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Friday, June 21, 2013

Parshas Balak

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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

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Parshas Balak

In this week's Parsha, Parshas Balak, we are provided a welcome respite from the usual rigmarole of the Toirah -- no Moishe Rabbeinu, no Aharoin the minuval, no vilda chaya Klal Yisroel -- until the very end of the Parsha. No regulations regarding sacrifices or other Priestly responsibilities. No critical laws that continue to enrich our lives until today, such as the prohibition against eating creeping insects while having relations with your father's wife on Yoim Kippur.

The RAMBAN asks the obvious question: why does the Toirah veer away from focusing on Klal Yisroel, the Chosen People, the Goy Kadoish, and focuses instead on Bilaam, Balak, and a talking she-ass? What’s Pshat?

The Tzitz Eliezer suggests that the Rebboinoisheloilum was suffering from writer's block, and was forced to plagiarize a script he found on the Internet in order to meet His tight deadline.

But the Schvantz Mordechai vehemently disagrees, saying that the Aimishteh was renowned for delivering his scripts on time, but that union issues with the Screen Actors Guild resulted in a walk out by Moishe and the rest of Klal Yisroel, requiring some quick rewrites and recasting with low cost fill ins ("scabs" in Yiddish). By Parsha's end, of course, the strike was settled, just in time to enjoy the usual hijinks of Klal Yisroel being smitten by a plague that killed twenty-four thousand. He cites as proof a medrish in Yechezkel Rabbah suggesting that the reason Moishe wasn't allowed into Eretz Yisroel was because his affinity for labor was expected to make Yehoshua's right-wing coalition unstable.

So what of Bilaam and Balak? The Gemarrah, in discussing this Parsha, notes how strange it is that Bilaam is portrayed by the Toirah as having a personal relationship with Hakkadoshboruchhu, referring to him by name, and mentioning several times that Bilaam had His personal cell phone number.

Says the Gemmarah, according to a Bas Kol (a voice emanating from heaven), Bilaam was in fact not associated with the Rebboinoisheloilum at all. Says the Bas Kol, "The Aimishteh denies that any alleged contacts with Mr. Bilaam took place at any time, and expresses that any alleged leaks were certainly unintentional and not a violation of Federal law. As well, Hakkadoshboruchhu has engaged a private counsel, and will have nothing else to say on this matter at this time."

Rav Huna rejects the Bas Kol, citing credibility issues arising from previous high level leaks that took place following the "Golden Calf" affair. Instead, he suggests that the Bilaam story is actually a legend created by the author of the E text in order to support Israelite claims of manifest destiny over Moabite territories by referring to Bilaam, a historical Near Eastern shaman. Unfortunately, Rav Huna disappeared without a trace before he could prove his theory.

Rav Ashi suggests, however, that Bilaam did indeed have a relationship with the Rebboinoisheloilum, but tried to exploit that relationship in order to develop his own following and offer an alternative religion, a substitute to Toiras Moishe. He points to a medrish that says that Bilaam was supported by a band of nerdy looking teenagers who were always doggedly handing out deceptive looking fliers in the subway during rush hour advocating membership in “Bedouins for Bilaam.”

Indeed, this interpretation points to a paradox at the heart of Yiddishkeit. Judaism itself is an alternative, a substitute for the pagan beliefs and rituals pervasive in society until the time of Avraham Avinu. As such, we have from time immemorial lived side-by-side with others, yet remained committed to alternative philosophies and approaches based upon our conception of monotheism and the practices inspired by our core belief set.

Yes, Judaism is dedicated to the concept of being unique, both in our faith and in our material existence. Take food, for example. We separate ourselves from the animals and the anti-Semite nations of the world by our dietary practices. Others eat pig; we do not. Other mix milk and meat; we consecrate our lives by putting non-dairy creamer in our coffee.

Take aesthetic habits. The women of other nations expose their hair as they prostitute themselves; we, on the other hand, assert our holiness and superiority by wearing $3000 dollar wigs.

A maaseh shehoyo: The Pri Megadin was once at a bachelor party for his brother in law, the Eliyahu Rabbah. After going out for steaks, they eventually ended up at the best strip club in all of Lithuania. One of the exotic dancers, Ruchel, came over to the Pri Megadin and whispered in his ear, "Rebbe, I have always been inspired by your commentaries. Would you like a lap dance?" The Pri Megadin looked at her closely, leaned forward, and replied to her, "Meideleh, I don't fraternize with shiksas."

"But Rebbe," she said, "I am as Jewish as your wife!"

"You don't show it. My aishess chayil projects her Jewishness with her elaborate hair covering, separates herself through her elegant-though-modest mode of dress, builds upon the Devine's creation with her delicate rhinoplasty, and truly distinguishes herself with her double-D implants."

The Pri Megadin then puked and passed out at the bar, and spent the night sleeping on the floor until it was time for Shacharis.

Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Friday, June 14, 2013

NEW -- On Faith and Reason

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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

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On Faith and Reason


Rabboisai,

I would like to begin this week’s Drasha with a beautiful Maiseh Shehoya. Reb Shlomo Kluger had a beloved Talmid named Beryl who was a brilliant student of the Gemarrah, an Iluy – a genius. Beryl was one of the close coterie of students with whom Reb Shlomo shared the inner secrets of the Kabbalah, and one of the 5 Talmidei Muvhak -- trusted principal students - who accompanied Reb Shlomo everywhere: To the Mikvah, to be Mevaker Choilim, and to the strip clubs of Brody, Galicia. Indeed, it was Beryl who was charged with carrying Reb Shlomo’s Talis, his towel, and a large wad of singles.

One day, Reb Shlomo was awoken in the middle of the night and was requested to come immediately to the local constabulary in Brody. Beryl, his beloved Talmid, had allegedly murdered his own wife and two children, put their flesh into a big pan, covered it with mashed potatoes, onions and eggs, and cooked and served them up as a human Yapchik. (The fleish-lined potato kugel was apparently very well received at the local Shalom Zachor the previous Friday night, and Beryl received many compliments.)

Shocked, Reb Shlomo asked the police to be left alone with his Talmid Muvhak. “Beryl”, Reb Shlomo asked, “What did you do?”

Beryl, sitting behind bars, in his cell, responded. “Rebbe, I was going for a walk, taking out the garbage, minding my own business. When all of the sudden the Reboinoisheloilum came to me in a vision and commanded that I show my love for Him by slaughtering my only son, just as Avraham Avinu had been prepared to do in Parshas Vayayra. And He also ordered that I show my gratitude to Him by slaughtering my only daughter, just as Yiftach had done in Sefer Shoiftim.”

“And what about your wife?” Reb Shlomo asked, focusing his deep, penetrating glare on his student.

“Oh, that was my idea. That bitch made a terrible cholent every week, and that really detracted from my Oineg Shabboskoidesh, forcing me to violate one of the Aseres HaDibrois.”

Reb Shlomo emerged from the prison, shaken. He immediately gathered his supporters in the conference room of his Yeshiva, and lowered the volume on the TV playing ESPN in the background. After sipping from his Gleizeleh of tea filled to the top with Shlivovitz, Reb Shlomo addressed the group. “Rabboisai – A great injustice has been committed. Reb Beryl sits behind bars for following the explicit words of Hakadoshboruchhu! He sits in the custody of the Goyim, Yimach Shmum. And, on top of that, he owes me money, which I will never see unless he gets out.”

“But Rebbe, Beryl admitted to killing his wife and two children!” one of the Talmidim declared. The statement was followed by a momentary hush of silence

“ADMITTED?!” Reb Shlomo screamed in a booming voice. “Do you think you can trust an Aimishteh-Damned word that Minuval says?!”

Rabboisai, I share this famous story because Yiddishkeit is under assault. It is not under assault by the Egyptians or the Persians or the Greeks. It is not under assault by the Romans or the Crusaders, or the Germans or the Arabs. Klal Yisroel is under assault by its own traditional leadership, the ophthalmologists….errr…..I mean, the rabbis.

It seems like every week a new travesty committed in the name of Yiddishkeit comes to light, is defended by our “Gedoilim” and tolerated by the mindless masses.

-- Three weeks ago, it was the guilty plea by Yosef Kolko on sexual abuse of a minor. Kolko, after admitting his guilt to therapists, had claimed innocence leading up to the trial, and had the full support of the rabbinic leadership of Beis Medrish HaGadol and the broader community of Lakewood. It was only when additional witnesses surfaced that he altered his plea.

-- Two weeks ago it was the reopening of the murder case from 1986 of a student in the Mesivta Yeshiva of Long Beach who was stabbed to death in his dormitory, a case that was never solved because of lukewarm participation of the school and community in the investigation.

-- Last week it was the continued insistence by Yisroel Belsky of Yosef Kolko’s innocence. Belsky is not an obscure figure – he is a Rosheshiva of Toirah Vodaas and is one of the three leading Poiskim of the OU, so his behavior is a model for many in the Orthodox community. His dug-in position sends a message: Sexual abuse of children is tolerated in the Jewish community, as long as you have the right friends.

-- This week Satmar amassed in New York to protest against the drafting of Ultra Orthodox in Israel. This is of course a sectarian issue, but they really screwed up traffic for me, and blocked the entrance to my weekly…. errr…. Oineg Sunday parlor. I had to administer a happy ending to myself, Rachmana Litzlan!! Although it did enable me to save $50.

I am often approached by my Talmidim citing such examples of behaviors and attitudes that run counter to contemporary sensibilities as reasons for abandoning Yiddishkeit. Just this week I was party to the following exchange (this is true, by the way): “It was bad enough when I was arguing with the Ultra Orthodox. This is worse. It seems the "leaders" of Modern Orthodoxy are no better. My Charedi friend's advice that I should not let the Jews interfere with my Judaism, isn't helping.”

I would like to share with you, my beloved Talmidim, that as much as you believe you are the first to have such sentiments, you are not. Such ideas are echoed in the words of the Nevi’im, who quote the Reboinoisheloilum as rejecting religious piety without human decency as false behavior. Bain Adam LaMokoim without Bain Adam LeChaveiroih is like getting into a car that has no gas: It will go nowhere. It is like eating frosting without eating the underlying cake: It is empty calories. It is like being Mezaneh with an inflatable Bashert: It may feel good, but it is making love to air. It is an empty act. It has no meaning. At best, it is a falsely pious form of masturbation.

I am reminded of a famous Machloikess in a Gemarrah in Mesechta Shabbos. Dof Lamed Chess Amud Baiz cites a Braisah with a Machloikess between Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah and Rabbi Akiva. According to Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah, one may not masturbate on Shabbos because it is a Melachah MiDioraisa, an primary act of work directly banned by the Toirah. However, Rabbi Akiva holds that one is allowed to masturbate, as long has be does not use a Kli Rishoiyn.

The subsequent discussion in the Gemarrah tries to understand the two positions. According to Rav Pappa, Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah holds that masturbation is a Melachah because it is an Issur of Lach, kneading. However, Rav Sheyshess holds that it is an issur of Memachek, smoothing. Finally, Rav Huna holds that masturbation is not any of the identified Lamud Tess – thirty-nine – Melachois banned by the Toirah because they mirror activity involved in building the Mishkan. He holds that masturbation is actually a fortieth Melachah associated with building the Mishkan, What does this mean, asks the Gemarrah? Very simple, says Rav Huna. When the Leviyim were engaged in every activity associated with building the Mishkan – Zoirayah, Choiraish, Koitzer, etc. – they worked very hard, often performing backbreaking labor. But Levite union rules required that they have a break every three hours. And what did the Leviyim do during their mandated breaks? Why, they masturbated, of course! And since break time is part of the work day, one must consider masturbation an Av Melachah, no less than Bishul, Melabain, and Makeh B’Patish! It’s Gevaldick!

And what of Rabbi Akiva, who holds that masturbation is permissible on Shabboskoidesh? This is the topic of a famous discussion amongst the Achroinim. According to Reb Shmuel Yehoishua MiSlovakia HaKoihain-Priest, the SHEIS-KUP, Rabbi Akiva allows masturbation because it is only a De’Rabbanan, a Toildah of Boineh, and since the act contributes to one’s Oineg Shabbos, masturbation on Shabbos is indeed permitted by Chazal!

And what of the act itself? The NewAge Chassid says a beautiful Vort. He suggests that the Toirah itself alludes to masturbating on Shabbos. The two versions of the Aseres HaDibrois use two different verbs when commanding the celebration of the Shabbos because Hakadoshboruchhu acknowledges two different approaches to masturbation. When the Toirah commands “Zachor”, the Aimishteh is alluding to masturbating while thinking about a past sexual encounter. But when the Toirah commands “Shamor”, Hakadoshboruchhu is also inviting one to masturbate while fixated on an imaginary situation – Your sister in law, your wife’s best friend, your mother-in-law Chass V’Sholom, or your neighbor’s three goats. As long as the image remains in your imagination and you do not act upon it outside of the privacy of your own bedroom or bathroom, they you are not only permitted to masturbate, but you are Mekayaim the Mitzvah of Oineg Shabbos. Shoyn!

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Rabboisai – As long as we are discussing the Aseres HaDibrois, the Ten Commandments, there is one commandment which is critical to the underlying topic. In Sefer Shmois, Perek Chuff we read, “Loi Sa”Aseh Lechah Pessel, VeChol Temuna Asher Bashamayim MiMa’Al Ve’Asher Ba”Aretz MiTuchas, Va’Asher BaMayim MiTachas La”Aretz. Loi Sishtachaveh LaHem, VeLoi Su’Uvdaim...” “ Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down unto them, nor serve them…”

My beloved Talmidim – Many of our contemporary “Gedoilim”, leading rabbinic figures, would take offense at the above satirical Drasha and object to its off-color humor. Yet they will defend child molesters. They will cover up abuse. They will break up families, stealing children away from a parent because the parent does not fully subscribe to their philosophy of religious practice. They will use financial pressure, social pressure, and even violence to enforce their objectives. And they will continue to enclose Judaism, smothering out the new ideas and philosophies that give new life and new meaning to our beautiful tradition. Rather than open the doors and windows to new thoughts and ideas like Sa’adya Goyn and the RAMBAM and many of the greatest thinkers in Jewish history, they aspire to smother ideas and Truth, in order to retain control and to retain power (and often to ensure financial gain).

This is not Judaism. This is the worship of false gods. Many of the “Gedoilim” of today have indeed become the Psalim and Temunot – The graven images and likenesses that the Toirah warns us about. Blindly following their words is not Judaism, it is nothing less than Avoidas Alilim – Idol Worship.
We have been given a world and are inheritors of a grand tradition that seeks to understand and embrace the Divine, to attune our lives to the ultimate Truth. For some, that is done through strict adherence to the evolved rabbinic formulae; for others, it involves a different kind of quest, one of a more personal nature.

But when we disregard reason, when we disregard common sense, when we defend those guilty of abusing children, Yisroel Belsky, when we believe that our knowledge of the Gemarrah gives us the right to disregard the secular legal system and ignore heinous crimes, that is not Judaism. That is not Toirah. That is idol worship.

So, my beloved Talmidim, do not be confused by the actions of certain so-called “Gedoilim” who function through threat and intimidation. That is not Judaism. Stand up to their idolatry. You are empowered to do so – The rabbis have no exclusive rights to Judaism or Toirah. Judaism and Toirah belong to us all. And we have the right, and, indeed, the moral and ethical responsibility, to take it back.

In the words of a famous very wise non-Jew, Mohandas Ghandi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Friday, June 07, 2013

Ask Rabbi Pinky: On Daas Toirah

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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


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THIS WEEK'S DRASHA IS DEDICATED TO RABBI CHAIM YISROEL BELSKY, ONE OF THE LEADERS OF THE OU AND ONE OF THE ROSHEI YESHIVAH OF TORAH VODAAS, WHO CONTINUES TO SUPPORT RABBI YOSEF KOLKO OF LAKEWOOD, EVEN AFTER KOLKO PLEADED GUILTY TO SEXUAL ABUSE OF A MINOR IN HIS CARE. IF THIS IS OUR SENIOR RABBINIC LEADERSHIP, THEN UCHINVEI ON THE FUTURE OF THE ORTHODOX COMMUNITY...AND OUR CHILDREN



Ask Rabbi Pinky: On Daas Toirah


Rabboisai,

This week’s Shailah comes from a Talmid who uses as much Yiddish as the Satmar Rebbe on acid.

Harav Hagaon Rav Pinky

Whilst discussing Divrei Toyreh I have, on occasion, suggested that our great medieval Meforshim, when composing responsa and commentary on TaNaCh, may well have been influenced by contemporary events impacting Ehrliche Yidden dwelling in Western Europe (e.g. the Crusades, black death, unfair business practices, Shtupping Shikseh maids, etc.) Certain Menuval Rabbonim in my community (whom I do not hold by, Chass V'Shalom) inform me that I am mistaken, and frequently invoke the term "Daas Toirah". I like to think that I am an Erliche, Frimme Yid, but does this not smack of (Chass V'Shalom) Papal infallibility (which I am certain the Goyim must have somehow stolen from us).

A Gitn Shabbos from your Talmid,

Reb Kudish Shmiel

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Reb Kudish,

Thank you for your insightful question that gets at the very heart of Yiddishkeit. After all, what else is the heart of our Heilikeh faith than the unfaltering belief in the rulings of our religious leaders, the Gedoilim. Men of wisdom and honor and valor. Men of intuition, able to unerringly answer questions on all topics, informed by their honed minds after studying the words of the Reboinoisheloilum, the teachings of CHAZAL, the lessons of the other Gedoilim, and the extensive library of responsa documented in Igrois Penthouse. Men of an essentially higher moral construct, like Moishe Rabbeinu. Men of a greater character, like Aaroin HaKoihain. Men who are hung like a horse, like Yankif Avinu.

Namely, men like me.

What is Daas Toirah? It is a term that, sadly, is not well known outside of Chassidic and Black Hat circles, unless you are an Ashkenazi real estate developer, a Moroccan mobster or a Gentile basketball player. It is the belief that Rabbis can grant wisdom and guidance with near infallibility on areas outside of the spheres of theology and Toirah scholarship.

What is it that gives the Gedoilim this wisdom? Why, it is the tens of thousands of hours spent studying Toirah, their minds shaped by the purity of the TANACH, the wisdom of the Gemarrah, the holy words of the Rishoinim and Acharoinim, and the mind-numbing-neo-paganism of the Zoihar. Their minds are molded and shaped and perfected by the words and ideas inspired by the Reboinoisheloilum and His pet hamster, Cuddles.

I literally cry for the Minuvals and their Minuveless wives for all of the time wasted consulting doctors and lawyers and financial advisors as they seek guidance, when all they have to do is come to me. My door is always open. Except when it is closed.

Why, just last week I had multiple inquiries from Talmidim asking for my Toirah-inspired guidance:

-- On Sunday, I had a man come to me to ask my advice on his investments. I suggested he buy stock in Artscroll: As soon as the entire country embraces the most ignorant form of Orthodoxy, he will make millions.

-- On Monday I had a woman come to me asking my opinion on whether she should divorce her husband after finding out he was having an affair. I advised her to remain married, but to raise her self esteem by evening the score. I then took her to the back of my 1987 Dodge minivan, tied her up with my Tfillin and Gartel, and practiced Shlugging Kaparois with her in the back seat.

-- On Tuesday I had a Talmid ask me who he should vote for in the upcoming primary – Anthony Weiner or any of those others clowns. I gave him my Psak: Vote for Weiner. Even though I am not familiar with his policies, the entire world has seen his Bris Milah. THAT is a GevalDickah Kiddush HaShem!!

-- On Wednesday – I was consulted by a couple that is having trouble conceiving a baby, Rachmana Letzlan. I immediately put the woman on a regimen of fertility pills and hormone shots. I had them change their Mezuzahs (lucky I had a few extra lying around…). And I also prescribed that they be Mezaneh while facing Mizrach on Roish Choidesh when it falls out on Moitzee Shabboskoidesh on a Tuesday. When asked if the woman should go to the Mikvah earlier in the week, violating the Rabbinic addition of waiting seven clean days in order to catch her ovulation cycle, I explained that this is a YaHuraig V’Al Yaavor: Better to remain childless under another four years of Oibama than to Chass V’Sholom be Oiver on this D’Rabbanan.

-- On Thursday I was asked by a Talmid for advice on a real estate deal. I strongly endorsed the opportunity to invest in parking garages in rural residential communities. When the Iranians drop the bomb on us we will all be heading to the hills and will need a place to park.

-- Finally, on Friday I was contacted by two parents who believe that their 12 year old son is being molested by his Rebbe and wanted to know if they should report the Rebbe to the authorities. I told them that they must be wrong: No person who has gone through a Smicha program can possibly be a child molester. It just couldn't ever, ever happen. Never. And if by some teeny, tiny, miniscule chance the accusation is true, they should tell their son to stop complaining: MY Rebbe used to make me memorize Mishnayois -- I AM SCARRED FOR LIFE!

-- On Shabboskoidesh, of course, I only responded to questions directly related to Lumdis. Nisht B’Shabbos Garedt, you know.

Some may say that Daas Toirah is dangerously close to the Vatican’s perception of Papal infallibility. Some may say that ascribing near infallibility to any human being runs counter to the Toirah, which portrays Moishe Rabbeinu, Aaroin HaKoihan, and Duvid HaMelech as having been imperfect human beings. Some would suggest that the very essence of the Gemarrah is the notion of debate, which is rooted in a balance between tradition and reason. Some would say that the devastation of the Jews of Europe, including many whose Rabbinic leadership encouraged them not to emigrate, is the greatest proof of Rabbinic fallibility. Some would say that the belief in the infallibility of Rabbis may lead to extreme heresies, including the belief in false messiahs (you know who I’m talking about…). Some would even suggest that the decentralized nature of Klal Yisroel, the lack of a central authority, is in fact one of our greatest elements of strength, encouraging a vibrant social and intellectual culture that is less prone to the corruption enabled by a single bottleneck.

But I say: Anyone who says such Shtuss is a complete ignoramus and we must excommunicate him from our community immediately. Unless he comes to my humble Central Park West apartment, makes a sizeable donation to my Yeshiva, and writes out a large check to the Weberman Defense Fund. And then I’ll be happy to offer him my counsel.

Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval.


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshiva Chipas Emmess

Parshas Koirach

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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

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Parshas Koirach

In this week's Parsha, Koirach, once again a portion of Klal Yisroel rebels against the Reboinoisheloilum's rule. A group led by Koirach challenges Moishe Rabbeinu's appointment as the Aimishteh's personal representative and business manager. After returning to their tents, Koirach and his minions are swallowed up whole into the ground.

How stupid are these Mishugayim anyway? How many times do they have to be told that they should shut up and study Toirah instead of asking for food and the right to return to Mitzrayim to visit the pyramids and eat Traifus? And how much abuse does Hakodoshboruchhu have to tolerate before he smites all the minuvals down like cockroaches with a strong hand, an outstretched arm, and a really big shoe?

I know you were asking these questions, you good-for-nothing Amhaaretz, but they are actually stupid questions. I mean, we read this same Parsha every year. It hasn't changed since the Redactor compiled the text in Babylon -- OOPS -- I mean since the Aimishteh dictated the Toirah to Moishe on Sinai.

No, the real question isn't why the people keep on rebelling. Rather, it is: Why do we, and our wise Rabbinical predecessors, continue to look back at the generation of the Exodus as the paradigm of Jewish virtue, when in truth they were a bunch of Vilda Chayas? Compared to them, a band of marauding rabid water buffalo are cooperative.

Indeed, this paradox is highlighted in the following Maiyseh Shehoyo: In the late 1950s, the Bobover Rebbe was sitting in first class on an airplane next to the famous playwright Arthur Miller. The playwright observed the care and reverence with which the Bobover Chassidim escorted their Rebbe through the airport, got him settled on the plane, and checked on his well-being periodically. Miller turned to the Rebbe and asked, "Rabbi, how come it is that when I lecture at a university, a pillar of secular knowledge, I am treated casually by the students, even with disrespect, while you, teaching an archaic tradition, are treated with respect, almost as a beloved surrogate parent, by your followers?"

The Rebbe smiled, and replied, "It is very simple -- you, a secular person, tell your students that they are descended from monkeys, so when they look at you, they see a person one generation closer to their primitive ape past. We tell our students that they are descended from the generation at Sinai, so when they see me, they see a person one generation closer to the face to face encounter with the Aimisheh."

Arthur Miller stroked his chin and thought for a moment. And then he responded, "That may be true, but I am sleeping with Marilyn Monroe, so who cares?"

The Bobover Rebbe, recognizing that he had lost the argument, never traveled by airplane again.

The Tanna Kamma alludes to this question in a Mishnah in Maseches Nidah, Perek Gimmul. He suggests that the reason the Aimishteh enacted restrictions on "relations" with one's wife during her natural cycle (Zman Nidasa) is so that 50% of Klal Yisroel will always be so frustrated they will be ready to go to war over a missing paper clip.

However, The Zoihar tells a tale of Rav Shimon Bar Yochai sitting around a campfire with his female students and giving them life advice. He said, "When your husband calls you an idiot, it is the best news you have had all day." This is understood as a reference to the Kabbalistic understanding of the relationship between the Aimishteh and Klal Yisroel. The Aimishteh is seen as the groom, and the Jews as the bride. And what what could be more natural, or even healthy, than occasional bickering, or even a good knock-down-drag-out argument over who takes out the garbage or whose turn it is to do the dishes. Or in the case of Klal Yisroel, dancing around the Eigel Hazahav while eating traifus. Rather than leading to divorce, this keeps the marriage vibrant and stimulates the senses.

I am reminded of my own wedding day to my Bashert, Feige Breinah. As I stood under the Chuppah waiting for her to join me, I wished that the earth would open underneath my feet, just as it had for Koirach. Would I be a good husband? Could I manage a strong Jewish household? Would I be able to consummate my marriage that night without the ritual twenty minutes of begging?

The moment of introspection was broken by my bride. As she walked down the aisle and circled me seven times, she softly whispered, "wipe that stupid look off your face; the video camera is running!!"

So a little tension between bride and groom is quite healthy. Klal Yisroel in the desert understood this, which is why they frequently rebelled, about leadership, about idols, about what to eat, and about leaving the comforts of Egypt.

In honor of the generation of the Exodus, we too must keep the vibrance and energy of the relationship with the Aimishteh alive. Consequently, we are compelled to eat the occasional Traifus and watch the occasional game on Shabbos. We are supposed to have unclean thoughts and covet the property of others. For if we do not, we will fail to live up to the heritage of our forefathers.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

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