We typically do not begin with, or ever mention, passings among our friends and their families. Ober this week we make an exception and note with great sorrow the passing of Mr. Don Kirshner, father of our dear friend and neighbor Terri Herenstein. The Oisvorfer first met Mr. Kirshner, OBM, and Terri, then mamish still a teen, approximately 35-40 years ago over Pesach at the Caribbean Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. Because the hotel was fully booked and more, Sam and Rhoda Schechter, the hotel’s proprietors, utilized a section of the lobby area for seating for meals. Their table, too, was in that lobby area and The Oisvorfer was their guest for the sedorim. Very close by were all the Kirshners.
I first got to meet Mr. Kirshner when, around midnight, their entire family, led by Mr. Kirshner who loved to daven for the omud, lain and blow shofar, began singing ‘Shir Hamaalois’, the song that precedes benching (grace after meals), to the tune of “Its a small World,” from the very popular Disney attraction by that name (which for many years had the longest lines in the theme park.) That tune stuck in my head; it went into the rotation and has been used ever since. It was taught, and still is, to many friends, and later on, to my own family. A friendship began which has ensued uninterrupted ever since. Don Kirshner will, of course, be remembered by many for more important teachings. Yihi zichroin boruch; may his memory be a blessing.
And in the happy news department, mazel tov, and a very joyous and happy birthday (biz hindred and tzventzig (until 120)) to Norman Bigel, who will be marking his 99th birthday and the 86th anniversary of his bar mitzvah this coming shabbis. We first featured Norman Bigel back in July 2014. It’s a must read and please find it here. Since meeting Norman, the Oisvorfer and his many friends look forward to parshas Bolok so that we can wish him well. It’s our honor to note each milestone.
Raboyseyee and Ladies
How many times over the past six years, has the Oisvorfer told you that the RBSO mamish abhors the combination of illicit sexual relations, and avoido zoro (idolatry)? Many! He gets mamish upset. His anger flares and the consequences to its participant is always death. Kaput, over and out! And which parsha contains this deadly combination? Parshas Bolok which we will hear this week. Named after a goy and sworn enemy of the Yiddin, this week’s parsha contains but 104 pisukim. The last nine are about sex, whores, idolatry, and murder. OMG! Efsher we will get to them later. If not, avada they were previously covered and well discussed in previous editions. the story hasn’t changed; find it in archives over at www.oisvorfer.com.
Somewhere in the other 95, we will also come across a talking donkey, a phenomenon we shall discuss below. And for good measure, efsher to keep us interested during these summer months, one medrish will also throw in some bestiality, why not? The 95 non sex and avoido zoro related pisukim are all about one rather incredible plot and conspiracy entered into by Bolok, efsher a Midianite, who was somehow the king of a country known as Moiov, and a fellow named Bilam, also a goy gomur, to curse the Yiddin. In short, Bolok, having heard how the Yiddin had smitten their neighboring enemies, was afraid that his country might be next. He hired this fellow Bilam who according to our sages, had unique powers of black magic and sorcery gifted to him by the RBSO, to curse the Yiddin. Why the RBSO endowed a bad guy like Bilam with such gifts, including prophesy, ver veyst, but is, as can be expected, the subject of a health number of medroshim.
Interestingly enough, the 95 pisukim dedicated to the plot and its attempted execution are told in such detail and color, there is hardly need to look to the heylige Gemora and other exegeses for additional elucidation. It’s all there in the very rich text. It could be stated that no other storyline in the entire Toirah kula is told and developed as much as the nefarious plot concocted by Bolok. The entire slavery and suffering of the Yiddin for approximately 210 years is retold in fewer. This anomaly has the Oisvorfer scratching his head and klerring (thinking) azoy: why is it taka the case that the RBSO chose to dedicate so much space in His heylige Toirah to the story of Bolok and Bilam? This kasha is even more glaring when one considers the numerous lacunas found elsewhere in the heylige Toirah. Limoshol (by way of example): avada we all know how much the RBSO loves the heylige shabbis. No fewer than 48 times does the word shabbis appear along with instructions for us to remember it, observe it, and keep it holy. Yet, did the RBSO ever tell us how to keep the shabbis? How to make shabbis? Not! Instead, shabbis observance, which continues to evolve ad hayoim hazeh, with new chumras (restrictions) found in responsa and other publications that keep on coming, was left to the oral tradition, the heylige Mishne and Gemora, along with myriad other books which have been published on its proper observance. Moreover, nowhere are we told how to build a Sukkah; what we do know, is that we are instructed to live in one for seven days. And the list goes on.
Yet, when it came to describing a plot by the co-protagonists Bolok and Bilam, an early version of the Keystone Cops, a gang that couldn’t shoot straight, the heylige Toirah reduced to writing, the initial plan, the plot, each and every twist and turn, and so much more. The details will astound you. When Bilam’s trusted donkey which he saddled up for the ride and which he kicked several times, suddenly opened its mouth and began speaking to him, the heylige Toirah recorded every word of their conversation. What’s taka pshat here? Its detailed coverage is even more impressive when considering that our heylige Toirah contains not one extra sentence, word or letter. Why is it taka the case that the RBSO wanted us to know these details? After all, Bolok was not the first goy who plotted to hurt the Yiddin; sadly he was neither the last.
The emes is that the Oisvorfer has no answers, only questions and he would love to hear from rabbis and readers of this review as to their thoughts. If you have an answer, please respond. And while you are already writing, please also add a few insights as to why this farbrecher (bad guy) Bolok merited a parsha in his own name, while other Toirah heroes and heroines, never merited a parsha in theirs. Were Red Buttons alive today, he would zicher have a routine about how great people like our forefathers and mothers, including Yoisef, Moishe, Aharoin, Rochel, Miriam and our friend Kolave, never had a parsha named after themselves.
Shoin, did you just read that a donkey began speaking and that its conversation with Bilam is mamish reduced to writing in the heylige Toirah? Indeed you did. And since we mentioned the talking donkey, let’s look at what a few had to say about this most unusual super natural phenomenon. Ober, ershtens a proper introduction.
A few thousand years before Hollywood gave us a show which featured a talking horse known as Mr. Ed, grada a show the Oisvorfer taka very much enjoyed when he was – ich veys- efsher under ten years old, the RBSO in his heylige Toirah, featured a talking donkey. In fact, those who read and study Pirkei Ovois (Ethics of our Fathers) will come across a Mishne (Ovois 5:8) which tells us that the mouth of Bilam’s donkey was created at twilight on the sixth day of creation. That very verse also teaches us of another mouth, one we featured last week, the mouth of the earth which opened to swallow up Koirach, his wife and cohorts. That mouth too was created on day six of creation. Both mouths we are taught, were brought into this world to lay in wait until called into service and action by the RBSO at the appropriate time.
As you can imagine and to no one’s surprise, there is some disagreement concerning this Mishneh. Was only the donkey’s mouth created on day six, or, was the donkey itself created back then? Was Bilam riding and kicking a donkey that was now over 2000 years old? Which version is correct? Ver veyst ober let’s see what a few luminaries had to say. Says the Pirkei D’rebbe Eliezer, not be confused with the Pirchei which featured a few rouge leaders, who tried to chap, if you chap, azoy: the donkey that our zeyda Avrohom Ovenu rode on his way to the Akeyda with the intention of sacrificing his beloved son Yitzchok, was the son of Bilam’s donkey. Shoin! According to him, Bilam’s donkey and not just its mouth, was created on day 6. It got married and had a son: mazel tov! Moreover, says the medrish azoy: this very donkey (the one Avrohom rode), was later used by Moishe when, after being assigned the job of redeeming the Yiddin from slavery, he saddled up and rode it back to Mitzrayim. Is medrish gishmak or what? But wait; there’s more: says the medrsih mamish so gishmak azoy: this very donkey will be used once more, this time upon the arrival of the Moshiach who will come riding into town -one day soon- atop this very donkey. Of course it’s also possible that he will arrive with an Uber, or some self driving car, ver veyst.
Ober, says Rabaynu Bechaye, it’s not so. The donkey itself was not created on day six for it’s impossible for an animal to live so long. Oib azoy (that being the case), what to make of the Mishneh in Ovois which clearly tells us otherwise? Shoin: not to worry. If you look carefully at the words, they tell us that only the mouth of the donkey was created on day six. In other words: the RBSO created a mouth and gave it special ability to speak. That particular mouth was later given to the donkey which used it to utter and exchange a few words with Bilam. A female mouth created on day 6 that did not speak for over 2,000 years is taka one big miracle.
Shoin, whether the donkey was young with a mouth that was created over 2200 years earlier, or whether the donkey itself was a few thousand years old, either way, the fact that it could speak intelligently to Bilam, needs to be considered one of the most amazing miracles of all, efsher akin to any other great neys the RBSO performed. As to why the RBSO elected to have a donkey speak to Bilam when He could easily -as He always has- employed the services of one the myriad Malochim (angels) at His disposal, ver veyst? Taka this question bothered more than just the Oisvorfer and taka say our sages, something mamish shreklich (OMG): the donkey was used to highlight what a bad guy and chazir Bilam was: Says Rashi referencing the heylige Gemora (Avoido Zoro 4B) azoy: Bilam had sexual relations -bestiality mamish- with that donkey, say it’s not so. Bilam had what and who says that? Shoin, let’s quickly read a few pisukim of the exchange between Bilam and his she donkey. Says the heylige Toirah (Bamidbar 22: 28-30) azoy:
|28. The RBSO opened the mouth of the she-donkey, and she said to Bilam, “What have I done to you that you have struck me these three times?”||כחוַיִּפְתַּח יְהֹוָה אֶת פִּי הָאָתוֹן וַתֹּאמֶר לְבִלְעָם מֶה עָשִׂיתִי לְךָ כִּי הִכִּיתָנִי זֶה שָׁלשׁ רְגָלִים:|
|29. Bilam said to the she-donkey, “For you have humiliated me; if I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”||כטוַיֹּאמֶר בִּלְעָם לָאָתוֹן כִּי הִתְעַלַּלְתְּ בִּי לוּ יֶשׁ חֶרֶב בְּיָדִי כִּי עַתָּה הֲרַגְתִּיךְ:|
|30. The she-donkey said to Bilam, “Am I not your she-donkey on which you have ridden since you first started until now? Have I been accustomed to do this to you?” He said, “No.”||לוַתֹּאמֶר הָאָתוֹן אֶל בִּלְעָם הֲלוֹא אָנֹכִי אֲתֹנְךָ אֲשֶׁר רָכַבְתָּ עָלַי מֵעוֹדְךָ עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה הַהַסְכֵּן הִסְכַּנְתִּי לַעֲשׂוֹת לְךָ כֹּה וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא:|
Says Rashi: in her reply to Bilam, the she-donkey said “have I been accustomed to do such a thing to you?” Nu, from these few words, our sages, who else, deduced that Bilam had been engaging and had performed bestiality with his donkey. Seemingly, when the heylige Toirah told us that Bilam saddled her up and rode her, it meant mamish just that, say it’s not so. Mamish a chazir. All that being said, our sages also tell us that Bilam’s gifts from the RBSO, were akin to Moishe; he was mamish gifted with the ability to prophesy. As stated above, why the RBSO selected this bag for these unique gifts is for another day.
Shoin, we began this review by questioning how many times the Oisvorfer has stated -mamish over and again- that the RBSO is mamish disgusted when illicit sexual relations are combined with avoido zoro and in these next few paragraphs of this shortened review, we shall prove the point.
Following the massive orgy and sex festival during which the Yiddin somehow became entangled with the Moabite hot shiksas, the RBSO ordered that the perpetrators all be killed and hung. A few pisukim later, there were 24,000 dead hanging. Ober asks Rabaynu Bechaye, azoy: Back in sefer Shemois, we sadly read where the Yiddin, suspecting that Moishe was dead, forced Aharoin to build the eygel hazohov (golden calf) and how they partied and reveled around the eygel. The RBSO was quite upset and suggested that efsher he should wipe out this young nation, his own Chosen People. Ober, as we all know, Moishe pleaded and was able to persuade the RBSO to forgive the young stiff-necked nation. Not however before 3000 were dead. Ober, shtelt zich di shaylo (the question arises) azoy: didn’t our rabbis teach us that throughout our glorious history, whenever the Yiddin are punished, some part of that punishment is still somehow connected to their sin with the golden calf? They do. Moreover, isn’t the eygel referred to as the sin that keeps on giving? It is! Yet, only 3000 were dead. Ober here in parshas Bolok, and following the death of over 600,000 males between the ages of 20 and 60 over these last few parshas, we read that after but one orgy with shiksas, the RBSO ordered 24,000 to pay with their lives? What’s taka pshat in this great disparity? Wasn’t the eygel a far greater sin? Ober he answers his own question mamish so gishmak azoy: the difference between the sinners with the eygel and those in our parsha with the Moabite zoinis (whores), was avoido zoro (idol worship). Rashi, and who chapped human behavior better than did he, tells us azoy: once the shiksas fully enticed the men with their charms, if you chap, once the hapless and mamish helpless men were beyond any point where they could think rationally with their big heads, and control themselves and efsher back out, they davka wanted in. At any price and by following all orders. The very clever and seductive shiksas, in a rouse set up by Bilam following his colossal failure to curse the Yiddin, demanded that the participants – their clientele, those that wanted to enjoy their forbidden fruits, if you chap, first serve their idol known as the Ba’al Pe’or. Says Rashi azoy: “when anyone’s passions overpowered him, at the point when the patron told the shiksa to submit to his desires, she took out for him an image of Peor from her bosom and said to him – “first prostrate yourself before this.” Nu, what choice did he have when only being directed by his little head. Seemingly these 24,000 bowed and did whatever was requested in order to chap the objects of their desire. Shoin: proof positive that illicit sex acts when combined with idolatry = instant death. A happy ending, if you chap, was quickly followed by a faster and rather unpleasant death.
A gittin Shabbis!
The Oisvorfer Ruv