Raboyseyee and Ladies,
Let’s Get Happy & The Unicorn
Let’s Get Happy” was the German entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 2003, performed in English by Lou. Composed and written by Ralph Siegel and Bernd Meinunger, the song is an up-tempo number, with Lou exhorting her listeners to forget their troubles and “get happy and let’s be friends.”
“Unicorn” is a term used in the venture capital industry to describe a privately held startup company with a value of over $1 billion. The term was first popularized by venture capitalist Aileen Lee, founder of Cowboy Ventures, a seed-stage venture capital fund based in Palo Alto, California. Is that true? Ober, was there ever a unicorn in real life? We shall explore that a bit later, ober first this:
What to do with three million Yiddin in an empty desolate desert besides having them move from place to place every so often? Give them activities! This week, the RBSO, in His role as the first ever camp director, introduced the first scavenger hunt – an activity still popular in summer camps over 3330 years later- during which Yiddin were instructed to go out and scour the Midbar looking for items the RBSO hid, or created just for the game.
Welcome to Parshas Teruma where the RBSO will instruct the Yiddin to build Him a proverbial house, a place for the RBSO’s Essence, to come down and reside therein. What exactly all that means, ver veyst, ober one thing is zicher: our sages had a field day with the instructions. The project kept the Yiddin occupied for some time and also out of trouble. Is that emes? Not? In two weeks, we’ll be reading all about the infamous eygel fiasco and the ensuing fallout; pretty it was not. According to some, the Yiddin continue to pay for that grievous sin until today. Why we’re responsible for sins committed by our ancestors -or, were the perpetrators but members of the infamous “erev rav?”- over 3330 years ago, ver veyst? Ober for today, and this week’s review, the heylige Ois wants to cover topics not yet reviewed during these past 12 and ½ years. As well, given that Choidesh Adar is upon us -this year we have two of them- let us recall that we are instructed -if not commanded- to increase happiness once the month of Adar begins, which it did this past Monday evening.
“Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B’simchah.” (When Adar enters, joy increases).
Adar, so the heylige Gemora (Taanis 29a) tells us, is the month of Purim, and of good luck. We are commanded to “increase joy.” How? We are not told! Shoin, let’s begin by being happy; are you? This past Monday evening, mamish minutes after Maariv (evening prayers), the memes about increasing happiness began to flood my WhatsApp. A few were mamish gevaldig (check this one out:
And taka it’s emes; the gantze orthodox velt (entire orthodox world), knows that when the month of Adar begins, we increase our joy: happiness is in season. Shoin! If only if were that simple. Ober, what if bad things happened to you the day before, on the last day of Shvat? Or on Rosh Chodesh mamish? What if you and the eishes chayil got into a huge argument and you’re not speaking? Can one be happy if one’s portfolio is underwater by 40% in January? Can shareholders of META (down 24% as this review is being written) be happy today though it’s the second day of Adar 1? Mistama not! Moreover, just last night the heylige Ois was out to dinner with a gentleman who shared that Adar is a cursed month in his family; his wife lost a sister and her father during that months. Oy vey! And the list goes on. Can one be happy just because so commanded? Can one turn on happiness at will? Is happiness commanded? Says who and where? Grada, the heylige Ois is blessed with a happy constitution, some call it a “simchas hachaim.” I am mostly happy and easily amused. Laughing and making others laugh comes naturally. That being said, can anyone be happy when really upset? Can one be told how to feel? Can tradition legislate emotions? It’s good to be happy, it’s great; ober, does obligatory joy work? Is it welcome? Moreover, were our sages of the heylige Gemora able to legislate emotion? Does the morass of life, the daily grind, miraculously disappear just because the calendar turns to Adar? Oib azoy, (if that’s so), how and why did our sages tell us to be happy on command?
It so happens that the heylige Toirah does -at times- legislate feelings and the first examples can be found in the Aseres Hadibrois where we are commanded not to be jealous, not be covet, and certainly not act on those temptations, if you chap. It also commands us to love our neighbors- again, not literally, chazerim that you are.
The bottom line: shit happens (to all of us) and sadness is -at times- a simple fact of life. We all have and experience tzuris [trouble]; it’s how life goes. The good news: just as the Gemora’s discussion of Adar bursts in -mamish suddenly- just after the our sages were discussing the sad fact of Av, where the Beis Hamikdash was burned down and many lost their lives, so does the month of Adar burst in upon us. From time to time, good surprises burst in upon the daily grind and instead of bad luck, we have good luck. Good stuff seemingly happens -or could- in the month or months of Adar. Why? Says Rashi, Adar is special and that “simcha” increases as the month begins davka because these are “the times of miracles for the Jews. Let us recall the miracle of Purim and how life turned around so dramatically.
And here’s the big question: this year, we have two Adars, Adar 1 and Adar 2: which is the happier Adar? Does Adar “1” mean it’s primary and that Adar “2” is secondary? Or, farkert? Does “Adar 2” connote a double measure of joy, as its number suggests? Or, davka because that’s when we celebrate Purim? Isn’t happiness during Adar connected to the Purim story? It is? Oib azoy, (if that’s so), why should one be happy during Adar 1? Are we being prematurely happy? Is premature happiness, if you chap, good? Are we to be happy for two entire months? Is that possible? Permissible? And may we be happy post Purim as Pesach looms? So many questions.
Ober says the Lubavitcher Rebbe azoy: two Adars mean 60 days of consecutive joy. Since 60:1 Is the ratio of halachic nullification (one ounce of a non-kosher ingredient becomes nullified in sixty ounces of kosher food), it follows that sixty days of unbridled joy nullifies anything negative or undesirable.
The heylige Gemora tells us that the joy associated with Adar is not limited to Purim alone. We are taught that the entire month is filled with simcha because Adar is the month during which the Yiddin actively changed their destiny, transforming what seemed like their inevitable destruction at the hands of the maniacal Homon into a celebration of life and Jewish power. The bottom line: Being saved from a psychopathic ruler who tried to kill us—brought real happiness. Given these fortunate events, our sages decided that Adar is an auspicious time for the Yiddin. And if Adar is taka auspicious, let’s have two of them. Shoin! Are we supposed to buy stocks? Start new businesses? Enter into contracts? Nu, believe it or not, the heylige Gemora mamish tells us that we are certainly encouraged to schedule challenging events like court cases and medical procedures during Adar so that the “luck” associated with the month(s) rubs off and benefits us. Do Yiddin believe in luck? Who knew rubbing was so good?
Nu, believe it or not, this entire happiness is not so poshit and didn’t get resolved without some discussion and dispute. Let us consult the heylige Gemora(29A), where our sages were discussing sad events that befell the Yiddin during the month of Av. Says the heylige Gemora that when Av enters, we decrease rejoicing. This is accompanied by a tragic and vivid story about the destruction of the Beis HaMigdash and of the young kohanim going up to the roof of the burning Temple and throwing the keys up to G-d in heaven before falling into the flames to perish. Depressing mamish; perhaps it was this shtikel Gemora that motivated Rav Yehuda quoting Rav, to comfort us by following that up with this now famous quote: בשמחה מרבין אדר משנכנס, Just as with the beginning of Av rejoicings are curtailed, so with the beginning of Adar rejoicings are increased.
Ober, the next kasha is azoy: is this mamish a command? Is it like Sukkis where the heylige Toirah mamish tells us v’samachta b’hagecha? Or, is it but a lucky time? Based on Rav Papa’s advice, it appears the Adar is more associated with luck than happiness. On the other hand, if we go to court and are lucky to win, one will surely be happy. Shoin. Said Rav Pappa, azoy: Therefore, a Jew who has any litigation with Gentiles should avoid him in Av because his luck is bad and should make himself available in Adar when his luck is good. The heylige Ois knows a few who have followed this advice religiously, and still do.
And before we close out this long introduction to the parsha, let’s quickly examine how this entire second month of Adar came about. Seemingly it all goes back to intricacies of the Hebrew lunar calendar which seven times in a 19-year cycle, adds a month resulting in 13 months instead of the regular 12. This Jewish leap year is designed to ensure that the lunar-based Jewish year remains aligned with the solar seasons (12 lunar months make up 354 days — about 11 days short of the 365.25 day solar cycle). Were that not the case, were the month of Adar 1 not added, we would wind up celebrating Pesach (Judaism’s Spring holiday) in the dead of winter and shoin. Who wants that? Pesach and Sukkis would float throughout the year, much as Ramadan (lehavdil) does in the Muslim calendar. The leap month guarantees that Rosh Hashonoh will not vary by more than three weeks from year to year. In any event, our sages decided to add a second month instead of giving the 13th month its own name. Why? Ver veyst?
Shoin, earlier we mentioned how the RBSO instructed the Yiddin to scour the midbar seeking items for the Mishkan project. We have previously covered the requested materials list and specifically an item called the “tachash,” ober we’re back this year with brand new information on this magical item. Ershtens, what the hec was a tachash and how were the Yiddin to find it in the midbar if they had not a clue what it was? And what taka was it? And that answer depends wholly on which answer talks to you as there are several. We can only imagine the confusion caused by the instructions and let’s begin by reading them. Says the heylige Toirah that the Yiddin were to collect and ultimately donate -among other items- these listed below,
|ד וּתְכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי, וְשֵׁשׁ וְעִזִּים.||4 and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair;|
|ה וְעֹרֹת אֵילִם מְאָדָּמִים וְעֹרֹת תְּחָשִׁים, וַעֲצֵי שִׁטִּים.||5 and rams’ skins dyed red, and sealskins, and acacia-wood;|
A cursory look at the instructions tells us that the Yiddin were to find various colors, or dyed wool. The instructions are rather clear; even the rams’ skins are to be specifically dyed red. Many agree that the instructions to find וְעִזִּים refer not to goats’ hair, but to bright and intensely dyed cloth. Ober, what the hec are we to think when reading the instructions to find “oros techoshim? Were the Yiddin to find skins of techashim? And how would they know they found it if the word was never translated for them?
Let’s quickly meet the tachash, the skin that was used for the outermost covering of the Mishkan- “oros techashim milmalah.” What is it? And where in the desert did they find this product? Ershtens: it’s not what it sounds like, chazir that you are, ober let’s review what Rashi and several others imagined it to be and how it also may have magically appeared.
Says Rashi: “this was a kind of animal that only existed during that time, and it had many colors… “Ober, said the Ibn Ezra: “This was a kind of animal that was still known much later, in the days of the Novee Yichezkel who wrote (Ezekiel 16:10): ‘I gave you sandals made of tachash.” Ober what is it? Said Reb Aryeh Kaplan: the tachash was made from “blue-processed skins,” and he lists all the animals that have been attributed to the word ‘tachash’ over the years. The possibilities include the weasel, squirrel, badger, wild ram, antelope, okapi, giraffe, seal, sea cow and the dugong, whatever that is. Which was it? Ver veyst?
Ober says the heylige Gemora (Shabbis 28b) azoy: The tachash of Moishe’s day was a separate species, and our chachomim (sages) could not decide whether it belonged to the genus of wild beasts or to the genus of domestic animals. Moreover, it had one horn on its forehead and it only existed for Moishe for that moment. He used it for the Mishkan and then it was (forever) hidden. And says the Yirushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud- shabbis 2:4) azoy: the RBSO created a type of pure wild (non-kosher) animal for Moishe in the desert, and once it was used for constructing the Sanctuary, it disappeared. Mamish? A horn in the middle of its head? And it only existed for a moment and then was hidden forever? Was the mythical unicorn not such a myth after all? And just like that rumors about the unicorn -whether it ever existed or not- were put to rest with a few words in the heylige Gemora; case closed!
Says the heylige Gemora (Shabbis 28a), azoy: According to one opinion, the tachash was a kosher animal. How so? It’s poshit. Had it been a non-kosher animal, it and its parts would have been eliminated from suitability for the Mishkan project. Would the RBSO have requested, or allowed the skin of a non-kosher animal to be used in His Sanctuary? Of course not! Shoin. Ober, not so fast. Asks the medrish azoy: if the tachash was davka a kosher animal, why is it not listed among other kosher animals which are specifically delineated in Devorim (14:4-5)? Says the heylige Toirah with great specificity: these ten animals are considered kosher. They are:
|4 These are the animals that you may eat: ox, lamb, and kid,||דזֹאת הַבְּהֵמָה אֲשֶׁר תֹּאכֵלוּ שׁוֹר שֵׂה כְשָׂבִים וְשֵׂה עִזִּים:|
|5 gazelle, deer, and antelope, ibex, chamois, bison, and giraffe.||האַיָּל וּצְבִי וְיַחְמוּר וְאַקּוֹ וְדִישֹׁן וּתְאוֹ וָזָמֶר:|
Do you see the tachash on the list? Neither does the heylige Ois! Veyter. Taka an excellent question. Shoin, answers the medrish azoy: the tachash was indeed a kosher animal, ober it existed only for a short period of time in our glorious history. When? It was created by the RBSO for a very specific purpose and was around only during the construction of the Mikdash period (seemingly less than one year) and then went extinct. Fartig and ois tachash. Therefore, it’s not included in the kosher animal list found in Devorim 14:4-5. Gishmak.
Others argue that if the tachash taka had a single horn in the middle of its forehead, we could then surmise that it was indeed a kosher animal. How so? Shoin, there is a tradition (read: medrish) that the animal sacrificed by Odom Horishoin (Adam) was also a one-horned kosher animal. Would Odom have sacrificed a non-kosher animal? Avada nisht (not)! Eat forbidden fruit maybe, but zicher he wouldn’t dare patchka with non-kosher. Who are we to argue with tradition? It gets better: this same animal magically appeared for Moishe for the Mishkan project. And says the medrish (Bereishis Rabbah) azoy: when the RBSO evicted Odom and Chava out of Gan Eden, He fashioned clothing for them and this clothing also came from the skin of the tachash. Seemingly the tachash made cameo appearances from time to time. Efsher you’re wondering, why, if the tachash was only created for a moment in time, did chazal (our sages) devote so much space and discussion to explain exactly what kind of animal it was? As we stated earlier; the instructions in this week’s parsha cry out for further color and elucidation; who better than the heylige Gemora and the medrish to provide the possibilities? No one!!
A gittin Shabbis-
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv