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THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN
THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN
NEW: On The Art Of The Compromise
Greetings from somewhere on the southern border of the Unites States. I am on assignment in my role as Spiritual Advisor to His Excellency President Donald J. Trump, SHLITA. I am performing the religious ceremony sanctifying the separation of families of illegal immigrants. It is kind of like a Bar or Bat Mitzvah theme, when the child becomes an “adult” in the eyes of the Reboinoisheloilum, freeing his or her parents from the burden of responsibility. Here we are doing the same thing: “Liberating” children from their parents so that we can enslave them to build our pyramids and the storage cities of Python and Ramses... errr... so that we educate the children on Truth, Justice, and the American way...
It is actually pretty fun when we rip children out of the arms of their parents. The children cry. The parents cry. But I believe that they are crying for joy... Well, I think that is what they are doing; I do not actually speak Spanish, but that is what my aides are telling me they are doing.
Hey... we are just enforcing the law. Where would be without law? The world would be chaos, Tohu VaVohu. And so, in order to ensure an orderly society, we must obey the law. WE WERE ONLY FOLLOWING ORDERS!!
WAIT! STOP THE PRESSES! HOLD THE FORT! PASS THE KETCHUP!
The President of the United States just signed an executive order that does not allow the enforcement of family separation. OY VEY! How inconvenient!! I have a Drasha half written...
More significantly perhaps, I must voice my utter disappointment! We were separating those families because they represented a threat to the United States of American. So if we are now allowing the families to be reunited, then we are increasing that level of threat! The President is now endangering our loved ones! He is being weak kneed and spineless, willing to make ideological compromises because of political pressure coming from the mainstream media and the left and the right and everyone else around the world. Has he forgotten that his role is to “Make America Great Again!”? Instead he will now “i haga a América grande otra vez!” This is unacceptable!
Next thing you know, he will be walking arm in arm with a vicious dictator and mass murderer who imprisons his own people in concentration camps!
Oops. Well, that was last week...
So, last week and this week, we have examples of moral and ideological compromises made “for the greater good”. How should we think about such examples? Do they reflect a lack of backbone? Or do they reflect courage to “take risks for peace” and to show flexibility in the face of evolving and emerging facts and sensibilities?
And if we believe that such moves are justified, such compromises are valid risks, then how can we criticize the decisions of others who have taken such risks in the past, such as... ummm... the Iran Deal? Or establishing a mandate requiring Americans to have health insurance, so that the government will not go bankrupt providing free health care to the uninsured? Or making concessions in trade agreements, such as the recognition of Canada’s desire to preserve a domestic dairy products industry? Or establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba? Or making peace with Libya in exchange for Khadafi giving up his nuclear capability? Or...
And the thing is... what should be perfectly clear is that compromises do not belong to one side of the political spectrum; both Republicans and Democrats, Democrats and Republicans make concessions. That is how progress against societal challenges is made. It is like “sausage making”; it isn’t a pretty process, but hopefully it results in something that works.
But Nisht Gerferlach. We are Toirah Jews! We are the True Chosen People (TM). We aspire to perfection, and never compromise, right?
We are told in Pirkei Avois in the name of Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah: Im Ein Derech Eretz, Ein Toirah... Im Ein Toirah, Ein Derech Eretz.” “If there is no worldly occupation, there is no Toirah; if there is no Toirah, there is no worldly occupation.” What does this mean?
Reb Shmiel Kalbasavuah likes to point out that this implies that a Ben Toirah is expected to work, and that he should not be supported by the community. But, conversely, someone who works must set aside time to study Toirah because that enriches his life.
However, Reb Yehoishaphat Katahoulah holds Farkert, that a community MUST support Talmud Toirah, and that Reb Shmiel must have been suffering from Rabies when he interpreted the Mishnah Azoy, using an explanation known as the “Rabbis with Rabies Theory”.
So, what was Rebbe Elazar Ben Azariah discussing according to Reb Yohoishaphat Katahoula? Very Pashut! Reb Yehoishaphat quotes a Braisah that tells us that a person is allowed to lie about three issues, one of which is “Derech Eretz”. In that instance “Derech Eretz” does not refer to worldly occupation - a day job, Chass V’Chalilah!! Rather it refers to sexual relations with one’s wife. In other words, if on a Shabboskoidesh morning your friend asks you if your Bashert gave you a little hot adult action on Mitzvah night, you are permitted according to the Toirah to lie, either to avoid embarrassing your wife in front of your friend, or to avoid embarrassing yourself. So instead of saying, “yes, we engaged in relations last night while my wife was reciting Kriyas Shma Al HaMitah for three minutes”, you are permitted to report back, “YES!! We did it three times over six hours, after my Bashert tied me up with my garter, whipped me with my Arba Kanfois, and had the local Mikvah Lady join us for a Mezumin!”
Similarly, according to Reb Yehoishaphat, this Mishnah is telling us the importance of sex for the Toirah scholar. “Im Ein Derech Eretz, Ein Toirah” is a declaration that a Toirah scholar needs to get hot adult action regularly. He does not need a job, Chass V’Shalom, but he needs to take a break in his 16 hour days of learning Toirah to be serviced by his wife, after she comes home from her three jobs, feeds and bathes the kids, and milks the cows. She is not “too tired”, that is the Yetzer Hurrah speaking!! “I do not care if you are too tired” he should say, “I am just following the Halacha according to Rebbe Elazar Ben Azariah”.
(To which my Bashert, Feigeh Breinah, would most certainly respond, “Then he should sleep with you!!!”)
Shoyn. Sorry, I got lost in a tangent.
But the point is - whether or not we hold by the interpretation of Reb Shmiel or Reb Yehoishaphat, the main point is the language. We are told that we cannot have A without B. And then we are told the converse. This does not mean that we should live in perpetual conflict. Adarabbah!! It means than we should seek a balance between Derech Eretz and Toirah, and between Toirah and Derech Eretz. It is a balance, a compromise.=
As such... according to Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah, we should never view ideological compromise as weakness, but as doing what needs to be done in order to make progress and improve the greater good.
Unless, of course, the person making the compromise is a Democrat, Rachmana Letzlan. In which case he is a spineless week kneed flip-flopper who is bringing about the demise of this country, and is undoubtedly an anti-Semite!
Ah Gutten Shabbos You Menuval
Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess