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

Vayetzei 2011 – Kissing Cousins

jacob_and_rachelRaboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:


Kissing cousins?

As last week’s parsha came to an end, Yitzchok and Rivka, independently, suggested that Yankif, their son, get out of town and fast. Running for his life as his eltere brider (older brother,) Eisav was seeking revenge after being fooled out of his father’s brochos and birthright, was Yankif, but let’s not despair; the RBSO zicher (surely) has a plan and this week, in Parshas Vayatzay, it will unfold.  Raboyseyee: Each parsha in Sefer Bereishis relates amazing stories about seemingly regular people that were to become our forefathers and foremothers and this week’s features a love story mamish. Before the parsha will come to an end, Yaacov Oveenu, single until at least 63, will marry four wives which include two sets of sisters, and sire twelve kinderlich, laying the foundation and more, if you chap, of the entire Jewish nation. Wow! Let’s learn parsha.


As Vayatzay opens, it’s 14 years later, my how time flies from shabbis to shabbis and Yankif shows up in Choron. Where was he been these last 14 years? Didn’t his parents tell him to go straight to Choron where he was to find a wife and settle down? They did. Did he listen? Nisht (not). Instead, he disappeared for 14 years ober (but) where was he? Says Rashi:  Where else but in the famous Yeshiva of Shem and Eiver, an academy of higher learning founded by Noiach’s son and grandson. For many years altskint (as a young lad) and as a yeshiva bochur, I took this Rashi at face value and figured that Yankif really enjoyed learning. Ober as I got older, I began to wonder; what was he studying? Was there a Toirah yet? Were there books? Was there a printing press? What went on at this famous academy, efsher the first Yeshiva in Israel and the forerunner of the prototypical post high school yeshivas we find today? What was he doing there for 14 years? Ver veyst? Moreover, I’ve heard of parents sending their kids to Israel for a year, some even for shono beit (2nd year), and on a rare occasion even shono gimmel (3rd year), ober  shono yud daled? What’s pshat? Ver veyst?  Ober not to worry, the medrish has this covered and tells us that before Yankif entered the house of the idol-worshipping, immoral chazir conniving farbrecher (bad guy) Lovon’s house, he decided that a 14  year stint in Yeshiva  would bolster his immune system against the unholy environment he was about to experience. Lucky for him, Yankif didn’t get hooked up with any of his rebeyim (rabbis), and still desires a female as a permanent mate. What to do? Where was he going to find a shidduch at his age? He’s 63 years young and it’s time to settle down; he is, after all, destined to become the father of the b’nai yisroel and a Yeshiva in a cave wasn’t exactly the best singles scene.  Anyway, like Eliezer before him and Moishe Rabaynu after (still six weeks away), Yankif finds himself in Choron, hoping that he has the same good luck that his father had when his grandfather sent his house servant, Eliezer  to find Yitzchok a shidduch in this very place. Soon we’ll learn how Yankif found his way to the magic well, hung out and how good things happen for single people near water, at least in biblical times. Efsher today’s singles should go to the beach? Avada you all remember bits and pieces of this romantic love story and taka lommer  learnin (let’s learn) the heylige Toirah, it’s mamish inspirational.


Just as Yankif gets into town the sun is setting. And like any good Yid, he immediately chaps his siddur and davens Maariv. Davening Maariv? But there was no Maariv back then, you say. True, but ever since, we do and Yankif gets all the credit for adding the evening service to our routine. Following his davening, he’s avada tired and heads for bed. Ober with no beds in sight, Yankif instead takes twelve stones and fashions a pillow out of them. Miraculously, the stones merge into one rock pillow; Yankif sleeps soundly. Seemingly, arranging one’s rocks, if you chap, before going to bed is a recipe for a goodnight’s sleep.  After a good shluff and an interesting dream that has inspired artists for generations, he wakes up and finds himself on the outskirts of Choron; just what the doctor ordered. There he meets up with a bunch of shepherds standing around the local well which is covered with a huge boulder. How big you ask?  It takes the strength of all the shepherds combined to move the rock off the well. Yankif asks the shepherds if they know Lovon to which they respond:  Avada, and take a look; here comes his daughter, Rochel waiting for the well. Mamish bashert (predestined). Why was Rochel at the well you ask? Nu, we’re taught that she, at a very tender age, worked as a shepherd for the flocks of her father, Lovon.  Yankif takes one look at Rochel and shoin, he’s love struck and done. He realizes that this is his bashert; that she will be his wife.  He and Rochel water the sheep together, nice first date. Raboyseyee: halt kup (pay attention) and  .let’s learn this mayseh she’hoyo (true story). Says the heylige Toirah azoy:


11. And Jacob kissed Rachel, and he raised his voice and wept. יא. וַיִּשַּׁק יַעֲקֹב לְרָחֵל וַיִּשָּׂא אֶת קֹלוֹ וַיֵּבְךְּ:


OMG: did we just read this correctly? Did we just read that Yankif, one of our forefathers, the father mamish of all of klal yisroel,  laid his eyes on Rochel and kissed her and then cried? Yes we did Raboyseyee and that’s exactly what happened. In case you’re wondering if this was proper behavior for a first sighting, you’re not alone. Even you oisvorfs know that wining and dining should come before kissing, especially on the first date. Why did Yankif kiss Rochel? What is the Toirah trying to teach us? How could he?  And for centuries since, the medrish and many others have had a difficult time chapping what Yankif did and have proffered various theories as to what took place at the well. Did he really kiss her? Was it a real kiss? How old was she? Was this allowed, and much more. Let’s see some of the more interesting interpretations of what went down here. Now Raboyseyee before we begin, let me remind you that 99.9% of what the Oisvorfer will quote and teach this week, as in other weeks, is not his material. Rather, you’re reading and learning the real thing; this is what the medrish and others wrote.


Nu, would the Oisvorfer let a possik like that go by without comment? Did Rashi or the myriad Medroshim for centuries since? Zicher nisht! The possik, like many others in the heylige Toirah, calls out and says ‘darshan me’ (tell me what all this means). Yankif met Rochel, kissed Rochel and then cried? What’s p’shat here? As you can only imagine, there are many interpretations as to what took place and believe me, as you read them, you’ll be even more confused and will likely not know the emes. How could you; were you there? Was Rashi? And if Rashi’s right, are the others wrong? Ver veyst?


Says Rashi: that he cried because he came empty handed, whereas when Eliezer came looking for a wife for his father Yitzchok, Yitzchok was rich and sent many gifts; seemingly a man ahead of his time. Says the Medrash Rabba: that Yankif cried following his kiss because the people suspected him of pritzus (lustfulness) for kissing Rochel. This approach seems quite logical especially when you consider that she may have been either three or five years old at the time. What? Rochel was only three or five? Here we go again; didn’t we just have similar issues with Rivka but two weeks ago? The Seforno quotes this medrish and adds that this is the reason that Yankif, following the kiss,  told Rochel  that he was related to her. As a cousin, she wouldn’t be choished  (suspect) him of pritzus. Says the Netziv: that Yankif cried to show Rochel that the kiss was because she was his relative and was not for lustful purposes. Ober, we’re still left asking why Yankif would kiss her and put himself in the position of being suspected of lusting after her?  And why did Yankif cry so loudly? Says the medrish that he, as he kissed her, already had a vision that in the future, chazerrim (pigs) like yourselves would incorrectly interpret his kissing Rochel as an act of passion. Isn’t this a beautiful romantic story? Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy kisses girl and they all live happily ever after. And isn’t this what the Toirah says happened? He saw her, he liked what he saw and he kissed her? Yes it is. And what’s wrong with learning pshat as we read the words? We are taught (Medrish Rabbah) that the Toirah has seventy faces, meaning 70 ways of looking at it but isn’t the plain meaning of the text one of them? Zicher it is but this wasn’t good enough for the Rabbis of yesteryear and today. What’s wrong with it? Absolutely nothing or so it would seem ober the medrish is replete with myriad interpretations as to what this possik really means. In other words: it bothered them to no end that Yankif could kiss Rochel and they let their imaginations run absolutely wild to rationalize his behavior. Let’s see what some of them had to say.


Says someone who heard from someone else who heard from yet another person who quoted Rabbi Yeruchim Gorelick who said that when Yankif kissed Rochel, it was not derech chiba (not a love kiss but a platonic kiss). How we reconcile this view with the fact that he married her and that he loved her very much, nu, this I don’t know but let’s roll with it. Says the Ralbag: who says he kissed her face, lips or mouth? Instead he suggests that  Yankif kissed Rochel on the hand, or on the clothing, and then cried. This was the protocol of relatives. Since Yankif already informed her that he was a cousin, the kiss was permitted: kissing cousins. Shoin! All settled. And to add some validity to this approach, in the very next possik we learn that when Lovon heard that Yankif had arrived to town, he ran out, hugged him and kissed him. Logic dictates that the kiss between Yankif and Lovon was  strictly platonic; at least we hope so, though we might have reason to be a shtikel suspicious after Yankif spent 14 years in a sleep-away yeshiva. I have chaverim that went to yeshiva dorms for one year and now bat for the other team, if you chap. Moreover, we will also learn from Rashi that Lovon, the chazir, kissed Yankif on the mouth; maybe he spent some time in yeshiva  as well, oy vey! On the other hand we can postulate that if the kiss on the mouth between Lovon and Yankif  in an identical greeting situation was but platonic, there is no reason to assume that Yankif’s kissing Rochel  was derech chiba (lustful)  just because Rochel was a beautiful girl. Sounds logical to me!?


One of the more creative answers to the big kiss controversy is  found in a sefer called  ‘Vaydaber Moshe’ wherein the author posits that Yankif’s kiss was permissible as he and Rochel were already married at that point! What? How could this be? He explains that Yankif’s removal of the boulder from the well and subsequent watering of Lavan’s sheep constituted a halachic act of kiddushin (bethroal) as these actions were certainly worth at least a shovoh perutah (a penny). In other words, once he got his rocks off…err…. I meant the rock off, he was married! Is this logical?


And how old was this Rochel, this shepherdess that Lovon sent out amongst the shepherds who were lustful and avada inspired to see a beautiful girl after a hard day’s work? Says the RambaN that Rochel was still a child, and therefore Lovon allowed her to tend to his flocks in the fields alongside the other local shepherds. In other words: given her youth, she was safe from the advances of the shepherds. And given her youthful innocence, Yankif’s kiss at their chance well meeting was mamish an innocent hello kiss to a long lost cousin. Givaldig, ober how old or young was she really?  Says  Rabbaynu Bechaya azoy: Rochel was a healthy five years of age, possibly even three at the well incident.  And to prove his point, he suggests that Yankif’s offer to work for Lovon seven years in order to marry Rochel, was precisely because she was underage, had no signs of physical maturity and thus, not yet suitable for marriage and seemingly safe among the shepherds mistama eager to dip into the well, if you chap.


Seemingly she wasn’t as mature as her future mother in-law Rivka was at the tender age of three.  Says the Seder Olam  that Leah and Rochel were twenty-two when they each married Yankif, which means that they were fifteen when Yaakov arrived in Choron seven years earlier. Needless to say, neither the RambaN nor  Rabbaynu Bechaya agreed with his view. Ober (however) said the  Vilna Gaon: Leah and Rochel are said to have been twenty-one, rather than twenty-two, at the time of their marriage.  He explains the Seder Olam to mean that Leah and Rochel were born at the time when Yaakov “stole” his father’s blessing from Eisav and fled from home.  As Rashi (28:11) famously cites from the Midrash, Yaakov spent fourteen years studying Torah immediately after leaving his home, and only then traveled to Choron.  Rachel and Leah were thus fourteen years of age when he arrived at the well, and married him seven years later, at the age of twenty-one.


Seemingly our Toirah heroes liked their women young and who can blame them, ober not all agree that the girls (Rivka and Rochel) were 3 and 5 years old at the time of their marriage. Rochel was either 3 or 5 and already a Shepherdess? This is what the Toirah states (not her age).  Is every girl at the well under six years old? What happened to the 10 year olds? Were they over in Thailand?  Seemingly if the Toirah says it’s ok for Yankif to kiss on the first date, who am I to argue? Were all the commentators there to witness the big kiss? Does the Toirah  tell us how, where and why he kissed her?  Raboyseyee: the Toirah is emes and that’s it, why create controversy?


Says the  Tanchuma Yoshon (Vayetze, 12): that the shvesters (sisters) Rochel and Leah  were born at the same time as their cousins – Yankif and Eisav. In other words, they were 63, yikes!  He says that the two sets of twins were born at the same time and that their parents exchanged letters in which they agreed that the cousins should and would marry one another, some time down the road, like 63 years later.  Eisav would marry Leah, and Yankif would marry Rochel. Shoin settled!  Ok, let’s review what we heard so far.


1)  Says the RambaN and Rabbaynu Bechaya: Leah was several years older than Rochel when Yankif arrived at the well. In fact she was efsher already a teenager or maybe in her 20s, while Rochel was but five years old. And that’s why Lovon kept her away from the shepherds.


2)  Says the Seder Olam Rabba: Rochel and Leah were twins. Rochel married Yankif at the age of twenty-two.


3) Says the Vilna Gaon that Rochel was twenty-one when they met and married.


4)  Says the Tanchuma Yoshon: Rochel and Leah were twins and were the same age as Yankif and Eisav, and married at the age of 63.


Got all that? One thing we know for sure: Yankif ended up with Rochel, his primary love  but not before marrying Leah after he was duped by his shvindelr and fupper (con artist) of a shever (father-in-law). And he ended up with another two wives on the side and had children with each of his four wives.


The emes (truth) is Raboyseyee that the parsha has so much more to give and teach but time and your inability to stay focused dictate that I only cover one more tidbit. Twenty years have elapsed since page one, shreklich (scary).  Yankif had enough of his Uncle’s shtik (BS). In the middle of the night, he leaves with his four wives, dozen plus kids and all else. The uncle is not happy, gives chase and they have a shtikel encounter during which, among other things, uncle Lovon says azoy: (Rashi is quoted in the shaded box.)


50. If you afflict my daughters, or if you take wives in addition to my daughters when no one is with us, behold! God is a witness between me and you.” נ. אִם תְּעַנֶּה אֶת בְּנֹתַי וְאִם תִּקַּח נָשִׁים עַל בְּנֹתַי אֵין אִישׁ עִמָּנוּ רְאֵה אֱ־לֹהִים עֵד בֵּינִי וּבֵינֶךָ:
…my daughters…my daughters: Twice. Bilhah and Zilpah were also his daughters from a concubine. – [from Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer, ch. 36] בנתי בנתי: שתי פעמים, אף בלהה וזלפה בנותיו היו מפלגש:
If you afflict my daughters: By depriving them of their conjugal rights (Yoma 77). אם תענה את בנתי: למנוע מהם עונת תשמיש:


Ok chevra, I see you’re all excited, slow down!!  Did you just read that Yankif married not two sisters and their housekeepers but two full sisters and two half sisters? Niflois Haboire, (OMG): yes you did! As Rashi, (look in the shaded box you idiot) understood this possik, uncle Lovon had his own Pilegesh (concubine), had two daughters with her and gave Yankif all four. Nu, that’s what I call a father-in-law; mine only gave me the eishes chayil. Efsher maybe he didn’t want Yankif to lust after the ‘other’ sisters and to keep him busy, gave him four of a kind. Uncle Lovon: not a bad guy after all! Maybe even a great guy…read on……….


Chevra, you’re so busy thinking about Yankif and his foursome, you disgusting minuvullim (oisvorfs) that you forgot to read what uncle Lovon says in the first few words of the very same possik: let’s see it again. Lovon states ‘If you afflict my daughters…’ and Rashi states what? What was that? Rashi quoting the heylige Gemora in Yuma (77b) (which concludes that withholding cohabitation is mamish an affliction) states that Lovon warned Yankif not to deprive his daughters from conjugal visits. You hear this Raboyseyee? Why the Hagadah (shel Peysach) suggests that Lovon was a bad guy, I don’t know, nor understand. To me if a father-in-law tells his son-in-law to give his daughters plenty and he doesn’t mean jewelry, he’s a tzadik.


We need to understand that the entire Sefer B’reishis is given to us so that we can learn from our Ovois and Emohois, heylige and special people that they were. Farshteytzach (logic dictates) that their social lives, to put it mildly, were quite exciting and avada who wouldn’t want to learn from them and maybe be them? We need to learn to emulate them, as their ways and midois are mamish worth loving and living.  Avada you oisvorfs remember with clarity that three of our four emohois suggested and were active in giving their husbands a hot shiksa so that he could have children and maybe also enjoy the mayseh (the act) itself. There’s no question that Rochel, Leah, and Soroh, in their holy righteousness, understood this concept.  I’m quite zicher (damn sure) that you’d like to emulate at least this one part of their behavior, you disgusting chazerrim. Have you spoken to the eishes chayil yet?

For this reason the sages of the heylige Gemora (Avoidah Zora 25a) called Sefer Breishis, “Sefer HaYashar”, The Book of the Upright. Perhaps some of you are upright, if you chap, as you read these gevaldige love stories. It is the book of our holy and righteous foremothers and forefathers who excelled in their desire to acquire and refine their midois. Despite whatever challenges each one faced, they were selected and you weren’t. Perhaps they were selected because of them.
What nuggets can we take away from this parsha? Dreaming is important, it’s seemingly what kept Yankif going during challenging times. Yankif may have been a dreamer but he most certainly was not asleep at the switch; he is, after all, as we said above, the father of klal Yisroel and that’s no small accomplishment.
A gitten shabbis-

Yitz Grossman

The Oisvorfer Ruv

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