Thursday, June 19, 2008
THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN
This week's parsha, Shlach Lecha, is one of the most confusing parshiyois in Kol Hatoirah Kooloh. Takkah, I had to read it three times to make sure it wasn't the latest issue of the National Enquirer. Or even worse, a medrish.
Moishe Rabbeinu sends twelve spies into Eretz Yisroel to determine the fertility of the land, the vulnerability of the local populations, and the volatility of interest rates. The Meraglim come back and claim at first that the land is fertile, but the locals are too intimidating. They later change their story to say that the land itself does not provide adequate sustenance. Why can't they make up their minds, those mishagayim? Only Yehoshua and Culayv are optimistic about Klal Yisroel’s ability to conquer the land.
Confusing point #1: What could these people have been thinking? I mean, why would Yehoshua and Culayv be interested in Eretz Yisroel? How about Madagascar? What about Miami Beach? Or Brooklyn?
Also, as the spies were surveying the Promised Land, why didn't the Meraglim note that the hotels are overpriced; the people are rude; it's hard to find a decent kosher meal in Tel Aviv; oh, and HALF THE POPULATION WANTS TO KILL YOU!!!!
Takkah, according to a medrish in Divrei Hayamim Rabbah, the Meraglim never even made it into the heartland. Unbeknown to Moishe Rabbeinu and the Bnei Yisroel, the spies secretly went down to Eilat and spent seven days on the beach ogling at the topless Scandinavian women.
Confusing point #2: When Klal Yisroel, those bahaimas, panicked and longed to return to Egypt, the Reboinoisheloilum decides to kill them all. Moishe Rabbeinu pleads for their lives by using a somewhat surprising argument: (Bamidbar, Perek Yud Daled, Possuk Tess Vuv-Tess Zayin) “... if you (the Aimishteh) shall destroy this People in a single instance, the nations (of the world) which have heard of you will say, 'The Aimishteh slaughtered this People in the desert because He was unable to bring them into the Land which he swore to them...'"
In other words, "What will the Goyim say?" What will the Goyim say?!!! Who does Moishe think he is -- Ehud Olmert or Simon Peres? Since when does Moishe Rabbeinu worry about the Goyim? Since when does any Jew worry about the opinions of the Goyim, those anti-Semites? Why, as is well known, in the world to come, the GOOD Goyim will walk around all day holding onto my tzitzis. And the BAD Goyim are going to be my "bitches", since, according to the Ari Zahl, when Moshiach comes there will no longer be a prohibition of Mishkav Zachar (homosexuality).
No wonder Moishe was never let into Eretz Yisroel! If he likes the Goyim so much, he should learn to play golf and shave with a blade.
The RAIVID, when looking at this episode, suggests that Moishe was secretly trying to anger Hakkadoshboruchhu in order to be released from his contract. The Mesopotamians were offering him 50% more per year to be their leader, four weeks of vacation, plus unlimited use of the corporate magic carpet.
However, the RAMBAN holds that Moisheh made the defensive argument in earnest. And, remarkably, the Aimishteh ultimately relented and did not destroy Klal Yisroel (though He did raise management fees by 50 basis points).
What is going on here? I am reminded of a famous story in Gemarrah Yevumois about Rabbi Tarfun. Once, at the end of a three day yuntif, Rabbi Tarfun went to put out the last of his garbage bags. However, he found that all the garbage cans outside of his house were full. He was about to put the bags into the cans of his gentile neighbors, when his wife stopped him, and insisted that he get permission first. "Why?" he asked her, as she painted the toe nails of their thirteen daughters.
She responded, "you never know when you are going to need a gentile's help." And it came to pass that three weeks later, as he tried to assemble his children’s' new swing set, the gentile next door was the only person in the entire neighborhood who knew how to change the head of a socket wrench.
This theme is also addressed in a famous story in the Zoihar. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai was sitting in the cave where he hid from the Romans for 14 years. After spending an afternoon meditating, Rabbi Shimon fell asleep. Using his deep Kabalistic knowledge and the pureness of his soul, he summoned the presence of the Reboinoisheloilum. "What do you want, Reb Shimon? I'm on another call," Hakkadoshboruchhu asked.
"Aimishteh," Rabbi Shimon responded, "I am getting tired of living in this filthy cave. Can you please take me away from all this suffering, and reward me with land and wealth and lots of spare time for Toirah and day trading? Why do the Goyim have it so good, while I, one of your chosen few, continue to struggle?"
The Reboinoisheloilum paused for a moment, and then responded in a low monotonous tone that was little above a whisper. "Reb Shimon, how many people in the world are there?" He asked.
"Why, about six billion" Rabbi Shimon slowly responded.
Hakkadoshboruchhu continued. "And how many Jews are there in the world?"
Again, Rabbi Shimon answered, this time quickly, and with more confidence in his voice. "I would guess about twenty million."
The Aimishteh then raised His voice. "So do you think that in a world of six billion people, all reality revolves around the actions and the fate of 20 million people, three tenths of one percent of the global population? What kind of crack are you smoking in that cave, you michutziff??"
So the truth is, the non-Jewish world and world opinion do matter. This may not make sense to you, you amhaaretz, but neither does shatnez or yeshiva tuition.
It also doesn't make sense that after witnessing all the miracles of the exodus from Egypt, the ten plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, and receiving the Toirah, Klal Yisroels continue to rebel against the Reboinoisheloilum at every turn. But they should get over it already, and so should you.
Life doesn't make sense. And if you don't like it, you can always quit the religion and convert to Catholicism. There are a lot more of them.
Also I hear the tuition is cheaper. Plus you are likely to make a little extra cash when the Church pays you off after abusing your children.
Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval