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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ask Rabbi Pinky: Searching for Divine Wonders on Shabbos Koidesh


THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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

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Ask Rabbi Pinky: Searching for Divine Wonders on Shabbos Koidesh


This week's Drasha is presented in loving memory of Reb Yoisaiph Katsky, A"H, by his loving Rabbinical colleagues: Reb Shmiel Kalbasavuah, Reb Betzalel Kupkayk, and Reb Asher and Maharat Avigayil Katiefsty.


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This week’s Shailah comes from a Minuval Talmid living in the great community of London, a place where classical Koisher British cuisine is only rivaled by the succulent creativity of Indian and Pakistani feasts, with their delectable mélange of diverse flavors and odors that recall what the Bais Hamikdash must have smelled like every week before Shabbos Koidesh.
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Harav Hagoin Reb Pinky

I have a question none of the Menuval Rabbonim in Golders Green can answer (they keep saying it’s Assur – whatever that means), and I’m sure with all your learning you’d be able to help.

My Bashert “Yentyl with the Groisse Boobellech” bought me Eppes a Moderne Sach called a “Kindle”, something that helps you read. She bought it for me for a Hailiger St. Valentine’s Yomtiff present. My question is, am I allowed to read from it or to surf porn on Shabbos Koidesh, Rachmana Litzlan?

Please help me.

Your Talmid

Reb Mordechele

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Oy, Reb Mordechele, I am so pleased and honored that you have graced me with this Shailah which your local Moireh D’Asra is not equipped to address. A chicken with a nick in its neck, he can handle. (“Traiffus!”) A psak on Nidah, he can deliver. (“No soup for you, two weeks!”) Even a complex understanding of Toirah, he can interpret. (“How is it that Avraham Avinu served his guests milk, butter and freshly slaughtered meat at the beginning of Parshas VaYayrah? Why, the milk was soy of course, and the butter was Pareve margarine!”)

But your Shailah calls for a more nuanced understanding of the roots of Halacha, and requires deep insight into the human condition. So who else could you reach out to besides me? After all, it was I who advised Sir Paul McCartney to once again marry a Jew, if only because her proud heritage and professional stature enable her to stand on her own two feet.

In any case, to address this question, we must break the Shailah down into its commensurate parts:

-- Shabbosh Koidesh – Can electricity be used?

-- Pornography – Is this a mortal sin, or a reward for putting in a long day at the office?

But first I must ask you a simple question about this St. Valentine’s Yuntif – Is this a Yuntif identified by the Gemarrah? I am not familiar with it. Is it from the Rishoinim? But they were too busy running from the Crusaders to declare a new holiday. So I guess this must be a Sephardic Minhag of which I am not aware. I am not sure why they would have created a Yuntif named after a mediocre Major League Baseball manager. But Nisht Gerferlech. Ah Gutten Yuntif to you!

(Of course, you are British and will not understand the reference to American baseball. Suffice it to say – It is a sport like cricket, only an individual game [match] lasts two hours instead of two days. It’s kind of like the difference between a quick Mussaf, and a Chazzan who Dreys on and on and on until you pray to Hakadoshboruchhu to open up the ground underneath your feet like He did with Koirach, Yemach Shemoi, so that the suffering can end already. So there is a much lower level of Tircha DeTzibburah. Shoyn.)

So your Zaftig Bashert wife purchased for you a Kindle, Eppis. On the one hand, you are concerned that this device runs on electricity, and may be Assur DeRabbanan to use on Shabbos Koidesh. On the other hand, the device itself is called a Kindle, and, of course, Licht Benchen, kindling candles in honor of Shabbos, is a Dioraisa. So certainly a Dioraisa outweighs a DeRabbanan. So Avadah, what greater Mitzvah can you possibly have than using a Kindle on Shabbos Koidesh?

Next, we must address the Shailah of pornography. There is a famous Machloikess in Masechess Baba Kama Sutra between Bais Shammai and Bais Hillel on whether a Jew may look at pornography. According to Bais Shammai, pornography is never permitted, unless someone is located in a prison with a bunch of other men, in which case pornography is considered to be for “medicinal purposes”. But according to Bais Hillel, pornography is always permitted. The Gemarra goes onto explain: “Bameh Devarim Amurim?”, “When were these words said?”, when discussing a married man. But “Kooley Alma Loi Pligi”, everyone agrees”, that an unmarried man may look at pornography all day and all night. According to Rav Sheshess, “Toirah Loi BaShamayim Hee, You can try to make it Assur, but no one is going to listen to you anyway. So why bother.”

The Gemarra further cites the reasoning of Bais Shammai and Bais Hillel. Says Rav Pappa, the reason that Bais Shammai holds that a married man may not look at pornography is because it might lead him to be Moitzee Zerah LeVatalah, it might lead him to spill his seed outside of coitus, Chass V’Sholom.

However, says Rav Pappa, Bais Hillel holds Farkhert “out of respect for marriage”. What does this mean? Rav Pappa says a beautiful Vort: When a newly married couple is alone in the same room, they see each other’s physical beauty, and they have a Taivah to engage in marital relations. It is a Mitzvah, and an enactment of the will of the Aimishteh. However, after a man and woman are married for twenty years, when they look at one another, they do not see each others’ physical beauty, even when their looks have been preserved. The man and woman look at each other and see the person whose flatulence they have smelled every night for the last twenty years. They look at one another and see tuition bills, tax bills, credit card bills, the upcoming Bar Mitzvah bills, bills for replacing the roof, car lease bills, wedding bills not too far in the distance, etc. They see aging, infirm parents and rebellious teenagers. They see the schmuck across the street doing construction, and the putz up the block who leases a new Lexus every two years.

So if looking at pornography helps a man forget his current woes and returns the Taivah for his wife, if only for six minutes or so, then it is not only NOT Assur, but it is a Mitzvas Asey SheHazman Grammah. (It goes without saying, of course, that since looking at pornography is a Mitzvas Asey SheHazman Grammah, women are exempt from this Mitzvah, and while their husbands are surfing porn on the Internet, women should be reciting Tehilim , baking rugelach, or being Mafrish Challah.)

Now I know that some of my Talmidim, the stubborn pain-in-the-ass ones, will not be convinced by my Psak. For them, they see Halacha through a black and white filter. So I would like to illustrate the flexibility of the Gedoilim in applying Halachic rulings to modern day problems. Yiddishkeit, of course, is not Roman Catholicism; ours is not a religion with a central doctrine filtered through an infallible Pope. Rather, Yiddishkeit is a decentralized structure in which legitimate Rabbinic figures may have differing opinions and Halachic positions, and yet they continue to coexist as a singular cohesive Klal Yisroel.

So let us look at the different approaches taken to address a not-uncommon challenge in everyday life. As we all know, one may not tear toilet paper on Shabbos Koidesh because of a Toldah of Koirayah. But what does one do if he forgets to tear toilet paper on Shabbos and does not have any tissues?

According to the Tzitz Eliezer, in such an instance one may tear toilet paper because of Kvoid HaBriyois, out or respect for the human dignity of the individual.

According to the Schvantz Mordechai, one must not tear the toilet paper, but may use the toilet paper without tearing it, depositing the soiled toilet paper in the toilet without tearing it off of the unused roll. Indeed, there is a famous Maiseh Shehoya about the Schvantz Mordechai. One Shabbos Koidesh, in his home in Bnei Brak, the Schvatz Mordechai forgot to set aside tissues or pre-cut toilet paper. When he woke up on Shabbos morning, he had to… ummm… do his morning Asher Yatzar. Since he did not have pre-cut toilet paper, he used the regular toilet paper, but did not remove the soiled toilet paper from the roll. But he also forgot to discard the paper in the toilet. So after redressing , he walked to Shul, inadvertently dragging along a 200 foot Charmin tail.

Because of this risk, there are a number of Gedoilim who in principle do not use either toilet paper or tissues on Shabbos Koidesh.

Reb Shmiel Kalbasavuah goes outside to relieve himself, and has one of his Talmidim clean up after him.

Reb Yoisaiph Katsky, on the other hand, has a designated private area in his home where he goes to relieve himself, and his Drek is cleaned up after Shabbos Koidesh.

Reb Betzalel Kupkayk goes outside to relieve himself in obscure places, so that no one should Chass VeSholom step in his filth.

Finally, the Pooper Ruv occasionally relieves himself in obscure places in other peoples’ homes, much to the dismay of the Chief Rabbi’s family. VeHamayvin Yavin.

In other words, there is room for debate within Yiddishkeit. Ours is a religion of tolerance. So while your Ruv in Golders Green may not permit the use of a Kindle on Shabbos Koidesh, you should proudly use it for Oineg Shabbos, if only to prepare you for six minutes or so of Oilum Habbah with your Bashert “Yentyl with the Groisse Boobellech”.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval.

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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Parshas Shmini

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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

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Parshas Shmini

In this week's Parsha, Parshas Shmini, we read about Traifus. Lots of it. Pigs. Camels. Flying insects. Eagles. Bottom-dwelling-non-finned-non-scaled-fish. Reboinoishelolum, it makes my mouth water! In fact I am currently lobbying the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, the RCA, the OU, YU, JTS, the UJA, the ADL, the JCRC, the JDL, AIPAC, the WZO, the JNF, ARZA, the HUC, the Kof-K, the Triangle-K, and Amit Women to officially change the name of the Parsha to "Parshas Mouthwatering". So far I have only heard back from two organizations: the Triangle-K, which wants to negotiate pricing, and the HUC, which thought the name of the Parsha actually is "Parshas Mouthwatering".

According to the RIF, the enactment of Traifus restrictions is one of the ultimate tests of being a member of Am Yisrael. After all, it must be delicious! Indeed it is fair to assume that the Aimishteh created all of the taboo creatures with the delicious Traifus-goodness baked right in. He must have taste-tested it too, to make sure He got the recipe just right.

Oy, what I wouldn't give to be a Goy right now, so I could have no rules or restrictions! I would walk right into the local McTraifus, with my girlfriend Christine O'Reilly by my side, and order a bacon double lizard burger with deep fried owl, and wash it down with a vanilla milk shake. Actually, as long as I am immune from all of the commandments spelled out in the Toirah, make that my boyfriend Philip O'Reilly. We would eat the night away, and then go back to my place to worship Avoidah Zara, shave off our sideburns, and put on some Shatnez.

But alas, Shver Tzu Zein Ah Yid, being a Jew comes with a price. WE have a covenant with the Reboinoishelolum: We follow His rules, and keep His Mitzvois, His Chukim, and His Mishpatim. And as a reward, we get to spend our entire lives being persecuted.

However, what happens when we don't follow the rules? The Parsha tells us of one such occurrence. Aron Hakoihain's good-for-nothing sons offend the Aimishteh and get burnt to a crisp. But what was their Aveirah?

RASHI cites one suggested explanation, that Nadav and Avihu had all the best of intentions: They simply added on to the Avoidah, because they thought it would be a nice thing to do. In other words, they were guilty of Baal Toisiph, and the Reboinoisheloilum struck them down for trying to engage in Hiddur Mitzvah. Hey, please remind me of this next time I want to spend an extra ten dollars on an Esroig!

But according to Toisfois, the brothers were Minuvals who were horsing around in the Mishkan. There they were, doing the Avoidah, when Nadav thought it would be hysterically funny to dump the contents of the Kiyore on Avihu's head. Avihu responded by taking the Urim V'Tumim and smacking Nadav in the face, causing him to fall backwards into the Tayvah holding the Luchois. This got the Kruvim angry and...well...you've seen Raiders of the Lost Ark . You know what happens next...

However, the Vilna Goyn, looking elsewhere in the Parsha, suggests that given the references to Traifus at the end of the Parsha, Nadav and Ahvihu must have been using the Mizbayach to barbecue ribs, anointing them with a Mesopitamian Smokey Grill Marinade, on sale at the local supermarket as a two for one special. But he is uncertain if the brothers were punished for eating Traif ribs, or simply for overcooking them.

The RAMAH vehemently disagrees with the Goyn. He insists that cooking and eating Traifus, even in the Mishkan, does not bring about a Chiyuv of Missuh, just so long as whatever was cooked and eaten conforms with the same Halachois in place for the Korbonois. He cites a Braisah in Yevamois which says the brothers had fully and successfully cooked their meal. But after eating they brought out a cake from which Avihu's wife had cut out a small wedge, "just to taste". Consequently they were Chayuv Missuh for having brought a dessert with a Moom into the Koidesh HaKedoishim.

In my humble opinion, I respectfully submit that the Goyn and the RAMAH have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. A Maiseh Shehoyo: When I was a young Talmid I experimented with Traifus, in the spirit of "Oiseh Maiseh Beraishis"; I felt compelled to sample all of His creations. Including dumplings. As I washed my first bites down at the Chinese restaurant, I waited. Would I be struck down by a bolt of lightening? Would I choke to death on a clump of Traifus? No! The Aimishteh left it up to me to make my choices and live with them.

So did Nadav and Avihu, those Minuvals. They saw the signs written on the walls of the Mishkan, yet chose to ignore them and paid the ultimate price.

As the spring season arrives, we should all keep the bitter lessons of Nadav and Avihu in mind: Always keep the room well ventilated when grilling indoors.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, you Minuval.


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Friday, March 14, 2014

Purim Drasha


THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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

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Purim Drasha

Rabboisai,

Today we gather together to celebrate the most joyous of all the Jewish Holidays, the holiday of Purim. On this holiday, we celebrate the near destruction of the Jewish People and the exploitation of Esther's Hamalka's bisulta to enable their salvation by getting stinking drunk and trying to be mezaneh with our chavrusa when he himself isn't throwing up.

Chazal have often contemplated the deeper meaning hidden within Megillas Esther, the text that details the story of Purim. Why, they ask, is the name of the Rebboinoisheloilum not mentioned throughout the Megillah, while in contrast, Haman Harasha's name is mentioned so many times that people audibly bang their heads against the wall?

According to the RASHBAM, the Aimishteh refused to have his name attached to the story, as he was repelled by the Machiavellian activities of Klal Yisroel. Such actions include:

-- Mordechai saves the life of the king and doesn't even collect a cash reward (What's pshat with that?)

-- Esther curries the favor of the king by taking hold of his extended staff

-- Once victory is achieved, Klal Yisroel doesn't stop until they have murdered Haman's allies, hanged his sons, and raped his horses.

Says the RASHBAM, Hakkadoshboruch didn't need any of that, as He was still trying to live down the bad press from the whole ten plague thing.

The RITVA disagrees, noting that the RASHBAM dropped too much bsomim when he was in college and was prone to flashbacks while in the Bais Medrish. The RITVA suggests that the reason that the Rebboinoisheloilum is not mentioned is that Megillas Esther is simply not originally a Jewish story. Noting the similarity of the names of Mordechai and Esther to the Persian diety names of Marduk and Ishtar, the RITVA offers that Purim was really adapted from a pagan Persian holiday where Persians would traditionally drink heavily, exchange gifts of food, and kill their wives and replace them with younger women.

But the Toldois Aharoin disagrees with both the RASHBAM and the RITVA. The Toldois Aharoin offers that the Melech Malchei HaMelachim didn't want his name included since He was completely upset by the fact that no one could ever get His name right. He cites a beautiful discussion from the Zoihar: Rabbi Shimon Bar Yoichai, sitting around a campfire with his followers, tells them that one must try to know the Ain Sof, the unknowable aspect of the Omnipresent, by giving it a name. "What would YOU call the Ain Sof?" he asks each of his followers,

One follower responds "Rebbe, I would call Him 'Fred' because that is a name I can relate to, since I once had a dog named Fred, and a dog is man's best friend.". Another follower says, "I will call Him 'Spike', because the Jewish People have a Bris with the Ain Sof, and that is what I nicknamed my Bris Milah when I was sixteen years old." And so they went around the circle.

When the last of the followers had spoken, Rebbe Shimon addressed them. "You idiots," he said, "you cannot give the Ain Sof a proper name! He is unknowable. I spend 13 years in a freaking cave just to teach schmucks like you?" When Rabbi Shimon calmed down, he told them that the Ain Sof should be called the Aibishter, meaning in Yiddish "The One On High." since, according to Rabbi Shimon, "as He is unknowable, one would have to be high to think you can know him."

As the rebbe's talmidim nodded in agreement, Rabbi Akiva joined the group, and, upon hearing, the topic, began to berate Rabbi Shimon. "You would call the Ain Sof 'Aibishter'?" Rabbi Akiva asked. "Everyone knows that He should be called 'Aimishteh', which means in Aramaic 'Where is He when you really need Him?"

Says the Toldois Aharoin, as the Aimishteh didn't want to get involved in the argument, he decided to adopt a low key approach in the Megillah.

I, the RAPAS, would like to offer a new answer to this question. The Rebboinoisheloilum's name is obscured from the Megillah so Klal Yisroel would know that some time we have to solve our own problems. We cannot rely on a deus ex machina, an external solution, heavenly or otherwise, to resolve the most challenging issues of our day. We must use our own intelligence and creativity to devise and implement our best alternatives.

Take for example the issue of peace between Klal Yisroel and the Arab world. Some would say that we should give up all of the West Bank in exchange for peace. Others would say that we should not give up one inch. I would like to humbly suggest that in exchange for real peace, we should be prepared to make sacrifices, even painful ones. However, it should be clear to all sides that not everyone will get what they want. But in the spirit of compromise, I am certain that we can reach an understanding. Consequently, while I am not certain what we should do with the West Bank, in exchange for real peace we should give Brooklyn to the Palestinians. And if calm prevails there, we can talk later about giving back other territories including the Five Towns, Teaneck, and Skokie.

Ah Freilachin Yuntif, You Minuval


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Friday, March 07, 2014

On Unity and Division in Klal Yisroel


THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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

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On Unity and Division in Klal Yisroel


Rabboisai.

I am writing a special Drasha for you this week in light of the current circumstances in Klal Yisroel.

I was eating a salad yesterday that I bought from a Glatt Koisher restaurant when I ran into one of my colleagues, Rabbi Herschel Schachter, who suggested that because there was broccoli in my salad, and broccoli may contain microscopic bugs, I am like Zimri Ben Salu HaShimoinee, leading to a perversion of Klal Yisroel. And only he, in the role akin to Pinchas Ben Eliezer, has the courage to halt my sinful actions by disemboweling me with a spear through my midriff.

I responded to Reb Herschel that by pointing out such an inconsequential Narishkeit, he is like Yeruvum Ben Nevat, splintering Israel into a separate communities, and in doing so is creating false idols reminiscent of the Kruvim on top of the Aroin HaKoidesh, only with larger Schvantzyls. And I suggested that Hakadoishboruchhu is destined to take His revenge on Reb Herschel and his male descendants, probably by ruining their Tzitzis in the washing machine and by making their Shmaasers wilt on Mitzvah night.

Rabboisai, we are living at a time when Achdus Yisroel Einenah, the unity of Israel is no more. Once upon a time Klal Yisroel stood united around Har Sinai to receive the Toirah from Hakadoshboruchhu. There was thunder. There was lightning. There was music. U2 opened, followed by Crosby Stills Nash and Young. Then came Lady Gaga and Lipa Shmeltzer. Then Joe Cocker and the Miami Boys Choir, followed by the Toronto Pirchei. And then Jimi Hendrix brought down the house with his psychedelic guitar rendition of "Zarah Chayah V’Kayamah".

After saying "Na'aseh V'Nishmah" Am Yisroel waited together for Moishe Rabbeinu to ascend the mountain, and stayed encamped at the base of Har Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights. Klal Yisroel was connected as never before. Men learned Toirah all night. Women recited Tehilim. Kids played card games. The was hookah. Local Sinaitic Besomim were passed around, and lots of Leytzonois V’Simcha Dioraisa, A.K.A. LSD. Free love reigned. Six months later thousands of couples got married, Boruch Hashem. And three month after that thousands of babies were born, Kenayna Hurrah! It was a time of peace, love, and understanding, Man!!!

But not today. Look around at the divisiveness that defines Klal Yisroel:

The secular in Israel are trying to force their evil will upon the Ultra Orthodox by compelling the Chareidim to contribute to the State through participating in military or national service and pursuing employment. The Ultra Orthodox are resisting a change in the status quo and believe that due to their Toirah study and piety, they are entitled to have large families, be exempt from the army, refrain from secular education, and be supported by the State that most of them are ideologically opposed to.

The progressive Orthodox are trying to expand the role of women within traditional frames of reference, while the traditional Orthodox are opposed to innovation, and see such changes as outside the scope of tradition.

In Israel, the left seeks to make territorial concessions in exchange for a political arrangement with the Palestinians. The right seeks to preserve Jewish sovereignty over the traditional territories identified with ancient Israel.

We are at odds with each other as never before. There is tension. There is political debate. There are street demonstrations. There is name calling. And there are lots of discussions on Facebook, at least among the people who apparently have nothing better to do all day.

Is there not one thing we can all agree upon that unites us? Why cannot Klal Yisroel be perfectly united the way we were throughout our 4000 year history?

I mean... Of course throughout there might have been the occasional internal disagreement...

-- As noted above, the Kingdom of Israel in the north split from the Kingdom of Judah in the South. The Toirah suggests that political ambition led to the split. Biblical scholars suggest that the split resulted from exploitation, forced labor policies and other inequalities implemented by the HaMelech Shloimoih on the northern tribes of the Israelite confederation. I guess the wise King Solomon was not so Reboinoisheloilum-damned smart after all. And the Metzudas Tziyoin suggests that the north split off because they thought their cable bill was too high, plus they wanted a better selection of TV channels.

-- Within the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel, there was an ongoing theological competition between the supporters of the Aimishteh, AKA Yahweh, and the supporters of the pagan pantheon. Even King Shlomo introduced idolatry into the Bais HaMikdash. But on the plus side, according to the Medrish Tanchuma, he also built a health club for the Koihanim within the Bais Hamikdash itself, which included cardio vascular equipment, a weight room, and a Svitz. But the Koihanim were always angry that they had to pay extra to use a trainer or get a massage.

-- Hillel must have thought that Shammai was a total ass. I mean, they disagreed on EVERYTHING, and Hillel typically won all the arguments. And yet, they sat together on the Sanhedrin as one of “The Pairs”, convening the institution on a daily basis. (A Yerushalmi in Brachois tells us that despite their differences, they were regular Sunday morning racquetball teammates, and they participated in a weekly poker game with Reb Elazar Ben Azariah, Elisha Ben Abuyah AKA Acher, and Ben Heyhey.)

-- Other famous “debaters” of the Talmidic period include Rabbi Yehuda and Reb Jose, Rav and Shmuel, and Abaya and Rava. To the best of my knowledge, none ever referred to the other as Koirach, although in a heated moment Rava did once say to Abaya, “hey, buddy, your wife looks like “a Persian howler monkey, and not one of the cute ones”.

-- RASHI, perhaps the penultimate commentary on the Toirah and a critical commentary on the Talmud, is ceaselessly debated and challenges by Toisfois, a broad school of scholars that followed in his footsteps in Western and Central Europe, some of who were his own grandsons. And did he express disappointment in their constant Minuvaldickah arguments on minutiae? Well, he might have, but he was dead. Kind of hard to debate or to deliver a Psak Halacha from the grave. Unless you are the Lubavitcher Rebber

-- The RAMBAN debates ceaselessly with the RAMBAM, considered by many to be the single most influential Jewish thinker since Jesus….errr…. since Rabbi Akiva.

And so on…

And what were these people debating about? Theoretical topics about the color of Moishe Rabbeinu’s Yarmulke? The number of goats that Yankif Avinu had? Whether the world is 6,000 years old or 6 billion years old? NO, YOU MECHUTZIFF! They were debating practical matters: What type of Tefillin should people wear -- RASHI or Rabbeinu Tam? What constitutes acceptable activities on Shabboskoidesh? What Bracha do you make on strawberry ice cream? Etc.

And in our own day we have considerable variation on core religious practices. For example:

-- Different Nusachichim of Davening/ variants of prayer – Between Ashkenaz, Sephard, Nusach Ari/ Lubavitch, Sephardi/ Edot HaMizrach, Roman, Yemenite

-- Yoim Toiv Shaynee Shel Goliyois versus one day of Yuntif in Eretz Yisroel

-- Chassidic practice versus Misnagdischeh practice

-- Kitniyois eaten by Sephardim

-- Gebruchts eaten by Misnagdim

So diversity is built into the culture of Klal Yisroel! There are different Minhagim. There are even different approached to Halachah. And to this the Gemarrah says, “Ilu V’Ilu Diverei Eloikim Chaim ”, alternate positions in a debate are all expressions of the living Reboinoisheloilum.

So if diversity is so inherent in our culture, why have contemporary debates deteriorated into pugilistic name calling and physical protests?

I am reminded of a Ma’aseh Shehoya. The Volna Goyn was once Davening for the Umid on the Yahrtzeit for his poodle. As he was about to recite Kedushah, a group of Chassidim came into the Shul to protest. The Gruh immediately stepped out of his Chazaras HaShatz and called the Czar’s police to arrest the Chassidim for loitering.

That night Hakadoshboruchhu came to him in a dream. “What did you have those Chassidim arrested?” asked the Aimishteh.

“Because they are perverting Your religion” replied the Gruh.

“MY RELIGION!?” screamed the Reboinoisheloilum. “Dude, I am a Hindu, for My-sakes. Plus I love the Payis.”

And from that day forth, the Goyn stopped persecuting the Chassidim and started persecuting the Reformed.

Rather than focusing on issues of true importance, the Jewish community has become self-absorbed as never before. Perhaps the existence of a modern State of Israel has exacerbated a hunger for political and economic power. Perhaps the advent of news and social media has created a quest on the part of some for controlling ideas, beliefs, and practices.

But we are not a group of former slaves camped out at Har Sinai waiting for the Good Word from On High. We have the power to think for ourselves. The Jewish ghetto of Eastern Europe is no more. And those that try to recreate it in our modern society are bound to fail, because there is not now, nor has there ever been, a singular Jewish doctrine. “Toirah Lo BaShamayim Hee.” “Ilu V’Ilu Diverei Eloikim Chaim.”

Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval.


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess