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

Bichukoisai 2024: Very Tall Jewish People

Raboyseyee and Ladies,

Givaldige news: Shoutouts are back and the Ois is thrilled to announce that he and the eishes chayil will be joining with Garyn and Shaya Lieber to help them celebrate the bat mitzvah -mamish in a few hours- of their beautiful daughter Ayala. It’s been a minute since we attended a bat mitzvah and look forward to participating in this great simcha. Mazel tov to Garyn and (a very slim) Shaya, to their son Benjy, and to both very extended families. Much nachas.


Very Tall Jewish People


According to the JewishEncyclopedia.com, a site the Ois never heard of until 5:50 AM this morning, Jews are everywhere from 1 to 3 cm. shorter than goyim (Gentiles). Why? Ver veyst? Aside from Big Gidalya Goomber, who according to the lyrics of the song, was 17 ft tall, Yiddin are not very tall people. You never heard the song? Check it out here: (https://www.mywesternwall.net/2012/11/04/aint-gonna-work-on-saturday-lyrics.htm), but here are some of the lyrics:

I’m big Gedalia Goomber
I’m not exactly small
But really not so very big
Just seventeen feet tall
I’m really rigged for working
For that I’m very fit
Six days a week I’m at it
And on the seventh day I quit

I once helped raise a building
And on the hundredth floor
I was carrying a load of bricks
An easy ton or more
And her, it’s late on Friday
I knew I’d have to stop
So I yelled, “Watch out below!”
And let the whole thing drop

And taka, how many Yiddin are being drafted into the NBA for their height? None! Find the full report at https://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13993-stature. As well, there are – to my great surprise, several other studies to be found on-line regarding the height of the Jewish people. Find others here. https://www.google.com/search?q=are+jewish+people+shorter+than+others&oq=are+jewish+people+shorter+than+others&gs_lcrp=EgZjaHJvbWUyBggAEEUYOdIBCTgwMTZqMGoxNagCCLACAQ&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

That being stated, efsher you’re wondering azoy: what has this seemingly irrelevant information got to do with this week’s parsha of Bichukoisai? Let’s find out.

So happens that the heylige Ois does not look forward to reviewing this parsha and is avada much happier when it’s read along with its -at times- sister parsha of Behar which we discussed just last week. So that you have something intelligent to say at the shabbis tish, you should know that Bichukoisai is separated from Behar only during what we call an ‘iber yur’ (leap year) and this year is taka such a year. Ober is that always emes? Not! Seemingly nothing is always emes in our beautiful religion. It so happens that Behar and Bichukoisai are separated even in non-leap years over in the holy land in years when the first day of Pesach falls on the heylige Shabbis. Got that? It’s a shtikel complicated ober if you happen to be planning a bar mitzvah over in Israeli during these weeks, you need to pay attention to the calendar lest your son ends up needlessly preparing both parshas and hating you for the rest of his life.

Parsha Bichukoisai is a short parsha (8th shortest), ober it packs one heck of punch. While on the mundane…the shlishi aliya (3rd portion) happens to be the longest in the gantze heylige Toirah, and consists of a whopping 37 pisukim. Why one needs to know this, I’m not quite sure but it’s certainly more pleasant information than what awaits us as we read the RBSO’s warning to the Yiddin. It’s there that we find one of the most dramatic and harshest sections of the entire Toirah, a section with multiple pisukim known as the “toichocho.” What is it and why is it so frightening? Simply stated, it describes -in detail- a series of increasingly horrible events that will take place if (and when) the Yiddin abandon the RBSO and His heylige Toirah.  Disease, famine, war and exiles are enumerated. If your blood pressure hasn’t spiked yet, the rest of what the RBSO has in store for His Chosen People is much worse. Yikes! The bottom line: the Yiddin have already endured all that the RBSO promised. Another bottom line: they did in fact stray from the relationship and He made good on His threats. Veyter.

And the good news? The toichocho found in this parsha is considered the “smaller” of the two found in the Toirah (the other, in Parshas Ki Sovoi). That being stated, it’s not very pleasant to read what the RBSO had in mind to punish sinners.  This parsha could have easily been named ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ and taka that is what the Yiddin were confronted with; an ultimatum.  Behave, follow orders and the RBSO will bless you. Misbehave, and He will smite you, period end discussion. The RBSO begins with these words: “If you follow my decrees and if you are careful to keep my commandments” (26:3), then good things will come your way.  Note the double language of ‘if’ and ‘if.’ Nu, it’s like this: if you follow the RBSO’s chukim (decrees), all will be good: ober, oib-nisht (if not), all hell will break loose and you’re in big, very big dodo.


To lure the Yiddin in, the parsha begins with a series of blessings that the Yiddin will merit if they observe the heylige Toirah.  The list isn’t very long -especially so- when compared to the list of the severe punishments He specifically delineates, ober this year and new for 2024, the Ois doesn’t want to focus on the threat of punishment. With Israel daily on our minds and with other local challenges facing the Yiddin, this week, we will begin and end with the very last posik of the blessings. Let us try chapping what’s going on.

Says the heylige Toirah (Vayikro 26:13), azoy:

אֲנִ֞י יְהֹוָ֣ אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֗ם אֲשֶׁ֨ר הוֹצֵ֤אתִי אֶתְכֶם֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם מִֽהְיֹ֥ת לָהֶ֖ם עֲבָדִ֑ים וָאֶשְׁבֹּר֙ מֹטֹ֣ת עֻלְּכֶ֔ם וָאוֹלֵ֥ךְ אֶתְכֶ֖ם קֽוֹמְמִיּֽוּת׃ 


“I, יהו am your G-d who brought you out from the land of the Egyptians to be their slaves no more, who broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.”


Walking erect? Is that a good thing? Doesn’t that get people into trouble, if you chap? What’s pshat here? The RBSO took the Yiddin out of Mitzrayim in order for them to walk around erect? Can that be good? As it turns out, your minds were in the gutter for a moment; what the RBSO had in mind, so says the heylige Gemora in two different tractates- is a whole new concept of erectness, one designed to rectify the problem of the shorter Yiddin. Lommer lernin (let us learn) what the heylige Gemora had to say about this phenomenon.

We begin with the heylige Gemora (Buba Basra 75a:12) where we find this: The Gemora -based on a biraysa raises an objection against Rabbi Yochanon’s statement. What is a biraysa you ask? It’s a legal or historical document that was not integrated into the Mishneh of Rebbe Yehuda Hanosi; it’s a birayso or outside the mishneh. These pieces were written by rabbinic scholars who lived during the time of the Mishneh and scholars, known as amoraim, utilized the knowledge of biraysas for the sake of attaining additional information. The beiayso would elucidate an issue or question regarding Biblical texts. Got that? Veyter.


The posik in our parsha states: “And I will make you go erect or upright [komemiyyus]” Rabbi Meir says: In the future, the Jewish people will have the stature of two hundred cubits, equivalent to two times the height [komos] of Odom (Adam), the first man, whose height was one hundred cubits. Rabbi Meir interprets the word komemiyyus as two komos.


Ober, what is a cubit? Says the very reliable heylige Internet (Wikipedia), azoy: The cubit is an ancient unit of length based on the distance from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. It was primarily associated with the Sumerians, Egyptians, and Israelites. We find the term cubit -as a measurement of size in the heylige Toirah regarding Noiach’s Teyva (Ark), the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle, and Shlomo Hamelech’s Temple. The common cubit was divided into 6 palms × 4 fingers = 24 digitsRoyal cubits added a palm for 7 palms × 4 fingers = 28 digits. These lengths typically ranged from 44.4 to 52.92 cm (1 ft 5+12 in to 1 ft 8+1316 in), with an ancient Roman cubit being as long as 120 cm (3 ft 11 in). Got all that? Not the Ois who was terrible at math and if there was no dollars sign in front of the equation for guidance, he just gave up.

The bottom line: the cubit may have originated in Egypt thousands of years ago; it thereafter became ubiquitous in the ancient world. The cubit, generally taken as equal to 18 inches (457 mm), was based on the length of the arm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger and was considered the equivalent of 6 palms or 2 spans. And now you know, veyter.


Ober, are Jewish men destined -in the times of Moshiach- to suddenly grow above average and find themselves two hundred cubits? Women too? That’s 200×18” divided by 12. Is that possible? Well, blow me down! Back to that shtikel Gemora soon, ober let us also check out one other shtikel Gemora (Sanhedrin 100a:9) where we read this: The Gemora raises an objection from a biraysa to the statement of Rabbi Yoichnon where he states that the gates will be twenty cubits high. The Sages engaged in a dispute concerning the interpretation of the verse: “And I made you go upright [komemiyyus]” (Vayikro 26:13). Rabbi Meir says that in the end of days (Moshiach times) people will be two hundred cubits tall, the equivalent of twice the height of Odom the first man, who was one hundred cubits tall. Rabbi Yehuda says: People will be one hundred cubits tall, corresponding to the height of the Sanctuary and its walls, as it is stated: “For our sons are as plants grown up in their youth; our daughters as cornerstones, carved in the fashion of a palace” (Psalms 144:12), indicating that the sons and daughters will be one hundred cubits tall, the height of the Sanctuary. If the people are that tall, how will they enter gates twenty cubits high? The bottom line: whether the Yiddin will be standing erect at 100 or 200 cubits, ver veyst, but according this shtikel Gemora, they will be taller than the average 5’8”.


When is the future? When will men walk around erect? How erect? How tall with they be? How tall was Odom in real life? Was his wife Chava as tall? As it turns out, the heylige Toirah is silent regarding the height of Odom Horishoin. Did that stop others from pontificating and also rationalizing his height? Not! Hence, with no proof otherwise, he became either 100 or 200 cubits tall. There are some who speculate that Adam and Eve were actually created much taller than the average human today. According to one theory, both were about 5 feet tall. Not quite Big Gidalya size, but certainly taller than the average Jew. Then again, neither Odom or Chava were Jewish.


Ober, says the heylige Gemora (Chagiga 12A) that Odom was created as tall as one end of the heavens to the other (also described as from earth to the heavens), but after he sinned (listening to his wife, oy vey) the RBSO made him smaller. How much smaller? Was Odom the first person to experience shrinkage? Says Rashi (Buba Basra 75A) that when the RBSO made Odom smaller, he shrunk him to 100 Cubits. And how tall was that? Approximately 150 ft. And now you know! When are we going to be as tall? Is that what the rebbe meant all those years when he urged us to grow in Toirah?


As an aside, how tall was Moishe? The heylige Gemora (last Perek of Berochis referenced by the last Rashi of Parshas Chukas) tells about the encounter of Moishe with the giant Oig:  Moishe was ten Amos (cubits) tall -between 15-20 feet, based on the question of the size of an Amah and he jumped ten Amos and hit Oig’s knee. Does anyone take this literally? Ver veyst?


Let’s close with Rabaynu Bechaya who -on the words of this posik in our parsha- understands this -about standing erect- as promises for the future rather than as a record of the past. He says “I have already mentioned previously that the promises made in this paragraph have never been fulfilled during the period when the two Temples were standing. They will, however, be fulfilled in the future.”  Our sages have used this verse to prove the height of average man will be 200 cubits, twice the height of Odom prior to his sin (Sanhedrin 100).


And even more good news: The heylige Gemora (Sanhedrin 100) elaborates on the subject of phenomenal developments in the future by stating that the RBSO will bring gemstones of gigantic proportions to Yirusholayim embedding them in the gates of Jerusalem, etc. Our sages of the heylige Gemora quote from Isaiah 54,12 that the gates of Jerusalem will be made of precious stones, etc. Were our sages but engaging in metaphors? Ver veyst?


אֲנִ֞י יְהֹוָ֣ אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֗ם אֲשֶׁ֨ר הוֹצֵ֤אתִי אֶתְכֶם֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם מִֽהְיֹ֥ת לָהֶ֖ם עֲבָדִ֑ים וָאֶשְׁבֹּר֙ מֹטֹ֣ת עֻלְּכֶ֔ם וָאוֹלֵ֥ךְ אֶתְכֶ֖ם קֽוֹמְמִיּֽוּת׃ 


“I, יהו am your G-d who brought you out from the land of the Egyptians to be their slaves no more, who broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.”


The bottom line: The above quoted posik -repeated here-

regarding erectness is the bridge between the blessing and the curses. Let us not depress ourselves by reviewing the potential curses the RBSO has meted out to His people over the generations. We have enough on our plates this year. Let us instead focus on that same posik which reminds us again – maybe 50 such reminders- that the RBSO took us out of Egypt and freed us from slavery. Why taka does the heylige Toirah repeatedly (50 times!) remind us about the Exodus? Efsher we can kler azoy: The heylige Toirah is everlasting and speaks to every generation. Knowing that the Jewish people have already experienced so many trials and tribulations and suffered, could cause them to lose faith and forget their Exodus. The RBSO did not want the Yiddin of any generation to lose hope and faith.  Thus, he commands us, again and again, to remember the Exodus. Just as He freed the Yiddin from slavery and oppression over 3300 years back, the Yiddin of today we will again be freed at the time of the ultimate redemption with the coming of Moshiach. They will be taller as well. We want Moshiach now.

Chaazak, Chaazak, Vinischazek: Ah Gittin Shabbis!

The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv

Yitz Grossman

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