We begin with four mazel tov shout outs, two new and two belated. Believe it or not, once again we wish a hearty mazel tov to our very dear friends Aliza and Shlomie Liechtung on the birth just this week of a baby boy to their children over in Los Angeles Tamar and Aryeh Suffrin. Excellent production, keyn yirbu! The bris will take place in LA IM’H on Sunday, all are invited.
This past shabbis while walking home from shul, the Oisvorfer had the privilege of meeting for the very first time, a long time reader and re-distributer of the weekly parsha reviews who was in town for Rosh Hashono. As it turns out, the gentleman, Dr. Allen J Bennett is a well-known and highly respected doctor and honorary police surgeon, who knew? And it so happens that he was in the company of his family including his grandson Moshe Shmuel who became a bar mitzvah just 1 day earlier. Mazel to the grandparents Dr. Allen and the eishes chayil Judy, also an avid reader, to the parents of the bar mitzvah Beth and Nafali and of course to the bar mitzvah Moshe Shmuel.
Mazel tov as well to Beth and Yehuda Honig on the recent bar mitzvah over in Yerushlayim of their youngest son Eli. The Oisvorfer has known Yehuda since Yehuda was a young teenager and his eishes chayil Beth a few years. We had the pleasure of dancing at their wedding, mamish one week after the Oisvorfer got married on that fateful day in 1987. May they have continued nachas form all their children.
And a big big mazel tov to Lisa and Ira Friedman on the bar mitzvah this past shabbis of their amazingly talented son Daniel who lained and davened beautifully and flawlessly. The room was spellbound by this young man’s performance.
The Oisvorfer is always amazed at the power of social media and how far his heylige Toirah travels each week and this week, he gives a shout out to Nancy from Hamburg, Germany who sent in her best greetings for the coming year. The Oisvorfer has heard from readers in the former Soviet Union, Iceland, Germany, South Africa, Israel, Uruguay, Mexico and other places; gishmak mamish.
Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:
Kaporos and Pre Yom Kippur magic- (to be read in shul during the Musif avoido instead of talking)
Though the football season began only this past week, the super bowl of tshuva, Yom Kippur, will be ushered in this coming Friday evening and for approximately 25 + hours thereafter, Yiddin all over the world, will, for their myriad indiscretions during the past year, be asking the RBSO for forgiveness, for second and third chances. Yom Kippur is avada also the super bowl for Rabbis’ speeches and nisht in Yom Tov or shabbis geredt, also the biggest money maker for the shul. Though it’s zicher the holiest day of the year, a day we can’t touch money and shouldn’t even be discussing business, chas v’sholom, a day that is called shabbos shabosoin, plenty of business is transacted and everyone chaps that a givaldige speech will result in the immediate cha-chinging of the proverbial register. As opposed to the annual shul dinner where a portion of the gross receipts are used to pay for the dinner, music, photographers, plaques honoring the annual pawns, the giveaways, and other such sundry items, the YK appeal is mamish all profit, 100 cents on the dollars goes to the bottom line. No overhead and no other expenses, gishmak mamish. A givaldige stirring speech implying that sinners like yourselves can buy your way out of your mess, will typically result in more dollars coming in. Polished rabbis who can deliver the knockout punch, might in the future consider a commission based compensation package, not a terrible idea.
Ober not all agree that the YK appeal raises more than a shul dinner and as expected this debate was the subject of a heated machloikes between the Oihave Kefef who argued that high profile guests of honor or a triumvirate of honorees could result in the shul dinner being more profitable. Ober stated the Roidef Kesef that it’s punkt farkert (opposite) and that Yom Kippur appeal has no guests of honor, no community leadership awardees or parents of the year; we’re all in the same pickle trying to make it out alive. Its success depends only on 100% pure unadulterated guilt and when it comes to Yiddin, who among us isn’t guilty of some transgression against the RBSO and fellow man: guilt works and it’s time to pay up. Cash is avada preferred, though checks and avada credit cards too are accepted. And since the shuls taka need the money and since people might change their minds, some shul are trying to invent a geromo credit card terminal that can be employed on shabbis and Yom Tov. Let’s avada keep in mind that cash, in any form, is listed in the machzor (YK prayer book) as one of the three main ingredients that the RBSO accepts as a form of appeasement.
Lucky for you (us), the RBSO understands that your sins are many and He, in His benevolence, gave the Yiddin a playoff season of sorts: ten pre Yom Kippur days in which to get into ‘tshuva shape’, into the proper frame of mind. In fact, Rosh Hashono counts as two of those days. Ober did you at all take advantage during Rosh Hashono davening? Seemingly not! Why not? Because you have been a giferliche oisvorf minuvil bum who likely doesn’t deserve His rachmonis (mercy).
It’s taka emes that you spent two days in shul davening to the RBSO and it’s also emes that you asked that He inscribe you into His book of life. Efsher you mamish resolved to be a better person this coming year. Efsher you resolved to begin by cutting out or at least cutting down on the massive amounts of loshoin horo that constantly spews forth from your mouths? Efsher you did ober how long did it last? Seemingly not very long at all! And on Yom Tov mamish, while asking the RBSO to inscribe you for good things ahead, there you were out of control mamish. Lemoshol (by way of example only): What were you doing while the Chazzan was davening his heart out?
a- Davening along with or without kavono (concentration);
b- thinking to yourself that he wasn’t up to snuff, that his davening was weaker this year than last or that he was quite terrible,
c- badmouthing his davening to your friends on your immediate left and right, shreklich mamish.
And what did you do immediately thereafter? Did you immediately saunter over to a few others and soon enough, you and an entire chevra in your little corner were debating the chazan’s voice, pitch and tune selection? Indeed you did, you giferliche loshoin horonik; you weren’t tzifriddin (satisfied) with his performance and you let yourself be heard.
Did your loshoin horo on Rosh Hashono end there? Seemingly not! How long was it before you reverted back to your old habits and began bad mouthing the rabbi’s speech(s)?- Select all that apply to you-
(a) immediately after the Rabbi delivered it;
(b) during his speech by making faces of disgust and whispering to your chaver
(c) you waited until after davening
(d) you waited until you got home and then discussed how terrible it was with your wife in front of the kids
(e) you told anyone that would listen
Did you not turn to your chaverim on your immediate left and right and discuss how the rabbi’s speech was totally irrelevant, that it missed the mark, that he’s a giferliche speaker. All the while you were either thinking or saying that you could have lained better, davened better and spoken better. And nebech the entire Rosh Hashono was mamish wasted on you. You left with as many sins as you came in, efsher more, and that’s quite the load. Why? Because you are an oisvorf! And on your way home did you not compare this chazzan to another, the assistant rabbi to the real rabbi and did you not continue the conversation with the gantze mishpocho spending the entire meal speaking harsh words of rechilus and loshoin horo? Mistama you did, oy vey!
Ober there’s good news for you! There is? The good news is you’re not alone; most people do the same thing! Likely even the Rabbi about his constituents, Yikes! And efsher for that reason, the RBSO gave us Yom Kippur, a day when we are to make amends with Him and with people whom we have offended, upset, pissed off, and otherwise bad mouthed. And in advance of this great day the RBSO gave us the aseres yimay tshuva, two of which, as mentioned above, are Rosh Hashono.
Ober there is even more givaldige news to begin the new year: if your davening over Rosh Hashono was epes below par and mistama it was, you will have a chance even before the arrival of Yom Kippur this coming Friday night, to do a full and complete tshuva. And guess what? You needn’t daven, dip into the mikveh, don your favorite pair of non-leather sneakers, refrain from the eishes chayil, the shower and brushing your teeth. You don’t even have to ask mechila (forgiveness) from people you can’t stand. Mamish? Nu, soon enough the Oisvorfer will provide the illuminating details.
Though you squandered every opportunity the RBSO afforded you do tshuva and say you’re sorry for your myriad indiscretions and turn over a new leaf, the RBSO even understands and will allow you a few more bites at the apple of forgiveness. And this week, orthodox Yiddin all over the world were chapping, though this chapping was sanctioned.
In a ceremony called kaporos, they were chapping chickens and in Houdini like fashion were busy transferring their overweight baggage containing their many sins onto these poor unsuspecting chickens. Does this work? Ver veyst? How? Ver veyst? Can the swinging of a live chicken over our heads mamish rid us of our sins? Ver veyst? Does this trick work during the year or are its magical powers restricted to the few days between Rosh Hashono and Yom Kippur? Ver veyst? Who thought of this givaldige cleansing? And if does work, do we still need Yom Kippur? Nu, as you can only imagine, when it comes to voodoo type of transference, many weighed in with opinions and this year the Oisvorfer will explore the burgeoning gisheft known as live kaporos. Ober what are they and when did this most amazing ritual first begin?
Nu, lommer lernin (let’s find out). One thing is zicher: kaporos are not at all mentioned in the heylige Toirah, though to be fair, the Toirah does specifically mention the Azozael (scapegoat), a ritual during which one goat is flung over the mountain to symbolically rid the Yiddin of their iniquities. As described, the sins of the Yiddin were placed on a goat that was sent to wander in the wilderness (though some say the goat was pushed off a cliff to its death). Like the Azozael and tashlich, the ritual of kaparos was and remains a symbolic shedding of sins. And says the heylige Gemora about this ritual: nothing at all! That’s right, there is no mention at all about this chicken ritual and oyb azoy (that being the case) whose wild imagination gave rise to kaporos? Efsher the chicken farmers, ver veyst?
Some say the term kaparos sounds epes close to the root of the word Kippur, and carries the same meaning: atonement. And in the week following Rosh Hashono, men, women and even children, as they have done for many years, chap the otherwise unsuspecting chickens and whirl them around above their heads while chanting these words: “This is my substitute, this is my exchange, and this is my atonement. This fowl will go to death, and I will enter upon a good and long life.” In recent years, due to tznius (modesty) issues, men take roosters and women take hens; how would it look if men, while twirling, were caught looking up at the hens’ privates? Shoin! No more avayrois: dirty hands, but clean slate. Gishmak! And while this may sound epes a shtikel strange, it’s no stranger than other things people do with their chicken during the year, if you chap.
The kaparos ceremony is one of the more colorful elements of the High Holy Days but one of the most mired in controversy. Ober is it meyglich (feasabile) that through the whirling chicken ritual, we can somehow symbolically transfer all of our sins unto the poor chicken? Ver veyst. Is it possible that we get a clean slate, and are free mamish to begin a brand new slate of avayrois (sins)? Is it logical that the innocent chicken whose only sin was being unlucky, will, due to the many sins it is now carrying, be condemned to do a sudden death!
How did the minhag originate? Seemingly it was made up and dates back at least 1500 years and is believed to have originated among Jewish communities in the 9th century in Babylon. It is mentioned by the Gaonim, whoever they were, (between 500 – 1000 CE), in their Responsa as symbolically replacing a Korban (sacrifice) to atone for our sins.
Says Rashi (Shabbos 81b s.v. HaiParpisa): In the earliest recorded version of this ritual they would make small leaf baskets with dirt and fertilizer either fifteen or twenty-two days before Rosh Hashono for each boy and girl in the house and would plant some type of bean within the baskets. On Erev Yom Tov they would waive the plant around their heads while chanting, “This is instead of this, this is my replacement, this is my exchange”, and they would then throw the plant in the river.
Ober says The Rosh (Yoma 8:23) that the Gaonim, whoever they were, required that a chicken be used for this ceremony and that it be shechted (slaughtered) on Erev Yom Kippur. Shoin, another machloikes, what else is new. The Rosh: use a chicken and waive before Yom Kippur. Rashi: fertilizer, a basket and some bean concoction, waive before Rosh Hashono.
One reason given for the use of a chiken is that the Aramaic word for chicken “Gever” is similar to the word “man”, strengthening the parallel that one should associate himself with the slaughtered fowl and picture himself deserving of such a fate. In essence, the chicken is a tool to motivate one to do tshuva (repent). And says The Rosh azoy: a chicken is used rather than any other animal simply because they are more readily available than other animals and cheaper as well.
Ober the custom of kaparos is the subject of a long-standing controversy and has engendered significant opposition over centuries. Not all were in agreement that this was such a good idea and no lesser Toirah giants than the RambaN and later Yosef Caro, author of the Shulchan Orech (authoritative code of Jewish law), both claimed that kaporos had its roots in pagan ritual and should be abandoned by religious Jews. Said Reb Yoisef Karo: the tradition of using a chicken for Kaparos should be avoided, out of a concern that it was originally a non-Jewish practice. Yikes! The dispute regarding Kaporos can be found in the Code of Jewish law itself Orach Chaim 605:1
Ober Moishe Isserles, the famed 16th-century talmudist from Krakow promoted the practice, as did many of the founders of Chasiddic Jewish sects. Additionally, the Ari zal, he of the coldest mikveh on earth fame, was a strong proponent of this custom for Kabbalistic reasons. And since the reasons are rooted in mysticism, they are mistama not meant to be understood by the average Yid. As the heylige Oisvorfer has told you on many an occasion: we don’t have to understand everything the RBSO wants from us. Our job is to listen and execute the master plan especially in these days when we are being judged. Ober like all outlandish ideas, this one too was steeped in controversy from the get-go and still is.
Those in favor offer a number of explanations as to why they do not consider it “Darechei Amori” – pagan ways. One is that the purpose of kaparot contrary to what some may think, is not necessarily to transfer one’s sins onto the chicken (which would make it similar to idolatrous practices); rather it is to elicit thoughts of repentance by imagining himself receiving the same punishment as the chicken.
And listen to this………….more recently, Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, the Orthodox Rabbi of the Pico Shul, Los Angeles, CA, said azoy: “Today’s travesty of kaporos transgresses major torah prohibitions and needs to be changed.”
According to an ever increasing number of voices, those practicing kaparos in our times, while well intentioned, are actually committing no fewer than four sins including Tzaar Baal ha Chaim (cruelty to animals); Creating Neveila (a kosher animal is killed with a unchecked and/or nicked knife and is rendered unfit for consumption), Baal Tashchis (wanton wasting of resources) and dina d’malchus dina (transgressing local laws). Shoin! Ober not to worry, because despite repeated warnings by local authorities, the kaporos industry continues.
Some people substitute money for the chicken, waving cash overhead in a symbolic self-calling for repentance. Cash seems to work for the Yom Kippur appeal and in other areas, why not for kaporos? Though cash waving of small amounts of money is not as dramatic and efsher makes a lesser impression that does the waving of a chicken that frightens all the kids, we can always rely on cash. And says the Kaf HaChaim: one should use money and not a chicken to fulfill the minhag. This is not considered to be too much of a variation from the original minhag because the minhag did not originate with an animal anyhow (see Rashi’s explanation above that the minhag originated through the use of a plant).
Many Yiddin remain strong in following this ancient minhag. All agree, however, that one should realize that this is merely a minhag and that mitzvos should never be sacrificed to ensure the proper fulfillment of a minhag, especially a minhag that is not mentioned in shas. Whichever way we decide to perform this minhag, we should all merit a complete atonement this Yom Kippur. Omen!!
The bottom-line is that we seek to rid ourselves of our sins. And with that in mind, the Oisvorfer begs forgiveness from all of his friends and followers. If he has have offended you in any way, it’s likely that’s what was intended. Still it’s Yom Kippur, a day we ask the RBSO to forgive us and we are taught that He won’t consider our appeal until we do the same for one another and until avada, we respond to the Shul’s appeal. Nu: in the end somehow, it’s always about the money, yet another part of our beautiful religion. Veyter!
Though the Oisvorfer provided his many followers with a form of Mechila (forgiveness) Release in 2011, it’s back for 2013: hey, didn’t you piss off new people this past year? Didn’t you speak loshoin horo (ill) of and about those you can’t stand, those who can’t stand you, your business partners, your neighbors and even your best friends, disgusting low life that you are! How many times have you bad mouthed your own mishpocho? Your own parents, in-laws, siblings, and avada an uncle or even your favorite Tanta (aunt)? Avada you did, and with Yom Kippur, the super bowl of forgiveness quickly approaching, the time to say ‘I’m sorry’ is mamish running out. The time to make amends is mamish now. Yom Kippur, based on extensive reading, seems to be a give and get holiday. If you give forgiveness to the few or efsher many that pissed you off during the past year(s), you get, we are taught, consideration from the RBSO; He might also give you a pass. And when you think about this concept logically, this may well be the best deal or trade you’ve made all year. It’s easy to chap that nothing any friend or collective of friends did or could have done to anger you, is nearly as giferlich as the actions you took during the last year that angered the RBSO. Need we list them for you?
Though Yom Kippur is one frightening Yom Tov, it appears from the davening and from myriad other sources, that the RBSO, in most instances, is willing to look the other way and has your back. Ober says the RambaM and the heylige Gemora (Yuma) that Yom Kippur does not forgive sins between man and his fellow man. Avada it doesn’t easily forgive sins between man and woman, if you chap. If you want that forgiveness, you must be proactive and not just active as you’ve been during the past year, if you chap.
And as the heylige Oisvorfer told you just last week, you should not expect any form of consideration from the RBSO if you come into Yom Kippur carrying a grudge.
And in order to help you with the process, back in 2011, the Oisvorfer created his own short Shtar mechila (forgiveness agreement) which has been a givaldige hit. It is found below updated slightly. This agreement is avada not enforceable in court ober it could break the ice with a person you have not spoken to in years. And why not? We have forms of Pruzbill, Heter Iska, Sale of Chometz agreements, why not a form of Mechila?
Use this form to ask for forgiveness:
1) Sinner’s (your) Name: ________________
2) Where did I meet you: ______________
3) What I allegedly did wrong :________(use additional sheets if necessary, and kindly limit yourself to 10 items or sheets of paper, whichever is shorter)
Note: all instances of Loshoin Horo about one individual are, for Yom Kippur purposes, grouped into one event-
3A- Money issues? _______Amount you claim ______
4) Did I just hurt your feelings?
4A) Did I bad mouth you? Yes?_____How many times?_____ (use additional sheets if needed)
4B Who told you?_____
4C) Name, address, cell and email of individual(s) who repeated the Loshoin Horo
4D) I’ll kill that bastard for telling you_____
5) I’m sorry!!
6) are you any better than me?
7) Are you moichel (do you forgive me) me?
8) Get over it!
9) Thank you
Use this form if you are being asked to forgive someone:
1) Sinner’s Name (you) : ________________
2) When was the last time I spoke to you?_______________________
3) Looked at you?______________________________
3a) You disgust me and I despise you!
4) What did you say about me?_______ (one sheet of paper per incident) please
5) List all the people you repeated the loshoin horo to (use additional sheets if necessary)
6) Do you also owe me money?
6a) Yes? How much
6b) Date of short term loan I gave you__________20___
6c) Number of bounced checks you gave me_________________
6d) Number of times you told me: I’ll pay you shortly?______________
6e) Number of times you crossed the street to avoid me when you saw me walking towards you?_______________________
6f) Number of times you told your spouse and others that you don’t owe me a dime?
7)- Number of times you bad mouthed me despite the fact that I saved your tuchis?
8) Names of people you bad mouthed me to?___________________
9) Are your sorry?____________________
10) I absolutely do not forgive the monies you owe despite the fact that shmitta and or yoivel have already passed. You owe me and I except repayment! Because however, I have my own tzuris (issues with the RBSO) and need some special consideration, and because forgiving you may inure to my benefit, I do forgive you, but state again emphatically, that you still owe me the money.
And with that in mind, the Oisvorfer avada begs forgiveness from all of his friends and followers. If he has offended you in any way, it’s likely that you deserved it!
Wishing you all a Gemar Tov and an easy fast-
The Oisvorfer Ruv