The calendar tells us that we will be reading Parshas Mishpotim this coming Shabbis which is mamish action packed and full of mitzvois. It’s also parshas shekolim, shabbis mevorchim and, listen to this: it’s the aurfruf of Sam Schertz whom we have known kimat since birth. Ah hartzigen (hearty ) mazel tov to our good friends Bonnie and Heshie Schertz whose son Sam will be getting married on Sunday to Dani Salig. This coming shabbis we will be joining the Schertz’s bubby Gloria, the Millers and the kallah’s family as they celebrate Sam’s aufruf: may they enjoy many happy years together.
Last week: the RBSO Himself spoke to and married the Yiddin ober not before He lifted the entire Har Sinai over their heads and proposed azoy: “Will you accept My heylige Toirah?” If yes, all is good and consider us married ober if not, it’s over and you’re done, kaput! Nu, after such a romantic proposal, who could say no, and The Yiddin with one voice and without asking any questions responded and declared “kol asher diber Hashem na’aseh” (all that the RBSO says we will do). Shoin: love at first sight, no questions asked, no details provided. As the Oisvorfer has pointed out in the past, that utterance and one more in this week’s parsha, are the only two times in our glorious history that the Yiddin agreed on something without a machloikes (argument). This was efsher one of the greatest miracles ever, efsher as big as kriyas Yam Suf (splitting of the sea), maybe bigger. The RBSO immediately chapped what He was dealing with and only gave the Yiddin, amidst a thunder and light show, a total of 10 commandments; at least one of which would be broken in very short order, ober halt zicheyn (patience please), we’ll get to that story in a few more weeks. Following the ceremony, Moishe went up to the summit of the mountain, collected the sapphire luchois (tablets) upon which the Aseres Hadibrois were engraved by the RBSO Himself. He told the people that he would return in 40 days ober the Yiddin, not yet well versed in simple math, made a gross miscalculation, and it was all downhill from there. Shoin: so much for the honeymoon. Sadly, this wasn’t the first time they grossly miscalculated and says the Medrish that most of sheyvet Ephraim (Tribe) was wiped out when, due to another mathematical error, they left Mitzrayim too early and met a harsh death.
And says the medrish: the RBSO initially offered the Toirah to each of the 70 nations, but none answered in the affirmative. After hearing the various commandments, each nation had some excuse or another for not accepting. Lemoshol (by way of example), the RBSO offered it to the Ishmaelites, but they declined because of its prohibition of genayvo- (theft). Seemingly, their trading practices required it. Some say he offered it to the kollel people in Lakewood and Williamsburg and myriad other Yeshivas, but they too declined because the Toirah states that ‘for six days you shall work……’, ok- an oldie but still good for a chuckle. Left alone without a marriage partner, the RBSO finally turned to the Yiddin who said “kol asher diber Hashem na’aseh” (all that the RBSO says we will do). Nu, our ancestors were taka a shtikel hasty by chapping (the Toirah), seemingly a trait passed down to future generations, if you chap, ober it is what it is and we need to make the most of it. And not to worry because what you need to get into that farshtuppete kup (stuffed head) of yours is that in this week’s pasha, besides laying down the law on numerous civil and criminal matters, the RBSO had, as He does always, a master plan. This plan like others found in previous parshas, was to create new industries mamish and jobs for His chosen people. Soon you too will become enlightened and understand why the RBSO is so magnificent and all that He does is for our good.
Parshas Mishpotim is hard core (with mitzvois you chazir). According to the Sefer HaChinuch (Book of Mitzvah Education), there are a total of 53 mitzvois listed in this parsha, the great majority of them falling under the heading of what we would call, “civil and criminal law.” 30 are of the loisah-say variety (Thou shall not do), the type that most of you violate daily, Rachmono litzlon (heaven forbid) and oy vey. Nu, if there are laws that state ‘thou shalt not do’, avada you can imagine that people will do the opposite and break every law. What to do?
Shoin, in this week’s heylige parsha, the RBSO laid the foundation for law schools, judges, torts, the entire court system and more, while at the same time creating professions for thousands of Yiddin ad hayoim hazeh (until today). How many times has the Oisvorfer told you to be thankful to the RBSO for giving us the heylige Toirah? Have you ever received another gift, from anyone or anywhere that keeps on giving? In kimat every parsha and especially as the remainder of the 613 mitzvois are delineated, there are employment and business opportunities galore for those who read and chap each mitzvah and its nuances. What could be better? Toirah is taka the best-e schoira! Gishmak!
Included in this smorgasbord of civil laws are those relating to the Jewish servant (some refer to this person by his other name: husband) and his freedom; penalties for causing bodily injury to another person and for damaging his property; laws regarding watchmen and borrowers; the mitzvah to show sensitivity to poor people and to offer them free loans, and laws relating to the honest dispensation of justice. The source for efsher the biggest industry ever created by the RBSO to keep many thousands gainfully employed –kosher food- is also found in this week’s parsha with but a five word posik (verse) which we will cover, ober not today. The heylige shabbis is mentioned along with Shmita (the seventh year when the land in Israel must be left to rest). The Sholosh Regolim (three festivals) also get some brief mention as does the RBSO’s renewed promise to bring the Yiddin to the land of Israel. The Yiddin declare Naaseh V’nishma (we shall do and then listen), a shorter version of their previous declaration ober efsher a catchier phrase, and the parsha concludes with Moishe’s ascending the mountain, where he will remain for forty days and forty nights to receive the rest of the heylige Toirah.
And to make you look good at the shabbis tish, here’s a givaldige yet short insight. In Perek chuf daled possik zayin ((chapter 24 verse 7), is where we hear the Yiddin proclaim Na’aseh V’nishma. Said a good chaver azoy: the fact that this phrase is located at 24/7 is more than a coincidence: Yiddin must keep the heylige Toirah 24/7. Gishmak!
Es-farshteyt-zich (it’s understood) that we would need dozens and dozens of pages to cover, even in summary form, all 53 mitzovis found in the parsha. Do you have the time or patience or would you rather chap areyn some time on the treife internet surfing for ver veyst vus (who knows what)? And speaking of the interent , soon the Oisvorfer will blow you away (not like the rebbe had in mind, if you chap) with a timely discussion on the internet.
Interestingly, Parshas Mishpotim appears to interrupt the flow of the narrative of the Yiddin’s development as a nation. Beginning with with parshas Shemois, we read about Yiddin’s extraordinary journey from downtrodden slaves to an uplifted nation during which time they rose from the depths of Tuma where they enjoyed quite the lifestyle, to the 49th and then 50th level of holiness, all avada with the guidance of the RBSO. Every parsha was riveting and exciting and also full of a givaldige narrative that at times gave the reader chills, mamish. Ober comes Mishpotim, the marriage being consummated, it was time for real life to begin and Mishpotim delves into the intricacies of daily life; getting along with people in day to day dealings and other such needs in order to maintain society. Next week, we’ll explore the origins of the gantze fashion industry and much more. Veyter.
Though you may be a shtikel hard pressed to find the connection from last week’s parsha of Yisroy to this week’s of Mishpotim ober the emes is that Mishpotim is really a continuation of last week’s parsha. Last week was the wedding ceremony and but an introduction to the heylige Toirah ober this week, it’s real life –post honeymoon- and time for the nitty gritty of the relationship between the RBSO and the Yiddin and themselves. And while not as glamorous as Yisroy and few theatrics, Mishpotim contain the laws which keep entire industries moving: Lawyers, judges, courts and even Rabbis are busy daily dealing with many of the mitzvois found in this week’s parsha and violated daily. Ok, efsher your behaymo didn’t gore your neighbor, did you?
Efsher you’re wondering why Mishpotim begins with the laws of a Jewish slave, are you? Taka an excellent question and taka shver to chap which Jew would want to become a slave again after suffering for 210 years? Ver veyst? Seemingly, there were Yiddin who were sold into slavery to pay off their debts and efsher taka, this form of slavery and concept would motivate people in our times to repay their debts; seemingly nothing else does! Or, efsher they enjoyed the fringe benefits the Toirah lays out for them, ver veyst?
Efsher you’re wondering why the Toirah had to mention laws about the seduction of a 12 year old girl, who were these people- chasidishe guidance counselors efsher- ver veyst? Ober says the heylige Toirah: (Shemois 2:15/16); If a man was to seduce a girl below the age of 12 and a half years, if she refuses to marry him, he should pay a penalty to the girl’s father along with monetary damage and a fine for the embarrassment he may have caused her. Want more information? Check out the heylige Gemora (Kesuvois 39b).
And efsher you’re wondering why the Toirah (Shemois 22:17/19) saw fit to mention punishments for committing witchcraft, bestiality and sacrifices to idols. Seemingly, all three of the above transgressions are viewed as an abomination towards the RBSO. Moreover, it appears that the Mitzrim and the Canaanites were very much steeped into these abominations. The Mitzrim were famous for their black magic and witchcraft. Avada you recall how their magic-makers were able to change the blood back to water and sticks into snakes (Shemois 7:22). In Canaan, bestiality was seemingly prevalent and the heylige Toirah tells us that it was this sort of chazerish behavior that motivated the RBSO to disgorge them from the land of Israel. Even a few of our Jewish Kings were severely guilty of worshiping idols, including, Menashe, Achav and Yeravim Ben Nabot (Sefer Melachim), oy vey. Apparently the heylige Toirah knew that laws of this nature needed to be laid down.
And efsher you’re wondering why the Toirah relates a husband’s obligations to his eishes chayil (Shemois 21:10). Nu, that’s one ah-say that needs some rectification, oisvorfs that you are which avada we’ll discuss one day soon.
This week is also the last week of Shovivim. Efsher you’re thinking….what the hec is Shovivim? Nu, let the Oisvorfer teach you epes something they mistama never taught you in yeshiva. As Parshas Mishpotim, approaches Shovivim will be coming to an end. Nu, zug shoin (tell me already), what is Shovivim? And since we’re facing a deadline, let’s skip over the 53 mitzvois that we will find in Parshas Mishpotim this week and which include many civil and criminal laws and let’s focus on what you oisvorfs can do during these last days of shovivim to cleanse yourselves from your chazerish behavior. What’s included in these transgressions? And how does one taka cleanse himself form such chazerish behavior? Nu, lommer lernin what others have to say.
Shovivim is a season in the Jewish calendar which begins with Parshas Shemois and ends this year with Parshas Mishpotim and according to the kabbalists and who knew more or better, these weeks are an auspicious time to repent for sins. Not just any sins, but these weeks are designated for the repentance of a specific category: sexually related transgressions. What kind? Halt zich eyn (keep your pants on). And it wouldn’t be a giferliche idea for you to keep on reading, if you chap(ed). Lommer unfangin (let’s begin).
The term Shovivim is an acronym of the beginning letters of the six consecutive Parshas beginning with Shemois. Since most of you never heard of Shovivim, let’s do it noch a mol (one more time): The word Shovivim which using the Hebrew alphabet (Shin, Vov, Bet, Bet, Yud, Mem), is an acrostic for the names of the parshas we read during this period, and since you already forgot, let the Oisvorfer remind you:
- Shin – Shemois
- Vov – Vo’eira
- Bet – Boi
- Bet – Beshalach
- Yud – Yisroy
- Mem – Mishpotim
Veyter: Moreover, when the Hebrew calendar gives us a second month of Adar (leap year), Shovivim is extended and also includes two additional parshas: ParshasTeruma and Tezaveh are included and the acronym Shovivim gets a second name and is called ‘shovimim t’t.’ Veyter.The Shovivim are discussed in numerous places. R’ Yosef Karo, author of the Shulchan Aruch, discusses it at great length in his work, Magid Meisharim.
Vos epes these particular parshas and is there mamish a connection from these parshas to sexual impropriety of any sort? Nu, some say that these weeks parallel our Exodus from Mitzrayim (Egypt), from both our physical and cultural bondages to the immoral ways of the Mitzrim, those minuvils, whose culture was highlighted by the pursuit of idol worship and the sexual licentiousness which accompanied it. Avada you recall learning that the Yiddin had sunk to the 49th level of impurity and needed to be cleansed and elevated all the way back to the 49th level of purity and taka reached the 50th with the giving of the Toirah. Efsher now you can chap why some 4/5ths of the Yiddin weren’t overly excited to leave and had to be eliminated before the redemption, ver veyst. Sexual immorality was the mainstay of Egyptian culture: men hooked up and married men, lesbians were in abundance, and one woman took two husbands (Rambam, Laws of Illicit Sexual Relations, 21:8). This licentious behavior is what the Toirah (Vayikra, 18:3) means when it tells us: “Do not conduct yourselves after the doings of the land of Egypt”. And this is the moral, physical, and spiritual pollution that we are to purify ourselves from during the weeks of Shovivim, both men and women alike: especially you!
Moreover, twice each day, in the paragraph of the Shema dealing with tzitziz, we say that Hashem took us out of Egypt to sanctify us, with special emphasis on our hearts and eyes: “Thou shall not follow after your heart and your eyes which lead you astray.” After your heart, is referring to thoughts of sexual licentiousness. After your eyes refers to seeing forbidden images. For these things impair a person’s holiness and go against the goal of our leaving Egypt – to become a holy nation dedicated to serving the RBSO.
Says the Arizal (Shaar HaYichudim, 4:3) azoy: this period is especially conducive to rectifying sexual transgressions. And says Rav Avraham Yitzchok Kook (Orot HaKoidesh, part 3, pg. 296): in a future time the world will admire Israel’s quest for sexual purity as highlighted by the special fasts and prayers of Shovivim.
Though many of you thought that sexual impropriety is typically atoned for on Yom Kippur, the aseres yimay tshuva and of course at any other opportune time, ez-vyst-zich-ois (seemingly), these weeks, which this year come to a quick end this coming Shabbis, are especially auspicious for chapping areyn some quick tshuva (repentance) ahead of yom Kippur, for the chapping you may have done or other sexually improprieties you may have committed with your member. Is that emes? So say our great rabbis and kabbalists who chapped that many many must be guilty of at least some sexual impropriety and designated these weeks for cleansing. Nu, is it a wonder we call these rabbis of yore –our chachomim-? Seemingly, they were taka geniuses. Moreover says the Zoihar(Shemois, 3b) azoy: the usual modes of repentance that we attempt each year with the usual tools which include Kaporois (waiving the chicken over our heads), charity and elevated davening, coup[led with a healthy dose of remorse, do not suffice for transgressions which bring about the wasting of semen, and this particular transgression can only be rectified by a “great and constant penitence” Thus, Kabbalists formulated special prayers and rectifications (tikunim) for the Shovovim period.
Nu, some modern day Kabbalists suggest that sexual transgressions include the watching of pornography on the internet, which causes great damage to the Jewish soul, and brings terrible sufferings on the person and his loved ones through the harmful spiritual forces that a person creates and unleashes into his home through his transgressions of the Toirah commandments involved in looking at forbidden images. And in plain English what they mean is that watching porn could lead to spillage livatolo and semen may not be spilled in vain.
Our Sages teach that the spilling of semen in vain is a very grave transgression, punishable by death at the Hands of Heaven, before one’s allotted time, Rachmono litzlon (heaven forbid). As proof they mention the cases of Er and Oinan (Bereshis, 38:6-10) who spilled seed levatolo (in vain) and taka died early leaving Tamar, the daughter in-law of Yehuda, bereft and single. Spilling of semen in vain can come about, not only through unholy practices, unscrupulous Internet viewing and nocturnal emissions during dreams, but also during marital relations, either before or after the marital union, yikes. Nu, avada you’re not surprised to hear that this can happen to a married man ober to single bochurim, oy vey! Anyway, say the rabbis that married couples must also take care to conduct matters in holiness. Needless to say, other blatant sexual transgressions such as pre-marital relations, relations with goyim , adultery, homosexuality, the use of a gumi (prophylactics) and other such devices could all avada bring about the spilling of semen in vain.
Moreover, the Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe in his seminal work – pun intended-(HalichosChaim ”Holidays and Seasons,” Shovavim) azoy: even married men and Toirah scholars must make a concerted effort to repent during Shovovim . He gave passionate sermons as Shovovim approached, claiming that wholehearted repentance is more important during Shovovim than during the High Holidays. He exhorted followers to let their broken hearts give way to the joy of deliverance, and not succumb to depression and despair.
What’s taka wrong with spilling seed? Say the heylige ba’lay hakabolo and others azoy: Because semen contains living souls, when a person willfully transgresses, or errs accidentally in whatever manner, these holy souls are lost and compelled to wander painfully in an impure netherworld, unless they are rectified through the sincere t’shuva of the person who sinned. And the best time for this repentance, to rescue these spiritual souls from bondage, is the period of “Shovavim.” Ready for more?
Because this matter was taka so serious, it needed to be taken in hand, if you chap, and the Arizal (holy Kabbalist), prescribed 84 fasts for each transgression of spilling seed in vain. In our days, during Shovovim, guilty Yiddin gather on Thursdays in shuls throughout Israel to recite special prayers, called “TikunYesoid” to cleanse the deep blemishes caused by sexual transgression, otherwise known as transgressions to the Bris (penis).
The TikunHaYesoid prayers and accompanying repentance are in lieu of the 84 fasts that are brought down as remedies for unnecessary spills. Sounds easy enough. Rabbi Yaakov Emden discusses different types of fasts in his scholarly prayer book, “Beis Yaakov” (pp. 370-1). Since fasting impedes the body’s production of blood, it is like a sin-offering. And says R’ Schneur Zalman of Liadi, (Igeres HaKoidesh 3): Those who are unable to fast, either because of health, or because it impedes Toirah study, should give tzedoka (charity) instead, along with heartfelt repentance and confession.
Alternatively, one could elect to jump into the Ari’s mikveh over on Tzfas where due to the extremely cold water temperature, one would physically be challenged form such spillages, if you chap and quickly forget any such thoughts (Oisvorfer pshat).
A gitten shabbis-
The Oisvorfer Ruv