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

Vayishlach 2014


Earlier this week, the Oisvorfer drove out to Deans, New Jersey to visit the kever (grave) of his mother whose 10th yurtzeit was marked this past Tuesday, the 10th of Kislev. May the nishomo (soul) of Raizel bas Reb Yitzchok have an aliya; she is sorely missed.  And speaking of graves, this coming week, though her passing and yurtzeit were marked on the 11th of cheshvon, in Toirah time and in parshas Vayishlach, mama Rochel will die in childbirth and her husband Yaakov will bury her roadside on the way toEfrat in Beis Lechem. Ober, is she really buried there? We’ll come back to that shortly ober ershtens (firstly)…. The Oisvorfer has a chaver by the name of Seth Glass, a very talented musician and composer of songs. He sang with and was part of Shlomo Carlebach’s band for a good  number of years. A few years back, I asked him to write a song using one riveting posik from this week’s parsha. The words, according to Rashi, describe a person who acts like a brother but is instead your enemy; watch out for that guy! It’s a song that plays out daily in our lives. Listen  to it here. Stay well buddy!               

 Now deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I am afraid of him, lest he come and strike me, [and strike] a mother with children.   .הַצִּילֵנִינָאמִיַּד אָחִימִיַּד עֵשָׂו כִּי יָרֵאאָנֹכִיאֹתוֹ פֶּן יָבוֹאוְהִכַּנִיאֵםעַל בָּנִים:


And in the public service announcement area: Last week a wrong number was posted for those wanting to get in touch with Rabbi Tzvi Menachem. The correct number is 347 601 7665

 Raboyseyee and Ladies

Where is Rochel buried?

Shoin, last week the heylige Toirah interrupted the feud between Eisav and Yaakov to bring us the romantic love story of Yaakov and Rochel. They met, he kissed her and shoin….after being duped by his shver-to-be, Lovon, Yaakov eventually got the girl of his dreams and by the time the parsha was over, he was also the father of 11 boys and one daughter. Binyomin, his youngest, will be born this week. This week Yaakov and Eisav, rather anticlimactically, will meet, kiss, hug and reconcile. And just like that, they were friends again. Eisav’s kiss too, like Yaakov’s kiss to Rochel, will be thoroughly examined by Rashi and others. Did he mean to kiss him, or efsher to bite him, ver veyst. Seemingly,Yitzchok’s brochis (blessings) to both his children kicked in. Eisav, despite having sold the bichoira (birthright) for a bowl of lentils, did quite well for himself. He amassed great wealth and even had his own army. And of course we all know that Yaakov, after a 20 year stint over at the Lovon household, also left a wealthy man. That being said, Yaakov’s family was quite dysfunctional as we will learn in this week’s parsha. Veyter.

Lest you think Vayishlach is a shtikel boring, the RBSO didn’t just lace it with subjects you will find interesting but featured them. Of course we will at least mention them.  This past shabbis, one local rabbi was trying to make sense of Yaakov kissing Rochel and quoted several interesting sources, each offering a unique approach to the kiss which as described in the  heylige Toirah was nothing but an innocuous, ordinary and  innocent kiss hello to a relative. As you zicher recall, his kiss did not sit well with the heylige Gemora and numerous medroshim. They grappled with the fact that our forefather Yaakov would kiss a young female, innocently or not. Why they cannot accept the RBSO’s words for what they were, ver veyst? Nu, one can only imagine what difficulties lie ahead when trying to grapple with the events in this week’s parsha which features at least one rape, a case of incest, at least as described in the Toirah, mass execution and much more. Hey, it’s the heylige Toirah and the RBSO did not hold back or try to whitewash historic events.

Also this past shabbis, the Oisvorfer stopped off at a neighbor’s house for kiddush and a quick hello…so happens that this neighbor proudly does not read the weekly review and also so happens that his mother was there visiting. He went on to tell his mother that the Oisvorfer writes a weekly review which is at times (I believe he said all the time) sexually laced and that there is always focus on such matters. Nu, a minute later, with her son out of sight  and earshot, the mother asked to be added to the list: welcome aboard! And she’s taka joining on a week where kimat the gantze parsha is focused on matters of a sexual nature; should we skip the parsha? Nu, as we’ve said in the past but definitely worth repeating: the RBSO chapped that humans are but that!  We previously covered the amazing story of Dina’s rape by Shechem, chazir that he was and also discussed the famous Rashi that tells us that Shechem had her kidarko and sheloi kidarko, nebech. For the unacquainted readers, let’s read the text and then, in the shaded box, what Rashi had to say.

  1. And Shechem the son of Hamor, the Hivvite, the prince of the land, saw her, and he took her, lay with her, and violated her.



ב. וַיַּרְא אֹתָהּ שְׁכֶם בֶּן חֲמוֹר הַחִוִּי נְשִׂיא הָאָרֶץ וַיִּקַּח אֹתָהּ וַיִּשְׁכַּב אֹתָהּ וַיְעַנֶּהָ:
lay with her: in a natural way. — [from Gen. Rabbah 80:5] וישכב אתה: כדרכה:
and violated her: Heb. וַיְעַנֶהָ, lit., and afflicted her. [I.e. he was intimate with her] in an unnatural way. — [from Gen. Rabbah 80: 5] ויענה: שלא כדרכה:

 Because Rashi chapped that you chazerim might get stuck on the exact wording and might be wondering what the Toirah meant to say, he filled in the blanks, as did Shechem, if you chap,  that chazir, and told us that not only did he rape her, he also violated her.  And we also previously discussed at length the great story of Reuvain and how the heylige Gemora tells us that Reuvain was innocent mamish of sleeping with this step-mother Bilhah though the heylige Toirah, which clearly knows how to express itself, told us that indeed he did mamish bed his step mother; YIKES!  Did he or didn’t he? The Toirah does use the rather straightforward and expressive terms of Vayishkav- meaning he slept with her. Does the word Vayishkav ever mean anything but that? Does it ever mean that he took her to the movies or that he took out the garbage? It does not. When the Toirah uses that word and terminology, it always means that someone slept with or lay down with someone else. Shoin, case closed! Even in yeshiva parlance, when the rebbe chapped someone he shouldn’t have, we called it mishkav zochor. Mishkav, yishkav; both mean something sinister took place. One thing it does not mean is moving, though the heylige Gemora and others will have us believing that all Reuvain was guilty of was moving the bed. Was Reuvain working for Moishe’s moving company or Schleppers? As stated above, mishkav never means moving. When a person moves or people move in any direction, the Toirah uses specific words or terms that always mean just that.  And if the Toirah tells us that he slept with her, mistama it means just that. Ober the heylige Gemora would have none of that and in one of the earliest cases of reputation management, declared Reuvain innocent of the charges. Moreover the Gemora tells us that whoever thinks that Reuvain was guilty of bedding the handmaiden Bilhah, also Yaakov’s wife, also Leah’s half sister, is mistaken mamish. Nu, who are you to argue with the heylige Gemora, chazir that you are? The heylige Gemora is forever or at least until Moshiach arrives, and this Reuvain myseh will, until that day, remain one of the great Toirah mysteries. And when the Moshiach does arrive, feel free, after you’ve asked many other questions that have been plaguing you over the years, to ask him this question as well. And the bottom line: If the heylige Toirah saw fit to mention this story, mistama there was and is a good reason.  In any event whether Reuvain did or didn’t ver veyst, but one thing is zicher: Bilhah and Zilpah her sister, played a more than significant role in the formation of the Yiddin. Unlike Hogor, who gave birth to Yishmoel, Bilhah and Zilpahs’ kids Dan, Naphtoli, Gad and Osher were seemingly fine upstanding good citizens, later shevotim who led decent lives. Between them they gave birth to four of the 12 shevotim (holy tribes), that’s one third of them, mamish. Seemingly, Bilhah and Zilpah were the unsung heroines of their time. As you know, we have previously more than covered Dina’s rape and Reuvain’s bedroom capers but for those readers who just joined in the past year and want to read all about Dina and Reuvain, please click here  http://toirahruv.com/vayishlach-2012-reuven-did-what/ or here http://toirahruv.com/vayishlach-all-about-dina/; you will mamish enjoy. Veyter.

Earlier we mentioned that Rochel Emainu’s passing is recorded in this week’s parsha. She will sadly die in childbirth and Yaakov will bury her roadside in Efrat which is Beis Lechem. And that’s exactly what the heylige Toirah (Bireishis 35:19-20) tells us. Let’s see the words.

“Rochel died and was buried on the road to Efrat, in Bethlehem. And  Yaakov erected a monument on her grave; that is the tombstone of Rachel until this day.”

And for thousands of years, hundreds of thousands of people of all ages and genders have made their way over to Kever Rochel where they daven and/or recite a few kaptilach of tihilim (supplications). They still do. Cars, taxis and buses arrive daily carrying the many who feel the holiness of this resting place. It’s mama Rochel: Everyone chaps the significance of this place. And everyone chaps that upon arrival to a place so vividly described, the heylige Toirah comes alive mamish. It’s holy. And what’s the question? Zicher she is buried there as described. Ober…………a few years back, while on a tiyul (tour) for Rena Kwestel’s 40th birthday, the tour guide said something that threw the Oisvorfer for a loop; he has yet to recover.  At one stop atop a mountain and pointing across the mountain, she mentioned that Kever Rochel was somewhere nearby. The problem was that we were nowhere near the location we have all been visiting for years. How could this be? She continued to explain this theory, seemingly supported by many, by recounting the route that Yaakov took on his way back to Israel. It was depressing mamish and years later the Oisvorfer remains shaken by even the potential of this view as being emes. This does, however, beg the question: where is mama Rochel buried?

And guess what? This possibility of Rochel being buried elsewhere, not in  the place we all know, is not new and has seemingly been hotly debated by many. But isn’t a kever with a stone memorial and a name a good indication that she is taka buried there? Moreover, although we have previously said good bye to Odom, Chava, Avrohom, Soro and even others, and learned about some of their burials, none of these were accompanied by the mention of a tombstone or any other such structure having been erected over a grave.  In the gantze (entire) heylige Toirah, only Rochel’s tombstone is specifically mentioned.  Wasn’t that enough to positively tell us where she is buried? Seemingly not! Ober delving into this matter and explaining it properly would take many pages. Instead, let’s just read what a few had to say about this topic. Moreover, your minds are still on Reuvain and his stepmother, chazerim that you are. Ok- we’ll review that subject again shortly.

There is much written on Rochel’s resting place and it appears that there are seemingly two places where she might be buried. In our parsha (35:19-20) the Toirah states, “… and Rochel died and was buried on the way to Efrat, which is Beis Lechem. Yaakov built a monument over her grave, and this is the monument of Rachel’s grave to this day.”  Ober in a few weeks, over in parshas Vayechi, (Ibid. 48:7) with Yaakov near death, he will apologize and explain to Yoisef why he buried Rochel on the road and not in the city. The location mentioned there is Beis Lechem Efroso (Efrata). So far so good. Or, so far so good unless Beis Lechem and Beis Lechem Efroso are not the same place, are they? And if they aren’t, how could that be? One thing is zicher: there was only one Rochel!

Shoin, we’re about to learn that there are seemingly two places with that name, and pisukim (passages) in Tanach (the Prophets) refer to one as  Beis Lechem and the other with the longer name of Beis Lechem Efroso. One passage (Yehoishua 19:15) will tell us that Beis Lechem was in the land that belonged to shayvet (tribe)  Zevulun and another, as described in Micha 5:1, describes a Beis Lechem as being in the land belonging to the sheyvet Yehuda. This one is referred to as Beis Lechem Efroso.  Yikes and now what? Where is Rochel? Nu, unless the tribes of  Zevulun and Yehuda shared the same land, which they did not, it does then appear that Rochel might be in one or the other place.

Is she buried up north and not where thousands have been davening for many generations? Es ken zeyn (could be) and says the Novee (Prophet) in Shmuel I (10:2) azoy:  After Shmuel anointed Shaul as king over Israel, he gave him three signs to encourage him and prepare him for royalty. The first of these signs opens with a geographical description: “When you leave me today, you will meet two men near the tomb of Rochel in the territory of Binyamin, at Tzeltzach”. Based on this exchange, Rochel’s Tomb is situated in Binyamin’s territory (near its northern border) but certainly not deep in Judea, where the contemporary Rochel’s Tomb is located. Is this emes? Oy vey!


Ober said the Novee Yirmiyohu (13:14) azoy:  “A voice is heard in Ramah, wailing and bitter weeping; Rochel weeps for her children. She refuses to be comforted for her children, for they are gone.…” And we taka know that the Ramah referred to here is south of Beit El, where Yaakov passed on his way to Chevron to see his father Yitzchok. A place called Ramah is mentioned in this location, in the land of the tribe of Binyamin. Today this city of Ramah has been identified as the Arab village of A-rom, just north of Yerushalayim.

On the other hand, several commentators argue that Yirmiyahu’s prophecy about the voice heard in Ramah does not refer to the city of Ramah at all. It is, rather, to be understood figuratively, as a voice heard on high (which is the literal translation of the word ramah), or a voice heard in the high places.

Ober said the Ramban (Bireishis 48:7)azoy: Yaakov buried Rochel on the road because he knew through ruach hakoidesh (prophetically) that the Babylonian general Nevuzardan, bad guy, would exile her descendants from Yerushalayim. And as they were travelling toward Bovel, the Yiddin would pass Rochel’s tomb in “Ramah” of Binyamin, hear her weeping and would be comforted, since the above-mentioned prophecy of Yir Yirmiyahu meyahu goes on to declare that her children will (one day) return to their borders.

But listen to this bombshell: the Ramban, upon his arrival to Israel and his visit to kever Rochel changed his mind. He also changed her location and declared that she was not buried where he had initially thought and written. In comments that he inserted later on our parsha (35:12) he wrote, “… Now that I have merited, with praise to G-d, to come to Yerushalayim, I have seen with my own eyes that Rochel is buried less than a mil (a mil is 2,000 amos, which is 960 meters, or just under 1,050 yards)  from Beis Lechem.… Moreover, I have seen that she is not buried in Ramah, and that city is not even close [to her burial place].… I assert that the verse that states, ‘A voice was heard in Ramah …,’ is to be understood figuratively: that her weeping was so loud and bitter that it was heard as far away as Ramah, which sits atop the mountain [in the land] of her son Binyamin … and it seems to me that Yaakov buried her on the road, and not at the entrance of the city of Beis Lechem, for he saw through prophecy that Beis Lechem would belong to Yehuda.”

Earlier we mentioned that with Yaakov near death, he explained to Yoisef (Bireishis 48:7) why he was forced to bury Rochel along the road rather than bringing her remains to the nearest city for a proper burial. He said: “When I was returning from Padan, Rochel died, to my sorrow, while I was journeying in the land of Canaan, when still some distance short  [‘kivras ha-aretz’] of Efrat; and I buried her there on the road to Efrat, now Beis Lechem.” And what does Kivras mean? The simple meaning of the word “kivras” is a large distance and taka many including Rashi (35:16) and others (Rashbam, Chizkuni and Radak) agree. If Rochel’s burial site is just outside Beis Lechem, he could have easily brought her to the city for burial. It therefore seems more reasonable to assume that the site lies further from Beis Lechem, somewhere along the road from Bet-El to Bethlehem.

Shoin, as you can see, the Ramban and other luminaries, all discussed and argued as to her burial place. Where is she buried, ver veyst? Which Beis Lechem is she in, ver veyst? Yet another question we will need to ask the Moshiach upon his arrival and of course acceptance as the final redeemer of the Yiddin.

But there is good news because, asks and answers the heylige Zoihar azoy:  “When will the Yiddin return from golus (exile)? At the time of the ultimate redemption; at that time the Shechinah (divine presence)will rest on Kever Rochel.” Seemingly it will take until the end of time for the Yiddin to find the glow of the Holy Presence and to properly identify her burial place.

Ober why did Yaakov taka erect a tombstone over Rochel’s gravesite? We can assume that he taka foresaw that the future exiles of the Yiddin would have to pass her tomb;  maybe he taka buried her there, so that she could pray for the RBSO’s mercy on her nation. And until we get further clarification, it’s still quite ok to go there for some davening and solace, why not?

Shoin, earlier we promised to circle back to Reuvain, here we go. And we also mentioned how the heylige Gemora tells us so emphatically that Reuvain didn’t commit a sin and that he didn’t have sexual relations with Bilhah, his stepmother. But what did happen and why? Lommer lernin:

Says the heylige Toirah (Bireishis 35:22) azoy “When Yisrael dwelled in that land, Reuvain went and slept with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and Yisrael heard.” That’s simple to chap, as seemingly did Reuvain. Ober says Rashi citing the medrish found (Shabbis 55b) azoy: Because he switched around his [father’s] bed, the Toirah treats him as if he slept with her.  And why would Reuvain switch the bed, whatever that means? Nu, as the medrish would have it, when Rochel died, Yaakov took his bed, which was placed most frequently in Rochel’s tent and put his bed in Bilhah’s tent. Shoin! Reuvain acted out to protect his mother’s honor and made the switch. It was one thing for Yaakov to favor Rochel over his mother Leah ober the shiksa? Shoin, he took matters into his own hands, at least he should have, if you chap. Sounds plausible except for one thing: the Toirah text says that he slept with her, mamish and we already established back on page 1 that sleeping and moving are not the same. Is the Toirah accurate in its description or is the medrish merely covering up what Reuvain uncovered, if you chap?


Zicher we all agree that bed moving is not a terrible crime ober chapping one’s father’s wife, is quite giferlich. And why does the medrish taka go to such measure and create this massive cover-up to protect Reuvain’s reputation? How can the medrish, our wise rabbis of yesteryear mamish ignore Toirah text?


But wait, we have even more  questions. If Reuvain actually did sleep with Bilhah, then what was his motive?  Did Reuvain lust after her or were they efsher in love? What went down here? And the final question then is azoy: was this an isolated incident or are there other such examples elsewhere, in our glorious history,  where the son wanted to or did chap the wife of the father and bed her?


And guess what? Reuvain wasn’t alone; maybe the first but not the last. Seemingly there are instances (at least several) in Tanach (Prophets) where it is recounted that a son attempts to or does engage in sexual relations with his father’s concubine.  Efsher you recall the more than amazing myses (stories) of Avshalom and of Adoniya, they the two rebellious sons of Dovid Hamelech (King David).  They did the same thing! Ober it appears that both of them chapped the father’s shiksas for political rather than sexual motives. In both episodes, the son’s act with his father’s concubine represents his taking his father’s status as king.  By taking the king’s wives and engaging in sexual relations with them, the son is assuming his father’s position, with all of its political significance.  Shoin, it’s good to be the king and it’s not so giferlich to make believe you are the king and use your scepter accordingly, if you chap.


Avshalom staged a rebellion against his father, the king, and temporarily deposed him from the throne, exiling him from Yerusholayim.  Avshalom, interested in making a firm statement about his new status as king, asked his advisor Achitofel how he might publicize his new role as monarch.  Achitofel replied (II Shmuel 16:21) azoy: “Lie with your father’s concubines, whom he left to mind the palace; and when all Israel hears that you have dared the wrath of your father, all who support you will be encouraged.”


And in the beginning of I Melachim, Adoniya staged a coup against Dovid and his promised heir, Shlomo.  Dovid foiled that attempt, but after his death, in a rather devious move, Adoniya asked Bat Sheva, the Queen Mother, to approach her son Shlomo and petition him for the right to marry Dovid’s pilgesh (concubine) Avishag.  Shlomo responded in horror (I Melachim 2:22-24) azoy:


“‘Why request Avishag the Shunammit for Adoniya? Request the kingship for him!” Thereupon King Solomon swore by Lord: “So may God do to me and even more, if broaching this matter does not cost Adoniya his life … Adoniya shall be put to death this very day!”


And guess what? There are other such cases and of course you would love nothing more than to hear and read them, over and again, oisvorfs that you are. Ober we are mamish out of time and space. And what’s the bottom line? Maybe a son sleeping with his father‘s wife or concubine wasn’t so giferlich. And maybe one didn’t have to love or even lust after her. Seemingly, at least in the days of the Prophets as related in Tanach, a son sleeping with his father’s concubine was not necessarily an expression of romance; it was instead the  quintessential act of politics, in which the son was usurping his father’s position. Did Reuvain sleep with Bilhah for political gain? Was it revenge? Or, did he just move the bed? Ver veyst?


A gittin shabbis-

Yitz Grossman

The Oisvorfer


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