Typically the Oisvorfer will only shout out mazel tovs on simchas he has attended, or at least been invited to, ober this week, for the first time, an exception will be made. We begin with mazel tov wishes to Beth and Josh Kalter upon the wedding earlier this week of their son Jordan to Batya Longini, daughter of Esti Bell Longini and Rene Longini.
Just last week, the Oisvorfer told you that he does not typically promote any products unless handsomely compensated, ober this week, we will be promoting a charity event that will take place this coming Sunday to support a very worthwhile cause. Please see attached flier for Avigdor’s Helping Hand which was founded by Yitty and Eli in memory of their son Avigdor, A’H. This charity is an all-volunteer not for profit organization with zero administrative costs. It provides financial assistance to orphans getting married and widow(er)s following the loss of the primary breadwinner. The BBQ will take place where many do, at the home of the Moradis:
Sunday, September 1, 2013 – 72 Muriel Avenue- Lawrence NY 11559- 7:00PM
Please make every effort to attend. Can’t? Help anyway, please!
Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:
Hookers and T’shuva
Nu, as we get ready to read, hear and learn parshas Netzovim & Vayelech, the last double header of the year, it can only mean one thing: it’s also the last shabbis of the year and Rosh Hashona is just around the corner. And taka this year in particular, it’s mamish just around the corner. Interestingly, the names of the parshios are somewhat confusing, they have opposite meanings. Netzovim means standing while Vayelech means going; which is it and which are we supposed to do, ver veyst? And over the coming Yom Tov, besides stuffing our faces like out of control behamois mamish with a menu of generally unhealthy foods, mostly what we’ll be doing is standing and walking. We’ll alternate standing and sitting repeatedly during davening and we’ll avada do plenty of walking to and from shul. Some will also take the early opportunity to walk some more and recite the tashlich prayer. The Oisvorfer prefers to wait until the plate is fuller. Efsher you’re taka wondering why it is that we stand up and sit down so many times during davening. Is one part of the davening more important than others? Ver veyst?
And it’s time to get ready. Ready for what, you might be klerring? Ready to spend countless hours in shul davening to the RBSO for a good year, ready to stuff your faces with pounds of challah, kugil, red meat and avada dessert. Ober first, you must be ready to pay the shul bills, if you want your seats, and ready for the annual phone call asking for your kol nidrei pledge and of course ready to do serious t’shuva and ask the RBSO for forgiveness for your less than admirable behavior during the past year, efsher longer. The t’shuva season begins in earnest this coming Wednesday evening as Yom Tov is ushered in and we become fish heads and not tails, whatever that means. And zicher you must get ready to have the in-laws over for the full three day yom tov. Speaking of the shviger (mother-in-law) let’s be mindful and not forget that just in last week’s parsha – mamish in the middle of the admonitions- there was a reminder for you to not be mezaneh (have sexual relations) with your own mother-in-law. Not that such a reminder is necessary ober if the heylige Toirah saw fit to stop everything, hold the presses and warn us about this big no-no, mistama there were a few oisvorfs and worse that were taka eyeing the shviger. Nu, over a three day yom tov with multiple meals, a little sweet kiddush wine, no access to our smart phones and blackberrys and no talking at all during Musif, a person can taka become a shtikel mishuga! In that state, ver veyst! In any event, it appears that the RBSO knew how giferlich His Chosen people were, and would be, and taka this predicted bad behavior is a recurring theme in this double header. In parshas Netzovim, the RBSO accurately predicts that His kinderlach will stray. Of course it’s an accurate prediction, hello, this is the RBSO! He shares this information with Moishe, Moishe tells the Yiddin and guess what? We just covered both parshois. It all taka happened.
And here’s a shtikel tidbit: When parshas are coupled together it is the minhag (custom) to compare and contrast the messages of both. Ober, in the case of Netzovim and Vayelech, it’s gantze poshit (transparent): both have a very similar tone and message. They are both filled with fatherly advice and promises being made. Moishe is seemingly giving last minute mussir and wrapping up loose ends and taka that’s what we Yiddin should efsher also be doing in this last shabbis of the year. Efsher it’s time for New Year resolutions about not skipping shul, washing, bentching and other modifications to the lifestyle, if you chap.
And speaking of the tshuva season about to begin, let’s digress for a minute and learn a shtikel Gemora (Avoida Zoro 17a) which avada knows everything and which tells us this more than amazing mayseh (story) of Rabbi Eleazar Ben Dordaya and t’shuva. Who was he? Nu, halt kup, this could change your life, mamish. He was the man that visited every zoina (harlot) in the gantze velt (in the world) and then when he was mamish spent and had plowed through all of them, heard of yet another across the high seas. He took a purse of coins and crossed seven rivers for her sake. B’shas mayseh (while chapping), unexpectedly, she told him that he was too far gone, that he would never do tshuva. She blew forth breath and said: ‘As this blown breath will not return to its place, so will Eleazar b. Dordaya never be received in repentance.’ Efsher he was in too deep, ver veyst. At that moment, Eleazar suddenly became very disheartened and pleaded with the natural forces to intercede on his behalf. He sought permission to be allowed to repent. Ober when he received negative responses from all these forces, he declared, “The matter depends only upon me.” He placed his head between his knees, he wept aloud until his soul departed. Then a bas-kol (heavenly voice) was heard proclaiming: ‘Rabbi Eleazar b. Dordaya is destined for the life of the world to come!’ And says the heylige Gemora in conclusion: he is considered a genuine ba’al teshuva (penitent) Gishmak, mamish. One may acquire eternal life after many years, another in one hour! Rabbi also said: Not only are penitents accepted, they are even called ‘Rabbi’!
And the lesson, ver veyst? Seemingly, t’shuva is kimat impossible and said R’ Yisroel Salanter that to change one character trait is more difficult than to complete the entire heylige Gemora. And since we all chap how difficult it is to complete even one tractate, let alone the entire Shas, how then can the heylige Toirah in this week’s parsha tells us that t’shuva which involves altering one’s entire disposition, is a simple endeavor? Nu, let’s find out.
And the news is givaldig! Seemingly, it’s never too late for tshuva no matter how giferlich the behavior, for most of you, anyway. We can klerr that Eleazar knew that he was off the derech (reservation) and that he needed to correct his behavior. Seemingly he decided to push off the tshuva process until he had enjoyed all the pleasures of the world. Ironically, it was the overseas zoina who realized just how submerged he was in iniquity, who raised the possibility that he had passed the point of no return. Terror-struck by such a prospect, Eleazar pleaded that some power come and bring him back. Ultimately, he reached the conclusion that only he is the master over his fate. The possibility of repentance depends only on himself. Why the heylige Gemora teaches tshuva through this mayseh, ver veyst ober mistama the heylige Gemora knew that many of you giferliche oisvorfs could relate to a shrekliche story about a man and his zoinas. Are zoinas the path to tshuva, ver veyst? And notwithstanding their talent to draw people closer, if you chap, avada the heylige Oisvorfer is not sanctioning such visits; either abroad or even with local talent. Nu back to the parsha.
As Moishe prepares to deliver his swan song, he receives a dire warning from the RBSO Vayelech [31:16]: No sooner will Moishe “be gathered to his father’s” (aka: dead) than the Yiddin will “rise up and play the harlot … forsake God, and break the covenant.” The RBSO foresees being abandoned by His people. Nu, believe it or not, there is a shtikel machloikes (argument) and what else is new, as to when they taka strayed. Some say that even after Moishe’s passing (coming up soon), the Yiddin stayed on course until after Yihoishua’s passing. Avada it could be argued, based on their behavior in the midbar during their 40 year stint, that they were never on course. Ober others state that shortly after Moishe’s passing, the Yiddin were onto a different course, if you chap.
All of the events of Nitzavim-Vayelech take place on Moishe’s one hundred and twentieth birthday, the very last day of his life. And how do we know this? We don’t ober Rashi, who knew everything, tells us that when Moishe says the word “Hayoim” (today) in posik (verse) 29:9, it means that it was his birthday and avada we all recall learning that Moishe was both born and passed away on the 7th of Adar. Moishe’s fate is also stated outright by the text in the first verse of Vayelech: “Moishe went and he spoke all these words to all of Israel. Saying ‘I am one hundred and twenty years old today. And I am no longer able to come in and go out, for The Lord has said to me ‘You shall not cross over the Jordan’.” (Deut. 31:1-2).
Nu, let’s learn a few words and this week, because the total of both parshios are but 70 pisukim, quite short even when combined, we too will be somewhat shorter. Grada only this morning a longtime Oisvorf reader suggested that the Toirah was too long. Says the heylige Toirah azoy in the very first posik of the opener (Netzovim) azoy:
“Atem Nitzavim Hayoim Kulchem Lifnei Hashem Eloikaychem, Roishaychem, Shivteichem,………….” Let’s remember the word ‘Hayoim’ (today), efsher we’ll circle back to it. And what do these words mean? Nu, for you giferliche oisvorfs who, shreklich as it sounds, cannot translate even the simplest of words despite the many years you spent roaming the hallways of the yeshiva(s), we’ll translate. Leyda (sadly), some of you never had a shot and were nebech busy hiding from the rebbe who was on the prowl looking to dip even before Rosh Hashono, if you chap – aroisgivorfine gelt mamish. Shoin, 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: remember the 98 curses I presented just last week? Just kidding! I have good news for you: you’re still alive and well. Are you kidding me? After hearing last week’s threats the Yiddin thought they were done, finished, kaput, over and out and who could blame them? The Oisvorfer’s GI system was in-gantzen-bakakt (haywire). It was shreklich mamish to read what’s coming our way for bad behavior and seemingly mostly caused by not being happy, or efsher, as we discussed, for being too happy while chapping a few avayrois, ver veyst. Ober despite the very dire predictions, here we are one shabbis later and here is Moishe who according to many, was now enjoying the last day of his life and this was his opener. 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 giferliche people, that we are weak, that our yetzer horos (evil inclinations) are stronger than steel, that we’re prone to sin; we’re really bad and do terrible things.
Since the beginning of sefer Devorim and in kimat every parsha, Moishe has been warning the Yiddin not to go astray and again so in this week’s double header. Efsher you’re wondering why we need all these warnings when the RBSO already knows and all that we do is already pre-destined. He knows that t we’re going to be shlecht, sinners mamish. And if fate dictates that the Yiddin will sin, what is the purpose of all these warnings and threats; at the end of the day, do they really make a difference? Ver veyst? Ober here is Moishe with yet another: “Lest there should be among you man, or woman…whose heart turns away this day from the Lord our God, to go to serve the gods of those nations…when he hears the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying: ‘I shall have peace, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart–that the watered be swept away with the dry’”.
After dozens of reminders, Moishe again warns the Yiddin not to follow other deities, to stay away from avoidah zoroh: the RBSO mamish abhors that. Seemingly, the RBSO has all but given up on us ober He is an understanding leader who is willing to accept us despite our shortcomings; of course after punishing us severely. Nu, if only the eishes chayil were so understanding. Veyter. In any event, this all seems like decent news to the Oisvorfer and maybe a shtikel (tiny) reprieve. Veyter.
And let’s conclude this week, with mamish a givaldige vort for the shabbis tish. Says the heylige Toirah “”For this mitzva that I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens… Neither is it across the sea… No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it.” Ober which mitzvah is Moishe referring to? Nu, avada it depends on who you ask. Let’s see what a few had to say.
Says the Ramban: this phrase refers to the entire Toirah. Gishmak! Ober says the Sforno: this is the mitzvah of t’shuva (repentance or return). And say the Oisvorfer azoy: since the mitzvah is undefined, efsher it’s up to every individual person to make it his own. Efsher we need to select one of the many and make it our own by attaching our own personal meaning. Gishmak!
Finally, earlier we learned that Moishe began the parsha with the words “you are all standing here “hayoim” (today)….” Seemingly there is emphasis on the word ‘today’ and If you look carefully, you will find that the word ‘hayoim’ (today) appears a total of 16 times in this double-parsha, which represents over one-fifth of the 74 mentions it gets in all of sefer Devorim. Ober why? Says the Medrish (Tanchuma) azoy: Just as today is sometimes dark and sometimes light, so too for you: even though it may be dark now, in the future the Holy One will shine an everlasting light, as the verse states, ‘And God will be for you an everlasting light’ (Isaiah 60:19). And when will this be? When you are united as one…” Avada we can chap why the light is yet to shine.
The Midrash’s understanding of hayoim here focuses on the transience of a single day: this too shall pass. Whatever darkness, whatever suffering we may have today will ultimately be superseded by the everlasting light of the RBSO. We wait patiently.
A gittin shabbis-
The Oisvorfer Ruv