Shoin after two full weeks without a mazel tov shout-out, we are delighted to announce that our good friends Chani and Jay Kestenbaum added yet another grandchild to their collection when their daughter Heidi and her husband Jonathan, gave birth to a baby boy whose bris will be performed tomorrow morning at the Congregation Beth Sholom. Only Heidi gave birth! Mazel tov to the very happy parents, to Chani and Jay, to Sue and Arthur Talansky and to the great grandparents on both sides. All are invited. So happens that the mitzvah of the bris mila, originally given to our zeyda Avrohom way back in parshas Lech Lecha, gets a significant shout-out this week and many a medrish will pontificate on how the brissim were performed, who got them and who gave them. We assume that mitzitza bepeh came along later in history. Efsher we’ll cover this topic; let’s see how we do on time and space.
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Raboyseyee and Ladies:
The three most impactful words-
By the umois-ho’oilom (goyim), the two word (combined into one) expression of AbraKedabra is always associated with magic. Ober unz Yiddin (we Jews), have our own words and they too are quite magical. Our 3 word expression is associated with the economy and big money. How big? Very! Our 3 words generate over $100,000,000 annually and that amount in just eight days. What are these words and where can one find them? Shoin, we’ll address that very shortly ober ershtens (firstly)….
It’s taka emes that the calendar and weather both suggest that we’re still in January. It’s winter mamish. Pesach is still 9-10 weeks away ober the ads for Pesach getaways keep coming and taka because securing choice flights is always challenging during the holiday season, people who generally opt for Pesach away, are already checking out the myriad kosher hotel programs available here in the United States and abroad including such exotic destinations as Italy, Mexico, and Spain. Some have already booked. Pesach 2015 features over 100 choices of hotels. And why are flights so expensive for reservations going out to April 1st and 2nd? Because the goyim decided to make Easter Sunday mamish in-mittin-der-inin- (smack in the middle) of our Pesach celebrations! And not just are Yiddin on the move, but the goyim as well. Shoin, that yoshko (Jesus) and his disciples mamish hurt the Yiddin by celebrating their yom tov during ours; chutzpah mamish. In any event, given the circumstances, it was time to begin the annual conversations; where are we going for Pesach this year?
Sadly, none of the operators called the Oisvorfer requesting his presence as the scholar-in residence. As a result, calls went out to a few of the more reliable Pesach program operators to see which, if any, had a deal to offer? And taka that’s how it plays out. The price one pays for a Pesach program at one of the many choice hotels varies greatly and depends at least somewhat on several factors including how early or late one books, the mood of the operator, the size of your party, and other factors. And earlier this week, the Oisvorfer and the shver (father-in-law) had a meeting with one of the upper scale program operators. As we were reviewing the costs, the Oisvorfer began to think back to how all this started. Where in our good books is it written that Yiddin must pack up and either fly or drive to destinations all over the world mamish, just to celebrate this great Yom tov? Did your grandparents do this? They did not! And then it hit me: it all harkens back to three words that have inspired Toirah entrepreneurs for generations. Hundreds of businesses, all in the name of these three words, have been started and continue to flourish. And what are these words?
Is Pesach taka that big a business? Yes! Grada (so happens) that staying home is also not very cheap. Gedoilim (industry experts) are guesstimating that an average family will spend upward of $3,000 on Pesach. That amount includes a number of guests. The $3,000 number does not include new clothing which of course all the females in the house need in order to properly feel the Yom to spirit. That’s what they tell the men. After all, didn’t the women over in Mitzrayim, while their husbands were slaving away, get dressed up or down, if you chap, in order to entice their men in order to procreate, get pregnant and then deliver either 6 or 60 babies at one time? Isn’t that how the Yiddin became such a formidable nation, one that scared Paroy into action? Of course they did! Shoin: new clothing for all. Some men are also very midakdake (strict) and will also splurge on a new suit. After all, doesn’t one need a new suit under one’s kittel? Of course! The bottom line: we were freed from slavery, and we need to celebrate yearly. But how? Like we celebrate everything else in our beautiful tradition: with food, lots of it. Is there another way?
Shoin earlier we mentioned how large a gisheft Pesach is ober why are we harping on this? And before we answer that question, did you just read that Pesach represents a $100 million dollar boost to the economy? Indeed you did and the same expert said azoy: there are 100 or more kosher for Pesach facilities including some of the largest resorts and most widely known properties. He next calculated the costs of just the wine, baked goods, matzohs, and meat that were sold to the operators of the Pesach programs. He then added the entertainment and even the cost of transporting the greater than 50,000 people and shoin: “$100 million for sure,” he proclaimed. He forgot to add clothing and food for the plane ride.
And this discussion is mamish timely not only because Pesach happens to be a $100M annual gisheft (enterprise). It’s relevant because Pesach is first mentioned in this week’s parsha where the RBSO instructed the Yiddin about how to properly mark and celebrate this holiday. Yes, right here in parshas Boi, the RBSO will communicate very clear and detailed instructions about the slaughtering of the korban Pesach (sacrifice) and other rituals and also tell us who was qualified and more importantly, who was disqualified from partaking in the eating of the korban Pesach. The bottom line: the RBSO, as He seemingly always does, had a plan. Soon, we’ll take a look at it.
Nu, zug shoin (tell me already) what are the three big words that drive this behemoth? They are Zecher liyitzyas Mitzrayim (a remembrance of our being redeemed from slavery and our exit from Egypt). We find these words in the Kiddush we recite on every Jewish holiday and we find iterations of these words in our siddur, in the heylige Gemora and of course in the heylige Toirah itself which in this week’s parsha will remind us to always remind ourselves and our children that the RBSO taka freed us from slavery and took us out of Mitzrayim. And these three words say it all! Moreover, everything we, as Yiddin, do in the weeks leading up to Pesach, on Pesach and all year round, is all a reminder of these 3 words. After all, had we not been freed and redeemed, would we have trekked through the midbar? No? Would we have married the RBSO, albeit metaphorically, under Har Sinai and become a nation onto Him? Not! Most of what we recall involves Zecher liyitzyas Mitzrayim. We need to always remember our redemption from bondage.
Shoin, let’s learn some parsha but first…..something for the shabbis tish instead of loshoin horo or a discussion of deflated balls over in New England. Speaking of Zecher liyitzyas Mitzrayim, believe it or not, you have but another 13 days, until Tu Bishvat (15th day of the Hebrew month known as Shvat) to initiate and complete your tshuva (repentance). Tshuva in January? Is your avayro slate already full, chazir that you are? And why is the Oisvorfer discussing tshuva in late January when Rosh Hashono and Yom Kippur are still eight months away? What’s taka pshat? There are several reasons; let’s look at two of them. Ershtens, on a lighter note, zicher you have committed enough new avayrois (sins) since Yom Kippur and it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to get a head start. By yom Kippur, your plate might be too full. You know what you have done, so does the RBSO. Seemingly the gates of repentance are open this January. Moreover, though the calendar taka reads January and though we are only up to parshas Boi in the heylige Toirah, guess what? We’re deep into the tshuva season which according to some, began a few weeks back as we reached parshas Shemois. And with that introduction, welcome to Shoiv’vim. And vus iz dus (what is this)? Is it something serious or contagious? Shoin, in plain English and some Hebrew, “Shoiv’vim,” is an acronym, also a word, made up of six letters corresponding to the first letters of the first six parshios of Sefer Shemois. Shoin: take the first Hebrew letter of each of the following parshas -Shemois, Vo’eiro, Boi, BeShalach, Yisroy, and Mishpotim (shin, vav, bais, bais, yud, mem for you giferlich oisvorfs) and they spell out Shoiv’vim. And what does that word mean? It spells the word that means “wayward ones,” and alludes to a special opportunity for you – wayward as you are- to do tshuva at this time of the year. It does? And why do tshuva now instead of at the regular time on our calendar? Isn’t it a bit premature and isn’t it also emes that premature, if you chap, is not always a good thing?
Nu, it so happens that it’s in these six weeks, when we learn about the slavery, the redemption process and the great miracles surrounding Yetzias Mitzrayim and the receipt of the heylige Toirah from the RBSO. Yet another example of Zecher liyitzyas Mitzrayim. And as stated mamish above, the redemption from Mitzrayim myseh (story), is all about the formation of the Jewish people as a nation of Yiddin and their acceptance of their mission of being a “light to nations.” Seemingly, some rabbis decided that this was an auspicious time for tshuva. Ober is there taka a connection between the themes of these parshiyos and tshuva? And what might it be?
Nu, our rabbis taught us as follows: The difference between this repentance period and the period of Rosh Hashonoh/Yom Kippur is azoy: during the tshuva season as we know it, most people repent out of fear (recall that the RBSO knows exactly what you were up to, if you chap.) And given their behavior and especially yours, there is what to be fearful of. Beginning however with parshas Shemois and up through parshas Yisroy where the RBSO came down and gave us the heylige Toirah and declared us a nation onto Him, the RBSO increasingly emanates His holy light onto creation, which tends to fill the world with a heightened awareness of His existence and love for us. This process will reach a climax on Tu B’Shevat (nearly two weeks away). And, it’s during this time of heightened awareness that the Yiddin are inclined to repent out of love for the RBSO or what we call tshuva me-a-hava (out of love) and not fear of severe punishment for the myriad avayrois that seem to accumulate, mostl from repeat offenders, from year to year between Yom Kippurs, if you chap.
Nu, that sounds good but why include parshas Mishpotim which follows Yisroy and also follows the seminal event when the RBSO married us in a shotgun marriage under the mountain? Zicher we could have stopped right there! Nu, our rabbis also told us that Mishpotim was included because it includes the judgments and the civil laws. And we need to end the shoiv’vim cycle by chapping that living a Toirah life also includes using sound judgment. Gishmak?
Here’s another view of the connection between the shoiv’vim parshas wherein we read about our redemption, and repentance during this time of year. When the Yiddin – though it’s not entirely clear that they were Yiddin at the time, some say they weren’t yet- initially came to Mitzrayim, they were still under the tutelage of Yaakov Ovenu. He made sure that the family remained a separate nation and did not assimilate with the Egyptians. His guidance imbued them with the spiritual fortitude and protected them from the negative influences of their environment. Ober (however), following his death – some say he never died- the Yiddin as discussed in the past, experienced a rapid decline. Due to their chazzerish behavior, they at first rose, if you chap, then fell to the 49th level of impurity, whatever that means and had they fallen to the 50th, they would have reached the point of no return. The RBSO, seemingly because He taka wanted us as his nation, took us out of Mitzrayim and propelled us on an upward ascent until we received the Toirah on Har Sinai. Many people seeking to repent, have traveled a similar route.
And the takeaway? Even if you have fallen to the lowest level of impurity, which many of you have, if you chap(ped), it’s seemingly not too late. The Yiddin came back from 49 down. And how do we know this? Let’s revisit a few key words: “Mikrah koidesh zecher liyitzias mitzrayim.” In other words: when we Mikrah koidesh (sanctify ourselves through tshuva), then it’s zeycher liyitzias Mitzrayim, it’s a hint to what happened in Mitzrayim where we lifted ourselves up from the depths of spiritual degradation. Gishmak mamish.
And now, let’s revisit the RBSO’s master plan for making sure His people would make a living once freed from slavery. And let’s also remember one more sentence from the RBSO’s promise to zeyda Avrohom. Said the RBSO azoy: after the allotted time, your offspring will leave Mitzrayim with lots of wealth. Of course we all know that if the RBSO makes a promise, He will keep it and He taka did just that. 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, in our parsha, Paroy and his people will be the unlucky recipients of the last three. Ober Paroy remained steadfast and obstinate. We have previously learned that Paroy did at different intervals of the Makos (plagues) go soft; it was the RBSO that made him hard (his heart) and as we open Parshas Boi, the Yiddin are still enslaved. Seemingly being hard, if you chap, is not always a good thing. In fact, a softer Paroy might have let the Yiddin out earlier, ver veyst. On the other hand, let’s not forget that the entire Mitzrayim episode was orchestrated by the RBSO. He made the promise that we would enter a foreign land and He also promised to personally deliver the Yiddin from their ordeal. And guess what? It all unfolds right here in our parsha. It’s taka emes that we Yiddin mark this celebration next shabbis when we break out into song as we always interrupt the chazzan during the reading of the ‘shira’, ober in reality, the action, the mass exodus, takes place this shabbis. Don’t miss shul and do listen to the heylige Toirah which tells that the Yiddin left Mitzrayim after 430 years. Of course this doesn’t mean that the Yiddin were enslaved for that period or even 400 or even 210 years. It just means that the Yiddin had a presence in Egypt a country that did not belong to them, for a total of 430 years. In the end, after a heated exchanged between Moishe and his step zeyda Paroy, the Yiddin will not just be freed, they will have been chased out in their gatchkis (underwear) with precious little time to pack certain items. We already discussed how they seemingly had plenty of time to pack gold, silver, copper and other valuables. Sadly or maybe happily, they had no time to properly bake the bread. Hence the matzo industry was born and with it, a parnoso (livelihood) for many thousands of people. This was just the beginning of the Pesach economy. In fact, matzo is sold and eaten all year round; what could be better?
The RBSO in His magnificence came with a wealth plan for the generation leaving Mitzrayim and an even greater plan for the generations to come. The RBSO mamish thought of every detail and in order not to just have gold, silver and other riches just fall from the sky, He made arrangements for the Yiddin to first participate in a treasure hunt while the Mitzrim who were hit with the plague of darkness, could not see. Days later He arranged for the Mitzrim to conveniently drown and for the sea to spit out all their riches. There was no need for a deep see adventure, the sea mamish gave back the riches it had collected when the Mitzrim drowned. Those riches along with the booty they permanently borrowed from their enslavers got the Yiddin through the 40 years in the midbar. Why the Mitzrim gave chase to the Yiddin with chariots laden with gold, silver, copper and other goodies, ver veyst? As you can see, only the RBSO could have scripted these events and arranged for their execution.
Ober how and what were they to live on once they entered the land? What were the Yiddin going to do to make a parnoso (living) once they entered the land? Were they all going to enroll in Koilel? Could the Yeshiva of 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 left Mitzrayim, the RBSO sets forth a series of mitzvois that have led to the establishment of new industries, including Pesach and all its trimmings. We’re talking butchers, matzo bakers, caterers, hotel and banquet managers and so so 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 (in our parsha), 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 it’s real message was and see 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, and of course in the spirit of Zecher Liyitzyas Mitzrayim, 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 we close as we opened with a short discussion of the bris. In wishing a mazel tov to the Kestenbaums and Talanskys we mentioned that the bris obligation gets a second shout-out this week and it so happens that there was but one condition for a Jew to partake in the eating of the Korban Pesach (paschal lamb): he needed to have a bris (circumcision). Those who participated in the Pesach merited Divine protection from the tenth plague and left Mitzrayim, while those who did not remained outside the covenantal community. Says the heylige Toirah (Shemois 12:48) azoy: And should a proselyte reside with you, he shall make a Passover sacrifice to the Lord. All his males shall be circumcised, and then he may approach to make it, and he will be like the native of the land, but no uncircumcised male may partake of it.
Ober we have previously learned that following the death of Yaakov, the Yiddin were somewhat lax in their observance and our rabbis have taught us that they stopped performing brissim (circumcisions). And why is the bris so important?
Seemingly circumcision represents the completion of the human being. According to Jewish tradition, Odom (Adam, man number 1), was born without a foreskin. Is that so? Only when he sinned did he create a barrier between himself and the RBSO and at that point developed a foreskin. Says who? So says the heylige Gemora (Sanhedrin 38b): The removal of the foreskin represents the physical act by which man attempts to come close to the RBSO once again. Says the medrish (Tanchuma, Tazria 5) azoy: The evil Roman ruler Turnus Rufus asked Rebbe Akiva why the Yiddin perform circumcision. If the RBSO taka wanted men circumcised, would he have not created them that way? Ober said Rebbe Akiva azoy: that the RBSO provided circumcision as an act for man to improve himself, something that even the RBSO cannot do for him.
A gitten shabbis!
The Oisvorfer Ruv