Raboyseyee & Ladies,
Happy news to announce, here we go.
A big mazel tov to our dear friends (and everyone else’s) Dasi and Moti Weitz upon the wedding this past Sunday of their beautiful daughter Sara to Josh Daniels, he the son of Judy and Michael Daniels, and they all from Chicago. May Sara and Josh merit to enjoy many decades of blissful marriage. Sadly, the Ois was not in attendance as he was/is still recovering from the omicron but was well represented by the eishes chayil.
Mazel tov to our dear friends Rivky and Eli Weinstein upon the marriage one week ago today of their amazing son Yisroel Meyer to Rochel Shaindel Feucthwanger, she the beautiful daughter of Dovid and Esther Feuchtwanger. The heylige Ois had the pleasure of speaking at sheva brochis last night. May the young couple be zoche to build a bayis ne’man b’yisroel and be a source of nachas to the entire family.
And in mid-week news, a big mazel tov to Esther and Boruch Weinstein upon the engagement of their gevaldige son Benjamin to Lily Lightman, she the beautiful daughter of Miriam and Ezra Lightman, they of Bergenfield New Jersey. Mazel tov to the extended Weinstein, Weiss and Lightman families. And a special shout mazel tov to Ben’s bubby, Mrs. Bernice Weiss. May Ben and Lily merit to enjoy many decades of very bright light together.
And mazel tov to Ariel and Eliana Abittan upon the birth of a baby girl (#4). Welcome to the world bay Ora Rena Abittan. May you be a great source of nachas to your parents, grandparents Rachel and Abe Abittan and Tova and Roy Graber, and great grandparents. A very special shoutout to great grandmother Mrs. Ida Abittan; may your new great grandchild be a source of nechomo. Omen!
Interlopers and Rabblerousers
Last week: Paroy and his people lived through seven makos and -with some assistance from the RBSO- remained mostly unimpressed. The Yiddin remained enslaved. Welcome to Parshas Boi, but one Shabbis later, and just as we begin reading the shishi (sixth) aliya, with another 35 or so pisukim left in the parsha, the Yiddin will be free, and the Yom tov of Pesach forever with us. Many Toirah inspired entrepreneurs make a living off Pesach and its trimmings. The bottom line: It’s good to have the RBSO on one’s side.
I was going to focus on plague #9, choishech (darkness) but while reviewing the parsha and digging up various medroshim, I also came across new information on a group of people known to us as the ‘erev rav.’ Most translate these words to mean the ‘mixed multitude,’ they, a rather large group of interlopers who left Mitzrayim with the Yiddin and accompanied them throughout their years in the midbar. The bottom line: an audible was called, darkness set aside, and the erev rav is the topic du jour for our 12th review of the parsha.
Let’s set the scene by studying one posik (Shmois 12:38) where we read this: וְגַם עֵרֶב רַב עָלָה אִתָּם – An ʿerev rav’ also went up with them. When the Yiddin left Egypt, they were accompanied by an erev rav. What the hec is an erev rav? What’s pshat accompanied them? This obscure term has been interpreted in different ways throughout the millennia and hotly debated by many an exegete. And while our sages don’t agree on much, they all seemingly agree on one thing: the term survives in modern Jewish discourse as a slur against other Yiddin. In other words: they were not good people.
Ober, does the heylige Toirah further describe them, and or, tell us they were either good or bad? It does not. Do the words erev rav appear anyplace else in the entire heylige Toirah? They do not! What most sages do agree on is that the word ‘erev’ somehow means mixed and that the word רַב ( rav), is an adjective meaning “great or many,” and together, the standard translation of the term erev rav means “a mixed multitude.” Mixed with what you ask? And just how many of them got mixed in when the Yiddin left? Ver veyst? Once again, we’re left not knowing and but guessing since the heylige Toirah did not reveal the numbers, or much else. You know the drill: when the Toirah is quiet, the medrish is far from it, and the heylige Ois is in business.
Shoin, lommer lernin innaveynig (let’s read the words of the text). Says the heylige Toirah (Shemois 12:37-38) azoy. “And the B’nai Yisroel (Yiddin) journeyed from Ramses to Succos, about six hundred thousand on foot, who were men, besides children. And a ‘mixed multitude’ went up also in their midst; and flocks and herd and very many cattle.”
The words are mostly informative and quite innocuous until we get to ‘mixed multitude’. What are mixed multitude? How taka did they become mixed? Was the border wide open? No wall? Were they coming through Mexico perhaps? How many were there? What was their nationality? And why are they being mentioned here? Shoin as you can well imagine, these two words have been the subject of many a debate and machloikes (disagreement) between many a great rabbi. Seemingly, the RBSO wanted our rabbis to figure it out on their own. It was left to oral tradition, to Rashi, medroshim, and others -to include the heylige Zoihar of course, and wait until you read what he had to say; it will mamish blow your mind- to argue, discuss, and come up with rational explanations. Nu, let’s see what some had to say about their numbers and then we’ll go veyter. Says the medrish of the Michilta (Shemois 14) azoy:
“מאה ועשרים רבוא דברי רבי ישמעאל. רבי עקיבא אומר מאתים וארבעים רבוא. ר’ נתן אומר שלש מאות וששים רבוא:”
“1,200,000”—the words of Rabbi Yishmoel. Rabbi Akiva says: “2,400,000.” Rabbi Noson says: “3,600,000.”
Did you read the range? From 1.2M to 3.6M of them? We’re not talking about a rounding error; as many as 3.6 million “others” joined the Yiddin as they left? Says Targum Yoinoson, translating: סגיאין מנהון מאתן וארבעין רבוון, “More than them, 1,400,000.” The bottom line: all the numbers quoted above make the erev rav more numerous than the Yiddin themselves, whose numbers the Toirah gives as 600,000 men (Shmois 12:37). Well, blow me down: all this work by the RBSO and His assistants Moishe and Aharoin to save millions of goyim? Egyptians maybe? Did the RBSO bring about ten Makos to bring out as many as 3.6M of these mixed multitude goyim and but 600,000 Yiddin? Does that make sense? What’s taka pshat? On the other hand, let us recall that the 600,000-figure given was only for males. When added to the women and children, it’s shayich that the numbers went up into the millions but still, were the Yiddin not overwhelmed by the sheer number of “others” who joined them?
As mentioned just above, the term erev rav appears but once in the heylige Toirah but guess what? Over in Sefer Bamidbar, there is a reference to yet another group of rabble rousers and let’s see how the heylige Toirah refers to them. Says the heylige Toirah (Bamidbar 11:4), azoy: The asafsuf in their midst felt a gluttonous craving; and then the Israelites wept and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish that we used to eat free in Egypt…”
במדבר יא:ד וְהָאסַפְסֻף אֲשֶׁר בְּקִרְבּוֹ הִתְאַוּוּ תַּאֲוָה וַיָּשֻׁבוּ וַיִּבְכּוּ גַּם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיֹּאמְרוּ מִי יַאֲכִלֵנוּ בָּשָׂר. יא:ה זָכַרְנוּ אֶת הַדָּגָה אֲשֶׁר נֹאכַל בְּמִצְרַיִם חִנָּם…
There in Bamidbar, the Toirah tells us how the Yiddin, spurred on by an obscure group called the ʾasafsuf,’ complain about the lack of meat, which angers the RBSO who responds by bringing quail, and eventually death to many of the complainants. Who were these guys? The same guys? Another group? Let’s find out. The term ʾasafsuf is reduplicative; it comes from the root א.ס.ף, meaning “gather.” It’s seemingly natural to connect asafsuf with erev rav, as these are the only references in the heylige Toirah to a group of outsiders accompanying the Yiddin in the wilderness. On the other hand, the difficulty with linking the two terms ʿerev rav/ʿaravrav and ʾasafsuf is that each appears only once in the Toirah, hence it is a case of using one obscure term to interpret another, assuming from context that they refer to the same thing. Are they the same group? So says Rashi. And so say the medroshim (Tanchuma, Shmois Rabbah 15:24) and the Ibn Ezra (Shmois 12:28), azoy: they are connected. Fartig and case closed! And to further punctuate this pshat, the Shadal too noted that the reduplicative reading to clinch the connection between ʿerev rav and ʾasafsuf.
והנה תרגום האספסוף ערברבין, וכן כאן בס’ השמרונים וגם ערברב עלה אתם מלה אחת, ולפי זה תהיה המלה כפולה כמו ירקרק אדמדם… והוא ממש כְּמִלַת אספסוף,
The bottom line: how many mixed multitudes tagged along? Which number is correct? Ver veyst? Of course, we don’t know as the number has never been resolved with any degree of certitude. What seemingly they all agree on is that the number was large. Shoin, time for the next machloikes and a new set of players. The sages mentioned above were seemingly but accountants and argued only numbers; new players wanted to dig deeper.
Some say that pshat is azoy: The Erev Rav were just bad guys who left Mitzrayim along with the Yiddin. They may have been non-Jewish slaves, criminals, and or, foreigners who somehow blended in during the mass exodus. Ober, many exegetes were not happy with this pshat. Why not? For why would Moishe agree to let these bad guys accompany the Yiddin and share in their Matzo and in their newfound wealth? Let’s recall that the Yiddin cleaned out Mitzrayim of much gold, silver and clothing on their way out. It was time for epes another more creative pshat and let’s see what some of the visionaries had to say.
Says Rashi: they were converts from a mixture of nations. What that means, ver veyst, but Rashi seems to be telling us that they were regular people who felt a kinship to the hapless enslaved Yiddin and wanted to join the club. Why would anyone want to convert and endure so many hardships, ver veyst? Free matzo?
Ober says the Vilna Gaon: these erev rav guys were not good people. After conversion, they never fully devoted themselves spiritually to the RBSO and His ways. And when they saw an uprising in the making – we will encounter a few such uprisings during in the coming 40 year midbar stay- they either joined it, or stoked the flames of the rebellions. We will come to learn that they were also involved in another uprising, one involving the hot Moabite shiksas, an uprising mamish, if you chap, and where many Yiddin came and went.
And says the Oznayim Latoirah: they were bad guys! How bad? Look closely at the words of the Toirah. Earlier we quoted the posik which said azoy: “And the B’nai Yisroel (Yiddin) journeyed from Ramses to Succos, about six hundred thousand on foot, who were men, besides children. And a ‘mixed multitude’ went up also in their midst; and flocks and herd and very many cattle.” From the closeness of the words Erev Rav to the animals, they must be related. In other words: they behaved just like the behaymis. Gishmak. Another medrish will teach us that the erev rav were also behind the eygel project, and other midbar bad-boy behavior including the drinking of the shitim water. You never heard of shitim water? You will in a few months. Bottom line: these waters seemingly contained epes minerals that aroused the Yiddin, if you chap, which further caused them to party hearty with the Moabite shiksas mentioned just above.
Says the Ohr Hachaim Hakoidesh (the holy one) azoy: The Erev Rav were spies! Sent by whom? By Paroy no less. And their mission? To instigate and weaken the resolve of the Yiddin. Grada this theory might have some legs because from now until they are mostly wiped out in the ensuing 40-year midbar trek, they will taka have done just that. They will be blamed for every mishap. They will avada take heat for weakening the resolve of the Yiddin who wound up having sexual escapades and orgies with the hot Moabite and Midianite shiksas. Let’s not forget they will also take the heat for the eygel caper. Those storylines are still a good number of parshas away; we will of course cover the uncovered. The mixed multitude will also bear the brunt of the blame for other calamites that befell the Yiddin. Ober why would Paroy send out at least 1 million and perhaps as many as 3.6 million -or more- spies to accompany the Yiddin? Wouldn’t that number overwhelm the Yiddin? Says the Ohr Hachaim: Moishe continuously only asked that the Yiddin be allowed to leave Mitzrayim on a ‘three-day-journey’ in order to serve the RBSO in the desert. It was the job of the ‘Erev Rav’ to make sure they came back. They were more than spies; perhaps cops. Of course, the Yiddin never intended to return. As to why Moishe didn’t make his intentions clear and efsher deceived or outright lied to Paroy, shoin, that for another day. Who said he had to speak truthfully to Paroy? Was he under oath? Do you always speak the emes? Veyter!
So far so good until we come across the thoughts of the Arizal (he, the famous kabbalist known for the coldest mikveh in the world) who said azoy. As an aside, when one is a kabbalist, one can say anything because avada it’s hard to have a logical argument over the kabolo. It’s mystical: fartig, and case closed! And just because it makes no sense to the average person, that avada doesn’t mean that it can’t be emes. Or, that it didn’t happen just as the kabbalist imagined it. And even if it didn’t’, it still might have. In kabolo, everything is possible.
And with that foundation, let’s collectively have our minds blown as we read this. Says the (Zoihar Ki Sisa 191A), azoy: the erev rav were the sorcerers and magicians of Egypt whom Moishe took out with him. Moreover, it appears that Moishe took these people with him after being specifically warned by the RBSO not to. You hear this? Moishe did not listen to the RBSO? And the Zoihar came to this idea how? Let’s find out. In Parshas Ki Sisa -mamish a few weeks away- Moishe will go up the mountain where will receive the Luchois (the very ones he later shattered). Ober due to a miscommunication, the people below became confused as to his ETA. Lets’ read what happened next: ‘AND WHEN THE PEOPLE SAW THAT MOISHE DELAYED (boishesh) TO COME DOWN OUT OF THE MOUNT.’ Says the Zoihar that the word “people” denotes the erev rav, the mixed multitude. And who were the mixed multitude? Were they Lydians, Ethiopians, or Cyprians? No! They were all of one people who all spoke one language. They were the sorcerers and magicians of Mitzrayim. And we know this how? From earlier pisukim where we read this: “And the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments” (Shmois 7, 2); for they wanted to oppose the wonderful works of the Holy One, blessed be He. When they saw the signs and the wonders which Moishe wrought in Egypt they came to Moishe to be converted. Said the Holy One to Moishe: “Do not receive them.” Moishe however, replied: “Sovereign of the universe, now that they have seen Your power, they desire to accept our Faith, let them see Your power every day and they will learn that there is no G-d like You.” And Moishe accepted them.
Want more? Here we go: The Erev Rav date back to an earlier time. They were not Mitzri spies as suggested by the Ohr Hachaim. The Erev Rav harken back to the days of Odom (Adam). They do what? What does that mean? Ver veyst?
Says Rebbe Yirmiya ben Elozor in the heylige Gemora azoy: the erev rav harken back to the seed of Odom Horishon (Adam). To what? What seed? He planted them? Maybe yes! Nu, mistama you don’t recall ober the heylige Ois covered Odom’s seed in a previous post where he wrote azoy: There was a period of 130 years during which Odom and Chava were separated. No sexual activity! And by that we mean that Odom was not getting or that Chava was not facilitating any. Why not? We are not told. Some say he was doing tshuva and as part of this process, he took it upon himself to avoid relations. Some say, Chava was still attracted to the snake, ver veyst. Ober, kula-almi-loi-piligi (no one would argue) that 130 years is mamish cruel and unusual punishment for any man to be without, no matter the gravity of sin committed. Says the Ois azoy: The statute of limitation for the proverbial dog-house, specifically for purposes of having marital relations, cannot, and should not exceed 24 hours. For some, a few hours is mamish giferlich.
But there was good news: The heylige Toirah teaches us that following the 130-year dry spell (not exactly as we will soon read), Odom fathered a child ‘in his likeness’. And from those words, our esteemed kabbalists and a few others concluded that during the 130 years when Odom was nebech mamish so frustrated, he may have fathered other things, seemingly not in his likeness. He did what? In other words: what he fathered (by releasing his seed, if you chap) was the first generation of some type of soul that eventually morphed into the likeness of people. And taka, says the heylige Gemora (Eiruvin 18b), azoy: All the years Odom was in excommunication, he fathered Ruchin, Shiddin, and Lillin [Demons and evil spirits]. OMG! Is that emes? Rebi Meir objected and said azoy: Odom Horishon was extremely pious, because when he saw that he had brought about the punishment of death, he sat in fasting for 130 years, and separated from his wife for 130 years as well! (This implies that he was unable to father anything for that duration of time.) However, the heylige Gemora Answers azoy: He wore a belt of date branches over his skin for 130 years which forced him to emit seed (and produce the souls mentioned above). How that worked, ver veyst? Odom did what? Yes, you read that correctly: He emitted seed! The bottom line: the belt was efsher too tight and caused some leakage. Shoin! Is that a foreign concept to many of you? Not! Let’s get real: most of you can’t go more than a few days or hours without emitting, if you chap. Can we really blame Odom if seed was spilled during the 130 dog-house years? Shoin, what really happened ver veyst. Seemingly, this seed created souls and these souls, through a very complicated theory of reincarnation found all over the kabolo, went on a journey to become cleansed and joined the Jewish people. Eventually they wound up in Mitzrayim as the erev rav; of course, they did, and why not? And now you know. Shoin, go argue.
Let’s try one more: The erev rav were from the sparks of Moishe and that’s specifically why he worked so hard to get the RBSO to allow them to tag along. What’s pshat they were sparks of Moishe? How did Moishe get entangled into this mess? Let’s circle back to the Zoihar who says (Aitz Chaim Shaar 32:2), azoy: Let us recall that Moishe was born to Yoicheved when she was 130 years old. And? Let us also recall that Odom and Chava were separated for 130 years and shoin. 130 there and 130 here and somehow Moishe was involved in the rectification of the souls created with Odom’s seed. In other words: while in the doghouse with Chava for 130 years, Odom’s seed was forced out and created certain something’s; specifically what, ver veyst. These things eventually morphed into the magicians and sorcerers of Mitzrayim and Moishe -efsher feeling some connection, accepted them. As an aside, the heylige Zoihar has much to say about all that Moishe endured as a result of his decision; all that for another day.
The bottom line: based on the Arizal’s view, these ‘mixed multitude’ were not Egyptian spies sent along to weaken the resolve of the Yiddin. Instead, they were unfinished Jews in need of one more reincarnation to complete their journey back to the Jewish people while the Yiddin were in Mitzrayim. The emes is that they were still unfinished and needed to remain in Mitzrayim. Ober, our hero Moishe – seemingly on his own- decided to bring them along. He considered them ba’al tshuvas (penitents). A medrish we will encounter in few weeks will remind us that that the RBSO and Moishe had a shtikel argument over the Erev Rav during which the RBSO lambasted Moishe for bringing them along on the journey. Science fiction? Ver veyst? Another bottom line: We don’t argue with kabolo lest it seek revenge and spook you out of your pants when you least expect it. Do all agree with this understanding? Of course not! Shoin: a better Hollywood script would be hard to imagine.
Still we ask: who were these mysterious Erev Rav or Mixed Multitude? Back where the heylige Ois comes from, the word ‘mixed’ means taka just that. They were mixed. Not mixed up in the head, though avada that’s also possible, but ‘mixed’ meaning they came from mixed marriages. Let’s play it out. Grada, this next pshat is not an Ois original though he no longer recalls the source. It is being repeated because it grada could be real emes. The Erev Rav may have been the children of mixed unions. They were? Why not? Is it so hard to imagine that in a country where the Yiddin were enslaved for 210 years that Mitzri men didn’t chap and have their way with many Yiddishe mydlcih (girls) -single and married? It’s not! And is it hard to imagine that the Mitzri men either raped or took them in as mistresses? And is it hard to chap that there were many lonely Jewish girls because their counterparts, the boys, were either killed at birth under Paroy’s orders, or too tired to service them? Also not! And will we not in a few weeks meet the product of just such a union? We will! He was the blasphemer about whose activities we will read in Parshas Emor. Let’s also keep in mind that the Yiddin had sunk down to the 49th level of tuma, whatever that means. Is it not possible that a healthy number of women just left the fold and ended up having children from their Mitzri lovers? It’s not! In any event, when the Yiddin left, the kids, the products of these mixed relationships, left as well. Given the long-term slavery and the number of years the Mitzri men could have their way with Jewish girls, does it not make sense that there were taka many- maybe millions- of mixed kids or mixed multitudes? Grada it does. And because they were mixed, they were also efsher mixed up. Because they were mixed, they had mixed feelings. Because they were mixed, it was they who at the first sight of trouble complained and said to Moishe: ‘let’s go back’, and ‘why did you bring us here?’ ‘Mitzrayim was better.’ And it was they who built the eygel and it was they who were involved in so many other nefarious activities. Logical? Why not? Makes as much sense as Odom having spilled seed 2000 years back and having that seed morph into sub humans, then humans, who epes wanted to leave Mitzrayim.
A gittin Shabbis-
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv