Is it just me, or have you too been suffering from nightmares since hearing the 98 curses in last week’s Toichocho? Did Moishe Rabaynu go overboard in scaring us silly? Do we need this stress? He’s 120 years old, about to pass away and is he busy straightening out his affairs or efsher saying goodbye to his eishes chayil and kinderlach (wife and kids)? Avada nisht (certainly not). In fact, we haven’t heard anything about them in months. Instead, he’s busy exhorting the BNY to follow in the RBSO’s ways, a daunting task and one at which he seemingly mostly failed.
And despite my warnings to the contrary, oy and how I beseeched you not to, of all the lainings, davka (intentionally) you decided to listen to this last one? I begged you to stay away from Shul but lehachis (just to spite), as my father A’H reminded me on more than one occasion, you picked this last shabbis to show up and listen quietly as the Baal Korah made his way through the most unpleasant of readings. Nu, you taka deserve this stress. Why? Because you’re a sheygitz and a bum! Is it a wonder that you don’t listen to the RBSO? And avada this proves the RBSO’s point: you are indeed a giferliche oisvorf who mamish deserves all the punishments that the RBSO, through his trusted servant, Moishe, warned us about last week.
Did you hear what’s in store for you cholila v’chas (god forbid)? I’m talking to you! After so many warnings, how will you explain your despicable behavior, how you’ve been oiver on so many loi-sah-says (thou shall not dos) especially when it comes to lust, a-ra-yos (forbidden relations) and worse (what could be worse). You know how you’ve been having improper thoughts in general and specifically about your friend’s eishes chayil or cholila even acted on those, loi olaynuu (omg!). You know how you’ve been slacking off in so many other areas of the teachings: When was the last time you washed for bread or bentched after a meal during the week? When was the last time you went to mincha/marriv or even davened at home? When was the last time you said every word of ‘ledovid hashem oiyre’, or even more than the first few words and the last sentence (does anyone?) Let’s face it: you’re a no-goodnik and a bum, not deserving of rachmonis (sympathy). If I weren’t so convinced that you’d enjoy them, I would say that you deserve petch (a good spanking) and more. In fact, were I you, I might consider klapping a few thousand al chets right now just to get warmed up for the big day; don’t know that it will help your cause much but worth the effort.
Ober (however), I have givaldige (great) news for you: you’re still alive and well and so am I. After reading the full litany of curses, all meant and directed at you, mistama you thought you’d be a goner by this shabbis. I thought my mailing list was about to get cut by 95% and that I too was a goner. Guess what? In Parshas Netzavim, the first of our double feature presentation, Moishe Rabaynu, on the last day of his life, starts with these famous words….
“Atem Nitzavim Hayoim Koolchem Lifnei Hashem Eloikaychem, Roishaychem, Shivteichem,………….”
And for you ami-ratzim, who, despite many years in yeshiva(s) where you roamed the hallways or chas v’sholom – even worse, experienced a Rebbe who tried playing hide the salami , that still can’t nebech translate even the simplest of words, here it is in English: “Behold you are standing here before Hashem your Deity, your leaders, your tribes, …..”
In other words: Moishe begins the Parsha with this message: ‘just kidding!’ All those threats in last week’s Parsha…..fuggitabout! Are you kidding me? After hearing them, my GI system went haywire, I re-wrote my will, arranged my affairs, if you chap and while chapping, figured I’d chap in a few last minute loi-sa-says before my world was over. And now…mamish on the same day, along comes Moishe and says…hey…just kidding…what I really meant to say was let’s work it out. Moishe is saying that the RBSO understands that we are terrible and gifrelche people, that our yetzer horos are stronger than Goliath, that we’re prone to sin and naturally have vilde (wild) tendencies; oy, if only the eishes chayil would be so forgiving…..
There’s no reason to fall apart, pop Prozac, Valium or your drug of choice. This week’s news couldn’t be more comforting: you’re still alive despite your more than sinful behavior this past year (and nebech in years past) and mistama again this coming year. The RBSO has given you a pass and with that first opening line, welcome to Parshas Netzovim, a short 40 possik parsha. But wait…it’s a double header and Parshas Vayelech and its even shorter 30 pisukkim are read too. Before maftir, Moishe will pass away and just before that, pass the mantle of leadership over to Yehoishua. Too bad he wasn’t a Rebbe or a Ruv; efsher he could have passed the mantle onto them. Speaking of passing the leadership mantle, efsher it’s time for the Rebbes in the chasidishe communities to study this model and leave clear cut instructions before they check out. Then again, would the Chasiddim listen or claim Will fraud? Still, we’re in the home stretch of Sefer Devorim and the last 2 mitzvois are coming up. A short 70 possik (verse) double header doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be getting out of shul any earlier; avada most Rabbis will take advantage and elongate their droshos (sermons) just to make sure you don’t.
And if you don’t feel like listening to the sermon and want something light for the shabbis tish, try this one for size. Even ladigayers (bums) like you know that we read through the entire toirah kuloh (every parsha) each year. We end and begin again on Simchas Toirah. That was the introduction and now the brain teaser. Is it at all possible to go through the entire Hebrew calendar year without reading every single parsha? In other words by reading only 53 out of the 54 parshiot? Nu, do you know? And the answer is avada yes and here is how it works: this year, given that there’s but one heylige shabbis between Rosh Hashono and Sukkois, we get to hear the double header of Nitzovim and Vayelech. Next shabbis, aka: shabbis shuva, we’ll hear Haazeenu.Next year when there are two Shabbosim between Rosh Hashono and Sukkois, we’ll read Nitzavim before Rosh Hashono, Vayelech on Shabbis Shuva following RH, and Parshas Haazeenu, on the Shabbis between Yoim Kippur and Sukkois. Did you chap all that so far or is this too much toirah for you? Ok, Veyter and halt kup (pay attention): next year, Parshas Vayelech will be read at the end of 5771 and will next be read at the beginning of 5773, and just like that the entire year of 5772 will pass without its reading.. Beautiful mamish and real.
It’s also the last shabbis of the year and as we approach Rosh Hashono, we must begin thinking about how we’ve behaved this past year; efsher misbehaved would be a more accurate descriptor. And we must, of course, start thinking about tshuva (repentance); is it time, too early, too late? Will the RBSO understand that you couldn’t control yourself, that you’re a good Jew at heart, and that you meant well, that your sinful inclinations are not at all your fault? Avada you can blame the yetzer horo (evil inclination) who kimat (nearly) always is just too damn strong and overcame you; definitely worth a shot. Is it real tshuva if the plan includes going out immediately after Yoim Kippur and committing the same sins all over again? Are we doomed? Ver Veyst? Oy vey!
Quoting the Medrish, Rashi (29:11) asks; Why was Parshas Nitzovim juxtaposed to the curses of Parshas Ki-Sovoy? And since he’s Rashi, of course he knew the answer: When the Yiddin heard the ninety-eight curses, beyond the forty-nine listed in Parsha Bechukoisi (Vayikra 26) a few months back, their faces turned green (their pants brown) and they said, ‘Who can withstand all these?!’ Moishe therefore proceeded to comfort them: ‘You stand here today – despite your having angered the RBSO, He has not destroyed you and you still stand before Him today. Just as the day itself exists, becoming darker and then brighter, so has God served as a source of light for you in the past, and so will He in the future.’ In other words: just kidding!! Carry on as usual, all is good. And that’s what I like to hear: who needs to be punished, a good threat once in a while seems more than logical to me. The emes is Raboyseyee that punishment is definitely coming your way ober (however) the message appears to be that we will somehow survive it, that the RBSO’s covenant with us is everlasting.
Though it’s also Shabbis Mevarchim, we don’t bentch the new choidesh (month) as we do on every other Shabbis Mevarchim. Why? One of the few Rebbes that didn’t beat the crap out of me told me that he once heard that the Baal Shem tov- the father of Chasiddus- said azoy: The RBSO Himself blesses the month of Tishrei, the blessing that we will always stand firmly (perhaps with some assistance, if you chap), perhaps telling us that we will prevail on Rosh Hashono and Yoim Kippur, assuming we do t’shuva of course. Seemingly, it’s not too late raboyseyee, pay heed. Then again you still have a few days to chap-arine (take in) a few avayrois (sins), you minuvil, and likely you will.
This shabbis you’ll also be zoiche (meritorious) to hear Moishe again remind the yiddin (seemingly he does this quite a bit) not to follow other deities, to stay away from avoidah zoroh. In Lakewood, other communities and avada in many parts of Israel, they interpret the words ‘avoidah zoroh’ as meaning ‘work is strange’ and have forbidden any of the bochurim andyungelite (young married and learning) from doing any sort of work, strange or not. In Parshas Vayelech we’ll read the sad news that even after so many warnings, the RBSO tells both Moishe and his successor Yehoishua that the BNY will not have listened to any of his advice and will in fact follow other deities, yikes! The Yiddin are a tough bunch. This is how our ancestors were and many stood on har seenai; what can be expected from us? We only saw the movie!
With Rosh Hashono just around the corner, we have to get ready. Ready for what? Ready to pay outstanding shul bills if you want your seats; ready for the once a year phone call asking for your kol nidrei pledge (so what if you hate the shul, efsher even the Rabbi), ready to wonder why you’re not getting an aliya this year; ready to wonder why the same people who give out all the kibbudim always end up with them, ready to have your in-laws, and other family members that you can’t stand, over for the full three day yom tov – and speaking of the shviger (mother-in-law) let’s be mindful that just in last week’s parsha- right there in the middle of the admonitions, there is a reminder for you not to be mezaneh (have relations) with your own mother-in-law. Just a friendly reminder about this loi sah-say. Does the RBSO know you or what? – you disgusting chazzer (pig)!
This past Motzei shabbis as I was lying in bed twisting and turning but unable to sleep, my mind racing through all the avairos I myself (may) have to atone for during these high holy days, I began to ponder a she-a-loh (question) that’s mistama been plaguing you for some time: why is it that we daven and do t’shuvaon Rosh Hashono and Yoim Kippur if in fact all is preordained and all is written and sealed by the RBSO as to what will transpire during the coming year? Why are we to be held responsible if He’s mapped out our lives and all the avayros we’ll be committing this coming year? Are we being set up (an inyan the Oisvorfer knows only too well?)
Nu, where to look for an answer but the heylige gemorah . Avada you know that the heylige codifiers of the gemorah discussed every topic under the sun and it’s zicher the best source when seeking answers and wisdom. I opened my eyes and the next thing I knew, it was 8:30AM, I had just enjoyed a gevaldige sleep, the best I’ve had in years. I had an epiphany: It was at that moment that I realized how much money people waste each year on sleeping aides including prescription medications, assorted pills, drinking and other methods. It’s all aroisgevorfene gelt (money in the toilet). Raboyseyee, had you stayed in yeshiva long enough each day without having been thrown out of shiur, you too would have known this secret: gemorah is the best-ever sleep aide, far superior to any drug of choice; it’s time tested without side effects and delivers each and every time. This of course explains why teenagers are never tired at night: they sleep all morning during gemorah. Zicher (of course) this isn’t a blanket statement as certain misectas (tractates) are more stimulating than many of the magazines you’ve been spending a small fortune on in a brown paper bag, if you chap, and as you have seen quoted in these very pages.. Les mann dipolug (no one would argue) that on the whole, if one is having trouble sleeping, gemorah can mamish knock you out. Results are guaranteed, no expiration date and it’s free, mamish. Moreover, now you can finally utilize that Shass (full set of gemoras) you demanded from your future father-in-law who you fooled into thinking that you might actually be a learner- you shvindler (con man) that you are! Anyway, this topic of b’chira (free will) is not so poshit (simply understood), requires more research and will perhaps be discussed in a special edition, efsher during the aseres yimay t’shuva (10 days of repentance), if I’m still around. For now raboyseyee we need to focus on this week’s parsha. Veyter (let’s move on).
Avada it’s convenient to rationalize and blame the Yetzer Horo and why not? Didn’t the RBSO create him to entice us to sin? Yes He did and he’s done a helluva job. Ober before the minuvil in you tries this tactic, you should know that it’s not so poshit (simple) and doesn’t always work. At the very end of the Parsha Moishe tells us that we mamish have free will. That the BNY can select between good and evil, life and death. How we reconcile this with destiny, nu..this I don’t know ober it’s a topic much discussed by people smarter than the Oisvorfer. Says Moishe: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day. I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. And you shall choose life.” This possik (verse) appears to indicate that we are granted freedom of choice between good and evil. It’s that choice that makes us human and is supposed to set us apart from the behaymois and vilde chayois (other creatures).The sun and the moon fulfill the RBSO’s commands without conscious decisions. A bee doesn’t think before pollinating a flower ober you need to. No pollinating at the neighbors, you chazerim. It’s that freedom to choose that makes it possible for us to fall to the lowest depths. And that’s why we taka have to daven on Rosh Hashono while animals don’t. Or, efsher we can argue that since we’ve behaved like animals that don’t think, we should be forgiven without davening? Ver veyst?
Says the Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Hilchois Tshuva 5:1-3) azoy: Freedom of choice has been granted to every man: if he desires to turn toward a good path and be righteous, the ability to do so is in his hands; and if he desires to turn toward an evil path and be wicked, the ability to do so is in his hands. Now what? Seemingly too much in your hands, if you chap.
For were the RBSO to decree that a person be righteous or wicked, or if there were to exist something in the very essence of a person’s nature which would compel him toward a specific path, a specific conviction, a specific character trait or a specific deed…how could the RBSO command us through the prophets “do this” and “do not do this,”…? What place would the entire Toirah have? And by what measure of justice would the RBSO punish the wicked and reward the righteous…? The bottom line: guilty as charged!
There is some good news on the horizon. Moishe also tells us …..”And G-d shall circumcise your heart..”. (30:6): that’s good news? Do we need another circumcision? Haven’t the Yiddin been cut down to size? Ober says the RambaN that from the time of creation, in order that there be merit for us in choosing good and punishment for desiring evil, man had the choice to be righteous or wicked. But in the days of Moshiach, the choosing good will be in our nature, and the heart will not lust for that which is not proper for it and have no desire for it at all. This is the “circumcision” spoken of here, as lust is a “foreskin” blocking the heart, and the “circumcision of the heart” is the removal of lust. In those times man will return to what he was before Odom succumbed to his eishes chayil and the slithering snake, when he naturally did what is proper to do and there were no conflicts and contradictions in his will. Until then, we still have skin in the game and the battle remains.
And as we get ready to endure a second consecutive year of three day yoim toiv, I began to wonder if Yoim Kippur is an easier day than is Rosh Hashono. Avada such a philosophical question must be the subject of a machloikes (argument), though I couldn’t find one, but let’s make believe and set the scene. It’s Erev Rosh Hashono and Abaya and Rovo are walking back from the mikveh (ritual bath) and get into one their famous arguments. Now some say that the machloikes took place while still in the mikveh and bring as proof the words ‘Rovo stood up’ as indicative, if you chap, that the machloikes took place while in the mikveh mamish. Seemingly they got into a heated discussion over which Yoim Tov was more difficult to observe: Rosh Hashono or Yoim Kippur. Said Abaya that Yoim Kippur is zicher more challenging due to its many restrictions and entails much more suffering because klall yirsoel (the Yiddin) is forbidden from eating, drinking, washing, anointing and sexual relations with anyone including the eishes chayil. Avada we chap that it’s not at all difficult to forego relations with the eishes chayil for a day, as most are used to going without for much longer periods of time, even when mutir (allowed). Common reasons include: the headache, not in the mood routine, the inopportune time to pick a fight and countless others, if you chap. However, said Abbaya; we also chap how difficult it is for the b’nai yisroel to go for an entire day without Kiddush. And he suggests that we learn this out from a kal v’choimer which goes like this: madach the men in shul cannot make it past 10:20 or 10:30 in the morning without having Kiddush even though shul is over by 11:00AM—- al achas kamma vo’kammuugh (of course and of course and then some) – they can’t make it the entire day of Yoim Kippur without kiddush when shul seems never to be over at all. Case closed?
And speaking of the kiddush clubs all over the country where the Oisvorfer has a good number of readers, avada you chap that the minhag of sneaking out during davening for a quicky lechaim remains a constant thorn in the side of many Rabbis who, already insecure with themselves, can’t help but notice as the shul begins emptying out and over the years have come up with many unsuccessful strategies to prevent the kiddush club from organizing. To date, none of these strategies have been fool proof. In fact, my only suggestion to prevent the kiddush club from future explosive growth is for the Rabbi himself to attend and speak there. Avada it’s understood that after a few Le’chaims, even his speech would go down easier; seems to be a win-win solution. Back to the gemorah ….
Rovva argues vehemently and suggests that Abayaa was himself an alcoholic and under the influence when he made such an outlandish statement about Yoim Kippur being the harshest of the yomim noyroim (high holy days). Citing a breysa he once heard in the name of Rebbey Tarfoin who heard it in the name of Rebbe Shimoin who heard it in the name of Reb Chisdah who himself heard it in the name of someone else whose identity could not be verified because the ultimate source was, at that time, living in one of the five Oray Miklat (cities of refuge) set up by Moishe Rabaynu, under an alias for having killed his mother in-law after a 3 day Yoim tov…which said azoy:
Leoilom (in the normal course of events) Rosh Hahshono is a much more difficult yom tov for the Yiddin to follow and observe. Why so, asked the inebriated Abayaa? Answered Rovvo- that Rosh Hashono is much more difficult to observe- because of a no-talking takona (a new law on the books without basis.) Says Rovva-that the reason that Rosh Hashono is so difficult is because of a takona made up some years ago by a person without friends which states that one is not allowed to talk at all from the beginning the first brochos of t’kias shoifer (shofar blowing) until after mussif. And despite the fact that we go home to have sumptuous meals that the esihes chayil has been preparing for weeks, the mere fact that one cannot talk or is not supposed to, makes the observance of Rosh Hashono a much more stringent holiday. Avada it should be simple to chap that not being able to talk to your chaver or bad mouth the Baal t’fila (Cantor) or anyone else for even 2 ½ hours is mamish giferlich and even worse than not being able to eat drink and make whoopy .
Raboyseyee: the time for tshuva (repentance) is quickly approaching and I leave you with a thought from my favorite doctor, the Rambam as more fully illuninated in his Hilchois Tshuvah. A person has the power to virtually erase his past at any time and start fresh as if it were the first day of his/her life (this doesn’t really work but is sounds good, believe me.) Speaking of erasing ones past, check out www.yourinternetdefender.com We always have the power to start over. And no matter the distance we may travel to avoid the covenant, no matter the efforts to become lost and forgotten, it remains impossible to escape the tether that RBSO mercifully implanted within us. We are His.
A gitten shabbis to the tens of thousands in the Oisvorf community who enjoy the humor and learning and my best wishes for a k’siva v’chasima toiva. May we all be be subscribed for a good year. We’ll need it, believe me!
A gittin Shabbis
The Oisvorfer Ruv