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Friday, January 18, 2008

Parshas Bishalach





Last week I was asked by a Minuval why I did not attach a note of Mazel Toiv to him in my weekly drasha on the Simcha of his son's Bar Mitzvah. Well... first of all he is a total Mechutziff, whose children go to the local super-frummie school, where they beat any last independent thoughts out of their brains. Good choice. Shkoyach!

In any case, he and his chevra are now in Eretz Yisroel, visiting every isolated settler outpost to inspect their kitchens to see if they use Cholov Yisroel. Great use of your time! Mazel Toiv! Don't forget to filter the water for crustaceans.

A second Mazel Toiv to a new member of the Yeshiva, also in Eretz Yisroel for a family Bar Mitzvah. Good luck remembering the names of all of your siblings!

And a third Mazel Toiv to a long-time Yeshiva family who is having a chassanah this week, Imirtza-Shem. The Choson and Kallah should be zoicheh to chuppah and building a Bayis Ne'eman BeYisroel... and never discover my e-mail address, website, or blog. Ouch. Mazel Toiv!

Incidentally, it is Minhag BeYisroel to write a check to the Ruv for giving Brachois and wishing Mazel Toivs...



Parshas Bishalach

In this week's Parsha, Bishalach, the Bnei Yisroel pass unhindered through the Yam Suf, while the Mitzrim drown, those Vilda Chayas. Following this great miracle, Moishe Rabbeinu sings Az Yashir, the "Song of the Sea," surrounded by a chorus made up of Klal Yisroel, with musical accompaniment by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and with U2 serving as the opening act. It's gevaldik, man!

A Gemarrah in Chulin quotes Rish Lakish, who is troubled that Miriam Haneviya felt compelled to deliver her own song afterwards. What, Moishe Rabeinu's song wasn't good enough? Suddenly women need to have equal time with men and copy everything that we do, including singing praises to Hakkadoshboruchhu? I'm surprised that the Bnei Yisroel's sheep didn't feel left out and start singing a duet with the goats!

Asks Rish Lakish: What could Miriam have possibly been thinking?

According to the RIF, Miriam's motivation is purely philosophical: Miriam is fundamentally committed to the concept of equality between the sexes. He cites as proof a famous Medrish that notes that Miriam once burned her bra while preparing the Korban Pesach, the sacrificial Paschal lamb, and points out that Miriam used to always complain about getting paid 60% of what Aharoin Hacoihain, the minuval, was earning.

According to the RAMBAN, Adderabbah! Miriam was not interested in gaining gender equality at all. Rather, she was... err... more than happy to spend ALL of her time with women, if you know what I mean. He cites a Medrish that says that Miriam took six years off from her prophecy career to participate full time in the LPGA tour, and is frequently referred to in the Zoihar as "Big Butch Haneviya." She is in fact credited by most of Chazzal for keeping Mishkav Nekaiyvah off the "Abomination" list and on the "Mitzvas Asei She'Hazman Gramma" list.

However, the Sifsey Chachomim hold farkhert. They say that Miriam was solely focused on her singing career and only performed immediately following Moisheh Rabbeinu to attract interest in a three record deal. They cite an MTV "Behind the Music" Special that tells us that Miriam was always seen in a belly shirt, had a pierced navel, and was once engaged to Binyamin Affleck for six months. Tragically, the Special tells us, her life spiraled out of control after an embarrassing "wardrobe malfunction", and when the Toirah says that Miriam spent two weeks outside of the encampment of Klal Yisroel due to leprosy, she was actually in rehab at the Betty Ford clinic.

Whatever the reason, Miriam's actions have bequeathed us a legacy. This is where we see the roots of the Reform Movement, Lady Rabbis, and Yeshiva University. It is because of Miriam that women want to reveal an inch of their real hair in Brooklyn, have their own Minyan in New Jersey, dance with the Torah in Lincoln Square, read from the Torah in Long Island, and bond with their sisters through membership in the Orthodykes. All because of Miriam.

But that is not all. If Miriam would have stayed in the kitchen and had been watching the bread bake like she was supposed to instead of playing Chazzan, we wouldn't have to spend a week and a half in constipated agony after eating nothing but Matzoh for eight days straight.

I would like to share a Maiseh Shehoyo: Last week I was at the Chassanah of the daughter of my insurance salesman. They had such wonderful schnapps that I got really shikkur. In the morning, I was so hungover, I did pisshin-zein in the bathtub, gargled with my Neigel Vassar and flossed with my Tzitzis (which is quite efficient, since you can clean between nine teeth at one time).

My Bashert, Feige Breinah, could not join me at the Chassanah, since she said she needed to cook for Tisha Be'Av. The next day she asked if I enjoyed myself, and I told her that other than being Mishtachaveh in the men's room for twenty minutes, I had a wonderful time. She wished me well as she went off to teach at the Bais Yankif, while I went back to bed to watch Oprah and order in a pizza.

Such an Aishess Chayill. You should only be so lucky.

Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Yeshiva Chipas Emmess

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