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

Bihaloischo 2015 – Celibacy and Jealousy

Miriam-PunishedIn late breaking mazel tovs…….in a few minutes, the Oisvorfer will get dressed again and will be joining his friends Rachel and Ariel Rosenberg as they celebrate the engagement of their son Gilad to Gila Joseph, daughter of our friends  Faiga and Michael Joseph. A very hearty mazel tov to both extended families. We are fans!

This coming Sunday our very dear friends Aliza and Shloime Liecthung will be walking their most beautiful daughter Yonina to the chuppah where she will be marrying Max (aka: the situation) Stern, he the son of Beth and Ronnie Jacobs. The Oisvorfer will be speaking at sheva brochos next shabbis; all are of course invited to come hear and be entertained. We have known Yonina since birth and have enjoyed watching her blossom. May she and Max enjoy many happy years of blissful marriage. Mazel tov to both extended families.

And this coming Monday evening, over in Yirusholayim iyr hakoidesh (the holy city), another of  very dear friends, Mandy and Rubin Brecher will walking their amazing son Shmuli down to the chuppah where he will be marrying Bracha Bruce, she the daughter of Tanya and Raphael Bruce of Melbourne Australia. Unfortunately we will miss this weeding but our hearts are filled with joy for Mandy and Rubin and especially for Shmuli whom we have known since birth and watched grow up. He is truly inspiring. The Oisvorfer’s daughter Alex will be representing the mishpocho. Mazel tov to both extended families.

Raboyseyee and Ladies:

Celibacy and Jealousy

Welcome to parshas Bihaloischo; the wheels on the Yiddin’s bus into the Promised Land, metaphorically speaking avada, are about to become unglued. Just two weeks back, we began the book of numbers with a census. Rashi and others told us the RBSO counted the Yiddin often because he liked or maybe even loved them. That was then! This week, He’s not in a loving mood and by the time we get to the end of the parsha wherein we will, among other interesting topics, also be reading about the kvetching and complaining against the RBSO, against the Yiddin by Moishe and against Moishe by his own shvester and brider (sister and brother), the count, though previously certified and audited, will no longer be valid. The RBSO will show His wrath and many will die. Many thousands more meet a similar fate in the coming weeks, oy vey. This is not the first or last time the Yiddin will have upset the RBSO; previously they were in trouble with the eygel (golden calf). It’s in this week’s parsha and in the coming weeks, that the real mischief begins and we will find the Yiddin going from one calamitous situation to another, each nebech of their own making. Just one year back, the Yiddin witnessed  open miracles – many of them- some, still talked about in today’s times, ober as the good book of Bamidbar will recount, their behavior, efsher due to sheer boredom or maybe as a result  of too much sun to their exposed and yarmulke-less heads, spiraled out of control. And why did the RBSO select us to be His Chosen people? Ver veyst! Can you just imagine how poorly behaved the other umois ho’oilom (nations of the world) were?

Next week, we will read about the meraglim (spies) and the shabbis wood chopper. He will disappear from the script rather quickly. They will be followed in two weeks by Koirach’s rebellion. Thereafter, Moishe will abuse his shteken (stick) 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 as the Yiddin, some of them anyway, got involved with the hot shiksa Midianite, Moabite, and other meydlich while also succumbing to some avoido zoro (idol worship) nuch der tzi (to boot). I repeat: Is it not a wonder that the RBSO picked us from all other umois ho’oilom? Can you even imagine what they were up to?

Last year we started at the end of the parsha wherein the heylige Toirah told us the very fascinating story of Miriam being stricken with tzora’as (leprosy of some sort) over some gossip incident. The medrish and others will tell us that she turned snow white. We reviewed many midroshim which discussed whether or not Moishe’s wife was a Kushite (maybe black) and whether he had one or more of them. Were both black, or was one black and beautiful and the other, not so? Ver veyst? And taka, as we see below, the Ibn Ezra will tell us that he believes she was homely looking, ver veyst. Avada you should check out the archives here www.oisvorfer.com. Ober this year, we will focus a sharper lens on the story leading up to Miriam’s leprosy. What happened and what did she do wrong? Don’t millions of people all over the world gossip daily yet are not stricken with leprosy? Indeed they do! Lommer lernin inaveynig (let’s see the text) which tells us (Bamidbar 12:2) in the 56 words  below (fewer in Hebrew) about the exchange between Miriam and Aharoin that led to her instant punishment and temporary banishment: 1- Miriam and Aharoin spoke against Moishe regarding the Kushite woman he had married, for he had married a Kushite woman. 2. They said, “Has the Lord spoken only to Moishe? Hasn’t He spoken to us too?” And the Lord heard. 3. Now this man Moishe was exceedingly humble, more so than any person on the face of the earth.

Does what Miriam said about her brother Moishe sound so giferlich to you? Don’t most of you badmouth your siblings regularly if not daily? And don’t you include a few expletives while doing so? Is what Miriam said so offensive? Why was she punished so severely and so quickly?  Because the heylige Toirah does not tell us what went down behind the scenes, Rashi and so many others fill in the blanks as they imagined them to be. They will tell us that Moishe had a very unique and challenging family situation. Seemingly, because of his unique relationship with the RBSO, he decided to forgo any home-chapping; he was celibate. Shoin!  We will be taught that Moishe, because he was either in constant contact with, or on call to the RBSO, took it upon himself to remain spiritually pure at all times. In plain English: to maintain purity and be instantly on call, he was physically and sexually separated from his wife Tzippoirah. Nu, just about now, many of you are may be klering azoy: What’s the big deal? Though avada not for the same reasons, aren’t many of you leading his home life, if you chap? And don’t many of you have a least one chaver that’s living at home but is nonetheless separated from his own wife in that department? Why was this big news? Shoin, let’s go veyter.

somewhereThough this was avada a private matter between Moishe and his wife, is anything really private? Nu, it so happened, or could have, that Miriam came to know this information and what do most women do when they hear some juicy gossip? The same thing men do; they repeat it! They repeat it to at least one person, usually more. And she heard this from whom? Mistama from her own sister-in-law Tzippoirah when they went out for their daily early morning walk to collect the munn, or, efsher they went out for a stam a stroll in the midbar, ver veyst? Shoin, so far the story sounds quite ordinary. A married couple has no physical contact, if you chap, wife complains about her husband and shoin, the secret is out. On the other hand, it’s not quite so ordinary because more typically, it’s the men gossiping about the lack of home-chapping and each friend knows exactly how much or how little is going on at home. Shoin, let’s not judge the women of today: Maybe they taka believe that their husbands are on call to the RBSO, ver veyst? Some taka wouldn’t mind if the RBSO called for them, oy vey!

In any event, Miriam felt that her little brother’s behavior towards his eishes chayil was a shtikel inappropriate; Miriam repeated to her brother Aharoin the hot news that Moishe, despite bein married to a Kushite beautiful woman, was not fulfilling his martial obligations, if you chap. The matter was discussed and it appears from the text as interpreted by many, that they were a shtikel jealous of their brother Moishe. And we know this how? Because the heylige Toirah doesn’t tell us and when the Toirah doesn’t tell us, along comes Rashi, the heylige Gemora, the medrish and many others and each pontificate and give us a view on what might have been said, what they were thinking and why the RBSO reacted. Shoin and now you know why we need to learn not just the heylige Torah as given to us on Shovuis 3327 years ago but also the Toirah she-baal-peh, the oral tradition so that we can better chap all the possibilities. Oral always helps! What really happened, ver veyst? What was Miriam really thinking when she complained to Aharoin, ver veyst ober today we will take a look at what Rashi and the Ibn Ezra had to say. There are of course other views.

women gossipSays the Ibn Ezra azoy: Miriam was accusing Moishe of separating from Tzipoirah on account of her appearance. She was ugly! The repeated emphasis on “Moishe had taken” a Kushite woman (see the verses above), indicates that the marriage was in the past, and that something was now wrong. She sensed they were separated if not divorced. Miriam told Aharoin that Moishe was not with her. And, the identification of Tzipoirah as a “dark-skinned woman” instead of by her name, which is the way she appears in the rest of the Toirah, indicates that Tzipoirah’s looks, and specifically her color, was efsher the issue over why Moishe left. Was Miriam a racist? Did she make a racial slur and is that why the RBSO was so upset? Ver veyst? And Miriam’s own words wherein she discussed the fact that she and Aharoin experienced prophecy too,  was her way of saying that Moishe had not separated from Tzipoirah for the sake of receiving prophecy. Because she and Aharoin both received prophecy yet maintained normal family relations. Separation then was, in her opinion, obviously not a requirement for the prophetic experience. Hence, it must be that Moishe separated for another reason.

And the bottom line? It appears that calling someone’s wife less than attractive, especially Moishe’s, the RBSO’s favorite of all characters, the one person the RBSO selected for mouth to mouth conversations,  and telling this to one’s brother was considered loshoin horo and did not sit well with the RBSO. Shoin, she was stricken with leprosy and excommunicated for a total of seven days.
Ober what about  Aharoin? Wasn’t he part of the conversation? He was! On the other hand, there is zicher no indication in the text that Aharoin responded or agreed with Miriam; was he too held accountable for the loshoin horo caper? Says the Ibn Ezra azoy: Aharoin played a role, albeit a minor one, in the slander. Miriam was the central speaker and maybe Aharoin was just listening and it does appear that listening to the loshoin horo was also giferlich though not quite as giferlich as speaking it.  Miriam was the instigator. Aharoin was either silent, indicating agreement, or even openly agreed with Miriam. Was Aharoin punished? Ibn Ezra says he was but does not explain how. It seems clear that Aharoin did not receive leprosy. Ober if he wasn’t stricken with leprosy and wasn’t excommunicated, how and where was he punished? Seemingly, the Ibn Ezra believes that Aharoin’s punishment was more in the form of a tongue lashing directly from the RBSO who called a meeting and told both Miriam and Aharoin that bad mouthing Moishe was not a good idea.


And before we leave this topic, the Oisvorfer once heard a rabbi rationalize Miriam’s gossiping about Moishe separation azoy:  Moishe taka separated from his wife to be available to carry out the RBSO’s word. Ober Miriam was still traumatized from a previous separation in her own family. She didn’t know the reason for Moishe’s separating nor really care, she was just shocked. What taka happened? Nu, efsher you recall that way back in parshas Shemois, we read the story of how Moishe’s parents,  Amrom and Yoicheved, were also separated during the days of slavery in Mitzrayim and it was, according to the medrish brought by Rashi, Miraim who convinced them to reunite. Most kids dream about reuniting separated or divorced parents ober it’s not always a good thing. And avada you all recall, or should, that it was from this re-union- of Amrom and Yoicheved that Moishe was born. Another medrish will teach us that Yoicheved married someone else while either separated or divorced from Amrom and had two sons who incidentally will be making a Toirah appearance very shortly ober that for another day. And when Miriam heard that now her own brother was separated, she was nebech tzibrochen (very saddened).


Taka a nice thought and maybe she was taka well intentioned ober the RBSO wasn’t biting and as we said above, she was punished. Why? Said the RBSO azoy: “In My entire house he is the trusted one” and “mouth to mouth do I speak with him”. Asked the RBSO of Miram and Aharoin azoy: “why do you not fear to speak against My servant Moishe?” Then He  afflicted her with leprosy and she was quarantined outside the camp for seven days. The good news: The Yiddin, because they loved Miriam intensely, did not leave on their journey until she returned.


And listen to this mamish gishmake vort from no lesser a giant than the  Chofetz Chaim, who wrote volumes on loshon horo (bad mouthing/slander and more). Loshoin horo is quite giferlich and will always be punished no matter who the perpetrator is. Yikes!! Moreover, says the medrish azoy: This Miriam incident is one of the famous incidents of blatant loshoin horo in the gantze heylige Toirah.  And says the Chofetz Chaim, he the master preacher against loshoin horo, azoy: this teaches us that there is a Biblical command to study the laws of loshoin horo. There is a mitzvah to remember what the RBSO did to Miriam as punishment for this particular sin. We are commanded to constantly remember this incident so that we do not succumb to the same sin.

The Chofetz Chaim says that most occurrences of loshoin horo happen because the violator was not ‘dan likaf zichus’ (did not give the benefit of doubt) to the person about whom he/she spoke ill. Bad mouthing begins with a negative assessment. A person makes a judgment or assessment about someone and the problem is in the assessment. Verbalization to others follows suit. And were people to take the trouble of giving their fellow man or woman the benefit of the doubt, loshoin horo would not be spoken. The battle lies in training ourselves not to jump to negative conclusions. Loshoin horo,  is not merely a crime of speech, it is a crime of perception. The distance between character assessment and character assassination is very small.

And adds the Oisvorfer azoy: At the root of loshoin horo is a desire to destroy the respect one person holds for another. In many cases, loshoin horo is an attempt to devastate a relationship. Limoshol (by way of example) when a person tells someone else that his friend acted in a way that is detrimental to the other party’s interests. The intention – and effect – is to drive a wedge between two people. Efsher the takeaway from the Miriam /Aharoin bad mouthing incident is this: Before you complain about and or bad mouth others, ask yourself what you lack. Are you perfect? Very often we complain, kvetch and bad mouth others about the things we dislike in ourselves. Something to think about.


A gittin shabbis

The Oisvorfer Ruv

Yitz Grossman

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