THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN
On Current Events (November, 2011) / On Social Upheaval
I am writing these words from my position in downtown New York. I have been sitting in sympathy with my brethren and sisteren at the Occupy Wall Street protest. I am looking at Marty now, carrying a placard calling for social justice. And Robin, banging drums. And Tommy, defecating behind a tent.
I have joined my colleagues in their cries for greater equality. I am not physically with them, of course, but I have a clear view of them from my perch in the Starbucks across the street from Zuccotti Park, as I sip from my Venti Triple Strength Upside Down Soy Chai Latte that only cost me $8.00.
I actually tried to sit with the Occupy Wall Street protesters three weeks ago, but it rapidly became apparent that there was a bit of a mismatch: I am a bearded Roisheshiva of an Internationally Renowned Rabbinic Institution, known for its Toirah Insight and commitment to Derech Eretz and Tikkun Oilum, who was recently enshrined into the Toirah Hall of Fame. And they are a bunch of homeless Mishugoyim protesting for…I am not quite sure we know what exactly.
It has indeed been a very busy year. I have been to protests in Oakland, Atlanta, Washington, and elsewhere. I have also been travelling the globe. In fact, I was in Libya up until a few weeks ago. Indeed, you may have seen me in one of the videos documenting Muammar Khadafy’s last hours on this earth. No, I am not the guy who pulled him out of the drain pipe. I am also not the guy who held him down on the hood of the truck. I am not one of the guys who kicked and pummeled him. I am not the guy who moved his head from side to side. I am not the guy who sodomized him with the barrel of an AK 47. I am not even the guy with the Yankees baseball cap who put three bullets in Khadafy’s head with his own 24 karat gold guy.
I am none of those. I am the guy who Skull-Mezanehed Khadafy after he was dead. (RASHI: Skull-Mezaneh = Biyuh with a human skull.) And do you know why? Because the late Muammar Khadafy screwed America, screwed the West, and screwed his own people simply because he could. So I Skull-Mezanehed him simply because I could. And I would do it again. (Yes, it is true. You thought that I am a 60 year old Orthodox rabbi from Brooklyn, when I am in fact a 22 year old Libyan student from Misrata.)
Rabboisai, when I think of the current year of global protest in the United States, in Europe, in the Arab World, and even in Israel, I cannot help but be reminded of Klal Yisroel in the desert. There they were, the Dor of Yetziyas Mitzrayim, the Dor of Mattan Toirah, and every time they had a little problem, BAM!, all of the sudden they have to protest. What a bunch of Minuvals! No wonder the Reboinoisheloilum decided to let an entire generation pass before bringing the Jews into Eretz Yisroel – the last thing He needed there was perpetual conflict.
Rabboisai, when not traveling to the various Occupy Wall Street protests or travelling overseas, I have also spent significant time down south at the various Tea Party gatherings. And I have attended nearly every one of the Republican debates. I have still yet to decide how to cast my vote in the primaries. Who can choose between Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum? It’s a really tough decision! I may as well be asked to choose which is my favorite of the Arba Misois Bez Din – Skilah, Sraifah, Hereg, or Chenek. Whichever one you choose, the result is guaranteed to be dire.
Not that I am a big fan of President Baruch Oibama. Clearly he doesn’t understand macroeconomics. I guess they did not offer that class at his Midrassa in Indonesia.
In my travels I was also at the reception for the arrival of Gilad Shalit back to Israel. What a Naiss! Clearly Hakadoshboruchhu was directly involved in the freeing of Gilad! Because if the negotiations were in human hands alone, Israel would have given up at least 350 hard core killers as part of the 1,000 people traded, instead of only 300, including the masterminds and participants in the Sbarro massacre, the Park Hotel massacre and other such atrocities. Of course, if I had been the lead negotiator for Israel, I would have traded Gilad for a first round draft pick, $100,000 in cash, and four terrorists to be named later.
But, sadly, I did not get very many votes in the last Knesset elections. Even my own mother did not vote for me. What can I say? She has a thing for 80 year rabbis who wear turbans and large pairs of sunglasses.
Of course, if I were the lead negotiator for Hamas, I was have gotten them a better deal as well. I would have asked to get Denjmanjuk as part of the total package.
So it has been a very busy year of global discord. Everywhere one turns, there is social upheaval and unrest. America is at near double-digit unemployment. Europe is on the brink of economic collapse. Greece has even as part of its national austerity program decreased its government subsidy of KY jelly.
The current global political climate is reminiscent of one of the great Rabbinic debates of the eighteenth century. At the time, there was a great philosophical Machloikess between the Vilna Goyn and the Baal Shem Toiv. They were both responding to an implicit question raised by the ARI ZAHL in a previous generation. The ARI ZAHL identified the process of Tzimtzum as a cosmic explanation for the imperfections of the world, which was his approach to a fundamental question: Why did the Aimishteh create a world that is imperfect? If He was creating a universe ex nihilo, out of nothing, why did He create a world with pain and suffering and poverty, and social inequality? Why is the world fundamentally flawed?
The Goyn takes umbrage with the ARI’s question. According to the Goyn, the world is perfect, and “any suggestions to the contrary could only come from a rice eating Minuval who only created his own Siddur so he could sell more magical amulets and red bendella bracelets to the naïve superstitious Jewish camel jockeys of Tzfas.” Unquote.
The Goyn notes that the so-called imperfection of the world is addressed in an obscure RITVA commenting on a Toisfois on Misechta Sanhedrin, Daf Kuf Lamid, Amud Baiz, in which the RITVA notes that the earth is shaped like an pearl to ensure its perfection as it is orbited by the sun, and Hakadoshboruchhu committed to preserving the perfection of the earth in the Bris Ben Habesarim with Avraham Avinu, as well as through a complex credit default swap arranged through Lehman Brothers and MF Global. And anyone who fails to understand this is a complete Apikoiress.
The BESHT on the other hand acknowledges that the world may at first appear imperfect, “unless one is a dour Misnagid who is like a lemon from which all the juice has been squeezed”. However in order to see the true perfection of the Reboinoisheloilum’s creation, one must have six or seven vodkas to “clear the mind, loosen the senses, and serve as an emetic”.
I am reminded of a Maiseh Shehoya. Reb Yisroel Meir HaKohen was working on the galleys (the pre-print master copy) of Sefer Shmirah HaLoshon, doing a final review prior to publication. As he was reviewing Perek Yud Daled, Chapter 14, on the topic of Zrizuss, zeal, he realized that he dedicated an entire chapter advocating against laziness, while at the same time he was an able bodied person supporting himself through Kollel funds, welfare, and food stamps. He had tremendous pangs of guilt.
That night the Aimishteh came to him in a dream. “What is troubling you Chofetz Chaim?” the Reboinoisheloilum asked.
“Hakadoshboruchhu, I feel as if I am engaged in hypocrisy. Maybe I should go out and get a real job?” the Chofetz Chaim replied.
“Reb Yisroel, the world was designed according to a perfect plan. There are builders and fixers and painters and plumbers. There are hunters and there are gatherers. But your role is to write books like Shmiras HaLoshon.”
“I feel much better now” the Chofetz Chaim responded. “I now understand that my role in life is to spread wisdom through my writings.”
“Wisdom, Shmisdom” the Aimishteh said. “Your books put people to sleep. Insomnia is a devastating disease, and your books help real people catch up their rest so they can be productive members of society.”
“And what will be my reward?” Reb Yisroel asked.
The Reboinoisheloilum thought for a moment. “Your reward is that you will one day have a Yeshiva named after you that will be known for its extreme diligence. Its students will be known as Buchrim who upon the start of each Zman take one month to get off the first Daf, and upon their marriages take one month to get off the first nipple.”
“And is that good?” the Chofetz Chaim asked.
“As long as they do use their tongues right. You know, Shmiras HaLoshon.”
Rabboisai, the world is not perfect. But as long as we find a nice, warm, safe place to hide, we can hope to survive to another day.
Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval.