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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Parshas Vayishlach

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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Parshas Vayishlach


Rabboisai,

To begin this week's Drasha, I must share with you a wonderful, personal story. Earlier this year I was traveling on business to a Yeshiva fundraiser at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. As night came, I was compelled to make camp on a hill overlooking the city of Provo. In the middle of the night, I was stirred by someone walking around my campsite. I arose and was immediately thrust into the clench of physical combat. The mysterious person and I wrestled throughout the night, locked in mortal struggle. As the sun rose the next morning, the person tried to pull my thigh, but inadvertently dislodged my testicle, Rachmana Letzlan. At daybreak our struggle ended, and the being revealed himself as none other than Mitt Romney.

From that day forth that location has been known as Kickmyass, because that was the site where Mitt Romney kicked my ass.

I share this story, of course, because of its strong resemblance to the story of Yankif Avinu struggling with the Rebboinoisheloilum, while making his way to Eretz Yisroil, en route to his rendezvous with his twin brother, Eisav HaRasha, Yemach Shmoi Ve'Zichroi. Why did the Reboinoisheloilum engage Yankif in mortal combat?

According to the RASHBA it was because there was a nickel on the floor somewhere, and neither Yankif nor Hakkadoshboruch wanted to walk away from spare change.

But according to the Bais Yoiseph, they were actually fighting over a waffle. He cites as proof a Medrish that quotes the Aimishteh as telling Yankif during the stuggle "Leggo my Eggo, before I turn your Makom HaMilah into a piece of potato kugel."

However, the ARI ZAHL offers a beautiful interpretation. The ARI points to the end of the episode in the Toirah, where Yankif Avinu is for the first time given the name Yisrael, or Israel. Noting the longstanding Kabbalistic belief that the relationship between the Aimishteh and Klal Yisrael is like that of husband and wife, the ARI likens this episode to the awkward wedding night of Klal Yisrael and Hakkadoshboruchhu. They stay up together all night, vigorously engaged in physical interaction. As dawn arrives, they reach a climax, but not without some minor injury. And, to commemorate this event, the ARI suggests that when a man and his wife participate in intimacy while having in mind to spiritually align their actions with the holy cosmic union of Klal Yisroel and the Rebboinoisheloilum, the man ought to spank his wife every once in a while.

Of course, this story is but one of the many strange tales we read in this Parsha. Other stories include:

-- Yaakov's ultimate confrontation with his brother. After all the buildup, Yankif sends out his least favorite wives and children as canon fodder before the feared enemy, using them as human shields to protect himself, his favorite wife, Rachel, and his favorite children. But when Eisav finally meets Yankif's party, he in fact extends his hand to Yankif in peace. Yankif responds by asking Eisav for a donation and tries to sell him life insurance and a cell phone.

-- Reuven, Yankif's eldest son, has sex with Bilhah, one of his father's concubines, who is also the mother of his half brothers (Perek Lamed Hay, Pussook Chuf Baiz). How could one of the Shvatim, the tribes, holy as he was, commit Aishess Ish with the bedmate of his father? This is indeed very troubling!

But you mustn't ask such silly questions, you Minuval. Because according to Rabbi Eliezer, as quoted in a Braisah in Beraishis Rabbah, this was not Reuven's intention at all. Says Rabbi Eliezer, Reuven was terribly nearsighted and had lost his glasses. After wandering across the tent camp, Reuven thought he had made his way to his destination, the bed of his boyfriend Theodore, Yankif's manservant. However, Reuven bedded Bilhah by mistake. And who can blame him? Both Bilhah and Theodore had the same moustache problem..

-- But perhaps the strangest story is that of the rape of Dinah, the sister of the Shvatim (tribes). Dinah is raped by Shchem, the son of Chamor. After he defiles Dinah, Shchem falls in love with her and asks for her hand in marriage. Both are told that if all the males of the village are circumsized, Shchem will be permitted to marry Dinah. But as the men of the village recover from their procedures, two of the tribes, Shimoin and Layvee, slay the village to the man. This results in a harsh reaction by their father, Yankif Avinu.

How should we look upon this reactionary behavior? Were the brothers justified in their behavior? And if so, how can we understand Yankif's angry response towards them?

According to the Metsudas Dovid, Shimoin and Layvee acted lishmah, with great personal intergrity, and believed that their actions would help make the world a better place through setting an example of loving-kindness for their sister by committing bloodthirsty revenge. The Metsudas Dovid adds that Yankif Avinu actually supported the brothers' action, but he explains that Yankif's stated negative reaction in the Pussook was only "delivered to satisfy American pressure, brought about by the liberal media." He further suggests that the Toirah no longer be allowed to include such actions since they reflect badly on Klal Yisroel.

But the RAIVID offers a different set of answers. Says the RAIVID, in truth, the brothers did overreact, just a bit. They should have only killed Shchem, who was truly the only figure guilty of criminal behavior. However, on their way to the village to kill Shchem, they forgot to take their lithium, and began hearing voices asking them to kill every male in the town. And this explains Yankif's reaction: How can he expect to co-exist with the Canaanites and Perrizites when he has the reputation of having a couple of psychos for sons?

Finally, the Akaidas Yitzchak offers a different interpretation. In truth, all of the males of the town supported and endorsed the criminal actions of Shchem. So indeed, they all deserved to die. And Shimoin and Layvee set out on their military operation, as planned, with little more that two submachine guns each, plus grenades, pistols, and hunting knives, in order to carry out their mission. But after killing all the males, Layvee looks back at the town and says in his deep, Aramean accented voice, "I'll be back," and it is that statement which Yankif protests.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, you Minuval


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Friday, November 23, 2012

On the Blessed Event

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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On the Blessed Event

Rabboisai,

I was on my way to the Lower East Side last Sunday when I decided to take respite from my journey and stopped to engage a roadside Kedaishah. Under other circumstances, my Bashert, Feigeh Breineh, would have responded by carving her initials on my Bris Milah with a Challah knife. However, given that following my brief encounter (at which, I should note, I left behind neither my staff nor my signet ring, only my Gold Card) I successfully completed my errand, and all was forgiven. And what, you may ask, was my task? Well, I went to the Lower East Side to pick up the gold-lame-and-sequin-covered Bentchers for the Bar Mitzvah of my Einikel, little Feivel.

What is the source of the Mitzvah of the Bar Mitzvah, and what is the Ikkar Mitzvah upon which we are Metzuveh? I bet you have wondered this your whole life, you ignorant Shaygitz, but never made an effort to ask because it would have required you to get up from the television for five minutes.

Well, the source of the Bar Mitzvah is discussed explicitly in a Gemarrah in Kesuvois. According to Rav Ashi, the Bar Mitzvah is conducted to commemorate the bond between the Reboinoisheloilum and Klal Yisroel. And the reason why it requires a boy to celebrate at the age of thirteen is Zecher L’Yishmael, to commemorate the age at which Yishmael, that other son of Avraham Avinu, had his Bris Milah. And we emulate the removal of Yishmael’s foreskin by emasculating our sons in front of an audience of 400 Shul-goers.

But Rabbi Chiya holds Farkhert: Making a thirteen year old Leyn in front of family, friends, and strangers is not at all like a Bris Milah, since the scars of Bris Milah heal within a week. Rather, Rabbi Chiya argues, a Bar Mitzvah is more like Akeidas Yitzchak, the Binding of Isaac. The fear and loathing of reading the Parsha in Shul and being corrected by a handful of self-righteous perfectionist misanthropes can only be compared to sending your own son to slaughter, only this time with a sushi bar and a Viennese table. And the resulting emotional scars indeed echo the deep psychological trauma that undoubtedly plagued Yitzchak Avinu throughout his entire life.

How is one required to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah? A different Gemarrah in Eiruvin notes that Rish Lakish, when not learning for twenty six hours a day in the Bais Medrish, supported himself by working as a photographer at weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, divorces, and the occasional Baptism. The Gemarrah quotes Rish Lakish as saying, “Three is better than one, but six is better than three.” According to Reb Saadya Goyn, Rish Lakish was referring to Ma’aisei Biyuh on the weekend. But according to Reb Hai Goyn, Rish Lakish was referring to members of a band playing at a Bar Mitzvah, noting that “a one man band at a Bar Mitzvah is like a flat-chested woman. The equipment may work, but it’s never your preference.”

There is a Machloikess Reshoinim that emanates from this Gemarrah between RASHI, Toisfois, and the ROISH regarding how a thirteen year old boy should commemorate his Bar Mitzvah. Koolay Alma Loi Pligi, everyone agrees, that a Bar Mitzvah boy should mark his becoming a man by reading from the Toirah. So where do they argue? They debate regarding what should follow Kriyas HaToirah. According to RASHI, after successfully reading his Parsha, a Bar Mitzvah Bochur should go into the Bais Medrish to recite Hallel. According to Toisfois, a thirteen year old boy should follow up his reading of the Toirah by going to the kitchen to eat a hearty breakfast. But according to the Roish, after finishing his Maftir and Haftoirah, a Bar Mitzvah boy should be escorted from the main sanctuary by a group of his friends, singing and dancing, and should be led to the Yichud room for a half hour session with his Tahtee’s “special friend”, Bambi.

There is an interesting historical debate regarding another important Bar Mitzvah custom – the throwing of candy at the Bar Mitzvah boy. What is the source of this custom? According to the ARI ZAHL, the practice was established by the MAHARAM MiRothenburg during the persecutions of 1275 in order to beat away the dark Klipois from the body of the child, leaving only the Holy Sparks. However, according to Reb Moishe Cordovero, the custom of throwing candy was introduced by the RAMBAM during the recession of 1194 in order to drum up business by raising the level of diabetes in the community.

How much should one spend on a Bar Mitzvah? This question has been a source of deep Toirah discussion, Talmudic discourse, marital debate, and bankruptcy hearings for the past 700 years.

According to the Shulchan Aruch, a person should not spend more than would be required to feed guests “KeBaitzah”, about an egg’s volume of food. However, he believes that the Bar Mitzvah should be a celebratory event open to the entire community and neighboring communities, costing no less than two months of the average household income, as defined by the KY (Klal Yisroel) Index based on the average income of all Jews for the twelve months prior to the event.

The RAMAH, however, disagrees, referring to Reb Yoisaiph Karo, the Mechaber of the Shulkhan Aruch, as a “swarthy cheapskate”. The RAMAH holds that one is required to feed every guest “KeTarnegol”, a volume of food equivalent to the size of a chicken. In addition, the RAMAH points out, one must have at least one live band, or, at a minimum, a DJ accompanied by motivational dancers. As well, suggests the RAMAH, one is required to hand out Tchatchkees (“little toys from China” in English) to all of the children to bring home, so that their parents will be reminded to begin planning for their own blessed events by serving a one dollar box of pasta at every meal for the next year, except for Shabbos Koidesh, when they are permitted to serve Traif meat since it is a quarter of the price of Koisher. The cost of the Bar Mitzvah should be no less than six months of average household income according to the KY Index, or half of the family assets, whichever is the larger number.

Finally, the Mishnah Berurah holds that one must feed every guest “KeEigel”, a volume of food equivalent to a small cow. The food should be varied and should include no less than four courses, including fresh sushi served by a Mexican chef who sort-of looks Asian. Further, it is a Mitzvah to have a half hour of speeches and a video montage, so that the guests will have an opportunity to take a brief nap between courses. In addition to Tchatchkees, there is a requirement to have novelty photo booths and games for the children to play. There should also be adult activities for the parents and grandparents – a makeup artist for the women, so they can experiment with different eye shades and colors of nail polish, and lap dances for the men, preferably delivered by the hot Shiksa motivational dancers. The Mishnah Berurah also holds that it is a Hiddur Mitzvah, a preferred additional Mitzvah, to have jugglers, Chassidic guys who can dance with bottles on their heads, and elephants. The minimum cost is equivalent to half of the value of the family home or ten times Yeshivah tuition, whichever is the larger number.

I spent much time going through these Halachois with my own son, Reb Boruch Gedalia Pesachya Issur Simcha Schmeckelstein, regarding the planning of the Bar Mitzvah for my Einikel, Feivel Yisroel Shmuel Eliyahu Rabbah. My son, of course, is known by his Rabbinic acronym, the BIG PISS, while my grandson is known as the Little PISHER. After a detailed discussion of the religious laws, as well as a forensic review of our family finances, we determined to spend somewhere between the position of the Shulchan Aruch and the RAMAH. However, we agreed that the more important component of the Bar Mitzvah was the reading of the weekly Toirah portion.

To ensure that the Little PISHER would not feel excessive family pressure, we hired an outside Bar Mitzvah teacher. For $50 a lesson, he taught little Feivel the week’s Parsha. For an extra $25 a lesson, he taught him the Haftoirah. And for another $20 a lesson, he also taught Feivel the week’s New Testament reading, which is from Mark, Perek Chuff Baiz, where we read about how Jesus kills an abortion doctor, and how John The Baptist is reassigned by the Church to teach in a school for children that can neither speak nor write.

I am reminded of a famous Maiseh Shehoya. The Chernobler Rebbe, the Meor Einayim – Reb Menachem Nachum Twersky, was once delivering a Drasha on the Mitzvah of Shiluach HaKan, the chasing away of a mother bird before taking the baby birds to eat. The Toirah, of course, promises the same reward for this Mitzvah as the reward promised for honoring one’s parents. The Cherlobler suggested that the Mitzvois of Shiluah HaKan and Kahbaid Ess Avicha are comparable because they are two sides of the same coin: The purpose of a parent is to raise a child to become an adult, and we must respect that role, even once the children have left the nest. Suggested the Chernobler, “We make a Bar Mitzvah celebration to commemorate the children’s leaving the nest. This is a celebration for the benefit of the parents, for which they receive great joy.”

After Shul was over, a boy of thirteen came over to the Rebbe and asked, “Rebbe, why is the Bar Mitzvah a celebration for the parents when it is the son who does all the work?”

The Rebbe looked down at the boy, smiled warmly, and said, “Son, at your age, you have a lot of joy. You wake up in the morning, and you have joy. You are in front of your classroom, writing at the board, and you have joy, to your great embarrassment. You are riding in the school bus and feel a bit of a vibration, and you have joy, whether you want it or not. You even get a little joy when you look at the three hundred pound secretary in your Yeshiva. And when you are alone in your room and have a few minutes to yourself, you are overflowing with joy, I am sure. I know I was when I was your age – at least twice a day.”

The Chernobler continued. “But your parents don’t have all that much joy anymore. If they are lucky, they have joy maybe once a week. So if the Bar Mitzvah gives them a little more joy, it can only help the marriage. At least until their house is repossessed.” With that, the Rebbe went off to do vodka shots, fondle Mrs. Goldberg, and take a nap.

Finally, I would like to address one related Shailah that many of my Talmidim ask me. Whenever I discuss this topic, they ask, why do I only focus on the Bar Mitzvah of a boy, and never discuss a Bat Mitzvah? The answer is quite simple: Girls are not supposed to have big celebrations when they reach the age of Mitzvois. According to the RIF, the most a girl should have is a party when she gets her first… err… Oirach KaNashim. At that party the parents should serve hard boiled eggs and hand out feminine protection to all the girl’s friends as party favors. After all, if the Reboinoisheloilum wanted girls to have a big party, read from the Toirah, put on Tfillin, be counted in a Minyan, be required to Daven three times a day, get equal pay for equal work, have the right to vote, be allowed to drive, etc., He would have given them a penis.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Parshas Vayaitzai

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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Parshas Vayaitzai

"Vayaitzai Ya'akov mi'Be-er Sheva vayailech Charanah." And Yankif went out of Be'er Sheva towards Charan. In such succinct fashion, the Toirah summarizes last week's episode and introduces the next twenty years of oppression at the hands of Lavan.

The RAMBAN asks the question: why is it that Yankif, one of our founding Avois, a pinnacle of our early relationship with the Aimishteh, and a model for future behaviour emulation, was so consistently disliked by his brother, his uncle AND his own father? What's pshat?

According to the MAHARAL, this is because Yankif was insufferably arrogant. According to a Medrish in Soitah, Yankif used to boast to his brother Eisav, "I have an IQ of Koof Mem Chess, while you kill weasels for a living. And you were stupid enough to sell me your birthright for a bowl of lentils, schmuck!"

But the TOISFOIS YUNTIF points out that as much as Ya'akov was hated by the men in his life, the women REALLY loved him: His mother Rivka, who taught him all the finer arts of lying to his father. His is two wives, who constantly fought over him like sisters (hey -- they were sisters!). According to the TOISFOIS YUNTIF, when the Toirah tells us that Yankif didn't like to go to the fields to hunt, it is really trying to tell us that Yankif was extremely sexually conflicted and effeminate. This really pissed off his father and brother, but was very popular with all the women, who used to like to shop with Yankif, and talk fashion and attend the ballet with him.

Rav Yoiseph Karo, on the other hand, holds farkhert: Yankif was a true he-man who left all the men jealous and all the women swooning. As proof he cites the fact that to impress Rachel, Yankif single-handedly removed the boulders covering the well. Says Rav Yoiseph Karo, "If Yankif Avinu was man enough to get his rocks off in public, that is good enough for me."

As Yankif meets with his uncle for the first time, the Toirah tells us that Lavan hugged and kissed him. A famous RASHI addresses an implicit question: why does the Toirah tell us that he both hugged and kissed him? However, RASHI tells us, the Toirah was not being redundant. Lavan first hugged Yunkif to see if he had valuables hidden under his clothes, and then kissed him to see if any jewels were hidden in his mouth. (Author's comment: Check out Rashi. He really does say this.)

So is this what family reunions were like back then?

The RASHBA adds, the real reason Lavan hated Yankif is that Yankif Avinu didn't let him get to third base on their first date.

As one reads of these curious events, a good-for-nothing minuval such as yourself must wonder why the Toirah bothers to tell us such tales. Indeed, a famous Gemarrah in Yevamois specifically asks why the Toirah doesn't just begin at Har Sinai, Mount Sinai, with the giving of the Ten Commandments. Or begin with the Exodus from Egypt, the formal conglomeration of Klal Yisrael as an independent nation. Or begin with the entrance of Klal Yisrael into Eretz Yisrael. Why do we need all of this pre-history?

The Gemarrah quotes Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel as saying that all of Beraishis comes to teach us the ways of Tzidkus, righteousness, so we can emulate our forefathers and foremothers in our own lives.

Nowhere is this better communicated than in our Parsha, with the lessons taught by Rachel and Leah. Yankif of course ends up marrying Leah, and, subsequently, Rachel. As Rachel struggles to concieve, she hands over her maidservant to be a concubine to Yankif. Leah ends up doing the same thing.


The RAMBAM points out that if you include Sarah Imainu, who gave Hagar (the Horrible), her own maidservant, to Avraham as a concubine, we have a total of three instances where the Imahois INSIST that their husbands be mekayaim the mitzvah of pru urvu, or at least perform a quickie, with another woman. That's 66% of the Avois, and 75% of the Imahois. And these were great women, who always acted at every moment with the intention of fulfilling the mitzvois of Hakkadoshboruchhu. You cannot argue with thise statistics, you minuval.


Now, in order to be a true BenToirah, you should walk in the footsteps of our great and righteous ancestors and repeat their very deeds.


I have made this argument many times to my bashert, Feigah Breinah. She is not fully convinced of this particular mitzvah, but she does hold that lap dances are only a D'Rabbabanan, not the worst thing you can do on a Thursday night after a long week of work. But I expect that she'll come around sooner or later, otherwise I will cease snacking in the schmaltz herring, if you know what I mean.


Four hundred years ago the ARI ZAHL, living in Tzfas, taught us that with every mitzvah we fulfill, we restore another primordial spark of the Aimishteh's goodness to its rightful place in the cosmic universe, thereby bringing the world one step closer to its original perfection.


Rachel, Leah, and Sarah, in their holy righteousness, understood this. And as we walk in their footsteps, we should always keep in mind that every extramarital biyuh brings us one step closer to Biyas Hamashiach. Bimhairah Biyamainu. Umain.


Ah Gutten Shabbos you Minuval.


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ask Rabbi Pinky: On Hilchois iPhone

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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Ask Rabbi Pinky: On Hilchois iPhone


Rabboisai,

Over recent months I have received many Shailas from my Talmidim. I love you all, because of your permanent thirst for Toirah, your ongoing quest for Mitzvois, and your ceaseless zest for looking down at the rest of humanity.

I could of course write long, academic Teshuvois for each of you. But, alas, my iPad is at the shop, and I no longer have a printed Shas, Shulkhan Oiraich, Igrois Moishe, or other Rishoinim and Acharoinim. I have gone paperless, thanks to the Shass App from Artscroll, the Rishoinim App from Google, and the Acharoim App from The National Enquirer.

So instead I will write brief responses, leveraging my extensive memory of Kol HaToirah Kooloh Baal Peh gained over years of study in the Bais Medrish, plus the guidance of a Magic 8 Ball I bought at Target on sale for six dollars and 50 cents.

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Rav Pinky, this might be a Shailah you might consider answering.

I just Davened Maariv from my phone. Question: Should I kiss my phone
before quitting the App or turning my phone off?

Your Talmid,
Mordechai Hatzadik

Reb Mordechai,

I am delighted that you have asked me such a critical Shailah, a Shailah I have often been asked via text message. Unfortunately, I only check my text messages when I am sitting in the Bais HaKeesay, and so am not in a position to respond, since I type with my left hand, which is usually busy at that time.

We live in a new age, an age where our smartphones play multiple roles – not just as telephones, but as portable music players, video devices, GPS, handheld games, players of multiple Apps, Siddurim, Machzorim, Gemarras, and other Sefarim, and as portals to an astounding world of porn, including straight, gay, Thai, Russian, fetish, and amateur granny fatties. Kenainah Harrah! The smartphone and the Internet in general have democratized Yiddishkeit, along with making porn accessible to everyone! What an achievement!

Your fundamental question relates to the notions of Kedushas Hashem and Kedushas Sefer – the sanctity of the Divine name, and of holy books that contain words of Toirah. Once upon a time, the written Toirah, Toirah SheBichsav, was the only form of Toirah available, and it was handwritten on parchment or other such materials. Koolay Alma Loi Pligi, everyone agrees, that the holiness of a Toirah scroll compels one to kiss the Toirah as it passes down the aisle at Shul, as long as you do not try to get to second base on the first date. However, the remainder of Toirah, Toirah SheBaal Peh, the Oral Law, was passed down verbally from generation to generation, all the way back to the time of Har Sinai, Mount Sinai, when the Oral Toirah was first dictated by the Reboinoisheloilum to Moishe Rabbeinu and recorded by his holy parrot, Mean Mister Mustard.

However, as Klal Yisroel began to forget the Oral Toirah, they began to commit it to writing. Hence, the publication of the Mishnah by Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi, the writing of the Zoihar by Rabbi Shimoin Bar Yoichai, and the recording of the Baba Kama Sutra by Rabbi Eliezer Ben Coitus. This led to a fundamental Machloikess about whether the written text of Toirah SheBaal Peh contains the same degree of Kedusha as Toirah SheBichsav.

This debate became further complex with the development of the printing press. Does the mass produced printed word carry the same holiness as hand written scrolls? On this point there is debate amongst the Rishoinim and Acharoinim, with most Rabbis holding that you should kiss every religious Sefer ever printed, including Siddurim, volumes of Shas, and the collected works of Mendel the Mouse.

However, in our Dor, this issue has become even more complex. Does digital information constitute actual print, requiring you to kiss it? Or are the binary bits and bytes that blend to become online Bibles, Benchers, and Mishnah Berurahs by their very nature only temporary, and therefore do not constitute the Kedusha of the actual printed word?

To answer this question, we must look not at the format, but at the usage. A Sefer Toirah while it is in the Aroin Koidesh, hidden out of sight, is not bringing Klal Yisroel closer to Hakadoshboruchhu. But an iPhone App for a Siddur or other Sefer introduces holiness to a smartphone or tablet, and enabes Klal Yisroel to perform Avoidas Hashem anywhere at any time, even when they are looking at their iPhones while waiting on line at McDonalds for their bacon double cheeseburgers.

Consequently, smartphones and other personal electronic devices are the ultimate form of Toirah, and have a virtually endless amount of Kedusha! Combined with the fact that your smartphone also offers you a virtually endless amount of porn, I do not understand why you are not kissing your cellphone or your iPad right this minute, you Minuval!

To what is this similar? According to Rav Shmiel Kalbasavuah, smartphones are like your Bashert. In the morning she provides you with sustenance. Throughout the day she creates a Bayis Ne’eman BaYisroel, a faithful Jewish home, brightening your life and household with Toirah and Mitzvois. And at night, after she takes off her Tichel, her Shaytel, her white long sleeve blouse and her ankle length skirt, her petticoats, and her off-white padded brazier, she gets on top of you and rides you like you are Shlugging Kaporois with a Cornish game hen.

So, indeed, just as you are compelled to modestly kiss your wife at appropriate moments, you are indeed required to kiss your iPhone, your iPad and other personal electronic devices after you close your Apps for Shacharis, Minchah, and Maariv, after you close your Daf Yoimi App, and especially after you close your App featuring amateur granny Thai fatties.

----------------

Dear Reb Pinky,

I am troubled with a Shaila. Perhaps you have already given your Talmidim the answer and, as usual, I was sleeping during the Shiur. If so, I apologize for interrupting your Choshuva studies.

I have recently obtained a smartphone and immediately downloaded the full complement of T'filois. One day as I was on my "Kisay Ha'Kovod" I realized that I had my virtual Siddur in my hand. Is this permissible? Later as I was deep with Kavanah during Mincha I realized that the sacred name was scrolling on my screen then off my screen, on and off, on and off. Had I erased the holy word? This is a troubling thought. If it is an Aveira, how do I do Kaparah? Should I Toyvel my iPhone? Shlug Kaporois with it? Boil it in water? Bury it in the ground for a year? Have I voided my warranty with the Abishter? Must I leave my phone outside of the throne room?

Reb Pinky, I am very confused by the new technology. What would Moses do?

Your Talmid,

Shmeil Shmelka


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Reb Shmeil,

As cited in the Raisha of this e-mail, a smartphone such as an iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy, a Nokia Lumia, or a Blackberry, Chass V’Sholom, enjoys a special status, since it can serve as the platform for learning Toirah and performing Mitzvois, as well as help you comparison shop for a lower price for toothpaste as you are standing in the dental hygiene aisle in Walgreens. But your Shailah is less about the device than it is about the electronic imaging technology used for presenting data: bits and bytes and electrons that one moment may be presented on the screen as Kiddush Levanah, and the next moment be blank, and the following moment be used to present that latest escapades of the Kardishian sisters, Koutney, Kim, Chloe, and Shifra Malka.

What is digital technology, and what is the long term impact on a device of a short term digital display?

As mentioned above, a device itself is akin to a human being who leads a multi faceted life, including learning Toirah, performing Mitzvois, making a Parnassah, Chass V’Sholom, and engaging in intimacy with his or her spouse, significant other, or a quickie Tefillin date.

But if the device is similar to a human being, the words and images presented on a digital display must be similar to the actions committed by that human being. We are told in a Mishnah in Avois that even the holiest man has moments of sin, while the cruelest of men may commit one act that earns him Oilum Habbah, a portion in the World to Come. Take Esuv HaRasha. He may have wanted to kill Yankif Avinu, steal his wives, and make his sons into slaves. But we are told in the Medrish that he was rewarded by Hakadoshboruchhu for his practice of Kibbud Uv V’Aim, as well as for always wearing a fourteen carat gold Chai around his neck. And Yankif Avinu was himself punished for the exploitation of his brother and the deception of his father by having his chosen bride denied to him on his wedding night, and by being told by his sons that Yoisaiph Hatzadick, his favorite son, was eaten by wolverines, penguins and armadillos in the desert.

Consequently, the behavior of an individual is fleeting. One day Reuvain’s actions make him beloved, and the next day they may render him despised. The behaviors, characteristics, and habits of a human being ultimately define him far more than his physical presence. In that sense, a human being is like the hardware, and his actions and behaviors are like the software, the Apps.

Here is a question for you, you Mechutziff: When we discuss Moishe Rabbeinu, do we describe his height and his hair color? Or do we talk about his accomplishments as the Eved Hashem, his great Anivus, and his marriage to a hot African Shiksa. However, even the great Moishe Rabbeinu, of whom we say “Loi Kum B’Yisroel K’Moishe Oid”, had mundane moments as well. He slept. He ate pancakes for breakfast. He occasionally washed the dishes. Not every moment of his life was filled with Kedusha.

So too with the digital displays on a smartphone. At the moment that Divrei Hashem are displayed on the screen, the smartphone achieves its Kedusha potential. But unlike a printed Sefer or a written Klaff, a digital image is fleeting. So its fundamental impermanence ensures that the device itself is not subject to the restrictions of Sifrei Koidesh, and may indeed be brought into the bathroom.

So the next time you are in the Bais Hakeesay with your iPhone, do not worry about your Siddur App. Take advantage of the brief moment of privacy to Google your ex-girlfriends, check stock prices, or go on JDate to find a hot Tfillin date for Moitzee Shabbos.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Parshas Chayei Sarah

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Rabbi_Pinky

====================================================


Rabboisai,

I was with a few Talmidim last night and was SHOCKED to find out that not all of them were familiar with my books -- That they are indeed for sale via my blog, they are published as print-on-demand and sent to your home, or can be downloaded as e-books. Jesus Fucking Christ... errr.... I mean... Rebonoisheloilum, what do I have to do get my Talmidim to take my Toirah seriously? You'll gladly spend $50 on an Artscroll Gemarrah with an English translation that reads like a technical manual written by Chinese peasants, but you won't respect my Toirah?

OK. For a limited time only, if you buy my books, I will not use the Shaim HaMefoirush to animate a Goilem and send him to your house to try to get you to sign up for Amway.

RPS


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Parshas Chayei Sarah


Rabboisai,

I write this Dvar Toirah while on an international flight en route to an annual gathering in commemoration of this week's Parsha, Parshas Chayei Sarah. Thousands of people focus on the first half of the Parsha and gather in Chevroin every year to celebrate the burial place of Sarah Imainu. I, on the other hand, will be joining a group of people commemorating the second half of the Parsha, the marriage of Yitzchak Avinu to three-year-old Rivka Imainu, by traveling to Thailand to have relations with a group of underage girls.

This week's Parsha, of course, begins with the passing of our foremother, Sarah Imainu. RASHI tells us that Sarah died as a result of hearing that her husband, Avraham, had taken their only son to be slaughtered at the alter. The RAMBAM asks the question: Why should Sarah have been shocked? Where was her faith in the Rebboinoisheloilum? Was she not ready for the Aimishteh's test? Was she tempted by the Yetzer Harah, the Evil Inclination, to question her belief in the all knowing, rational and loving Hakkadoshboruchhu who expressed His divine love by suggesting that Yitzchak be grilled to perfection like ribs at a July 4th barbecue? Did she not want her son to be slaughtered, so he could die for all our sins? (OOPS, wrong religion. Sorry.)

Indeed, it was not Sarah who mentally snapped as a result of Akeidas Yitzchak, the Binding of Isaac, at the end of last week's Parsha. It was Avraham Avinu. According to a famous medrish in Beraishis Rabbah, this Parsha is testimony to that fact that Avraham completely lost his marbles after the Akeidah. Note the evidence of his nervous breakdown:

-- We are told, not once -- but twice, that Avraham bows down to the "Am Ha'aretz," the People of the Land, to express his humility and gratitude for their support (Beraishis, Perek Chuff Gimmul, Psukim Zayin and Yood Bayz). How can Avraham Avinu, our forefather, the man who discovered Hakadoshboruchhu, the man who invented string cheese and the iPad, prostrate himself before other human beings? Did he not realize that the only thing he should EVER bow down to was the Rebboinoisheloilum, the Melech Malchei Hamelliachim -- unless of course someone had dropped a quarter? However, the medrish quotes Rabbi Akiva as saying that at this point in his life, Avraham was so deluded and confused he would bow down to a cow every time he had a potato with a little sour cream on it. He would even bow down to his dry cleaner everytime he picked up his shirts.

-- Avraham Avinu barters to gain the right to bury his beloved Sarah in Meuras Hamachpeilah. Ephroin, the property's owner, gives Avraham the land and does not want payment. Avraham, however, insists upon counting out four hundred shekels of silver as payment to Ephroin. So what's pshat "payment"? Why didn't Avraham just chop off one his arms and present it to Ephroin, instead of giving away money for no reason? Maybe he should have given away his ATM card and his PIN code, while he was at it?

-- Avraham decides to send his manservant, Eliezer, to find a wife for his son, Yitzchak. To secure his commitment, Avraham asks that Eliezer, his servant, put his hand "underneath Avraham's thigh." Wow. That is progressive. According to Rabbi Akiva, after the death of his wife, Avraham was so randy he was open to "all lifestyle alternatives." Indeed, there is a separate Braisah in Masechess Pesachim that suggests that following Sarah's death, Avraham Avinu joined a local S&M club, spent six months in a nudist colony, and made seventy five dollars a week posing for an art class at his local community college.

Avraham's mental state is of course balanced with the beautiful story of the discovery of Rivka. After being sworn to his commitment to find a wife for Yitzchak, Eliezer sets out on his quest. As he reaches a well, he decides that he will anticipate a divine sign: the appearance of a woman who will offer drink to both him and his camels. The RADAK asks the question: why did Eliezer choose a sign based on a woman's action, rather than a visual metaphor, such as a yellow ribbon on the woman's dress or a tattoo on the small of her back? The Toirah Temimah answers that, mamesh, Eliezer was indeed looking for such a sign: he was hoping that as the women bent down to fetch the water he would catch a glimpse of her cleavage. Says the Toirah Temimah, Eliezer had also committed to Avraham that the bride he would bring back to his master's son would have a Double-Daled cup.

Of course, all of these expectations were turned upside down when Eliezer saw Rivka for the first time. We are told specifically by the passook that Eliezer noticed her great beauty. We are also told that Rivka "was a virgin; she had known no man." An obvious question arises: why did the Toirah have to repeat itself -- wasn't this a redundant statement? RASHI tells us, however, that the local girls had strange sexual practices that enabled sexual activity without the surrender of one's maidenhead. (He really does say that, by the way. Look it up.) Who ever heard of such a practice amongst youth?!? But the RASHBAM disagrees. He suggests that the verse is telling us that while Rivka had not had a sexual relationship with a man, her femininity had been "totally awakened" as an active member of the LPGA tour, if you know what I mean.

And now the strangest part of the Parsha: nowhere in the Parsha are we told Rivka's age, but Rabbinic tradition has always deduced that Rivka was three years old when she was discovered by Eliezer and brought into Yitzchak's tent for consummation of their marital relationship. How can this be? Was Yitzchak some kind of pervert?

According to a Gemarra in Maseches Nidah, Yitzchak was indeed a pervert. Says the Gemarra, the reason that Yitzchak didn't marry until the age of forty is that as a counselor in Yeshivas Shame V'Eyver Basketball and Learning Camp, Yitzchak sexually abused three of his charges and spent the next twenty two years in prison. As proof, the Gemarra cites a Braisa that states that the reason Avraham insisted that Yitzchak, his son, not marry a local Canaanite woman was NOT because he wouldn't want one as a daughter in law. Adderabbah! It was because Yitzchak had to register with the local authorities as a convicted sex offender, and therefore no local woman was willing to date him.

But according to Rav Saadya Goyn, Yitzchak Avinu was no more perverted than any other man at that time. LeOylam, every man in those days married underage girls. As proof, he cites a medrish that says that Avraham Avinu married Sarah Imainu when she was one and a half, and Noiach married Mrs. Noiach when she was an aborted fetus.

I am reminded of a Maiseh Shehoya. Reb Yisroel Salanter once traveled to Siberia to attend a celebrity golf tournament. As customary, he lodged at the home of a local eskimo. When it came time to go to sleep, the eskimo said to Reb Yisroel, "Nu, Reb Yisroel, we have a minhag here when guests stay over: Please take my wife to sleep with for the night."

Reb Yisroel looked at him sternly and responded, "That is unacceptable! Aishess Ish is a Dioraisa. However, do you have any children I can sleep with instead?"

To which the eskimo responded: "Rebbe, I knew you were here for a fundraiser, but I did not know it was a Yeshiva Toirah Temimah event. Please forgive me!"

So, unfortunately, a few members of our community still like to keep up the tradition of Yitzchak Avinu. So next time you are tempted to poke fun at Penn State University, the Catholic Church or the Boy Scouts, hold your tongue until you have investigated your own community.

Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

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http://rabbi-pinky.blogspot.com/
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Rabbi_Pinky

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Hakadoshboruchhu's Endorsement of Mitt Romney

THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Rabbi_Pinky

====================================================



Hakadoshboruchhu's Endorsement of Mitt Romney


“Boruch Atta Adonoi Eloihainu Melech HaOilum Asher Kiddishanu BeMotzvoisuv ViTzivanu LeHisataif BaTzitziss”

That is the Bracha that Mitt Romney makes every morning before donning his magical Mormon underwear, and the Bracha that, Imirtza HaShem, will be recited by all American children in school right after pledging allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.

Rabboisai

We stand at the dawn of winning a religious Holy War against the Democrats and their leader Barack HUSSEIN Oibama, with their calls for the redistribution of all of our wealth, their hatred of Israel, and their sheltering of terrorists.

Have you ever asked yourself why the public never saw the body of Oisama Bin Laden after he was allegedly killed? Have you ever wondered why Oibama has never shown his real birth certificate? Have you ever wondered why Barack HUSSEIN Oibama and Oisama have never been seen together? It is because they are in fact one and the same person!

Indeed, without realizing it, we have been living under an Al Quaida regime for the last four years. That's why Oibama closed the prison in Guantanamo Bay, he stopped the US policy of using drones to target Al Quaida leaders and operatives, and he refused to impose sanctions on Iran. However, he did issue a Presidential Decree requiring that all federal employees pray to Allah five times a day.

Why does Oibama not meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu? It is not because Bibi is a callous, cynical, two faced prick looking to avoid making any sort of political compromise while trying to extract American military and political commitments by using the Israel Lobby and congress to put pressure on the President. No. It is because Oibama is really Oisama, and he hates ALL Jews, so he refuses to meet with them. In fact, the only reason that Oibama became the first president to hold an annual Seder in the White House is because he wanted to force Jews to eat more Matzo to intentionally constipate them. He is a clever Soinay Yisroel indeed.

Why do you think Oibama has failed to fix the American economy? It is not because we are in a cyclical depression, built upon speculation and greed and wars that were not funded, as well as a perfect storm of global economic mismanagement. It is because Oibama is Oisama, and he is trying to destroy America from the inside, by eroding its economy by providing food stamps to the poor and extending healthcare to the uninsured. If the Aimishteh wanted the poor to have food and the uninsured to have healthcare, He would have given them money. Clearly He wants them to starve to death and die on the streets.

Why did Oibama end the war in Iraq and why is he winding down the war in Afghanistan, and why did he "lead from behind" in Libya and why does he refuse to fight in Syria? Because Oibama refuses to fight his Muslim Brethren. Because Oibama is Oisama, and Reboinoisheloilum knows that Muslims never fight against each other. Ever. Ever.

In fact, word on the street is that in a second Oibama administration, after Hillary Clinton steps down as Secretary of State, Oibama will nominate Ahmejinidad to the role. Or Khaddafi's remaining son. Or Bashir Al Assad when he is out of a job. Or Fidel Castro, if he wants to tip his hat to the Latino community.

So it is only Romney and Ryan who truly love America. They are inspired by Yoisaiph Smith and Yushka Pandra, and only want the best for this country and for Klal Yisrael.

According a Braisah in Kiddishin, Yitzchak Avinu was unable to distinguish between Yankif and Esuv because he was blind. And just as Yitzchak could not afford healthcare and had to do without, so should everyone who cannot afford healthcare do without. So, even though the poor get their care in the most expensive way - through the emergency room - we do not want to adopt a more cost effective policy since we do not want to be Oiver on Baal Toisiph.

Indeed, Romney believes that government does not create jobs; businesses create jobs. And that is why he pledges that when he becomes president he will create 12 million new jobs, I assume by doing absolutely nothing, since government does not create jobs.

Romney promises to lower taxes and cut spending. Boruch HaShem. He paid a 14% tax rate last year, and maybe next year he will only have to pay 12%. (Luckily I paid a 0% tax rate last year because I was able to take off the five-lane-Olympic-sized-Mikvah I built in my basement as a write off.)

Oibama/ Oisama has been letting in immigrants and illegal aliens in record numbers. No wonder there are not enough jobs for Americans. In fact, I recently hired a Rebbe to give a high level Gemarah Shiur who just snuck across the border from Mexico. I pay him five dollars a day and do not provide insurance, so I will be able to limit the tuition increase for my Yeshiva to only 15% next year.

Romney and Ryan have committed that they will not encourage illegal immigrants to leave the country; they only want to discourage them from staying. I will say, as a direct descendant of people who came over to America on the Mayflower, I don't believe in immigration either. Ich Vais Voos, who will they let in next?

Most importantly, a Romney-Ryan administration will get government out of our lives - less taxes, less regulation, less interference in our daily affairs. But Boruch HaShem, they will make sure that the government has a say in what goes on in our bedrooms. No abortion, Boruch HaShem, because life begins not at birth or at fetal viability, or even at conception, but at erection. And note that it is the man who has the erection, not the woman, so it is illogical that she should have any say in the murder... errr... matter.

Rabboisai, four more years of Oibama mean four more years of having a Marxist Communist Muslim in the White House. He is unAmerican. By the way, my opposition to him has nothing whatsoever to do with the color of his skin. Of course not! Never, never! I just hope that when he leaves the White House they do an inventory of valuables, and remove the posters of Malcolm X from the walls of the Lincoln Bedroom.

Romney on the other hand is completely American. Look up the word Shaygitz in Wikipedia and you find his picture. This is what the President of the United States should look like! Broad shouldered. A full head of hair. Beautiful white teeth. Skin that glows like Moishe Rabbeinu coming down from Har Sinai. A blond wife. And a pair of woolen Tzitzis tucked into his magical Gatkes.

And that is why Hakadoshboruchhu is endorsing Mitt Romney. The Aimishteh has studied all the issues and reviewed all the facts. He has weighed all the arguments made by the Republicans (the Reboinoisheloilum only watches Fox News, of course), and He has asked me, as His official spokesman on earth, that I pronounce an endorsement of Romney on His behalf. And any disagreement with His stated political opinion will be an affront to Hakadoshboruchhu that will yield you the punishment you deserve - four more years of Oisama... errr... Oibama.

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My Beloved Talmid,

You may take joy or feel anger at this week's Drasha. In either case, you are both an ignoramus and a Mechutziff. This Drasha is intended as satire (you can look the word up in the dictionary). It is not intended as either a direct or an indirect endorsement of anyone. Rather, it is intended as a commentary on American political discourse in general, and American Jewish political culture in particular. It is a satire of dogma, and how allegiance to dogma interferes with genuine analytical evaluation and assessment. (I am sorry if these words are too big for you, by the way.)

The fact that I feel I have to write this disclaimer reflects the sad state of our democracy, and our community. Vote for whomever the hell you like. We can only hope that our bipartisan political system will find a golden path reflecting a balance of perspectives, as we are told once existed in the Sanhedrin.

As for me, I plan to vote for Rosanne Barr because we have never had a woman or a Jew as President before. We can break two glass ceilings in one shot. Her political platform is therefore irrelevant.

Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess