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

Shemois 2014

Moses_meets_Zipporah_at_the_wellGood news: in case you forgot, here’s one more chance to sponsor the Oisvorfer’s’ daughter for her upcoming marathon run to support Camp HASC. Here are the details: do it please.


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Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:

Sefer Shemois: Coming Attractions

Good Paroy dead, New Paroy bad, Yiddin enslaved, Moishe born, Yiddin Freed, Let’s make Pesach and much more-

Welcome to Sefer and parshas Shemois. It’s the parsha where we’ll meet baby Moishe, meet him again briefly but once or twice more, though his age at those meetings is in dispute, and then lose sight of him until he is at least 40, though some say 60. At some point, he will get married to Tzipoira and at 80, will be called upon by the RBSO, to return to Mitzrayim and lead the Yiddin out of slavery. Ober why is it that we know mamish nothing about this great man, Moishe, other than what was described above?  Where was he and what was he doing from birth until he showed up in Midian? Did he have a bar mitzvah? Was he learning in the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever? Why is it that the heylige Toirah tells us so precious little about the most important person ever to be involved with the Yiddin? Ver veyst! Other than the fact that he eventually skedaddled out of Mitzrayim as a wanted man and wound up in Midian where he married the shiksa daughter of a goyishe priest, not much is known about his first 80 years. Why, ver veyst?

Though the heylige Toirah doesn’t tell us, that of course doesn’t mean that others didn’t proffer their own ideas and let’s taka explore a few.  Says the heylige Toirah (Shemois 2:11) azoy: When Moishe was grown, he began to go out to his own people… Ober, how old was he when grown? Bar mitzvah age; a teenager maybe? Nu it depends on who you ask.  Says one medrish (ShemoisRabbah 5:1): he was 12 years old! Ober, say other sources, he was either 18 and according to Rabbi Moishe HaDarshan, he was 60.

Shemois is also an excellent parsha to read when discussing yichus (pedigree) because it appears that Moishe indeed married a shiksa, maybe two of them, and yet, that did not at all deter the RBSO from approaching him and handpicking him to lead the Yiddin out of Mitzrayim. Not just was he a leader but the only person in recorded Jewish history that the RBSO had actual conversations with. Moishe may have had two different wives? Nu, that depends on who you ask. And no surprise here, the commentators differ as to whether or not the Kushite woman he married,is Tzipoirah or not. Says the Rashbam: Moishe married a woman from Kush where he first settled before he went to Midian and married Tzipoirah. Ober says Rashi:  the Kushitewoman and Tzipoirah are one and the same, Kushite being synonymous with “beautiful”.  Many understand Kushite to be Ethiopian/Sudanese and a Kushite therefore to be dark-skinned, a black beauty. In other words, a fair skinned blond she zicher was not. Neither was she a Beis Yaakov girl. And as discussed in the past, though zicher worthy of repeating, the RBSO seems not to be bothered by Moishe marrying out and also understands and maybe also appreciates these types of questionable relationships. Avada you recall that Moishe wasn’t the first or only famous Jewish leader to marry out and achieve greatness. Let’s not forget that Yehuda married Tamar, also a nice shiksa, and from that union, came not only royalty, but one day (soon), also the Moshiach himself, mamish. Of course that does not give you a license to marry out or to even go out, or even in, if you chap. Stay put! As an aside, let’s also recall that Yehoishua, Moishe’s successor, so appointed by the RBSO Himself, the man who, unlike Moishe made it over to the Promised Land, also married out. Of course this only happened after he had been in…err we meant to the Inn, if you chap, where he met Rochov the local zoina or, as they teach in yeshiva these days, the local innkeeper. Likely,  it’s the only Tanach(Prophets) you actually remember, chazir that you are.  Of course we can kler that Moishe married before matan Toirah and that mistama Rochov converted. Of course!

Zicher you recall learning that eventually Moishe did go out, didn’t like what he saw and whacked an Egyptian whom Moishe observed beating on a hapless Jew. With his life in danger, Moishe was on the run and says the Medrish, he wound up in Africa where he was appointed King of Kush. He did? Moishe went to Africa, became a king, had a wife and maybe also a family and ruled for 40 years and no one told us? OMG! Why is this story not mentioned in the heylige Toirah? Then again this is medrish; who says it has to be true? It is possible of course, but only because the heylige Toirah left out nearly eighty years of his life. And with that much missing, one medrish decided that he was the king and ruled. Could’ve happened, why not? And it would taka explain a meyseh (story) years later in the midbar (desert) when Miriam made reference to the Kushite wife Moishe married. Then again, if the RBSO wanted us to know and thought it might be important biographical information, He could have told us and mistama would’ve. Mistama He thought we don’t need to know. Moreover, we know kimat nothing and maybe less about Avrohom Oveenu and his entire childhood; we met him only later in life, all grown up and past middle age. Did that stop him from becoming one of our forefathers? Not! On the other hand, there are certain characters about whom we know more. Why, ver veyst? Our job is to learn the text and not question why the RBSO decided to give or not give details; it was His prerogative. Shoin and veyter. Anyway, according to this medrish, Moishe ruled over Kush for 40 years and retired at the age of 67, maybe the mandatory retirement age in Kush at that time, ver veyst.  If this medrish is emes, Moishe would have been 27 upon his arrival in Kush. Oh…and according to this medrish, he also married a nice black girl from Kush whom he seemingly left behind when he took off to Midyan to start a new life. Jewish she wasn’t!A popular answer given by rabbis as to why the heylige Toirah is silent on many details is that it is neither a history book nor an action novel, it’s the heylige Toirah!  There is no need to state details which the RBSO felt were not important for us to know. Alternatively, this might have been the RBSO’s plan: that we should study and analyze the text, ask questions and find answers. And taka that’s exactly what the heylige Mishne, Gemora, Medrish, rabbis and many others do; they plug holes. Unfortunately, many oisvorfs do this as well, if you chap.

Efsher you’re wondering why Moishe, who grew up in the Royal Palace as a son or stepson of Paroy’s daughter, would go out and be bothered by the sighting of a Mitzri beating up on a Jewish slave? Did Moishe have special feelings for Yiddin? Did Moishe havean inkling that he was Jewish? Something in his mother’s milk efsher? Ver veyst? Let’s go veyter.

Moishe left the palace in order to observe the condition of his brothers up close.  Ober how did Moishe know that the Yiddin were his brothers? Taka an excellent kasha: the commentators say this isn’t really a good question. We can assume and seemingly do, that Moishe’s wet nurse, his real mother, sang him a few baby Moshe songs or whispered a few Jewish jokes into his ear. Maybe he had a brisand she needed to explain his shortcomings, ver veyst? And taka says the Abarbanel: If Moishe was raised by his mother who served as Paroy’s daughter’s wet nurse, it stands to reason that Yoicheved made sure that Moishe would be aware of his true roots. Veyter.  And once he had these feelings, when Moishe witnessed his brothers beating, he sprang into action and killed the goy! Fartig! The next day, Moishe observed two Yiddin fighting. What should two slaves be fighting over? Mistama it was over who gets which aliyaor psicha on Yom Kippur, ver veyst. Seemingly, the president of the salves wanted the best for himself and other former presidents. Isn’t that what Yiddin fight about: Kibudim?  Ober when trying to mediate between them they turned on him, revealing that they were aware that Moishe killed the Mitzri(goy). Seemingly, they also ratted him out, oy vey. Moishe had enough and off he was to either Midian or Kush. Not the first Toirah personality that feared for his life and took off. Not long ago, Yaakov feared for his life and he also took off.

Efsher you’ve been wondering why Moishe was selected for this job? Why not you? What characteristics did he display that marked him as a future leader?  Interestingly enough, the heylige Toirah doesn’t tell us. All we know about him from birth until much later can be found in a few pisukim (2:11-22). Ober not to worry because, the medrish, Hollywood writers and others seem to have filled in the gaps.

Ober says the Netziv mamish so gishmak azoy: just before Moishe put an end to the Mitzri, he looked in both directions and while most assume this means that he looked around to make sure he wasn’t being spotted, says the Netziv azoy:  Moishe was not worried about being seen.  He was looking in both directions to see and possibly find someone, anyone that saw the great injustice being done. Sadly, there was no ish- no such person. What he saw … “VaYar-ki-ein-ish”, he saw that there was no man.  Moishe saw that there was no one who gave a second thought to an individual with power randomly attacking a helpless Jew, no one who saw any need to apply justice to the situation.  Given this reality, Moishe saw that he had no choice but to be that person.  This is what made Moishe a potential leader even way back then; he stepped up and made a difference. Taka a gishmak pshat, worthy of the shabbis tish.

Moreover, the Netziv makes reference to the famous comment of Hillel (MishneOvis  2:5), “In a place where there are no people, make an effort to be a person.”  In plain English:  when a situation calls for action but nobody responds to that call, one should take this responsibility upon his shoulders.  Moishe, upon recognizing the absence of a “person” to defend the hapless slave, rose to the occasion and killed the Mitzri goy. Gishmak!

Still on the run from Mitzrayim where he was seemingly a wanted man, or, according to an earlier medrish,  seeking a new retirement community away from Kush, Moishe made his way to Midian, went to the well, and shoin…….along came Tzipoirah with her sisters to water the flock. Why the well? What was Moishe doing at the well in Midian in the first place? Says Rashi:  Moishe sat at the well with the hope of meeting his bashert (predestined wife).  Moishe avada studied his Jewish history and recalled that Yaakov met his first love at the well and that Eliezer found Rivka, also  at the well. Seemingly good things used to happen to Yiddin near water; these days, sadly not so much. Zicher you recall that Nachshoin ben Aminodov bravely jumped into the water and it split soon thereafter.

The heylige Toirah tells us that Moishe played hero by chasing away the shepherds that were bothering Yisroy’s daughters; seemingly, they wanted to check out their jugs, ver veyst. Actually, a medrish we will reference in mamish a few seconds will confirm that.  Says the medrish (ShemoisRabba 1:32) azoy: Tzipoirah and her six sisters were being harassed by a group of shepherds. Says Rashi on that medrish that the shepherds bothered the sisters because Yisroy, a Midianite chieftain, had abandoned avoidazoro (idolatry) and as a result, was banned from living in the community. He was considered a traitor! And hear this: It was Tzipoirah who cleansed her childhood home from the getchkis (idolatry). There is a connection to her name, which means “bird”, with the purification process whose final step is the sacrifice of a bird. Nu, let’s not jump ahead; we’ll cover the bird as a sacrifice later in Vayikra.

At the well he watched in horror as Yisroy’s daughters, all seven of them, were being harassed by their fellow shepherds. What’s pshat harassed? Says the Medrish (Shemois Rabba) something mamish shreklich: the girls were being physically attacked and were the victims of attempted rape. Yikes! Once again Moishe displays passion for total strangers, saves them and cares for their flock. Yisroy takes Moishe in, and gives him Tzipoirah as a wife.  Moishe and Tzipoirah marry and have two kinderlach, and lived happily ever after. Is this what happened?

Not so says the TargumYoinoson ben Uzeil and who had a more vivid imagination than he, azoy: when Yisroy found out that Moishe was a fugitive from Mitzrayim, he threw Moishe into a pit where Moishe languished for 10 years. Why would he do that? Seemingly, Yisroy was himself a former macher (bigwig) in Egypt and decided to take matters into his own hands.   Yisroy, a self appointed sheriff threw Moishe into the pit and kept his as a fugitive. During that time, one of his daughters (Tzipoirah) took care of Moishe’s needs and eventually became his eishes chayil- wow! What those needs are, he does not say but we imagine that food was also included, if you chap.Interestingly enough, Moishe like Yaakov and in family tradition, fell in love with Yisroy’s youngest of seven daughters. Why the youngest, ver veyst? Ober a medrish we’ll read mamish soon, will tell us that Tzipoirah was a beauty mamish and also like his forefathers, Moishe too seemed epes to have been drawn to her physical appearance. Why not?

As an aside, if an earlier Medrish is emes, Moishe was 77 when he was freed from the pit.
Two years later, now happily married to Tzipoirah and gainfully employed by his shver as a shepherd, a profession that Yaakov and other Toirah personalities also enjoyed, and while traversing the mountains, he came upon the Burning Bush, had a talk with the RBSO and shoin- he had a new mission: save the Yiddin from slavery and lead them out of Mitzrayim. We assume that Moishe is over 79 years old now and was, as the heylige Toirah tells us, 80 years old when he returned to Mitzrayim.

Ober says another quite entertaining Medrish (PirkeiDerebbi Eliezer 40) that Yisroy only allowed Moishe to marry Tzipoirah after some unusual shtekin (staff) incident. It’s not what you think, chazerim that you are. Lommer lernin, it’s gishmak mamish. Tzipoirah, Yisroy’s daughter, was famous for her fine character and beauty. In Midian, where she lived with her father and six sisters, people often talked of Tzipoirah’s kindness and wisdom. Many were the princes who came to Yisroy, seeking the hand of his daughter in marriage. To all suitors Yisroy had but one answer: “In my garden there grows a wonderful staff. If your Royal Highness will get it out of the ground, Tzipoirah will be yours.”

Eagerly the suitor would go into the garden and up to that wonderful staff glittering in the sun with a million colors and hues. His first attempt to pull the staff out of the ground would bring no results. Again and again he would try to pull at the staff with all his might, but of no avail. (Pulling on the shtekin does require some skill, if you chap). The staff simply could not be dislodged from the ground. Thus the princes came hopefully, and left abashed and mystified. Tzipoirah would often go into the garden, admire the wonderful staff and wonder who her husband would be.

But how did this wonderful staff come to be there? Seemingly, the shtekin was as old as the world itself. When the RBSO created the world, He created that shtekin out of pure sapphire. On it were engraved the Hebrew letters of the RBSO’s name, and ten other mysterious letters. The RBSO gave this staff to Odom (Adam) who used it to walk in GanEden  (Garden of Eden). Later it turned up in the hands of the pious Noiach, and he passed it on to Sheim, he the founder of the first ever sleep-away-yeshiva. Some say that Sheim used the shtekin to beat the crap out of wayward students, a model emulated by many yeshivas.

Sheim passed it on to Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov. Yaakov loved his shtekin, most men do, if you chap, and treasured it greatly. Efsher you recall Yaakov stating …”ki-vimakli-ovarties-hayarden-hazeh (only with my stick did I cross this river)…” Before Yaakov passed, some say he never did, he gave it to Yoisef and when Yoisef died, Yisroy, who was one of Paroy’smachers (bigwigs), took it. We learned that at some point Yisroy was himself exiled to Midian and there he planted the stick in his garden. There it stuck in the ground and nobody could get it out again. What happened next?

Moishe arrived in Midian, in the house of Yisroy, took a shpatzir (walk) in the garden and saw the Divine staff. He barely touched it, when the staff almost jumped out of the ground. There he was, holding that Divine staff and he brought it into the house. Yisroy knew then that Moishe was a G-dly man. He offered Tzipoirah as a wife and Moishe married her. And to top this all off: this was the very staff that Moishe later used at the RBSO’s behest, to perform all the miracles in Mitzrayim. Oh, and he also used it to split the sea. Later on, this staff was sent to Hollywood where Cecil B. DeMille used it to reenact the scene in that famous movie. Ok. That last part is not recorded in the Medrish, the rest is!  And concludes the medrish and you cannot make this up…or can you… that this very staff will turn up again in the hands of the Moshiach ben Dovid, who will once again perform wonderful miracles with it at the RBSO’s command. When is this to happen? Ver veyst.

Says another medrish that following Moishe’s’ heroics at the well, the daughters ran home and told their father Yisroy that the waters in the well rose up for Moishe. Upon hearing that information, said Yisroy:  “This is a sign of the children of Yaakov!”  Yisroy then offered Tzipoirah to Moishe but imposed a condition: Moishe  wouldn’t leave town without permission. Say the heylige Toirah (2:21) azoy:  And Moishe swore to live with the man, and he gave his daughter Tzipoirah to Moishe. Says Rashi, quoting the heylige Gemora (Nedarim 65a) azoy: “vayoel” means “swore,” that Moishe swore to his father-in-law Yisroy and that he would not leave Midian without his permission. Which way did it really go down, ver veyst?

Nu, time for one short topic. Efsher you recall that way back when, the RBSO told Avrohom Ovenu that his children would be strangers in a land that didn’t belong to them and that their sentence will total 400 years. Seemingly this meant slavery in Mitzrayim. Why they needed a 400 year exile, ver veyst. Seemingly the RBSO thought this would be a good experience prior to Mattan Toirah, a spiritual cleansing maybe.  Thankfully, the RBSO had a change of heart and decided here in parshas Shemois, to commute the sentence down to 210 years, or time served. Ober why? What caused the RBSO to change His mind? Says the medrish: while in Mitzrayim, the Yiddin had sunk to the 49th level of tumah (spiritual impurity), whatever that means. Some say that the Yiddin found themselves so steeped in pagan culture that they were unable to free themselves from the throes of their own yetzer horo (evil disposition), a concept you can zicher relate to. Ober how did this manifest itself? Seemingly their spiritual depravity was very serious. Says the Novee (Yechezkel 20:8): the Yiddin refused to throw away their idols. Some say the Yiddin stopped observing the brismila mitzvah. Some say they used their mila in the wrong places, if you chap, and said the Beis Halevi: perhaps they did get circumcised, but then stretched the skin out again, whatever that means. He does say that! In any case, they tried to look like their goyishe Egyptians masters.  And had they remained in Mitzrayim for even a moment longer, they would have fallen to the 50th level from which there is no hope of rescue.

And say the heylige Zoihar (Parshas Emor) azoy:  when the Yiddin, though not yet really Yiddin, were in Egypt, they were like a woman in the days of her tumah (period), and when they left, their tumah ceased, like a woman whose blood ceased. However, a woman does not become pure with the cessation of her blood. First the blood has to stop, then she must count seven clean days during which she checks herself, and then she must immerse herself to become pure. So too, leaving Mitzrayim was like the blood ceasing, then they counted seven shabbatot (49 days), and then were purified with Matan Toirah. Gishmak and finally spoken in language men can chap.

It appears from these medroshim that the Yiddin weren’t quite ready for the Toirah; they were in pretty bad shape. Ober we are given two mamish inconsistent descriptions of the Yiddin as they leave Mitzrayim. On the one hand, we are told they were a pack of lowlife chazerim who were morally and spiritually bankrupt. They were one step away from oblivion and needed to be removed from Egypt immediately. On the other hand, another Medrish tells us that they were saved because they were good and decent people; they were redeemed because they didn’t change their clothing, names, and language. How do we reconcile these diametrically opposing views? Which was it? Could both be emes?

Could it be that the Yiddin kept their traditional language, names, and dress, but spiritually they were almost indistinguishable from the Egyptians? Could they have been dressed modestly on the outside yet tore off their clothing and acted like animals with the hot mitzri girls? Could they have spoken nicely at times, even in their mother tongue yet been a pack of vilde chayis trying to grow back their foreskin? Ver veyst? In any event, the RBSO had seen enough and took them out. It’s just about time to make Pesach plans.


A gittin Shabbos-

Yitz Grossman

The Oisvorfer Ruv

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