The Oisvorfer Ruv finds himself aboard a shiffel (boat) somewhere in the Bahamas but hasn’t forgotten his flock and here I am writing toirah when I should be enjoying the myriad activities offered on these cruises and in the cabins, if you chap what I’m saying.
Ershtens (first of all), you’ll notice that I added a proper salutation for the many Neshey Chayil that now read the heylige toirah weekly and why not- weren’t they on Har Seeni to receive the toriah? Don’t they have a right to learn the parsha? Didn’t they behave nicely while their husbands were slaves in Mitzrayim- bringing food, massaging and seducing them and having from 6 to 60 children at a time? And didn’t they refuse to partake in the making of the Eygel this week? Don’t you remember anything, even the heylige toirah you’ve been reading from the Oisvorfer Ruv weekly? Nu…let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Oy vey…it’s mamish a mere 40 days since the BNY accepted the heylige toirah on the little mountain and already they’re way off the derech (path), just like many of you bums that left many years ago. For a moment in time, the BNY were unified and answered Na’aseh V’nishma -not once but at least twice and seemingly they takah did lots of Na’aseh (doing) as we will nebech read below but precious little of v’nishma (listening to the RBSO). All hell is about to break loose in this week’s parsha as the Yiddin committed the worst sin in the history of their nation: the making and worship of the eygel (golden calf) loi olaunu- chas vsholom- say it’s not so please. An orgy would have been better and zicher more fun, and mistama (likely) easily forgivable by the RBSO, but the BNY chose an Eygel?!? Why would an orgy be better you ask and avada you do? Because the RBSO understands sexual desires; maybe he’s not so happy with your chazzerish behavior but still, he allows for t’shuvah and isn’t that what Yoim Kippur and all that klapping is for? Avoida Zoro (idol worship)- that’s the big one! And who said the Jews were so smart? Ober (but) chap nisht (don’t get ahead of yourself just because you heard ‘orgy’) – this doesn’t mean it’s mutir (allowed) you chazzir that you are and the entire eygel incident doesn’t happen till a bit later in the Parsha, what happened before? Nu- lets learn a bissel (a little) of Parhsa Ki- Se-Saw.
The emes is that the parsha is mamish broken down into three parts. 1) The final details of the RBSO’s instructions to Moishe regarding the making of the Mishkan (Tabernacle); 2) The despicable cheit (sin) of the Eygel (Golden Calf); 3) The pardon from the RBSO and granting of the Second Luchois (Tablets). And for good measure, the RBSO also reminds us to keep shabbis. Nu – as expected, there is of course a machloikes among the commentators as to the exact chronology of these events. Most though zicher not all, agree that the instructions and the actual building of the mishkan and also the collection of the ’counting and forgiveness money’ (machtizs Ha-shekel) all took place after the entire Eygel incident and logically it seems takah so. Ober (but) others say farkert. Who knows, was I there? Were you? One day, if the Moshiach comes, perhaps he’ll enlighten us and until then, what’s the difference? One thing is avada certain: the BNY did a big no no and the RBSO was hopping mad! In fact, according to some medroshim, He’s still upset.
In our last episode of the Yiddin: birth of a nation, the RBSO told Moishe all about the clothing worn by the Kohain Gadol and the other Kohanim. Moishe is still on Har Sinai sketching the various new designs, and doesn’t have a clue what’s going on down below. The RBSO is not done with him and gives him more instructions. By the time he gets down and puts the fire out, thousands of the BNY will be dead and he Moishe, will have ordered their execution- YIKES!.
Even though tzvey gantza (two full)- parshiois of Terumah and Tetzaveh –were mamish filled with detailed instructions on how the BNY should construct the Mishkan in which the RBSO said that He would “dwell amidst them.”, still, several items remain to be described: Just when you thought you are a Mishkan mayvin, and know it all from learning this toirah, the RBSO introduces another vessel – the Kiyor- the sink, a huge wash basin made from copper, with a spout positioned near the bottom front for easy access. The Kohanim used this to wash their hands and feet at the same time, in a crouching position. Moishe also hears a few other details: the manner in which the silver for the making of the “foundation sockets” should be collected, and the Shemen HaMishchah (Anointing Oil) and Ketoires (Incense) These items, followed by a roundup of all the Mishkan’s components, occupy the first 38 verses of the parsha. The partying starts later.
As our Parsha opens, Moishe Rabaynuu is getting bookkeeping and accounting lessons; nu.. Yet another Jewish profession, and the Yiddin have their first ever accountant/CPA. The RBSO is giving specific instructions about the way to count the BNY. Out is the standard One… two… three… four… as adopted by the AICPA; that’s good for counting goyim, your own money or for reporting to the IRS. To count the Yiddin, Moishe is told azoy: Every Jew from the age of 20 and up must line up and hand Moishe a silver coin weighing half a Shekel. These coins will be counted and that way you know how many Jewish men there are. Mistama (likely), there were even more men but as we well know when it comes to giving a shekel or even a machtzis, not all Yiddin like to be counted. Also, a few threw in a quarter and some even less…one or two zicher took out the cash and threw in a check…nu, what can you do. We can speculate that some yiddin decided to sit out the count altogether if it wasn’t free. Ober, poor Moishe doesn’t know what this coin looks like and it’s 3000 years ago- before the advent of smartboards – so the RBSO concludes the class with a fiery visual aid of a half shekel coin so that Moishe will know what to look for. What happens to these coins once the count is done? All the half-shekel coins were to be melted down and cast into 96 Adonim (sockets) that hold the Kerashim (wood beams) of the Mishkan together. What really happened to the money? Ver Veist? It wouldn’t be the first time that building campaign money suddenly disappeared, if you chap what I’m saying.
As an aside, in the time of the real Bais Hamikdash, once every year, every Jew had to give a half shekel coin to the treasurers of the Bais Hamikdash, who used the coins to buy animals for the Korbanois Tzibur (community sacrifices). How else were they going to make a living?
Every instruction about the building of the Mishkan and its accoutrements was given to Moishe. Over and over and with incredible detail, Moishe is instructed about what to collect and how much to collect of each item. We previously covered the list and it was vast. Gold, Silver, wood of course and so many others things including various materials and stones all had to be collected. Exact measurements were also given to Moishe and he has it all mamish memorized…All these kaylim (utensils) are a great idea., but where among a bunch of ex-slaves was he going to find a master-craftsman to help him build the job? Listen to this shocker: just kidding Moishe- you are not going to build any of these holy items yourself, says the RBSO.
Betzalel, the grandson of Chur and great-grandson of Miriam, is identified as the chief artisan and architect of the Mishkan. The RBSO has selected this Bar-Mitzvah boy from Shevet Yehuda, who has a knack for melding gold into kaylim. Yes- he’s takah 13 years old, but that’s not all! Betzalel is a jack of all trades: He’s a carpenter, an architect, a silversmith, a seamster and, on top of it all, he’s got Ruach HaKodesh- excellent shidduch material one day- . Seemingly he can do it all but learn toirah or he doesn’t want to…but because of his divine spirit, he understands the deeper meaning behind the objects he’s building. Betzalel and his trusty assistant Oholiav, son of Achisamach, from Shevet Dan, will take on the Mishkan’s construction, doing the bigger work themselves and ‘subcontracting’ the rest of the jobs among the other oisvorfs who don’t want to sit in Yeshiva either. Why it took over 3000 years for the Yeshiva system to understand that not everyone cares about the Mishna, the Novee or a machloikes (argument) between Abayya and Rovo, nu…this I don’t understand. Says the heylige toirah azoy:
Betzalel is going to be quite the busy beaver erecting The Tent of Meeting, the Ark of the Testimony and the cover that is on it, and all the vessels of the Tent; The table and its vessels, the pure Menoirah with all its vessels, and the Altar of Incense; The Altar of Burnt Offering with all its vessels, and the Basin and its pedestal; The prestigious vestments and the holy garments for Aaroin the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister; The Anointing Oil, and Incense of Spices for the holy place.
What just happened here? In last week’s parsha, Moishe was avada disappointed that he was passed over from being appointed the Koihain godol and in this week’s Parsha, after listening to all the plans and committing them to memory mamish, he’s again cut out- what’s p’shat here? Here’s Moishe, the undisputed leader of the Yiddin and the holy work of building a house for the RBSO here on earth is given over to a 13 year old?! As an aside, this is gevaldige toirah for a bar mitzvah especially if your son’s name is Betzalel and even if not. Anyway, Moishe, the humble and great servant that he is, gets over it and moves on. Let’s go veyter.
Following Matan Toirah, Moishe told the BNY that he’d be up on the summit of Har Sinai for 40 days and then back. Forty days come and go and no Moishe. When it’s a minute past the mark, the BNY begin to panic – What if he’s dead? Why it didn’t dawn on them that he might have taken a wrong turn on his way down and gotten lost- it’s not like there were signs or arrows – nu- this I don’t know, but mistama (likely), this was al part of the RBSO’s plan (as we will read shortly). The Yiddin needed a leader, they still have that slave mentality and who can blame them? Moishe, their great leader may be gone and they’ll settle for a cow!? Was he Takah late or was he on Chasiddic Standard Time?
So- who made the Eygel? We are taught that the Eirev Rav, the trouble maker Egyptians who followed the BNY out of Mitzrayim, takah converted, but are seemingly always causing trouble. They pressure Aharoin to make them an image. Aharoin, fearful for his own life…they already just killed Chur for rejecting their demands, and stalling for time, says OK. I’ll make it, but listen up. Firstly, a golden calf avada needs lots of gold. So go home to your wives and collect all their gold jewelry. Takah an excellent plan as Aharoin knew that Jewish women only collect jewelry and gold but don’t give it up….in fact they don’t give up their jewels too often either, if you chap. Studies have shown that introducing a shtikel gold into the mix, does in fact illicit a response; albeit a temporary one. Just as Aharoin predicted, the women refuse to take part in this idolatrous plot. Alternatively, there was no way they were parting with their gold – which do you think happened? Ober in those days the men also wore golden earrings, nose rings and other rings and they are more than willing to part with them. Says the heylige toirah ” And all the people unloaded the golden earrings which were in their ears… “ Said Rabbi Aba bar Achah in the (Jerusalem Talmud, Shekalim 1:1) There’s no understanding the character of this people! They’re solicited for the Eygel, and they give; they’re solicited for the Mishkan–they give.
In this, the forerunner to the first case of “mad cow disease,” a smattering of Yiddin from every shevet except those from Shevet Levi participated in this Aveyro. Aharoin’s stall tactics are foiled and the plot thickens. The eygel is formed. Exactly how an eygel is formed from melting gold, nu this I never understood but seemingly the RBSO knew what was happening…doesn’t He know everything? The Eirev Rav wake up early in the morning and begin to sing and dance around their new god. They offer sacrifices to the idol. Some ffb (frum from birth) Yiddin also loi olanu (heavan forbid), participate in the festivities. The party is in full swing: some midroshim as quoted by Rashi, suggest that the party also included forbidden relations of every variety, if you chap: oy vey!
Meanwhile, up on the mountain, Moishe remains clueless until the RBSO tells him what’s taking place down below. The RBSO is quite upset and wants to destroy every Jew and start all over with Moishe as the leader of a new nation. The Cho-sen people (nu.. a shtikel plug for the restaurant- so shoot me) are about to become extinct. Nu, what to do? Moishe begins negotiations with the RBSO to save his people; after all, his entire leadership role is in danger if he has no people to lead. Moishe earns his stripes as a good Jew by bargaining with the RBSO for the forgiveness of his people. First he tries the old “What will the Egyptians say when they find the Jews dead in the desert routine.” Then he invokes the memory of the Ovois: “For Avrohom’s sake, after all, he passed ten major tests…or how about for tata Yitzchok on the Akeydo (Altar)… and let’s not forget Yankiff who survived Lovon and four wives and still came out all right.” Nu a little davening later and after drawing a line in the sand, the RBSO gives in and agrees not to destroy all of the BNY. It’s a great victory for hagglers everywhere but Moishe still has to deal with the mess down below. A frenzied mob built the Eygel as their new deity and danced around it in drunken celebration. This scene greeted Moishe when he descended from the mountain. Ober was it takah so bad? Was the entire eygel incident as terrible as we’ve always heard? Did Moishe over react by breaking the heylige Luchois? And who gave him permission to break the RBSO’s holy work? Let’s see.
According to the Medrish Rabba, the RBSO takah had a plan (what else is new) and maybe He wasn’t that upset after all. Says the Medrish that the RBSO said to Moishe: Do not be distressed over the First Luchois (Tablets) that you shattered to smithereens and which contained only the Aseres Hadibrois (Ten Commandments). Why? Because the Second, are ‘new and improved’ and contain even more goodies including Halachah, Midrash and Aggadah. As an aside, where would the Ruv be without all these holy writings? The heylige Gemorah in Nedarim 22b states: Had the BNY not sinned with the Eygel, they would have received only the Toirah and the book of Yehoishuah (Joshua).
And listen to this Medrish Tanchuma which says something mamish perplexing and suggests that as the BNY were making the Eygel, the RBSO was engraving the Luchois. The next day Moishe broke them. Why would the RBSO be busy engraving as they were busy making the Eygel? Another kasha (question): Moishe told the Bnei Levi to kill all those involved in the Eygel even their own family. Why didn’t Moishe do likewise and kill his brother Aharoin who actually supervised and perhaps actually made the Eygel? How is it that Aharoin got a free pass and poor Moishe never got to enter the promised land because he hit a rock?! Moreover the Bechorim (first born) lost the Kehuna because of the Cheit HaEygel. Why did Aharoin become Kohen Gadol? Takah excellent questions, none of which I have answers to. And here’s some more to ponder.
The Medrash (Pirkei D’Rebbi Eliezer 45) states that prior to Moishe throwing down the Luchois and breaking them, the writing that was on them miraculously flew away. As the letters weren’t written on the Tablets but were carved through them, how was it possible for them to fly away? Didn’t the Wright Brothers come along a few thousand years later? As you can imagine, many ask questions about the flying letters and what’s takah p’shat? Says the Marsha that there was in fact a double neys (miracle). The first was that the writing from the Luchois takah flew away, and the second neys was that even though the letters were nothing more than air, they could still be seen flying away. And if you don’t like that answer, let’s try another. Says the Korban HaEidah that even though the letters were carved into the Luchois, they were also written in black ink on top of the carved-out areas, and it was this ink which flew away due to the sin of the Eygel. And speaking of ink, mistama because you are mamish an oisvorf, you likely forgot the story of the ink and Moishe’s face – ok, let me refresh your memory.
When Moishe returns from Har Sinai with the second Luchois, his face is shining with a divine glow. He is forced to cloak his face in a veil. From that day on he uncovers his face only when he is in the RBSO’s presence or when he speaks to the BNY in His name. Say the heylige Toirah azoy: “Moshe did not know that the skin on his face became radiant”.
The Midrash explains: Moishe merited such an honor because when Moishe completed writing the Torah, a drop of ink remained in the container, so the RBSO himself smeared the remaining droplet on his (Moishe’s) forehead. This drop of holy ink was the source of Moishe’s “rays of splendor.” However, the Midrash never actually explained what Moishe did to merit such a gift from the RBSO. Likely you’re wondering about this p’shat because if the bottle of ink was takah divinely prepared, then the RBSO would have prepared the exact amount of ink needed for the writing of a Toirah, why would there be extra ink? Not to worry…….
Says the heylige Ohr HaChaim that really the RBSO prepared the precise amount of ink required, yet a morsel remained because Moishe Rabaynuu was so humble that he did not want to write the pasuk we read much later in Sefer Devorim, “And the man Moishe was the most humble…” Instead, Moishe wrote the word “humble” (Onov) without the yud with which it is normally spelled. Therefore, the extra droplet of ink was a result of Moishe ‘s humility in not spelling out the word “humble” completely. This extra droplet of ink was the source of Moshe‘s “rays of splendor.” Mamish beautiful and illuminating.
What were the real intentions of the Eygel makers? Ver Veyst but there are certainly many opinions. Raboyseyee: let’s please just finish the story. The boat is about to dock and the Ruv is going to Paradise Island to swim, mistama, as close as he’ll get to Paradise, chas v’sholom. The next morning Moishe burns the Eygel and grinds the gold into fine powder. He mixes the powder with water. Moishe makes the entire BNY take a sip of the concoction . The innocent are not affected….but whoever took part in the idolatrous party finds the mixture to be a belly bloating experience. Their stomachs get bigger and bigger until they pop! The very next time we will learn about a special concoction will be in connection with the May Soitah- loi olanu and aren’t you chazerrim lucky that this doesn’t exisit today. Moishe orders the Leviyim to grab a sword and kill any guilty Jew who worshipped the Eygel. The Leviyim end up killing another 3,000 Jews.
Moshe makes his way back up to the summit of Har Sinai and begs the RBSO’s forgiveness. They work out a compromise on the punishment issue. Instead of punishing the BNY all at once, the RBSO agrees to spread the punishment over the future generations a little at a time. Can you imagine that we’re still paying the price for their and now your illicit behavior.
The RBSO gives him another crack at a momento to mark the occasion. But this time Moishe would have to carve out the luchois himself. Moishe is shown a sapphire mine where he can carve out two tablets about 2 feet square and deep. And listen to this medrish: the RBSO lets Moishe keep the shavings of stone and Moishe instantly becomes a wealthy man! Takah not much to buy in the Midbar but at this point Moishe still thought he’s going over to the holy land. And for a third time, Moishe trudges up to the summit, this time, he’s carrying up the luchois. On the 10th of Tishrei (Yoim Kippur), Moishe comes down from Har Sinai with luchois, freshly engraved and with lots of new laws and an attitude.
Tune in next week when Moishe takes on building the Mishkan and introduces the 39 Melachois, many of which rachmono litzlon, you are oiver kimat nearly every shabbis. What’s the connection? You’ll find out in the next exciting episode of The Yiddin:
A Gitten Shabbis-