NOTE TO READERS: the heylige Ois is traveling (without his laptop) this week. Please enjoy this review originally posted back in 2015 -as if you might recall?- and dramatically updated with new thoughts and medroshim for 2022. Its’ givaldig!
Raboyseyee and Ladies:
Two big mazel Tov’s -back to back’s mamish- let’s begin here.
In another hour or so, our friends and neighbors Tracy and Sam Shore -great people- will be walking their amazing son Gabriel down the aisle to the chuppah where he will be marrying Ariella Wolfson, she the beautiful daughter of Lisi and Daniel Wolfson. The Ois and eishes chayil are delighted to be here in Aventura Florida to participate in this very joyous simcha. May Gabriel (future doctor) and Ariella merit to enjoy many decades of blissful marriage. Mazel tov to the extended Shore and Wolfson families.
And around the corner from the Shore house, live the Perlsteins, as in Miriam and Yehudah. They too are making a wedding this evening and will -in two hours or so- be walking their beautiful daughter Daniella down the aisle where she will be marrying Matt (Mattisyahu Mordechai) Teichman, he, the son of R Zvi & Chasida Teichman. A big mazel tov to Miriam and Yehudah, to their immediate family and to the entire extended family. A special shout out to grandmothers Laura Levovitz and Sara Perlstein. May Daniella and Matt be zoche to many decades of blissful marriage.
What the hec is an Ayala you ask? More on that way below; stay tuned.
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)?
Seminal events or moments, if you chap, do at times give birth to new ideas and concepts. Redemption from slavery, gave birth to the magical words of ‘Zecher Liyitzyas Mitzrayim’ (a remembrance of our leaving Egypt) and the 100+ million-dollar Kosher for Pesach industry it spawned. Keep them in mind; such reminders, as you will begin to notice, are everywhere! We mention redemption thrice daily while reciting the Shema prayer, invoke them every Shabbis and Yom Tov when we make kiddish, and elsewhere. It was the big one! This most dramatic event, is overshadowed only by the marriage of the Yiddin to the RBSO (next week) when we received the heylige Toirah -seemingly as a wedding present. It’s always fascinated me that the actual Exodus event is given such short shrift and is covered in but one posik in the heylige Toirah; the event is given but 36 words. Let’s read them as they appeared towards the end of Parsha Shmois (12:41). Says the Toirah, “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 was it necessary for the emotionally scarred Yiddin, frail mamish- to endure further Aggravation? Didn’t they suffer enough? Don’t we recall their suffering yearly at the Seder? 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 next big one, the big neys of kriyas yam suf (miracle of splitting of the sea), an event so magical, that movies, 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. Mamish? We shall address that a bit later.
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? Men and women mamish together, oy vey and what could be worse? 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 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. Let’s celebrate the lacuna! 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 posik (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 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 shayich (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 were -as are many of you are today- 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 avayris with the mitzri shiksas, if you chap. And let’s also recall the distinct possibility that many Yiddin married out; Jewish girls hooked up with their Mitzi captors – some even willingly, say it’s not so- and the erev rav (mixed multitude) may have resulted from these illicit unions. Ober still the RBSO decided to save them. Why? Hard as it is to believe, they seemingly had one saving grace. What was it? They dwelled peacefully and didn’t gossip about one another. In other words, they refrained from speaking loshon horo. You hear this? Can you imagine more than two Yiddin and no loshon horo? Not! It may have happened this one time, and if it did, 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! And ever since, there has yet to be another day (and night) when some Yiddin aren’t badmouthing others. Azoy geyt 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 heylige Ois 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 ‘talun-oi-saychem’ (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 who left Mitzrayim, the very 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 His patience was tested once tot many times and began 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 heylige Ois’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 schmeissed 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 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 Yehoishua 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? Oib azoy, if they never left with the millions of Yiddin and goyim, how were they on the scene throughout the Midbar journey for nearly forty years? Seemingly, 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, at first, 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 (Shmois 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 posik 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 they 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? 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 Chidushei 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? Not just were spared, but the RBSO performed a miracle, a second splitting just for them? What’s taka pshat?
Ober says the Chidushei 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. Is that why the RBSO saved them?
Let’s try another flavor: says the Sefer Zichron Shmuel (end of Parshas Shmois) that the RBSO already knew -of course- that they were destined to die ignominious deaths in the Koirach rebellion. That cause of death would result in a greater sanctification of the RBSO’s Name, certainly more talked about than had they died along with millions of others during the plague of choishech (darkness). And says the Mikdash HaLevi (p.235-236) that they were so evil, they did not merit to have their death and punishment in obscurity. Their evil so giferlich and intense that they were forever written into the heylige Toirah as having died with Koirach and his band. And says the Chasam Soifer that the miracle of the earth opening up was custom made davka for Doson and Aviram since Koirach and the rest of the community were first burned and the earth swallowed them only after they died. Doson and Aviram were swallowed up while still alive.
And listen to this amazing pshat -the best and most creative for last- on why they were saved. Says the Chasam Soifer (Beshalach) that Doson and Aviram helped Moishe out by making him run away to Midian which was where he was raised. Despite the fact they ratted him out to Paroy -putting his life in imminent danger, and had only bad intentions- they nevertheless got rewarded for it. Why? Let’s not forget that it was in Midian where Moishe met his eishes chayil Zippoirah and where he was sheltered while on the run. And here comes the best part of the pshat. Says the Chasam Soifer that there is an animal known as the Ayala which has a tight uterus and as a result cannot give birth. What to do? The RBSO -in His magnificence- arranges things and makes sure that at the time of birth the uterus gets bitten by a snake – seemingly resulting in the swelling and enlargement of the uterus- thereby helping it give birth. The snake, which appears to be hurting the Ayala, is actually helping. Similarly, Doson and Aviram actually helped Moishe. Well, blow me down. Note to readers: while the heylige Ois does have two of the Chasam Soifer’s books (Bereishis and Vaikra) he does not have Shmois. Aside from one source, he was unable to verify this pshat. Whether this is what he wrote or not, ver veyst, but certainly creative and entertaining. If emes: it’s a blow away pshat. Also, when researching the Ayala, the Ois came up with this: Animals: Ayala Name origin: Hebrew Name meaning: Gazelle.
And we close with this: 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 the 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 bottom lines: it does appear that the generation of Yiddin who witnessed a bunch of miracles were nebech too emotionally scarred to lead normal lives. Hundreds of years of slavery left permanent scars. They waffled and struggled with faith. Not much has changed over the generations, the same happened to thousands of Holocaust survivors. Many of us continue their tradition from time to time when things go awry. Azoy geyt iz (that’s how it goes.)
A gittin Shabbis-
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv