Nu, before we learn why you might want to consider skipping Shul this Shabbis and spending a few extra minutes, if you chap, with the eishes chayil, let’s begin with a few mazel tovs.
Ershtens: this week the Oisvorfer and the eishes chayil were zoiche to make the final cut and attended the beautiful and leibidiki chasuna of Joel Golombeck and Becky Hefter. We wish the young couple many many good happy years together and of course a special mazel Tov to our friends Anne and Shelly Golombeck. Shelly has, for years, enhanced many a simcha with his photography skills. Together he and Anne have brought hundreds of simchas to life after spending many hours in the dark room, developing, sorting and then carefully placing many dozens of pictures into albums for the family and friends to enjoy. Anne would then deliver the albums. And the price for these amazing and timely memories? Zero! All done with love mamish. Why Shelly continues to spend hours in the dark room years after the discovery and adaptation of digital photography, ver veyst. Zicher we’ll need to ask Anne. Many in the Oisvorf community owe the Golombecks a big time thank you for their sacrifice, time and effort. Besides all that, they’re also great people and friends. Mazel Tov as well to the machatunim, Izzy and Esther Hefter.
Word reached the Oisvorfer through BBM on the indispensable blackberry that his good chaverim Aliza and Shlomie Liectung became grandparents to a baby boy born to their children Tamar and Aryeh Suffrin out west in Los Angeles. May the parents, the siblings, the grandparents and avada the great grandparents have much nachas from their new arrival: Mazel Tov!
And September 5th marked the birthday of the Oisvorfer’s younger (not much) brother Avi. Busy as the Ruv is with weekly Toirah preparations and other vichtige inyonim (important matters), sadly he forgot to call his brother to extend birthday wishes. Taka a shanda and the Oisvorfer takes this opportunity to wish his brother a belated happy birthday!
And as the email list and other methods of distribution continue to grow exponentially, the Ruv gets requests from time to time to notify the readership of important events, mostly fundraisers, and mostly for worthy causes. One such request arrived early this morning from a choshova Raboyseyette who is seemingly always busy with charitable and other good causes. Nu, at the request of Batsheva Katz, kindly be informed that Bonei Olam, a local organization which assists couples who are trying to resolve fertility issues, is holding an event in Atlantic Beach at The Sunny Atlantic Beach Club on Sunday September 9th at 7:30 PM. Please visit them at http://www.boneiolam.org/ for more information on this great cause and to learn about how many children were born into this world with their assistance. If you can’t make it, feel free to visit the site, be moved and donate generously.
And as one of the great Rabbis of our community wrote in his email “We all should understand the importance of this cause and should make every effort to attend the event and support a cause which promotes the very essence of the human condition and the continuity of Jewish generations.”
Shoin, let’s learn some Toirah
Let’s make a deal- Part 2:
Warning!! If you suffer from nightmares or were a bed-wetter altzkint (as a youngster), stay far away from this week’s heylige parsha of Ki Sovoy, at least the great majority of it; it’s shreklich mamish (will scare the living daylights out of you) and could ruin your shabbis. In fact, though the Oisvorfer typically exhorts his readers to go to Shul and listen to the laining, this week, he’s ordering an evacuation: stay away from shul and Parshas Ki Sovoy; it’s dangerous to your overall health. Take the day off, mistama you deserve it. Isn’t shabbis all about rest and relaxation, if you chap? And even if not, it’s zicher not about elevating one’s blood pressure, is it?
This shabbis, Raboyseyee, is the big one! It’s the shabbis when we read the big Toichocho (admonitions / curses / rebukes) as opposed to the mini version which we read way back in Parshas Bechukoiseyee and which also had the Oisvorfer hiding under his bed begging for his mommy. Included in the threats and curses looming over our heads if we fail to follow the RBSO’s commandments are: poverty, insanity, losing our children, even longer sermons from the Rabbi on shabbis and death, just to name a few. Frankly, after reading them all, over and over, which avada is not recommended, death may be the preferred choice. Yikes!
Wasn’t it just last shabbis where we learned that the RBSO made allowances for Oisvorfs who enlist, to chap some war booty and even bring it home to the eishes chayil? Indeed it was. Mistama you are excited to run back to shul this coming shabbis and hear about a few more rewards the RBSO had in mind for his Cho-sen People; it’s not happening. Oy Raboyseyee, the news is not as pleasant this week, and if you’ve ever considered a shtikel lechaim at the kiddish club, efsher this is your shabbis; go early, drink often, and have at least a shot or two before listening to the majority of the Parsha, you won’t regret it and efsher the Toichocho goes down somewhat easier when loaded.
Do we need to come to shul to be aggravated? Efsher we should read this Parsha on Yom Kippur, a day when we’re more receptive to being admonished and threatened. Wouldn’t Yom Kippur, the day when we tell the RBSO how sorry we are and that we won’t do anything else bad ever again until later that night when we skip half of Maariv and forget to bentch after our meals, be a better day for the Toichocho? Nu, believe it or not, as it turns out, the reading of the Toichocho on this Shabbis, while still in Choidesh Elul, is not coincidental, but rather, as the heylige Gemora tells us (Megillah 31a) a Takonas (enactment of) Ezra requiring that the Toichocho be read before Rosh Hashono. Who was this Ezra anyway and why did he enact this takona? Let’s see. In fact, it was Ezra Hasoifer (the Scribe) who not just varied the number of Aliyos according to the nature and sanctity of the day, but also decided that Ki Sovo should be read and listened to on this shabbis. Shoin and settled. Now you have a shtikel something to say at the shabbis tish, if you still have an appetite after kriyas Hatoirah. Lommer lernin a shtikel parsha.
Is it my imagination or is the RBSO having a love/hate relationship with his Cho-sen people, what’s pshat here? It seems that the RBSO is all over the map with His emotions; last week we were getting booty, this week we’re being threatened with annihilation? Is this why the RBSO took his kinderlach out of Mitzrayim? What’s wrong with a little stability?
Moishe Rabaynu 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. This week he’ll teach a few, including the mitzvah of Bikkurim (first fruits) and all about tithing. Nu, since we mentioned these two, here’s a shtikel information on Bikkurim.
To properly perform the Mitzvah of Bikkurim, the Yiddin were directed to take the first fruits of their crops and bring them to the Beis Hamikdosh (Temple) in Yerushalayim where they were distributed among the Koihanim. Which fruits came first? Says Rashi: when one sees the first fruits ripening, he marks them and declares them Bikkurim. At harvest time, he separates them to bring to Yerushalayim. Sounds easy enough, and the mitzvah came with quite a bit of pageantry.
Says the heylige Mishnah: the Bikkurim ceremony was an elaborate and joyous ceremony. All the Yiddin in a region would gather together. As they walked to Yerushalayim, the procession was lead by an ox with golden horns and a crown of olive leaves. They would proceed slowly, singing the entire way. The Bikkurim were brought in elaborate vessels, adorned with doves. Upon reaching Yerushalayim, the city officials would come and greet the pilgrims. Upon reaching the Temple Mount even the wealthiest individuals would personally carry their Bikkurim until reaching the altar. There, they would thank the RBSO for the Exodus from Mitzrayim, the land of Israel and for all of the RBSO’s blessings.
Seemingly the bottom line of this entire mitzvah and pageantry was to thank the RBSO for all the good things we have in life. Zicher saying thank you was and still is in order, and this sounds like an easy mitzvah to perform. The manner of bringing Bikkurim is a tremendous lesson. Veyter.
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; seemingly, he’s not yet tzifridin (happy) with their performance, and in this week’s parsha, he takes out the big shteken (stick), just like the rebbe did in yeshiva, if you chap, and goes for the kill. Sadly, when the Rebbe took his out, he was quite tzifrieddin, if you chap.
This week, The RBSO, through his trusted servant Moishe, makes a valiant attempt in the beginning of the parsha to persuade the Yiddin to be good Jews, with a number of brochos that could possibly come their way; all they need to do is follow all of the RBSO’s instructions. Sounds simple enough ober as many of you Oisvorfs already know, this is not always easy, especially if you chap. We’ll call this part of the parsha – the bribe- though just a few short parshios ago, Moishe, in one of his last speeches, was exhorting the Yiddin not to accept bribes, that bribery is abhorrent. Nu, what a difference a few weeks make. The punishment(s) for not following the rules are quite geferlich (terrible), mamish and are described in gory detail in a section of the Parsha we affectionately call the Toichocho (rebuke). The bad news: the potential risk/reward ratios of brochos vs. klolois (curses) readily suggests that the curses coming our way have the brochos outnumbered 5-1 and, quite frankly, you’d be better off investing in yet another sushi restaurant or nail salon here in the five towns. In other words: don’t get the RBSO too angry.
Moishe describes the list of 98 curses that will befall the Yiddin should they stray from the RBSO. Illness, famine, poverty, and exile are the best of the bunch. And the worst of all sins the Yiddin could violate? Says Moishe “because you did not serve Hashem, your G-d, with happiness and with gladness of heart, when [you had] most of everything.” (Devorim 28:47). What’s the difference between “happiness and gladness of heart”? What does joy have to do with it? Why is the lack of joy so giferlich? Don’t we know people that perform mitzvois regularly without much joy, if you chap? Ver veyst but that’s what we read and avada many of you, who have a litany of much worse chatoim (sins) on your list, chas v’sholom, are breathing a sigh of relief. Ober what’s taka pshat?
Says the Medrish: one of the reasons the heylige Toirah states why we will receive the curses of the Toichocho is because ‘you did not serve Hashem, your G-d, amid gladness and goodness of heart when everything was abundant.’ The direct quote is, of course, from the heylige Toirah (Devorim 28:47, if you don’t believe me) “tachas asher lo avadata es HaShem Elokecha bisimcha uvituv leivav meirov kol”.……that’s why we’re getting these and many other curses, oy vey!! Can you imagine that all this Toichocho and the curses attached to them are coming our way because we weren’t happy? Because we didn’t serve the RBSO with gladness and goodness? Can you imagine what’s coming your way when the RBSO finds out about your wayward ways and how glad and happy you were taka mamish while performing them? When He hears about how you’ve been oiver (violated) on k’imat (almost) every single loi sah-say (thou shall not dos) in the Toirah, some multiple times each week since high school, loi olaynu? You’re done, finished and kaput!
Seemingly, the proper performance of mitzvois requires that we be happy during the performance, if you chap. And just going through the motions, is epes not enough, not acceptable to the RBSO, and for those who do just that, the rebukes and other zachen that await you are not fun. All these acts must also be infused with happiness, joy, and distinctly positive energy. Grada this sounds gantz gishmak (quite pleasing) if you chap; efsher time for a shmuz with the eishes chayil?
Nu, the Oisvorfer once heard from his Rebbe in between beatings, who heard it from another source, who efsher made it up, that pshat is like this: When a person performs a mitzvah and is happy about it, it becomes clear that he perceives that the mitzvah is being done not for the RBSO’s benefit, but for his own. And whenever we do something or anything for our own good, which avada gives us benefit and pleasure, we are happy. Shoin! Understanding that mitzvois go into our proverbial bank accounts (to be offset against the many horrendous things we do) invariably increases our zeal for their performance, and our attitude when performing them.
Said The Kotzker (among the leading Chassidic Rebbes of the mid-19th century) azoy: the words of the Toirah must be read with punctuation and vus meynt dos (what does that mean)? We need to insert a comma before the word, “happily.” And with that comma, the true meaning of the verse in which Moishe tells us that we will be severely punished because we performed without happiness, looks epes a shtikel different. Let’s see.
“Because you did not serve your G-d, happily.” In other words, not only did we reject the RBSO’s ways; we did so happily. We were naughty and bad and enjoyed being bad. Avada for such chutzpa, we deserve to be afflicted with the 98 curses. Gishmak mamish!
I don’t know if the RBSO meant all those terrible things, or was it Moishe that went off on his own, but OMG, he had quite the imagination to spew out all those curses. I can recall with clarity when my own mother washed my mouth out with a bar of kosher soap just for saying the word ‘Hell.’ Here in this week’s parsha, Moishe, at the advanced age of 120, is threatening us with very serious consequences.
So geferlich are these curses and predictions of gloom Raboyseyee, that perhaps you remember that there is even 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 and zicher never happened before, ever! Why? Because if all of the Rabbonim (Rabbis) were to agree, half or more would be out of work! Shoin! 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? Uncomfortable? Frightened, scared to death and curled up in the fetal position mamish, is a better descriptor! One must wonder however, what lesson can be derived by shying away from rebuke. Is being chastised for our misdeeds such a terrible thing? Although we should not be proud of our sins, perhaps it does behoove us to listen carefully as the litany of our chatoim (sins) are read from the Toirah. Perhaps this will then allow you gerferliche oisvorfs who allowed your parents to spend their hard earned monies to go to waste while you were busy running off to chap a movie or efsher worse- maybe you went dancing, mixed- chas v’sholom-, loi olainu, to examine your ways and repent from the hundreds of sins you committed. Taka why does the Baal Koreh (reader) recite these verses of rebuke in a hushed tone? Frankly, I don’t know and I don’t give a damn, and as long as I don’t hear them, mistama they’re not being directed at me personally. Perhaps the baal koreh is really a baal kery (a topic we covered a while back) or worse, and he needs to hear those chas v’sholom or, perhaps the person honored with the aliyah? In any event, if we can’t hear it, why bother reading it? When was the last time your father or mother or anyone else yelled at you in an undertone and hushed voice? When? Never! Says the Oisvorfer: let’s skip the whole thing and read a parsha we enjoy listening to; perhaps last week’s parsha one more time.
Of course we can learn an important life lesson here: Don’t worry, be happy!! Yes a lesson from our good friend Bobby McFerrin, the goy. Who is he and what’s taka pshat? Says the great Achroin (contemporary source) Wikipedia azoy: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” is a song by musician Bobby McFerrin. Released in September 1988, it became the first a cappella song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, a position it held for two weeks. The song’s title is taken from a famous quote by Meher Baba, efsher mishpocho to other Babas, now mostly in the money and brocho gisheft (business).
Very shortly we will begin reciting Selichos, or prayers of penitence for you poor excuses for yeshiva graduates. Why we say them, I don’t know. Do you even understand one word? Have you ever in your entire life said every single word of even one paragraph of these selichos? Says the Oisvorfer: Fugettaboutitt! Cut out the Toichocho and cut out the selichois: don’t worry, be happy! Yom Kippur is just around the corner, the RBSO loves his kindarlach, despite our less than exemplary behavior and we’re all getting a new score card!
A gittin shabbis-
The Oisvorfer Ruv