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

Shoiftim – 2014: For Men Only

2014We begin with a PSA. Every year this time, the Oisvorfer gets a call and a follow up email enclosing a flier inviting all living and in driving distance of the five towns to come out on Labor Day in support of AVIGDOR’S HELPING HAND. This excellent organization runs without any administrative costs and provides financial assistance to orphans getting married and to widows and or widowers following the loss of the primary breadwinner.  Details follow
Where: 72 Muriel Avenue- Lawrence New York
Monday- September 1, Labor Day
Can’t come? Send check!

Tonight we bid adieu, say farewell and wish only the best of luck to the Aliza Duftler, daughter of Sharon and Brian Duftler, close cousins of the Oisvorfer, who is making Aliya next week. Chazak, you go girl!
Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes
For men only:

Parshas Shoiftim, a parsha we have previously reviewed (www.oisvorfer.com) discusses, among other topics, war; a war not unlike the one Israel has been fighting these last few months. They heylige Toirah understood that not every male was fit to serve, and delineates a few major exemptions. Enrolling in a yeshiva to avoid being drafted or even learning in a yeshiva, are not on that list. Shoin: Time permitting, we’ll take a quick peek at the parsha ober since Choidesh Elul is upon us, the Oisvorfer thought that we should efsher begin by taking a look at a few minhogim (customs) that come into play this time of year. Were you to make an appearance in shul each morning, avada you would know that we begin blowing the shoifar as the month of Elul arrives. We continue this practice every weekday morning of the month. You might also know that we begin the recitation of a prayer known as Lidovid Hashem Oyri. We are to recite this prayer -but mostly don’t- twice a day until Shmini Atzeres. Though a gishmak and meaningful prayer, one found in Tehilim (Psalms), few if any say more than 10-15 words of the entire prayer. That many on a good day, usually fewer. Why, ver veyst? It seems that only the first two or three words, a few in the middle and the last sentence are recited by most. Why? Ver veyst! We’ll get to those shortly ober ershtens, we begin with this question: how many klaps (bangs) on the bima does it take for the entire shul to know it’s Roish Choidesh (top of the new month?) Is one klap sufficient or is Rosh Choidesh only officially ushered in with two or more klaps?

In orthodox shuls and efsher also in others, it is a minhag Yisroel (custom) for either the Chazzan, the Gabbi and at times, even the rabbi, to klap (bang) on the bima or on anything else that makes noise, one time just before the congregants begin reciting the Shmoina Esray (Amida-silent prayer). More recently, others have joined the fray and today, anyone can be a klapper; membership not required. After all, who doesn’t enjoy klapping from time to time? Shul klappers enjoy the rush. More recently, the Oisvorfer has noticed that klapping has gained in popularity and on any given Rosh Choidesh, it’s gantz shayich (quite possible) that your shul can have multiple klappers.
Why does a shul need a klapper and a klap? Isn’t klapping and banging something that should be practiced in the privacy of one’s own house? And why do we klap to begin with? Seemingly, the klap is intended to remind congregants that it’s Roish Choidesh and is intended to alert congregants to add the special prayer of Yale-V’yovoi to their prayers. Failing to recite this special prayer has all sorts of ramifications, though not always, and of course a reminder can’t hurt. Even with a klap or multiple klaps from one or many klappers, a decent number of daveners will forget 60 seconds later and skip the prayer. Why? Because their minds are wandering. Though we should be concentrating harder during the Amida, we are, after all, talking directly to the RBSO, a survey reveals that shmoineh-esray has traditionally been a time for minds to wander. For reasons mamish inexplicable, strange thoughts of every variety, if you chap, make their way into our heads during this prayer. Why? Azoy hut der Abishter bashsfin der mench (that’s how the RBSO programmed man). Veyter.
Shoin, seemingly all are in agreement that a reminder could be helpful ober shtelt zich di shaylo (the question arises:) how many? How much klapping is required? Some argue that one klap is sufficient and preferred. And taka for most people, one gizunta klap is satisfying, if you chap. It’s also possible that a one klap minhag once existed; it is seemingly long extinct. Of course the Oisvorfer doesn’t know who the first klapper was nor who started the klapping minhag, however, he has noticed the following:
1- There is no such thing as one klap
2- It appears the most shuls now have a two klap minimum, some even more
3- Klappers are never in synch but they do seem to be in rhythm
4- Klappers don’t care if the shul has a designated klapper; they will klap anyway and anytime. They will not be denied.
5- Every shul has klappers and klapper wanabees
6- No matter how many klaps you hear, chances are that at least a few in the congregation will forget the klap by the time they get to the part of davening the klap was intended for
7- Hard core klappers are annoying but not as annoying as those who feel the need to raise their voices during the silent prayer to remind those who forgot the klap, that they are to insert an additional tefila. Admittedly, this has helped the Oisvorfer, from time to time, remember that he forgot


8- Klapping is contagious


Is it time to consider a new one klap custom where the designated klapper delivers but one klap 60-75 seconds after the Amida begins? On the other hand, if people are content with shul klapping, why begrudge them? Veyter.


Shoin, earlier we mentioned another Elul custom: the minhag is to recite the prayer of LiDovid Hashem Ori (Psalm 27). And for those in the Oisvorf community who know of the minhag yet skip either 100% or 95% of the words, and instead use the allotted 30 seconds to chap areyn some last minute loshoin horo, here is some information that mistama you never learned in yeshiva:


1- Everyone seems to agree that we recite it during shachris (morning prayers)


2- The original source for its recitation is completely unclear-


3- It is not mentioned anywhere in the heylige Gemora nor in the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law)- gishmak


4- Most, though not all, are in agreement that we are to recite it twice daily. Some include it at Mincha others at Maariv-


5- The Chida recommends that it be recited three times daily- yikes!


6- The Vilna Goan, a crowd favorite, did not recite this payer at all! He was still considered a Gaon!


7- A small number of Chassidic communities do not recite “L’dovid” in Elul, citing the fact that it is not mentioned in the works of the Arizal or even in Shulchan Aruch. In other words, its source is midrashic only!


8- According to some, every congregation can make up its own rules as to when to recite a second or third time; dealer’s choice-


9- The prevailing minhag among most people, Sephardim and Ashkenazim, Chasidim and misnagdim, is to recite the first few words, a few words in the middle and most of the last sentence. Ruba, d’ruba (the great majority), skip 99% of this payer. Why, ver veyst ober, azoy iz iz (that’s how it is).


10- Of all the prayers that many skip entirely or mostly, LiDovid is likely in the #1 spot. Others are close behind.
Earlier we also mentioned that Shoifer blowing commences as Chodesh Elul arrives; let’s clarify. Blowing commences only on the second day of Rosh Choidesh Elul. Do all agree? No! Some begin blowing on the first day. All agree however that the shoifer is not blown on erev (the day preceding) Rosh Hashona.. Why? To differentiate between the blowing we do all month which is but a minhag (custom) and a reshus (voluntary) as opposed to the blowing we do on Rosh Hashona which is biblically commanded and a mitzvah. And why do we blow it during the month? Seemingly the sounds of the shoifer are intended to motivate the people -namely you- to repent. Seemingly, the sounds of the shoifer have a tendency to arouse awareness and inspire fear. Seemingly this arousal is needed to counteract other year round arousals, if you chap, and to remind you to repent for acting out on them. Gishmak.


Back in the first paragraph, we mentioned that Pashas Shoiftim contains sanctioned war exemptions; let’s take a quick look. Says the heylige Toirah (Devorim 20: 1-8) azoy: “When you go out to the battle to meet your enemy…the officers shall speak to the people, saying: ‘Who is the man who has built a new house and not inaugurated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the war and another man will inaugurate it. Who is the man who has planted a vineyard and not redeemed it? Let him go…lest he die in the war and another man redeem it. Who is the man who had betrothed a woman and not taken her to be his wife? Let him go…lest he die in the war another man take her….”


Did you read who’s exempt? See it again! Interestingly enough, allowances were made for an engaged man that did not yet get to enjoy his future wife’s fruits, yet the married man, many with kinderlach, whom we assume would be missed at least by his children, were he to perish, had to serve? Does this make sense? Why would the heylige Toirah offer a single, about to be married man an exemption, yet put the life of a married man with children efsher into harm’s way and jeopardy? Nu as you can imagine, the Oisvorfer was not the first to raise this question and many discussed it. And, said the Ibn Ezra so gishmak azoy: A person engaged to be married is taka eager to shoot his gun ober not the one that will help win any wars. This individual would likely flee the battlefield. Nu, the Ibn Ezra didn’t say it quite as colorfully as did the Oisvorfer but the message is the same. A young, engaged to be married man is deliriously happy; he’s about to enter an exciting period of his life, so he thinks nebech, and his entire future lies before him. The last thing on his mind is a voluntary war; he is a flight risk. And should he desert, others might follow and shoin, the war is lost. This group, which also includes a fellow that built a house but didn’t yet move in, is also a likely deserter. They are invited to leave the battlefield before the battle begins. On the other hand, married men, accustomed to war (mostly at home) are long over such delusions of grandeur and even with kids, would be more than happy to get out of the house and serve. Many would gladly signup. In fact, war is likely the only place they’ll get to shoot, if you chap.


Nu, efsher you chap why a single man would be flight risk but what about the man that just built a new house? Nu, let’s look at that posik in its entirety. Says the heylige Toirah: Who is the man who has built a new house and not inaugurated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the war and another man will inaugurate it. Is this person being exempted because he built a new house and didn’t yet get to enjoy it? Or, is he being exempted because if he dies, another man may come along and enjoy the fruits of his labor? Was this person to die in battle, what difference does it make to him if another man initiates his home?


Ober says Rashi, and who chapped the human psyche better, azoy: having another man initiate his house, would be source of severe grief, worse than death! And further illumining Rashi, added the Gur Aryeh azoy: seemingly the man that built a new house but did yet get to move in and enjoy, is exempt on two counts. Ershtens, should he perish in battle, he would taka be deprived of the opportunity to enjoy the home he labored to build. Let’s not forget the ongoing mortgage payment. Moreover, and maybe a bigger reason for this exemption is that were he to die, another man would move in and enjoy the house, the very one he built. For some, this second concern is even greater than the first. Many people can come to grips that they may not make it, that they may not get to enjoy all of life’s fruits, but they cannot get over
the possibility that someone else will enjoy it in their stead! This person too, is a risk to flee and should he, would further demoralize his battalion.
Seemingly the RBSO knew just how people think; azoy hut er bashafen mentch (that’s how he created man).


And said the RambaM azoy: in order for one not to fear the battlefield, he cannot be distracted by thoughts or concerns regarding his family. A person who has either built a new home, recently betrothed, or planted a vineyard is easily distracted by anxiety over these new endeavors. It follows that these individuals are exempt from participating in the battle.


And we conclude with this thought: though the RBSO handed out very logical exemptions that mistama many, after hearing the Koihen read them off, availed themselves of, and though next week’s parsha will further expand such exception to a newlywed under certain conditions, the RBSO wasn’t at all worried about conscriptions. In next week’s parsha, the RBSO gives enlisting soldiers a war benefit like no other; one that kept them from deserting and one that they could mamish enjoy. See you then.

A gitten shabbis

Yitz Grossman

The Oisvorfer Ruv

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