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Parasha Insights

By Rabbi Jonathan Tawil

Just over an hour drive from Jerusalem heading south, you will hit an oasis of life in the Israeli desert – EinGedi. A beautiful place with water flowing from the hill tops, refreshing pools and stunning views. It’s a great trek to take the family.Last summer, I took 15 students to Israel on a special tour. One of our fantastic stops was EinGedi.As we made it up the hills andthrough the pools of water, wedecided to stop for a rest. Twoboys in the group decided thatthey were up for a big trek andthey didn’t want to rest. Theywanted to reach the peak. Theday was still young and we agreedto let them go ahead. Off theywent into the horizon. But beforethey left, I wanted to understandwhy they persisted to go higher.Surely, we had walked enoughand we could now finally enjoy thebeautiful stop?Their response completely startledme. “Rabbi! All this water is amazing; itkeeps coming. But we are in thedesert and it’s the summer. The lasttime it rained was five months ago.Where is this water coming from?We want to reach the top see forourselves!” “Wow…Ok, well enjoy, just makesure that you are back in timebefore the park closes,” I said, asthey shrugged in agreement andoff they went.A few hours later, they returned.The whole group were interestedand gathered around. Did theymake it to the top? What did theysee?The boys returned, astonishing meyet again with their response.“We reached the top….. and weknow the secret.” They gallantly said.“Secret – what secret?” I asked.“Rabbi, don’t you get it, this is anIsraeli gimmick. They want to bringin the tourists.”Now I was really confused.“At the top, we saw a pipe andthat’s where all this water iscoming from!”Really? Is that where all the watercomes from in EinGedi?You can’t stump a rabbi like that.On our way back, I was able tofind a park representative andchallenged him as to where all thewater was flowing from.He gave me the real answer.But first let me share with you awonderful idea from the BneiYisaschar (Adar 1:10).We are in the special month of Adar.The Ari Z’l states that every monthcan be connected to a part of thehead – this month is connected tothe nose.Why the nose?Shortly after creating Adam andEve and placing them in theGarden of Eden, they sinned defilingfour out of their five senses.The Torah relates that they heardthe serpent’s alluring words, thefruit was “a delight to the eyes”,they touched it by taking from itsfruit and they tasted it.But the sense of “smell” remaineduntarnished. Accordingly, thissense denotes inner purity anddeep attachment to G-d andthe fulfilment of His Will.Our Sages explain that eatinggives nutrition to our body whereassmell gives nutrition to the soul.In fact, the life force within mancame when G-d “blew into hisnostrils the soul of life and man became a living being” (Bereishit2:7).This is why the nose, used forbreathing and smell, is the organthrough which the Neshama (soul)enters and leaves. (See RabbeinuBachya, ibid).Smell is in the air, but can’tnecessarily be seen or physicallyfelt. It is of a higher dimension.This week’s Parasha stands out inthe fact that it is the only Parashasince the birth of Moshe until theend of Bamidbar, that Moshe’sname is not mentioned at all.Whilst not mentioned, he isinstrumental in the Parasha andrepresents this idea of smell – beingaround but not necessarilyphysically perceived.This idea of smell representing ahidden higher dimension alsoexpresses itself in Purim.Who are the heroes of Purim?Mordechai and Esther.When the Jews originally attendedthe party, they did not feel thatthey needed to listen to Mordechai.He was just another rabbi thatcould be neglected depending onpersonal desires.Yet by the end, they realised howessential he was.The name Mordechai in Hebrewrepresents a fragrance (MorDeror).His pleasant smell could not bephysically perceived, yet wasresonating.Esther was the queen that neverrevealed to the king that she wasJewish.At the time, people might havethought why was it that she didn’tdivulge her religion? Perhaps sheonly wanted to save herself?

In the end, all was revealed and

the Jews were saved.

The name Esther also known asHadassa, represents the beautifulmyrtle.She was the pleasant smell thatcouldn’t be sensed, only smelt.Our Sages praise the ability of smell.There is one thing that is greaterthan a good smell.Tov Shem Mishemen Tov – a goodname is greater than pleasantfragrance.

When someone is known by his orher amazing talents and characteristic,their name goes before them.Good fragrance can only fill aroom but a good name can travelacross the globe and last forcenturies.

Purim is a time of celebration. Wecelebrate the hidden Hand of G-dbehind history and our day to daylives. It’s a time we read the Megila– from the word Megaleh – to revealthose aspects of life, just like smell,that are not necessarily felt orappreciated.

Back to EinGedi!What was the park rangers’response? Where does the waterreally come from?He told me that the wateremanates from the hills aroundJerusalem.Then came the big shocker of theday.He related how this water that wasnow flowing had been on a longjourney.It originally fell as rain on the hills ofJerusalem ……40 years ago!Now I really didn’t know who tobelieve.But I’ll take the ranger’s word for it,being as he is an expert.I thought to myself what a wonderfullesson we can learn from EinGedi. Water that fell on the hills ofJerusalem was being felt fortyyears later by me!We act in this world now, but ouractions can be felt for generationsahead. Just like fragrance thatpermeates the air and resounds allaround, our presence givesblessing.We all have loved ones around usand are in constant benefit of theirblessing. Sometimes, we don’tshow that appreciation and onlyreally feel it many years later.In Persia, people didn’t reallyappreciate Mordechai or Esther; itwas only by the end of the story that we realised how much loveand effort they had put into theirpeople.Don’t wait 40 years to recognisethe people around you.Let their pleasant smell radiate yourlife, reveal thosesweet smellingacts and appreciate everymoment

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