Raboyseyee and Ladies,
It’s mamish 3:05 AM and the heylige Ois and eishes chayil find themselves aboard a riverboat as we make our way from Antwerp Belgium to a city called Ghent. What’s there, ver veyst? Are there Jews in Ghent? Today, some 200, more typically zero. Why? From what the Ois has been told by historian extraordinaire, Henry Abrahmson, Ghent is one of European cities that expelled the Yiddin; not once but several times. More on the experience next week; for now, let’s review some of the goodies found in this week’s mind boggling parsha.
Towards the end of last week’s parsha, Moishe was discussing war preparation; the need for a draft and an army. Efsher to help with enlistment, he offered a few major exemptions and deferments. He immediately exempted those who were engaged but not yet married (meaning avada, they did not yet have the opportunity to enjoy the (imagined) fruits of marriage, if you chap), those who planted a vineyard and those who built a new house but did not yet get a chance to move in and enjoy (the boudoir). We can imagine that while some were taka engaged, not too many were planting vineyards in the dry arid midbar, and few if any, were building themselves homes unless they were mobile, RV’s. That being said, any and all in these groupings were exempt from military service. In a very broad and fourth exemption, Moishe had the koihen announce that anyone who was poshit simply) feared the battlefield, was also exempt. And we discussed that avada it was quite logical to assume that a great many, if not most, were mistama afraid; who wouldn’t be?
In past years, the heylige Ois quoted Rebbe Yosi Haglili who clarified that only sinners should have fear. Seemingly, according to him, neither the swords nor the arrows of the enemy could do harm unless the person was a sinner, in which case, the would be soldier had real fear that the RBSO might allow him to fall in battle. Says Reb Yosie that this group of Yiddin, those fearful of the battlefield, included those who committed even minor infractions such as talking while donning their tifilin. Nu, you can only imagine how petrified most others were. And given that the ‘sin-bar’ was set to include even minor infractions, and given that only the pure and righteous – the tzadikim mamish- were battle worthy, we are left to wonder just how Moishe planned to assemble an army. Let’s get real: were talking while donning tifilin your biggest aveyro (sin), most of you would likely get a stamped ticket directly into Gan Eden. For most, this minor sin does not come close to registering on your sin-scale. The bottom line is azoy: most of us are guilty of far greater transgressions. Thankfully the RBSO chapped all that! After all, He created us as we nebech (sadly) are, and gave us Yom Kippur, the aseres yimay tshuva (10 days of repentance) and with them the opportunity to say you are taka sorry. And as we have been reading the history of the Yiddin, specifically of the generation that traversed the midbar, seemingly they weren’t much better. Again we ask, where the hec was Moishe going to find these perfect people to serve? Was he going to hire mercenaries? The Wagner Group? Oy vey to them. Ober Moishe had a plan; it unfolds in this week’s parsha.
Shoin: It used to be the case that the attention span of people, was -according to experts who dabble in this type of research- as long as 40 minutes. That’s how long the average person could and would pay attention to a task or lecture, remain fully engaged, and stay focused on what a speaker had to say. Nu, that was avada before TV, movies, magazines, video games, the heylige Internet bichlal (in general), Google and other search engines bifrat (specifically). Ober, in today’s times, with distractions all around us, -limoshol TikTok and Instagram, sociologists and other experts tell us that the average time a person remains focused on any one topic is down to twenty, ten, and even as little as five minutes. That’s givaldig when compared to the notoriously ill-focused goldfish whose attention span is but nine seconds. Ober listen to this: in a study conducted by Microsoft Corp, it was found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began), the average attention span for most people has dropped from 12 seconds -yes, you read that correctly- to eight seconds…..Yikes! After eight seconds, most begin to daydream.
And why is this all relevant? Because in this week’s mitzvah packed (74 of them, mamish) Parsha of Ki Say Tzey, though Moishe is mamish days away from his 120th birthday and passing (indeed, according to tradition he was both born and passed away on the 7th day of the month of Adar), he still has some time to go; and he’s still talking. Nu, can you imagine how much time it took him to deliver 74 mitzvis? And it’s not like they were all related and that he transitioned seamlessly from topic to topic following a natural progression. A small number of mitzvis, according to many a medrish and commentator, might taka be related. Limoshol (by way of example) the sugyos (topics) of the war-bride, the wayward son and the hated wife. Our sages teach us that one who married a war bride (in addition to the wife he already had waiting at home), would eventually come to hate her (or the first wife), and together, they will eventually produce a wayward son. A trifecta mamish! Ober, other mitzvis he taught for the very first time, covered a wide range of disparate topics including (not in any order) levirate marriages, returning lost property, shooing away the mother bird when one wanted to get his hands on the baby chicks, bills of divorce, shatniz, illicit relationships (again), cross dressing (unless one is a sportscaster), the spiritual purity of the camp, including instructions to have and use a shovel to cover human waste, remembering that the RBSO punished Miriam with leprosy for speaking some loshoin horo (badmouthing) about Moishe, murder, accurate weights and measures, and what to do to a woman who grabs a man by his privates while he, the perpetrator is striking her own man. You read that correctly and there’s much more. Stamina he seemingly did have until the very end.
Ober the question is azoy: How did Moishe expect the Yiddin to pay attention while he was delivering these 74 new commandments? Did Moishe hand out the first version of the Chumish without Rashi? Not! Did he have source materials? Spark notes? Anything? Also not! He delivered each one of these commandments found in the written Toirah orally.
Ober let’s not underestimate Moishe; he was a genius mamish. So happens that both questions posed, how Moishe was expected to field an army given the exemptions, especially those afraid to serve due to their own sins, and how he got them to pay attention and remain focused while he was orating, with one givaldige answer. An answer only the heylige Ois can deliver (and get away with). Grada it could be how it went down. Moishe taka chapped that the Yiddin had little interest in what he had to say. He knew their attention spans, even in the midbar which was devoid of most distractions -save the Moabite shiksas and other mischief they either encountered or concocted- was razor thin. What to do?
He had a plan: he began the parsha with the following mitzvah and let’s learn it again (as we do yearly by popular demand). Said he azoy:
- If you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord, your G-d, will deliver him into your hands, and you take his captives,
- And you see among the captives a beautiful woman and you desire her, you may take [her] for yourself as a wife.
- You shall bring her into your home, and she shall shave her head and let her nails grow.
- And she shall remove the garment of her captivity from upon herself, and stay in your house, and weep for her father and her mother for a full month. After that, you may be intimate with her and possess her, and she will be a wife for you.
The RBSO in His magnificence, who avada chapped that regular humans are barely that, and mistama those on the battlefield, mamish in the heat of war and other heat even less so, and would likely do the unthinkable, established an extraordinary provision permitting the soldier to chap and marry a captive woman to whom he feels strongly attracted. And hear this: as amazing as this may sound, according to most opinions, he may even engage in sexual relations with her before her conversion and marriage. Believe it or not, there’s more debate on whether or not he may have a second helping just in case his first discharge, if you chap, didn’t sufficiently cool him down, if you chap. Ober our Rabbis needn’t worry themselves silly about pritzus (immodesty): seemingly, mixed dancing with the captive shiksa remains forbidden.
The bottom line after much elucidation from many sources including the heylige Gemora and many others, is azoy: A soldier on the battlefield during a war, who encounters a hot shiksa (she’s been captured), and who as a result is also now hot, in heat mamish, his lust for her uncontrollable -he must have her- has been given permission for a one time quickie. Should he still have strong desires for her and wish to prolong the relationship, he must follow the rules found in the pisukim (verses) quoted verbatim above.
And this permission was granted, seemingly in deference to the ever powerful yetzer horo (evil inclination) residing within him (and everyone else). In other words: our rabbis concluded that the RBSO’s thinking was azoy: had permission not been granted to engage, if you chap, the soldier might have taken matters into his own hands and had relations with the shiksa anyway. He might also have brought her home and married her. Shoin, the RBSO did not want to see His entire army guilty of polygamy, mixed marriages and worse, and instead allowed the soldier a one time dip of the stick, to cool his emotions. Shoin, first time readers of this review are mistama thirsty for more information and the Oisvorfer is pleased to direct you to the archives at www.oisvorfer.com. We have, in previous years, well covered this topic.
Grada this understanding of human nature, begs yet another question. If, as we learned just last week, those who feared the battlefield (due to their own sins) were exempt from service, it’s mashma (appears), that by the time Moishe was able to put together a few battalions, they consisted of only of Tzadikim, only the most righteous. And if only these pure souls were drafted and sent into the battlefield, why was there any concern about their behavior? In other words: the army seemingly consisted of only the best people, those who could overcome battlefield desires and lust. Why then was there a concern that such high quality Yiddin would succumb to their yetzer horo’s and efsher engage in illicit relationships with beautiful shiksas just because they were captured on the battlefield? Don’t the righteous have a higher set of morals? Isn’t that why they were drafted? Isn’t that why they are taka called righteous?
Ober raboyseyee, the answer is quite poshit and listen to this: Man is weak! Few men can overcome their urges and even fewer have control while on the battlefield. Man was created with urges. It’s poshit human nature. There are times and places in life such as warfare and the battlefield, where it takes superhuman strength and abilities to overcome one’s urges. The RBSO understands that! As an aside, it’s efsher the case, that the bigger the tzadik -in his righteousness you chazir- the stronger are his desires. Is that emes? seemingly so. And says the heylige Gemora (Succis 52a), azoy: the greater the person, the more of a tzadik he is, the greater is his yetzer horo (evil inclination). Shoin, efsher that’s taka a good enough reason not to strive to such levels, ver veyst. The RBSO was kind enough to reward His soldiers; efsher an enlistment bonus, ver veyst. Absent of war, man still has urges. Ober raboyseyee, no such exemptions were offered for those who find themselves in heat in shul, the office, while traveling, cruising, or elsewhere. Veyter!
Shoin, once the Yiddin heard Moishe discussing free sex, that permission was granted for a soldier on the battlefield to engage, if you chap, with a hot shiksa, they perked up, if you chap. They were firm, if you chap, even resolute. They were no longer thinking about the farkakte house that was built but not yet inhabited, or their vineyards. They even forgot about their brides. They were all ready to shoot, maybe even the enemy. Shoin: with this announcement, Moishe solved two problems with one utterance. Ershtens, he no longer had to worry about drafting an army. They all enlisted. Moreover, he no longer needed to worry about desertions. None were going to leave! He was no longer concerned over losing those who were afraid to serve. Upon hearing that permission had been granted by the RBSO to chap a hot beautiful shiksa on the war front (at least once), they all overcame their fears of the battlefield. Suddenly, they were all ready to shoot their guns, if you chap. Nu, one can only imagine how enlistment would surge in the Israeli army, and how the yeshivas would empty out, were this perk to be made available in today’s times. Moishe had their full attention as does the Ois have yours just about now. And he took advantage. He went on to deliver -as stated above- more than 10% of all the 613 mitzvis found in our heylige Toirah, in one parsha. The bottom line: sex sells!
Interestingly enough, though the parsha is, as stated above, chock full of mitzvis, an extraordinary amount of coverage is given by the great majority of commentators, to the unique dispensation the RBSO seemingly gave soldiers in order to help quell uncontrollable temptations soldiers might have during war. The RBSO avada knew that, though otherwise forbidden, most soldiers would throw caution to the wind, their pants to the floor, and sin. Let’s not forget: it was the RBSO who created us and gave us the yetzer horo (evil inclination). So happens that the yetzer horo is big, mighty and strong; rarely does he lose the battle between himself the yetzer toiv (good inclination). In response, the RBSO also gave us Yom Kippur, a day when we can beat our chest, recite the Al Cheyt’s which do an excellent job of delineating with great specificity the innumerable sins we have committed during the past year and shoin, we are good to start all over again. The RBSO is mamish great!
Shoin, let’s cover one more topic. In this week’s parsha we come across a rather strange yet very rewarding mitzvah. Says the heylige Toirah (Devorim 22:6-7), azoy:
|6 If a bird’s nest chances before you on the road, on any tree, or on the ground, and [it contains] fledglings or eggs, if the mother is sitting upon the fledglings or upon the eggs, you shall not take the mother upon the young.||וכִּי יִקָּרֵא קַן צִפּוֹר | לְפָנֶיךָ בַּדֶּרֶךְ בְּכָל עֵץ | אוֹ עַל הָאָרֶץ אֶפְרֹחִים אוֹ בֵיצִים וְהָאֵם רֹבֶצֶת עַל הָאֶפְרֹחִים אוֹ עַל הַבֵּיצִים לֹא תִקַּח הָאֵם עַל הַבָּנִים:|
|7 You shall send away the mother, and [then] you may take the young for yourself, in order that it should be good for you, and you should lengthen your days.||זשַׁלֵּחַ תְּשַׁלַּח אֶת הָאֵם וְאֶת הַבָּנִים תִּקַּח לָךְ לְמַעַן יִיטַב לָךְ וְהַאֲרַכְתָּ יָמִים:|
Notice that the gentle and easy to perform mitzvah of shooing away the mother bird before taking the baby chicks, is a reward of long life. The RBSO likes those who perform it. Sounds easy enough. Believe it or not, this mitzvah, which is about showing compassion, was eventually commercialized -of course- and is rumored to be helpful by the few practitioners who arrange such shooing, for women trying to become pregnant. How all this works is avada away above the Oisvorfer’s understanding.
For many decades the Oisvorfer was taught, and has also heard repeatedly from many a rabbi, as well as read in written form by way of medrish and other sources, that there are but two mitzvis in the entire heylige Toirah where the RBSO reveals a very specific reward. We just encountered the second. Shoo away the mother bird and live a long life. And the first? The first was commandment number five of the Aseres Hadibrois (Ten Commandments) where we again read of a long life reward for honoring one’s parents. Says the heylige Toirah (Shemois 20:12), azoy:
|12 Honor your father and your mother, in order that your days be lengthened on the land that the Lord, your G-d, is giving you.||יבכַּבֵּד אֶת אָבִיךָ וְאֶת אִמֶּךָ לְמַעַן יַאֲרִכוּן יָמֶיךָ עַל הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ:|
As you can only imagine but don’t have to, much exegeses has been written on why the RBSO selected davka these two mitzvis for the very specific reward of long years. Both are seemingly dear to Him. Ober, are these two disparate topics related? How? What are they meant to teach us? Shoin, those answers too for another day, ober this past Shabbis, as is his custom, while others were listening to (parts of) parshas Shoiftim, the Oisvorfer was busily looking ahead to this week’s parsha. And this year, efsher for the first time ever -oy vey- the entire parsha was reviewed, beginning to end mamish, all 72 mitzvis. And mamish near the very end of the parsha, he came across the following two pisukim which blew his mind. Let’s read them. Says the heylige Toirah (Devorim 25:15-16), azoy: “A perfect and honest stone shall you have, a perfect and honest measure shall you have, so that your days shall be lengthened on the land that God, your Lord, gives you. For an abomination of Hashem, your God, are all who do this, all who act corruptly.”
Well blow me down! Did we just identify yet one more -never spoken about- reward which is; a- specifically revealed, and b- is a perfect match for the reward one is given for honoring one’s parents and shooing away the mother bird? Indeed we have. What the hec is going on here? Were our rabbis mistaken when they taught us and mistama you, that there are but two such instances where specific and matching rewards are revealed? Are there two or three mitzvis with the specifically revealed reward of long life? Are there any more? Anyone? In fact, were you to ask this question to most who went to yeshiva, even to many rabbis, ruba diruba (the great majority) would answer two. What’s taka pshat here? Veyter.
Shoin. In case you’re wondering what a perfect stone is, let’s explain. Back in the days before digital and mechanical scales, perfectly measured stones were used to calibrate and balance scales. Says the heylige Toirah that balanced scales should be used to ensure honest weights and measures. Absent of such perfect calibration, a merchant could easily cheat an unsuspecting consumer. In any event, as you read, the RBSO loves those who take the time to perfectly balance their stones and measures, thereby ensuring honest dealings with their customers. So much so, that He dangles the reward of prolonged life to those who are honest. Moreover, if you read posik 16 one more time, you will quickly conclude that He seemingly hates those who act otherwise. How much does He hate the fraudsters? Such cheating is referred to a ‘toiayvo’ (an abomination). It’s rare that the RBSO tells us how much He hates a particular aveyro (sin) ober this very strong wording is found on rare instances. Speaking of rare cases, it’s davka when discussing mishkav zochor (gay sex) where the RBSO calls the act a toiayvo, an abomination. And for good measure, a similar term is used to convey the RBSO’s feelings on bestiality. The bottom line: the RBSO gave His Yiddin three different ways to earn long life; we should be able to observe at least one of them.
Shoin, with Rosh Hashono and Yom Kippur mamish knocking at the front door, let’s avada keep in mind that efsher we all need to recalibrate, get our stones in order, if you chap, and avada, always enter the front door. Rear entry is not good!
A gittin Shabbis-
The Oisvorfer Ruv