Weekly Parsha Review Laced with Humor and Sarcasm from The Oisvorfer Ruv

Corona – Parshas Tzav – Shabbis Hagodol 2020

Raboyseyee and Ladies:

How Certain Rabbis, Rebbes, Others With Beards & Followers Are Causing Undue & Unnecessary Stress During These Very Stressful Times: an Oisvorfer rant!

We begin by wishing a hearty mazel-tov to Rabbi Dovid Libman, he the rebbe –everyone’s rebbe- who taught all three of the Oisvorfer’s boys back in the day, and to his eishes chayil Chevy, upon the birth and the bris of a grandson born to their children Brocho and Nosson Yehudah Bloch during these turbulent days. Welcome to the world Aaron Zelig Bloch whose bris was performed this past Sunday. May you be a source of light and happiness to your parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and everyone else.

And in late breaking news, mazel tov wishes to Esther and Boruch Weinstein upon the arrival of a –to be named tomorrow- baby granddaughter, born to their children Tova and Mikey Kook. A big Mazel tov to Tova and Mikey. The Oisvorfer was zoicheh to read Tova’s Instagram story about her delivery experience during these crazy times. Speeches for baby Kook’s bat mitzvah are already being written.                             

Also this week and with a heavy heart, we said goodbye to Reb Moishe Leifer, A’H, who passed away on shabbis. Reb Moishe was a friend, a very close friend to the Oisvorfer for over forty years. His livaya, held over zoom in these unusual days was heard and seen by well over one thousand people and the words spoken by his sons and sons-in-law were heartfelt and memorable. If my memory is still intact, this is only the second and zicher not more than the third time a passing has been mentioned on these pages, ober his loss is profound and very personal; he is already missed.

Shoin back to our title, repeated here in other words: why we love -but perhaps should not always- certain Rebbes and Mikubolim.

This week, with the eishes chayil down with some form of virus and with the heylige Ois possibly on deck –though he tested negative just last week- in lieu of a review of Parshas Tzav and also Shabbis Hagodol (the shabbis just before Pesach) which is mostly a repeat of last week’s parsha, and which wholly discusses sacrifices -see prior postings at www.oisvorfer.com – and because shul’s remain closed, you will instead be treated to an Oisvorfer rant; buckle up, here we go.

Shoin, the coronavirus is still very much potent and alive. Sadly, it’s been victimizing hundreds of thousands around the world and is killing many people daily, too many. Its stats are impressive but are not quoted here. Why not? Because they change by the minute: mamish. On Monday night it was reported that the virus –in a six-hour period- was killing one New Yorker every 2.9 minutes. Hashem Yirachaim (The RBSO should have mercy). Why davka one New Yorker had to die all over again every 2.9 minutes, ver veyst? Ober jokes aside, why is this virus so potent? Who sent it? Why? Is the RBSO angry at us? All of us? Some? Whom? At you, or me?

While bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings, and other celebratory milestones are being cancelled, and with the stress levels among those expecting a baby in the coming days off the charts, a number of rebbes and other prognosticators –to include superstars with huge national and international followings, those people slip money to for advice, even more for an audience- would have us believing that the virus is our own fault; we alone are to blame. The virus is a direct result of our own sins? We’re bad and the RBSO is meting out punishment. Yikes! And while it’s taka emes that we are all sinners to some degree, can it be that your sin was egregious enough to turn the world upside down? Don’t answer that! Ober, is that emes? Are we to blame ourselves? Says who? Where is their proof? Does the RBSO talk to them and share His plans? Just why did the RBSO send us corona virus?

We shall examine these questions in this abbreviated posting as the Ois uses this forum to vent and rant against those looking to blame us at this critical time. Do we need this additional aggravation and anxiety? Are we not at peak stress levels? Is this healthy for those suffering from high blood pressure? For those worrying about their jobs and overall finances? Is this the right time for introspection? Is this not a time when rabbis and others in a position to offer comfort and hope, should be doing just that? Instead they’re blaming us? What’s pshat?

Thankfully, the hundreds of memes and other very creative texts and emails circulating daily, tell us that for the most part, people –to the best of their abilities- are maintaining their senses of humor and sanity. Ober deep within, they remain frightened. Speaking of humor –how else can it be characterized- let’s take a quick look at some of the rationales being offered by a number of  these rebbes and mikubils (prognosticators) here in the United States and over in Israel. Who are these rebbes and soothsayers? Who are these mikubolim? FYI: a mikubal is a person who practices mysticism, makes predictions, foretells future events, takes your money, and hopes for the best. Shockingly, they include personalities we gladly pay to have a short audience with, rabbis we hire as guest speakers to provide inspiration, and others who feel it’s their right to blame us- their extended constituents so to speak- for this deadly virus. Are they correct? And just what are they saying we did wrong?

Let us shine a critical eye on some of the ridiculous dribble being spewed forth from these so-called leaders who should be called out for their nonsense and ill timed messaging. To avoid controversy during these difficult days and to avoid loshoin horo (speaking poorly) which according to certain rabbis is the primary cause of this entire virus, the heylige Oisvorfer is omitting names. Avada you can or write, I’ll fill in the blanks.

Says one rabbi: “the coronavirus is G-d’s way of punishing the evil Chinese, as well as the Iranians.” Iran he says, is one of the countries with the most cases of the coronavirus, and “is being punished for “their hatred of Israel.” He also claimed that Israel would be “protected” from the virus. Save your money: no reason to visit this rebbe again. Shoin!

Says another: “…. no G-d-fearing, Toirah observant Jews would be infected.” Shoin: are we to assume that the many good and pious rabbis whose lives were lost in the past weeks were all sinners? Oisvorfer advice: don’t’ bother seeking this rebbe’s advice anymore!

Says one out of Israel: “…. the coronavirus outbreak is divine punishment for gay pride parades. Was he talking out of his ass? If this rebbe is correct, Iran, which is notoriously anti-gay and does not allow any gay pride parades, should be safe; they are not, and case closed on his theory.

A poster on the side of a building in Yirusholayim (an image of which was sent to the Oisvorfer) states that the blame for the coronavirus pandemic lies with “orthodox women wearing wigs made from non-Jewish hair.” You hear this? This was a real poster.

Another (also to go unnamed) rebbe/mikubil said azoy: the corona is a punishment for not respecting our shuls: we should not be talking during davening. How are shuls survived until now, ver veyst?

And the list goes on. Which is it? Ver veyst? Did the RBSO really bring corona upon the world, -151 nations and counting, kimat all of them goyim- davka because a few Yiddin –ok- more than a few talk during davening? For looking at their I-phones during davening? Or, because we speak loshoin horo daily? Let’s get real: were these the causes of the virus, it’s quite logical that we would have seen corona virus years ago, and we’d see it daily.

Is corona the result of orthodox women wearing sheitels (wigs) made from non-Jewish hair? Really?!  Why do rebbes and mikubolim feel the need to add to our misery, our fear, by making these crazy outlandish statements? Are the non-Jewish women around the world required to cover their hair? To refrain from loshoin horo? Last I checked the list of commandments given to the B’nai Noiach (the umois ho’oilom) was limited to seven. And guess what? Neither loshoin horo, wig hair, gay parades, nor any other irrational statements being spewed forth as virus causers were on that list. Ober, the list goes on. Another ultra-Orthodox rabbi  bizarrely blames the entire LGBTQ community for spreading the disease.

Will buying a letter in a new Sefer Torah being written specifically to stem the crisis solve the entire issue? Will it save our lives during this pandemic? An ad the Ois receives daily through Vusiznais tells me just that. One posting says this: “Merit the powerful Bracha of the venerable Tzadik of Jerusalem, Harav Hagaon Rav Gamliel Rabinowitz Shlita, who personally visited R’ Dovid and said: “Whoever will donate generously to Rav Dovid Frid (Father of 8 with ALS) in this merit will never be sick, not them or their families for all generations.” Avada it’s a good thing to give tzedoko and the cause mentioned zicher worthy, ober can it and did that stop the virus? Not!

Yet another prominent rosh yeshiva out of Rockland County, minced no words in a worldwide teleconference on the coronavirus outbreak. He slammed the Jewish community for its misplaced priorities in both the financial and spiritual realms. He blamed it –at least partially- on the many luxury products advertised in our Jewish publications as well as “ridiculous vorts that nobody wants to attend,” “meaningless vachtnachts,” lavish kiddushim and trips to Europe to visit holy sites, an industry he described as excessive and “an embarrassment.” Shoin, now you know why the RBSO sent this corona to 151 countries. How do we conflate conspicuous consumption by a few Yiddin to a world pandemic? And the answer? Ver veyst? Does this rabbi have proof? Also not!

Another genius said this:people aren’t connecting the epidemic back to their true cause, i.e. human sins.” What sins are those?  Said he: “Eating a limb from a live animal (oichale eiver min ha-chai) is what caused the virus. His proof?  The word corona, when spelled in Hebrew, has the same gematria, meaning the numerical value of the words oichale eiver min hachai. Is that emes? Ver veyst?”

Ober was he onto something with his eiver min ha’chai rant? What is eiver min hachai? In plain English, it is the eating of organs of live animals, including but limited to the still beating hearts of frogs and snakes. Says the World Health Organization (WHO), azoy: the current form of what’s being called ‘coronavirus-n2019’ has been traced back to a live seafood, and animal market in Wuhan, China.  Grada these things are considered delicacies in certain Asian countries. Zicher you recall that eating eiver min hachai is on the list of the seven mitzvis given to the goyim, the Bnai Noiach. Our rabbis teach us that those who violate and eat eiver min ha-chai are subject to the heavenly-appointed death penalty. Oib azoy (if that is so), what about the rest of us? Why are Toirah observant Yiddin included in the pandemic? Let’s continue looking because there is more.

The same rabbi, when asked about the spiritual cause of the coronavirus had this to say: “… it’s spreading due to the sins of pigamay ha’bris(literally, ‘blemishing the covenant’). What the hec is that? Nu, those reading this column these past years should know that the brit, or bris, is a euphemism for the penis (one enters the bris – the covenant- by having a bris, by having his foreskin cut off). The bottom line of his comment was this: those who abuse the bris (penis) have caused the corona. Finally, one rabbi got it right and now we can chap why 150 countries and millions of people have been, or will be exposed; they too exposed their bris –not always at home, or in the right places, if you chap, and shoin. Adds the heylige Oisvorfer azoy: it so happens that during the bris ceremony, the corona (a part of the penis) needs to be exposed. Mamish gishmak! You go that? Not? What the hec is the corona? Nu, since we’re talking science, let us consult the text books which further illuminate the corona; at least this corona abuse makes some sense. Say those in the know azoy: the corona of glans penis – seen here- or penis crown, refers to the circumference of the base of the glans penis in human males which forms a rounded projecting border, overhanging a deep retroglandular sulcus, behind which is the neck of the penis. The bottom line: this corona must somehow be connected to the enemy virus.

Ask kimat anyone who has visited a mikubil, in his 20’s and 30’s what the mikubil told him, and the answer is always azoy: “I was told to go to the mikveh because I was not been careful with my bris.”  Of course the mikubil knew that at least half of those seeking his counsel –mistama closer to 90% of the visitors- were guilty as charged, or efsher discharged, if you chap. Shoin, that’s how the RBSO made man. He gave us this zach which is front and center- sometime just off to the left, and shoin it’s always causing trouble.

One of the aforementioned but not named rabbis also said this: there were three instances of plagues that swept through the Jewish nation. The first took place when the eygel (golden calf) was constructed in the desert. The Yiddin danced frivolously around the metallic idol. The RBSO was angry and shoin. Moishe returned, broke the Luchois and a few pisukim later, three thousand were dead. The second plague occurred during the time of Koirach, brought on by malicious attacks on Jewish leadership, along with unwarranted hatred and divisiveness. Let’s not forget the final straw and plague which involved acts of promiscuity. And he’s taka right: the heylige Toirah does in fact specifically delineate those three plagues. Ober, asks the Oisvorfer azoy: are these incidents really comparable to the coronavirus? Is it not emes that not one, and not two, but that all three plagues we studied in the heylige Toirah were in fact directed against the Yiddin only? Indeed they were! Did any of those plagues affect the goyim? Not! How then are we to draw lessons about our behavior when the examples provided don’t conflate? This plague has hit 150 nations, mostly goyim. So happens that we Yiddin are in the count, ober can he, or any rebbe or mikubil say with certitude, that we are the epicenter of the RBSO’s wrath? Does he have proof? He does not! In fact, no one does. Even if he thinks it, should he mouth it when Yiddin of all ages, especially the more vulnerable are anxious and walking around their own homes like zombies knowing not what to do and how to relax? What’s pshat? Is this an example of leadership?

This is a unique time when leadership should be offering words of comfort though they themselves don’t have answers. Moreover, what are we to think when pious rabbis are passing away daily? Were they bad? Were they sinners? Farkert: looking at the names and words written about these  good people it’s hard  to imagine they were the cause of corona; they were good family people, parents, grandparents and even rabbis.

What’s pshat that a few rabbis feel the need to use these scary times to shame us into believing that corona is here because our bar mitzvah celebrations are too large, that we have too many people at lavish weddings, and that Pesach programs have gotten out of control? Are Pesach program efsher over the top because they advertise and promote their list of rabbis, scholars, and motivational speakers who will be gracing their seders? The bottom line: they haven’t a clue why the RBSO unleashed this virus.

Let’s get real! None of us really know why the RBSO decided to send us corona ober one thing is zicher: His hand is clearly visible. This virus is not a racist. It affects people from all walks of life, no matter their ethnicity, color or piousness. Even those not sick are suffering.

The bottom line: it is more than doubtful that any of the rebbes laying blame at our feet for the virus are medical professionals, epidemiologists or experts on pandemics. What do they know about the corona virus? Nothing! What do they know about why the RBSO sent the virus? Also nothing! Claiming knowledge of exactly what the RBSO is doing and why, is arrogance, efsher even blasphemous. Shouldn’t they at least begin their speeches with words like “efsher, es ken zeyn, perhaps, or maybe?” They may have theories which in these times, they should keep to themselves. If they are real rabbis with real concerns for the rest of us, let them intensify their davening on behalf of us all; leave the admonishment for another time, maybe during Choidesh Elul when we are to become more introspective. The calendar tells us that we are in Nissan, the month when the Yiddin were freed from mitzrayim –hence Pesach and its celebratory trimmings. According to our sages, we are destined to again be freed in this very moth. Let us leave the serious information analysis to those more qualified; none of them have the temerity to get up and tell citizens of their respective countries that corona came about for overexposing their corona’s whether at a parade, or elsewhere, if you chap.

Another bottom line: only the RBSO knows why He allowed the virus to originate in China and make its way around the world. One day when you meet Him you can ask all   the questions on your mind. As to me, I’m not in any hurry to meet Him. Until then, Rabbis, Rebbes and others, should be using their platforms to implore their constituents to follow health guidelines, to reach out and help someone else in need, to check in on those who are vulnerable, and those alone with their thoughts. Avada it can’t hurt to add a mitzvah or two to our routines; zicher they can’t hurt. All we can do is ask Him to have some mercy. Until then, stay healthy and extend a hand to others who might need your help during these very challenging times.

Yet another published “news” item claims that since “corona” means “crown”, the pandemic is a clear sign of the imminent arrival of the Moshiach. Es ken zeyn (it’s certainly possible. Earlier today, one rosh yeshiva wrote me azoy: “I must tell u I watched a clip from the siyum hashas tonight, (Chazan) Helfgots kail maleh, it’s Norah veayom that such a gathering could not stop this magefah that had already started in China; something is wrong big time!!” Maybe Moshiach is preparing to come. If this is emes, he’s making one hec of an entrance and many affected by the corona will have a few questions to ask him upon his arrival.

The final bottom line: I feel much better, how about you?

A gittin Shabbis-

The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv

Yitz Grossman





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