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

Bereishis 2020 – Man 1.0: Lemach & His Wives

Raboyseyee and Ladies,

It’s been a few weeks without a mazel-tov shout and happily, we begin with a big one. This coming Sunday, Jacob Tyler will be marrying Emily Nicole. Who are these people? Jacob, affectionally known as Jake by most, is the amazing son of our friends and neighbors Sandy and Ed Klar. We have known Jake since birth and he is quite the guy; a finer young man many would be hard pressed to find. He will be marrying Emily Blumenfeld, she the beautiful daughter of Renee and Howard Blumenfeld. Mazel tov to the extended Klar and Blumenfeld families, to both sets of Emily’s grandparents, and a very special mazel tov to Ed’s dad, Mr. David Klar who will certainly be beaming with nachas. May Emily and Jake merit to enjoy many years of blissful marriage. The Oisvorfer and eishes chayil look forward to dancing at this wedding.


Man 1.0: Lemach & His Wives

Welcome to Sefer and Parshas Bereishis. Grada, it’s not every year that we get around to posting on this parsha because in many, it is combined with, or too close to, Simchas Toirah and shoin, before we turn around, we’re into Noiach, his children, the great flood and the destruction of humanity. Ober this year, with Simchas Toirah on a Sunday, we mamish have a few days to learn and review Parshas Bereishis and so we will do. Avada you’re all familiar -and who isn’t- with the amazing history of how the RBSO created the word and all that’s in it in just six days and rested on the 7th. All was going well until He made man on day 6 and shoin, it was all downhill-almost immediately from there. By the end of the parsha, the RBSO was in pain -saddened mamish, if that’s a term we may attribute to Him- and had rethought His creation of man. He was getting ready to hit the “restore to factory settings” button and begin all over again.

We have previously discussed Odom, Chava and the snake. As well we have posted various medroshim which delve into the snake’s thinking, fast-talking, and the destruction left in his wake. Man was never the same again, neither were women. The snake didn’t fare very well either and had his legs permanently chopped off. Bottom line: when the RBSO who sits above all, gets angry enough, watch out below!

Ober this year, and though we have avada mentioned this gentleman (though not all agree that he was in fact a gentleman), we shall shine a shtikel brighter light on a fellow by the name of Lemach. Who was he? What made him famous? Was he married?  A good guy? How many wives did he have? Who were his kids? And why was he -among so many unnamed people- shouted out by the RBSO in the RBSO’s Toirah?  Was he a key player in some plan? As an aside, by the time Lemach is introduced, we are in generation eight and there are many people roaming the earth. How many? Ver veyst? The concept of a census had yet to be introduced. Moreover, the RBSO was mistama in the planning stages of a massive shutdown where everyone was getting laid off and to rest; a census count was not quite necessary. One more thought:  by the time you read this entire review and conflicting medroshim on Lemach, your head will be spinning in astonishment, and that raboyseyee, is why the heylige Ois tells you over and again that there’s nothing like medrish. Well, nothing but fantasyland. Shoin, let’s get back to Lemach and in order to begin the conversation, let us learn a few pisukim from the heylige Toirah (Bereishis 4:19-24) where we astonishingly read azoy:

19. And Lemech took himself two wives; one was named Adah, and the other was named Tzila. יטוַיִּקַּח־ל֥וֹ לֶ֖מֶךְ שְׁתֵּ֣י נָשִׁ֑ים שֵׁ֤ם הָֽאַחַת֙ עָדָ֔ה וְשֵׁ֥ם הַשֵּׁנִ֖ית צִלָּֽה:
20. Now Adah bore Yovol; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have cattle. כוַתֵּ֥לֶד עָדָ֖ה אֶת־יָבָ֑ל ה֣וּא הָיָ֔ה אֲבִ֕י ישֵׁ֥ב אֹ֖הֶל וּמִקְנֶֽה:
21. And his brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who grasp a lyre and a flute. כאוְשֵׁ֥ם אָחִ֖יו יוּבָ֑ל ה֣וּא הָיָ֔ה אֲבִ֕י כָּל־תֹּפֵ֥שׂ כִּנּ֖וֹר וְעוּגָֽב:
22. And Tzilla she too bore Tubal-cain, who sharpened all tools that cut copper and iron, and Tubal-cain’s sister was Na’amah. כבוְצִלָּ֣ה גַם־הִ֗וא יָֽלְדָה֙ אֶת־תּ֣וּבַל קַ֔יִן לֹטֵ֕שׁ כָּל־חֹרֵ֥שׁ נְח֖שֶׁת וּבַרְזֶ֑ל וַֽאֲח֥וֹת תּֽוּבַל־קַ֖יִן נַֽעֲמָֽה:
23. Now Lemech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, hearken to my voice; wives of Lemech, incline your ears to my words, for I have slain a man by wounding (him) and a child by bruising (him). כגוַיֹּ֨אמֶר לֶ֜מֶךְ לְנָשָׁ֗יו עָדָ֤ה וְצִלָּה֙ שְׁמַ֣עַן קוֹלִ֔י נְשֵׁ֣י לֶ֔מֶךְ הַֽאֲזֵ֖נָּה אִמְרָתִ֑י כִּ֣י אִ֤ישׁ הָרַ֨גְתִּי֙ לְפִצְעִ֔י וְיֶ֖לֶד לְחַבֻּֽרָתִֽי:
24. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, then for Lemech it shall be seventy-seven fold.” כדכִּ֥י שִׁבְעָתַ֖יִם יֻקַּם־קָ֑יִן וְלֶ֖מֶךְ שִׁבְעִ֥ים וְשִׁבְעָֽה:

And hello Lemach! Lemach had more than one wife? Kids from both? Lemach’s son Yovol was the father of all those who dwell in tents? Are we all -as a result of spending so much time in tents during corona, also related to Lemach’s son Yovol? Lemach admits to a double murder? Did he do it? Whom did he kill and why? What the hec is going on with this guy who appears in but a few pisukim, gets a few more shoutouts in the very next perek (chapter) before disappearing (until next year) from the text? As an aside, not all agree that the Lemach in chapter 4 is the same as the one in chapter 5, ober that for another day. Veyter.

Without a proper introduction, no mention at all, we meet Lemach when we read that he took for himself not one but two wives and had children from both. In fact, the heylige Toirah tells us who the siblings were. Odoh or Adah gave birth to two boys while his other wife, Tzila, delivered one boy and one girl. The bottom line: Lemach seemingly has two wives and four children. Three boys and one girl. So far so good, until…..until we read Rashi who tells something completely different and quite alarming.

Says Rashi commenting on the words “two wives” and while quoting a medrish, that Lemach taka had two wives. And? One wife was for sexual pleasure only, and the other, for childbearing. Say it’s not so! Moreover, says Rashi, this was indeed the minhag (custom) of that generation. Seemingly Lemach was but an ordinary guy with two wives much like many others. Or was he? Back in Perek 2:22, we learned that Odom (Adam) had but one wife. The heylige Toirah does tell us that man should therefore leave his parents and cleave onto his wife – meaning but one. And now mamish in Perek 5, a new normal has emerged? Man has two?

Ober the medrish had lots more color to add and let’s taka see what is said about Lemach and his bigamist ways. As an aside, es vyst zichois (seemingly) Lemach may taka have taka been a bigamist, ober the medrish also tells us that having more than one wife was the custom. Lemach was but keeping up with the Jones’s of his time?  And if he was but an ordinary guy with two wives, why does the RBSO give him a Toirah shout-out? Was he the forerunner for people like Avrohom Oveenu who married Soro and Hogor and then later in life, five more concubines? Or for Yaakov efsher, who was married to four sisters? Efsher for Eisav who also married two? Ver veyst? There must be some reason that he, the wives and the kids are shouted out when thousands more bigamists were not.  And this week, it’s our mission to find out why Lemach made it into the narrative and what role he played in the history of early man, version 1.0.

Moreover, if taka, the medrish tells us in plain Hebrew that Lemach had one wife strictly for sexual pleasure, how does that conflate with the heylige Toirah which tells us that he had children from both? Given the choice, would you not take the Toirah’s words over the medrish? I would. What the hec is going on here?  How did the one for pleasure give birth to two children?

Shoin, let’s learn some medrish which says azoy in Bereishis Rabbah (23:2): “…Lemech – What do I need with Lemech and his descendants? “And Lemech took for himself two wives, one was named Odoh and the second was named Tzila”. Rabbi Azariah said in the name of Rabbi Yehudah bar Shimon: this is what the men of the generation of the Flood would do: each of them would take two wives, one for procreation and one for pleasure. The one who was for procreation would sit as if she was a widow in her own lifetime (in the lifetime of her husband), and the one that was for pleasure would drink a cup for sterility so that she did not bear [children], and would sit by him adorned like a prostitute. As it is written (Iyov 24:21): “He devours the barren that do not conceive, and does not do good to the widow”. Know that among them the best was Lemech, and he took two wives, as it says “And Lemech took for himself two wives, one was named Odoh” – because she became pregnant [Odoh] “and the second was named Tzila” – because she sat in his shade [tzel].

The bottom line: according to this medrish, Lemach was a shtikel chazir (pig) who took an extra wife stam azoy for sexual favors. He did not want to have kids with her as he wanted her to remain slim and beautiful. Shoin, which husband doesn’t want a skinny beautiful wife? Ober, shteltzich di shaylo (the question arises), azoy: does not the heylige Toirah tell us befeirush (in plain Hebrew) that his second wife too gave birth to two of his four children? It does. And if that’s the case, why would Rashi referencing the medrish then imply that Lemach was a shtikel outcast -a bum mamish- because he married two women with one designated for sexual pleasure only?

One more thing: as stated above, the medrish -one of them- claims that each of Lemach’s wives served a different purpose. He married Odoh (also referred to as Aydo) exclusively for the sake of procreation, mistama he thought she had motherly instincts. In other words: when the mood arose, as did he, if you chap, he did not engage with her but went instead to spend some time -and chap, if you chap- with wife #2, Tzila. Says the medrish that Odoh lived like a scorned widow. Her name connotes pregnancy (so says Unkelis Bereishis 4:1). Tragically, that was the entirety of her existence. Lemach married Tzila to satisfy his sexual urges. She drank a contraceptive elixir so that unwanted pregnancy did not ruin her appeal. She adorned herself like a harlot; she dressed up (or down) to excite her man.  Tzila’s name connotes that she was constantly in her husband’s company and sat in his shadow.

So far so good, until we get to the heylige Gemora [Yirushalmi Yivomis 7c) where we learn punkt farkert (exactly the opposite)! Yikes. Says the heylige Gemora that Odoh was the trophy wife and Tzila was the wife designated for childbearing. The name Odoh homiletically is connected to the Hebrew מתעדן, meaning to overindulge in pleasure. The name Tzila is favorably expounded upon to mean that intercourse with her husband was always effectuated modestly, in shaded or private areas. Which medrish is correct? Was wife #1 the child bearer, or was it #2? Ver veyst?! In any event, whether it was #1 or #2, we still don’t chap how the medrish squares up with the heylige Toirah which tells us that both had children. The Toirah names names! We will address that question soon.

As an aside, in a few weeks from now, we’ll meet Eisav once again for the new season -he and others come alive yearly- and learn that he too married two women and sometime later, a few more. Why? Same reason: one for gratification -sexual pleasure, b’loshoin not so noki -efsher nuki, and the other, to mother his kids. So what? Nu, as it turns out, one of Eisav’s wives shared a name with one of Lemach’s wives and she was the one for procreation. Avada when our sages came across this tidbit of information, they came to conclusion that just like Odoh, Eisav’s wife was for procreation, so too was Lemach’s wife by the same name. Go prove them wrong! Besides, why do we care which was which? The bottom line: he had two wives, no big deal. As an aside, now that we mentioned Eisav’s wife by the same name, we should also read what our sages had to say about her and it wasn’t very flattering.  Says the medrish (Bereishis RabbatiVayishlach, p. 160), his wives spent all their days in adultery and idolatry. Odoh adorned herself with jewelry for harlotry, from which her name Adah is derived, with the meaning of the wearing [adayat] of jewelry. Her other name was Bosmas, This name also attests to her deeds, for she would perfume herself (mevasemet) for harlotry. More on Eisav and his wives in a few weeks. Veyter.

Moreover, says the Kli Yakar azoy: Odoh, the scorned woman considered useless but for her fertile womb, gave birth to virtuous children who excelled as shepherds and musicians.  As you well know, several Toirah heroes to include Yaakov and Moishe took up shepherding, a profession that in several instances led to leadership positions. Tzila, the sexually objectified wife, gave birth to an ironsmith who fashioned weapons of war. Kli Yakar considered it fitting that someone who copulated too frequently – an activity regarded in antiquity as deleterious to one’s health and causing an earlier death – would bring into the world someone whose trade was to produce implements that shortened lives. Shoin: no wonder many women -ad hayoim hazeh (until today) withhold sexual favors from their husbands! In the end, they are mamish noshim tzidkoniyos (very righteous women) who want their husbands to live longer! Of course!

Shoin, we’re left with two questions. Ershtens, why would Rashi tell us that one was for sexual favors when both had kids? And what was Lemach’s tafkid (mission in life)? Why did he make it into the Toirah?  Nu, here we are on page five, let’s find out.

Shoin, while you’re thinking how nice it might be have an additional wife on the side -strictly for pleasure- let’s take a look into another Medrish (Lekach Toiv – Bereishis 4:22-1) who paints another picture of want went down besides Lemach on his efsher sterile wife? Was she taka sterile? We shall address that in a moment, ober halt kup (pay attention.)

Says the medrish, it appears the RBSO foiled Lemach’s plan to keep one designated wife for sexual favors. How so? Nu, above we read that Lemach gave his wife a cocktail (a drink you chazir) which was supposed to have prevented her from conceiving. Was his elixir but snake oil? Was Lemach experimenting with medications prior to FDA approval?  Was he relying on cheap imports from India or Canada? Ober the emes is efsher azoy, at least so the medrish imagines it to be. The RBSO davka wanted Lemach’s second wife –seemingly Tzila- to have children and shoin, she had two. How do we know that the RBSO intervened to allow Tzila to conceive despite protections? Look closely at the words of the heylige Toirah where the RBSO gave us a hint with these words: concerning Tzila’s giving birth, the heylige Toirah in (4:22) uses the term גםהיא (she also), implying that it was an afterthought or a secondary consideration for her.  His plan was to avoid pregnancy, ober the RBSO had her back; seemingly Lemach had her front. The bottom line: protection cannot stand up to the will of the RBSO. Seemingly it was also the RBSO’s plan for Lemach’s son, born to the second wife (the trophy wife) to be the father of all brass and weaponry. Who says all this? Not I! The heylige medrish, check it out.

And now raboyseyee, we come full circle and try to chap why the RBSO allowed the Lemach story into the heylige Toirah. As it turns out, Lemach’s son from wife #2 would grow up and become the RBSO’s agent to fulfill what the RBSO told Kayin would be his punishment for killing an innocent Hevel seven generation earlier. Avada you recall how Kayin, in a fit of jealousy, struck and killed his only brother Hevel. The RBSO gave Kayin a seven-generation hall pass. Ober Lemach was the 8th and somehow the RBSO arranged things so that Lemach -seemingly blind- and while out hunting with his son who was his guide (his son from wife #2),would mistakenly kill Kayin. Rashi quoting the medrish has the entire story, check it out.  Lemach’ son mission on this earth may have been to mistakenly identify Kayin as an animal (according to some, he taka was when he killed his brother), and positioning his blind father to accidentally and mistakenly kill Kayin. Says the medrish: Lemach’s son died that very day when Lemach accidentally killed him. Read more below on this double murder below.  Shoin on that day, both Kayin and Lemach’s son Tubal Kayin died. Wow!  Netflix Special worthy? Any more? Yes, and listen to this.

The midrash also relates (Tanchuma, Bereishis 11) that after Lemach unwittingly killed Kayin and Tubal-cain, Odoh and Tzila found him with his two victims. When they brought him home, he demanded to engage in relations with them. Why he wanted to engage with both, ver veyst? Odoh and Tzila refused their husband’s advances because of the deaths he caused, on the pretext that they did not desire to give birth to cursed offspring. The three agreed to go together to an early version of the Din-Toirah, the tribunal of Odom (still alive then). And? After hearing the women’s arguments, Odom ruled that they must obey their husband, since he killed ‘bishoigeg’ (unwittingly). Is that what really happened, ver veyst and certainly not according to another medrish  (Bereishis Rabbah, 23:2) where Odom tells them: “You do what is yours to do, and G-d will do what is for Him to do.” In other words: if your husband wants to be pleasured, make it happen. Shoin! Too bad this is but a medrish. The two wives answer Odom with the proverb, “Physician, heal thyself,” thus telling Odom that he himself must act as he has decreed for them. What? Was Odom also withholding sexual favors? Says the medrish: Odom withdrew from his wife for 130 years following the murder of Hevel (Abel). In the end, Odoh and Tzila heed Odom’s verdict and give themselves to Lemach; this results in the birth of Noiach who will find favor in the RBSO’s eyes. Odom also listens to the two women and returns to his wife, who gives birth to Shais (Seth), the progenitor of the line of Shem. The bottom line: the women were told not use the “I have a headache” excuse and service their shared husband. Odom was told to practice what he preaches, go home and service his wife. And…shoin, as a result Chava gave birth to Shais and Lemach’s wife (don’t know which one) – to Noiach. All was good until next week’s parsha, stay tuned.

And before you buy into that Rashi and medrish, avada you should know that another medrish (Medrish Rabba) clearly tells us that Lemach did not kill Kayin or anyone else; he was innocent. Oib azoy (if that’s so) why did his wives decline his sexual advances? Why did they say no when the husband to both said yes? Says the medrish azoy: they said no because they -these great women knew that Kayin’s seed was to be wiped out from this earth and they didn’t want to further engage and bring new Kayinites into the world. Is that what happened? Does not the heylige Toirah tell us in 19:24 that Lemach killed someone if not two people? Not necessarily! Why not? Because according to this medrish, Kayin was but asking the question, did I kill? He didn’t admit to killing anyone.

Shoin, if your head is spinning, you are not alone. On the other hand, you are not Lemach and are not challenged as was he deciding which bedroom to visit. The bottom line: Lemach, his wives and kids made it in to the Toirah because they were part of the master plan, the RBSO’s master plan. The final bottom line: when you find yourself in unexpected situations or places, roll with the punches; it’s all part of the master plan.

A gittin Shabbis-

The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv

Yitz Grossman


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