This week we begin with two big mazel tov wishes and shout-outs.
Ershtens, to our good friends Beth and Nathan Fruchter and to their entire family on both sides, upon the wedding this past Sunday of their beautiful daughter Yakira to Eitan Gavrin. May Yakira and Eitan enjoy many years of martial bliss and may they fill both homes with lots of grandchildren. Mazel tov as well to Mindy and Barry Gavrin, Eitan’s parents and to all grandparents. And a very special mazel tov to Mrs. Bluma Fruchter, Nathan’s yiddishe mama, a war survivor who was friendly with the Oisvofer’s family going back many decades.
And in news that broke mamish last night….big mazel tov wishes to Estie and Yussy Silverstein upon the engagement of their beautiful daughter Talia -one of five- who will be marrying Shimon Danieli, the son of Nourit and Yitzchak Danieli. We have known Talia since she was mamish a little girl and watched her blossom into this amazing person. We wish her and her new chatan Shimon (future dentist), the best that married life has to offer. A special mazel tov to Estie’s parents, Joyce and Harvey Colton and to Yussy’s parents, Arlene and Bernie Silverstein.
The Sin That Keeps On Punishing
Though Noiach lived to the ripe old age of 950 and passed away many parshas and generation ago, and zicher many hundreds of years before the events in this week’s parsha take place, guess what? He’s back! Vi azoy iz dus myglich (how it that at all possible)? And the answer is kabolo (mysticism). And when it comes to pshat according to kabolo, everything is possible, even having Noiach make an appearance many generations after his passing. He has come back to life. Not as Noiach of course but as none other than Moishe. He was reincarnated. Shoin, go prove otherwise! Moishe was previously Noiach? Ober didn’t a previous shtikel kabolo tell us that Moishe was the gilgul or transmigration of Hevel? It did, so what? Once a person is transmigrating, who says he is limited to one stop or person? Why couldn’t Hevel become Noiach and eventually Moishe with a few stops along the way? It’s kabolo and anything is possible, one just needs to use his imagination. Grada, says the Ramchal in his sefer ‘The way of God’, azoy: “A single person can be reincarnated a number of times in different bodies, and in this manner, it can rectify damage done in previous incarnations.” Shoin, that’s avada givaldige news for most of you as it would likely take many such transmigrations and then some to rectify your present giferliche behavior.
Ober vus epes (why) Noiach to Moishe? Nu, let’s dig a little deeper and let’s avada recall their stories. Efsher (maybe) you recall that Noiach was told to build himself a Teyvo, an ark which would save him, his family and the selected animals from the coming destruction. The RBSO was determined to destroy the world, the people were bad, very. What were they doing wrong that was so giferlich? Everything! That’s taka what He did; the ark saved Noiach and company. Let’s also recall that Noiach spent 120 years building that ark but seemingly didn’t, in response to questions from onlookers about his project, exhort the people of his generation to do tshuva (repent). And let’s also recall that the Novee (Prophet) in the haftora to parshas Noiach lays blame at Noiach’s feet for not davening that his generation be saved. The Novee calls the flood waters ‘Mae Noiach (Noiach’s waters), mamish as if he were to blame. Are you following so far, or, is this too much at one time? Ok, veyter. Now, let’s harken back a few parshas to when Moishe was born and where his mother Yoicheved, in a desperate attempt to save him from Paroy’s decree, built and placed him into shtikel ark -coincidentally using the same pitch as glue as did Noiach for his ark- into which she placed baby Moishe. He was saved by his mini ark as it floated down the Nile. Wait there’s more: these kabbilists were mamish geniuses and taka said the Arizal whom we have quoted in the past and quote again here davka because waters are being mentioned -he had a famous mikveh which people still use ad hayoim hazeh (until today)- azoy: Because Noiach didn’t spend the 120 years trying to save his generation and instead focused only on himself, and though he was a good guy, his life’s mission was not complete. 950 years old when he died and his mission still not complete? What to do? Bring him back!
Shoin, here he is; this time as Moishe who also punkt (by chance) lived 120 years but spent most of his life trying to save the Yiddin. First from slavery, then from themselves as they were always mired in sin, rebellion, orgies, other sexual indiscretions, avoido zoro with -with and without the eygel- and much more. As an aside, Noiach’s generation was also avada involved in orgies and other debauchery. Shoin, Moishe’s efforts which included begging the RBSO for forgiveness on their behalf and also included a few harsh words when he, in this week’s parsha, told the RBSO to remove his name from His Book if He does not forgive them, worked. With that effort, he finally put Noiach’s soul to rest. We won’t hear about him until after Simchas Toirah and parshas Noiach when we begin anew. Of course, we should expect rain that shabbis; it always rains parshas Noiach. Maybe the yearly rain drops are left over from Mae Noiach, ver veyst. Efsher we can kler azoy: avada we all recall that following the mabul experience, Noiach planted a vineyard, became inebriated and guess what? In his drunken state, he was either castrated, sodomized or both by a family member. Says who? Rashi quoting other sources. The good news: it wasn’t his rebbe! Ober why did he take to drinking? Efsher we can kler that he was overtaken with guilt, maybe he realized his missed opportunity to save humanity. He was depressed and mistama also in shock from the devastation he was now witness to. People who are depressed and also in shock do strange things. Generations later, the Yiddin will again experience a similar fate. We will be reading how they reacted to their shock and depression below. Shoin: he took to drinking. Maybe he was the first to assuage his guilt and fight depression by taking to the bottle, zicher not the last. Bottom line: Noiach got a second chance. Some do better on the second, others need maybe a third, if you chap. Veyter.
Shoin here we are a few pages in and we have yet to mention that this shabbis we will be reading parshas Ki Sisa known mostly for the eygel (golden calf) debacle but also because the heylige shabbis gets yet another shout out as does a census. Speaking of the heylige shabbis, let’s see what the heylige Toirah had to say and let’s look carefully at the words. “Six days a week work should be done. The seventh day is a day of complete rest, sacred to Hashem.” And the sheylo (question) is azoy: Did the RBSO not specifically command that we Yiddin must work six days a week? Could the words by any more clear? Are those in the yeshiva and koilel worlds (yeshiva for life) violating the first half of that commandment? Something to think about.
Lommer lernin: Nu, 40 days back the Yiddin were assembled under Har Sinai and were metaphorically married to the RBSO. They exchanged vows with the RBSO declaring the Asers Hadirbros (Ten Commandments) and the Yiddin responding with ‘na’aseh v’nishma’ (we shall do and we shall listen). Shoin, here they are, still in the honeymoon period, newlyweds mamish, and the Yiddin are about to cheat on the RBSO? Mamish not nice; couldn’t they wait a few years as do most other married couples? Couldn’t they wait until the initial exuberant and euphoric feelings of marriage dissipated and morphed into the daily grind when most of the excitement was already out of the marriage? A few months efsher? Seemingly not! Mamish 40 days back the Yiddin were proclaiming -over and again- na’aseh v’nishma (we will do and we will listen) and guess what? That’s mamish what they did! They did bad! How bad and what did they do? They, thinking Moishe was dead, built an eygel (golden calf).
Says the heylige Toirah (Shemois 32:6) azoy: “….the people sat to eat and drink and they got up to revel.” The Hebrew word to describe reveling is ‘litzachake’ which typically connotes laughter. Ober Rashi will paint a different picture and tell us that in addition to the sin of worshiping the golden calf – avoido zoro mamish- other very serious sins were committed against the RBSO. These included immorality and murder. And when you see the word immorality, it seems always to mean of a sexual nature. Shoin: Of course we would expect some sexual reference to make an appearance in kimat every parsha and here it is. The medrish will avada fill in the blanks and tell us that they murdered a fellow named Chur whose grandson Betzalel is featured later in the parsha and that they were epes also involved in sexual orgies, say it’s not so. And says the medrish (Tanchuma): whenever we come across the word ‘litzachake’, something, and maybe someone is going down. Usually more than one, if you chap.
Ober how was it that the Yiddin were led astray so quickly? By listening to the wrong people and acting out in a way that really angered the RBSO. He has never forgotten this particular sin. In this particular train, women most resemble the RBSO; they don’t forget a damn thing their husbands do wrong and will for the duration of the marriage and even long past, take every opportunity to remind their spouses, ex-spouses and anyone that will listen, what terrible wrongs they committed. Shoin! Dozens of medroshim have pontificated on the eygel caper, when it happened, who was at fault, who participated and why the RBSO who knows mamish everything in advance, allowed the Yiddin to stray as they did.
In any event, once Moishe came down from the mountain and discovered the festivities, he excoriated them. He also ordered that the perpetrators be slaughtered. This entire scandal, the myseh of the eygel hazohov (golden calf) will in vivid detail be recounted in one very long aliya where the heylige Toirah lays it all bare in 35 plus pisukim. Not since Odom and Chava committed the original sin (let’s not forget the role of that nochosh, that slithering snake), a sin some say we still pay for ad hayoim hazeh (until today), will the Yiddin have committed an act so egregious and despicable in the eyes of the RBSO. Though the RBSO eventually forgave the Yiddin and decided to keep them as His Chosen People, He seemingly did not forget. More than thirty three hundred years later, in our times mamish, we continue to be punished for that sin. Is that emes? Talk about holding a grudge. Says the heylige Toirah (Shemois 32:34) azoy: “…U’viyoim pokdi u’pokadeti alieychem chtosom” (And on the day that I make an accounting, I shall bring their sin to account against them). Oy vey! And says Rashi who avada knew where to look for deeper meaning in these words and found them in the heylige Gemroa (Sanhedrin 102A) azoy: “there is no punishment that comes upon the Yiddin which does not have in it some retribution for the sin of the golden calf.” We seem to have inherited their sin in our DNA, passed down to us like a bad gene. Yikes! Nu, let’s taka hope that like most accountants who only see their clients but a few days per year, that the RBSO does not judge us daily.
Ober why should we, generations later, be held accountable for the sin of but a few thousand that organized and participated in this event? Ver veyst. Speaking of which, who were the participants and taka how many were guilty? Nu, had you been reading the Oisvorfer’s Toirah these last few years (which you can find at www.oisvorfer.com), avada you would recall meeting the Erev Rav (Mixed Multitude). Who were these guys and how many were there of that group? Of course none of this is clear but what is seemingly not in dispute is that a number, seemingly a great number of them, latched onto the Yiddin as they left Mitzrayim. Why would goyim want to attach themselves to Yiddin who were mamish slaves for 210 years? Ver veyst? Maybe they had girlfriends among the Yiddishe girls or efsher they noticed all the gold, silver and other valuables the Yiddin permanently borrowed from the Mitzrim on their way out and decided to follow the money. Maybe they liked matzo, ver veyst. We don’t know how many, nor why they joined, because the heylige Toirah never really told us. Nor do we chap why Moishe allowed them to tag along. Not to worry: the medrish will of course tell us that Moishe felt we should be mikarave them (accept them) and invited them along. Shoin, Moishe did kiruv work, very commendable. So happens that this week the RBSO will blame Moishe for having them along. Said the RBSO to Moishe mamish in our parsha (Sehmois 32: 7-8) azoy: “Go , descend, for your people…has become corrupt. They have strayed quickly…” Check this out: the RBSO, says Rashi, was now calling these people, the people who will ultimately be blamed for the eygel caper ‘your people’. The RBSO was telling Moishe that the very people that he allowed to tag along, were -his people- and were the catalysts behind the caper. Nice! So happens that one commentator will use this exchange to suggest that before people get too involved with kiruv (outreach) they should first make sure that their own houses are in order. Their first responsibility is to their own children and that Moishe should have been focused on the very fragile and broken Yiddin before schlepping the Erev Rav along.
Shoin, now that we mentioned the ‘erev rav’ and their involvement in the eygel caper, it’s also worth mentioning that going forward, and for the duration of the midbar experience, this same group of nuchschleppers (tag-alongs), will be blamed for kimat every midbar mishap to befall the Yiddin. Shoin, someone needed to be blamed, someone needed to own this and others sins, and this group were the perfect candidates. Let’s blame the goyim, why not? Ober, this avada begs the following question: Why is it that the RBSO kept them around? If they were taka the instigators, why not get rid of them at the same time Moishe ordered the slaughter of the Yiddin that mamish participated in the eygel festivities? Speaking of which, let’s open one more window: how many Jewish participants were there? Nu, the heylige Toirah tells us azoy: The B’nai Levi slaughtered 3000 of their fellow Yiddin. That’s it? And for but 3000 sinners the RBSO was mamish so upset? 3000 out of just over 600,000 is mamish a tiny fraction of the Jewish males. Moreover, we also know that none of the women participated. Of course not. And we know this how? Nu, having unwillingly given up their gold necklaces, when according to the medrish, their sinning husbands tore them off their necks, of course they weren’t going to be seen in public without jewelry. Shoin, they missed the eygel party, they were all innocent.
All this begs yet another question; let’s open that window. As the parsha opens, the RBSO is giving Moishe instructions on how to take a census. Each Yid was to give a ‘machtzis hashekel’ (lit: a half coin but for simplicity, let’s imagine it be a silver dollar). Many medroshim will tell us that this shekel was used to count the Jews following the eygel incident. Counting Jews by numbers such as 1,2 and 3, can be detrimental to one’s health as we will learn in the Novee and other places. It’s mamish bad luck. In a few weeks we will learn that the RBSO typically orders a census following some massacre, after He, for whatever reasons has killed thousands. Many thousands will taka die during the 40 year midbar excursion. Rashi will tell us that He counts us because He loves us just like a farmer counts his sheep after a few have either escaped or been killed. Shtelt zich di shaylo (the question arises) azoy: if we know how many Yiddin left Mitzrayim and we know how many were killed in connection with the eygel, and we zicher know that exact number of 3000 because the heylige Toirah clearly records it, why did we need a census? Couldn’t we merely deduct 3000 for the previous number and shoin?
Another question: It so happens that many colorful Toirah characters we have previously met -think Eyr and Oinon- and will meet in the coming weeks -think the shabbis wood chopper the blasphemer- quickly disappear from the stage. When the RBSO doesn’t like an individual, or a group of people who have committed some heinous act – think about the sex orgies/avoido zoro with the Moabite hot shiksas- those who really upset the RBSO, are mamish gone in a flash. Done, over and out. Ober not so this group known as the ‘erev rav’. Seemingly this mixed multitude survived; they slid under the ‘eygel caper radar’ and seem to have continued traveling with the Yiddin throughout the midbar excursion. Why? Ver veyst?
And one final question: how was it at all shayich (remotely possible) that these 3000 Yiddin and we might add, also the erev rav who were all part of the redemption, all eye witnesses to open miracles, the splitting of the Sea, and Revelation mamish, found themselves but six weeks later embroiled in an eygel caper? What’s pshat here? How could they have experienced such spiritual highs and then have inveigled themselves in such lowly base behavior?
And the answer raboyseyee is one we are all too familiar with. Who’s to blame? Odom, Chava and the snake. They are? Seemingly, the nochosh (snake) was the first iteration of the yetzer horo, the evil inclination. Efsher pshat is like this: It does appear that when he slithered up to Chava and according to many, also had his way with her (let’s recall that he had legs back then, seemingly all of them if you chap,), the yetzer horo entered her as well. Seemingly, he has been there ever since and has been enticing many to sin from that spot, if you chap, for generations. Quite successfully we may add. Seemingly, it’s his base of operations. Veyter. Now, when Odom later engaged with Chava, if you chap, the yetzer horo who was comfortably residing inside Chava, mamish like some sexual disease, attached himself and now also belonged to Odom. Shoin, man was forever infected with the yetzer horo; man was infected with an incurable disease. The yetzer horo has become part of man’s DNA. And our good rabbis will teach us that there is no more powerful force on this earth that the yetzer horo. Only he has the power to make the mighty fall and seemingly that’s what he does best, and did with Noiach after he survived the mabul (flood) and again here in our parsha.
This time he presented first to the erev rav, he empowered them. He showed them an image of Moishe floating as if Moishe were dead. Like Noiach generations back, they went into shock and depression. They were very attached to Moishe, he brought them along. Without him, they would be lost. They went into a depression, and as we said above, when people are in shock and also depressed, they act irrationally. And that’s taka why Noiach took to drinking, he was nebech depressed. That’s when the yetzer horo strikes most effectively. Next, that group convinced 3000 hapless Yiddin to participate. The yetzer horo offered a party. They were going to party with the eygel. Avada, immoral sexual activity was on the menu, that always seems to work. As to the rest of the Yiddin, while they didn’t all participate, many were guilty of other charges. They were at least onlookers.
And now raboyseyee it all makes sense. The active participants were killed mamish. To atone for the orgies and other debauchery, the Mishkan project which was ordered -according to many, to atone for the eygel- included mirrors that the women schlepped along. Exactly how these mirrors atoned for the immoral sexual acts is somewhat of a mystery, since mirrors typically enhance such activity, if you chap. Ober, that’s what the medrish teaches; who are we to argue? We have previously addressed these mirrors, check out the archives. The silent onlookers needed to atone by means of the machtzis hashekel. Following the incident, we needed the census and for all non active participants to donate the machtzis hashekl because as the heylige Toirah tells us, it was collected ‘lichapear al nofshoisaychem’- it was to atone for those Yiddin that were not active participants but were still somehow complicit. The good news: The Yiddin were able to buy themselves out of their troubles with this coin. We need to bring this coin back ASAP!
A gittin Shabbis
The Oisvorfer Ruv