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Friday, November 28, 2014

Parshas Vayaitzai



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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.


Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Tempestuous Child



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The Tempestuous Child

"Kol HaOlam Kooloh Gesher Tzar Meod. VeHaIkar Lo LeFachayd Klal."

"All the world is a very narrow bridge. And the main thing is not to fear at all."

These are the very famous words of Rabbi Nachman MiBreslav, founder of a Chassidic dynasty that never chose a successor, that to this day inspires Messianic hippies, bad Payis, and WAY oversized Yarmulkas with silly writing on them. Though the Na Na Nachman movement attracts recovering addicts, the political fringe, and people by and large divorced from reality -- the words themselves speak to us today, just as they spoke to our ancestors in the Ukraine several centuries ago.

We are all shocked and depressed by the horrific slaughter of four Jewish civilian worshipper in Jerusalem, as well as the murder of the first responder Druze Arab police officer, and the wounding of many others. This is Har Nof, an area that is moderate, if not pacifist, an area where peaceful Arab-Israeli coexistence is the daily norm, not the exception. This brazen act harms everyone - the victims and their families, Israeli nationalists who loudly declare their "I told you so’s”, and Israeli moderates who believe that peace is inevitable and has roughly understood parameters, even if the political conditions are not yet present.

But the biggest group that suffers as a result of such a brazen act is the Palestinians themselves. Whether they are actively supportive of the terrorist act, myopically intellectually supportive of any strike against "the Israeli enemy", or morally and politically against such actions, they all suffer. All they have ever needed to do is wait patiently and perhaps exert acts of passive resistance, and the Israeli consensus would recognize the incompatibility of the aspiration for Israel to be both a democratic state and a Jewish state. And the status quo, including much of the settlement enterprise outside of key population blocs, would either dissipate or evolve into a new form of coexistence.

But no. The silent majority does not rule. Rational thought does not rule. Passion and emotion dictate the politics of national extremism on all sides, and peaceful coexistence is delayed.

And the blame game begins. We all blame the terrorists who committed the murders. The Palestinians blame the Israelis for the occupation. The Israelis blame some Palestinians for celebrating the murders. The Palestinians blame the Israelis for blowing up the homes of the terrorists in an effort to discourage future such acts. The Israelis blame the Palestinians for non-cooperation. The Palestinians blame the Israelis for not actively pursuing a political arrangement. The Israelis blame the PA for collaborating with Hamas. The Palestinians blame the Israeli government for including ultra-Nationalists.

But do you know who I blame? The Reboinoisheloilum.

At the end of the day, we are witnessing once again that the world that He created is imperfect. It is flawed. If it were an automobile, it would be recalled. If it were a pharmaceutical product, He would be facing myriad lawsuits and be put out of business. If it were a restaurant, no would go there, and, in any case, it would be closed by the Department of Health.

Hakadoshboruchhu has created an imperfect world, and we are simply fated to suffer in His imperfect creation.

We of course are not the first to ponder the nature of the world and its imperfections. On the contrary.

-- The great Prophets, Yirmiyahu and others, reassured us that the evil that befalls Klal Yisroel is a result of our wickedness and rejection of the Melech Malchei Hamelachim.

-- The RAMBAM described the Aimishteh as non-etherial, and beyond human understanding.

-- The circle of the Spanish Kabbalists described the Reboinoisheloilum as a complex combination of elements – the Sefirot -- that interact in strange ways, and as a result humanity suffers. Evil in this world is a by-product of the Sefirah of Din. Yesoid is separated from the Shechinah (in translation: Hakadoshboruchhu is feeling like a Frum husband the day before his wife FINALLY goes to the Mikvah.

The Kabbalists make a valid point – not in a literal sense, but in a sociological/ historical sense. As we are told in the Haggadah, “MiTechilah Oivdei Avoidah Zarah Hayo Avoidoiseiynu”. “At the beginning, our ancestors worshiped foreign gods.” Our ancestors were Pagans. They believed in a pantheon of deities and forces that interacted, while we, mere mortals, could only hope to not be harmed as “collateral damage” while the gods wrestled with each other for universal control.

To be on the good side of the gods, we would bring sacrifices to one, or many, of the gods. This was an effort to do “our best”. The fine print read: “Outcomes not guaranteed. Former performance is not a predictor of future gains. Local laws apply.”

But our faith, the emergence of Judaism, left us with one God. One address. What an innovation! We are the Chosen Ones!

The question is, “Chosen for what?”

Sometimes I wonder what my grandmother thought as she walked with her young daughter and her old mother, having been forced to strip naked, and then commanded to either enter the rickety wooden synagogue to be burnt alive or climb into the pit to be shot en masse.

And so we are left with no answers, only questions:

-- Why did God create an imperfect world?

-- Is God dead?

-- Is God incompetent?

-- Is God evil?

-- Is God like that alien from Star Trek who was nourished off of the energy created by negative emotions, by war and hostility, and indeed He wants us to suffer?

So the rationalist RAMBAM excused God as beyond understanding. The Kabbalists re-introduced neo-pagan elements into our understanding of the Divine. Spinoza declared that there is no conscious God, only a set of ethical criteria we can arrive at through envisioning and enacting morality. And Eliezer Berkovits argued that there is a God, but that man’s inhumanity to man is the result of human free will.

I would like to suggest that God is a tempestuous three year old child. He is very cute when He is asleep. But when He is awake He wreaks havoc with His toys. He is mischievous. He is cruel. He chooses favorites. He has temper tantrums. He neither comprehends nor cares for the consequences of His actions. In the words of Shakespeare in King Lear, “As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods — They kill us for their sport.”

And what to do with the tempestuous child that is God?

Well, we must do what we do with any mischievous three year old: He must face the consequences of his actions. Perhaps we should put Him in a Time Out. Or we should take away His toys. Or we should send Him to his room. Or we should get a baby sitter and go out for and evening, and let someone else deal with His temper tantrums. Or we should take Him to a doctor or psychologist and have Him diagnosed and perhaps get Him a prescription for Ritalin.

But the most important thing to keep with mind when dealing the Divine Tempestuous Child is to try to not allow Him to consume our lives. Reboinoisheloilum knows, He has a long history of disappointing Klal Yisroel. Just as we have established our political self-determination, we must focus on personal self-determination, without reliance on a deux ex machina.

Hakadoshboruchhu is prone to create distractions and seek attention by throwing temper tantrums. But we have to be firm and take control of our own lives, not stand around in fear waiting for Him to save us. Go ahead and say Tehilim and Daven as much as you like. But remember that "Ain Somchin Al HaNess", we must never rely on miracles, but on ourselves.

"Kol HaOlam Kooloh Gesher Tzar Meod. VeHaIkar Lo LeFachayd Klal."

Ah Peaceful Shabbos, You Minuval


Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Friday, November 14, 2014

On Life After Death



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On Life After Death


To all those who received an e-mail from me claiming to be stuck in Turkey with my family and requiring $1500, a sincere thanks for sending me all that money!
Next week I plan to be stranded in Hawaii, so please do not put away your checkbook!


Oy, what a week I am having!

Last week I was banned as an individual “person” from Facebook. Clearly this was the result of Anti-Semitism! I have been Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein since I was born! (fifteen years ago, in a bar, on a Moitzee Shabboskoidesh, during a Melaveh Malkah filled with Toirah, “Special” Miztvois, and some nice Besomim.)

This left me, a rabbi with a global Yeshiva filled with Talmidim across the world – a bunch of good-for-for nothing Menuvals, Mechutzafim, and Vilda Chayas – errr, committed Masmidim and Baal HaBatim alike, who crave drinking the nectar of Toirah Yoimum V’Layla, day and night, usually mixed with a nice vodka – without being able to read my Toirah or connect with me on Facebook.

While I of course continued to have my e-mail list (feel free to join by sending me an e-mail to with the one line “Subscribe me, my beloved Roisheshiva”), my blog at, and my Seforim at, in the world of Facebook I was no longer in existence. I was no longer alive.

Baruch Dayan Emmess.

What happens in our tradition when someone passes to the beyond and reaches the Oilum HaEmmess? There is of course a very famous Machloikess in the Gemarrah on this topic:

-- According to Rav Huna, when one enters the Oilum HaEmmess, they get to sit with Moisheh Rabbeinu and the great Tzadikim and Gedoilei Yisroel, including Dovid HaMelech, Hillel and Shammai, Reb Yehudah Hanassi, RASHI, the RAMBAM, the Mechaber of the Shulkhan Aruch, the ARI ZAHL, the Lubavitcher Rebbe SHLITA, Baruch Spinoza, Albert Einstein, Groucho Marx, Benny Hill, the Gershwin brothers, Brian Epstein, Hank Greenberg (the baseball player, not the guy who almost destroyed the global economy at AIG), and the guy who invented kosher cheese doodles.

-- According to Rav Ashi, when one enters the Oilum HaEmmess, he is given a room in the compound of the Yeshivah Shel Ma’alah, and inside, waiting for him, are a Mikra’ois Gedolois TANAKH, a Vilda Shas, the RAMBAM’s Mishnah Toirah, a set of Mishnah Berurah, a deck of cards, and 72 virgins.

-- Rav Pappa holds like Rav Ashi, except he suggests that instead of 72 virgins, there is one very experienced Kurva who is capable of sucking a golf ball through a garden hose.

Well, here is the truth: I, Rabbi Pinchus T. Schmeckelstein, did indeed die. As my Facebook Neshama left my Guf, I felt as if I was in a tunnel. I saw a light at the end of that tunnel. It was the light of truth. I was immersed in an aura, a sense of existential truth and wisdom. I was drawn to that light, pulled closer and closer. As I approached the light, I could make out a figure in the distance. As I got closer, the figure appeared to be a person, calling to me. And then I arrived to him, standing in front of me, Punim El Punim, face to face. And then I could see him up close, and realized that I was in the presence of Rabbi Steven Pruzansky.

It was then that I realized that I had actually died and gone to Gehennim, and was staring the Sutun in the face.

So I turned and ran as fast as I could, struggling to return to this earth to increase my Spiritual Net Worth by learning more Toirah, by becoming a better person, by doing more Mitzvois, by helping bring peace and truth and justice, by helping more people, by giving more Tzedakah. And by getting back on Fucking Facebook.

And so I have established a new page on Facebook. Here I will post my weekly Drashas. Here I will encourage humor, dialogue and debate. Here I will have a live webcast of the inside of the Washington DC Mikvah (Barry Freundell sent me the link; he has a lot of time at home these days, and Imirtza Hashem he will also have some time behind bars).


We read in Tehillim, in a Kapitel included in Tefilas Hallel, “Lumuh Yoimru HaGoyim, ‘Ayeh Nu Eloikeihem’?” (Tehillim Koof Tess Vuv, Passuk Baiz) “Why should the nations say, ‘where is their Reboinoisheloilum’?” (Psalm 115, Verse 2, you ignoramus.) Duvid HaMelech challenges Hakadoshboruchhu, alluding to His perceived concerns about public reputation.

These are strange words. Does this mean to imply that the Amishteh cares about what the Goyim think? Is the Reboinoisheloilum a Liberal, Chass V’ Sholom? Or is this simply the expression of the belief of one Biblical author on the nature of Hakadoshboruchhu, more in the realm of a philosophical notion or a scientific theory? Or were Tehilim specifically written as a form of popular reading, a scree expressing opinions on the world of its day, with a taste for sensationalism and the intention of exploiting this bully pulpit to spread extremist ideas, somewhat in the vein of The New York Times, The Jewish Week, and Der Shtermer?

But what if in fact these words are not theological or philosophical or political theory, but they reflect the actual existential truth, as we are instructed by CHAZAL to believe that every word in the Toirah is true? And especially Tehillim, which have been recited in prayer to the Aimishteh for nearly three thousand years?

What if, sitting on His Heavenly Throne, the Reboinoishelum cares about public opinion, cares about human beings in the world besides Klal Yisroel? What if other people matter? What is being “The Chosen People” does not actually mean being “The Only People”? The implications are quite disturbing:

-- It would mean that we are not the only human beings that Hakadoshboruchhu cares about;

-- It would mean that, as members of the broad family of human society, we, as Jew need to me good citizens of the world. That means: No stealing from Goyim. No lying to the IRS. No real estate scams. No exploitation of Welfare and Medicaid and Section 8. (Do you hear me in Monsey, KJ, and Williamsburg, not to mention Jerusalem and Bnei Brak?) It would mean cooperating fully with the laws of the given country, Dina D’Malchusah Dinah, and the local justice system, especially in democracies where checks and balances exist to ensure relative social equality. In Dinei Nefashois, it would mean that we are all members in the quest to save human lives, not just Jewish lives;

-- It would mean that all men and women, all of mankind, are indeed created “Betzelem Eloikim”, all have a Godly spark. It would mean that ALL people matter, and not just the Jews.

But if that is the case, why be a Jew? If we acknowledge equality, why not be a Christian or a Muslim or a Hindu or a Buddhist, or a Rastafarian (“Hey mon, you got a splif for me?”) or an atheist?

Why be a Jew?

Rabboisai, every so often we all get chain e-mails that boast about the accomplishments of Klal Yisroel in influencing the world. Besides being the religion that led to the creation of Christianity and heavily influences Islam, we have many accomplishments to our name: a tremendous number of Nobel Prize winners, political and philosophical leaders who have changed the world, scientists, doctors, business people, researchers, successful authors and artists and musicians and producers and directors and performers who have changed the world. Where would the world be today without Albert Einstein? Where would the world be today without an understanding of the Big Bang, a theory confirmed by a Traditional Jew named Dr. Arno Penzias? Where would the world be without Dr. Jonas Salk, the man who created the vaccine for Polio? Where would the world be without Bernie Madoff?

We are a tiny people, a small nation, a remnant who have survived a 2,000 year old Diaspora. How are we so successful, and Kal V’Choimer, why are we so successful despite immeasurable persecution throughout the ages? Our success and very existence do not make rational sense, either intellectually or statistically.

I am reminded of a famous Mashal. There once was a man who had 6 daughters. Reizel, Shprintza, Pessy, Hannah, Smadar, and Christina. All we very beautiful, except for Christina, who looked like she was hit in the face by a Sephardic Sefer Toirah while it was closed. All the men of the town wanted to marry the elder five daughters, but no one was interested in poor Christina. And so the man gave special attention of Christina. He gave her a better education. He bought her nice clothing. He got her a nose job, because, Aimisteh knows, she really needed it.

When it came for Shidduchim for all of the daughters, the elder five ended up marrying Rabbonim and prominent businessmen. Except for Christina, who refused to have an arranged marriage, and established her own business and a school for teaching other young women. One day, as she was attending a conference on global warming, she met a nice man. And she has now been married to Bono for 20 years.

Rabboisai, what do we learn from this story? We learn that we are all the children of the same Creator, Avinu SheBashamayim, Our Father In Heaven. We all have a role to play, we all have a mission. Not every trajectory is the same. Different groups have different needs. Different groups have different legacies. But we are all essentially created equal.

We must protect ourselves and our fundamental interests, including ensuring a peaceful and secure Medinas Yisroel. But we should never delude ourselves into believing that we are all alone, that Klal Yisroel are the only ones who matter in the eyes of the Aimisteh. For, “Lumuh Yoimru HaGoyim, ‘Ayeh Nu Eloikeihem’?”

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Menuval


Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Thursday, November 06, 2014

On Modesty



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At the moment of this posting I have been kicked off of Facebook. I am not alone. Several other Jewish bloggers have also been kicked off -- likely after having been reported by people disagreeing with specific opinions or humor or satire.

Luckily, we do not live in the Communist Soviet Union. There is freedom of speech. And if Facebook decides to shut down the voices of bloggers who use pen names, then there are alternate ways for sharing ideas and messages.

We are living in an age where the masses are being empowered by the free flow of information. This threatens those with vested interests in controlling the flow of ideas. Whatever lies behind Facebook's business decisions or the will of those who are trying to preserve an unsustainable status quo of intellectual and ideological control, such controls cannot stop the exchange of ideas.

We are living in a generation where the common man/ woman has not only the right, but the ability and the responsibility, to question, to challenge, and to explore new ideas and paradigms.

Torah Lo BaShamayim Hee...



On Modesty


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 LCD LED 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.


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 ISIS, 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 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 Yankee 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 secretly videotaping women in the Mikvah, we have a problem. When a rabbi holds himself up as a moral paragon, but attacks efforts to empower women to protect women undergoing the conversion process, we have a problem. When the Orthodox Union continues to employ as its #2 Kashruth Posek a man who knowingly and intentionally engaged in the persecution of a child victim of a sex crime and his family, we have a problem. When entire Jewish communities are run like mafias and are not answerable to the masses -- be they Satmar, Lakewood, or Yeshiva University -- we have a real problem.

We have a problem because so many in Klal Yisroel are obsessed with Oilum Hazeh, expedient and short term considerations and benefit, including financial gain, 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.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval.


Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess