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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Tisha Ba'Av Drasha

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Tisha Ba'Av Drasha


Rabboisai,

I would like to share with you some thoughts I developed on the topic of Tisha Ba’av.

Last year, as I sat on the floor in shul on Tisha Ba’av, inhaling the stench of the guy in front of me who took the whole no-bathing thing during the Nine Days a bit too literally, I began to contemplate the relevance of Tisha Ba’Av to our daily lives. Later in the week, I pondered a parallel question: what is the relevance of Shabbos Nachamu, especially for those of us who are not single and have no plans to go up to the Catskills to play sample-the-gefilte-fish with some desperately unmarried third grade social studies teacher from the Bais Yankif of Sheytel Park.

At face value, Tisha Ba’Av is a simple concept. Klal Yisroel marks a period of national mourning by engaging in outward rituals designed to prove to the Reboinoisheloilum how sad we are, while we meanwhile pass our many post shul hours surfing porn to distract us from the growls of our empty bellies.

Yes, these were our ancestors who suffered horrible consequences many centuries ago. And in the great Yiddeshe tradition of compounding suffering, we somewhat arbitrarily link the date with other national tragedies. The destruction of the first Bais HaMikdash, the destruction of the second Bais Hamikdash, the Hadrianic Persecutions, the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Stock Market Crash of 1929, etc. In other words, every bad thing that could possibly happen to the Jewish people.

But how can we feel personal linkages to the various national tragedies that happened long ago and did not impact us in our own lifetimes? And what EXACTLY are we supposed to feel? Empathy with our ancestors? Affinity with Jewish brethren and sistren? Or, as I sometimes feel, sheer panic and a sense that I ought to sign up with another religion as soon as possible, so long as I can avoid future persecution and have access to hot shiksas?

This question is at the center of a famous Machloikess Rishoinim between the RAMBAN and the RASHBA on the topic of Soitah. According to the RAMBAN, the Koihan administers the Mei Soitah to a married woman as potential punishment for her sleeping with other men in the past. But according to the RASHBA, the Kohain administers the Mei Soitah the woman as punishment for her not having slept with him.

As Jews, we are instructed to sanctify the Reboinoisheloilum through time: On Pesach, we re-enact the exodus from Mitzrayim be eating Matzoh until we are hospitalized for intestinal blockage. On Sukkois, we re-enact our sojourning in the desert by making last minute trips to Home Depot for electrical tape. And on Shavuois, we re-enact receiving the Toirah by doing shots with our friends and talking about who has the hottest wives in shul, while our own wives are home putting the children to sleep and probably stroking the schmaltz herring to help them fall asleep, if you know what I mean.

But what are the rational limits of our behavior as we relate to Jewish history? And where do we draw the line between symbolism and reality when we worship Hakadoshboruchhu through time?

It is told of Reb Akiva Eiger that he was very diligent about not using numbers to count people, lest it echo the Avoidah, the ritual Practice, of the Bais Hamikdash, and wrongfully re-enact the past. Every morning in the Great Synagogue of Posen, he would check to see if there was a minyan by counting heads, “Hoshiya, Ess, Amecha, U’Varech, Ess, Nachlasecha, Uraim, Ve’Nasaim, Ad, Oilum.” At a count of Oilum, signaling the number ten, he would begin to say Birchas Ha’Shachar, as well as start whipping the Baal Tefilla with his Tfillin.

But he would not stop there. One Shabbos morning before Kriyas HaToirah, a young boy came up to him and asked, “Rabbi, do you know what the Yankees did last night.”

Reb Akiva smiled reassuringly and replied, “Shimee, great news! The Yankees beat the Red Sox Uraim to Hoshiya. Jones had Ve’Nasaim strikeouts, and Jackson had Ess home runs.”

This practice was not a universally held position. Many of Chazal actually counted using numbers, holding that concern for replicating the historical Avoidah was not relevant in their day – that there were indeed limits to how the history of Klal Yisroel should impact religious practice in their own lives.

The Baal Shem Tov is recorded by numerous of his Chassidim as having counted using actual numbers. As he traveled from town to town, raising money for his new movement, he would often go the front of a shul and say aloud, “Which of you would like to buy a chelek of Oilum Habah for eighteen zloties?” He would then look out towards the Kehillah and start counting the raised hands. “I see one Yid, two Yidden, three, four… Wow! There are fifteen of you suckers… err… I mean tzaddikim out there.”

But this practice was not unique to the Chassidic movement. Reb Moishe himself writes in the Igrois Moishe how he once traveled to Florida with his talmidim for spring break, and after being appointed as a competition judge, used real numbers to keep score in a wet tzitzis contest.

More to the point, the Maharal MiPrague himself addresses these issues directly in his lesser known sefer, Be’er HaGalus. According to the Maharal, Klal Yisroel is distinct from the pagans in that Oivday Avoidah Zorah seek the favor of their deities through the celebration of the forces of nature, which are largely seen as behaving randomly and are fundamentally distant from the work of humanity. But Klal Yisroel worships the Aimishteh, who we view as fundamentally involved in our fate and the workings of our own reality. And since the Reboinoisheloilum acts through history, such as in Yetzias Mitzrayim 3,400 years ago, and through the notion of time, such as through the unique covenantal pillar of celebrating the Shabbos Koidesh, the seventh day, so we must in turn use practices in time, such as practicing commemorative holidays fixed upon the calendar, to worship Hakkadoshboruchhu.

However, the Maharal goes on to discuss the limits of this principle. Writes the Maharal, “When I was a young bocherul in the Yeshiva, I prayed to the Aimishteh for two things: One, that I would learn Kol HaToirah Kooloh. And Two, that I would win the Prague Pick-Finnif Lottery so I could buy myself a new shtender. I studied day and night, night and day, and mastered the Toirah by the age of nine. I also davened three times a day. And I very strictly kept the Shabbos Koidesh. Plus I never tried to look up my next door neighbor Shayndel’s dress. But did I ever win the lottery? No! Which taught me one thing: No matter what we do, even when we worship the Reboinoisheloilum through time, He has His own master plan. And if our world does not align with His plan, we may as well start praying to Yushka or Buddha or to a giant head of lettuce, because Hakadoshboruchhu is certainly not going to help.”

Continues the Maharal, “So, conversely, if you are trying to worship the Aimishteh, and the form of worship does not make sense – say, by fasting three days and three nights after a bad dream, or not showering for a week before Tisha Ba’Av, you should probably stop. The Reboinoisheloilum created the world to be peopled by human beings and not angels, and also endowed them with common sense. So if you do something silly, like wear a $400 hat over a $3,000 shaytel, or get filters built into your water system, or only eat uncut fruit that has a Hashgacha, the only thing you have accomplished is convince Hakadoshboruchhu that you are indeed an idiot.”

So when it comes to Tisha Ba’Av, we must have appreciation for our history because marking time is inherent to our faith. Fast a little bit. Be a bit somber. Think about the suffering of our ancestors. Get under the bed and hide, so the Goyim cannot find you and persecute you. Try not to knead the flanken for one day, if you know what I mean. It won’t kill you.

But at the same time, we needn’t instill upon ourselves an intolerable level of suffering. Our ancestors did not seek their own torment – we should therefore limit our own. In fact, given the choice, I can assure you that our ancestors would have much preferred to skip the suffering commemorated by Tisha Ba’Av altogether, and go straight for the cute, zaftig, single third grade teacher at the singles weekend on Shabbos Nachamu.

Have an easy fast, you Minuval

---------

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Parshas Matois

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Parshas Matois

In this week's Parsha, Matois, Klal Yisroel strives to emulate the benevolent, merciful, forgiving nature of the Reboinoisheloilum by slaughtering all the nations of Midian.

Like last week, we are faced with a question regarding Klal Yisroel's relationship with Midian: How is it that the nation of Yisro, the man who helped develop Am Yisroel's legal system, so soon became a mortal enemy to be pillaged and plundered, killed to the last man, with all its wealth taken away? According to the Mei Menuchois, the Toirah here is coming to teach an important lesson to lawyers: they are to pledge allegiance to the legal system, but are then encouraged to exploit it, abuse it and devour it like locusts, so long as they are not disbarred.

However, the Sifsey Chachomim focuses on an even more fundamental question on the Parsha: Why, after Klal Yisroel killed all the adult males of Midian, did Moishe Rabbeinu insist that they kill all the adult females as well?

According to the Baal Haturim, Moishe's motivation was that he was a mysogonist. Indeed, a Gemarra in Nedarim attributes to Moishe the Halacha that women can never enter the inner areas of the Bais Hamikdash, not because they were banned from bringing sacrifices, but because of the strict MEN ONLY rules in the Temple's health club.

But the RAN disagrees, referring in his commentary to the Baal Haturim as "Shvantz for Brains." The RAN holds that Moishe Rabbeinu actually loved women, perhaps a little too much. He cites a medrish that says that the reason it took Moishe so long to return to Klal Yisroel from Sinai was that he went three blocks out of his way, where no one he knew would see him, to buy "marital aids." Indeed, the RAN holds that Moishe had the adult women of Midian killed because they "lacked passion", and he didn't dare risk making the Israelite wives any more frigid than they already were, chass v'sholom.

But according to the MAHARAL, Moishe ordered the killing of the Midianite women for as grand a reason as to help Klal Yisroel finally reach the Promised Land.

Klal Yisroel was originally supposed to enter Eretz Yisroel in a matter of weeks after receiving the Toirah on Sinai. However, every time the Jews had a spare moment to make some progress toward reaching The Land, their wives always came up with new chores for them to do. "Moishe, fold the laundry, the Aimishteh can wait." "Aron, go next door to borrow the lawn mower. I don't care if we are moving our tent tomorrow. TODAY the place looks a mess." "Kulayv, watch the children for the next three hours while I get my nails done." "Yehoishua, you can't meet Moisheh to discuss conquest strategy this afternoon; we have a guy coming in to give us an estimate on redoing the kitchen."

Since Moishe didn't want the males of Am Yisroel to become any more whipped than they already were, he had all the Midianite women put to death.

I am reminded of a famous story told of the ARI ZAHL. He was once addressing his students in Tzfas, expounding on new, insightful interpretations of the Zohar, and using his deep understanding of the interrelationships of ten Sefirot to bring about the coming of the Moshiach and end Israel's state of exile.

Suddenly, the back door of the Bais Medrish opened, and his eight year old son Pesachya stuck his head in. "Tahti, come home quickly, Mommy needs you right away!" Fearing some horrible disaster, the ARI ended his treatise mid-sentence and ran home. His wife anxiously greeted him at the door. "I need you to do car pool. Shayndl next door is sick, and I have an appointment with the Shaytelmacher." The ARI held his temper and faithfully picked up his daughter Fruma from day camp.

That night the Reboinoisheloilum came to him in a dream. "ARI, you were about to crack the code and bring about Israel's redemption. Why did you choose your wife over the Moshiach?"

"Aimishteh," the ARI answered, "if the Moshiach doesn't come now, he'll come soon. Maybe in ten years, maybe in one hundred, maybe in one thousand. And then we will sit at Your throne and joyfully worship You. But if I piss off my wife, she'll make me miserable for all eternity." The Aimishteh praised the ARI's wisdom and rewarded him by bringing a plague that ended the ARI's life.

In our day we too are confronted by a similar choice: Lifelong dedication to the Reboinoisheloilum, or splitting loyalty between Him and a wife. Many spiritual groups have different approaches to managing this challenge. The Moslems marry many women in order to counter the aggregation of power by a single wife. The Episcopalians and the Reform allow their wives to become clergy and manage the family's relationship with the Aimishteh, thereby freeing up time for the husbands to play golf. And the Catholics don't marry, but take matters into their own hands, or into the hands of their alter boys, if you know what I mean.

But a true Ben Torah accepts his fate, secure in the fact that while his wife wastes her time on such insignificant tasks as supporting the family, paying the rent, filling out school registration forms, planning carpool, packing school lunches, cooking, cleaning, and worrying about birth control, he is off doing the Aimishteh's work by learning in Kolel and contemplating his reward in the World to Come.

---------

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

NEW – Independence Day Drasha

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NEW – Independence Day Drasha

Rabboisai,

OMG! Like.. WOW! What a week! POTUS DJT led the GOP in another valiant struggle against the MSM at CNN, MSNBC, PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC, and few other letters. Thank G-D for FOX or I would have to rely on the guy who sits in the back of Shul to get my news!!

(As an aside... did you ever wonder how there is always a guy in Shul who knows all of the headlines and sports scores, even on Yoim Kippur SheChol Lihiyois BaPesach. I do not mean to be Choishaid BiKsheirim... but I wonder if his wife also engages in Maisei Shiksalach, if you know what I mean...)

But I do not want to talk about current events. Not this week. I want to pick up on a topic - far more serious than the relationship between the US and North Korea, the Arab-Israeli conflict, or the emerging trade war between the US and China, between the US and Canada, between the US and Europe, and between the US and... hmmm... every country but Russia. Although, there was ABSOLUTELY NO COLLUSION!! EVER! AND THERE WAS NO RUSSIAN TAMPERING WITH THE ELECTION. PUTIN HAS ASSURED ME, AND I TRUST HIM FAR MORE THAN I TRUST EVERYONE IN THE US INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY!!!

No. I want to talk about the most important Mitzvah, the most important commandment, in Yiddishkeit. What is it?

Hava Amina, I might have thought that it is one of the Aseres HaDibrois, the Ten Commandments given to Moishe Rabbeinu and all of Klal Yisroel at Har Sinai, as well to Charlton Heston and a cast of thousands on the Universal Studios lot: There is one Reboinoisheloilum. Do not worship idols, unless they wear long black coats, have long black beards, and have beautiful curly-Q Payis. Keep/ remember the Shabboskoidesh. Honor your parents (and by extension, send checks to your Rebbe). Do not kill. Do not steal... in any way that is traceable. Do not covet my wife or any of my other property, etc.

However... I am not certain that any of the Ten Commandments is the “anchor” Mitzvah of Yiddishkeit. Of the Aseres HaDibrois, the latter commandments are Bain Adam LeChaveiro, social laws in the human domain, which means that they are universal and can be derived through rational thought. But they are not unique to Klal Yisroel.

But the earlier commandments, the Bain Adam LeMakoim commandments, the Mitzvois that govern mankind’s relationship to the Reboinoisheloilum are unique to Klal Yisroel, the Jewish People. However, they imply ia fundamental question: If these Mitzvois are so damned important, why weren’t they given to all of mankind? If they are so damned obvious, why aren’t they also accessible through logic and deductive reasoning?

Rabboisai, I have on numerous occasions engaged in speculation on the meaning of life, the nature of Hakadoshboruchhu, and what my neighbor looks like in her Gatkas. But, in the end, I am not certain that any of these are the most important questions. Let’s face it: People can speculate all they want. But speculating on the “unknowable” is about as useful as Schvantzlach on a Meideleh.

And the Mitzvois are commandments regarding actions. They are core expectations of each and every one of us. (Unless, of course, you are a woman, in which case the core expectations of you are to work three jobs and bear and raise ten children while your husband is learning Toirah twenty seven hours a day.)

So what is the most important Mitzvah in Yiddishkeit? And what is it that makes that Mitzvah “most important”?

These of course are amazing Shailois! Indeed, they have for millennia been the source of speculation amongst CHAZAL. What else do you think they talked about in the Mikvah while waiting for the towel boy?

According to Reb Saadia Goyn, the most important Mitzvah is Petter Rechem for a donkey - Sanctifying the first born offspring of a donkey by either financially redeeming it through a payment to the Koihain, or by killing the donkey by breaking its neck - as commanded in Sefer Shmois, Perek Yud Gimmil Passook Yud Gimmel (Exodus, Ch.13, Vs. 13 in the Melech HaMashiach Bible)

But the RAMBAM disagrees, suggesting that Reb Saadia made this pronouncement while he was suffering heat stroke from the intense Babylonian sun. “What is this Shtuss?” asks the RAMBAM, “the donkey is a Treifah Chaya. Maybe Saadia also thinks that putting a Yarmulke on a turtle is another big Mitzvah?” Instead, the RAMBAM suggests that the most important Mitzvah in is banning the Internet. After all, as everybody knows, the RAMBAM was opposed to any sort of secular knowledge whatsoever!

The RAMBAN, on the other hand, shows his respect and reverence for the RAMBAM by vehemently disagreeing with him on this and every other topic he ever wrote about, referring to him as “that Spanish Egyptian dude with a mail order medical degree”. The RAMBAN notes that the RAMBAM himself was learned in mathematics, philosophy, and the sciences, so banning the internet is hypocritical and silly, especially since the internet would not be invented for another 900 years. The RAMBAN holds that Takkah the internet is Muttar and even encouraged, as long as you purchase the appropriate filtering software from his shell corporation.

According to the RAMBAN, the most important Mitzvah is Shiluach HaKan, sending away a mother bird from the nest prior to stealing her eggs or chicks to fry on the grill. This Mitzvah is so important that the Toirah promises the same reward as is promised for honoring one’s own parents - long life. So why is this Mitzvah the most important, instead of the Mitzvah of honoring one’s parents? Very simple, says the RAMBAN. Honoring one’s parents makes sense indeed. They may be nice people. They may be leaving an inheritance. And you may need to borrow their car every once in a while. But chasing away a bird from its nest? It makes no sense whatsoever!! You may as well catch the mother bird, skewer it in a stick, and roast it next to its babies. That is completely permissible. But, the Mitzvah is here to tell us that if you are only taking the contents of the nest, you must wave away the mother. So the fact that this silly Mitzvah is highlighted Azoy as so important MUST mean that Shuluach HaKan is the moist... err... most important Mitzvah. It makes perfect sense!!!

Shoyn.

Closer to our era, this has remained a topic of debate amongst the Acharoinim, even as social and religious sensibilities have evolved.

According to the Baal Shem Toiv, the most important Mitzvah is Hisboidedus, meditative unification with the Divine, either during Davening, while engaging in hierogamy with one’s wife on Friday night (look up the word, you Menuval!), or while dropping acid at a nice Farbreingin.

However, the Vilna Goyn differs vehemently with the Baal Shem Toiv, and insists that the most important Mitzvah is calling the secular authorities to denounce local Chassidic masters for tax cheating, incitement against the government, and shoplifting bacon from the supermarket.

Reb Yisroel Meir Kagan, the Chofetz Chaim, disagrees with both the BESHT and the GRUH. He says that the most important Mitzvah is avoiding Loshon Harrah, not speaking ill of others. And when asked about the positions of the BESHT and GRUH, he responds that “those two morons wouldn’t know a Mitzvah if it hit them on the head, since they are too busy smoking Bsomim, chasing Meidelach, and texting on Shabboskoidesh... or so I hear...”

Shoyn.

Rabboisai, I would like to suggest that none of the above speculation about the most important Mitzvah is correct. And in fact, the most important Mitzvah is not spelled out explicitly in the Toirah but is inferred by all of the various commandments.

And how many times are we told to love HaKadoishboruchhu, to fear Him, to revere Her, to worship It through all manner of actions, deeds and thoughts? That is the essence of Mitzvois Bain Adam LaMakoim. And, of course, we are also instructed to behave in a manner that preserves an orderly society. The is the essence of the Mitzvois Bain Adam LeChaveiro. Together, these two categories constitute the sum total of all of the 613 Mitzvois.

I would like to suggest that implicit in these two categories of commandments is the most important Mitzvah: To love ourselves.

And no, you pervert, I am not suggesting in a sexual or erotic way. Or in a selfish, self-absorbed, way. Please take your right hand out of your pants and your left hand out of your wallet.

Rabboisai, let me ask you a question: Who was constructed in the Divine image? Mankind, of course! So indeed, if we are commanded to love, fear, revere and worship the Aimisheh, then we are also commanded to love ourselves, in the sense that we respect ourselves and preserve our physical bodies and mental health and personal dignity in the face of the trials of life.

How many people do you know, you Mechutziff, who engage in self-destructive behavior, through excessive drinking or drug abuse? How many people do you know who are stuck in destructive relationships with their spouses or significant others? How many people do you know who are trapped in all manner of toxic environments - at home, in social circles or at work?

What does the Toirah tell us to do about such situations? You might say “The Toirah tells us nothing”. But you are a Menuval and an ignoramus!

The Toirah tells us “Ve-Ahavta LeReacha KaMoicha”, “Love they neighbor as you would love yourself”, and Hillel HaZakain restates this as not doing to others what you would not want done to you. Do you want others to engage in self-destructive behavior, you Vilde Chaya? Do you want other others to be trapped in the cycle of despair in a toxic environment? No! Of course not. So why would you ever want to be in such a situation yourself?

That is why loving one’s self is the most important Mitzvah in the Toirah. It is a Mitzvah that is derivative of both Mitzvois Bain Adam LaMakoim AND Bain Adam Lechaveiro. It is a Mitzvah that honors the Reboinoisheloilum by honoring the Tzelem Eleoikim in ourselves. And it is a Mitzvah that ensures the proper functioning of society because it promotes the proper functioning of the individual.

Shoyn.

Rabboisai - When we love ourselves, when we act in our own best interests, then we engage in what Herzl described as “Im Tirtzu, Ain Zu Agadah”, “If you will it, it is not a dream”. We take the reins of our own fate. This is the ultimate message of self-determination, of independence. As a nation we have spent millennia our own national self-determination. We have lived for it and died for it. We must also do the same for our personal independence. Zman Cheiruseinu, the Time of our Independence is not just once a year. It must be all year round.

Ah Freilichin Yuntif, You Menuval!

---------

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Friday, June 22, 2018

NEW: On The Art Of The Compromise

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 THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Rabbi_Pinky

====================================================

NEW: On The Art Of The Compromise


Rabboisai

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?

Although...

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


 
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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess