Weekly Parsha Review Laced with Humor and Sarcasm from The Oisvorfer Ruv

Shelach 2013 – Female Spies?

800-Joshua-02-Rahab SpiesEarlier this morning while the rest of the shul was making believe they were saying the extra-long  Monday and Thursday version of tachanun, which as an aside, most people don’t say anyway, the heylige Oisvorfer was busy looking at the super-sized Chumish known as the Mikro’ois Gedoilois. This one includes a few interesting commentators including the “Kli Yakar,” (Precious Vessel),  a 16th century commentators on the Chumish. Says he quite an interesting pshat about the meraglim and how the entire scandal could have been avoided had Moishe chosen to send female spies vs. the men he sent. Women could have saved the day, alas it wasn’t meant to be. Nu, we’ll get to that soon ober ershtens………


Vey is mir (woe is to me): things with the Yiddin have been less than rosy these last few weeks and the news isn’t much better in this week’s parsha of Shelach which recounts the famous myseh of the meraglim and which led the RBSO to retaliate and declare that the Yiddin would, instead of making a quick trip across the desert into the promised land, end up trekking in the Midbar for 40 years before entry. Nu, given such news, the Yiddin found ways to occupy themselves and found themselves embroiled in several fiascos, going from one set of troubles into another. Nebech, we’ll learn more as we make our way through Sefer Bamidbar.  Along the way, the RBSO will continue to thin out the male population until all those that He had intended to leave behind, will mamish die in the Midbar.  In the end, very few of those leaving Mitzrayim make it over to the Promised Land including Moishe Rabaynu. Nu, could it be more depressing? As stated above, vey iz mir and Yikes!!


There is however a shtikel good news, a sliver of a silver lining: some might even say the news is mamish oisergevayntlich (outstandingly good). After reading all about the Meraglim (spies) and the fellow tending to his wood on shabbis (last story in this week’s parsha), and as you make your way through the rest of Sefer Bamidbar, you might come to the conclusion that you’re not such a giferliiche oisvorf and minuvil, in fact not at all such a terrible person. And you might taka be right! Compared to the less than exemplary behavior of the Yiddin (at least a portion of them) during their 40 year Midbar experience, you might be quite the tzaddik!


And with that less than cheerful introduction let’s quickly, in one paragraph, efsher two, review the gantze Parsha of  Shelach before selecting a topic or two for further discussion.


With the RBSO’s permission (or, as we will learn later this summer – at the insistence of the BNY), Moishe sends 12 Miraglim (spies or scouts), one from each Sheyvet (tribe), to check out the Promised Land of Canaan. Prophetically sensing trouble, he, Moishe, changes Hoshea’s name to Yehoshua, expressing a prayer that the RBSO not let him fail in his mission. As you can only imagine, the medrish is replete with myriad interpretations on this name change, more below. 40 days later they return carrying unusually large fruit. 10 of the 12 spies state that the people in Canaan are as formidable as the fruit they just smuggled over the border. Nu, fruits that are too large can taka also be a problem, if you chap.  In other words: best we don’t fight them, and the Yiddin quickly lost faith in the RBSO and began crying like little children. The RBSO was not at all pleased with the crybabies and declared (according to the medrish) that a time will come- namely Tisha Be’av- when the Yiddin will have good reason to cry. How is Tisha Be’av related to our parsha, very veyst ober  the medrish weaves the stories together.  Avada you recall learning that the Medrish has literary license. The Yiddin are mamish depressed. Colev and Yehoshua, the two good guys, try but fail to bolster the people’s spirit. Too late! The Yiddin are petrified and nervous about war against the Land’s inhabitants and  demand a return to Mitzrayim where they had shelter, an expanded menu of watermelon, fish and meat, hot shiksa Mitzri women and other good times; hey, didn’t we learn that the Yiddin had sunk to the 48th of the 49 levels of Tumah (impurity and shmutz)? Yes we did!  Mistama they got there by laying more than just bricks, if you chap. Seemingly,  it takes a block of time to break out of that slave mentality after 210 years. The RBSO is, avada fed up with His people and tells Moishe that He would like to wipe them out and start all over again (not the first time this has been suggested) using Moishe as the master seed.  Ober Moishe davens and through his fervent prayers, saves the nation once again from annihilation. Though their lives are saved, the RBSO does not give the BNY a free pass  and instead decrees that they must remain in the Midbar (desert) for 40 years in total, one year for each day of the spy mission  (where they will commit many more transgressions) and until the men who wept at the scouts’ false report pass away.  A renegade and remorseful group rashly begins an invasion of the Land based on the RBSO’s original command. Moishe warns them not to proceed, but they are Yiddin who avada don’t like to take orders form their leaders. Has any Rabbi  successfully and totally stopped talking in shul or the kiddush club? Yiddin don’t listen, they act impetuously! Nu, the Yiddin didn’t listen to Moishe and were massacred by the Amalekites and Canaanites. There are dead Jews all over the place. Veyter.


The Parsha mentions a few new rules concerning the Korbonois (offerings) a topic we’ll skip over. If you want more information about Korbonois, visit the website (www.oisvorfer.com) and look up the first few parshiois in Sefer Vayikra. The Yiddin are told to remove challah from their dough, seemingly the source of challah removal ad hayoim hazeh (till today). A new rule is handed down: should someone blaspheme against the RBSO, chas v’sholom (a subject we covered a few weeks back) and be unrepentant, he will be cut off spiritually from his people. Don’t tune out: the best is upon us right now. Towards the end (7th aliya), a man is found gathering wood on public property in violation of hilchois Shabbis and he’s stoned to death. Next: The laws of tzitzis are taught.  Nu, are you dizzy yet?  Shoin! We just covered the gantze Parsha with its 100+ pisukim in one paragraph and many of you are wondering why the Oisvorfer doesn’t stop right here: taka an excellent question.


And as we follow the travails of the Yiddin these last few weeks and in upcoming Parshas, one must begin to ponder this thought: seemingly the Yiddin, at least the generation of men that left Mitzrayim and arrived at Har Seenai only a short time back, were efsher not quite ready for prime time. Not ready to become the RBSO’s chosen people. Seemingly the RBSO agreed.


Nu, the main topic of discussion seems to be the misdeeds of the meraglim. Let the Oisvorfer delight you with a few pearls, feel free to discuss at the shabbis tish instead of the usual menu of loshoin horo and badmouthing the Rabbi’s speech. And as mentioned above, let’s see how women could have helped the Yiddin avoid the gantze gisheft and help them get to the Promised Land  39 years earlier. Lommer lernin.


Exactly what it was the meraglim said that was so giferlich the Oisvorfer never really chapped. Haven’t we all said much worse loshoin horo over the years? And are you (we) still alive?  Is pointing out that the fruit was epes too large so giferlich? A chaver told me that for the last 15 years, he’s been pointing out to his eishes chayil that certain parts of her are too large and guess what? He’s very much  alive and they’re still married!! And these poor fellows, not just did they get admonished; they got the death sentence- right there in the midbar. Maybe fruit smuggling was a capital offense, ver veyst.


What terrible sin did these meraglim commit?  Weren’t they specifically selected because each was an upstanding person, each a leader who could mistama articulate and communicate? Isn’t that why each was referred to as a leader, a Nosee of his sheyvait? Indeed they were instructed to report the facts, and that’s exactly what they did! Furthermore, even if we consider their report as deliberately biased, why the death sentence for some loshoin horo? Just last week Miriam got a seven day sentence of leprosy for speaking ill of her brother, should the entire nation be punished for being misled by a small group of 12 people?  Finally, even if the Yiddin’s initial reaction wasn’t as enthusiastic as the RBSO had hoped, is this a valid reason for annihilation? Does this rise to the sin of the Eygel (golden calf) where the Yiddin mamish worshipped a false god? Moreover, we just read that they did tshuva (repent) by declaring their willingness to take the challenge of conquering the Land and some did! What’s p’shat here? Isn’t tshuva supposed to work? And if not, why are we davening a whole day on Yoim Kippur? And can you imagine how empty our Shuls would be if we were all sentenced to death for some loshoin horah? Ver veyst- who knows- and how are we to understand this story?


Rashi calls these spies upstanding citizens in one posik and then just a few earlier, he refers to them as “these wicked people.” The answer Raboyseyee is that you need to spend some time learning and reading the myriad medroshim on this story. For the Oisvorfer, it’s  20 pages of writing, yikes! Yet a few more questions to ponder. Why then was Dor HaMidbar (the generation that wandered the desert) punished so severely? Why must they wander forty years until they perish? Why couldn’t the RBSO just wipe them out as he does to smaller groups throughout sefer Bamidbar and take the rest of the BNY over to the land? Who needed all these headaches? Ober, the bottom line is this: as has been said many time before, the RBSO had and always does have, a master plan.


And how many meraglim were there? Was it really12 as we were always taught?  Maybe not.  The Toirah uses a double expression of ‘ish echad ish echad’ to describe the meraglim sent by each sheyvait. Common knowledge is that one spy was sent from each sheyvait; however, says Toisfos (Soita 34a) citing the opinion of Rebi Akiva quoted  in the Yerushalmi who derives from the double language azoy: in actuality 2 spies (ish-ish) went from each sheyvait for a total of 24. Rebi Yishmael disagrees, no surprise there.


Avada you’re shocked to hear that Rebi  Akiva has a different view than the words of the heylige Toirah mamish and you might be klerring (thinking) azoy: According to his view, why does the Toirah list only twelve names at the beginning of the parsha when actually 24 were sent?  Ahha…..answers The Toirah Temimah azoy: only the important, prominent ones were mentioned by name; the less prominent remained anonymous. Gishmak!

Perhaps the less prominent 12 were not involved in or not responsible for causing the BNY to complain and lose faith; leadership comes with responsibilities. Or, efsher they stayed behind to taste the real fruit in the land, if you chap.  Accordingly, only the leaders, the chashuvim (big shots) are named at the the beginning of the parsha. Veyter.


Finally if you’re wondering which fruits the Meragim smuggled back that caused all this trouble, the answer is 1- a cluster of grapes; 2- a pomegranate; 3 – a fig. And it took 8 miraglim to carry them.


Seemingly since almost the beginning of time, the Yiddin haven’t fared very well when it came to fruit. Efsher you recall that fruit and the tree it came from caused all sorts of problems way back when, the effects of which we suffer ad hyyoim hazeh (till this day). And  fruit seems to have been at the root cause of the Yiddin having to spend an additional 39 years wandering through the midbar looking for a port-a- potty.


Nu, earlier the heylige Oisvorfer mentioned and promised a gishmake pshat form the Kli Yokor, here we go.  Said he azoy: when describing the meraglim, the heylige Toirah referred to them as ‘men’ and Moishe was taka instructed to  “send for yourself men.” Said the Kli Yokor azoy:  the men hated the Land, for they said ‘Let us turn around and return to Mitzrayim (BaMidbar 14:4) whereas, the women loved the Land, for they said ‘Give us an inheritance in it’  (BaMidbar 27:4). Therefore, the RBSO said, ‘From my perspective, for I know the future, it would have been better to send the women, who love the Land, and would not speak ill of it.’


In other words:  the RBSO  would not have minded so much the sending of spies, and the results of the expedition would have been far less catastrophic, if the spies had indeed been women! Givaldig. Seemingly, women make for better spies and let this taka be a lesson to the men, if you chap, especially if you chap.


Nu, speaking of the role woman could have played and roles they did play, next week we’ll meet Mrs. Oin ben Peles ober halt zich eyn.  Ober you should taka know that the RBSO seemingly kept this thought in mind because if any of you are still in shul instead of valgering at the kiddish club while they read the heylige haftoirah, you will read the amazing story of Rochov the innkeeper, if you chap, and how 39 years later, she played a huge role helping the two new spies with their mission. Can’t wait? Here’s what went down, besides Rochov.


Shoin! In advance of the final crossing, two spies (Yehoishua, Perek 2), were sent by Yehoishua to check out  Yericho. Nu, where did they wind up? Where else but in the ‘inn’, if you chap,  for some R&R run by Rochov. Nu, to make a long story short, Rochov is recorded in our rich history as one of the more improbable heroines. Seemingly, though her selected profession was epes not what her mother might have imagined for her daughter, seemingly it did the trick, if you chap. She saved the lives of the spies by hiding them from the king’s soldiers on her rooftop and misleading the soldiers as to their departure and destination.


The kli Yokor concludes that had women been sent, they would likely have seen their mission as determining “how” to implement the command of the RBSO to conquer the Land, without having had any doubt as to the ability of the Yiddin. He suggests that unlike the males who  showed a lack of investment in the land, the females showed great love for it. While the men suggested going back to Mitzrayim, the heylige women, like Tzelofchad’s daughters, fought hard for their right to inherit land in Canaan. Had Moishe sent female spies, they would have seen the same terrifying sights as did their male counterparts; ober  driven by their love for the land, they would have focused on long-term solutions instead of becoming discouraged in the face of difficulty.


Since the parsha ends up with the great mitzvah of tzitzis, and since we gave mention to Rochov the special innkeeper, let  the Oisvorfer close by reminding you of the givaldige and insightful Gemora (Menochois 44a) which says amazingly azoy: once upon a time a man was about to sin with a zoina (harlot, innkeeper) when he was suddenly and unexpectedly saved from his immoral plan by his tzitzis. Want more detail? Learn the heylige Gemora. Mistama she freaked out and ran away, ver veyst?

A gitten shabbis-

The Oisvorfer

Yitz Grossman

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