The eighth day…
Though many of us aren’t auditors, accountants, or even bookkeepers, avada we can do simple math, and over Pesach many were taka busy calculating the revenues and profits being made by the myriad kosher for Pesach programs’ operators. Daily, we took count of the number of people at the hotel, then multiplied that number by the amount we (or for those lucky enough, our family) were paying. Next: we quickly calculated the gross revenues. Then we guestimated the rack rate the hotels were charging per night, then deducted for the freebie rooms the operators’ hotels give out to Rabbis, staff and others needed to make it all flow. We then arbitrarily attributed a number for food and other expenses and shoin- we decided that each operator became a multi-millionaire over the 8-9 days. We also concluded that it was our obligation therefore, to eat as much as possible and to hoard food just in case Iran was launching a nuclear missile aimed at our location. Though we were stuffed like chazerim (pigs) after the first day mamish, we made sure not to miss one single meal. We rushed to the dining room with zerizus, chas v’sholom we should be a minute late. Though we finished eating breakfast at 10ish and were still digesting, there we were when the dining room reopened at 1:00 on the dot. We said we’d come to lunch and not eat- just to be with the family- ober is that what we did? Avada nisht! We came and we sat, but after five minutes of watching other Yiddin attack the shmorg as if it were Motzei Yoim Kippur, there we were, plates in hand. We were weak and gave into the Yetzer Horo, as we typically do, nebech, who was whispering into our ears that it’s ours, that we paid, that it’s a chiuv dioyryso (obligatory) to eat and stuff ourselves, and if we don’t eat our money’s worth, that we’ve been robbed, taken advantage of. Nu, is it a wonder that we became bloated, that calls were going out daily for engineering to come fix toilets, that we couldn’t close our pants, skirts and whatever? Oy vey!! We chapped plates, we overstuffed them, we made multiple trips to the buffet to see the same foods over and again and we did this non-stop for eight full days. Some checked in early to chap araein the pre pesach bbq, some stayed after Pesach for the grand chometz party. We rated each meal, we decided we could do better, that we could deliver a far superior product, and over Yom Tov each of had fantasies and delusions of grandeur of opening our own program next year. Why? Because that’s what Yiddin do!
Nu, Pesach vacation is over and it’s time to pay the pied piper for the binging we did like chazerim mamish. And as Pesach ends, and for those that enjoyed the special Yoim Tov at hotels around the country, where we celebrate our freedom, we must ask ourselves a fifth question: how is it that when we’re home all year, we get by on 1 and sometimes 2 meals per day, skip a meal here and there, can go for hours without eating, but as soon as we check into the hotel, we develop these insatiable appetites and feel that it’s our duty to eat at least 3 full meals supplemented by a kiddish, the tea room, snacks and other foods we’ve schlepped from the dining room to the our rooms. Are we behamois or chayis (both mentioned in this week’s parsha)? Have you ever gone into a restaurant where you typically pay from $30-$50 for a meal and ordered two? Zicher nisht! And why is it that when we check into hotels we feel obligated to order a second and efsher maybe also a third? Are we out of control? Could this be the reason that the RBSO declared the chazir (pig), in this week’s heylige Parsha to be non-kosher? Ver veyst!
It’s time to jump onto our scales and say Dayanu: enough. It’s also time, after a two week lapse, to return to the regular reading of the heylige Parsha, and this week you’ll have the special zechus (privilege) of hearing Parshas Shimini wherein the RBSO created the biggest industry yet for the Yiddin, and I don’t mean schnorring for money. This week we’re introduced to kosher and to dietary laws, a few pisukim in the heylige Toirah that have produced more jobs for the Yiddin than any other. From mamish but a total of 33 verses in the heylige Toirah, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been spawned, that include: the kosher and glatt kosher industry, mashgichim (kosher supervisors), kashrus organizations (mafia), manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, food establishments, caterers and much more. Is the RBSO great or what? He mamish understood that many thousands of Yiddin, otherwise ladigayers (lazy good for nothings) would need a parnosa (job) and how, as always, He came to their rescue by creating a need for mashgichim and a plethora of organizations and Rabbis that offer hashgochois (kosher certification) at a hefty price of course. Yes, it all started right here in Parshas Shimini and you thought Vayikra was all about korbonois; a nechtiger tug (bs…). Ober that all comes at the very end of the parsha, what happened before that?
As the parsha opens, it’s the eighth day. The eighth day of what, avada you must be wondering and the answer is that it was Roish Choidesh Nissan in the year 2449, the day the Tabernacle was to be anointed. The seven-day inauguration of Aharoin and his sons was completed and the ceremonies for the Mizbeach’s consecration had begun. Over 40 korbonois (offerings) would be brought on that first day. Moishe Rabaynu, the fearless leader of the Yiddin zicher thought he was to be the master of ceremonies ober the RBSO had other plans. We’ll learn that the RBSO has a long memory and it’s avada not good to anger Him, and let that be a lesson to many of you that already stopped counting sefira with a brocho, that were looking for chometz ad sheyodi maseges (as far as the hand reaches) in the wrong places, if you chap, that skipped shul over Yom Toiv thinking that you’re on vacation, that chas v’sholom walked by the TV in the hotel lobby and chapped a few minutes of the games on Yom Toiv, that went mixed swimming and had machshovois zorois looking at other veyber, that brushed up too closely, beshoigeg of course (accidentally), to married women while chapping food at the buffet breakfasts and lunches that most hotels serve, that went into the dining room in their bathing suits thinking that the RBSO wasn’t watching, that did other avayrois mamish too despicable to even mention here, that chapped where they shouldn’t have, yada yada .
Welcome to Parshas Shimini (meaning eighth) where Moishe is unceremoniously fired and Aharoin his eltere brider is installed. The emes is that it was the culmination of the preceding seven days, which Moishe spent in preparation for the official inauguration. They say when the heylige Toirah uses the word ‘Vayihi’ (it was), it’s always a shtikel ominous sign, and this Parsha which begins with the words Vayihi bayoim hashmini (and it was on the eighth day) is not different. And what was Moishe’s grave sin? Nu, it goes all the way back to Parshas Shemois in the mayseh (incident) where the RBSO asked Moishe to go take the Yiddin out of Mitzrayim. Said Moishe to the RBSO (Shemois 4:13): “No! Send whomever you will send.” Is that the way to talk to the RBSO? Did Moishe think he was talking to his eishes chayil at the time? Nu, the RBSO took note of this shtikel incident and said to Himself that one day…..He’ll remember this. Avada now many can chap why many meforshim state that the RBSO has male and female characteristics: remembering every detail of everyone’s chatoim (sins) is zicher a character trait the RBSO gave to women. In fact my own eishes chayil can, in any disagreement we have, and nebech does, instantly recall anything and everything the Ruv did wrong in the past 25 years. Gevald! Anyway….we are taught that during the past seven days (going back to Parshas Tzav which nebech you already forgot) Moishe was acting as the Koihain Godol (High Priest) and es- far- shtaytzich (stands to follow and reason) that Moishe assumed that he would continue in that role. Ober said the RBSO in the first few pisukim of Shimini: “Aharoin and his sons will be the ones to serve as Koihanim. You will remain outside; you have no portion in the Kihuna.” Shoin: Moishe fired, Aharoin and his kinderlach hired. Unfortunately for Aharoin, this happiest of days was also to be his saddest as two of his four children were killed that very same day. Seemingly Aharoin’s past also came back to haunt him. And as you can see, the RBSO does not forget. Raboyseyee: let’s keep that in mind.
Ok, what happened here? One minute Nodov andAvihu are dedicating the Mishkan and bringing korbonois- all is good- the next minute, they themselves are burnt offerings, though seemingly their clothing remains unsinged. This entire episode seems a shtikel shocking and we need to better understand what took place there. Grada this incident, the death of Aharoin’s two sons and Aharoin’s silence upon hearing the grave news, is one of the more difficult episodes to chap in the entire Toirah. Although their deaths were very clearly an act of the RBSO and though there are some very compelling textual and midrashic hints which offer possible bases for their divine punishment, we do not have any simple and definite explanations of this tragedy. And vos meynt dus (what does all that mean) you ask? Raboyseyee it means that the heylige Toirah doesn’t tell us why they were killed or died? But did that stop the Medrish and the heylige Gemoro from creating various crimes and scenarios under which they were deserving of the death penalty? Avada nisht and as you can imagine, there are myriad theories offered, only one to my liking.
And what did these two poor souls do that were so giferlich that death was proclaimed and executed on that very same day, in mittin dirrinin (in the middle) of the inaugural ceremonies? Did they eat in the children’s dining room and then again with the adults? All the Toirah tells us is that they brought some strange fire and that that they died. Vult ich gemaint (I would have thought) that when a person is executed, we would expect that he, she or they did something terribly wrong but the heylige Toirah is silent. What to do? Leave it up to medrish and the heylige Gemora to come up with a crime that fits the punishment and that taka is what the medrish does. Post partum, the medrish tells us that they were guilty of numerous crimes but were still great people. How these two ideas mesh, ver veyst? Is Medrish emes? All of them, some of them? Ver vesyt but zicher they too were struggling to chap what happened and decided that Nodov and Avihu were guilty of the following crimes, one or more of which resulted in the death penalty, ver veyst.
Reb Mani, Reb Yehoishua and Rebbe Yoichanan in the name of Reb Levi said azoy: The sons of Aharoin died on account of four things:
1- They had drunk wine, as it says [immediately following the incident], “Drink no wine nor strong drink… that you die not” (VaYikra 10:9).
2- Because they served in the Sanctuary lacking the prescribed number of priestly garments (maybe they forgot to put on their gotchkis (underwear) (Shmois 28:43).
3- Because they entered the Sanctuary without washing their hands and feet (Shmois 30:21).
4- Because they had no children… as it says: “And Nadav andAvihu died… and they had no children” (Bamidbar 3:4). Nu, avada many of you can relate to one or more of these logical reasons, I can’t. Zicher (of course) it’s challenging to have children once you’re dead!
Ober says the Ohir Hachaim: They came close to the RBSO and died–they approached the supernal light out of their great love for the Holy, and thereby died. Thus they died by ‘divine kiss’ such as experienced by the perfectly righteous; it is only the righteous that die when the divine kiss approaches them, while they died by their approaching it… Although they sensed their own demise, this did not prevent them from drawing near to the RBSO in attachment, delight, delectability, fellowship, love, kiss and sweetness, to the point that their souls ceased from them. Let’s then learn p’shat like the Ohr Hacahim: Gishmak mamish and also settled. Nodov andAvihu were taka good guys after all. Maybe the previous medroshim confused them with another set of brothers or hoodlums – remember that movie ‘My Cousin Vinnie’? Veyter.
Later in the Parsha, the RBSO commands Moishe to speak to BNY (Jews) and tell them that ‘this is the Chaya (animal) that you may eat.’ Rashi, and who knew more or better, tells us that Moishe gave a live demonstration holding each permitted and forbidden animal saying this you may eat, and this you may not eat. He did the same with the fish, the birds and with the creepy crawly creatures. And can you image all that? Nu, if we can believe in kriyas Yam Suf (sea splitting) and all other miracles and avada we do, is this so hard to imagine? Only a tipish (fool) doesn’t believe.
Says the Medrish Tanchuma that one should not be misled into thinking that the RBSO, through these eating restrictions, prohibited the joys of life. (Grada (so happens) that for every forbidden item, we may partake in an equivalent item from which to partake. Seemingly we have similar restrictions in human relationships but with fewer choices and alternatives, if you chap. Sadly no example are provided.) Says the Medrish that although pork is prohibited, there is a certain fish called Shibuta that has the same taste. How the Medrish knew this without tasting pork, ver veyst? The medrish provides numerous examples of permitted alternatives and concludes that the RBSO gave us these restrictions on non kosher foods in order that the Yiddin be rewarded for keeping his mitzvois. Givaldig!
Says the RambaN that the forbidden fowl are all birds of prey and their cruel habits render them unfit for our unique, spiritual diet (VaYikra 11:13-19). Among the prohibited birds, there is one which is reputed to be generous and kindly, alleged to being busily engaged in delivering ‘bundles of joy’ to grateful parents – the stork. Jewish tradition also seems to attest to the noble character of this remarkable bird. The Hebrew word for stork is Chasidah. This name is derived from the word Chesed, which means loving-kindness. And taka why is the stork called a Chasidah? Says the heylige Gemoro: “because it shows kindness to its own kind,” by sharing food with others storks.
What could be a nicer name for a bird? Ober shtlet zich di shilo (the question arises) azoy: if, according to the RambaN (Nachmanides), the reason that prohibited birds are not eaten is because they are predatory and cruel, what can we say of the stork that does only chesed? Why is this kindand sympathetic bird not kosher? Doesn’t it deserve to be included among the kosher rather than the forbidden fowl? Taka an excellent question ober says the Kotzker Rebbe (1787-1859) that it is because the Chasidah shows kindness only to its own kind. It shares its food only with its close companions. It is concerned only with the needs of its own immediate group. This selective and parochial type of kindness is, in fact, an extreme form of cruelty. Generosity extended to favorites only, while withholding it from others, is not Chesed, but a form of discrimination and cruelty. True kindness must be indiscriminate – whoever needs help is deserving. Grada it’s quite easy for the Oisvorfer to chap the Chasida and her modus operandi : do you enjoy doing chesed for people you can’t stand? Avada nisht!
Adds the Ibn Ezra that the Chasidah is seen only at specific intervals of the year. Efsher we can infer from this statement that the Chasidah performs its acts of kindness only at its own pleasure. I still like the Stork.
And adds the Chiddushei HaRim that although this species appears to be kind and giving, the Toirah teaches that showing compassion and giving only to those who are close to us without a sense of unity and concern for the greater whole is a non-kosher attitude. The Matamei Yaakov citing Rashi (Kiddushin 49b) explains that the underlying motivation for the Chasidah’s actions is to flatter its friends. Although its actions appear merciful, the Toirah reveals that its intentions are inappropriate and it is therefore forbidden.
A gitten shabbis-
The Oisvorfer Ruv