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

Bishalach 2015 – The Sea Split How Many Times?

redseaWe typically begin, when we have information to share, with mazel tov shout-outs.  We have some. They will follow just below but this week we begin instead with a serious request. Last week, we asked that each reader and family member and friend of any reader please click the link below and sign the petition on behalf of a very close friend of the Oisvorfer who was stricken with ALS. The response was good, we need better. Every day is critical and we need your help in getting this petition signed and moved along. There is strength in numbers. Please.

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Toivim-hashnayim-min-hoeched (two are better than one) and this week we shout out a pair of Weinsteins. First, Esther and Baruch on the birth of a granddaughter, born to their children Tova and Mikey Kook. Welcome to the world Batya Avigayil (Abigail Rose) and may you always be as smiley as your mom. A special mazel tov to Esther and Mark Kook of New Jersey and to great grandmother Mrs. Bernice Weiss. And we also wish a speedy and full recovery to Bernice. 

And mamish now and though not invited, we also wish a hearty mazel tov to long time and devoted Oisvorfer readers and followers Gila and Dovid Weinstein, they of Teaneck,  New Jersey, on the wedding of their eldest, Shaya  to Ruth Brown, she from New Orleans. A special mazel tov to Rabbi Dovid  and Anita Fuld  and to Mr. Mordy Weinstein, very proud grandparents. Mazel tov to both extended families .

And in late breaking news, a very hearty mazel tov to our good friends  Helene and Dr. Larry Sher on the engagement of their amazing daughter Alex to Jonathan Feld, he of Miami Beach. A very hearty mazel tov to Julia and Dr. Seymor Feld, they too of Miami Beach. Details to follow.

Raboyseyee and Ladies:

The sea split how many times?

As we discussed just last week, following either 430, 400, 210, 86 years, or maybe some other number, ver veyst, and depending of course on which of the myriad medroshim makes the most logical sense to you, the Yiddin were finally freed from slavery and left Mitzrayim. Which number was it, ver veyst (who knows)? The various numbers proffered are not unlike the snow forecasts in NYC and surrounds for earlier this week. Projections ranged from 18-24-36 inches; they were talking feet mamish. In the end, fewer inches were delivered than promised. Zicher not the first time, if you chap. And while the lower amounts did not excite as would have the original predictions, they were enough to stimulate -the economy you chazir- as people ran out to stock up on food, salt, generators, flashlights and of course more food just in case the amounts they already purchased wouldn’t last a full day. As to the meteorologists, it appears that refresher courses might be in order.

Seminal events or moments, if you chap, do at times give birth to new ideas and concepts and this one, redemption from slavery, gave birth to the magical words of Zecher Liyitzyas Mitzrayim (a remembrance of our leaving Egypt) and the 100+million dollar industry it spawned. We of course mentioned these words last week. Keep them in mind; such reminders, as you will begin to notice, are everywhere! And this most dramatic  event, overshadowed only by the marriage of the Yiddin to the RBSO (next week) when we received the heylige Toirah -seemingly as a wedding present-  is covered in the heylige Toirah (last week) in how many chapters and verses? Exactly one posik (verse) and a total of 36 words. Says the Toirah (Shemois 12:41): “It came to pass at the end of four hundred and thirty years,  and it came to pass that in that very day, that all legions of the Lord went out of the land of Egypt.” That’s it? Yes!

Did the Yiddin stop to celebrate? Were they happy, excited and relieved? Mistama yes, but not for long because soon thereafter, as our parsha tells us, they found themselves between a body of water and an angry Egyptian army on the chase. Why did the Yiddin, not long after they were freed, need to endure additional anguish? Didn’t they suffer enough and don’t we recall their pain at the Seder yearly? Moreover, if the RBSO took them out, was He going to let them drown, get slaughtered or become enslaved once again? Did they leave prematurely? Were they perhaps not quite redemption-worthy? Were they efsher just a pack of sinners, as we discussed just last week, who had sunk down to the 49th level of impurity –whatever that means- during their years of slavery. Maybe, and taka so says the Zoihar as we will read shortly.

Ober not to worry: at the very last second, the RBSO delivered the big one, the big neys of kriyas yam suf (miracle of splitting of the sea), an event so magical, that movies, including one major flop just a few months back, are still being made more than 3500 years later as people remain fascinated by the event and His powers. Some say the sea split twice and space permitting, we’ll mention that medrish.

And following that miracle, were the Yiddin finally convinced, happy, thankful and ready to serve the RBSO? Were they ready to sing the RBSO’s praises and show their great appreciation? Yes! And it all takes place right here in our parsha, but again, not for long. What happened next? And before we answer that question, lommer lernin a bissel Zoihar, let’s get mystical. Says he that the splitting of the sea was not a slam dunk; the RBSO gave it serious thought and may have had serious reservations. He did? Why? Seemingly the malochim (prosecuting angels) thought that the Yiddin were not worthy, ver veyst. Were they upset because the Yiddin went into the water for a mixed general swim, oy vey? What could be worse than mixed swimming? Hundreds of thousands of men and women mamish together in the water at one time and they still merited the receipt of the heylige Toirah not long after they dried up? Say it’s not so please and zul der abishter uphittin (the RBSO should certainly save us from such dastardly acts).

Seemingly, there came a moment during which the Malach (Angel) who represented the Mitzrim up in the heavenly court – everyone deserves good representation-  stood before the RBSO and argued for his clients azoy:  “Master of the universe, why would You want to punish the Mitzrim and divide the Red Sea for the Yiddin? Have they not all sinned against You? Don’t You rule with justice and truth? Yes, the Egyptians are idolaters, but so are the Yiddin. Yes, the Mitzrim are murderers, but so are the Yiddin. How can You choose between them?” Oy vey! Was that taka emes? Were the Yiddin that bad? Is that what they did when they sunk down to that 49th level of tumah (impurity)? Is the Zoihar suggesting that the Yiddin were no better than their captors? Seemingly he is!

And the Zoihar knew this how?  Nu, let’s learn a serious shtikel pshat, it might even enhance your shabbis tish. At a minimum, it might even cut down on the standard loshoin horo (badmouthing) you typically do. So happens that loshoin horo or the lack of it, if you can believe that, may have also played a role in the great miracle at the Red Sea. And how does the Zoihar know that the RBSO was on the fence about saving the Yiddin? Seemingly from the text, or, maybe more accurately stated, from the missing text. Shoin, to chap this, let’s review some text. Moishe exhorts the Yiddin not to fear the advancing enemy. He says (Shemois 14:14) azoy: “The RBSO will battle for you. You will remain silent (hold your peace.)” And then, in the very next possik (verse), the RBSO says, “Why do you cry out to Me? Tell the Yiddin to go forward!” Ober did Moishe taka cry out to the RBSO for help? Not! Where in the text can we read that? Nowhere! And if he did, it happened between these two verses and is not recorded. Ober what happened between those two verses? Says the Zoihar that the missing text is mamish the moment when the RBSO paused and pondered what to do. Save the Yiddin? Kill the Mitzrim?  And when the RBSO asked Moishe the question, “Mah titzak elai” (why do you cry out to Me), He was really posing was a moral challenge. The RBSO was rhetorically asking azoy: “Did you really think that I would save you at the expense of the enemy because of your pleas? Kvetching won’t get the job done. The RBSO wanted the Yiddin to prove themselves more worthy than the enemy by living up to the standards expected of them.  The RBSO said: Don’t cry to Me. Instead, he wanted Moishe to cry out to the Yiddin and beg them to behave in a manner that will make them worthy of being saved! Tell them to ‘go advance’ (“v’yisa’u!“) … in their behavior!” Gishmak, mamish!

And the takeaway: when in dire straits, it’s quite possible that kvetching and even crying, won’t save the day. The RBSO wants more:  When reaching out to Him, when one needs saving, especially from one’s self, seemingly, the kvetching and crying must be accompanied by some action, some change in behavior, ver veyst.

Ober if the Zoihar is correct and who would dare argue with him, why taka did the RBSO decide to save the Yiddin and drown the advancing Mitzrim? Ober says the Meshech Chochmoh (Vayikra Rabbah 32:5) mamish so gishmak azoy: while in Mitzrayim, the Yiddin, much as many of you are today, were really bad; they were taka steeped in tumah (the 49th level of spiritual impurity), they mamish had worshipped idolatry just like the Egyptians. And as you can imagine, they also did a few nasty avayrois with the mitzri shiksas, if you chap. Ober still the RBSO decided to save them. Why?  Seemingly and as hard as it is to believe, they had one saving grace. What was it? They dwelled peacefully and didn’t gossip about one another. In other words, they refrained from speaking loshoin horo. You hear this? Can you imagine more than two Yiddin and no loshoin horo? Not!  It may have happened this one time, it was a miracle mamish. And  taka as a result, the RBSO forgave their other communal sins and miraculously performed the ten makois (plagues) to bring about their salvation. Nonetheless, the prosecuting angel put on a real case, he had good grounds for his argument, but lost the case. Seemingly the lack of loshoin horo was such a neys (miracle) that the RBSO decided not to listen to the malach hamoves (angel of death) and instead repaid the Yiddin with a miracle of His own. Needless to say, no such miracle was ever seen again nor will it:  there has yet to be a day when some Yiddin aren’t badmouthing others. Azoy gey iz (that’s how the real world works.)

And while many can’t wait for ‘shabbis shira’ because of the recitation of the famous Oz Yoshir single written and performed by Moishe and his ensemble, the Oisvorfer gets depressed when reviewing this parsha. Because not long after the music stopped and Miriam’s band stopped banging on the drums, the Yiddin, in the rest of the parsha, will complain not once and not twice but we will read of four or maybe even five such outbursts. In succession mamish, they will kvetch and complain while losing site of all the RBSO did for them at each stop.

Shoin: with the Red Sea now safely behind them and with their new found riches that the sea, at the RBSO’s direction, spit out, life was good. They were in possession of lots of gold, silver and other valuables. And that’s on top of what they permanently borrowed from their neighbors before leaving. In fact, this borrowing without intention of repayment, became a model that many Yiddin continue to observe –religiously sadly- ad hayoim hazeh (until today.) Seemingly it’s nebech a deep rooted minhag Yisroel; some say it’s halocho lemyseh (a law).  Ober, were the Yiddin finally content? Did they show Moishe and the RBSO some love and appreciation? Not! Instead, as we mentioned and as does the parsha, at every opportunity, they again kvetched and complained and were michutzifdik (wisenheimers). They continued to test the RBSO’s patience. Moishe and the RBSO kept hearing their ‘telunnisaychem’ (murmurings).  And no matter what miracles the RBSO performed, soon after, the Yiddin were back to form and testing the RBSO.

Was this group of Yiddin that left Mitzrayim, the very ones who were eye witnesses to open miracles, really deserving of the RBSO’s love and their selection as His ‘Chosen People’? Ver veyst. One thing is zicher: the RBSO showed extreme restraint until He started wiping them out by the thousands as will be recounted throughout Sefer Bamidbar. In fact, we will learn that with the exception of Yihoishua (Joshua) and maybe one or two others, all the males who left Mitzrayim were to die in the midbar before the nation got to enter the Promised Land. The bottom line: other nations must have been much worse!

And the Oisvorfer’s take (not found in the medrish) is azoy: as we know, the Yiddin are always referred to as the B’nei Yisroel (the children of Israel). Efsher we can kler that’s why the RBSO showed so much patience -they were mamish children. They behaved like children; always crying, complaining and kvetching. And like kids, even when their needs were met, they soon cried and kvetched again. Ober the RBSO, like most loving and doting parents, kept giving in and loved them unconditionally. Of course from time to time He did lose His temper and schmiessed them silly. He also wiped out thousands. Still, He delivered them into the land as promised. A father’s love knows no bounds. Gishmak.

Shoin, earlier we mentioned in passing that according to some, the sea split not once but twice. Of course we all know there was another sea split 40 years later when Joshua crossed the Jordan but today we’re discussing a second sea split at around the same time as the first. Did that happen and if yes, why?


Says the Machzor Beis Yisrael for Pesach, quoting the medrish azoy: Doson and Aviram – they, the eventual co-conspirators of Koirach, but let’s not jump ahead of ourselves-  originally remained in Mitzrayim with Paroy; they did not leave and were not with their brethren when the sea split for them. You hear this big news? Only after they witnessed the great miracle and how the RBSO caused the Mitzrim to drown, did they regret their decision to stay behind and opted to rejoin the team. In other words, they went AWOL.  And though the RBSO should have been angered by their behavior and certainly Moishe, who many years back had a previous not so pleasant encounter with these two characters, amazingly enough, the RBSO caused the sea to miraculously split a second time to allow them safe passage. OMG!


Is that what you learned in yeshiva? Not!  Did the rebbe ever tell you that the sea might have split twice? And the author knew this how? Again from looking carefully at the words which tell us azoy (Shemois 14, 3): “…and Paroy will say to the Yiddin, “They are confined in the land; they are closed in by the midbar.” Ober how could Paroy say these specific words to the Yiddin when the Yiddin had already left the country? Taka an excellent question ober nothing got by Rashi, who suggested that what Paroy meant when addressing his staff and army about the Yiddin was azoy: He was talking ‘about them’ (the Jewish people) and not ‘to them’. Shoin, many people say one thing and mean another; issue solved.


Ober here comes Targum Yoinoson, he with an incredible mind and imagination and says it taka happened! The possik is really telling us that Paroy was addressing members of Yiddin who stayed back, namely Doson and Aviram. Moreover, the words specifically state that Paroy will be talking to the ‘bnei yisroe’l and we can deduce that ‘bnei’ means more than one and in this case, it means at least two. Those two would be none other than Doson and Aviram. Nu just about now you must be scratching your heads and wondering azoy: hey, weren’t these bad guys? Didn’t Moishe call one of them a rosho, a bad guy? And didn’t Rashi also tell us that his buddy was also bad? That they were both bad? Indeed he did! Which again begs the question as to why the RBSO would cause the sea to split one more time so that these two less than upstanding members of the community could make it through? Moreover, we all know that these two also partnered up with Koirach; were they worthy of such special treatment? Mamish  givaldige kashas (excellent questions). And guess what? Others including the Chiddushei Maharil Diskin, support the view that this mamish is pshat. Ober why? Let’s see.


Shoin: We taka know that Doson and Aviram were bad guys going back decades and Rashi told us (Shemois 2:13) azoy: “…. he (Moishe) went out on the second day and, behold, two Jews were quarreling with one another. He said to the wicked one, “Why would you strike your fellow?” These two bad guys were none other than Doson and Aviram, the same two who left over some of the “munn”, a topic we’ll cover next week.  And we also know that the RBSO took the opportunity to thin out the community by killing the risho’im (other bad guys) during the plague of choishech (darkness). Why were they spared? And not just were they spared but the RBSO performed a miracle, a second splitting just for them? What’s taka pshat?


Ober says the Chiddushei Maharil Diskin azoy: Doson and Aviram, besides having gotten into a shtikel argument and almost  fist-a cuffs- were also the guards of the Yiddin who had been appointed by Paroy’s taskmasters. And as guards, they took regular beatings from these very taskmasters. Says the heylige Toirah: “Why did you not complete your quota to make bricks, the same as yesterday and the day before, even yesterday and even today?” And Doson and Aviram were beaten silly. And because of this, because they accepted these beatings, they seemingly had that one zechus (merit), a stay-alive card and later a cross the Red Sea pass. Because Doson and Aviram took the beatings instead of the slaves, the RBSO saved them during the three days of darkness when others of their ilk died out. Gishmak.

And speaking of the bad guys dying out during the 3 days of darkness, efsher you are klerring azoy: if all the bad apples died out before Exodus, who was doing the complaining and kvetching described in our parsha? Who were the Yiddin who wanted to return to Mitzrayim, who complained about water, food and the menu? If only relatively few true believers among the Yiddin actually left, how could those worthy of redemption turn so suddenly and become the complainers and antagonists?

And how could these same people be singing and thanking the RBSO one minute and complaining shortly thereafter? What’s taka pshat? Nu, this question bothered many, and many proffered answers. Said the Ramban (he has four different answers; let’s see one of them) azoy: There were, among the Yiddin who crossed over, believers and non-believers. There were “kitos,” (various groups); one faction cried out to the RBSO, another just complained. And the different storylines just simply refer to the different people. Seemingly, not much has changed.

Ober says the Mechilta: the daveners and complainers were the very same people. First they davened and said thank you and then they complained. What have you done for me lately? Initially they trusted fully and had full faith ober when they saw the Mitrzim advancing and had their own backs to the water, they assumed that their davening was for naught. They lost faith and began to complain and kvetch. And the takeaway? Nothing has changed: the Yiddin who left Mitzrayim struggled with faith; we continue their tradition from time to time when things go awry. Azoy geyt iz (that’s how it goes.)

A gittin shabbis

Yitz Grossman

The Oisvorfer Ruv

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