This week’s parsha review is dedicated to the memory of the Oisvorfer’s father- Reb Yaakov ben Reb Chaim Yitzchok Halevi whose 11th yurtzeit will be marked this coming shabbis. He, unlike his son the Oisvorfer, spent nearly every available minute of his life learning the heylige Toirah and Gemora.
Last week the Oisvorfer shared the news that the gantze mishpocho, including the shver and shviggermeister, will be spending Pesach at the El Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico –check it out here www.legendarydestinations.com
You can still call David at 212-791-9750 and mention the Oisvorfer. His promise to not raise your rates is good for another few weeks. The discount however, is only good for a few more days. This is no joke.
Raboyseyee and Ladies:
Law and Order
Last week the Yiddin got married to the RBSO in a big ceremony which took place on and under Har Sinai (Mt Sinai). This scene was on the Oisvorfer’s mind earlier this week when, for the first time, he and the eishes chayil visited the Grand Canyon, truly one of the wonders of the world. Ober as the Oisvorfer was walking along the skywalk and had a chance to look down at the 4,000 foot drop into the canyon, the image of that shotgun wedding – metaphorically speaking avada- flashed before his eyes. Efsher you recall the famous medrish as quoted by Rashi, which told us that the RBSO lifted the entire mountain over the heads of the Yiddin and politely asked the Yiddin for their collective hands in marriage. Interestingly enough, Las Vegas, another stop along the way, features hundreds of shotgun weddings weekly.
Of course you all remember learning that the other umois-ho’oilom (the goyim) all rejected the heylige Toirah for various reasons; only the Yiddin were to utter the now famous words of Na’aseh V’nishma (we shall do and then we shall listen) and enter into the union whereby we became His chosen people. Shoin, here we are over 3,300 years later. Of course, like in most marriages, not all the years have been pleasant ober, somehow we’re still married.
And taka, last week, in Parshas Yisroy, the Yiddin hastily, and before knowing many details, proclaimed with one voice – na’aseh v’nishma- we will do and we will listen. That was perhaps the first and last time the Yiddin proclaimed anything in one voice, even two. And ever since, there has been lots of doing, especially the wrong things, and precious little listening. Another pshat (from the heylige Oisvorfer): lots of doing and then listening to find out that what was done, was taka all wrong, as we will sadly learn in the upcoming parshas. Ober for good and for bad, we are the Yiddin; seemingly the RBSO has had and continues to have epes a shtikel love/hate relationship with us. Still, with that declaration, they received, at long last, the Aseres Hadibrois (Ten Commandments); now what? And is that really what happened? And when did the Yiddin actually declare “Na’aseh V’nishma”? We will maybe cover that shortly ober ershtens….
One week ago, the Yiddin were witness to fire and brimstone: the earth shook, a mountain was over their heads and the RBSO came down and personally delivered the Aseres Hadibrois (Ten Commandments). Also featured prominently last week was Yisroy who told his-son-in-law Moishe to appoint judges to help the Yiddin adjudicate issues and disputes they were having. What issues were they having, ver veyst? Why was Moishe standing all day and adjudicating issues between the Yiddin? What were they fighting about in the midbar? Was there a disagreement about who should be the president of the shul? Was the VP not happy? Or, were they arguing over the hiring, or not, of an assistant rabbi, or whom to honor at the dinner? Were they discussing a breakaway minyan just down the desert road? Was there a shul in the midbar? In any event, Yisroy suggested that Moishe would tire from standing in judgment all day. Moishe listened and according to many, it was for that reason- the sage advice Yisroy gave- that a Parsha was named after him.
Shoin, like most marriages just after sheva brochos -one week later- reality was about to set in. It does in our parsha when Moishe will teach the Yiddin a whopping number of mitzvois of every variety. Says the Sefer HaChinuch (Book of Mitzvah Education): Mishpotim contains a total of 53 mitzvois, the great majority of them falling under the heading of what we would call, “civil and criminal law.” Moreover, 30 of 53 are of the loi-sah-say (Thou shall not do) variety, the type that most of you struggle with daily, if you chap. You are sadly not alone.
Says the Medrish: Last week’s dramatic revelation by the RBSO to the Yiddin at Har Sinai was so powerful and spiritual that all who were there and, even those who weren’t, literally had an out-of-body experience. Avada it’s easier for those who weren’t born yet, to have such an experience, ver veyst, and maybe we were taka all there. The Yiddin were still awed by the powerful presentation of Matan Toirah earlier in the morning. Hours earlier, they learned the importance of mitzvois that show love for the RBSO –Bain Adam L’Makom (between man and the RBSO). As evening set in, the RBSO taught Moishe some important new laws to keep order. These, the Mishpotim (laws) are meant to help the Yiddin love one another and get along. Shoin: that plan didn’t work out too well, hence the need for the myriad laws taught this week. Nothing is perfect.
Mishpotim sets forth the laws which gave birth to and keep, ad hayoi hazeh (uintil today), entire industries booming. The mitzvois in this week’s parsha gave us the need for lawyers, judges, courts and even Rabbis. They are all busy daily dealing with and interpreting the mitzvois found in this week’s parsha and violated daily. Last week we appointed judges, and this week, Moishe calls for litigants, defendants, lawyers and witnesses. This parsha has it all: fines, penalties, capital punishment and its details, property damages, torts, regulations for debtors and creditors; di gantze (the entire) law school syllabus in one Parsha. Is the heylige Toirah great or what? The RBSO, in His magnificence, understood that if He gave us laws, we’d break them and that if He told us the do’s and don’ts, people wouldn’t get it right and would eventually end up in machloikes (disputes). And, as always, He was correct. In fact, Mishpotim, is the inspiration for as many as six Mesechtos (Tractates – you idiots) of the heylige Gemora. Speaking of which, the Oisvorfer has always wondered why the Yeshivas spend so much time teaching the Bubas: Buba Metzia, Buba Basra and Buba Kamma, all deeply rooted in this week’s Parsha and which, for the most part, almost always put the young energetic hormone engorged bochurim to sleep. Who cares what happens when two people find a shmatta and grab onto it at the same time? Have you ever witnessed two guys fighting over a t-shirt or peris-mifuzrrin (fruits strewn about)? Avada nisht! Have you ever fallen into a hole or pit, if you chap, that you didn’t want to be in? Shoin, don’t answer that! And who cares about an ox goring the neighbor’s ox? High School bochurim (teens) care about one thing: girls! And mistama were the Yeshiva world to teach Seder Noshim (all about Women), instead of esoteric subject matters that are long gone and forgotten, these same bochurim would be alert and excited to learn the heylige Gemora and would mistama never miss class or mishmar for that matter. And ver veyst, efsher they wouldn’t need that year or more in Israel as the boys would be shtark (hard), if you chap, learners. Moreover they’d be prepared for the real world. On the other hand: efsher your behaymo didn’t gore your neighbor, but did you, chazir that you are.
This week Moishe sets down laws covering manslaughter and murder, kidnapping and stealing, injuring or cursing a parent, personal injury or damages, and killing or injuring slaves. We are taught laws concerning animals, damage by grazing or by fire, the laws of custodians, and money lending. Lemoshol (by way of example), we are taught that Yiddin may not charge interest on loans given and avada you know how well that worked out throughout Jewish history. And even today, when was the last time you took an interest free loan from a chaver? When? Never! Avada the heylige Toirah does specifically state the word ‘loan’ – zicher meaning- that it’s due to be repaid. A nechtiger tug! Unfortunately many Yiddin have forgotten that word and when they take loans, they’re nebech almost always sadly not paid back. Many prefer the minhag (custom) over the rule. The custom being not to repay loans. Other laws include those dealing with a man who seduces a woman, chas v’sholom- say it’s not so, occult practices, and idolatry. We are commanded not to oppress widows and orphans and are obligated to lend money to the poor. We must accept the authority of the judges, bring the first of our produce and animals to the RBSO and not pervert the system of justice. We are instructed to return lost objects and help unload an animal that is unable to carry its burden.
We are also given the laws of Sh’mita, when we let the land lie fallow every seventh year. We are instructed not to oppress converts (though we’re not overly excited when they want to marry our daughters), and are told the laws of the heylige shabbis and the three agricultural festivals. Understanding his people, the RBSO warns them of the dangers and temptations they will face once they enter the land. Avada He knew of these temptations after witnessing their behavior in Mitzrayim and the midbar over a 40 year span. Nu, let’s not jump ahead.
Says the heylige Toirah: “And these are the ordinances (mishpotim) that you [Moishe] should place before them [the Yiddin]…”Efsher you’re wondering why we still learn Mishpotim. Does this parsha still apply in real life and in our times? Do you have an ox? Do you gore people? Ok, skip that one. Do we, unless willing to pay top dollar for an hour of role play, have slaves, if you chap? Nu, never mind you disgusting minuvil chazir, let’s move on.
Ober speaking of slavery, mistama you’re surprised to hear that some Yiddin would ever consider becoming slaves again: weren’t they just recently freed after 210 years? Which idiot would want to become a slave again? Taka an excellent kasha (question), ober raboyseyee- if the RBSO mentioned it- mistama He had reason. Mistama He understood that certain Yiddin enjoy slavery (think marriage). In any event if you’ll take a few minutes out of your talking routine during laining and read the parsha, you’ll quickly understand that slavery wasn’t that giferlich (terrible). The master had to treat his slaves with dignity, share his food, and at times could also provide him with an extra wife or two. What’s so terrible about shelter, food and sex? Many of you pay a small fortune regularly for but one of those items, if you chap.
Seemingly, slavery was socially tolerated – but it was to be practiced in a humane and orderly manner. If a Jewish male was sold into slavery as restitution for genayvo (theft), he was to be freed after no more than six years of servitude. If he got married during his servitude, his master was required to support his wife and children. On the other hand, if the master gave the slave a wife during his servitude, she and the children would remain with the master after he was freed (unless the man decided to remain with them, in which case he would make a solemn declaration before a beis din (assemblage of Jewish judges) and have his ear bored with an awl to indicate that he is now part of the master’s clan. All this avada sounds logical, no?
If a Jewish girl was sold into slavery by her father, she was not automatically freed after six years of servitude but must be redeemed from her master (our sages tell us that a father could sell his daughter until she reached 12 years of age, but only if it was for her benefit, i.e., with the intent that she was to be married to her master (or the master’s son). If she displeased her master, she could not be resold to a foreigner, but must be redeemed (purchased back) by her own relatives. If she was married to the master (or his son), then she was to be treated as a freeborn Jewish woman, with all of the same rights attending to that role in Jewish society. Are you dizzy yet? Seemingly, these laws were too complicated and the Yiddin did away with slavery altogether. Moreover, which man wanted a second wife when he could easily enjoy the benefits of a Pilegesh (concubine), seemingly still legal and kosher at that time?
If a master struck and killed his non-Jewish slave, he was to be punished by the beis din. However, if the slave died several days after the beating, he was not found liable, because it was assumed that he did not intend to actually kill the slave. On the other hand, if the slave was permanently injured by the beating, he was to be set free. Let’s review that: if the baal habus beat the crap out of the slave but the slave did not die and did not have permanent injuries- he got off scot free. Nu, that’s what I call civility!
As we get deeper into Sefer Shmois, we’re seemingly done with reading all about our beautiful heritage, about Noiach and his mishpocho, Loit and his daughters, the heylige Ovois and their foibles, the more or less than admirable and heylige shvotim and their mischief and other inspirational stories from which the Yiddin as a nation were forged. Don’t you miss them? It’s time for nation building, law and order, and avada many stories to come, about the breakdown of societal behavior on many an occasion.
Efsher you’re klerring (pondering) as to when were these laws given? Concurrent with the heylige Toirah (just last week), or, efsher this week in our parsha? Or, efsher even before? Before what? Is it possible that there were mishpotim (laws) before the Yiddin received the heylige Toirah? Nu, let’s see. Says Rashi azoy: the heylige Toirah does indeed want to highlight the continuity between this parsha and last. What’s pshat? The first letter of the parsha, the letter vov, in the words “Ve’eileh-ha’mishpotim”, explains the connection between the two parshiyos. Just as the Ten Commandments were said at Har Sinai, so too were the Mishpotim said at Har Sinai. According to this view, both the Commandments (last week) and the ordinances we will learn this week, were given for the first time, at the same time and place. In other words: they were delivered mamish that same day, either directly from the RBSO, or through Moishe. Mishpotim is mamish the continuation of last week’s parsha. Last week, the introduction to the heylige Toirah, and this week, the post honeymoon details.
And when did the Yiddin first state ‘na’seh-vi’nishma with such confidence? Nu, taka most of us would probably answer that they declared these two words, just prior to having received the Aseres Hadibrois, and taka, so says Rashi, who knew more? Ober (however), many other commentators including the Ramban disagree. The emes is that the heylige Toirah records three separate biblical verses of the Yiddin’s acceptance of the Toirah’s obligations ober the emes (truth) is that only the last, contains the now-famous phrase “na’aseh-v’nishma.” Let’s take a look.
When Moishe Rabaynu first climbed up Har Sinai, the RBSO commands him to tell the people that if they accept the covenant, He will make them a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Shmois 19:6). Upon hearing these words, the people responded, “All that the RBSO has said, we will do” (19:8). Later in the text, after Moishe relates specific divine rules to the people, they again say, “All of the things that the RBSO has said, we will do” (24:3). Finally, a few pisukim later (24:7), after Moishe writes and reads aloud the words of the heylige Toirah, the people utter the phrase “na’aseh-v’nishma,” (We will do and we will hear”). What’s pshat? When did they actually say these words? Nu, through rabbinic tradition, we are taught that the words na’aseh-v’nishma, finally uttered in this week’s parsha, are merely a correction of the earlier promises simply to “do” what the RBSO has commanded. Gishmak mamish.
By suggesting that “na’aseh-v’nishma” was said prior to Matan Toirah (acceptance), the rabbis solve a problem created by their own biblical interpretation. Just last week we learned that at the moment of revelation, “[the people] stood underneath the mountain.” According to the traditional interpretation of this strange biblical locution, the RBSO uprooted the mountain and held it over the people, saying, “If you accept the Toirah, fine; if not, here shall be your grave” (Avoidah Zoroh 2b). The implication seems to be that the Yiddin accepted the Toirah only through coercion. What’s pshat? How does this coercion reconcile with na’aseh-v’nishma? Are you chapping the question? How was it possible for the Yiddin to have both accepted willingly when they uttered ‘we shall do’ and at the same time, have been coerced to such acceptance? Nu, avada the heylige Gemora has answers for everything and this potential conflict is eliminated by insisting that the Yiddin declared “na’aseh-v’nishma” even before the revelation. And further emphasizing the voluntary nature of their submission to the RBSO and His Toirah, we are taught that the Yiddin reconfirmed their acceptance of the Toirah again at the time of Purim.
Says the medrish (Mechilta d’ Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai 24:7) azoy: And the Yiddin said, “all that the RBSO has said we will do and we will hear,” – in other words- they prioritized doing. Said Moishe to the Yiddin: Is doing possible without understanding? Understanding brings one to doing. To which they answered: ‘We will do and we will understand,’ [meaning] ‘we will do what we understand.’ This teaches that the people said ‘na’aseh-v’nishma’ before receiving the Toirah”.
Said Rabbi Elozor: When the Yiddin gave precedence to “na’aseh” – we will do over “nishmah” –we will listen/understand, a Bas Koil (heavenly voice) went forth and exclaimed to them, ‘Who revealed to My children this secret which is employed by the Ministering Angels?’ Rashi (Breishis 37:27). -The Gemora is implying that Yiddin, at some level, assume some of the virtuosity of the angels, who are capable of such brilliant power of action. Nu, mistama the last time the Yiddin as a whole behaved like malochim.
Finally, you are reminded that as we read parshas Mishpotim, we have approached the last of the Shoivvim parshas. Though you likely forgot, just a few weeks back we reviewed the origins of Shoivvim and what they possibly represent. In other words: this is your last chance to do tshuva (repent) for your wayward ways in certain areas. Which areas? Said the Shelah HaKoidesh azoy: this period is a time of intensified tshuva for the Yiddin, as our earlier and later Sages have written. The hardships which we suffered in Mitzrayim came to cleanse us in the purifying furnace of the exile. So too today, during the Shoivvim period, we strive for a greater purity from the transgressions which have blemished our souls. And which blemishes might those be? Said the Arizal: this period comes to purify us particularly from sexual transgressions, known as blemishes to the Bris (misuse of the penis) and any hardships, if you chap, it caused. Of course it also includes any hardship that ensued.
A gittin shabbis-
The Oisvorfer Ruv