Don’t Worry, be Happy!
While you were reading last week’s more than gishmaka Toirah on the spoils of war, the Oisvorfer, like any good Ruv should, was already reading ahead to this week’s heylige parsha of Ki Sovoy and I have an confession to make.
Raboyseyee, I’m writing this toirah hiding under my bed in the fetal position asking for my Mommy; I’ve been since Sunday. This week’s parsha is not for the faint of heart. Here is a shtikel list of the relationships that are strictly verboten and cursed is anyone that can’t control himself and partakes. Later on, Moishe will fill in the details with a series of gruesome punishments for the guilty. Let’s begin. Says the heylige Torah (Devarim 27:11-26; cf. 11:29-30): accursed is anyone that:
‘…shows disrespect to his father and his mother …’
‘…encroaches on his friend’s boundary..” ( a topic we covered just a few weeks back)
‘…misleads the blind on the road …’
‘…perverts the justice of a stranger, orphan or widow …’
‘…lies with his father’s wife, for he has uncovered the flap of his father’s garment …’
‘…lies with any animal …’
‘…lies with his sister, his father’s daughter or his mother’s daughter …’
‘…lies with his mother-in-law …’
‘…strikes his friend in secret…’
‘…takes a bribe to shed innocent blood …’
‘…will not uphold the words of this Toirah, to keep them …’ ”
No need to check the guilty box: you know exactly which pertain to you. And wait till you hear what lies ahead if you couldn’t control your Yetzer Horo (evil inclination) did some lying, and were chas v’sholom oiver (violated) on any on the master . Do I need more stress in my life? Do you? Efsher it’s time to explore a less violent religion, one in which the god in charge doesn’t anger so easily and exact such retribution for every transgression? Is sleeping with the shvigger (mother-in-law) so giferlich (terrible)? Ver veyst (who knows)?
After reading last week’s tantalizing parsha of Ki Saytzay and finding out that you’ve been performing mitzvois, even if inadvertently, and that the spoils of war can mamish warm the cockles of your heart, if you chap, mistama you were excited to run back to shul this coming shabbis and hear about a few more rewards; it’s not happening.
Typically I exhort you to go to Shul and listen to the laining but do you? Ober (but) this week, I’m ordering an evacuation: stay away from shul and Parshas Ki Sovoy; it’s dangerous to your overall heath. Take the day off and relax; isn’t shabbis all about rest? And even if not, it’s zicher not about raising one’s blood pressure, is it? And what am I talking about? Nu, let’s see what Moishe Rabaynuu has in store for us this week.
Ober, before we do, let me tell you how tzifridin (elated) I was to read the comments to last week’s toirah. The Oisvorfer was mamish inspired to read that many of you chazerrim (pigs) ran to your local Judaica shops and purchased Maseches (Tractate) Kidushin and that you’ve been busy learning more about war games all week. Nu, did I tell you that gemoro is gevaldig? The toirah, both written and oral, are mamish beautiful and should be studied often. The bottom line: sex sells!
Perhaps the yeshiva world needs to learn a lesson here. Why cut out the most exciting and tantalizing parts out of the heylige toirah? Isn’t all toriah heylig? Is the sigya (subject) of ‘yifas toiar’ (the beautiful captive) any less significant than ey-lu mitzies in Bubba Metzia? When was the last time you saw two Yeshiva bochurim holding onto a shmata they found with each one screaming ‘I found it…no, no, I found it’ or ‘the entire shmata is mine and the other saying the same thing’? When? I’ll tell you when: NEVER! People don’t argue over shmatis, they do however argue over the ‘yifas toiar’. Shoin! After all, who doesn’t want to bring home a beauty and perform a mitzvo at the same time? Double bang, if you chap. And that’s what should be taught! Moreover, why skip the Rashi were he inserts the word b’laz’? When there’s a b’laz we should demand that the Rebbe expand and illuminate. It’s only through this type of delving into p’shat that we can keep the kids and kal v’chomer (of course, of course) the adults, you disgusting minuvullim, interested; seems to have worked on all you oisvorfs and that’s my point!
Shtelt zich di shaylo (the question then arises): should the Yehsivas teach or skip sexually charged content? Should the young hormone engorged bochurim be introduced or shielded from such talk? Could it lead to mixed dancing chas v’sholom? Seemingly that’s the big one. Might such talk foster normal childhood development or farkert (opposite); might it bring one closer to his Rebbe? And how close is too close, if you chap? Or, is teaching these inyonay diyomo (relevant topics) healthy, perhaps inspirational and a driver for yet more learning? Efsher the boys and girls will be encouraged to plow through a few more Mesechtas (Tractates) instead of focusing on other types of plowing, if you chap? Ver veyst? Nu, where was I? Oh yes…under my bed thinking about the parsha which contains a list of curses and admonitions so giferlich that just thinking about them can set one’s therapy back a few years. Nu- let’s taka see what’s going on.
Moishe Rabaynuu is seemingly just about out of Mitzvois as approximately 605 have already been delivered and with but 4 parshas to go and but 613 mitzvois in total, not many left to teach. Moishe is totally exasperated and cannot make up his mind about how to get the Yiddin to follow the RBSO, to be good Jews. In the last few weeks, he’s bribed and threatened them, used the proverbial stick and honey routine but seemingly, he’s not yet tzifridein (happy) and in this week’s parsha, he takes out the big stick, just like my rebbe did in yeshiva, if you chap, and goes for the kill.
A few short parshioys ago, Mioshe was playing Monty Hall in the first iteration ever of “Let’s Make a Deal.” A week or two later, he tells us that the taking of bribes is abhorrent. This week, he’s all in and lets loose with the big one: the one they call the big Toichocho- (The rebuke, the curses). Back when I was a young child, had I used similar wording, I would have had a bar of kosher soap shoved into my mouth, ober Moishe joined by the Koihanim and Liviyim this week, is not holding back.
He begins as he has in the past with promises for a few brochos (blessings). After spelling out the flip-side of the enumerated blessings, Moishe launches into an even more detailed account of the threats of unimaginable punishment to be meted out to those who brazenly refuse to observe the Toirah’s laws and the terrible calamities destined to befall the errant people -a whopping eye opening ninety-eight curses in all. In fact a closer examination of the potential risk/reward ratios reveals, (and one does not need to possess unique math skills to figure this one out), that the curses coming our way, have the brochos outnumbered 5-1, odds I don’t like. Let’s be frank: you’d be better off in some penny stock investment -call me.
Mistama (perhaps) you’re wondering why we need to hear these? Why is the RBSO always on the brink of annihilating us; are we so giferlich? Ok- let’s not go there. And why do we need to read these just before Rosh Hashono? Yom Tov is still a few weeks away, do I need to be somber right now? Isn’t thinking and planning for another 3 day Yom Toiv punishing enough?
And just so you have something to say at the shabbis tish (table) besides discussing the collapse of the Red Sox and other narishkeyt (bs), you should know that this proclamation to read the Toichocho before Rosh Hashono each year comes from Ezra the Scribe, who I guess wanted to inspire us and get us on the right path. Who’s he you ask?
Nu, according to informed sources, Ezra, besides being known as an excellent Soifer (scribe), was also well versed in the all the mitzvois. Ezra’s tshuva (repentance) program required that Jewish men divorce their shiksa (gentile) wives (he came back to Yerusholayim after the exile only to discover a high rate of intermarriage) to help maintain the BNY’s distinctive identity. He provided for the public reading of the Toirah, public confession of sin, reading of the Toichocho this time of year and renewed commitment to the RBSO.
The Toichocho is contained within one Aliya (resulting in the longest Aliya in the Toirah) so as not to prolong the discomfort in hearing it. And it’s sandwiched (so to speak) between good p’sukim; the Aliya begins and ends on a high note. Nu, who doesn’t enjoy a good sandwich once in a while, if you chap. And given the more than frightening nature of the very grizzly punishments awaiting the sinners, efsher you recall that there is a minhag yisroel (custom) in most shuls, of course not in all shuls because all, would by definition mean, that we all agree on something and certainly that too is verboten. Why? Because if all of the Rabonnim (Rabbis) were to agree, half or more would be out of work. Did you follow all that? Gevaldig (excellent), let’s go veyter (further). Nu, where was I? Oh yes: back to the minhag – yes, in most shuls, the prevailing minhag is to read the portion of the Toichocho (the Rebuke), in an undertone, and this demonstrates our discomfort with reading this portion of the Toirah in public. Discomfort and uncomfortable? Scared s….tless is efsher a better descriptor.
And I was thinking….what lessons can be derived by shying away from rebuke? Is being chastised for our misdeeds so giferlich? Efsher it would be more impactful were the Baal Koray to raise his voice as do many Rabbis when they hear you talking during davening. Perhaps the shock would allow bums and ladigayers (good for nothings) who allowed your parents to spend their hard earned monies on your yeshiva education while you were busy playing hooky or worse, running off to chap a movie – loi olaanu, to examine your ways and repent for all those sins that you have committed. What then is pshat in reciting these verses of rebuke in a hushed tone? Ver veyst? Ober I reckon that as long as I don’t hear, they’re not being directed at me and they don’t mean me. Shoin settled! Perhaps the baal koray is really a baal kerey, and he needs to hear them, chas v’sholom. Maybe the toichocho is meant only for the person with the Aliya and the Gaboim? Were they were innocent, they wouldn’t’ have to stand within listening range, like the rest of us. You chap? In any event, if we can’t hear it, why bother reading it? I say let’s skip the whole thing and read a parsha we enjoy listening to; perhaps last week’s parsha one more time, we all loved that one.And, haven’t we heard all this before? Indeed we did way back in Parshas Bechukoisi which is similarly filled with a terrifying list of punishments which are set to befall those who fail to observe the mitzvois. Mistama (likely) you’re asking yourselves why was there was a need to repeat the threats after they were already described in gruesome detail? Do we need to be threatened so often? And don’t these threats begin to wear thin?
A medrash discussing the toichocho and why it’s coming our way suggests that it’s due to our lack of simcha (happiness) while serving the RBSO and performing mitzvois. Says the heylige toirah: Because ‘you did not serve HaShem, your G-d, amid gladness and goodness of heart when everything was abundant.’ That’s why we’re getting these and many other curses? Oy vey!! Can you just imagine all this is coming our way because we weren’t happy, because we didn’t serve the RBSO with gladness and goodness? That’s it? Can you imagine what’s coming your way when the RBSO finds out about your wayward ways and how glad and happy you were takah mamish while performing them? When He hears about how you’ve been oiver on k’imat (almost) every single loi Sahsay (thou shall not dos) in the gantze (entire) toirah, some multiple times each week since high school, loi olaynu, you’re done! Kaput!
Of course we can learn an important life lesson here: Don’t worry, be happy!! Yes a lesson from our good friend Bob Marley who composed a zemer (song) with that title. We see that Reb Bob was really a tieerer yid (a special Jew), perhaps from Midyon and therefore was able to decipher exactly what Moishe was ranting and talking about. He understood just how important and necessary it is for us to perform mitzvois with happiness and joy. When we show eagerness and excitement in the performance of a mitzvah, our appreciation of the mitzvah is deepened and the positive affect it will have on our relationship with the RBSO is, of course, the intended consequence. Beautiful mamish. Bazman hazeh (in our times), we of course understand that not worrying and being happy is a good concept and may in fact work to strengthen our relationships beyn odom lamokom (us and the RBSO).
Les-mann-d’polig (nobody would argue) that this concept of being happy is clearly not designed to work between man and his eishes chayil (wife) because the eishes chayil’s tafkid (job) in life is, of course, as we all nebech know, to make sure that we’re not happy or smiling- loi olainuu. And they do a great job. This avada causes the ah-noshim (men) to be oiver on all the loi-sah-says, some even happily; it’s one big vicious circle!
Forgetttaboutitttt! Cut out the toichocho: don’t worry, be happy! Yoim kippur is just around the corner, we’re all getting a new score card!
A gitten shabbis.