Subscribe To My Weekly Drasha

Send a message to mailto:npoj8@yahoo.com with the word "subscribe"

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Parshas Kee Suhvoh

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

http://stores.lulu.com/rapas

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

Before delivering to you this week's drasha, for which I am sure you can barely control your excitement, you minuval, I would like to share with you a maiseh shehoya.

The Brisker Ruv was once riding in a horse dawn carriage to the wake of a local archbishop. Along the way he met one of his talmidim who inquired of his destination. The Brisker Ruv responded, "Not that it is any of your damned business, you chazer, but I am paying my last respects to Archbishop McGillicuty."

"But Rebbe," his student asked, "how can you honor a Galach, especially inside a church?"

The Brisker stroked his beard, descended from the carriage, lovingly placed his hand on the back of the student's neck, and thrust his student's face into the bucket collecting the horse's dung. "Minuval!," the Ruv shouted, "do you think that Klal Yisroel has a monopoly on understanding the Rebboinoisheloilum? All great faiths are just as confused as we are!" And with that he sped off to the wake, where he had a rendezvous scheduled with the Archbishop's mistress, Brother Timothy.

In the spirit of sharing such Toirah and wisdom, I would like to remind you that the Yumim Noraim are coming up -- Roish Hashanah and Yoim Kippur. During those days you will be spending MANY hours in shul contemplating your repentence, the well being of your family, peace and security for Klal Yisroel, as well as your investment portfolio. Shouldn't you also take out time to study a little Toirah in shul while the chazzan engages in extensive vocal self gratification, if you know what I mean?

So if you have not already done so, this is the perfect time to ORDER MY BOOK, you mechutziff! This way, you can look as learned as the guy sitting next to you reading the Chuchmass Shloimoih or some Art Scroll book on what Kavvanah you are supposed to have while beating yourself on the chest 8,000 times. To order my book, please go to:

http://stores.lulu.com/rapas

This will be the best 20 bucks you ever spent. And it will help keep my kids in Yeshiva, where they just decided to raise tuition (again!) in order to raise bail for the Rabbi's brother...

------------

This week's Parsha, Parshas Kee Suhvoh, features the most acidic chapter in the entire Toiras Moishe: the Toichecha, or Rebuke, in which Moishe Rabbeinu lays out the negative consequences of Klal Yisroel disobeying the Rebboinoisheloilum. The punishments include death, insanity, poverty, exile, children taken away from parents, and significantly higher taxes.

Let's be perfectly frank -- You do not want to go to shul this week to hear the parsha! Stay home, put your feet up, watch a pay-per-view, do a little mitzvah with your wife, do a little work in the garage, unstop the toilets, change the cat litter, clean for Pesach eight months early -- anything to not have to listen to this Parsha.

Why, the stuff in this Parsha is so harsh, it can even get my mother-in-law to stop talking for a few minutes, Imirtza Hashem.

A Gemmarah in Baba Metzia cites a Beraisa in which Rabbi Akiva asks: Why is Hakkadoshboruchhu so damn angry at Klal Yisroel all the time? Rav Huna answers that when we were young, the Aimishteh once sent us to the store to buy eggs, but we never gave Him back all the change, and he has held a grudge ever since.

However, Rabbi Abba suggests that the Rebboinoisheloilum's anger is linked to the definition of the Jews being the "Chosen People." Rabbi Abba cites the traditional view of Shir HaShirim in which the male Hakkadoshboruchhu sees Klal Yisroel as the nation chosen to be His wife. And when a Jew is unfaithful and does something against a direct command, such as worshiping idols or eating fish and meat with the same plastic fork at a kiddush, He gives in to His uncontrollable jealous temper and smacks us around a bit. Rabbi Abba goes on to say that we really did deserve it, and promise not to tell the neighbors how we got our black eye, just He should please not do it ever again.

Rabbi Abba quotes a beautiful medrish that says that in the heavenly realm of the Aimishteh, where He sits on His throne of fire surrounded by angels playing harps, violins, flutes and accordions, as the human world recites this Parsha once a year, after each possuk (verse) the Rebboinoisheloilum responds "One of these days Alice, one of these days! POW, right in the kisser!"

Rava disagrees. He suggests that indeed Klal Yisroel was chosen, but not as a wife. Rather, we were chosen to be a pet dog. And just like a pet dog, we require discipline whenever we go on the carpet. And we shouldn't complain, because if He ever really tires of us we might get dropped off at the local pound.

Abaye agrees that we are like pets. However, he suggests that we are more like a pet goldfish. We are surrounded by other fish, some larger and some smaller. We get fed once a day if we're lucky. We have little or no real interaction with our benefactor. Other fish are constantly nipping at out tailfins. There is poop on the bottom of the tank and algae building up on the walls. The filter breaks down once in a while. And the best we can hope for is that at the end of 120 years we will die a natural death and be flushed down the toilet. Says Abaye, this Parsha is the best reason yet to convert to Catholicism. The only reason he doesn't is because he would rather have someone nipping at his tails than fondling his fins, if you know what I mean.

Commenting on this Gemmarah, Reb Saadya Goyn offers a completely different interpretation. He suggests that the Rebboinoisheloilum would never threaten Klal Yisroel with such hostility as we read in this Parsha. And neither would Moishe. Rather, it was the fault of one of Moishe's speechwriters. Moishe told him, "hey, I gotta make a speech, and make it dark." Moshe was referring to adding in some elements that would appeal to his constituency in the olive skinned tribe of Naphtali. But the speechwriter thought he meant thematically dark, and the rest is history. (Meyla, this is the same writer who, years earlier, when told by Moishe that he had seen a burning bush in the desert, thought that Moishe was telling him that he had spotted a hot red head skinny dipping at an oasis.)

The RAMBAM takes a completely separate approach. He suggests that indeed Hakkadoshboruchhu did mean to make the threats as written. And the reason He takes such a tough stand is that he is obviously a Republican. Look at the facts: He is tough on Law and Order, He takes a no-compromising stand against the Babylonians, and He favors using the death penalty as frequently as possible. Sums up the RAMBAM: the Aimishteh wants us to stop behaving like "stiff-necked Israelite Girly-men."

The RASHBAM disagrees, suggesting that the RAMBAN had probably taken to sampling items in his medicine bag when no one was looking. The RASHBAM holds farkhert -- the Rebboinoisheloilum is actually a card carrying Democratic. As proof he points to the key social legislation mentioned elsewhere in this week's Parsha: The insistence that we care for orphans and widows, that we set aside a portion of our Maiser, our tithing, for their benefit (Welfare? In the Toirah? Am I reading this correctly?); The concern for the integrity of the legal system (What's pshat you can't give a bribe?); The recognition and care that we grant to the Gair, the non-Israelite/ non-Jewish resident who lives among us. The RASHBAM concludes that the harsh words of the Toichecha simply point out once again that, at the end of the day, Hakkadoshboruchhu is a "pessimistic flip-flopper." To back up his point, the RASHBAM cites a medrish which says that the Aimishteh didn't even split the sea during the exodus from Egypt -- It split through natural causes, but He has tried to claim credit ever since.

However, the Pri Megaddim has a much simpler answer. LeOilum, he holds that the Rebboinoisheloilum did make all the threats mentioned in the Toichecha. And the reason that Hakkadoshboruchhu speaks so harshly is simply because He is an anti-Semite. Let's examine the facts: He asks us to do the impossible and complains when we cannot achieve it; He treats us differently than He treats others; He singles us out for persecution; He casts us into exile and then gets angry when we assimilate; He gives us a geopolitical conundrum and places obstacles at every potential solution.

In short, the Aimishteh is an anti-Semite. He doesn't like Jews with our hook noses and penny counting, the horns on our heads, our control of the media, or our aspiration for setting up a world government. He in particular is angry at us for rejecting Christ, Mohammed, the Buddha, the Hindu Pantheon, and L. Ron Hubbard.

I am reminded of a famous story about the Dubner Maggid. One Shabbos afternoon he sat in shul surrounded by both children and adults as he regaled them for three hours with inspirational stories of the great sages, and shared wise parables that explained the cosmic, loving relationship between the Rebboinoisheloilum and Klal Yisroel. At one point a five year old boy asked him, "But mister Maggid, if Hakkadoshboruchhu loves the Jews so much, why must we spend our lives in exile?"

At that, the Dubner Maggid stopped speaking. After a long, uncomfortable pause, he replied in a very low voice that was almost a whisper, "Oh crap. I never thought of that one." The very next day he shaved his long beard and opened up a shoe store.

Indeed, this week's Parsha highlights the complexity of religion and the price of faith. While some view their faith, and its rewards, with the cup half full, other view them as half empty. However, I think that they are both wrong. If you look at the chapter of the Toichecha, Perek Chuff Chess in Devarim, only the first 14 (of 68) Pesukim talk about the potential rewards of faithfulness. However, the VAST majority -- the next 54 Pesukim -- speak in awful detail of the potential punishments. So, rounding out the numbers, one should either see the cup at one fifth full, or four fifths empty. I personally don't like 5 to 1 odds against, so I suggest we look at betting on a different horse.

Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

On Global Economic Disparity

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

http://stores.lulu.com/rapas

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


On Global Economic Disparity

Rabboisai,

I am writing these words while on official “Yeshiva business” in India. From the moment I arrived in India, I observed the tremendous social disparities that define the country. There are people quite literally living in the street, often in feeble shacks at the side of a road that make your ten-year-old pre-fab Sukkoh look like a Borough Park brownstone. There is a stench in the outside air that smells like shul during Minchah on Shabbos afternoon, a few hours after the Kehillah feasted on a cholent-laden Kiddush.

One inevitable question that nags one’s consciousness is: Why do so many people, literally hundreds of millions out of a population of one billion, live in conditions of abject poverty and illiteracy, while you and I are forced to suffer in other ways – say by being denied the opportunity to buy a 50 inch LCD television -- due to the painful burden… errr … groisse mitzvah of paying yeshiva tuition? And this is a question that goes beyond what I am witnessing in India. Eppis, why are billions of people throughout the world living in such dire poverty that they cannot afford even simple shaytels to cover up their wives’ ervadicka heads?

At the root of this of course lies two of the most fundamental questions of all: Why has the Reboinoisheloilum created his world with such disparity? And how do the existence and fate of Klal Yisroel mesh with this broader reality?

I am reminded of a Maiseh Shehoya (this really happened, by the way). When I was a young bochural, I once asked my Rebbe how it was that Klal Yisroel was destined for the rewards of Oilum Habah, whereas the Goyim (Yemach Shmum!) will be unfairly punished for their Pugoom, their damaged state, and will be denied preferred access to the Reboinoisheloilum. Are they to be punished for a fate that is not of their own choosing? How could Hakadoshboruchhu deny a Goy his eternal rewards if he is never given the opportunity to be “chosen”?

Answered my Rebbe essentially the following: The Reboinoisheloilum is inherently fair. Everyone in the world, even the most illiterate native of Bora Bora, has the opportunity to embrace Yiddishkeit and the Aimishteh, even for one fleeting moment in his life. In other words, if that native does not exercise his opportunity to “be saved,” it is his own fault. Or, as Rashi used to say after a few glasses of his Special Reserve Bordeaux – “who freaking cares?”

Now, clearly, my Rebbe was a total ignoramus. This was never more apparent than when visiting a place like India. The locals living in the streets, millions upon millions of people representing generations of poor, illiterate farmers and the dregs of society, could never have had the opportunity to discover the wonders of Yiddishkeit. Let’s face it: they don’t even know how to use a flushing toilet, let alone put on a pair of Rabbeinu Tam Tfilin. So this argument is an ignorant cop out; my Rebbe was probably spending too much time playing “find the milah” with himself to have dedicated real time to pondering this question. (This Rebbe did indeed sit through much of the class throughout the year with his hand down his pants. Seriously.)

There are exactly two ways to think of these questions, as characterized by a famous machloikess between Rav and Shmuel in a Gemara in Baba Basra.

According to Rav, the Reboinoisheloilum is not at all interested in fairness between Klal Yisroel and the Umois HaOilum. We were chosen to be His people, His nation, or, as the Rabbeinu Chananel describes is, “His bitches”. Hakadoshboruchhu intentionally created the world with its many categories of people and animals, and with its own built in hierarchy of capability and Kedusha. Do you expect a cat to type on a computer? Do you expect a monkey to speak in sign language?… errr…Let me try this again. Do you expect a monkey to fly a rocket to space?… errr… Let me try this one more time. Do you except a monkey to take a long position on a biomedical stock? Kal V’Choimer, you should not expect a Goy, a shaygitz, to have a special relationship with the Aimisheh! It is simply not in his genetic code; it is not his destiny. This is the position that is indeed echoed in the words of my old Rebbe.

However, Shmuel takes the opposite position. According to Shmuel, Klal Yisroel indeed does NOT have a monopoly on the Reboinoisheloilum. As proof, Shmuel points to the important role of the galach Yisroi, Moishe Rebbeinu’s father-in-law, in the formation of Klal Yisroel and its legal system. He also points to the basic notion of the Sheva Mitzvois Bnei Noiach, the seven Noahide laws, as a fundamental illustration of the relationship between Hakadoshboruchhu and the Goyim – If they have basic behavioral responsibilities, which imply free choice, they must, therefore, also be recognized as partners in the world, whose behaviors are part of the fabric of Oilum Hazeh, with the opportunity for reward in Oilum Habbah. To support his position Shmuel highlights additional key roles played by Goyim in the Toirah. Did Moishe Rabbeinu marry a skinny Bais Yankif girl from Boro Park whose previous sexual experience was limited to rolling kneidlach and French kissing a mezuzah? NO! He married a hot shiksa, Boruch Hashem. And would you dare to deny that Rebbetzin Rabbeinu was acceptable to the Reboinoisheloilum, you Vilda Chaya?

So if Hakadoshboruchhu does not distinguish between Klal Yisroel and the Goyim, why are there people in India and elsewhere in the world who are condemned to a fate of poverty and desperation? This was a famous question pondered upon by the noted 13th Century mystic, Rabbi Avraham Abulafia. Abulafia was famous for his deep meditation on Hebrew letters, Gematria, and his own toe nails. In his most famous work, Sefer HaYashar, he writes about his meditative visions of the Reboinoisheloilum holding a (flat) world in his hand:

“And there He was, holding what looked like a Matzoh in His hand. And I asked Him, ‘My Lord, why are you holding a Matzoh?’ to which he looked directly at me, and said, ‘It is not a Matzoh. It is Kol HaOilum Kooloh. And I am holding it because I am hungry!’ He then spread date jam on the Matzoh, and proceeded to eat it. It was at that point that I realized that Hakadoshboruchhu is less concerned about Klal Yisroel and the rest of the world than he is about having a nice snack. So from that point on I gave up on understanding the Aleph Baiz and started meditating on fresh fruit.” Unquote.

It is believed that this passage was critical in the formulation of the MAHARSHAL’s famous introduction to the Chuchmas Shloimoi. In introducing his Sefer, which focuses on identifying and correcting textual errors within the Talmud, the MAHARSHAL writes, “It is high time someone has taken upon himself the task of correcting all of these mistakes in the various manuscripts. Aimishteh knows He isn’t about to do it; He actually enjoys watching us create silly new Halachois and Chumras based on incorrect readings of the Gemara. Frankly, the Reboinoisheloilum likes to play with human beings the same way a boy pulls the wings off a fly.”

So what do these quotes have to do with the basic questions we are addressing: The fundamental inequalities of the world, and the role of Klal Yisroel? Very simple, you mechutziff! In the minds of Abulafia and the MAHARSHAL, the Reboinoisheloilum is disinterested in the day-to-day workings of the world, and that disinterest leads to inherent inequality. And perhaps, in their minds, that inequality falls in favor of Klal Yisroel because of Hakadoshboruchhu’s grand design for His Chosen, as well a few timely investments in the energy markets and several networking stocks.

However, there are two things we must keep in mind: The House of Saud and your great-grandfather. What’s Pshat?

If we were to identify a single group that is devout and universally enjoys all the benefits of wealth in our day and age, it is not Klal Yisroel, It is the House of Saud, the royal family of Saudi Arabia. However, I do not personally believe that the House of Saud is enjoying the Aimishteh’s material rewards for practicing strict Wahhabism. After all – the Gemara never mentioned Wahhabism, so, eppis, how can it be important to the Reboinoisheloilum? These guys don’t even filter their water for crustaceans or eat cholent on Shabbos!

Now, with regard to your great-grandfather, I know you think that he drove a Lexis, worked on the Polish or Moroccan equivalent of Wall Street, and had a wife with a shaytel made out of the finest hair from the Belgian Congo. But, to be honest with you, unless your last name is Rothschild, he probably ate potatoes everyday, if he was lucky, owned one pair of tattered shoes, and sewed on buttons for a living. He also lived in a community rife with disease and subject to pogroms, just for an occasional change of pace. I don’t know about your great-grandfather, but mine wasn’t so much better off than the Aluvei HaChaim – the miserables – of India. Consequently, the fact that Klal Yisroel at this moment in history enjoys relative security and economic stability is something that we should appreciate. But we should not take it for granted, or look without empathy on the sufferings of others.

Now, with regard to the role of Klal Yisroel, I would like to point to the explanation of the Ari Zahl, who viewed Hakadoshboruchhu as being in a form of Galus from Klal Yisroel due to a cosmic accident at the time of creation (the Shattering of the Vessels), and it is up to Klal Yisroel to rescue the Holy Sparks from the evil Klipois in order to restore the world to its intended perfect state. Think of this as trying to get your girlfriend’s bra off while making out in a parked car (a distant memory for many of us who have dedicated our lives to Toirah and Mitzvois, and to monogamy): It takes great exertion to restore your girlfriend to her natural state. She may not even be helpful. But the rewards are plentiful, especially if she is a C cup or greater.

So it is with Tikkun Oilum. Klal Yisroel has a mission, but it is also easy to envision that even the Goyim can share in that mission. They too, through their actions, can contribute to the effort to recover the Holy Sparks of Creation. Alternately, they can at least help out a little when we try to take off their bras.

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshiva Chipas Emmess

Parshas Kee Saitzay

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

http://stores.lulu.com/rapas
====================================================


Parshas Kee Saitzay

In this week's Parsha, Kee Saitzay, we are warned against cross-dressing, "The garment of a man should not adorn a woman, and a man shall not dress in the smock of a woman, for it is blasphemous to the Aimishteh..." (Devarim, Perek Chuff Bayz, Pasuk Hay).

The Bais Yoiseph asks an obvious question: Why is the Toirah so damned uptight? He answers that Moishe Rabbeinu was clearly a terrible homophobe. Referring to a famous medrish, the Bais Yoiseph suggests that Moishe's homophobia was due to Moishe's famous lisp, which was always perceived by others as a gay characteristic, and for which he was always mocked at the gym.

However, the RAIVID disagrees vehemently. He points out that not all cross dressers are homosexuals, and that most homosexuals are not cross dressers. Indeed, the Raivid himself always wore a long black bekesheh, a shtreimel, and an extra long gartel whenever he went cruisin' for Yeshivah buchrim.

Rather, the RAIVID cites a medrish about Moishe which says that while in exile in Midyan, Moishe once went into a bar and hit on someone with nice, round buttocks who turned out to be a guy. Says the RAIVID, that left Moishe Rabbeinu with life-long hard feelings.

However, the Pri Megadin holds farkhert: he interprets a line in the Zoihar as suggesting that in Midyan Moishe Rabbeinu dated a man for six months, but was left bitter after a harsh breakup.

The Klay Yukkur suggests that the RAIVID and the Pri Megadin spent far too much time in the mikvah together. Rather, to clarify the Toirah's strong antipathy towards cross dressing, he points to the proximity of the banning of cross dressing to a subsequent commandment stated in the Toirah. He notes that the mitzvah immediately following is Shiluach HaKan, the biblical injunction decreeing that a mother bird must be chased from a nest before its eggs or babies are confiscated for culinary purposes. Of course, Rabbinic literature has always equated this strange law with the commandment to honor one's father and mother, since the Biblically promised reward for both is the same -- long life.

Commenting on the juxtaposition, the Klay Yukkur suggests that the Toirah is trying to tell us that we are required to honor our father and mother, even if one of them is a cross dresser. However, the Chayay Adam disagrees, holding that if your mother is a cross dresser you should still honor her, but if your father is a cross dresser he should be chased away with great haste.

I would humbly like to offer my own interpretation. The injunction against cross dressing is consistent with many other commandments raised in this Parsha which all deal with issues of human sexuality:

• Laws of marriage and divorce
• Laws of suspected wifely infidelity
• Laws of premarital relations
• A warning against marrying the wife of one's father
• The commandment that one recently married should not go out to war.

I would like to suggest that Moishe Rabbeinu, standing on the mountain addressing Klal Yisroel for many days, summing up the wisdom and accomplishments of his 40 or so years of leadership, was a little backed up, if you know what I mean. It was hot; women were in the crowd dressed in highly suggestive flowing sheets, and he had only one thing on his mind. Who knows when the last time was that he had done his "special mitzvah." He was ready, and it was all he could think about. Indeed, in the same Parsha, he also mentions the laws of bondage -- though they refer to slaves, in Moishe's disturbed state this set of rules may have been particularly pressing on his mind.

And as he looked down into the crowd, the further he looked in the distance, the harder it was to distinguish between the men and the women. This upset him so much, he made up the anti cross dressing legislation on the spot, so that in the future it would be easier to "check out the talent."

Indeed, the medrish notes that Aroin Hacoihain, the minuval, had already thought about this. Prior to his death, Aroin decreed that all Mishkan and Temple practices be performed with men and women separated. This was intended to make it easier for Coihanim performing the service to spot a hotty in the crowd, and then later pick her up by asking if she would like to play "hide the Korban Toidah" with him.

I am reminded of the early days of marriage to my Bashert, Feige Breinah. We had just been married, and two weeks into our marriage, when I suggested to my bashert that we try accomplishing a mitzvah in the backseat of the car while we were parked outside St Patrick's Cathedral, I was sternly told that while the suggestion was admirable, the timing was quite bad, for it was not "hunting season." I pleaded. I argued. I threatened to tell her father that while in Bais Yankif, her nickname was "Feige The Sword Swallower." All to no avail.

I stormed upstairs to take matters into my own hands, if you know what I mean. As I thought about this incident, I focused on the Biblical and rabbinic injunctions that bar marital relations at given times of the month. Who do they serve? Are they harmful or healthy for the relationship long term? Why does the Aimishteh even care, what, with the economy the way it is and with the Yankees dreadfully short of middle relief?

But I believe that the Toirah is trying to teach us a harsh lesson in this Parsha. You may be tempted to try on your wife's clothing, because, my Rebboinoisheloilum, she spends so much damn money on her wardrobe. However, cross dressing is strictly forbidden. Rather, Hakkadoshboruchhu prefers that you direct your energies towards more critical efforts, such as chasing mother birds from their nests, so you can ensure for yourself a long life of frustration...err, wisdom and fulfillment.

Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Parshas Shoiftim

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

http://stores.lulu.com/rapas

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

Parshas Shoiftim

Rabboisai,

Reading this week's Parsha, Shoiftim, left me confused and bleary eyed. So many topics to cover, so little time. True testimony. False testimony. True prophets. False prophets. Magicians. Conquest. Egla Arufa. Moishe Rabbeinu must have had one too many cappuccinos that morning. I suspect he might have even been on speed, Chass V'Sholom.

Interestingly, in the Parsha, Moishe Rabbeinu tells us that a defendant can be convicted of a crime through the testimony of either two or three witnesses. But the Parsha tells us this law in two separate places. What's Pshat?

According to a mishnah in Yuma, Moishe may have been showing signs of early Alzheimer’s.

But according to a Gemarrah in Yevamois, the first mention of the rule refers to legal testimony and the judicial system. But the second mention of the rule is brought down by the Toirah to teach us something not about law, but about marital relationships: While marital relations between two people, a husband and a wife, are sanctified in the eyes of the Aimishteh, He doesn't mind if every once in a while you bring in a third partner to "spice up the cholent."

Commenting on this Gemarrah, Toisfois points out that the second reference to two or three witnesses is juxtaposed in the Parsha to the rules of conquest for a reason. In the section immediately following the second mention of the rule, the Toirah tells us that when you conquer a foreign land, you should slay all the males, but keep the women and children for yourselves. Says Toisfois, this comes to teach us that when you do have a third person join you in your marital relations, the Toirah suggests she be a hot shiksa. And the Toirah teaches us this within the context of discussing military conquest so we will know that a little Bondage and Discipline is okay.

The RIF, however, holds, that a little S and M may be in order as well, as long as it does not lead to bloodshed, which would instantly raise up a chashash of Nidah and spoil all the fun, Chass V'Sholom.

However, the Bais Yoiseph holds that the entire gemarrah of Yevamois must have been written when the Amoraim were having a "bad day," and that Toisfois and the RIF were too busy thinking with their Bris Milahs.

The Bais Yoiseph holds that the reason the Toirah bothers to repeat itself on witnesses is to warn us that if we hire false witnesses to testify in our favor during a tax fraud hearing, we should always hire an extra witness, just in case one of the witnesses turns states evidence. He brings as proof the whole, strange halacha of the Egla Arufa.

As the Toirah states, if an unidentified dead body is found between two towns, and a murderer is not identified, the elders of the towns must sacrifice a lamb as part of a proclamation of the towns' innocence. According to the Bais Yoiseph, there is clearly a situation involving a cover up involved here, and the Toirah is encouraging you to have some false witnesses up your sleeve willing to testify against some unwitting scapegoat.

But the Hesech Hadaas (B. 1280 -- D. ?) states that the Egla Arufa has no link whatsoever to anything else in the Parsha. Indeed, he holds that the Egla Arufa really belongs in Shmois, following the drowning of the Egyptian Army in the sea. He holds that the Egla Arufa symbolizes the random victimhood that characterizes human existence. The Jews in Egypt. The Egyptians in the sea. Klal Yisroel. Amalek. Midian. Basically, all of humanity. According to him, the Egla Arufa is a reminder that life is one big crap shoot. One day you are lying on the beach with a beautiful woman at your side. The next day you are stuck in some Bais Medrish studying Gemmarah with a bearded guy named Laizer who hasn't quite figured out how to use deodorant and who showers once a week whether he needs to or not...

I am reminded of a maiseh shehoyo. Many years ago I was traveling to China with my rebbe, the NPOJHARTHA. We were on a mission to determine if the messages in fortune cookies were written by a wise elder Kabbalist residing in inner Mongolia, or a seventeen year old complete ignoramus. As we traveled though the wilds of Lanzhou Province, we were approached by the army of the Communists, in the midst of their war against the Nationalist army. "Fight on our behalf, or die" we were told, the muzzles of rifles pointed at our faces. I wanted to resist, but was reassured by my Rebbe that everything would turn out alright.

One evening, as the troops sat around the campfire drinking homemade slivovitz and eating General Tso's cocker spaniel, NPOJHARTHA began a niggun. He sang slowly at first, and more loudly as the Communist troops learned the tune and joined in. After 45 minutes, NPOJHARTHA and I went to the side to daven Maariv.

Suddenly the Nationalist forces launched a surprise attack against our comrades. But the spirit of Chairman Mao was upon us, and we repelled the capitalist dogs, routing them to the last man.

After the fighting subsided, NPOJHARTHA and I were imprisoned for cowardice, since we davened in our bunker throughout the battle. I asked NPOJHARTHA, "Why does the Aimishteh punish us so? We were davening, fulfilling His commandments, yet we are forced to suffer."

"Fool!" NPOJHARTHA responded. "Do you think He hears our prayers? We are in the middle of freaking nowhere, surrounded by a billion pagans. What do you think he has, radar?"

Just as we were randomly punished, so too the Egla Arufa is a response to a random crime against an anonymous victim. Not so that the Aimishteh is mollified, but so that we can feel a little less guilty after rummaging through the dead man's pockets and stealing his wallet and personal effects.

Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Parshas Re-Aiy

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

http://stores.lulu.com/rapas

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


Parshas Re-Aiy

In this week's Parsha, Parshas Re'Aiy, the Deuteronomistic author (D) continues to pronounce the laws that define the Josianic reforms of the late First Temple period in Judea. ERRR..., I mean, Moishe Rabbeinu continues to lecture on the mountain overlooking Eretz Yisroel, as Klal Yisroel grows increasingly impatient and start checking their e-mails on their Blackberries and playing games on their Palm Pilots. (Boruch Hashem it was a dead zone for cell phone reception or they would have gotten totally out of control with their new iPhones.)

Early in Parshas Re-Aiy, Moishe Rabbeinu tells Klal Yisroel, "Loi Sevashel Gedee BeChalaiyv Emoi" -- The lamb should not be cooked in its mother's milk. By strange coincidence I prepared this week's Drasha on an airplane, contemplating the meaning of the Parsha and Chazzal's understanding of it while eating my dinner at 30,000 feet. Rachmana Litzlan, due to some nearly unavoidable circumstances, the airline was unable to get me a kosher meal. Hence, out of fear of sakonas nefashois -- mortal danger of starvation -- and out of concern for wasting the Aimishtah's creations, I was forced to eat a Philly cheese steak with a shinui while reviewing the source possuk banning such behavior.

Why did the Reboinoisheloilum preclude our eating of dairy and meat together? Indeed, meat comes from animals, the ultimate source of milk, and they are both His creations. What is the logic of this paradox?

The Rabbeinu Yoinassan asks this exact question. He responds that just as a human would never eat his own child, so too a sheep would never want to be consumed with its own child. However, amongst sheep, as amongst humans, verbal abuse, infliction of guilt, and the occasional confiscation of the keys to the car are all permitted, even encouraged.

The RASHBA, however, argues that the Toirah was not speaking literally. The RASHBA insists that the possuk was actually meant as a warning against "having relations" with your slutty girlfriend and her hot divorcee' mother at the same time. Though you can "cook the lamb," if you know what I mean, and you can "drink of her mother's milk," you are not permitted to do both at the same time, chass v'sholom.

The Vilna Goyn disagrees, and indeed takes the possuk quite literally. The GRUH believes that the prohibition in the Toirah of eating milk and meat together stemmed from the lack of good restaurants in Moishe's time. But in our day, Boruch Hashem, there are many good restaurants, and as a result, eating Swiss on corn beef on a Sunday evening is a delicious mitzvas asei she-hazman grummah!

Indeed, the Chofetz Chayim builds upon the comments of the GRUH. He suggests that the juxtaposition of this rule with the references at the end of the Parsha to the three holidays of the cycle of Shaloish Regalim -- Pesach, Shavuois, and Succois -- are clearly intended to provide culinary direction. Consequently, the Chofetz Chayim uses this Parsha to prove that according to the Toirah, there is no better way to bring together the subtle flavors of matzoh balls and chicken consommé than by sprinkling a little freshly ground parmesan on top. Shavuois, he held, should no longer be dominated by cheesecake, but instead should be the holiday of pastrami and onion quiche. And finally, what better way to commemorate Klal Yisroel's sojourning in the desert than by dining on cheeseburgers and beer in the Sukkah.

So why don't we hold like the Goyn, other than when we are in transatlantic flights in Business Class?

There is a famous story about the Rugachugah Rebbe. He was making his way by ship from Poland to Singapore to visit his in-laws when suddenly, in mid-ocean, his boat was surrounded by bandits. As the criminals gathered all the money and jewels of the passengers, the Rugachugah turned to the head bandit and challenged him to a Slivovitz drinking competition. "As long as we can drink over dinner" the bandit replied.

The Rebbe sat down at the table opposite the heavily armed bandit. The other bandits brought over a bottle of Slivovitz and their leader's dinner, a fresh Maine Lobster. After the eighth shot of Slivovitz, the bandits failed to notice as the lobster began to move its pincers. In a miracle reminiscent of the splitting of the Red Sea, the lobster grabbed the shaygitz by the nose, threw him against the wall, and vanquished all of his minions, while the Rebbe sat back and watched the proceedings.

When asked about this, the Rugachuga explained to his followers aboard the ship that as much as the Jews have kept kosher laws, kosher laws have preserved the Jews. Sometimes by safeguarding their cultural identity, but more often, by preventing them from eating overgrown insects and too much fast food.

The Rugachagah Rebbe then took the loot gathered by the bandits and used their pirate ship to escape, never to be seen from again.

In our day, you too must see the relevance of not mixing milk and meat to your lives. You must be well grounded in the Rebboinoisheloilum's rules, though you fail to understand many of them, you am ha'aretz: the separation of milk and meat, tzitzis, tfillin, shiluach ha'kan, taharas hamishpacha (family purity), and waving a live chicken over your head. These rules are the essence of Yiddishkeit. Though you may feel foolish doing them, rest assured, you look foolish as well.

However, at the end of 120 years, you will reap your reward -- true joy at the Aimishteh's side. All day you will sit around a long table learning Toirah with Hakkadoshboruchhu and Moishe Rabbeinu. In the evening you will dine as a group, feasting on the levyasan, which will be good preparation for your night-time activity -- waiting for you in your room will be 72 virgins, wrapped in tfillin, and eating cheeseburgers.

Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval

Parshas Re-Aiy

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

http://stores.lulu.com/rapas

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

Parshas Re-Aiy

In this week's Parsha, Parshas Re'Aiy, the Deuteronomistic author (D) continues to pronounce the laws that define the Josianic reforms of the late First Temple period in Judea. ERRR..., I mean, Moishe Rabbeinu continues to lecture on the mountain overlooking Eretz Yisroel, as Klal Yisroel grows increasingly impatient and start checking their e-mails on their Blackberries and playing games on their Palm Pilots. (Boruch Hashem it was a dead zone for cell phone reception or they would have gotten totally out of control with their new iPhones.)

Early in Parshas Re-Aiy, Moishe Rabbeinu tells Klal Yisroel, "Loi Sevashel Gedee BeChalaiyv Emoi" -- The lamb should not be cooked in its mother's milk. By strange coincidence I prepared this week's Drasha on an airplane, contemplating the meaning of the Parsha and Chazzal's understanding of it while eating my dinner at 30,000 feet. Rachmana Litzlan, due to some nearly unavoidable circumstances, the airline was unable to get me a kosher meal. Hence, out of fear of sakonas nefashois -- mortal danger of starvation -- and out of concern for wasting the Aimishtah's creations, I was forced to eat a Philly cheese steak with a shinui while reviewing the source possuk banning such behavior.

Why did the Reboinoisheloilum preclude our eating of dairy and meat together? Indeed, meat comes from animals, the ultimate source of milk, and they are both His creations. What is the logic of this paradox?

The Rabbeinu Yoinassan asks this exact question. He responds that just as a human would never eat his own child, so too a sheep would never want to be consumed with its own child. However, amongst sheep, as amongst humans, verbal abuse, infliction of guilt, and the occasional confiscation of the keys to the car are all permitted, even encouraged.

The RASHBA, however, argues that the Toirah was not speaking literally. The RASHBA insists that the possuk was actually meant as a warning against "having relations" with your slutty girlfriend and her hot divorcee' mother at the same time. Though you can "cook the lamb," if you know what I mean, and you can "drink of her mother's milk," you are not permitted to do both at the same time, chass v'sholom.

The Vilna Goyn disagrees, and indeed takes the possuk quite literally. The GRUH believes that the prohibition in the Toirah of eating milk and meat together stemmed from the lack of good restaurants in Moishe's time. But in our day, Boruch Hashem, there are many good restaurants, and as a result, eating Swiss on corn beef on a Sunday evening is a delicious mitzvas asei she-hazman grummah!

Indeed, the Chofetz Chayim builds upon the comments of the GRUH. He suggests that the juxtaposition of this rule with the references at the end of the Parsha to the three holidays of the cycle of Shaloish Regalim -- Pesach, Shavuois, and Succois -- are clearly intended to provide culinary direction. Consequently, the Chofetz Chayim uses this Parsha to prove that according to the Toirah, there is no better way to bring together the subtle flavors of matzoh balls and chicken consommé than by sprinkling a little freshly ground parmesan on top. Shavuois, he held, should no longer be dominated by cheesecake, but instead should be the holiday of pastrami and onion quiche. And finally, what better way to commemorate Klal Yisroel's sojourning in the desert than by dining on cheeseburgers and beer in the Sukkah.

So why don't we hold like the Goyn, other than when we are in transatlantic flights in Business Class?

There is a famous story about the Rugachugah Rebbe. He was making his way by ship from Poland to Singapore to visit his in-laws when suddenly, in mid-ocean, his boat was surrounded by bandits. As the criminals gathered all the money and jewels of the passengers, the Rugachugah turned to the head bandit and challenged him to a Slivovitz drinking competition. "As long as we can drink over dinner" the bandit replied.

The Rebbe sat down at the table opposite the heavily armed bandit. The other bandits brought over a bottle of Slivovitz and their leader's dinner, a fresh Maine Lobster. After the eighth shot of Slivovitz, the bandits failed to notice as the lobster began to move its pincers. In a miracle reminiscent of the splitting of the Red Sea, the lobster grabbed the shaygitz by the nose, threw him against the wall, and vanquished all of his minions, while the Rebbe sat back and watched the proceedings.

When asked about this, the Rugachuga explained to his followers aboard the ship that as much as the Jews have kept kosher laws, kosher laws have preserved the Jews. Sometimes by safeguarding their cultural identity, but more often, by preventing them from eating overgrown insects and too much fast food.

The Rugachagah Rebbe then took the loot gathered by the bandits and used their pirate ship to escape, never to be seen from again.

In our day, you too must see the relevance of not mixing milk and meat to your lives. You must be well grounded in the Rebboinoisheloilum's rules, though you fail to understand many of them, you am ha'aretz: the separation of milk and meat, tzitzis, tfillin, shiluach ha'kan, taharas hamishpacha (family purity), and waving a live chicken over your head. These rules are the essence of Yiddishkeit. Though you may feel foolish doing them, rest assured, you look foolish as well.

However, at the end of 120 years, you will reap your reward -- true joy at the Aimishteh's side. All day you will sit around a long table learning Toirah with Hakkadoshboruchhu and Moishe Rabbeinu. In the evening you will dine as a group, feasting on the levyasan, which will be good preparation for your night-time activity -- waiting for you in your room will be 72 virgins, wrapped in tfillin, and eating cheeseburgers.

Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval

Friday, August 03, 2007

Post Tisha Ba'Av Drasha

Rabboisai,

As I sat on the floor in shul last week, 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 post shul working 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 administer 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 as punishment for 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 of 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. Even He has His limits. 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 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.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Parshas Eikev

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

http://stores.lulu.com/rapas

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

Parshas Eikev

Rabboisai, I hope you have been saving up your money, because after this week's parsha, Parshas Eikev, you are probably going to need to spend some quality time with your analyst. That is because in Parshas Eikev, Moishe Rabbeinu reminds Klal Yisroel of all of their misdeeds in the desert: from complaining about desert conditions -- to the Eigel Hazahav, the Golden Calf -- to the Meraglim, the rebellion against the conquest of the Promised Land -- to the refusal to pay brokers' fees for the tent dwellings in the wilderness. The threat, as Moishe states, is that if Klal Yisroel doesn't behave, the Aimishteh will withhold rain from falling.

The Yayin Mevushal points out that this Parsha is the basis for the Kabbalistic view of Hakkadoshboruchhu and Am Yisroel as being soul mates in an erotic male/ female relationship, with the Aimishteh designated the masculine role. He sophomorically notes that the Parsha clearly equates a long, indulgent build up of the Rebboinoisheloilum's happiness and satisfaction with the occasional liquid emission release from the sky.

Building upon this line of thought, the ARI ZAHL suggests that the male/ female dynamic is actually meant to be a husband/wife relationship. And pointing at this Parsha, he suggests that the frequent threats made by the Aimishteh against Klal Yisroel prove that He is a chronic wife abuser.

In a famous Gemarrah in Soitah, Rav Shayshess asks in the name of Rav Hamnuna in the name of Rav: Why does the Aimishteh always have to threaten Klal Yisroel-- why can't He simply emphasize the positive? Abaya responds that Moishe and the Reboinoisheloilum actually liked to tag team as good guy/ bad guy, based on something they once saw on an old episode of NYPD Blue. He suggests that the real reason Moishe was not allowed into Eretz Yisroel was that Hakkadoshboruchhu preferred to always play the bad guy role and didn't want to take turns.

However, Rava vehemently disagrees and suggests that Abaya should spend more time learning Toirah and less time watching network television. Rava suggests that Hakkadoshboruchhu feels compelled to remind Klal Yisroel of their wrongdoing because of their damned short memory. They pray for emancipation, yet quickly forget the evils inflicted by the Egyptians prior to the Exodus. They pray for a Bais Hamikdash, but forget how when it stood it was a platform for abuse. They pray for a return of Malchus Bais Dovid, the Davidic monarchy, though forget how it was often a platform for corruption and idol worship.

Look at your own life, you worthless minuval. You pray for health, yet abuse your body. You pray for rain, then you complain about it. You pray for a loving, kind wife, yet would gladly give up an arm to be mezaneh with your hot shiksa secretary. You pray for peace and unity among all the Jewish People, yet the only people you hate more than Hamas are that guy who sits two rows ahead of you at shul and that bitch two blocks away who wears tight jeans and a shaytl.

I am reminded of a maiseh shehoyo. I was recently traveling through the shtetl in St. Louis, sharing Divrei Toirah for a nominal honorarium of 5000 dollars a speech, plus expenses. That Friday night, I found myself offering a vort at the local Conservative Synagogue. As I stood at the Bimah, I looked down at a congregation filled with women with yarmulkahs and women sitting next to men, while behind me sat a female Rabbi and Cantor.

Upon my return to the Yeshiva, I mentioned my shock and horror to my rebbe, the NPOJHARTHA, regarding the gross violations of modesty and the reversal of gender roles. He replied that we should not look upon the Conservative Synagogue with contempt; rather, we should view all of its congregants with love, as indeed we are all brothers and sisters, members of the tribe of Klal Yisroel, who standing together, side by side, received the Toirah from the Reboinoisheloilum at Har Sinai and are forever united by that cosmic experience.

And, in his soft spoken voice, he added that if anything, we should feel pity, since they will all burn in the eternal fires of hell and have their living flesh devoured by maggots and scorpions because of their corruption of the Aimishteh's commandments, while we dance on their graves, doing the hora and the choo choo train conga line, and then dance on the graves of the other Jews who have committed abominations before Hakkadoshboruchhu, including: the Reform, the Conservative, the Chasidim, the ultra left wing, the ultra right wing, people who make more money than me, people who make less money than me, people with hotter wives than mine, people married to meeskeits, Woody Allen, all lawyers, all representatives of Amway, and anyone who reads this Dvar Toirah.

So the key message of the warning in this Parsha is: though you have the best of intentions, you may as well give up now. Because after 120 years, there will be a limited number of people who get to sit alongside the Aimishteh in His throne. And I have no intention of giving up my seat for you, you minuval.

Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval