Let’s begin on the mazel tov front. Ershtens a hearty mazel tov to our friend of many decades and fellow Oisvorfer reader and follower Lazer Blisko and his family who will be walking his givaldige and accomplished daughter, Daniella, down the aisle this coming Sunday. Daniella will be marrying Gil Maman of Riverdale New York. May Daniella and her chosson Gil enjoy many years of blissful marriage. Mazel tov to both extended families. The Oisvorfer will, of course, be in attendance.
And in no particular order, we also wish very hearty mazel tovs to; Dovi Weinberg – aka Lip, son of Rabbi Noam and Nechama, to neighbors and friends Alan Peyser and Shlomo Gottesman and to a friend for kimat 40 years, Boruch Singer, all of whom celebrated their bar mitzvahs -some many decades ago- on this very parsha.
The great Yom Tov of Shovuois is finally over and for the severely lactose intolerant, not a moment too soon. Though the Oisvorfer’s research turned up 19 different reasons why many have the minhag (custom) to eat milichigs (dairy) on Shovuois, the emes is that none were overly impressive. Most were underwhelming. Next year we will dig tiffer (delve) into this minhag which seems more logically to have been started by the dairy farmer’s association than anything else. Nu, they’re also entitled to make a living, why not? Shoin, it’s already Friday with only hours to go before the heylige shabbis is upon us and taka lommer unfangin with the parsha. Settle in Raboyseyee; the adventures or efsher more accurately stated, the misadventures of the Yiddin begins in earnest this coming shabbis when we will be reading parshas Bihaloischo.
Let’s roll back the Toirah clock to one year earlier. The Yiddin, as we did these last two days, were happily celebrating the receipt of the newly minted heylige Toirah. Back then, in unison, they were spontaneously chanting ‘Na’aseh Vi’nishma’ (we will do all that RBSO commands of us and then listen to why). The euphoria did not last very long and as Bihaloischo opens, it’s mamish taka one year later. All hell is about to break loose. In fact, over the coming few shabbosim, the Yiddin will be spiraling out of control mamish, as they continually anger and test the RBSO. One can never do well on this test. The RBSO will respond by eliminating tens of thousands of bad apples and thinning out the population of men. Coming attractions include the meraglim (spies) and the mikoishesh eytzim (shabbis wood chopper) both of whom we will meet next week. They will be followed in two weeks by Koirach’s rebellion, Moishe abusing his shteken in the famous ‘hitting of the rock’ incident which resulted in the cancelation of his visa into the promised land. And of course you won’t want to miss later events which include some ugly myseh (incident) where the Yiddin, some of them anyway, got involved with and were chapping the hot shiksa Midianite and other meydlich while also succumbing to some avoido zoro (idol worship) nuch-der-tzi (to boot). The RBSO abhors mamish this combination. Nu, is it a wonder the RBSO picked us from all other umois-ho’oilom (nations of the world)? Can you even imagine what they were up to?
Ober what about this week? Besides the two famous upside down nunns -each worth 500-1000 points in the game of chumish we played alts kinder (back in our youth) instead of davening, and after a slow start which includes instructions on the lighting of the menoira, putting the liviyim to work for all of 20 years before mandatory retirement, the introduction of Pesach Sheni for those that were for reasons we previously discussed, impure during the real Pesach, Moishe asking his shver (father-in-law) Yisroi to accompany the Yiddin as they sojourn towards the Promised Land and, Yisroi’s refusal, the action picks up in earnest when a group of Yiddin begin to complain about their steady diet of Mun.
Ober this year, due to the lateness of the hour and because the heylige Oisvorfer must make hachonois (preparations), there is only time to review but one topic and it’s found at the very end of the parsha. And this year, is an abbreviated version of the weekly parsha review, we will skip ahead to the end mamish where we’ll find one of the most enigmatic narratives. The heylige Toirah will tell us that Miriam and Aharoin were involved in a loshoin horo incident that resulted in Miriam being kicked out of the camp and also coming down with a case of leprosy. Is that true? Is that what the Toirah tells us? Were Miriam and Aharoin taka bad mouthing Moishe? Well, not exactly and certainly it doesn’t tell us what was said ober leave it up to Rashi and myriad others to tell us what went down or in this case, what didn’t, if you chap. Ober what did happen? Nu, lommer lernin.
And taka every year this time, a few rabbis will remind us about the perils of loshoin horo and how Miriam was stricken with leprosy for her participation in the loshoin horo caper. Ober what about Aharoin? Does the heylige Toirah not tell us that Miriam and Aharoin were talking? It sure does. Did Aharoin get a free pass? Maybe so; soon we’ll address that possibility.
Let’s revisit with Rashi who had this to tell us: Tzipoirah, Moishe’s wife, upon hearing of the introduction of two new prophets into the Jewish community, exclaimed: “Woe is to their wives, who will have to be separated from their husbands, now that they are prophets, in the same
manner that Moishe separated from me.” Was Moishe separated from Tzipoirah? Ok- detail needed here. This is what we know: Miriam overheard her sister-in-law Tzipoirah bemoaning the fate of women who are married to prophets. Miriam took Moishe to task reminding him that
aside from the mitzvah of peru urvu (being fruitful and multiplying) the Toirah is adamant about a man’s obligation to a woman’s conjugal needs for intimacy. Seemingly, back then Jewish women may taka have had such needs, Today, fugetaboutit! Miriam and Aharoin told Moishe
that he cannot divorce himself from his wife forever, rather only when he was speaking with the RBSO. And they said, has the RBSO indeed spoken only with Moishe? Hasn’t he spoken also with us?” Meaning, both of us also receive prophecy and yet we do not leave our spouses celibate.
Says the heylige Toirah (Bamidbar 12:1) azoy: “…because of the Kushite woman, whom he had married, for he had married a Kushite woman.” Bikitzur (in short), Miriam and Aharoin said something disparaging about their brother Moishe that concerned his Kushite wife. Ok- what’s
going on here? Were they referring to Tzipoirah as we read above or to Moishe’s Kushite wife? Was Moishe leaving them both wanting? What is a Kushite woman, why is Moishe’s wife being called the Kushite woman? Wasn’t she, his wife, a Midianite? Seemingly she is called a Kushite because she was black! Is that clear enough? Moishe was married to a tinkele wife? Not that there is anything wrong with that ober is that emes?
Says the Rashbam: the Kushite woman was a black woman descended from Cham, the minuvil son of Noiach who was epes involved in a rape, castration or both, ver veyst. Remember him? Such nacahs! And how was it that Moishe, leader of the Yiddin, handpicked by the RBSO,
ended up with a Kushite wife? The medrish will fill in the blanks or make up a story, or both and tell us azoy: When Moishe reigned over the land of Kush for forty years; he married the queen of Kush but never consummated the marriage. He was the king of Kush? He went 40 years without chapping? Was this the forerunner of the typical orthodox husband/wife relationship? Vey-iz-mir! Is any of this found in the heylige Toirah? It’s not! Says the medrish (Chronicles) azoy: Moishe pushed her away “and wedged a sword between her and himself”. This expression implies that although Moishe entered into a sacred matrimonial union with the Kushite woman he did not engage in a physical relationship with her. One medrish tells us that Moishe didn’t consummate because she refused to convert. Nu, if this medrish is to be taken literally and of course aren’t they all, es-farshteytzich (clearly understood) that Moishe wasn’t going to take chances of being Bobittized if you chap. Ober taka how can it be that Moishe, then the king of a land called Kush, would be married for 40 years without consummating the marriage? Did she efsher have the longest headache in recorded history? Moreover, we know that Moishe was previously married to Tzipoirah, daughter of Yisroi whom he met when he arrived in Midian? Who takes a second wife or replaces the first for less chapping than he had in the first marriage? Doesn’t one typically choose a second wife because the first wife withheld her favors for extended period of times? And what is the significance of her being black? What do Miriam and Aharoin have to do with Moishe and his wives? Nu, so many questions; let’s see if we can make some sense of the gantze myseh.
Seemingly, Miriam and Aharoin criticized Moishe for marrying this Canaanite woman. In reality, many will suggest that what they were gossiping about was the fact that Moishe was withholding the goodies from his wife, the Kushite. Seemingly, the Kushite wife who was apparently black, complained to Miriam that Moishe was an absentee husband, if you chap. Miriam then repeated this loshoin horo to Aharoin and shoin, soon enough, the RBSO heard the rumor as well. As an aside, the Eben Ezra agrees that the Kushite woman is black. He doesn’t, however, buy into the entire queen story and the 40 year unconsummated marriage p’shat. Which second wife and which black woman would put up with 40 years of celibacy? How about 40 minutes? Instead he suggests that Moishe married Tzipoirah as we learned way back in Parshas Shemois and that she- Tzipoirah was also black. Says the Eben Ezra: though Tzipoirah was from Midian rather than Kush, her skin was black from the abundant sunlight there. Shoin! So Moishe liked and married a black woman, is that so giferlich? Was this the first time that Miriam and Aharoin laid eyes on her? Why was this considered loshoin horo and what happened next?
Seemingly not but what was bothering his siblings was not that she was black but that they had suspected him (Moishe) of not servicing her properly because she was homely. Taka a person should know that if you’re going to marry black, she should taka be a beauty; how else will you be able to explain yourself?
Ober (but) Rashi says farkert (the opposite) and associates the Kushite woman with Tzipoirah on opposite grounds. Scripture calls her black to imply that all agreed as to her beauty, that she was taka a black beauty. Rashi says it’s but a metaphor and just as all agree as to the blackness of an Ethiopian, all agree that Tzipoirah was a beauty. In other words, though she was, according to Rashi, black like the night, she was mamish a beauty. Ok- veyter (let’s move on).
A medrish in fact suggests that the gematria (numerical value) of ‘kushite’ is the same as that of ‘yifas mareh’ (beautiful of appearance). Another reason Rashi gives is that on account of her beauty, she was called “The Ethiopian,” meaning that just as a man calls his handsome son ‘black’ in order to thwart any potential harmful effect through an ayin horo (evil eye), so too, Tzipoirah is referred to as a Kushi. In any event, regardless of whether the Kushite was a second wife or a girlfriend or if Tzipoira was referred to as ‘The Kushite Woman’, the question still remains as to what fault Miriam and Aharoin found in the relationship between Moishe and his wife and why the RBSO got so angry at their idle gossip.
Anyway, the gantze mayseh (story) seems somewhat confusing and therefore we need to learn the text word by word to try to chap what went down here. And taka since shabbis isn’t over until after 9:00PM, it wouldn’t be so giferlich were you to pick up the Chumish and learn this amazing myseh. In fact so confusing is this story that it’s one of the instances where the heylige Toirah sort of left a few blanks for us to fill in. But taka why does the Toirah discuss this issue so cryptically? Without Toirah she-ba’al peh (Oral tradition) and trying to chap what went down or didn’t, if you chap, between the lines, there is absolutely no way we can make heads or tails of this story from a simple reading of the text. Why couldn’t the Toirah explicitly say what their complaint about Moishe was and how the RBSO defended him? Nowhere in the text does it mention anything about Moishe’s’ wife being separated from him. And if that is their beef, why does the Toirah leave out the main point of the story?
Ober Raboyseyee, efsher we can kler (posit) that stories like this one concerning Miriam, Aharoin, loshoin horo and a black or beautiful girl, are told to convince non-believers to recognize that the written Toirah, receipt of which we celebrated just these last two days by sleeping like babies during the overnight lectures and stuffing our faces with cheesecake and other macholim after grabbing a few hundred calories a the shul Kiddush, was given together with Toirah she-ba’al peh (the Oral tradition). And taka in many places, the written text makes absolutely no sense without the commentary of the Oral Tradition. And taka just yesterday while the Oisvorfer was out for an 8-10 mile walk, his chavrusa (and walking partner) suggested that Moishe, if he didn’t come down with the entire Toirah she-baal peh, did come down with the tools necessary to figure out the missing narrative. And given the gaping hole in the narrative, the Medrish, Rashi and myriad others, had license to go to town and give us a few interesting ideas to ponder about our man Moishe. Did he have one wife or two, ver veyst? Was he on the run from Paroy and also the king of Kush where he married a black beauty, ver veyst? One thing is zicher: the RBSO loved him dearly and spoke to him peh-el-peh (mouth to mouth). All others who received prophesy, got so in a dream. Those koihanim who duchin for us today, they get 1/60th of prophesy. And speaking of koihanim, a topic we covered biarichus (at length just last week) is seems that nowadays, there is no longer an issue of looking at them while duchening. Nowadays, with the advent of colorful socks, it seems that everyone is busy looking down to see which koihen has the nicest socks. Nice!
What we do know for sure: Miriam and Aharoin were gossiping which seemingly led to loshoin horo and doesn’t it always? The RBSO made an appearance and personally admonished them. Miriam was punished, so says the heylige Toirah. She was taka stricken with Tzora’as (leprosy,) sent out of the camp and the Yiddin waited for her to heal before they moved to the next encampment. As to Aharoin- well, there is no mention of him being punished at all. Though he was involved in the Eygel myseh (caper) and though the heylige Toirah tells us Miriam and he were in discussions together about Moishe’s wife, be she black or white, be she Tzipoirah or the Queen of Kush, seemingly Aharoin was made of Teflon. The charges didn’t stick and he was exonerated. Efsher we can kler that his reputation and role as peace maker, as an oihave sholom v’roideph sholom, was so critical during his days, that the zichusim (merits) he earned, overshadowed his involvement in other misdemeanors. Ver veyst.
A gittin Shabbis
The Oisvorfer Ruv