We begin with givaldige mazel tov news! In late breaking news which the Oisvorfer received by paperless post, he just became aware that Gabrielle Berg, beautiful and very intelligent daughter of his very long time friends Naomi and Howie Berg (Dr. Howard to most), became engaged to Noah Lindenfeld, son of Valerie and Sheldon Lindenfeld. Wedding details to follow but the engagement party will be held Sunday, March 29th; all are invited. Tell Howie you are friends with the Oisvorfer. Mazel tov to both extended families. So happens that the Oisvorfer was the shadchan for Howie and Naomi and is mamish excited to meet this lucky boy.
And in the business department……….LAST CALL for Pesach over at the El Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico. You still have time but not much, to call David at 212-791-9750 and mention the Oisvorfer. Check it out here www.legendarydestinations.com
Raboyseyee and Ladies:
The women of the midbar
Though we’ve been taught over and again that there are no extra words in the heylige Toirah- not even one extra letter- by the time you get through parshas Vayakhale, the first half of this week’s double header, you might be left scratching your head for an explanation. Why? Because Vayakhel is for the most part a repeat of Parshas Terumah. Shoin, I said it and it’s taka emes. Ober how can it taka be that there are no extra words and at the same time, the parsha is a repeat -almost verbatim- of another parsha? Efsher you’re wondering, as has the Oisvorfer himself, as to why a full 13 perokim (chapters) and 4 of the heylige Toirah’s 54 parshas (portions) of Sefer Shemois (Exodus) are dedicated almost exclusively to the creation of the Mishkan and the apparel worn by the koihanim (priests). This is even more astounding when you consider that but 1 chapter is dedicated to creation of the gantze universe, and but 3 to describing the big moment on Har Seenai (revelation). In fact, the Mishkan project gets more play than does the entire buildup leading to Yitzias Mitzrayim which only gets 11 perokim. What’s taka pshat? Why so much detail regarding the temporary traveling sanctuary built to house the Divine presence in the desert? Surprisingly enough, there isn’t all that much medrish and commentary as to why it was necessary for the Toirah to expend numerous verses in what appears at first glance to be unnecessary repetition. What could be the reason for this redundancy? Taka excellent questions and of course there must be answers. What those are, ver veyst but if the RBSO saw fit to repeat the myseh (story) of how the Yiddin, following the eygel incident came together to build Him a Mishkan just as He ordered it built, mistama there is a good reason, maybe more than one. And if He decided to provide us with 214 pesukim which describe in repetitive detail how the mishkan and its accruements were built and how the bigday kihuna (koihen’s apparel) was fashioned, He must have had good reasons. Why it’s repeated, is none of your business! Your job is to read the heylige Toirah. Zicher you don’t want the RBSO asking you why you repeat your chazerish behavior on a regular basis. Veyter gigangin (let’s move on).
And says the Ramban azoy: “It would have been sufficient for the entire matter to be condensed. The entire story could have been wrapped up by Moishe giving over the RBSO’s instructions, albeit very detailed and then say ‘The Yiddin executed everything as the RBSO had commanded Moishe.’ Ober since the RBSO did choose to repeat kimat every detail of Teruma and Tetzeva in this week’s double header, many commentators struggle to rationalize the Toirah’s apparent verbosity. After all, in many instances the heylige Toirah does not provide many details and we are left guessing or referring to the heylige Mishna and the Gemora and other sources to try to figure out what the Toirah was trying to tell us. And while many pontificate on the repetition and offer various interpretations, including the RBSO’s great love for the Mishkan (Ramban); or possibly to indicate that the workers who performed the construction needed a profound understanding of the significance of each detail in order to endow the structure with its symbolic meaning (S.R. Hirsch); none are quite as satisfying.
Ober says the Oisvorfer (own pshat) azoy: there’s no question, this parsha needed to be repeated. Ober why? The RBSO, master of the world, chapped that most of you would not or were not paying attention during Teruma and Tetzaveh and wanted to give you a second chance to listen to the mishkan details. Shoin! Efsher you stayed home that day blaming inclement weather or efsher you stayed home hoping to erect your own mishkan, if you chap. Maybe you were in shul but hey…weren’t you talking to your friend about a stock or building you just bought or sold? Or, maybe you were discussing other loshoin horo, efsher about the rabbi, ver veyst. Whatever the case, you have a chance this shabbis to learn not just Vayakhale but also Pikuday. Shoin, second and third chances are sometimes needed. In practical terms, the double header affords more talking time during the laining and Pesach is a shtikel earlier this year.
And this year, our fifth time around these two parshas, we too will repeat a few gems of years past. Why not? Ershtens we have many new readers and tzveytins (secondly), mistama you forgot what you read last year and in previous years. Here we go ober ershtens (firstly), a shtikel background on the construction project. It was first introduced to the Yiddin on the 11th of Tishrei, less than 6 months following their redemption from slavery over in Mitzrayim and 4 months following Mattan Toirah and almost 3 months from the terrible sin of Eygel HaZahav. Two and one-half months later, in an extraordinary short amount of time, on the 25th of Kislev, the Mishkan was ready for its consecration. In fact, by Divine command that consecration was set for the 1st of Nissan (Shmois 40:17) but the work had previously been completed.
In 2011 we wrote azoy: Though Vayakhale is mostly about construction, it begins with an assemblage by Moishe during which he reminded the Yiddin (once again) to keep the heylige shabbis. ‘Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day, a shabbis of shabbises to the RBSO: whoever does work on it shall be put to death.’ Does one also die for taking in and reading the newspaper, taking a hot shower, washing the dishes with hot water, keeping the TV on a shabbis clock or making tea without a kli shaynee, ver veyst. The good news: Yom Kippur is only a few months away and the RBSO is avada eagerly awaiting your t’shuva (repentance) on these and myriad other chatoim (transgressions) that loi olaynuu (say it’s not so) you nebech violated. Moishe also tells the Yiddin azoy: ‘You shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the Shabbis day’. The medrish will add that one must be especially careful about setting fires not only on shabbis but also during the week if one is not properly insured. And following this pretty stiff warning, Moishe again reminds the Yiddin that in order to break ground on the project, money and the materials are needed; it’s time to pony up.
New for this year: Efsher you recall that just last week, we shouted out the heylige women who refused to partake in the eygel caper. The RBSO was quite happy with them and judging by the hundreds of comments and likes, our female readership were quite happy as well; everyone likes a shout-out! More good news: this week, women again take center stage and the heylige Toirah will tell us that not just were they willing participants and donors to the mishkan project, they were enthusiastic mamish. How much so? Soon we will read the words of the heylige Toirah and the medrish which will then attempt to interpret the words.
Of particular interest in this parsha are the descriptions of the women’s contributions. The parsha makes it abundantly clear that women were among the community’s skilled artisans and that their expertise is acknowledged and valued. For this most sacred work, the RBSO’s home away from home up in shomayim, the talents and abilities of both women and men were required.
Back in parshas Teruma, Moishe made an appeal, maybe the first ever and mistama the forerunner of today’s shul appeals. “Take from among you an offering to the RBSO: whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it…gold, and silver, and copper; blue, purple, and scarlet [wool], and fine linen, and goats’ hair; rams’ skins dyed red, tachash skins, and shittim wood; oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; shoiham stones and stones to be set for the eifoid and for the breastplate.” The Yiddin did just that. Ober why the overwhelming response and so quickly?
To chap their zealousness, we need to chazir recent events. Just last week, the Yiddin were proving themselves not quite ready for prime time and zicher not ready to enter the land. The marriage between the Yiddin and the RBSO was on shaky ground as the Yiddin had committed the proverbial adultery by building and partying with the eygel (golden calf). That was the bad news. The good news: Moishe intervened, davened and reasoned with the RBSO who forgave them and shoin……..here we are a week later. The Yiddin are excited for their second chance to make the marriage work. Sadly and soon enough, they’ll be sending miraglim (spies) who will speak loshoin horo about the land and shoin, a short midbar trip will be elongated to 40 years. Ober right about now, the Yiddin were feeling guilty and bad; they were busted with the eygel, caught cheating. Was this the way to start the marriage? Not!
What to do? Bring gifts like must husbands do, if you chap. Isn’t the bringing of gifts, especially gifts of precious and semi-precious stones, a good way to atone for one’s sins and start over again? It is and it’s time tested. Also proven! Shoin, Moishe chapped the concept, held and appeal and shoin, the response was overwhelming mamish. In fact, we will learn in Pikuday that they brought efsher too much. The bottom line: gold, silver and especially diamonds atone for kimat everything. Such atonement is not seasonal; use it whenever necessary.
Ober the question will be azoy: we will soon learn how the heylige veyber, the ladies, were the ones who contributed many of the requested items, and shelt-zich-di-shaylo (the question arises) azoy: were they guilty of cheating on the RBSO? Didn’t we learn just last week that women did not partake in the eygel caper? We did! They refused mamish to donate their gold to the cause. And if that’s the case, why were they the ones feeling guilty and donating their gold and jewels to the mishkan project? Taka an excellent kasha, ober says the Kli Yokor so gishmak azoy: it’s taka emes that the women were innocent in the eygel caper and taka were logically exempt from participating by donating to the mishkan project (especially so for those who believe the Mishkan was ordered built to atone for the eygel), ober the big chiddish (news) is to teach us the greatness of the women who wanted to be involved in this holy action even though it was unnecessary for them. And that’s taka newsworthy because b’drech klal (generally speaking) and as we all know, women aren’t in the habit of giving up their jewelry collection. Most would sooner give up their husbands. In fact, many would throw in some jewelry just to rid themselves of their husbands. Shoin!
Adds the Da’as Zekeinim m’baalay HaToisfis azoy: “and nevertheless the women participated and were meticulous to contribute in the service of heaven”. The possik is teaching us that the men took the women to donate the gold from their jewelry to the Mishkan, thinking that the women would be reluctant to do so. Ober surprise: the women gave willingly. Therefore as we told you just last week, the RBSO rewarded them with Roish Choidesh. Ober isn’t roish choidesh for everyone? Seemingly, they were excluded from having to do work on this day and this particular minhag (of them not working), whatever that means for most women, is not just medrish, it’s also mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law). In contrasting their exemplary behavior to the men of the midbar, he adds this interesting tidbit. During the eygel caper, though the women rejected participation, the overly aggressive men took their wives’ jewelry by force, they chapped it. In contrast, by the building of the Mishkan, the women wanted to donate their jewelry. Veyter!
Shoin! The Yiddin responded with copious amounts of each material to be used for building the mishkan. Abundance abounds. Of particular interest in this parsha are the descriptions of the women’s contributions. And wait until you hear what they gave….OMG! Let’s review a few pisukim.
- The men came with the women; every generous hearted person brought bracelets and earrings and rings and buckles, all kinds of golden objects, and every man who waved a waving of gold to the Lord. 25. And every wise hearted woman spun with her hands, and they brought spun material: blue, purple, and crimson wool, and linen. 26. And all the women whose hearts uplifted them with wisdom, spun the goat hair. 29. Every man and woman whose heart inspired them to generosity to bring for all the work that the Lord had commanded to make, through Moses, the children of Israel brought a gift for the Lord .
Did you read Possik 22 correctly? וַיָּבֹאוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים עַל הַנָּשִׁים כֹּל נְדִיב “And the men came upon the women (al haNashim)”. Rashi and who knew better, interprets this unique syntax to mean that the men came with the women. And they came; everyone whose heart stirred them and everyone whose spirit made willing, and they brought the offering to the RBSO for the work of the Tent of Meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. They came, the men along with the women… and they brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and girdles, all jewels of gold. Says the Ramban in trying to clarify: They came, the men along with the women. The women came first and the men followed. Shoin!
Says Rashi and who chapped better: The words ‘with or on the women’ Heb. עַלהַנָּשִׁים, lit., mean that the jewelry they were planning to donate and taka did, was still on the women. The men came with the women and [stood] near them, meaning that they brought bracelets and earrings while they were still on [i.e., being worn by] the women. You see? Everything can be explained so beautifully, givaldig mamish!
Grada this pshat is quite logical especially so if you recall that just last week we learned that the women refused to donate to the Eygel and that their husbands mamish pulled their jewels off them. Now a week later, for this very noble cause, given that the mishkan was built to atone for the great sin of the eygel they “brought bracelets and earrings while they were still on the women.” Where these women found replacement earrings and others jewels in the midbar in such a short time, ver veyst? Efsher they used the mirrors to pleasure their husbands and made new jewelry, ver veyst? Ober we can posit that the midbar was, as we have come to understand, a magical place and just like it had Munn, it could just as easily have had replacement jewelry. The RBSO can do it all, we just have to believe.
Says Rabbeinu Bechaye, that the women in fact came first to donate their jewelry, and the men only came after them. This, he explains, demonstrates their righteousness in and of itself but it also reflects positively on an earlier incident involving jewelry at the scene of the Eygel. When the men demanded that Aharoin make a statue, he told them to remove the women’s jewelry. However, the women refused to give over their jewelry so the men took their own gold and gave that towards the building of the Golden Calf. And according to this pshat, the women still had their original jewelry, the Eygel having been formed out of male jewelry. And from that lone incident, it’s epes not totally clear why the women refused to give their jewelry. One could’ve thought that their main motivation was their natural attachment to their jewelry, and avada we all know how women make and keep jewelry, if you chap, as opposed to pure motivation of refusal to be involved in that dastardly and despicable avayro. However, in this week’s parsha we taka see that the women were very willing to donate their jewelry towards the elevated purpose of the building of the Mishkan. And huvar hadovor limafrayah (retroactively it is confirmed) about the reason that they did not give their jewelry at the Golden Calf. It was not because of their attachment to gold and silver, because that did not prevent the women from parting with them for the sake of the Mishkan. Rather, their refusal to give towards the Golden Calf emanated from leshaim Shamayim (pure) motives – they wanted no part in that terrible sin.
This p’shat however mamish contradicts the understanding of the Medrish Rabba who says: See what is written about this! “And they came, the men along with the women”–they came one on top of another, men and women together in an intermingled throng, and in two mornings they had brought all the necessary donations. So what taka happened? Did the women come first or did the men come along with the women or did they come one on top of another? Nu…ver veyst but we all agree that everyone came. Gishmak, very!
Ober says the Sifsay Chachomim: the reason that the men came together with the women was because we do not accept tzedoko from women, except for a small amounts. And says the Ramban: “The reason [it says] that ‘the men came on the women’ is in order [to express] that the generosity to give their jewelry was more prevalent among the women — they all had jewelry [as did the men], [but the women] immediately took off their nose rings and [finger] rings, and came [forward] first. The reason it says ‘on’ is because the women who were first [are considered primary in this case] and the men secondary to them.”
What else did they donate besides their precious jewels? The daughters of Israel had mirrors in which they looked to adorn themselves; these, too, they did not withhold as donations for the making of the mishkan. The women had mirrors in the midbar? Yes! Seemingly they brought their mirrors which they somehow had time and space to pack as they left Mitzrayim. Although they were chased out of Mitzrayim in the middle of the night, seemingly the Yiddin had time to pack gold, silver, and just about everything including mirrors. Everything that is, except for a few farkakte loaves of bread. Nu, the good people who bake matzo also have to make parnoso. Can you imagine what koiach (strength) it took for women to rip their mirrors off their walls? Many women would forgo other luxuries and mistama even a few necessities, but not having a mirror is mamish unheard of. Isn’t it taka emes that but not for mirrors, women would be ready timely for every occasion? When was the last time your eishes chayil left the house without looking in the mirror from every possible angle over and again? Maybe the men can take a lesson from them!! (Last line inserted without permission by the eishes chayil and editor in chief). Is it a wonder that the Toirah itself and the medroshim heap such lavish praise on them? Taka well deserved!
Nevertheless Moishe could not find room within the mishkan, the place where the RBSO’s presence is to be palpable, for that which serves human narcissism and vanity. Moishe disdained these mirrors, since their purpose is to awaken lust. Says Rashi (38:8): Moishe initially refused to accept the mirrors for he found them disgusting. How could a mirror be disgusting? Doesn’t it but reflect the image of the person looking into it? Isn’t a mirror on the wall or even on the ceiling, if you chap, a good thing? Said the RBSO to him: Accept them, for these are more beloved to Me than everything else: through these, the women begot hosts of children in Mitzrayim. When their men were exhausted by hard labor, they would go and bring them food and drink and feed them. They would take along the mirrors, and each would look at herself in the mirror together with her husband and tease him, saying, “Look, I’m more beautiful than you,” thus awakening desire in her husband and cohabiting with him and conceiving and giving birth there, as it is written in Shir Hashirim (Song of Songs 8:5), “Under the apple tree I roused you.” said the Meshech Chochma: accepting the mirrors did not simply validate or reward the actions of our blessed matriarchs, rather it served to incorporate their story into the Mikdash. Gishmak! And the take-away? Women were admired by the RBSO for dressing up, looking in the mirrors and seducing their husbands after a hard day’s work. The men responded, if you chap.
And from another year: The chastity belt:
|כב וַיָּבֹאוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים, עַל-הַנָּשִׁים; כֹּל נְדִיב לֵב, הֵבִיאוּ חָח וָנֶזֶם וְטַבַּעַת וְכוּמָז כָּל-כְּלִי זָהָב, וְכָל-אִישׁ, אֲשֶׁר הֵנִיף תְּנוּפַת זָהָב לַיה.||22 And the men came, on the women, as many as were willing-hearted, and brought nose-rings, and ear-rings, and signet-rings, and girdles, all jewels of gold; even every man that brought an offering of gold unto the RBSO.|
They brought what? Nu, as you can only imagine, many weighed in to interpret or try to, what went down here and to understand the true meaning of what a girdle was and why this item was donated and accepted by Moishe for the mishkan cause. The men came on the women? The women brought girdles to be donated to the holy mishkan? Is this the heylige Toirah we’re quoting? What’s pshat? Nu, let’s find out.
Let’s read that possik above one more time. Says the heylige Toirah that the women also brought the ‘Kumaz’ which Moishe gladly accepted as a suitable donation for the Mishkan project. And what is it? Nu, some say that the Kumaz is a girdle. Rabaynu Art Scroll doesn’t touch it, I mean translate the word at all. Others say it was epes some sort of a belt that hung epes near the private zone, if you chap, which one couldn’t, if you chap, with the area sealed. Says Rashi (35:22): it was a type of ornamentation placed opposite the private part of a woman’s body? Our chachomim (sages) [Shabbos 64a] explain the name כּוּמָז as [an acrostic]: כַּאן מְקוֹם זִמָּה [meaning] here is the place of lewdness..oy vey! And why didn’t Moishe express similar reservations about accepting the kumaz? Let’s find out.
Nu, many Meforshim touch upon this, if you chap, and offer answers. Some say that the purpose of the Kumaz was to stop someone else from being mezaneh (having forbidden relations) with the woman wearing it. It was protection against the Mezaneh, the perpetrator, that chazir. According to this pshat, the Kumaz wasn’t used for znus or to enhance pleasure or activity in the region; punkt-farkert (quite the opposite), rather it was used as protection against it. In other words: it was a chastity belt, efsher the first ever. And for that reason, Moishe was willing to take it as a donation. Givaldig mamish! Moishe wouldn’t take a mirror that but reflected images but accepted an item that was south of the border? And leave the women without protection?
Ober he was Moishe Rabaynu and zicher he knew what he was doing and says the Chasam Soifer (not to be confused with one of the myriad Yeshivas the Oisvorfer had the pleasure of attending) that the Kumaz and other items the women brought were all melted down and their original state altered. Therefore, though this item was near or touching the forbidden zone, in its new state, it was not recognizable and any tumah associated with that item, was now gone. Nu, geloibt-der-Abisheter (thank the good Lord).
Says another Medrish: the kumaz was an accessory worn on a woman’s genitals! Nu, that sounds givaldig and now one can chap the other words in the possik, but why wasn’t Moishe repulsed by accepting such an object? Says the Ramban: not to worry because the kumaz, though previously found hanging around in the forbidden zone, was donated along with many other types of jewelry and was therefore butil (nullified) in the mixture with the other accessories. Shoin! In other words: the stam melting of the Kumaz would not be enough to purify it once used on the lower region ober the combination of melting and it being butil in the mixture with other jewels, that made everything kosher. Gishmak mamish!
A gitten shabbis-