The Oisvorfer begins this week with wishes of congratulations he received from a dedicated reader- shout-out worthy mamish- from all the way out in Uruguay. Gishmak! Seemingly the weekly parsha reviews continue to spread and we have readers in several continents. Also gishmak, mamish!
From: anita bonzulay <email@example.com>
Subject: torah congratulations
rabbi grossman congratulations we read torah every week and we see you reach 3 years we really enjoy and pls keep up it going more and more, we educate in Judaism the best here. our greetings and best wishes from Uruguay.
Earlier this week, the Oisvorfer and eishes chayil were out to dinner with cousins who became ballei tshuva kimat 20 years ago. Back then, in true oisvorf fashion, we offered the couple our slots in the orthodox world thinking it would be a good time to get out. Nu, we’re still in and so are they. And in the middle of numerous topics and some minimal loshoin horo we were chapping areyn in advance of choidesh Elul during which we must avada be mefashfesh b’masov (introspective) as the tshuva season rapidly approaches, the husband abruptly switched topics and asked the Oisvorfer the following question. Which is the only brocho (blessing) that is mandated by the heylige Toirah? Ober the Oisvorfer was on his game and immediately blurted out: Bentching! Is that emes? Is bentching unlike kimat all other brochos, mandated by the heylige Toirah, or, are there others that are also d’oyrayso (Toirah mandated)? Soon we’ll see. Moreover, the Oisvorfer further illuminated the topic by telling the cousin who has recently gotten into learning the heylige Gemora and is now studying Masechet Brochos (having completed two others in the last 20 years), that the source mamish for this givaldige mitzvah is to be found in this week’s parsha of Eikev. It is? Soon we’ll taka disucss Birchat Hamazon (blessing after the meal), also known colloquially as “bentching,” or as we Yiddin by its Yiddish name call it -bentshin.
Nu, lommer unfangin (let’s begin) with a shtikel parsha review, this time in just over 300 words. Though every word of every parsha is mamish special and heylig, this week’s parsha – Eikev- is highlighted by the easy to perform though often forgotten mitzvah of benching and one prayer we recite at least twice daily. In Eikev, as mentioned above, we will be instructed to thank the RBSO following a meal when one is sated and we will listen to Moishe as he teaches the second portion of the Shema. Exactly what the word ‘sated’ means and when we are required to bentch is the subject of myriad discussions; way too many to list in this week’s short review.
These highlights will be sandwiched into Moishe’s pep talk. Avada you all recall that Moishe is now weeks away from passing and has in the last six weeks of his life been pontificating non-stop to the Yiddin. The Yiddin are just across the river, poised and waiting for instructions to invade and takeover the Promised Land. In Eikev, Moishe is cautioning them not to fear the Canaanite goyishe armies because the RBSO will avada wage battle for the Yiddin, and as the Oisvorfer has told you on many an occasion, with the RBSO as their general, the outcome was assured. It’s avada good to have the RBSO on your side. Ober Moishe tells the Yiddin that their entry into the Land is not due to their own virtues which seemingly was epes lacking. In fact, it appears from his words that were it up to their own virtues, they would have no shot, zero, nada and that their indiscretions over these last 40 years while valgering in the midbar would disqualify them from such entry. And to emphasize this point, Moishe reminds them with specific references of their myriad transgressions. He reminds them by delineating their checkered past and mostly undeserved awards already received on account. No one enjoys hearing their checkered past, if you chap. Moishe will delineate a few though not all of their less than admirable behavior. Efsher we can klerr that an entire listing of their travails would have made parshas Eikev the longest in the gantze Toirah. And let’s not avada forget their behavior while enslaved to the Mitzrim where according to chazal (our Rabbis), they were busy chapping and sunk to the 49th level of tuma, though a good time was had by many. In other words: the Yiddin he suggests are not landworthy but will make the cut in the merit of the nation’s forefathers. Thankfully the goyim were much worse! In fact, later we will taka learn that the land had to spew them out for their chazerish behavior. Veyter. Later in the parsha Moishe will teach the second part of the Shema. The end!
Says the heylige Toirah: “When you eat and are satisfied, you must bless the Lord your God…” (Deut. 8:10). Efsher you’re wondering how these 13 words resulted in the bentching we know today? How did it grow into so many paragraphs and words? And when and how did bentching become such big business? Who doesn’t have dozens and dozens of bentchers of every variety, color, font and style in their own home? It appears that this mitzvah, like many others in the heylige Toirah, no longer resembles the few words of instruction found above ober that for another day as there are hundreds of pages written this topic. Here’s what we have to know. Most brochos were introduced and written by our great rabbis, whom we affectionately avada call d’rabonon. In other words: they are not Toirah mandated or what we call Di’oyraiso, but the Rabonon decided that such blessings are in order to thank the RBSO for kimat everything in this world. And why not? Isn’t it all His? Ober most does not mean all and it appears that there are two that are Toirah mandated, meaning that the Toirah gives very specific instructions on what to do, though it does not provide the actual wording of the brochos. And benching, recited after meals is one such brocho. Shoin!
From another possik (verse) in a parsha later in Sefer Devorim (Devorim 32:3), we will learn that there is one other Toirah mandated brocho. “When I proclaim God’s name [or: when I read God’s teaching}, praise our God for His greatness.” And from these few words, our great Sages derived the brocho we are to recite before studying Toirah and tell us that this brocho is in fact Toirah mandated. And then there were two. Shoin and vus epes (why specifically) these two? Seemingly what they have in common is the nourishment they provide. And for both, we thank the RBSO. In the brocho we call bentching following a good meal, we are thanking the RBSO for our physical nourishment and in the other, for our spiritual sustenance. Gishmak mamish and who knew? Ober and interestingly enough, we are required to bentch only after we eat but are required to recite the brocho for learning Toirah, prior to. Why? Ver veyst? The emes is that there are many medroshim that discuss this topic but for the oisvorf community, you only need to know one thing and that’s mistama about what you can handle: benching is easy and since it Di’oyraiso mamish, why not? And to make you look good at the shabbis tish and not the oisvorf bum you really are, you can repeat this gishmake tidbit:
Says the Chinuch: “I have a tradition from my rabbeim, that those who are careful with bentching will receive their mezoinois –i.e. parnasa- (livelihood) in an honorable fashion all of their days.” And added our rabbis to this thought (Be’er Heitiv 185:1, Elya Rabbah 185:1, Aruch Hashulchan 189:7) the following givaldige incentive. If you look at the words and letters of the entire bentching, you will efsher take note that the Hebrew letter “pey” in not to be found. No pey! In the hundreds of words that make up today’s’ bentching, not one Pey? And so what? Nu, it turns out that that two words of expression that connote anger are ‘af’ and ‘ketzef’, both of which end with the letter pey. Seemingly this is to teach us that one who bentches properly, merits that no anger will fall on him from the RBSO. Gishamk mamish.
Nu, back to the parsha for a page or two. As we said in the summary, Moishe Rabaynu, is near death mamish; days and weeks away. He’s down to his last speech and in a few more shabbosim as we say goodbye to another year and also Sefer Devorim, we will also say goodbye to Moishe Rabaynu, never to be seen again until Moshiach arrives. Ober for now he’s still alive and having tried every other tactic known to man to get the Yiddin back on the derech (right path), he resort so the oldest trick in the book: bribery. He’s offering and assuring good things to those Yiddin that will do the right thing and believe in the RBSO. After 40+ years of rebellion, mutiny, an attempted coup and myriad other calamites including the Eygel, the miraglim, the hot shiksa Midianite and Moabite meydlich, Moishe’s encounter with the rock, Bilam and much more, that befell the Yiddin while valgering in the midbar, a tired and older Moishe is mamish totally exasperated with them. Having tried and at times and (mostly) failed miserably, to reign in their erratic behavior toward the RBSO, he tries a shtikel new tactic. The parsha begins with Moishe, representing the RBSO, making all sorts of promises of good tidings to the Yiddin if only they will finally listen, have faith and do the right thing. Sadly, doing the right thing seems to be problematic for the Yiddin, what else is new?
And here in Parshas Eikev, long before American Express and other industries came up with rewards programs, Moishe has its first version. Says he: if the Yiddin will do good (by keeping the Toirah) and trust the RBSO, they will be rewarded with many blessing. “This shall be the reward when [Eykev] you hearken to these ordinances and you observe and perform them… the RBSO will love you, bless you and multiply you, and bless the fruit of your womb… there will be no barren men or women amongst you…” (Devarim 7:12-14). Fertility and material success are serious issues and the RBSO knows just what buttons to push to get our attention. The final part of his strategy was mamish brilliant: it involved Jewish guilt as a form of inducement and here’s how it worked. Moishe’s tactics, since perfected by most neshey chayil (wives), are now legendary. He reminds the Yiddin of kimat every misdeed over the past 40 years. Remember what you did 40 years ago with the eygel? Likely they didn’t, so he regurgitated every ugly detail. Do you remember that you cost us 38 years of valgering (wandering) here in the midbar because you wanted to send spies to check out the land and then spoke loshoin horoh about Eretz Yisroel? Likely the perpetrators were long dead, but he reminded the next generation anyway. You owe me and the RBSO!! And do you remember how good the RBSO was to you anyway despite your less than admirable behavior?
Moishe tells the Yiddin that the RBSO has already paid them forward and showered them with an abundance of rewards including; Redemption from slavery; Munn that fell for 40 years; Clothing that never wore out or got dirty; Water; hoards of women who serviced the Yiddin along the way and much more. What else was there to do? And despite all the good things that happened in the midbar, that generation of Yiddin continued to find ways to anger the RBSO.
Ober (but) says Moishe: the new rewards are all contingent promises based on one word, ‘eykev’- hence the Parsha’s name. Eykev mean if or because or in exchange for or on account of. In other words, it’s a deal. Of course Yiddin love a deal, even if at times, they get snookered. If the Yiddin behave and follow the RBSO’s ways, good things will happen. Otherwise it’s curtains and maybe that’s why the parsha also has the second paragraph of the Shema. Meaning that if the Yiddin don’t behave, they had better start praying and davening and what better prayer more universally known than the Shema?
He tried bribing them ober not with cash. Instead he offers them brochos (blessings) for their good behavior. Everyone could use a good brocho, especially a series of them. In fact, since Moishe Rabaynu, many chasiddic rebbes and Mikubolim (Kabbalists) have gone into the very lucrative, inventory free, year round and worry free business of giving out brochos. Of course Moishe doled his out for good behavior ober the model that has evolved in the years since, calls for cash. Brochos for cash, though at times, checks too are accepted. In Moishe’s model, brochos were free and all one had to do, as described in this week’s parsha, was listen to and follow the RBSO. Ober raboyseyee, in our times, enterprising Toirah entrepreneurs have further exploited these tactics and created a big multimillion dollar business; it’s an industry mamish with franchises. And the brocho gisheft is yet another business opportunity created by the RBSO and exploited by enterprising Yiddin who read the heylige Toirah and chapped that Toirah is mamish also a guide to making a living, especially off hapless other Yiddin desperate enough to pay for such brochos. And how many times has the Oisvorfer told you not to spend your money on false messiahs. If you want a brocho from the RBSO, open the siddur and tehilim and talk directly to the RBSO. Maybe you can start with bentching. If you get what you asked for the answer was yes, otherwise, your request was denied. Veyter!
Earlier we mentioned the parsha contains the second paragraph of the Shema, zicher one of the central prayers in our entire Jewish liturgy. Moishe assures the Yiddin once again that if they observe the RBSO’s commandments and remain loyal, there will be prosperity and good health for everyone. Ober if they turn towards other gods, the RBSO God will zicher become angry, they will experience hardships, and ultimately suffering exile from the land of Israel. Shoin: it’s two exiles later and here we are waiting. And while the RBSO has time and again overlooked sexual impropriety – how lucky are you, if you chap- He absolutely abhors and has zero tolerance for avoido zoro. And the combo is zicher dangerous.
Though you have been reciting the Shema since you were a tiny tot, mistama you never noticed that the first part of the Shema which we learned just a few weeks back (parshas Vo’eschanan) and this week’ second part are kimat the same. Both parshiyot make reference to the obligation of loving the RBSO “with all your heart and with all your soul.” Ober a third clause, “and with all your might,” appears only in the first parsha and not in our parsha. Why are they different, ver veyst? Ober and as you can imagine, many commentators wonder why and of course offer various reason. Avada you are encouraged to learn more. In the meantime, just stick to the script and say the Shema when appropriate.
The parsha concludes with the RBSO’s promise that He will provide the people with protection if they observe the laws of the Toirah; protection is avada good, if you chap. Shoin.
A gittin shabbis-
The Oisvorfer Ruv