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

Vayeshev-2014: Of Trusted Friends

jm_100_OT_-P10.tiffFor the very first time, we begin this week’s review with sad news and note the passing earlier this week of Norman Dachs, OBM. Norman, a close friend to many and admired by all, was a blessed man who accomplished much in his lifetime. He left an indelible mark on the legal profession, his shul and the community; he made them all greater. Above all, his unwavering love and devotion to his eishes chayil Zena and their children and grandchildren, was always on display. He was just a nice man, a gentleman, loved and beloved by all, no matter their age.  We already miss him dearly.    

And on a happier note, just a few houses away, we are excited to wish a big  mazel tov Hilda  and Jerry Heller, upon the very recent engagement of their beautiful daughter Lisi, an Oisvorfer favorite,  to Eli Sipzner, son of Linda and Robert, they of Jamaica Estates. We have known the ever respectful Lisi since preschool and have watched her develop into the great and beautiful person she is today.

And as we go to press, we are delighted mamish to wish a very hearty mazel tov  to our very dear friends Aliza and Shlomie Liechtung upon the engagement (moments ago) of their magnificent daughter Yonina to Max Stern (aka: the situation), he the son of Beth and Ronnie Stern of  Teaneck. We have known and admired Yonina since birth; she is truly givaldig! A special mazel tov to the great grandparents: Charlotte and Danny Zaslowsky, Shirley and Leo Schachter, the Sterns and to Mr. Richard Jacobs

Raboyseyee and Ladies:

Of trusted friends

The charges are quite serious and include; kidnapping, attempted murder, a 22 year cover-up and more. Who was charged? 10 of Yaakov’s kinderlach, oy vey! How were they punished? They weren’t! Instead they were rewarded and selected by the RBSO to become ‘The Shevotim’, the holy tribes, each of whose names would be emblazoned on the bigdey-kihuna of the Koihen godol (the vestments of the high priest). Where does all this unfold? In this week’s action packed and mystifying parsha of Vayeyshev? How could this possibly happen, ver veyst? Doesn’t attempted murder typically land the perpetrator or in this case, the perpetrators in jail, for many years? It does ober not if the RBSO has selected you for greatness. Shoin! And that’s exactly what took place. Why the RBSO selected them, ver veyst. Efsher it’s beyond our comprehension to chap, as did Reuvain last week and Yehudah this week, if you chap, what the RBSO was thinking and why. Frankly, it’s none of our business; who says we have to understand everything the RBSO did and does? Our job is to trust and believe. Does everything you do make sense to Him? Yet, He mercifully gives you a pass each Yom Kippur. Veyter!

Raboyseyee, parshas Vayeyshev is laden with amazing storylines, too many for one short (lol) parshas review. Ober what should we cover this year; it’s our 5th review of the parsha. Where do we begin?  Efsher with the beautiful relationship between Yoisef and his brothers? How about the mock trial they held (according to the medrish) which then gave them permission to kill him? Yoisef’s travails efsher? Mrs. Potiphar’s advances on Yoisef, a person the heylige Toirah describes as very good-looking and seemingly also buff? Or, shall we instead talk about Ehr and Oinon who make a very brief appearance in the Toirah and then disappear because the RBSO abhorred them? What about Yehudah? Yes, that very person from whom future kings and eventually the Moshiach himself would derive. Maybe Yehudah and Tamar? Or shall we discuss Chira?

Chira? Everyone loves Chira, especially the RBSO as we will soon learn and speaking of Chira……….a few weeks back, for the Weitz shout-out, we referenced Chira, and this week we’ll lead off with and also repeat one of the Oisvorfer’s favorite of all medroshim. It’s gishmak mamish; if you deliver it at the shabbis tish, people will be fooled into thinking that you are a talmid chochom mamish. Ober why lead with shabbis tish material and why not with a few good lines? Two reasons: Ershtens, just this week a chaver and oisvorf follower, was lamenting the lighthearted nature of the parsha review and he said azoy: “oy, you have so much potential to touch so many and you use your talents for humor? You are reaching hundreds of thousandsWhy not give your readers something mamish inspiring?” What he doesn’t chap is that it’s precisely because of the humor, some sarcasm and avada a healthy dose of real Toirah, that this review now reaches hundreds of thousands. And secondly, last motzei shabbis, the Oisvorfer ran into a very bright young man, an aspiring rabbi. Still in training outside the 5 towns, he will be delivering the sermon, maybe his first, in the main shul this coming shabbis. He will remain nameless for now and of course we wish him the best of luck. He is destined for greatness. It was during this discussion that the Oisviorfer shared this thought on Chira, his favorite character in the gantze Toirah. The young rabbi said he might just use it; givaldig! And while most of you never heard of Chira and those who did, don’t recall in what context, this week – though a shtikel repeat from a few years back, ober with more meat- we’re going to meet and learn all about this wonderful person the heylige Toirah refers to as ‘a trusted friend’. Not to worry: We’ll avada take another look at either Mrs. Potiphar’s attempt to chap Yoisef or Yehuda’s successful chapping of Tamar or maybe even both. Lommer schnell unfangin (let’s quickly begin).

To chap how Rashi and medrish wove the Chira myseh (story) so beautifully, we need to learn some text and we will begin with Perek Llamud Ches (38), pisukim 1 and 20 which are found in the  ri-vi-ei (the fourth, and of course also a chosovo aliya). Says the heylige Toirah azoy:

  1. Now it came about at that time that Yehudah went down (was demoted) by his brothers, and he turned away until [he came] to an Adullamite man, named Chira.

א. וַיְהִי בָּעֵת הַהִוא וַיֵּרֶד יְהוּדָה מֵאֵת אֶחָיו וַיֵּט עַד אִישׁ עֲדֻלָּמִי וּשְׁמוֹ חִירָה:

  1. And Yehudah sent the kid by the hand of his Adullamite friend to take the pledge from the woman’s hand, but he did not find her.

כ. וַיִּשְׁלַח יְהוּדָה אֶת גְּדִי הָעִזִּים בְּיַד רֵעֵהוּ הָעֲדֻלָּמִי לָקַחַת הָעֵרָבוֹן מִיַּד הָאִשָּׁה וְלֹא מְצָאָהּ:

A two word and mistama much overlooked Rashi will illuminate and tell us that when Yehudah went down, he met up with and turned to his buddy Chira.  Says rashi “she-nish’ta’teif emoy”, they became partners. Nothing else is mentioned about Chira by Rashi. But listen to this mamish gishmake medrish (Medrish Rabba 85) which adds more color and tells us that “Chira-hu-Chirom” (Chira was actually a person named Chirom). And who might that be? Chirom is a character we will meet later in the Novee. He gets 8 shout-outs in Tanach (Prophets) and he lived at least 1,000 years. Some argue that he may have lived as many as 1,200 years and this at a time when the RBSO had already decreed that man’s lifespan would not exceed 120 years. Nu, mistama you’re wondering why Chira or Chirom got to live that long? Seemingly the RBSO liked and favored him and rewarded him with long years mamish because of events relating to Yehudah in our parsha.

Rashi tells us that when Yehudah was down on his luck, Chira took him in as a business partner. He didn’t give him a desk job; they partnered up, mamish. The medrish will add that Chira was Yehudah’s trusted friend -a rare commodity- more than challenging to find at times. And how was his friendship manifested? It was Chira who knew all about Yehudah’s tryst with Tamar but kept the secret. Shoin, how many friends do you have who can keep a regular secret let alone one that involved a roadside quickie that led to impregnation and a near scandal? Mistama none! By the time you get home from shul your secret has already been repeated Ober Chira was the man. Hence Yehudah turned to Chira as the messenger to deliver the goat Yehudah promised Tamar as payment and also to collect the collateral he left behind for the encounter. And with that thought   in mind, we should re-read posik 20 where the heylige Toirah refers to Chira as “reyeyhu adulomi, a trusted friend. The Oisvorfer is not aware of any other person in the entire Toirah with this appellation.

And to my chaver who wanted a serious inspirational message, you got it: when your friend is down on his luck, be it financially or maybe in other life aspects, and if you have the ability to pick him up, partner with him and get him going.  Seemingly the RBSO likes that; certainly He liked Chira.

Shoin, lest we forget that this is an oisvorf review, let’s reset the mood and tone. Every year as this parsha comes around, the same question begs for an answer: why were Yaakov’s boys selected and destined to become the 12 shevotim, the 12 holy tribes, the very 12 that our rabbis refer to so admiringly as ‘shivtey-ko’ (God’s tribes)? Does the heylige Toirah mention any of their good deeds, or even one good word about them? It does not!  Were they community leaders? Efsher rebbes or excellent talmidim over at the yeshiva of Shaim and Ever? Were they famous doctors or lawyers or random good doers?  At least major donors? Shoin let’s quickly review their resumes.

Just last week, Reuvain, the bechoir (first born) was embroiled in some scandal with his step- mother Bilah. It’s thousands of years later and of course we still don’t know if he moved the bed or moved himself onto the bed, if you chap. Something that involved a bed moving, if you chap, did take place. Shoin, let’s not harp on that one issue and avada we shouldn’t define him for that one indiscretion, even if did happen. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy a moving bed, if you chap? Ober this week, he will zicher play a role in getting his own brother, initially condemned to death at their hands, sold into slavery; his hands were not clean.

We are told that it was Reuvain who nixed their plan and instead suggested a pit. Nice! Did he suggest that that they just all make nice? Avada nisht (he did not). Instead he suggested that Yoisef be thrown into a pit, nebech, with snakes and scorpions. Reuvain thought this was a better way for Yoisef to die?  Why Reuvain was considered a tzadik for this plan, ver veyst. Can you just imagine the conversation at home? Yaakov: oh boys, where is Yoisef? Reuvain: oy tata, my very own brothers mamish wanted to kill him but I thwarted their plans. Instead I suggested that he be thrown into a pit where he could die naturally or by the bite of a venomous snake or scorpion. And Yaakov in response: ‘very nice Reuvain, you are mamish a tzadik’.  The bottom line: the holy brothers plotted a murder, concocted a cover-up and then lied to their very broken hearted father. This lie would be perpetuated for kimat 22 years as Yaakov remained inconsolable.

Did he, as the eldest, step in and suggest that the plot being developed was beyond absurd? And whether he meant to save Yoisef’s life and rescue him later (by having him thrown into a pit) or not, depending on which of the myriad medroshim that pontificate on this very matter talks to you, one thing he did not do was defend his brother. At a minimum, he was one of the main co-conspirators. Later in parshas Vayichei, his father Yaakov, will struggle to find a few nice things to say about him and will taka remind Reuvain about his impetuous behavior. No father forgets a son who bed mounted. Ober a tata’s (father’s) love is unwavering and ever lasting. In the end, after lambasting Reuvain and a few others, Yaakov will taka bentch (bless) them all.

Shoin, while we’re Reuvain bashing, listen to this medrish (Yalkut Yehuda) which tells us about the big strip-off and how Reuvain’s bedroom transgression was indirectly responsible for the brothers’ sale of Yoisef. And how might these stories be so connected? And pshat is like this: Because Reuvain was guilty of bed tampering; Yaakov stripped him of the b’choira (birthright) and transferred it to Yoisef (Divrei Hayomim 5:1). In other words: the bed was stripped and now so was he.  This aroused insane jealousy amongst the brothers, which of course resulted in the plot to murder Yoisef. And as a first step, they stripped him of his shirt. (Later in the parsha, Yehudah, he with the idea of selling Yoisef into slavery, will get stripped twice. First, as we read on page one above, he was stripped of his leadership position and then he had epes another stripping incident when he met Tamar roadside, if you chap. He did!  And for good measure, let’s also recall that also in this parsha, Yoisef will be stripped of his shirt following Mrs. Potiphar’s advances. Shoin, seemingly arousal of any kind, be it from jealousy or otherwise driven, has in the past and can at times, lead to stripping and other trouble, if you chap.) And he adds that Reuvain’s sin had a general, adverse spiritual affect on the brothers, leading to a moral decline. You think? This decline led to the next sin; the heinous crime known as mechiras Yoisef (the sale of Yoisef). The good news: because of all this stripping, books, movies and Broadway shows were written and produced about this story and remain popular ad hayoim hazeh (until today). Shoin, business is business.

And just last shabbis, in parshas Vayishlach, Shimon and Levi, fresh off their bar mitzvahs and before it became fashionable for bar mitzvah boys to receive multiple bechers (goblets) as gifts, mistama received a few quality swords from the invited guests. And they used them how? They used them to kill every male in the city of Shechem. Why? Because Shechem ben Chamor, that chazir, had the audacity to rape Dina who according to some medroshim, was a young 7 year old at the time. And like good brothers should, they sprang into action and wiped out the innocent along with the guilty. Their father Yaakov wasn’t at all too pleased with their violent tempers and will, also on his deathbed, remind them of their dastardly act.

We already know what happened to Dina. And if you don’t, just two days ago, a miniseries about that myseh told through the eyes of Dina, was featured on TV.  Mistama you can chap it on Netflix, ver veyst. The medrish will blame Dina for ‘going out about town’; she was hanging around maybe in the pizza shop, say it’s not so, and that’s where Shechem laid his eyes and eventually himself on her and shoin. He raped her; he violated her and guess what? He also fell in love with her. We can kler (posit) that had Dina, instead of hanging around,   enrolled into  the world famous yeshiva of Shaim and Ever, maybe she would have flipped and turned out ok. Shoin, instead it was Shechem who did the flipping, if you chap. In any event, too much nachas Yaakov wasn’t having from his overgrown and somewhat dysfunctional mishpocho. Nu, how much could he have expected when marrying four sisters? But wait…………..that was all last week. This week, the wheels of the bus will mamish come unglued; all hell is about to break loose in the Yaakov household.

Is there a person on this earth who doesn’t know the famous story of Yoisef and his brothers? It appears that all of them, save for innocent Binyomin, Yoisef’s only full brother, decided after some mock trial at which Yoisef wasn’t present, that he was guilty of something and needed to die! Nice! And what was Yoisef’’s cardinal sin? Let’s review his giferliche behavior.  After escaping from Lovon’s house with his mishpocho, Yaakov settled in Canaan (now Israel). Like most parents, he had a favorite son, Yoisef, who kept his dad informed about the activities of his other siblings. Rashi tells us that he also liked to comb his hair and look in the mirror. Giferlich mamish! Lommer nisht fargessin (let’s not forget) that according to at least one medrish, Yoisef was originally conceived as a girl and that the RBSO made a neys (miracle) and shoin…just like that, he was a male. Efsher in the switch, a few dominant female tendencies were left over; gossiping and combing his hair but two of them. Grada, were gossiping and grooming cardinal sins, we’d all be long dead! In other words: he spoke some loshoin horo, who doesn’t? Es lust zich redden (stands to reason) that the brothers were not happy about being ratted out.

What were they doing that was so terrible? Some say they were eating eyver-min-hachai (from a live animal), others say that they were having sexual relations with the hot shiksas. So says the medrish, the Oisvorfer merely repeating its holy thoughts. What to do? Shoin: they decided to kill Yoisef, no one likes a rat. Sounds reasonable to me, why not? You squeal on your brothers and they condemn you to death! Shoin, settled, death it shall be. Of course they had other reasons which included insane jealousy over some farkakta multicolored tunic that Yaakov made only for Yoisef and over his (Yoisef’s) dreams that he repeated to the brothers. Shoin, aren’t those more than compelling arguments in favor of killing one’s own sibling? Chazal will tell us that the plot began with Shimon and Levi, seemingly still excited with their sword toys ober did any of the brothers try to stop the plan from going forward? Not! Interestingly enough, we were taught in Yeshiva and in numerous medroshim that the brothers are considered holy people, tzadikkim mamish. Every year this time, rabbis iber-di-gantze velt (all over the world) will get up and with a straight face and tell us that these brothers were the holiest of people. Nu, if conspiracy to commit murder and an elaborate cover-up makes one holy, there must be thousands of such holy people rotting away nebech behind bars with life sentences. How can people who plot a murder which they hide from their father for over 20 years be called tzadikkim? Ver Veyst? Veyter.

But wait………….what about Yehudah? Wasn’t he a good guy and brother? Nu, he had a new bright idea but was it to call the entire plot off and to send Yoisef back home to his father? To pull him out of the pit and give him some fresh clothing and send him on his way efsher? A necthiger tug (fugetaboutittt)? His plan, which was taka executed, was to sell him into slavery. So nice and such a heartwarming display of brotherly love. Is it just me or does Eisav sound like a much better brother? At least he had good reason to be upset with his brother Yaakov. Ober these boys? What’s taka pshat here?

Shoin……as is the case whenever something goes wrong……the brothers needed someone to blame for their repugnant behavior and instead of taking ownership, they decided that it was all Yehudah’s fault. Shoin! He was fired from whatever exalted position he may have had among the brothers and……….of course we all know the world famous Yehudah  and Tamar incident where Yehudah, thinking he was soliciting the services of   a local zoina (prostitute,) ended up having sexual relations with  his own daughter-in-law. Shoin, by now we are 0-5 with Yaakov’s kinderlach, we have yet to hear one redeeming character trait. On the other hand, who says one needs to have them? The bottom line seems to be azoy: If the RBSO selects you, you are good to go. One thing is zicher: He did not select Ehr and Oinon, two of Yehudah’s boys; they make a brief appearance in the heylige text and disappear quite prematurely, if you chap. The heylige Toirah will tell us in plain and simple words that the RBSO abhorred Ehr and Oinon. We have previously covered the Ehr and Oinon story biarichus (at length) and we have also covered the Yehudah and Tamar story from every angle. You should zicher check out previous postings here http://toirahruv.com/vayeshev-2013-yehuda-tamar-and-yibum/  and here  http://toirahruv.com/vayeshev-2012-of-man-and-his-clothing/.  Again, you will not be disappointed.

Shoin, this inexplicable myseh about Yoisef and his brothers notwithstanding and the many other mind boggling historical events recounted in the parsha also notwithstanding,  parshas Vayeyshev is a feel-good parsha. What’s to feel good about efsher you’re klering? One has to feel good about himself when compared to the behavior exhibited and the mysehs you will encounter as you read and re-read the parsha.  Did you ever plot to kill your little or big brother? Did you ever sell him to a pack of Midianites or Ishmaelites? Did you ever use your sword to wipe out an entire city? Did you ever have accidental sex with your own daughter-in-law? Did you ever chap from anyone without seeing them? Shoin. You are a good and decent person. Maybe too good to have been selected as one of the shevotim, ver veyst. On the other hand, they and not you were selected by the RBSO to be the shevotim, the tribes from whom the Koihanim, the Livi’im and the rest of the Yiddin would all come from. And who are you to argue with the RBSO’s selection process? Mistama, if they were selected and their names chosen to adorn the Koihen Godol’s breastplate and not any of your names, we can kler that they had redeeming character traits. What those were, ver veyst and mistama it’s none of your business. Poshit geredt (plain and simple), the heylige Toirah does not tell us why they were selected. Any maybe that’s why the RBSO gave us the Toirah she-baal-peh (the oral tradition) where our sages and many others since, discussed pontificated and argued over these items.

In the end, let’s avada keep in mind that it was the RBSO who was orchestrating all these events; doesn’t He orchestrate all? Didn’t he foretell to Zeydeh Avrohom that his children would be enslaved to a nation for 400 years and then redeemed? He did! How else where the Yiddin going to get there if not for the sale of Yoisef, and the eventual reunion (2 weeks away) where Yaakov moved his entire mishpocho over to a then friendly Mitzrayim. This was seemingly all part of the master plan. Reuvain, Shimon, Levi, Yehudah and the rest of the brothers were just making the RBSO’s plans come to life. Maybe they were good guys after all. Ver veyst.

A gitten shabbis and a freylichen Chanukah.

Yitz Grossman

The Oisvorfer Ruv


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