Ershtens (firstly), welcome back. It’s time to get your heads back into the heylige toirah. Mistama (likely) many of you were away for yom toiv: didn’t your parents teach you that on the special yom toiv of Pesach men misht zich nisht (on Pesach we don’t mix – or more easily understood: on Pesach – we don’t eat out of the house, including hotels and neighbor’s houses)? Some of you traveled by plane, others by sea and many also by car and mistama those by car, went to the in-laws and or other relatives- nebech.
It disgusts me mamish to state that what you all have in common, is that little to no toira was learned during this long chag (holiday) as many of you were busy shtupping at least a kizayis of matzo into your mouths, drinking, telling and listening to juicy loshoin horo – chas v’sholom- rachmono litzlon (heaven forbid) and worse. A portion of you wasted valuable time in Disney world, others in family oriented theme parks where mistama you feasted your eyes on chometz – although the heylige toirah specifically says loi yeroeh lecho (though shall not see any chometz) and some of you were even in casinos where the mydlich (girls) walk around kimat nakit (just about naked) showing off their chotits…err I meant chomitz. Hatzad hashova shebohain (the common denominator) is that your minds were zicher elsewhere. Nu…the Oisvorfer avada understands such behavior and besides now that Pesach is over, we can mamish soon start thinking about Yoim Kippur when avada you will also do t’shuva with full hearts. And zicher, the RBSO who loves all Yiddin so much, will efsher clean your slates enabling you to begin your next round of avayrois with clean records. Avada the Oisvorfer knows that records aren’t good.
Anyway, Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes- this week you will have the unbelievable zechus (merit) if you make it shul, of hearing Parshas Kidoishim. Es lutz zich heren (it reasons) that you no longer recall that typically we read this parsha as the back end of a double header, together with Achrei Mois ober (but) this year, because we had an Adar Shaynee (leap year), it’s read alone and that’s why Pesach was taka so late. The RBSO mamish wanted to test you by providing longer afternoons to give you an opportunity to learn some toirah and look into a sefer but did you? A nechtiger tug (absolutely not): instead you sat at the pool in your Kortze hoizen (short pants), read the business section of the papers (ossur mamish) or some trashy novel about sex, power, money and other such narishkeyt and shtussim (a bunch of bs), or sat around discussing every topic under the sun except for the RBSO’s heylige toirah. A good many of you nebech also sat around wondering out loud why we needed a second seder altogether bazman hazeh (in our times), while others were bad mouthing the very people you were spending time with including your own mishpocho- oy vey. And with that sad reality, let’s try to get our heads back into learning and see what gems the RBSO has given us this week.
But before we get into inyono diyoimoa (relevant topic of the day), let me also apologize to the now thousands or regular readers and visitors to the sites (oisvorfer.com and toriaruv.com) ober I was mamish crazy busy since arriving home yesterday (without luggage) returning calls, answering emails and eating every few minutes and had precious little time to properly review the parsha. Also, I understood that it’s mamish hard to get back into learning after an extended vacation. Nu- what to do? Leave it to the Oisvorfer to find a topic that you can’t say no to and that’s taka what the RBSO recognized in His people. And with that sharfe (cutting) introduction, let’s slowly attempt to become kedoishim: holy people.
In fact, we’ll go a shtikel (a bit) backwards and start with the end of the parsha., ober (but) let’s at least learn the opening possik (verse) of this week’s parsha of Kedoshim wherein the RBSO tells Moishe to gather the entire nation (even the Raboyseyettes). “Hashem spoke to Moshe saying: Speak to the entire assembly of the Children of Israel (kol adas bnei Yisrael) and say to them: ‘Kedoshim Tihiyu – You shall be holy…'”. Rashi, who taka mamish knew everything points out that this unusual phraseology, meant ‘everyone’. The RBSO wants the Yiddin to be holy and what does that taka mean? Nu…avada we’ll soon find out what Rashi and others say.
Efsher you recall, though mistama not, that not too long ago, the week before Pesach bidiyuik (mamish exactly), the RBSO told us not to engage in deviant sexual behavior and delineated a series of such relationships, including avada homosexuality. Nu, we weren’t surprised to read that a few rabbi’s from a place called Brooklyn were epes involved in such a scandal but we should zicher not rush to judgment as you will recall that the Oisvofer taka worte that seemingly Rebbe’s in yeshiva (not all) were efsher exempt from this ruling.
And while the parsha is mamish full of loi- sah-says (thou shall not…’s) Perek Chof (20) is almost in its entirety mamish a list of prohibitions against illicit sexual relations: adultery is mentioned prominently and avada other incestuous relationships (a father’s wife, a daughter-in-law, the tanta (aunt), the shvester (sister), a sister-in-law, and many others. Let’s not forget to give honorable mention to other such chazerrish (piggish) behavior including bestiality and relations with a nidda ( menstruating woman). Seemingly it might have been efsher easier just to say that one can only have relations with his esihes chayil (wife) and that’s it. Ober the RBSO wanted to make certain that vilde chayis (untamed wild animals) like you don’t go around marrying any of those you lusted after so that you could enjoy their fruits (before discarding them). We can klerr (posit) that efsher that’s one reason why He went out of His way to chazir (review) this sugya (topic) again this week and tell us in no uncertain terms that it’s ossur (verboten) min hatoirah to have relations with these family members, even if you wanted to marry them. Who do you think you are- Yankiff Ovenu? In other words: the RBSO knew that chazerrim like yourselves would be looking for a loophole and closed it up. And does any of this sound at all familiar? It should even to oisvorfs because we just read about these very forbidden relations in last week’s toirah (Achrei Mois) ober this week, the RBSO put some teeth into it: This week, He tells us what awaits us (you) if you are nichshoil (fall prey), don’t listen and chap a quickie with the wife’s sister and or others.
Though Parshas Kedoishim is one of the shortest in the entire toirah and only 5 are shorter, its contains the most mitzvois in the gantze (entire) Toirah. Halt Kupp (pay close attention) Raboyseyee because of the 51 mitzvois only 13 are ah-says (positive) while 38 are loi- sa-says- yikes. And since most of you have trouble with this category, I find that once again I have to focus this shiur on a topic we discussed many times. Kimat (nearly) the entire Perek Chof (20) is, as is this parsha review at least so far, devoted to only one topic- the punishment allotted to sinners and violators of these forbidden sexual relations. And listen to this: the punishment for these relations is not the dog house, flowers or even jewelry: we’re talking death mamish- the big one!!! There’s an obligation to execute those who desecrate the sanctity of the nation through certain acts. And death comes in a variety of ways, none too pleasant. Efsher you remember that the Yiddin were commanded to distance themselves from the behavior of the Mitzrim ( Egyptians) and the Canaanites, primarily because their loose sexual attitudes, behavior and lewd actions contaminated the land, causing it to spew them from its midst, those who committed them and that’s why the land was given to the BNY. Nu..shoin ginig (enough) of this scary talk; let’s taka move on but first……………
Some say that taka the reason that the RBSO gave us a bit of time to digest the prohibitions listed in Achrei Mois was because we avada know from the heylige gemroa the dictum which says azoy: “ein onshim elah im kein mazhirim” – A punitive action is not meted out for the transgression of a prohibition unless there is a prior scriptural warning. Others (oisvorfs primarily) suggest that the RBSO wanted to give the Yiddin some time to wean themselves off myriad such relationships they were embroiled in and gave the Yiddin over Pesach to clean up their acts. Maybe its taka an extension of the pesach cleaning or efsher it’s what’s meant by ad sheyodo masehges (as far as the hand reaches), if you chap.
Efsher you’re wondering why the Oisvorfer is always talking about sex and such matters? Is he obsessed, is this the only topic he wishes to discuss with his talmidim and readers? Taka one of the veyber in shul asked just such a question a few weeks back. Ober tyerer and choshova readers: avada you know that the Oisvofer is merely repeating the helyige words and thoughts (many times verbatim) of the commentators. Lemoshol (just by way of example), Rashi, on the very first possik of the parsha- commenting on the opening mitzvah (command) to be holy (Kedoshim tiheyu) – suggests that the term denotes and implies separation in matters of forbidden sexual unions. Maybe that’s taka why a number of conservative minded politicians are trying to bust up the unions, ver veyst? In fact Rashi seems to limit his explanation of this mitzvoh of kedoshim tiheyu to the area of arayos (sexual matters) and efsher we can kler that even back in the pre internet and other schmutz print days, that the heylige Rashi understood that people are…well, just people. Why Rashi was always thinking the worst in people… nu..mistama he understood the human beast. What am I to do, skip Rashi? Chas V’sholom!!
The Ramban on the other hand, in mamish one of the more famous arguments he had with Rashi, says that the words “You shall be Kedoshim” have nothing to do with illicit sexual acts. Instead, Kedoshim Tihiyu (You shall be holy) is referring to perfectly permissible activities. He says that we need to sanctify ourselves by withdrawing from that which is permissible; avada easier said than done, if you chap. In other words: The Ramban says that it’s a more encompassing requirement, enjoining us to exercise restraint. And of course we all know or should that the Rambam always preached a middle of the road approach of not too much of anything and of course most of the neshay chayil hold like the Rambam.
The Ramban understood the opeing words for us to be holy (again repeated at the very end of the parsha) to mean that the BNY should be aware that decent behavior cannot ultimately be legislated. In fact, he says a person can still be a licentious character and still be monogamous: you could be a kosher glutton, or a kosher drunk, or as he says, “a sleezebag with the Toirah’s permission. The parsha opens with an admission. Unscrupulous desires can always find a way to obey the law’s letter while violating the spirit. Avada, we know this to be emes. Without such restraint, a person can be a ‘naval b’rshus haToirah’ a glutton sanctioned by the Toirah. The level of sanctity required by this pasuk (verse) is achieved by restraining oneself somewhat from even those physical pleasures that the Toirah permits, yet another chumra. The Chasam Soifer (a yeshiva I attended in 8th grade) says that both Rashi and the Ramban agree that abstinence is clearly the mitzvah. Takah a challenge.
And listen to this: Rabbeinu Bachya connects the end of Achrei Mois and its list of forbidden sexual relationships, to the end of this week’s parsha and suggests that it’s in this context, that we must also understand the command to be holy. He says, the Toirah commands each spouse, both husband and wife, to maintain pure thoughts while having permitted relations. He also emphasizes that both men and women are included in this requirement, since, as the midrash, cited by Rashi, tells us, this parsha was said to the entire people. Nu- it can be suggested that this requirement to have pure thoughts is efsher harder than staying away from the forbidden relationships altogether. I mean let’s be real: when was the last time you had pure thoughts while engaged in vilde (wild) relations with the eishes chayil? Moreover when was the last time you had vilde relation with the eishes chayil altogether? Is this item on the menu? What’s he talking about? Efsher he meant that the thoughts should be pure while having relations with others and avada loi olanu, that would be an easy mitzvah to uphold. Avada he didn’t say that last part…just thinking out loud, if you chap.
Wait…he’s not done discussing relations and holiness and since the heylige shabbis is coming (and efsher you too) let’s taka pay attention to what else he says: efsher you can be mekayim a mitzvah mamish tonight night just by doing what you normally want to). Says Rabbeinu Bachya azoy: we should be maintaining holiness even within permitted relations. And what does that taka mean? Thus, for example, the reference to observing Shabbis is brought here (in the parsha early on) because the main time for such relations is on Friday night. When the Toirah tells us not to turn to idols (19:4), he continues: it is also a veiled reference to the prohibition of gazing at women, and that the subsequent mention, in that verse, of the prohibition of making molten gods is a veiled reference to thinking of another woman while having relations with one’s wife. What? We shouldn’t be looking during the act, thinking or imaging ourselves with others while being intimate with our own eishes chayil? Is this even possible beyond shono reshoina (first year of marriage) or earlier? Oy vey.
Grada, it shouldn’t go unmentioned that taka we find other examples in our scriptures, that avoidah zarah – (worshiping another God) – is likened to having relations with someone forbidden to us. We can’t skip ahead too far but later in the toirah we will taka learn that Bilum advised Balak to station beautiful women outside the tents of the Yiddin in order to tempt them and that’s why they taka call it the oldest trick in the book. Hey- didn’t Tamar entrap Yihuda that way? When the Jewish men approached the hot shiksa beauties to engage in relations (not necessarily forbidden), they were told that they must first worship Pe’or (no cash or Mun required) and that’s mamish forbidden. The men nebech succumbed, if you chap and the RBSO got mamish mad as shell and killed hundreds of thousands- yikes. Hopefully forbidden relations with those on the list isn’t as giferlich as avoida zoro. In fact, Says Rav Soloveitchik that while arayos (forbidden relation) by itself, and avoidah zoro by itself, are each terrible crimes, neither by itself poses a threat to the continued existence of the Jewish people. However, when the two are combined, they constitute a lifestyle of completely unbridled behavior, a lifestyle which is in complete contradiction to all that the Toirah stands for, and thus merits immediate retribution. Avada one should learn a lesson from this and be careful not to mix the two: farshteyst (understand)?
Avada one shouldn’t think that this is meant for men only and that only men are such vilde chayis and worse. Says the The Kesav Soifer: that the midrash cited by Rashi, mentioned above, which says that this parsha was said to the entire people, is telling us that even though, when Moishe taught the rest of the Toirah, he taught it to Aharoin four times, to his sons three times, to the elders twice, and to the entire nation only once (see Eruvin 54b). ober (but), in this instance he taught it only once, to the entire nation together. And that includes you
Raboyseyee: the parsha contains so many more gems including famous concepts of loving thy neighbor as thyself and more. I taka urge you to spend some time reviewing this special parsha over shabbis. As for me, time is very short today and ober I shall cut the shiur and remind you to count the Omer.
A gitten shabbis-