Bastards and Other Deplorables:
Thousands of years before Hillary Clinton, on June 8, 2016, called then candidate Trump’s supporters “deplorables,” the heylige Toirah, in this week’s action and mitzvah packed parsha of Ki Say-Tzei which is loaded with 74 commandments (that’s more than 10% of all 613 and most in any parsha), quite amazingly, discusses deplorables. It also discusses bastards. What specifically did Hillary say that day? Said she, among other things, azoy: “You know, to be just grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” And what does the heylige Toirah teach us this week about deplorables? Lommer lernin (let’s learn) a few pisukim (a few verses). Says the heylige Toirah (Devorim 23:4-5), azoy:
|4. An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; even the tenth generation shall never enter the assembly of the Lord.||דלֹֽא־יָבֹ֧א עַמּוֹנִ֛י וּמֽוֹאָבִ֖י בִּקְהַ֣ל יְהֹוָ֑ה גַּ֚ם דּ֣וֹר עֲשִׂירִ֔י לֹֽא־יָבֹ֥א לָהֶ֛ם בִּקְהַ֥ל יְהֹוָ֖ה עַד־עוֹלָֽם:|
|5. Because they did not greet you with bread and water on the way, when you left Egypt, and because he [the people of Moab] hired Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor in Aram Naharaim against you, to curse you.||העַל־דְּבַ֞ר אֲשֶׁ֨ר לֹֽא־קִדְּמ֤וּ אֶתְכֶם֙ בַּלֶּ֣חֶם וּבַמַּ֔יִם בַּדֶּ֖רֶךְ בְּצֵֽאתְכֶ֣ם מִמִּצְרָ֑יִם וַֽאֲשֶׁר֩ שָׂכַ֨ר עָלֶ֜יךָ אֶת־בִּלְעָ֣ם בֶּן־בְּע֗וֹר מִפְּת֛וֹר אֲרַ֥ם נַֽהֲרַ֖יִם לְקַלְלֶֽךָּ:|
Says Rashi: these nations were forbidden entry because of the advice they gave the Yiddin in order to entice them into sin. What advice and what sin? We shall explore that below, ober…before we talk about and find out what made the Ammonites and Moabites so deplorable to the RBSO, so as not to be allowed to enter the congregation of the Eternal -meaning they could not marry in- a few words on the bastard. What exactly is a bastard and why is he mentioned in the Toirah?
Shoin, most dictionaries consulted state azoy: a bastard is: 1- an illegitimate child, 2- something of irregular, inferior or dubious origin.
Says Rashi and many others: no one born of an illegitimate union may enter in marriage with a woman of the congregation of the Eternal. Again meaning that a bastard many not marry a Jewish woman. Shoin. In short then, a bastard is one born out of an illicit relationship. One, where a married woman became impregnated, say it’s not so, oy vey, and then had a baby by another man, not her husband. Children born of wedlock are not bastards. In any event, though the poor bastard -the one born- did nothing wrong on his own, still he cannot enter the nation. He cannot marry a nice Jewish girl even in the tenth generation. He is a deplorable. The good news: A mamzer (bastard) can get married. He may in fact marry a convert, a freed slave, or a female mamzeret. The bad news: children born from this union are sadly also mamzerim. The good news: there is a way for the poor bastard to lose his “mamzer” moniker. Actually the news is not so good for him but there is a kosher and technical way for his children to start over without the mamzer moniker attached. We will cover the details another time. Veyter!
Shoin, let’s get back to the real deplorables. What terrible crime did these nations commit to so anger the RBSO? Let’s review posik five above which tells us that they -the Ammonites and Moabites- were guilty of two crimes. 1- they did not offer you (the Yiddin) bread and water on the way when you went out of Mitzrayim; and 2- because (the Moabites) hired Bilam (he a non Jewish prophet whom we shouted out last week) to curse the Yiddin. Incidentally, the RBSO turned his curse into a blessing and shoin, his very words are included in our daily davening. Let’s also find out what Rashi was talking about when he mentioned (see above) that the nations gave advice which led the Yiddin to sin.
Nu, as you can only imagine, these words regarding the banning of the people from these two nations got many thinking and a few, including the Ohr Hachaim asking azoy: that’s it?! For not offering the Yiddin bread or water, they were banned from marrying nice Jewish girls? What’s the big deal about bread and water? Were the Yiddin lacking? Didn’t the RBSO provide the Yiddin with special Munn which He had delivered daily (except shabbis of course) for 40 years? Indeed he did! Did they need or want bread to make a Munn sandwich? And what about water? Didn’t we also learn that the Be’er Miriam (the wellspring) of Miriam rolled along the Midbar as the Yiddin traveled and sustained them throughout their midbar sojourns? Who needed water from the Ammonites? It’s not like they waged war on the Yiddin as did Amolake that farbrecher (bad guy). What’s pshat?
Moreover, says the Sifri with some degree of amazement, azoy: Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai said: the Mitzrim (Egyptians) drowned Jewish children in the sea. Eisav’s (Esau) descendants threatened them with war. Yet, marriage to a nice Jewish girl is only forbidden for three generations. Ober the Ammonites and Moabites are prohibited forever?! What’s taka pshat?
And there are more questions. Asks the RambaN azoy: is that even emes that the Moabites and Ammonites did not offer bread and water? Ober didn’t we learn elsewhere where that they did? At least the Moabites. Did we not learn in parshas Devorim (Devorim 2:28-29) that the Moabites did sell both water and bread to the Yiddin? Seemingly we did and let’s then read those words.
|28. You shall sell me food for money, that I may eat; and give to me water for money, that I may drink; I will only pass through by my feet.||כחאֹ֣כֶל בַּכֶּ֤סֶף תַּשְׁבִּרֵ֨נִי֙ וְאָכַ֔לְתִּי וּמַ֛יִם בַּכֶּ֥סֶף תִּתֶּן־לִ֖י וְשָׁתִ֑יתִי רַ֖ק אֶעְבְּרָ֥ה בְרַגְלָֽי:|
|29. Just as the children of Esau who dwell in Seir, and the Moabites who dwell in Ar, did for me; until I cross the Jordan to the land which the Lord our God is giving us.”||כטכַּֽאֲשֶׁ֨ר עָֽשׂוּ־לִ֜י בְּנֵ֣י עֵשָׂ֗ו הַיּֽשְׁבִים֙ בְּשֵׂעִ֔יר וְהַמּ֣וֹאָבִ֔ים הַיּֽשְׁבִ֖ים בְּעָ֑ר עַ֤ד אֲשֶֽׁר־אֶֽעֱבֹר֙ אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן אֶל־הָאָ֕רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ נֹתֵ֥ן לָֽנוּ:|
From these words, it appears that at least the Moabites did sell water. Moreover, if the Yiddin did not cross over the boundary and did not step foot into their territory, and if Moishe tells us that they -the Yiddin- purchased water and bread, it must be the case that they did come forth -at least to the border- to sell them water and bread. Why then are they banned? Taka an excellent kasha. Nu, some say that the Moabites should have offered water and bread for free: they are faulted therefore for having charged the Yiddin. Efsher we can kler that they charged, and the Yiddin paid retail prices, an anathema mamish and efsher against the tenets of the entire religion, ver veyst.
As you can imagine, different Sages weigh in with different ideas as to why the RBSO decided to ban them -seemingly forever. Ober says the RambaN that pshat is like this: the RBSO held them accountable for lacking gratefulness, or what the Yiddin refer to colloquially as ‘hakoras hatoiv.’ What’s pshat? What favor did the Yiddin do to the Ammonites and Moabites?
Nu, to tie this all together as only our sages of the heylige Toirah, Mishneh, and Gemora can do, we need to harken back to our zeyda (forefather) Avrohom. And what did he do? Nu, generations earlier -many, his nephew Loit and Mrs. Loit were captured by a bunch of warring kings. We read this myseh (story) back in parshas Lech Lecha. The Loit’s were being held captive. Upon hearing this news -some say that it was Oig (Og) himself who delivered this news- Avrohom armed his people and chased down the captors. Avrohom saved Loit and family. Mamish gishmak. What happened next? Sometime later, for reasons outlined in parshas Vayero, the RBSO decided to destroy Sedoim (Sodom and Gemoro- as well as a few neighboring cities), ober Loit and his two still single daughters were saved. They followed the advice of the angels whose mission it was to save Loit and his amazing daughters. They (the daughters) and he wound up in a cave, where the daughters -fine outstanding citizens that they were….maybe not- took turns taking advantage of their father. In other words: they raped him but not before they had him inebriated on two consecutive nights. Shoin: each became pregnant and each delivered a son. And guess what? The girls named their boys Moiov and Amoin. They did? Indeed so and let’s read pisukim 36-38 of chapter 19 as found in Vayero.
|36. And Lot’s two daughters conceived from their father.||לווַתַּֽהֲרֶ֛יןָ שְׁתֵּ֥י בְנֽוֹת־ל֖וֹט מֵֽאֲבִיהֶֽן:|
37. And the elder bore a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of Moab until this day.
|לזוַתֵּ֤לֶד הַבְּכִירָה֙ בֵּ֔ן וַתִּקְרָ֥א שְׁמ֖וֹ מוֹאָ֑ב ה֥וּא אֲבִֽי־מוֹאָ֖ב עַד־הַיּֽוֹם:|
38. And the younger, she too bore a son, and she named him Ben-ami; he is the father of the children of Ammon until this day.
|לחוְהַצְּעִירָ֤ה גַם־הִוא֙ יָ֣לְדָה בֵּ֔ן וַתִּקְרָ֥א שְׁמ֖וֹ בֶּן־עַמִּ֑י ה֛וּא אֲבִ֥י בְנֵֽי־עַמּ֖וֹן עַד־הַיּֽוֹם:|
They are the founders of these two nations -the Ammonites and the Moabites- about whom we are discussing the sale of water and bread and whose male members cannot -even after conversion to Judaism- marry a nice Jewish girl. Was membership denied because the girls abused their father’s member, ver veyst?
Hundreds of years later, instead of running out to greet the Yiddin, the generations which traced their lineage all the way back to Avrohom their uncle, instead of showering their cousins, the Yiddin, with love, or at least water, both the Moabites and the Ammonites seemingly really angered the RBSO. Is withholding water so giferlich? Ober answers the Ibn Ezra so gishmak, azoy: the emes is that the Moabites did sell water and bread to the Yiddin. So what was their sin? They did not go forth and offer water and bread to the Yiddin. They did however sell them both. In other words: they let them into their shops and did not turn them away. And if that’s the case, why are the Moabites forbidden from entry? Why can’t their men marry nice Jewish girls? Which is it? Did they or did they not offer water and bread?
On the other hand, the Moabites weren’t all that bad; they did heed Bilam’s advice and did seemingly provide thousands of hookers with whom the Yiddin partied hardy. Those Yiddin, 24,000 of them, came and then went, if you chap. The RBSO disposed of them. We read all about this mass orgy back in parshas Bolok. Incidentally, Bolok was the king of the Moabites.
Now we chap what Rashi was referring to back on page 1. They were seemingly banned for the advice given (by Bilam to Bolok) which caused the Yiddin to sin by combining idol worship and sexual favors. That my friends, as the Oisvorfer has told you many times, is a deadly combination.
In any event, what is the bottom line? Is this commandment still active in our times? Let’s find out. Says the heylige Gemora (Brochis 28A, also found in the heylige Mishneh Yodayim 4:4), azoy: that day, Yehudah an Ammonite Geyr (convert) came before them in the study hall and said to them: may I enter the congregation (in other words: may I marry a Jewish girl)? Said Rabon Gamliel: you may not! Ober said to him Reb Yehoishua: you are permitted to enter the congregation. Rabon Gamliel then said to Reb Yehoishua: but is it not stated that an Ammonite and a Moabite may not enter the congregation of Hashem? Shoin: Reb Yihoishua answered: but do the descendants of Amoin and Moiov still reside in their places? Why, Sancherev, king of Ashur long ago came up and confused all the nations. In other words: he exiled the nations he conquered and resettled them in different lands. And of course Reb Yehoishua brought proof to his argument by quoting another verse. The bottom line according to Reb Yehoishua is that the nations of the worlds become integrated and even if someone comes from the land of Ammon, we must assume that he is not an actual descendant of that nation for we apply the rule that whatever separates is assumed to have been separated from the majority of people who are not Ammonites. In more other words: because of the resettlement, we no longer know who if anyone, is a pure Ammonite. Therefore, non are.
Ober argued Rabon Gamliel azoy: but isn’t there yet another verse which tells us that the RBSO will return the captives of the world? Indeed there is and it says azoy: “But afterwards I will return the captivity of the children of Amoin, the word of Hashem.” And if Hashem Himself said that, avada we know that it will, or did happen! Shoin!
Answered Reb Yehoishua azoy: but it also states that the RBSO (Hashem) wail return the captivity of “My people Israel.” And nevertheless they have yet to return.” Thus, just as this prophesy remains to be fulfilled (meaning Moshiach has yet to arrive), so too the prophesy regarding Ammoin has yet to come to pass.
The bottom line: immediately after hearing the back and forth arguments, and given the strength of Reb Yehoishua’s responses to Rabon Gamliel’s position that the Ammonite convert not be allowed in, it was ruled that Yehudah the convert may in fact enter the congregation, meaning he could indeed marry a nice Jewish girl. Veyter.
Did that settle matters? Were they settled before this great argument? No and no! For many years a great debate raged among earlier sages as to whether or not, the prohibition also included women. Could a nice Jewish boy or man, marry a Moabite or an Ammonite? Lets’ not forget that Dovid Hamelech (King David) was a descendant of Rus (Ruth), the Moabite. And let’s also give honorable mention to Shlomo Hamelech (King Solomon) whose wife -one of many- was Na’ama. She was an Ammonite. The heylige Gemora (Yivomis 8:3) avada discusses this issue.
And the bottom line? There is good news for those seeking to convert and marry a nice Jewish girl: Says the RambaM (Laws of Forbidden Nations 12:25), azoy: King Sancherev (king of Assyria) did in fact implement a resettlement plan and did really mix up the nations. As a result, now that forbidden nations – Ammonites and Moabites- have become mixed with all other nations from whom it is permissible to marry their converts, every convert is permitted. Shoin! You are free to roam about the cabin. Be grateful!
A gittin Shabbis!
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv