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

Yisroy 2018 – Happy Anniversary!

Raboyseyee and Ladies

Happy Anniversary!



It’s been 3,300 years since the RBSO and the Yiddin got married. The wedding, and all its colorful details, are recounted in this week’s parsha of Yisroy (Jethro for the goyim). Yearly as this seminal parsha rolls around -literally, we celebrate all over again by standing when the Aseres Hadibrois (Ten Commandments) are read by the Toirah reader and by making sure that a person of stature -typically one who donates generously to the shul- is called to the Toirah for the reading of this aliya.  Back then, the wedding invitation may have looked something like this: The RBSO, Master of the Universe, invites you to attend His wedding to the Yiddin (B’nai Yisroel). The wedding will take place God willing, on the 6th day of Sivan in the year 2448 (of the Jewish calendar). All Jewish people, including men, women and their kinderlach (children), are invited. Many a medrish will suggest that even those not yet born, including you, were also invited and mamish attended. The chuppah (ceremony) will take place -outdoors of course, where else- on, and just under Har Sinai (Mt Sinai).  Entertainment will be provided in the form of a thunder and light show and a special brief but impactful appearance by the RBSO Himself. Each attendee will receive his or her own gift in the form of the heylige Toirah, a gift that is still in use today.


Read all about it where? In this week’s parsha named after Yisroy, Moishe’s shver (father-in-law), a goy mamish, former priest and worshipper of idols. Some, though not all, suggest that Yisroy did eventually convert to Judaism, ver veyst.  Some say he didn’t and that’s why we don’t name our kids after him, ver veyst. Why was this parsha, the one where after so many hundreds of years, the RBSO and the Yiddin finally cemented their relationship and received the Ten Commandments, named after a goy?  Ver veyst!
Seemingly he had some yichus (pedigree) as well, albeit, not his own. He was the father of Tzipoira and also Moishe’s shver. He’s the fellow who sheltered Moishe after fleeing Mitzrayim (after killing another goy). Yisroy put him up and let him have his beautiful daughter for a wife. Do you think it was easy for Yisroy, the High Priest of Midyan, to accept a nice Jewish boy like Moishe as a son-in-law? Think how excited (not) your shver and shvigger (in-laws) were to have you. Mistama (likely) the Oisvorfer’s in-laws weren’t too thrilled either; nu, azoy geyt iz.  Efsher the RBSO liked the fact that Yisroy was a remarkable gentile (pagan, to be more precise).  The medrish tells us that in his quest for the ultimate truth, Yisroy searched for meaning in all of the various idolatrous practices before ultimately converting.  Alternatively, after serving as one of Paroy’s ministers, he had mamish put his own life into danger by rejecting Paroy’s plan to kill the Yiddin.  Says the medrish: Paroy had three key advisers while the Yiddin were enslaved: Bilam, Iyov (Job), and Yisroy.  When he sought to annihilate the Yiddin by drowning Jewish newborn boys in the river Nile, Bilam signed on, Iyov abstained and only Yisroy advised against the plan. Subsequently he nebech had to flee to Midyan; Paroy wasn’t too happy with him either.  Says Rashi that Yisroy had seven names: was he in the witness protection program?  A chosid collecting food stamps under different aliases, ver veyst?  So much for yichus.  That’s the parsha in a nutshell.  A gittin shabbis, just kidding of course.


And just like that, seven weeks after being redeemed from slavery, and precisely 3,300 years ago, the Yiddin became the Chosen People. Mazel tov! On that day, the RBSO revealed Himself to the entire guest list which, according to some, included some 600,000 adult men, in addition to women, and children.  According to many of our sages, the total number of invited guests was approximately three million people.  Sadly, the honeymoon was to last but 40 days during which Moishe ascended the mountain and studied the heylige Torah, both written and oral.  Down below, all hell would break loose as would the 2 Tablets Moishe brought down on which the 10 Commandments were inscribed and shoin, ever since, the Yiddin have been trying to get back into the good graces of the RBSO. The heylige Gemora tells us that we are still paying for this sin. The marriage was already on shaky ground.  Miraculously, it held up. How? Vey veyst!?



The heylige Toirah tells us that at the wedding the Yiddin stood “under the mountain” while the RBSO appeared on top of the mountain. Shoin, we’ve all heard of separate seating ober to be separated at the wedding by a mountain? And taka says the heylige Gemora (Shabbis 88a) azoy: At the mountain the Yiddin taka (literally) stood “under the mountain.” The RBSO held the mountain over them like a barrel and said, “If you accept my Toirah, well and good. If not, this will be your burial place.” You hear this? How romantic? Was this the incentive for the wedding?  What happened to dating, cajoling, and promising us all kinds of benefits for being the chosen people? Instead we were mamish threatened? Could it be taka 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?  Moreover, doesn’t another medrish teach 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)? It does!  In fact the Toirah quotes us as saying (more than once) Naseh V’nishma “We will do and we will hear…” — meaning that we accepted without knowing or understanding its requirements. Are you bothered that one p’shat contradicts another? You shouldn’t be and if your head wasn’t so full of narishkeyt (silliness), you would chap that each pshat is mamish gishmak. Maybe not true, but beautiful nonetheless.  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? Perhaps we jumped the gun and said yes way too fast. Perhaps it’s impossible to strictly follow the heylige Toirah. After all, didn’t you covet your friend’s wife in shul just last shabbis? Don’t answer that!  Didn’t you tear toilet paper or forget to use a kli shaynee when making tea on shabbis? Did you ever keep the TV on for the playoffs, sheygitz (bum) that you are? Lemyseh (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?


Nu, others are bothered by this as well. Said Rebbe Acha ben Yaakov in the heylige Gemora (Shabbis) azoy:  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 the Yiddin 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  (Queen Esther) and Achashveyroish and cites as proof a posik from the Migillah (Esther 9:27) which states: “The Yiddin confirmed, and accepted”–on that occasion they confirmed what they had accepted long before. Ok – many years later but better late than never. Was the acceptance backdated?


Parshas Yisroy contains not 10, but 17 of the 613 mitzvois of the taryag (613) comprised of 3 ah-says (positive, Thou shall do) and 14 loi’s (prohibitions). And listen to this chiddush. 14 of the 17 are within the Aseres HaDibrois.  Ober, how could 10 also be 14? Did we ask for or receive 14 just because they were free? As it turns out, there are mitzvois within the mitzvois. Moreover, when we get to parshas Vo’eschanan (Devorim) which contains the second set of the Ten Commandments, we will learn that they contain  not 10 and not 14 but 15. We will cover this over the summer. And while many mistakenly believe that the Yiddin, at the wedding, received the gantze heylige Toirah, it’s not emes. Instead, as mentioned above, the guests only received the Aseres Hadibrois (Ten Commandments) which, as stated above, were short-lived.


Not just was the honeymoon shortened due to a miscalculation by the Yiddin on Moishe’s expected return, but the engagement period itself was quite rocky as we learned just last week. The Yiddin were having trouble coping with freedom from slavery, complained bitterly about water, the menu and eating the same food daily. Nor were they overjoyed with their desert accommodations and in general were not a very happy bunch. Nonetheless, for reasons that remain somewhat mysterious, the RBSO decided to go through with the wedding. Seemingly, other nations were either not willing to commit or weren’t marriage worthy partners, ver veyst.


This is our eighth time around Parshas Yisroy and in preparation of this week’s Toirah, the Oisvorfer went into archives to review what has previously been written, and guess what? Previous coverage was gantz gishmak (pretty damn good); many givaldige gems each year. Because most you were not yet readers back in January of 2011, a decision was made to write some new material and weave that into several of the more interesting medroshim we have previously covered on this fabulous parsha which marks the wedding of the RBSO and the Yiddin. Let’s begin. Ober Ershtens (firstly)….


Before the big chasunah (wedding) which is avada the highlight of the entire parsha, the entire Sefer of Shemois and efsher even the gantze Toirah, the parsha opens with narrative that yells out for further elucidation; lommer schnell unfangin (let’s begin). The heylige Toirah (Shemois 18:2) tells us that Yisroy (Jethro- taka a nice name for a goy) took Tzipoirah, Moishe’s wife, after he had sent her back. What’s taka pshat that Yisroy took Moishe’s wife? Where did he take her, where was she, what taka happened to her all this time? Moreover, though Moishe is the most talked about Toirah personality, little is known about Tzipoirah, his eishes chayil (wife), at least at times. In fact her name will not be mentioned again anywhere in the heylige Toirah. As an aside, neither will his kids be shouted out again. As to his kids, we’ll discuss them below. Let’s take a shtikel look at Moishe’s unusual family dynamics.


Shoin: Efsher (maybe) you recall 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  mishpocho (entire family), packed them up and was Egypt bound.  Along the way, and zicher (certainly) this part you remember, he encountered the swallowing snakes. Tzipoirah, acting as the first ever female moielet, used a sharp stone to perform an impromptu 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 Moishe: “Who are these?” Was Aharoin efsher startled to see that Moishe had 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? Ober answered Moishe: “This is my wife whom I married in Midian and these are my children” “Where are you taking them?” asked Aharoin. “To Mitzrayim,” 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!”  Moishe then said to Tzipoirah, “Return to your father’s house,” and she took her two sons and went away. Nu, efsher we can kler that after Aharoin found out how rough Tzipoira was with sharp instruments and about her penchant for cutting, if you chap, he became a shtikel nervous and wanted no part of her. Luckily, she wanted no part of him, if you chap. Anyway, Moishe sent the family away. According to this pshat, Moishe arrived to Mitzrayim alone. Did Moishe want some freedom to move about Mitzrayim, if you chap, ver veyst?


Ober not all agree that Moishe just sent the mishpocho back to Midian for their own safety. Many Rishonim (medieval commentaries) suggest that what really went down was this: Moishe sent her away mamish: he divorced Tzipoirah before entering Mitzrayim. Ober oyb azoy (if that’s the case) why does the heylige Toirah (quoted above) still call her “Moishe’s wife?” Taka an excellent kasha ober not one without an answer.


Says the Yalkut: Moishe divorced his eishes chayil Tzipoirah. And while many of you are still getting over the fact (according to some) that Moishe’s mother, Yoicheved, was married two or three times (and twice to the same person), now the Oisvorfer is telling you that Moishe too had marital issues? Oy vey! Yet another divorce in the mishpocho? Is that what mamish happened? Nu, depends who you ask. Said Reb Yehoishua: the words ‘after he sent her away’ mean that taka Moishe divorced his eishes chayil and gave her a Get (unlike some other chazerrim pigs that leave the women hanging). Ober says Reb Eliezer: Moishe sent her away ‘with words’. What those words were, ver veyst, but pleasant they couldn’t be. And le-mai nafka mina (what’s the difference)? And speaking of husbands leaving their wives hanging and refusing to give a get, check this out!


Said the Moishav Z’keinim (Miba’alei Ha-toisfus) azoy. It’s taka emes that Moishe sent her off and divorced her. Seemingly, though divorced, she was still married or had the status of still being married. Ober how could one be married and divorced at the same time? Another excellent kasha. It’s seemingly possible, at least according to this pshat, because  there is a fundamental difference between the ex-wife of a king (whether divorced or widowed) and any other divorced woman. Normally, a woman who has received a get (divorce document) from her husband is (after a short waiting period) permitted to marry other men (Kohanim (usually) excluded). Of course she can chap without being married but let’s not steer too far off course. Ober the widow or ex-wife of a king is the exception. Because a king must be feared and honored, it would be a bizoyoin (slight) to him were the ex to remarry. She must therefore remain single out of respect for her previous husband.


Ober was Moishe a king? Nu, believe it or not, the heylige Gemora (Zevochim 102) will tell us that he had the status of a king. Moreover, the medrish will tell us that in fact when Moishe left Mitzrayim as a fugitive, on the run after killing the Mitzri 50-60 years back, he first stopped off in the country of Kush where he taka became the King, took himself a Kushite wife and reigned over that country for many decades. Did this happen, ver veyst? It is a nice medrish; who says it has to be emes? In any event, whether he was a king mamish or had the status of king, seemingly Tzipoirah was stuck and this would explain so gishmak why Tzipoirah was still called Moishe’s wife, even after being divorced. In other words: because she was (once) the wife of Moishe, she was now stuck and could not marry anyone else. OMG!


Is that what happened? Not according to the Arizal and the heylige Zoihar, he, known of course for the coldest mikvah on earth, that mikvah also known for its shrinkage, if you chap, who said that Yisroy was a gilgul (reincarnation) of Kayin (Cain), and that Moishe was a gilgul of Hevel.  Tzipoirah was the twin sister born with Hevel, over whom Kayin, in a fit of jealousy, killed his only brother Hevel in order to marry her. What? Who? When? Are you thoroughly confused yet? Shoin: stick to Chumish and Rashi: they don’t tax the mind and don’t leave you thinking that you’re epes mishugah. Let’s leave the kabala to Madonna and others who mamish understand these things. Oisvorf followers should stick to the basics but since we started, let’s finish that pshat. According to this view, part of Yisroy’s mission in this world was to atone for Kayin’s sin of killing Hevel, which he did. And says Rav Chaim Vital: this pshat is hinted to by the first letters of the words אני חתנך יתרו – I am your father-in-law Yisroy which spell the word אחי – my brother.  Yisroy gave his daughter in marriage to a gilgul of Hevel, Moishe, which gave Hevel back to the descendants who were denied his company as a result of him being unavailable due to fact that he was dead! Of course you recall that Kayin was upset because his korban (sacrifice) did not find favor in the RBSO’s eyes. Generations later, Yisroy corrected this by bringing proper sacrifices to the RBSO, which were enjoyed not just by Him, but also by Aharoin and the elders of the generation. It is written the soul of Yisroy stems from the realm of Kayin (Cain), while Moishe’s stems from Hevel (Abel).


Since your imaginations are now open to kabala, listen to this bombshell: Said The Chida: while the Toirah doesn’t recount the final conversation between Kayin and Hevel prior to the murder, Targum Yonason ben Uziel (Bereishis 4:8), he with a fantastic imagination, knew just what the conversation was. Seemingly, Kayin blasphemously  claimed that לית דין ולית דיין there is no Divine judge or system of justice regarding our actions in this world. Ober generations later, his gilgul, Yisroy, rectified this by suggesting to Moishe (18:19-23) the concept of establishing a proper system of courts and judges!


Is any of this found in the heylige Toirah? Of course not: that doesn’t however mean it didn’t happen. It could have, might have, and perhaps mamish did happen, ver veyst. Kayin, as we all know survived the ordeal, the RBSO gave him a pass. He did tshuva (repented) by sending Tzipoirah away in his first lifetime but he didn’t complete his tshuva of returning her to Hevel. Of course not: Hevel was dead!  And how do we put this all together? Let’s see the words one more time. 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. Shoin, what went around, came around as will your head after it stops spinning from this pshat.

And to top all this off, let’s also keep in mind a medrish we covered a few weeks back wherein we learned that (Medrish Talpiyos) Bisya bas Paroy and Tzipoirah were two beautiful twin sisters who were found homeless in the street by Paroy and Yisroy.  Each took one of them and raised them as daughters. Did Hevel have more than one twin sister?


Ober what’s wrong with poshit pshat (plain meaning of the words) which simply tell us that Yisroy took Tzipoirah and Moishe’s two boys after he sent her away and, now that the Yiddin were free from Mitzrayim, was merely reuniting the mishpocho? Isn’t that at all possible? After all, who said that sending her away, seemingly for her own safety, translated into a bill of divorce? Why imagine such things about our hero Moishe? And maybe that’s why Yisroy got himself a parsha, maybe he was a family re-uniter and isn’t that good enough reason for a parsha? Hey, Bolok got one.


Ober raboyseyee Rashi grew suspicious when Yisroy said these words to Moishe. “I, Yisroy, your father in law, am coming to you, and [so is] your wife and her two sons with her.” Seemingly, Rashi was bothered by these words and maybe also bothered that Moishe, after not having seen his wife for some time, wasn’t overly excited when he heard the news of their pending arrival. Rashi states that the message to Moishe was that if you (Moishe) will not come out [to greet us] for me, do it for your wife, and if not for her, greet us for your children.


After being told of their arrival, Moishe went out to greet whom? His father-in-law, the shver. The Toirah does not mention if Moishe greeted his wife or sons; seemingly, the Toirah was not interested in discussing that issue at this time. Nu- were you Tzipoirah, a happy camper you would not be. In the next posik (Shemois 18:8) we read azoy: “Moishe told his father-in-law all that the RBSO had done for the B’nai Yisrael to Paroy and Egypt…”. What’s p’shat here raboyseyee? Was Moishe epes (somewhat) not attracted to his beautiful and perhaps black wife, Tzipoirah? Was it possible that Moishe had little interest in his wife, and perhaps not even his own boys, at least not at this time in his life? Ober listen to this ladies though you won’t be very pleased. Says the Daas Sofrim that the wording may imply something more sinister, though not what you’re thinking, chazir that you are. The wording “Your wife and HER two sons” mean that Tzipoirah and her children were not such holy people. And they are called Her sons because the root of their souls never reached to the level of the root of Moishe’s soul. In other words: Tzipoirah is being called out for not having raised two better boys, his boys. The heylige Toirah therefore refers to them as Her sons. And he knows this how? Efsher from Moishe’s reaction or lack of it, when he heard they were in town. Not so gishmak to blame the mother but hey, the Oisvorfer is merely repeating the medrish; don’t shoot the messenger!



Ober said the Ibn Ezra: that’s not what happened. Instead he suggests that Moishe taka only went out towards his shver (father-in-law) but not because the boys or Tzipoirah were bad. Why? Es hut nisht gipast, it wasn’t bakovidik (the right thing to do) for a man of Moishe’s stature to go out towards his wife or sons. Are we to believe that Moishe, the humblest of all people to walk the earth, was so haughty so as not to go out to greet his own wife and kids?  Mistama that’s not real pshat.

The untirshte shira (the bottom line) with regard to our longstanding 3,300 year marriage to the RBSO, is efsher azoy: in our times, any marriage lasting more than a few years or even decades, is miraculous.  One which has endured 3,300 years -mamish- is beyond comprehension. Maybe taka because the heylige Toirah which the Yiddin received as their wedding gift, and unlike most marriages, if you chap, keeps on giving; it is referred to as the ‘living Toirah.’ We read it, study it, discuss it, and argue over it. Hundreds of seforim (holy books) have been written by rabbis, scholars and exegetes. Each provides his or her own color on the very same words. Which is the real pshat as intended by the RBSO? What really went down? What does the RBSO really want, what does He expect from us?  Ver veyst?  Until we know with certainty, we continue to study them all; why not?


A gittin Shabbis!
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv


Yitz Grossman



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