Weekly Parsha Review Laced with Humor and Sarcasm from The Oisvorfer Ruv

Achrei Mois Kidoishim – Corona 2020: Make-Up Doubleheaders

Just yesterday (some 13 years ago) we attended Ezra Kwestel’s bar mitzvah and today we begin with the very exciting news that Ezra is now engaged. OMG, and a big mazel-tov to Ezra and to his kallah Elana Lefkowitz. Exactly how all this went down during these challenging times, ver veyst, ober, we excitedly share the exciting news and wish a heartfelt mazel-tov to our friends Rena and Marc Kwestel, to Ezra’s grandparents Debbie and Shimon Kwestel and to Rebecca and Israel Rivkin. As well, we wish a mazel tov to Ezra’s siblings, uncles, aunts and cousins. Mazel tov to Elana’s extended family. May Elana and Ezra merit to enjoy many years of mask-less marital bliss.

Raboyseyee and Ladies:


Make-Up Doubleheaders:

Shoin, we can’t watch baseball or go to a game, ober we can still engage in baseball talk and taka we shall begin with some baseball history. Why? Because it’s grada relevant to our parshas of the week. Moreover, one particular aspect of the game will have relevance once the shuls reopen.

Baseball is taka not being played, ober can we all agree that’s it is in fact baseball season? We can! Moreover, if and when baseball does get going -mistama it will soon- we can also assume that the shortened season will feature many double headers. For many decades, doubleheaders were routinely scheduled several times each season. Why? Ver veyst? However, bazman hazeh (in our times) the doubleheader is generally the result of a prior game between the same two teams being postponed due to inclement weather or other factors.

Avada you all know that the baseball doubleheader is not a new concept. It has, according to Medrish Google been around since 1873. According to Peter Morris, doubleheaders predated professional baseball but died out when money came into the game, in part because teams didn’t want to give twice as much away for the price of one game. Mistama Yiddin were involved in that decision. Doubleheaders didn’t gain a toehold in baseball until the 1880s, when teams started scheduling the double dips of baseball on Memorial Day and Independence Day. This doesn’t mean all teams played on these days, but for a while in the early 1880s, they were the only days anyone played doubleheaders.

In our times, a doubleheader is a term used by the TV networks to refer to two games involving the same sport that are shown back-to-back on the same network, even though the events do not involve the same two teams (three such games may be referred to as a tripleheader, this scenario occurring most frequently in regard to basketball). A doubleheader purposely coincides with a league’s scheduling of “early” and “late” games.

Ober what it the shychus (relevancy) of this entire baseball schmooz and doubleheaders to this week’s parshas? Welcome to yet another cancelled double header and by that I refer to Parshas Achrei-Mois and Kedoishim which will not be read as shuls continue to be closed. And as the list of Yiddin taken by this virus grows daily, the names of these two parshas speak volumes. The words Achrei-Mois, Kidoishim literally translated, come to “following the death of the holy ones.” As the pandemic continues, the list of those departed also includes a good number of holy people. Most were good, others were also holy. Shoin, as the Oisvorfer told you just last week, what the RBSO’s plans are with this virus, ver veyst. If finding out means having to meet Him personally, it’s mistama good advice to mind your own business and not know.

So happens that for those who enjoy talking in shul during laining (reading of the Toirah), scheduled double-header parsha readings are a bonanza mamish as much can be discussed –loshoin-horo aplenty, and even deals closed- when the shul needs to hear just two parsha and about double the pisukim.

A few weeks back, chaver Elliot Ostro, oral surgeon with gifted hands, (on a side note, also good enough to handle a shtikel dental emergency in the mishpocho during this pandemic) called and asked azoy: when the shuls reopen and avada they eventually will, do we have an obligation to lain all the parshas that were missed as a result of the closure? Nu, the Oisvorfer shrugged off the question; the thought of having to read six to ten parshas in addition to the weekly parsha that re-opening shabbis never entered his mind. Ober, is there a concept of make-up laining? Avada there is (at times) the concept of make-up sex between husband and wife, ober can other things also be made up? Is laining one of them?  Mistama we can all think of mitzvis which when missed, do not offer a make up. One cannot bentch tomorrow for a meal he had today if he forgot. And the list goes on. On the other hand, there are exceptions such as Pesach Shaynee a topic we discussed a few weeks back, one where the RBSO gave explicit permission to make up for those unable to partake in the Korban Pesach. Ober is there mamish a concept to make-up laining? How does it work? Is it an obligation? Biblically commanded? Imposed by our sages? Perhaps even a minhag (custom) started by some other rabbi? Missed the laining? Go veyter; azoy iz iz (that’s how it is),  what can you do? Missed shul one shabbis? Do your read two parshas next week? Not! Ober the shaylo is not so poshit (simple) as the Oisvorfer was to learn weeks later; the question of make-up laining is avada discussed. Is there a concept of make-up laining? Does laining follow sports where if a baseball game is rained out, the teams select a date and schedule a double header at a later date? What will taka happen if baseball comes back this season? Will it feature many makeup games? Says Commissioner Rob Manfred azoy: If there is a 2020 season, it will look different than the standard variety. It will likely entail a shorter season, one featuring a lot of doubleheaders and a later conclusion than normal.

Nu, to tie these disparate concepts together let us begin with a topic we have previously covered, and let us  hearken back to the concept of double header parshas. Why do we have them, who decided which ones go together and when? Was the RBSO involved? Who laid this all out? Was it always this way?

What we know with certainty: Parshas that are sometimes doubled are: Vayakhel-Pekudei, Tazria-Metzoira, Acharei-Mois Kedoshim, Behar-Bechukosai, Chukas-Balak, Matos-Masai, Nitzovim-Vayelech. The heylige Gemora (Megillah 31b) says that a fellow by the name of Ezra established that the curses found in Chumish Vayikra should be read before Shavuos and the curses of Chumash Devorim should be read prior to Rosh Hashono. And that Raboyseyee is how it all began. To accommodate Ezra, parsha shuffling began and shoin, the rest is history. Says the Rambam (Tifilah 13:2) azoy: the minhag is to read Bamidbar before Shavuos, Veschannan after Tisha B’Av, Nitzavim before Rosh Hashono, and on a year with one Adar – Tzav before Pesach. Got all that? Veyter. Bottom line: Ezra introduced the concept of double header parshas. Baseball and of late, the TV networks, again copied a concept discussed long ago in the heylige Gemora.  Why those parshas? Many reasons are cited, ober it seems that the selected parshas are more connected in content than the others.

Ober why taka do we lain a parsha each week? Was it always that way? And the answer is azoy: The takono (enactment)  of laining every shabbis is found –where else- but in the heylige Gemora (Yerushalmi: Megilla and quoted by both the Rif and the Rosh in the 3rd Perek of Megilla) where we see this: the takono of laining from the Toirah on Shabbis morning was established by Moishe Rabbenu. By Moishe? OMG! And we find this where? In the heylige Toirah? Not! According to most Rishoinim (early rabbis), the enactment of weekly laining has the Din of a Takanas Chachamim (hence it is Mi’drabonon), but it dates back to the very beginning of Jewish History. In the early days, there were divergent customs as to what exactly to read on each shabbis. All customs were to go in order –beginning with Bereishis and moving forward each Shabbis.  Long ago, the minhag was to complete the Laining of the Toirah once every three years! This custom is also mentioned in the Gemora as a viable and acceptable custom. When that minhag was in practice, laining each Shabbis morning was quite short. Was it extended to give people more time to talk, gossip, tell jokes, and talk about their wives? Ver veyst?  What happened to that custom? Were men upset about coming home from shul too early? Was it too early to make kiddish? Were the wives upset that the men were coming home too early? Ver veyst? The bottom line: the Rambam, and virtually all other decisors to follow, suggest that the three year cycle died out, and that today, only the one-year cycle is acceptable. Shoin, at times old established minhogim and enactments are ripe for change and that’s good news.

Another bottom line: whether it was Moishe or another who decided that we must lain each parsha in every cycle, and now that cycles have gone from three years to one, the entire Toirah must be lained in one year.  What to do when 54 parsha need to fit into 52 shabbosim? What to do when the shabbis laining is usurped by Yom Tov  readings? We double up and shoin, the double header was created.  In a most interesting article the Oisvorfer came across written by Rabbi Asher Schechter,  he found this about the shabbis they didn’t lain the Toirah in Cologne. Sections are quoted verbatim below.

“The Ohr Zarua (Rav Yitzchok ben Moshe of Vienna lived in the 1200s – a Talmid of Rav Yehuda HaChasid, a Rebbe of the Maharam MiRottenberg) in a Teshuva (Hilchos Shabbos 45 – see attached) tells the story that happened in the city of Cologne as follows. In those days there was a Minhag that if someone had a problem with a fellow congregant, he was allowed to air his complaints and try to get them resolved before Kriyas HaTorah. (This practice was established by Rabbenu Gershom Meor Hagolah and it is mentioned in the Teshuvos of Maharam MiRottenberg # 153 & # 1,022). On Shabbos Parshas Emor, a congregant delayed the Kriyas HaTorah with his complaints against a fellow congregant for such a long time that the Tzibbur did not get to Lain Parshas Emor at all! The question was asked of Rav Eliezer ben Shimon (one the great Poskim of that generation) what to do in that Shul the next Shabbos. He Paskened that they should read both Parshas Emor and Parshas Behar (the regularly scheduled Parsha for that week). Quoting the Yerushalmi mentioned above, he says, Moshe Rabbenu established a practice of reading the entire Torah from the beginning till the end – “you cannot skip Parsha Achas – one Parsha”. He adds that really the exact breakdown of the Parshios and their allocation to the various Shabbosos is somewhat flexible. What is important is the fact that the entire Torah is Lained during each cycle. So if one Shabbos gets more and another gets less it is fine as long as the entire Torah is ultimately Lained……….. The Rama (Shulchan Oruch Orach Chaim 135,2) quotes this Ohr Zarua as the Practical Halacha. He says, “If the Torah was not read in public during one Shabbos, the next Shabbos, both the missed Parsha and the current Parsha should be read” (see source attached). To the best of my knowledge, there are no Poskim who disagree with the Ohr Zarua and Rama on this issue. So, the partial answer to our question is that for sure we can and should “make-up” the most recent Parsha that wasn’t Lained and Lain it along with the current Parsha on the first Shabbos that we return (unless an exception applies – see below). But what about all the other missed Parshios? Can we and should we Lain them too?”

He writes one more story on how history repeated itself in Worms. “A very similar story takes place about 200 years later. The Maharam Mintz (Rav Moshe ben Yizchok HaLevi of Mainz, Germany, lived in the 1400s. He was a Talmid of Mahari Weil and a colleague of the Terumas HaDeshen). In his Teshuvos (# 85), he tells over a similar story as follows. In Worms, Germany on Shabbos Vayakhel-Pikudei which also was Parshas HaChodesh that year, a fight broke out after Shishi was completed. The Gabbai called up one individual for Shvii (Chazak) and another individual became very upset because he thought that he deserved that special Aliyah. The fight ensued so fiercely that it lasted about 2 hours! Most of the Tzibbur was frustrated by the fighting, so they eventually (after the 2 hours of frustration) took another Sefer Torah and went to another room outside of the Sanctuary (called the Youth Shul) and Lained Shvii and Parshas HaChodesh and completed the Davening. Only 4 or 5 individuals remained in the Sanctuary after that (to continue the fight) and eventually they realized that without a Minyan no one could have the coveted Chazak Aliyah! So the small group disbanded. The Shayla asked of the Maharam Mintz was whether or not the Shul needs to read Vayakhel-Pikudei (along with Vayikra) again the next week. If there is a Hefsek between Shishi and Shvii of approximately 2 hours (for the majority of the Tzibbur who went to the Youth Shul) were they Yotze? If not, maybe they have to Lain it again the next week. The Maharam Mintz Paskened that there is no problem of Hefsek (B’Dieved – although it is not the preferred situation) and since the Tzibbur was Yotze the Kriyas HaTorah (albeit in another place) there is no need to Lain Vayakhle-Pikudei again the next Shabbos. Then the Maharam Mintz continues as follows. Even if the Tzibbur would not have finished the Laining in the Youth Shul and everyone in the Kehilla did not hear the complete Laining that Shabbos, still it would not be appropriate to Lain Vayakhel Pikudei-Vayikra the next Shabbos. His argument is that in the words of the Ohr Zarua (quoted above) he only mentions “one Shabbos”. Why not mention three or four Shabbosos or more? The Ohr Zarua only mentions the remedy of a make-up of one Parshah being added to the current week’s Parsha. Not two or more being added on. The Maharam Mintz says that if we would allow two or more to be added on then “Ain L’Davar Sof” – there would be no end to this… He emphatically states that we never Lain three or more Parshios on one Shabbos – hence only one Parsha can be added as a make-up – not more.” He goes on with a few more pages, ober for the sake of brevity and my chaver Shloime Liechtung who falls asleep on page 2, I say as follows: of course and as expected, many weigh in on the subject of make up laining. Some say we are obligated to read but two, some three, some none and some all that were missed. Yikes! Yet another reason to open the country asap!

And we close with Rabbi Herschel Schechter, considered by many to be a godol hador in our times who says azoy: “There is no requirement to make up the missed parshiyos under these circumstances, but if a shul decides that they would like to make up the missed Torah readings from the previous weeks, there is value in doing so. There are two possible approaches: If the congregation wishes, they may read all of the missed parshiyos on the Shabbos they return to shul. After finishing the seven aliyos of that week’s laining, a second Torah should be used to read all of the missed laining in one session. If this option is too burdensome for one Shabbos, the congregation can divide the missed parshiyos into multiple weeks. Each week after the return to shul, two Torahs can be taken out. The first Torah will be used for the seven aliyos of that week’s parshah and the second Torah will be used to read the entirety of a missed parshah in one single reading. When the “make up” parshah has been completed the Haftarah should be read from the “make up” parshah because the custom is to read the Haftarah based on the last Torah that was read from. In the above cases, after the reading from the first Torah is complete the second Torah should be placed on the Shulchan and the Kaddish should be recited. Then the maftir aliyah should then be called up to read the “make up” parshah from the second Torah. Additionally, if a bar mitzvah boy was unfortunately unable to read the parsha he prepared in advance, the situation can be rectified by allowing him to read the missed parshah and Haftarah on a later Shabbos. When the shul reopens, the congregation should take out two Sifrei Torah, and use the first Sefer Torah for the regular weekly parshah, and the second Sefer Torah for the missed parshah prepared by the bar mitzvah boy. Since the general practice is that the Haftarah follows that which was read in the last Sefer Torah, he will now be able to read the Haftarah that he prepared originally. This procedure is not obligatory and therefore may only be performed with the prior permission of the congregation.”

So happens that the Misheh B’rura (Siman kuf lamed hey) who seemingly knew about shutdowns, or other events that could lead to shuls being closed and laining not an option say azoy:  the first opinion is that we just make up the previous week. The second opinion is that we make up all the parshios that the tzibbur missed.

The final bottom lines: when this pandemic is over, or when we’re free to move about and out of the cabin, and unless the Moshiach arrives in the interim, we’re going to  have a very long parsha to lain. On the other hand,  Krias HaToirah is chiyuv (obligation) on the tzibbur (congregation). Individuals do not have an obligation to hear it. According to this view, when minyanim resume, will not have to make up missed parshios. On the other hand, Rabbi Heinemann in a recent webinar said that the congregation does have an obligation to make up the parshiyos that were missed. At times like this, it’s good to belong to several shuls and to find out what their make-up rules are going to be.

A gittin Shabbis-

The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv

Yitz Grossman




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