Mazel tov to our close friends Lemor and Murry Englard and to Lindsay and Rivki Rosenwald whose children Leora and Josh will be walking down the aisle to the chuppah this coming Sunday. We have known both families for many, many, many years and look forward to dancing at this great Simcha.
And in news that came out earlier in the week but is still not really quite out, later this evening, Jeremy Joszef and Rachel Simon will be celebrating their engagement with a lechaim and mini engagement party. All are invited. Mazel tov to both families.
Raboyseyee and Ladies:
Skin in the game
Shoin! Last shabbis, the community and hundreds of others around the country and world joined in what they called the shabbis project. Bikitzur, the idea was for the orthodox to invite their less observant (read: conservative and efsher also reform) neighbors and friends over for a shabbis meal and have them partake in a ‘real shabbis’. How it all worked out across the country, ver veyst ober here in the Oisvorfer’s home town, one orthodox fellow, following a shabbis with his less observant friends and neighbors decided to join the other team. Shoin: challah bake, shmake; he’d rather watch TV on Friday night and enjoy the shabbis that way. Azoy geyt iz (that’s how it goes).
Busted! Last week, the Oisvorfer told you that we will not be seeing any 3 day Yom Tov/shabbis combos in all of 2015 and 2016. Moments after the send button was hit and the parsha review was out, a comment was received from Dr. Sholom Huberfeld correctly advising that we were facing a 3 day Shovuois. Moreover because shabbis precedes the 2 days of Shovuois and with Monday being Memorial day, it will taka be a real yom tov. He is correct. The Oisvorfer only looked at Pesach and Sukkis and forgot to check on the 3rd of the sholish regolim. And on Tuesday morning, another comment, this one from over in Austin, Texas where a reader wrote azoy:
“Thank you for another wonderful post dear Ruv!! By the way one mistake, there is a 3-day Yom Tov in 2015, Shavuos, so get ready! I had a question, which I don’t think you answered yet. RBSO gives Noah a command to bring all the different animals to the ark, and then talks about clean and unclean animals… but when was that distinction made to Noah; did he already have lessons in kosher and non-kosher animals!?”
Steph (Stephan Bruner) Austin, TX
Kudos to both of you, and shame on the rest of you oisvorfs for not chapping this tiny error.
Welcome to parshas Lech Lecha where, among other great stories- some mamish hard to believe – we will learn that Avrom (later known as Avrohom Ovenu and used interchangeably in this review) was a wealthy man. Was he in the real estate business? Was he a day trader, or efsher the founder of a hi-tech or efsher biotech company? Not! Did he efsher inherit some decent money from his father Terach who was in the getchka-gisheft (business of collecting and selling getchkas (idols) for a living? Also not! How then did he become so wealthy? Shoin, the heylige Toirah tells us just how Avrom went about accumulating such wealth. And long before Goldman Sachs and other such firms were founded, it appears that Avrohom was mamish the world’s first trader; seemingly, he was a natural. And what was he trading? Not much. He had only one valuable asset, namely his wife Sorai (later to be known as Soro, also used interchangeably in this review) and taka the heylige Toirah will tell us that Avrom decided that trading one nagging, childless wife, though very beautiful, for sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels, a few maidservants and slaves, was a good deal. Moreover, trading her was a better option than just getting rid of her; mistama she didn’t have too much life insurance. Besides, hit-men are unreliable and almost always are FBI informants. Is all this emes? Indeed it is and soon we’ll shine some more light on what went down here besides Avrom and Sorai to Mitzrayim (Egypt) due to a plague in K’nan under directions of the RBSO. In any event, you are zicher urged to check out previous editions of the Oisvorfer on parshas Lech Lecha especially so if you want more details -and zicher you do- on what happened between Avrohom, his wife, and the good king who had Soro taken to his palace for an introduction to his magic wand, if you chap. Check it out here, http://toirahruv.com/lech-lecho-2012-the-first-of-the-chosen-people/
As an aside, though Avrom was plotting to rid himself of his eishes chayil, it seems that she was still in demand. Remember Og from last week? Of course you do. He was the jolly giant who somehow survived the mabul. Last week, we were debating whether or not Og was a good or bad guy. Ober this week Rashi and the medrish will tell us that Og- he the only person besides all the Noiachs and the animals, to survive the Mabul- wanted Soro. He wanted Soro and what does that mean? Seemingly he wanted to chap Soro just the way you enjoy chapping, chazir that you are. Ober how was he going to get her? Was he going to use his size, if you chap? Seemingly, his plot involved Avrom going to war to find his nephew Loit who had been taken captive during the battle between the 4 and 5 kings. Og was hoping that upon hearing the news – that he himself delivered to Avrohom- that his nephew Loit was taken prisoner, Avrom would go out looking for him and wage battle for his release. Taka that’s just what Avrom did. And….he was also hoping that Avrom would get killed on the battlefront and shoin. And….with Avrom dead, Og would come around, pay a shiva call and comfort Soro and shoin. From there he would make his move, marry Soro and maybe also inherit Avrom’s wealth. Is that why the RBSO saved his life during the mabul? Ver veyst. Or, is this story about Og’s plot just a story, ver veyst? Shoin, it’s only a medrish. In any event, writers for NCIS would, of course, read the heylige Toirah, and myriad medroshim and this story and other very similar ones can be seen on TV regularly.
And if you were impressed with Avrohom’s acumen for making a good trade, you’ll be blown away when you hear what happened when Paroy found out that she was indeed not Avrohom’s sister but his wife. But before we cover that and just in case you’re wondering and zicher you are as to what went down in the king’s boudoir, the heylige Toirah will only tell us that Paroy- though seemingly duped and maybe innocent- was stricken with giferliche plagues while he held her captive. What were those? Says Rashi that he was stricken with some sort of skin disease which made it challenging for him to have sexual relations with her. Shoin: like most other men, Paroy went without. Some say that Paroy held her for 2 years, nebech. Ober when Paroy became aware that Avrom and Sorai were taka married, that he had been had though he didn’t have any, if you chap, he expelled them from his country. Ober guess what? Avrom got to keep all the booty, nothing was returned except for his wife, nebech. He entered Mitzrayim without very much but left a wealthy man. So good was the trade, Avrom will do it one more time (next week).
And Raboyseyee, don’t think the RBSO didn’t take note of Avrohom’s savvy skills, He did. Given his natural trading ability, the RBSO will offer him one more deal; Avrohom took it. This time, Avrom made an even bigger and better trade: in this trade, he gave away a shtikel foreskin and got back a child and the right to be the father of a nation. Not too shabby. He did what? Speaking of his mila (circumcision), let’s taka roll forward to the end of the parsha where Avrohom was commanded to become ‘whole with the RBSO’. What does that mean?
Nu, as you all know or should, Avrom, under direct orders from the RBSO, had a bris performed on himself, details to follow. Let’s read the instructions and then discuss a few interesting thoughts, insights, medroshim and some heylige Gemora. Said the RBSO to Avrom (Bireishis (17:1) azoy: “And Avrom was 99 years old, and the RBSO appeared to Avram, and He said to him, “I am the Almighty God; walk before Me and be perfect.” A few pisukim (verses) later we will learn that being perfect (in the future) means having a circumcision on the 8th day. Shoin: circumcision is the one commandment and mitzvah which resonates with us as a sine qua non of Jewish identity. Says the heylige Toirah (Bireishis 17:9-11) azoy: “The RBSO further said to Avrohom, as for you, you and your offspring to come throughout the ages shall keep My covenant. Such shall be the covenant between Me and you and your offspring to follow which you shall keep: every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.”
Is that mamish what happened? Indeed it is ober efsher you’re taka wondering azoy: Ershtens (firstly): who was the Moiel for Avrohom’s bris? How was the bris performed back then on a 99 year old man? Who did the metzitza bipeh? If you don’t know what that means, look it up. Was his 8th grade rebbe present and took care of that, if you chap, ver veyst? And mistama you have a few more kashas (questions). Nu, let’s see what a few had to say about this procedure. Says the Pirkei D’Rebbi Eliezer (29) azoy: There was a moiel present and his name was Shaim Ben Noiach. Shaim who? Seemingly, Shaim, Noiach’s son, no youngster himself, performed the bris. Hopefully he had a steady hand. Others suggest that a more careful reading of the Pirkei medrish proves that Shaim was not the Moiel for Avrohom but was maybe the Moiel for Yishmoel, Avrom’s first son (through his concubine/wife Hogor.) Ober if he wasn’t, who was?
Did Avrom, at age 99, act as his own Moiel? Did anyone help? Maybe, and another Medrish will tell us azoy: when Avrohom heard the big news about getting a longer name but a shorter member, if you chap, he asked the RBSO who would be performing his milah (bris). Said the RBSO that Avrohom should do it himself, ouch! Is that even possible? Ober Avrohom, good servant of the RBSO that he was, immediately took a knife and was about to cut, but didn’t. Instead he hesitated because he was worried about his age. What next? Says the Medrish Rabba (Bireishis 49:2) that the RBSO held Avrom’s hand and helped him perform his own bris. He did? The RBSO sent His hand down and held onto Avrohom while Avrohom himself did the cut. Is that gishmak or what? And now you know, Raboyseyee the meaning of a few words you utter each morning without ever stopping to think of their significance. And taka every day, we recite the words of “vecharois imoy ha’bris (and He cut with him). That’s mamish what happened; the RBSO assisted while Avrom did the cutting. Is that how it came off? Let’s see another view.
Says the Medrish (Tanchuma VaYeira 3) azoy: Avrohom only circumcised himself after consulting with his friend Mamrei. Who is that? Nu, we’ll meet him next week (opening posik) when Rashi will tell us that the RBSO revealed Himself to Avrohom on Mamrei’s property. Did Avrohom not immediately perform his bris but instead hesitated and went to maybe hide or seek advice from his best friend? Of course that pshat is more than logical for a 99 year old man. Mamrei gave him the OK.
Many consider Avrohom to be the first Yid, was he? And if he was, was Noiach a goy mamish? And if Noiach was a goy, how was it that his son Shaim and other descendants started what was a world famous Yeshiva known as Yeshiva Shaim Vo’ever, an institution the medrish talks about quite a bit and the Yeshiva where, as Rashi tells us in a few weeks, Yankif Oveenu was a student for many years? Would parents have sent their teens to a yeshiva run by goyim mamish? Was he the first of the Chosen people, and did the Chosen nation start with him? What about Chosen Island? Shoin, a cheap plug, why not? And a few more questions: given that Avrohom (and the other forefathers) all lived well before Yitzyas Mitzrayim (Exodus from Egypt) and the giving of the heylige Toirah on Har Sinai-two defining events in our glorious Jewish history, mamish- how can he really be considered Jewish? Was he the first Yid before there were Jewish people, what’s pshat here? And if he was taka the first ever Jewish person, just when did he become Jewish? At birth, his bar mitzvah maybe or, efsher at the age of 99 when he was commanded by the RBSO to put some ‘skin in the game’, if you chap? Isn’t that what the heylige Toirah tells us? It is and that’s taka what they taught us in yeshiva. Ober says the RambaM that Avrahom was 40 when he became Jewish. He was? Was he Jewish at 40 though he didn’t have a bris until 99? The RambaM will tell us that it was at 40 that he began challenging the idolatrous beliefs of his father and others and also smashed their getchkas (idols).
Ober says the heylige Gemora (Avoida Zoro 9A) azoy: Avrohom was 52 years old when he became the first Jew. Shoin, was he 40, 52, 75 or 99, ver veyst? Why doesn’t anyone agree? Poshit giredt (plain and simple): it’s against our religion for all to agree. So much so that were all the Sanhedrin, all 70 of them, to agree to a person’s guilt, he was to be set free. Yiddin aren’t allowed to agree: it’s not in our DNA. Moreover, it’s a kal vochoimer which goes like this. Hey, what’s a Kal Vochoimer? Didn’t you learn anything in yeshiva? In any event, a Kal Vachoimer is (lit. “light and weighty”); a principle of scriptural interpretation whereby a conclusion is drawn from a minor premise or more lenient condition (“light”) to a major or more strict one (“weighty”) or vice versa, a fortiori argument. Or, more poshit giredt (in common parlance), “all the more so.” And it goes like this……..Madach a man and his eishes chayil, people who are naturally attracted to each other, at least physically, cannot agree on kimat anything, of course it’s understood and accepted that strangers -all looking at the same words- cannot agree to their meaning! Shoin and case closed? Not yet!
One medrish will tell us that Avrohom was but 3 years old when he looked around at the world of nature with all its perfection, beauty, symmetry, precision, timing, balance, integration, coordination, and unity and concluded that for the world to be designed so perfectly there obviously must be a higher power. Was he a member of AA, ver veyst. And taka those were some big thoughts and words for a three year old. On the other hand, what’s wrong with the theory that he was only 3? Aren’t 3 year olds mature? And won’t we be learning, next week mamish, that Rivka may have been but 3 years old when she married Yitzchok? We will ober let’s not jump ahead. As an aside, Rivka’s age when she married Yitzchok is another hotly debated topic. In any event, according to this view, Avrohom discovered the RBSO taka at age 3. That’s the good news. And while most of you discovered yours before high school, seemingly, Avrohom didn’t discover his mila until he was in his 80’s. The heylige Toirah will tell us Avrohom was 86 when his first son, Yishmoel, father to all our Arab cousins, was born.
In case you’re wondering, an interesting and somewhat controversial Toisfis (Rosh Hashonoh 11a) tells us azoy: Avrohom’s bris was performed on Yom Kippur. Was there Yom Kippur before the heylige Toirah was given? Of course not but let’s not forget that our Ovois kept the entire Toirah anyway.
Nu, efsher you’re wondering why the RBSO chose circumcision of the male organ as a sign to forever bind the Yiddin to Him? Vus epes (why) was the reproductive organ chosen for this imprint? And how are women bound, ver veyst? Couldn’t we just have a simple contract? We seem to have paperwork for everything else. And would it have been so giferlich if the Yiddin didn’t have to give before they knew for sure they had what to spare? Let’s see what a few had to say:
Some say that taka the male organ was chosen because the bris weakens sexual desire and pleasure. It does? Not necessarily for you ober biderech-klal (generally speaking), maybe yes. Seemingly, the bris is designed to give a person more strength to restrain himself from engaging in forbidden sexual encounters. Does it work? Usually not!
Ober says the heylige Gemora (Nedorim 32B) azoy: following his bris, Avrohom achieved control over all parts of his body, including his organ, which expresses the male sex drive. It was only then that all parts of his body were dedicated to one altruistic goal, and he was able to give to others with the totality of his being. And the bris then represents the consecration of the male sex drive to serving the loving and life-giving purpose of the RBSO.
And says Rashi: we perform the bris because we are so commanded. It’s a covenant-our nation has a certain relationship with the RBSO which is branded through circumcision. Why, is not our business? He doesn’t address why.
Ober said the RambaM azoy: circumcision lessens the man’s sexual pleasure. And what’s wrong with some pleasure now and then? Isn’t a lessening of sexual pleasure already accomplished when a man gets married, if you chap? Says the RambaM that the bris was given to physiologically remind us that we need to limit ourselves in that area of life. The circumcision will somewhat reduce our physical attachment to sexuality and it will also mold our character by reminding us of how to put that part of life into proper perspective. How? By virtue of this circumcision. Shoin, nice theory.
And says the RambaM, there are additional reasons for the bris. The bris is a sign that binds the Yiddin together, since others would never do this to themselves. Of course, in our times, many umois-ho’oilom (other goyim) also have themselves circumcised. And he also agrees with Rashi that the bris was the covenant between Avrohom and the RBSO about monotheism, a way for each Jew to demonstrate in his person his belief in the RBSO.
Ober says the Ramban: the bris reminds us to only use the male organ in a permissible and positive way. And the bottom line: uncharacteristically, both the RambaM and the RambaN agreed that the bris is at least partially about sex and its curtailment of pleasure, nebech!
And was Avrahom taka the first Jew? And vus-epes (why) him? Did he do anything special in his early years to merit such selection? Does the heylige Toirah tell us anything about him or his early years? Not! In fact we don’t meet him until he is either 70 or 75 years old. We know mamish nothing about him. Not even on Google can we find much background information. Ober not to worry, the medrish of course knows everything? How? Mistama they made it up but so what? And vus zugt der medrish (what does the medrish tell us). Azoy: Avrohom broke his father’s getchkis (idols) and as the heylige Toirah tells us this week mamish, Avrohom “built a mizbayach (altar) to the RBSO and called on the name of the Lord.” (Bireishis12:8). Seemingly that was enough back then.
Nu, efsher we can kler that Avrohom was selected because he was a good guy, a real mentch and also a great humanitarian. As compared to Noiach who did nothing and said nothing to protest the destruction of the world when told of the impending flood, Avrohom brazenly challenged the RBSO not to kill the innocent in Sedoim (next week). Moreover Avrohom was efsher the first to practice the great mitzvah of pidyon shvuyim (redeeming captives) and he treated the slaves of the kings he liberated as “people,” not as rechush (“property”), which was the prevailing custom amongst the neighboring nations. Or, efsher we don’t really know why because the RBSO didn’t tell us why. In other words: it’s none of our business. The RBSO doesn’t report to you and who says you have to understand why. If, when you go up to see him, this question is really bothering you, in between lashes and other punishments you’ll be receiving, maybe you’ll have an opportunity to ask Him why he selected Avrohom to be our forefather. The bottom line is that the RBSO selected him and not you! Case closed.
And for the shabbis tish…here’s a gishmake vort from the Sfas Emes (the second Rebbe of the Gerer Chassidim) who asked azoy: who was Avrohom that the RBSO should call him? How is it that he comes in out of the blue, with no record of past deeds? Referring to the explanation of the Zoihar, he answers that Avrohom’s merit is “Lech Lecha” itself. The RBSO is always calling out “Lech Lecha” to every person at every time, but only Avrohom chose to hear it.
A gittin Shabbos
The Oisvorfer Ruv