Let’s quickly chazir last week’s parsha of Shemois, the great book of Exodus, wherein the Oisvorfer left his community with hope: when it comes to Yichus- not to worry- one can make his own, and who better an example than the RBSO’s favorite of all Toirah personalities and avada the greatest leader the Yiddin ever had, Moishe Rabaynu. This week, we’ll dig a little tiffer (deeper) into his yichus. Digging deeper is avada better, if you chap, no? Ober ershtens, a shtikel chazoro (review) of last week’s table setting parsha of Shemois where we met Paroy (Pharaoh), the ungrateful king who forgot that Egypt became the richest country in the land due to Yoisef’s financial acumen. We also met Moishe, his parents, older siblings Aharoin and Miriam and avada, Moishe’s –some say beautiful and some say black and still others say both- eishes chayil (wife) Tzipoirah and even his shver (father-in-law) Yisroy.
The foundation was laid for the greatest myseh she’hoyo (the best ever true story) of Yitziyas Mitzrayim (freedom from slavery). Just last Shabbis we read how the Yiddin had become enslaved to Paroy, how they mamish had to nebech (sadly) perform and endure physical labor, and all about their suffering.
What a difference a week makes: though only seven days have gone by, it’s mamish almost 210 years later and it’s time to free the Yiddin, almost. In this week’s heylige and special parsha of Vo’eiro, the RBSO’s master plan for eventual freedom becomes fully illuminated. Nu, efsher you recall that the RBSO told Avrohom Oveenu that his children would be strangers in a land that does not belong to them and that they would be there for 400 years. And efsher you’re wondering how 400 years became but 210 years? Ober Raboyseyee, this week the RBSO will use His executive powers and will seemingly issue the first ever commutation. Mistama, a few of you are thinking: hey, how do I get one of those? Nu, we will learn that the RBSO, as He will in many future occasions, had rachmonis (pity) on the Yiddin, enough of Paroy and his antics; it was time to let His people go.
When last we heard from Moishe Rabaynu, he had already been snake bitten twice. Avada you all recall how he barely survived the journey due to some entanglement with a malach masquerading around like a snake who according to Rashi, quoting the medrish, told us that Moishe was swallowed up from his head to his Eyver (penis) by one snake and from his toes to his Eyver by the other. And avada you recall that last week Moishe had his first unsuccessful encounter with Paroy the minuvil. His eishes chayil Tzipoirah and their two children were back in Midian safe and sound and we will not hear from or about his mishpocho for another ten months or so. In parsha time, that’s three weeks from this coming shabbis. Aharoin the Koihen and Moishe are finally (reluctantly) committed to the job the RBSO implored them to do. Let’s learn Parshas Vo’eiro.
In Vo’eiro, Moishe is sent to deliver warnings, threats and also action in the form of Makois (plagues). Once a month, for ten successive months, Moishe and his older brother Aharoin were commanded by the RBSO to go to Paroy and threaten him with a different terrible plague. Zicher the RBSO does not threaten without making good, as we all know, and He taka delivered on all of them: givaldig and what a finish! Leyda (a sobering thought), this is a chilling thought for many of you giferliche bums who think otherwise. When all is said, done and over with, the Yiddin will leave Mitzrayim (two weeks from now in Toirah time) and we will forever celebrate and commemorate our bondage by spending exorbitant amounts of monies on Pesach preparations, food, clothing, and travel to exotic places all over the world. Avada if you have a shver or shvigger (in-laws), now would be a good time to suck up and hope for an invite. Exactly how the four expressions of freedom found in this week’s parsha morphed into vacation, food, matzo, and wine, ver veyst. Ober as the Oisvorfer has told you may times in the past: the Yiddin are very enterprising and quickly chapped that every event in the heylige Toirah was given to us by the RBSO as an opportunity: all we needed to do was learn the Toirah and chap its potential. Those who studied the givaldige and emotional story of Pesach, quickly summed up the entire slavery and freedom event into one word: Money! Every part of the story has been turned into a gisheft (business opportunity) and avada though the entire Toirah presents many such opportunities, none are bigger than Pesach. Avada the Oisvorfer will, in the coming weeks, have more to say about the proper way to celebrate this Yom Tov.
Bazman hazeh (in our times) while we still find ourselves in golus (diaspora) nebech, we celebrate Pesach by eating until we’re stuffed like kishkas mamish, sitting poolside, even on Yom Tov, chas v’sholom, discussing how we wish we were in Israel where we could efsher find a heter to keep but one day, and avada by making multiple trips to the tea room though we’re mamish so bloated that we can plotz. Those who are lucky, also make multiple trips to the bathroom. And Raboyseyee, it all ties back to this week’s parsha: read it, chazir it and chap it. It’s our heylige Toirah: enjoy it.
This week, the RBSO, after a final warning, begins flexing His muscles and by the time the parsha is over, the Mitzrim will have experienced 7 of the 10 makois they are to receive. Do all agree that they received only ten? Avada nisht and this year when you read the Hagado (Hagadah for the goyim), you’ll notice that there are opinions which state that the RBSO smote the Mitzrim (Egyptians) with as many as 500 makois. Efsher you’re wondering how the 10 listed in the heylige Toirah became 500, ver veyst? In any event, whether they experienced 10, 100, and 250 or even 500, one thing is zicher: Paroy and the Mitzrim were finally in for a good schmeissing which seemingly they deserved even though the RBSO hardened Paroy’s heart a few times. Shoin.
As the parsha opens, Moishe is still resisting his marching orders from the RBSO and as you can imagine, and for many years, this odd behavior always bothered the Oisvorfer. What’s pshat that Moishe tried talking his way out of the assignment? Can you just imagine having a face to face encounter with the RBSO and saying no? What was he thinking, was this not the height of chutzpah? He just barely escaped with his life after being swallowed up by the snake and he has the temerity to say no to the RBSO?! It’s one thing to ignore the eishes chayil, ober the RBSO? Why did Moishe refuse to do the RBSO’s bidding? Ver veyst: mistama this was, as is everything else, just part of the big plan. Who says we have to understand? Our job is but to believe.
Let’s talk some more yichus and to that end, let’s take another look at Moishe’s mishpocho, close and extended. Says the heylige Toirah azoy:
|20. Amrom took Yoicheved, his aunt, as his wife, and she bore him Aaron and Moses, and the years of Amrom’s life were one hundred thirty seven years.||כ. וַיִּקַּח עַמְרָם אֶת יוֹכֶבֶד דֹּדָתוֹ לוֹ לְאִשָּׁה וַתֵּלֶד לוֹ אֶת אַהֲרֹן וְאֶת מֹשֶׁה וּשְׁנֵי חַיֵּי עַמְרָם שֶׁבַע וּשְׁלֹשִׁים וּמְאַת שָׁנָה:|
In other words or in plain English: Moishe’s father was married to his own Aunt. Shoin! Go know that an uncle marrying an aunt, no matter how hot, can produce a Moishe Rabaynu. Warning: do not try this at home, chazerim that you are. Isn’t this relationship verboten? Avada, you all know that marrying the Tanta or even laying with her for other reasons, if you chap, which avada you shouldn’t, is mamish incestuous. Even you oisvorfs, well, – most of you anyway- wouldn’t dream about marrying your aunt, even if she was smoking hot, would you? Guess what – you’re not alone- as many of the medroshim deal with this topic. Nonetheless, it’s still somewhat bewildering.
Then again, this isn’t the first time the heylige Toirah has introduced relationships that have raised eyebrows and mistama other things, if you chap. Avada you remember that the unions that produced Yitzchok and a healthy number of the twelve shevotim (tribes) of Yaakov (Jacob) were all (later) forbidden by the Toirah. After all, didn’t Yaakov marry two full and two half sisters? Zicher (surely) you recall Avrahom’s marriage to his half-sister Sorai? And who can forget Loit’s doubleheader with both of his daughters or Shimoin marrying his sister Dina? And isn’t marrying one’s own shvester, mamish verboten and also repugnant? Oh and did I mention the case of Dovid Hamelech, who was descendant from the legally questionable marriage of Boiaz and Rus (Ruth). Nu, I almost forgot that Kayin also married his sister. Does one need to be involved in an incestuous relationship to get an honorable Toirah mention, ver veyst? What’s p’shat?
Wait! There’s more. Though the next two Toirah personalities won’t appear until the Yiddin are in the Midbar (desert), now would be a more than excellent opportunity to introduce Eldad and Meidad. Nu, we interrupt the story of Moishe and his immediate family with this sidebar. According to Targum Yoinasan ben Uziel, and who had a better understanding and imagination than did he, they were brothers, and sons of Elitzofon bar Parnach, who would later be appointed Nasi of Zevulun in the fortieth year in the desert, before entering the holy land. Got all that? Excellent! And? Why am I mentioning them here when they don’t make a Toirah appearance until Sefer Bamidbar? Well, strange as this may sound, they were actually the half-brothers of Moishe and Aharoin. How could this be, you ask? What? Moishe had half-brothers? From whom, where and what? Moreover, how could Yoicheved remarry Amrom after she had married this Elitzofon character? Isn’t this – the remarrying of the ex eishes chayil- verboten after she married someone in between? Seemingly, it seems perfectly kosher to remarry the eishes chayil as long as she was only cavorting (shtupping) with others while divorced but chas v’sholom- if she marries in between. In that event- the ex husband cannot remarry the ex-wife.
Seemingly, the remarrying of one’s wife following a divorce and even if she had another husband between marriages, was allowed according to the heylige Toirah and was prohibited later to prevent oisvorfs like many of you from using this as a loophole to engage in illicit behavior (wife swapping).
Nu, mistama we can klerr that all these aforementioned relationships took place before matan Toirah (Revelation), hence there was no issur (ban). That notwithstanding, we might also kler (ask) – how was there time for her (Yoicheved) to conceive and give birth to two children? How long was she divorced? And doesn’t the heylige Gemora state that Amrom’s actions led to a mass divorce movement — all husbands followed his lead and divorced their wives as well (Soitah 12). It doesn’t make sense that someone would buck the trend and marry Yoicheved. Nu- excellent questions but who are you to argue with the medrish, especially targum Yoinoson, the expert on marriage who nebech died single!
Halt kup here: Avada you recall that when Paroy decreed that all male children be drowned, Amrom divorced Yoicheved It took the cajoling of Miriam to re-unite her parents, leading ultimately to Moishe’s birth. Yoicheved however, newly divorced following the decree,, took advantage, and quickly chapped and married Elitzofon bar Parnach. Eldad and Meidad are offspring from that marriage! That makes them- Moshe, Aharoin, and Miriam’s half-brothers. All this before she somehow got divorced and remarried Amrom and gave birth to Moishe Rabaynu. Avada you’re thinking holy___, this is shreklich, and how could this be? We’re taka left with many questions including a) when did Amrom remarry her? b) How could he remarry her? And c) When was Moishe born? This is particularly astonishing in light of other Chazal, who maintain that Amrom took Yoicheved back almost immediately.
Oy vey iz mir, what the hec went down here? Since this p’shat is indeed difficult, let’s try another. It is more likely therefore, that Elitzofon bar Parnach married Yoicheved after Amrom’s death as does state Rashi in the heylige Gemora (Rosh Hashono). And says the Da’as Zekeinim mi’Ba’alei Toisfos: Amrom divorced Yoicheved (his aunt) only after Matan Torah, when the halachos of incest were taught and she became forbidden to him. And that was when Elitzofon bar Parnach married her. How is this possible, you might ask, since the Toirah was given in the 3rd month after Yetzias Mitzrayim, and the episode of Eldad and Meidad (their prophecies) took place in the 2nd year after Yetzias Mitzrayim; consequently they were less than 1 year old?!! Takeh a good question but hey, it’s the medrish and anything goes. Of course there is no consensus but there is yet another opinion brought down by the Medrish Tanchuma who says that Eldad and Meidad were neither brothers, nor were they related to Moishe and Aharoin. And if that’s so, who were they and were they but fictional characters? Ver veyst (who knows)?
But did Amrom really marry his aunt? Not so fast! Efsher we can suggest as does Rav Saadia Goan azoy: Yoicheved was only Amrom’s first cousin. And this is a way of solving a problem of how Amrom could have married an aunt, which is epes not exactly glatt kosher, or even kosher. Shoin: problem solved and let’s go veyter, but not before we hear a few more views on what went down here.
Raboyseyee, avada there is another logical answer as to how Amrom was able to marry his tanta Yoicheved and one that will zicher leave you satisfied. The possik tells us, Yoicheved was Levi’s daughter, the shvester (sister) of Amrom’s father. Though Kehos (Levi’ son) and Yoicheved had the same father, they did not have the same mother. Are you chapping all this? And since all this went down, before Matan Toirah, this particular relationship was seemingly still mutir (kosher). Today of course, such a union is avada strictly verboten; even thinking such thoughts, no matter how hot your tanta is, could have you excommunicated; even worse, it’s considered incestuous. Lucky for Yoicheved and Kehos that they had only the zelba tata (same father) for had they had the same mother, this marriage would seemingly have been forbidden at any and all times by the Seven Universal Laws given to the bnai Noiach or before. And says the medrish: Levi married two wives; from one he had Kehos and from the other, Yoicheved. Seemingly, double dipping was quite popular back then, and why not?
And after reading how the medrish and others struggled to make sense of this entire family tree, efsher you’re also klerring the following…Why did the RBSO arrange it so that Moishe, the chosen redeemer would be the product of a marriage which was destined (following Matan Toirah) to be forbidden?
Ober, says Rabbi Dr. Levi Meier (Moses: The Prince, The Prophet) azoy: Judaism does not view its leaders as necessarily coming from extraordinary backgrounds. They can come from humble beginnings and still attain greatness. Says Rav Zalman Sorotzkin (Oznayim Le Toirah): every Jewish child that is born has the possibility of becoming a leader of his people provided that his parents have the proper dedication to the RBSO and selflessness that Moishe’s parents had. And says The Rambam, that every person has the ability to be as righteous as Moishe, well, almost.
Ober says the Chizkuni something more than givaldig, especially for you chazerim with some background on your Google pages: “that because no man is appointed as an authority over the community unless there is something objectionable in his past, lest he lord over the community”. You hear this chevra? What those last few words mean, ver veyst but seemingly the Toirah likes imperfections, maybe not yours in particular but es veyst zich ois (it appears) that it’s the imperfections that could lead to greatness. The good guys are not appointed to leadership roles; just ask Yehuda, Dovid Hamelech and many others. Nu, what could be better?
Want more, here we go. Seemingly, a past, even questionable one, is important to lead in the present, and efsher we can klerr (posit), that the more questionable the relationship, the higher level of authority one can reach. Avada, the Oisvorfer is delighted with this pshat, if you chap. Ober (however) says the heylige Gemora (shabbis 54b): that Amrom was not only the spiritual leader of his generation; he was a perfect individual dying only eventually because death was decreed on all mankind. Tough as it may seem from a quick read of the possik that a regular Joe went ahead and married; seemingly Amrom was a good guy and knew what he was doing.
On the other hand….another sefer brings down that Amrom was mamish prohibited by Toirah law to marry his aunt and that Moishe did not, as a direct result of being the product of this marriage, merit making it over to the holy land along with the Yiddin. Similarly, he suggests that Rochel too didn’t make it in and was buried roadside because Yaakov was at the same time, married to two sisters (also to two more half-sisters) and though this was seemingly permitted outside of the holy land, it wasn’t so inside. Seemingly, for that reason, Rochel couldn’t make it in, dead or alive and was nebech buried roadside in what is today zicher one of the land’s busiest tourist attractions. Nu, business is business.
And the bottom line: Notwithstanding your own backgrounds (and avada mine), it’s not too late for your kinderlach (maybe even you) to achieve greatness. So much for yichus (pedigree). This past Monday, on the 8th of January, a fine gentleman asked what the headline was going to be this coming week. To which he was given the following response. “Last week I wrote about yichus, and am strongly considering writing on the topic once again given its relevance to this week’s parsha.” He then handed me a sefer and pointed me to a story which goes azoy:
When the Magid from a city known as Mezritch was a young child, a fire broke out in the house of his parents. The house was totally consumed by the fire, along with all their possessions. The child saw that his parents were standing outside crying. He asked “why are you crying so much.” They answered: we are not crying over the house; not even over all our possessions which are now lost. Our pain comes from the fact our ‘shtar yuchsin’ (our letter delineating our lineage) was also consumed by the fire. That chart attested to the fact that we are direct descendants -generation after generation- of Rebbe Yoichonon HaSandler whose own pedigree harkens all the way back to Dovid Hamelech (king David), may he rest in peace. The very clever child, the future Magid Mi’Mizretch, answered his parents and said: “let the new pedigree begin with me.” Lesson learned!
Another bottom line: We are taught that our Ovois (Patriarchs) were good and holy people, who are we to question? Who says one can’t be holy just because he marries his sister, aunt, four sisters, former daughter-in-law and myriad other such relations? Efsher it’s what makes them holy! Efsher we can conclude therefore that from creation through the lives of Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov and through all the years in Mitzrayim, observing the Toirah as we do (should) today, was but optional and not required.
A gittin Shabbis!
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv