Mazel tov to Leora and Josh Rosenwald upon the birth last Friday night of a baby daughter. Welcome to the world Ella Rosenwald. And big mazel tov wishes to first time grandparents and long time trusted friends, Lemor and Murry Englard and to their extended family. Mazel tov as well to Josh’s parents, Rivky and Lindsay Rosenwald, and to both their extended families upon the birth of their first grandchild.
And mazel tov to another set of first time grandparents, to our friends Dasi and Moti Weitz, upon the birth of a baby boy born to their children Talia and Yoni Weitz. The bris will be held this coming Sunday morning; all are of course invited. May baby Weitz bring much nachas to the entire extended Weitz family. Mazel tov of course to Talia’s parents, Rina and Nahum Felman, they of Teaneck New Jersey.
This week’s parsha review is dedicated to the memory of the Oisvorfer’s father, Reb Yaakov ben Reb Chaim Yitzchok Halevi, OBM, whose yurtzeit was marked last night and today, the 25th of Shevat. May his memory be a blessing.
Raboyseyee and Ladies
Blinding and Castrating Hornets: Weapons of Mass Destruction
Blinding and castrating hornets in our parsha? Weren’t the plagues over a few weeks back? Were hornets involved? Not that the Oisvorfer can recall but guess what? They appear this week and wait until you read just what their role was. Ober how is it that we never heard of these hornets? Who knew of their existence? More than likely, very few, if any of you! And why not? Because they make an appearance near the very end of the parsha and let’s get real; when was the last time you got that far? Never! In any event, we will zicher cover the very fascinating hornets mamish just below, ober, first let’s review some history. Just a few weeks back, the RBSO punished Paroy and the Mitzrim with ten plagues. With Pesach soon upon us, we will all be reading and singing about them. Some will use their fingers to spill some wine from their cups as each of the plague is recounted. Of course, some wine will inevitably wind up on the tablecloth, or on one’s clothing. Most will then lick their fingers. Why we do this, ver veyst? In any event, we all know how the RBSO used frogs, lice and wild animals to punish the Mitzrim. In the end, just as the RBSO planned it, the Yiddin were chased out of Egypt. They were free at last after 210 years of slavery. Soon thereafter, they miraculously crossed the Sea of Reeds, and after a few minor transgressions during which they lost faith in Moishe and the RBSO and considered a return to Mitzrayim, they made their way to Har Sinai where for a brief moment in time they were united with one heart and where they received from the RBSO Himself, the Ten Commandments. The thunder and light show that accompanied that seminal moment, was covered last week. The Yiddin were in a state of euphoric exuberance, ready to accept the RBSO as their marriage partner and to follow all that He commanded. So they said last week and twice more in this week’s parsha. We shall do, then we shall listen. Of course: Then again, that’s what most people say on their wedding night. They exchanged vows. As in many a marriage, the Yiddin went astray. Over and again. Shoin.
It’s one shabbis later. We are taught that the events of parshas Mishpotim which we read this week, take place later that same day. Seemingly, the wedding ceremony took place in the morning and later that day, Moishe will deliver 53 new laws, most of them, 30 to be specific, quite restrictive in nature. Suddenly and without much notice or time to wean off old practices and habits, the RBSO disallowed many of the relationships heretofore seen as normative behavior. New laws covering a wide variety of topics including, Jewish slavery, manslaughter, murder, injuring a parent, kidnapping, personal injury, personal damages, compensatory restitution for injuries caused to slaves, seduction, occult practices, idolatry (of course), oppression of widows and orphans, and so much more, were now in effect. You can just imagine how all this gave birth to the first ever Jewish lawyers; they were in heaven mamish. Oy vey! And to make matters worse, the Yiddin were instructed not to charge interest to their fellow Jew should that person come calling for a loan. OMG! Shoin, it’s one thing to give up on marrying two sisters and to adjust to other such restrictions, ober money lending without interest? Unthinkable? This one really stuck in their craw. It’s no wonder they soon went about building the eygel (golden calf) and committed innumerable other sins? Who could live with these new restrictions? Even our forefathers were guilty of a few.
Shoin, we have previously covered a good number of the 53 new mitzvis -some of them more than once- ober, avada, for educational and entertainment purposes, you should feel free to check out the archives at www.oisvorfer.com. Many sites feature good and interesting Torah thoughts, ober where will you find such givaldige content laced with humor, sarcasm and other innuendos when appropriate, if you chap? Grada it usually is. Only here with the Oisvorfer Ruv! Shoin, what shall we talk about this year?
Nu, in observance of the yurtzeit, the Oisvorfer sat down just last night to look at the parsha with new eyes. So happens that eyes will be mentioned in the parsha where we will learn the term ‘an eye for an eye’ and how virtually all our sages and rabbis agree that this is not to be taken literally. It’s not often that our rabbis will agree on anything; it must be emes. The eyes will make yet another appearance near the very end of the parsha ober in a totally different context. Let’s see!
Let’s first set the stage. Following the 53 new laws which likely had the Yiddin rethinking the entire marriage, the RBSO goes on to assure His Chosen People that He will indeed deliver them into the Promised Land which at the time was inhabited by seven other nations. Who was there at the time? The Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Canaanites, the Hivvites, and the Jebusites. Then He tells them azoy and let’s read this posik (Shemois 23:28) together. “I shall send the hornet-swarm before you and it will drive away the Hivvite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite before you.” Shoin, the Yiddin had a plan for 3 of the 7 nations they were to drive out. Hornets!
The RBSO was promising to send hornet swarms and they were going to clear out the enemy inhabitants? How was this going to work? Interestingly we have until this point, never been introduced to the hornet. Avada we all chap that the RBSO was zicher very creative whenever He decided to either wipe some out, as He did during the Mabul (flood) and over in Sedoim, or, when He decided to just send a few shots across Paroy’s bow in the form of the plagues. And avada we all know that the RBSO has many weapons in his armamentarium (yes, that a real word and so happens that the Oisvorfer made $100 on a bet with an individual who claimed otherwise). And this week over at the shiviee (seventh) aliya, we will meet the hornet.
How were these hornets going to drive away three of the nations that were at the time living in the land that the RBSO promised the Yiddin? Shoin, let’s start with Rashi because of course Rashi either knew or figured it out. Says Rashi that the ‘Tzirah’ (the Hebrew term for the hornet as found in the heylige Toirah) is a flying insect. Ober how was a flying insect to drive out the enemy so that the Yiddin could inhabit the Promised Land? Rashi expounds: The hornets smote them in their eyes and injected venom into them thereby causing their death. Shoin: avada we all remain terrified of hornets and kimat every house has various sprays to repel these swarming insects. Rashi continues: The Tzirah (hornets) did not cross the Jordan. Let’s remember those words because these very words caused lots of controversy among many who were trying to chap just how the hornets were effective in driving out the enemy, most of whom were mamish on the other side of the Jordan river. Shoin, we will get to that in mamish a minute. Halt kup (pay attention) and soon you too will chap why it’s important to learn the heylige Gemora and other sources. Its codifiers were geniuses mamish, and always came up with creative ideas to satisfy all truth seekers.
Let’s now see what the heylige Gemora (Soita 36a) has to tell us about the magic hornets the RBSO employed as His agents to clean out the enemy. “The hornets consumed and banished the enemy by completely blinding and castrating the enemy nations.” You hear this? Wait, there’s more. The Gemora will elaborate on how the hornets did their work. Lommer lernin (let’s learn it).
“A Tannah taught: The hornets did not pass over (Jordan) with them” (meaning the Yiddin). Seemingly the other side of the Jordan was on the no-fly list. They didn’t? Ober isn’t it written and didn’t we quote above that “….and I will send the hornet before thee?” Don’t these words mean that first the hornets swarmed in to do their job and were only thereafter followed by the Yiddin? We did! Shoin, not to worry because said Reb Shimon ben Lokish azoy: “it (the hornets) stood by the bank of the Jordan and injected a virus (into the enemy) which blinded their eyes above and castrated them below.” You hear this raboyseyee? These magic hornets carried special venom which seemingly caused blindness and also somehow castrated the enemy. How did this work, ver veyst? It’s one thing to lose one’s eyesight ober blind and castrated sounds very serious, life threatening mamish. Why would the RBSO use hornets as His preferred weapon of mass destruction? What did these hornets do? Did they carry payloads? And why didn’t the rebbe ever discuss these hornets? Shoin because as we mentioned above, most of you never make it past the first few aliyas of the parsha before you begin discussing the latest gossip in town, out of town, local election results, whose preferred candidate is surging and whose candidacy might be ready to fold, and the impact of Iowa on the rest of the primaries, it’s no wonder that you never made your way all the way to shivie. Nu, lucky for you, the Oisvorfer decided once again to review the parsha in reverse order and guess what he found? Hornets!
And listen to this. Says the Oznayim Latoirah azoy: “Attacking these two parts of the body was fitting punishment for the nations that had sinned sexually. Is that why the RBSO was having them expelled from their land? Seemingly so and taka says the heylige Toirah (Vayikro 18:24) azoy: “It was as a result of all these (sexual sins) that the nations I am driving away because of you became defiled.” Seemingly it was their eyes and sexual organs that were tools which led them to infuriate the RBSO. And as the Oisvorfer has been telling you for over five years now, the RBSO abhors mamish the sin combination of avoido zoro + sexual impropriety. Grada, He hates avoido zoro even without sexual impropriety, ober, the combination is always deadly as we will be learning in the months ahead. Vyst zich ois (apparently), these nations were guilty of both and the RBSO decided to teach them a lesson. First they had to suffer blindness and castration. Only then were they either chased out or died, ver veyst.
Wait a minute: we now chap that the RBSO used hornets and why, ober, we still need to chap how they worked from the other side of the Jordan and how their venom made its way into their eyes and testicles of the enemy on the other side?
And before we answer this question, so curious was the Oisvorfer about these hornets, that he went looking to see where else in the heylige Toirah we may find mention of them. Guess what? While we are on summer vacation and casually missing large sections of sefer Devorim, we may have also missed this posik (Devorim 7:20) which says azoy: “and in addition, Hashem your God will send the hornet against them, until all of those who remain, and are hidden from you, are destroyed.” This posik is spoken by Moishe as he assures the Yiddin of their success of occupying the land once they cross the Jordan.
The Oisvorfer is not aware of any other times that the RBSO employed hornets to do His bidding. Seemingly they were like angels who had but one specific job and task: their mission was to find the enemy wherever he may have been hiding, strike them with that special hornet venom, blind them, and castrate them.
Ober does everyone agree that the word ‘tzirah’ means flying hornets? Of course not! Says the Ibn Ezra that the word tzirah refers to some form of physical illness that befell the enemy and suggests that the word tzirah is similar in form to the word tzora’as which of course is also the subject of great debate. A few other luminaries agree that tzirah was some form of physical ailment but not necessarily hornets. How disappointing. And says the Ralbag: the tzirah does not mean the hornet, rather it is a non literal term that instead refers to extraordinary means that the RBSO employed to wipe out the enemies.
Why a few had difficulties chapping that the RBSO’s powers are unlimited and if He chose to empower hornets and empower them with laser precision and GPS capabilities so that they could find the enemy -even if hidden- and then strike them in their eyes and testicles, ver veyst? Is that so hard to imagine? We don’t find anyone arguing about the lice or frogs. What’s taka pshat here and why is it that there are contrary opinions as to whether or not the RBSO employed real hornets?
Shoin, we need to dig a bit further to chap what may have been bothering them and also how the magic hornets were so effective.
Nu, we still need to reconcile the words of the heylige Toirah which twice tells us that the Tzirah (hornets) will be sent by the RBSO to wipe out the enemy, with the words of Rashi who tells us that the hornets never crossed the Jordan. Says Rashi quoting the Gemora (Soitah): of course this is not an issue, the hornets gathered at the banks of the river, removed their payload in the form of poisonous venom, aimed and shot. Generations before societies began to dream of advanced weaponry, and missile guided systems that could hit their targets with exact precision and cause untold damage, the RBSO had all that figured out. He empowered swarming hornets to hit the enemy where it hurt them most. In their eyes and in their beytzim (testes). Shoin, with laser guided precision, their venom smote the enemies on the other side of the Jordan without having to fly there. By attacking their testicles, the enemy was unable avada to have children. And why was not having children critical to the RBSO’s plan of driving the enemy from the land? Nu, to tie this all up so gishmak, we need to read the very next posik (verse) in the heylige Toirah (Shemois 23:29) which tells us azoy: “I shall not drive them away from you in a single year lest the Land become desolate and the wildlife of the field multiply against you.” The RBSO, as always, had a master plan. He was going to allow the Yiddin to take over the Land at a pace which would allow them to comfortably inhabit the land.
Says Rabbi Sorotzkin azoy: The hornets somehow hit the enemies in their testicles rendering them sterile, unable to propagate. This was the fulfillment of the RBSO’s promise. “Little by little shall I drive them away from you, until you become fruitful” (Shemois 23:30). Had the nations also been fruitful, banishing them would have been difficult. What did the RBSO do instead? Seemingly those that were spared and marked for death at a later time, were instead blinded and more importantly also castrated. They were totally neutralized and the RBSO’s words, as always, came true. Little by little they were driven out.
The RBSO is great!
A gittin Shabbis –
The Oisvorfer Ruv