Foreskin and Sexual Desire
In 1994, Atari introduced us to Primal Page, their first video featuring fighting giants. Fighting giant videos remain a multibillion-dollar industry. Why people love to see giants fighting, ver veyst? Ober, was Atari mamish the first? Not! Who was? The medrish! Long before video games to include PONG and others were introduced, and long before a slew of video game producers and writers gave us various games featuring giant superheroes engaged in epic warfare, the medrish, based on the words of the heylige Toirah -in this week’s parsha mamish- told us about a giant of man. We will be taught that our featured giant did, in the year 2488, and just before the Yiddin were getting ready to enter the Promised Land, engage in hand to hand combat with another giant and lost. The medrish fills in the details as only its authors were possible of imaging the events to have unfolded. Let’s meet Og, also known as Oig in this post we begin by reading a shtikel from the medrish where we learn this. Ober first, welcome to another installment of why I love medrish and why you too should be entertained by the creative minds of those who imagined and reduced to writing such colorful insights on the heylige Toirah.
This week, we continue our look back on a secondary Toirah characters. Back in Parshas Bereishis we focused on a gentleman by the name of Lemach and his lifestyle and this week we will meet a famous giant who seemingly lived at least 700 years, mistama longer. Welcome then to Parshas Lech Lecha where we meet and mostly remember Avrohom Ovenu (then still known as Avrom), he being the first of our forefathers. We have previously covered -more than once- his rather unusual reaction and experience when his wife Soro (the Sorai) was abducted by the King’s people and what he got in return. Ober this year, we will take closer look at a not so gentle giant of a man by the name of Oig who gets a total of ten Toirah shout-outs (eight of them in Sefer Devorim). Who was this guy? When did he live? Where did we first meet him? Was he a good or bad guy? Why is he being featured in our parsha? Let’s begin here.
Back in Parshas Bereishis (6:2), we were told that the powerful people took beautiful women without so much as asking anyone’s permission. Rapists? Perhaps. They chapped as they pleased and shoin? Let’s read the pisukim innaveynig.
|2. That the sons of the nobles saw the daughters of man when they were beautifying themselves, and they took for themselves wives from whomever they chose.||ב וַיִּרְאוּ בְנֵי-הָאֱלֹהִים אֶת-בְּנוֹת הָאָדָם, כִּי טֹבֹת הֵנָּה; וַיִּקְחוּ לָהֶם נָשִׁים, מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר בָּחָרוּ.|
Seemingly they did not seek the permission from the girl’s parents, nor efsher their husbands. Yikes! The generation of the flood during Noiach’s time continued the trend of immoral behavior and sexual deviance, so says the heylige Gemora (Sanhedrin 57a). Shoin, the RBSO decided to wash away all spilled seed, if you chap, and all else. In Lech Lecho, Avrohom had reason to believe that Paroy and the Egyptians would kill him because of his wife’s beauty and indeed they seized her without permission (Bereishis 12:12-15). Ober, what about Oig? What’s his role? Where did he come from? Was he properly introduced to us? Was he among those who chapped women at will? What’s he doing in our parsha? Is he even shouted out by name? Let’s find out.
We first met Oig in last week’s parsha when he -somehow- managed to be saved from the raging waters of the Mabul. Is this emes? Mamish another person besides Noiach his family and the animals survived the mabul? Seemingly so, at least according to the medrish and the heylige Gemora. We shall address that below, ober let us first review a shtikel narrative directly from this week’s parsha which is most famously known for our introduction to Avrohom at the age of 75, his wife, her abduction by the king, the king’s plans to introduce Soro to his royal scepter, if you chap, the consequences of his actions, and a war between four and five kings. We have previously covered the colorful details of Soro’s experience, as retold by Rashi referencing the medrish and how the RBSO punished the king for his chazerish (piggish) intentions. Read all about it in previous postings on this parsha at www.oisvorfer.com. Ober, this year, let us shine a light on a not so gentle giant of a man by the name of Oig and let us begin with this question; is Oig even mentioned in this week’s parsha by name? He is not? Why then are we talking about him? Because he does appear in the medrish on this week’s parsha, many of them, and let us review the pisikum and set the scene. The war between the four and five kings was raging. Why were they fighting? Ver veyst; seemingly it’s what kings do. Why not? Loit, Avrohom’s nephew, was taken captive by the four Mesopotamian kings. What happened next? “The refugee (polit) came and told Avrom the Hebrew, who was dwelling in the plot of Mamrey the Emorite, the brother of Eshkol and Aner, and they were members of a covenant with Avrom” (Bereishis 14:13). What was Avrohom told? That his nephew was taken. Who told him? Some guy identified as the polit. Who was the polit?
Shoin, our sages identify the polit as Oig, King of the Bashan, with whom Moishe fought in the desert hundreds of years later. He did? So says the heylige Gemora (Nida 61a): Oig escaped from the mass wipeout of the flood. What? Oig who survived the mabul in the year 1656 was alive and well 792 years later? Yet, the heylige Toirah which lists the ages of many who had extended lives does not mention Oig? Wasn’t it a big deal that another human may have survived the mabul? Then again, was Oig human? We shall find out. Avada we cannot answer all questions you might have, ober we can share a few interesting tidbits from the medrish and have you appreciate why these guys were mamish geniuses.
Says the midrash (Bamidbar Rabba, Chukas 19) azoy: Oig -in our parsha- escaped being killed or captured by the Mesopotamian kings, which is what enabled him to make it to Avrohom and update him on Loit’s status. He was unavailable! That was Oig? Ober wasn’t the gentleman who came to Avrohom referred to as the polit? He is! How did the polit become Oig? Was that this last name? Ver veyst? The bottom line: since the heylige Toirah does not identify the polit by name, creatively, the medrish does. Shoin, he was outed! Go prove otherwise. The medrish decided that the polit was Oig and shoin, case settled. Let’s then assume it’s emes; after all, it could be. Is it? Ver veyst? Ober, what taka was the basis for the medrish believing that the polit was Oig? Says the medrish (Bereshis Rabbah 42:8) azoy: Reish Lokish understands Oig’s name stems from the following myseh: when the polit arrived to Avrohom’s place to deliver the news, he found Avrohom in middle of baking matzah for Pesach. In Hebrew, matzah is called עוגות מצות (ugos matzos). Shoin, out of gratitude to Avrohom, he adopted Oig from ugois as his name and shoin. Going forward, he was forever -throughout the heylige Toirah, Gemora and medrish, known as Oig. Does every medrish agree? Of course not, and says Pirkei d’Rebbe Eliezer and the Yalkut Shimoni, (Chayei Sarah 109) that Oig was none other than Eliezer, the servant of Avrohom. What? Was he Oig or Eliezer? Ver veyst? If he was Eliezer, we can chap how Avrohom and Eliezer alone were able to defeat the conglomeration of four massive armies to rescue Loit. There are other colorful medroshim about Oig, including one where a Talmudic sage found his thigh bone and ran through it (Niddah 24b). Who was he? Ver veyst? One thing is certain: the heylige Toirah does not identify the polit by name.
Then again if the polit was Oig, how taka did he survive the flood waters? Was he in the Tayvo with Noiach and family He was not! How then did he survive the Mabul? Says the medrish azoy:“As the flood waters swelled, Oig, king of Boshon, sat himself on one of the rungs of the ark’s ladders and swore to Noiach and to his sons that he would be their slave forever. What did Noiach do? He punched a hole in the ark, and through it he handed out food to Oig every day. Efsher you’re wondering why Noiach didn’t just let Oig board the ark and so was the medrish who tells us that the flood had already begun; opening the ark for Oig would have endangered the humans and animal aboard. Oig’s survival is hinted at later in Sefer Devorim (3:11) where we read “….only Oig remained…of the Rephaim….” The what? What the hec were the Rephaim? Shoin, we open another window to find out.
Rashi tells us that Oig was the last survivor of the Rephaim in the time of Avrohom. It was then that the king Amrophel, together with his allies, dominated the Fertile Crescent region, and decimated many nations that inhabited it. One of these groups of victims were the Rephaim, and Oig was the sole survivor among them. He was the “refugee” mentioned in our parsha (14:13) that came to Avrohom to inform him of what had happened. Who were the Rephaim? Says the heylige Gemora (Niddah 61a) -and halt kup here (pay attention)- that Oig was the grandson of Shemhazai. Of who? Shemhazai was one of the two rebellious malochim (angels) that descended to earth. Two argued before the RBSO that He should not have created man, who was faulty, pathetic, and worse. The RBSO told the angels that had they been on earth, and given the same challenges that man faced, they would be even worse. The angels wanted to be tested anyway, and were thus brought down into earthly bodies. Of course, just as the RBSO had predicted, they quickly fell into sin. This is what is meant by the words in Bereishis 6:2 (quoted above), which describes divine beings mating with human women. They grabbed and left. In other words: Those the heylige Toirah describes as being guilty of grabbing whomever they so desired without first seeking permission, were none other than fallen angels roaming the earth. They were seemingly half-man and half-angel. Or, pshat could be that they were not behaving as angels. In any event, the offspring of these unions were initially known as the Nephilim, and they were very large and powerful. According to many an exegete, they were “giants” mamish. However, during the Mabul of Noiach, all the semi-angelic beings perished with the exception of one, that one being Oig. Ok, what do we know so far? Seemingly Oig survived the Mabul while the other giants all perished.
Nu efsher you recall last week’s post where we mentioned the boiling water of the Mabul and efsher you’re wondering how Oig, hanging onto the tayvo was able to survive the flood without being totally cooked alive. Are you? Moreover, why taka did Noiach -aside for humanitarian reasons- decide to throw him a lifeline and help save him? The heylige Gemora (Zevachim 113b) tells us that somehow Oig communicated with Noiach and swore that he would be his family’s eternal servant if Noiach would only allow him into the Ark (Yalkut Shimoni, Noiach 55). Shoin, the heylige Gemora tells us that it’s taka emes that the rain waters of the Flood were actually boiling hot, ober the rain that fell upon Oig while he held unto the Ark was miraculously cool, allowing him to survive. And with that factoid we can chap efsher what Noiach was thinking and why he saved Oig. Noiach saw that Oig had some zichusim (merits) and figured that the RBSO wants him saved. Moreover, says the medrish, Noiach seemingly knew that Oig’s grandfather was the one angel who later repented. Noiach therefore had mercy on Oig, and made a special niche for Oig in the Ark. This is how the giant survived the Flood. Another medrish suggests that Oig survived by fleeing to Israel, since the Holy Land was the only place on earth which was not flooded. That’s all nice, ober what happened next?
As promised, Oig became the servant to Noiach and his descendants. Says the heylige Zoihar (III, 184a) azoy: Oig served Avrohom as well, and as part of his household, was also circumcised. (Sidebar: later in our parsha, the RBSO asks Avrohom to undergo circumcision. Avrohom of course complies and also has his entire household do the same. Seemingly, Oig the giant is suddenly cut down to size). So far so good and intriguing, ober what happened next? Says Rashi (Bereishis 14:13), azoy: Oig informed Avrohom that his nephew Loit was kidnapped, and that the armies of Amrophel and his allies were terrorizing the region. Rashi quotes the Midrash in telling us that Oig hoped Avrohom would go into battle and perish, so that Oig would be able to marry the beautiful Soro. Seemingly, Oig had concocted a plan for himself. In other words: Oig taka did the right thing by informing Avrohom that Loit had been taken captive and for that mitzvah, Oig was blessed with wealth and longevity. As we will read below, Oig -according to the medrish- lived over 700 years. Ober says the medrish (Bereishis Rabbah 42:12), for his chazerish intentions of having his way with Soro, he was destined to die at the hands of Avrohom’s descendants. Oig’s life will come to an end when he battles another giant by the name of Moishe, ober all that for another date when we cover Sefer Devorim.
Ober, efsher you’re wondering azoy: Moishe too was giant? How big was Oig and how big was Moishe? Nu, since we’re talking medrish, let’s see what they had to say.Says the Rashbam (Devorim 3:11) that Oig was large, even as a youngster. His crib was fashioned from iron because a wooden crib would break every time, he would lay down in it. Says the Ibn Ezra on the very same posik, that in those days’ beds were about a third longer than the person sleeping in them, so with a bed of 9 cubits long (approx. 4.5 meters), he must have measured in at about 6 cubits tall (a respectable 3 meters). Ober says Targum Yoinoson ben Uziel -himself a very creative mind- that he was even taller and we should assume that the carpenter used his own arm lengths in measuring his bed, and not the standard cubit measure. How tall was he? Ver veyst?
And listen to this explosive shtikel from the Zoihar (3:184) and avada as you all know, the heylige Ois does not argue with the Zoihar. As a reward for his life-long loyalty to Avrohom, where he is the one who circumcises his master, the RBSO transforms him into Oig, king of Boshon. You hear this? According to this Zoihar, Oig may have started off as a regular guy but when he performed the bris on Avrohom Ovenu, he was seemingly rewarded with a long life and great height. He was transformed -as we see in the cartoons and videos of today- into a superhero giant and also then became the king of Boshon and many other cities. On the other hand, his increased size -seemingly allover, if you chap- came -as did he- with a downside. He lusted after Soro and made a plan to take her upon Avrohom’s death, and so we read in the medrish (Bereishis Rabbah 42:8). Did his powerful sexual urges come from the fact that his seed produced 36 liters of liquid? What? His seed produced how much? Who says that? Believe it or not, you can find this information as written above in Sofrim 21:9, check it out. His seed was seemingly enough to populate a decent size city. No wonder Moishe was afraid to engage him in battle. The heylige Gemora (Niddah 61a) tells us that Moishe was fearful of Oig because he knew that Oig still had capital (merits) with the RBSO from his time with Avrohom davka because he was the one who circumcised the ancestor of all the Jewish people. And then? The RBSO told Moishe not to worry, and gave him the strength to slay Oig himself. As the story goes, Moishe used a large ten-cubit (roughly 20 foot) weapon to jump ten cubits high in the air—and was only able to strike Oig’s ankle! Still, it caused Oig to trip over and be impaled by a mountain peak. Another view: Says the medrish (Midrash Petiras Moishe, 1:128) that Oig survived the Mabul simply because he was so large, and the floodwaters only reached up to his ankles. Gishmak.
The bottom line: The RBSO, having seen the sexual tendencies of man of those generations, came up with a plan that involved the penis. Avrohom and all Jewish people to follow would be ordered to have their foreskins cut off. The RBSO made a covenant with Avrohom using the foreskin at the place of a man’s organ linked to sexual desires. Has that worked out? Not very well!
The final bottom lines, Noiach -efsher even against the RBSO’s command- saved Oig’s life. He was, let’s recall, a tzadik, a good guy and had compassion. Seemingly the RBSO agreed with Noiach’s decision as he let Oig ride out the mabul while hanging on. Lesson learned: at times compassion must override and rule the day.
A gittin Shabbis-
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv