Really? Good and confused you will be this coming shabbis when we will learn Parshas Achrei Mois. Why so? Because this shabbis, Yom Kippur, which is way off in October, but which we will learn about in the parsha, and Pesach, which is around the corner mamish, are on a collision course. You may also find yourself on a collision course with the RBSO if you violate any of the 22 forbidden relationships also found in this week’s parsha, which seemingly has a shtikel something for everyone to enjoy. We’ll, of course, touch upon them later. Many of you are zicher following strict halocho and are busy checking for chometz ad-sheyodi-maseges (as far as the hand reaches), if you chap. Others are packing for the big Pesach vacation trip, while a small number are home cleaning your houses. Though Pesach begins this coming Monday evening, let’s first welcome in the solemn yom tov of Yom Kippur. We should, because in this week’s parsha, the RBSO gives the Yiddin myriad laws that constitute the Yom Kippur avoido (service), since replaced with kimat a full day in shul, an appeal, a few good stretches during the mock avoido, and some davening. The big day of forgiveness and atonement, first instituted here, seemingly because the Yiddin created the Eygel (golden calf) and efsher also because Aharoin’s two sons committed some sin which resulted in instant capital punishment, is discussed in the first two aliyos. Exactly what they did wrong to have the death sentence meted out so swiftly, is subject to numerous interpretations. Many pontificate on the matter, though of course no one really knows why they died. Simply stated, the heylige Toirah doesn’t really tell us and mistama it’s none of our business. As far as the Oisvorfer is concerned, they were fine upstanding gentlemen. The takeaway for us is that we rely on this day to clean our slates, cleanse our souls, and thank the RBSO for this opportunity. And taka says the heylige Toirah (VaYikro 16:30) azoy: For on this day you will have your sins atoned so that you will be cleansed. Before the RBSO you will be cleansed from all your sins. The observance of Yom Kippur atones for the sins of the people. What could be more givaldig?
Grada (so happens) that many of you could use 8 days of Yom Kippur and but 1 day of Pesach; wouldn’t we be better off and healthier? And wouldn’t we save thousands of dollars on food, clothing, travel and sunscreen? Ober the RBSO is His magnificence, knew His chosen people. And because He is the RBSO, He also chapped that the most He could count on for exemplary behavior, was but one day. Sadly, even on that one day, your mind is typically wandering as you relive the myriad avayrois you committed during the year; complete concentration is not in abundance. In any event, the RBSO loves His people and forgives them anyway. Shoin! If only it wereso easy to chap atonement from the eishes chayil; oy vey!
Moreover, can you imagine how many Yiddin all over the world might be affected were this taka to be the case? It’s gantzshayich (entirely possible) that absent of an 8 day Pesach, tens of thousands of Yiddin would be out of jobs and parnoso (livelihood). Of course you all know how sensitive the RBSO was to the welfare of His chosen people; jobs and industries were seemingly always on His mind and every mitzvah given whether ah-say or loisah-say (positive or negative commandments), were opportunities for Toirah inspired entrepreneurs to make a living: geloibt-der-abishter (thank the RBSO)!
Ober should we worry about Yom Kippur now? Isn’t it way early in the season? Don’t we have many hundreds of avayrois still to chap-areyn? And aren’t we all a shtikel busy this week making preparations for the biggest of all holidays, the biggest economy booster of all holidays and by far the biggest money maker for rabbis who have somehow found a way of participating in the Pesach economy? Indeed we are and let’s then defer the parsha review until later, space permitting. And if not, you can always check out the pearls of wisdom the Oisvorfer shared with you in previous edition. They can avada be found at www.oisvorfer.com. Everyone deserves a plug.
Let’s instead focus on inyonay-di’yoma (matters of the day). And what’s pressing this week? What’s pressing and time sensitive mamish are the myriad email blasts we are receiving daily from our shuls and other enterprising organizations reminding us that our rabbis will be available to represent us in one of the most fascinating transactions you will ever enter into. In this business arrangement, you will be the seller, some unsuspecting goy will be the buyer and the Rabbi will be your agent. Shoin! Unfortunately, no matter how large your chometz estate may be and no matter how many bottles of expensive scotch you have collected over the years, you won’t be seeing much in the form of net proceeds; in fact, you won’t see any at all. It gets worse; you’ll be out of pocket while the rabbi will avada make out like a bandit. And who appointed rabbis to be our agents? They did! Seemingly a perk of the profession. It’s not all bad because come 45 minutes after Pesach is over, in Copperfield style fashion, the entire sale will be reversed. The sham contract, according to at least some, you entered into will be nullified, the chometz you sold but did not deliver, will be yours again and life will be back to normal. Sadly, the money you paid your rabbi to be your agent, is not refundable or reversible. Nu, rabbis too, need to supplement their parnosas. Do you think it’s easy for a rabbi to make ends meet on few hundred thousand dollars of salary and other perks?
Moreover, with the advent of the Internet -thanks to the RBSO and Al Gore of course- competition has crept into the marketplace and now rabbis must be on their game and compete with the more tech savvy, frum entrepreneur rabbis and organizations that have much larger email lists and blast them daily. Just this evening, the Oisvorfer received email form a choshova Baltimore based organization seeking to be a chometz agent. And all this competition has avada sadly cut into their available cash. For the past100 or more years, local rabbis had a lock on this business. Is it a wonder that certain rabonim have been seeking to ban the internet? Porn, shmorn, who cares? Ober, putting your hands into their pockets by taking your cash rich chometz business online, that mamish stings. Sadly for a select few, putting their hands into your pockets, gave them an extra thrill, if you chap. On the other hand, their fixed costs are constant and their tools of the trade are limited to but one handkerchief and or a pen. Who decided that the lifting of the rebbes handkerchief constituted a kinyan and solidified the deal? Ver veyst; seemingly it’s a minhag gong back generations and who are you to argue with a minhag? Bazman hazeh (in our times), among our more modern rabbis, the lifting of the rabbis pen, has seemingly replaced the hanky. In any event, the lifting of whatever the rabbi’s tool of choice might be, solidifies the deal. Your chometz is no longer yours, you have avoided the geferlicheloi-sah-say (negative commandment) of not having, possessing or seeing any chometz during this holiday and you are good to go. And says the Oisvorfer azoy: Hanky or pen, who cares? As long as the rabbi doesn’t insist that we swear on the transaction by chapping his mila or lifting his shtekin to be mikabel kinyan, we’re happy. What a country.
Ober was it always like this? Seemingly not! Back when the Oisvorfer was a kid, his tata, OBM took Pesach seriously. He didn’t rely on the sale of chometz to the goy. Zicher, he wasn’t entering into any sale without cash proceeds, or, at least a toaster or some corningware he got from every bank. Instead, in the weeks leading up to the great holiday of Pesach, when we celebrate our redemption from Mitzrayim by spending thousands of dollars on overpriced matzo and other goods and by traveling all over the world to hotels that cater to every flavor of observance, he meticulously ate all the chometz in the house.
Though the RBSO gave the Yiddin many restrictions, they seem to include a healthy number of halachically sanctioned loopholes and of the top ten which include ‘having in mind’, the HeterIska, the Pruzbil and a good number of others, the sale of chometz, whether directly through your rabbi or through e-commerce, might be the number one loophole. Ober,is it kosher and is this what the RBSO wants from us? Is this how we repay the RBSO for performing all these miracles for our mishpocho? Seemingly the answer is yes. Moreover, for the first time ever, the playing field has been a shtikel leveled. And while you’re still going out of pocket, if you sell your chometz on-line and use your AMEX or some other card that Honig told you to get, at least you’re collecting points.
How does the Internet sale taka work? Is this sale kosher? Nu, let’s see. Says the Shulchan Oruch, Choishen Mishpat 182:1 azoy: Technically, one may appoint an agent merely by stating that you are appointing him.
Ober says the RambaM (Mishneh Toirah, Hilchos Mechirah 5:12-13): that there’s taka a minhag (custom) to solidify an appointment of an agent by making a kinyan-sudar, performing a symbolic act of acquisition which demonstrates the transfer of authority. As we stated above, typically this was accomplished by lifting the Rabbis handkerchief or pen and telling the Rabbi that you were appointing him. Nowadays, a few contemporary Rabbis have introduced new and fun items to hold, each meant to convey the spirit of a kosher transaction. And by lifting them off his table, you, the seller are appointing the Rabbi as your agent to conduct this so called sham sale where nothing ever leaves your possession except the cash that does leave your hands and never comes back. Ober says the Rambam: this ceremonial lifting does make clear that you truly want to appoint this agent to act on your behalf. One can also just lift his/her cell phone or keyboard and ceremoniously appoint the internet Rabbi through this new type of kinyan. Givaldig!
Nu, let’s get back to the parsha for a page or two. Is it by design mamish that both Yom Kippur and forbidden sexual relationships appear together in this week’s parsha? As we move along in the parsha, we will be introduced to a very specific grouping of people one may not chap, ever!! Next week, we’ll hear about them again and in a few weeks, we’ll hear what happens to those that do; the news is not good. And as we said earlier, the RBSO chapped how His people think and act and therefore decided to put the laws of Yoim Kippur and the section describing the various forbidden relationship into one parsha, quite near to one another. Did it work? Mistama not too well. Horaya (as proof), these very restrictions will be repeated again next week.Ober Chazal (our wise sages of yesteryear) were on their game. Says the heylige Gemora (Megilla 31) azoy: they fascinatingly chose this chapter (of forbidden relations), as the afternoon Toirah reading on Yom Kippur. Why? Because mistama they knew that even though it’s Yom Kippur, the Yiddin needed to be reminded over and again about being on their best behavior when it comes to incest and other forbidden relations. Of course not everyone was happy with this reading selection for a solemn day like Yom Kippur and as you can only imagine, many weighed on its relevance.Others suggest that the reading selection is motivational in nature. Of course being over- motivated and overstimulated could lead to problems, if you chap.
Said Rashi and who chapped people’s behavioral patterns better than he, azoy: since, from time to time, all people are subject to strong passions, they should hear this chapter and repent in case they have sinned in this manner. Ober said Toisfis azoy: The women who attend services on Yom Kippur have adorned themselves, therefore an extra reading is necessary to caution against frivolity. Ober says the MishnaBirura (622:7) and of course we all follow the Mishna Birura, azoy: We read the portion of arayis (forbidden relationships) during the Yom Kippur Mincha service because people are strongly attracted to sexual misconduct, and this awakens those who are impure, to repent. Shoin and spoken with authority!
Seemingly, when it comes to arayis, kuli-alme-loi-p’ligi (no one would argue- in Gemora parlance), this topic is always sadly relevant, and, of course, one that you could all use some chazorra (review) on. The prohibitions listed commence with illicit familial relations (mishpocho incest) and conclude with deviant relations and acts including adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, vey izmir.
Shoin, let’s review quickly the Do Not Do list. In general, it is prohibited to be intimate with any of the forbidden relations. And more specifically, it appears that homosexual relations are forbidden with one’s father, and in general, the RBSO abhors this conduct. Why, ver veyst?
One may not have sexual relations with his mother, his father’s wife (even if she is not his mother), his sister (from same father or mother or both), his granddaughter from a son, from a daughter, and his own daughter, though not specifically stated. So how do we know? This prohibition is derived by a KAL VACHOIMER, the logical reasoning that if a man is forbidden to have relations with his granddaughter, how much more so is he forbidden to his daughter. Read for a few more? Here we go.
One may not have relations with his paternal aunt, his maternal aunt, nor may a man have homosexual relations with his paternal or maternal uncle. One may not have relations with his daughter-in-law, his brother’s wife, (except for the unique circumstances of YIBUM). A man is forbidden to have relations with his wife’s mother or daughter, her grandmother or granddaughter from son or daughter. And the big one: A man may not have relations with his wife’s sister, during the wife’s lifetime – even if he divorced her first. Relations with a woman, even one’s own eishes chayil, while in a state of Niddah, is avada forbidden. And avada, relations with a married woman is forbidden.
Ober, some ask azoy: is incest giferlich? Seemingly not! And taka says the Seforno(18:6) azoy: marriage to one’s close relatives would seem to be ideal. The shared values, backgrounds, and personalities should combine to produce wonderful children. As evidence for this claim, he cites no lesser a personality than Amrom, who married his Tanta (aunt) Yoicheved (seemingly mutir (permissible) prior to the giving of the Toirah). And what came forth from this union? None other than some the greatest Toirah personalities of all time including some fellow named Moishe Rabaynu and his siblings Aharoin and Miriam. With the exception of one parsha each where they are missing (that for another day), the brothers Moishe and Aharoin, are mentioned by name in every single parsha in the heylige Toirah. Shoin, case closed! Nu, given such kinderlach from this union, why did the RBSO change His mind and declare these relationships out of bounds? Doesn’t it taka make sense to marry relatives that understand our own shtick, minhogim, mishigassin, desires, and idiosyncrasies? Ver veyst. In any event, that’s what the RBSO decreed; it’s best to listen and not argue these details. One can of course enjoy intimacy with his own eishes chayil, or at least try.
A gittin shabbis and a zissin Pesach.
The Oisvorfer will be reporting from poolside over in Ft. Myers Florida.