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

Shelach 2019: Dr. Moishe Rabaynu

Raboyseyee and Ladies,


We begin this week with a big mazel tov to our dear friends Jenny and Joey Felder upon the engagement of their son Ethan to Shira Farber, she daughter of Elaine and Yossi Farber. A special mazel tov to Ethan’s grandparents, Mr. and  Mrs. Shimon and Miriam Felder, to uncles (shout out to Aaron Felder), aunts, cousins and extended families on both sides. The Oisvorfer looks forward to participating in this great simcha. The Felders have promised to be on time.

Mazel tov again to our friends Chana and Jay Fenster and to Dasi and Moti Weitz upon the most beautiful and spirited wedding earlier this week of their children Rikki and Yoni. May Rikki and Yoni be blessed with many decades of blissful marriage.

Dr. Moishe Rabaynu,


Was Moishe, in addition to being the great leader of the Yiddin, also a skilled psychologist? Should we be referring to Moishe as Dr. Moishe?

As expected, when it comes to naming the father of psychology, there is a machloikes (dispute) as to who the real father was. Some say the title belongs to Sigmund Freud (1856—1939) who was a physiologist, medical doctor, psychologist and the influential thinker of the early twentieth century. Zicher he was the father of psychoanalysis. Ober in terms of personalities and psychological method, many argue that it’s Gustav Theodor Fechner (1801–1887) who occupies a critical position in the history of psychology. Others argue the title goes to the pioneering sensory physiologist, Ernst Heinrich Weber (1795-1878). Ober, some say that the first practicing psychologist was none other than Wilhelm Wundt who opened the first experimental laboratory in psychology at the University of Leipzig, Germany. Shoin: like success, psychology has many fathers. And, if there is a father, there is also typically a mother, and according to some, it was Margaret Floy Washburn who was the first woman to earn a doctoral degree in American psychology (1894). In every event, the bottom line is this: a psychologist may hold a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) and be called “doctor”; but, is not a medical doctor (M.D.)  Who was the real father of psychology? Ver veyst? Efsher we need Maury Povich to figure it all out.

Ober what has all this to do with Moishe Rabaynu and our parsha? Does the heylige Toirah teach us that Moishe was also a psychologist? It does not!  One thing is zicher: Moishe did not attend college, or grad school, and zicher did not complete his PhD studies. Ober, welcome to parshas Shelach where the RBSO, still not over the eygel caper –some say He is still upset over 3300 years later- is again angered by the Yiddin. The RBSO is considering a plan to wipe them all out and start over. And so he tells Moishe. Says the heylige Toirah (Bamidbar 14: 11-12), azoy:


11.  The Lord said to Moishe, “How long will this people provoke Me? How much longer will they not believe in Me after all the signs I have performed in their midst?   יאוַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־משֶׁ֔ה עַד־אָ֥נָה יְנַֽאֲצֻ֖נִי הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֑ה וְעַד־אָ֨נָה֙ לֹא־יַֽאֲמִ֣ינוּ בִ֔י בְּכֹל֙ הָֽאֹת֔וֹת אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשִׂ֖יתִי בְּקִרְבּֽוֹ:

12.  I will strike them with a plague and annihilate them; then I will make you into a nation, greater and stronger than they.”
  יבאַכֶּ֥נּוּ בַדֶּ֖בֶר וְאֽוֹרִשֶׁ֑נּוּ וְאֶֽעֱשֶׂה֙ אֹֽתְךָ֔ לְגֽוֹי־גָּד֥וֹל וְעָצ֖וּם מִמֶּֽנּוּ:


It’s not the first time. He wants to efsher go back to factory settings and start all over again, this time with Moishe as the father of a new nation. Mamish azoy? What giferliche crime did the Yiddin commit this week to so anger the RBSO? Were they involved in sexual depravity? Orgies efsher, as they were back in the times of the Mabul? Not this time! Not to worry as we’ll be reading of such behavior in a few more shabosim when we read of their sex-capades in parshas Bolok. Ober, is the RBSO generally in the habit of threatening extinction? Let’s find out.

And to find out, let’s first hearken back to parshas Noiach where following the mabul (great flood) which killed all living things -save Noaich and his family, the selected animals and birds -oh let’s not forget Oig who according to some- hung onto the side of the teyvo (Ark), the RBSO declared that He would not again revisit total annihilation on the Yiddin. Says the heylige Toirah (Bereishis 9:11), azoy:


11.  And I will establish My covenant with you, and never again will all flesh be cut off by the flood waters, and there will never again be a flood to destroy the earth.”   יאוַֽהֲקִֽמֹתִ֤י אֶת־בְּרִיתִי֙ אִתְּכֶ֔ם וְלֹֽא־יִכָּרֵ֧ת כָּל־בָּשָׂ֛ר ע֖וֹד מִמֵּ֣י הַמַּבּ֑וּל וְלֹא־יִֽהְיֶ֥ה ע֛וֹד מַבּ֖וּל לְשַׁחֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ:

The emes is that if you look at the words carefully, all He promised was not to kill them via a flood. That did however not preclude death by other means. The RBSO did seemingly leave the door open to other types of death and this week we shall read about one of them. In any event, that’s the way it was –no mass annihilation- until the Yiddin, His newly minted Chosen People- just days following Revelation- decided to build themselves a golden calf and shoin. All promises went out the window and the RBSO told Moishe that He wanted to kill all the Yiddin and start over.  Kill everyone mamish? Why? Mistama you recall that in Toirah time, just months back, the Yiddin fearing  Moishe had died and left them leaderless, decided to build an eygel (golden calf) which they seemingly worshipped and reveled around. Some say that lewd behavior was also in play. The RBSO felt let down, the incident having taken place mamish just after Matan Toirah (Revelation), and in response, wanted to eradicate His newly minted Chosen People and begin all over again. And so the heylige Toirah taught us in Shemois (32:9-10). Says the heylige Toirah (Shemois)


9.  And the Lord said to Moishe: “I have seen this people and behold! They are a stiff necked people.


  טוַיֹּ֥אמֶר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־משֶׁ֑ה רָאִ֨יתִי֙ אֶת־הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֔ה וְהִנֵּ֥ה עַם־קְשֵׁה־עֹ֖רֶף הֽוּא:
10.  Now leave Me alone, and My anger will be kindled against them so that I will annihilate them, and I will make you into a great nation.”   יוְעַתָּה֙ הַנִּ֣יחָה לִּ֔י וְיִֽחַר־אַפִּ֥י בָהֶ֖ם וַֽאֲכַלֵּ֑ם וְאֶֽעֱשֶׂ֥ה אֽוֹתְךָ֖ לְג֥וֹי גָּדֽוֹל:

Ober Moishe defended the Yiddin. He talked the RBSO down. Avada we speak metaphorically as the RBSO allowed Himself to be entreated by Moishe’s pleading and prayers. Rather than magic, the heylige Toirah tells us that —Moishe faithfully  represented his people and by speaking brilliantly to the RBSO when presenting his argument on their behalf. Moishe made use of various rhetorical strategies to persuade the RBSO to change his mind. He employed the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy by which the RBSO is known. Avada we chap that the RBSO always has the last word on the possibility and effectiveness of intercession as we will learn in parshas Voeschanan when the RBSO tells Moishe to stop asking, to stop negotiating on the matter of Moishe entering the land.

Ober let’s move onto this week’s parsha headline, the crime of spying. Long before the advent of Siri, Alexa and other devices which -though useful at times, also seem to spy on us by listening to every word we say, the heylige Toirah in this week’s parsha introduces the concept of spies and spying, and what can go wrong when spying spirals out of control. Let’s set the stage: The Yiddin are mamish ready to enter the Land, they are at the precipice mamish, ober with one act, it’s all over. A short midbar trek, a journey of but days, will by mid parsha be elongated to 40 years. And before that deal was struck, seemingly in a plea bargain, what the RBSO had in mind for the sin of the miracle (spies) was much worse. What could be worse than spending 40 years in a desolate midbar? Death! What the RBSO had in mind once again, and the third time since we began learning the heylige Toirah (lets recall His instant decision to wipe out humanity in parshas Noiach, and his close call with the Eygel), was to kill them all though a plague He would visit upon them  and then to rebuild a new nation through Moishe.


Once again Moishe employed a tactic of “the Jewish G-d took His people out of Egypt only to kill them off in the desert”. Moishe then says, “And now let the name of G-d become great and quotes six of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy by which God is known. Why did Moishe quote all 13 Attributes the last time the RBSO wanted to kill the Yiddin and only 6 this time in our parsha? Says the Netziv so gishmak, azoy: Moishe was only looking for those ‘midos’, those character traits that would appease the RBSO for that moment. In other words: each specific foible they committed required a very specific remedy and approach to the RBSO for forgiveness. Says the Ramban: Moishe was not seeking complete forgiveness, but only a partial, enough to get the Yiddin into the Promised Land alive. Moishe figured that once there, the RBSO could complete their punishment, if still required. Ober how does that answer the question of why he uttered only 6 of the 13 Attributes of Mercy for which the RBSO is known? Seemingly Moishe knew which buttons to push and that’s why he was Moishe Rabaynu, doctor or not, and we are mostly but oisvorfs. Fartig!

Efsher what the Netziv is saying is azoy: when it comes to soothing the RBSO’s anger, we need to know which and how many words to use depending on the given situation. At times, we must say and daven more; at others, efsher fewer words are more effective. As an aside, the same tactics are emes when fighting with the eishes chayil (at home or on the road). At times, a simple “I’m sorry” will do. At others, depending avada on what you may have done wrong, if you chap, and especially so, jewelry and more may be involved in order to gain full appeasement. As to Moishe and his approach in our parsha, the particular six words and phrases were spoken to soften the relationship, confirming the notion of not saying too much. In a few words, using psychology, he successfully navigated his way to one again save the Yiddin. Efsher the eygel – avoido zoro (idol worship) mamish- required all 13 Attributes, ober stam azoy a simple case of 10 spies speaking some loshoin horo about the Land, seemingly six were enough. Efsher 13 would have been overkill. At times, too many words will include a few that are not appropriate. Those few can unravel the entire apology when trying to use them to assuage anger or hurt.

The bottom line as the Oisvorfer sees it: The RBSO entertained Moishe’s arguments which centered on psychological factors as to why the RBSO should change His mind and forgive the Yiddin. Moishe argued azoy: what will the Mitzrim (Egyptians) say when they hear that the RBSO killed His own people? As an aside, “what will the goyim say and what will the neighbors say” has been uttered by parents for generations. More times than not, when stated timely and employed correctly, the desired results are achieved. Why? It’s psychological warfare. It’s effective and so the heylige Toirah teaches us. Both the Toirah and Rashi credit Moishe’s speech with saving the Yiddin. Says the heylige Toirah (Bamidbar 14:20):


סָלַחְתִּי כִּדְבָרֶךָ “I have forgiven them in accord with your word.”

Says Rashi: “In accord with your word” – Because of what you [Moishe] said, that is: “it was on account of the RBSO’s inability . . .”


The bottom line is azoy: from a theological perspective, the notion of mortal man arguing with the RBSO is the epitome of absurdity, crazy mamish. Ober when learning the heylige Toirah we see that arguing, pleading, davening and using psychology, are all tools in the armamentarium we are given permission to employ in an effort to get the RBSO to change His mind. It’s as natural as talking to your friend or parent. No reason to spend money on mikubolim (mystics) or other charlatans. Man may daven to the RBSO. Seemingly, he may also argue with, debate, and even accuse the RBSO. And the first practitioner of such tactics? None other than Moishe Rabaynu who used them all. When the Yiddin were facing extinction and or annihilation, he used  psychological warfare. When Miriam was stricken with tzo’ra’as for speaking loshoin horo, Moishe davened to the RBSO and asked that RBSO heal her. When the RBSO threatened annihilation, Moishe employed verbal warfare, using psychological tools the RBSO allowed him to use. Moishe’s tactics worked, the RBSO said He would forgive the Yiddin and a crisis was averted. Psychology 101? Efsher advanced psychological arguments?


And we close with this and ask azoy: why is it that the RBSO was always looking to kill the Yiddin and start over? Did He have buyer’s remorse? What would have been so giferlich with a separation or even a divorce? Why was He seemingly always read to kill us? Living under the threat of death in an unhappy marriage cannot be good for one’s nerves. What’s taka pshat? And the real answer is azoy: we have no clue and no matter how much we read or what the rabbis try telling us, we still don’t know. Ober efsher pshat is azoy: It’s taka emes that on the one hand, it appears that the RBSO flies into a rage and wants to kill us all. Ober, on the other hand, once Moishe appeared on the scene, the RBSO provided him with the tools to arouse the RBSO’s own powers of forgiveness to overcome that desire. How are we to chap all this? Ver veyst? We just roll with the punches and hope that another Moishe, or someone with his abilities -think the Moshiach by way of example- appears on the scene and gets us out from under these threats.

A gittin Shabbis-

The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv

Yitz Grossman



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