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THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN
On Life After Death
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 NPOJ8@Yahoo.com with the one line “Subscribe me, my beloved Roisheshiva”), my blog at http://rabbi-pinky.blogspot.com, and my Seforim athttp://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Rabbi_Pinky, 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, sitting behind bars, and, Be-Ezras HaShem, serving as someone's... errr... Prison-Rebbetzin, if you know what I mean...).
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 Bsomim 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 Minuval
Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess