After a no shout-out review last week (people commented and were not happy), we are delighted to announce the arrival of a baby girl born to Talia & Gabi Stone, Talia being the daughter of our good friends Judith and Shlomo Gottesman. Mazel tov to the very excited parents and grandparents. Welcome to the world עידהשושנה (Ariana Rose) and may you be joined by many brothers and sisters at the right time. A very special mazel tov shout out to great grandparents Sondra Gottesman & Blanche Lerer; may you have much nachas and joy from your newest arrival, keyn yirbu.
Shoin: if you thought that Kayin, the son of Odom and Chava did something quite geferlich by killing his brother (he did!) and that Noaich’s son Chom, and grandson K’nan, did their own father and grandfather dirty when they –according to Rashi referencing others- either castrated or sodomized him (according to at least one source, they did both- oy vey), and if you think that Avrohom Ovenu efsher mistreated Hogor by throwing her and a very youngish Yishmoel to the curb after she bore him his first child, you would be thinking rationally. Let’s not forget Loit’s two wonderful daughters who took it upon themselves to rationalize separate acts of fornication with their own father; really? And if you thought Rivka acted not so correctly when she concocted a plan for her favorite son Yaakov to snooker Eisav out of his birthright blessings, would you be wrong? Did Yaakov act emesdik (truthfully) when dealing with his brother? Were Shimon and Levi out of line when they took out their swords and killed all male inhabitants of the city of Shechem though a crime of rape and torture was committed by but one minuvil by the name of Shechem? Yaakov certainly thought so and, on his deathbed mamish –as we will read in parshas Vayichi, he will remind and rebuke them. Before we get judged on our thoughts, wait until you read in this week’s parsha how Yoisef’s holy brothers acted when they, mistama in a fit of jealousy, plotted to kill their younger brother. Oh, we forgot to shout out Reuvain who decided it was ok to mount the bed of his father’s wife and chap sexual favors from her. Though you may wish to excuse his behavior because he was but chapping from the shiksa concubine, the heylige Toirah does refer to her as one of Yaakov’s wives and she is –let’s not forget- the mother of two of our illustrious shevotim. Why Bilha and Zilpa are not counted among the four foremothers, ver veyst. As an aside, the heylige Oisvorfer did cover this topic and it’s worth a read over at the archives www.oisvorfer.com.
We also forgot to shout out Leah who made a deal with her sister Rochel for Yaakov’s services –of a sexual variety- in exchange for sharing mandrakes –some early form of Viagra or love potion that her son Reuvain had collected. Was Yaakov being pimped out for the night? As an aside, this was not the first time Rochel gave up Yaakov’s services in the boudoir; let’s recall what she did on her wedding night. Avada you recall Rochel was to marry Yaakov but selflessly shared secret signs with her sister Leah, the very signs needed for Leah to take her place. What the hec was that? Is it wrong of us to think that the behavior of these people was epes not so kosher?
Raboyseyee, we’re talking about our heylige Ovis and, their neshis chayil –our forefathers and foremothers- and their children. We’re talking about Odom, the RBSO’s first eve human creation and Kayin the first ever conceived child. And we are talking about Loit’s daughters to whom no lesser a giant than Dovid Hamelech traces his lineage back to. What’s pshat here? Was mankind pre-programmed from the get-go to go rouge? To do bad things? And if the RBSO selected them all for Toirah inclusion, many with high honors, is it so giferlich if and when we veer off course every now and again? Do our minor infractions not pale by comparison?
Let’s get real; it’s not a sin to discuss these very questions; Rashi, the heylige Gemora, medroshim aplenty, and myriad other exegetes have, and continue even until today, to ponder over these very questions. In certain instances, they are all in and tells us that despite what the heylige Toirah tells us bifeirush (in plain Hebrew), the event in question never went down. Reuvain wasn’t mounting the bed, he was but moving it. Shoin! At other times, they do admit the facts as recorded in the heylige Toirah but then wax fancy that whatever was done, was not giferlich. If it did happen, there were good reasons. They imagine all sorts of scenarios under which each and every act is rationalized; each perpetrator acted correctly when committing their respective misdeeds. What’s taka pshat?
Mamish weeks ago, a new and very brave book titled “Was Yosef on the Spectrum” was published and seemingly well received. Its author, Prof. Samuel J. Levine is described as both a “ben torah and accomplished scholar.” As this review is being written, other rabbis are either beginning, are in mist of, or are about to go to print, and will be reducing their own their own thoughts on these otherwise ugly myseh’s (shout out to Elliot Acoca who caught the misspelling of this very word in last week’s review); these incredible but mystifying stories continue to fascinate us thousands of years later. Why? Scandal sells! How many Chumashim have been printed over the years? Millions! Is the Bible not the most popular book ever written? Case closed!
And yearly as the last four parshas of Sefer Bereishis come around for review, and as we listen to the heylige Toirah being read, and the valiant efforts rabbis make during their speeches, divrei Toirah, or sermons (depending on which shul you attend), we are left astounded that Yaakov’s sons, who are elsewhere referred to as the Shivtay Ko (the RBSO’s tribes) are held in such high esteem. What’s pshat? Is attempted murder, kidnapping, and a 22 year cover-up normative behavior? Is it to be rewarded?
Raboyseyee, parshas Vayeshev contains not one but two scandals, each committed by people we refer to as the heylige shvotim (the holy tribes). So holy are they, their names adorn thousands of shul windows all over the world. People spend thousands dedicating shul windows and fight mamish over their window of choice, each etched out with one name of the shvotim. When building or expanding, every shul’s administration knows to instruct its architect to include a set of windows –usually in each sanctuary, real and even faux, in order to solicit and sell dedications. Ober, who started this all? The RBSO Himself when He declared that that their names adorn the koihen godol’s vestments; who are we to argue? As it turns out, long before Bill Gates figured out how to make money by selling windows, our very Toirah inspired shul builders chapped that windows = money, and shoin! The RBSO mamish instructed that the names of the shvotim adorn the vestments? Though parshas Tetzaveh is still a few months away, let’s read a few pisukim which address our first topic.
Says the heylige Toirah (Shmois 28:9-10), azoy:
|9. And you shall take two shoham stones and engrave upon them the names of the sons of Israel.||טוְלָ֣קַחְתָּ֔ אֶת־שְׁתֵּ֖י אַבְנֵי־שֹׁ֑הַם וּפִתַּחְתָּ֣ עֲלֵיהֶ֔ם שְׁמ֖וֹת בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל:|
10. Six of their names on one stone and the names of the remaining six on the second stone, according to their births.
|ישִׁשָּׁה֙ מִשְּׁמֹתָ֔ם עַ֖ל הָאֶ֣בֶן הָֽאֶחָ֑ת וְאֶת־שְׁמ֞וֹת הַשִּׁשָּׁ֧ה הַנּֽוֹתָרִ֛ים עַל־הָאֶ֥בֶן הַשֵּׁנִ֖ית כְּתֽוֹלְדֹתָֽם:|
And continues the Toirah 28:15-20 azoy:
|15. You shall make a choshen of judgment, the work of a master weaver. You shall make it like the work of the ephod; of gold, blue, purple, and crimson wool, and twisted fine linen shall you make it.||טווְעָשִׂ֜יתָ ח֤שֶׁן מִשְׁפָּט֙ מַֽעֲשֵׂ֣ה חשֵׁ֔ב כְּמַֽעֲשֵׂ֥ה אֵפֹ֖ד תַּֽעֲשֶׂ֑נּוּ זָ֠הָ֠ב תְּכֵ֨לֶת וְאַרְגָּמָ֜ן וְתוֹלַ֧עַת שָׁנִ֛י וְשֵׁ֥שׁ מָשְׁזָ֖ר תַּֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה אֹתֽוֹ:|
16. It shall be square [and] doubled; its length one span and its width one span.
|טזרָב֥וּעַ יִֽהְיֶ֖ה כָּפ֑וּל זֶ֥רֶת אָרְכּ֖וֹ וְזֶ֥רֶת רָחְבּֽוֹ:|
17. And you shall fill into it stone fillings, four rows of stones. One row: odem, pitdah, and bareketh; thus shall the one row be.
|יזוּמִלֵּאתָ֥ בוֹ֙ מִלֻּ֣אַת אֶ֔בֶן אַרְבָּעָ֖ה טוּרִ֣ים אָ֑בֶן ט֗וּר אֹ֤דֶם פִּטְדָה֙ וּבָרֶ֔קֶת הַטּ֖וּר הָֽאֶחָֽד:|
18. The second row: nofech, sappir, and yahalom.
|יחוְהַטּ֖וּר הַשֵּׁנִ֑י נֹ֥פֶךְ סַפִּ֖יר וְיָֽהֲלֹֽם:|
19. The third row: leshem, shevo, and achlamah.
|יטוְהַטּ֖וּר הַשְּׁלִישִׁ֑י לֶ֥שֶׁם שְׁב֖וֹ וְאַחְלָֽמָה:|
20. And the fourth row: tarshish, shoham, and yashpheh; they shall be set in gold in their fillings.
|כוְהַטּוּר֙ הָֽרְבִיעִ֔י תַּרְשִׁ֥ישׁ וְשֹׁ֖הַם וְיָֽשְׁפֵ֑ה מְשֻׁבָּצִ֥ים זָהָ֛ב יִֽהְי֖וּ בְּמִלּֽוּאֹתָֽם:|
One of the special garments worn by the Koihen Gadol was the Choishen – the breastplate. Upon the Choishen were mounted twelve stones. The stones were arranged in four rows. Three in each row. The stones were engraved with the names of the tribes of B’nai Yisrael. One name was featured on each stone. And let’s not forget that according to some, the breastplate also contained the names of Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov, and the words shivtei Yeshurun (“tribes of Jeshurun”), thus featuring all twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Alternatively, the last two words were shivtei Yisrael, “tribes of Israel,” so says the heylige Gemora (Jerusalem Talmud, Yoma 7:3), or shivtei Kah, “tribes of G‑d, ” and so says the Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Hil. Klei Hamikdash 9:7). Which was it? Ver veyst?
And the bottom line: if these people despite their flaws are the so called fathers of all Yiddin, we should feel good, even after reading how the brothers plotted a murder, got involved in a kidnapping, a sale into slavery, a cover up that ran 22 years, and more. And if all that weren’t enough to excite us into giddiness, we should be feeling exhilarated after reading how Yehudah intended to treat the very woman he paid to receive sexual favors from and whom he impregnated in a roadside encounter. Hint: he wanted her dead. And his punishment? Gornisht (nothing), instead his status was elevated and from him and his lineage arose future kings of the Yiddin. We should feel good about ourselves despite our own foibles, indiscretions and weaknesses. And we should feel uplifted in knowing how the RBSO treated them all despite their outlandish behavior; they all got passes.
Since we mentioned love potions and how Leah shared a few with Rochel in exchange for Yaakov sleeping with her that particular evening (it was Rochel’s turn), let’s quickly go back and revisit the myseh of the mandrakes. Says the heylige Toirah (Bereishis 30:14-16): “And Reuvain went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rochel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son’s mandrakes.” In response, Leah asked her, “Wasn’t it enough that you’ve taken away my husband? Now you also want to take my son’s mandrakes! But Rochel replied, “Okay, let’s let Yaakov sleep with you tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.” When Yaakov came in from the field that evening, Leah went to meet him and told him, “You’re having sex with me tonight. I traded my son’s mandrakes for you!” So he slept with her that night. G-d heard what Leah had said, so she conceived and bore a fifth son for Yaakov.”
Leah accused Rochel of taking away her husband? Wasn’t it the other way around? In any event, why did Rochel want Leah’s mandrakes? Some have speculated without scientific proof azoy: eating mandrakes was thought to aid desire or fertility. Let’s also recall that at the time of this myseh (incident) Rochel was still barren till and wanted them so she could conceive. How she planned to conceive when she traded away Yaakov’s services, ver veyst?
Ober, Hatzad hashovo she’bo’hian (what all these incidents have in common) is this. In some way –mostly directly, but also indirectly, each Toirah myseh where wrongdoing was on display, came down to one zach described in two words: sinas chinom (baseless hatred), outright jealousy. The scourge of the Yiddin since day one has been, and so remains; it’s sinas chinam (baseless hatred). Our Sages teach us that the Second Beis Hamikdash (Temple) was destroyed and the Yiddin driven into our longest exile davka because of Sinas Chinam. And now as you re-read kimat every incident, it’s all crystal clear.
And it was davka a bad case of jealousy which led to sinas chinom that was the key factor in the wheels coming off the bus in the Yaakov Oveenu household. Was Kayin not jealous of Hevel? Was a barren Soro not jealous of Hogor though it was she who convinced her husband to have a child with her? Was Eisav not upset and jealous that his father gave Yaakov the better brochis away? Was Reuvain not carrying a grudge and some baseless hated because his father loved Rochel more than he did his mother Leah? Were the brothers no jealous of Yoisef? Indeed they were. Was there no jealousy between Yaakov and Eisav? And was there no jealousy between a barren Rochel and her very fertile sister? Ober let’s zero in quickly on this week’s parsha where the heylige Toirah describes how Yaakov loved Yoisef more than the other brothers. It’s emes! Showing favoritism was a family tradition. Avrohom loved Yitzchok more than he did Yishmoel, Rivka loved Yaakov more than Eisav and now Yaakov loved Yoisef more than the others. It’s that simple. Yoisef was the son of Rochel whom Yaakov loved from the get-go. Recall that he saw her, he kissed her and shoin. to marry her, he offered his services to Lovon for seven years. Instead he got Leah. He finally did get her but only after offering his services for an additional seven years.
Ober how did the brothers, the future heylige shvotim react? Says the heylige Toirah in this week’s parsha and let’s read the words. “And (when) his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren they hated him and could not speak peaceably unto him.” Shoin and case closed. They hated him and therefore took it upon themselves to eliminate him. Fartig! Let’s recall that just last week, Shimon and Levi, when confronted with a family matter involving their own sister, took out their swords and killed out all the males in Shechem. They knew how to resolve matters, oy vey. And let’s also recall that our sages teach us that Shimon and Levi were the ones to suggest another case of fratricide. How are we to make sense of this? Ver veyst? As stated above, the heylige Gemora and myriad others discuss various ideas with each attempting to rationalize or even exonerate the brothers. The bottom line: the RBSO took a look at these guys and decided azoy: despite their egregious behavior, they were still breast plate worthy. Who are we to argue? Instead, also as mentioned above, we should be delighted to read that our Toirah characters were flawed individuals.
Shoin, though the Oisvorfer has read a plethora of exegesis on this topic, he remains convinced that what they did to Yoisef was inexcusable. Ober, it was seemingly all part of the master plan; perhaps they were but pawns in carrying out the RBSO’s wishes. That is certainly what Yoisef believed and will so share with his brothers in parsha Vayigash, where we will find these words:
|4- Then Yoisef said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me,” and they drew closer. And he said, “I am your brother Yoisef, whom you sold into Egypt.||דוַיֹּ֨אמֶר יוֹסֵ֧ף אֶל־אֶחָ֛יו גְּשׁוּ־נָ֥א אֵלַ֖י וַיִּגָּ֑שׁוּ וַיֹּ֗אמֶר אֲנִי֙ יוֹסֵ֣ף אֲחִיכֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁר־מְכַרְתֶּ֥ם אֹתִ֖י מִצְרָֽיְמָה:|
|5- But now do not be sad, and let it not trouble you that you sold me here, for it was to preserve life that G-d sent me before you.||הוְעַתָּ֣ה | אַל־תֵּעָ֣צְב֗וּ וְאַל־יִ֨חַר֙ בְּעֵ֣ינֵיכֶ֔ם כִּֽי־מְכַרְתֶּ֥ם אֹתִ֖י הֵ֑נָּה כִּ֣י לְמִחְיָ֔ה שְׁלָחַ֥נִי אֱלֹהִ֖ים לִפְנֵיכֶֽם:|
|8- And now, you did not send me here, but G-d, and He made me a father to Pharaoh, a lord over all his household, and a ruler over the entire land of Egypt.||חוְעַתָּ֗ה לֹֽא־אַתֶּ֞ם שְׁלַחְתֶּ֤ם אֹתִי֙ הֵ֔נָּה כִּ֖י הָֽאֱלֹהִ֑ים וַיְשִׂימֵ֨נִי לְאָ֜ב לְפַרְעֹ֗ה וּלְאָדוֹן֙ לְכָל־בֵּית֔וֹ וּמשֵׁ֖ל בְּכָל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם:|
The bottom line: the RBSO runs the world!
A gittin Shabbis-
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv