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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Parshas Shmois

Parshas Shmois

This week’s Parsha is all about names. Big names and little names. That why it starts with "Ve-eyleh Shmois".

I remember a Rebbe I had in Cheder. He had such a name, Velvel. What kind of name is that? It sounds like a cross between a fabric softener and the latest car from Chrysler.

On the other hand, I was sitting in Shul the other day next to three guys named Brandon, Matthew and Corey. Maybe next week they'll bring their chavrusas Sting, Friar Tuck and Captain Kangaroo.

Names are important. We are told by the Zoihar that in the center of the Reboinoisheloilum's front garden, right next to the bird feeder, sits a tree that determines the names of every member of Klal Yisroel. Every moment that a Jew is born, a leaf blossoms on the tree, and on that leaf is the name of the new soul. Mazel Toiv. And when the leaf gets rained upon, the person is blessed with wealth and happiness. When the leaf dries on the vine, the person is stricken with sadness and melancholy.

And when the leaf falls off the tree, it means his e-mail address somehow gets on a spam list and he will be targeted with offers to refinance the size of his Bris Milah through multi-level marketing and hot shiksas named Amber.

The Zoihar also tells us that when one of these leaves is deformed, it means that the person will have a particularly silly name. Take me for example. My parents, with the best of intentions, gave me the name Pinchas. It sounds a bit like a side dish in a Mexican restaurant. Pinchas, of course, was also the grandson of Aharoin Hacoihain, the Minuval, who when he wasn't making the Eigel was busy rifling through Moishe Rabbeinu's personal effects.

Or, take the name of my bashert, Feige Breina. Silly name, I agree. But in Yiddish it means "can suck a golf ball through a garden hose." Boruch Hashem.

There are names that are acceptable to the Aimishteh: Adam, Aharon, Mark, Chaim, Eric, Josh, Jeff, Lenny, Moishe, Steven, and Shlomo.

Yet there are names that Hakkadoshboruchhu frowns upon: Douglas, Avigdor, Paul, Yerachmiel (too many syllables) and Scott. He especially dislikes transgender names. According to the RIF, the Reboinoisheloilum would rather a Rosheshiva show up to work in a bra and panties than a man should be named Leslie, Rene, or Adrian.

One thousand years ago the Cherem D'Rabbeinu Gershom laws were established, decrees adopted universally by Ashekenazic Jewry. These critical laws are still in place today, including: A man may have only one wife; one should not open up someone else's mail; a man may not divorce a woman without her consent. One of the lesser known decrees of Rabbeinu Gershom was the banning of androgynous names. As proof for his ruling, Rabbeinu Gershom specifically referred to Parshas Shmois. Commenting on the names of Shifra and Pooah, Rabbeinu Gershom suggested that the names of the Hebrew midwives in Egypt have been responsible for three and a half thousand years of gender confusion, which has led to cross dressing, male nurses, and womens’ prayer groups.

If you are not sure about a name, listen to the beginning of Parshas Shmois. That's why it’s called "Names." Reuvain. Shimon. Layvee. Yehudah. Yisaschar. Zevulun. Dun. Naftali. Gad. Asher. Menashe. Ephrayim. Binyamin. The names of the Shvatim, the twelve tribes, are the prototypical masculine names. They carry boldness and confidence, strength and vigor. They elicit images of broad shoulders and large, sweaty muscles. They ring with testosterone. The names are so gevaldik, it actually excites me a little, if you know what I mean.

I think I need to go sit in a nice, cold mikvah.


Ben Zahav from SC said...

I once was in shul when our visiting Rabbi spoke a little about the importance of giving your child a good Jewish name. He suggested that you not give your son a name like "Scott", etc. Unfortunately the President of the shul's son was named "Scott". Many were amused, but the President lacked a sense of humor on the subject. That said, a neighbor of mine in Israel for a time, a kibbutznik and a real Rambo-type, was named Pinchas, but preferred the nickname of Pini, which we Anglos thought was funny for some reason. Pinchas or Pini, we in the Charleston following are delighted to see the blog, and may you go from strength to strength (or whatever).

The back of the hill said...

Kol hakavod! This truly is a gewaldikke addition to the world of Torah studies. Takkah, may Yeshiva Chipass Emess, bezrasashem, remain davka a groisse licht mamesh to Yidden everywhere, boruchashem.

Tikvah said...

Great blog, Rabbi! Love it.

Yisrael Medad said...

Finally, a bloggish Perush. Shkoiy'ach

cutekitty said...

I am thrilled that such an eminent Rabbi has now finally joined the 21st century.
I look forward to hearing the heilige Perle of wisdom!

A. P. Kores said...

As the Gaon who has authored many of the entries of "The Treifah Yid" (, I have long considered HaRav, HaGadol, HaTzaddik, Rav Pinky to be one of the foremost gedoilim in apikorsis thought in the world today. I started reading his parshas hashavua years ago, religiously every Friday night in between bouts of tugging my flanken and trying to get my bashert to engage in a litte mitzvah night action. I will continue to look to him for support, inspiration, and halachic advice, at least when it comes to deciding how many peelagshim I can have while my bashert, Shanaleh-Frumah, is needa.
And, in the spirit of the Toirah and mitzvois that will be learned here, may we all merit to be part of the g'ullah, bimheira v'yameinu v'nomar AMEN.

Anonymous said...

I don't get why this is funny. Sounds exactly like many of the yeshivaniks i've met over the years...

is this guy a fake or not?

alternatively, are most of the rabbis we meet in real life fake or not?

tzadikat home said...

oiy vey such wisdom!!!

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein said...

A.P. Kores is a complete mechutziff! Don't you realize the sacrifices your mother and I made to put you through yeshiva?

Baal Devarim said...

"And when the leaf gets rained upon, the person is blessed with wealth and happiness. When the leaf dries on the vine, the person is stricken with sadness and melancholy."

Oy. Can you be mispallel for me? I need shtark rachamim. Somebody crossed my wires. Whenever my leaf gets rained upon I get p*ssed upon (no, not by "hot shiksas named Amber," you Minuval!), and whenever my leaf dries on the vine, well, then........I'm stricken with sadness and melancholy. Can you help?

Right to Silence said...

Isshhh it Purim then? Whehaayyy!

Potiphera said...

Reb Pinky,

Gevaldig d'var torah!

Now tachlis, where do I leave a pair of my panties for your inspection?

Billie Jean said...

It's this kind of vort that will bring me back to Judaism. LOL.