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

Tetzaveh 2011: Couture- Jewels and where’s Moishe Rabaynuu?


Couture- Jewels and where’s Moishe Rabaynuu?

Just two weeks ago, I was marveling at how we Yiddin always, well…almost always… plan our vacations around a minyan and a sefer toirah. There’s always that one person in the group that organizes and either schleps the Toirah or arranges for one to be there so that the RBSO’s people can daven and hear the laining. The idea of yiddin traveling and making sure there’s a minyan and a designated shul area is grada not at all new. In last week’s parsha the RBSO gave the BNY detailed plans for a traveling worship station, the Mishkan, which was to be packed up every time the BNY were on the move to a different camping ground. And ever since, that’s what we’ve been conditioned to do. It doesn’t matter that we schmooze, tell jokes, talk about our wives or even do a deal nisht in shabbis geret, as long as we’re there.

It’s one parsha later and five months have passed. The BNY are still busy hocking away at building the Mishkan and its accoutrements. In this week’s parsha of t’tzaveh, the RBSO creates jobs for those yiddin not destined to become learners, Lawyers, Caterers or in the food industry and puts a great majority of them into a business they can mamish understand. This one doesn’t require post graduate studies, not even a diploma.  Indeed, in Parsha T’tzaveh, the RBSO brilliantly creates the entire garment industry as the BNY are instructed to go into the schmatta gesheft (garment industry) preparing the clothing and vestments the Kohanim were to wear during the Avoida (service).  Mamish a perfect fit, if you chap what I’m saying.

Nu, what good is a nice outfit, if it’s not properly adorned? Not to worry, the RBSO, in another flash of genius instructed Moishe to make sure that the Kohanim had matching stones and jewels and yet another industry was born: Jewelry!!!  Stones, both precious and semi precious are described in great detail in the parsha, as are the specific clothing that the koihanim and the big kiehuna wore from head to toe. Let’s learn some parsha together.

Ober….ershrtens let me remind you of a shtikel toirah that zicher your rebbe taught you and that mistama (likely) you no longer remember. Why don’t you remember? Because while your Rebbe was busy teaching you toirah, your head was elsewhere: you were thinking about spitballs, your own, mydlich (girls), sports and anything else under the sun- but not the heylige toirah. Lemoshol- ich bin zicheer that your Rebbe taught you that Moishe’s name does not make an appearance in the entire Parsha. The casual listener of this week’s laining might not nebech notice that a significant name is absent. The opening possik (phrase), “And you, command the Children of Israel…” is obviously addressed to Moishe Rabaynu, but his name is not mentioned; not at the opening nor anywhere else in the gantze parsha (entire portion).
Raboyseyee: From his birth until his death, there is no other parsha, where he, Moishe is “missing”. This is especially ironic, since the yurtzeit (and also the birthday) of this great manhig yisroel (great leader), is takah this Friday, the 7th of Adar and, ironically enough, always (almost) occurs in the calendar of this week’s laining. Nu, shteltz zich de kasha (the question arises): why and vus epes (why) did the RBSO choose Parashas Tetzaveh to drop Moishe’s name, albeit temporarily, from the heylige toira? Did they get into an argument, was one broiges (angry) or balaydikt (insulted)? And speaking of Moishe’s birthday and yurtzeit….how do we takah know this to be the date? Halt kup and I’ll teach you something you can mamish sound like a genius repeating? It is derived from the fact that the BNY mourned him for 30 days, and then Yehoshua announced that in three days time they would be crossing the Jordan River. And the Novi tells us that the crossing took place on the 10th of Nissan- so if you cheshbon (do the math) this all out…zayin Adar (the 7th day) it is. Some individuals mamish fast on Zayin Adar, especially members of a Chevra Kadisha, because of the fact that the RBSO took care of Moishe’s burial. Why they fast when they should be feasting- nu- this I don’t know. Gevaldig and beautiful! True? This I don’t know!

Can you imagine that virtually the entire Parsha is comprised of the RBSO instructing Moishe about two giant industries that the Yiddin still find themselves in over 3,000 years later and not one mention of his name? Avada a few wisenheimers will argue that the word “Moishe” appears only a few times in all of Sefer  Devarim (Deuteronomy). That’s because, the entire Devarim is a 37-day long speech which Moishe delivers to the BNY before his passing. Do you realize how many times the RBSO calls Moishe by name in each parsha since his birth? That’s ok, neither do I.  Ober, takah (but seriously) why is it missing? Nu- it depends who you ask but let’s see what some had to say about his disappearance.

First up- the Baal Haturim and his p’shat: when the Yiddin (bny) sinned with the Eygel  (Golden Calf) –see next week’s parsha,  Moishe said to the RBSO “If You do not [forgive them] erase me from the book that You have written” (Shemois 32:31). Nu, the RBSO does not like to be threatened or put on the spot like that and presto- Moishe’s gone! Still, this is a shtikel shver (somewhat hard to understand); I mean this is Moishe Rabaynuu and one has to wonder about this strong move by the RBSO and why in this Parsha. Why not in next week’s where the entire Eygel story unfolds? What’s p’shat here, it’s not like Moishe has been sent to Cherim or even Staten Island or Seagate. He does reappear next week and stays with us until his passing. And the RBSO does in fact continue to let him lead and even performs more miracles through him?!

The Baal Haturim answers his own question and says P’shat is that this erasure was realized in this Parshah, since the censure of a righteous person, even if made conditional on an unfulfilled stipulation, always has some effect. Although, the RBSO did in fact pardon the BNY, Moishe’s word was so powerful that it came true anyway. In other words: he jinxed himself! Says the heylige Gemorrah: The curse of a wise man, even if said conditionally, comes true (Sanhedrin 90b).  it’s takah bavust (known) that many of you oisvorfs mistama also curse from time to time and sometimes in disgust, even at yourselves…but I have gevaldige (more than excellent) news for you: you needn’t worry because the gemorrah specifically states that only the curse of the wise man comes true: case closed!

Another view: The Vilna Gaon explains that Moishe died on the seventh of Adar and this date usually falls in the week of Parshas Tetzaveh, as it does this year when it falls mamish tomorrow- Friday. Just as Moishe was removed from the world during this week, so his name was “removed” from the parsha of this week. By not mentioning his name, we are foreseeing his death. How this was known 39 years or so before his passing, nu…this I don’t know. Hey- I don’t write these midroshim, only repeat them.

Others suggest Moishe humbly stepped aside in this week’s Toirah portion in order to let Aharoin enjoy center-stage in his new role as Koihain Gadoil (big kihunna). Nu, avada you’re wondering why the RBSO would pass up on Moishe for this honor and select his brother Aharoin; wasn’t he a shtikel co-conspirator in the entire Eygel incident? Are you takah wondering? The gevaldige news here is that the RBSO likes to forget or forgive bad behavior from time to time and that is good news for most you who worship all the wrong things.
The Mishnah in  Ovois tells us that Aharoin spent a good deal of time promoting peace among the people and that he was very beloved by all for this. Most of you are loi olanu, also busy promoting yourselves just to get a piece, if you chap what I’m saying. But the Oznaim L’Torah says farkert…and that originally, Moishe, and not Aharoin, was to have been a koihen. In fact is seems that Moishe was a Kohain for 8 days. But because Moishe originally refused to be the one to lead the BNY out of Mitzrayim with some lame excuse about his speech impediment and his lack of leadership qualities, Moishe lost this privilege to his brother. And since this week’s Parsha begins with the command for Aharoin and sons to assume the kehuna  (priesthood), it is the first place in the heylige Toirah where Moishe’s punishment of losing the kehuna is apparent. Therefore, the Toirah included Moishe’s other punishment as well, the punishment for saying “Erase me from Your Book.” According to this p’shat, the RBSO does not easily forget and that is grada bad news for you oisvorf minuvullim.

It seems that the RBSO picks His moments when to mete out punishment and this avada should be a lesson to all of you oisvorfs  who constantly think you’re getting away with whatever chazzerish behavior you are constantly up to. Moishe got his and one day……………………

Bottom line: he’s missing from the Parsha and in solidarity and maybe even a shtikel in protest, I wasn’t going to write my own toirah this week but I suddenly recalled that most of you now depend on these holy words for your shabbis table and other enjoyment…nu…how could the Ruv disappoint his chasiddim? Ok- let’s move on to shamtiis.

The next 43 pisukkim (verses), or mamish about half of the Parshah’s total, consist of the RBSO’s instructions to Moishe regarding the making of the priestly garments for Aharoin, the big Kihunna  and his sons, who will perform the Avoida (service) in the Sanctuary. Let’s learn the toirah inside… “These are the clothes which they shall make” And you shall make holy garments for Aharoin your brother, for dignity and for beauty.

According to the Achroin Reb Wikipedia – Haute couture refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. Haute couture is made to order for a specific customer, and it is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finished by the most experienced and capable seamstresses, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques. Couture is a common abbreviation of haute couture and refers to the same thing in spirit. It originally referred to Englishman Charles Fredrick Worth’s work, produced in Paris in the mid-nineteenth century. You hear this? It’s absolutely sheker (false). The RBSO himself  over  three thousand years ago created Haute couture and not the farshtunkine Englisman Charles Fredrick, and as we will learn in mamish just a minute, this is indisputable as you listen to the extraordinary detail the RBSO gave in his instruction for the bigdey Kihuna (clothing line for the Preists)

It’s takah time for the spring collection, maybe even a shtikel late…and in this week’s parsha, the RBSO unveiling the first ever collection. It’s good to be a Kohain and especially good to the koihain godoil. As I said above, not just were they getting outfitted for custom made clothing but listen and read about the beautiful stones and gems that adorned their outfits; the birth of the entire jewelry business happens right here and now..

As I said above, the kohanim got not just free clothing but also lots of jewels. Listen to this. 17 And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, four rows of stones: a row of carnelian, topaz, and smaragd shall be the first row; 18 and the second row a carbuncle, a sapphire, and an emerald; 19 and the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 20 and the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper; they shall be enclosed in gold in their settings. Nu…it’s good to be the big kihunna!


There are four garments worn by the Koihen Hedyot (ordinary Priest), not too shabby.

  1. Kisoines- This woven white linen garment of a checkered design is a long shirt that stretches from shoulder to the ground. It extended to just above the heels and reached to the wrists. It was constantly in view.
  2. AVNAIT – This is a 64 foot bathrobe style multi colored belt that is wrapped around the kohen’s waist over the Kisoines.
  3. MICHNASAYIM – This is a pair of white linen boxer shorts worn under the Kisoines.
  4. MIGBO’OIS- This long linen strip is wound around the koihen’s head, shaped into a pointed hat- picture the Cone Heads from the old SNL.

The Kohain Gadol wore all these same items plus five more.

MITZNEFES – Instead of the pointed hat look, the Kohain Gadol wraps his long linen strap of cloth into a turban. It was 16 amos (about 32 feet) long. Regardless of which direction the Kohen shifted his eyes, the Mitznefes was seen.

AIFOD – An apron on his back that is tied around his shoulders and waist with a belt which was part of the aifod. Each shoulder strap contains a shoham stone, a precious gemstone that is engraved with the names of six shivottim (tribes). These two straps are attached to the chains from which the Choishen Mishpat hangs.

Rashi describes the Aifoid as similar to the garment worn by women riding on horses which doesn’t really help us non-equestrians get the exact image but it was epes a half apron which was worn back to front. Grada, it’s quite an interesting way for Rashi to describe this special garment that the koihen had to wear, but he’s Rashi and you’re not and mistama he wasn’t having minuvildikke thoughts when describing the female rider.

CHOISHEN MISHPAT – the breast plate is the holiest of all the items. It is a square piece of material that has been folded over to make a pocket. In this pocket Moishe will place the “Urim Vetumim,” a parchment inscribed with the 72-letter holy name of the RBSO. Twelve precious stones are set against the woven square, each representing a different shevet (tribe).

ME’IL – this was a full-length coat of blue dyed wool. Says the possik “And you shall make the Robe (Me’il) [worn under] the Ephod, entirely of blue wool. And its top opening shall be inwards; its opening shall have a border all around of woven work; like the opening of a coat of mail shall it have; it shall not be torn. And you shall make on its hem pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet wool for its hem all around, and golden bells in the midst of them all around: a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, all around the lower edge of the Robe. And it shall be [worn] on Aharoin to minister; and its sound shall be heard when he comes to the Holy, before Hashem, and when he goes out, so that he shall not die.” Hanging from the hemline are 72 golden bells that jingle with every step. Between the bells hang 72 woolen ornamental pomegranates. As you can imagine, the Koihain Gadol made a lot of noise when he walked and seemingly this was intentional so as not to surprise anyone, especially the RBSO when he entered into the holy of hollies.

The heylige Gemorrah tells us that Rabbi Akiva instructed his son R. Yehoshua that, among the seven ways a true talmid chacham can be recognized is “Do not enter your house ― and certainly not your friend’s house ― suddenly (Pesachim 112a).” When R. Yochanan would enter his house he would make a shaking sound. The Rashbam cites this verse as the source for the practice of Rabbi Yoichanan, which was to knock on the door of his own home before entering. It seems logical to assume that the verse indicates that a person is required to announce himself before entering someone else’s home, not his own. The novelty of Rabbi Yochanan’s actions seems to be that he would knock before entering his own home. Efsher he had an unpleasant experience when he once arrived home from yeshiva in the middle of the day and entered without knocking? Ver veyst (who knows)?

The Yalkut Shimoni says that we are to learn a lesson form these bells about barging into a room, even in our own houses. Rather, one should knock and then enter unless of course one suspects that chas v’sholom, something illicit is going on behind the door (last part – mine).

TZITZ – This was a golden plate on his forehead, engraved with letters spelling out the Divine Four-Letter Name. It is fastened by three blue ribbons. One was fastened to a hole in the middle of the tzitz while the other two ribbons were fastened through holes at each side of the tzitz. The two side ribbons met and tied with the top ribbon at the back of the Koihain Gadol’s head.

Nu if this isn’t couture, what is? Do you pay attention to the detail, the design, the fabrics? Clearly the RBSO was also worried about the metrosexuals and maybe even the other sexuals, if you chap, and wanted them to have a profession as well. He is after all the RBSO and avada He worries about all his kinderlach, even the faygilich. If you didn’t know that this is the heylige toirah, one could mamish think that one is sitting at the runway of a major designer’s debut of a collection.

Was all this necessary in the Midbar? Where and how were they able to procure all the items necessary to make all- some or even any of these items? Ober- let’s not forget that if the RBSO said to go get it, He also mistama made sure it was somewhere to be found. We’re back in the scavenger hunt. And since when and why is the RBSO so detail oriented about clothing? Guess what? It’s not the first time that the RBSO got involved in making clothing.

Mistama you forgot that way back in the beginning of time, we learned that before Odom (Adam) and Chavah committed the big Aveiro (sin of eating from the tree of knowledge) they were prancing around Gan Eden totally naked and were mamish not embarrassed. Ober (but) as soon they ate…they mamish discovered their nakedness. Why? Because the Yetzer Horoah (evil inclination) entered their souls and caused them to be embarrassed. Mistama this was before waxing and the Brazillian and other beautifying methods were in vogue. The RBSO made them clothing to cover their privates. Thus, the word beged which is related to both clothing and sin, reminds us of the sin of man and why we need clothing.

In case you’re wondering why the RBSO would get involved with such minute details as fabric, color selection and styling and the unusual detail in describing each item, down to the interhoisen (underwear), you’re not alone. Seemingly the RBSO wants his koihanim well dressed and as I’ve said before this is the RBSO we are talking about and if He gave Moishe such specific instructions, mistama there’s a reason. And who said you have to know that reason?

And what would takah happen if the Kohain didn’t wear this exact clothing? What would be so giferlich if he had a pair of Calvins or Polos under his pants? Says the heylige toirah: if he did not wear these exact vestments, then any service he performed was invalid and he could get the death penalty- Yikes! Go know how important underwear could be.


Still we have to klerring (thinking) why designer and custom made clothing was so vichtig (important) to the RBSO? Let’s not forget that the BNY are in the midbar- who’s going to see these nice outfits, or underneath them? Haven’t you ever left your house with a beautiful suit or dress with your old almost tzirisssine gotchkis (torn underwear)?


Says the heylige Gemorrah (Zevachim 88b) that takah there was a deeper purpose in the design of the Priestly clothing line. Zugt di gemorrah azoy (says the gemorrah): That the wearing of the garments served as atonement for various transgressions. Interestingly enough, though it wasn’t the  Koihanim that sinned, still they had the job of getting all dressed up in special forgiveness clothing; what’s p’shat? Let’s learn the gemrorrah:

The tunic atoned for murder, a sin committed by one’s hands; the hoizen (trousers) for illicit relations, done with one’s lower body, if you know what I mean and loi olaynuu, you nebech do. The hoizen (trousers) were atonement for the sin of immorality because avada it’s understood that Men (and a few women as well) instinctively have desires. The strongest desire is the animal instinct for sexual pleasure. The trousers are supposed to give cover to teach us that man (and a few women) is supposed to be above the level of an animal and must contain his instinctive desires. Hence the expressions: keep it in your pants and simchas toirah in the hoizen. Nu..Thankfully the RBSO appointed a good number of koihanim to atone for your minuvildikke ways.

The belt was 32 amos long! It bulged around the Koihen’s midsection so that his arms were constantly bumping against it. It was atonement for wrongful thoughts and desires: no wonder it was 64 feet long. The belt is supposed to separate the heart from the lower body. This teaches us that man (and a few women) must separate his emotions (heart) from his animalistic desires (lower body). A man should love his eishes chayil not for her beauty (animalistic desires) but for her deeds. Nu. Zicher I didn’t write that….

The hittel (hat) atoned for arrogance, a crime of thought and attitude and the list goes on. The material and style of each shmatta (garment) contributes to its spiritual attributes; hence all the attention to detail in the Toirah. Ober but this concept itself is rather elusive – how does wearing clothing improve one’s Heavenly balance sheet? And how does wearing special hoizen (pants) forgive sins of a sexual nature? And if this is takah emes, I’m zicher you would all be at your tailors just about now ordering a few or all of the items in the ‘forgiveness collection.’ Is that all it takes? Zicher a lot easier than klapping 500 al chet’s and fasting on Yoim kippur.


A gitten shabbis.


Yitz Grossman

The Oisvorfer Ruv








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