We’re back and delighted to begin with a mazel-tov shot-out to chaver Avi Gluck, of the Monroe Avenue minyan (and other shuls), upon the recent engagement of his son Yoni, to Sara Halpern, she the beautiful daughter of Shmuel and Baila Halpern, and granddaughter of Rabbi Avrohom and Ahuva Halpern, they, friends of many decades. Mazel tov to Yoni’s mother Tamar and to all the Gluck children. Mazel tov to both extended families. May Sara and Yoni merit to enjoy many decades of blissful marriage.
Post Pesach Dieting:
Pesach vacation is over and it’s time to pay the pied piper for the binging we did like out of control chazerim (pigs), mamish. The good news: gyms are beginning to open and it’s time to get serious. Speaking of binging, and just in case you’re living under a rock, the 3rd season of Shtisel is available on Netflix; it’s a must watch.
As mentioned in the Chol Hamoed special edition post (which avada you should have read and still can, by clicking here,) we overbought, over-schlepped and zicher overate. We’ve gained weight, which, when added to the corona weight, is not a good look. In fact, even our suitcases, packed with very same clothing and other junk we left our homes with, weighed more on the way back. This is not even a gilechter: on the way to Florida, each suitcase the family traveled with weighed in at mamish 52 lb., ober on the way back, the very same stuff somehow weighed in at 54 pounds, and only last-minute shuffling helped us avoid a $100 surcharge per bag. The bottom line: Yiddin are not inclined to pay overweight charges and would rather walk onto the plane holding extra pairs of shoes and other junk they could have done without; paying overweight charges is for the goyim!
And as Pesach ends, and for those who enjoyed the special Yom Tov at various hotels, Orlando type programs where families rented 5-12 bedroom houses in which they celebrated their freedom from slavery by either shipping prepared foods, or -say it’s not so- cooking the entire Yom Tov while on vacation- and even at home, we must ask ourselves the fifth question: how is it that when we’re home all year, we get by on two and sometimes even one real meal per day? In fact, few have an issue skipping a meal here and there, and can go for hours without eating. Ober, as soon as we check into the hotel, we develop insatiable appetites and feel that it’s our duty to eat at least three full meals supplemented by a kiddish, the tea room, snacking all day, and other foods we’ve schlepped either from the dining room to the our rooms, or from home to our temporary houses? Are we out of control behamis or chayis (both mentioned in this week’s parsha)? When was the last time you went to a restaurant where one typically spends $50-$100 for a meal and ordered two? Never! And why is it that when we check into the hotel, we feel obligated to order a second and efsher maybe also a third? Must we have all that’s on the shmorg or menu? We are out of control! Could this be the reason that the RBSO declared the chazir (pig), in this week’s parsha of Shmini, 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 Toirah and this week we will be reading Parshas Shimini wherein the RBSO created the biggest industry yet for the Yiddin -and I don’t mean schnorring for money even on Chol Hamoed with a portable credit card reader. This week, in but a few pisukim, we are introduced to the world of kosher, and to dietary laws. These laws spawned new industries and produced more jobs for the Yiddin than any other mitzvis in the entire heylige Toirah. Long before, thousands of years before the Democrats were planning trillions in stimulus to include green new deals, the RBSO -always great- came up with His own stimulus plan, and it has produced lots of green for many people involved in all things kosher.
From a total of 33 pisukim (verses) in the parsha, hundreds of thousands of jobs have sprouted. They include the kosher and glatt kosher industry, mashgichim (kosher supervisors), kashrus organizations (a form of mafia), manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, food establishments, caterers, facilities to host parties, photographers, florists, musicians, party planners, dress makers, 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 (livelihood) and came to their rescue by creating kosher laws. And you thought Sefer Vayikra was all about korbonis? A nechtiger tug (fuhgeddaboudit); it’s all about business! Ober that all comes at the very end of the parsha; what’s discussed in the first few aliyos?
Before we answer that question, I wanted to share more from the incredible chats I was enthusiastically tuned to before Pesach, over Chol Hamoed and just after Yom Tov. In recent years many have joined semi-private WhatsApp block chats where people post and share mostly useless information. Over in Orlando, these WhatsApp groups were open to all and each contained the maximum number allowable. On them, people were exchanging information, tickets to theme parks, shul and minyan information and also of course, asking for rides to and from airports, and offering all sorts of items. Matzo, chicken, beef patties, steaks, almond butter, medicine, cream cheese, yogurt, ice cream, cookies, cakes, and anything else you can imagine was being traded -early on at premium prices, and as the Yom Tov was drawing to an end, mostly below cost, and or given away. As mentioned in the last post, trading was brisk and items were being moved from house to house every minute. Business was being conducted 24 hours a day.
All that being said, it’s well worth mentioning and shouting out one post – seen mamish below- urging people not to throw out their leftover perishables, dry goods, and even appliance they may have purchased for Pesach use, and instead to donate them by dropping them off mamish three house from where the heylige Ois and family were staying for Yom tov. And with all our faults, with all the loshon horo we speak, and other sins we commit -many times daily- it was quite the beautiful and overwhelming scene to observe and participate in. Over at 8890 Cabot Cliffs Lane, the garage door was open and a decent sized rental truck was parked outside. Families came by the dozens to unload and to donate what was left over. The accepted dry goods, items that required refrigeration and freezer storage and even appliances. All donated items were later to be separated and donated to Yiddin in need in the greater Orlando area. It was a chesed (charity) project that began moments after Yom tov ended and was over the next morning. Kudos to the people who hosted and to those great volunteers who collected the donated items, rented the truck, sorted the items and made the donations. Mi Kiamcha Yisroel!
Shoin, let’s do a page on the parsha which opens with these words: Vayihi bayoim hashmini (and it was on the eighth day). The eighth day of what, avada you must be wondering? And the answer is that it was Rosh Chodesh 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. Let that be a lesson to many of you who already stopped counting sefira with a brocho, to those who were looking for chometz ad sheyodi maseges (as far as the hand reaches) in the wrong places, if you chap, those who skipped shul over Yom Tov thinking that you’re on vacation, those who chas-v’sholom walked by the TV in the hotel lobby and chapped a few minutes of the basketball games, those who went mixed swimming, and avada to those looking at other veyber.
Welcome to Parshas Shimini where Moishe is unceremoniously fired and Aharoin his eltere brider (older brother) 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’ (and it was), it’s always a shtikel ominous sign, and this parsha which begins with the words Vayihi bayoim hashmini is no exception. Ober, what was Moishe’s grave sin? Nu, it goes all the way back to Parshas Shmois in the myseh (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 wife at the time? Nu, the RBSO took note of this shtikel incident and said to Himself that one day…..He’ll remember this. Now we 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. The Ois’s own eishes chayil is exhibit #1. In any disagreement we have had over the past 33 years (there have been a few), she instantly recalls anything and everything the heylige Ois did wrong since the day we met. 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 Koihen Godol (High Priest) and es- far- shtaytzich (stands to 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. As you can see, the RBSO does not forget and raboyseyee, let’s keep that in mind.
Ober, what happened to them? One-minute Nodov and Avihu are dedicating the Mishkan and bringing korbonois; all is good. The next minute, they themselves are burnt offerings, though seemingly their clothing remained unsinged? What’s pshat? 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 rational for their divine punishment, we do not have any simple and definitive explanations of the 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 heylige medrish and the heylige Gemora from creating various crimes and scenarios under which they were deserving of the death penalty? Avada nisht; as you can imagine, there are myriad theories offered, only one to my liking.
And what did these two poor souls do that was so giferlich that death was proclaimed and executed on that very same day, in mittin dirrinin (in the middle) of the inaugural ceremonies? Were they double dipping from the korbonis? 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 conflate, ver veyst? Can one be good and bad at the same time? Grada that’s an excellent pshat as we are all good and (at times) also bad. Is Medrish emes? All of them, some of them? Ver veyst 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 Yoichonon in the name of Reb Levi said azoy: The sons of Aharoin died on account of four things:
1- They drank 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), ver veyst (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 and Avihu 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 Ohr Hachaim (Vayikro 16:1), azoy: Nadav and Avihu were driven by a desire to pursue G-d that could not be contained by established boundaries. “The Lord spoke to Moishe after the death of the two sons of Aharoin who died when they drew too close to the presence of the Lord.” He writes: “They approached the supernal light out of their great love of the Holy, and thereby died. Thus they died by ‘Divine kiss’ such as experienced by the perfectly righteous; the difference is only that the righteous die when the Divine kiss approaches them, while [Nodov and Avihu] died by their approaching it.” Counter-intuitively, Nodov and Avihu’s deaths were a result of loving the RBSO too much. Bottom line: they were good guys; no crime committed. Were Nodov and Avihu -as were the friends in ‘My Cousin Vinny’- falsely accused of a crime not committed?
Later in the Parsha, the RBSO commands Moishe to speak to the Yiddin 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. Can you imagine 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 the delineated eating restrictions, prohibited the joys of life. Grada (so happens), for every forbidden item, we may partake in an equivalent item. Seemingly we have similar restrictions in human relationships but with fewer choices of alternatives, if you chap. Sadly no examples 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 mitzvis. Gishmak!
The final bottom line: because it’s also a custom -man made in recent years- to eat schlisel challah (key) this shabbis, out diets begin in earnest on Sunday. Ober because the Ois will be attending a bbq in honor of his grandson’s first birthday on Sunday afternoon, and a le’chaim later in the afternoon in honor of the engagement Yoni Gluck (son of chaver Avi Gluck of the Monroe minyan), later that day, the diet cannot begin until at least Monday.