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THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN
NEW -- My Israel Tour Diary
I was on a plane coming back from Yeshiva business in Eretz Yisroel. After protesting to the anti-Semitic flight attendants, Resha’im Arrurim, that I could not possible be seated next to a woman on the airplane, especially one who weighed 400 pounds and smelled like matjes herring, I was seated next to a Feineh Mensch who was similarly dressed to me. Boruch Hashem.
So we began to speak to each other. What is your name, I asked him. "Reb Shloimoi Libi" he responded. Where are you from, I asked him. He responded that he is from Far Rockaway. In response, I told him that I am from Boro Park, Ir HaKoidesh.
I then asked him where he learned. He responded "Baltimore. And you?" I responded "BMG".
We then started comparing which Rabbanim we had gotten Brachois from while in Eretz Yisroel. Reb Shloimoi told me that he received a Bracha from Belzer Rebbe. I told him that I had received a Bracha from the Gerrer Rebbe. He told me that he received a Bracha from the Rosheshiva of Ponovitch. I responded that I received a Bracha from the Rosheshiva of the Mir.
And so it went.
I told Reb Shloimoi that I visited the Kever of the Babba Sali, and he responded that he visited the Kever of Ovadiah Yoisaiph. I told him that I visited the Kever of Rav Issur Zalman Meltzer, and he responded that he visited the Kever of the Chazoin Ish.
Advantage Reb Shloimoi.
Then we started comparing where we Davened.
Reb Shoimoi told me that he had Davened Shacharis at the Maaras HaMachpelah, Mincha at Kever Rochel, and Maariv at the Koisel HaKatan (a small part of the Western Wall only accessible in the Moslem Quarter). I responded that I had Davened Vasikin at the Koisel, Mincha at Kever of Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel, and Maariv in Tzfas, on the hill where the Ari ZAHL and his acolytes would Daven on Friday nights (that is where the prayer Lecha Dodi was introduced).
I mentioned that during this trip to Eretz Yisroel, I took a side trip into Jordan, and said Tehillim at Nebe Mussa, the site believed to be where Moishe Rabbeinu observed the Promised Land from across the Jordan River and then went off to die. Reb Shloimoi responded that he went up to Har HaBayis and secretly recited Tehillim while being watched by members of the IDF, the Waqf, the U.N., and the Better Business Bureau.
Advantage Reb Shloimoi.
Reb Shloimoi mentioned that en route to Eretz Yisroel he visited Uman in the Ukraine, and Davened at the Kever of Rabbi Nachman of Bresslov, while being escorted by a bodyguard. I responded that en route to Israel I stopped in Bagdad and Davened at the Kevarim of Abaya and Rava, while wearing a flak jacket.
I mentioned that I protested at the Women’s Tefillah (Tiflus) Group at the Koisel, and was nearly arrested. Reb Shloimoi reported that he protested at the Jerusalem Pride (Toieivah) Parade, and was arrested.
Advantage Reb Shloimi.
At mealtime, Reb Shloimi insisted that he only eats BADATZ Hashgacha, as he does not trust the Rabbanut when it comes to Orlah and possible leftovers from Shmitah. I responded that I only eat meat that I slaughter myself, and, in order to avoid the Chashash of Orlah and Shivi’is, I only eat produce that carry the Hasgacha of HAMAS in Gaza.
I told Reb Shloimi that while in Israel, I heard great Shiurim from Reb Zeidel Wolf Rosenbaum and from Reb Berl Rokach. He responded that he heard fantastic Shiurim from Reb Nissel Rosenbaum and from Reb Mordechai Dovin Unger.
Advantage Reb Shloimi.
Reb Shloimi told me that he had trouble reaching the Koisel one evening because of some swearing in ceremony being held by “the IDF army”. (Author’s note: I actually heard someone say those words on a plane two weeks ago, after I had the privilege to witness that Tekes HashBa’Ah for a brigade of Israeli paratroopers.) I replied that I lay my body across an archaeological dig at the side of a construction site, to prevent the self-hating-anti-Semites from Chass V’Sholom disturbing Philistine bones.
I told Reb Shloimi that I had carried $1,000 in Shaliach Mitzvah money which I used to endow a new Shas to a Yeshiva in Bnei Brak. Reb Shloimi responded that he had carried $10,000 in Shaliach Mitzvah money which he contributed to the political coffers of the Degel HaToirah political party.
Advantage Reb Shloimi.
Finally, Reb Shloimi boasted about how at eight days old, his Bris Milah was performed by the most prominent Moihel in Far Rockaway, and that the Moihel performed Metzitza BiPeh Melei’ah, without the use of a glass tube. I responded that at eight days old my Bris Milah was performed by the finest Moihel in all of Brooklyn, who also performed Metzitza BiPeh Melei’ah, and that to ensure that the Zchus lasts me for my entire life, I have my Bashert, Feigeh Breineh, perform Metzitza BiPeh on me once a month, and twice if I am really lucky.
Definitely advantage me.
Rabboisai, I share this episode with you because, in retrospect, I am not proud of it. This exchange, this competition, if you will, is focused on Mitzvois Bain Adam LaMakoim. It is focused on service to the Divine, with little or no consideration for our fellow man. Would that we equally value Mitzvois Bain Adam LeChaveiroi, valuing considerations of other human beings.
I am reminded of a famous Maiseh Shehoya about the Kutzker Rebbe. As is well known, the Kutzker stressed poverty and humility amongst his Chassidim, so that worldly concerns would not serve as a distraction. Many of his Chassidim were known to walk around in tattered clothing, and some even used cabbage leaves to cover their heads, instead of hats. (Note: This is in fact documented.)
At the end of his active life as a Rebbe, the Kutzker had his famous episode, where at the Shabbos Table he splattered his wine, extinguishing the Shabbos candles, and declared to all in attendance, “Lessssss Din V’Lessssss Dayan”, a famous expression from the Aggadah meaning “There is no Law, and there is no Judge”.
That night, the Reboinoisheloilum came to him in a dream. “Menachem Mendel”, Hakadoshboruchhu asked, “What are you doing? You are fucking with my shit!”
The Kutzker panicked. “Amishteh”, he replied, “Sorry about the whole Shabbos candles and existential crisis thing. I had a bad day. The Lulav isn’t quite standing up the way it used to, if you know what I mean.”
The Reboinoisheloilum responded. “Menachem Mendel, I do not care about the Shabbos candles. And your blasphemous statement did not bother me. Do I look like a judge to you, for Mysakes?”
“However”, continued Hakadoshboruchhu, “when you stress humility to your Chassidim and make them live like they are paupers, you are not teaching them values, you are creating a cycle of poverty, since they cannot support themselves and their family, and making them look like total Schmucks. Remember, Menachem Mendel, ‘Humility’ is NOT the same as ‘Humiliation’. And if you cannot tell the difference, then you probably ought to retire and play golf.”
In the morning, the Kutzker decided to follow the Aimishteh’s advice, and committed to becoming a recluse for the last twenty years of his life. The only regular appearances that the Kutzker would make was at the Oorah Annual Chinese Auction, where every year he would bid on a new Lexis, but would never win. However, he would always go home with a consolation prize: a new head of cabbage, which would address his head-covering needs for the entire year.
Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval
Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess