Thursday, May 10, 2012
THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN
I strongly suggest you read this parsha at your own risk. "Why?" you ask, you minuval. Because a month hasn't even passed, and we are back at Pesach again. Reboinoisheloilum, I am still recovering from throwing my back out while removing the car seats from the mini van. It's a good thing too I cleaned under the seats in the car -- my Yetzer Hara might have tempted me to break into the car after the second Seder to snack on the two crushed M&Ms on the floor.
Why do we prepare so intensively for Pesach? According to Rabeinu Tam, we commemorate slavery in Egypt by spending six hours marching up and down the stairs to the attic to bring down the Pesach dishes while our wives stand over us barking orders (those amharatzois).
Meanwhile, rachmana litzlan, our wives absolutely exhaust themselves watching the cleaning lady prepare for Pesach.
The RAMBAM in Mishnah Torah asks an incisive question: Instead of selling our chametz to a goy, why can't we just temporarily sell our religion to a goy? This way, he can have the opportunity to get the mitzvah of celebrating Yetzias Mitzrayim, while we get to eat a little traifus, paint easter eggs, and have relations with a hot shiksa for seven days (eight days in Chutz La'aretz). But the RAMBAM concludes that if a goy had to eat Matzah for eight days, he would end up hating the Jews even more than he already does.
In truth, why do we stop our Peshach cleaning at our abode and our cars? A Gemarrah In Masheches Peshachim daff chuff aleph, amud baiz asks: Why don't we clean out our bodies of the Chometz we pump into them 51 weeks a year? Indeed, Rav Ashi holds that this is the reason that bechorim fast Erev Pesach, and that to get the full mitzvah, people should stick their finger's down their throats during bedikas chometz.
But further in the Gemarra, Rav Yosi disagrees, saying that since the food is already eaten, we hold that food cannot be eaten a second time, so there is no such requirement. However, Rav Yosi does go on to tell a story of how one year he told his wife that he needed her help cleaning for Pesach, since halacha required him to expel ALL possible bodily fluids. And due to her extreme gullibility, she helped him three times that night. What an Aishess Chayill. Unfortunately, he slept through much of the seder the next night, so he never dared to do it again.
My personal belief is that celebrating Yetzias Mitzrayim is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with the einiklach. Beyond cleaning, you get the mitzvah of preparing the matzois and the ka'arah. During the Seder you are unified with all of Klal Yisroel in celebration. And after the Seder, while cleaning up, you lament the fact that your damn mother-in-law wasn't accidentally left in Mitzrayim.
But the timing of this week's Parsha raises a key question about the overall structure of the parshiyois of the Toirah: Why don't they follow a more intutive order? Why does the Toirah place individual sections out of chronological order, as well as offer multiple repetitions of various episodes and sections?
The standard answer, given by Rashi, is that Moishe Rabeinu, like any good representative of Klal Yisroel, never went anywhere without his cellphone. And as the Reboinoisheloilum was dictating the Toirah, his menuval brother Aron Hacoihain kept on calling. "Moishe, should I have the people pray?" "Moishe, should we circle Har Sinai?" "Moishe, white makes me look fat; can you ask the Aimishteh to change the color of the Koihain Gadol's garments?" Well all of these constant distractions threw Moishe off, and he got the order of the Reboinoisheoloilum's dictation all confused.
I would humbly like to offer a new pshat. I remember as a young talmid I asked my rebbe muvhak, the NPOJHARTHA, why we learned mussar in the morning, gemarra all day, and NACH with mepharshim at night -- shouldn't we study in the reverse order, reflecting the development of Toirah and lumduss? The NPOJHARTHA glowingly gave me a hug, led me by the hand to the front of the bais medrish, and then slammed my head against the top of his shtender. "Until you know the answers yourself, don't ask me such stupid questions, you vilda chaya" he then said.
After pondering this comment for thirty years, I now understand my rebbe's wisdom. Mimunifshuch, if everything in life made sense, we wouldn't have to daven three times a day. Life is confusing. And those of us who don't fall into the trap of seeing everything in black and white must spend our lives struggling with shades of gray. So the Toirah has a few mysteries. If everything was crystal clear, faith wouldn't be a challenge.
The Reboinoishelolum wants to keep us guessing and asking questions. And at the same time, he intends the Toirah to serve as our road map. So don't complain next time you have to vacuum the inside of the car and don't know why. At least as a member of Klal Yisroel you are never expected to change a tire by yourself.
Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval