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

Vayetzei 2019: The Kippa

Raboyseyee and Ladies:

In late breaking mid-week news, Sarah Mael, the beautiful daughter of our good friends Autumn and Bruce Mael, got engaged just yesterday to David Schwartzman of Teaneck, New Jersey. To ensure proper tzinus avada, the Oisvorfer and eishes chayil had the pleasure of hosting David a few months ago as the relationship was blossoming. A big hearty mazel tov to Sarah and David, to Autumn and Bruce and to their future machatonim, Dina and Jesse Schwartzman, and to both families, near and extended. A special mazel tov to grandmothers Joan Mael and Phyllis Lido. May Sarah and David be blessed with many decades of blissful marriage.  Details to follow.

Last week, we introduced the new Mishneh Birura which was sponsored in memory of parents and grandparents who have passed. So happens that one of those parents, the Oisvorfer’s mother’s yurtzeit – Raizel bas Rav Yitzchok- will be observed this coming Motzei shabbis and Sunday, the 10th of Kislev. A holocaust survivor, who was an eye witness to many atrocities, was sadly mowed down by a yeshiva bus in Boro Park in 2004. May her neshomo have an aliya.

As mentioned, the Mishneh Birura is available free by calling or texting Shya Hersh @ 516-666-7646. Can’t call? Too busy? Pop into Congregation Baisment in Lawrence New York. Tell him the heylige Oisvorfer sent you. And in honor of the yurtzeit here once again, is the inscription found on the inside cover.  Get yours!


The Kippa:

Avada we all know that in religious circles, married women must keep their hair covered. Why? It’s a long story, too many pages to fill, ober in short, the hair of a married woman is considered to be erva (nakedness) and stimulating to any man who might see such hair exposed. Zicher it could lead to mixed dancing or worse. What could be worse? Ver veyst? In plain English: see her hair, you’ve seen her nakedness. How that all works, ver veyst? Perhaps it triggers the imagination, ver veyst, and when that gets triggered, watch out below! Has looking at a married women’s hair ever tested your yetzer horo? Were you suddenly overcome with urges? Grada it may efsher make more sense were single girls to be covered up; isn’t it more logical to think that a man might find himself aroused by looking at a young single woman’s hair rather than the married woman’s hair? In any event, our rabbis of yore, decided based on a verse found elsewhere in the Toirah -one that discusses the processes and procedures for the big Soita test (during which a married woman’s hair is uncovered) that at all other times, her hair is to remain covered. Says the heylige Toirah (Bamidbar 5:18): The Koihen shall uncover the head of the woman. This teaches that married women cover their hair. Shoin. Ever desirous of expounding the written words, the heylige Gemora tells us that covering hair is a D’Oraisa, a biblical level Halocho; it’s the law! The bottom line: though there is no intrinsic Erva in hair itself (if yes, all women, single and married would require hair coverings, the combination of the married women plus the hair somehow = to Erva (nakedness). Men are attracted to what is forbidden, hair or no hair exposed.

It took a number of generations for female Toirah inspired entrepreneurs to chap that what the RBSO really wanted was not a head covered by a hat, but instead a head covered by other hair and shoin, the sheitel was born. And taka many women responded by becoming sheitelmachers (wig makers), wig designers, and everything else wig and hat related. The bottom line: the few words about uncovering a woman’s hair, gave birth to a multi-million dollars sheitel business which at the end of the day, makes most women look better, sexier and alluring.

Ober, does hair equals nakedness? Mamish? Does anyone get Hirhurim (thoughts) when looking at hair? What about men? Do women become aroused when looking at a guy’s hair? Is that why orthodox Yiddin wear yarmulke’s and even hats? We shall address the role of the yarmulke below, let’s begin here.

Yiddin, as we all know, agree on kimat nothing, not even on the origin of a good joke. While growing up, yearly when Parshas Vayetzi came around, we’d roll out the same vort (joke) which went like this: Parshas Vayetzi is the source of the requirement for Jewish men to wear a yarmulke. Is the donning of the yarmulke –or kippa, or even a Koppel as it’s affectionately known among Chasidim- required by the heylige Toirah? It is not! Ober if not, what is its connection to this week’s parsha? We uncover (pun intended) the answer in the very first posik of the parsha which tells us that Yaakov left Be’er Sheva and journeyed to Choron. And since he went, would he have gone without his yarmulke? Of course not! Case closed and Yiddin, especially those who are G-d fearing, must then always cover their heads with at least a yarmulke. Believe it or not, there are times when –according to some rabbis- Yiddin need a double covering, ober that for another time. There are those who argue that the source of the kippa wearing vitz (joke) dates back at least one generation to Yaakov’s father, Yitzchok. And their proof? The heylige Toirah tells us that Yitzchok went out into the fields to converse with the RBSO (incidentally our rabbis also teach us that this field trip gave rise to the Mincha prayer). In any event, would it even enter your mind that Yitzchok would have davened to the RBSO without a yarmulke? Shoin and again case closed. What is the real source for the yarmulke? Is there one? Or, it but a minhag?

The bottom line: though the heylige Toirah was still hundreds of years away from being gifted to the Yiddin –it was seemingly their dowry- and though the heylige Toirah itself does not –anywhere- mention the donning of a kippah, we believe that our forefathers –who according to some- observed the entire heylige Toirah, also wore yarmulkes at all times. Why? Is it because we cannot imagine them without one? Would Avrohom, while negotiating with the RBSO to save the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have had the temerity to speak to the RBSO without his yarmulke on his head? Would he have gone up to the akeydo to slaughter Yitzchok in a “hoilin kup” (without his yarmulke)? Avada not!  Can we imagine our forefathers performing all the mitzvois in the yet to be given Toirah –including, according to many sources, the mitzvah of Erev Tavshilin, clearly promulgated by our rabbis much later, without their respective yarmulkes? Not! The bottom line: we cannot imagine our forefathers without their yarmulkes, therefore by extension, they wore them. Facts on the ground or in this case, on their heads, don’t matter.

Though the RBSO did fashion clothing for both Odom and Chava out of fig leaves and some leather once they discovered their own nakedness –seemingly some time after the nochosh (snake) discovered Chava’s nakedness, if you chap, nowhere in the heylige Toirah does it mention that He made Odom a kippa out of leather or any other material. Shoin, now that we mentioned the yarmulke joke, a number of the Oisvorfer’s hundreds of thousands of readers –many mistama not at all observant- want to know why it’s taka the mitzius (reality) that many orthodox Yiddin wear yarmulkes all, or most of the time. Is it a sin to not don the kippa?

Let’s then, in our tenth review of this parsha, skip over some of your favorite subjects and storylines and instead dedicate a few more paragraphs on the yarmulke, and then, space permitting, also cover one other interesting tidbit in a parsha where Yaakov marries two legitimate sister and each ones handmaiden. According to some, the two  handmaidens were also daughters of the same father, making Yaakov the husband of four of a kind! He got a very late start in life, ober by the end of parsha, he will have fathered  twelve children, making him the true father of the B’nai Yisroel. Check out the archives at www.oisvorfer.com for many other interesting topics covered in previous postings on Vayetzei.

Let’s then have some more yarmulke talk. By looking around at most orthodox Yiddin, it certainly does appear that wearing a Kippa or Yarmulke at all times, is in fact halachically mandated. Who promulgated this new rule? Were the rabbis allowed to add mitzvois to the Toirah? Let’s read what a few had to say.

Ershtens the facts: the donning of a yarmulke is not explicitly mentioned anywhere in Toirah. Ober, says the heylige Gemora (Shabbis 156B), azoy: men should cover their heads in order to have the fear of heaven upon them. But is this a Halachic requirement? Or is it but a Midas Chasidus, a pious act? The heylige Gemora addresses the issue somewhat indirectly. Says the Gemora (Kidushin 31A) azoy: Rav Huna the son of Rav Yehoshua never walked more than four Amos (six feet) without a head covering saying, “The Shechina (the RBSO’s Essence) is above my head” and “Covering my head protects me from sinning.” Says the Rambam: our sages were always careful to cover their heads because the Shechina (God’s presence) hovered above them and covered them. Case closed? The bottom line: kippa wearing is a minhag (was a minhag as you will soon see) that started as a personal practice of some Amoraim (early sages) to increase their Fear of Heaven.  It kept them on the right path so to speak. The custom soon spread to other distinguished Talmidei Chachamim (Kiddushin 8a), and the masses slowly adopted it as well. By the 16th century, it was a widely accepted minhag, and there was strong rabbinic opposition to walking around bareheaded. And then? The minhag morphed into a din (law) and was codified as Halocho in the Shulchan Aruch (OC 2:6) where we read this: “One should not walk four amos with an uncovered head.” Once the kipa rule was instituted, and also nearly universally accepted, other rationales for the head covering at all times were offered. Among them: to differentiate between the Yiddin and the goyim.

According to a vast number of well credentialed poiskim (rule makers), wearing a Yarmulke is only a pious act. They conclude this from the fact that Chazal praised those who would take care to not walk four Amos without a head covering. Why praise someone for simply following Halacha? The praise must have been for going above and beyond requirements, beyond the rules. On the other hand and of course when it comes to matters Jewish, there is always another hand, other also well credentialed poiskim (those who establish rules) who say that head covering for a man is a requirement, it’s the law.

Nu, whether or not Yaakov wore a yarmulke or any of his wives covered their hair, ver veyst. One thing we do know is that Yaakov, in this week’s parsha, fell in love with Rochel at first sight. The heylige Toirah tells us that he saw her, he kissed her, he cried and shoin. The heylige Toirah then records a very interesting exchange between Lovon, Rochel’s father, and Yaakov as he negotiates a deal to get her hand in marriage. And while one would think that Yaakov was a negotiating master –lets’ recall how he snookered Eisav into selling away his birthright for some lentil soup. Oh, and also recall  how he executed his mother’s plan to perfection and snookered his father into giving him special blessings. And let’s also remember how he skillfully negotiated a unique shepherd agreement (later in this week’s parsha) under which he and Lovon would  split new born sheep. Given his negotiating acumen, one might be quite surprised when learning the details of the Yaakov Lovon arrangement. Let’s read the words innaveynig. Says the heylige Toirah (Bereishis 29:18), azoy:

18.  And Yaakov loved Rochel, and he said, “I will work for you seven years for Rochel, your younger daughter.”
  יחוַיֶּֽאֱהַ֥ב יַֽעֲקֹ֖ב אֶת־רָחֵ֑ל וַיֹּ֗אמֶר אֶֽעֱבָדְךָ֙ שֶׁ֣בַע שָׁנִ֔ים בְּרָחֵ֥ל בִּתְּךָ֖ הַקְּטַנָּֽה:

Bikitzur, Yaakov wanted Rochel’s hand in marriage. He offers his services to Lovon for seven years. Ober, did Lovon ask him to work seven years? He did not? Did Lovon suggest that he work six or even five? Also not! In fact, Lovon asked for nothing. Instead, an unprovoked Yaakov offered himself in servitude to Lovon for seven years? What’s taka pshat? Was Yaakov at 77 not as sharp as he was 14 years earlier when he left his parents house –for “days”- and then snuck off to the Yeshiva of Shaim and Ever for 14 years? Was he cutting class?  What’s taka pshat? And the answers, as imagined by none other than the Rabaynu Bachaya, a person with incredible insight goes like this. Says he: could it be that Rochel was but five years old at the time, and that Yaakov knowing her age, chapped that she was not yet of child bearing age (which, according to the Gemora begins at 12), and therefore suggested that he work seven years while she matured? Was that his plan? Wait until she matures at 12? With her at 12 and  he 84, they’d both be ready for parenthood. Grada, Yaakov’s exchange with Lovon during the negotiation lends credence to this pshat. Said Yaakov I will work “for Rochel your daughter who is a minor.” And listen to this amazing thought from Rabaynu Bachaya: what Yaakov was saying and also implying was this. “I cannot marry Rochel now because she is too young and that is why I am willing to work for you seven years while I wait. That is what he said. Ober what he also implied was this: though Rochel was –at five, according to this pshat, (as young as three according to another, and older according to others) At five years old, Rochel was old enough to get chapped (have intercourse with Yaakov) Ober he, Yaakov, holy person that he was and future forefather still to become- implied that he would not indulge his libido if he did not have a reasonable chance that such chapping would result in pregnancy. Marriage to Yaakov meant the fulfillment to have children and raise a family. Nu, avada many readers are thinking OMG! Our forefathers were child-molesters, ober Raboyseyee, let’s keep in mind that back then, the girls did in fact seemingly marry early. Let’s not forget that according to some, her mother- in-law to be Rivka, was also under ten when she married a 40 year old Yitzchok. And in case you’re thinking how could the Oisvorfer even suggest that Yaakov implied to Lovon that Rochel was ready for intercourse but not yet for childbearing, let the Oisvorfer be clear; this pshat can be found –kimat verbatim – though he did not write in English- in the Rabaynu Bachaya’s pshat on the words “and you have served me free (Bereishis27:36). Veyter.

Nu, since we mentioned parts of the Lovon/Yaakov exchange which led to Yaakov working for Rochel seven years before committing to another seven after being fooled by his farbrecher (bad guy) FIL, let’s also read the exchange between them when the first seven years were over. Yaakov approached Lovon and says azoy:

21.  And Yaakov said to Lovon, “Give me my wife, for my days are completed, that I may come to her.”
  כאוַיֹּ֨אמֶר יַֽעֲקֹ֤ב אֶל־לָבָן֙ הָבָ֣ה אֶת־אִשְׁתִּ֔י כִּ֥י מָֽלְא֖וּ יָמָ֑י וְאָב֖וֹאָה אֵלֶֽיהָ:

Deliver my wife for I have fulfilled the contract terms of our arrangement and I will come to her. Come to her? And that means? Nu, to protect the innocent, every Chumish consulted translates the words a bit differently but most use these words: “so that I may sleep with her.” What!? Is that how one speak to his FIL about his daughter? Nu, these words seemingly bothered the medrish, the Ramban, Rabaynu Bachaya and many others; they were perplexed how Yaakov, not yet, but on his way to becoming ovenu, our third forefather, would speak so crassly to his father in-law. How could Yaakov tell Lovon to bring Rochel so that he could bed her? What’s taka pshat? Nu, let’s read what a few had to say about what Yaakov meant. Whether he meant what they say, ver veyst, but once again, as the Oisvorfer tells you over and again, our sages were geniuses, each of them. There was literally nothing they could not reconcile or talk or imagine their way out of. How could Yaakov tell Lovon to bring Rochel over so that he could enjoy her in the bedroom? He could because we need to chap the words differently. As an aside, how gishmak is the word “chap?” It’s as ubiquitous as the Mun. The facts are azoy: though he uttered those words, and though the heylige Toirah records those very words, and though the words literally mean what they say, they don’t accurately reflect what was going on in Yaakov’s mind when he said them. It’s all about his machsovo, what he was thinking at the time. Shoin: he said one thing but meant another. Happens all the time to most of us, at least that’s what we offer as an excuse, and this time to Yaakov. What did he mean? Asks the medrish: Rebbe Eivu said: even the most vulgar individual does not speak such words, and the righteous Yaakov should say “deliver my wife…and I will consort with her?” Instead we must imagine that though such words were uttered, what they really meant was this: the RBSO blessed me and told me that I was to produce 12 children and now that I am approximately 84 years old, and if don’t produce them now, when will I produce them? Therefore the verse needs to say that Yaakov said to Lovon, “Deliver my wife.” There was suddenly a sense of urgency. Says the medrish (Medrish Rabba 70:18): Yaakov was but acting on the will of the RBSO!. And says the Eitz Yoisef so gishmak, azoy: Yaakov was able to speak so openly and even unabashedly to Lovon because his intentions were pure, they were ‘lishaim shomayim’ (for the sake of heaven) which had decreed that he needed to get busy producing the 12 tribes. As an aside, the medirsh excuses Loit’s daughters for fornicating with their father because they too acted ‘lishaim shomayim.’ These two critical words act like a get out of jail free card. How did Yaakov know that he was destined to father twelve tribes? So happens that we did not cover that posik this year, ober in previous years we did discuss how when Yaakov decided to stay the night while in route to Choron, he gathered 12 stones. Each of them seemingly represented one of his future children. Though his daughter Dina will play a significant role in next week’s parsha, she was/is seemingly not counted among the 12. Seemingly 12 = 12 boys! Shoin! And says the Be’er Yitzchok: it is only shameful to speak so crassly to one’s FIL about one’s daughter if one has sensual pleasures in mind. Yaakov’s intention was only to father children.

Another view: says the Rabaynu Bachaya azoy: the words “so that I may sleep with her” must be understood differently. They do not reflect Yaakov’s libido speaking, instead they reflect his rational approach to marriage. From his intellectual perspective, there was no difference between the various organs of the human body; all serve a useful purpose and Yaakov did not view his genitals different in any way from the way he viewed his arms or his legs. Each organ had to perform specific functions. His genitals were for baby making. Seeing that he and the other Ovis (forefathers) were on such a high moral level, we need not be surprised if words spoken by them had no erotic connotation as they would’ve had they been spoken by ordinary individuals (like most of us). Shoin! Bottom line: context matters.


A gittin Shabbis-

The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv

Yitz Grossman






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