Toirah your Rebbe forgot to teach you in Yeshiva
Avada you learned parts of Parshas Emor before and if you didn’t, zicher you know a good portion of it because it describes all the yomim tovim (Jewish Holidays) and even the heylige shabbis gets yet another shout-out. Lots going on in the parsha and it’s chock full of mitzvois ah-say (positive commandments) ober (but) time will not allow us to cover these; efsher (maybe) next year.
This week, I’m going to teach you a part of the parsha you likely never knew, never heard of and even if you did, you didn’t chap what was going on. The heylige Toirah provides precious little narrative but leave it to the Oisvorfer to shed some light on this mamish amazing story.
First some background and to lay the foundation properly, we must chazir (review) a possik or two of Parshas S’hmois. I know that was months ago and avada I don’t expect you to remember what happened way back then- how could you, you barely remember what we learned last week. In any event…halt kup (pay attention) because this story is mamish worth reading and reviewing.
Here we are back in Shmois and Moishe, not yet Rabaynuu…having grown up in the King’s Palace and living like a Prince, went out to see how his brethren are doing. I refer to the yiddin who are then enslaved to Paroy the minuvil.
And what did he see? He saw a Mitzri hitting a Jew. Nu, Moishe felt compassion for the Jew, looked all around, saw the coast was clear and killed the Mitzri. Mistama you’re wondering why this story is relevant to today’s parsha and zicher the Oisvorfer will not leave you hanging. In fact, I will connect the dots so that it’s mamish crystal clear and you’ll be yearning to learn even more. And had your Rebbe in yeshiva connected the dots properly instead of focusing on his shteken (stick) and maybe also yours, mistama you would already know this information.
Says the heylige Rashi on this story azoy: the Mitzri (hitting the Jew) was one of the Egyptian taskmasters. And who was the Jew he was beating on? He was the husband of Shulamis, the daughter of Divri. And why is this story of a Jew getting beaten by a Mitzri so significant that it got toirah mention? Didn’t we just read in the Haggadah that many yiddin were regularly being beaten by the Mitzrim? What was so special about this particular beating? Because – he the mitzri Minuvil- laid his eyes on this Shulamis and wanted her. Nu- what to do? He came at night and woke the husband telling him he had to go to work. The husband left and he (the minuvil) crawled into Shulamis’s bed. She, thinking it was her husband, had relations with him.
Because I see you’re mamish salivating for more and just to finish the story…. ….when the husband came home, he epes had a feeling that things weren’t the same with his eishes chayil (are they after a fling) and suspected foul play. And when the Mitzri Minuvil sensed that the husband was on to him…he beat him silly (all day) and also intimidated him. You hear this? First he took the guy’s wife then he beat the husband silly: not exactly the nicest guy. Moishe appears on the scene, sees this beating and kills the Mitzri minuvil. Nice story. Keep it in mind as we connect the dots.
Let’s roll forward many years and some 17 Parshas. In fact, let’s roll forward to near the very end of the Parsha and let’s please learn the pisukim. You must avada read them to chap the rest of the story. Ready? Here we go. Once upon a time……
|10. Now, the son of an Israelite woman and he was the son of an Egyptian man went out among the children of Israel, and they quarreled in the camp this son of the Israelite woman, and an Israelite man.||י. וַיֵּצֵא בֶּן אִשָּׁה יִשְׂרְאֵלִית וְהוּא בֶּן אִישׁ מִצְרִי בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיִּנָּצוּ בַּמַּחֲנֶה בֶּן הַיִּשְׂרְאֵלִית וְאִישׁ הַיִּשְׂרְאֵלִי:|
|11. And the son of the Israelite woman pronounced the [Divine] Name and cursed. So they brought him to Moses. His mother’s name was Shelomith the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan.||יא. וַיִּקֹּב בֶּן הָאִשָּׁה הַיִּשְׂרְאֵלִית אֶת הַשֵּׁם וַיְקַלֵּל וַיָּבִיאוּ אֹתוֹ אֶל מֹשֶׁה וְשֵׁם אִמּוֹ שְׁלֹמִית בַּת דִּבְרִי לְמַטֵּה דָן:|
|12. They placed him in the guardhouse, [until it would] be specified to them by the word of the Lord.||יב. וַיַּנִּיחֻהוּ בַּמִּשְׁמָר לִפְרֹשׁ לָהֶם עַל פִּי יְ־הֹוָ־ה:|
|13. Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:||יג. וַיְדַבֵּר יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר:|
|14. Take the blasphemer outside the camp, and all who heard [his blasphemy] shall lean their hands on his head. And the entire community shall stone him.||יד. הוֹצֵא אֶת הַמְקַלֵּל אֶל מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה וְסָמְכוּ כָל הַשֹּׁמְעִים אֶת יְדֵיהֶם עַל רֹאשׁוֹ וְרָגְמוּ אֹתוֹ כָּל הָעֵדָה:|
|15. And to the children of Israel, you shall speak, saying: Any man who blasphemes his God shall bear his sin.||טו. וְאֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל תְּדַבֵּר לֵאמֹר אִישׁ אִישׁ כִּי יְקַלֵּל אֱלֹהָיו וְנָשָׂא חֶטְאוֹ:|
Wait just a minute: who is this person? What did he do, with whom and when? We need help here and who better than Rashie to the rescue. He fills in the blanks. The son of an Israelite woman, whose father was an Egyptian (details on how this came about are found below), went out among the children of Israel. This son of the Israelite woman, and a man of Israel, strove (fought) together in the camp. The Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the name of the RBSO and cursed; they brought him to Moishe. His mother’s name was Shelomis, the daughter of Divri, of the tribe of Dan. They put him in custody (pending punishment to be pronounced and specified by the RBSO). Next: the RBSO spoke to Moishe, saying, “Bring forth him that has cursed outside the camp… and all the congregation shall stone him.” And Moishe spoke to the children of Israel, and they brought forth he that had cursed out of the camp, and stoned him with stones. And the children of Israel did as the Lord commanded Moses. Did you chap (get) the story yet? let’s try again: Ok- ich vel praberin noch a mol (ok- I’ll try one more time).
The son of a woman of Israel, who was [also] the son of an Egyptian man, went out among the Children of Israel; the son of the woman of Israel fought with a man of Israel (in other words: 2 Jews got into a fight- nothing new). The son of the woman of Israel uttered the [Tetragrammaton] Name [of G-d] and cursed, and they brought him before Moishe. The name of his mother was Shlomis bas Divri from the tribe of Dan. And who was this person that went out and did such giferliche (terrible) things that the RBSO ordered him dead? Nu, let’s roll back to shmois.
Remember that Mitzri that snuck into Shulamis ben Divri’s bed? Well, seemingly he was a marksman because he got her pregnant that very night and from that union a son was born: Mazel Tov! This boy is the person of interest in our parsha. OMG! And having revealed that, let’s taka see what Rashi and others have to say about him, his father and mother.
Chevra: while you may not have a headache yet, let me assure that one huge one, you will have as you follow the thinking of a few heylige medroshim on this topic. Of one thing I assure you: you will understand the story and know more about this fellow than any of your classmates.
First up- the blasphemer himself and here’s what we know from various sources: grada, it’s quite an amazing story so halt kup and let’s see if we can decipher the pisukkim. Says Rashi: The son of this union is the person of interest in this week’s parsha. A cold case reopened. Inspector Clouseau would be proud. The ½ Jew in our parsha that was beating up on another Jew and then cursed the RBSO is/was the son of the same Shulamis (mentioned above). But how did she and he (her husband) have an Egyptian child you ask? And who is her husband? Excellent kashas (questions), all of them. Answer: they didn’t! The father of this child was not the husband but the Mitzri from way back in Shemois, who snuck into her boudoir and epes used his pyramid, if you chap, on Shulamis. Noch a moll (one more time): Our parsha is discussing a case where a young Jewish fellow (on his mother’s side only) went out and fought with a Jew (from both sides) and during the brawl committed a big no-no: he blasphemed the RBSO.
It was his father that Moishe killed was back in Shemois as it says: “He (Moishe, back in Shemois 2:11) looked this way and that way, and when he saw that no one was there, he smote the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.” As an aside, following that killing and one other incident, Moishe zipped out of Mitzrayim, went to Midyan, became a shepherd, got married, had kids and after meeting with the RBSO at the burning bush, resurfaces many many years later (now in his 80’s) to help lead the BNY out of Mitzrayim. What right Moishe had to kill anyone is not discussed; efsher it was before Matan Toirah and seemingly, we rely on that for many others answers to difficult questions. And what’s the connection to Moishe and the incident above? You’ll soon read.
Just before the heylige toirah tells us this story, a few pisukim earlier, the text is talking about the mitzvah of lechem haponim (show bread) and pltizling (all of a sudden), without warning, or a proper introduction, this more than puzzling incident comes up on us. Nu- what’s going on here? What happened? Who is the fellow in this parsha?
But the Arizal has a more mystical approach and says: the Mitzri in our parsha was not at all connected to the chazir that raped Shulamis way back in Shemois. Rather, he was the gilgul (reincarnation) of the evil part of Kayin, and when the posuk refers to the son as the “son of an Egyptian man,” it is indicating that this evil went from father to son. In other words: Kayin is back from the dead. Wait, there are more reawakening’s.
And listen to this: we also have sources that teach us that Moishe himself was the gilgul (reincarnation) of Hevel, Kayin’s brother whom he murdered. In other words, Kayin who killed his brother Hevel is back. If this is emes (true), Moishe (formerly Hevel) came back to rectify history and carry out the capital punishment of the Egyptian, or rather, Kayin reincarnated. Do you see how beautiful the heylige toirah can be; all you need is some imagination. How sweet revenge is! Now is taka a good time to pop two Advil.
Since we introduced Kayin and Hevel here in Vayikra though both are long gone since Bereishis….nu…we may as well learn why Kayin killed Hevel in the first place. Why? He was mamish jealous of Hevel and avada we know that jealousy can lead to murder. The medrish proves this by stating that Kayin was jealous over the Korban (sacrifice) incident (the RBSO accepted Hevel’s and rejected Kayin’s) but the Medrish does not stop there and adds additional reasons for his jealousy and this next one, avada you’ll chap.
Seemingly, Hevel had a twin sister that Kayin wanted and thought was coming his way because he, Kayin, was the older brother and should get first dibs. Seemingly this relationship did not work out and of course this is a good enough reason to kill your brother. Hevel maintained that she belonged to him; after all, she was his twin. In any event says the Medrish Rabbah (22:7)- Kayin could not control his jealousy and wacked him. The rest is, as they say, history. How many people have nebech (sadly) been killed over a girl?
Interestingly enough, Kayin too had a twin but, as is often the case, he wanted his brother’s sister, not his own. Now pay close attention because this next tidbit will blow you away: Shulamis bas Divri, the wife who had an unwanted (though not according to all) one nighter with the Mitzri and the mother of the half-jew half-Miztri in this week’s parsha is none other than – the reincarnation of Hevel’s additional twin sister, also back from the dead. Nu, perhaps the first ever dysfunctional family! Mistama now you understand why it’s dangerous to learn Kabolo until 40, if at all!
In any event, whichever version of the story…err, I mean p’shat tickles your fancy, this child has a yiddishe mama and a sheygitz for a tata. This fellow, all grown up is the subject of this story. Wow!! Ok- so let’s see what the commentators have to say about this unusual story that makes its way into this week’s parsha immediately following a long discussion of the the yomim tovim and the special mitzvah of lechem haponim. What’s that? Oy – you are mamish geferlich. How do these two subjects come together in this week’s parsha? Nu- let’s see.
Mir darfern oichet tzu farshteyn (we need also to understand) what were they fighting about, and also why it’s relevant that he was the son of an Egyptian father? And what does it mean that he ‘went out among the children of Israel’? Out from where? To where? And what got him so worked up that he cursed the RBSO?
Avada you didn’t think that Rashi wouldn’t be quoting several of the Rebbe’s that opine on this mystery and let’s see what they said. Quoting the Medrish: the son of the Egyptian man ‘went out’ from the text, that is to say, he came directly from discussing the Biblical text which immediately precedes our story. In that story we are told about the Lechem Haponim( the show bread) which consisted of 12 loaves of bread, baked weekly, placed on the shulchan (table) in the Mishkan (Tabernacle), and , eaten by the Koihanin (Priests) at the end of the week. Seemingly the ½ goy was just coming off a heated discussion of this mitzvah (ritual). According to this p’shat, he (the half Jew) heard the halochois (laws) of the lechem haponim and mocked the ritual which he thought silly. His thinking was that if we are told to honor the RBSO with showbread, what could He possibly want with more than week-old bread (9 days to be exact)? What sort of Temple service is that? Anyway, he lost his temper, cursed by blasphimezing the RBSO and he was shortly thereafter stoned.
Not satisfied with that p’shat- let’s try this one: Quoting a breysa, Medrish Tanchuma states: alternatively, he ‘went out’ of Moishe’s court, where it had just been determined that, because his father was a goy (Mitzri), he could not be considered a member of one of the 12 shevotim (tribes), nor claim a share of the land of Israel. It was this decision that angered him, and triggered his aggressive behavior. He tried pitching his tent among the tribe of Dan (his mother’s tribe) but was stopped from doing so by ‘a man of Israel’. A fight broke out, which ended in his cursing the RBSO.
Efsher Maybe you’re wondering why he taka wasn’t considered a Jew when for years we have been taught that nationality is determined by the mother and not the tata. Nu, you’re not alone and avada the medroshim work diligently to try to reconcile this and so will we. Efsher we can kler (suggest) that with a yiddishe mama, that he’s mamish a yid. Ober on the other hand, we can also quote the Ramban and Hizkuni who both present the notion that this blasphemous event took place prior to the giving of the Toirah, at which time matrilineal descent had not yet been firmly established; after all, tribal affiliation followed the father. If so, the son of the taskmaster and Shulamis was considered a goy mamish (non-Jew) Why? Because back then, one’s status was determined patrilineally (nice big word) and not toirah law. Accordingly, we can say that he was a goy and not a yid and as a goy, no land!! Or, on the other hand, we can efsher say that he was a halbe yid (half Jew) or some kind of a hybrid (not yet in style back then) and maybe he should’ve been eligible for an apartment or even a condo, but not land. Or efsher we can kler (suggest) that he was a Geyr (convert), in fact so say several Medroshim-ver veyst? Ober (but) hock nisht in chinick (stop bothering me with all this BS). The final determination is far from clearl; it was nice though to think out loud.
Avada we’re not told why he was excluded from land ownership or, if, it was at all connected to his questionable Jew status. What is clear is that he was a blasphemer and the RBSO promised him death.
Rashie’s not done; here’s more. We are also told that at the time of this incident, (the blasphemy), the RBSO had not yet informed Moishe how the judicial system would deal with such a case. And not knowing, Moishe arrested him and held him without bail. At or about the same time that this man was arrested, he was not alone in custody. Seemingly, Moishe made yet another arrest. Also incarcerated was a man named Tzelafchad who had purposely desecrated the heylige Shabbis by chopping wood in broad daylight. He was imprisoned for his sinful action while waiting for the death penalty to be carried out. Ober, we are still a few weeks away from Tzelafchad and his daughters so let’s not jump ahead too far. But the Medrish does tell us this sidebar: that when Moishe arrested and held the blasphemer pending the results, he did not share a room with Tzelafchad. Taka why? Why were the two inmates put in different cells? Was there epes a shtikel issue with Tzelafcahd’s wood, if you chap? Anyway…if time permits, we’ll come back to this open window.
Says the Sifsei Chachamim, an early 18th century super-commentary on Rashi: that had the blasphemer been placed together with the desecrator of the heylige shabbis, the one who cursed the RBSO would have naturally assumed that his penalty was also death, a ruling which was not yet certain. This would have unquestionably placed a superfluous degree of anguish on the individual. Even though he had transgressed in such a serious manner, there was no reason to cause him any unnecessary suffering. As you can see, we need to show compassion, even as to those on death row..
What about the mother Shulamis ben divri? Oy vey… but before I tell you this next medrish, I want to warn the over 50% Raboyseyettes on my mailing list, that you will not be happy with this next p’shat: neither was I, but here goes anyway.
Says the Yalkut (another Medrish) though he doesn’t identify his sources: that the only reason that this ½ yid was able to commit such a heinous crime was because he came from bad seed, from ‘evil roots’. What’s p’shat? He states this to be the case because the heylige toirah only mentions her name after telling us what the sinner did wrong (as opposed to saying that so and so, the son of so and so, committed a crime). And he suggests that Shulamis committed adultery. What? Adultery- didn’t we just learn that she was raped or duped when the Mitzri snuck into her bed?- Avada- why not blame the victim? Moreover, that it was inevitable that this wicked person Shulamis would have a wicked son because a son usually takes after the mother since he drinks her milk after birth. Taka very harsh words compared to the compassion shown by Rashi and other opinions but hey, it’s the Medrish and anything goes and each is entitled to his own version and opinion of the story. As I said earlier, there is little narrative and lots of room for imagination. And while he admits that Shulamis may have had committed inadvertent adultery (is this possible) since the Mitzri snuck inter her bed and she taka thought it was her husband (also shver (hard) to understand), sex with anyone other than the husband is considered adultery. After all, are we to believe that the Mitzri goy looked like and felt like the tzebrochener (broken) yid? Nonetheless, she had intercourse with the goy and is thus considered a Zoyna (prostitute).
Moreover, she herself was immodest and talkative as proven by her name Shulamis. Seemingly she said Shalom whenever a man would pass by. Avada you’re perplexed to hear this as mistama you thought that saying shalom and hello was a good thing, it’s not? And his final point: if a woman says hello to too many men, in the end (maybe also in the front) she will commit adultery. Of course, this doesn’t apply to men.
And who is the husband of this Shulamis who gets no mention?
Nu, we’re out of time and we’ll have to revisit this parsha another time.
A gitten shabbis-
Yitz Grossman, Lawrence, NY