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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ask Rabbi Pinky: On Making A Bracha Before Doing “The Mitzvah”

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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Ask Rabbi Pinky: On Making A Bracha Before Doing “The Mitzvah”


Rabboisai,

Today I answer a Shailah from a beloved Talmid, Boruch H. Boruch H. writes:

“Rabbi Pinky,

“The Toirah’s first Mitzvah is Pru Urvu. How come we don’t have to make a Bracha every time we have (adult relations)?

"Boruch"

--

Thank you so much for submitting such an insightful, Gevaldickah question. I hope that you have not written this question with your Gatkes down, waiting for my signal as to whether to make a Bracha before “going into action”. I have a long backlog of Shailois and Teshuvois I need to get to, so it may take a while. And please remember that according to the commercial, you should call your doctor if you have an… errr… Shverkeit that lasts more than 4 hours. Kenayna Hurruh.

There are actually two aspects to your question: The explicit Shailah and the implicit Shailah. The explicit question: Should one make a Bracha before being Mekayaim the Mitzvah of Tashmish HaMitah, with or without a ribbed Kishka skin? And the implicit question: What, indeed, is the first Mitzvah in the Toirah?

Well, I am pleased to say, in your question you were Mechavayn to a Shailah and subsequent Machloikess in the Gemarrah, amongst the Rishoinim, and between the Marx Brothers.

A Gemarrah in Kesubois discusses the Bracha made under the Chupah as part of the Kiddushin, the marriage ceremony:

“Baruch Ata Adoishem Eloikeinu Meleh HaOilam, Asher Kiddishanu B'Mitzvoisuv V'tzivanu Al Ha-Arayois, V'asar Lanu Ess Ha-Arusois, V'Hitir Lanu Ess HaNesuois Lanu Al Yeday Chupah VeKidushin. Baruch Ata Adoishem, MeKadaish Amoi Yisraeil Al Yeday Chupah VaKiddushin.”

“Blessed art Thou, Hakadoshboruchhu, our Reboinoisheloilum, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us regarding forbidden unions; Who forbade betrothed women to us, and permitted women who are married to us through canopy and betrothal. Blessed are You, Aimishteh, Who sanctifies His people Israel through canopy and betrothal.”

According to the Rish Lakish, this Bracha is said only one time in a relationship, during the marriage ceremony, as is the custom today, right before the Sheva Brachois under the Chupah, the breaking of the glass on the floor, and the…err…ummm…initial entry of the TamTam cracker into the plate of herring in the Yichud room, if you know what I mean, while everyone else is fressing down their appetizers and gossiping about the bride’s cleavage.

Abaya, however, holds that the Bracha is meant to be recited by a husband monthly, after his wife comes home from the Mikvah, as he is busy preparing for being Mekayaim the Mitzvah of Pru Urvu after two weeks of celibacy by banging his head against the wall.

Rabbi Zeirah holds that the Bracha is actually meant to be recited every time someone engages in Tashmish HaMitah. And, in fact, the Gemarrah notes that this was the Minhag in Sura, Pumbedisa, and North and South Dakota, and was indeed the Minhag throughout the time of the Gaoynim and into the period of the Rishoinim.

So why, in fact, is this not the Halacha today?

This issue was the topic of a major Machloikess Rishoinim, on the correct moment for reciting the Bracha. According to the RAMBAM, the Bracha of Al Ha-Arayois should be said by the man immediately prior to penetration of the woman’s Erva. As he writes in the Mishnah Toirah, “The man should have his Eyver standing as tall as the Sultan’s bodyguard protecting the door to the Sultan’s harem the day after Id Al Fitr.”

However, according to the RAMBAN, reciting a Bracha prior to entry is unacceptable, since if the man is unable to complete his… err… Hoitzu’uh, this would result in a Bracha Levatala, Chass V’Sholom. Instead, the RAMBAN suggests that the Bracha be said BiSha’as Mitzvah Mamesh, immediately before the man’s…err… Makeh BePatish, and that his wife should respond to the Bracha by screaming, “Oy Gevalt!” loud enough to wake up the Kinderlach in the next room.

The RASHBA, however, considers it improper to recite the name of Hakadoshboruchhu while in the midst of a Ma’aseh Biyuh. He holds, instead, that as the man is about to have his Makeh BePatish, he should scream out the traditional formula for betrothal, “Harrei Ahs MeKudeshess Lee KiDaas Moishe VeYisroel”, “Behold you are betrothed to me according to the laws of Moishe Rabbeinu and Klal Yisroel”. According to the RASHBA, his wife should then respond, “Reb Yid, you’re Mamish a Gadol BaYisroel!!”

The RITVAH, however, is opposed to using this formula, since, if the couple engaging in Tashmish HaMitah are a young unmarried couple, this would automatically cause them to be married in the eyes of the Aimishteh, and, if the woman had not gone to Mikvah before the Mitzvah, it would result in a husband committing an act of Znus with his impure wife, an Issur Dioraisa. Says the Ritvah, “Let’s not spoil the kids’ fun. Soon enough they’ll have the opportunity to be miserable like the rest of us.” Shoyn.

As the Rishoinim could not agree on the proper time for making the Bracha on Tashmish HaMitah, the Shulkhan Arukh Paskins that the Bracha need only be said on the wedding night, which is Halacha LeMaiseh. This position has become accepted in both the Sephardic and Ashkenazic world, -- even the RAMAH does not argue with Reb Yoisaiph Karo on this, although he does refer to him as a “horney little camel jockey”.

In our day, this Halacha still holds, although there has been recent debate among contemporary Poiskim about how to apply it in special circumstances. Reb Nechemya Weberman had a custom of saying the full Bracha the first time he molested each of his many underage female victims, but would not repeat the Bracha with each subsequent molestation, very much applying the Halacha as cited in the Shulkhan Arukh. He also recited a SheHechiyanu every time he put a lighter to the naked flesh of his rape victims. What a Tzaddick!

Reb Yehudah Kolko, however, did not use a variant of the betrothal Bracha before molesting each of his many underage male victims, but would only recite a SheHechiyanu every time he initiated sexual abuse of a new victim. Because of his position, he was criticized by some Rabbanim in Brooklyn for being too Meikel, too lenient.

Rabbi George Finkelstein would say the Bracha of “Zoikaif Kefufim”, “Who Makes the Bent Stand Erect”, before wrestling Yeshiva University High School students in his office, or grabbing them physically on the staircase or elsewhere in the building. But his Shitah is not considered authoritative since he was only associated with Yeshiva University and not a more prestigious Rabbinic institution.

Finally, Rabbi Baruch Lanner used two different Brachois, depending on the gender of the victim, and, interestingly, he would insist his victims recite the Bracha of choice instead of him. He would have each male student recite the Bracha of “Sheloih Usani Isha”, thanking the Reboinoisheloilum for not having made him a woman prior to Rabbi Lanner either kneeing or punching the boy in the testicles. And he would have each of his female students recite the Bracha “SheUsani Kirtzoinoi”, “For Making Me According to His Will”, prior to sexually molesting her. However, his Shitah was disavowed after he was sentenced to prison.

Shoyn.

With regard to your initial question, referring to the “first Mitzvah in the Toirah”, it is in fact not clear that Pru Urvu is in fact the first Mitzvah. Shtayt in Pasook, “Beraishis Barah Eloikim Ess HaShamayim VaEss HaAretz”, “In the Beginning, the Reboinoisheloilum created the heavens and the earth” (Berashis, Perek Aleph, Pasook Aleph). Later in the Perek we are told, “VaYivrah Eloikim Ess HaAdam BeTzalmoi, BeTzelem Eloikim Barah Oisoi”, “And Hakadoshboruchhu created mankind; in the image of the Aimisteh he (mankind) was created” (Beraishis, Perek Aleph, Pasook Chuff Zazin). So, in truth, the first Mitzvah of the Toirah is to act in the spirit of being created “BeTezelem Eloikim”, in the image of the Divine. What does this mean?

According to the ARIZAL, the universe was emitted by the Aimishteh through a solitary act of creation known as Tzimtzum. As transmitted by the ARI’s Talmid Muvhak, Reb Chaim Vital, the ARI advocated that individual humans align themselves with the Creator by engaging in… errr… solitary acts of…ummm… emission, preferably on Roish Hashanah, in a public bathroom in Shul.

However, there was great debate around this essential notion. According to the Baal Shem Toiv, humanity is commanded, indeed expected, to emulate the Creator’s positive aspects by committing acts of loving kindness – For example, helping the needy, visiting the sick, and giving vodka to thirsty drunks. The Vilda Goyn holds, however, that humanity must emulate the creative aspects of the Reboinoisheloilum by building Shuls, erecting houses, and playing with Lego.

However, Kooley Alma Loi Pligi, everyone agrees, that being created BeTzelem Eloikim implies making the world a better place. The notion of creation precedes Matan Toirasainu -- the giving of the Toirah on Sinai -- for a reason: It is on a higher plane. More important than the broad array of complex Halachois, the institutions created around Toirah, and the titles bestowed to individuals based on Toirah knowledge are the notions fundamental to basic humanity, many of which are captured in the Sheva Mitzvois Bnei Noiach, the Seven Noahite Laws: Do not kill. Do not steal. Establish a court system. Do not oppress. Do not hurt other human beings physically, sexually, or psychologically. Do not engage in massive cover ups for the sake of preserving a status quo, putting the needs of an organization above the needs of victims. Do not besmirch the names of victims in an effort to defend oppressors as part of an institutional “circle the wagons” mentality. Do not stand silently by while others engage in such behavior.

You know, little things like that.

Through proper and responsible behavior. Klal Yisroel should be Zoicheh to being able to go bed at night with the confidence that our children are safe from sexual predators in our schools, in our camps, and in our broader communities. Under those circumstances, we will be able to focus without distraction on doing The Mitzvah in our bedroom with our spouse or significant other, and perhaps having the opportunity to engage in Multiple Mitzvois in a single night. BiMehairah BiYamainu, Umain!

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval!


Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshiva Chipas Emmess


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http://rabbi-pinky.blogspot.com/
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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Drasha

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Rabbi_Pinky

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Christmas Drasha

Rabbi Yoichanan Ben Zakai, in a Braisa brought down in Maseches Airuvin, asks: What is the true mitzvah of Christmas? Is it to share the joy, the festivities, the gift-giving, and the spirit of good will towards all men? Or is it to go to a matinee, pay half price, and stay the hell off the street until the goyim sober up?

This line of questioning echoes a story of Eliyahu Hanavi, as he faced down the priests of Baal on Har Carmel. As they each brought sacrifices and rejoiced in their Avoidah Zarah, Eliyahu chose to sit on the side and clip coupons, rather than participate. And when it came time to show the power of the Aimishteh, Eliyahu chose to consume all the priests with fire, rather than pay to provide refreshments for everyone.

According to the RAN, this story captures the essential dilemma of ambivalence we all feel at this time of year. All year long we function as a part of external secular society, with our own traditions and peculiarities accepted in an air of viva la differance. But at Christmas time we are not Battul BeShishim; we stand out as the minority that we are.

Yet, we needn't abandon this Yuntif entirely, given our myriad connections to it:

- Jesus was, of course, a Jew. Indeed, a medrish in Matthew Rabbah refers to him using a cell phone in a movie theatre and taking Mary Magdolyn on a shidduch date for drinks at the local Marriot;

- Christmas tree lights are a modern day expression on the ancient Germanic festival of lights commemorating the winter solstice. This, in itself, is partly reflected in the lighting of the Chanukah candles;

- Christmas is a celebration of...RETAIL. According to the RAMBAM's Mishnah Toirah, one of the key Mitzvois Asei SheHazman Gerammah is the raising of ALL prices by 20% between December 10th and December 24th. Boruch Hashem for Kratzmach -- this Yuntif pays for my kids' Yeshivah tuition! Indeed, all of my talmidim are encouraged to contribute to a Christmas fund for families who cannot afford toys, the Kratzmach Gemach, so that Jewish merchants will not suffer because the Goyim are in the middle of a recession.

- There is a famous Mishnah that states that just as Roish Hashanah is the New Year for the universe and Tu BiShvat is the New Year for trees, Christmas is the New Year for big, fat, bearded white guys. And I know many Rabbanim in our community who should therefore celebrate this Yuntif too.

There is a famous Maiseh SheHoya about the Lubavitcher Rebbe. In an effort to raise money for vodka for his Chasidim one year, he dressed up as Santa Clause and stood in front of the local Bloomingdales, pretending to be from the Salvation Army. Who should walk by, but his archenemy, the Satmar Rebbe.

"So, Menachem-Mendel," the Satmar Rebbe declared in a loud voice, "Your movement truly has evolved into another religion."

"Not at all," the Lubavitcher Rebbe calmly replied. "We simply never miss an opportunity to find joy. What do you say you and I do a couple of shots, sing a niggun, and make-up underneath the mistletoe?"

The Satmar Rebbe was so upset by the confrontation that day, he insisted that all of his followers use reindeer meat in their cholent that shabbos.

Meanwhile, the Lubavitcher Rebbe raised enough money to keep his Chasidim drunk through the end of the month of Tayvais. That night, the Reboinoisheloilum came to him in a dream. "Rebbe," the Aimishteh said, "Have I not given you enough to celebrate in Yiddishkeit? Why are you and your followers embracing another religion?"

"But Hakkadoshbaruchhu," the Lubavitcher Rebbe responded, "we have not strayed from Yiddishkeit. It's not as if any of my Chasidim will ever embrace the concept of resurrection or anything like that."

So we have a lot more in common with Christmas than we originally thought. We should therefore neither ignore the holiday nor treat it with disrespect. Rather, we should treat it as the money making opportunity that it truly is.

Ah Gutten Yuntif, you Minuval

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshiva Chipas Emmess

Friday, December 21, 2012

Parshas Vayigash

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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Parshas Vayigash

In this week’s Parsha, Parshas Vayigash, we read of the culmination of the Yoisaiph Hatzadick story, where Yoisaiph Hatzadick exposes himself to his brothers, as well as to numerous underage bystanders.

Not long after, of course, Yankif Avinu is told that his beloved son Yoisaiph is indeed alive, ending his years of mourning. The Toirah is silent about how the wonderful news is told to Yankif. However, a famous Medrish tells us that the news was gently broken to Yankif by his granddaughter, Serach Bas Asher.

Serach Bas Asher was respected amongst her family as a talented singer and a musician. The Shfatim were concerned that breaking the news outright to Yankif would cause him to have a heart attack. So instead, they employed Serach to gently sing to her grandfather while playing the harp, and embed in her song the news that Yoisaiph was alive. The Medrish goes on to say that Serach’s reward for performing this great expression of Kibud Av VaAim was eternal life.

Unfortunately for Serach, her gift of eternal life was not accompanied by a matching gift of a trust fund or a professionally managed pension fund to support her financially. Consequently, she was dirt poor, and had to spend the next thousand years working as an exotic dancer in a Mesopotamian strip club.

Whatever became of Serach Bas Asher? There is a famous machloikess on this topic in a Gemarrah in Megillah.

-- According to Abaya, Serach prayed for the Reboinoisheloilum to end her life as she witnessed the destruction of the first Bais Hamikdash and the descent of Klal Yisroel into the Babylonian exile.

-- According to Rava, Serach lived though Golus Bavel, returned to Eretz Yisroel with Ezra and Nechemia, and lived for several hundred more years. But as Sinas Chinum overtook Klal Yisroel in the years before the destruction of the second Bais Hamikdash, Serach could no longer withstand her role as eyewitness to all of Jewish history, and prayed to the Aimishteh to be taken to the Oilum HaEmmes.

-- However, according to Rav Shayshess, Serach Bas Asher is indeed still alive, and is currently living in Wisconsin, running an online porn site, SerachWILD.Com.

-- Rav Puppa concurs that Serach is still alive, but he insists that she is neither engaging in pornography, Chass V’Sholom, nor living in obscurity. Farkhert, he holds that she is leveraging her years of wisdom and experience to make the Reboinoisheloilum’s world a better place by engaging in public service, and is none other than Hillary Clinton. In addition, Rav Puppa holds that Joe Biden is really Culaiv Ben Yefuneh, Barack Oibama is actually Shloimoi Hamelech, and John Boehner is in reality Yeruvum Ben Nevut.

A different Gemarrah in Shabbos focuses on Yankif Avinu’s response to the revelation of Yoisaiph’s whereabouts. According to Rav Chisda, upon hearing the news that Yoisaiph was alive, Yankif looked up to Shamayim and recited Hallel “at having lived to see the handiwork of the Etzbah Eloikim.” However, according to Rabba Bar Bar Channa, Yankif Avinu first looked down to the floor and took a moment to reflect on the enormity of the information. Then he turned around and bitch-slapped Yissaschar and Zevulun in the head, and then kicked Naftali in the Schvantzlach.

RASHI, however, is not at all troubled by the confusion raised by the total lack of any real information in theis story. He states in Perek Chuff Baiz, Passuk Yud Aleph that the entire Parsha of Vayigash should not be taken literally anyway, but should be read as a complete metaphor… for Parshas Miketz, which makes even less sense than Parshas Vayigash. Consequently, every year at this time, to coincide with Chanukah, RASHI would take a break from writing his commentary and travel abroad to sample the new wines being developed in Sonoma County. He would stay at a boutique hotel in downtown San Francisco and take day trips to the wineries where he would drink enough, he writes, “until I can no longer tell the difference between a Merlot and a Cabarnet, or between a woman names Chris and a cross-dresser named Christine.” Shoyn.

As we sit here in our modern world, how are we to relate to the entire Yoisaiph Hatzadick story, and, in fact, to the entire Yankif Avinu cycle? Did we even need the brave actions of Yoisaph Hatzadick to begin with? Would we not have been better off had Klal Yisroel not descended to Egypt? Why did Hakkadoshboruchhu have to put our ancestors through hundreds of years of suffering the stinging horrors and humiliations of slavery, only to return to Eretz Yisroel through bitter conquest? Could we not have just stayed there in the first place and survived the famine by taking government subsidies?

Indeed, this is a reflection of a broader existential quandary – linked to one of the ultimate questions facing Klal Yisroel: Why is our history so twisted and tinged with challenge and tragedy? If we are indeed the Aimishteh’s chosen people, could we not have had it a bit easier, like, say, the Norwegians? Who is at fault for our having such a convoluted and tortured fate?

According to Reb Yoisaiph Katski, this is indeed the fault of Hakadoshboruchhu Himself, Bichvoidoi UbiAtzmoi. He points to the Akeidah and notes that just as Yitzchak’s life is spared when a lost little lamb is sacrificed in his stead, the Reboinoisheloilum constantly looks at the world, is tempted to destroy it, remembers His oath to Noiach, and then uses Klal Yisroel as His punching bag to take out His frustrations.

Reb Shmiel Kalbasavuah holds farkhert. According to Reb Shmiel Kalbasavuah, the eternal fate of Klal Yisroel is of course not the Aimishteh’s fault! He loves us the same way a child lives his pet hamster. Rather, we should really blame all the ills of our lives on our parents: If they had only loved us a little more as we were children, and bought us that thing that we really wanted, and let us watch a little more TV, and helped us more with out homework, and not favored our younger brother, and had been less critical of our bisomim smoking friends, we would have been better adjusted and had all the needed confidence to succeed in our lives' endeavors. Yes, it is our parents who are at fault for the failure of our going down to Egypt, for us being exiled, and for all of our other failings. Indeed, the fact that we are 3,000 years old, still wet our beds, suck our thumbs, and are always looking for a handout proves that our parents never really cared about us!

However, according to the Reb Bezalel Kupkayk, our eternal fate is the fault of neither Hakadoshboruchhu nor of our parents. Rather, it is the fault of the liberal media. Case in point: Did we really have to know that Yoisaiph had actually been sold into slavery by his brothers, who then lied to Yankif Avinu and maintained the lie for the next two decades? Is it that big a deal? Every nation has its little internal arguments, and exposing this disagreement only plays into the hands of our enemies.

Similarly, we would never have been exiled from Eretz Yisroel if the liberal media was not always talking about how corrupt the kings of Israel were. They should really love the country, otherwise they should keep their mouths shut. Did the liberal media need to tell us that idolatry was introduced into the Bais Hamikdash by Shloimoi HaMelech and most of the other kings of Malchus Yehuda? These were a few isolated events, blown totally out of proportion. And so what if there were poor members of Klal Yisroel being ignored by their fellow man -- they were probably illegal immigrants anyway. And so what if there were widows and orphans -- they should have planned better for the future!

Yes, it was the liberal media that undermined the position of Malchis Bais David, the Malchus of the Chashmonaim, and later, the leadership of the Nasi in the post Temple period. Media vehicles such as CNN, ABC, National Public Radio, Kol Yisroel, Israel's Channel 10, Shmuel Aleph and Baiz, Melachim Aleph and Baiz, Yishayahu, Yirmiyahu and the other prophets, as well as the Associated Press and Al Jazeera. By the actions of the liberal media, our enemies have been strengthened and given constant reason to hate us and persecute us. Reboinoisheloilum-Damned-Liberal-Media!

I am reminded of a famous Machloikess in the medieval period. The RIF and the RAN got into a disagreement with the RALBAG and the RITVAH over who had the bigger shtender, Moishe Rabbeinu or Aaroin HaKoihain, the minuval. The RIF and the RAN insist that Moishe’s shtender was bigger, as we are told that Moishe was the greatest Navi that ever lived, and how can you imagine a Navi with an inferior shtender? The RALBAG and the RITVAH, however, refer to the fact that the descendents of Aharoin HaKoihain received the Kehunah as proof that Aharoin had a bigger shtender. After all, they argue, “only someone with a groisse shtender could have earned the right to appoint his descendants to the institutional leadership of future generations."

I would like to suggest a different approach. LeOilum, this debate isn’t really about the size of one's shtender. After all, size doesn’t matter, or so my Bashert, Feige Breineh, frequently reassures me. Rather, it is the scope of one’s influence that really counts. Moishe Rabbeinu was the greatest Navi, but his descendants were more interested in learning Toirah, and less focused on addressing the everyday needs of Klal Yisroel. By contrast, Aroin Hakoihain was indeed a minuval, what, with the designing of the Eigel and speaking Rechilus about Moishe. Yet his children were committed to serving Klal Yisroel, even if that meant giving of their private time, sacrificing commitments to their children, violating their marital vows, or taking of the collected wealth of Klal Yisroel. As a result, through their actions, they established the paradigm of the future religious leadership of Klal Yisroel.

Similarly, Yoisaiph Hatzadick and the cycle of stories that surround him do not represent some perfect era of Klal Yisroel’s history. On the contrary, they tell us that the nature of the relationship between Klal Yisroel and the Reboinoisheloilum is not at all clear. In fact, it is downright convoluted. Yet, what is crystal clear from the story of Yoisaiph is that the will of Hakkadoshboruchhu is best served when we hide our own identities, marry shiksas, work for the goyim, and abuse our brethren. Only then can we be in a strong position to help bring about the Geulah Shlaimah for all of Klal Yisroel. Bimayra BiYamainu. Umayn.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval.

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshiva Chipas Emmess

Friday, December 14, 2012

On Modesty

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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On Modesty

Rabboisai,

I am writing these words while on a trip to Africa, where have I traveled to provide a professional opinion on whether researchers have found, at long last, a kosher pig.

I traveled here initially by plane, then took a river boat into the depths of the continent, and finally traveled by elephant and on foot to the Munpuku province of the Republic of Zambia. There I found my sponsoring party, a research team from the firm of Cohen, Goldberg, Goldberg, Feinstein and Schvantzkup LLP, standing over a young swine.

A close look revealed that it had the expected split hooves, but what appeared to the simpletons as signs of cud chewing and regurgitation were in actuality the combination of a the Chazer chewing a pack of Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum while suffering from a simple case of reflux.
No big loss for Klal Yisroel -- The pig did not taste that good anyway.

I share this story with you as I tee up a very sensitive topic in our time. We all pray three times a day for the Reboinoisheloilum to bring about our redemption, or at least to bring a marvelous bounty on the farm this year, which will be incredibly useful to me in my two bedroom apartment in Boro Park. And to curry favor with Hakadoshboruchhu, we give Tzedakah, do Mitzvois, and in general engage in behavior that is conducive to our spiritual existence. This is why I wear a wool suit and long Bekesheh in 95 degree weather, and why my Bashert, Feigeh Breinah, wears a $3000 Shaytel, and a thong made out of her grandfather's Tallis.

But what is the end result that Klal Yisroel really seeks from the Aimishteh? Do we actually want Him to descend to the earth, to take up residence in His temple in Yerushalayim Ir Hakoidesh? Do we really want Him to gather all of Am Yisroel from the four corners of the earth, including the lost tribes, which include the Bnei Menashe from India, the Bnei Dan from Africa, the Navaho from America, and the Taliban from Afghanistan and Pakistan? Or do we simply want Him to give us health, make us wealthy, give us a new 55 inch OLED television with direct access to Netflix and the Internet, and help us win in our upcoming defense against accusations of misappropriation of investment funds? In other words – are we, in our lives, embracing the Divine for cosmic purposes, or do we simply seek material benefits? Are we motivated by the Oilum Habah, or by the Oilum Hazeh?

This was the subject of a famous Machloikess between Rish Lakish and Rav Huna. As brought down in a Gemara in Baytzah, Rish Lakish suffered from a weight problem, Rachmana Letzlan. As he aged, he stomach grew, and when he turned fifty, his shul told him that they would charge him a double membership fee since he always took up two seats. According to Rish Lakish, this was a form of profiling and discrimination, and he refused to pay. Rav Huna, the President of the Shul, argued that Rish Lakish, while taking up two seats, was definitely Oiver on Baal Toisiph, likely Oiver on Baal Tashchis, and was probably a Baal Keri.

The essence of the Machloikess rested on the proper interpretation of the Passook, “Shma Bni Mussar Avicha, Ve-Al TiToish Toiras Imecha” (Mishlei, Perek Aleph, Pasuook Chess). “Listen my son to the instruction of your father, and do not abandon the teaching of your mother” (Proverbs, Chapter One, Verse Eight). Rav Huna understood the Passook as describing a man’s link to his tradition, his community, and common sense. Hence, Rav Huna felt that Rish Lakish was in error in taking up two seats in shul.

Rish Lakish had a different understanding based on an alternate reading of the Passook, applying alternative vowels and punctuation (substitutions highlighted): “Shma Bni, MOISAIR Avicha VE-AYL, TiToish Toiras Imecha.” “Listen my son, TURN OVER your father and the Reboinoisheloilum (to the authorities or your enemies); abandon the teachings of your mother.” In other words, one should pursue a course that is expedient to his individual needs, even if it stands in contrast to his heritage and common sense.

Shoyn.

The essential ambivalence between satisfying short term versus long term needs was addressed is a famous Toisfois in a Gemara in Nezikin. The Gemara talks about the penalties demanded from the owner of an ox who has gored someone’s mother-in-law. Toisfois ask why we even demand a penalty -- shouldn’t a man be pleased that his mother-in-law has been gored? Perhaps the man himself should be giving money to the owner of the ox, and not the other way around? By Toisfois answers in a Gevaldik fashion: LeOilum, of course the man is happy that his mother-in-law has been gored, but his wife probably isn’t. And since her husband is going to hear about it ad nausium for the next year, the ox owner is required to compensate him.

So we see that our choices and actions are often complex and layered. At times, what seem like a position of Anivus – humility, which is modesty in behavior – may in fact be a position of Gaivah, boisterousness and pride. And what seems like Gaivah may be the greatest act of personal humility in the history of mankind.
Take for example a man like Warren Buffett, who has such nicknames as “the Oracle of Omaha”, “ the Navi of Nebraska”, and “the Cornhusker Shaygitz”. He has committed to giving most of his billions away to charity, leaving a few single digit million dollars for his children, since he says that he does not believe in inherited wealth. You might think that this man is a great Annav – a man of modesty – who is also a Groisse Baal Tezekah. But you, of course, are a complete ignoramus. In reality, he is Rashah: He has not returned any of my calls asking for donations to the Yeshivah, and he has not condemned Ahmedinijad, the Turkish government, or the Democratic Party. So he must be an anti-Semite.

On the other hand, take the wearing of Sheytels by the Bnois Yisroel as an act of personal modesty. Sure, you might think that the wearing of a $3000 wig to cover one’s natural hair instead of using a $10 Shmata is an act of gross Gaivah. But you would be wrong. You might think that since wearing the hair of a Shiksa improves the aesthetic appeal of a woman, making her more attractive to men when she wears a Sheytel rather than less attractive, and that therefore a Sheytel is inconsistent with personal modestly. But this, again, highlights the fact that you are totally ignorant of the ways of the Toirah. No, a Sheytel is the greatest expression of Anivus. By wearing a Sheytel, a woman is signaling to the world that I, Ploinis Bas Ploinis, believe it is so important to cover my natural hair that I will do so even if it costs $3000 dollars and even if it makes no sense whatsoever.

Indeed, the Gemarra tells us that, “Darash Rav Avirah, BiSchar Nashim Tzidkaniyois SheHayoo BeOisoi HaDor Nigalu Yisroel MiMitzarayim,” “Rabbi Avivah explained that it was due to the merit of Jewish women that Klal Yisrael were rescued from Egypt” (Soitah, Daf Yu Aleph Amud Baiz/ Tractate Sotah, 11 B). How true and correct was Rav Aviyah! Although, truth be told, according to the Pnei Yehoishua, Rav Aviyah may only have been thinking with his Schvantzyl and was actually trying to get a little action from the Raish Gelusa’s wife while her husband was off traveling to Pumbedisa on business.

Consequently, we must emulate the actions of the Bnois Yisrael every day. Through our everyday actions we, too, must declare that we men are committed to the same kind of modesty exhibited by our wives and female neighbors. And how does one do that?

According to Rav Yoisaiph Katski, a man should emulate a woman’s modesty by copying her very actions! Men should wear Sheytlach just like women, which will address the multiple purposes of serving as Yarmulkes, covering up bald spots, and significantly improving the Gross Domestic Product of India. Also, if a large group of Jewish men have wigs, then Klal Yisroel will have many more candidates qualified to engage in secret assassination operations in Dubai.

However, Reb Shmiel Kalbasavua disagrees. He says that men wearing wigs is a Dioraisa of Beged Isha, men wearing women’s garments, and a DeRabbanan of Lifnei Ivair, since if a man sees another man with an attractive Sheytel on he may come to commit an act of Mishkav Zachor, or even worse, steal his Styrofoam head.

So instead, Reb Shmiel insists, a man should not replicate the exact action of wearing a wig, but instead should emulate the spirit of that action. Just as a woman exhibits modesty before the Amishteh by covering her immodest, Ervadikkah hair while at the same time enhancing her appearance with an ostentatious Sheytel, so too a man should behave in that spirit. Consequently, even though a man is wearing pants to cover over his Bris Milah and Schvantzlach as a sign of modesty before Hakadoshboruchhu, he should also don a strap-on over his pants as a sign of true Anivus. At least on Shabbos and Yuntif, if not every day, a man should never leave the house without an artificial Bris Milah anchored at his Garter and his Makoim Hamilah.

And if he is having company such as an important Roisheshiva, or if it is a special day such as Shabbos or Yuntif, the man may want to wear a special, larger SheytSchvantz ™ for the occasion, perhaps in black. And if he is going to a large secular gathering like a Knicks game or a Republican fundraiser, he may even want to enhance his appearance, say, by wearing a strap-on with a foreskin.

As well, this Psak may create additional Parnasah opportunities in the community. Just as women have their wigs regularly attended to by a female Sheytelmacher, so too a man should have his SheytSchvantz ™ regularly serviced. It is not clear however, if the Schvantzelmacher need be a man, or may be a women, which would be my preference, of course.

Rabboisai, we live in a time of moral confusion. When a rabbi is collecting money for a charity, but is really laundering money, we all have a problem. When a rabbi holds himself up as a global paragon for family values, for which he is reaping millions of dollars, and yet is the public defender of a (deceased) (alleged) pedophile, then we all have a problem. When fringe Ultra-Orthodox in Beit Shemesh are attacking innocent children walking to school, and the broader Ultra-Orthodox establishment remains silent, and even attacks the media for publicizing this travesty, then we all have a problem. When a rabbi equates a woman's singing at a military event with idolatry and directs soldiers to disobey orders, causing additional social fragmentation in Israel, then we all have a problem. When an unlicensed counselor of children is convicted by a jury of multiple counts of rape and child endangerment and he is defended by his community, starting with his prominent Chassidic rebbe, and is excused by members of his community who suggest that even if he is guilty, he should not go to prison, then we all have a big problem.

We have a problem because so many in Klal Yisroel are obsessed with Oilum Hazeh, expedient and short term considerations, rather than Oilum Habah. They cast the appearance of modesty, yet beneath their external facade they are filled with Gaivah and pettyness, with greed for money and influence at the expense of the law and social well being. That is the act of a kosher pig.

What is more important is that we as a nation exhibit Anivus, true humility, even when it is not convenient or easy or profitable or guaranteed to make the headlines, just like Moishe Rebbeinu on Har Sinai, Rabbi Akiva being tortured by the Romans, and Monica Lewinsky on the floor of the Oval Office.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval.

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshiva Chipas Emmess

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Parshas Vayayshev

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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Parshas Vayayshev

In this week’s Parsha, Parshas Vayayshev, we read characteristic tales that reflect the great moral fabric of our ancestors. These stories include:

-- Yoisaif Hatzadik has repeated dreams of future domination over his brothers and his parents. His brothers express displeasure at these dreams. And who can blame them? Believe me: If your brother boasted that you would one day bow down to him, you would want to kick him in the Bris Milah too.

-- Yehuda fathers the family line that will result in Malchus Bais David, the Davidic monarchy. Of course, along the way he did have to sleep with his daughter in law, Tamar, who disguised herself as a prostitute on the road in order to seduce him. Maylah, after reading this week’s Parsha, I feel a lot less guilty about buying that French maid’s costume and riding crop from Fredericks of Hollywood for my Bashert, Feyga Breinah.

-- The Shvatim, completely fed up with Yoisaif Hatzadik’s undermining of their positions with their father, decide to kill Yoisaif. At the last moment they cast him into a pit and take his Kesoines Passim, his Coat of Many Colors, cover it with goat’s blood and bring it to their father, to whom they report that their beloved sibling was eaten by a beast. Yankif is inconsolable -- to the point of ceasing day trading for a full six hours!

A gemarrah in Soitah brings down a Beraisah quoting a question from Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah: “Are we, Klal Yisroel, really descendants of these people? I mean, seriously, is it possible we could be adopted? Please?!” Rabbi Elazar goes on to point out that he never in his life tried to kill any of his brothers or sleep with his son’s wife, though he once did grope his sister-in-law during havdalah.

What follows is a famous machloikess in the gemarrah surrounding Rabbi Elazar’s comments:

Rish Lakish holds that Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah found the activities of the Avois and the Shvatim quite disturbing, and felt that we should try to emulate the more positive aspects of their lives, such as Yosaif Hatzadik’s nice hair style, the Shvatim’s bargaining skills with Ishmaelite merchants, and Yehuda’s giving of generous tips to even the lowliest of roadside prostitutes.

However, Rav Huna holds farkhert: In reality all of the stories brought down in the Toirah do indeed reflect positive elements of our ancestors’ behavior, if only you understood the Toirah properly, you worthless minuval. He explains:

-- Yoisaif was a gadol amongst his brothers, and had true visions of his future exile and eventual ascent to power in Egypt. And in his dreams, his family members were not bowing down to him – rather, they were all picking up pennies from the floor.

-- The Shvatim were afraid that Yoisaif’s perceived arrogance would be a bad influence on their children, and therefore determined to strengthen their own families by kidnapping their brother. And their persistent lying to their father about Yoisaif’s fate was an attempt to Practice the mitzvah of Shiluach Hakan.

-- And Yehuda never, ever, ever, EVER meant in his life to go to a prostitute, chass vesholom. Unfortunately, in his business travels he was exposed to television, and after watching Lady Gaga on MTV he had a tremendous taiyvah. And instead of committing a Dioraisa by himself, if you know what I mean, he chose to do a DeRabannan with Tamar. What a tzadik!

Rav Huna cites proof for his position on the high moral integrity of the Shvatim. He notes that Yoiseph Hatzadik, after he had risen to lead the household of Potiphar, rejected the advances of Mrs. Potiphar. Says Rav Huna: this is because Yoiseph knew Kol HaToirah Kooloh and didn’t want to commit an act of Gilui Arayois – adultery.

But Rish Lakish retorts, citing a medrish in Beraishis Rabbah that says that Mrs. Potiphar weighed 400 pounds and had facial hair that made her look like Yassir Arafat. Rish Lakish also cites a different medrish in the Mekhilta that suggests while living in Potiphar’s house, Yoiseph Hatzadik spent ALL of his time on the weekends going shopping with Potiphar’s younger brother, Merlot, and had no interest in Mrs. Potiphar whatsoever. Rish Lakish concludes, “Rav Huna should spend more time tying his tzitzis rather than trying to reinterpret the basic pshat of Beraishis." Shoyn.

The gemarrah never settles this machloikess and the Rishoinim do not really talk about it. However, this machloikess is most famously addressed in the Likutei HaRABAM and in the Igroiss Penthouse.

Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah’s comments, and Rish Lakish’s understanding of them, raise a broader question about Yiddishkeit. There are many Halachois and Biblical incidents that stand in contrast to our contemporary sensibilities -- and even any against rational logic itself. A few halachic examples include: the halachois of mikvah, where due to Rabbinic invasion of the marital bedroom two weeks out of every month, men have to take matters into their own hands, if you know what I mean; the notion of animal sacrifice: killing an innocent animal for our own self serving purposes; the killing of an animal that has been the forced subject of bestiality; and the laws of Cherem, the complete decimation of the indigenous population during Kibbush Eretz Yisroel, including women and children.

Other examples include: the promotion of Dovid HaMelech and Shlomo HaMelech as role models and as the paradigmatic rulers of Klal Yisroel, even though Dovid was a murderer and Shlomo was an idolater whose despotism towards the northern tribes resulted in the breakup of the united monarchy; and the promotion of Aroin HaKoihain’s descendants as the priestly caste despite Aroin’s guilt in the Maiseh Ha-Eygel. How are we to relate to a faith that is founded upon many values that we do not necessarily share?

I am reminded of a famous Maaseh Shehoya. Reb Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Lubavicher Rebbe, was once walking to shul on Shabbos morning. It was cold that day, and Reb Shneur struggled to keep his hands warm. As he was crossing the street he noticed Malkah Shprintza, the childless woman who lived across the street. “Come over here so I can give you a bracha!” he called over to her. She walked across the street, and he greeted her by rapidly grabbing her behind and cupping a naked buttock in each freezing hand.

“Rebbe!” she screamed, “what are you doing?”

He replied “I am giving you a bracha: The Reboinoisheloilum should make you favored like Ruchel, fertile like Leah and cunning like Rivka.”

“What happened to Sarah Imainu?” Malkah Shprintza asked, suddenly enchanted by the grand Rebbe’s bracha.

Reb Shneur Zalman looked at her and smiled. “Meideleh” he said, “trust me, you don’t want to be like Sarah Imainu. She was crazier than my mother in law during a hot flash on Yoim Kippur!” With that, Reb Schneur rushed into shul just in time to do vodka shots.

So, just as the first Lubavitcher Rebbe, we have to be intelligently selective about how we understand, and apply, the foundational elements of the Toirah. Should we abandon the faith? No. But that does not mean that we should behave like brainless automatons.

In many ways, we practice Yiddishkeit not because of many of these foundational elements, but despite them. We coexist uncomfortably with these Halachois, stories and role models. We can choose to ignore them, or to embrace them. Just so long as we understand that the main gift of Hakkadoshboruchhu is free will.

However, you minuval, you may choose to reject free will -- in which case you should feel free to partake of every roadside prostitute, just like our ancestor Yehuda. And if you do, just remember to bring cash. Always bear in mind the timeless lesson of Yehuda: if you leave a prostitute your cloak, your staff or other forms of ID as payment, it is likely to come back and bite you in the ass.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, you Minuval.


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Parshas Vayishlach

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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Parshas Vayishlach


Rabboisai,

To begin this week's Drasha, I must share with you a wonderful, personal story. Earlier this year I was traveling on business to a Yeshiva fundraiser at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. As night came, I was compelled to make camp on a hill overlooking the city of Provo. In the middle of the night, I was stirred by someone walking around my campsite. I arose and was immediately thrust into the clench of physical combat. The mysterious person and I wrestled throughout the night, locked in mortal struggle. As the sun rose the next morning, the person tried to pull my thigh, but inadvertently dislodged my testicle, Rachmana Letzlan. At daybreak our struggle ended, and the being revealed himself as none other than Mitt Romney.

From that day forth that location has been known as Kickmyass, because that was the site where Mitt Romney kicked my ass.

I share this story, of course, because of its strong resemblance to the story of Yankif Avinu struggling with the Rebboinoisheloilum, while making his way to Eretz Yisroil, en route to his rendezvous with his twin brother, Eisav HaRasha, Yemach Shmoi Ve'Zichroi. Why did the Reboinoisheloilum engage Yankif in mortal combat?

According to the RASHBA it was because there was a nickel on the floor somewhere, and neither Yankif nor Hakkadoshboruch wanted to walk away from spare change.

But according to the Bais Yoiseph, they were actually fighting over a waffle. He cites as proof a Medrish that quotes the Aimishteh as telling Yankif during the stuggle "Leggo my Eggo, before I turn your Makom HaMilah into a piece of potato kugel."

However, the ARI ZAHL offers a beautiful interpretation. The ARI points to the end of the episode in the Toirah, where Yankif Avinu is for the first time given the name Yisrael, or Israel. Noting the longstanding Kabbalistic belief that the relationship between the Aimishteh and Klal Yisrael is like that of husband and wife, the ARI likens this episode to the awkward wedding night of Klal Yisrael and Hakkadoshboruchhu. They stay up together all night, vigorously engaged in physical interaction. As dawn arrives, they reach a climax, but not without some minor injury. And, to commemorate this event, the ARI suggests that when a man and his wife participate in intimacy while having in mind to spiritually align their actions with the holy cosmic union of Klal Yisroel and the Rebboinoisheloilum, the man ought to spank his wife every once in a while.

Of course, this story is but one of the many strange tales we read in this Parsha. Other stories include:

-- Yaakov's ultimate confrontation with his brother. After all the buildup, Yankif sends out his least favorite wives and children as canon fodder before the feared enemy, using them as human shields to protect himself, his favorite wife, Rachel, and his favorite children. But when Eisav finally meets Yankif's party, he in fact extends his hand to Yankif in peace. Yankif responds by asking Eisav for a donation and tries to sell him life insurance and a cell phone.

-- Reuven, Yankif's eldest son, has sex with Bilhah, one of his father's concubines, who is also the mother of his half brothers (Perek Lamed Hay, Pussook Chuf Baiz). How could one of the Shvatim, the tribes, holy as he was, commit Aishess Ish with the bedmate of his father? This is indeed very troubling!

But you mustn't ask such silly questions, you Minuval. Because according to Rabbi Eliezer, as quoted in a Braisah in Beraishis Rabbah, this was not Reuven's intention at all. Says Rabbi Eliezer, Reuven was terribly nearsighted and had lost his glasses. After wandering across the tent camp, Reuven thought he had made his way to his destination, the bed of his boyfriend Theodore, Yankif's manservant. However, Reuven bedded Bilhah by mistake. And who can blame him? Both Bilhah and Theodore had the same moustache problem..

-- But perhaps the strangest story is that of the rape of Dinah, the sister of the Shvatim (tribes). Dinah is raped by Shchem, the son of Chamor. After he defiles Dinah, Shchem falls in love with her and asks for her hand in marriage. Both are told that if all the males of the village are circumsized, Shchem will be permitted to marry Dinah. But as the men of the village recover from their procedures, two of the tribes, Shimoin and Layvee, slay the village to the man. This results in a harsh reaction by their father, Yankif Avinu.

How should we look upon this reactionary behavior? Were the brothers justified in their behavior? And if so, how can we understand Yankif's angry response towards them?

According to the Metsudas Dovid, Shimoin and Layvee acted lishmah, with great personal intergrity, and believed that their actions would help make the world a better place through setting an example of loving-kindness for their sister by committing bloodthirsty revenge. The Metsudas Dovid adds that Yankif Avinu actually supported the brothers' action, but he explains that Yankif's stated negative reaction in the Pussook was only "delivered to satisfy American pressure, brought about by the liberal media." He further suggests that the Toirah no longer be allowed to include such actions since they reflect badly on Klal Yisroel.

But the RAIVID offers a different set of answers. Says the RAIVID, in truth, the brothers did overreact, just a bit. They should have only killed Shchem, who was truly the only figure guilty of criminal behavior. However, on their way to the village to kill Shchem, they forgot to take their lithium, and began hearing voices asking them to kill every male in the town. And this explains Yankif's reaction: How can he expect to co-exist with the Canaanites and Perrizites when he has the reputation of having a couple of psychos for sons?

Finally, the Akaidas Yitzchak offers a different interpretation. In truth, all of the males of the town supported and endorsed the criminal actions of Shchem. So indeed, they all deserved to die. And Shimoin and Layvee set out on their military operation, as planned, with little more that two submachine guns each, plus grenades, pistols, and hunting knives, in order to carry out their mission. But after killing all the males, Layvee looks back at the town and says in his deep, Aramean accented voice, "I'll be back," and it is that statement which Yankif protests.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, you Minuval


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Friday, November 23, 2012

On the Blessed Event

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On the Blessed Event

Rabboisai,

I was on my way to the Lower East Side last Sunday when I decided to take respite from my journey and stopped to engage a roadside Kedaishah. Under other circumstances, my Bashert, Feigeh Breineh, would have responded by carving her initials on my Bris Milah with a Challah knife. However, given that following my brief encounter (at which, I should note, I left behind neither my staff nor my signet ring, only my Gold Card) I successfully completed my errand, and all was forgiven. And what, you may ask, was my task? Well, I went to the Lower East Side to pick up the gold-lame-and-sequin-covered Bentchers for the Bar Mitzvah of my Einikel, little Feivel.

What is the source of the Mitzvah of the Bar Mitzvah, and what is the Ikkar Mitzvah upon which we are Metzuveh? I bet you have wondered this your whole life, you ignorant Shaygitz, but never made an effort to ask because it would have required you to get up from the television for five minutes.

Well, the source of the Bar Mitzvah is discussed explicitly in a Gemarrah in Kesuvois. According to Rav Ashi, the Bar Mitzvah is conducted to commemorate the bond between the Reboinoisheloilum and Klal Yisroel. And the reason why it requires a boy to celebrate at the age of thirteen is Zecher L’Yishmael, to commemorate the age at which Yishmael, that other son of Avraham Avinu, had his Bris Milah. And we emulate the removal of Yishmael’s foreskin by emasculating our sons in front of an audience of 400 Shul-goers.

But Rabbi Chiya holds Farkhert: Making a thirteen year old Leyn in front of family, friends, and strangers is not at all like a Bris Milah, since the scars of Bris Milah heal within a week. Rather, Rabbi Chiya argues, a Bar Mitzvah is more like Akeidas Yitzchak, the Binding of Isaac. The fear and loathing of reading the Parsha in Shul and being corrected by a handful of self-righteous perfectionist misanthropes can only be compared to sending your own son to slaughter, only this time with a sushi bar and a Viennese table. And the resulting emotional scars indeed echo the deep psychological trauma that undoubtedly plagued Yitzchak Avinu throughout his entire life.

How is one required to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah? A different Gemarrah in Eiruvin notes that Rish Lakish, when not learning for twenty six hours a day in the Bais Medrish, supported himself by working as a photographer at weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, divorces, and the occasional Baptism. The Gemarrah quotes Rish Lakish as saying, “Three is better than one, but six is better than three.” According to Reb Saadya Goyn, Rish Lakish was referring to Ma’aisei Biyuh on the weekend. But according to Reb Hai Goyn, Rish Lakish was referring to members of a band playing at a Bar Mitzvah, noting that “a one man band at a Bar Mitzvah is like a flat-chested woman. The equipment may work, but it’s never your preference.”

There is a Machloikess Reshoinim that emanates from this Gemarrah between RASHI, Toisfois, and the ROISH regarding how a thirteen year old boy should commemorate his Bar Mitzvah. Koolay Alma Loi Pligi, everyone agrees, that a Bar Mitzvah boy should mark his becoming a man by reading from the Toirah. So where do they argue? They debate regarding what should follow Kriyas HaToirah. According to RASHI, after successfully reading his Parsha, a Bar Mitzvah Bochur should go into the Bais Medrish to recite Hallel. According to Toisfois, a thirteen year old boy should follow up his reading of the Toirah by going to the kitchen to eat a hearty breakfast. But according to the Roish, after finishing his Maftir and Haftoirah, a Bar Mitzvah boy should be escorted from the main sanctuary by a group of his friends, singing and dancing, and should be led to the Yichud room for a half hour session with his Tahtee’s “special friend”, Bambi.

There is an interesting historical debate regarding another important Bar Mitzvah custom – the throwing of candy at the Bar Mitzvah boy. What is the source of this custom? According to the ARI ZAHL, the practice was established by the MAHARAM MiRothenburg during the persecutions of 1275 in order to beat away the dark Klipois from the body of the child, leaving only the Holy Sparks. However, according to Reb Moishe Cordovero, the custom of throwing candy was introduced by the RAMBAM during the recession of 1194 in order to drum up business by raising the level of diabetes in the community.

How much should one spend on a Bar Mitzvah? This question has been a source of deep Toirah discussion, Talmudic discourse, marital debate, and bankruptcy hearings for the past 700 years.

According to the Shulchan Aruch, a person should not spend more than would be required to feed guests “KeBaitzah”, about an egg’s volume of food. However, he believes that the Bar Mitzvah should be a celebratory event open to the entire community and neighboring communities, costing no less than two months of the average household income, as defined by the KY (Klal Yisroel) Index based on the average income of all Jews for the twelve months prior to the event.

The RAMAH, however, disagrees, referring to Reb Yoisaiph Karo, the Mechaber of the Shulkhan Aruch, as a “swarthy cheapskate”. The RAMAH holds that one is required to feed every guest “KeTarnegol”, a volume of food equivalent to the size of a chicken. In addition, the RAMAH points out, one must have at least one live band, or, at a minimum, a DJ accompanied by motivational dancers. As well, suggests the RAMAH, one is required to hand out Tchatchkees (“little toys from China” in English) to all of the children to bring home, so that their parents will be reminded to begin planning for their own blessed events by serving a one dollar box of pasta at every meal for the next year, except for Shabbos Koidesh, when they are permitted to serve Traif meat since it is a quarter of the price of Koisher. The cost of the Bar Mitzvah should be no less than six months of average household income according to the KY Index, or half of the family assets, whichever is the larger number.

Finally, the Mishnah Berurah holds that one must feed every guest “KeEigel”, a volume of food equivalent to a small cow. The food should be varied and should include no less than four courses, including fresh sushi served by a Mexican chef who sort-of looks Asian. Further, it is a Mitzvah to have a half hour of speeches and a video montage, so that the guests will have an opportunity to take a brief nap between courses. In addition to Tchatchkees, there is a requirement to have novelty photo booths and games for the children to play. There should also be adult activities for the parents and grandparents – a makeup artist for the women, so they can experiment with different eye shades and colors of nail polish, and lap dances for the men, preferably delivered by the hot Shiksa motivational dancers. The Mishnah Berurah also holds that it is a Hiddur Mitzvah, a preferred additional Mitzvah, to have jugglers, Chassidic guys who can dance with bottles on their heads, and elephants. The minimum cost is equivalent to half of the value of the family home or ten times Yeshivah tuition, whichever is the larger number.

I spent much time going through these Halachois with my own son, Reb Boruch Gedalia Pesachya Issur Simcha Schmeckelstein, regarding the planning of the Bar Mitzvah for my Einikel, Feivel Yisroel Shmuel Eliyahu Rabbah. My son, of course, is known by his Rabbinic acronym, the BIG PISS, while my grandson is known as the Little PISHER. After a detailed discussion of the religious laws, as well as a forensic review of our family finances, we determined to spend somewhere between the position of the Shulchan Aruch and the RAMAH. However, we agreed that the more important component of the Bar Mitzvah was the reading of the weekly Toirah portion.

To ensure that the Little PISHER would not feel excessive family pressure, we hired an outside Bar Mitzvah teacher. For $50 a lesson, he taught little Feivel the week’s Parsha. For an extra $25 a lesson, he taught him the Haftoirah. And for another $20 a lesson, he also taught Feivel the week’s New Testament reading, which is from Mark, Perek Chuff Baiz, where we read about how Jesus kills an abortion doctor, and how John The Baptist is reassigned by the Church to teach in a school for children that can neither speak nor write.

I am reminded of a famous Maiseh Shehoya. The Chernobler Rebbe, the Meor Einayim – Reb Menachem Nachum Twersky, was once delivering a Drasha on the Mitzvah of Shiluach HaKan, the chasing away of a mother bird before taking the baby birds to eat. The Toirah, of course, promises the same reward for this Mitzvah as the reward promised for honoring one’s parents. The Cherlobler suggested that the Mitzvois of Shiluah HaKan and Kahbaid Ess Avicha are comparable because they are two sides of the same coin: The purpose of a parent is to raise a child to become an adult, and we must respect that role, even once the children have left the nest. Suggested the Chernobler, “We make a Bar Mitzvah celebration to commemorate the children’s leaving the nest. This is a celebration for the benefit of the parents, for which they receive great joy.”

After Shul was over, a boy of thirteen came over to the Rebbe and asked, “Rebbe, why is the Bar Mitzvah a celebration for the parents when it is the son who does all the work?”

The Rebbe looked down at the boy, smiled warmly, and said, “Son, at your age, you have a lot of joy. You wake up in the morning, and you have joy. You are in front of your classroom, writing at the board, and you have joy, to your great embarrassment. You are riding in the school bus and feel a bit of a vibration, and you have joy, whether you want it or not. You even get a little joy when you look at the three hundred pound secretary in your Yeshiva. And when you are alone in your room and have a few minutes to yourself, you are overflowing with joy, I am sure. I know I was when I was your age – at least twice a day.”

The Chernobler continued. “But your parents don’t have all that much joy anymore. If they are lucky, they have joy maybe once a week. So if the Bar Mitzvah gives them a little more joy, it can only help the marriage. At least until their house is repossessed.” With that, the Rebbe went off to do vodka shots, fondle Mrs. Goldberg, and take a nap.

Finally, I would like to address one related Shailah that many of my Talmidim ask me. Whenever I discuss this topic, they ask, why do I only focus on the Bar Mitzvah of a boy, and never discuss a Bat Mitzvah? The answer is quite simple: Girls are not supposed to have big celebrations when they reach the age of Mitzvois. According to the RIF, the most a girl should have is a party when she gets her first… err… Oirach KaNashim. At that party the parents should serve hard boiled eggs and hand out feminine protection to all the girl’s friends as party favors. After all, if the Reboinoisheloilum wanted girls to have a big party, read from the Toirah, put on Tfillin, be counted in a Minyan, be required to Daven three times a day, get equal pay for equal work, have the right to vote, be allowed to drive, etc., He would have given them a penis.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval


----

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Parshas Vayaitzai

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Rabbi_Pinky

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Parshas Vayaitzai

"Vayaitzai Ya'akov mi'Be-er Sheva vayailech Charanah." And Yankif went out of Be'er Sheva towards Charan. In such succinct fashion, the Toirah summarizes last week's episode and introduces the next twenty years of oppression at the hands of Lavan.

The RAMBAN asks the question: why is it that Yankif, one of our founding Avois, a pinnacle of our early relationship with the Aimishteh, and a model for future behaviour emulation, was so consistently disliked by his brother, his uncle AND his own father? What's pshat?

According to the MAHARAL, this is because Yankif was insufferably arrogant. According to a Medrish in Soitah, Yankif used to boast to his brother Eisav, "I have an IQ of Koof Mem Chess, while you kill weasels for a living. And you were stupid enough to sell me your birthright for a bowl of lentils, schmuck!"

But the TOISFOIS YUNTIF points out that as much as Ya'akov was hated by the men in his life, the women REALLY loved him: His mother Rivka, who taught him all the finer arts of lying to his father. His is two wives, who constantly fought over him like sisters (hey -- they were sisters!). According to the TOISFOIS YUNTIF, when the Toirah tells us that Yankif didn't like to go to the fields to hunt, it is really trying to tell us that Yankif was extremely sexually conflicted and effeminate. This really pissed off his father and brother, but was very popular with all the women, who used to like to shop with Yankif, and talk fashion and attend the ballet with him.

Rav Yoiseph Karo, on the other hand, holds farkhert: Yankif was a true he-man who left all the men jealous and all the women swooning. As proof he cites the fact that to impress Rachel, Yankif single-handedly removed the boulders covering the well. Says Rav Yoiseph Karo, "If Yankif Avinu was man enough to get his rocks off in public, that is good enough for me."

As Yankif meets with his uncle for the first time, the Toirah tells us that Lavan hugged and kissed him. A famous RASHI addresses an implicit question: why does the Toirah tell us that he both hugged and kissed him? However, RASHI tells us, the Toirah was not being redundant. Lavan first hugged Yunkif to see if he had valuables hidden under his clothes, and then kissed him to see if any jewels were hidden in his mouth. (Author's comment: Check out Rashi. He really does say this.)

So is this what family reunions were like back then?

The RASHBA adds, the real reason Lavan hated Yankif is that Yankif Avinu didn't let him get to third base on their first date.

As one reads of these curious events, a good-for-nothing minuval such as yourself must wonder why the Toirah bothers to tell us such tales. Indeed, a famous Gemarrah in Yevamois specifically asks why the Toirah doesn't just begin at Har Sinai, Mount Sinai, with the giving of the Ten Commandments. Or begin with the Exodus from Egypt, the formal conglomeration of Klal Yisrael as an independent nation. Or begin with the entrance of Klal Yisrael into Eretz Yisrael. Why do we need all of this pre-history?

The Gemarrah quotes Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel as saying that all of Beraishis comes to teach us the ways of Tzidkus, righteousness, so we can emulate our forefathers and foremothers in our own lives.

Nowhere is this better communicated than in our Parsha, with the lessons taught by Rachel and Leah. Yankif of course ends up marrying Leah, and, subsequently, Rachel. As Rachel struggles to concieve, she hands over her maidservant to be a concubine to Yankif. Leah ends up doing the same thing.


The RAMBAM points out that if you include Sarah Imainu, who gave Hagar (the Horrible), her own maidservant, to Avraham as a concubine, we have a total of three instances where the Imahois INSIST that their husbands be mekayaim the mitzvah of pru urvu, or at least perform a quickie, with another woman. That's 66% of the Avois, and 75% of the Imahois. And these were great women, who always acted at every moment with the intention of fulfilling the mitzvois of Hakkadoshboruchhu. You cannot argue with thise statistics, you minuval.


Now, in order to be a true BenToirah, you should walk in the footsteps of our great and righteous ancestors and repeat their very deeds.


I have made this argument many times to my bashert, Feigah Breinah. She is not fully convinced of this particular mitzvah, but she does hold that lap dances are only a D'Rabbabanan, not the worst thing you can do on a Thursday night after a long week of work. But I expect that she'll come around sooner or later, otherwise I will cease snacking in the schmaltz herring, if you know what I mean.


Four hundred years ago the ARI ZAHL, living in Tzfas, taught us that with every mitzvah we fulfill, we restore another primordial spark of the Aimishteh's goodness to its rightful place in the cosmic universe, thereby bringing the world one step closer to its original perfection.


Rachel, Leah, and Sarah, in their holy righteousness, understood this. And as we walk in their footsteps, we should always keep in mind that every extramarital biyuh brings us one step closer to Biyas Hamashiach. Bimhairah Biyamainu. Umain.


Ah Gutten Shabbos you Minuval.


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ask Rabbi Pinky: On Hilchois iPhone

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Rabbi_Pinky

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



Ask Rabbi Pinky: On Hilchois iPhone


Rabboisai,

Over recent months I have received many Shailas from my Talmidim. I love you all, because of your permanent thirst for Toirah, your ongoing quest for Mitzvois, and your ceaseless zest for looking down at the rest of humanity.

I could of course write long, academic Teshuvois for each of you. But, alas, my iPad is at the shop, and I no longer have a printed Shas, Shulkhan Oiraich, Igrois Moishe, or other Rishoinim and Acharoinim. I have gone paperless, thanks to the Shass App from Artscroll, the Rishoinim App from Google, and the Acharoim App from The National Enquirer.

So instead I will write brief responses, leveraging my extensive memory of Kol HaToirah Kooloh Baal Peh gained over years of study in the Bais Medrish, plus the guidance of a Magic 8 Ball I bought at Target on sale for six dollars and 50 cents.

-------

Rav Pinky, this might be a Shailah you might consider answering.

I just Davened Maariv from my phone. Question: Should I kiss my phone
before quitting the App or turning my phone off?

Your Talmid,
Mordechai Hatzadik

Reb Mordechai,

I am delighted that you have asked me such a critical Shailah, a Shailah I have often been asked via text message. Unfortunately, I only check my text messages when I am sitting in the Bais HaKeesay, and so am not in a position to respond, since I type with my left hand, which is usually busy at that time.

We live in a new age, an age where our smartphones play multiple roles – not just as telephones, but as portable music players, video devices, GPS, handheld games, players of multiple Apps, Siddurim, Machzorim, Gemarras, and other Sefarim, and as portals to an astounding world of porn, including straight, gay, Thai, Russian, fetish, and amateur granny fatties. Kenainah Harrah! The smartphone and the Internet in general have democratized Yiddishkeit, along with making porn accessible to everyone! What an achievement!

Your fundamental question relates to the notions of Kedushas Hashem and Kedushas Sefer – the sanctity of the Divine name, and of holy books that contain words of Toirah. Once upon a time, the written Toirah, Toirah SheBichsav, was the only form of Toirah available, and it was handwritten on parchment or other such materials. Koolay Alma Loi Pligi, everyone agrees, that the holiness of a Toirah scroll compels one to kiss the Toirah as it passes down the aisle at Shul, as long as you do not try to get to second base on the first date. However, the remainder of Toirah, Toirah SheBaal Peh, the Oral Law, was passed down verbally from generation to generation, all the way back to the time of Har Sinai, Mount Sinai, when the Oral Toirah was first dictated by the Reboinoisheloilum to Moishe Rabbeinu and recorded by his holy parrot, Mean Mister Mustard.

However, as Klal Yisroel began to forget the Oral Toirah, they began to commit it to writing. Hence, the publication of the Mishnah by Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi, the writing of the Zoihar by Rabbi Shimoin Bar Yoichai, and the recording of the Baba Kama Sutra by Rabbi Eliezer Ben Coitus. This led to a fundamental Machloikess about whether the written text of Toirah SheBaal Peh contains the same degree of Kedusha as Toirah SheBichsav.

This debate became further complex with the development of the printing press. Does the mass produced printed word carry the same holiness as hand written scrolls? On this point there is debate amongst the Rishoinim and Acharoinim, with most Rabbis holding that you should kiss every religious Sefer ever printed, including Siddurim, volumes of Shas, and the collected works of Mendel the Mouse.

However, in our Dor, this issue has become even more complex. Does digital information constitute actual print, requiring you to kiss it? Or are the binary bits and bytes that blend to become online Bibles, Benchers, and Mishnah Berurahs by their very nature only temporary, and therefore do not constitute the Kedusha of the actual printed word?

To answer this question, we must look not at the format, but at the usage. A Sefer Toirah while it is in the Aroin Koidesh, hidden out of sight, is not bringing Klal Yisroel closer to Hakadoshboruchhu. But an iPhone App for a Siddur or other Sefer introduces holiness to a smartphone or tablet, and enabes Klal Yisroel to perform Avoidas Hashem anywhere at any time, even when they are looking at their iPhones while waiting on line at McDonalds for their bacon double cheeseburgers.

Consequently, smartphones and other personal electronic devices are the ultimate form of Toirah, and have a virtually endless amount of Kedusha! Combined with the fact that your smartphone also offers you a virtually endless amount of porn, I do not understand why you are not kissing your cellphone or your iPad right this minute, you Minuval!

To what is this similar? According to Rav Shmiel Kalbasavuah, smartphones are like your Bashert. In the morning she provides you with sustenance. Throughout the day she creates a Bayis Ne’eman BaYisroel, a faithful Jewish home, brightening your life and household with Toirah and Mitzvois. And at night, after she takes off her Tichel, her Shaytel, her white long sleeve blouse and her ankle length skirt, her petticoats, and her off-white padded brazier, she gets on top of you and rides you like you are Shlugging Kaporois with a Cornish game hen.

So, indeed, just as you are compelled to modestly kiss your wife at appropriate moments, you are indeed required to kiss your iPhone, your iPad and other personal electronic devices after you close your Apps for Shacharis, Minchah, and Maariv, after you close your Daf Yoimi App, and especially after you close your App featuring amateur granny Thai fatties.

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

Dear Reb Pinky,

I am troubled with a Shaila. Perhaps you have already given your Talmidim the answer and, as usual, I was sleeping during the Shiur. If so, I apologize for interrupting your Choshuva studies.

I have recently obtained a smartphone and immediately downloaded the full complement of T'filois. One day as I was on my "Kisay Ha'Kovod" I realized that I had my virtual Siddur in my hand. Is this permissible? Later as I was deep with Kavanah during Mincha I realized that the sacred name was scrolling on my screen then off my screen, on and off, on and off. Had I erased the holy word? This is a troubling thought. If it is an Aveira, how do I do Kaparah? Should I Toyvel my iPhone? Shlug Kaporois with it? Boil it in water? Bury it in the ground for a year? Have I voided my warranty with the Abishter? Must I leave my phone outside of the throne room?

Reb Pinky, I am very confused by the new technology. What would Moses do?

Your Talmid,

Shmeil Shmelka


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

Reb Shmeil,

As cited in the Raisha of this e-mail, a smartphone such as an iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy, a Nokia Lumia, or a Blackberry, Chass V’Sholom, enjoys a special status, since it can serve as the platform for learning Toirah and performing Mitzvois, as well as help you comparison shop for a lower price for toothpaste as you are standing in the dental hygiene aisle in Walgreens. But your Shailah is less about the device than it is about the electronic imaging technology used for presenting data: bits and bytes and electrons that one moment may be presented on the screen as Kiddush Levanah, and the next moment be blank, and the following moment be used to present that latest escapades of the Kardishian sisters, Koutney, Kim, Chloe, and Shifra Malka.

What is digital technology, and what is the long term impact on a device of a short term digital display?

As mentioned above, a device itself is akin to a human being who leads a multi faceted life, including learning Toirah, performing Mitzvois, making a Parnassah, Chass V’Sholom, and engaging in intimacy with his or her spouse, significant other, or a quickie Tefillin date.

But if the device is similar to a human being, the words and images presented on a digital display must be similar to the actions committed by that human being. We are told in a Mishnah in Avois that even the holiest man has moments of sin, while the cruelest of men may commit one act that earns him Oilum Habbah, a portion in the World to Come. Take Esuv HaRasha. He may have wanted to kill Yankif Avinu, steal his wives, and make his sons into slaves. But we are told in the Medrish that he was rewarded by Hakadoshboruchhu for his practice of Kibbud Uv V’Aim, as well as for always wearing a fourteen carat gold Chai around his neck. And Yankif Avinu was himself punished for the exploitation of his brother and the deception of his father by having his chosen bride denied to him on his wedding night, and by being told by his sons that Yoisaiph Hatzadick, his favorite son, was eaten by wolverines, penguins and armadillos in the desert.

Consequently, the behavior of an individual is fleeting. One day Reuvain’s actions make him beloved, and the next day they may render him despised. The behaviors, characteristics, and habits of a human being ultimately define him far more than his physical presence. In that sense, a human being is like the hardware, and his actions and behaviors are like the software, the Apps.

Here is a question for you, you Mechutziff: When we discuss Moishe Rabbeinu, do we describe his height and his hair color? Or do we talk about his accomplishments as the Eved Hashem, his great Anivus, and his marriage to a hot African Shiksa. However, even the great Moishe Rabbeinu, of whom we say “Loi Kum B’Yisroel K’Moishe Oid”, had mundane moments as well. He slept. He ate pancakes for breakfast. He occasionally washed the dishes. Not every moment of his life was filled with Kedusha.

So too with the digital displays on a smartphone. At the moment that Divrei Hashem are displayed on the screen, the smartphone achieves its Kedusha potential. But unlike a printed Sefer or a written Klaff, a digital image is fleeting. So its fundamental impermanence ensures that the device itself is not subject to the restrictions of Sifrei Koidesh, and may indeed be brought into the bathroom.

So the next time you are in the Bais Hakeesay with your iPhone, do not worry about your Siddur App. Take advantage of the brief moment of privacy to Google your ex-girlfriends, check stock prices, or go on JDate to find a hot Tfillin date for Moitzee Shabbos.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Parshas Chayei Sarah

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Rabbi_Pinky

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


Rabboisai,

I was with a few Talmidim last night and was SHOCKED to find out that not all of them were familiar with my books -- That they are indeed for sale via my blog, they are published as print-on-demand and sent to your home, or can be downloaded as e-books. Jesus Fucking Christ... errr.... I mean... Rebonoisheloilum, what do I have to do get my Talmidim to take my Toirah seriously? You'll gladly spend $50 on an Artscroll Gemarrah with an English translation that reads like a technical manual written by Chinese peasants, but you won't respect my Toirah?

OK. For a limited time only, if you buy my books, I will not use the Shaim HaMefoirush to animate a Goilem and send him to your house to try to get you to sign up for Amway.

RPS


----------

Parshas Chayei Sarah


Rabboisai,

I write this Dvar Toirah while on an international flight en route to an annual gathering in commemoration of this week's Parsha, Parshas Chayei Sarah. Thousands of people focus on the first half of the Parsha and gather in Chevroin every year to celebrate the burial place of Sarah Imainu. I, on the other hand, will be joining a group of people commemorating the second half of the Parsha, the marriage of Yitzchak Avinu to three-year-old Rivka Imainu, by traveling to Thailand to have relations with a group of underage girls.

This week's Parsha, of course, begins with the passing of our foremother, Sarah Imainu. RASHI tells us that Sarah died as a result of hearing that her husband, Avraham, had taken their only son to be slaughtered at the alter. The RAMBAM asks the question: Why should Sarah have been shocked? Where was her faith in the Rebboinoisheloilum? Was she not ready for the Aimishteh's test? Was she tempted by the Yetzer Harah, the Evil Inclination, to question her belief in the all knowing, rational and loving Hakkadoshboruchhu who expressed His divine love by suggesting that Yitzchak be grilled to perfection like ribs at a July 4th barbecue? Did she not want her son to be slaughtered, so he could die for all our sins? (OOPS, wrong religion. Sorry.)

Indeed, it was not Sarah who mentally snapped as a result of Akeidas Yitzchak, the Binding of Isaac, at the end of last week's Parsha. It was Avraham Avinu. According to a famous medrish in Beraishis Rabbah, this Parsha is testimony to that fact that Avraham completely lost his marbles after the Akeidah. Note the evidence of his nervous breakdown:

-- We are told, not once -- but twice, that Avraham bows down to the "Am Ha'aretz," the People of the Land, to express his humility and gratitude for their support (Beraishis, Perek Chuff Gimmul, Psukim Zayin and Yood Bayz). How can Avraham Avinu, our forefather, the man who discovered Hakadoshboruchhu, the man who invented string cheese and the iPad, prostrate himself before other human beings? Did he not realize that the only thing he should EVER bow down to was the Rebboinoisheloilum, the Melech Malchei Hamelliachim -- unless of course someone had dropped a quarter? However, the medrish quotes Rabbi Akiva as saying that at this point in his life, Avraham was so deluded and confused he would bow down to a cow every time he had a potato with a little sour cream on it. He would even bow down to his dry cleaner everytime he picked up his shirts.

-- Avraham Avinu barters to gain the right to bury his beloved Sarah in Meuras Hamachpeilah. Ephroin, the property's owner, gives Avraham the land and does not want payment. Avraham, however, insists upon counting out four hundred shekels of silver as payment to Ephroin. So what's pshat "payment"? Why didn't Avraham just chop off one his arms and present it to Ephroin, instead of giving away money for no reason? Maybe he should have given away his ATM card and his PIN code, while he was at it?

-- Avraham decides to send his manservant, Eliezer, to find a wife for his son, Yitzchak. To secure his commitment, Avraham asks that Eliezer, his servant, put his hand "underneath Avraham's thigh." Wow. That is progressive. According to Rabbi Akiva, after the death of his wife, Avraham was so randy he was open to "all lifestyle alternatives." Indeed, there is a separate Braisah in Masechess Pesachim that suggests that following Sarah's death, Avraham Avinu joined a local S&M club, spent six months in a nudist colony, and made seventy five dollars a week posing for an art class at his local community college.

Avraham's mental state is of course balanced with the beautiful story of the discovery of Rivka. After being sworn to his commitment to find a wife for Yitzchak, Eliezer sets out on his quest. As he reaches a well, he decides that he will anticipate a divine sign: the appearance of a woman who will offer drink to both him and his camels. The RADAK asks the question: why did Eliezer choose a sign based on a woman's action, rather than a visual metaphor, such as a yellow ribbon on the woman's dress or a tattoo on the small of her back? The Toirah Temimah answers that, mamesh, Eliezer was indeed looking for such a sign: he was hoping that as the women bent down to fetch the water he would catch a glimpse of her cleavage. Says the Toirah Temimah, Eliezer had also committed to Avraham that the bride he would bring back to his master's son would have a Double-Daled cup.

Of course, all of these expectations were turned upside down when Eliezer saw Rivka for the first time. We are told specifically by the passook that Eliezer noticed her great beauty. We are also told that Rivka "was a virgin; she had known no man." An obvious question arises: why did the Toirah have to repeat itself -- wasn't this a redundant statement? RASHI tells us, however, that the local girls had strange sexual practices that enabled sexual activity without the surrender of one's maidenhead. (He really does say that, by the way. Look it up.) Who ever heard of such a practice amongst youth?!? But the RASHBAM disagrees. He suggests that the verse is telling us that while Rivka had not had a sexual relationship with a man, her femininity had been "totally awakened" as an active member of the LPGA tour, if you know what I mean.

And now the strangest part of the Parsha: nowhere in the Parsha are we told Rivka's age, but Rabbinic tradition has always deduced that Rivka was three years old when she was discovered by Eliezer and brought into Yitzchak's tent for consummation of their marital relationship. How can this be? Was Yitzchak some kind of pervert?

According to a Gemarra in Maseches Nidah, Yitzchak was indeed a pervert. Says the Gemarra, the reason that Yitzchak didn't marry until the age of forty is that as a counselor in Yeshivas Shame V'Eyver Basketball and Learning Camp, Yitzchak sexually abused three of his charges and spent the next twenty two years in prison. As proof, the Gemarra cites a Braisa that states that the reason Avraham insisted that Yitzchak, his son, not marry a local Canaanite woman was NOT because he wouldn't want one as a daughter in law. Adderabbah! It was because Yitzchak had to register with the local authorities as a convicted sex offender, and therefore no local woman was willing to date him.

But according to Rav Saadya Goyn, Yitzchak Avinu was no more perverted than any other man at that time. LeOylam, every man in those days married underage girls. As proof, he cites a medrish that says that Avraham Avinu married Sarah Imainu when she was one and a half, and Noiach married Mrs. Noiach when she was an aborted fetus.

I am reminded of a Maiseh Shehoya. Reb Yisroel Salanter once traveled to Siberia to attend a celebrity golf tournament. As customary, he lodged at the home of a local eskimo. When it came time to go to sleep, the eskimo said to Reb Yisroel, "Nu, Reb Yisroel, we have a minhag here when guests stay over: Please take my wife to sleep with for the night."

Reb Yisroel looked at him sternly and responded, "That is unacceptable! Aishess Ish is a Dioraisa. However, do you have any children I can sleep with instead?"

To which the eskimo responded: "Rebbe, I knew you were here for a fundraiser, but I did not know it was a Yeshiva Toirah Temimah event. Please forgive me!"

So, unfortunately, a few members of our community still like to keep up the tradition of Yitzchak Avinu. So next time you are tempted to poke fun at Penn State University, the Catholic Church or the Boy Scouts, hold your tongue until you have investigated your own community.

Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval


----

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

=====

http://rabbi-pinky.blogspot.com/
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Rabbi_Pinky

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Hakadoshboruchhu's Endorsement of Mitt Romney

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Rabbi_Pinky

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



Hakadoshboruchhu's Endorsement of Mitt Romney


“Boruch Atta Adonoi Eloihainu Melech HaOilum Asher Kiddishanu BeMotzvoisuv ViTzivanu LeHisataif BaTzitziss”

That is the Bracha that Mitt Romney makes every morning before donning his magical Mormon underwear, and the Bracha that, Imirtza HaShem, will be recited by all American children in school right after pledging allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.

Rabboisai

We stand at the dawn of winning a religious Holy War against the Democrats and their leader Barack HUSSEIN Oibama, with their calls for the redistribution of all of our wealth, their hatred of Israel, and their sheltering of terrorists.

Have you ever asked yourself why the public never saw the body of Oisama Bin Laden after he was allegedly killed? Have you ever wondered why Oibama has never shown his real birth certificate? Have you ever wondered why Barack HUSSEIN Oibama and Oisama have never been seen together? It is because they are in fact one and the same person!

Indeed, without realizing it, we have been living under an Al Quaida regime for the last four years. That's why Oibama closed the prison in Guantanamo Bay, he stopped the US policy of using drones to target Al Quaida leaders and operatives, and he refused to impose sanctions on Iran. However, he did issue a Presidential Decree requiring that all federal employees pray to Allah five times a day.

Why does Oibama not meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu? It is not because Bibi is a callous, cynical, two faced prick looking to avoid making any sort of political compromise while trying to extract American military and political commitments by using the Israel Lobby and congress to put pressure on the President. No. It is because Oibama is really Oisama, and he hates ALL Jews, so he refuses to meet with them. In fact, the only reason that Oibama became the first president to hold an annual Seder in the White House is because he wanted to force Jews to eat more Matzo to intentionally constipate them. He is a clever Soinay Yisroel indeed.

Why do you think Oibama has failed to fix the American economy? It is not because we are in a cyclical depression, built upon speculation and greed and wars that were not funded, as well as a perfect storm of global economic mismanagement. It is because Oibama is Oisama, and he is trying to destroy America from the inside, by eroding its economy by providing food stamps to the poor and extending healthcare to the uninsured. If the Aimishteh wanted the poor to have food and the uninsured to have healthcare, He would have given them money. Clearly He wants them to starve to death and die on the streets.

Why did Oibama end the war in Iraq and why is he winding down the war in Afghanistan, and why did he "lead from behind" in Libya and why does he refuse to fight in Syria? Because Oibama refuses to fight his Muslim Brethren. Because Oibama is Oisama, and Reboinoisheloilum knows that Muslims never fight against each other. Ever. Ever.

In fact, word on the street is that in a second Oibama administration, after Hillary Clinton steps down as Secretary of State, Oibama will nominate Ahmejinidad to the role. Or Khaddafi's remaining son. Or Bashir Al Assad when he is out of a job. Or Fidel Castro, if he wants to tip his hat to the Latino community.

So it is only Romney and Ryan who truly love America. They are inspired by Yoisaiph Smith and Yushka Pandra, and only want the best for this country and for Klal Yisrael.

According a Braisah in Kiddishin, Yitzchak Avinu was unable to distinguish between Yankif and Esuv because he was blind. And just as Yitzchak could not afford healthcare and had to do without, so should everyone who cannot afford healthcare do without. So, even though the poor get their care in the most expensive way - through the emergency room - we do not want to adopt a more cost effective policy since we do not want to be Oiver on Baal Toisiph.

Indeed, Romney believes that government does not create jobs; businesses create jobs. And that is why he pledges that when he becomes president he will create 12 million new jobs, I assume by doing absolutely nothing, since government does not create jobs.

Romney promises to lower taxes and cut spending. Boruch HaShem. He paid a 14% tax rate last year, and maybe next year he will only have to pay 12%. (Luckily I paid a 0% tax rate last year because I was able to take off the five-lane-Olympic-sized-Mikvah I built in my basement as a write off.)

Oibama/ Oisama has been letting in immigrants and illegal aliens in record numbers. No wonder there are not enough jobs for Americans. In fact, I recently hired a Rebbe to give a high level Gemarah Shiur who just snuck across the border from Mexico. I pay him five dollars a day and do not provide insurance, so I will be able to limit the tuition increase for my Yeshiva to only 15% next year.

Romney and Ryan have committed that they will not encourage illegal immigrants to leave the country; they only want to discourage them from staying. I will say, as a direct descendant of people who came over to America on the Mayflower, I don't believe in immigration either. Ich Vais Voos, who will they let in next?

Most importantly, a Romney-Ryan administration will get government out of our lives - less taxes, less regulation, less interference in our daily affairs. But Boruch HaShem, they will make sure that the government has a say in what goes on in our bedrooms. No abortion, Boruch HaShem, because life begins not at birth or at fetal viability, or even at conception, but at erection. And note that it is the man who has the erection, not the woman, so it is illogical that she should have any say in the murder... errr... matter.

Rabboisai, four more years of Oibama mean four more years of having a Marxist Communist Muslim in the White House. He is unAmerican. By the way, my opposition to him has nothing whatsoever to do with the color of his skin. Of course not! Never, never! I just hope that when he leaves the White House they do an inventory of valuables, and remove the posters of Malcolm X from the walls of the Lincoln Bedroom.

Romney on the other hand is completely American. Look up the word Shaygitz in Wikipedia and you find his picture. This is what the President of the United States should look like! Broad shouldered. A full head of hair. Beautiful white teeth. Skin that glows like Moishe Rabbeinu coming down from Har Sinai. A blond wife. And a pair of woolen Tzitzis tucked into his magical Gatkes.

And that is why Hakadoshboruchhu is endorsing Mitt Romney. The Aimishteh has studied all the issues and reviewed all the facts. He has weighed all the arguments made by the Republicans (the Reboinoisheloilum only watches Fox News, of course), and He has asked me, as His official spokesman on earth, that I pronounce an endorsement of Romney on His behalf. And any disagreement with His stated political opinion will be an affront to Hakadoshboruchhu that will yield you the punishment you deserve - four more years of Oisama... errr... Oibama.

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My Beloved Talmid,

You may take joy or feel anger at this week's Drasha. In either case, you are both an ignoramus and a Mechutziff. This Drasha is intended as satire (you can look the word up in the dictionary). It is not intended as either a direct or an indirect endorsement of anyone. Rather, it is intended as a commentary on American political discourse in general, and American Jewish political culture in particular. It is a satire of dogma, and how allegiance to dogma interferes with genuine analytical evaluation and assessment. (I am sorry if these words are too big for you, by the way.)

The fact that I feel I have to write this disclaimer reflects the sad state of our democracy, and our community. Vote for whomever the hell you like. We can only hope that our bipartisan political system will find a golden path reflecting a balance of perspectives, as we are told once existed in the Sanhedrin.

As for me, I plan to vote for Rosanne Barr because we have never had a woman or a Jew as President before. We can break two glass ceilings in one shot. Her political platform is therefore irrelevant.

Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess