Just the other week, the Oisvorfer and the eishes chayil were enjoying a delicious steak dinner together with the in-laws when the shvigermeister, out of the blue mamish, asked this shaylo (question): “when you write from time to time (and sometimes even more often than that) and comment about having the in-laws and others you can’t stand over for the holidays, do you mean it?” Though the shvigger should avada by now know that the Oisvorfer delivers his heylige thoughts with humor and sarcasm, still the question was asked, and mindful that the in-laws had not yet paid for dinner, avada the answer was “of course not- we (I) love having you over.” And the emes is that the Oisvorfer always taka welcomes his in-laws warmly, Yom tov or not and taka vintches un (wishes upon all) that they should be blessed with such givaldige in-laws. Unfortunately, many, nebech, don’t have such healthy relationships with the mispocho: brothers and sisters who don’t talk, shviggers that drive the daughter in-law mishuga, an uncle who screwed your father out his business and many more such shrekliche cases ober it’s the Yom Tov and forgiveness season, let’s get into it. After all, you’re all giferleche oisvorfs and bums, and need desperately for the RBSO to forgive you for the long laundry list of transgressions you committed this past year, month, week, yesterday, and mistama even today. Oy vey! So what if you have to put up with mishpocho for a few days? The emes is they can’t stand you either. Suck it up, play nice, and make believe; isn’t making believe a lot of what we do anyway?
And for those who efsher love their mothers-in-law more than the Oisvorfer, let me taka remind you that just in last week’s parsha – right there in the middle of the rebuke and warnings of gloom and doom- there was a reminder in the heylige Toirah mamish, for you not be mezaneh (have illicit relations) with your own mother-in-law, low-life that you are. Seemingly one should avada love his shvigger, but epes not too much, if you chap, and chapping with the shvigger is avada not allowed: ever
Welcome to Parshas Netzovim, always read on the last shabbis before Rosh Hashono, and its 40 pisukim (sentences), the second shortest in the gantza Toirah which this year, unlike last, we will read without its sometime sister parsha of Vayeilech, and as a result , also mistama get out of shul quite early. Even Rabbis who enjoy listening to themselves pontificate will not be too longwinded: zicher they’re already consumed with delivering great moving droshos (speeches) during the coming high holy days, also known as fundraising season. Avada there are pearls of wisdom to be found in the 657 words that make up this kurtze parsha (short) and our tafkid (charge) is zicher to find them.
And since Netzavim is the last parsha we’ll have the pleasure of hearing this year, efsher you’re wondering about the last three parshas in the heylige Toirah. How could the year be over when we’ve only read 51 of 54 parshas? Where are the other three, and why are they left out of the annual reading? Taka excellent kashas. Nu, Let’s begin then with a shtikel conversation for the shabbis tish that’s interesting and simple enough for the average Oisvorf to chap. Avada you know that Rosh Hashono, which begins Sunday evening this year, marks the new year, and efsher you would have thought that we would be completing the Toirah cycle this shabbis, the last of the year. Had you taka had this machshovo (thought), davka you would have been on your game ober since you’re an oisvorf who is mistama busy chapping arein a few (dozen) loi-sah-says (thou shall not dos) before year end and before the tshuva season begins in earnest, mistama you didn’t think about it. How can we complete the year without completing the heylige Toirah cycle? What’s taka pshat? And the short answer is that though the year is over and done, all the machinations of the Parsha readings must somehow align with Simchas Toirah, which is already next year, when we must read the last Parsha of V’zois Habrocho (Parsha #54). Veyter. What happens then beginning this Shabbis of Netzovim up until Simchas Toirah is some juggling of the parshas depending on when Rosh Hashono falls during the week, and aslo, if there’s an extra shabbis between Yoim Kippur and Succois. You chap all that? Mistama not, and next year if Netzovim and Vayelech are read together, we’ll cover the topic more biarechus (at length). The bottom line for this year: Netzovim and next week’s parsha of Vayelech are read separately. Enjoy the short laining and early dismissal.
Who’s to blame for all this confusion? That same fellow Ezra, the great scribe we mentioned just last week. He of great fame that arranged for Ki Sovoy and its harsh rebukes to be read last week, also arranged for Netzovim to be read always, the last shabbis of the year. Says the heylige Gemora (Megillah 31B,) that Ezra instituted that Parshas Netzovim be read as a buffer between the curses of Ki Sovoy and the holiday of Rosh Hashono when tshuva is reviewed by the RBSO. What was Ezra thinking?? Ver veyst. Mistama he wanted to scare the living daylights out of us, which, if you listened carefully last week, zicher he did. Shoin! Soon we’ll see what the Medrish has to say about this arrangement.
Parshas Netzovim seems to be the pre-season opener for the tshuva process. Said The Alter of Kelm, citing the Tur at the beginning of the laws of Rosh Hashono in the name of Rebbi Chanina and Rebbi Yehoishua azoy: Ordinarily an individual on trial for his life will not be concerned regarding his personal appearance before the court. He will not necessarily shave or get a haircut, nor dress in any other garments but black. In sharp contrast, Yiddin get haircuts, don white clothing, and eat and drink Yom Tov meals because they are confident that the RBSO will perform a miracle on their behalf. Seemingly, miracles are what many of us need to get by the judgment process.
Lommer taka ungangin (let’s then begin) with a shtikel chazora of what took place just last shabbis. In our last episode of gloom and doom, Moishe warned the Yiddin of the giferliche consequences that would befall them were they to abandon the RBSO and his heylige Toirah. Mistama you’ve had nightmares thinking about the 98, count ‘em, different curses that Moishe laid out, double mamish the 49 he warned us about back in Parshas Bechukoiseyee, me too. After hearing those curses and knowing full well that many of you are deserving mamish of many if not al of them, efsher you’re klerring (maybe you’re thinking): does it even pay to continue shokeling and davening, and think about tshuva (repentance) by mumbling a few Selichois and getting ready for the big days ahead? Are we not doomed? Ver veyst, ober Raboyseyee, a new season begins this coming week and hope springs eternal as it approaches; we are hopeful. Weren’t you hopeful that this year, despite the long odds, the Mets would compile a winning record? And aren’t you hopeful that the Giants repeat and the Jets make it? Lehavdil, a new Parsha brings new hope and Parshas Netzavim, which you’ll hopefully enjoy hearing this shabbis, mostly because it’s so short, avada brings hope, it’s the pre-season opener.
As our Parsha taka opens, Moishe, the fearless leader of the Yiddin is now a mature 120 years old, and, according to some, this is the last day of his life. Avada he will make it productive, and does so by delivering the last of four speeches, and the second farewell speech he gave the Yiddin. It is the seventh day of Adar. By the time night falls, the nation will mourn the loss of its greatest leader. The Yiddin are nebech freaking out, mamish; can you blame them? After hearing last week’s threats even the heylige Oisvorfer has been sleeping with one eye open thinking it’s all over; kaput, over and out. And now…mamish on the same day, along comes Moishe who on the last day of his life could be subject to severe mood swings, and begins another of his famous speeches (actually a continuation of the speech he began last week) and says:
“Atem Nitzavim Hayoim Koolchem Lifnei Hashem Eloikaychem, Roishaychem, Shivteichem, Zikneichem, Veshoitreichem, Kol Ish Yisroel. Topchem, Neshaychem, Vegerchah Asher Bekerev Machanechah, Mechoitayv Aytzim Ad Shoiyayv Maymechah.” A mouthful mamish.
And for the many Oisvorfs who cannot translate even the simplest of words despite the many thousands of dollars your parents’ nebech spent on your yeshiva(s) education, aroisgivorfine gelt mamish (money in the toilet- so to speak, mamish), here is the English translation. “Behold you are standing here before Hashem your Deity, your leaders, your tribes, your elders, and your officers, all the men of Israel. Your children, your women, and the stranger which is amongst your camp, from the woodcutter to the one who draws your water.” Of course many of you had no shot at education due to severe trauma caused by Rebbes and others in power that beat the crap out of you with their shteknes and or otherwise tried to beat you or themselves, if you chap.
Says he (Moishe): Hey…just kidding…you’re all safe, alive and well. Realizing the emotional roller coaster the Yiddin were on that same day, Rashi, who knew mamish everything quotes the heylige Medrish which asks an excellent kasha (question) (Rashi 29:11). “Why was Parshas Netzovim juxtaposed to the curses [of Parshas Ki Sovoy]? When the Yiddin heard [these] ninety-eight curses, beyond the forty-nine listed in Toiras Kohanim, their faces turned green 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 G-d served as a source of light for you in the past, and so will He in the future.’ Gishmak (enjoyable).
In other words, Moishe begins the parsha with this more uplifting message of hope: ‘I was just kidding’! Not to worry, the RBSO understands that you’re all sinners and worse, but He’s also forgiving and willing to work things out with you. Moishe is saying that the RBSO accepts that we are terrible and giferliche people, that our yetzer horos (evil inclinations) are stronger than Superman, that we’re prone to sin and to do terrible things. It seems that the RBSO has all but given up on His Cho-sen people but is nevertheless an understanding leader who is willing to accept us despite our shortcomings; of course after punishing us severely.
Moishe announces to the nation that he is going to make a new treaty between the Yiddin and the RBSO. A new treaty is needed because the generation that was at Har (Mt.) Sinai had already passed on and Moishe wanted this new generation to promise to keep the Toirah. Moishe wanted every Yid, in attendance or not, to swear that they will be the RBSO’s people forever. From now on every Jew, in every generation, will be responsible for himself and his fellow Jew. Bikitzur, this is what he said.
“You are standing this day before the RBSO your G-d . From the hewer of your wood to the drawer of your water, to enter into the covenant with the RBSO your G-d.” And then he says (29:13-14) “not with you alone am I making this covenant and this oath-curse. But with whoever is here with us standing today in the presence of the RBSO, our G-d, and with those who are not here with us today.” This covenant binds the Yiddin to the RBSO, and the RBSO to the Yiddin, and was made not only with those present that day, but with all Israel, past, present and future. Seemingly even Oisvorfs not in attendance due to them not being born yet were bound in this deal. Yikes!!
Though Moishe is already old, and hours away from his final farewell to the Yiddin, his mind is still razor sharp, and he predicts with incredible accuracy nebech, that the people who secretly believe they can break the covenant will turn away from the RBSO to worship idols. He describes the punishments that the Yiddin will suffer because of this, including dispersion, plagues, and diseases – indeed, the land will look like Sodom and Gomorrah. Eventually, when all else fails, he further predicts the Yiddin will do tshuva (repent) and the RBSO will take them back with love, restore them to the land and its blessings.
Efsher you’re wondering how we in our times, and especially you, can be bound and held accountable for an agreement we never witnessed, didn’t execute and maybe wouldn’t have, had we been there, are you?
Nu, said Reb Meir quoting the heylige Medrish azoy: When the Yiddin arrived to Har Seenai (Mt Sinai) to receive the heylige Toirah, they discovered that the RBSO was not willing to give it without proof that they would cherish this precious gift. Said the RBSO to the Yiddin: “Give me guarantors that you will treasure My Toirah.” The people of Israel said: “Our ancestors will be our guarantors.” The RBSO answered: “They are not sufficient. I have found fault with your ancestors. They would need guarantors for themselves!” The Yiddin spoke again: “If You will not accept our ancestors, accept our Prophets – they will vouch for us.” Said the RBSO: “I have found fault with your prophets as well. They too would need their own guarantors. You may try one more time.” The Yiddin, newly freed from the slavery of Egypt, looked up to the heavens and said to the RBSO: “If You will give us Your Toirah, we will offer You our children.” Finally the RBSO said: “Since you offer me your children, I will give you my Toirah.” (Shir Hashirim Rabbah 1:4)
Ober the possik tells us that the agreement includes those who were not there. Efsher (perhaps) we could say, as do many, that this includes those not yet born. Avol yesh oimrim (there are those who say) that a closer look of these words could also mean that the covenant includes those who simply got lost on the way to the asembly, those always late to a meeting or any other event for that matter, those who ditched the meeting and were off in some corner of the Midbar chapping, those who overslept and even those who went back to Sodom for a long weekend of r&r, if you chap, before entering the land. Seemingly Moishe intended to bind all the Yiddin even those temporarily off the derech.
Moishe seemed to chap that many Yiddin, of all ages, will find ways to opt out, and here in Netzovim in his last speech, offers those a way back in. Moishe’s last ditch efforts come to make clear that the covenant that the Yiddin have with the RBSO exists even with the Oisvorfs: seemingly we’re in the system, it’s in our DNA and can’t get out. Though our behavior is at times less than exemplary, the foundation was laid generations ago, and the RBSO is always ready to accept us back. Is that givaldige and uplifting news or what?
Say the RambaM (Maimonides, Hilchois Teshuvah), that a person has the power to virtually erase his past at any time and start afresh as if it were the first day of his life. Unfortunately, erasing one’s past on Google is a shtikel harder, and please feel free to check out www.YourInternetDefender.com for help in that department. We always have the power to start over. Moishe seems to be telling us that this power is innate, a gift from the RBSO, and we’re in the season to make it happen. Yom Kippur is just around the corner.
Nu, the Oisvorfer zicher has a few more thoughts to share ober begs mechila (forgiveness): It’s time to start thinking about a Rosh Hashono drosho for the ever expanding list of readers from around the world mamish who log on or receive the weekly parsha review.
A gitten shabbis-
The Oisvorfer Ruv