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Friday, May 19, 2017

NEW -- Chadash Assur Min HaToirah

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Chadash Assur Min HaToirah


Rabboisai,

This week I had been planning to share with you the ultimate key to bringing Moishiach, the Shaym HaMephoirash, the ineffable name of Hakadoishboruchhu that has been passed down in my - MY - family, as I am the direct descendant of Moishe Rabbeinu, Eli HaKoihaon, and Yirmiyahi HaNavi. And in invoking the Name in this Drasha, in this large virtual Kehillah, I was going to trigger the Yemai HaMashaich, the Messianic Era and the End Of Days. It's about time, don't you think?

In my role as President Donald Trump's Advisor For Spiritual Afffairs this week, I discussed my plan with President Trump SHLITA, and he though the idea was "Terrific!" He even wanted to know if we could brand the Third Bais HaMikdash as the "Trump Temple".

However. President Trump inadvertently shared the Shaym HaMephoirash with the Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador a week ago, and as they tried to use this ultimate weapon in their Zil limousines on the way back to the Russian Embassy, they upset the Reboinoishoilum, who only allows the use of the Shaym once in a generation. So Moshiach-Tzeit, the era of the Moshiach, will have to wait.

Damn.

But the good news is that some of my investments in Canadian real estate, the defense industry, and privately run prisons will now have time to grow in value. Baruch HaShem.

Shoyn.

----

We start today's Drasha with a series of questions. Please bear with me; I know that you have the attention span of a Goilem who just drank six Espressois... errr... espressos.

----

-- The Mishnah asks: "Ma'Amusai Koirin Ess Kriyas Shma Ba'Arvin?" From what point can we start reciting Kriyas Shma at night? I am not going to recite to you the entire Machloikess; if you are not intimately familiar with this very basic Mishnah, you should probably stop calling yourself a Jew and start worshipping Yushka, since you are an Am Ha'Aretz and add no value to Klal Yisroel whatsoever. Unless of course you are willing to write a big check, and then we will praise your value as a supporter of Toirah and Klal Yisroel and as a communal leader. Kenayna Hurrah!!

-- We also have an adage in Klal Yisroel that begins, "Tuhdeer V'She'einoi Tuhdeer..." - When one has to prioritize the order of a liturgy, which comes first - the common or the uncommon? Again, I am not going to tell you the answer. You should know the answer, otherwise you should not be reading this Drasha, because you are not qualified to be a Jew. Instead, you should be fixing cars and doing projects that require sheetrock.

-- When someone has a son, he has the opportunity to engage in the greatest Mitzvah in Klal Yisroel - LeHachnisoi Ess Bnei LeBrisoi Shel Avraham Avinu - to connect his son to the eternal covenant that Avraham Avinu forged with the Reboinoisheloilum. How does one do this? By having a Moihel perform a Bris, a circumcision, on the eighth day of life, or as soon after as possible in the event of medical complication. And what does the Bris include? The key ingredients are: Circumcision, Metzitza BiPeh, and and serving bagels and lox.

You may raise concerns about the practice of Metzitza BiPeh, a practice during which the Moihel draws blood from the site of the circumcision with his mouth. Opponents of this practice point to several incidents in which a Moihel with oral herpes passed along this minor disease to the eight day old baby who has no immune system. This has occasionally resulted in the deaths of such children. You may argue that this practice should be waived and possibly be ruled illegal in civil law. But whoever would argue such a thing is either an agent of Yishmael or the embodiment of the Amalek in our day.

-- When a boy or a girl on the Kehillah is sexually abused by a rabbi or a respected community member or even a member of their own family, we must express sympathy for the victim. And we must do everything in our power - EVERYTHING - to make certain that the perpetrator is not reported to the police. After all, "Lama Yoimru BaGoyim, Ayeh Nuh Eloikaichem". What will the Goyom say?

So what if the abuser goes out and abuses again and again? Hey, the kids will get over it! Or maybe they will leave the community or even commit suicide. That will make the problem go away!

And let's face it, there are a lot worse Aveirois than sexual abuse. Such as Shatnez, shaving with a blade, and, of course, using a smartphone, especially during Chazarass HaSHATZ.

-- When a married person loses his or her faith, Chass V'Sholom, what should we as a community do? How should we respond to someone who goes - what is the expression? - OTB?

Well, we must of course show sympathy and understanding as a community, by banding together socially and economically and ensuring that the Frum parent gets sole custody of the children, and that the non-Frum parent gets visitation, of course - a half an hour a week, max, supervised.

And what if the Frum parent is physically, sexually, or emotionally abusive, or denies giving an Off The Derech wife a Gett? These our not our concerns, as the well being of the children in the Oilum HaZeh is pure Gashmiyus, materialism; as Frummah Yidden we must only worry about Ruchniyus, the Neshamas of the children in Oilum HaBah. And if the Frum parent's treatment of the children leads to their suffering, descent into despair, substance abuse, and early death, why that only means that they will be able to join the Aimishteh in Gan Eden sooner that they otherwise would have. What a Mitzvah we can do as a community!!

You're welcome.

-- Why did the Holocaust happen? Why, that is simple: Because the Reboinoisheloilum was punishing Klal Yisroel. And we know this because the punishment is foretold in the Toirah. Why did Hakadoishboruchhu slaughter all our ancestors? Once again, if you are asking such an obvious question, you do not belong as a member of Klal Yisroel.

The general point is as follows: If you do not agree with such "normative" definitions and prescriptions, you are a Menuval; even worse, you are a self hating Jew. In fact, you are more like a Judenrat. Or even worse, a Democrat.

Had you been in Egypt, you would not have been let out. Your sons would today be members of ISIS, and your daughters would be belly dancers.

---

Rabboisai - We are suffering from a plague. What is this plague? People thinking for themselves.

This is a terrible thing which undermines rabbinic political and economic power.. errr... which undermines belief in the Reboinoisheloilum and Hashgacha Pratis, Divine engagement in the world.

Rabboisai, the advent of people having access to the internet on their personal phones echoes the earlier introduction of the internet, which followed the phenomenon of television, the invention of radio, and the root of all evils, the printing press. In general, literacy is causing people to do Aveirois -- that is: Exchange ideas,  develop questions, and seek answers. This sometimes leads to people going OTD, or becoming a Meshumad, or leading a secular lifestyle, or being a secular humanist, or affiliating with the Reform or Conservative movements.

Or, the worst, remaining engaged in the Orthodox community and challenging the community to address areas of concern on the philosophical, theological, social, practical, and Halachic dimensions.

Our nation is called "the People of the Book". What book does this refer to? I assure you, it refers to Toirah Moshe Rabbeinu, not the works of Darwin or Einstein or Watson and Crick, or Marc Shapiro, or The Economist, or National Geographic, or the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. It refers to the writing of RASHI and Toisfois, not The Toirah.Com. It refers to the publications of ArtScroll, not to the publications or the Hebrew Union College or the Jewish Theological Seminary, or Koren Publishing or Yeshivasssss Choivevei Toirah, Chass V'Sholom.

Orthodox Judaism is called "Orthodox Judaism" because is contains "orthodoxies", basic beliefs. And if you do not  subscribe to those basic beliefs, especially as espoused by me and my rabbinic colleagues, then you may as well by building the next Auschwitz because you are promoting questioning which will lead to efforts to change our way of life, to assimilation, and to Shmad. Assimilation is the Holocaust in our generation; I know so, because I saw on Facebook that some rabbi said so. So it must be true.

How does one confront this challenge to the religious hegemony of our Gedoilim? There is a Machloikess on this:

According the Reb Shmiel Kalbasavua, such voices must simply be ignored. Unless of course the proponents of new ideas do not look or smell like us, in which case they should be challenged to a pissing contest, typically next to a fire hydrant.

Reb Yehoishaphat Catahoula, a rising rabbinical star, holds that we should attack anyone and anything that blocks our path, and tear away at their foundations of credibility as if we were ripping out the insoles of their shoes with our teeth, pulling out their stuffing, and biting at them to make them harmlessly squeak.

Maharat Avigail Katievsky holds Farkert, that we should sit calmly around such people, but strike at them with outstretched claws when they least expect it.

But her brother Reb Asher Katievsky believes that we should keep our community as far away from such influences, protecting ourselves and our community as much as possible by hiding in hard-to-find places, though occasionally coming out to engage as long as we are properly acknowledged by being stroked behind the ears.

Finally, Reb Betzalel Kupkayk holds that we should observe such people by lying in wait, quietly and stealth-fully, until we POUNCE and capture those annoying creatures, torture them, kill them once we get bored, and leave their carcasses on the front steps of the Rebbe's house, as a gift.

----

Rabboisai, Shloimoi HaMelech once wrote that "Ein Chadash Tachassss HaShemesh", "There is nothing new under the sun". So who are these people who would have the Chutzpah to argue with Shloimoi HaMelech?

Some may suggest that there are many factors that should be considered in the modern era that should influence our approach in practicing our faith, such as:
-- Knowledge of science, including modern medicine
-- Modern social perceptions, such as the recognition of the fundamental equality of the intellectual capabilities of women
-- Better understanding of the behavior and the brain, including the lifelong negative impact of trauma
-- The rapid evolution of technology and communications.

People who cite such factors may be proud of themselves. They probably overheard conversations while sitting in a public Bais HaKeesay or while on line to register for welfare and unemployment benefits.

But we know better.

As the Chassssam Soifer said, "Chadash Assur Min HaToirah", nothing new is permitted by the Toirah. And he knew what he was talking about. He was a modern man, a man of our world; why, he died only a couple of years ago. In 1839. Compared to him, Einstein had the mind of a child, and Mark Zuckerburg was a shoemaker.

"Chadash Assur Min HaToirah" means that there have been zero changes in Yiddiskeit since Moishe Rabbeinu drank Espressois with Hakadoshbaruchhu on Har Sinai. He Davened using the liturgy of today, out of an Art Scroll Siddur. He wore a Shtreimel. He used filters on his water tap to keep out microscopic organisms. He used three filters on his iPhone, which he of course needed for professional purposes. He had two dishwashers in his kitchen, plus had a second kitchen for Pesach. He refused to sit next to women every time he sat on a plane. And he had a Nidah App on his iPhone to monitor his wife’s cycle and Mikvah habits.

And while according to the Toirah he preached the importance of honesty in judges and testimony, he made sure that such judges would always favor sexual abusers over their victims, and would deny parental access to children if a male parent decided that he liked to shave with a blade, or a female parent liked to eat Tarfus.

"Chadash Assur Min HaToirah."

So next time you hear of radical ideas, or have philosophical or theological questions, or worry about the well-being of human victims of Orthodox fundamentalism, get those ideas out of your mind. You have better things to be concerned about, such as Zman Kriyas Shma, which Shmineh Esrei to say first when reciting a Tashlumim, or how much suction to use when performing Metzitza BiPeh.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval

---------

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Parshas Emor

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Parshas Emor


Rabboisai,

I strongly suggest you read this week's Parsha at your own risk. "Why?" you ask, you Minuval. Because a month hasn't even passed, and we are back at Pesach again. Reboinoisheloilum, I am still recovering from throwing my back out while removing the car seats from the minivan. It's a good thing too I cleaned under the seats in the car -- my Yetzer Hara might have tempted me to break into the car after the second Seder to snack on the two crushed M&Ms on the floor.

Why do we prepare so intensively for Pesach? According to Rabeinu Tam, we commemorate slavery in Egypt by spending six hours marching up and down the stairs to the attic to bring down the Pesach dishes while our wives stand over us barking orders (those Amharatzois).

Meanwhile, Rachmana Litzlan, our wives absolutely exhaust themselves watching the cleaning lady prepare for Pesach. Uchinvei!

The RAMBAM in Mishnah Toirah asks an incisive question: Instead of selling our Chametz to a Goy, why can't we just temporarily sell our religion to a Goy? This way, he can have the opportunity to get the Mitzvah of celebrating Yetzias Mitzrayim, while we get to eat a little Traifus, paint easter eggs, and have relations with a hot Shiksa for seven days (eight days in Chutz La'aretz). 

But the RAMBAM concludes that if a Goy had to eat Matzah for eight days, he would end up hating the Jews even more than he already does.

In truth, why do we stop our Pesach cleaning at our abode and our cars? A Gemarrah In Masheches Peshachim Daf Chuff Aleph, Amud Baiz asks: Why don't we clean out our bodies of the Chometz we pump into them 51 weeks a year? Indeed, Rav Ashi holds that this is the reason that Bechorim fast Erev Pesach, and that to get the full Mitzvah, people should stick their finger's down their throats during Bedikas Chometz.

But further in the Gemarra, Rav Yoisi disagrees, saying "Ain Oichel Achar Oichel", that since the food is already eaten, we hold that food cannot be eaten a second time, so there is no such requirement. However, Rav Yoisi does go on to tell a story of how one year he told his wife that he needed her help cleaning for Pesach, since Halacha required him to expel ALL possible bodily fluids. And due to her extreme gullibility, she helped him three times that night. What an Aishess Chayill! 

Unfortunately, he slept through much of the Seder the next night, so he never dared to do it again.

My personal belief is that celebrating Yetzias Mitzrayim is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with the Einiklach. Beyond cleaning, you get the Mitzvah of preparing the Matzois and the Ka'arah. During the Seder you are unified with all of Klal Yisroel in celebration. And after the Seder, while cleaning up, you lament the fact that your damn mother-in-law wasn't accidentally left in Mitzrayim.

But the timing of this week's Parsha raises a key question about the overall structure of the Parshiyois of the Toirah: Why don't they follow a more intuitive order? Why does the Toirah place individual sections out of chronological order, as well as offer multiple repetitions of various episodes and sections?

The standard answer, given by Rashi, is that Moishe Rabeinu, like any good representative of Klal Yisroel, never went anywhere without his cellphone. And as the Reboinoisheloilum was dictating the Toirah, his Minuval brother Aron HaCoihain kept on calling. "Moishe, should I have the people pray?" "Moishe, should we circle Har Sinai?" "Moishe, white makes me look fat; can you ask the Aimishteh to change the color of the Koihain Gadol's garments?" Well all of these constant distractions threw Moishe off, and he got the order of the Reboinoisheoloilum's dictation all confused.

I would humbly like to offer a new Pshat. I remember as a young Talmid I asked my Rebbe Muvhak, Rabbi Mordechai Willig, why we learn Mussar in the morning, Gemarra all day, and NACH with Mepharshim at night? Shouldn't we study in the reverse order, reflecting the development of Toirah and Lumduss? Rabbi Willig glowingly gave me a hug, led me by the hand to the front of the Bais Medrish, and then slammed my head against the top of his Shtender. "Until you know the answers yourself, don't ask me such stupid questions, you Vilda Chaya" he then said. He then called up his good friend Baruch Lanner and bought a few shares in banks going IPO.

After pondering this comment for thirty years, I now understand my Rebbe's wisdom. Mimunifshuch, if everything in life made sense, we wouldn't have to Daven three times a day. Life is confusing. And those of us who don't fall into the trap of seeing everything in black and white must spend our lives struggling with shades of gray. So the Toirah has a few mysteries. If everything was crystal clear, faith wouldn't be a challenge. The Reboinoishelolum wants to keep us guessing and asking questions. And at the same time, he intends the Toirah to serve as our road map. 

So don't complain next time you have to vacuum the inside of the car and don't know why. At least as a member of Klal Yisroel you are never expected to change a tire by yourself.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval

---------

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Ask Rabbi Pinky: Al Sfiras HaOimer

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Ask Rabbi Pinky: Al Sfiras HaOimer


Baruch Ata Idon’tknow,

Heywhereareyou Melech HaOilum,

Asher Kideshanu BeMitzvoisav Vetzivanu,

Al Sfiras HaOimer.

HaYoim Shmoinah Esrei Alaphim U’Masayim Chamishim Yoim,

SheHaym Alpayim Shaish Maois Va’Sheva Shavuois, VaEchad Yamim LaOimer.


Rabboisai,

Unlike you, you Minuvals, I have not lost count of the Oimer, ever since I was a Kleinikel. I count Sefirah with a Bracha every day, never missing except for that one time in college when I got lucky with that hot shiksa (Boruch Hashem for tequila!). But, thankfully, I was able to count Sefirah the next morning without a Bracha, as I was putting on my Tefillin in Christine’s apartment.

Which brings us the Shailah I address this week:

Yoineh Vuv asks: “Rav Pinky -- May a woman shave her Makom HaErva during Sefirah?”

Yoinelah – This is a Gevaldikkah Shailah! You are Mechavayn to the exact question asked by the RALBAG, the great Medieval Talmidist, Mathematician, and dispenser of at-home Brazilian services to the housewives of Avignon, France.

Before I address your Shailah, Halacha Lemaiseh, I would like to address the overall topic of Sefiras HaOimer.

What is Sfiras HaOimer? We know that from the perspective of the Toirah, we are required to count seven weeks from Pesach to calculate the start of Shavuois, Zman Matan Toirasainu. According to Rabbi Yoichanan, cited in a Braisah brought down in a Gemara in Makkois, this is because 49 days is the length of time required for matzah constipation to be flushed out of the system, so we can be fully prepared for the lactose intolerance brought on by cheesecake on Shavuois. 

But according to Rabbi Yishmael, as mentioned in a Tosefta in Moiaid Kattan, seven weeks is the amount of time it takes for a man to be able to come home from a hard day’s work without having to worry about his wife waiting at the door, barking orders at him about bringing those last three pieces of stray Pesach china up to the attic.

The Oimer was originally grounded in the agrarian cycle of Eretz Yisroel. Later, it came to represent the period of time between Yetzitas Mitzrayim, the Exodus, and the giving of the Toirah. But of course it has also taken on a whole latter day symbolism of semi-mourning. A Gemara in Avoidah Zorah tells us that during Sefirah, we mourn the deaths of 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva. There is, however, a machloikess as to why they died.

According to Rav Huna, they died of a plague brought upon them because they lacked Derech Eretz – they did not respect each other. They insulted each other with harsh words and dismissive language, the kinds of things you do all the time, you good-for-nothing Minuval Vilda Chayas.

However, according to Rav Sheyshess, Rabbi Akiva’s students actually died fighting in the failed Bar Kochba Revolt, the second rebellion against the Romans from 131-135 CE. Rabbi Akiva is quoted in the Yerushalmi in Tainis as pronouncing Bar Kochba to be the Moishiach (this is true, by the way). Many of his students enlisted to support the military effort, and to get the government sponsored tuition assistance needed to pay for Rabbi Akiva’s Yeshiva, Yeshivas Ohr HaMaskoiret.

Finally, Rav Puppa holds that the students died in an unfortunate accident. LeOilum, in reality, the Reboinoisheloilum only put in an order to kill 1,000 students. But due to a programming glitch in Hakadoshboruchhu’s Persecution Trading System (PTS), the kill off swelled to 24,000 dead before the system’s safeguards kicked in. A similar thing happened in 1938, but due to a weak regulatory environment, the safeguards did not automatically kick in until there were much heavier losses in the market.So, to commemorate the deaths of so many of Rabbi Akiva’s Talmidim, we take upon ourselves some of the rituals of mourning. 

There was great debate amongst the Rishoinim about which Sefirah-related proscriptions an individual should follow. During Sefirah:

-- The Roish would not shave

-- The Ran would not bathe, except on Erev Shabboskoidesh

-- The RIF would not go to the bathroom. This also enabled him to save a lot of money on food and toilet paper.

These differences of Minhag are reflected in the various Sefirah practices in place in the modern Yeshiva World:

-- In Yeshivas Punuvitch in Eretz Yisroel, the Talmidim do not attend live musical performances

-- In the Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn, the Talmidim do not listen to music, live or recorded

-- In Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim in Queens, the Talmidim do not read or write or speak to each other; they just say Tachanun all day and play with the buttons on their little Hatzalah walkie talkies

-- In Yeshivas Toiras Yoisiaph Smith in Utah, the Talmidim do not drink coffee or smoke cigarettes, and are not Mezaneh with more than three of their wives on any given night.

With regard to your specific Shailah, Reb Yoineh, this is linked to a Pesak of Reb Moishe. Reb Moishe ruled that while the laws of Sefirah requires a man to abstain from shaving as a sign of mourning, if someone makes his Parnassah in the professional world, and his situation requires him to be well groomed, then he is allowed to shave. Notes Reb Shmiel Kalbasavua: We can apply this same rule to women as well. A woman should not shave her Erva during Sefirah. However, if she is required to be well groomed for professional reasons, for example, is an exotic dancer or a Victoria’s Secret model, then she is indeed allowed to shave.

Reb Yoiseph Katski is even more Meikel. He agrees that in principle, a woman should not shave her Erva during Sefirah. However, this should not in any way interfere with any aspect of her life, professional or personal. States Reb Yoisaiph, “If a woman’s overgrown forest is harming her normal patterns of marital activity because her husband cannot find a path through the trees in order to launch his canoe, then she is indeed entitled to clear a path to the lake, though must be careful not to engage in complete deforestation.” Unquote.

Rabboisai, the laws of Sefirah are not simple ones. And too many people in our community do not pay the proper attention to observing this wonderful opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the Aimishteh by counting to forty nine and looking like a vagrant. At a cosmic level, Oimer makes us closer to the Reboinoisheloilum by preparing us for the Kedushah of Kabbalas HaToirah. How does the Oimer do this? I admit that I cannot tell you exactly. But this is a point of Mesoirah – it is our tradition of 3,500 years, handed down over many generations, as a Halacha Le-Art Scroll MiSinai.

 Ah Gutten Shabbos, you Minuval.

---------

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Parshas Shmini

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Parshas Shmini


Rabboisai,

I have been asked by many of my Minuval talmidim why I publish reruns of Divrei Toirah I have shared in the past. I point out every time to these Meshugaim that if you do not complain to the Baal Koiray every week about rereading a Parsha you just heard last year, then you should not complain about these Divrei Toirah.

Incidentally, if you must know the truth, the reason why you are not receiving a new Dvar Toirah this week is because you did not Daven with the proper Kavvanah last week. Hakadoshboruchhu was watching your every move, you Vilda Chaya. He saw you joking around with your friends in Shul and sneaking a peak into the Ezrass Nashim to check out the visiting talent. He also saw you eat that sucking candy without making a Bracha, you Chazer. Consider this a warning. The next time you violate the Toirah, the Aimishteh may send transcripts of your Facebook conversations with some hot shiksa to your wife. You may not fear the Reboinoisheloilum, but I know you are terrified of your Ballhabuster.

 -------------

 Parshas Shmini

 In this parsha, 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 tsu zein a 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 occurence. 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 be Hiddur Mitzvah. Hey, please remind me of this next time I want to spend an extra ten dollars on an Esrog!

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 missah, just so long as whatever was cooked and eaten conforms with the same halochois in place for the Korbonois. He cites a Braisah in Yevamois that 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 missah for having brought a dessert with a mum 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. When will they ever learn? 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

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Pesach at the White House

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Pesach at the White House


Rabboisai,

Greetings from my office in the White House, where I served as "Special Advisor to the President on Unleavened Affairs" leading up to Pesach. I am proud to announce that my title changed after Bedikah at the White House on Sunday night to "Special Advisor to the President on Bedikah Affairs". 

Prior to Passover, this involved inspection for Chometz. But for eleven months of the year I will be inspecting "women bleeding from their wherever". The good news: I have been able to find a vendor who can produce Bedikah cloths with the picture of the White House emblazoned on them. (Thank you cousin Mendy!!!) Which just goes to show that when President Trump talked about "grabbing women by the pussy", he was actually speaking in support of a Mitzvah Dioraisah. What a Tzaddick!!

It has been quite a wonderful start to Pesach. I had the pleasure of leading the annual White House Seder. Jared recited the Kiddush. Ivanka hid the Afikoman. And President Trump Tweeted the Four Questions. 

The tradition of holding a White House Seder was actually established by that anti Semitic Jeremiah Wright loving Islamic fundamentalist Former President Barack HUSSEIN Oibama. His Seder used the ubiquitous Maxwell House Haggadah that many of us grew up with. But President Trump has evolved the tradition. Donald Trump's initial instinct was to use the official Starbucks Haggadah; unfortunately, there is none. However, Starbucks would be happy to sell you a vanilla soy iced frappicino with an extra shot for $30 dollars. Which may sound expensive.... unless you have ever ordered a cup of coffee in Trump Tower.

Steve Bannon suggested an alternate Haggadah - the Der Sturmer Haggadah. In it, Klal Yisroel are easily distinguished from the other nations because of their hooked noses, their money bags, and their portrayal as rodents. And the Egyptians are recognizable by their blond hair, blue eyes, and muscular features. But we decided against the Der Sturmer Haggadah because the liturgy was edited to read "Shfoich Chamuscha Al HaYehudim...". So that was out.

So we finally settled on creating our own Trump Administration Haggadah. In it, Jared is portrayed as the Chacham, the Wise Son, Steve Bannon is portrayed at the Rasha, or the Wicked Son, Betsy DeVos is portrayed as the Tam, or Simple Son, and Sean Spicer is portrayed as the She'Einoi Yoidayah Lishoil, the Son Who Is Incapable of Asking Questions. According to a commentary by RASHI, this son refers either to a very young child, or to a complete fucking moron.

Indeed, many of us found out on the Second Day of Yuntif in the newspaper or after Yuntif about Sean Spicer's declaration in comparing Bashir Assad to Adolf Hitler, that, "Someone as despicable as Hitler … didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons." This is of course 100% accurate on multiple dimensions: 1) Hitler indeed did not use chemical weapons in combat, likely owing to his trauma from trench warfare during WWI; 2) From the Nazi perspective, Jews, Gypsies, Poles, Russian Soldiers, Communists and the countless others murdered with Zyklon B gas were sub-humans, so were not in anyway comparable to Syrian civilians; and 3) Zyklon B, used to kill millions, is not a chemical weapon; it is an insecticide. So of course Sean Spicer was 100% accurate!!!

Of course, Sean Spicer did backtrack and apologize for his statements, noting that "Hitler did not kill his own citizens", a position which I am sure is reassuring to all descendants of  German Jews killed throughout the War, including in Auschwitz in 1943 and 1944. And, of course, Sean Spicer noted that chemical weapons were only used by Hitler in "Holocaust Centers". That was of course very considerate of Hitler! 

Indeed, in the middle of Jerusalem, there is a "Holocaust Center"; I took my family there during my last visit, and registered some family names that did not appear in their archives. In Washington, there is another "Holocaust Center", which people come from all over the country to visit. Kenayna Harrah. There is even a "Holocaust Center" in downtown New York. (True story: I once went to a Bat Mitzvah there; my Basherte Feigeh Breinah and I were seated at the "Auschwitz" table, but my kids were sent to "Dachau".) And there are a few other "Holocaust Centers" scattered throughout the world.

Hitler of course had a far more progressive ideology when it came to "Holocaust Centers". He had a handful in Germany, but most in Poland and today's Belarus. They did not all have pools or health clubs, but they almost all had showers. Many had different activities - some had Pilates, some had hard labor. And all were very effective at helping inmates... errr... members lose weight. A lot of weight. And some of the "Holocaust Centers" even had free bussing!!

So it is an exciting first Pesach at the Trump White House. We are already planning for the first Shavuois. President Trump will be giving Shiur on The Art Of The Deal, Steve Bannon will be giving Shiur on Breitbart News, and Sean Spicer will be giving Shiur on Mein Kampf.

Ah Gutten Moed, You Menuval.

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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Friday, April 07, 2017

Ask Rabbi Pinky: On the Laws of Pesach

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Ask Rabbi Pinky: On the Laws of Pesach


Rabboisai,

In anticipation of the upcoming Yuntif, I would like to address an issue related to Hilchois Pesach


The Anonymous Minuval" writes:

"Rav Pinky,

"Am I allowed to perform oral favors on my wife on Pesach if she has a yeast infection?"

Well, my beloved, gutter-minded talmid, this is a delightful question that I have been asked several times before, all by members of the Ashkenazic tradition, since, as everyone knows, Sephardic Jews have not subscribed to this approach to marital fulfillment since the expulsion from Spain in 1492.

With regard to your question, yeast is not in and of itself chometz (leaven), but is in the category of chometz-related matter. Hence, Chazal would certainly hold that you could NOT perform oral favors on your wife, though you are not required to dispose of her during Pesach.

However, if you are of the practice of performing oral favors on your wife with the aid of a chometzdikkeh food, say -- pudding, the issue becomes more complex. BeDiyeved, there are those that say that the Halacha would view this as similar to yeast, or a kli (a cooking utensil), and, therefore, you may keep your wife in your possession, as long as you do not perform oral favors on her during the course of Pesach.

Lechatchilah, however, if we consider a wife's private parts as food, and therefore, having been exposed to the chometz, the privates take on the nature of chometz, since chometz is not battul afilu be'elef (is not considered insignificant, even if it is an infinitesmal fraction of the food in question), then you must dispose of the chometz prior to Pesach, preferably by burning.

However, in our day, our Rabbis have determined an alternative approach, as we use with other valuable chometz investments. You are allowed to sell your wife's Erva to a gentile, provided you not benefit from it for eight days. And, of course, you have to provide access to the gentile at any time that the gentile so chooses to take possession of the chometz.

How is this contractual arrangement made? There are those that are more lenient, and say a verbal sales agreement is enough to drive the exchange of possession. However, the majority of Achroinim hold that there has to be a symbolic physical transfer of possession. In real estate sales, this is typified by a kinyan sudor, or exchange of possession using as handkerchief as a proxy. In this instance, however, an exchange of your wife's underwear would be the preferred mode.

As well, the Rabbis note, it is customary the night before Pesach to include your wife's Erva when performing Bedikas Chometz in your home. Your wife will certainly welcome the feather. 

But just be careful with that wooden spoon!

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval

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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Pesach Drasha

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Pesach Drasha


Rabboisai,

I am preparing this Drasha as I pack for my departure to serve as the officiating rabbi on a Pesach vacation. After resisting many such offers for years – hotels in the Catskills, Florida, Arizona, Cancun, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, and Antarctica, I was asked to fill in for a colleague on one of these Pesach getaways. My good friend, Rabbi Shloimee Glandolowitzberg, was committed to a venue, but had to cancel at the last minute because he had something caught in his throat. So I will now serve as the official rabbi on the Roy Cohn Kosher LePeysach Gay Cruise to the Greek islands. 

Strangely, the organizers have suggested that I come without my Basherte, Feigeh Breinah, insisting that I will have a lot more fun that way. So she will be with the Kinderlach and Einiklach, while I sacrifice by bringing Toirah to a community of Erlicheh Yidden. Indeed, I had originally declined the offer, since I was planning to be in Eretz Yisroel for Yuntif. I explained to the organizers that Pesach is Klal Yisroel’s celebration of exiting Egypt and traveling to Eretz Yisroel, which, as the Toirah tells us, is “Eretz Zuvass Chuluv U’Dvash”, “a land flowing with milk and honey”. But they responded that the cruise will be quite similar: It will be flowing with something that looks like milk, and something else that almost has the texture of honey, but comes out of a tube. I do not know what they mean, but I look forward to being Mekayaim a new Mitzvah!

In addition, they told me that there were some additional Minhagim on the annual cruise that I would find interesting. Apparently, instead of dipping only two times – Ein Mol In Zatlz Vasser, Un Ein Mol in Charoisess – they dip a third time, after the Afikomen and Chad Gad Yuh, and suggested that I might enjoy it. Again, I am not familiar with such a Minhag; perhaps it is a Sephardic custom. But I can certainly appreciate the Mesiras Nefesh of maintaining a local Minhag. 

Pesach is a time of different behaviors and liturgy and cuisine. We spend more time preparing for Pesach that we do actually celebrating it. Great credit goes to our wives for their commitment to creating Butey Ne’eman BaYisroel, good Jewish homes. In my own home, my wife takes charge of all of the Pesach preparation. She does all the planning. She does all the shopping. And even if she does not do all of the cleaning herself, she makes certain it is all completed. What a Tzadeykess! I knew last Moitzee Shabbos she was preparing to turn the entire kitchen over for Pesach when, immediately after Havdalah, she began ironing her Gestapo uniform. By the time we had Kashered the stove, the sink, and the counters, put all the Chometz dishes away, and brought down all of the Pesach dishes from the attic, I was ready to throw myself against a electrified barbed wire fence.

But, as we know, Pesach is not simply a personal or a family celebration. It is a communal one. Ashrenu that in our generation we can embrace Pesach in a way that previous generations could not. Why, a hundred years ago our great grandparents certainly had Matzoh, Marror, wine and Charoisess. Perhaps they had a little chicken or meat, some potatoes and eggs, and if their were Misnagdim, Kneidlach. Our grandparents and parents may have already had some semblance of Koisher LePesach cakes and cookies. But we in our generation have a much greater variety of choices. Koisher LePesach mustard. Koisher LePesach rolls. Koisher LePesach beer. And my favorite: Koisher LePesach breakfast cereal. During the rest of the year we make do with all of the Goyyishe cereals, as long as they have a proper Hashgacha, of course. But on Pesach we are Zoicheh to eat breakfast cereals that are made Lishmah, expressly for Zman Chayruseinu. My favorite is Sugar Frosted Kikee-Ohs, although my Einikel Binyamin Soirer U’Moireh loves Choco Aleph Baizes. 

It is an ironic thing, of course: These cereals cost $28 a box before Pesach, but the day after Pesach the stores cannot give them away. I heard that last year the local Toimchei Shabbos was collecting unopened Pesach food for the poor: Cans, Matzoh, cocoanut covered marshmallows, etc., but had a big sign on their collection bin, “No Kosher For Passover Cereals, Please. Our Recipients May Be Needy, But They Are Not THAT Desperate”.

But what we have done in our generation is not that different from the actions of our predecessors. “B’Chol Dor VaDor Chayuv Udum Lirois Ess Atzmoh Ke’Iluh Hoo Yutzuh MiMitzrayim.” “In every generation, a person is required to view himself as if he (himself) escaped from Egypt.” The strength of our tradition has been the ability of our nation to seek relevance in each generation and make the Yuntif, and the ideas it represents, “their own”. Sometimes those additions have resulted in additional guidelines and restrictions that we find a source of annoyance, such as Kitniyois. Sometimes those additions have added strictures that many of us ignore, such as Gebruchs. And sometimes those additions have made Jewish lives so intolerable that CHAZAL had to find a back door to nullify their impact, such as Chometz She-Avar Uluv Al HaPesach, which led to the institution of Mechiras Chometz, symbolic selling of Chometz to a Gentile.

Like with so many other examples in Yiddishkeit, every generation and every community has left its mark on our grand tradition. In doing so, we do not abandon the notion of the Divine to the distant, irrelevant, somewhat unknowable past, but seek to embrace the Divine in our own lives. We pursue active engagement with the Reboinoisheloilum to satisfy our own spiritual cravings, as well as to have an excuse to take a few days off from work at the beginning of Spring.

I am reminded of a Ma’aseh Shehoya. One year the Vilna Goyn was leading the Seder at his Yeshiva, surrounded by his family and hundreds of his Talmidim. He had just made Kiddush on the first cup of wine and began to recite the Hagaddah, “Kol Dichfin Yaysay V’Yaychol, Kol Ditzrich Yaysay V’Yifsach”, “All who are hungry should sit down and eat; all who are needy should sit down and partake of the Karban Persach.” At that point, a homeless man dressed in tattered clothing entered the Yeshiva dining room and pulled up an empty chair to the table.

“Sir, what do you think you are doing?” asked the Gruh.

“Well, Mr. Goyn, I am hungry and needy, and I am taking up your offer to join your Seder” responded the man.

“Schmuck!”, the Goyn screamed, “Do you think I really mean this stuff that was written over 1,500 years ago? Next thing you know, you will expect me to believe that 600,000 people left Egypt! How the hell could 600,000 males, plus their families, live in the desert for forty years?! What were the Jews, a group of people, of a bunch of camels?!!”

At that point the vagrant revealed himself to be Eliyahu HaNavi. “Reb Goyn”, he said, “you are indeed wise. The miracles did not really happen the way the Toirah and Hagaddah describe, but we celebrate them anyway, to give meaning to our everyday lives. But you have rejected someone genuinely in need, and for that you will be punished by being known throughout history as a heartless Misnagid who has about as much spirit in him as a twice squeezed lemon has juice.” The man then took away all of the Afikoman presents left under the tree and left the building.

That night, the Goyn was very disturbed. He was wrought with guilt and confusion. Finally, Hakadoshboruchhu came to him in a dream. “Goyn, what is the problem?” He asked.

“Your messenger Eliyahu HaNavi showed me tonight what a selfish person I am, and told me I will be punished for all eternity as a result.”

The Aimishteh laughed a hearty laugh. “Goyn, that was no Eliyahu HaNavi! That was the Baal Shem Toiv playing a practical joke on you. He even took all of your Afikoman Tchatchkees to sell in order to buy vodka for his followers.”

“You mean I am not punished?!!” asked the Goyn, relieved.

“Well, you are a cold Misnagid. That is punishment enough, since you can only see what is in front of you. But I guarantee that the Baal Shem Toiv is also punished, since he can only look under the surface and cannot see obvious truths in front of him. Until you learn to live together, you will both be lost.”

Excitedly, the Goyn asked, “And at that point, will we be Zoicheh to witness the Geulah Shelaymah?”

“Well, not exactly. But your respective descendants will happily go on Gay cruises together.” With that the Reboinoisheloilum departed the dream, and went off to visit with some worshipers at a Hindu temple.

So every generation finds new ways to instill spiritual meaning and relevance. For one generation, it was Kitniyois. For another, it was Gebruchs. For countless others, it was the development of new creative recipes and additions to the Pesach liturgy. And for some in our day, it is the recreation of “a land flowing with milk and honey”, hopefully using proper precautions, if you know what I mean. Ashrenu that in our generation Klal Yisroel can embrace Pesach in ever more creative ways!

Ah Zissen Yuntif, You Minuval.

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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess