re all over the place in this country. You can’t miss the buses with the big blue and white posters that say Taglit- Birthright. Since the start of this program in 1999, that provides free 10 day trips to Israel for “young adults” ages 18-26 over a half a million young men and women have come to Israel. The Birthright program was conceived from what I understand by the Bronfman family and Michael Steinberg and other significant North American philanthropist who when faced with the results of a recent study that the majority of young Jewish adults were not likely to contribute to Jewish causes. All the edifices and organizations that they had built and were meant to be monuments and legacies to their family names would disappear. The JCC’s, the Federations, the Museums and charitable organizations were at risk. SO they did a study which revealed that Jews that had gone to Israel at least once in their life were 85% more likely to contribute to Jewish causes and the thus Birthright was conceived. Birthright is a nondenominational organization. Students can choose whether they want a Orthodox, Reform, Conservative run group-although no religious proselytization is permitted. There are nature Birthright trips, extreme ones, alternative lifestyle one and even for people with disabilities. The majority of the trips have the same 80% required places and things to do. Meet with soldiers, Tel Aviv, Bedouin tent, Har Herzl military cemetery, Dead Sea, Yad Vashem, Masada and of course the Kotel. The remaining parts are left to the individual groups to organize. The Orthodox run ones of course provide a real authentic Shabbat experience.

Birthright has had a tremendous impact on Israel with over 75,000 Israelis participating in some form either as soldiers, security and escorts for the students. Over 250 million dollars is estimated annually is brought into Israel in tourism dollars, hotels, entrance fees, plane and the like; a tremendous boon to our economy. As well according to studies students that come on a birthright trip are over 50% more likely to marry a Jewish partner and 1out of four meet their spouse on a birthright trip. As well for many students the 10 day trip is not enough. There have been many programs like return and learn and Birtright Next that bring the students back again for a more serious learning and experiential period of time. I have led quite a few of the post-birthright trips and they really are amazing.


Q: When do you go at red and stop at green? A: When you're eating a watermelon.
 Q: Why do watermelons have fancy weddings? A: Because they cantaloupe.
Q: What do you call fruit that is a serious criminal? A: a waterfelon.
Q. How did the watermelon feel when it went out with broccoli? Melon-choly

There was a farmer who grew watermelons. He was doing pretty well, but he was disturbed by some local kids who would sneak into his watermelon patch at night and eat his watermelons. After some careful thought, he came up with a clever idea that he thought would scare the kids away for sure. He made up a sign and posted it in the field. The next day, the kids show up and they saw the sign which read,
 "Warning! One of the watermelons in this field has been injected with cyanide."
 The kids ran off, made up their own sign and posted it next to the farmer's sign. When the farmer returned, he surveyed the field. He noticed that no watermelons are missing, but the sign next to his read,
 "Now there are two!" 

Answer is D – See the key word in the question is immediately. Everyone is familiar with Ezra and Nechemia, however the Talmud tells us that Ezra did not immediately come up after Cyrus declared the right of the Jews to return and set up their country once again 70 years as prophesized after the Babylonian Exile and destruction of the Temple. According to the Book of Ezra close about 42,000 thousand Jews went up mostly Kohanim Levi’im and others that would serve in the Temple that was meant to be rebuilt. The rest of the people that came were mostly shleppers. Ezra didn’t come up immediately because he was still learning by his Rebbe Baruch Ben Neria the student of Jeremia. Nechemia as well waited as he was still serving in the palace. The correct answer is Zerubavel the grandson of Yehoyachin the former King and of Yehoshua the Kohen Gadol. The numbers weren’t stacked well as there were close to 24,000 men and only 12,000 women and children. Talk about a Shiduch crisis. The Jews married out therefore unitl Ezra came about 80 years later and broke them all up. Gedalia Ben Achikam never left Israel after the destruction he was appointed governer and assassinated by Jews. We fast to commemorate that day that was really the final blow to the Jews post-Churban the day after Rosh Hashana.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Oh Say Can't You See- Vayechi 5777/2017

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

January 12th 2017!! -Volume 7 Issue 12 15th Tevet  5777
Parshat Vayechi
Oh Say Can’t You See

So how do you feel about the situation in America today? Are you scared? Are you hopeful? Nervous? Optimistic? All of the above? Then you’re probably like most Americans…confused. I find it very telling that the platform for the current president was to “Make America Great Again”. Was it great before? I don’t know let’s take a look at the last few decades of American presidential slogans.
2008- “Change We Need”- Barack Obama- Ummm. That worked out pretty good.
2004- “Let America be America Again:”- John Kerry- Ahhhh sooo that’s where Trump got it from
2000- “A Reformer with Results “George W Bush- and he even spelled the word reformer right.
George Bush Sr. campaigned on a “Kinder Gentler America” and then killed about 35,000 people in Iraq. Mondale in 1984 said “America Needs Change” which seems to be ongoing theme. Ronald Reagan’s question of “Are we were better off than we were four years ago?” usurped Jimmy Carter’s claim that “It’s Not Just Peanuts”, and the first president since Ephraim Schwartz came into the world Gerald Ford campaigned under the slogan “Making us Proud Again”….Hmmmm it seems like we haven’t been happy for a long time in this country. Maybe that’s the one thing that hasn’t changed.
What were the good old days that people are longing for, tell me? If presidential slogans are any sign of the sentiments of the spirit of the times then let’s look back at perhaps those good old day slogans that people are nostalgic about. Was it Hoovers “Chicken in every pot” promise?  Harding’s “Cox and Cocktails” campaign-whatever that means. In 1896 William McKinley inspired the masses with his profound “Good Money Never Made Time Hard” campaign. I think Trump was originally gonna use that one. Maybe people are longing for the election of 1884 when James Blaine’s campaign slogan was “Ma, Ma, Where’s my Pa, Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha”, while his opponent Grover Cleveland countered with the truly prolific “Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, The Continental Liar from the State of Maine”. And people think Trump is a baby….He’s merely making America great again like it used to be when all these other great men led our nation. Our nation…our nation…?
Do you feel America is our nation? Do you care a lot about it? Enough to put signs on your lawns? To argue and fight for the future of this country with anyone that disagrees with you. You were born in America. They took in our hungry, our homeless, our weary and war-torn. They let us into their schools, their universities, Hollywood. We became doctors, lawyers, musicians- or rock stars (those are very different things) Supreme court justices, vice-presidential candidates and hey today from what I understand the White House may even be having a full time Kosher kitchen for all the religious Kosher eating Jews in the higher echelons of the incoming administration. We have religious freedoms, the likes of which we didn’t’ have in many of our other long bitter places of exile…. Exile? Are we in Exile?
Europe was Exile, Babylonia was Exile. Spain was Exile. This is America. Ohhhho Say Can You See? (continue humming –you know you’re feeling patriotic right now) But really, is America really different? One thing Jews have learned throughout our history is that no place ever turns out to be different. But c’mon, it’s the 21st century. We live in a civilized world. Uh huh…Than why are we longing for the old one?  
I just want you to hold on to those words ‘Oh Say Can You See’ for a second. You see as we examine this week’s Torah portion those words should have profound import. The parsha we read this week, Vayechi, is unique in the entire Torah. Unlike other Torah portions that begin with a break of space in between its start and the next parsha, either a line or a new paragraph, Vayechi immediately follows the conclusion of Vayigash, with the space of just one letter. I noticed that when I was Bar Mitzva’d and read and it wasn’t obvious where to end. Maybe it was a forewarning for me that I would be the type of guy that would never know where or when to end his Torah drashot… Rashi notes this anomaly and quotes our sages as saying
Why is this parsha “closed”? Because once our forefather Yaakov passed away, the eyes and hearts of the Israel became closed from the troubles/suffering of the enslavement, for the Egyptians began to enslave them.”
Their eyes were closed from the troubles and suffering. Ohoy, Vay, couldn’t see by the dawn’s early light…. It seems was their anthem. But many of the commentaries note that something is wrong with this Rashi. For the suffering and the slavery didn’t really start after the death of Yaakov, in fact Rashi later tells us that it didn’t start until the passing of the last of Yaakov’s children Levi. In fact it really didn’t escalate until the last 80 years that they were in Egypt, when the new pharaoh came and “didn’t know Yosef”, in the next book. So why is this parsha closed now? And why particularly here in the beginning of this parsha is it closed, when even according to what Rashi says, Yaakov doesn’t die until the very end of the parsha.
Perhaps one may suggest, that the Torah in “closing” this parsha called Vayechi-And he lived, not so ironically for the parsha that talks about his death, is connecting it very closely to the words that last week’s Torah portion concludes with that immediately precede it. The Torah tells us that the brothers of Yosef had all been set up nicely by Yosef. They settled in Goshen, they were the ministers of the sheep of Pharaoh, nice cushy government jobs provided by their brother; their man in the White House. The parsha concludes with these words
And Israel settled in Egypt, in the land of Goshen; they took holdings, and they were fruitful and they multiplied there.
Rashi on the words ‘and they took holdings’ elaborates- ‘and they bought houses and estates and formed landholdings.’
Listen, what are we gonna be shepherds forever? We got into the Real Estate business. We became moguls. We settled the land. We became more Egyptian than the Egyptians. We had our little paradise there in Boro Park… I mean Goshen. Kosher pizza, shwarma, wedding halls, Yeshivot, Egypt was our new home. Israel was becoming a distant memory. I mean it’s dangerous there in the Middle East, remember that whole fight and kidnapping of Dina in Shechem. Egypt is civilized. It’s the new world. This after-all the 15th Century BC. The Torah begins the idyllic era in great malchus shel chesed- kingdom of graciousness of Egypt with the national anthem that we didn’t realize we should have been singing.
Oho Say can’t we see… our eyes and hearts have been closed… for the suhhh uffering… and troubles of Egypt are coming…For this was not going to be the land of the free…it would be the home…of the…. slaves…
If one looks carefully at Rashi he doesn’t say that the suffering started. It didn’t. But with Yaakov’s death, our eyes and hearts became closed to seeing that this was not meant to be our home. We were in Exile. The troubles of the enslavement of the Egyptian began with our self-delusional assimilation into their society and the belief that we had made it. We were where we belonged. The word Vayechi- and we lived, is the word that is closed. We thought we were living the life. But we know how the story ended. How it always always ends. There is no life when we are not home. There is no life when the shechina is not where it’s meant to be. It’s all just another step, another wandering place, another respite in our long bitter Exile.
Maybe it’s time to start focusing our efforts on Making Israel Great Again. Maybe we should be putting even half as much energy into our own spiritual campaigns, as we put into a country that is merely a temporary resting place for us that really hasn’t been great in seemingly a long time, and that will only really be great if and when we get out of there and raise the entire world up with the light of Hashem from His holy palace in Yerushalayim. We don’t need an embassy there as much as we need a Temple there. That’s where our focus needs to be. I speak not only to my brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, I speak to myself and all of those privileged to live here in Israel as well. This is not the Israel we are praying for. It hasn’t arrived yet. We are still in Exile despite at least living in our own land. We too have not arrived. Od Lo Avda Tikvateinu- our hope has not yet been fulfilled and has never been to be merely a free nation in our land. Rather it is to be Hashem’s nation in His Land. That is our true anthem. That is the day that we still long to see.

 Have a fantabulous Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

https://youtu.be/19EVMHFbGwI   -Ani Yisrael by my great friend Gershon Veroba from his awesome new CD cool video

https://youtu.be/BCh-yxlcEY8 Gad Elbaz & Nissim Black great new video and song L’Chaim

https://youtu.be/ieBhINqUAyQ Pretty funny Avraham Fried Jewish Siri with Mendy Pellin


“A nogid a nar iz oich a har” -A foolish rich man is still a lord.

answer below at end of Email
Q. According to Josephus Flavius during the Great Revolt a massacre did not occur in:
a. Tiberias
b. Migdal
c. Yodefat
d. Jerusalem

There are many interpretations and explanations that are given for various verses in the Torah. The genius of Rashi is that he chose the one that best explains the simple understanding of the pshat. If Rashi gives more than one explanation then it is because each one on its own doesn’t fully explain the problem in understanding the text. So pay attention when there is more than one explanation brought down by Rashi it can truly reveal pearls.
In this week’s Torah portion there is a great example of this. When Yaakov makes his request of Yosef to bury him, he tells him
Bereshit (47:29-30) “Please do not bury me in Egypt, and I will ie down with my fathers and you shall transport me out of Egypt and bury me in their grave”
Rashi in explaining Yaakov’s request not to be buried in Egypt notes three things
1)      It’s land will be turned into lice (during the 10 plagues)
2)      The dead of the lands outside of Israel will only be resurrected with the pain of rolling through tunnels (to come to the land of Israel where they will be resurrected.
3)      So that the Egyptians shall not make a deity out of him.
The Klei Yakar explains that the three reasons given by Rashi are all necessary to understand the pshat. For if the land of Egypt was going to be turned to lice, seemingly Yaakov could have been spared that pain, for we have a tradition that Yaakov and our holy people who’s bodies have become totally purified don’t even have any deterioration of their bodies after death, so for sure lice wouldn’t have power over them. It is therefore that Rashi tells us that they would make him into a deity. For having seen that the land is turned to lice and Yaakov’s grave remains untouched they would deify him. Yet both of these reasons are not sufficient to explain why Yaakov asked Yosef to bury him in Israel, as he did. Seemingly anywhere that’s not Egypt that wouldn’t be struck with plagues would be enough? Rashi therefore tells us that Yaakov also did not want to suffer the dead-man tunnel resurrection roll, that would take place outside of Israel. Yet this in itself was not alone a reason as well. For he wanted Yosef to know and be sure that if he couldn’t for whatever reason bury him in Israel to take care of this problem, but at least he should make sure that he should not bury him in Egypt because of the lice and his fear of them deifying him.
Now that’s how you learn a Rashi!

Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim of Luntschitz (1550 –1619) Rabbi Ephraim son of Aaron was born in the city of Luntschitz in what is today central Poland around the year 1550. He studied under the famed Maharshal (Rabbi Shlomo Luriah) and became Rabbi of the city of Lvov where he served for 25 years.
From an early age he was recognized as a star orator and was renowned for his fiery sermons. In 1601, Rabbi Ephraim became deathly ill. During the course of his illness he added the name Shlomo to his name and thereafter signed his name Shlomo Ephraim. He also vowed that if he survived his illness he would compose a commentary to the Pentateuch.
Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim survived his illness and the very next year wrote and published his commentary, named Kli Yakar. The commentary became immediately popular throughout the Jewish world and was his most famous publication, to the point, as with many other great Rabbis, that he is now known simply as the Kli Yakar. More than 400 years later, the Kli Yakar remains popular and is printed alongside the commentary of Rashi and others in many Chumashim.
The year after the Kli Yakar’s publication, he was appointed Chief Rabbi of the great city of Prague, where he also served as Rosh Yeshiva and the Head of the Beit Din. Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim passed away in 1619. His son and other descendants followed in his footsteps, also holding the esteemed position of Chief Rabbi of Prague. Amongst his most famous students was Rabbi Yom Tov Lipman Heller, also known as Tosfot Yom Tov.

Cowboys – Yeah we have our Texas here in Israel as well. Up in the Golan Heights a few miles from the mess that’s going on in Syria is where our buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play. OK so we don’t really have buffalo over there, although we did try introducing some in the Hula valley. Not many antelope either.  But we have cow. Thousands of them up in the Golan Heights probably one of the only places where you’ll see cows roaming around tanks. Israeli cowboys, there are about a 100 of them or so just in the Golan, have to deal with cows wandering into old Syrian minefields, avoiding army firing ranges or them ending up in some army base.Israeli cowboys face their unique set of challenges. For starters, they operate on a relatively small patch of land mostly made up of nature reserves and military grounds, so everything they do has to be coordinated with authorities. In summer, their primary role is that of firefighters, putting out blazes caused by negligent hikers and military maneuvers. They've had to euthanize cows that had limbs blown off by stepping on mines, and in last spring's cattle drive one cowboy had to physically block a gap in a military base's busted fence to prevent cows from roaming inside. The cowboys are mostly in charge of the cows that are raised for beef in this country. 95% of the country’s meat comes from import as there is not a lot of grazing land that is not used for planting and agriculture a much larger industry in Israel. The largest grazing land is in the Golan, yet the majority of cattle farmers are located in the Galil area although one can find cowboys all over the country.
If a cowboy rides into town on Friday and three days later leaves on Friday, how does he do it? The horse's
name is Friday!

So Shaindy from Boro Park went out West and was all ready for her first horseback ride. She said to the cowboy, "Can you get me a nice gentle pony?"
 "Shore," said the cowboy. "What kind of a saddle do you want, English or western?"
"What's the difference?" asked the lady.
"The western saddle has a horn on it," said the cowboy.
"If the traffic is so thick here in the mountains that I need a horn on my saddle, I don't believe I want
to ride." Said Shaindy…

Shaindy’s next stop was to the cowshed where she saw a whole herd of cows out in the barn.
“Wow, you have a lot of flies buzzing round your horses and cows. Do you ever shoo them?”
Cowboy answered her “No we just let them go barefoot.”

Back in the cowboy days, a westbound wagon train was lost and low on food. No other humans had been seen for days and then they saw an old Jewish cowboy sitting beneath a tree. The leader rushed to him and said, "We're lost and running out of food. Is there someplace ahead where we can get food?
"Vell," the old Jewish cowboy said, "I vouldn't go up dat hill und down da other side. Somevun told me you'll run into a big bacon tree."
"A bacon tree?" asked the wagon train leader.
"Yah, ah bacon tree. Trust me. For nuttin vud I lie."
The leader goes back and tells his people that if nothing else, they might be able to find food on the other side of the next ridge. "So why did he say not to go there?" some pioneers asked "Oh, you know the Jewish -- they don't eat bacon."
So the wagon train goes up the hill and down the other side. Suddenly, Indians attack and massacre everyone except the leader, who manages to escape back to the old Jewish cowboy, who's enjoying a "glassel tea." The near-dead man starts shouting. "You fool. You sent us to our deaths! We followed your instructions, but there was no bacon tree. Just hundreds of Indians, who killed everyone."
The old Jewish cowboy holds up his hand and says "Oy! vait a minute." He then gets out an English-Yiddish dictionary, and begins thumbing through it. "Gevalt, I made myself ah big mistake. It vuz not a bacon tree. It vuz a ham bush."

One Sunday a cowboy went to Shul. When he entered, he saw that he and the Rabbi were the only ones present. The Rabbi asked the cowboy if he wanted him to go ahead and give his weekly Drasha/ sermon. The cowboy said, "Im not too smart, but if I went to feed my cattle and only one showed up, Id feed him." So the Rabbi began his sermon. One hour passed, then two hours, then two-and-a-half hours. The Rabbi finally finished and came down to ask the cowboy how he liked the speech. The cowboy answered slowly, "Well, Im not very smart, but if I went to feed my cattle and only one showed up, I sure wouldnt feed him all the hay..." 
Answer is A – Back in the period of the end of the second Temple the North was where the radicals lived. It was kind of like the Gush and Chevron area is today. The rebellion against Rome started in the North. Migdal was destroyed, Yodefat was where Josephus was based and was also destroyed although his fighters all pulled a Masada by his urging and commited suicide and then he chickened out and joined the Romans. Jerusalem obviously was a slaughter which leaves Tiverya as being the correct answer and which Josephus tells us was spared by the Romans because they did not join the revolt.