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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Post-Election Drasha: On Debate and Civility

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Post-Election Drasha: On Debate and Civility


Rabboisai, 

So sorry for my silence these last few weeks, but I just woke up from being Shikkur from all of my Donald Trump celebrations. Parties. Kiddushes. Siyyumei Shas. Binge watching The Apprentice. Thanksgiving table political arguments. Burning crosses on the lawns of the local liberals. You know, healthy outlets.

Every day I go to my Shul and look down from my Shtender, and I see many of my congregants celebrating along with me. But, to be honest, I look down across the Shul, and I see others of my congregants who are visibly disappointed. They are clearly recognizable because of the yellow stars we make them wear.

(Rabboisai -- Those were called jokes. Dark humor. Too much for some, but satisfyingly morbid for others. But I learned from the best Roishei Yeshivah in the world, such as Reb Herschel Schachter, Reb Shneier Kutler, and Pope Francis - Always start a serious Dvar Toirah with a joke. Then tell the Minuvals in the Kehilla why they are all going to hell.)

There are so many aspects to this election, so many paradoxes, and such personal feelings intertwined, that only a true Toirah scholar with deep understanding of TANACH, SHAS, Kabbalah, and the tax code can begin to understand them. But that's what you pay me for. (By the way, I am still waiting for my check, you Mechutziff!)

Donald J. Trump is a paradox. He has a history of womanizing, to the point of accusations of misogyny and worse. In his campaign he courted the alt right - the Neo Nazi and KKK types in this country. This flirtation may have been the most disturbing part of the President Elect's campaign - his tacit acceptance of the forces of hate in this country that are at heart racist and xenophobic has at least for now unleashed disturbing incidents of racism. These are the guys who openly express anti-Semitism, racism against blacks, racism against Latinos, racism against Muslims, and racism against minorities in general. These are the guys who sound like your crazy uncle when he drinks too much on Purim night. 

But neither I nor any of my congregants voted for that man for those reasons. Every leader has his Meshuganahs. President Obama had his affiliation with Reverend Jeremiah Wright. And George W. Bush had Dick Cheney.

No. We voted for him because his was a call for change at a time when the much-spoken-about "economic divide" was being discussed. He is not from Washington. He is a business man with a very mixed record but with strong name recognition. And the world has indeed changed. Many people never recovered their financial status from the Great Recession. And many people are angry at their own tax rates, while at the same time seeing the uber rich, including Trump, being enabled by law to pay somewhere between zero and 15% in taxes in both Republican and Democratic administrations, while most of us are paying 35%-40%. (Not me, of course. The government pays me to deliver vital social services to the community. Last week I received a check for buying computers for all of the Talmidim in my Yeshiva... a Yeshiva in which computers and the Internet are strictly banned. Reboinoisheloilum bless America!)

Maybe some Jews voted for Trump because of some perceived preference for Israel, but every American administration has its positive and negative episodes with the Israeli government, Democrats and Republicans, and people who do not realize that historical fact are in for a rude awakening. 

But perhaps the reason that many people voted for Trump is that the Frum community has largely become a conservative society, and simply does not like to vote Democratic. And, just perhaps, some people were opposed to Hillary Clinton, not because she is a woman, but because she is as crooked as the Hunchback of Notre Dame, or the Goilem carrying the MAHARAL on his back through the streets of Prague, since the Goilum was the MAHARAL's version of Uber.

Shoyn.

Trump's Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton was herself a paradox. She positioned herself as a purveyor of progressive thought, yet made off the record speeches to Wall Street firms for more than $200,000 each. As Secretary of State, she hosted an e-mail server in her home that inevitably would be on either the sending or receiving end of confidential data. And when subpoenaed to provide copies of her e-mails, she snapped into action... By deleting 30,000 e-mails. Plus, there are clear, proven instances where donations to the Clinton Foundation resulted in favorable treatment and preferential access to the State Department, as well as 20% discounts in the cafeteria.

So, the United States is confronted with an odd reality - The unexpected election of Donald J. Trump over Hillary Rodham Clinton. For some, this is a cause for celebration. For others, it is a reason for disappointment and disillusionment. But luckily we are Klal Yisroel. We do not take a short term view of one election or one year or one term. We view the world in terms of eternity - and if not eternity, we view the world in terms of eras of persecution. 

To what is this election comparable in the rich history of Klal Yisroel, and what lessons does that history offer?

In Sefer Shmuel, we read about the struggle between the Kingdom of the House of Shaul and the Kingdom of the House of David. If one reads the text closely and is not distracted by Midrashic whitewash, one can clearly see a struggle for internal leadership, including a series of unholy alliances. The text even tells us that at one point David and his crew acts as mercenaries in the employ of the Plishtim, the Phillistines. (If you do not believe me, take five minutes and look it up in the text, assuming that you know how to navigate Biblical text without having Rabbi Artscroll lead you by the Schvatntz and sanitize the rich, actual text of the Torah.)

In the text, we read of the struggles between the two warring houses, a standing king and an insurrectionist. Ultimately, Shaul and his son Yoinoson are killed in a battle with the Plishtim, and the text goes out of its way to tell us of an incident happening in parallel that suggests that David and his troops were never ever EVER anywhere near that battle. Ever. Methinks the Toirah Doth Protest Too Much. And after Shaul is killed, his family and many of his loyalists are struck down. David, of course, goes on to found a monarchical dynasty, as well as a chain of coffee and doughnut shops throughout the whole of the Land of Israel, including Judea, Samaria, and Brooklyn.

Here we see that power was transferred, but through violent upheaval.

When we look at the story of the Hasmonean rebellion against the Seleucids and their Judean allies, AKA the real story of Chanukah (and not the fairy tale version with magical oil and shitty little plastic dreidels made in China), once again we see the transfer of power driven by violent upheaval, as well as the long term dangers of eating fried foods.

Internecine violence that characterized power struggles and leadership shifts within Klal Yisroel reach their peak in the destruction of Bayis Sheini. Here, there is a multi-party civil war between rebels and non-rebels, zealots and more practical rebels, Pharisees and Sadducees. Yes, there were Romans, but as recorded by the Jewish historian Josephus, they stood outside the walls of Jerusalem as the Judean factions killed each other and either poisoned or set fire to each other’s food stores. Josephus also tells us that Judean merchants outside the walls made a killing selling hot dogs, pretzels and soda to the waiting Roman soldiers, and Judean prostitutes were so busy, they set up a trade network to manage demand called Juber. And they instituted Surge Pricing, which, according to the Gemarrah, raised the price of Metzitzah BiPeh from an average cost of 10 Shekels during regular demand to as much as 100 Shekels at peak times.

With the destruction of the Second Temple, and later, after the bloody, failed Bar Kochba Rebellion, there was a push to expunge violence as a means of political expression within Klal Yisroel. Internecine violence and rebellion had left tens or even hundreds of thousands dead, many Jews carried away into enslavement, loss of any semblance of sovereignty, loss of access to Jerusalem, and of course loss of the Temple. The Roman occupiers also stopped accepting coupons and no longer honored discounts for students and the elderly. The Mamzeirim. 

And so, CHAZAL implemented a fundamental philosophy of non-violence in transitions of power - by emphasizing the dangers of Sin'as Chinum, best translated as "Random Hatred". So we are told throughout the Gemarra that the Second Temple was destroyed because of Sin'as Chinum, and that Rabbi Akiva's students died en masse due to a plague caused by Sin'as Chinum, when in reality they likely died in the Bar Kochba struggle.

Instead, CHAZAL focused their energies on debate, sometimes civil, sometimes less so. Rav  debated Shmuel. Abaya debated Rava. Ravina debated Rab Ashi. RAMBAN debated RAMBAM. RASHI was debated by all of his grandchildren and their peers among the Ba'alei Toisfoisssss. And not a single drop of blood was shed. Except when the RAMBAN was in Nidah. 

Even the divisive Shabtai Tzvi incident did not result in bloodshed, but harsh words. And the terribly divisive split between Chassidim and Misnagdim did not result in more than very rare fisticuffs, although each side called the civil authorities on the other for various pretexts. (Apparently rabbis at the time had no problem calling the hostile gentile authorities on each other at the time, as opposed to today when they refuse to call the police when someone in the community is sexually abused by another Jew, because apparently rabbis are better trained at taking testimony on sex abuse, forensics, criminal law, handling of DNA evidence, and psychology. What Schmucks... errr... Tzaddikim!)

So what do we learn from all of this, and how does it relate to our current reality?

There are two concepts at play - Sin'as Chinum - "Random Hatred" and "Ga'avah" - "Self-Assured Arrogance". And most of us are guilty of the two.

When we examine the life of the most significant leader of Klal Yisroel, Moishe Rabbeinu, CHAZAL point to Moishe's "Anivus" - his "Personal Modesty". When asked by the Reboinoisheloilum to speak to Pharoah on behalf of Klal Yisroel, he responds that he cannot, no one will listen to his voice. Hakadoshboruchhu reassures him, and also assigns his brother, Aron HaKoihain, the Minuval, to support him.

But we celebrate Moishe Rabbeinu's Anivus, and are told at the end of Devarim "Lo Kum BeYisroel K'Moishe Oid" - None like Moishe have ever risen since. Not even in the era of Viagra. 

When we look at the current political season, all we can see is arrogance and smugness from both sides of the equation. And as we read at the Reishah of this Drasha, the candidates in question - both of them - are deeply flawed. Most of us held our noses as we voted, whether we voted for Clinton or Trump. In Trump's case, some women may have also held their other hand over their... ummm... Ervas, just in case...

And the issues that divide the sides are real. And the flaws on each side are real. And the concerns raised over the President Elect are real. But ours is a culture of debate. And these debates are legitimate, and we should not shy away from them, but discuss our different ideas and philosophies. We can disagree. And perhaps sometimes we might even agree. 

So the question is: What is the line when debate turns into Sin'as Chinum? And what causes someone to engage in Sin'as Chinum.

Imagine Reuven and Shimoin getting into an argument on a particular topic. Reuven is certain of his position. Shimoin is certain of his position. And it is a binary debate - only one person can be right. So how is it possible that each is completely certain in his position, knowing full well that he has a 50% chance of being wrong? That is the role of Ga'Avah. 

Now imagine Levi and Yehuda arguing over a philosophical topic - a topic with nuance, a topic in which there are many angles and many shades of grey. But both Levi and Yehuda are certain of their positions, and do not for even a minute doubt their positions. That too is Ga'Avah. 

So as we debate candidates, politics, and policies, it is certainly valid, even encouraged, for each of us to have our own ideas and beliefs. But if we cannot, for even a moment, try to understand what is in the mind of the people that we are debating, try to understand their thinking and reasoning, cannot express even a semblance of empathy, then that is Ga'avah. (Think "basket of deplorables", my Hillary supporting friends.)

And if in the course of a debate of ideas we are dismissive of the position of another, and express that dismissiveness, Chass V'Shalom, in personal terms, then that crosses the line from healthy debate to Sin'as Chinum. (This is referred to in Aramaic as being "Trumpy".)

So there is a line, perhaps a fine line, between acceptable forms of Machloikess, debate, and deterioration into Ga'Avah and Sin'as Chinum.

I am reminded of a famous debate between the Baal Shem Toiv and the Vilna Goyn. As tension between Chassidim and Misnagdim built up, the leading advocates of each movement came together in Poizen, Poland to debate their theological differences. The Gruh spoke of the importance of learning Toirah as the only legitimate method to connect to the Aimishteh. The BESHT argued back that the masses could barely read, and that Hisboisedus, meditative unity with the Divine, was the best way for Klal Yisroel to connect to the Reboinoisheloilum.

The Goyn spoke of the central importance of rabbis in setting Halacha and determining the day to day Halachic questions that arise in a traditional Jewish society. The Baal Shem Toiv argued that rabbis had a more important role - to be central, organizing figures around and through whom adherents can better engage with Hakadoshboruchhu on a day to day basis. And so on.

However, as the debate raged on, the initial civil tone deteriorated into personal insults. At one point, the GRUH shouted out, "You, Yisroel, with your Payis and your fur hat, look like an Aimishteh-damned monkey!"

To which the Baal Shem Toiv responded, "Well at least I do not have a silly white beard like you that makes you look like a billy goat!"

The audience was roaring with both protest and laughter. In the back of the hall a few punches were thrown.

Suddenly, a Bas Kol, a heavenly voice, boomed from above. "DO NOT DISRESPECT EACH OTHER! THAT IS SIN'AS CHINUM AND WILL ONLY LEAD TO BAD THINGS!!"

The GRUH looked up at the sky and said, "Hey, the Gemara says 'Toirah Loi BaShamayim Hee' ('Determinations regarding the Torah are no longer in the heavenly domain'), so leave us the hell alone, you bully!"

The BESHT chimed in, pointing his finger at the sky, "Yeah, big shot!!! What do you think you are going to do about it? Wipe out all of European Jewry?"

-----

Rabboisai, we live in divisive times. There are real issues and concerns on all sides. There are dangers. There are also opportunities. And these issues and concerns should of course be discussed. But rather than succumb to anger and frustration in our discourse, it is critical that we maintain a modicum of civility, of unity. We must always remember the Toirah's injunction of "Ve'Ahavta LeReacha KaMoicha", you should love your neighbor as you love yourself. And we must always keep in mind the Mishnah in Avois that tells us, "Rabbi Shimon Ben Gamliel said, ‘The world stands on three pillars: On justice, on truth, and on peace’".

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Friday, November 25, 2016

Parshas Chayei Sarah

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Parshas Chayei Sarah


Rabboisai,

I write this Dvar Toirah while on an international flight en route to an annual gathering in commemoration of this week's Parsha, Parshas Chayei Sarah. Thousands of people focus on the first half of the Parsha and gather in Chevroin every year to celebrate the burial place of Sarah Imainu. I, on the other hand, will be joining a group of people commemorating the second half of the Parsha, the marriage of Yitzchak Avinu to three-year-old Rivka Imainu, by traveling to Thailand to have relations with a group of underage girls.

This week's Parsha, of course, begins with the passing of our foremother, Sarah Imainu. RASHI tells us that Sarah died as a result of hearing that her husband, Avraham, had taken their only son to be slaughtered at the alter. The RAMBAM asks the question: Why should Sarah have been shocked? Where was her faith in the Rebboinoisheloilum? Was she not ready for the Aimishteh's test? Was she tempted by the Yetzer Harah, the Evil Inclination, to question her belief in the all knowing, rational and loving Hakkadoshboruchhu who expressed His divine love by suggesting that Yitzchak be grilled to perfection like ribs at a July 4th barbecue? Did she not want her son to be slaughtered, so he could die for all our sins? (OOPS, wrong religion. Sorry.) 

Indeed, it was not Sarah who mentally snapped as a result of Akeidas Yitzchak, the Binding of Isaac, at the end of last week's Parsha. It was Avraham Avinu. According to a famous medrish in Beraishis Rabbah, this Parsha is testimony to that fact that Avraham completely lost his marbles after the Akeidah. Note the evidence of his nervous breakdown:

-- We are told, not once -- but twice, that Avraham bows down to the "Am Ha'aretz," the People of the Land, to express his humility and gratitude for their support (Beraishis, Perek Chuff Gimmul, Psukim Zayin and Yood Bayz). How can Avraham Avinu, our forefather, the man who discovered Hakadoshboruchhu, the man who invented string cheese and the iPad, prostrate himself before other human beings? Did he not realize that the only thing he should EVER bow down to was the Rebboinoisheloilum, the Melech Malchei Hamelliachim -- unless of course someone had dropped a quarter? However, the medrish quotes Rabbi Akiva as saying that at this point in his life, Avraham was so deluded and confused he would bow down to a cow every time he had a potato with a little sour cream on it. He would even bow down to his dry cleaner everytime he picked up his shirts. 

-- Avraham Avinu barters to gain the right to bury his beloved Sarah in Meuras Hamachpeilah. Ephroin, the property's owner, gives Avraham the land and does not want payment. Avraham, however, insists upon counting out four hundred shekels of silver as payment to Ephroin. So what's pshat "payment"? Why didn't Avraham just chop off one his arms and present it to Ephroin, instead of giving away money for no reason? Maybe he should have given away his ATM card and his PIN code, while he was at it? 

-- Avraham decides to send his manservant, Eliezer, to find a wife for his son, Yitzchak. To secure his commitment, Avraham asks that Eliezer, his servant, put his hand "underneath Avraham's thigh." Wow. That is progressive. According to Rabbi Akiva, after the death of his wife, Avraham was so randy he was open to "all lifestyle alternatives." Indeed, there is a separate Braisah in Masechess Pesachim that suggests that following Sarah's death, Avraham Avinu joined a local S&M club, spent six months in a nudist colony, and made seventy five dollars a week posing for an art class at his local community college. 

Avraham's mental state is of course balanced with the beautiful story of the discovery of Rivka. After being sworn to his commitment to find a wife for Yitzchak, Eliezer sets out on his quest. As he reaches a well, he decides that he will anticipate a divine sign: the appearance of a woman who will offer drink to both him and his camels. The RADAK asks the question: why did Eliezer choose a sign based on a woman's action, rather than a visual metaphor, such as a yellow ribbon on the woman's dress or a tattoo on the small of her back? The Toirah Temimah answers that, mamesh, Eliezer was indeed looking for such a sign: he was hoping that as the women bent down to fetch the water he would catch a glimpse of her cleavage. Says the Toirah Temimah, Eliezer had also committed to Avraham that the bride he would bring back to his master's son would have a Double-Daled cup.

Of course, all of these expectations were turned upside down when Eliezer saw Rivka for the first time. We are told specifically by the passook that Eliezer noticed her great beauty. We are also told that Rivka "was a virgin; she had known no man." An obvious question arises: why did the Toirah have to repeat itself -- wasn't this a redundant statement? RASHI tells us, however, that the local girls had strange sexual practices that enabled sexual activity without the surrender of one's maidenhead. (He really does say that, by the way. Look it up.) Who ever heard of such a practice amongst youth?!? But the RASHBAM disagrees. He suggests that the verse is telling us that while Rivka had not had a sexual relationship with a man, her femininity had been "totally awakened" as an active member of the LPGA tour, if you know what I mean. 

And now the strangest part of the Parsha: nowhere in the Parsha are we told Rivka's age, but Rabbinic tradition has always deduced that Rivka was three years old when she was discovered by Eliezer and brought into Yitzchak's tent for consummation of their marital relationship. How can this be? Was Yitzchak some kind of pervert? 

According to a Gemarra in Maseches Nidah, Yitzchak was indeed a pervert. Says the Gemarra, the reason that Yitzchak didn't marry until the age of forty is that as a counselor in Yeshivas Shame V'Eyver Basketball and Learning Camp, Yitzchak sexually abused three of his charges and spent the next twenty two years in prison. As proof, the Gemarra cites a Braisa that states that the reason Avraham insisted that Yitzchak, his son, not marry a local Canaanite woman was NOT because he wouldn't want one as a daughter in law. Adderabbah! It was because Yitzchak had to register with the local authorities as a convicted sex offender, and therefore no local woman was willing to date him.

But according to Rav Saadya Goyn, Yitzchak Avinu was no more perverted than any other man at that time. LeOylam, every man in those days married underage girls. As proof, he cites a medrish that says that Avraham Avinu married Sarah Imainu when she was one and a half, and Noiach married Mrs. Noiach when she was an aborted fetus.

I am reminded of a Maiseh Shehoya. Reb Yisroel Salanter once traveled to Siberia to attend a celebrity golf tournament. As customary, he lodged at the home of a local eskimo. When it came time to go to sleep, the eskimo said to Reb Yisroel, "Nu, Reb Yisroel, we have a minhag here when guests stay over: Please take my wife to sleep with for the night."

Reb Yisroel looked at him sternly and responded, "That is unacceptable! Aishess Ish is a Dioraisa. However, do you have any children I can sleep with instead?"

To which the eskimo responded: "Rebbe, I knew you were here for a fundraiser, but I did not know it was a Yeshiva Torah Temimah event. Please forgive me!"

So, unfortunately, more than a few members of our community still like to keep up the tradition of Yitzchak Avinu. 

So next time you are tempted to poke fun at the Catholic Church, hold your tongue until you have investigated your own institutions. Whether it is Yeshiva University. Or Satmar. Or Lakewood. Or the Riverdale Jewish Center. Or...
Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval.

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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Friday, November 04, 2016

Presidential Endorsement by Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein: Donald J. Trump


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Presidential Endorsement by Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein: Donald J. Trump


Rabboisai,

Shtayt in Passook, it says in the Toirah: Sefer Republicans, Parshas 2016 Presidential Race, Perek Lamud Chess, Passook Aleph through Passook Yood Tesssss:

(א) Vayoimer Donald El Billy Bush Leymor -- And Donald sayeth to Billy Bush, saying.

(ב) "I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it.”

(ג) “Whoa,” said, Billy Bush, who was also knowneth by his nickname, Burning.

(ד) “I did try and fuck her. She was married,” Donald said.

(ה) "And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping.”

(ו) “She wanted to get some furniture.”

(ז) “I said, ‘I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.’”

(ח) “I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married."

(ט) And Donald paused thoughtfully.

(י) "Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.”

(יא) At that point, Donald and Burning saweth Arianne Zucker, the actress waiting to escort them to the town well.

(יב) “Your girl’s hot as shit, in the purple,” said Burning.

(יג) “Whoa!” Donald sayeth. “Whoa. I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her.”

(יד) “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them.”

(טו) “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

(טז) “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

(יז) “Whatever you want,” agreeeth Burning Bush.

(יח) And the Donald sayeth, “Grab them by the pussy.”

(יט) “You can do anything.”

(Editorial note: Translation courtesy of Art Scroll, 2016.)

Rabboisai, this recently rediscovered scroll has caused great shock waves across Klal Yisroel and all of the Nations of the world. "Donald is a false Messiah," some even claim. But Donald is a great man, a man of nuance, of layers. As CHAZAL teach us, Shivim Panim LaToirah”, “There are seventy faces to the words of the Toirah.” So to study and truly understand the Donald is no different than studying Yankif Avinu, Aroin HaKoihain, and Dovid HaMelech. We do not hold by Pashut Pshat, but must understand the Pessukim through the prism of CHAZAL.

Yankif Avinu approaches his blind father dressed in the clothing of his brother Eisav, and proceeds to steal his elder twin's birthright. While the Torah in Pashut Pshat implies some degree of criticism of Yankif’s behavior, and the circumstances arranged by Hakadoshboruchhu to have Lavan switch Leah for Rochel may be understood as Midah KiNeged Midah, a punishment whereby Yankif is penalized for his dishonesty by being the victim of a similar dishonest action, CHAZAL go out of their way to demonize Eisav. While the Toirah presents him as the unchosen brother, CHAZAL present Eisav as evil through and through – just like you, you Mechutziff -- and fundamentally whitewashes the dishonesty of Yankif. An ignoramus like you might believe that Yankif did something wrong, but CHAZAL teach us that Eisav deserved every misdeed done to him. After all, Eisav was a hairy Sheygitz who turned faking respect for his father into a lifelong Hollywood act. He was such a good actor, he even showed up at his father’s burial and mourned. What a faker!

Aroin HaKoihain responds to Moishe Rabbeinu's disappearance on Har Sinai by creating the Eigel HaZahav and driving Klal Yisroel into idolatry a mere 40 days after receiving the Toirah. Upon descent from the mountain, Moishe shatters the Luchois, and together with Aroin, crushes the burnt Eigel into water, forces Klal Yisroel to drink of the waters, and then sets the Levi'im to massacre 3,000 people. But what of Aroin HaKoihain, the Minuval? A MeChutziff like you might have thought that Aroin committed a mortal sin, a crime against the Aimishteh Himself. But you would be wrong, you Vilda Chaya!! CHAZAL teach us that Aroin was simply stalling for time. He started off with 15 minutes of stand-up comedy, followed by singing a few Sinatra songs. Then he gave an inspirational speech, based on the teachings of Tony Robbins. Then he read a few of Shakespeare’s sonnets. So the Eigel was just the next step on his stall tactics. Aroin was a Tzaddik! How can you not have understood that, you Shkutz?!?!

Finally, as is well known, Dovid HaMelech saw Bassssheva bathing naked, across the valley. She was very beautiful, and also very married to Uriah HaChiti, one of Dovid’s most loyal soldiers. But Dovid sent for Bassssheva to be brought to him, and he slept with her. And when he found out that she was pregnant, Dovid HaMelech ultimately arranged for Uriah to be killed on the battlefield, after which Nosson HaNavi, Nathan the Prophet, came to Dovid to express the displeasure of the Reboinoisheloilum.

Now, a Menuval like you might understand this episode in a terribly negative light. But the Talmud tells us that Dovid HaMelech was indeed without sin. What appears to us in the Pashut Pshat, the plain meaning of the Passook, as Dovid HaMelech seducing a married woman, impregnating her, and having her husband killed, was actually the will of Hakadoshboruchhu, even though the Toirah says quite the opposite! No, the Aimishteh really wanted Dovid HaMelech to seduce Bassssheva, for through her would emerge the next king, Shloimoi HaMelech, and the line of Moshiach Tzitdkeinu, the Messiah. You may have thought that Dovid HaMelech was at best a seducer and at worst a rapist, but he was acting at the will of the Reboinoisheloilum. Thank you CHAZAL! We would never have figured this one out by ourselves without your deep whitewash… errrr… insights into the underlying truth.

And so it is with Donald. In Pashut Pshat, Donald has indeed used unacceptable language, objectifying women in the basest terms, admitting to trying to seduce a married woman, and acknowledging that he at times is driven to kiss and grope women by the Makoim HaErva. But if you believe this at its simplest level, you would be wrong, you Am Ha’aretz!

In fact, what we see from this episode are the thoughtful actions of a natural born leader. First, a leader must be able to admit his flaws. Donald in fact does this, in Passook Baiz, "I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it.” The Donald shares with us a sensitive story, how in fact he took the woman in question furniture shopping, trying to help her be a good Balabusta, a good home maker.

And how committed was he to helping her? Passook Chess tells us BeFeirush, explicitly, “I moved on her like a bitch”, he supported her in her shopping quest the way a mother dog takes care of her young pups. He is truly a Tzaddik!

Finally, perhaps the most disturbing Passook is the methodology recounted by Donald as to how best to exploit one’s celebrity and aggressively court a woman, Shtayt in Passook Yood Chess, Donald suggests to Billy “Burning” Bush that one should “Grab them by the pussy.” This indeed does sound demeaning, dismissive of woman, and an example of sexual harassment, if not an outright criminal act of sexual abuse and exploitation. But if that is what you believe, it is because you are too stupid to understand the Passook. In fact, Donald is suggesting that you help a woman, first and foremost, by holding her pet cat for her, say, when she is reading Tehillim, or dropping her children off at Yeshiva. What reads like an act of sexual aggression is in fact an act of Gemilas Chassadim, kindness and generosity.

And it is indeed this innate kindness and generosity that compels me to formally endorse Donald Trump for president.

Indeed, even if one were to take this Parsha literally, without the interpretation of Chazal, how is this any different than any actions committed by Bill Clinton? How is it any different than the acts of enablement by Hillary Clinton, who persecuted the victims of Bill?

Now, of course Bill Clinton has already been president, is not running for president, and while accused, has never been found guilty of forcing himself on a woman, even as those woman have been funded by millions of dollars coming from various anti-Clinton donors, and even as the Starr Commission and many other public investigations spent millions on exploring every rumor about Bill Clinton. And as none of those alleged encounters have been proven, assertions of Hillary Clinton’s role in their cover up are vague, at best.

Bill Clinton did of course in fact have an affair with a White House intern, and was impeached for it. It is inexcusable, and is a stain on his legacy. But that episode is long gone from our political discourse, the same way that the creamy white stain, once it was removed from Monica’s blue dress by the dry cleaners, is no longer present.

More important, Donald Trump’s deserving leadership is proven in many other ways:

-- Donald Trump is opposed to the presence of illegal immigrants, will expel them once elected, and will create a wall between the United States and Mexico. This is terrific news! I am sick and tired of going to a restaurant and having the kitchen help not understand a word I am saying! The Mexicans have been stealing our jobs; instead of illegal Mexican immigrants working in restaurant kitchens or in lawn care or in construction or in child care, those jobs should rightly be given to American citizens! Why, I know dozens of families in Brooklyn, Monsey, and KJ where the men have no work, and as a result are forced to sit and learn in Bais Medrish all day, Rachmana Letzlan. These Bochrim, instead of Shteiging while sitting on their asses, will now be able to take up the employment opportunities created by shipping those undesirables back to Mexico!

Now the best part: With a wall between Mexico and the United States, we will have the opportunity to perform many Mitzvois more easily. People living along the border will be able to use the wall as one wall of their Sukkas. This is a tremendous cost savings. And with a physical wall along the border with Mexico, all we need are walls along the border with Canada and walls along the East and West coasts in order to enclose the entire United States – serving as one massive Erev. What a Kiddush Hashem!!

Now, some of you may be wondering whether we, as Klal Yisroel, should be more sensitive to the plight of immigrants, given that the United States was founded as an immigrant nation, and that many of us, our parents, our grandparents, and great grandparents came to the country as immigrants, some legally and some in any way they could. But that was fundamentally different! After all, they were Jews fleeing anti Semites! How can you argue against their being let into this country, you self-hating Jew?!

-- Donald Trump counts among his supporters David Duke, the KKK, and various White Supremicist groups. It has been reported on many occasions that reporters of Jewish descent who have written critically of Trump have been subjected to unprecedented anti-Semitic attacks, including messages about how “Hitler forgot you” and “you should burn in the ovens”. Now, some are critical that Trump has not adequately disavowed the words and actions of these “alt activists”, as they are referred to in the Media. But… let’s face it… all of these attacks have been reported by the left wing media, which is controlled by Jews!

I do not like the Jewish Media, with their liberal sentiments and their big noses and their aspiration for world government. So why should I expect anti-Semites to like them either? After all, I am not a hypocrite!

-- Donald Trump boastingly joked during the first debate about how he is smart for not paying taxes, and subsequent reports suggest that he may not have paid personal federal income taxes for twenty years following a big loss and a large bankruptcy. Some would suggest that this is a core inconsistency for a man claiming to be a successful businessman and a fiscal genius.

But there is no inconsistency here: I have not paid taxes for the last twenty years either! And neither has anyone else I know. I say: Let the suckers…. Errrr…. Goyim pay taxes, while the rest of us focus on Avoidas Hashem, studying Toirah, and mastering the complex Sugya that is the “Tax Loss Carry Forward”

-- Donald Trump speaks about banning Moslems from entering the country, and assailed the parents of a fallen Moslem American soldier who addressed the Democratic convention. Should we be troubled by this? Of course not! After all, all of ISIS are Moslems. So of course we should keep all Moslems out of the country.

And, of course, the Russians, who are currently putting nuclear capable weapons on territory contiguous with Poland, are Orthodox Christians. So of course we should keep all Orthodox Christians out of the country. And Catholics? Do you know how many Jews they killed throughout the centuries? Of course we should keep all Catholics out of the country. And the Germans killed the Jews during the Shoah, so we should of course keep all Germans out of the country. And since many Germans are Lutherans, we should keep all Lutherans out – and in fact all who follows in the steps of Martin Luther -- meaning all Protestants, out of the country.

And the members of the Black Lives Matter movement are all black. So of course we should keep all blacks out of the country. And the Japanese attacked the US at Pearl Harbor. And the North Koreans are going nuclear. And the Chinese are taking all of our jobs. So of course we should keep out all Asians. And the British, because of the terrible job they did in Mandatory Palestine.

And, of course, Bernie Madoff is a Jew, as are numerous white collar criminals all over the country. So of course we should keep all Jews out of the country.

So, in fact, the only people who should be allowed in the country are the Native Americans. We can certainly support Donald Trump’s logic on this topic.

-- Donald Trump promises to fix our economy by negotiating with American debt holders – the countries and institutions that hold Treasury Bills and other forms of federal debt. And I applaud him for it! Why should America, the strongest economy in the world, have to pay our debts? NO ONE understands bankruptcy laws better than Donald Trump! So why not put those laws to work for US? We should be paying pennies on the dollar! And if they do not like it, what are they going to do? Not sell to us? Put sanctions against us? Go to war with us?

So what if US Treasury Bills are the cornerstone of the world’s economy, the definition of “risk free debt” in financial circles? This country was not built on avoiding risks. Did the founding fathers avoid risks when declaring independence? Did Lincoln avoid risks when freeing the slaves? Did Reagan avoid risks when he attacked Grenada? Did George W. Bush avoid risks when he attacked Iraq?

No. Leadership is built on taking risks. So if President Trump is able to renegotiate the US debt at the risk of causing the collapse of the global financial markets, it is a risk that I, for one, am willing to take. I will of course have to check that my Israeli, Canadian, EU, Saudi, and Russian citizenships are all up to date… just for documentation purposes, of course.

-- Donald Trump is committed to getting NATO to pay their fair share, those freeloaders. NATO has been the cornerstone of Western security since 1945. But NATO is sooooooo 1970s. Russia is no longer an enemy: Putin is a strong leader, a leader who is popular in his country, a leader whose own national media never criticizes him… and lives to talk about it.

All the freeloading countries should start to pay their fair share… or they are out of NATO! Germany? Who needs them in NATO! How dangerous can a Germany, disconnected from the Western powers, with a struggling economy, and left to fend for itself against the Russian threat, possibly get?!

-- Finally, there is Eretz Yisroel. Donald Trump is good for Israel. He is great for Israel. His daughter and grandchildren are even Orthodox Jews. And his principle advisors on Israeli policy read the New York Times and the AIPAC daily briefing; what other expertise could they possibly need?

Yes, Donald Trump is good for Israel. The misguided US agreement with Iran is an example of the worst agreement even negotiated! As Donald has said, rather than avoid nuclear proliferation, let’s embrace it! Why should the US have paid billions to Iran to get rid of its nuclear materiel. It is only natural that all countries in the world will get nuclear capabilities. So which way are we better off – with Israel as the only nuclear power in the region, and a united global effort to keep Iran nuclear free for the next ten years? Or with a nuclear Iran, a nuclear Saudi Arabia, a nuclear Egypt, and a nuclear Turkey? If all countries in the Middle East are nuclear, then there is no threat, because of the notion of mutual self-destruction. If one country gets nuked then all countries get nuked. It is actually a very democratic solution to the 100 year old Arab-Israeli conflict and the thousand year old Sunni-Shiite conflict. And, as we know, everyone in the Middle East behaves like rational actors, so what could possibly go wrong?

----

And so, I, on behalf of Yeshivas Chipass Emmess, wholeheartedly endorse Donald Trump as the next president of the United States. He will lead this nation forward with grace, style, an even temperament, and by grabbing the country by the pussy.


Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval.

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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Friday, October 28, 2016

Ask Rabbi Pinky – On the Wearing of Shaytels


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Ask Rabbi Pinky – On the Wearing of Shaytels


Rabboisai,

This week’s shailah comes from my esteemed rabbinic colleague, the RAGU:

Dear Rabbi:

A non-Jewish colleague at work told me that I should convert to Christianity. His view is that Jews are being punished with cancer because they have not accepted Jesus as their savior. He says that the proof is that so many Jewish women wear wigs because Jesus's father has punished them with cancer and they lost all their hair during chemotherapy.

What do you recommend I should respond to him?

Your humble follower, the RAGU.

Eppis, this is a most disturbing shailah, and a difficult choice! Worship the Rebbonoisheloilum, eat lettuce and tuna out of a can at the finest restaurants, and sleep with a woman who is constantly reminding you of what a disappointment you are as a husband; OR adopt Yushka Pandra, eat shrimp and lobster, and get hot shiksa action every night. Hmmm, now THIS is a tough call…

Before we can responsibly address this shailah, we should review the basis for head covering in women and the significance of the mitzvah of wearing a shaytel. As background, we should probably also go out for a little traifus and surf porn on the internet, just so we can better understand our alternatives.

Shtatyt in Possuk – it says in the Toirah -- in Bamidbar, Perek Hay, Pussook Yud Khess, that when a Koihain is preparing to place a woman through the process of Soitah to see if she has cuckolded her husband, the Koihain should “Parah” the woman’s hair. There is great debate over the meaning of this term, but it is largely viewed as the presumptive basis for head covering.

Moreover, a Medrish in Beraishis Rabbah suggests that when Chava causes for herself and Adam to be cast out of Gan Eden, it is not because she ate of the Pri Etz HaDaas, the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Rather, it is because she uncovered her hair, that miserable slut, which caused the snake to extend fully, if you know what I mean.

Similarly, RASHI tells us that the reason that Rachel Imainu could not conceive is because she would walk around with her hair exposed, causing the Reboinoisheloilum to punish her by making her gain ten pounds in her butt, leaving her unattractive to Yankif Avinu, who was, to quote Rashi, “not into the whole Hispanic ‘Big Ass’ thing.” Shoyn.

So what is the essence of hair covering? A Mishnah and Gemarrah in Kesubois address the varying halachois requiring a woman to cover her hair, but the underlying reasoning is discussed by the Rishoinim. According to the TUR, hair is considered to be a form of Erva. Says the Tur, if a man sees a woman’s exposed hair, it is as if he sees her nakednedness. And if a man sees a woman naked, it is as if he has been mezaneh with her. And if a man sees a woman’s hair, and sees her naked, it is as if he is mezaneh with her twice in one day, an act which I have not been able to perform in thirty years.

The RAMBAM, however, disagrees. He holds that LeOylum, a woman’s hair is not Erva. If the issue was one of modesty, then all women, unmarried and married, would be required to cover their hair. Rather, women are encouraged by the Toirah to cover their hair so that they will not waste their husband’s money on fancy hairstyles. Says RAMBAM, yeshiva tuition is costly enough, and men should save whatever money they have left to buy single malt scotch and to pay for flowers for their pilegesh.

Which brings us to the issue of shaytlach, wigs. In our Toirah-true lifestyle, we know that shaytels are the essence of Yiddishkeit. Indeed, according to the Sifsey Chachomim, the mitzvah in the Asesres Ha Dibrois, the Ten Commandments, ordering us not to covet another man’s wife actually refers to the woman’s shaytel, not the woman herself. Says the Sifsey Chachomim, “the wife talks back, argues, and never knows when to shut the gehennim up, but the shaytel always sits there on the styrofoam head, ready to lend an uncritical, sympathetic ear. Who wouldn’t covet that?” So, according to the Sifsey Chachomim and many Poiskim, wearing a wig is a Dioraisa, and is indeed comparable to Aishess Ish, making it YeHuraig VeAll Yaavor, a mitzvah for which one should be willing to sacrifice his or her life.

However, this is nisht azoy pashoot, it is not so simple, you ignoramus. Because, there are many Poiskim who are in fact against the wearing of a shaytel, suggesting that this circumvents the basic intent of hair covering. This includes: Reb Yankif Emden, the Vilna Goyn, Reb Shloimoi (Big Hank) Kluger, the Chassam Soifer, the Maharshal, and none other than Oivadiya Yoisaiph before he became an oiver-buttel farbisseneh. (This is all true, by the way. Look it up, you michutziff.)

However, the Brisker Ruv was dismissive of this position, suggesting that any man who opposes women wearing shaytels is a chashash of Mishkav Zachor, a man who perhaps likes to spend a bit too much time in the mikvah every morning before davening checking REALLY, REALLY CLOSE to see if the other men have chatzitzahs on their schvantzels. His shita is supported by the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, Reb Moishe Feinstein, and Pat Robertson.

So Halacha LeMaaseh, the vast majority of Poiskim support the notion that a true Bas Toirah covers her hair in a shaytel. According to the Tzitz Eliezer, the shaytel should preferably be made of real hair and come from a hot shiksa. In the words of the Tzitz, “a Yiddishe woman should adorn herself in the finest coverings, to match the beautiful neshamah given her by Hakadoshboruchhu, and should cover her hair with the magisterial flaxen locks of a gentile woman, to complement the generous proboscis provided by the Reboinoisheloilum.”

However, the Schvantz Mordechai holds farkhert. If the purpose of hair covering is to ensure modesty, he asks, then what is the logic of a woman covering her hair with a shaytel that looks real, perhaps even better than the woman’s natural hair? And, he continues, if a Jewish woman parades before a Ben Toirah showing off the hair of an idol worshipping shiksa, could this not lead a Jewish man to intermarriage and idol worship? Or even worse, paying retail? Says the Schvantz Mordechai, wearing a real hair shaytel “makes about as much sense as waving a live chicken over your head.”

Rather, the Schvantz Mordechai holds that a woman should indeed wear a wig, but one that is easily distinguishable as a substitute for real hair. Citing a Gemarrah in Sukkoh, he suggests that women wear wigs made out of that stuff that Esroigs used to come wrapped in or out of leftover Hoishaiynois.

And this brings us to your question. Clearly, it is troubling that a goy, a shaygitz, an Oivaid Alilim, should infer that faithfulness to the Aimishteh is bringing a plague of cancer upon Klal Yisroel. Is this indeed true? And if it is not true, should we not still be worried about what the goyim are saying, for, as it says in Tehillim, “Lamah Yoimroo BaGoyim, ‘Ayeh Nah Elohayhem?’”

Well, to be honest, we cannot address this shailah without speaking with leading experts in the medical field. So I spoke to the guy who sits next to me in shul, and his brother in law knows someone who once worked as a nurse’s aide in Brooklyn Community Hospital, which is a really decent institution. And she insists that there is no link between shaytels and cancer, at least in lab mice. And that is good enough for me.

So as this allegation is not true, there are several options we should consider. Perhaps every Bas Yisroel should walk around with her hair uncovered, like a street shiksa. At the same time, maybe she should eat a ham sandwich and carry a flashing neon sign that says in bright letters, “I AM A SHIKSA – COME BE MEZANEH WITH ME!!!” I should think this is NOT an option, chass v’sholom!

Or perhaps we should ignore the taunting of the goyim. Let your colleague think that shaytels are a sign of cancer. Maybe this will get Klal Yisroel discounts on groceries and better seats on the subway, as well as select government subsidies. But, of course, Yiddishkeit is all about proclaiming the majesty of the Rebboinoisheloilum, and we would not want the shkutzim to think that Yiddishkeit causes cancer. We must go about our everyday lives, not by ignoring the goyim, but by leading them, so that in Yemois HaMashiach they will continue to follow us around while holding our tzitzis.

So the best mode of action for your wife, and for every Bas Yisroel, is to adopt the wearing of a burka. After all, this is a form of tzniyus that is consistent with the Toirah’s concerns for feminine modesty. The gentiles will no longer suspect that Bnois Yisroel have cancer because they will not be able to see any of them. This will prevent Aishess Ish because, Aimishteh knows, no one will be attracted to a woman underneath her burka garb. And this will remove the need for real hair shaytlach, leaving hair on the heads of the hot shiksas, the way Hakkadoshboruchhu originally intended.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval.

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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess