Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:
This week we begin by welcoming a new reader over in Chile wrote as follows:
“Hi, saludos, I start recently follow your weekly comments. Nice job. I really enjoy your review. Indeed, maybe your effort is -probably- my only Parashiots update. Have you a yiddish glossary in your blog? Sorry, but, we, the Chilean Jews lost the Yiddish (you know, blame the “second generation”,) but your
blog it’s extremely useful.
A hug, Jorge.-“
The power of social media and the Internet continue to spread the Oisvorfer’s weekly thoughts around the world; welcome aboard! -Oisvorfer Ruv Shlita!
This coming shabbis the entire Felder mishpocho is gathered in Yirusholayim Iyr Hakoidesh where Esti and Aaron Felder will be marking and celebrating the bar mitzvah of their son, Kovi (Avrohom Yaakov.) Kovi was called to the Torah this morning at the Koisel (Kotel) as a bar mitzvah. The Oisvorfer wishes them a hearty mazel tov. It so happens that Aaron, a comedic genius
in his own right, is a Talmud muvhok and an early follower of the Oisvorfer’s weekly parsha review. May he and Esti have only nachas and joy form Kovi and the rest of the Felder brood.
Did Moishe receive the entire heylige Toirah while atop Har Seenai?
Shoin, ever since Avrohom Oveenu performed a bris on himself at the advanced age of 99-ouch- and the RBSO made the bris mila (circumcision) mandatory; the bris remains the ubiquitous sign that a Jewish baby has joined his people. Was Avrohom trying to save the Moihel’s fee? We’ll explore the topic of Moihel’s fees in just a moment. Of course not everyone agrees that Avrohom was the first ever Moihel and says the Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer that Shaim, Noiach’s #1 son, performed the bris. Well blow me down with this amazing news, but he does offer several plausible explanations as to why he believes that Shaim (Seth) and not Avrohom was the Mohiel. We will cover that topic biarichus (at length), if you chap, in the coming months when we take another look at Sefer Bereishis (Genesis).
This past Tuesday, the Oisvorfer was in Baltimore Maryland where he was in attendance at the bris of Yaakov Azman, born to his niece and nephew, Avigail and Moshe Azman. Yaakov was named after the Oisvorfer’s father who passed away over 10 years ago. His name was recalled at the bris and the family is grateful to Avigail and Moshe. Mazel tov again to them and the entire extended Azman mishpocho. Mazel Tov as well to the entire extended Bartfeld mishpocho, many of whom were also in attendance. The bris was masterfully and safely performed by Rabbi Dovid Fuld, a rare breed and mentch extraordinaire as we will read below.
The Oisvorfer has, over the last four years, written extensively about how most of the mitzvois in the heylige Toirah have been exploited into business opportunities for entrepreneurially minded Yiddin. And even where the business opportunity isn’t necessarily staring them in the face, or, may at times be frowned upon if not downright verboten, Toirah inspired entrepreneurs have figured out the system. Show them a mitzvah and they’ll show you how to gouge another Yid trying to perform it. Lemoshol, though it’s counterintuitive, it’s well know that according to tradition, a Moihel isn’t supposed to ask for or demand compensation for his services. We are taught that the mitzvah of bringing a baby into the Jewish fold through the bris ceremony is incumbent upon the baby’s father. Ober that’s all theoretical. Not many fathers can perform this service, fewer want to. And just like that, there was a sudden need and demand for a professional Moihel. A nayee gisheft (new business opportunity) was born. Shoin! Ober have you ever seen a Moihel work for free? Would you want one to? Practically speaking, nearly everyone utilizing the services of a Moihel pays. When it comes to the protection of vital organs, next to the heart, this one, though it doesn’t always measure up in size, is critical and needs to be in working order. Would you want anyone but the very best and the most highly trained and experienced Moihel working on that sensitive area? Isn’t that the organ designated to give future life? Let’s not avada forget some pleasure along the way, if you chap.
Fees for a Moihel range from a few hundred to upwards of one thousand dollars; they are zicher worth it. Ober how does the Moihel get around the well-known minhag (custom) of not asking for a fee? Nu, our beautiful religion and tradition also gave us the answer, it’s called the loophole; a concept we have come to embrace in the fulfillment of many mitzvois. And two words in the heylige Toirah give us license to navigate difficult to observe commandments. Which two words are these you ask? “Vochai Bohem” – we are commanded to ‘live by’ the RBSO’s commandments.
And if there is a commandment that is difficult to observe, especially one that could hurt or chas vsholom, kill our babies, we may find a legal loophole to perform it. Hence the Moihel takes the place of the father ober what about the cash? Nu, some hold that there is no such minhag of not charging. No surprise here. Some say that the minhag of ‘no charging’ is to be taken literally- meaning cash only and no charges accepted. The prohibited act may be in ‘asking’ for money and therein lies the difference. Seemingly the accepted minhag is for the Moihel to not ask for a specific or any amount. He can however, seemingly, accept a certain or any amount offered. Got that? No? Let’s try again. You pay the Moihel an amount you believe to be the going rate and he says thank you. How does one know the going rate? You ask a chaver or two. That seems to work for many. Still, some don’t accept an outright fee for their service, even if offered. Instead they accept the money more elegantly; they call it an honorarium. Shoin, whatever you call it, in the end, the Moihel makes his cut and then gets his cut. In kimat every case, someone pays. In the alta-heym (old country- back in Europe), the custom was for the father of the baby to pay, ober bazman hazeh (in our generation) the minhag is for one or both grandparents to cover this charge; they did, after all, receive the gift of a grandson, and who says that gifts are free? There’s seemingly no free lunch but it does usually come with breakfast. And as stated above, in kimat every case, money changes hands. Let’s fargin (not begrudge) them; isn’t the bris everlasting? And when a surgical procedure involves a family member, or any member, if you chap, don’t you want only the most reputable Moihel/surgeon? Of course you do! And minhag-shminhag, din or no din, when it comes to the Moihel, people are willing to pay and in kimat every instance, the Moihel is more than willing to accept. Case closed? Not quite yet. Certain nuances remain including whether or not the Moihel may demand a certain amount or must just say thank you for whatever amount is being offered. Ober, those details are best studied and left to the professionals; they are outside the scope of the point being made. The bottom line: one would be hard pressed to find a Moihel that would provide this service free of charge. Hard pressed maybe but not impossible.
Efsher you noticed that the Oisvorfer used the word kimat- meaning nearly- when telling you that biderech-klall (generally speaking), they all get paid. In all of the Oisvorfer’s travels, he has only met one Moihel that does not charge, nor accept any form of payment for his services. No matter what you call it, this man cannot be bought. He will accept neither a fee, nor an honorarium, nor anything else. This particular Moihel takes the mitzvah quite seriously. Simply stated, he does not ask for money, nor will he accept it. Word has it that he has over 13,000 circumcisions under his knife; he is truly hands on, if you chap and a cut above. He does each bris lishmo (for the sake of the mitzvah); he is truly a professional and a master of the craft. And as if that weren’t enough Rabbi Dovid Fuld, the subject of this introduction, whom the Oisvorfer has had the honor of seeing at many a bris over the years and again this past Tuesday, has his own unique way of thanking the RBSO for allowing him the privilege of being involved in bringing these young babies and future men, into the fold. He wholeheartedly believes that his financial success is a result of his performing this great mitzvah without being recompensed. And not just can he not be bought, it is Rabbi Fuld’s minhag (custom) to hand deliver a valuable gift to each baby. Of course it doesn’t replace what has been taken, but in reality, the baby will soon forget the pain caused but will certainly enjoy his silver becher (goblet) for the rest of his life. A beautiful gesture indeed. May he and his eishes chayil Anita who accompanies him to most of the brissim he performs, be blessed with many years of good health, and of course a steady hand.
Shoin, between the Felder mazel tov, the Azman shout-out, welcoming a new reader from Chile and a shtikel profile of Rabbi Fuld, we’re on page 3 already; let’s see what’s going on in the parsha. Welcome to Parshas Re’eh. And with Re’eh upon us, the summer is officially over. Buses have returned and planes have landed depositing tens of thousands of children back home to their parents’ care where they will valger (lazy) around doing absolutely nothing until school starts. These same kids who, while in camp, on travel programs, here and abroad, got up early in the morning and stayed up late into the night, are suddenly dead to the world. Minyan? Fugetaboutitt! What’s taka pshat? Camp and other summer programs need to be extended until one day before school starts. Veyter.
According to most, Parshas Re’eh contains 55 brand new mitzvois never before handed down. New mitzvois? Oy vey! The Yiddin were barely able to absorb and observe the hundreds already commanded; did they need more? Moreover, weren’t we taught that the entire sefer Devroim is but a repeat? Isn’t Sefer Devorim also referred to as Mishneh Toirah (a repetition of the Toirah)? Indeed it is. Is that not true? How can both be true? How can it be a repeat yet this parsha alone contains 55 new mitzvois? Ver veyst? Is Devorim a review or not? Of course there are answers, many. Lommer lernin.
And for those counting, here’s a shtikel tidbit. With its 55 mitzvois, Re’eh which represents but 3% of the heylige Toirah’s content, is action packed with an impressive 9% of its 613 mitzvois. Moreover, not everyone agrees that there are but 55 mitzvois in this parsha. Some say that number may be higher but that certain mitzvois found in Re’eh are not counted because they are repeats and may have been counted when they first appeared elsewhere in the heylige Toirah. Limoshol (by way of example only), the prohibition against avoido zoro (idol worship) is repeated several times including here. The Oisvorfer has told you over and again that the RBSO abhors avoido zoro; He is a jealous God in that respect and demands loyalty. Is that too much to ask? And with the Yiddin poised to enter a land occupied by idolaters, this commandment is again repeated to let them know how serious the RBSO takes idol worship. And vus-vyst-zich-ois (what seems to be apparent) is this; there is indeed some duplication and efsher even triplication when it comes to certain mitzvois. Some make multiple appearances in the heylige Toirah and we would assume then that these are of utmost importance, efsher more than others. Alternatively, we can kler that the RBSO was, with good reason, quite certain that Yiddin would be hard pressed to keep these and repeated over and again. Sadly He was right; isn’t He always?
In any event, many agree that Sefer Devorim is called Mishneh Toirah because taka it repeats many mitzvois. Many also say that Devorim is a summary of all four books. Notice the word, many but not all. Seemingly it repeats over 100 mitzvois already mandated in the previous 4 Books of Bereishis, Shemois, Vayikra and Bamidbar. And said Rav Shamshon Rephoel Hirsch azoy: of the 199 Mitzvois commanded in Sefer Devroim, more than 70 are new. Is it 70 or over 100 that are new? Ver veyst. Ober why repeat any mitzvah previously taught? Does the heylige Toirah repeat anything? And have we not asked this question several times in the past? Indeed we have. It appears then that the repeated mitzvois focus on areas that will be of greater immediate concern as the Yiddin are about to enter the land where they will encounter and then conquer the 7 nations that were, at the time, its inhabitants.
Does everyone agree? Of course not! This very topic and heated discussion over whether or not the 55 mitzvois here in our parsha are new or repeats, and if new, why they weren’t taught before, and if repeats, why we needed to hear them again, led to a great machloikes (argument) between the Ramban and a few others. And the question is azoy: Did Moishe know them and withhold them from the Yiddin for whatever reason? Or, were the last batch of mitzvois revealed to Moishe only in the last months and weeks of his life whereupon he immediately taught them to the Yiddin? And what’s the difference, ver veyst? Raboyseyee, this week we will not focus on any of the 55; zicher you should do that on your own. It’s about time! The Oisvorfer will instead briefly (lol) focus on the argument between the Ramban and others and then address an open question from last week’s parsha review on divine punishment.
Asked the RambaN (Nachmanides) mamish so givaldig azoy: Why is it taka the case that some mitzvois were not previously revealed? Moreover, why were certain repeated? And why did Moishe wait until the final moments of his life to communicate them to the Yiddin. Didn’t he receive the entire heylige Toirah while up in the mountain? Was he in hurry to get back and left before the lesson on Toirah 1.0 was over? And if he came down without all of the mitzvois, why didn’t ho go back to get them and why did he taka wait 38 years before transmitting the balance here in Sefer Devorim and 55 in our parsha?
Shoin, like many, the Ramban, not only asked but also provided his own answer. Said he: the mitzvois that Moishe introduced in Sefer Devorim had little or no relevance, nor application in the Midbar. Accordingly, he didn’t teach them until now. In other words, he came down with them 38 years back but kept them close to the vest. He didn’t teach them because he felt they weren’t relevant and why waste his or their time and fill their minds with information they couldn’t apply for the next 38 years.
Ober now as the Yiddin were poised to mamish enter the land, it was time to learn these as well. Did you chap all that? Ok- one more time.
Let’s review the RambaN’s position. 1-Moishe repeated certain mitzvois in Devorim stam azoy for the purpose of clarification. 2- as to the many new one’s he taught including 55 in our parsha, Moishe no doubt did hear them from the RBSO either while up on Mount Sinai, or in the Mishkan during the first year after its erection. He did not present them to the Yiddin until 38 years later because these laws apply only in the Promised Land, or, because they do not apply frequently. Accordingly, he did not feel compelled to convey them to the people until before his death.
Avada not many agreed with this view and said the Radbaz, (responsa vol. 6, 2,143) that the RambaN was dead wrong on this issues. He presents three shtarke (strong) arguments against the Ramban’s theory. Ershtens (firstly), Moishe would not have been licensed to delay his transmission of these laws to the Yiddin for 38 years. Moishe would have been in violation of a prohibition known as koivesh nevu’asoi (withholding prophesy), a violation punishable by having to marry one ugly white woman instead of two tinkele (dark) of which on may have been a beautiful Kushite and the other a Midianite. Moishe wasn’t going to give up what he had. Of course the Oisvorfer is just kidding about that punishment though it’s of course feasible. And who knew there was written law about withholding. Don’t our wives practice this regularly, if you chap.
Secondly, Moishe previously taught a healthy number of mitzvois that apply only in the Land and telling us that Moishe didn’t teach laws that only pertained in the Land is nonsensical. Given that Moishe taka conveyed a good number of such mitzvois earlier, there is no reason why he should not have taught others that would take effect only once they cross the Jordan River.
Lastly, the Radbaz challenges the Ramban’s bold assertion that the laws introduced for the first time in Sefer Devorim either did not take effect until the Yiddin entered the Land, or were not relevant on a regular basis. Hey, what about bentching, he asks? It so happens that we spoke about this mitzvah just last week (its first appearance in the heylige Toirah), right here in sefer Devorim. Are we not commanded to bench daily, or is a mitzvah only in the Promised Land? And what about the divorce laws? Didn’t people get divorced before they entered the Land? Didn’t Moishe’s father Amrom divorce and then remarry Yoicheved? And didn’t others, after chapping a few hot shiksa Midianite mydlich (girls) maybe also leave their wives for more fertile ground?
The bottom line, says the Radbaz is azoy. Mitzvois introduced for the first time in Sefer Devorim were not conveyed to Moishe until this final year of his life. He did not come down with 613 of them. He didn’t know them and therefore couldn’t teach them. Why the RBSO withheld these is none of your business.
And one last thought that mamish connects last week’s parsha to this week’s so gishmak azoy. Last week, while reviewing parshas Eikev and discussing divine punishment, we raised this question: will the rewards and punishments that Moishe delineates with such specificity come our way if but one of us is bad or does the entire nation need to behave or violate? Can one bad apple ruin it for the entire batch? How many have to go bad? Efsher you’re thinking…can I alone bring down the entire nation? And we answered the question through a comparison of the Shema paragraphs. You forgot already? Check out last week’s herewww.oisvorfer.com and as we approach the high holy days, the Oisvorfer has this sad news to share.
Seemingly the debate carried over to this week’s parsha and on the very first words of the Re’eh.
|כורְאֵהאָנֹכִינֹתֵןלִפְנֵיכֶםהַיּוֹם, בְּרָכָהוּקְלָלָה.||26 See, today I place before you a blessing and a curse.|
Said the Vilna Gaon (Talelei Oirois) azoy: the singular word Re’eh (“see”) that opens our parsha means that an individual can be the vehicle through which divine blessing is brought down to all of mankind, even when one is the sole righteous person in a depraved environment. That’s the good news. The bad news comes from the medrish (Tanchuma) which tells us the following: prior to Matan Toirah, communities were taka judged as a unit. Following the receipt of the heylige Toirah where each person was specifically commanded, individuals were judged one by one. And says the Gemora (Kiddushin 40b) azoy. Said Rebbe Elozor ben Reb Shimon: the world is judged on the basis of the majority of its inhabitants, and an individual is judged on the majority of his deeds. One therefore never knows when a single act can change the balance for oneself and for the world.
And says the Gemora (Sukkoh 52b) azoy: a man’s evil inclination threatens every day to overpower him and kill him. If not for the aid of the RBSO who aids him, he would be unable to withstand it. The use of the present tense in verse 26, “today I give you,” teaches us that people are never locked into their past. They can always become better or worse than they were. At every moment one has the choice to do mitzvos, a choice continually provided by the RBSO.
A gittin shabbis
The Oisvorfer Ruv