We begin this week with big mazel tov wishes to our very long time friends Ashley and Judah Charnoff upon the bris earlier this week of a grandson born to their children Shoshana and Rabbi Robbie Charnoff. May they and their extended families have many many decades -12- of nachas only, from Aharon Yosef. Welcome to our people.
Though Pesach is now in the rear view mirror, as is, on more than a few, the extra weight put on during the Yom Tov eating binge, oy vey, and though we are mamish looking forward to celebrating the next major ‘regel’ (holiday), the great Yom Tov of Shovuis in another few weeks by eating cheese blintzes, cheese cake and lots of other goodies, we still have two more days of celebration immediately ahead. We do? Indeed this coming Sunday, we will mark Pesach Shaynee (second Passover), a topic we covered with some humor, sarcasm and real pshat in previous years -see archives at www.oisvorfer.com. And next Thursday, one week from today mamish, all the younger kids will be out celebrating Lag Bo’oimer (lit: the 33rd day of the Omer, incidentally more fully discussed, among other disparate topics, in this week’s parsha). What happened that day a few thousand years back? Bikitzur (in short), either the cessation, or temporary suspension, of the plague which took the lives of Rebbe Akiva’s heylige talmidim (students) -24,000 of them, according to some. Mamish all his talmidim died in the days between Pesach and Lag Bo’oimer and does everyone agree? Absolutely not: they disagree on how many died, how many there were, if they resumed dying after Lag Bo’oimer and on a few other things. And we will mark this tragedy how? By partying, reveling, getting haircuts, attending weddings, bar mitzvahs and otherwise being joyous. Nice! Why we celebrate a one day reprieve from a devastating plague which wiped out so many good people and which, according to some, resumed the very next day, ver veyst? Shoin: we will efsher discuss Lag Bo’oimer, a holiday which is not mentioned in the heylige Toirah, next week. Speaking of Toirah mentioned holidays, welcome to parshas Emor, which, in addition to containing just over 10% of all the mitzvis found in the heylige Toirah (63 to be exact), also very specifically delineates by date all the major Yomim Toivim (Jewish Holidays). The emes is that the specific date of the coming Yom Tov of Shovuis is not mentioned, ober we are told to count 50 days from the second day of Pesach, (of course with a brocho nightly) and shoin, it’s Shovuis. Next year we will discuss the great controversy that ensued and raged on for some time, on exactly when the counting should begin.
Also found in this week’s parsha: the very famous myseh of the ‘migadafe’ (blasphemer); his arrest, jailing, and placement into solitary confinement where he did not have a happy ending. The details of his sentence, capital punishment by stoning, how and who carried it out, are colorfully described. The specifics of his execution too are hotly debated, ober let’s move on. You can only imagine how much exegesis is to be found on this very subject. Veyter (let’s move on), lot’s to discuss.
And with Pesach Shaynee comes givaldige news. What is it? Another afikoimon present efsher? Another fully or partially paid and sponsored vacation being paid for by the shver (father-in-law) or even your own parents? Not! The good news is that we are not required on Pesach Shaynee, to make hotel reservations, nor make or attend yet another seder. Seemingly, two were enough. Then again, one would have been more than sufficient. Our sages however, many moons ago, if you chap, decided that two were better than one. Why? Davka because they were busy looking for a moon sighting and shoin, the two day Yom Tov (here in golus (Diaspora) was born. This topic too -the rabbis proclamation to observe a second day of each holiday- has previously been discussed and we -most of us- taka long for the day that we ‘resume normal’ and go back to one-day observance. Sadly this will likely happen on the same day the chazir (pig) becomes kosher and chicken reverts back to the parve menu. And since most don’t know how to properly observe Pesach Shaynee, let the Oisvorfer share this shtikel tidbit of information. Efsher, you can chap areyn the mitzvah. Pesach Shaynee can be observed by eating a piece of matzo. Shoin and fartig (done and done). And guess what? Since our rabbis proclaimed that Pesach is observed on both the 15th and 16th of the month of (lunar month of) Nissan, some, celebrate Pesach Shaynee by eating matzo on both the 15th and 16th of Iyar, exactly one month later, this coming Sunday and Monday. The bottom line: it’s a make-up mitzvah for those that were for one reason or another ‘tomay’ (impure) and could not participate in the korban Pesach. Got all that? Veyter.
Grada the two day Yom Tov may have or did make sense way back when the proclamation of Roish Choidesh (new month) was wholly dependent on a moon sighting and mountain top fires that alerted local citizenry about a new month being declared. Ober bazman hazeh (in our times) of technological advancement, when our local rabbi or gabbi (beadle) whose job it is every month to interrupt the Roish Choidesh benching and to proclaim the ‘moiled’ (the birth of the new moon), maybe not so much. Not just does he tell us that a new moon will be born on day X and at Y time, but he will, with a degree of certitude, also tell us the precise moment -to the millisecond. We call this the moiled, the precise moment of the moon’s birth. How precise? They have it down to what we refer to as the ‘cheylek’ (some measure of time- let’s call it a millisecond). Nu, shtelt zich di shaylo (the question arises) azoy: Why do we taka continue with the old and outdated practice of two day Yom Tov observance? And why davka do we taka need a second seder on Pesach? Were the rabbis who declared and refused to rescind the second day of observance in cahoots with, or under the influence of, the myriad merchants who sell the various provisions needed for each seder? Ver veyst and certainly possible. Business is business and certainly there is precedence to enact or change halocho (law) if it entails a ‘hefsid-miruba’ (great monetary loss). One day soon, shuls will be allowed to swipe credit cards on the heylige shabbis -using a shenoi of course- at open appeals in order to ensure timely and full payment.
Grada, reader and chosid (follower) Jeff, whom the Oisvorfer has never met or spoken to, is also bothered – as are mistama hundreds of thousands other Yiddin- about the second seder and his comment and questions -quoted verbatim below- arrived to the site mamish the week before Pesach. Here they are.
A zissen pesach to you and yours. thank you for many years of great Toirah posts!
Two interesting questions, both of which I could never pose to our rabbi or to any typical rabbi for that matter, they are too rigid and most likely don’t even know the answers!! one (and I think you may have already addressed this one): I know all about the 2 days of Yom Tov and why that is, but really, repeating the Seder twice is just incredibly superfluous and during the 2nd one feels like repeating the same thing that we just did, not that special anymore, seems more mechanic in nature….
And of course in today’s Torah reading we read about the mention of tefillin (Exodus 13:1-16) and you start to think about it, this does not exactly mention to put on the tefillin, not sure why they take it literally to put something on your arm and between your eyes, I don’t think it is to be taken literally! the very next sentence says: Torah will be in your mouth, but that doesn’t mean we put a Torah scroll in our mouths…
Would love to get your take on these topics.
Great Yom Tov as always
Nu, chaver Jeff, I note that your comment ends with a quote from the heylige Toirah about Toirah being in your mouth. Lucky are you that you came to the heylige Oisvorfer for answers to your questions. Had you asked your rebbe, zicher you would have found a bar of kosher soap in your mouth. Grada, that’s how it was when the Oisvorfer was growing up and uttered a shtikel curse word, or chas v’sholom, had the temerity to ask a shaylo about a second seder.
Both your questions taka bothered many a commentator. All we can is this: suck it up! The second seder is a tradition and we don’t mess with tradition. Use the second seder as do many: to discuss how long your chaver’s seder ran last night, to discuss the latest loshoin horo you heard or shared in shul during shachris, how your favorite sports team did the previous day and how you dread having a second seder. Avada you can discuss and critique the rabbi’s sermon and the chazan’s voice and nusach; isn’t that what the seder is for? It’s our tradition! Shoin: the very dreaded second seder continues to plague us and seemingly will, until one of two things happen; maybe both. Either the Moshiach will arrive and laugh uncontrollably at our observance of a second day of Yom Tov, or, until some very brave rabbi -one with stone proof windows on his house and who doesn’t mind being maligned the rest of his life and then some, and whose beard and payis ear locks) are of sufficient size and length, will have the beytzim (audacity) to declare azoy: due to modern technology and precision clarity of the lunar calendar, meaning avada that we know with certainty when every month begins and ends, a second day of Yom Tov observance is no longer relevant nor required. Can this happen? Yes! It can also happen that Donald Trump will select Jeb Bush as his running mate. Will it happen? Of course not! Why? Because the seder is big business and the many Yiddin in the business of making Pesach, selling matzo, fish, meat, and desserts, will not allow it to happen even if their tactics entail discrediting the long awaited Moshiach. And should someone declare himself the Moshiach, it will take a few more decades of infighting among the various groups of chasidim who will zicher insist on seeing his bona fides and will, even if stellar, find reasons to challenge his credentials. Yiddin! Veyter.
Shoin, let’s discuss Jeff’s second kasha about tifilin…
… in today’s Torah reading we read about the mention of tefillin (Exodus 13:1-16) and you start to think about it, this does not exactly mention to put on the tefillin, not sure why they take it literally to put something on your arm and between your eyes, I don’t think it is to be taken literally! the very next sentence says: Torah will be in your mouth, but that doesn’t mean we put a Torah scroll in our mouths…
Jeff: so happens that earlier this week, chaver Yanky Reichman stopped by to visit with the heylige Oisvorfer. Yanky attended Yeshiva Chasam Soifer (many decades back) and is also a college graduate (shhhh). And because today at 65ish, he sports a decent sized distinguished looking vyseh-burd mit flowing payis (white beard and ear locks), he seemed to be a decent and reliable source of factual information. Shoin, there we were discussing the question of tifilin. And when the Oisvorfer suggested that nowhere in the heylige Toirah is the word tifilin mentioned, Reb Yanky said….”vus retz di” (what you talking about, you wisenheimer). Not just are tifilin mentioned but guess what? The RBSO and Avrohom Ovenee (he is chasidish) wore them. Shoin and with that, the Oisvorfer decided to dust off the heylige Gemora Brochis which his chaver Dovy wants him to finish.
Avada your kashas (questions) are excellent ober Reb Jeff, you need to chap that our entire religion (others as well), is based on two words: I believe! You ask how our rabbis figured out from the words you quoted above, that we are to don tifilin daily. Does the word tifilin appear anywhere in the gantze heylige Toirah? It does not. Ober, it’s poshit (simple): the RBSO wears tifilin daily and so should you. He does? How can He wear tifilin? Does He have a head or arms? Not! Weren’t we taught that He has no form and no body at all? Indeed we were and so we recite daily in the ‘Yigdal’ prayer which grada summarizes the 13 principles of faith as taught to us by the RambaM. In Yigdal we find these words: “eyn loi dimus haguf, v’eynoi guf… (He has no semblance of a body, nor is He corporeal…). In other words: the RBSO has no physicality. And was Yigdal not set to a tune that we were taught as kids and still sing today? It was. Nevertheless, the heylige Gemora, as we will learn mamish below, teaches us that the RBSO wears tifilin. How could both be emes? Shoin, where is it written that you have to understand all these lofty concepts? Do you chap how your radio works? Do you chap how email gets delivered in seconds mamish? Or, how a plane takes off and stays up with all that weight? Do you chap how your eishes chayil never forgets one thing you did wrong from the day you first met her and always brings it up at the most inopportune moments? You need to suspend rational thinking and need to get to ‘I believe.’
By the way, not just does the RBSO wear tifilin on His arm, He also has tifilin-shel-Roish (for His head). Seemingly, the only shaylo we have is whether He wears Rashi’s, Rabaynu Taam’s, or both? Ober wait: there’s more. Guess what? Our Zeyda (forefather) Avrohom Ovenu, though he first became a Jew at 99 years of age, also wore tifilin. He did? How is that possible? Nowhere is this mentioned in the gantze Toirah. Moreover, weren’t the instructions ‘to wear them as a sign on your arm’ given way later? Of course but so what? Weren’t we taught that our forefathers kept the entire Toirah kula though it was only to be received generations later? We were, nut so what? Ober that didn’t stop the heylige Amoiroim (early century rabbis) from stating with some confidence that both the RBSO and Avrohom wore tifilin. I won’t bore you with their rational for so stating but it has something to do with Sedoim and shoelaces and I kid you not. Says the heylige Gemora about Avrohom and his tifilin, azoy: Rava expounded: As a reward for our father Avrohom having said: “I will not take a thread nor a shoe strap (lace)…”, his descendants were zoiche (merited) to receive two mitzvis. The thread of ticheyles (blue wool used on our tzitzis) and tifilin straps. Shoin, there you have it; is there still a question in your mind as to whether or not Avrohom, your zeyda mamish, wore tifilin? Don’t answer that! They are so convinced and then instructed us to follow suit. Seemingly, they strong-armed us, if you chap.
Still your question stands: why should you connect the dots? Who says they got it right? And the answer is the same: You need to get to I believe! Once you believe, which is taka a herculean challenge at times, all else makes sense. With belief, kimat all the unbelievable and amazing stories we read in the heylige Gemora -including efsher a few of the more outlandish and vilde (wild, imaginative) agadatas- make sense. Not really, ober it’s the Oisvorfer’s job to tell you so.
Ober, how taka did our sages figure out from the rather innocuous words of the heylige Toirah, that what the RBSO had in mind when He instructed us to tie them as a sign on our hand and as ‘toitofois’ between our eyes, that what He was signaling, was tifilin? Is your belief shaken because nowhere in the heylige Toirah can we find the word tifilin? You are not alone. Efsher (perhaps) you klerring that the tifilin of today are but the creation of yet another Toirah inspired entrepreneur who was efsher in the leather business and that for generations they have been ripping us off for thousands of dollars for a product the RBSO never ordered? Is that how it went down? Ver veyst?
Nu, let’s learn some Gemora (Berochis 6a) where the discussion about what other rabbis had previously transmitted went like this. Said Rebbe Abin (a third century Babylonian amoira), the son of Rebbe Ada, in the name of Rebbe Yitzchok (a second generation amoira), azoy: How do you know that the Holy One blesses be He, puts on tifilin? For it is said: the Lord has sworn by His right hand, and by the arm of His strength. Shoin: believe it or not, it’s from these very words and a few other innocuous quotes found elsewhere (none of which mention tifilin by name), that it was decided that the RBSO wears tifilin. And if the RBSO wears tifilin, avada they look just like yours. Case closed!
Is it? Not exactly and as you imagine, there were more discussions and a few other quotes ober the bottom line is azoy: it is emes that nowhere and no place does the RBSO use the word tifilin and nowhere does He describe them as having boxes and straps. In other words: from the quoted quote, the Gemora concluded that the RBSO wears tifilin. Ober, it zicher does not provide us any details about their shape or what they might look like. On the other hand, no pun intended, having established that the RBSO taka does wear tifilin, the heylige Gemora assumes that His resemble our own and are similar repositories of holy biblical verses. Got all that? The bottom line: keep the faith!
A gittin Shabbis
The Oisvorfer Ruv