Our view of the Galile

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Sacrifice Story- Vayikra 2017/5777

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

March 31st 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 24 4th Nissan 5777
Parshat Vayikra
A Sacrifice Story
It was really a simple request. I don’t know why he couldn’t listen to me. But perhaps knowing my customer I should have known; my wife certainly knew he couldn’t be trusted. But it made for a great story and that’s what it is all about anyways, isn’t it? But let’s rewind.
It was Erev Shabbos. To be precise it was about an hour to Shabbos, when I heard the knock on the door. We were living in Des Moines Iowa at the time. I was starting my career as a Kiruv Kollel Rabbi. I opened the door and the smell hit me before I even saw who it was. It was not pleasant at all, to be polite. The man at the door was someone that I had met in Shul a few times. It seems he was a former shochet (ritual slaughterer) who had worked in Postville a few hours away. He was short, dressed in dirty, smelly jeans and a T- Shirt, oily wrangled hair and he smelled really bad. I asked him what I could help him with and he told me that he needed a place to stay for Shabbos. It seemed I figured out that he had been living in his car for the past few days…weeks? Never one to turn down a needy Jew, and being that we had a pretty big house out in Iowa ( 5000 square feet for $106K- this was Iowa after all), I told him it would be my pleasure. Then he threw out one last request, a request you only get in Iowa-probably one you only get if your name is Ephraim Schwartz.
“Do you think it would be alright as well, if my sheep and two chickens would be able to stay by you as well? I saw that you have a fenced in dog-run on the side of your house”
It seems that they had been living with him in his beat-up Cadillac. I then finally identified that odor that I was smelling… that he reeked of. Well I certainly was not one to allow the abuse of animals by keeping them in a car, and I figured my kids would probably get a kick out of it as well, and hey it was only for Shabbos so why not? At least I thought it was only for Shabbos…
After a rather entertaining Shabbos with this guy, let’s call him Yankel, where he showed us his rock collection. Hmmmm…. He also talked to himself a lot….double Hmmmm…. He asked if he could stay a bit longer as he had some job interviews…by Wendy’s ….Triple Hmmmm… and he needed a place until he could close on his own place. It would only be another day or two. Or three…four? The following Shabbos he was still there. The sheep was grazing. The chickens would get fed corn every day. This was Iowa there was no shortage of corn. The kids were getting a kick out of it. I felt like a real Iowan. After another week, my wife was getting a bit nervous. The smell was wafting upstairs already. The soap and shampoo and towels we had left for him seemed to be unused. Her grandparents had come to visit and it was time for him to go, I was told in no uncertain terms. We were heading out of town for Pesach and we certainly were not leaving him in our home. So I sat down with him to have the conversation.
I explained to him that we were leaving and that we were sorry but he would probably have to leave the next day. I offered to help him find another place, but he said he would be fine. A bit later he came over to me and asked me another one of those only in Iowa and only to Ephraim Schwartz type of questions.
Do you think it would be alright if I shechted/slaughtered the animals before I left. I just want to have something to eat for the holiday?”
I don’t know why I think these things are cool. My wife and mother really don’t either. But I do. I told him I have no problem with it, what he chooses to do with his animals is his choice. The only thing I requested is that my wife and kids, and certainly not her grandparents see what he is doing and everything is cleaned up afterwards and is gone. I was savvy enough to know that slaughtering chickens and goats was not something my wife would appreciate my kids being witness to. I certainly was not interested in traumatizing them into god-forbid becoming vegetarians. Where would I eat chulent after I was old and retired if my kids swore off meat? See I do understand things.
Anyways the next morning I woke up and saw the goats, chickens and Cadillac still there. I was on my way to shul and figured I would have to take care of it when I got home. It was a simple request, as I said. Right? Yankel had obviously slept in a bit. I came home about an hour later and as I approached my house I heard fire engines. Uh Oh. I pulled up to my house and I saw a sight that I would never forget. Yankel was standing there in the dog-run. There was goat roasting on a fire. Yankel was standing over a chicken with his knife waving in the air like the angel of Death and the other bird was flapping around. Two fireman were approaching, as it seems someone had called them about a fire in my side-yard. Worst of all I looked at the window in my house and my wife’s grandmother was sitting there trying desperately to keep my kids, who were waiting for car-pool, from gawking at this horrifying sight. Uh Oh…
I spoke to the firefighters and explained that this was an enclosed fire and a BBQ and there was nothing to worry about. They left, but before I could go over to Yankel another car with sirens pulled up. It was the Protection of Animals Association people. It seems that my neighbors who were also looking out their windows with horror had been busy on the phone. I spoke to the animal people and told them that this was a certified butcher and these were livestock he was slaughtering and it was all under control. They left and I realized that I had better talk to my neighbors quickly before more phone calls are made.
So I knocked on their door and I will never forget the looks on their face as they opened it up a crack and spoke to me through it. I apologized and told them that I am sorry for disturbing them, and that all of this was a misunderstanding and there was this guy staying in my house who was a butcher who without my knowledge was doing this but it would be cleaned up and take care of. It didn’t seem that they had appeared to be too convinced. For they then asked me.
It’s alright Rabbi, We are just curious, are you planning on offering a lot of sacrifices here?”
Boom. They don’t have many Jews in Iowa it seems and these poor people thought this was kind standard behavior of us “Rabbis”. I explained to them that this wasn’t sacrifices. It was just a hungry guy that wanted something to eat. That was a Christian concept as well. They didn’t seem too convinced. But what could I do? I made my way over to Yankel, who by then had finished his “work”. He apologized, cleaned up and was gone. A few months later corn-stalks grew up in our dog-run. It seems the chickens had pecked the kernels into the ground. It was a nice memorial to the sacrifices offered at Hotel Schwartz. The final epilogue of the story is about a year later someone in shul asked me if I saw the newspapers as it seems my “friend” Yankel was highlighted in a recent article. It seems he was arrested for stabbing someone 17 times in the chest. Apparently he had some Messianic delusions and voices telling him to do it. Maybe they really were sacrifices that were offered at my house. Needless to say, it was quite a long time before my random Shabbos invitation privileges were reinstated. OK maybe not too long… It seems my holy rebbetzin can’t avoid the opportunity for a good story as much as her husband.
This week we begin the third book of the Torah that begins to discuss almost for its entirety the laws of korbanot- sacrifces. The truth is that it is not only this book but every one of the books of the Torah includes commands about sacrifices. From Cain and Abel in Bereshit through the commands of the sacrifices when we come into the land of Israel in Devarim the Torah is just full of sacrifices. Of the 613 mitzvos, that we have Over 350 of them are related to sacrifices and the service and laws regarding the Temple. It’s a big deal in Judaism. Every one of our daily prayers includes supplications for a returning of the Temple where we could bring them. As much as we like to think about Judaism and Torah as being a religion or system of belief that is about loving your friend and neighbor, and being a light unto the nation in our moral and ethical behavior and study of Torah, any even periphery reading of the majority of the Torah will reveal that our faith is at least about and obsessed with the notion and mitzva of sacrifices. At the same time though, I believe that for most of us, even those of us that are not hillbilly neighbors in Iowa, there is probably no mitzva that we have more difficulty really wrapping our brain around.
In previous years we have discussed different ideas about this mitzva. We mentioned that sacrifices are our way of getting close to Hashem. We spoke about the some of the different symbolism in the different offerings. Maimonides seems to view sacrifices as a Divine response to idolatry in his work the guide to the perplexed, whereas Nachmanides sees it as a spiritual secret connecting the physical worlds and our physical selves to the Almighty and the eternal. Other commentaries suggest the entire concept is just a chok- one of those unexplainable commandments that we follow and obey merely for the sole reason that Hashem commanded us to. Far be it for me to interject my own opinion into these debates and insights. I can however just dream and think about the outcome and the days when Jewish life was occupied and –excuse the pun- consumed with korbanot.
The life while the temple was standing and ideally as well when it will return to its proper place and service was full of Jews from all over Israel and the Jewish world. Any event that happened in my life would require a visit to the Beit Hamikdash- the house of Hashem. A birth, a sin, a holiday, purification after a death, a sickness, new crops whatever was going on I had to connect it to Hashem. I had to visit the Temple. I would see and participate in the slaughter of an animal, an offering being brought to the Kohen, on the altar. I would see blood being sprinkled, for some sacrifices I would also enjoy part of the sacrifice and have a good steak. It would be a moment that would be eternal. It was a story I would never forget, as I’m sure my former neighbors in Iowa have never forgotten. I can’t think of anything in this world that would have a greater impact on me then regularly going through this process. No inspiring torah lecture, no uplifting prayer service or even Saturday night musical kumzitz with even Shlomo Carlebach would have as much impact and be as life changing and awe-inspiring then the process of bringing sacrifices to the Temple.
The truth is it’s intimidating to even think about such a life with such and overwhelming awareness of the significance of every one of our actions and how the hand of Hashem plays into absolutely everything that takes place in our lives. Sure we know that all intellectually, but experientially is something else entirely. It’s so much easier to live our lives, even tragically our observant religious lives, doing mitzvos, going to , shul, making blessings, keeping kosher and even learning Torah as things and mitzvos and good deeds that we do but not as defining the essence of our existence. Our existence is our jobs, our family, our community, our friends and our neighbors. It is the politics of the world, the struggles that we undergo, the simchas and achievements we celebrate and the day to day grind of the world. We pay our respects to God, we acknowledge Him all the time, but does it enrapture our lives? That’s really what we lack without the sacrifices, that sense and those experiences that would always define what life was really about. Our sages established prayers three times a day in place of those sacrifices. When I tell my tourists to imagine a world without a synagogue, without prayers they can’t imagine what Jewish life would look and be like. I’ll pause for a second for you to contemplate that…. No shul, No community gathering place, no place Shabbat services, no kiddush chulent in shul, no holiday prayers, not shacharis, mincha or maariv three times a day…. What would it look like?
The answer is that while the Temple was standing and we had sacrifices, there was no need for any of this. Our Shuls are a pathetic band-aid on the awareness of what life felt like when we had the Beit Hamikdash, when every act we did had Hashem’s presence and Temple korban bringing significance. That’s the way it was supposed to be. That’s the majority of the mitzvos in the Torah and arguably the most discussed topic in the entire Torah, for that’s what Jewish life is really all about.
We have entered the month of Nissan. The Book of Vayikra and the sacrifices always envelope the holiday of Pesach. Pesach is that one holiday when we are meant not only to observe rituals…a lot of rituals. It’s the holiday when we are supposed to experience something.
“Every Person is obligated to view himself as if he left Egypt”
We actually start off as slaves, and are meant to create the feeling for ourselves, and we end off with the euphoria of being freed. We transcend time, space, our Seder table. We have left Iowa, Boro Park, Lakewood, Detroit and even Karmiel and Jerusalem of today and are sitting in the Temple eating our Pesach Lamb. We can get there. We can skip over everything that is holding us back as Hashem passed over each house. It’s the beginning game and the end game. We’re almost there. “Are you going to be offering a lot of sacrifices here, Rabbi?” Yes, yes, yes…
Have a pleasurable Shabbos and an amazing Chodesh Tov!
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



“Hob nit kain moireh ven du host nit kain ander braireh.-Don’t be scared when you have no other choice 


https://youtu.be/GzL3PmHxtMU    It’s beginning to look a lot like Pesach funny and cute!

https://youtu.be/6LeGjoYcDF0 -Stuff women say Pesach time

https://youtu.be/U_72gadkeXY?list=PLtLLdnWnTrTLzDLhWPS-WrCIrWCXsSHh2  Moshe Rabbeinu interview in Hebrew..funnyJ

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK                                      
answer below at end of Email
Q.  An agricultural settlement established by members of the Old Yishuv is:
A. Motza
B. Zichron Ya’acov
C. Ruhama
C. Rishon Le’Tzion

There are a myriad of drashot-derivations that we have from words in the Torah. We know and understand that the Chumash that we study is only the written law. There is an oral law that was given as well at Sinai and the text of the Torah serves a the source for which the entire oral Torah can be derived. That’s what the Talmud does for the most part. Finds the sources in the Torah for the nuances and different aspect of how to fulfill the law according to the Torah SheBaal Peh- the oral tradition. Rashi does not bring down every drasha and every law in his commentary on the Torah. When he does it is to teach us that this law gives us a new fundamental insight in the pshat- the simple readin and understanding of the Torah.
In this week’s portion The Torah tells us that when a man brings a sacrifice
 Vayikra (1:3) He should be bring it (or him) close according to his will before Hashem
Rashi notes that
 This teaches us that he we force him, how is this possible does not the Torah say according to his will? We force him until he says he wills it.”
The reason for Rashi bringing down this drasha is because the verse already says that the owner should bring it to the Ohel Moed. It repeats this a second time to teach that the animal must be brought regardless. Yet, this concept is obviously problematic and dangerous. How do you force someone until he says he wants to do something? What type of free-will is that?
Now Maimonides explains this law particularly as it applies to the laws of divorce mentioned in the Talmud. There the law is that get- divorce document  that permits a Jewish married woman to remarry when she gets divorced, must been given willfully. Yet the Talmud tells us that if the man refuses to give the get the court has permission to literally hang him up on a tree until he becomes amenable and willfully gives his get. The Rambam asks, how is this possible? What type of willful divorce is this? His answer sheds light onto the essence of a Jew and with that the fundamental concept of sacrifices.
He writes in hi work Yad Chazaka Laws of Gerushin/divorce (2:20)
The idea of forcing only applies when one is forced or pressured to do something that he is not obligated to do the Torah-e.g. to give a gift to his friend or buy something from him. But that which his bad thoughts forces him to violate a commandment or not observe a mitzva, and we pressure him not to violate or to fulfill it is not called by force. Rather the opposite- he is overcoming his evil inclination that is dominating him and not allowing him to fulfill it. For every Jewish person has a true desire to fulfill all of the commandments and to not sin, however his yetzer hara doesn’t’ allow him to and is coercing him to do bad. However if we pressure him that he not submit and hit him until his physical desires are weakened and his body then calls out “I want” this reveals the realization of his inner desire and he is fulfilling it from his truest will.”
Wow, talk about insight into the nature of the Jew. If this is the case perhaps Rashi and the Torah chose to reveal that concept here more-so than anywhere else. For the entire function of these sacrifices is for a person to separate the physical aspect of oneself that drew him to sin and the purest essence that only wants to fulfill the ratzon of Hashem. We slaughter the animal and bring it close to show the person, the Adam that atonement is possible because it was never his true essence that sinned. It was the animal side of him that dominated him. He has the power to overcome it. He wants to overcome it. That is his real will. And even if he is screaming no. It’s not him. It’s like the baaaiing or mooooing of the cows. His neshoma will eventually scream out rotzeh ani- I want.
Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon- The Rambam/Maimonides (1135-1204) – If one did not know that Maimonides was the name of a man, one would assume it was the name of a university. The writings and achievements of this twelfth­century Jewish sage seem to cover an impossibly large number of activities. The Rambam was the first person to write a systematic code of all Jewish law, the Mishneh Torah; he produced one of the great philosophic statements of Judaism, The Guide to the Perplexed; published a commentary on the entire Mishna; served as physician to the sultan of Egypt; wrote numerous books on medicine; and, in his "spare time," served as leader of Cairo's Jewish community.
Not that the Rambam had much free time as from morning to night he would be in the Kings palace serving the masses and only in the evening and nights after returning home would he have time to meet people answer questions and deal with his community and the world issues. And yet he still managed to become perhaps one of the most influential Jews and sages of all times. Born in Spain he fled the country from the Arabs there to Morocco, Israel and ultimately to Egypt where he lived until his death, as he was not allowed to leave the service of the Saladin the sultan of Egypt. Yet from that place in Egypt his word carried throughout the Jew world. His letters to the Jews of Yemen and to another country that had suffered persecution became classics in understanding and giving faith and hope to a down trodden persecuted people. His works and influence in Egypt saved the city which was under the influence of the Karaites a break off heretical fringe group of Jews that threatened the spirituality and future of our people, almost entirely ridding them from the city. There is almost no serious student of Torah today that does not study his works, this is despite the great opposition many of them faced during his lifetime when many of them were excommunicated and even burnt in the streets of France.
On his grave in the city of Tiberias, where he had ordered he be taken to and buried upon his passing, it is inscribed that “From Moshe until Moshe there has not been another Moshe that has come”. The Rambam, it is said chose to be buried in Tiverya for our sages tell us that when Mashiach comes the reestablishment of the Sanhedrin, which ended in that city, will occur once again. The Rambam wishing to be part of that. May we see that day soon.

Makolet guys –Despite the modernization of the State of Israel and the take-over of the food industry to a large part by the big supermarket chains, the makolet industry still seems to be thriving and for the average Israeli family it certainly is a way of life. After-all you can’t send your three your old to SuperSol to pick up groceries, but the makolet guy however is happy to greet her give her a candy and send her home with your stuff. You can’t pay Osher Ad on credit, but Avi down the block in his little mom and pop makolet grocery is more than happy to extend you as long as you need. In fact he has a book full of half the people in the neighborhood that he does that for. Now don’t get me wrong he probably still won’t bag your stuff for you, the supermarkets won’t either, Israelis work under the assumption that you are fully capable of doing that yourself. He also won’t offer you discounts or coupons. He may not even remain open for you a few minutes longer than he’s supposed to. He is after-all the classic Israeli institution that was developed under socialist ideals. He’s doing you a favor by selling to you. He won’t thank you and wish you a nice day. He thinks you should thank him. But yet there are plenty of Israelis that will only shop in the makolet. It gives them something to complain about as well. The guy knows who they are and to Israelis that is more important than anything else. It’s all about who you know and who knows you. What does this have to do with buying some cottage cheese, I’m not sure. But I’m still new here. But shopping and meeting makolet people while you are here is certainly part of the Israeli experience.

Abe goes to see his boss and says, "we're doing some heavy house-cleaning at home tomorrow for Pesach and my wife needs me to help with the attic and the garage, moving and hauling stuff."
"We're short-handed, Abe," the boss replies. "I just can't give you the day off."
"Thanks, boss." says Abe, "I knew I could count on you!"

Benjamin is offered a high powered job as Head of Finance at Utah Life Assurance Inc. He and his Sarah sell their house in New York and move to Utah. But Benjamin is unaware that it had been a difficult decision for the ULA President to offer him the job.
Even after Benjamin starts work, the ULA directors continue to put pressure on the President behind Benjamin’s back. "We’re all Mormons on the board and we’ve never had someone Jewish on the board before. We find this very difficult to accept."  But they also know that Benjamin is proving to be the best. He’s a financial genius, a financial guru.
After much careful thought, the President decides on a course of action and calls Benjamin to his office. "I’m afraid I’ve run into some opposition to your appointment. If you want to keep your $400,000 a year position, you’ll have to convert.  Please let me know by tomorrow what you decide."
Benjamin has no choice. However difficult it might be to convert, it’s easier than losing his great new job. So he goes home and tells Sarah, "It’s simple, from this Sunday we’ll be going to church with our children."
Over the months that follow, Sarah doesn’t stop nagging. "It’s so difficult for me…I miss shul…shabbes….lighting the candles…kiddush…festivals etc. You know Benjamin, money isn’t everything."
The more she nags him, the worse Benjamin’s conscience bothers him, until finally he’s had enough. He goes back to the ULA President. "I can’t go on like this, sir, my troubles are eating me up inside. Money isn’t everything to me. Neither I nor Sarah can sleep at night.  It’s too much for us. I made the wrong decision. We were born Jews and we want to die Jews. If you want me to quit, I’ll go without making a fuss."
The president looks at him in amazement and says, "Listen Benjamin, I had no idea it was so tough for you. I thought switching religions would be simple. But you are doing an excellent job here and I don’t want to loose you. Stay here and you can be as Jewish as you want - I’ll take care of the directors."
Benjamin goes home to Sarah feeling absolutely great. "Our troubles are over at last, darling," he says to her, "I’ve spoken to the President and he’s letting me keep my job and he said we can go back to being Jewish immediately."
Sarah looks at him with anger in her eyes. "Tell me, are you stupid or what?"
Benjamin is shocked. "But I thought that was what you wanted all along, to be Jewish once more. Don’t you want to go back to being Jewish?"
Sarah looks very upset and replies, "Of course I do, but now, just 2 weeks before Pesach?"
A bio-research institute in Israel is developing plans for cloning sheep. "When the Holy Temple is rebuilt, there will suddenly be a tremendous demand for blemish-free lambs to use for the different sacrifices on the festivals, the Korban Hagigah, the Korban Shelamim, and of course, on Passover, the Korban Pesach (Passover sacrifice)", explained its director. "We will be able to meet that demand by cloning. Each lamb thus produced will be known as a... Korban Copy".

All year round:
Wake up, go to the bathroom, go to the kitchen make a cup of coffee
Before Pesach:
Wake up go to the bathroom, got to the kitchen to prepare cup of coffee, go to the shower to get the cup and spoon (moved there for cleaning purposes),return to the kitchen to get coffee, remember that the coffee and sugar is on by the sink outside on the porch, go and bring it and return to the kitchen for hot water and milk, remember that you left the spoon in the sugar by the sink on the porch, stir the coffee with your finger, go to the medicine cabinet by shower to get cream for the burn on your finger, return to drink your cold coffee in the stairwell of your building…

Family Whatsapp group
Mom: Time to start cleaning for Pesach cleaning
Dad left group…

If the woman had to build the Sukka and the man had to clean for Pesach they would both start Erev Pesach. But since the woman needs to be the one to clean for Pesach. So they both start erev Sukkos.

Answer is A – This was a tricky one, I got it right though. I believe the trick in this question is that it is established by people already in Israel rather than Olim of the early Aliya. Ruchama in the Negev was established by Russian Olim and the secular Hashomer. Rishon as well was run by Biluim initially until the Baron got involved. Zichron as well was founded by 1st Aliya olim from Romania and later funded by the Baron they were religious and technically speaking Aliya Rishona is still considered part of the old Yishuv as they were religious as opposed to the other Aliyot. Yet I imagine the more correct answer was Motza right outside of Yerushalayim, which really moved people that were already here and part of the old yishuv to these farms.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Priest's Dvar- Vayakhel Pikudey HaChodesh 5777 2017

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

March 24th 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 23 26th Adar 5777
Parshat VaYakhel/ Pikudei/ Chodesh
A Priest’s ‘Dvar’
You meet some interesting people when you do Jewish educational outreach. One of the most interesting people that I developed a relationship with, when I was starting out in Kollel in Des Moines Iowa , was a priest. Well, a sort of Priest. He was a Presbyterian minister but after many years in the ministry he had begun to see many of the fallacies of Christianity. So he started to learn more intensely. His sermons were pretty much becoming isolated to only “The Old Testament”. He started keeping some Jewish holidays, lighting Chanukah candles, Shabbat dinners. He even started trying to keep a Kosher home, which he told me didn’t go over well at Priest conventions in Iowa where pork is the “chulent” of the day. We would meet regularly as he struggled to figure out what his next step in life would be.
My advice to him was of course, to leave his pulpit. I felt it would be dishonest to be in a position representing something he didn’t believe in. (Not that taking a salary was such an issue, because seemingly like rabbis- L’havdil – he pretty much wasn’t getting paid…sighL). At the same time I did not recommend conversion- as Orthodox Rabbis generally never do- but particularly for him I felt that he had a wife and children that were not on the same page as him, to whom I felt he owed his 1st responsibility to. In addition, Judaism is in fact the only religious system out there that does not believe you have to be Jewish to go to “heaven” or even more significantly to develop a meaningful relationship with God. Hashem created all of us and loves all of His Children. He created and has a plan for non-Jews and Jews. One may convert and join the Jewish people but it has to be the right decision for them and one that works for their lifestyle and family. One thing is for sure, Chosen doesn’t mean better or superior, it means leading a lifestyle that and fulfilling a mandate that one can observe.
On one of our discussions about Shabbos, I shared with him a fascinating idea that I always felt was very powerful. It is, that although there is a concept of a year in society and a month and day as well. These notions are based on solar and lunar calendars and the changes in nature. The concept of a 7 day week though really is just an arbitrary number. There is nothing in nature that would determine such a time frame and there are probably many people that wouldn’t mind a 5 day week or a 9 day week. The only reason for the 7 day week model, and in every single society around the globe there is such a concept and very few alternate ones,  is because built into the psyche of the world is the concept that God created the World in 6 days and the 7th he rested. He then shared with me something astounding that he had studied once and I share with you his ‘Dvar Torah’.
You see we were both puzzled by the question, that although all societies had 7 day weeks, yet for some reason the three major religions each had a different day for Shabbos. The Muslims celebrate it on Friday, Christians on Sunday and us Jews on… well Shabbos I guessJ. What he discovered and suggested was that the day of the celebration of Shabbos really is reflective of each ones fundamental theology; what this world is all about and what the next ones is.
Christians believe, according to what he told me, that this world is “tainted” from the first Sin of mankind. As a result all things physical are bad for you, thus Monks and asceticism, celibacy and absence of worldly delights are considered a higher form of service. The next world is all spiritual- angels and harp music. That being the case, for Christians the most spiritual day of Creation is Sunday; the day before all things physical came into the Universe.
Muslims, on the other hand, do not look down on all of the worldly pleasures. They view them as Divine gifts and the ultimate aspect of creation. The only caveat is that they are not meant to be indulged in, this world, they are meant to be enjoyed in the World-To-Come. Wine, hashish, 72 brides, they’re all great and the reward for the true believer in their ‘holy’ Prophet. You just have to wait until you get there to earn them. Thus for Muslims the greatest day of Creation is Friday when all things physical finished being created.
Now for the home team; the Jews. We believe that everything Hashem has created is for us to enjoy and to appreciate. We also believe that the World to Come is entirely spiritual, yet its rewards and our appreciation of it come from the degree with which we elevate our creation and cultivate our souls in the process. Thus in the Creation of the world, Hashem spent six days creating the world, but on the seventh he infused it with spirituality and holiness. We eat and we make a blessing and our bodies enjoy as do our souls grow closer to the Almighty. We avoid those things in the world, the non-kosher, the forbidden relationships, and the things that God has told us are not infused with that holiness because it would distance us from our ultimate purpose. Our avoidance of these things and the heeding of Hashems command brings us closer to God as well and it shows that all that we do partake in is only because of His Purpose. Jews obviously have more restrictions than non-Jews based on their functions and the roles that their meant to accomplish here.. Thus we have the day of Shabbos as our ultimate celebration of Creation. For it is the day when the physical also became spiritual.
The great Rebbe, Reb Yonasan Eibeshitz of the 18th century, points out a fascinating comment in this weeks Torah portion. As the Jews complete the Mishkan/Tabernacle Hashem commands them once again to observe the holy day of Shabbos.
Six Days a week you shall do work and on the seventh day it shall be holy for you, a Sabbath of Sabbaths for Hashem.
He notes how all the mitzvos in the Torah in one way or another can be found by the nations of the World. Yet Shabbos, ‘our Day of rest and holiness, that is only found by the Jewish people. (this was pre seventh Day Adventists- but seemingly even they don’t have it the way we do) It doesn’t make sense. Why should they switch it to Friday or Sunday? His response- because Hashem has gifted the special-ness of the day for us. We were Chosen for Shabbos. Shabbos is our bride and we are her groom. The Medrash tells us that each day of the week had a partner. Sunday and Monday Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday. But Shabbos we are her partner.
As I celebrate my anniversary this week and my parents celebrate theirs, and now my daughter and son-in-law as well- so weird even writing that still- But we love this week. I guess it’s  now the official Schwartz family marriage week. Listen it’s hard to remember a lot of dates. Birthdays are challenging enough why throw anniversaries into the pot. Anyways in honor of the occasion I can share with you something special about partners. Love grows with consistency to one another, it flourishes as you spend time enjoying each other’s presence and special-ness, and it is greatest when you know that no matter what happens your bride will always be there for you. It doesn’t make a difference what the week has wrought and what challenges you undergo. You have a place to call home and a warm, accepting and loving place to strengthen yourself and delight with.
Each year I appreciate that even more so with my incredible Rebbetzin and each week we can all appreciate that with our weekly anniversary with Shabbos and our Creator who has given this day special for us. So Happy Anniversary to all of us and of course…



“Halten shabbes iz gringer vi machen shabbes.”.- To observe the Sabbath is easier than to make it

https://youtu.be/di5Etd1iDvs   In honor of the one year Wedding Anniversary of my daughter Shani and Yaakov this week. The wedding recap video!

https://youtu.be/3TiY_DuuYUA     -Ma Nishtana funny and cute by Rabbi “K” Klatzko

https://youtu.be/lzi2G68CMiE?list=RDZTMq4tQizjs The Classic Harry and Sally old couples interview…J

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK                                      
answer below at end of Email
Q.  The Empress Theodora was the wife of Emperor:
A. Justinian
B. Hadrian
C. Theodosius
D. Augustus

The Grammar Rashi probably serve, to me at least as the most boring of Rashis. After-all who knows or needs grammar? In fact I heard that Rav Hutner once said that since the Maskilim- enlightenment movement hijacked biblical grammar and turned it into their main topic of study, so the yeshiva world stopped learning it. Yet Rashi was before the enlightenment movement and there is quite a number of Rashi’s where he utilizes the rules of grammar to reveal an idea in the simple pshat of the text. If you pay attention to those Rashis as well it will reveal interesting ideas that you may never have noticed before.
The Parsha begins Vayakhel Moshe es kol adas Bnai Yisrael- And Moshe _______________ the entire congregation of Israel.
Now I always assumed that Vayakhel meant and he gathered. However Rashi notes here that is is a lashon Hifi’il which is translated as a causative expression- meaning to make something happen. Vayikahel- would mean he gathered or assembled them Vayakhel means and he made them gather.
Rashi explains for one cannot gather people with their hands(directly, or by force). It means therefore that they gathered through his (Moshe’s) word.
Now this would seem obvious enough. Although it is certainly an enlightening point upon reading and understanding the basic text. But the Rebbe of Satmar Reb Yoel Teitelbaum derived an important lesson in Jewish politics from this Rashi. He felt strongly that it is impossible to unite with people or groups that do not believe in God and the Torah. The whole function of this gathering he suggests is to separate from the Eruv Rav- intermingled non-observant masses that joined the Jewish people. He said that we see that you can’t assume that people can “put aside their differences” and join together and focus on the things and issues that we both share. For, he quoted Rashi “you can’t gather them together by force” The only way that you can successfully gather them together is if they are all united in the “word of Moshe”. They are all drawn to and coming on their own with the sole motivation of the word and honor of Hashem. But each one’s individual agenda that happens to coincide with my agenda is never going to work.
All that from a grammar Rashi!
Rav Yoel Teitelbaum the Satmar Rebbe (1887 - 1979)- The Satmar Rav was recognized as a young man for his unusual lomdus, hasmadah and tzidkus – Torah scholarship, diligence and piety. By the outbreak of World War 11, he was Rav of the thriving community of Satmar and had emerged as one of the leading figures in Hungarian Jewry. From childhood, the Satmar Rebbe was a paragon of holiness and purity. At his bar mitzvah he stunned the entire assemblage by delivering a two-hour drashah, replete with deep and meaningful chiddushim From the time of his Bar Mitzvah until the outbreak of World War I1 – a period of forty years – Reb Yoel never slept on a bed, except for Shabbosos – studying Torah, on his feet, by day and by night. In the internment camp in Bergen-Belsen, not only did he eat nothing that might have been un-kosher, subsisting mostly on potatoes, but he fasted as often as four times a week.
His father, the Kedushat Yom Tov passed away when Reb Yoel was only 17 years of age. He was appointed Rav of Musza in Czechoslovakia and in 1911, when he was in his early twenties, Reb Yoel was appointed Rav of Orshiva. Thirteen years later he became Rav of Kruly, where he founded a yeshivah. In 1934, he became Rav from 1935 to 1944 and transferred his yeshivah there.
The Satmar Rebbe endured his share of suffering during the Holocaust. The Rebbe’s beard was unskillfully concealed with a kerchief on the pretext of a toothache. The Nazis nearly cut it on several occasions, but it was miraculously saved and remained intact.
He was one of 1684 Hungarian Jews saved from the Nazi killing machine as a result of the negotiations of Rav Michael Ber Weissmandl with Adolf Eichmann, ym’s. With rachamei Shamayim, Reb Yoel made it out of Hungary during the war, and after a brief stay in Switzerland he arrived in Eretz Yisrael.
In 1946, he arrived in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and rebuilt the Satmar community
When he settled in Williamsburg shortly after arriving in the United States, he found a handful of his followers in a bais hamidrash all day, saying Tehillim, learning Chok – and spending their time in “the Rebbe’s Court”. He summoned them to him and insisted that they find jobs to support their families. He felt that he could not be oblivious to the stress on material well-being that marks American society. A viable community could only take shape if it is self-supporting on a level comparable to that of the surrounding society. By the same token, he guided his followers to give tzeddakah expansively – not to shy away from a sweeping gesture of generosity. Today, members of the Satmar community are active in all phases of business and commerce, as well as in a wide spectrum of occupations, ranging from grocers to computer programmers. And the community itself supports a host of social services, most notably its bikur-cholim program – administering to the sick, with fleets of cars and vans carrying hundreds of volunteers to hospitals all over New York, throughout the day.
The Satmar Rebbe vehemently opposed Zionism and secularism in all forms, and was a great kana’i when it came to matters of kiddush Shem Shamayim. The mainstream of the Torah leadership did not subscribe to his approach toward dealing with the Israeli government. Even those most strongly opposed to the State’s philosophy accepted its existence and, at worst, felt compelled to deal with it as they would with any government that ruled a land where Jews lived. It was not only in regard to its extreme anti-Zionism that the Satmar Rav had molded his community as “a group apart,”. He also guided it to being distinguished in its total lack of compromise in mode of dress – not yielding to American pressures, neither in style nor in lack of modesty. If anything, the newer generations have reinforced their dedication to the standards of “Jewishness in dress” that had prevailed in Satmar of old.
Reb Yoel wrote a series of sefarim on Chumash, mo’adim and various subjects in Shas, as well as she’eilot u’teshuvot entitled Divrei Yoel. He also wrote the sefer Vayoel Moshe and a kuntres, Al Hageulah Ve’al Hatemurah.
The Satmar Rebbe was niftar on 26 Menachem Av 5739/1979 and was buried in the beit hachaim in Kiryat Yoel in Monroe, New York.

Shnorrers –For those that are not familiar with term, you obviously haven’t been hanging out in Synagogues anywhere. Shnorrers are Jewish beggars. People that come over to you and ask you for money. Israel is the home, sadly, for most of these people. You can’t hide from them. They are at the Kotel and holy graves, they are in your shuls, they are on street corners. They come in all shapes and sizes, ages, genders and ethnicities. There are little kids that will come over to you while you are dining in a restaurant or filling up with gas and ask for some money for food or gas. When one goes to pray at a holy site it seems that all these people see this as a great vulnerable time for you who are seeking to have your own prayers answered get an extra merit by answering their prayers. This is a country that seems to be built on the notion that it is certainly a way of life for many to approach others and ask them to help them out. The truth is the entire country was founded on charity on a national level. UJA, Federation, Hadassah and the JNF. So it’s been engrained in our culture and history. And the truth is we are up to the task. If no one gave- nobody would be in the business. We Jews have always looked at our own wealth as something that was granted to us to help those less fortunate. As my grandfather would tell me we have to be thankful that we are on this side of the giving. Yes, someone of them can be pushy, some can act entitled. They have pride too despite their status-for they know that they are just as loved by Hashem as the next Jew. That is the chutzpa and insight of an Israeli shnorrer. So give with a smile. Give with a blessing. Generally they will also give you a big long and great blessing from the depths of their heart. They mean it. Answer Amen and be thankful that you could help another Jew out.

At a conference on religion a priest, a minister and a rabbi were all asked the same question, "What would you like people to say about you after you die?"
The priest said, "I hope that people will say that I was able to rise above the scandals that are plaguing the Catholic Church at this time. I hope that people would say that I was able to shepherd my flock through this crisis and help them to understand the absolute love that God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit have for all of them as Catholics."
The minister then said, "When I die I hope that people will say that I saved many souls by bringing them to Faith. I hope that I will be remembered as a caring, thoughtful man who always spread the Word, the love and faith everlasting in God. I hope that my preaching and converting will be carried on in my memory and to the glory of God
Finally, the rabbi was asked, "Rabbi, what do you hope people will say about you after you have died?"
Without pausing, the rabbi answered, "Look. He's breathing."

A Rabbi, a priest and a minister are discussing when life begins.
The priest says: "In our religion, life begins at conception."
The Minister says: "We disagree. We believe that life begins when the foetus is viable away from the mother's womb."
The Rabbi responds: "You both are wrong. In our religion, life begins when the kids graduate college and the dog dies."

Rabbi Bloom gets on a tube train on its way to Golders Green. As soon as the doors close, a priest gets up, goes over to the rabbi and says, "Good morning rabbi. I have a question to ask you. Why is it that everybody thinks Jews are smarter than Gentiles?"
Rabbi Bloom, who is not up for an argument, says, "I’m sorry, but I am just a simple rabbi and I’m not really able to participate in such a discussion."
But the priest insists. "Look, no harm meant rabbi, but I have a theory and I need to test it out in the form of a bet. I’ll pay you $100 if you can ask me a question that I can't answer. But if I can ask you a question that you can't answer, you must pay me $100."
Rabbi Bloom replies, "But I’m a poor rabbi - I only have $10 on me."
The priest hesitates then says, "OK, rabbi, it’s my $100 against your $10."
Rabbi Bloom realizes he can't get out of this so he agrees, but on condition that he asks the first question. The priest agrees.
"OK," says Rabbi Bloom, "what animal has scaly skin, the body of a cat, the face of a squirrel, the ears of a mouse, webbed toes and swims under water?"
Surprised, the priest admits that he doesn't know and asks the rabbi for a few more minutes to think about it. The rabbi agrees.
2 minutes later, the priest takes $100 from his wallet and gives it to the rabbi. The priest then asks the rabbi, "So what animal was it?"
Rabbi Bloom replies, "How should I know?" and gives the priest $10.

A Rabbi, a minister and a priest, played cards every Wednesday for small stakes, but their problem was that they lived in a ‘no gambling allowed’ town. One day, the sheriff raided their game and took them before the judge.
After hearing the sheriff's story, the judge asked the priest, "Were you gambling, Father?"
The priest looked toward heaven, whispered, "Oh, Lord, forgive me," and then replied aloud, "No, your honour, I was not gambling."
"Were you gambling, Reverend?" the judge then asked the minister.
The minister replied, "No, your honour, I was not."
Turning to the third clergyman, the judge asked, "Were you gambling, Rabbi?"
The Rabbi eyed him coolly and replied "With whom?"

Answer is A – I got this one wrong I guesses Theodosus because I thought that would have been a cute name for a couple. I knew it wasn’t Hadrian or Augustus who were leaders and and powerful in their own right. An empress is only mentioned if there was something significant about her. Not that I really care to much. I will never mention her name to any of my tourists because after-all your not hiring Ephraim Schwartz to teach you and guide you about Byzantine era Eastern Church Empresses. That’s not what my clientele is coming to Israel to learn about. So the answer is Justinian, by the way. Thank you google.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

ADD- Aliyah Deficit Disorder- Ki Tisa /Parah 2017/5777

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

March 17th 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 21 19h Adar 5777
Parshat Ki Tisa/ Para
A.D.D- Aliyah Deficit Disorder
So I'm back in the States. The United States that is. Although since the last elections they seem pretty divided it seems. I'm not a big fan of the country anymore either. Which seems to be the current sentiment here so it seems I'm in good company. Although my feelings about the US of A has nothing to do with politics. I just don't' seem to get it anymore. I remember when I lived in the States before moving to Israel and I would hear these- nut-jobbed, fanatical, ideologues that had make Aliya talking kind of the way I'm about to. I remember thinking how ridiculous and pathetic they sounded; how desperate they were to put-down America in order to assuage themselves that they had made the right decision. The truth of course being that it was really a ridiculous thing to do for any self-respecting American. A cold and callous insensitive thing to do to one's children and family. Listen if one wants to follow a dream, then do it when you're young and single or newly married. Or alternatively if you want to retire there with money from your savings after you made a living in the only country where that is possible, than that's alright too. That's your prerogative and I would wish them luck. Perhaps even admire some of their fortitude to not move to Florida like all the other faithful Jews. But with a family and kids?  Middle age? That's just pure irresponsibility.
But as I was thinking what I was thinking I could see this inexplicable look to me that was really almost a mirror image of what I was presenting to them. They had this look like they didn't get me at all. Like they thought I was the nut-job. I was the one that was irresponsible. I was the one that was nebbich just not getting it. It was a very weird experience. I swore to myself that even if I ever ever ended up making Aliya, I would never give anyone a look like that. I would never, could never become that clueless, be that self-delusional, ever feel the need to be that defensive to look askance at the regular people that were obviously living and doing the normal thing. I was wrong. I just don't get you guys anymore.
This morning by services here in Atlanta, the Gabbai came over to me and asked me I wanted an Aliyah. I had not yet recited the traditional blessing that is made upon traveling overseas of Gomel- thanking Hashem for all the kindness that Hashem has bequeathed me. The blessing is made when one has undergone a potentially life-threatening salvation, like after a severe surgery or operation, or being released from life-threatening incarceration, or childbirth. The blessing is recited generally upon getting called up to the Torah, so I told him that I would be happy to "get" an Aliyah. I "got" my Aliya, I made the blessing that Hashem has chosen us from all the nations and given us the Torah and then I recited the thanksgiving blessing, the crowd said Amen and it was over.
I was troubled a bit by the blessing I said. Why was I thanking Hashem for bringing me to America? For having to leave Israel. Sure I was happy, that I survived the flight, although it took some time for me to dislodge my knee from my chest. {They really don't have leg-room anymore. When I booked my ticket they had extra legroom for another $35, which I regretted not having done as I learned that extra legroom actually means room for both legs on the floor....but I'm getting distracted-Holyland ADD Insights and Inspiration.} But really I did not feel too grateful being in this really "unnatural" country for a Jew- to put it mildly. I remarked to the Gabbai as I left the Bima that I understood the difference between Israel and America. In America one can only "get" an aliya. It's a short fleeting spiritual high one feels when you bless the Torah and remember that you are chosen. In Israel, though, we make Aliya. It's permanent. It's in your heart, your blood, your soul. It's the only place that can happen. It's the only place where your Judaism and spirituality becomes truly a building block of the eternal. The Gabbai winced and looked at me unappreciatively and with that "oh-he's-one-of-those-guys". I gave it right back. Yep. It's official. I'm now one of those guys.
 It's a strange parsha that we read this week. Strange because it's kind of mixed-up it seems. It's like a chulent. Not just of laws, like Mishpatim, not just stories, not just boring facts about the Tabernacle...again. No it's just got what seems like little pieces of all of the above. Like an ADD Holyland Insights E-Mail. It starts off with the counting of the half shekel coin, which has to be given to atone for a soul so that there won't be plague. Which incidentally reminded me a bit of the gomel thanksgiving blessing I made for undergoing something that was potential danger. It jumps to the laws of the building of the water basin which seems to have gotten left out of the portion that talked about all the vessels of the Mishkan. It then goes into the various ingredients of the incense and the anointing oil. Which seems to have gotten left out as well from the priestly portions as the priests are told to be anointed with it. Oh then it mentions Shabbos, cause- hey why not? It's a covenant, between us and Hashem. 6 Days work. 7th rest. Guard it for generations in case you forgot. Getting dizzy yet? It seems like a Purim hangover with a bunch of random facts coming from all sides.

The Parsha then continues with the story of the Golden Calf, Hashem's fury then Moshe's fury at the people, smashing the tablets, marshaling the Levi's to kill the offenders and appeasing Hashem and gaining his forgiveness. Hashem tells the Jews that an angel will bring them to the land and get rid of our enemies, but He won't reside among us. It's too risky. He might just wipe us out if we annoy him. We mourn and cry. Moshe camps outside and his face is pretty shiny. He after-all is the only one, the Torah tells us, that actually has the heavenly Facetime account. Moshe then asks Hashem how to get totally forgiveness when he's not around anymore and Hashem hides him in a rock and shows him the back instead of the front and teaches him the 13 attributes of Mercy. Wheww... Summaries were never my strong point. But you have to admit this is really a long, strange, puzzling and even mystical spiritual story in the Torah, if not the most perplexing one.
But the Parsha is not done yet. For then the Parsha and Hashem get back into the Eretz Yisrael mode telling Moshe to tell us that we must remember our treaty with Hashem. He will take us into the land, show us wonders and How Hashem will be in our midst.  We must not make treaties with nations in the land of Israel. They will distract us from our purpose. Smash their Idols, destroy their altars, break down their churches and mosques. Oops I just added that although it really is the same point and law and message. If we don't' do that we'll end up respecting their ways. Eating with them, attending their mutual egalitarian services and ultimately marrying their children. And then the game is over.
And just in case you thought you could tie all this stuff together here's some more random laws for you to piece together. Pesaach eat matzos, first born children and animals should be redeemed, work 6 days rest and Shabbos AGAIN! Celebrate Shavuot, bring first fruits to the Temple, come visit Me three times a year in the Temple and see My face. Don't' delay bringing sacrifices. Oh and finally don't cook the goat in its mothers milk. I am truly dizzy even writing this. It must be the air here in America. I don't remember a parsha getting me so dizzy.
I believe however the connection and theme of the parsha can usually be found in the title of the portion. Ki Tisa- when you shall uplift, Or because you shall raise up the heads of the Jewish people. The portion is telling us the secrets of how to make the Jewish people great once again. It starts with the ideal. The once great that we were meant to have achieved when we stood as one united nation at Sinai and declared we would listen and fulfill the words of our Creator. It concludes with the world and a different covenant and pathway of how to get back up there again after we have sinned. It in fact concludes with a description of the Jewish people actually seeing the light of Hashem radiate from the face of Moshe as he taught us Torah, the word of God. Great once again. Let me explain.
Remember like a bunch of paragraphs ago I told you how troubled I was about thanking Hashem for bringing me to America. About how pathetic I felt being here in this country and just trying to have an Aliyah and just feeling I was merely getting one. That's what it's all about in fact. At least it is this year for me. See when I'm living in Israel. I'm just walking around and feeling good about myself. I made it. I'm here. I'm doing what I'm supposed to. I'm where I'm at, where I belong, doing what I'm supposed to be doing. But I'm wrong. I'm not here, because, you're not here yet. Hashem isn't back here yet. The Temple isn't either. I haven't brought Him back yet. Bentching Gomel reminded me this morning that I thank Hashem who performed good deeds for me, the unworthy one, the chayavim, the one who still has obligations to fulfill. He's given me life still to accomplish. He sent me overseas to realize that there are still things and people I have to visit here that aren't in Israel. I'm still obligated to accomplish more. I am still a half shekel waiting for the other half to unite with mine. I may have not only got an aliya and merited to make aliya, but ultimately it's about the Aliyah of the entire world that we are here to achieve. We're all still suffering from Aliya Deficiency Disorder And this week's entire parsha is about how to achieve that uplifting.
Pre-sin each Jew gives a half shekel and there is no plague. We understand simply that we need one another to achieve the one-ness of Hashem in this world. Without all of us the world is a fuzzy whatsapp video chat that keeps breaking up each time I call home from here. It continues with the concept of the sink where the Kohen would wash his hands and his feet. Nachmanides explains the feet is the lower world the hands represent the upper realms. The Kohen would connect the two worlds. Cleanse it, purify it, serve as the vessel to bring them all together and lift us all up. He would be anointed with oil. The one property of oil is that it rises above everything else. It lifts up. The Kohen, the vessels, the Tabernacle would all be anointed so that it would be clear that this was a place of uplifting. The holy oil, the Torah tells us can and never should be used for the mundane. It's not to stick on your pizza or put in your shampoo. It's to bring us all higher and higher. Same with the heavenly incense. It is a sweet smell for Hashem. It is the aroma of Jews that comes to Hashem and lifting us up to Him. Not me up to me. Don't use it for deodorant to smell better than your friend. You're not better than him. You all are one and have to be one for our job to be fulfilled.
 That was the pre-golden calf world. But we fell. We fell hard. We fell bad. We took the Torah. We took the commandments and figured it was just a law-book to be followed. A way to stay out of trouble, earn a place in the world to come, but ultimately live normal regular lives. Religious, regular lives that is.We lost the notion of a universal plan that we were meant to be bring forth to the world. The Divine plan and mandate for a world of Hashem got lost the second Moshe disappeared. We had turned the entire Torah into a golden calf; a means of 'serving' Hashem in the image we had created for it; one that was bereft of Hashem's universal unifying role for all of us. The Kohen had failed. The half shekel money that was meant to connect us above was replaced with gold of our own purpose and making. The sink that was meant to restore and purify the world was lost as Hashem chose to wash Himself of us. The heavenly incense was replaced with the smell of offerings of cows that Hashem never wanted or asked for. The entire first part of the parsha has been turned on its head.

 Hashem tells us we are Moshe's nation. Not His anymore. We may be people of the Book, but it is no longer His book. His book will start again with just Moshe.
But Moshe doesn't let. He screams out "Who is for Hashem?" That is the cry. We had forgotten it's not merely about the law. It's about Hashem. It's about connecting heaven and earth. It's about a nation that can and will always unite together. A nation that will do anything to connect us all. Moshe and the tribe of Levis restore that balance. They burn that not so sacred cowt like an offering, they smash the calf to earth until it's as ground as the incense was meant to be. It gets mixed with purifying waters, like the water of the basin, with the gold floating like oil above it. It's time to restart. For the first time since we got the Torah. We can begin the process of lifting us and the world up truly from the ground.
Moshe negotiates with Hashem as well. He splains it to Hashem. Heaven and Earth must come together. It's not enough to just have an angel bring us to Israel. It's not enough to just come to Israel and live like any other nation there. We need to see the face of God. We need to always know that this world, and this life has one function for the Jew. Ki Tisa. To raise it up. To bring heaven down and to shine that light out to the world.
And thus we are given the new covenant of mitzvos. The new bris. The covenant of uplifting. Hashem tells us that we will come to the land. It won't be conquered normally. It will be miraculous. It should not be like any other land. Not a melting-pot with all the other nations. For that's not what we are there to do. We aren't meant to live the normal and be satisfied with it. We are here to break free and create a land and country that screams Hashem to the world. Every Jew will do that and see that. We will live lives that will constantly be returning and uplifting that greatness. How? Pesach we will eat; we will break free. Every first born thing, the fruit of our labor. The thing that screams out 'its mine' the loudest to us or at least to those that might consider themselves 'normal people'.  Our children, our fruit, our crops, our livestock. Give it to Hashem. It's the way to ingrain this into our psyche. That it's all from Him and its all about lifting it up to Him.Three times a year by the other holidays we will do the extraordinary and leave our homes and everything to come to Yerushalayim to see Hashem. To pick up that light. Our sacrifices will be immediate. No postponing due to regular day to day delays. We are above that. We have only one priority. Yes, Shabbos again. 6 days work, but every Shabbos stop. It is the key. The stop and go, the change things up from the rest of the world. The falling down, but lifting right back up even higher.
 Last but not least the goat in its mother milk. The commentaries suggest the concept behind this mitzva. Is that the milk is the source of life for the goat. The mother is what bore him. Don't ever mix that source of life with a good piece of steak. Don't desecrate my Torah your source of life and bring it down to give some type of "spiritual" flavor to your physical earthly existence and steak. Bring your steak up to Hashem. Make it holy. Don't profane the holy by using it as a tool to give you enough of spiritual feeling that you forget the picture of what you are here and meant to achieve. I don't' need any more golden calves.
Parshat Ki Tisa this year as it does many years comes out the same week as the special reading of Para. The purity of the red heifer's ashes that is meant to cleanse us of the impurity of death, brought on by the sin of the golden calf. Last time I was in the States I was talking to my Rebbe and he asked me what It felt like being here and I told him that it was the first time that I went to a Mikva and felt just as tamei-impure coming out as when I went in. But the truth is even in Israel coming back, as incredible as it feels. As Messianic as it is, I'm still not pure. I still don't' have a place to bring a Pesach offering. Yet. I still don't have that sense that I should have of how much further I- we still have to go...to achieve... So I thank Hashem for sending me here. For obligating me to thank Him. May the entire world have that Aliyah it's waiting for.

Have an even Mooooving Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

This week's Insight and Inspiration has been sponsored generously by Ruth Israel in honor of the weekly Torah insights and inspiration. Thank you so much for your kind readership and your sponsorship. May Hashem bless you with health, wealth, nachas and bracha!
Thank You!



“Bei nacht zeinen alleh ki shvarts...- At night all cows are black”


https://youtu.be/TrS2AkPHmuA    -ADHD comedian pretty funny

https://youtu.be/vbVOlF87pfI  I wasn’t sure if this was for real or not. But they tell me it is the NASI get married to an older girl advert

https://youtu.be/SuyprtLP70E  It’s my newest Purim song and Its me having fun at our sedua this year Check it out and this song will sit in your brain forever!


answer below at end of Email
Q.  Ablaq is:
a. Muhammad’s winged horse
b. A guilloche pattern made up of different colored stone masonry
c. Drop-like (stalactite) ornamentations
d. Shell-like ornamentation

Read Rashi. Read it again and again. Sometimes he says something and although he is coming ot explain a pshat in a verse. If you think about what he said and what he took for granted it can open your eye to a Torah perspective that can guide you through your life.
This week when Moshe receives the Tablets from Hashem the verse tells us
Shemot (31:18) And He gave to Moshe when he kalato-concluded speaking with him on Mount Sinat two tablets of the covenant.
Rashi there notes that the Torah uses the word kalato- which means concluded because it wants to recall to us another word kallah- like a bride
It says kallah for the Torah was given to him like a bride to a groom, for it would have been impossible for Moshe to learn the entire Torah in such a short time.
Rav Shimon Schwab notes that we see from here that a bride is given to a groom from heaven like a present. It is not possible for him to appreciate, to earn, to grasp the incredible depth and power of a woman…of his bashert. So Hashem gives it to him as a present. Take that guys!
But you see what I mean. Rashi isn’t trying to teach us this. He just says it. If we spent just a few minutes pondering what he writes we can reveal just incredible thoughts.

Rav Shimon Schwab (1908 -1995) If Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch was the powerhouse revolutionary that defined a whole new weltanschauung for the German community in the 19th century spiritual battlefield against the “enlightenment” movement, then Rav Schwab was the foot soldier who built and developed that community on those foundations on the shores of the new world in America. Rav Schwab served as the rabbi and communal leader in Germany and the United States. Educated in Frankfurt am Main and in the yeshivot of Lithuania, he was rabbi in Ichenhausen, Bavaria, after immigration to the United States in Baltimore, and from 1958 until his death at Khal Adath Jeshurun in Washington Heights, Manhattan. He was an ideologue of Agudath Israel of America, specifically defending the Torah im Derech Eretz approach to Jewish life. He wrote several popular works of Jewish though. He was one of the last students of the Chafetz Chaim who inspired him to answer the clarion call of who is for Hashem should follow me.

Security Guards –It struck me as I came to the States this week, that I can walk around the streets, go into malls, and pretty much go anywhere and not see anyone carrying a gun. OK maybe it’s different in Texas, but in most places no one I see is carrying. In Israel it is one of the most jarring things I think that newcomers see there. You pretty much can’t go anywhere without seeing a gun. There is no building, store or office that you will walk into that you won’t be asked to put your stuff into some detector and there are always security people asking if your packing. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing it just is the way it is. But the truth is security is certainly one of the major industries in Israel. It’s like working in McDonalds in the States. Being that most Israelis serve in the army they are automatically pretty qualified to carry a gun and defend their landsman. And they do. Time after time it is this great unsung heroes that stand in between your average grocery shopper and the thousands of our cousins that are trying to kill us. What’s also fascinating to me is that if I had to estimate its probably about 60-40 men to women that are in these positions as well. Which I think is pretty cool as well. That there are so many Israeli women that can scare off baddies.
 One of the nice things though generally that I experience here are as opposed to the States as well as that we do racial profiling here. Most guards won’t drive you too crazy if you don’t look like your gonna kill someone they will usually not bother you to take off your belt, your pants and shoes as they do in the States. The security guards though are really just a back-up nad inspiration to the masses that will carry guns as well; most when asked will tell you its not for self-protection. It’s to protect others. It’s to serve as deterrent. And it’s to let our enemies know that we will not be bullied or terrorized. May Hashem watch over them all.

1)      Q: Why don't cows have any money? A: Because farmers milk them dry

2)      Q: What do you get if you cross an angry sheep and a moody cow? A: An animal that's in a baaaaaaaad moooooood.

3)      Q: Why did the cow cross the road? A: To get to the udder side. Q

4)      Q: Where do cows go for lunch? A: The calf-eteria.

5)      Q: What kind of milk comes from a forgetful cow? A: Milk of Amnesia

6)      Q: Where do Russians get their milk? A: From Mos-cows

7)      Q: What do call a cow that has just had a calf? A: Decalfenated

8)      Q: What do you call a sleeping bull? A: A bull-dozer.

9)      Q: What do you call a grumpy cow? A: Moo-dy

10)  . Q: What is it when one cow spies on another cow? A: A steak out. Q:

11)  Q: What do you call an arab next to a cow? A: Milk Sheikh!

And finally a really terrible joke that someone sent me that only yeshivish people will appreciate. He said that anyone that is getting married this week didn’t really think it out well as his aufruf parsha will be
“ Ki Tisa- Parah” (when one marries a parah..Ouch!)

Answer is B – I knew this answer. I don’t know why I just did. Maybe because this stuff is all over the old city. Not that I know what guilloche is. But I know that it’s the different color tiles thing. Muhammeds horse is called burqa or something like that. I don’t know why I remember that either. I don’t know what the other two are called and I’m not even gonna check it up for you. It’s late. I’m tired and this E-Mail is long enough.