Hookers, Harlots & Going Out with a Bang!
Let’s begin with a shtikel Rambam where in (Hilchos Ishus 1:4) he tells us azoy: “Before the Toirah was given, when a man would meet a woman in the marketplace, and he and she desired, he could give her payment, engage in relations with her wherever they desired, and then depart. Such a woman is referred to as a harlot. When the Toirah was given, [relations with] a harlot became forbidden, as [Deuteronomy 23:18] states: “There shall not be a harlot among the children of Israel.” Therefore, a person who has relations with a woman for the sake of lust, without kiddushin, receives lashes as prescribed by the Toirah, because he had relations with a harlot.”
Avada it’s good to know what’s in store for many of you, ober we begin with this Rambam why? Because going back to the Sefer Bereishis, on occasion, the heylige Toirah will throw in a myseh (storyline) about a prostitute, or multiples of them, as in prostitutes. As well, the heylige Novee follows suit and just a two weeks back, we read from the Novee of the role Rochov played in helping a few spies avoid capture. This week, we shall –with the exception of a mention here and there- step back from corona and demonstrations and instead expose the role of prostitutes and how the RBSO employed them in the year 2488. As an aside, it was in 2488 that the Yiddin finally entered the Promised Land.
Shoin, just last week the heylige Ois taught you that tagging along and joining a demonstration when one does not have a dog in the hunt, can have a deleterious effect on your life; death mamish! Ober did the generation of Yiddin who left Mitzrayim learn this lesson? Not! Did they learn it following the sin of the eygel? Not! How about following the death of the Misoininim (complainers) who all died while choking on quail? They died following complaints and protests regarding their midbar diets. Lesson learned? Not! Efsher they chapped the danger of protesting after the miraglim spoke loshoin horo about the land and the RBSO eliminated -as in killed- them while those who but listened were sentenced to death in the midbar? Also not! Did they learn anything at all about not antagonizing the RBSO during their forty-year midbar journey? Seemingly not! Es vyst zich ois (it does appear) azoy: once rebellions, uprisings, demonstrations, movements, or even a mutiny begins, and though protestors are eye witnesses and -many times- also finally victims to the consequences of their actions, it takes several attempts at quashing and snuffing out the last embers until one can –with certitude- proclaim that it’s finally over. We shall examine just what that meant in the year 2488, just weeks before the next generation of Yiddin were getting ready to enter to Promised Land. The lessons of the heylige Toirah are everlasting.
Several parshas back, the RBSO, following the sin of the miraglim decreed that all males above the age of 20 would die in the midbar. His exact words were “in this midbar your carcasses will be buried.” He meant business. What He didn’t tell them was how they would die. Ober as this week’s double header parshas of Chukas and Bolok are read – a summer double header until baseball starts up again in a very shortened season, and in order to catch up to the weekly parsha being read over in Israel- we will come to learn that the RBSO employed several tactics to thin out the “not ready for entry into the land Yiddin.” Not all Yiddin died naturally. Back in Parshas Bihaloischo, a number of Yiddin died choking on their food, in Shelach, a plague took out the miraglim only, and over in Koirach we read how Doson, Avirom and their families died along with the 250 tag-along’s and another 14,700. In Parshas Chukas, the RBSO is back with a new “cause of death” as He will employ snakes to bite and kill the still complaining Yiddin. And why were snakes sent? Because once again they complained about the lack of water and their diets. Says the heylige Toirah (Bamidbar 20: 5-6), azoy: …
and the people spoke against G-d and Moishe, “Why did you make us leave Mitzrayim to die in the wilderness? There is no bread and no water, and we have come to loathe this miserable food.” As an aside, once again they were complaining about the special and magical Munn bread -efsher tofu- which could be prepared anyway and tasted like anything one yearned for. How did the RBSO respond? He sent seraph serpents (snakes) against the people. They bit the people and many of the Israelites died. Why snakes? Says Rashi citing the medrish on Bamidbar 21:6 azoy: Let the snake, which was smitten for speaking evil [to Chava], come and punish those who spread slander [about the manna]. Let the snake, for which all types of food taste the same, come and punish those ingrates, for whom one thing [the manna] changes into various tastes. The bottom line: the RBSO avada recalled the snake’s sin and shoin, it’s called back into duty but this time doing the RBSO’s bidding. There is seemingly a direct connection between the serpent and the snakes that were sent to punish the Yiddin for being ingrates. In plain English: though the Yiddin were eye witnesses to the fate of those who previously complained about their diets, though they also saw the miraculous sinkhole which swallowed up the agitators, and though they knew they were on thin ice with the RBSO, still, they found it within themselves to again challenge Moishe and anger not just him but the RBSO as well. Says the heylige Toirah, “the people spoke against G-d and Moishe.” The bottom line: these people were doomed. Nu, as you avada know, the RBSO has many tricks in His armamentarium and He uses them as He sees fit. Another bottom line: serpents and or snakes are but agents of the Omnipresent. They are seemingly called into action when man sins. Over in Parshas Bolok, we will read how snakes of a different variety, if you chap, made an appearance and became physically entangled with hundreds, or efsher thousands of hookers. Ober, halt zich eyn (keep your pants on) -something the Yiddin did not do. We will get to that amazing myseh involving snakes and hookers in the paragraphs below but first this question.
How many Yiddin died as a result of snakebites? Guess what? Though the heylige Toirah does provide very specific death tolls in prior death-events, in the case of deadly snake bites, the heylige Toirah is silent. It does however offer a clue. Why is it silent? Ver veyst? Was it because only a few died, or was the number so large the heylige Toirah didn’t want to shock us? Says the heylige Toirah (Bamidbar 20:6) “…a large multitude of Israel died.” The bottom line: many many died, efsher too many to mention.
Ober the RBSO wasn’t quite done and in the second half of the double header –in Parshas Bolok- He will set up those destined to die as they have never been set up before. They will be going out with a bang, if you chap. What to do when the RBSO told the Yiddin they were going to die and they’re not all dead yet? How to thin out the last 24,000 slated to die before they rest could enter the Promised Land? Another plague? An early version or strain of corona? Shoin, He is the RBSO and avada He has many tools in His playbook and in Bolok, He will employ the services of either Midianite or Moabite shiksa hookers. What’s pshat either or? And what’s pshat hookers? Why would the RBSO rely on hookers? And what’s pshat that 24,000 Yiddin died because they enjoyed the services of hookers? Is having sex with a hooker a death sentence? Does patchking with one come with the death penalty? Did we not read in the introduction that according to the Rambam, one who engages with a hooker is but punished to lashes? Grada we did.
Moreover, let’s recall that back in Bereishis, it took a hooker –at least a nice girl dressed and acting as one- to lure Yehuda into a roadside encounter, and let us avada recall that such union –generations later, gave us kings, and will ultimately give us the Moshiach himself. Bottom line: the world needs hookers; they seem to play a pivotal role and in Parshas Bolok, they do their job admirably and more. Another bottom line: if chapped with one, you can always claim that you were but attempting to bring the Moshiach.
Ober, what taka took place in a place called Shitim? Let’s skip ahead to the very end of Parshas Bolok, where in the last nine pisukim (of a total of 104) the heylige Toirah tells us that the Yiddin –seemingly thousands of them- became ensnared with hookers whose job it was to seduce, pleasure, and have their hapless clients also perform some idol worship. Let’s read the text. Says the heylige Toirah (Bamidbar 25:1-4) azoy:
|1. Israel settled in Shittim, and the people began to commit harlotry with the daughters of the Moabites.||אוַיֵּ֥שֶׁב יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל בַּשִּׁטִּ֑ים וַיָּ֣חֶל הָעָ֔ם לִזְנ֖וֹת אֶל־בְּנ֥וֹת מוֹאָֽב:|
|2. They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and prostrated themselves to their gods.||בוַתִּקְרֶ֣אןָ לָעָ֔ם לְזִבְחֵ֖י אֱלֹֽהֵיהֶ֑ן וַיֹּ֣אכַל הָעָ֔ם וַיִּשְׁתַּֽחֲו֖וּ לֵאלֹֽהֵיהֶֽן:|
|3. Israel became attached to Baal Peor, and the anger of the Lord flared against Israel.||גוַיִּצָּ֥מֶד יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לְבַ֣עַל פְּע֑וֹר וַיִּֽחַר־אַ֥ף יְהֹוָ֖ה בְּיִשְׂרָאֵֽל:|
|4. The Lord said to Moishe, “Take all the leaders of the people and hang them before the Lord, facing the sun, and then the flaring anger of the Lord will be removed from Israel.||דוַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶל־משֶׁ֗ה קַ֚ח אֶת־כָּל־רָאשֵׁ֣י הָעָ֔ם וְהוֹקַ֥ע אוֹתָ֛ם לַֽיהֹוָ֖ה נֶ֣גֶד הַשָּׁ֑מֶשׁ וְיָשֹׁ֛ב חֲר֥וֹן אַף־יְהֹוָ֖ה מִיִּשְׂרָאֵֽל:|
Nu, mistama among many other questions about this story, you’re also wondering azoy: where in the midbar did these hookers reside? Were they local talent? Or, were they imported for this specific purpose? Were they already setup roadside waiting for clients who were wandering aimlessly through the midbar?
Shoin, while the heylige Ois has asked and answered a few of these questions in prior posts on this parsha, a few new questions are raised here. Why is there even confusion as to the origin of the hookers? The answer to this question is azoy: where they were from depends on who you ask. One thing we know with certainty: they were hookers! Whether they were Midianite or Moabite, ver veyst? How their passports were stamped we don’t know. According to at least one opinion, they were both; in other words, efsher there weren’t enough hookers to go around from one country and their booking agent reached out for assistance. Efsher with one call, they were quickly able to mobilize hookers from a second country to fill in the gap. Filling in the gap, if you chap, is what the Yiddin did with the hookers. Another view is that Midian and Moav were really but one county at the time and shoin, no more questions. One thing is zicher: nice yeshiva girly they were not, though it’s of course efsher shayich that at one time they were. Veyter.
Let’s review: Who were the women seducers in a place called Shitim who caused the Yiddin to stray after their gods (Baal Peor)? Nu, this question –made obvious by the seemingly mutually exclusive pisukim- bothered many a commentator and let’s read what they had to say. Avada when it comes to hookers, sex-capades and avoido zoro, the interest of many a commentator was piqued. On the one hand, it seems like the women came from Moiov. Why so? Because that’s precisely what the heylige Toirah tells us in Bamidbar 25: וַיָּחֶל הָעָם לִזְנוֹת אֶל-בְּנוֹת מוֹאָב, the nation began to stray after the daughters of Moiav. Ober, it epes does appear that at least some -or efsher most- were Midianites. What’s pshat? Were they holding dual citizenship papers? Were they allowed in on special visas for talented people? Grada even here in America visas are (were) issued for those with exceptional talent. And very talented they mistama were to get the Yiddin to perform not only some crazy sex act but also to worship their god just before? We’re talking real talent raboyseyee! These girls seemingly serviced 24000 men. In any event, the woman killed by Pinchas, identified next week as Kozbi bas Tzur, was a Midianite princess. The bottom line is that at least a number of the cast were Midianites. Moreover, Moishe was (in next week’s parsha) commanded to kill the Midianites for their role in this event (25:17), and the ensuing war against them requires the killing of the women “because of their role in the matter of Peor” (31:16). Let’s chazir the question: which nation provided the very talented hookers who ensnared thousands of Jewish men? Says the Abarbanel on Posik 25:1 that the women were actually Midianites, though when the Yiddin saw them, they thought that they were from Moav, which is why the heylige Toirah only describes the Yiddin as ‘straying after the girls of Moav. Moreover, the Abarbanel finds it inconceivable that Jewish men would be, and are allowed to, marry Moabite women, if the women of Moav were the ones at fault in this story. Confused? Not to worry because the Kli Yokor on posik 25:17 answers this question by stating that both the women of Moav and Midian were involved, but the women of Moav were involved only passively; it was the Yiddin in fact who themselves first seduced the women of Mo’av, so they were not really at fault. Only after the men were aroused did the women of Midian seduce the Jewish men. Shoin, efsher we can kler azoy: since the Moabite shiksa hookers were only passive, they more resembled the regular Jewish woman and shoin, we may marry them. Let us not avada forget that one of our favorite Novee characters, a great person by the name of Rus was a descendant of Moiov.
Nu, Raboyseyee, the emes is azoy; it doesn’t take all that much talent to ensnare one to try out a hooker; what else was there to do in the midbar? Let’s recall this all went down –as did the Yiddin- before Amazon, EBay and even the Internet. How else to keep occupied?
The bottom lines: the snake, ever since we met him in Bereishis, is kimat always involved in some conspiracy. At times he looks like a snake mamish, at other times, it’s that part of us humans that seems to always be finding trouble. The RBSO avada knew this; He did after all design us that way. In Parshas Bolok, the RBSO used hookers to ensnare the Yiddin into abusing their own snakes with Midianite and or Moabite shiksa hookers. And while the RBSO has in the past, also and does –even in our times- overlook such slithering behavior, and only prescribes lashes for snake abuse with a hooker, when such entanglements include bad mouthing the RBSO’s diet and or, His Land, the results are always deadly. Lesson learned.
A gittin Shabbis-
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv