Minhag Ovoysaynu b’yodaynu (we follow our forefathers’ customs):
Nu, it’s a week later and the Oisvorfer finds himself aboard United 0046 ober this time, he’s seated right next to his eishes chayil where there is avada no chance of contact, if you chap, even incidental, nebech.
Besides recounting the last of the makois (plagues) that the RBSO exacted on Paroy and the Mitzrim, and the Exodus which takes place this week and not in Beshalach, Parshas Boi also has a connection to one of the most famous Jewish Minhogim (customs), one that stands ad hayom hazeh (until today) and is rarely, if ever, violated. Nebech (sadly), I’m talking about the minhag of borrowing (without the intention of ever repaying) monies and other items. And with that givaldige (amazing) introduction, let me begin by recalling a meyseh shehoya (a true story) of a phone call the Oisvorfer received some years back with but minutes to go before shabbis. A famous and choshovo Rabbi was on the phone and said azoy: how do we know that a Minhag (custom) is even stronger than a Din (Jewish law)? To which I responded: Rabbi: it’s kimat (nearly) time for licht-bentching (candle-lighting) but tell me please- how-? Said he: because it’s well known that a person who borrows money from his friend, is halachically bound to repay the loan- however- the minhag is not to!! Shoin! And mistama you’re wondering why the Oisvorfer is telling jokes when the Yiddin are still enslaved, and what has this to do with this very special Parsha of Boi? And the answer is: that the source for borrowing without the intention of repaying seemingly has its roots right here in this parsha and in the paragraphs to follow; continue reading and you’ll chap.
Mamish lots to cover in Boi but the flight is but three hours long; nu- let’s not waste time. Besides a description of the final weeks in slavery, the parsha recounts in vivid detail each of the last three big Makkois (plagues), sets forth a series of Mitzvois, establishes holidays, and creates new industries where the Yiddin, for generations to come, can rip each other off and even more. Lommer unfangin (let’s begin) with the minhag to borrow and not repay.
Nu, vacation is quickly drawing to an end, and, like the Yiddin, who in this week’s Parsha of Boi, after 210 years, were getting ready to leave Mitzrayim, the Oisvorfer and his mishpocho (except his oldest tochter (daughter) who stayed behind and was hopefully out on a few dates), after but one week of physical labor on the slopes (read: vacation), is oisgimatet (wiped out) and getting ready to leave these beautiful mountains of Colorado. Why they call this vacation, nu, this I never chapped. The emes (truth) is I haven’t worked so hard since I was here last year. What would have been so giferlich about going on a cruise and looking at half nakite (naked) mydelich on deck?
On Tuesday, one of my very choshovo overseas closet readers (one who reads the heylige Oisvorfer’s Toirah weekly but doesn’t admit it to anyone) emailed me with the following shaylo (question): “how does the Oisvorfer compose Toirah while on the slopes?” Taka an excellent kasha ober. Raboyseyee I have an admission to make: Like many choshovo Rabbis, I mamish feel the pressure weekly to deliver some heylige Toirah to the ever growing list of chassidim who await these words late each Thursday. And taka this week, due to the flight, the Toirah will mistama be somewhat late. Nu, Moishe Rabaynu was also late and in the end, it all worked out. Nu, if only my father A’H, who kept urging me to learn and whose Yurtzeit I will be observing Bo Bayom one week from this Shabbis were alive to read these heylige weekly toirah thoughts……………
Though most of you are excited for next shabbis, Shabbis Shira, wherein we’ll read about the events following Yitziyas Mitzrayim (the Yiddin leaving Egypt), likely the single event that we recount more than any other in Jewish history, it’s in Parshas Boi that we read this week, where all or most of the action takes place. Ober chap nisht, we need to quickly chazir last week’s parsha of Vo’eiro.
Avada you recall that last week we spent some time learning all about Moishe Rabaynu’s parents, siblings, half brothers and his overall Yichus and this past shabbis, here at Keystone, the Oisvorfer delivered the devar Toirah to the ski minyan run for the last 28 years by Kalman and his eishes chayil Doba (who incidentally met on one of the early ski trips). As I looked around the room and saw a few on their second marriage, a few divorced, a few waiting (to get divorced) and the marrieds, nebech, it taka dawned on me that Moishe Rabaynu was the product of a second or third marriage- think about it. And as I’ve told you in the past, seemingly the RBSO doesn’t care much about yichus; we each have to make our own.
Last week, the RBSO got serious about freeing His people (to be), warned Paroy and meted out seven of the ten plagues He had in mind; this week we’ll see the rest. Paroy remained steadfast and obstinate, at times aided by the RBSO who taka made him hard (his heart) and as we open Parshas Boi, the Yiddin are still enslaved. But hold on, lots of action this week and by the time we finish the parsha, not just will the Yiddin be freed, but they will have been chased out in their gatchkis (underwear); no time to pack.
Ober what were the Yiddin going to do to make a parnoso (living) once freed. Were they all going to enroll in Koilel? Could the Yeshiva Shem Vo’ever hold 600,000 Yiddin? After 210 years of slavery, what were they qualified to do? What businesses would they enter? And where would they get startup capital? Not to worry because the RBSO had their backs and left nothing to chance. And just before they get to leave, the RBSO sets forth a series of mitzvois that have led to the establishment of new industries, including Pesach and all its trimmings, butchers, caterers, hotel managers and many others. Avada not all 600,000 could run Pesach programs, though by perusing the weekly papers, it certainly does have that feel, and for those who didn’t make it into the food gisheft (business), He also gave us the mitzvah of tefillin and jobs for those who write them (mentioned twice in the Parsha) and more. Avada it didn’t take too many years for the industrious and opportunistic Yiddin to read Parshas Boi, chap what the real message was and saw but one thing: dollar signs, and lots of them. And ever since, the Yiddin have been getting ripped off, price gouged, mostly by other Yiddin who, under the guise of keeping this special mitzvah of Pesach pure and holy, jack up the prices so that they only have to work for a few weeks out of the year while the rest need to slave away, mamish as if we were back in Mitzrayim.
And what about money? Did Paroy the minuvil pay the Yiddin for their hard labor? A nechtiger tug (fuggetabout it). Nu, zurg zich nisht (not to worry) because the RBSO had a master plan, doesn’t He always, and let’s taka learn why the RBSO is so special and should be loved and revered by all. Says Rashi (Brochos 9A) and many others: that the RBSO in his magnificence had remembered a promise He made to Avrohom Oveenu, way back when, and what was it? As it is written: “Afterwards, they will go out with great wealth” (Bereishis 15:14).
Let’s taka learn what took place here. With all the tumult going on, one detail of the final preparations to leave Mitzrayim repeats itself three times in the first three parshois of Sefer Shemois. A few weeks back the RBSO told Moishe: (Perek Gimmel -chapter 3):
21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. And it shall come to pass that when you go, you shall not go empty;
22 But every woman shall ask of her neighbor and of her that sojourns in her house jewels of silver and jewels of gold, and raiment; and you shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters, and you shall despoil the Egyptians.
The RBSO repeats this command in Perek Yud Aleph (Chapter 11) when informing Moishe of the impending tenth plague: death to the firstborn and the eventual release of BNY:
1 And the RBSO said unto Moishe: “Yet one plague more will I bring upon Paroy, and upon Mitzrayim; afterwards he will let you go hence; when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether.
|2. Please, speak into the ears of the people, and let them borrow, each man from his friend and each woman from her friend, silver vessels and golden vessels.”||
ב. דַּבֶּר נָא בְּאָזְנֵי הָעָם וְיִשְׁאֲלוּ אִישׁ מֵאֵת רֵעֵהוּ וְאִשָּׁה מֵאֵת רְעוּתָהּ כְּלֵי כֶסֶף וּכְלֵי זָהָב:
3 And the RBSO gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians.
And in Perek Yud Beis (chapter 21), we read that the Yiddin, in one of the only instances where they taka listened to Moishe Rabaynu’s instructions, were quite compliant. They chapped; who wouldn’t want gold, silver and other things, all free?
35 And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moishe; and they asked of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment.
36 And the RBSO gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. And they despoiled the Egyptians.
Shtelt zich di shylo (the question arises): what’s pshat here? The Yiddin were told to borrow the above mentioned items from the Mitzrim but seemingly had no intention of returning said items. Is this called borrowing? Does this borrowing nebech ring familiar? Is deceit kosher? Nu, mistama if the RBSO mentioned these instructions more than once in the heylige Toirah, they must be important ober as you can only imagine, many commentators were epes (somewhat) bothered by this story. Doesn’t leaving with great wealth take away from the gantze redemption and our understanding of what took place? Was this the reason for the entire slavery? Moreover, why was it necessary for the Yiddin to leave with great wealth? Did the Yiddin need gold and silver in the desert where they would spend the next forty years?
As you can only imagine, the medrish is replete with questions and ideas on what went down here, beside the Mitzrim into the river. Ershtens (firstly) can we posit that efsher the Yiddin taka did not mean borrowing at all, instead they meant gifting. And taka some Medroshim cite sources that demonstrate that the root word She-al may taka refer to a request for an outright gift, and one should not necessarily read that word to mean as only ‘borrowing’ (as it is usually translated). And taka so says Reb Sa’adia Ga’on. Says Rabaynu Bachya: that the Yiddin were commanded to ask the Egyptians for their gold and silver vessels not as a loan but as gifts. Shoin! They said borrow, they meant permanently. And this is not a case of genaivas da’as (misleading) the lenders, rather it was entirely permissible and just for the Yiddin to do this. And taka why? Nu, the Yiddin had worked for the Mitzrim as involuntary slaves for 210 years and their compensation due was immeasurable. And according to Toirah law, a Jew who works as an eved (slave) for seven years is showered with gifts when he is freed from servitude. The Yiddin were certainly entitled to a great deal more.
Borrowing meant gifting, mamish similar to when people call you for a loan, tough in most cases you’re left to figure this out on your own when the loan is nebech not repaid.
Some say that borrowing meant a mutual exchange. In leaving, the Yiddin were forced to abandon properties, fields, vineyards, and many items too heavy to schlepp. The slaves had fields and other possessions? Suddenly I don’t feel so bad for them and the entire slavery has epes a different feel to it. Taka this approach is also mentioned by the Chizkuni and the Malbim (chapter 3). Said he: that the BNY mamish possessed fields and vineyards, homes, and furniture; not too shabby for slaves. And they were farzorgt (worried) about these assets as they were getting ready to leave. Were the slave- masters going to buy them out or just plunder their homes and possessions, leaving them empty handed? Therefore, to rectify this potential injustice, the RBSO informed them that they would not leave destitute. Shoin- all justified! And as they were leaving, they asked their neighbors to take their homes and property in exchange for silver and gold articles of equal value, which would be more portable. Gishmak, no? The acquisition of Egyptian gold and silver was therefore simply a mutual exchange of possessions, and no ethical questions arise. And as an added benefit, it was seemingly also a tax free transaction.
Says the heylige Gemora: that the gold, silver and other assets the Yiddin ‘borrowed’, represented unpaid wages. Says the Medrish quoting the heylige Gemora (Sanhedrin 91b) azoy: Thousands of years later, the Egyptians came before Alexander the Great and registered a claim against the Yiddin, demanding that they should be compensated for all the wealth that the Israelites had seized from their forefathers a millennium earlier. In response to this claim, Gevia ben Psesia, acting as the Jews’ defense attorney (and avada many Jews need a defense attorney now and then, if you chap), noted that the Yiddin had not received any wages for all the centuries they toiled as slaves in Mitzrayim. Thus, justice demanded that the Jewish people be granted a form of reparation – i.e. compensation for the exploitation they had endured at the hands of their masters. He (Gevia) responded in front of the Greek monarch, “From where do you bring proof that we took the money?” They responded, “From the Toirah.” He countered, “Then I will bring proof from the Toirah, where it states that the Jewish people dwelled in Egypt for 430 years. Please give us the wages of 600,000 workers for that time period, and we shall return the gold which we took.” Nu and with that brilliant defense, the Egyptians requested a three-day recess, and never returned to the courtroom.
Another pshat: the possik states that by asking their neighbors for all these costly items the Yiddin were just following orders. They did “as Moishe had commanded them to borrow…” (shemois12:35). Accordingly, the Yiddin were fulfilling a prophet’s holy command, and not asking out of greed. Shoin: guilty with an expalantion?
Says another Medrish: that the Yiddin were mamish reluctant to take the wealth of Egypt and had to be begged by the RBSO and Moishe to borrow the gold and silver from the Egyptians. Were these real Yiddin or were these the Baal t’shuva’s; which FFB (frum from birth) Yid turns down gold, silver and wealth? Moreover, the Yiddin were fearful that such an action could provoke their former masters into pursuing them and that’s taka just what happened as they made their way out and towards the river. Say The Sforno and Chizkuni: that taka this was part of the RBSO’s master plan to get rid of the oppressors.
One thing is clear: they took the gold and silver and hightailed out of Mitzrayim. Veyter.
Finally, toward the very end of the Parsha, the RBSO interrupted the onset of the final plague to dictate the laws of Pesach including who could eat it and when. Immediately after, the possik states (see below) that the Israelites did everything he said, beautiful mamish.
|50. All the children of Israel did; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.||
נ. וַיַּעֲשׂוּ כָּל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֶת מֹשֶׁה וְאֶת אַהֲרֹן כֵּן עָשׂוּ:
Says the Yalkut that when the Israelites made the Paschal Lamb, many Egyptians who had joined them wanted to partake of the sacrifice, nu- they also like to eat.. The RBSO said no since “no outsider may eat it” and the Yiddin did exactly as the RBSO had instructed. Ober (but) listen to this bombshell!!!
On the same Possik the Yalkut adds: The Israelites also did as the RBSO had instructed in circumcising themselves. What, another mila? Weren’t the Yiddin already tipped off, if you chap? Answer: Seeing how the RBSO rejects the uncircumcised, they immediately decided to circumcise themselves en masse. Fathers, children, and even slaves were all circumcised. Even the Eruv Rav (mixed multitude) who were to leave with the Yiddin submitted to circumcision. While the lambs were roasting over the fire and giving forth a givaldige fragrant aroma, the RBSO told the Israelites that anyone who does not have the sign of Avrahom on his body cannot eat it. What to do? The Israelites immediately submitted to circumcision. As mentioned earlier, with the exception of sheyvet (the tribe) of Levi, all the Israelites had abandoned the rite of circumcision in Egypt, oy vey!
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai taught that Moishe himself performed the brissim (circumcisions), Aharoin performed the peeling back of the foreskin (periah) and Yehoishua (Joshua) bandaged the wound, what a team! .Understandably, there were many Israelites who did not want to submit to circumcision and tried to hide. One cannot however outsmart the RBSO. He made the winds carry the fragrance of the Paschal Lamb to all corners of Egypt. Smelling the irresistibly delicious aroma, these Israelites begged Moishe to allow them to taste the lamb. He replied that he could not as long as they remained uncircumcised. As a result of the roasting lamb alone, many Israelites submitted to circumcision. Nu, what a frum person wouldn’t do for a decent piece of meat and a good meal.
A gitten shabbis!