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Friday, March 31, 2017

On Cleaning Up America

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THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN 

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On Cleaning Up America


Rabboisai,

Greetings from my office in the White House, where I have been appointed by President Trump as the Special Advisor to the President on Unleavened Affairs.

Since taking on the prestigious responsibility, I have appointed a team to search the White House and all members of the Executive Branch to search for small pieces of bread, cookie crumbs, and any possible leaks about our non-discussions with Russia throughout the election campaign and during the transition. And I am delighted to announce that to date, no crumbs appear to exist.

People have suggested that the Trump Administration is off to a bad start, with the Russia scandal in the air, the healthcare reform bill being DOA, and "Twitter" becoming a dirty word. But what do I say? I quote Moishe Rabbeinu when he said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!"

Wait, that wasn't Moishe - That was Yushka! Nevermind.

And so, I sit here in my office in the White House leading efforts to look for Chometz. Thankfully, due to the fiscal prudence of the new president, we had no headcount budgeted for my staff. However, we were able to borrow from the budget for "grounds keeping" at the White House, and have diverted the Mexican grounds keepers to come inside and search for bits of tortilla, burrito, and enchiladas, and next week I will sell them my Chometz. Then when Pesach is over I will buy back my Chometz and then expel the Mexican grounds keepers from the country.

Never mind that they are third generation American citizens - I cannot be bothered with such minor details. 

Of course, we have a big week coming up, with a vote in the Senate on the Supreme Court nominee. As the Toirah tells us, "Tzedek Tzedek Tirdoiph" - "Justice justice you shall pursue". RASHI asks, "Why does it say 'you shall pursue' instead of 'you shall find’?" And he answers that the Toirah is trying to tell us that we only need to "appear" to pursue justice, just to deal with public pressure. But, like Klal Yisroel in the desert, if you run in circles long enough, you can turn a quest that should only last a couple of weeks into forty years of aimless wandering. 

In the case of the Supreme Court nominee, this means that the Democrats will reject the highly qualified Republican nominee, after the Republicans last year stonewalled the highly qualified Democratic nominee. And at this pace there will be no more Supreme Court justices, as the eight sitting justices die out and the Senate cannot agree on replacements. And then we will no longer have to deal with "activist judges" or that messy "checks and balances" thing anymore. Shoyn.

Rabboisai, all too often in Shul and in the Bais Medrish I hear people being critical of the President of the United States. "He is a liar"; "He colluded with the Russians"; "He has a temperament unfit for the presidency"; "He has no idea what he is doing". And my response? Of course, I look to the best source of contemporary political commentary and insight in the world -- The Toirah given to Moishe Rabbeinu on Har Sinai 3,400 years ago. And what does the Toirah tell us?

As we all know the Toirah has three different types of commandment - Eidois, Mishpatim, and Choooookim.  

Eidois are Mitzvois, often Bain Adam LaMakoim, that have rational explanations in the Toirah, such as Shabboskoidesh. "Kee Sheyshes Yumim Usuh Hashem Yisborach Ess HaShamayim V'Ess HaAretz, OoBaYoim HaShviyi Shuhvass VaYinafash", "Because the Reboinoisheloilum created the heavens and the earth in six days, but on the seventh day He rested and chilled out".

Mishpatim are laws where the Toirah does not necessarily give an explanation, but the explanation can be logically derived. These are often laws that are Bain Adam KaChaveiro or between man in his environment. For example, when the Toirah tells us not to "covet" the property of others - We do not need Hakadoshboruchhu to explain this commandment. It is obvious: We need to worry about the tax implications of coveting, especially the tax code changes in the Administration under the Muslim, Communist, Fascist, Fanatical Christian Jeremiah Wright Loving Regime of Barack HUSSEIN Oibama.

And finally we have Chooookim, Mitzvois that have no clear explanation. Shiluach HaKan, sending a mother bird away from the nest before stealing her babies to eat for breakfast, is commanded, with a reward of "Arichas Yumim", "long life". Why is this Mitzvah equal in reward to the most difficult law of all, Kibood Av V'Aym. Why? What kind of stupid question is that, you Mechutziff!!!! It's a freaking Choyk!!!!

One of the most famous Chooookim is the famous Parah Adooooomah, the so-called Red Heffer. The Red Heffer is required for the ritual sacrifice that generates the ashes used to remove Toomasss Mayssss. What is a Red Heffer? It is a calf that is purely red - even two black hairs disqualify it. 

When we look as President of the United Stated Donald J. Trump, SHLITA, we are in fact looking at the Parah Adooooomah, the Red Heffer, who is designed to bring about the purification of America. He has a swash of red/ orange hair, or at least used to. And he clearly announced his role as our purifying agent in his campaign theme of "Make America Great Again". Purification.

Now, you may ask, "How can an irrational, random, "alternative facts" spreading, twitter typing, "pussy grabbing", story manufacturing, race baiting narcissist bring about the purification of America? It makes no sense!" And to that, I would answer you very simply - It is simply the same as a Parah Adoooooooomah: How can a red baby cow, burnt until it is a box of ashes, be able to purify someone who is impure from Toomasss Mayssss by simply being sprinkled with its ashes?

Well - You Apikoiress, it is a freaking Choyk!!! By definition, it is not supposed to make any sense, you Minuval!!

So even though you may not understand it, you as a member of Klal Yisroel are COMMANDED to have faith in President Trump SHLITA. I personally assure you: He will clean up this country from waste and corruption and legacy healthcare systems, and a convoluted, archaic tax code, and weakness in the face of our enemies the same way that I and my team will completely clean the White House from all of its Chometz!

I guarantee it. Or my name is not Pinky Schmeckelstein.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, you Menuval.

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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Friday, March 24, 2017

On Contemplating The Future

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On Contemplating The Future

This week's Drasha will be a little more serious than you prefer. Shoyn. If you write a nice check to the Yeshiva and dedicate next week's Drasha, I will be happy to write as many Bris Milah jokes as you like.

---

Rabboisai, 

I keep coming back to the same theological quandary. (If these words are too big, you Minuval, I suggest you buy a dictionary.)

I am reading a book about the Shoah and the mass killings in Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Western Russia, and elsewhere in the space between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. The book is called Bloodlands, and is an award winning book by Professor Timothy Snyder from Yale (AKA "The Ponovitch of New Haven). It focuses not just on the Jews, but on the murder of non-combatants overall - from Soviet organized purges and starvation campaigns that murdered millions of innocents, to the mass murders committed by Nazis - not just of the Jews, but of many others. In total 20 million deaths.

20 million deaths. Buried in that statistic are my own immediate family - grandmother, aunt and great grandmother, who died either in execution pits or the burning of a Shul. And doubtless countless of more distant relatives whose names I will never know. 

20 million human beings. Try to contemplate that number. I cannot - and you certainly cannot, you Mechutziff because you have the brain the size of an Arbis. (To you so-called-Jews who do not have the rich background of thirty years in the finest Yeshivas in Brooklyn, New Jersey, Israel, and Madagascar, that is a "chick pea". You should be ashamed of yourself.)

So - mass murder. The statistics are dry, but they carry our own flesh and blood, and the deaths of millions of others. Murdered by soldiers and operatives and agents and locals inspired or seduced by twisted ideologies, or who were themselves turned into animals.

So I keep coming back to the same quandary - Where was the Reboinoisheloilum? 

I have written in this topic many times. It is one of the great unanswerable questions, and the responses of those who would blame the victims for so-called "sins" or Jewish secularism for some Divine punishment are cynical and offensive efforts to explain the unexplainable. Here is a typical exchange:

"Why did Hakadoshboruchhu murder Klal Yisroel and many others?"

"They were punished because some Jews became secular."

"You mean that the Aimishteh murdered millions of people because a few Jews ate Tarfus and were Mechalel Shabbos?"

"Of course! Plus they probably never made tea on Shabbos without using a Kli Sheinee, and they might have even worn Shatnez!"

"Oh, that definitely justifies it now!"

Schmucks. 

And so - anyone with the slightest bit of common sense must come back to the same quandary - Where was the Reboinoisheloilum? 

No one can be faulted for contemplating some obvious possibility answers: Perhaps He does not exist. Perhaps He is not engaged in human affairs - the Hakadoshboruchhu of the RAMBAM and many others. Or perhaps He died. 

Ich Vais...
----

Rabboisai - The Toirah gives us many answers to many questions - between Toirah SheBichsav, the TANACH, and Toirah SheBaal Peh, the Oral Law captured in the Talmud and debated for centuries, up to and including our day. But the Toirah does not provide an answer to such a fundamental question. It addresses such questions, mind you, in the story of Noiach, in the writings around the defeat of Israel and Judah, and in philosophical works like Iyoiv - Job, for you Am Haaratzim. And preceding generations and centuries struggled with similar issues, without definitive answers. Because there are none. 
---

Rabboisai - I wanted to start this Drasha by depressing the shit out of you. Now you can begin to understand the scope and scale of mankind's essential theological dilemma.  By the way, you can also use such depressing philosophical discourse to pick up Maidelach who dig dark, morbid types - you know, Frum Yeshivish women who are in crisis because they are 23 or older and not married. Uchinvei!!

But the underlying theological dilemma is real. And it begs the question: If Hakadoshboruchhu is not directly engaged in world affairs, what is the significance of any of our actions, and in fact, what is the basis for morality? Why not live like a lawless thief, stealing from others, living off of society, rather than getting educated, working for a living and being a productive member of society? You know - like living in Williamsburg or KJ. 

Rabboisai, the Toirah begins with the world in a state of Tohu VaVohu, the Primordial Chaos. Out of that chaos comes order.

We are in the third generation past a social and historical Tohu VaVohu. Our ancestors died in unspeakable ways, and in incomprehensible numbers. And so did millions of others.

We can look around the world and see that in many places, there are similar horrors that are ongoing. For example, one day Africa will emerge from its lawlessness and anarchy, and we will learn of the depth of the atrocities of the past few decades. People caught in the waves of civil war in Syria and Iraq - the modern day Mesopotamia - have also suffered atrocities on all sides. And no one knows exactly what is happening within North Korea, but it is believed that concentration camps are part of the structure of the single most closed industrialized society in the world.

So we can never really know what the essential causes of such evil are. We can look back and only ponder the incomprehensible.

But like the Dor after Mabel, the generations after the great, mythical flood of Sefer Beraishis, we can rebuild. And as we do so, we have the ability to shape the future the way than some would try to explain the past. The people who believe that they can determine the cause of why the Shoah and all the mass killings happened at a theological level are deluding themselves and their followers by interpreting history in a narrative that reflects their own world views. Is essence, they are using their own theological prism to interpret the past, and in attempting to explain the "motivations" of the Divine, they are essentially creating the Divine in an image of their own making.

But Yiddishkeit is a forward looking religion. Halacha and Jewish thought are essentially about the here and now and the future on earth. Our tradition is inspired by the past, and only refers to the Oilam Habah, the World To Come, in abstract terms. Consequently, rather than trying to explain the unexplainable, the Toirah mandates us to look ahead, and to shape our current and evolving society according to our own beliefs, and in our own image. We cannot change the past, but we can change the future. And what are those principles? There are many, but we can certainly start with “V’Ahavta Le’Reiacha Kamoichah” - Love Your Neighbor As You Would Love Yourself, and remembering to treat The Other with basic respect and dignity, “Kee Geyrim Hayinu Ba’Eretz Mitzrayim” – Our people were outsiders in the land of Egypt.

Rabboisai - I am reminded of a Maiseh Shehoya. The Second Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Zulzein Mit Mazel, was once, on the weekend, fixing the gutters on his house. He had been busy studying Toirah, giving Brachois to his Chassidim and other well-wishers, and handing out single Ruble bills that his Chassidim would often laminate with the Rebbe’s picture in place if the Czar, but his Rebbetzin had complained that their gutters were blocked by leaves and damaged by squirrels, and it was causing pooling of water that was damaged her... ummm... Besamim plant located next to the house.

So, the Zulzein was outside on a large ladder, emptying the gutter that ran down the side of his house by hand. As he was working, several of his Chassidim passed by the house and called to him, "Rebbe, what are you doing? We can do that for you!"

The Zulzein replied, "Boys, I appreciate it, but you would not be able to unclog a gutter no more than you can perform open heart surgery or change a tire." With that, the Zulzein went back to cleaning and repairing his gutter. This story became so famous all across Russia, that the Russian ambassador discussed it with Donald Trump's transition team, at least according to the FBI transcripts.

So just as the Zulzein insisted on repairing his gutters himself, so too we much take responsibility for building and shaping the world as we would like to see it.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Menuval


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Thursday, March 09, 2017

A Guest Purim Drasha In TheTorah.Com by Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein

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A Guest Purim Drasha In TheTorah.Com by Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein

Rabboisai,

I am very honored and privileged to have been asked to prepare a guest Drasha for TheTorah.Com in honor of the Chag of Purim. TheTorah.Com is a wonderful publication, I am sure; as it is an online only outlet, I have never read it, as I have Paskened on numerous occasions that a Ben Toirah should never access the Internet. However, Rachmuna Litzlan, there are still a few Yidden who do not study Toirah full time and must rely on the Internet for their professions. So for them, I am sure that TheTorah.Com is a wonderful source of Divrei Toirah and Lumdoos. After all, with the word “Toirah” in the URL (is that what they call it?), what could possibly be unacceptable?

Read More: 

(Please Note: The Mamzerim at TheTorah took down my Drasha after Purim, causing many people to be Mevatel Toirah and forcing them to read Apikursus Gamoooor)

Since I do not have access to the Internet, or even to a computer, Chass V’Sholom, I am actually drafting this Drasha on a Klaf of parchment, using a quill passed down to me by my Alter Zeidy, the REEBOK.[1] And I am being Mispallel that someone will accurately transfer the written word to electronic format; the last thing I need is for people to have to debate the meaning of my words. Like the Toirah, which has remained the same since Moishe Rabbeinu descended from Har Sinai, my words are intended to be clear and concise, without being changed or altered in any way.

Of course, Moishe Rabbeinu did go up Har Sinai a second time, and came back with different Luchos,[2] but that is just because Reboinoisheloilum knows that the first time he came down from Har Sinai, he must have forgotten everything he heard from Hakadoshboruchhu after his Schmendrick-of-a-brother Aharoin HaKoihain fashioned the Eigel Ha’Zahav from the earrings, nose rings, and gangsta-bling of Klal Yisroel. 

Why do we Celebrate Purim?

So, Purim. The Megillah, Graggers, Matanois Le’Evyoinim, Shalach Manois, the Purim Seudah, excessive consumption of alcohol. Al Shum Mah? Why do we celebrate this Chag?[3]

Everything in Toirah is a Choik, and the reason we celebrate this Yuntif is because the Megillah tells us to. In fact, it is a unique example of a new Chag declared after the Toirah was written, which demonstrates the Koyach of Chazal

But the Yuntif, and the Megillah itself, are not without their mysteries. 

For one thing – Why create a new Yuntif in which you are commanded to amass baked goods and other foods of all sorts just as you are beginning to clean for Pesach? What, Mordechai Ha’Yehudi, when he was composing the Sefer, did not think that we had enough Chometz to worry about this time of year, that he had to command that we should receive homemade Hamantashen from every Bas Yisroel in the neighborhood? Didn’t he realize that this would have made their household chores more difficult, as well as distract them from the full-time jobs they hold down to support their twelve children while their husbands are fulfilling the will of the Aibishter by learning in Koilel Yoimum V’Laylah?

The answer is, Mordechai LeShitasoi, he was never really so Machmir about Pesach, as the Gemorrah says (b. Megillah 15a):

ויעבור מרדכי 
אמר רב שהעביר יום ראשון של פסח בתענית
“So Mordecai passed [vaya’avor]” (Esther 4:17). Rav said: This means that he passed (he-eveer, did an aveira) the first day of Passover as a fast day, (and wasn’t Mekayim “Vesamachta Be’Chagecha” [rejoicing on the chag]).[4]

Anyway, Nisht Gerferlach; as long as the additional Chometz doesn’t cause a woman’s husband to engage in Bittul Toirah, what is another hour or two of vacuuming wherever the Kinderlach might have dragged their favorite cakes, cookies, candy bars, and Ramen noodles (for those members of Klal Yisroel living in Asia).

The Aibishter’s Absence from the Megillah

The Megillah itself of course also has some mysteries. Perhaps the most discussed Shailah over the millennia is Azoy: Why does Hakadoshboruchhu’s name not appear even once in the Megillah? What’s Pshat? 

Please do not try to answer this on your own – you might hurt yourself.

There is of course a famous Mishnah in Perek Yud Aleph of Maseches Megillah in which this topic is discussed. Asks the Braisah, “Where is the Name (of the Reboinoisheloilum) mentioned?” According to Rabbi Akiva, the Aibishter ‘s name was not explicitly written in the Megillah since copies of the Megillah were being dispatched by messengers throughout the Persian Empire, Me’Hoidoo V’Ad Kush, and there was a Chashash, Chass V’Sholom, that a copy of the Megillah might be mishandled and fall on the ground and not be picked up and kissed fast enough. 

Rabbi Yishmael holds Farkert – That in fact the concern about a Klaf falling is not a reason to leave out the Aibishter’s name, since if this were the case, Klal Yisroel would be machmir and never use a Sefer, and it would impact the production of all Sifre Koidesh.[5]

Instead, Rabbi Yishmael holds that the reason the Reboinoisheloilum’s name is not mentioned is because the central theme of the Megillah is Nais Nistar, hidden miracles. Even during the darkest of times, we must have faith – and even act – with the fundamental confidence that “Revach V’Hatazalah Ya’Amoid La’Yehudim,” that salvation will come to Klal Yisroel.[6] He cites as proof the number of Hatzalah ambulances throughout the Jewish communities, and the number of Bochrim in Yeshiva and Koilel walking around with walkie-talkies and beepers all day.

The Aibishter Excised
However, the Gemarrah brings a Braisah quoting the Maymar of Rabbi Elisha Ben Abuyah that holds differently. He holds that Mordechai Ha’Yehudi in fact included reference to the Reboinoisheloilum throughout the Megillah, but that a later editor—possibly the sons of Haman in Bnei Brak (b. Gittin 57b)—excised the direct references to Hakadoshboruchhu as part of a broader editorial process.

Asks the Gemarrah about this Braisah, “How could a Tanna say such a thing?” Rav Huna suggests that this Braisah must be a Braisah MeShabeshta (distorted), and that any Minuval who would suggest that a Sefer Koidesh could be edited would be struck down by lighteningToich KeDei Dibbur, faster than the time it would take one to say the words, “Baruch HaShem Sheloi Asani Ishah.”

Rav Pappa however disagrees, insinuating that Rav Huna’s turban was probably a little too tight that day. Instead. Rav Pappa reminds us that Reb Elisha Ben Abuyah was also known as Acher, the great Tanna who ultimately lost his faith and was Mekatzez Be’Netiyos “cutting the shoots,” referring either to when he cut off his Payis or when he became a hair stylist in the south side of Tel Aviv. It was actually Reb Elisha’s learning that Esther was really Mordechai’s wife[7] but married Achasheverosh anyway that pushed him over the edge, leading to his eventual descent into smoking of Besamim and Chavrusa swapping.

A Terrible Secret
Toisfois, discussing this Gemarrah, asks a brilliant Kasha, “How can Rav Pappa suggest that Acher was a hair stylist in Tel Aviv when Tel Aviv would not even be founded for another 1400 years?” Answers Rabbeinu Tam, Rav Pappa made up the Tel Aviv story to distract us from a terrible secret. In truth, Rav Elisha was sincere and lucid when making his suggestion—there were no Besamim involved, but he had fallen into a terrible Kefira, the one that earned him the title of “Acher.” He believed that all the holy books of the TANACH—not just Esther—had been edited, Hashem Yishmor.

A Cherem on Bible Criticizers

Rabboisai, it is a great tragedy that in our day that same notion that the Rabbeinu Tam ascribes to Acher is alive and well.

I doubt that any readers of this Heiligeh online publication TheTorah.Com would be familiar with such notions, but I am told that there is an entire school of thought related to this notion of what is sometimes referred to as “Biblical criticism.” I mean, what kind of Pintele Yid would dare to criticize something as perfect as the Toirah? Do people go to the Louvre in Paris and criticize the Mona Lisa? Do people travel to Mitzrayim to criticize the pyramids? Do people drink Coika Coila and criticize the taste? Of course not! And these are all human endeavors. Kal V’Choimer with the Toirah!!!

Anyone criticizing the Toirah, suggesting that there was an oral or textual tradition that went through phases of redaction, or suggesting that there were multiple sources that were compiled into the Mesoirah of our Toirah as we have it today, or suggesting – Chass V’Sholom – that errors may have been introduced over centuries and millennia of transmission, is a Mechitziff who deserves to lose his Chelek in Oilum Habbah, and, more significantly, his government subsidies. And anyone who publishes with them should immediately be put in Cherem!

Shoyn. In any case, I would like to once again thank the Hanhallah of TheToirah.Com for inviting me to share a Drasha with the publication’s Talmidim, in the ongoing effort to celebrate the wondrous glory that is the Toirah, to which a letter has not been added or taken away since Matan Toiraseinu on Har Sinai and its later publication by ArtScroll.

Ah Frelichen Yuntif!

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[1] His name was actually R. Mordechai, but he took the name Reebok as reminder of when Mordechai kicked Haman, yimach shmo, in the tuchus (b. Megillah 16a).

למאניה אמר ליה סק ורכב אמר ליה לא יכילנא דכחישא חילאי מימי תעניתא גחין וסליק כי סליק בעט ביה אמר ליה לא כתיב לכו (משלי כד, יז) בנפל אויבך אל תשמח אמר ליה הני מילי בישראל אבל בדידכו כתיב (דברים לג, כט) ואתה על במותימו תדרוך
After Haman trimmed his hair, Haman dressed Mordecai in the royal garments. Haman then said to him: Mount the horse and ride. Mordecai said to him: I am unable, as my strength has waned from the days of fasting that I observed. Haman then stooped down before him and Mordecai ascended on him. As he was ascending the horse, Mordecai gave Haman a kick. Haman said to him: Is it not written for you: “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls” (Proverbs 24:17)? Mordecai said to him: This statement applies only to Jews, but with regard to you it is written: “And you shall tread upon their high places” (Deuteronomy 33:29).

[2] See Reb Marc Zvi Brettler SHLITA, “Ten Insights about the Ten Commandments,”TheToirah.com (5775).

[3] This is a trick question, of course, and you probably failed it, you Mechutziff.

[4] יו”ט ראשון של פסח – שהרי בי”ג בניסן נכתבו האגרות וניתן הדת בשושן וי”ד וחמשה עשר וששה עשר התענו ובששה עשר נתלה המן בערב

[5] It should be noted that at that time Rabbi Yishmael owned controlling interest in Dyoi Koidesh LLC, a major ink manufacturer used by scribes throughout the Jewish centers at that time in Eretz Yisroel, Bavel, Alexandria, Rome, and Brooklyn.

[6] This Emunah was of little help to Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yishmael who were arrested by the Romans for teaching Toirah without a license, but the principle is still a good one.

[7] See Reb B. Barry Levy SHLITA, “What Was Esther’s Relationship to Mordechai?”TheToirah.com (5776)

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Ah Freilechin Yuntif, You Menuval


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess