Weekly Parsha Review Laced with Humor and Sarcasm from The Oisvorfer Ruv

Matos 2011 – Long before Harry Potter

GREATRaboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:

Long before Harry Potter………….

Not much in the humor department in this week’s parsha, ober (but) does that mean we shouldn’t learn toirah and the heylige parsha? We are, after all in, the month of Tamuz and in case some of you forgot to fast, this past Tuesday was Shiva- Osor B’tamuz (17th day of Tamuz), the beginning of the 3 weeks leading to Tisha B’av. Efsher we need to calm down and start thinking about t’shuva or do we still have some time to chap areyn, if you chap.

We’re in the home stretch, Sefer Bamidbar is coming to a close and were it not for the leap year, it would be over this shabbis. Speaking of a leap year, here’s some parsha trivia to make you look good at the shabbis tish. This week’s parsha of Matos and next week’s parsha of Mas’ei are the most-often combined of the double sedras – almost 80% of the time in Israel and almost 90% in Chutz LaAretz (elsewhere). And given that it’s a light parsha and the Oisvorfer is off to the Poconos for shabbis, here’s some more trivia. The Seven pairs of double header sedras are Vayakhel-P’kudei (VP), Tazria-M’tzora (TM), Acharei-K’doshim (AK), B’har- B’chukotai (BB), Chukat-Balak (CB), Matos-Mas’ei (MM), Nitzavim-Vayeilech (NV).

And as I promised just last week, this week we’ll learn a bit about the milchomo (war) that the RBSO declared war on Midian, and when the RBSO declares war, it’s mamish a foregone conclusion as to who the victor is.

Nu, where are the yiddin this week? It’s year 40 and yes, they’re still in the midbar. Moishe Rabaynuu is a ripe 120 years old and seemingly at times forgetful, efsher the first person ever to show signs of Alzheimer’s, but he has one more mission. Just recently we learned that when Zimri asked Moishe about the permissibility of being with Kozbi, Moishe we are told, forgot the answer. His end is imminent ober says the RBSO – I have one more job for you…..

“Avenge the Children of Israel of the Midianites. Afterwards, you will be gathered unto your people” (31:2) and like a good and trusted servant Moishe spoke to the People, saying “Arm men from among you for the army.”  You hear this? Is this motivation or what? Go to war, win, come home and die.

And if you think Moishe wasn’t motivated, you would be thinking logically; after all who wants to perform the last task knowing that he’s dropping dead immediately thereafter? Ober you’d be dead wrong since Rashi tells us that though the RBSO told Moshe Rabaynuu that this mitzvah would be his last, he proceeded to fulfill this mitzvah without delay, and with joy. And how does Rashi know this? Because as I’ve told you many times- Rashi knew everything and what he didn’t, he made up. And even if he did, who are we argue with his conclusions? Rashi deduces this from the fact that in the verse immediately following the RBSO’s instructions, Moishe called the nation to arms to do battle against Midian.

Some of you may be wondering why we went to war with Midian? Did they bother us? Were they in the way? Were they shooting scud missiles towards the Yiddin? Did they have weapons of mass destruction? All they had was loose women, is that a good reason for war? And did you know and zicher you didn’t, that this particular war is referred to in two ways: 1-a war of revenge for the BNY and 2- a war of revenge for the RBSO. What’s p’shat?

Says the heylige medrish:  Both the Yiddin and the RBSO had bad feelings towards the Midianites. Avada you recall that The Midianites were guilty on two counts: count #1-  24,000 yiddin died  following sex games with the hookers until Pinchas who speared a couple, spared others from a certain death. Seemingly, they were also guilty on count #2. The RBSO was also quite upset because it was the lowlife Midianites that epes incited the Yiddin while they were in heat and I don’t mean of the desert variety, if you chap, to worship the idol of Baal Peor.  Nu, with such a rap sheet, it’s easy to chap why the war is called a war of revenge.

Mistama (likely) just about now, you’re scratching your heads and thinking….Hey…wait a minute- what gives here? Why are the Yiddin warring against the Midianites? Didn’t we learn just last week and this you zicher didn’t forget, that it was the Moabitie meydlich that were busy seducing the yiddin into avoido zoro and sex acts? What’s p’shat, did we get the wrong ones?

Says another Medrish azoy: The women of Moiav participated in the affair, but it was the Midianite women who were the source, the inspiration, and energizing factor behind it all. Balak the minuvil was a Midianite who ruled over Moiav.  Chazal (our Sages) tell us that Kozbi was his daughter whose mission it was to entrap Moishe Rabaynu, chas v’sholom into similar behavior, thereby attacking the heart of Klal Yisroel. Had she been successful, who knows what would have happened next, but zicher it would not have been a happy ending, or maybe yes?

Ober we should never question the RBSO because avada He knows best and although the women of both Moiav and Midian were involved in the plot to seduce the unsuspecting men, the war of revenge is described as being against Midian alone. Taka why?  This is because the Moabites were not so giferlich after all and mistama they threw a good party. Says the medrish: the women (of Moiov), were driven by their sexual lust only, whereas those Midianite whores were doing the old bait and switch routine, forcing their clients to perform avoido zora (idolatry) for their god as well. Chap that? In other words: sex alone is nisht giferlach ober sex coupled with avoido zoro is mamish like drinking and driving and is strictly verboten. The combo is a deadly cocktail, if you chap! Got all that? Let’s go veyter (further).

We also learn that Moishe was not at all too pleased with the war’s results and even though the BNY killed mamish every adult male, seemingly they had a soft spot (as opposed to what they had back in parshas Bolok, if you chap) for the ladies and let all the women and children live.  The troops and their general (Pinchas) made a cheshboin (reasoning) that since women did not participate in the battle, that they were but innocent bystanders and were not deserving of death. Moreover efsher they thought that these fine women still had what to give to society and to the BNY, if you chap. And they figured that the young males would make good slaves. Anyway Moishe was not a happy camper and reprimanded them mamish. His thinking was that the males would grow up and threaten the yiddin while the women were all whores and had been the whole cause both of the immorality and the idolatry of the hapless yiddin. Shoin! Let’s go veyter.

Moishe gives new instructions: they are to kill all the males as well as the women who had had sexual relations. And who did the checking?  Chazal tell us that this was determined by passing the women before the Tzitz, but this a Midrash only. What the hec is a tzitz you ask?  Nu, why am I not surprised that you forgot or never knew, but the tzitz is one of the eight garments that the Koihain godol wore during the service.   More about this holy item just below.  Plain reading of the text shows that the women to be saved were simply determined by referring to their age and physical development. Shoin: Gynecology as a field is discovered.


Back to the war for a moment and listen to this moiradike (more than amazing) medrish which will have you running to your local seforim store, sale or no sale, to buy the entire set of Medroshim. Long before Harry Potter and the myriad flying objects that are the hallmark of the books and movies, we find a fascinating Medrish. Ober to chap it, we have to learn this special possik. Ready? Here we go. First the possik, then the medrish as quoted by the heylige Rashi, who else, in the shaded box. It’s a good read, trust me.

 6. Moishe sent them one thousand from each tribe to the army, them along with Pinchas the son of Eleazar the koihain to the army, with the sacred utensils and the trumpets for sounding in his possession.


the sacred utensils: These are the holy Ark and the Tzitz – the golden plate worn on the forehead of the Koihain Gadol. Since Bilam  was with them and through sorcery he was able to make the Midianite kings fly, and he flew along with them, he [Pinchas] showed them the showplate on which the RBSO’s Name was engraved, and they fell down [to earth]. For this reason it says, concerning the Midianite kings, “upon their slain” (verse 8), for they fell from the air on top of those slain. Likewise, it says in the book of Yehoishua (13:22) in connection with Bilam ,“upon (sic) their slain.” – [Mid. Tanchuma Mattos 4] וכלי הקדש: זה הארון והציץ. שהיה בלעם עמהם ומפריח מלכי מדין בכשפים, והוא עצמו פורח עמהם. הראה להם את הציץ, שהשם חקוק בו, והם נופלים, לכך נאמר על חלליהם במלכי מדין, שנופלים על החללים מן האויר, וכן בבלעם כתיב (יהושע יג, כב) אל חלליהם:


In plain English if you didn’t chap the medrish: Bilam, through magic and sorcery, had the kings and himself flying- and you’ve spent hundreds on novels?! This is heylige medrish.  Black Magic?  Weed?  Special Munn?  Let’s learn.
In yet another version of the flying Bilam story, Targum Yoinoson tells us that not just was Bilam flying, but Pinchas too was airborne. How was he able to fly? Says the Targum: By utilizing a Divine Name.  Isn’t this better than Harry Potter?  Much!  And let’s learn two more pisukim, we’re flying with Toirah.



ז וַיִּצְבְּאוּ, עַל-מִדְיָן, כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה, אֶת-מֹשֶׁה; וַיַּהַרְגוּ, כָּל-זָכָר. 7 And they warred against Midian, as the RBSO commanded Moishe; and they slew every male.
ח וְאֶת-מַלְכֵי מִדְיָן הָרְגוּ עַל-חַלְלֵיהֶם, אֶת-אֱוִי וְאֶת-רֶקֶם וְאֶת-צוּר וְאֶת-חוּר וְאֶת-רֶבַע–חֲמֵשֶׁת, מַלְכֵי מִדְיָן; וְאֵת בִּלְעָם בֶּן-בְּעוֹר, הָרְגוּ בֶּחָרֶב. 8 And they slew the kings of Midian with the rest of their slain: Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian; Bilam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.


Says Targum Younoson (loosely translated because the Oisvorfer cannot make out every single word) azoy: And the kings of the Midianites they killed on their camps – Evi, Rekem, Tzur – he is Balak, Chur, and Reva, the five kings of Midian. And Bilam son of Beor they slew with a sword.

And it was, when Bilam the guilty saw Pinchas the priest running after him, he performed a magical feat and flew in the air in the sky. Immediately, Pinchas pronounced the Great and Holy Name and flew after him, and grabbed him by the head and brought him down and was about to slay him. He (Bilam) opened his mouth with words of supplication and said to Pinchas: If you let me live, I swear to you that as long as I live I will not curse your nation.

Pinchas responded: Are you not Lovon Ho-a-rami (the Aramean) who wished to destroy our forefather Yankiff? And you descended to Mitzrayim (Egypt) to destroy the descendants. And after they left Egypt you incited against them (the BNY) with the wicked Amolake. And then you hired yourself out to curse them. And when you saw that your actions did not help and that the RBSO did not accept your words, you counseled an evil plan to Bolok to place his daughter at the crossroads to lead them astray, and because of this 24,000 of them died. Because of this, it is not possible anymore to spare your life- you’re done! Immediately, he drew his sword from its sheath and slew him.

Who knew that flashing the tits, I mean the Tzitz had such power?  Was Bilam efsher the inspiration for Harry Potter? Was superman inspired by the Medrish? The Flying  Nun efsher? Did this really happen or is the Medrish out to make a point. Ver veyst?  Avada now you want to hear more about the magic Tzitz- here goes.

The magic Tzitz did even more: Said Rav Chana bar Bizna in the name of Rabbi Shimon the Pious: The Midianite women were passed before the Tzitz. Any woman whose face turned sickly was determined to be fit for cohabitation; any woman whose face did not turn sickly was determined to be too young for cohabitation. Said Rav Nachman:  A symptom of sin, is hydrokan (a bloating of the stomach). Rashi states that this was a miracle, no kidding.

Later on, the heylige Gemorah (Yevamois 60b) asks regarding the women of Yaveish-Gilad (the war to conquer Gilad): Why didn’t they pass the women (to determine if they cohabited with a man or not) before the Tzitz? The Acharoinim (later Sages) discuss several questions:

1) How would they be permitted to rely on a miracle?

2) How did they know that the Tzitz could ascertain if the women cohabited or not; perhaps it could only determine if the women were fit for cohabitation?

3) Why would the Midianite women turn sickly if they were only fit for cohabitation, but hadn’t actually done the act yet?


Excellent kashes (questions,) so let’s go a shtikel tifer (deeper) and see what the gemora is up to.  The BNY had been tempted to sin by the Midianite (or Moabite) women, and avada the RBSO punished them for this behavior. Subsequently, the BNY, led by General Pinchas, waged war against the Midianites and captured many captives. And as we learned just above, they were going to spare the women. Ober (but) we also learned back on Page 1 that this particular war was one of retribution for the sin, and leaving the women alive was not showing sufficient distancing from the previous sin. Therefore, Moishe commanded them to kill some more; all the women who had “known” a man.

Explains the heylige gemorah azoy- that the command was not just to slay those women who had actually had intercourse mamish,  but also to kill anyone that was “fit for intercourse.” How does one get ‘fit’ for intercourse? Says the gemora:  it’s a technical term within halocho (Jewish law) that intercourse at a specific age is considered intercourse, whereas at an earlier age the act is not called intercourse. .Avada, this is no excuse for any of you chazerrim to get involved with younger meydlich claiming an age exemption. And what is that age? Says the gemorah:  three years old and a one day. Shreklich (OMG)!!  And scary too!

Lest you be nicshoil (fall prey chas v’sholom), let me stress that the heylige gemorah is not recommending, or saying that it’s a good thing to have intercourse with a 3 year old girl.  Rather, it is giving a technical definition of when an act is considered an act.  Is it a wonder that they don’t encourage girls to learn gemorah?


The Toirah is great!


A gitten shabbis-

Yitz Grossman

The Oisvorfer

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