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

Yisroy 2014 – Was Moishe Divorced?

110_06_0144_Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:

A few interesting and givaldige comments from readers this week and a few good questions. As well, the Ruv received a question from his reader over in Ireland; we will address his another time.

Asked  Jerry Greenberg from West Windsor New Jersey azoy: Ruv, thank you so much for all the hard work over the years, follow you religiously with our entire shul I might add (we are in West Windsor NJ). Have an interesting question for you, Moshe Rabeinu says: “Do not fear. G-d will fight for you… And you shall be silent”! Would be enough to say “Do not fear. G-d will fight for you.” why add “You shall be silent”? I heard one Rabbi comment that the Jewish people speak loudly and behave inappropriately in shul during prayers and the reading of the Torah. In their churches the gentiles are very quiet and well behaved. Is this somehow alluding to this entire argument?


Nu Jerry, talking in shul has taka been a problem for the Yiddin over the generations and the Ruv doesn’t see that any of the conventional methods of curbing incessant talking, which include; the shushing, the shushing police, stopping the davening, the rabbi exhorting the congregants for quiet, the rabbi losing his temper and yelling for quiet or even the president asking or pleading, to be working. A nechtiger tug (fugettaboutit). These methods have been tried tested and have all consistently failed. These methods are tired and it’s time for a new approach. Mamish days ago and much to his surprise, the Oisvorfer, at a local simcha, found himself along with the eishes chayil seated with the shul rabbi and rebbitzin. This story is mamish emes! And taka the conversation turned to talking during davening. The Oisvorfer put forth two new modern ideas for the rabbi to consider; both guarantee success.

1-    The Oisvorfer has observed that all people – men, women and children-are quiet, even Yiddin, when they are busy playing with their smart phones. Though it’s the heylige shabbis, efsher rabbis should allow their congregants to play with their iPhones, blackberries and other devices, avada without batteries. Efsher a shabbis mode, ver veyst. 


2-    Zicher you know that in the orthodox tradition, men and their wives sit separately during davening, mistama to prevent mixed dancing, ver veyst; mixed seating is strictly forbidden. Efsher it’s time for the shul to allow its members to sit next to their own wives. And how would this solve the talking problem? it so happens that the Oisvorfer has observed that men who typically sit next to their wives, be it at home, in the car or anyplace else for that matter, if you chap, have little to say to them and  would likely have the same amount to say during davening. Shoin: problem solved.


Thank you for your comment. A more serious answer will be posted online next week.

Was Moishe Divorced?

The fun and games are coming to an end. By the time laining is over this coming shabbis, there will be no more marrying your favorite Tanta (Aunt) as did Amrom who married Yoicheved, one’s own sister as some suggest Shimoin did when he married sister Dina, four of a kind -sisters that is, as did Yakkov being married to Rochel, Leah, Bilha and Zilpa and many other such examples. Remarrying your ex-wife if she married someone else, got divorced again and then in some longshot after being hit by a train,  you both want to start over again, will also be forbidden. In Parshas Yisroy which we will have the pleasure of hearing this week, the RBSO Himself will come down and deliver, amidst a sound and light show, the magnitude of which was never to be seen again, the Aseres Hadibrois (Ten Commandments), some of them anyway, and all the aforementioned and dozens more similar  relationships, will forever become verboten. Over and kaput. Of course the Yiddin had a difficult time with this concept and many others, as we will learn later in the heylige Toirah.  Rashi will tell us, mistama quoting the medrish that the Yiddin really missed the forbidden fruit, if you chap. And taka ever since the snake introduced himself to Chava, people have been attracted to forbidden fruit, if you chap, over all others, despite the nutritional value of the latter. Seemingly that’s how the RBSO engineered man, woman as well.

And why is this topic a headline? Because it appears that our hero Moishe Rabaynu, the greatest prophet to lead the Yiddin, the one person that had direct contact with the RBSO, may himself have been involved in epes a relationship that was zicher prohibited once the Ten Commandments made their way down. And yes, it all happens this shabbis as the big chasuna (wedding), the metaphorical marriage between the Yiddin and the RBSO is consummated. And ever since, we are forever His Chosen People. Chosen for what, ver veyst, and of course that depends on whom you ask ober that’s not for now. This week, we’ll begin and mistama also end the parsha review with a discussion of marriage and divorce.

The controversy begins in but mamish the second possik of this week’s electrifying parsha, and it’s not a small one as many, from Rashi to his grandson the Rashbam, Rishoinim (early commentators) and other Medroshim all pontificate on the meaning of the words. What they really mean and how their meaning may have affected Moishe, Yisory and Tzipoirah, is widely discussed. Something happened to them? Lommer lernin innavenying (the text). Says the heylige Toirah (Sehmois 18:2) azoy.  “VaYikach Yisroy Chosein Moishe Es Tzipoirah Eishes Moishe Achar Shilucheha”, And Yisory, Moishe’s father-in-law, took Tzipoirah, Moishe’s wife, after he had sent her away. Remember those words – after he sent her away-  we’ll revisit them a few times.

And because Rashi and so many others looked at these words and wondered what mamish took place here, the Oisvorfer thought that you too might want to chap some further insight into these events. And in order to fully chap what might have happened, we will also need to jump back and forth between Sefer Bamidbar (Numbers) and our parsha. Nu, lommer unfangin (let’sbegin).

For the many thousands who have been married and divorced and for those contemplating a divorce in the near future, avada you should know that life goes on.  Seemingly it did for Moishe, according to some. Was Moishe previously married and divorced?  Says who? Moishe had marital issues? Oy vey! Yet another divorce in the mishpocho? Wasn’t his mother also divorced at least once and maybe twice according to some? Is that what mamish happened? Nu, depends who you ask. Who was wife number one and also number two?  Was he or wasn’t he divorced from Tzipoirah? Did he remarry her? Was she married to someone else while divorced from Moishe? Was he, Moishe, also married to someone else before Tzipoirah? And why do we ask all these questions? We’re not! We’re merely repeating questions asked by others all because of the wording of that above quoted second posik in the parsha (see above). Seemingly the words …”after he sent her”…. made our commentators a shtikel curious because avada we know and chap and accept that the RBSO, when He wrote the heylige Toirah, accounted for every letter and word and with that thought in mind, lommer noch a mol (let’s one more time) lernin the posik to see what was bothering Rashi and so many others. You’re mamish not going to believe what some had to say.

Says Reb Yehoishua, that the words ‘after he sent her away’ mean that taka Moishe divorced his eishes chayil and gave her a Get (a writ of divorce), unlike some other chazerrim pigs that leave the wives hanging for years. They were mamish divorced. OMG! Ober says Reb Eliezer that Moishe sent her away ‘with words’. What those words were, ver veyst. And le-mai nafka mina (what’s the difference)? Ober says Rabbi Elozor of Modiin paraphrasing Rashi says: After he verbally sent her away, he merely told her to leave and head back to her father’s house. When? After brother Aharoin convinced Moishe about not bringing her to Mirtzrayim (Mechilta brought by Rashi). They were not divorced! Says the Sforno:  the words mean azoy: after he sent her communications and what sort of communications are we talking about? After Tzipoirah originally sent Moishe an inquiry. She asked when it would be advisable to join him. Moishe responded that he was in the desert and on the move, it would be difficult to rendezvous. Once he arrived to “har hoElokim” (verse 5), the area of Har Sinai where the Yiddin rested, he sent her another message to come. She and the kinderlach, accompanied by her father, came.  Ober says the Rashbam and the Bechoir Shor azoy: the words mean ‘after Moishe sent his wife back the ‘n’dunia,’ (gifts/presents) that were given him upon marrying her. He returned his dowry? They cite a verse in Milochim (Kings I 9:16) to prove that the word means dowry and not that he sent her anywhere or divorced her.  “He gave it as a wedding present (Hebrew: “shiluchim”) to his daughter, Sholomo’s wife.” So the word ‘shiluchim” may mean a dowry.  In other words: Moishe sent back his wedding dowry but efsher did not send Tzipoirah back to Midyan. Nu, efsher you’re klerring (thinking) azoy: if the words ‘after he sent her’ mean dowry and he taka didn’t send her back, how did she end up in Midyan with her father and kids?  And why would Moishe send back his dowry? Ver veyst and this technicality is not addressed. Anyway, it’s none of your business.

Says Rashi: it’s taka emes that Moishe sent her away but it’s not what you think. What taka happened? Moishe left Midyan with his wife and kids in tow and avada you recall that they were encountered by the swallowing snake  that tried to kill Moishe until  Tzipoirah, the first ever female Moielet (female Moiel) and a heroine mamish saved the day by performing a bris on their younger son (according to most). Ober his older brother Aharoin who came out to greet them urged Moishe to send them back suggesting that they needn’t add to the number of unhappy Yiddin in Mitzrayim. Moishe listened and she was off. Case closed? Seemingly not and many commentators, some quoted above, say that Moishe sending her away meant that he mamish sent her packing; he divorced her. Oh my!

Nu, if they were taka divorced, efsher you’re wondering why the possik referred to Tzipoirah (in verse #2 above) as Moishe’s wife? Was she his wife or were they divorced? Ober listen to this gishmake mamish answer on how she could be both his ex wife and wife at the same time. It must be chiddish (a breakthrough) because avada we heard of a person having a wife and girlfriend or even a mistress at the same time, that’s a myseh bechol yoim (daily occurrence). Ober to have a wife and an ex wife at the same time and for both to be the same person is mamish unheard of. Until that is …until we hear what the Moishav Z’keinim (Mi-ba’alei Ha-toisfis) said:  there is a fundamental difference between the ex-wife of a king (whether divorced or widowed) and any other divorced woman. Biderech klall (normally), a woman who has been divorced may start her life over again (avada she cannot marry a koihain unless of course one can find a rabbi that allows this to happen and avada there are such rabbis that will find loopholes) ober the widow or ex-wife of a king is the exception. Because a king must be feared and honored, it would be a slight to him if someone else were to take his divorced wife in marriage. She must remain single out of respect for her previous husband. And now you can see that Tzipoirah could have been both.

Ober was Moishe a king? Wasn’t Moishe but a leader, a great man and even a Novee but a king? Seemingly yes, and taka  says the heylige Gemora  (Zevachim 102a) that Moishe had king status.  On the other hand, says the Sefer Ha-chinuch azoy:  even though Moishe was considered a king, his appointment was not Toirah- ordained, and the mitzvah of fearing the king, which precludes his wife from remarrying, would not have applied. Accordingly she would not have been forbidden to marry other men after having been divorced by Moishe.

How could Moishe taka have king status? Seemingly the heylige Gemora gives a limited status of ‘king’ to all Toirah scholars. While one may not be forbidden to marry the widow of a Toirah scholar who has passed away, this still gives us a small inkling into the level of respect the heylige Gemora deems appropriate for those who dedicate their lives to Toirah study. And let’s not forget that according to another creative medrish trying to figure out where Moishe spent 40-50 years of his life before arriving to the well at Midian, suggests that he was taka the King of Kush and that’s where he married his first wife, the Kushite woman about whom we will be reading in mamish one minute. Once a king, always a king. Mistama you want to hear more ober halt zich eyn (keep your pants on). And taka the medrish will tell us that’s exactly what Moishe did, soon we’ll explain.

Grada (so happens) that the heylige Oisvorfer is also a shtikel king and just last night the eishes chayil was heard saying: oh king, come here and take out the garbage!

Ober we still didn’t answer a number of questions. If Moishe divorced Tzipoirah, did he marry anyone else and did she? And we can also ask, did they reunite? So now Raboyseyee, we will skip over to Sefer Bamidbar where the following story is told.  Miriam and Aharoin spoke against Moishe because of the Kushite (Ethiopian) woman whom he had married; for he had married a Kushite woman. And if the heylige Toirah tells us that Moishe married a Kushite woman, who are we to argue? As the Oisvorfer has told you in the past: no good can come out of arguing with the heylige Toirah and zicher not with its author. Anyway this would imply that Moishe had a wife Tzipoirah whom he married back in parshas Shemois and a Kushite wife he picked up somewhere, mistama in Kush as we read just above.

And shtlet zich di shaylo (the question arises): why would the holiest of spiritual leaders need or want two women? Don’t answer that! What’s pshat? What could the divine purpose be behind this arrangement? Why would a holy person that saw the burning bush, the appointed redeemer of his generation and the one who spoke “mouth to mouth” with the RBSO need two women? And why would they want to share one mostly absent husband? What was Moishe doing in a polygamous relationship with a Semitic Midianite, the daughter of a high priest, and a Kushite Ethiopian queen? Taka excellent kasha. As an aside, you zicher (surely) recall that Miriam was punished for speaking loshoin hora, that topic for another day. Seemingly, certain subjects are not meant to be discussed.

As you can imagine, the entire Kushite wife myseh (story) is somewhat controversial and avada begs its own set of questions which include why  Moishe may have taken a second wife? Was she the first or the second wife? If she was the second, what happened to the first? Did he or did he not divorce her? Why would the Toirah sanction two women being married to the same man? What is the nature of this second wife? Kush in Hebrew refers to the country of Ethiopia and a Kushite is a dark-skinned person from Ethiopia. Was Moishe’s second wife a black woman? If so, why did the heylige Toirah want us to know this information? Avada the heylige Toirah would not tell us information that was not relevant or important. When the Oisvorfer was growing up and a yeshiva bochur form our neighborhood ran off or chas v’sholom married a tinkela (black girl) from Ethiopia or even from down the block, no one knew. Why? Because one thing was zicher; the parents weren’t telling their friends!

But did that taka take place? So  says the Midrash Chronicles of Moishe aka: Sefer HaYashar azoy: Moishe did marry an Ethiopian queen from the land of Kush. But “he pushed her away”. What’s pshat? Seemingly he “wedged a sword between her and himself”. This expression implies that although Moishe entered into a sacred matrimonial union with the Kushite woman he did not engage in a physical relationship with her. A no-sex relationship? Sounds taka very much like the average marriage, if you chap. Moreover, with a sword wedged between them, it’s quite zicher that neither he nor she were taking any chances getting close. Still we can ask, why did Moishe marry a second woman and what is the significance that she was black?

On the other hand …….. asks Rashi rhetorically quoting the heylige Gemora: “was Kushite her name? Tzipoirah was her name! [i.e., Tzipoirah was from Midyan not Ethiopia.] Rather, just as an Ethiopian (Kushite) stands out [in a crowd of light skinned people] so did Tzipoirah stand out because of her [righteous] acts”. In other words:  the term Kushite is a metaphor and is not to be taken literally. In fact, such usage of the word Kush occurs elsewhere in the heylige Toirah. Shaul Hamelech (King Saul) is called Kush as is King Chizkiyahu. Moreover, Targum Unkelis  (authoritative 2nd century Aramaic translation of the Toirah) translates Kushite as “beautiful”, i.e., her beauty, both in form and in action, stood out. And based on this view Moishe had only one wife and Tzipoirah was her name. Shoin, case closed. Moishe had, however, divorced himself from her. This is the implication of the redundant part of the verse “for he had married a Kushite woman”, i.e., he had originally married the beautiful Tzipoirah but now he had separated himself from her. It was for this reason that Moishe’s brother Aharoin and especially his sister Miriam were criticizing him (over in Sefer Bamidbar) and now it all makes sense. Nu, Moishe wasn’t the first Toirah personality that tried getting rid of his wife. Avrohom Ovenu tried twice with Soro; both times he got her back. Seemingly Moishe’s attempt too was foiled as Yisroy returned her and the kids.

Nu, like most controversies, this one has two sides and what we have is a classic case of conflicting rabbinical traditions (“chalukai midrashim”). One source is explicit that Kushite is simply an appellation for Tzipoirah and the other source is explicit that Kushite is another woman.  Givaldig and nothing new. Both views cannot be true, can they? Which explanation is historically correct, ver veyst?

Ober we side track this discussion with another wild possibility. Is it at all possible that  Yisroy took Tzipoirah as his own wife after Moishe divorced her? Crazy as this sounds, it doesn’t read as crazy and this possibility is brought down and suggested as being plausible. How is this at all possible? Let’s read the words of the posik (verse).

וַיָּבֹא יִתְרוֹ חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה, וּבָנָיו וְאִשְׁתּוֹ–אֶל-מֹשֶׁה: אֶל-הַמִּדְבָּר, אֲשֶׁר-הוּא חֹנֶה שָׁם–הַר הָאֱלֹהִים. And Yisroy, Moishe’s father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moishe into the wilderness where he was encamped, at the mount of God;

Let’s read that again. It states that Yisroy came with “his sons and his wife” and seemingly a case can be made that the pronoun in וּבָנָיו וְאִשְׁתּוֹ mean his own sons. Shreklich mamish (OMG!!).  and so  what? If so, it’s one big happy family. Yisroy married Moishe’s ex-wife and adopted his two children. This is a possible straightforward reading of the posik that sets out to tell us their relationship. And if that happened, could Moishe have remarried Tzipoirah? The good news: seemingly this all went down before Mattan Toirah when seemingly all these relationships were still quite popular and also acceptable normative behavior. That all came to an abrupt end, so abrupt in fact that the Yiddin had a difficult time adjusting. Ober relax as the very next posik sheds better light on who belonged to who.

ו וַיֹּאמֶר, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, אֲנִי חֹתֶנְךָ יִתְרוֹ, בָּא אֵלֶיךָ; וְאִשְׁתְּךָ–וּשְׁנֵי בָנֶיהָ, עִמָּהּ. And he said unto Moishe: ‘I thy father-in-law Yisroy am coming unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her.’

Seemingly, the wife is Moishe’s and the sons are hers (and thus also Moishe’s). The sudden shift in pronoun makes it all clear. On the other hand…………..is it possible that  Yisroy’s wife and sons and Moishe’s wife and sons, are the same people? The sons would be adopted sons. And Yisroy is perhaps renouncing claim to them all, saying that Moishe can take them back if he wishes. Or perhaps he is just stressing their historical connection to Moishe, ver veyst.
And before we close this topic and this week’s review, let’s try this one for size. Says the Arizal azoy: Yisroy & Moishe Were Gilgulim (reincarnations) of Kayin and Hevel, but who was Tzipoirah? Yisroy was a gilgul of Kayin, and Moishe was a gilgul of Hevel.  Tzipoirah was the extra twin that was born with Hevel, over whom Kayin killed Hevel in order to marry her.  Kayin did tshuva by sending her away in his first lifetime but he didn’t complete his tshuva of returning her to Hevel.  The pasuk tells us that Yisroy (Kayin) took Tzipoirah (the twin) to Moishe (Hevel) her rightful husband, after he sent her away in his previous gilgul.

Interestingly the Medrish Talpiyos tells us that Bisya bas Paroy and Tzipoirah were two beautiful twin sisters that were found homeless in the street by Paroy and Yisroy.  They each took one of them and raised them as daughters. Shreklich!

The bottom line: seemingly where Moishe himself came from and let’s not forget that his parents too were, according to some, married, divorced and remarried, and no matter if he had one or two wives, one black and the other a shtikel lighter –zicher she wasn’t a blonde- the RBSO appointed him and selected him as the only person that He spoke to directly. Moishe was the man!

Also in this week’s parsha, the purpose of the entire geula (Exodus) is achieved when, seven weeks after their liberation from Mitzrayim (Egypt), the Yiddin gather at the foot of Har Senai to receive the heylige Toirah from the RBSO. As the story goes, some three thousand years ago, a little-known  people, fresh out of 210 years of slavery where they themselves served idols and did other despicable acts,  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 history.

Actually 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 issues including new found freedom, eating the same food daily, no hotel accommodations, forbidden relationships and decided to create the Eygel (golden calf). Nu, just one of many tragedies to befell the Yiddin during their 40 year sojourn in the vald (Midbar or desert).  We learn that at Har Senai, 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 whish states that the Yiddin were sort of forced into this shotgun chasuna (wedding) with the RBSO and I regret to say that many of you are nebech also familiar with other types of shotgun weddings for your chazerish behavior, loi olaynu. What taka happened?

Before we go any further and in case you have nothing intelligent to say at the shabbis table while you’re on vacation being mechalel shabbis riding up and down the elevators in Puerto Rico or Florida, schmearing sunscreen all over your bodies, mixed swimming, loi olaynu, ordering tarfus from the pool bar and more and avada when you’re using your electronic keys in whatever hotel you’re in…here are some interesting parsha stats and shabbis table conversation.

Yisroy contains 17 of the 613 mitzvois of the taryag (613); 3 ahh- says and 14 lo’s (prohibitions); and listen to this chiddush- 14 of the 17 are within the Aseres HaDibrois.  Avada you’re astonished, bewildered and wondering how could the Ten Commandments have 14 mitzvois? Just because they were free, we took fourteen? 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 found in Parshas  Va’eschanan’s version of the Big 10. For you oisvorfs, let me remind you that Parshas Va’eschanan is found in Sefer Devorim (Deuteronomy). Take for example, LOI TIGNOV. Generally translated as Thou shalt not steal, the traditional understanding is that it is the prohibition of Kidnapping, i.e. stealing a human being. But it is unavoidable to see LO TIGNOV as a large category of mitzvois from the Toirah including stealing, robbing, cheating in business, moving a boundary marker to take land from a neighbor, taking excessive profit on sales, denying that one has the possession of another, keeping a found object that one must attempt to return, deceiving others – even merely with words, perhaps collecting interest on a personal loan, copying proprietary computer programs, stealing ideas, stealing someone’s time, or sleep… the list goes on and on.

A gittin shabbis-

Yitz Grossman

The Oisvorfer Ruv

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