Purim and the Toirah
Shoin: winter vacation is over, small chitchat with hi-bye friends about where we vacationed and stayed, our respective flights, hotel stays and restaurant reviews are coming to an end; who cares? The one question no one seems to ask is: how the hec did you manage to get up to the 30th floor and open your door using those electronic keys on the heylige shabbis, sheygitz (bum) that you are. Vey iz mir! Nu, over vacation, Yiddin seemingly become shenui experts, if you chap.
Those who worship the sun rather than the RBSO, are quickly finding out that it’s avoido zoro and has no long lasting effect, a complete waste of time mamish; only our heylige Toirah, which the Yiddin receive in this week’s heylige Parsha of Yisroy, is forever. Gishmak! Despite all the schmeering and proper positioning of your bodies to attract maximum exposure, sun worshipping remains a brocho levatolo mamish (waste of time and energy) and those healthy tans you spent thousands on, are quickly fading. Many remain mistakenly convinced that the chapping of good rays, enhances their looks and also helps with other chapping. Ober says the Oisvorfer: ugly remains ugly and fat is still fat, just a bit darker. Luz ub fin di narishkeyt (leave all this bs behind) and stick to the heylige Toirah.
Pesach (Passover) is coming, quite early this year and it’s avada time to begin serious discussion about celebrating this givaldige Yom Tov when we recall how the RBSO, after 210 years, redeemed us from slavery and took us out of Mitzrayim into the Midbar where we received the heylige Toirah. Is it time to start preparing beautiful divray Toirah iber tzizugin (to repeat) at the Seder table? Noch nisht (not yet): plenty of time for that ober Pesach plans are zicher mamish important and it’s avada time to start thinking about various Pesach programs and hotels where the Yiddin can mamish celebrate this Yom Tov with gihoibeine kavono (elevated concentration), their freedom by sitting poolside in their bathing attire a gantzin Yom Tov, reading books, talking loshoin horo, rating each meal as if they were judges on some food show and looking at the chometz in the pool –Rachmono litzlon – oy vey. Is this why the RBSO redeemed us and gave us the heylige Toirah? Ver veyst?
Avada you all know or should, that in this week’s gihioibine (elevated) parsha, the purpose of the entire geula (Exodus) is illuminated and achieved when, seven weeks after their liberation from Mitzrayim (Egypt), the Yiddin gather at the foot of Har Seenai to receive the heylige Toirah from the RBSO. As the story goes, some thirty three hundred years ago, a little-known people, fresh out of 210 years of slavery where they themselves served avoido zoro (idols), were steeped in tumah, didn’t perform Brissim (circumcisions) on their newborn boys and did other despicable acts which left them at the 49th level of impurity, if you chap, were suddenly cleansed, purified and ready to become the RBSO’s Chosen people. Nu, Boruch hashem, the other candidates were seemingly much worse. They gathered around a small mountain in a trackless wilderness and underwent an experience which changed the history of the world. For the first time since the beginning of the universe, the RBSO spoke to an entire nation. The nation was called Israel. The mountain was called Sinai and the rest is, as they say, our glorious and givaldige history.
And for the many oisvorfs who despite years in Yeshiva and thousands mamish on tuition and tutors, still know nothing, here – to make you look good at the shabbis tish- a few tidbits of mamish useful information. Zug iber (repeat this at the shabbis tish) and those listening will think that you’re a Gaon (genius).
Parshas Yisroy, though the smallest parsha in Sefer Shemois in p’sukim, words, and letters, is avada the most powerful of and contains 17 of the taryag or 613 mitzvois broken down as folows; 3 ah- says and 14 loi’s (prohibitions). And listen to this chiddush (news): 14 of the 17 are within the Aseres HaDibrois. Efsher you’re astonished, bewildered, perplexed and also wondering how the Ten Commandments could have 14 mitzvois? How did 10 become 14? Did the Yiddin make 14 out of 10 just because they were free, ver veyst? Nu, avada there’s a logical explanation and it goes epes something like this. As it turns out, there are mitzvois within the Aseres HaDibrois -14 of them- and even more, a total of 15 in the other version of the Aseres Hadibrois. There are two sets and two versions of the Ten Commandments? Seemingly yes and we’ll get to read and learn the second set in the summertime since they’re found in Parshas Va’eschanan. For you oisvorfs, let me remind you that Parshas Va’eschanan is found in Sefer Devorim (Deuteronomy).
Efsher you’re taka wondering what distinguishes the Aseres Hadibrois from all the other 613 laws in the heylige Toirah, which we are taught and avada believe, were also received and accepted on Har Seenai, are you? The emes is that this question bothered the Oisvorfer for many years ober he was mamish too embarrassed to ask the rebbe lest the rebbe give him a frask (patch) and then chap him inappropriately. Ober says Rashi (Shemois 24:12) so gishmak mamish azoy: the Aseres Hadibrois (Ten Commandments) act as the ‘categories’ under which all the other commandments are included. Thus, they go to the heart and soul of the 613 mitzvos.
And says the Medrish (Bamidbar Rabbah 13:16) even more gishmak, listen to this: seemingly, the text of the Asers Hadibrois) contains 620 letters. How does 620 relate to the 613 mitzvois? Nu, if you add the 7 mitzvois given to Uncle Noiach – the Noachide Laws- (he of great fame for surviving the mabul and repopulating the world by having relations with his two daughters), we get to a grand total of 620 and what could be better than a givaldige gematria for the shabbis tish? Shoin: 620 letters + 7 Noiach mitzvois for a total of 620 and it’s a match. Veyter. Oh and one more – we’re cooking now- if you take the 613 which is the total of mitzvois and add the numbers of the digits (6+1+3=) , you get to 10, mamish a perfect match for the Aseres Hadibrois. Nu, do you see how beautiful life can be when we focus on the heylige Toirah instead of thinking about the upcoming super bowl, the food we’ll order and consume, the half time show with maybe a shtikel clothing malfunction and the line spread?
Though we associate Parshas Yisroy with the Yiddin receiving the heylige Toirah, the emes (truth) is that we only received the Aseres Hadibrois and even those we only had for a short while because the Yiddin couldn’t deal with all their post slavery psychological issues including new found freedom, eating the same food daily, the lack of upscale hotel accommodations, the fact that Moishe disappeared for epes one day (according to their count) too long and decided to create the Eygel (golden calf). Nu, just one of many tragedies to befall the Yiddin during their 40 year sojourn in the vald (Midbar or desert). Chap nisht, we’ll get to that famous mayseh and many others in a fee weeks. This week, let’s ober focus on the gift we received from the RBSO, one that keeps on giving.
We learn that at Har Sinai, the RBSO gave the Yiddin the heylige Toirah, the mystical blueprint of the entire creation. Says the possik “…and they stood under the mountain.” Even you farbrechers (oisvorfs) know the famous medrish which states that the Yiddin were efsher (sort of) forced into this shotgun chasunah (wedding) with the RBSO and it breaks the Oisvorfer’s heart mamish when he has to mention that many of you are nebech also familiar with other types of shotgun weddings for your chazerish behavior, loi olanu. Ober what’s taka pshat? Were the Yiddin mamish forced to accept the Toirah or perish? Taka an excellent kasha and lommer zeyn (let’s see) what the heylige medrish had to say about this event.
Says the heylige Gemora (Shabbis 88a) azoy: At the mountain the Yiddin literally stood “under the mountain.” The RBSO held the mountain over them like a barrel and said, “If you accept the Toirah, well and good. If not, this will be your burial place.” You hear this? Was this the way to romance us, to get us to want to marry? What happened to dating, cajoling, and promising us all kinds of benefits for being the chosen people? Instead we were mamish threatened? This seems epes quite strange. Could it be that the RBSO mamish coerced the Yiddin into accepting his Toirah? Was this one of those “offers you can’t refuse” type of marriage? What’s taka pshat here? Moreover, doesn’t this unpalatable explanation contradict mamish another medrish which tells us that only the Yiddin, among all the nations of the world, were prepared to accept the Toirah ‘sight unseen’ (when they heard it was free)? Epes it so appears. And isn’t it in this week’s parsha when the Yiddin proclaimed, not once but twice, the heartwarming words of Naseh V’nishma “we will do and we will hear…” — meaning that they accepted the heylige Toirah without knowing or understanding its requirements?
Are you bothered that one p’shat possibly and seemingly contradicts another? You shouldn’t be and if your head wasn’t so full of narishkeyt (silliness), you would chap that each p’shat is mamish beautiful. Maybe not true, but beautiful nonetheless. Who said every pshat or Medrish has to be true? Is everything you say or do true? Anything? Is it taka a wonder that we and I mean specifically you, transgress and are oiver (violate) its teaching and laws daily and even hourly? Nu, efsher the Yiddin, like many of you oisvorfs do today, chapped without thinking, if you chap. And efsher the Yiddin taka jumped the gun and said yes way too fast. Perhaps it’s taka impossible to follow the heylige Toirah, ver veyst. Hey, didn’t you just covet your friend’s wife just last shabbis at the pool or even worse, in shul? Lemayseh (to sum it all up), If the Yiddin were prepared to accept the Toirah and did so voluntarily, why the theatrics with a mountain over their heads? Ver veyst, was I there? Were you? Actually, according to yet another Medrish, we were all there ober ver veyst. The bottom line is that the RBSO chose and loved the Yiddin, offered them His Toirah which they readily accepted. Shoin: they got married! Is it the perfect marriage? Is yours?
Ober asks and answers the Medrish commenting on the heylige Gemora (Shabbis 88a &Rashi 19:17 ) something quite shreklich: what taka would have happened had the Yiddin said no to the RBSO’s offer of the heylige Toirah? Seemingly, had the Yiddin rejected the RBSO marriage proposal, the world would have been returned to its original state of “toihu vo’voi’hu” (void) – the phrase we first find that describe the state of the world before the RBSO decided to create it. Epes it appears that the Yiddin taka had no choice other than to say yes and accept the heylige Toirah. And efsher you’re wondering, how could this be a valid and binding covenant ? Isn’t a duress claim grounds to void an agreement?
Ober Raboyseyee, pshat is this. Every covenant, by its very nature, requires that both parties have free choice to accept or reject. Accordingly, the Yiddin had what we call “bchira chofshit” (free will) to either accept or reject the deal and marriage. Their willful acceptance makes the covenant at Har Sinai binding for all generations. Therefore, had the Yiddin said NO (chasv’sholom), there would not have been a Matan Toirah and absent of that one seminal event, no purpose for the entire Creation. Therefore, because the psukim indicate the Yiddin had free choice, the Midrash must emphasize that from the perspective of the purpose of the RBSO’s creation, the people had no choice other than to accept the Torah.
And guess what, others are bothered by this as well. Says the heylige Gemora (shabbis) azoy: Rebbe Acha ben Yaakov observed: This mountain over the head trick resulted in a strong legal contest against the Toirah (since it was a contract entered into under duress) and some argued that we mamish don’t have to follow its teachings. Ober not so fast. Said Raba: not to worry, we’re still bound. Why? Because the Yiddin re-accepted it on their own in the days of Achashveyroish and he cites as proof a possik from the Megillah (Esther 9:27) which states: “The Yiddin confirmed, and accepted”—meaning on that occasion –following the miracles that occurred when after Queen Esther touched King Achashveyroish’s scepter, if you chap, they confirmed what they had accepted long before. Ok – many years later but better late than never. Is this a classic case of backdating an agreement, ver veyst?
Ober before the big chasunah which is avada the highlight of the entire Parsha, the entire Sefer of Shemois and efsher even the gantze Toirah, let’s review a few events that we read about as the parsha opens. Ershtens (first of all) the Toirah tells us that Yisroy (Jethro- taka a nice name for a goy) took Zipporah, Moishe’s wife, after he had sent her back (18:2). What does it mean that Yisroy took Moishe’s wife? Where did he take her, where was she, what taka happened to her all this time?
Efsher (maybe) you remember that when the RBSO selected Moishe (at the burning bush) to return to Mitzrayim, to be his emissary to free the Yiddin, Moishe gathered the gantza (entire) mishpocho, packed them up and was Egypt bound. Efsher you also remember that he encountered the swallowing snakes and that Tzipoira, the first ever female moielet, used a sharp stone to perform a bris on their younger son. What happened immediately thereafter? Says Rashi quoting the Mechilta azoy: When Aharoin met them at the mountain, he said to him: “Who are these?” Was Aharoin efsher startled to see that Moishe has gone off the derech and was now married to a kushite (some say beautiful, some say black and some avada say both: black and beautiful) woman,ver veyst? Said Moishe: “This is my wife whom I married in Midian and these are my children” “Where are you taking them?” asked Aharoin. “To Egypt,” said Moishe. Said Aharoin to Moishe: biste-git-mishigga (are you out of your mind)? “We are grieving over the ones already in Egypt, and you propose to add to their number!” So Moishe said to Zipporah, “Return to your father’s house,” and she took her two sons and went away. Nu, efsher we can kelr that after Aharoin found out how rough Tzippora was with sharp instruments and about her penchant for cutting things off, he became a shtikel nervous and wanted no part of her. Anyway, Moishe sent the family away, efsher he wanted freedom to move about the cabin, if you chap, ver veyst. Let’s go backward and take a shtikel look at the unusual name of this special parsha which could easily have been called the Aseres Hadibrois; vos epes (why davka) the name Yisroy- a goy mamish?
He is described in the heylige Toirah as “a priest of Midian,” and he wasn’t merely a highly respected official in his native land. Yisroy was the high priest of Midian, a macher (big shot) if you will, who had explored every type of idolatrous worship and philosophy in the world – a minuvil of the highest order. Says the Zoihar and who had a better imagination, azoy: the Toirah could not be given to mankind until Yisroy had rejected each and every false god, and had publicly accepted the RBSO’s sovereignty. It was only when Yisroy declared “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods,” that truth prevailed, and the Toirah could be given. Still, why did he merit a parsha in his own name?
Says Rashi and several others: Yisroy merited to have a parsha named after him because he himself added a parsha to the Toirah when he advised his son-in-law Moishe Rabaynu to institute a judicial system. Moishe taka listened to his shver and presto: instant fame for this goy. Some, though not most, say Yisroy was the first convert to enter the Jewish people and was instrumental in adding the laws of judges to the Toirah. It was in light of these two things that the parsha bears his name. Sounds good to me, though hard to reconcile with another part of the Toirah where we learn that tens of thousands converted before the Yiddin left Mitzrayim; we call them the Eirev Rav.
The Toirah tells that after Yisroy’s arrival, he advised Moishe to change his procedure of judging the people and answering their questions. He saw that Moishe handled all the nation’s questions personally. The people stood in a long line waiting for their turn to bring their questions and disputes. Yisroy alerted Moishe to the fact that he cannot shoulder this burden by himself; it is simply too much for one person to handle. He urged Moishe to establish a network of scholars and judges to whom the people could bring their questions, such that Moishe would be called upon to decide only the most difficult cases. Moishe accepted Yisroy’s advice, and he appointed scholarly, honest and righteous men to serve as judges to help him bear the responsibility of resolving issues. What could they be fighting about in the midbar (desert)? They weren’t working; there were no shuls or Rabbis to be angry at. There was no shopping, no returns, no restaurants and no bathroom lines – why was Moishe so damn busy judging and what was going on that he sat all day judging the people? Ver veyst!
Anyway: Moishe went along with the idea, and chose some 72,600 judges. Where he found 72,600 qualified judges, who were honest and didn’t like money, remains a mystery ad hayoim hazeh (till today). Zicher it’s hard to find one like that. Mistama you’re wondering why is Yisroy, the stranger, the new-comer to the tribe and its beliefs, the only one who saw Moishe’s problem, and, moreover, come up with a solution; a judicial system which will more efficiently bring justice to the people? Why didn’t Moishe, or one of the elders, figure this important piece out? And if the RBSO thought this was a good idea, why not transmit this idea to Moishe; they did, after all, talk quite often.
Moreover, we know from elsewhere that Moishe appointed judges only after the RBSO commanded him to do so. In other words, Moishe did not implement Yisroy’s plan as a result of his advice, but only after he was so instructed by the RBSO. So…mistama you’re still wondering why he got a parsha in his name? ver veyst?
Efsher we can kler (think) that if Moishe could accept advice from Yisroy then we certainly should be prepared to hear and accept the advice of our peers, maybe even from the eishes chayil.
Avada we should always remember that we are The Chosen ones.
A gitten shabbis-
The Oisvorfer Ruv