Spygate in Torah Times & Tzitzis Save the Day
This coming Tuesday will correspond to the 29th day of Sivan. What the hec is Sivan and what happened on the 29th day? Sadly, a number of the Oisvorfer’s readers do not know that the Yiddin mark their holidays, birthdays, and all else, by the lunar calendar, and that each of the months has a name. Who named these months? Believe it or not, these names were adopted by the Yiddin while exiled in Bovel (Babylonia), the months and the names stuck. How were months referred to prior? Nu, if you recall, the heylige Toirah does not name names; months are known by numbers only. Limoshol, month one, month seven and so on. Why the Yiddin adopted names from the Persians while exiled in Bovel, ver veyst and is mistama a subject for another day and let’s get back to the 29th of Sivan. The bottom line of these Babylonian names is azoy: they are in fact rooted in Babylon. Ober, the Yiddin -for reasons which after much researching, remains unclear- is this. The Yiddin adopted them with the understanding that they were Divinely inspired. Says the heylige Gemora Yirushalmi (Rosh Hashono 1:2), azoy: the modern names of the months “came up to Israel from Babylon.” Once so adopted, the Yiddin made these names their own and shoin.
Sivan happens to be the third month (if you count Nissan as month number one; you should). In any event, what took place on the 29th of Sivan back in the year 2449? And how is the event related to Spygate, a name given to the infiltration of at least one spy or informant into then candidate Trump’s campaign? Shoin! Another week and another Trump connection? Efsher good for a pardon one day, ver veyst. On that day, some 3500 years ago, 3529 to be exact, a number of Yiddin -12- took off from Midbar Poron (somewhere in the desert) on a spy mission. Theirs was to reconnoiter the Promised Land. Sadly, 10 of the 12 came back with a bad report, they bad mouthed the Land. Efsher the earliest version of fake news!? The details and aftermath -quite ugly, with consequences affecting over 600,000 male Yiddin between the ages of 20 and 60, who were condemned to death by a very angry RBSO- are covered in this week’s parsha of Shelach. Bottom line: spying leads to bad things. Veyter.
If you thought the Yiddin were in trouble last week, brace yourself for another adventure, or efsher a misadventure is a better descriptor of the Yiddin just over one year after they left Mitzrayim and not too long after they received the heylige Toirah. The cycle of bad behavior and complaining continues, and in Shelach we’ll encounter some of the most complex stories in the gantze Toirah, mamish. This week’s trouble is brought to us by the meraglim (spies) and the wood gatherer, who violated the heylige shabbis. Sandwiching these two incidents, we’ll hear something about challah and the special mitzvah of tzitzis which many of you nebech stopped wearing many, many years ago.
It’s in this week’s heylige parsha, also known as Shelach Lecho by many, where Loshoin Horo (badmouthing), this time not about an individual but about a country, is the root cause of a 39 year delay – by decree – and many dead, nebech. Just a year and change ago, the Yiddin left Mitzrayim and were on their way to the Promised Land. Slavery was over, it was time to bake the matzos, enjoy the gold, silver, gather some bluish colored thread, and other goodies the Yiddin permanently borrowed on their way out. Blue colored thread or string? Who needed that? Nu, this week at the very end of the Parsha, we’ll be introduced to the mitzvah of tzitzis (fringes) and the blue thread will avada come in handy. The Yiddin are on the march, they’re approaching Eretz Yisroel ober as we learn in Shelach, their plans are derailed; the midbar will become designated a mass graveyard and also their home for the next 38-39 years. When will the Yiddin learn not to anger the RBSO? When will you?
So that you have a shtikel something to discuss at the Shabbis tish besides, or in addition to the usual loshoin horo, here’s some information on the mitzvah of challah that the RBSO stuck into the Parsha just after the entire meraglim spy caper. Because all you do is eat challah and likely way too much of it, it’s more than likely you never knew that its preparation has certain requirements and they’re found right here in our Parsha. Hafroshas challah, literally: the separating of a small part of kneaded dough before it is baked into bread, and donating it to the kohanim (priest) is these days accomplished by separating and symbolically burning a small piece of it. The part of the dough which is removed is called ‘challah’. Though we have lost over half the mitzvois since churban beis hamikdash (destruction of the 2nd temple), this challah mitzvah still applies today whenever we bake bread, and all bread and matzah which is baked under kashrus supervision has challah separated by the bakeries.
This shabbis we’ll also meet the wood collector who was mechallel (violating) the holy shabbis and stoned, and as I said earlier, we’ll look at tzitzis which are introduced for the very first time. Is that emes? Some say that the Yiddin wore four cornered garments while still slaves in Mitzrayim, ver veyst? In previous postings, we covered the wood caper and also exposed the meraglim for what they were: basically good guys who ended up being the fall guys in the RBSO’s master plan to keep the Yiddin in the midbar for an extended stay and avada you can read more at www.oisvorfer.com. Check out the archives, it won’t kill you to learn and chazir (review) last year’s givaldige Toirah. Speaking of Tzitzis, a topic previously covered but a shtikel or more relevant again this year, let’s repeat a myseh (story) found in the heylige Gemora.
Nu, while on tzitzis, let’s spend a minute chapping why some wear tzitzis with one or more blue fringes, otherwise known as techeiles. Why? Because that’s mamish what the RBSO commanded in this week’s Parsha. “Speak to the Children of Israel, saying to them that they should make tzitzis for themselves on the corners of their garments, for all generations, and they shall place a thread of techeiles on the tzitzis of each corner.” (Bamidbar 15:38)
Asks and answers the heylige Gemora (Soitah 17a): Why is blue specified from all the varieties of colors? Because blue resembles the sea, and the sea resembles heaven, and heaven resembles the Divine throne, as it is written (Shmois 24:10): “And they saw the G-d of Israel, and His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, as the very heaven for clearness.” Efsher you’re wondering where the Yiddin found Techeiles in the Midbar, so is the Oisvorfer. Then again, as we’ve said on many an occasion: the Midbar was a magical place and if the RBSO said to use techeiles while constructing the Mishkan and in other areas, you can rest assured that somehow, just like the Munn the Yiddin ate, techeiles also magically appeared. You just go to believe.
Says the heylige Gemora (Menachos 38b-44a) azoy: Abaye inquired of Rebbi Shmuel ben Rav Yehuda: How do you dye the blue thread? He replied: We take the blood of the chillazon (some sea creature) together with other ingredients and put them all in a pot and boil them together. Our Rabbis taught: The chillazon resembles the sea in its color, and in shape it resembles a fish; it comes up from the sea once in seventy years, and with its blood one dyes the blue thread. Shoin. Avada the Oisvorfer can write at least 25 pages about tzitzis and techeiles, ober time and space dictate that we move on. Ober, just to tie up the loose strings if you will, here’s the bottom line of why you may want to consider trying on a pair.
Says the Sefer Hachinuch: the gematria (numeric value) of the Hebrew word tzitzis is 600. Now add the sum of the eight strings and five knots which make up each of the tzitzis and shoin, that all comes to 613, incidentally and amazingly also the total number of mitzvois in the gantze Toirah. And so? Nu, some say that by wearing tzitzis, one is like being enveloped in all 613 mitzvois of the entire Toirah. Nu, is life beautiful or what? And says Chazal (our sages) in the heylige Gemora (Nedorim 25a): “The mitzva of tzitzis is considered equal to all the mitzvois in the Toirah” Says the heylige Gemora: Rav Ketina purposely wore garments that did not require tzitzis on them. One day he encountered an angel who told him that he was not doing the proper thing. Indeed, the angel told him that although one who does not wear a garment with tzitzis has technically not transgressed the mitzvah and therefore, is not punished directly by the RBSO; nevertheless, when the Heavenly wrath is forthcoming he becomes more vulnerable to it, as he is lacking the extra protection that the mitzvah of tzitzis would afford. Shoin: if you need protection, if you chap, one can always wrap himself in a good pair of absorbent tzitzis. A second Gemora relates that one who is conscientious in performing the mitzvah of tzitzis will receive the great reward of being able to greet the countenance of the Divine Presence at the end of his days. Avada that could be a nice thing.
And the last word on tzitzis is this: Wearing them is not absolutely obligatory. It’s not? It is avada possible to avoid the command of tzitzis altogether by never wearing a garment of four or more corners. Ober say the RambaM and so rules: “Even though one is not obligated to acquire a [four-cornered] robe and wrap oneself in it in order to [fulfill the command of] tzitzis, it is not fitting for a pious individual to exempt himself from this command” (Hilchois Tzitzis, 3:11).. And oisvorfs who need every mitzvah they can get their hands on in order to tip the scales back in their favor, should zicher not pass up the opportunity to chap this mitzvah. Hec, it’s a freebie, not terribly inconvenient, a good counterbalance for other chapping and avada you all know that they can come off in a flash when the moment so dictates, if you chap. Bottom line: tzitzis are seemingly vitally important and praiseworthy, but not categorical. The mitzvah is conditional: if your garment has four corners, you must put fringes on it. Settled and case closed.
We can klerr that efsher the RBSO gave the Yiddin the tzitzis mitzvah as an aid to help the next generation fare better in the tests where the previous one failed in so many areas. The principal aim of the tzitzis is to remind a person at all times of the RBSO and His commandments, and thereby to avoid the symptoms of lack of faith that arise from forgetting. Had the Yiddin worn tzitzis while in the Midbar, perhaps the meraglim would have looked at them and not spoken loshoin horo and the Yiddin could have avoided a total of 40 years in the midbar and tens of thousands of deaths by decree and also natural causes. Ver veyst. Instead they unraveled, and went into a downward spiral with few upticks as we will be reading in the coming weeks, stay tuned.
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?
The bottom line on Tzitzis: Had unzer (our) President borrowed a pair of Tzitzis from his eydim (son-in-law), or from one his Jewish grandchildren and donned them, efsher he would have chapped himself and avoided a major storm, if you chap. Instead he got chapped.
And as to the meraglim (spies) who are the featured sinners of the week, here’s a quick chazoro (review) of what went down. As to the Miraglim, with the RBSO’s permission (or, as we will learn later this summer at the insistence of the Yiddin), Moishe sends 12 Meraglim (spies or scouts), one from each Sheyvait (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. 40 days later they return carrying very little but 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. In other words: best we don’t fight them, and the Yiddin quickly lose faith in the RBSO and begin crying like little children. They’re mamish depressed. Kolave 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, 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 didn’t get there by laying just bricks, if you chap. Seemingly it’s not so easy 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 Yiddin 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 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 (hey- how many listen weekly when the Rabbi asks them not to remove their Taleisim until after Adoin Oilom); they act impetuously, ignore him and are massacred by the Amalekites and Canaanites. There are dead Jews all over the place. All this for some loshoin horo (bad mouthing). And the rest is, as they say, part of our illustrious history which the RBSO laid out for us in the heylige Toirah in order that we learn valuable lessons. Do we? A nechtiger tug (fugggetaboutit)!
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.
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 Yiddin over to the land? Who needed all these headaches? Ober, the bottom line is this: as has been said many times before, the RBSO had and always does have, a master plan.
And how many meraglim were there? Was it really 12 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 Yiddin 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 beginning of the parsha. Veyter.
Finally if you’re wondering which fruits the Meraglim 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 meraglim 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 hayoim 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.
A gittin Shabbis-
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv