One year ago this shabbis: Word reached the Oisvorfer through BBM on the indispensable blackberry that his good chaverim Aliza and Shlomie Liechtung 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!
One year later, same shabbis: Word has reached the Oisvorfer that Daniela and David Liechtung, children of our very close friends Aliza and Shlomie Liechtung and Barbara and Shimmy Schwartz, gave birth to a baby boy. Of course we wish our good friends, all of them a hearty mazel – tov. A special shout out and a big mazel – tov to the great grandparents on both sides.
Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:
Happiness on Demand
In last week’s mailbag came this from a happy reader over in Mexico who wrote azoy: “Thanks G-d that there is internet, because now all the people in Mexico with Jewish origin have the chance to read these posts and even more… a chance to study and learn the Torah.”
Thank you Rabbi!! – Nicholas Crealo.
Also in the mailbag, a givaldige kasha from a reader over in Englewood New Jersey who wrote azoy: I mamish enjoyed immensely your weekly parsha reviews. Last week, you wrote at length about the allowance that the RBSO made to the soldier on the battlefield. You correctly told us that the Torah allows him to capture an ‘eishes yifas toar’ – a woman beautiful in stature – even if she is married – have his way and then, should he still desire her for marriage, the steps that must be taken before this marriage is Torah sanctioned. One of the steps in the process is that she must be given time to mourn for her father and mother. This sounds and feels right. My question is this. Assuming she was married when captured and assuming he desired her for marriage, why wouldn’t she also be given time to mourn for her husband? –Leo-
And says the Oisvorfer in response: Efsher we can assume that since the heylige Toirah did not mention this mourning for her husband, that she either didn’t have one or that the Toirah does not really want the soldier chapping a married woman, at least as a second wife, war or no war. Should any reader have an answer to this thought provoking kasha, send it in.
Though the Oisvorfer doesn’t typically promote products (unless handsomely compensated), yet another reader sent in this comment.
“You should have a brief commercial in the unfang. For those of u oisvurfs who study dafyomi. The ruv would like to be mechazik the oilam by pointing out a wonderful site. www.Swdaf.com where you can actually listen or read the shiur- given daily and updated by a nice young man from Israel in Bet shemesh. Mameshgevaldik.” Marvin S
Nu, the Oisvorfer’s heart is gladdened and mamish full of joy to see that the weekly Toirah continues to spread to all corners of the world. And speaking of gladdening the heart and being happy, or at least as happy as you were after reading last week’s parsha………it appears from this week’s heylige parsha of Ki Sovoy, that being happy may be a requirement, a commandment mamish and also the key to avoiding the litany of 98 Kelolois (curses) that Moishe Rabaynu spews forth. Soon we’ll be me’arech (discuss at length). Can any person, unless seriously deranged, reading this parsha and comprehending even a ma’sh’hu (tad) of what could be coming his way, mamish be happy? Would the RBSO do these dastardly things to His Chosen people? What’s taka pshat? Was Moishe playing good and bad cop, bribing them with a few brochois for good behavior and then immediately thereafter threatening chaos with a litany of horrific calamites? Was he on his own? One thing is zicher; Moishe had quite the imagination. Poverty, insanity, death, losing our children, the shviger moving in full time, lifetime contracts for the Rabbi you can’t stand, longer sermons, and death. Nu, after a second and careful read, death seems like the least painful way to go out. On the other hand, efsher the RBSO meant that first He would have us experience all the other giferliche zachen and then only later on, as a chesed (kindness), we would experience death; ver veyst.
And speaking of not being happy, last week the eishes chayil was not at all happy that the Oisvorfer blamed her for the slight editing error. Nu, ever since Odom Horishoin (Adam), man has been blaming the eishes chayil whenever possible. This latest sin was of course added to many others and the Oisvorfer looks forward to Yom Kippur when he plans to beg for forgiveness from her, and of course from the RBSO and clean the slate; isn’t that what it’s all about?
And while everyone loves Cho-sen, we might ask azoy: does the RBSO both love and hate His Chosen people or do we mamish frustrate Him so? Most of the parsha is mamish this great combination of exalted hopes and new highs as well as giferliche dire predictions and warnings of wretched events that will somehow all hit us. We’re talking annihilation and disappearance! Is this why we He took us out of Mitzrayim? It’s as though the heylige Toirah cannot make up its mind regarding our future and destiny. It always seems to be an “all or nothing” situation for us, what’s taka pshat? What’s wrong with a little stability and commitment for better or worse?
Ober all that being said and the threats notwithstanding, being happy is on the menu, not once but twice in the parsha and not being happy, could have dire consequences, oy vey. Buying momentary happiness, if you chap, does not count. Says the heylige Toirah (Devorim 26:11) azoy: “You should rejoice with all the good that G-d has given (26:11) and later on in the parsha (28:47)we learn this posik (verse): “Serve G-d with Joy and a good heart from great abundance”.
Let’s begin with a summary of the gantze parsha, this time in two sentences. If we obey the RBSO’s commands, He will shower us with many blessings. Conversely, if we do not hearken to the voice of G-d, then the RBSO has many curses in store –just shy of 100 -but who’s counting. The gory details are specifically delineated in the parsha and are designed to chastise us and whip us into shape; most are quite unpleasant.
Pashas Ki Sovoy, from which you will zicher not derive too much pleasure, will be read this shabbis and it’s that time in Moishe’s life, the end mamish, one more speech to give. He will begin that one towards the very end of the parsha ober first, he will scare the living daylights out of the Yiddin. He will spew forth 98 count ‘em curses that are coming their way if the Yiddin do not follow the RBSO’s mitzvois and decrees. And if you don’t want to hear them, you’re not alone. In fact, many shuls, though zicher not all, have the minhag of reading these giferliche threats in an undertone; in other words, we can barely make out the words. Why some do and some don’t, ver veyst? That’s one of the beautiful aspects of our religion; it seemingly comes in many flavors, each practitioner may select a particular flavor or change flavors from time to time. What’s taka pshat? If they’re meant to scare us straight, why not yell them from the rooftops or at least have the Baal Koirah (reader) raise his voice several decibels? How are we to chap this seemingly mixed message? Ver veyst!
Lommer unfangin with what the Toichocho is. It’s a dramatic ritual – that was to be performed by the Yiddin when they first crossed the Jordan and entered into the Promised Land. As a reaffirmation of the Yiddin’s acceptance of their covenant with the RBSO, they were instructed to inscribe the heylige Toirah upon twelve stones, erecting them as a monument on the top of Har (Mount) Eval. Next: the Shivotim (tribes) were to be divided with six to ascend to the top of HarGrizzim, and six to the top of HarEval. The Koihanim, the Leviyim, along with the Oroin (Ark of the Covenant), stood in the valley in between. There, they called out a list of curses that would befall anyone who ignored the RBSO’s commandments and a list of brochois (blessings), not too many, that would inure to the benefit of those who followed the RBSO’s ways. One of the brochois the RBSO promises to bestow upon us is: “You will make us as a head, and not as a tail. Exactly what that means ver veyst, ober this particular brocho has made its way into one of the Rosh Hashona rituals; more on this later. After each statement, all of the people said, ‘Omen’.
Though the reading of the Toichocho (curses) and chapping what they mean could easily cause nightmares, palpitations, bedwetting, anxiety, reflux, a change in religion and much worse, and though the minhag (custom) to read them in a shtikel undertone so as not to empty out the entire shul during the laining still exists, it appears that Moishe, in mittin dirinin mamish (smack in the middle) informs the Yiddin of the particular cause of these calamitiesand also snuck in the anti-dote to these harsh potential punishments.
Avada we have covered these admonitions in previous years and zicher you are invited to check out the archives at www.oisvorfer.com to read previous thoughts on this parsha, ober this year we will instead focus on what might just be the underlying and root cause for all this bad stuff Moishe is warning us about. And if this parsha has over the years left you a shtikel down and melancholy, the Oisvorfer plans to change all that. In future years, reading this parsha will give you pleasure mamish.
Says the heylige Toirah (Devorim 28:47) azoy: “Tachas Asher Loi Ovadetei Es Hashem Elokecha Be’simcha” (on account of the fact that you did not serve the RBSO your God with joy). Is that it? Is not being in a constant state of happiness so giferliche as to warrant these horrifying punishments? Isn’t a happy ending, if you chap, enough? Zicher, each of you has done much worse than not being happy ober almost shockingly, the heylige Toirah is not referring to your less than admirable behavior, at least not this week and not according to this pshat. Seemingly, this parsha is not geared to bums that simply disregarded the mitzvois; it speaks of a generation of Yiddin that are or will be loyal to the RBSO. They follow His ways ober without simcha; they make their way through the mitzvois, efsher grudgingly and without joy and enthusiasm. Seemingly we are commanded to obey the Mitzvois and that we rejoice and take pleasure in their performance.
Say the Rabaynu Yoina and the RambaM azoy: even if a person keeps all the Mitzvois properly, if he does not do them out of a genuine happiness, he cannot serve the RBSO correctly, and can therefore bring disaster on himself. Does this make sense? And how can we expected to be happy when the RBSO is describing punishments that are shereklich, gory and mamish worse; what could be worse? Doesn’t every person want to be happy? And taka many spend their entire lives pursuing happiness, unfortunately, few of them actually achieve this state. Ober Raboyseyee, if the heylige Toirah demands that we live and serve the RBSO with joy, it’s also mashma (understood) that we are capable of achieving a state of happiness. Ober how? Is there a secret to attaining true joy and contentment? Ver veyst?
Wrote DovidHamelech (Tehillim 100:2): “IvduesHashemBe’simcha” (Serve God with joy). He didn’t instruct us to merely, “Serve God,” but rather than we must do so “with joy.” Seemingly, halacha requires an increasing or decreasing level of joy at different periods of the year, ober we must maintain some level of simcha (joy) at all times. Shoin! And says the heylige Gemora (Megila) azoy: Mi’shenichnas Adar MarbimBe’simcha – When the month of Adar comes, we increase our joy. And says the heylige Gemora (Ta’anis): Mi’shenichnas Av Mema’atimBe’simcha – When the month of Av comes, we decrease our joy. Shoin, case closed and from these two passages we chap that Yiddinmust constantly live in some state of happiness.
And says Rabbi Shimon Schwab: the requirement of simcha is compared to a pilot light on a gas range. The flame must always remain lit, and one lowers or raises the fire as needed. Similarly, a Jew must live each day of the year with a certain degree of happiness, which he increases or decreases depending on the particular season. Gishmak, mamish!
Asks the heylige Gemora (Shabbos 25): “Who is truly happy”? The Gemora cites four opinions. Reb Meir says: the happy man is one who is satisfied with his wealth. RebTarphoin says: it is one who has 100 vineyards, 100 fields, and employs 100 slaves. RebbeAkiva says: it is anyone who has a virtuous wife. And says Reb Yossi azoy: it is anyone who has a toilet next to his dining room. Gishamk! Though you’re thinking that Reb Yossi really chapped the concept of happiness and avada we all know how pleasant this experience can at times be, ober de emesiz (the truth is) that according to the heylige Mishne (Ovois), only Reb Meir’s position seems to be the correct one. Who is wealthy? One who is happy with his lot in life.Surprisngly none of them suggested that happiness comes from learning a blatt Gemora or chapping the Shita Mikubetzer. And efsher you’re taka wondering why all these great and holy Tanaim gave only physical suggestions for happiness? Were they so shallow to only consider one’s wealth, wife, or health in the complex and elusive emotional equation for happiness? Ver veyst?Nu, if you have a good answer, send it in and get shouted out.
Says Rebbe Nachman of Brelov azoy: “mitzvah gedoilah lihyois b’simcha (It is a great commandment to be happy). Some however suggest that being happy is hard work and read Rebbe Nahman’s words azoy: Avoidah gedoilah lihyois be’Simcha (It is a difficult service/job to be happy.)
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 vusmeynt 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!
The Oisvorfer once heard from some Rabbi who heard this from another Rabbi and that Rabbi mistama heard it from another or efsher made up the whole story ober this is what he said: Once, I encountered two of my congregants who were violating the heylige Shabbis. Later, I said to my wife that one of these people will probably do teshuvah (repentance) and change for the better. “Which one?” she asked with a puzzled look. “The one who was embarrassed when I saw him,” I replied. That one had a red face and looked down at the ground, clearly ashamed of what he was doing. The other fellow was perfectly content — even happy — about his actions, and so his chances of overhauling his behavior were slim.
Nu, one more thought on being happy, it’s mamish gishmak and good for the shabbis tish and since we’re mamish in choidesh Elul, mamish days before the big ones, the high holy days when tshuva is in high season, efsher it woulkd be better to stop the loshoin horo, the rechilus and other badmouthing for a few minutes and focus instead on being joyful and happy. Said the Maharalazoy: joy is a fundamental component in motivating a person. Without a basic feeling of enthusiasm, a person is essentially helpless to function normally. Service of the RBSO is no exception. If an individual doesn’t feel any drive to perform the heylige Mitzvois, he will certainly get burnt out rapidly, and eventually abandon mitzvah observance altogether. He closes with this great comparison between the word אדם (man) and the word אדמה (earth)and says that just as earth which is not tended to will not yield any produce, so to a man who does not have enjoyment in his mitzvah performance will not be able to bring out his true inner strengths, and will wither and die. On the other hand, with inner satisfaction and gladness, he will blossom in his service of the RBSO and reach his full potential. Noch a gishmak!
Nu, seemingly we have time for one more shtikel Toirah, A few pages ago we mentioned one of the bribes…or brochois promised for good behavior. “You will make us as a head, and not as a tail”. Nu, some might be puzzled by this. Nu, unless you’re a deviant rebbe in yeshiva, or elsewhere, doesn’t everyone chap that a head, if you chap, is better than a tail? Moreover, what does this mean? Finally, the last part “and not as a tail” seems to be superfluous. Zicher if we are the head then we are not the tail. Ober if the RBSO said this is our reward for good behavior, zicher He knew, and one day we too will know. Ober our job is to listen, to believe and to avada follow the heylige Toirah. And this year on Rosh Hashona eve while consuming the head of a fish and reciting this prayer, you should taka be giving this some thought.
A gitten Shabbos –
The Oisvorfer Ruv