Of course, everyone, oisvorfs included, know that in advance of the 10th plague, the killing of the firstborn Mitzrim by the RBSO Himself, He ordered that all Yiddin take for themselves a lamb on the 10th of the month of Nissan, tie it to their bedpost for 4 days, slaughter it on the 14 day of Nisan and then sprinkle its blood onto their doorposts. The blood was the sign that a Jewish family resided within and acted as a reminder -not that the RBSO needed any- for Him to skip over those homes while meting out the killer plague. We know this information because it’s right there in the heylige Toirah and we’re going to read the instructions innaveynig as they are relevant mamish. Ober, was the blood pure? Was another ingredient added to make a bloody cocktail? If yes, what was it? And more importantly, if that’s the case, why is this not so tiny factoid not mentioned anywhere?
Though the heylige Ois attended yeshiva in his formative years (in fact, at least a few, as he was disinvited from returning to at least one), he did not know that the blood the Yiddin were to smear on their doorposts may not have been pure animal blood? What was it? Was red dye #2 added for richer color? Was a blood libel involved?
Welcome to our 11th review and post on Parshas Boi where we will learn (from the medrish of course, and others) that the penis too was involved in the great exodus. Mamish? The penis? What was its role? We shall soon get to the small, if you chap, details. And we begin with a thought mentioned in years past. Yearly we celebrate the Exodus from Mitzrayim with next week’s parsha of Bishalach, better known as Shabbis Shira. We all stand as the Ba’al koreh reads Moishe’s hit single ‘Oz Yoshir’ and in general it’s the shabbis most connected with the Yiddin leaving Mitzrayim. Ober, is that what happened? Not! In fact, we read of the great exodus in this week’s parsha which also contains the last three makos (plagues), the introduction to Rosh Chodesh and of course, the biggest stimulus plan of all time to the many servicing the Jews of today -one that keeps on giving yearly, the instructions to celebrate Pesach. Manufacturers of matzo, all products marked with the OU-P (shout out to Josh Joseph), myriad other Kosher for Passover products, caterers, Pesach program operators, and many others, all owe their parnoso (livelihood) to the instructions found in Parshas Boi. It’s here in this week’s parsha where the RBSO made a personal appearance as He delivered the 10th makoh, the plague of the firstborn, the coup de grace that led to redemption after either 400 or 430 years. So happens that the last one was the mako-bipatish (the tipping point) where Paroy had seen and experienced enough. He wanted the Yiddin out and in a hurry.
Let’s take a look at how the RBSO (Shmois 12: 3-7) kept the Yiddin busy with the preparation of the Korban Pesach (Paschal offering); what they were to do with it, when, when to slaughter it, what to do with its blood and a bit later, who was eligible to eat it.
|3. Speak to the entire community of Israel, saying, “On the tenth of this month, let each one take a lamb for each parental home, a lamb for each household.||גדַּבְּר֗וּ אֶל־כָּל־עֲדַ֤ת יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר בֶּֽעָשׂ֖ר לַחֹ֣דֶשׁ הַזֶּ֑ה וְיִקְח֣וּ לָהֶ֗ם אִ֛ישׁ שֶׂ֥ה לְבֵֽית־אָבֹ֖ת שֶׂ֥ה לַבָּֽיִת:|
|4. But if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor who is nearest to his house shall take [one] according to the number of people, each one according to one’s ability to eat, shall you be counted for the lamb.||דוְאִם־יִמְעַ֣ט הַבַּ֘יִת֘ מִֽהְי֣וֹת מִשֶּׂה֒ וְלָקַ֣ח ה֗וּא וּשְׁכֵנ֛וֹ הַקָּרֹ֥ב אֶל־בֵּית֖וֹ בְּמִכְסַ֣ת נְפָשֹׁ֑ת אִ֚ישׁ לְפִ֣י אָכְל֔וֹ תָּכֹ֖סּוּ עַל־הַשֶֽׂה:|
|5. You shall have a perfect male lamb in its [first] year; you may take it either from the sheep or from the goats.||השֶׂ֧ה תָמִ֛ים זָכָ֥ר בֶּן־שָׁנָ֖ה יִֽהְיֶ֣ה לָכֶ֑ם מִן־הַכְּבָשִׂ֥ים וּמִן־הָֽעִזִּ֖ים תִּקָּֽחוּ:|
|6. And you shall keep it for inspection until the fourteenth day of this month, and the entire congregation of the community of Israel shall slaughter it in the afternoon.||ווְהָיָ֤ה לָכֶם֙ לְמִשְׁמֶ֔רֶת עַ֣ד אַרְבָּעָ֥ה עָשָׂ֛ר י֖וֹם לַחֹ֣דֶשׁ הַזֶּ֑ה וְשָֽׁחֲט֣וּ אֹת֗וֹ כֹּ֛ל קְהַ֥ל עֲדַת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל בֵּ֥ין הָֽעַרְבָּֽיִם:|
|7. And they shall take [some] of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel, on the houses in which they will eat it.||זוְלָֽקְחוּ֙ מִן־הַדָּ֔ם וְנָֽתְנ֛וּ עַל־שְׁתֵּ֥י הַמְּזוּזֹ֖ת וְעַל־הַמַּשְׁק֑וֹף עַ֚ל הַבָּ֣תִּ֔ים אֲשֶׁר־יֹֽאכְל֥וּ אֹת֖וֹ בָּהֶֽם:|
The instructions are clear until we get to a new set beginning with posik 43 where the RBSO imposes restrictions on His earlier directions. After the RBSO ordered every family to prepare a lamb, He also – more than 20 pisukim later- provided a few details on the eligibility to partake. In order to eat of the offering, the male must be circumcised. Not cut down to size? No food for you! Shoin. And just how far will a Jew go for some good food? For a good shtikel fleish? Seemingly very. Ober what has the penis and the blood associated with circumcision have to do with the korban Pesach? Is the foreskin of the human penis the sole determining factor in who can eat the korban Pesach? Mamish? Says who? The heylige Toirah and it could not be any clearer. Psukim 43-48 below specifically excluded anyone not circumcised from enjoying the korban.
|43. The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the statute of the Passover sacrifice: No estranged one may partake of it.||מגוַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־משֶׁ֣ה וְאַֽהֲרֹ֔ן זֹ֖את חֻקַּ֣ת הַפָּ֑סַח כָּל־בֶּן־נֵכָ֖ר לֹא־יֹ֥אכַל בּֽוֹ:|
|44. And every man’s slave, purchased for his money you shall circumcise him; then he will be permitted to partake of it.||מדוְכָל־עֶ֥בֶד אִ֖ישׁ מִקְנַת־כָּ֑סֶף וּמַלְתָּ֣ה אֹת֔וֹ אָ֖ז יֹ֥אכַל בּֽוֹ:|
|45. A sojourner or a hired hand may not partake of it.||מהתּוֹשָׁ֥ב וְשָׂכִ֖יר לֹא־יֹ֥אכַל בּֽוֹ:|
|46. It must be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the meat out of the house to the outside, neither shall you break any of its bones.||מובְּבַ֤יִת אֶחָד֙ יֵֽאָכֵ֔ל לֹֽא־תוֹצִ֧יא מִן־הַבַּ֛יִת מִן־הַבָּשָׂ֖ר ח֑וּצָה וְעֶ֖צֶם לֹ֥א תִשְׁבְּרוּ־בֽוֹ:|
|47. The entire community of Israel shall make it.||מזכָּל־עֲדַ֥ת יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל יַֽעֲשׂ֥וּ אֹתֽוֹ:|
|48. 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.||מחוְכִֽי־יָג֨וּר אִתְּךָ֜ גֵּ֗ר וְעָ֣שָׂה פֶ֘סַח֘ לַֽיהֹוָה֒ הִמּ֧וֹל ל֣וֹ כָל־זָכָ֗ר וְאָז֙ יִקְרַ֣ב לַֽעֲשׂת֔וֹ וְהָיָ֖ה כְּאֶזְרַ֣ח הָאָ֑רֶץ וְכָל־עָרֵ֖ל לֹא־יֹ֥אכַל בּֽוֹ:|
The bottom line: As the Israelites were getting ready to leave Mitzrayim, the RBSO declared that only males who have been circumcised may participate in the paschal offering and the seder meal, celebrating and recounting His deliverance of them from slavery. And? It is seemingly clear from the instructions just how important the bris mila is to the RBSO. Only those with the bris are to be fully included in the community’s central activities. Ober the shaylo (question) is azoy: weren’t all Yiddin already circumcised? Didn’t all Yiddin beginning with Avrohom Ovenu already practice bris mila? Is it shayich that there came a point in time over the generations when bris mila went out of style? When it was decided that Jews born to a Jewish mother are Jewish with or without the foreskin being the only determinant? Says the medrish it’s taka azoy: the Yiddin neglected the bris mila during their forty years of midbar wanderings, say it’s not so, but it is. And we know this how? Because one of the first things that Moishe’s successor Yehoishua attended to before initiating the conquest of K’nan was the circumcision of all of the males who had been born during the years of wandering. Says the Novee (Joshua 5:4-5: “This is the reason why Yehoishua performed the circumcision: all of the people who had come out of Egypt, all of the males of military age, had died during the desert wanderings after leaving Egypt. Now, whereas all of the people who came out of Egypt had been circumcised, none of the people born after the exodus, during the desert wanderings, had been circumcised. To remedy this, the entire male population was circumcised before beginning the conquest of the promised land. Ober we need to clarify veyter. It’s taka emes that all the Yiddin leaving Mitzrayim were already circumcised ober that only took place only days before, or perhaps, but one day before they left Mitzrayim. Seemingly they had abandoned bris mila during slavery. Mamish all Yiddin born during slavery were uncircumcised? Seemingly so for at least a great majority of the Yiddin, ober not all. Ober, the question remains azoy: what has all this to do with our earlier questions about a bloody cocktail vs. pure blood from the lamb? Let’s find out.
Says the medrish (Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer 29) so amazingly azoy: the blood painted on the doorposts was not just that of slaughtered lambs. OMG: The Hebrews were forbidden by Paroy from circumcising their sons, and so, on the day they left Mitzrayim, all men were circumcised, both young and old. They took the blood of the Passover offering blood, and mixed it with the blood of circumcision and painted their doorposts, so that the destroyer will pass over their homes. Wow! And guess what? He’s not alone as other medroshim chime in with similar theories. Ober why?
Says the medrish (Shmois Rabba 19:5), azoy: The people were reluctant to perform mila but, when they found out it was a prerequisite for taking part in the Korban Pesach, they became willing to undergo the bris mila. In a slightly different version of what went down, or perhaps more accurately stated, of what got taken off, it was not until the preparations for the Korban Pesach began, that the smell of the BBQ enticed them to beg to take part. Only then was Moishe able to get them to perform mila. Shoin, a Jew and his food! In any event, at some point, the Yiddin agreed to undergo a mass circumcision, ober the question remains azoy: what is the connection between the two different bloods?
The medrish mentions the significance of the intermingling of the blood of the mila and that of the Pesach, ober why? We imagine that the RBSO would have preferred for the people to fulfill their sacred obligation of mila well in advance, and without prodding. Indeed, the medrish praises the Tribe of Levi for having been careful about the matter throughout the years of servitude. Seemingly, for most of the Yiddin, in their downtrodden state, the observance of mitzvis and specifically mila was not very high on their “to do” lists. They had enough trouble following the edicts Paroy had enacted seemingly by “executive order’” and who could blame them? Why follow the practices their fathers related from a G-d who had allowed them to become enslaved? Seemingly, it was only when the final steps of redemption were palpable, represented by the slaughtering of the Korban Pesach, that they were willing to perform the mitzva of the bris.
Ober why taka did the RBSO, at the very last minute, insist they undergo the bris before enjoying the Korban Pesach and why were the bloods mixed? What’s pshat? Says Targum Yoinoson (Shmois Perek 12:13), azoy: since circumcision was a requirement for males to participate in the Korban Pesach, both the blood of the korban Pesach and the blood from the Bris Mila were used in that fateful night. The blood was a mixture. Says the medrish: The RBSO was willing to save the Yiddin from captivity, but were the Yiddin ready to accept the RBSO as their G-d? After living among the Mitzrim for over 400 years, were they ready to return and follow the rule of the bris? By now they were speaking Egyptian, busy hocking hot Mitzri shiksas and well versed in Egyptian culture; were they deserving of redemption? Were they ready for prime time? Were they ready to accept the heylige Toirah? How to find out? Why should the RBSO save them? Were they still the children of Avrohom who underwent a bris at age 99? Says Rashi, “they had no mitzvis with which to occupy themselves.” The bottom line: There was -after so many years- nothing Jewish about them. They knew they were Jewish, but no longer acted Jewish. What to do?
Seemingly they needed to be tested and what better way to test a man than by instructing him to bloody his penis and put it out of commission for a few days or weeks. In the days before redemption, the RBSO called upon the Yiddin to offer to sacrifice their own bodies and their lives by publicly taking a lamb, tying it to their beds, and then slaughtering the animal the Mitzrim believed to be their god; all for the sake of the RBSO. And with the Yiddin chomping at the bit for redemption, for freedom from Mitzri bondage, He directed them to take the Korban Pesach, and to perform Bris Mila on all males. He commanded that the Korban Pesach must not be eaten by anyone who is uncircumcised.
Circumcision meant inflicting a large painful open bleeding wound in one’s self, just hours before beginning an arduous foot trek into the desert. So happens that back in 2008, the heylige Ois acted as a shtikel sandik for a 37-year-old very fine gentlemen undergoing a bris; painless it was not! Not even for me! Says Rashi (Shmois 12:6) who knew everything, the Medrish (Mechilta D’Rabbi Yishmoel (Boi 5), azoy: the posik “but you were naked and bare” (Yechezkel 16, 7) refers to a reflection of the Yiddin’s inferior spiritual status and their unworthiness to be redeemed. In order to clean them up -so to speak- from the impurities deeply seeded within them over the years of living in Mitzrayim and specifically during slavery, and to justify their redemption, the RBSO provided them with the commandments of the Pesach offering and the bris mila. The two are seemingly inextricably linked. And we know this how? From the words “I passed by you and I saw you wallowing in your bloods and I said to you ‘By your bloods you shall live.’ I said to you ‘By your bloods you shall live.’…and you [were] naked and unclothed.” And just why does the posik repeat the word “bloods” twice? Our sages of yore tell us that “unclothed” means that the Yiddin were stripped of mitzvis. The RBSO initially determined that the Yiddin were unworthy of being redeemed. He therefore “clothed” them, enabling them to earn the merit to live through the performance of two mitzvis. The word “bloods” appears twice and when that happens, of course our sages must dig for a reason for the repetition. Seemingly, each mention refers to a mitzvah involving blood. Fittingly, these verses from Yechezkel are recited at both the Pesach Seder and at a bris mila ceremony. Gihsmak! When the Yiddin performed these two mitzvis, even those lodged in the 49th level of impurity, merited their redemption.
And we close with this: there are other mitzvis that can bring redemption; they are out there and we need to each find our own. The heylige Ois had the good merit and fortune to plan, plot, and be integrally involved -for these past 12 months- in one that led to the redemption from prison of a chaver he met in 2015 and was determined to reunite with his family. Welcome home Eli. I would like to personally thank President Trump and the rather large cast of unique dedicated personalities who stepped up when I called upon them, each in their own way. It was my honor to have undertaken this effort; mission accomplished.
A gittin Shabbis-
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv