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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ask Rabbi Pinky – On Death and the Afterlife



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THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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Ask Rabbi Pinky – On Death and the Afterlife


Rabboisai,

Richard G. asks: On Yom Tov, a time of holiday and celebration, what kind of simcha is it to say Yizkor? Or does it have to do with fundraising?

Richard G.

Reb Richard,

Thanks very much for your insightful question. But before I address your question, I must ask YOU a shailah: So, what kind of Yiddesheh numen is Richard, anyway? Are you so ashamed of your heritage that you have to wave your arms at the world as if to say, "I AM A SHAYGETZ! PLEASE LET ME INTO YOUR COUNTRY CLUB!?" Have you no shame, you mechutziff? I haven't seen such self-hate since Moishe Rabbeinu married a shiksa in the desert! I guess your Hebrew name of Reuven or Yerachmiel was a bit "too Jewish" for you. Let me ask: Have you also had a nose job? Did you have a new foreskin grafted onto the tip of your Schvantzl?

For your sake, I hope that at least your wife engages in certain "goyishe practices" that I have been begging my wife to do for years, if you know what I mean. At least that would make it all worth it…

Nisht gerferlach.

You indeed touch upon a profound topic that is deeply rooted within the Jewish tradition. Your question, more than anything else, is about Klal Yisroel's attitudes towards death and the notion of an afterlife. How are we to understand the end of life from a Yiddesheh perspective? How should a shtarkah Yid relate to end of life, be it of a stranger, a friend, a loved one, or one's own life? Beyond receiving an inheritance, cashing in on a life insurance policy, or taking over a deceased's coveted seat in shul (right near the aisle, out of sight from the Rabbi), how else should we view the impact of the Great Inevitable on out lives? Is there an afterlife? You know, easy questions…

Of course, we look to the Toirah for this wisdom. In Toiras Moishe, we can see multiple characterizations of the moment of death. They include:

-- Avraham Avinu: "VaYigvah VaYamuss Avraham BeSayvah Toivah Zakain VeSaveyah VaYahaseif El Amuv." – "And he expired and Avraham died, with good fulfillment, old and satisfied, and was gathered to his people." (Beraishis, Perek Chuff Hay, Pasook Khess)

-- Yankif Avinu: "VaYokhal Yaakov LeTzavois Ess Bunuv VaYe'esoif Ragluv El HaMitah VaYegavah VaYayasaif El Amuv." "And Yankif finished issuing directives to his sons, and he gathered his feet into the bed, and he expired, and he was gathered to his people." (Beraishis, Perek Mem Tess, Pasook Lamud Gimmel)

-- Moishe Rabbeinu: "VaYumuss Shum Moishe Eved Hashem Ba'Eretz Moiav Al Pi Hashem…Va Moishe Ben Mayah Va'Esririm Shanah BeMoisoih, VeLoi KuHatuh Einuv, VeLo Nuss Likhyeh." "And Moishe, the servant of the Reboinoisheloilum, died there in the land of Moiav, at the word (literally – mouth) of Hakadoshboruchhu…And Moishe was 120 years old at his death, and his vision did not fade and his strength had not gone. (Devarim, Perek lamed Daled, Pasookim Hey, Zayin )

I ask you, you mechutziff, what does the Toirah tell us about the afterlife? Nothing. Shoom Davar. Gornisht. Bupkis. All it says is "gathered to his people". That can mean anything. It can mean that he joins the dust in which all his people rest eternally; that he goes to Shamayim to eat the Levyasoin -- deep fried in beer batter – and washes it down with a nice Heineken; or that he gathers with his people at a Stones concert and drops acid. We do not know; it is not clear. (Mamesh, who wrote this stuff, anyway? Could He at least have taken some sort of writing class, or had a good editor do a quick review?)

In reality, we have to look to the later writings, to the Neviim and especially to the Kesuvim, to find a solid reference to the notion of an afterlife. However, since you are typically too busy drinking scotch during the Haftoirah, you Nevailah, I will not cite those references. Rather, I will focus on the writings of the Rabbis.

Chazzal were clearly troubled by the ambiguity surrounding death and the afterlife. As a consequence, they developed a very broad set of perspectives on Oilum Habah, fleshing out the idea of the World to Come, while at the same time taking out life insurance policies on all of their elderly relatives.

According to Chazzal, there are many things that entitle one to Oilum Habah. A Mishnah in Avois tells us, "If one saves a life, he gains a Chaylek (a share) in Oilam Habah." A Braisah in Eiruvin tells us, "If one checks the Eiruv before Shabbos, he gets a share of Oilum Habah, plus an option to buy five shares of Google at the average closing price of the last six months." And a Gemarrah in Kesubois tells us, "If a man brings his wife to her," errr…, "fulfillment before he achieves his, he is entitled to Oilum Habah. And if he is really lucky, sloppy seconds."

Essentially, the Rabbis aligned their views with the Pharasaic notion of an afterlife linked to reward and punishment. In their quest to understand the ways of the Reboinoisheloilum, they confronted the ultimate truism of life: Life is fundamentally not rational. And, Chazzal deduced, if life, and human society, and experience on earth, are not rational due to unfair individual fates, plagues, war, etc., there must be an unseen part of the equation that provides balance to the inequities of the fragile human experience. And if that balance is not in this life, Oilum Hazeh, it must exist in another dimension, Oilum Habah.

And who can say they were wrong, you minuval? You can't even tie your own shoes without reading the Shulchan Aruch! Meilah, there are many things in the world that are invisible to the human eye. If I told you a hundred years ago that our bodies are governed by DNA, strands which are shaped like double twisted staircases (or like Duvid HaMelech consummating his special "personal treaty" with Yehoinasan on HaMelech Shaul's couch) would you have believed me, you mechutziff? No, you probably would have checked my brain for Shatnez!

No. Rational thought, as represented by what we can observe with the naked eye, or, in the modern day, by science, can only take us so far. Science can explain to us the "how" and the visible. But it cannot explain to us the "why" and the invisible. Consequently, no matter how rational you think you are, you vilda chaya, you still don't have all the answers.

So Chazzal, struggling with these issues, built upon earlier ideas in Tanach and other insights (often borrowed from the wisdom of other cultures) to imbue in our tradition an appreciation for the unseen, a speculation about how everything in the rational universe, including humanity, is part of a greater whole. Much like a cholent, there are many ingredients mixed together and simmered in a crock pot for twenty hours, yet are individually recognizable as their original form when removed from the pot. Yet they contain the flavor, and contribute to the essence, of the entire recipe. And whether or not they are the meat or the potatoes or the barley or the beans, they all cause the same flatulence.

In considering this topic, Reb Shimoin Bar Yochai suggested that we are all connected to the Reboinoisheloilum through the Ten Sfirois, the ten attributes of the Aimishteh, which link on one end to the Ain Soif, the unknowable aspects of Hakkadoshboruchhu, and on the other end to the universe as we see it and experience it.

As the Kabbalists understood, within the Ten Sfirois, there are multiple factors in play that impact life on Earth. Picture the Sfirois as the Reboinoisheloilum's body – whatever happens in His body has an effect on the world. When there is a blockage between Din and Chesed -- BOOM! -- chest pains, which result in a earthquake in our world. If Bina gets hit, Chochma also hurts, resulting in a landslide or a plague. And when Keter has a headache, Yesoid doesn't function the way it used to when the Reboinoisheloilum was fifteen years old, if you know what I mean, resulting in erectile dysfunction for all of Klal Yisroel, chass v'sholom.

"So what does this have to do with attitudes towards death?" you ask, you impatient Neveilah. Well, when someone leaves this world, their essence returns to the broader whole. Yes, part of their essence is the observable matter, the physical body that becomes the dust in the ground and the nourishment in a worm's belly. But, in our tradition, we also acknowledge the unseen part of a person's essence. It is not clear what that means, whether after death one retains his individual identity or simply becomes part of a broader collective consciousness. But he exists in some other dimension. And, in our tradition, we acknowledge that unseen essence in numerous ways, including through the reciting of Yizkor.

So when do we recite Yizkor? Four times a year – on Yoim Kippur, Sukkois, Shavuois, and Pesach. Farvoos? We recite Yizkor to call upon the unseen essence of our loved ones in order to appease the Reboinoisheloilum, as embodied in the Ten Sfirois, so that we will enjoy the Aimishteh's benevolence. Or at least not be blown into little bits though global nuclear destruction resulting from Hakkadoshboruchhu's cosmic indigestion.

What does this mean? On Yoim Kippur, originally the only day when Yizkor was recited, after 20 hours of fasting the Reboinoisheloilum gets a little cranky. And who can blame Him? How do you feel by Mincha time, you Mamzer? So we pray on behalf of our dear departed to influence the cholent that is the collective, so that the Aimishteh's empty belly doesn't cause Him to crush us like ants because he finds our howling at dusk completely disingenuous.

On Sukkois, by the fifth day the Reboinoisheloilum is getting tired of eating his afternoon snack of pretzels and juice in the cold Sukkah. So we say Yizkor so that the chill within the Ten Sfirois does not translate into a chilly reception for Klal Yisroel. Similarly, on Shavuois we worry about the Amishteh's crankiness due to lactose intolerance. And on Pesach, we worry that Hakkadoshboruchhu is in a horrible mood because He is completely backed up. After all, He MUST be an Ashkenazi, and would certainly never eat Kitniyois!

With regard to your final question, about whether Yizkor is all about fundraising – such a suggestion is a total shandah! You should be ashamed of yourself, you minuval! However… as you are preparing for Yizkor you should always remember Yeshivas Chipass Emess, especially by buying copies of my book at:

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

After all, what better way to guarantee a spot in Oilum Habbah?

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval.

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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

NEW On Restoring Order To The World, And Making Klal Yisroel Great Again


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NEW On Restoring Order To The World, And Making Klal Yisroel Great Again

Rabboisai,

I think it is time to make a Mishuberach.

For whom? Why, for the Reboinoisheloilum, of course!

Let's face it: Hakadoshboruchhu has had a pretty tough year. Interest rates have just gone up after many years, but the enormous national debt is beginning to deter foreign investment. The Republicans are doing their best to destroy each other... which may prove, once and for all, that the Aimishteh is actually a Democrat, Chass V'Shalom. And that last James Bond movie was another disappointment. How can we have the finest actor since Sean Connery in the role matched with scripts that belong to Scooby Doo cartoons?

Oh, and the entire Reboinoisheloilum-damned world is falling apart! ISIS. Syrian refugees. Global terrorism. I wish the news would focus on the more critical issues facing the world, like Kaitlin Jenner or the new Star Wars movie.

Rabboisai, something is indeed wrong in the world. Something that is hard to identify. The world seems, somehow, off-kilter.

I believe that there are hints at why this is, in a Mishnah in Avois, Perek Aleph, Pasook Hey:

ה. יוסי בן יוחנן איש ירושלים אומר, יהי ביתך פתוח לרווחה, ויהיו עניים בני ביתך. ואל תרבה שיחה עם האישה--באשתו אמרו, קל וחומר באשת חברו; מכאן אמרו חכמים, כל המרבה שיחה עם האישה--גורם רעה לעצמו, ובטיל מדברי תורה, וסופו יירש גיהינם.

5. Yoissi Ben Yoichanan of Jerusalem said: Let your home be wide open, and let the poor be like members of your household, although do not let them touch the remote control, lest they lose it. And do not engage in excessive conversation with a woman. This is said regarding one's own wife; Kal V'Choimer with the wife of another, especially if she has great legs. From this, the Chachumim said: One who excessively converses with a woman causes evil to himself, neglects studying Toirah, and, in the end, he will have earned time in Gehenim, and be forced to do errands around the house by his wife.

Rabboisai,

How many of us can say that we behave in a manner consistent with the words of Reb Yoissi Ben Yoichanan? Can we honestly say that in our everyday lives we keep an adequate distance from women?

I know that I try my best: I sit on the bus every morning on the men's side of the Mechitza; I employ only men at my yeshiva, Yeshivas Chipass Emmess - As rebbes, as business managers, as accountants, as secretaries, as cooks, and even as Mikvah Ladies; and at home, I do not even speak to my Bashert, Feigah Breinah - we communicate through sign language, morse code, smoke signals, and, Bi'Shas Ha'Chak, through flatulence.

Toisfois asks a Gevaldik Shailah on this Mishnah: If men are not supposed to converse with women, how are we to procreate and continue the species? And more important, what should Chassidic men do at night if they are not supposed to go to strip clubs?

The ROISH answers with a Givaldikkah Chiddish: He points to the very next Mishnah in Avois:

ו. יהושע בן פרחיה ונתאי הארבלי קיבלו מהם. יהושע בן פרחיה אומר: עשה לך רב, וקנה לך חבר, והוי דן את כל האדם לכף זכות.

6. Yehoshua ben Perachiah and Nitai of Arbel received the Toirah from (the earlier members of the Mesoirah of Toirah descent). Yehoshua ben Perachia says, "Make for yourself a Rabbinical mentor, and purchase for yourself a friend, and judge every person with the benefit of the doubt."

Says the ROISH, this Mishnah answers the question regarding women. In a world of Toirah, we no longer need to marry; we simply need a Rebbe, someone to learn with, and no more. And if we ever get horn... errr... a Taivah, we should simply "purchase" a friend. $50 for a half an hour of hot adult action is a lot cheaper than buying some woman an expensive dinner, sharing 50% of your salary and 401K, or paying Yeshiva tuition. And how do you know that the $50 toothless Kurva is without STDs? Well, the Seifah of the Mishnah tells us that we should always "Dan Esss Kol He'Adam LeKaf Zchuss", we should "judge every person with the benefit of the doubt." So don't worry about it. Der Aimishteh Tzu Helfen - the Reboinoisholoilum will watch over you and ensure your safety... just as He did in Poland between 1939 and 1945. In other words, for $50 you are guaranteed to get Farfucked.

The RAN, however, disagrees, referring to the ROISH as a "frustrated little Litvak". He says that Mishnah Vuv, the sixth Mishna, has absolutely nothing to do with the fifth Mishnah. LeOilum, says the RAN, there should be women in our lives. We just have to be cautious that we not engage with them excessively on non-professional issues. If we are at work, we should keep the conversation focused on the professional issues at hand. If we are at home, we should speak to our wives and daughters about household issues, such as cooking, cleansing, and repairing the roof. And it we are with our lovers, we should not be thinking about them, but should be focussing our Kavvanah on the Gedoilim, the Gemarrah, and Oig Melech Ha Bashan.

Yes. Woman are at the core of our ills. Excessive male association with women, and female exhibitionism are the sources of all that is wrong with the universe. This fundamental truth is recognized by the Gedoilim of our generation:

-- According to the Jerusalem Post published on November 2, 2015, "Prominent national-religious leader Rabbi Shlomo Aviner spoke out strongly on Monday against religious women serving in the IDF, saying they are contributing to the destruction of the State of Israel...'The State of Israel is the foundation of the throne of God in the world. Whoever harms the soul of the state also harms the state itself. A girl who enlists to the IDF with the claim that she wants to contribute, is indeed contributing – she is contributing to the destruction of the state.'" The message is clear: Women are destroying the State of Israel!

-- According to the Jerusalem Post on December 5, "Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, the most senior haredi rabbi in the Ashkenazi non-hassidic haredi world, was quoted by a close associate as saying that a man had asked him if he should let his daughter go to university. Shteinman replied that to do so would be worse than stealing money since material goods may be recovered but the 'spiritual damage' of permitting the young woman to achieve higher education could not be undone."

In the very same article, we are told that a senior haredi rabbi recently suggested at a conference for high school principals held in Bnei Brak that higher education for women constitutes a more severe blow to the haredi world than the Holocaust. Rabbi Aviezer Peletz was quoted by the Kikar Hashabbat news website as saying, “The furnaces of this generation are burning more than the furnaces of Auschwitz, more than the cellars of the inquisition with all their tortures, these are spiritual furnaces.”

-- And Rabbi Modechai Willig, in his own essay on Torah.Org published in August, 2015, cast a shining light to the future of true Toirah Judaism when he declared, "the inclusion of Talmud in curricula for all women in Modern Orthodox schools needs to be reevaluated. While the gedolim of the twentieth century saw Torah study to be a way to keep women close to our mesorah, an egalitarian attitude has colored some women's study of Talmud and led them to embrace and advocate egalitarian ideas and practices which are unacceptable to those very gedolim." Those uppity bitches!

Yes, Rabboisai, all evils in the world, Hakadoshboruchhu's kingdom, are caused by women. They are leading us astray, and will drive Klal Yisroel and Kol Ha'Oilum Kooloh, to Shmad.

It is with this backdrop that the Heiligeh RCA had the foresight and wisdom to put up one more Geder to remind women to mind their places and stop with this Narishkeit of becoming rabbis. Rabbi Avraham Gordimer, SHLITA, one of the holy drafters of the RCA resolution reiterating the RCA's ban or ordaining women as rabbis and banning any so-called "Rabbas" or "Maha- Rats" from being hired into a religious or educational capacity by any Orthodox institution under their titles, wisely asked in an essay published on the Arutz Sheva website published on November 11, 2015, "why can we not recognize the sheer greatness of Jewish women in their age-old roles as wife, mother, educator/morah and rebbetzin/rabbanit?... Women in these capacities have built, sustained, inspired and carried the Jewish People through thick and thin. These roles are at the bedrock of our Mesorah (tradition) and are at times overlooked by those seeking to introduce and innovate."

Baruch HaShem! It is based on the wisdom of these Gedoilim that I make sure to keep my Bashert, Feigeh Breinah, barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen at all times. In fact, right now she is preparing a soufflé in the kitchen, being careful not to slip on the water on the floor, which recently spilled from her Erva when her water broke, as she is preparing to give birth to our 32nd child. But don't worry, she will have plenty of time to finish the soufflé before I take her to the hospital - I am in the middle of a complicated Sugya in Bubba Basra, so I am going to need at least another hour to review the Meforshim before I am ready to take her.

I am reminded of a famous Maiseh Shehoya. Rabbi Dov Ber ben Avraham, the Maggid of Mezeritch, one of the Baal Shem Toiv's principal disciples, was once traveling through the Ukraine, raising money to buy his Chassidim Kuchmas, traditional fur hats for the cold winter. In those days, early on the Chassidic movement, rebbes did not travel in personal transport vehicles, but traveled by wagon, often accessed at the local stations in the towns along the travel route.

The Maggid had arrived early at the station in Babruysk, and was seated on a bench reading The Byelorussian Times when a beautiful, buxom blond woman, scantily clad and wearing a big crucifix, approached him.

"Are you a Chassidic Jew?" the woman asked in a throaty voice, whole her gaze focused on the Maggid's olive green eyes.

"I am indeed" replied the Maggid, trying his best to focus on his newspaper.

"Well.." the beautiful woman began, bringing her head rights next to the Maggid's, and whispering softly in his ear. "I would like you help with this fantasy I have. I would like you to come back to my apartment, and let me run my fingers through your Tzitzis and uncurl your Payis with my tongue. Then I want you to spend the whole night making sweet love to me, and bring me true Chassidic joy as many times as you can."

The Maggid slowly looked up from his newspaper, stroked his beard, looked the woman in the eye, and responded with a soft but stern voice. "Nu, young lady. So what's in it for me?"

Shoyn

As we see from the Maiseh Shehoya, women have throughout the generations led our men astray. Was it not Chava who led to humanity's fall from Gan Eden? Was it not Miriam who sowed discord amongst Klal Yisroel in the wilderness and was punished with Tzara'as? Was it not 300 of Shloimoi HaMelevh's wives who forced him to introduce Avoidah Zorah into the Bais HaMikdash, and also kept him perpetually exhausted?

Now, of course, some Talmidim may cite the accomplishments of women in previous times and in our own. Yes, we know all of the arguments that the so-called "Open Orthodox" will make: The Gemarrah and Chazal lived in a time of different sensibilities, and even Chazal leave openings for greater roles for women in religious leadership and give concrete examples of select exemplary women throughout history. Women in our days are equal beneficiaries of secular education and are as accomplished as men in business, the sciences, the arts, and increasingly in political life. Indeed, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was just named time Time Magazine's Person of the Year for navigating Europe through the abyss of 2015, assuming a global leadership role left open by President Barak HUSSEIN Oibama's dithering on key global challenges.

And when we look at women in the Bais Medrish, the so-called "Open Orthodox" will argue, women are proving themselves to be as capable as men in Talmudic scholarship.

But no matter.

As the Gemarra teaches us in Soitah, Daf Chuff, Amud Aleph (BT Sota, 20A)

רבי אליעזר אומר כל המלמד בתו תורה <כאילו> לומדה תפלות

Rabbi Eliezer says, one who teaches his daughter Torah, (it is as if) he teaches her Tiflus (folly).

And because Rabbi Eliezer says it, it must be true. And if anyone argues the issue with me, I will stick my fingers in my ears and start reciting Kaddish.

So our failures, or, rather, your failures, you Menuval, to distance yourself from women has brought the world to the brink of destruction. One very concrete example: In a Shtetyl in North America, a woman by the name of Rebbetzin Chana Adel Bas Yentah Frumah was named "Teacher Of the Year" by the township - from among all of the qualified candidates in the public school system and the local Yeshivas, across all genders. She is in fact the first teacher NOT from the public school system to receive this reward.

Should we, as Klal Yisrael, be proud of the accomplishment? Of course not! Because SHE IS A WOMAN! And not only that, she has been named "Teacher Of the Year" while teaching at an all boys Yeshiva! I am sorry! She is not a teacher - She is a Boy T.O.Y. And she is leading the Talmidim astray!!

So what can we do to restore balance in the world created by the Aimishteh?

Rabboisai, we must return to the basics. We must work to help Hakadoshboruchhu restore order to the world, by learning Toirah, by doing Mitzvois, and by rescuing the lost holy sparks scattered in creation.

Join me, and we will return this world to male dominance, just as the Reboinoisheloilum intended! Let us double the amount of time we spend in Koilel, and make our wives work twice as hard to raise the children and support the family, Let's subjugate our women, and make Klal Yisroel great again!

Just please do me one favor... Please do not share this Drasha with my Bashert, Feigah Breinah. I am scared shitless of her.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Menuval.

---------

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Christmas Drasha


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Christmas Drasha

Rabbi Yoichanan Ben Zakai, in a Braisa brought down in Maseches Airuvin, asks: What is the true mitzvah of Christmas? Is it to share the joy, the festivities, the gift-giving, and the spirit of good will towards all men? Or is it to go to a matinee, pay half price, and stay the hell off the street until the goyim sober up?

This line of questioning echoes a story of Eliyahu Hanavi, as he faced down the priests of Baal on Har Carmel. As they each brought sacrifices and rejoiced in their Avoidah Zarah, Eliyahu chose to sit on the side and clip coupons, rather than participate. And when it came time to show the power of the Aimishteh, Eliyahu chose to consume all the priests with fire, rather than pay to provide refreshments for everyone.

According to the RAN, this story captures the essential dilemma of ambivalence we all feel at this time of year. All year long we function as a part of external secular society, with our own traditions and peculiarities accepted in an air of viva la differance. But at Christmas time we are not Battul BeShishim; we stand out as the minority that we are.

Yet, we needn't abandon this Yuntif entirely, given our myriad connections to it:

- Jesus was, of course, a Jew. Indeed, a medrish in Matthew Rabbah refers to him using a cell phone in a movie theatre and taking Mary Magdolyn on a shidduch date for drinks at the local Marriot;

- Christmas tree lights are a modern day expression on the ancient Germanic festival of lights commemorating the winter solstice. This, in itself, is partly reflected in the lighting of the Chanukah candles;

- Christmas is a celebration of...RETAIL. According to the RAMBAM's Mishnah Toirah, one of the key Mitzvois Asei SheHazman Gerammah is the raising of ALL prices by 20% between December 10th and December 24th. Boruch Hashem for Kratzmach -- this Yuntif pays for my kids' Yeshivah tuition! Indeed, all of my talmidim are encouraged to contribute to a Christmas fund for families who cannot afford toys, the Kratzmach Gemach, so that Jewish merchants will not suffer because the Goyim are in the middle of a recession.

- There is a famous Mishnah that states that just as Roish Hashanah is the New Year for the universe and Tu BiShvat is the New Year for trees, Christmas is the New Year for big, fat, bearded white guys. And I know many Rabbanim in our community who should therefore celebrate this Yuntif too.

There is a famous Maiseh SheHoya about the Lubavitcher Rebbe. In an effort to raise money for vodka for his Chasidim one year, he dressed up as Santa Clause and stood in front of the local Bloomingdales, pretending to be from the Salvation Army. Who should walk by, but his archenemy, the Satmar Rebbe.

"So, Menachem-Mendel," the Satmar Rebbe declared in a loud voice, "Your movement truly has evolved into another religion."

"Not at all," the Lubavitcher Rebbe calmly replied. "We simply never miss an opportunity to find joy. What do you say you and I do a couple of shots, sing a niggun, and make-up underneath the mistletoe?"

The Satmar Rebbe was so upset by the confrontation that day, he insisted that all of his followers use reindeer meat in their cholent that shabbos.

Meanwhile, the Lubavitcher Rebbe raised enough money to keep his Chasidim drunk through the end of the month of Tayvais. That night, the Reboinoisheloilum came to him in a dream. "Rebbe," the Aimishteh said, "Have I not given you enough to celebrate in Yiddishkeit? Why are you and your followers embracing another religion?"

"But Hakkadoshbaruchhu," the Lubavitcher Rebbe responded, "we have not strayed from Yiddishkeit. It's not as if any of my Chasidim will ever embrace the concept of resurrection or anything like that."

So we have a lot more in common with Christmas than we originally thought. We should therefore neither ignore the holiday nor treat it with disrespect. Rather, we should treat it as the money making opportunity that it truly is.

Ah Gutten Yuntif, you Minuval

---------

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ask Rabbi Pinky: On Daas Toirah


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Ask Rabbi Pinky: On Daas Toirah


Rabboisai,

This week’s Shailah comes from a Talmid who uses as much Yiddish as the Satmar Rebbe on acid.

Harav Hagaon Rav Pinky

Whilst discussing Divrei Toyreh I have, on occasion, suggested that our great medieval Meforshim, when composing responsa and commentary on TaNaCh, may well have been influenced by contemporary events impacting Ehrliche Yidden dwelling in Western Europe (e.g. the Crusades, black death, unfair business practices, Shtupping Shikseh maids, etc.) Certain Menuval Rabbonim in my community (whom I do not hold by, Chass V'Shalom) inform me that I am mistaken, and frequently invoke the term "Daas Toirah". I like to think that I am an Erliche, Frimme Yid, but does this not smack of (Chass V'Shalom) Papal infallibility (which I am certain the Goyim must have somehow stolen from us).

A Gitn Shabbos from your Talmid,

Reb Kudish Shmiel

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Reb Kudish,

Thank you for your insightful question that gets at the very heart of Yiddishkeit. After all, what else is the heart of our Heilikeh faith than the unfaltering belief in the rulings of our religious leaders, the Gedoilim. Men of wisdom and honor and valor. Men of intuition, able to unerringly answer questions on all topics, informed by their honed minds after studying the words of the Reboinoisheloilum, the teachings of CHAZAL, the lessons of the other Gedoilim, and the extensive library of responsa documented in Igrois Penthouse. Men of an essentially higher moral construct, like Moishe Rabbeinu. Men of a greater character, like Aaroin HaKoihain. Men who are hung like a horse, like Yankif Avinu.

Namely, men like me. And Herschel Schachter.

What is Daas Toirah? It is a term that, sadly, is not well known outside of Chassidic and Black Hat circles, unless you are an Ashkenazi real estate developer, a Moroccan mobster or a Gentile basketball player. It is the belief that Rabbis can grant wisdom and guidance with near infallibility on areas outside of the spheres of theology and Toirah scholarship.

What is it that gives the Gedoilim this wisdom? Why, it is the tens of thousands of hours spent studying Toirah, their minds shaped by the purity of the TANACH, the wisdom of the Gemarrah, the holy words of the Rishoinim and Acharoinim, and the mind-numbing-neo-paganism of the Zoihar. Their minds are molded and shaped and perfected by the words and ideas inspired by the Reboinoisheloilum and His pet hamster, Cuddles.

I literally cry for the Minuvals and their Minuveless wives for all of the time wasted consulting doctors and lawyers and financial advisers as they seek guidance, when all they have to do is come to me. My door is always open. Except when it is closed.

Why, just last week I had multiple inquiries from Talmidim asking for my Toirah-inspired guidance:

-- On Sunday, I had a man come to me to ask my advice on his investments. I suggested he buy stock in Artscroll: As soon as the entire country embraces the most ignorant form of Orthodoxy, he will make millions.

-- On Monday I had a woman come to me asking my opinion on whether she should divorce her husband after finding out he was having an affair. I advised her to remain married, but to raise her self esteem by evening the score. I then took her to the back of my 1987 Dodge minivan, tied her up with my Tfillin and Gartel, and practiced Shlugging Kaparois with her in the back seat.

-- On Tuesday I had a Talmid ask me who he should support in the debate in Israel about drafting Chareidi students into the IDF. I told that Mechutziff that the choice is clear! Why be Mevatel Toirah and waste valuable resources on silly things such as defense, national infrastructure and education for the entire country when you can invest in tens of thousands of able bodied adult men studying Toirah all day and having twelve children each? They are the true protectors of the State. And they are demonstrating their sheer bravery.... by threatening to fight fellow Jews and invoking such terms as Yaharoig Ve'al Ya'avor ("better to die than to comply") with regard to resisting military service. If only all Israeli soldiers had the same sense of privilege! Then we could stop wasting our money supporting charities in the State of Israel.... because there would no longer be a State of Israel.

-- On Wednesday – I was consulted by a couple that is having trouble conceiving a baby, Rachmana Letzlan. I immediately put the woman on a regimen of fertility pills and hormone shots. I had them change their Mezuzahs (lucky I had a few extra lying around, at $300 each…). And I also prescribed that they be Mezaneh while facing Mizrach on Roish Choidesh when it falls out on Moitzee Shabboskoidesh on a Tuesday. When asked if the woman should go to the Mikvah earlier in the week, violating the Rabbinic addition of waiting seven clean days in order to catch her ovulation cycle, I explained that it is better that Klal Yisroel cease to exist than to Chass V’Sholom be Oiver on this D’Rabbanan.

-- On Thursday I was asked by a Talmid for advice on a real estate deal. I strongly endorsed the opportunity to invest in parking garages in rural residential communities. When the Iranians drop the bomb on us we will all be heading to the hills and will need a place to park.

-- Finally, on Friday I was contacted by two parents who believe that their 12 year old son is being molested by his Rebbe and wanted to know if they should report the Rebbe to the authorities. I told them that they must be wrong: No person who has gone through a Smicha program can possibly be a child molester. It just couldn’t ever, ever happen. Never.

-- On Shabboskoidesh, of course, I only responded to questions directly related to Lumdis. Nisht B’Shabbos Garedt, you know.

Some may say that Daas Toirah is dangerously close to the Vatican’s perception of Papal infallibility. Some may say that ascribing near infallibility to any human being runs counter to the Toirah, which portrays Moishe Rabbeinu, Aaroin HaKoihan, and Duvid HaMelech as having been imperfect human beings. Some would suggest that the very essence of the Gemarrah is the notion of debate, which is rooted in a balance between tradition and reason. Some would say that the devastation of the Jews of Europe, including many whose Rabbinic leadership encouraged them not to emigrate, is the greatest proof of Rabbinic fallibility. Some would say that the belief in the infallibility of Rabbis may lead to extreme heresies, including the belief in false messiahs. Some would even suggest that the decentralized nature of Klal Yisroel, the lack of a central authority, is in fact one of our greatest elements of strength, encouraging a vibrant social and intellectual culture that is less prone to the corruption enabled by a single bottleneck.

But I say: Anyone who says such Shtuss is a complete ignoramus and we must excommunicate him from our community immediately. Unless he comes to my humble Central Park West apartment, makes a sizeable donation to my Yeshiva. And then I'll be happy to offer him my counsel.

Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval.

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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Friday, November 20, 2015

On Current Events In Israel


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On Current Events In Israel

Rabboisai,

Numerous talmidim have reached out to me over the past week asking what a Ben Toirah’s position should be regarding the current situation in Israel. “Rebbe” some say, “I want to travel to Eretz Yisroel to contribute to Israel's defense. Can I go to an army base to teach Toirah, so soldiers can get some extra sleep?” “Rebbi, can I go to a local community in Eretz Yisroel to teach children critical survival skills, such as first aid or Hilchois Tzitzis?” “Rebbi, can I travel to Eilat to ensure that the topless Scandinavian women tourists are "fully satisfied" with their visit, if you know what I mean?”

More introspective Talmidim ask how a Ben Toirah should relate to the troubling geopolitical realities that Israel faces. We capture territories; they attack us. We retain territories; they attack us. We redeploy from territories; they attack us. What should we do, for Reboinoisheloilum’s sakes?

Frankly, you Minuval, today’s challenges are not unique in the history of Klal Yisroel. When Am Yisroel left Mitzrayim, crossed the Yam Suf, and said “Na’Aseh V’Nishmah,” were we greeted by comfort and ease? Did Hakadoshboruchhu give us a break after 400 years of slavery, persecution, and high interest rates? No! The Bnei Yisroel faced food shortages, water deprivation, armed combat, internal strife, sorcerers’ curses, erectile dysfunction, and limited broadband availability.

In a famous Gemarrah in Kesubois, Rav Ashi asks why the Aimishteh always makes life difficult for Klal Yisroel, and then when we rebel or express doubt, He smacks us with an outstretched fist. Asks Rav Ashi, “Isn’t the Reboinoisheloilum guilty of the Issur of Lifnei Iver,” placing us in a position where we are entrapped into sin?

There is a Gevaldikkah Machloikess Rishoinim on this topic.

According to the RAN, Hakadoshboruchhu is indeed guilty of Lifnei Iver, and the RAN suggests that we put Him in Cherem until He changes His behavior.

But the RIF disagrees, suggesting that Rav Ashi was not thinking clearly, probably because it was not “hunting season” in the Ashi boudoir, if you know what I mean. Rather, argues the RIF, the Aimishteh loves Klal Yisroel, and He is only challenging us so that we can glorify His name. And therefore, the right words, the right steps, and the right actions are just at our finger tips, awaiting our discovery of the proper formula.

Indeed, the great Kabbalists of Tsfas held like the RIF, and they dedicated themselves to finding the right formula to achieve success in the eyes of the Reboinoisheloilum. Yes, the ARIZAHL, Reb Yoiseph Karo, and others delved into the deep mysteries of existence and finally came up with an answer: Through Tefillah, Ruach Hakoidesh, reading tea leaves, and the use of a Magic Eight Ball, they were able to recover the Shaym Hamefoirush, the ineffable name of the Aimishteh which gives special magical powers to all who use it. It was the Shaym Hamefoirush that:

-- Avraham Avinu used at the age of 99 to raise his Bris Milah from the dead so that he could father Yitzchak

-- Moishe Rabbeinu used to split the sea and raise the bones of Yoisaiph Hatzadik

-- Shloimoi Hamelech used to give life to the inanimate lions guarding his throne

-- The Koihain Gadol used to bring forth fire from the Mizbayach in the Bais Hamikdash.

In fact, there is a famous Medrish that says that Yushka Pandra had the Shaym Hamefoirush written on his arm, which enabled him to magically walk on water, mysteriously change water into wine, and miraculously get Mary Magdalene to provide access to her… err… ummm.... Yam Suf...

So if Klal Yisroel has used this awesome power in the past, why can't Klal Yisroel use this magical capability now? Why doesn’t the Prime Minister use the Shaym Hamefoirush today to defeat the myriad Palestinian terrorists attacking Israeli civilians and soldiers alike in the current wave of terror? Why can’t the Chief Rabbi climb up to the tallest mountain in Eretz Yisroel, raise his arms, and like Moishe Rabbeinu keep them up in the air until our foes are vanquished? Why can’t the leading Rosheshivas pray with fervor until the current threats disappear?

I am reminded of a famous story about the Kutzker Rebbe. At the end of one summer, the Kutzker was forced to stay home and watch the children because camp was over, school had not yet begun, and his wife had a full schedule of patients at her Speech Therapy practice. After a week of taking the kids to the pool and trying to get work done, with Spongebob blaring in the background, the Kutzker decided he had had enough, so he headed upstairs to argue with his wife.

Climbing up the steps, the Kutzker cautiously kept his distance as he asked his wife to please stay home for a few days, but she completely ignored him. Looking at the back of her head, as she quietly sat in the bedroom, he raised his voice, complaining how she was responsible for his Bittul Toirah. No response. Then the Kutzker raised his voice even more and berated her loudly, yelling at her in his worst street Yiddish. Still nothing. Finally, he stormed over to where she was sitting to argue with her face to face. To the Kutzker's great surprise, he discovered that he had been arguing for 25 minutes with her Shaytel, which was sitting atop a Styrofoam head on the dresser. Alarmed, he calmed himself down by using the Styrofoam head to perform an act of Metzitzah Bipeh on himself.

Rabboisai, in the world of reality, we do not have a secret formula, so we must to find a path for ourselves through our words, our prayers and our actions. Perhaps we are using the wrong words or taking the wrong actions. Or perhaps we are being tested by the Reboinoisheloilum for endurance, as in a marathon, or on a long Mikvah night in the winter time.

Fate has determined that we have a State surrounded by many enemies. But it is our State, the culmination of a great national effort. And the self determination that we have today sadly comes with a heavy, painful price.

So we roll up our sleeves and suck in our gut, secure in the knowledge that one day soon we will confidently and safely go outside and and get together with others to argue about such critical issues as the color of the wallpaper, the Yankees’ starting lineup, and whether or not you are required to make a Bracha on Tzitzis while putting on a four cornered leather S&M outfit at night with your glasses fogged on a Tuesday.

Ah Gutten, Peaceful, Shabbos You Minuval


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

On the Curse of Eve


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On the Curse of Eve


Rabboisai,

I had a massive challenge this week. There was an ingredient that I needed for a recipe - I am actually trying to recreate the formula for Soita Juice - the liquid that will prove whether a woman is a Soitah or not - and I did not know the Koisher status of it. What's Pshat saffron? Is it an animal, or a vegetable or an herb? And if it is a vegetable or herb, does it have bugs crawling all over it, rendering it inedible for kosher reasons, like broccoli and asparagus in our day?

So I reached out to the OU, the OK, the Chuff K, the CRC, the BADATZ and the other reliable Hashgachois, kosher supervision agencies, but none had a satisfactory answer. Which doesn't mean that they do not know; more likely, it means that commercial negotiations with suppliers are pending.

Finally, I was referred to the world expert on Safron, who, as fate would have it, is a Frum Jew. So I called Ariel Goldberg for input, so that I could determine the kosher status of this key ingredient. But alas, when Ariel Goldberg picked up the phone, my hopes were shattered. As it turns out, Ariel Goldberg is a woman, and, consequently, any insight that she might offer on a Halachic question is like asking a deaf man to sing Stairway To Heaven. Women are simply not qualified to render Halachic decisions.

We are told in the Torah that the Reboinoisheloilum created our foremother in Gan Eden out of the rib of Adam HaRishoyn, so as to keep him company as an "Ezer Kinegdoi", a "Help Mate". Yet Woman was fundamentally flawed from the start. Apparently Hakadoshboruchhu only had part of the architectural plans from his original model, Adam, and missed a major component; His new creation did not include a Makoiym HaMilah, a "Gid" in semi modern Hebrew, a "Zayin" in Hebrew slang, or a Schmuck, Putz, Schmeckel, Schvantz, Schlong, Petzyl, Shmaaser in various forms of Yiddish slang. (Isn't it amazing that our ancestors in Eastern Europe had as many names for their private parts as Eskimos have for snow?) Chava lacked a penis, and this led to her poor judgment in being enticed by a snake, as well as in burning the Challah on Erev Shabbos.

Humanity, and women in particular, were indeed cursed by this design flaw in Gan Eden, a flaw that affects us Ad HaYoim HaZeh, until this day. Because of this fundamental flaw, women are not able to serve as Heads of State, no matter how much Angela Merkel and Margaret Thatcher would argue to the contrary. Women are not able to serve as doctors or lawyers or scientists. According to RASHI, Marie Curie was not a woman scientist, but a man who had his "business" shot off in World War One. Woman are incapable of serving as CEOs or COOs of companies. Facebook, IBM, HP, Xerox, Yahoo, Oracle, General Motors, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Pepsico, Kraft and many other companies have only appointed women as figureheads, so that the person who washes the dishes in the office and sweeps up at the end of the day has a nice title. It is an "affirmative action" thing. It is just another example of the left wing conspiracy trying to take over this country.

The fact of the matter is, "Nashim Da'ason Kalois Hayn", as CHAZAL teach us, women are of simple minds. That is why Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and many other respected countries in the world have not had a female head of state. Ever. That is why the Vatican has never had a female Pope and will not agree to having female Catholic Priests. And these guys are the experts, on the cutting edge!

I do not know about you, but. I start every morning with Brachois. Baruch Ata Adoeshem, Elikainu Melech Ha'Oilum... Sheloi Usani Goy, Sheloi Usani Uved, Sheloi Usani Ishah, etc. Blessed Art Thou Oh Aimishteh, Our Hakadoshboruchhu, King Of The Universe... Who did not make me a Gentile; Who did not make me a slave; WHO DID NOT MAKE ME A WOMAN, FOR REBOINOISHELOILUM'S SAKES!!!

And I mean it!

It is with all of this background that I have to proclaim my full, 100% support, for the leadership demonstrated by Rabbis Gil Student and Avraham Gordimer in using a rare procedural move at a recent gathering of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), the mainstream Modern Orthodox umbrella group of rabbis in the United States, to bring to the floor and pass a resolution reaffirming the RCA's opposition to the rabbinic ordination of women, and declaring a mandatory boycott against hiring any woman with a Rabbah or Maharasssss title into any position of educational authority in a Jewish institution, including the role of teacher.

Boruch Hashem!!! The last thing we need in our society are competent female educators and role models!

I prefer to look up to the current generation of leaders: Mordechai Willig - Who as the primary supporter of Boruch Lanner, clearly believes that it is OK to sexually abuse women, as long as you do not teach them Gemarah; Herschel Schachter, who would rather have sexual abusers run free than sit in jail with "Schvartzes" (his word, not mine); and Jonathan Rosenblatt, who loves to make sure that his Talmidim are REALLY clean before teaching them Toirah!

It is critical that we block women from taking on additional responsibilities in our community! As RAMBAM teaches, we cannot have a woman serve as a king or, by inference, in any position of leadership. This is due to the ruling on Serara in Hilchois Melachim. Now, never mind the fact that in general, we do not necessarily Paskin like the RAMBAM, ever - his full treatise of Mishnah Toirah is a magnificent work of scholarship, but is viewed as an input to Halachic discourse, not as binding Halacha LeMaisah. Never mind the fact that many of his positions stand in contrast to alternate Halachic positions before and after - whether it was the positions of the Gaonim and others that he disagreed with, the RAMBAM's own positions that were frequently attacked by the RAMBAN in Spain in a subsequent generation, or the many other Rabbinic scholars who felt license to debate the RAMBAM throughout the ages. And never mind the fact that he lived 900 years ago in Muslim Egypt, where undoubtedly women in society were seen in a completely subservient light. And never mind the fact that the RAMBAM, also a famous doctor, represented the cutting edge of his day, but frankly we go to modern doctors for modern medicine, and do not rely on his medical text books either. The fact of the matter is that on this one issue, we absolutely hold like the RAMBAM, because Hakadoshboruchhu forbid that any leader of Klal Yisroel should be missing a penis. After all, what would the Goyim say? Next thing you know, we will be giving Smicha to orangutans and gerbils, and I for one do not look forward to hearing a Drasha being delivered by a mouse-like creature talking about the Parshas HaShavua while running in a wheel.

It is critical that we block women from taking on additional responsibilities in our community! The well know Braisah tells us that women could in theory be called up to read from the Toirah, but we do not do it because of Kvoid HaTzibur, out of respect for the congregation. The RIF suggests that this expression related to concerns about public modesty - Men in the congregation may hear a woman's voice and begin masturbating like chimpanzees. The RAN suggests that this expression reflects the concern that a menstruating woman would bleed all over the Bimah, and it would be embarrassing to the congregation to have the carpets cleaned every week. And the ROISH suggests that Kvoid HaTvibur simply suggests that it would be offensive to the congregation to have someone called to the Toirah who is missing a penis. After all, reading from the Toirah is akin to Moishe Rabbeinu receiving the Toirah on Mount Sinai, and he certainly had a penis, at least according to most Rishoinim.

So women should absolutely not be given additional responsibilities in our community, not serve as Rabbis/ Rabbahs, Maharasssss's, Yoatzois Halacha, officers in synagogues, teachers, or leaders of play groups. And, as cited by my Rebbe, Mordechai Willig, we should stop teaching Gemara to women, as now they are uppity bitches who do not know their place in society. We should also stop allowing women to attend higher education, as this gives them the idea that they can contribute to broader society. And we should reverse the Bais Yaakov movement and stop educating our women altogether. In fact, I plan at the next RCA gathering to propose a resolution that all women be chained to a central post in every Jewish home all day and every day, with a chain just long enough to move around from the kitchen to the bedroom. I think 20 feet long is more than enough in most homes.

The only exception of course will be Koilel wives, who will be let off of their chains long enough to raise their ten kids and work three jobs a day.

Now, Boruch Hashem for the initiative of Rabbis Student and Gordimer! There are a lot of minor distractions in the Jewish community, but they have kept the community focused on the single most important issue. Sure, the RCA could spend its time focusing on:

-- Addressing the plague of sexual abuse in our community
-- Addressing the plight of Agunois, women who are trapped in quasi marital limbo because their husbands refuse to grant them a Get, a religious divorce certificate
-- Broadening the scope of Jewish education
-- Addressing the yeshiva tuition crisis
-- Delivering unity to Klal Yisroel at a time of economic, political and social divide, and
-- Focusing on intellectual relevance at a time when many people are abandoning the faith in droves.

But luckily, Rabbi Student and Gordimer have kept the RCA focused on the most important issue of our day: Keeping leadership out of the hands of people lacking a penis.

I am reminded of a famous Maiseh Shehoya brought down in a Braisah. It was LAG Be'Oimer, and Bais Shammai and Bais Hillel were having their annual friendly competitive sports outing. This year, instead of softball, they decided to play volleyball. And this year, Bais Hillel brought in a couple of ringers - a couple of the wives of the Talmidim who had been members of their college volleyball teams.

When the female members of the Bais Hillel team showed up on the field, the Bais Shammai team protested. Bais Hillel said that no rules were violated by allowing women to play, but Bais Shammai protested that it was indeed against the rules, and if not against the rules, it was at least against the spirit of the rules. After Bais Hillel refused to change its team line up, Bais Shammai refused to play, and went protesting to the Roman Authorities. The year was 67 CE, and the rebellion against Roman rule was breaking out, along with an accompanying Jewish civil war, with Bais Shammai and Bais Hillel on different sides. In the end, there was much loss of life, and the Second Bais Hamikdash, the Second Temple, was destroyed.

But at least no women were allowed to play in the Bais Shammai - Bais Hillel volleyball game. Boruch Hashem!

Because the last thing you would ever want to do is improve your team performance by adding a team member who was born without a penis, Chass V’Sholom.


Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Menuvelessss


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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Friday, November 06, 2015

My Daughter, The Rabbi


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My Daughter, The Rabbi

Last Friday Night, in the middle of the night, I had insomnia. I walked downstairs, and Lo and Behold, my daughter Bracha was sitting in the Living room, speaking with one of her friends. We all got to talking and determined my daughter's future career:

Bracha – her full name is Bracha Levatala -- is planning to be a nurse midwife. She graduated from undergrad this year, and will be attending graduate school to pursue her career. But before graduate school she is heading off to Israel, where she will be studying in one of the most progressive Modern Orthodox/ Dati Leumi girls yeshivas, a place where they make Yoatzois Halacha - women who can make rulings regarding Nidah. These women also inevitably get asked "marital relations" questions.

So this is how I predict her life and career will play out:

My daughter is going to become a bit closer to the Reboinoisheloilum and become a Yoetzes Halacha, or, Chass V'Shalom, a Maharasssss. Then she is going to marry a nice Jewish boy, a rabbinical student who is also studying to be a doctor or lawyer or something.

After becoming a Yoetzes Halacha or Maharasssss, or perhaps during that course of study, she is also going to study to be a nurse midwife. And these days, nurse midwives do more than deliver babies; they also perform basic OB/GYN checkups. So women will come to my daughter in her role as a Midwife Halacha for feminine healthcare and rabbinical advice on Taharas Hapishpacha and marital issues.

Now, as part of her practice, my daughter will sell, and ultimately brand, products that she sells to her patients. The products will include:

-- Kosher underwear #1 - They are red, so that women cannot seeing spotting and avoid being declared a Nidah simply due to a little off-cycle spotting.

-- Kosher underwear #2 - Kosher certified edible underwear. (According to the RAPAYIS, the spouse or romantic partner is allowed to get rid of the evidence by eating it, as long as he or she makes the appropriate Bracha.)

-- A vibrator with a built in Shabbos clock, originally invented by the RARCHAK - Branded as "The Shabbos Cock (TM)"

The general website and retail brand for the suite of products will be: "Shalom Bayis Devaiyis" (TM) available at ShalomBayisDevaiyis.Com.

My daughter also has a genuine aspiration to open a birthing center in a natural setting. So we determined that one of the practices of her birthing center will be that once the baby is born, my daughter will hand the baby to a nurse or to the father to hold, and will then feed the placenta to the local bears.

And years later.... While on a family nature trip with her children and grandchildren and her own dithering old father (me), the family will find themselves surrounded by a bunch of anti Semites who are about to kill them. In fact, the dithering old father/ grandfather/ great grandfather (me) will step to the front and declare:

“Shema Yisroel Adoishem Eloikaynu Adoishem Echadddd”

And then, suddenly, from out of the woods, will emerge a group of very well fed bears, to defend the woman who has been feeding them yummy placenta for years.

And - if my daughter and her husband end up moving to China, she will play the same Midwife Halacha role there. Only due to the one child per family policy, which has historically led people to give girl babies up for adoption or even commit infanticide, when a girl child is born, my daughter will also offer to throw the newborn baby girl to be eaten by the tigers.

But the boy children shall be kept, as it is Hakadoshboruchhu’s will.

-----

Rabboisai,

How should I, a famous Rosheshiva, deal with the fact that my daughter is becoming such a disappointment, missing out on her prime birthing years in order to get a secular education, Chass V’Shalom, and will even study Gemarrah, Rachman Letzlan!!!

I am reminded of a famous Maaseh Shehoya. In the town of Dessel in the Ukraine there was a local Chassidus, the Dessler Chassidim, that looked up to their local Chassidic Rebbe as if he was Moishe Rabbeinu himself.

One day, a distraught Talmid Chachom named Malkiel came to the Dessler Rebbe with a Shailah: He was married to a woman who wanted to stop shaving her head and to begin to wear makeup. Malkiel was worried about the possible impact on their six children, but was willing to allow his wife to engage in such behavior if the Rebbe agreed.

“What do you think you should do?” the Dessler Rebbe asked.

“To be honest, I really do not see the harm in a women engaging in self expression, and it may even help with Shalom Bayis” Malkiel responded.

The Dessler smiled, a wide smile, and his eyes gleamed. He leaned over towards Malkiel, who was sitting opposite him at the table in his Bais Medrish. “And THAT, my beloved Chussid, is why you are a Shmendrick and a Menuval, and I am a Chassidic Master! First a woman wants to shave her hair… and then she will be shaving her Erva! First she wants to put on makeup for her husband… and then she will be putting on makeup for every man in the street! Next she will undoubtedly want to stop having children and get a full time job as a roadside prostitute!!”

The Dessler continued, “Malkiel, better that you had never married your wife than have to contemplate such Modernishe Zachen! But luckily, you have options.”

“What options?” Malkiel asked.

“For one thing, you can give your wife a Get, immediately, and never allow her to see her children ever again. She may offer to shave her head and refrain from wearing makeup, but you can never trust a woman with such a Taivah! Plus she will undoubtedly try to see your children, and they will have to grow up with the Shandah of having a Kurva for a mother.”

“Another option is that you can call the Czar and denounce your wife as a spy. But you never know if the government will arrest you as well. Or even worse, me.”

“But there is one other option…”

“What is it?” Malkiel asked anxiously.

“You can tell your wife that you would like to go on a romantic picnic with her, and take her to the woods outside of Dessel. And when you get to the woods, you can feed her to the bears, who are always hungry.”

“But isn’t that murder, one of the Aseres HaDibrois, the Ten Commandments?” Malkiel asked.

The Dessler Rebbe looked at Malkiel scorningly, “Hey RASHI, the Toirah also says “VeNichrisah HaNefesh HaHee Mai’Ameha, you Mechutziff! Son, you can either destroy your wife’s body now and return her Neshama to the Aimishteh, its rightful owner. Or you can destroy your childrens’ Neshama’s later. You decide.”

With that, the Dessler went off to deliver a Shiur to his Chassidim on which Bracha to recite before tying one’s left shoe.

Rabboisai, I too face such a dilemma. I cry for my daughter’s Neshama, and even more so, for the Neshamas of the people she will be trying to “help” by offering “medical care” and “Taharas HaMishpacha” advice.

Consequently, I will be taking a special bonding trip with my daughter, and will be unavailable for the next week and a half. We will be travelling to China together, touring Beijing, Shanghai, the Great Wall, seeing some of the inner, rural areas, and sampling some of the local cuisine.

And, out of respect for local custom, I will only be buying a return trip ticket for myself. After all, tigers need to eat too.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Menuval.


---------

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Friday, October 23, 2015

On Noise and Silence


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On Noise and Silence


Rabboisai,

I am not in a joking mood, and I have nothing funny to write about.

There is upheaval in Eretz Yisroel. Palestinians are committing acts of terror, using knives and guns. Israelis are trying hard to defend themselves, but it is difficult to defend against "unorganized" terror activities, including knife attacks by 13 year old boys. And of course the global discourse and the media have largely missed the Israeli side, since "man bites dog" tends to get the better headlines.

As always, the Palestinian leadership is leading its people down a false path, playing up a fiction about Al Aqsa and the Temple Mount, and making blood curdling statements and accusations, rather than focusing on building the foundations of an independent state, an economy, and an education system designed to encourage coexistence with Israel, in preparation for that inevitable day when a political arrangement is reached that separates the Palestinian Arabs from the Jews, the divorce of an arranged marriage that never quite worked out.

But rather than focus on the future, the Palestinians have played the victim card, again. And again. And again. And there is only so long and so many times and a limited set of circumstances when their foundational narrative of exile and identification as a minority deprived of voting rights can serve as a response or justification for brutal acts of terror against civilians, including babies. There are only so many times that the Palestinians can play the "Get Out Of Jail Free" card of their narrative of victimhood. There are only so many times that Mahmoud Abbas can compare the creation of the Palestinian refugee crisis to the Holocaust without losing all credibility for the Palestinian cause.

I am reminded of the behavior of my close colleague, Rabbi Shmiel Kalbasavuah. Every morning I make sure to take him out for a walk. In his advancing years, he needs his exercise and exposure to fresh air, and fire hydrants.

Every so often, as we are walking outside and talking about the weekly Parsha or a difficult Toisfois, a large truck will drive past, and Reb Shmiel will follow his natural impulse to chase the truck. Now, what he would actually do with that truck I do not know, and he refuses to tell me. But he is vastly outweighed by any truck, and a direct confrontation could never end well.

Reb Shmiel cannot help himself. As a youth he was forced to eat dog food, and was tormented by children who constantly tickled him on his belly and between his ears, and was unwittingly hounded by Postal Carriers and UPS delivery men, so he has certain natural instincts of self-preservation. In that sense, he is like a dog.

I contrast this behavior to the actions of the Israelis, who are once again forced to lead their lives under the threat of terror. There is an inherent tension between the urge for restraint, a natural survival instinct that by definition must include self-defense and prudent preventative measures, and an inclination for revenge. We too carry a nationalist and even messianic impulse, but we have historically largely tempered it, as our society can understand tolerance and coexistence, "Kee Gerim Hayinu Be'Eretz Mitzrayim", because, as we are often reminded of often in the Toirah, the Israelites, the Jews, were strangers in the land of Egypt; we were the victims of minority status, and we must never forget what it feels like to be on the receiving end of being a minority. The Torah at its core, teaches tolerance and acceptance of the minority; not suicide, not self-destruction, not aggressive action, but tolerance, "Kee Gerim Hayinu Be'Eretz Mitzrayim".

It is in this context that Klal Yisroel needs to look to our tradition to determine an adequate response to the very practical challenges that face us at a national level.

It is against this background that I shake my head in confusion at the words of Benjamin Netanyahu. I do not know what he is smoking, but believe me, you do not want to touch any of that shit.

Israel is under attack. There is a wave of terror. Israel is being condemned in largely useless forums, such as the UN. Israel's story of being twisted through both anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda. Israel is subject to the whims of a lazy, sensationalist media And there is a growing economic boycott movement that is largely marginal for the moment, but will only get worse as the demographic time bomb explodes within five years - when Arabs, including Israeli Arabs, constitute a majority of the people between the River and the Sea.

So what does genius Netanyahu do? Does he come up with political initiatives? Does he cultivate moderate Palestinian alternatives? Does he show any creativity?

No. He invokes the Holocaust. He blames Haj Amin Al Husseini, the extremist Mufti of Jerusalem of 75 years ago for the Holocaust.

Huh? What the Tashmish HaMitah?!?!

As any student of Holocaust history knows, the Final Solution, established formally in 1941 by the Nazi regime, was the culmination of years of anti-Semitic policies and persecution. After the Nazis rose to power in 1933, they progressively persecuted the Jews and created a network of concentration camps for all of their political enemies - Jews, Communists, members of the previous government, priests, and even Nazis who has fallen out of favor. They created ghettos in Poland upon invasion in 1939, and committed pogroms. They introduced euthanasia of undesirables, such as the mentally ill, and later applied those techniques in Chelmno, the first death camp, once they realized that they had millions of Jews who were in no position to emigrate from Europe. These atrocities were developed by Hitler and his SS, and were later refined in the more "efficient" factories of death such as Auschwitz. These atrocities were committed in parallel with other Nazi atrocities, such as starving millions of Soviet POWs to death.

Hitler did not need the help of Haj Amin Al Husseini to develop his hatred for the Jews. It was laid out in full in Mein Kampf, written by Hitler in prison in 1925, 16 years before meeting Al Husseini.

Whether Haj Amin Al Husseini hated Jews or not, he did not come up with the Final Solution. And Netanyahu, the son of historian, and a very intelligent man himself, knows his history.

But Netanyahu has a knack for invoking the Shoah when it is politically expedient for him. A few weeks ago, he compared the pending deal with Iran to "Czechoslovakia in 1938". Now... no one loves the Iran deal, but Israel is a nuclear power and has a very strong army, and is not defenseless.

So why does Netanyahu practice historical revisionism and invoke the Holocaust? Because, for him, it is his "Get Out Of Jail Free Card" invoking the Jewish narrative of victimhood. But this is an insult to the intelligence of every Jew, and of every gentile. It is a cynical exploitation of our martyred ancestors. And it is ultimately an embarrassment to the State of Israel and the Jewish People. Imagine this: The Germans spoke out this week and had to remind the Prime Minister of Israel, the Jewish State, that it was they who were responsible for the Holocaust. Thank you Bibi. We had all forgotten.

The Jewish National Cause, the State of Israel, is not rooted in the Shoah; it is rooted in the Land in which our Nation was founded, it is the one land to which we are indigenous. And my grandmother did not die, six million were not murdered, in order to serve as a rhetorical device for any politician. Not for Ben Carson on gun rights. Not for Mahmoud Abbas. And not for Bibi Netanyahu.

---

I would like to share a Moshul.

The once was a prince named Shlomo. He lived in the Land of Zevulun, and had the finest Payis in all the land. He had a brother named Yitchak, and another brother named Abe. All had beautiful Payis, but conceded that Shlomo's Payis were the most beautiful.

One day, Yitzchak woke up and decided that it was actually he who had the finest Payis in all the land - "Super Payis". And he began to grow jealous of his brother. And the hate built up in his heart.

Finally, Abe began to feel that he had the most beautiful Payis. And the more he thought about it, the more he began to seethe.

Finally, one day it all exploded while all three were learning a Givaldickah Toisfois together on Pidyoin Shevuyim, redeeming Jews who are taken hostage. One second they were debating who had the better Shitah... and the next they were screaming at each other. As push came to shove they cut each other’s' Payis off.

That night the king can home to the castle after work, and discovered the has three sons had cut each other’s' Payis off, and had therefore become Misnagdim. He then banished them from the Land of Zevulun and never saw them again.

The moral of the story: Every Chussid has Payis. It is a core characteristic. But it is more important focus on practical efforts, like figuring out the difficult Toisfois on how to save lives, and stop being distracted by your Payis. Seriously.

Sometimes you just need to know when to Shut The Fuck Up and focus on real issues.

Ah Gutten, Peaceful Shabbos, You Minuval.

---------

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Friday, October 09, 2015

On the Road to Redemption


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On the Road to Redemption

Rabboisai,

What a long week this has been!

On Sunday I was out in Brooklyn raising money for my Yeshiva, offering donors of $100 or more some magical Bsomim that would help them see the Reboinoisheloilum’s Merkava and commune with the Shchinah, as well as give them a Taiva for Maichel afterwards (“give them the “munchies” BLA”Z).

On Monday I cracked the code on bringing Toiras Moisheh to the masses: My investors and I had looked into opening a kosher sports bar in Teaneck, with 18 life size high definition screens carrying sporting events from all over the world that customers could watch while drinking beer and eating Spicy Bnei Brak Wings (Vos iz Pshat Ah Buffalo?). However, we were told that sports is “Nisht Azoy Ah Yiddisheh Zach”. So after being denied a Hashgacha from the local Teaneck Kashrus board, the OU, the Kuff K, and even the Triangle K, which I understand is run by a former Reform Rabbi who is now a leader in the Church of Scientology, we decided to change our business model. So we translated the sports bar concept into something more in synch with Yiddishkeit, and on Monday we opened up the first ever Beis Medrish Bar and Grill, featuring 18 life size Rabbis telling over all sorts of Divrei Toirah, while diners eat burgers, fries and drink Shlivovitz from little plastic shot glasses. Not only did the Mashgichim approve the Hechsher, they insisted that their son-in-laws be allowed to deliver Shiurim for tips!

On Tuesday I finished writing my latest Sefer, Di Chusin Oon Di Chavrusa Mit Di Shverkeit, an engaging tale about an unusual love triangle, loosely based on the life of Reb Shlomo Kluger, Reb Akiva Eiger, and Queen Victoria. It is available as an e-book, or wherever Bantam Paperbacks are sold.

On Wednesday I held office hours and Farhered numerous Talmidim on Hichois Karban Toidah. I am proud to say that when the Bais Hamikdash is rebuilt, Bimhairah BiYamaynu, there will be no shortage of impoverished twenty-something-year-old Yeshiva students living on Welfare and Food Stamps who never worked a day in their lives, who will be prepared to slaughter goats on behalf of Klal Yisroel.

On Thursday I opened my doors to the public and welcomed a bunch of Sucker Am Haaratzim …. errr…. I mean… Heimisheh Baal HaBusim who in exchange for me handing them dollar bills handed my secretary checks for $50, $100, and even $1,000 a piece. Gemilas Chassadim does indeed deliver returns multifold! Boruch HaShem.

It was during this session that I learned something astounding. One of the Baal HaBusim mentioned that Klal Yisroel is at war! I of course agreed, and reminded him that the war against the Yetzer Harrah is a constant battle, and we can never let our guards down. And then he took out his newspaper and showed me that Eretz Yisroel is under attack! Did any of you Minuvals know that? And if yes, why didn't you tell me?

So, as it turns out, Medinas Yisrael is fighting a new wave of violence launched by Palestinian elements, who are being supported by the Iranians, who are also supporting the Iraqis, who are fighting a war against ISIS, who are also fighting against the Syrians, who are supported by the Russians, who are supporting the Ukrainian rebels, who are fighting against the Ukrainians, who are allied with the Western Europeans, who are supported by the Americans. You see, I told you Barack HUSSEIN Oibama was an anti-Semite!!!

As I began to read up on the current battles, I learned of the horrific deaths and injuries of Israeli civilians, and the constant rock, knife, and gun attacks being launch throughout Eretz Yisroel.

Sad to say, this is something I warned about in a Drasha five years ago: If the women of Klal Yisroel refuse to dress Tzniusdick, Hakadoshboruchhu will bring down His wrath tenfold. In addition, if Jewish men refuse to put on Tefillin, the Reboinoisheloilum will deliver His wrath from the North. If little Jewish children engage in mixed swimming, Eretz Yisroel will face a devastating attack by the Australian Aborigines. And if all of Klal Yisroel does not stop with this Internet, iPhone, and Facebook Shtussim, the Aimishteh will bring about an attack by the mermaids and mermen who live in Atlantis, under the Mediterranean Ocean.

Luckily, I had a dream last night that restored my hope. In my dream, my father-in-law, the Shmutzedikkah Rebbe, came to me to tell me that if every family in Klal Yisroel sends me $100, Moshiach will finally arrive. Redemption at last. No more wars. No more famine. No more Arab Israeli conflict. No more anti-Semitism. Peace and joy and good will towards all mankind. And the opportunity to study Toirah night and day, day and night, together, in our ancestral homeland: Slobodka.

----

Rabboisai,

As has been pointed out many times, our ancestors faced few of the challenges that we face as a Nation today. Klal Yisroel were perpetual victims for nearly 2,000 years. Our very presence in the Israel, the United States, France, Argentina, Russia, the UK, Germany, and across the globe is a reflection of the wandering nature of our People. We are all the descendants of refugees; our nation has indeed been The Wandering Jew.

But today, for the first time in two millennia, we have our own State, whose borders must be defended, whose economy must be sustained, and whose population must be cared for from cradle to grave. We have to live side by side with other nations, some of whom are friends and some of who are mortal enemies.

As such, when we have no choice, we are forced to wage war, with all of its pain. We have the challenge of sending sons and daughters into battle, an act whose consequences are interlocked with tragic outcomes. We have to worry about the Israeli civilian population. We also have to defeat the enemy, who are embedded amongst the Palestinian civilian population, who are themselves casualties of terrible, short sighted and hate filled leadership. It is a cycle of violence of a Hundred Years War.

We are taught in the Gemarrah: “Four entered the Pardes. They were Ben Azzai, Ben Zoma, Acher and Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Akiva said to them, "When you come to the place of pure marble stones, do not say, 'Water! Water!' for it is said, 'He who speaks untruths shall not stand before My eyes' (Psalms 101:7)". Ben Azzai gazed and died. Regarding him the verse states, 'Precious in the eyes of G-d is the death of His pious ones' (Psalms 116:15). Ben Zoma gazed and was harmed (went insane). Regarding him the verse states, 'Did you find honey? Eat as only much as you need, lest you be overfilled and vomit it' (Proverbs 25:16). Acher cut the shoots (became a heretic). Rabbi Akiva entered in peace and left in peace.” (Babylonian Talmud Hagigah 14b).

But what is the peace that Rabbi Akiva returned to? A life of academic achievement, followed by a torturous death. But his mark remains, through his teachings and the teachings of his student, which are foundational to Jewish thought.

Redemption is not granted to those who sit around and wait; it is earned. It is not a Bais Hamikdash that descends magically from the sky. It is a great enterprise, whose foundation is embedded in the ground, and built from the ground up with blood, sweat and tears.

And in time, redemption will be achieved when we have achieved security and peace, peace and security. Bimhairah BiYamaynu.

Ah Gutten, Peaceful Shabbos, You Minuval.

---------

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Friday, October 02, 2015

The Tempestuous Child


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The Tempestuous Child


"Kol HaOlam Kooloh Gesher Tzar Meod. VeHaIkar Lo LeFachayd Klal."

"All the world is a very narrow bridge. And the main thing is not to fear at all."

These are the very famous words of Rabbi Nachman MiBreslav, founder of a Chassidic dynasty that never chose a successor, that to this day inspires Messianic hippies, bad Payis, and WAY oversized Yarmulkas with silly writing on them. Though the Na Na Nachman movement attracts recovering addicts, the political fringe, and people by and large divorced from reality -- the words themselves speak to us today, just as they spoke to our ancestors in the Ukraine several centuries ago.

We are all shocked and depressed by the horrific slaughter of a Jewish couple, Eitam and Na'amah Henkin, in a brutal act of terrorism. The Henkins were driving along a road, attacked, and then shot in front of their four children sitting in the back of their car. It is an unspeakable, incomprehensible tragedy.

This brazen act harms everyone - the victims and their families, Israeli nationalists who loudly declare their "I told you so’s”, and Israeli moderates who believe that peace is inevitable and has roughly understood parameters, even if the political conditions are not yet present.

But the biggest group that suffers as a result of such a brazen act is the Palestinians themselves. Whether they are actively supportive of the terrorist act, myopically intellectually supportive of any strike against "the Israeli enemy", or morally and politically against such actions, they all suffer. All they have ever needed to do is wait patiently and perhaps exert acts of passive resistance, and the Israeli consensus would recognize the incompatibility of the aspiration for Israel to be both a democratic state and a Jewish state. And the status quo would evolve into a new form of peaceful coexistence.

But no. The silent majority does not rule. Rational thought does not rule. Passion and emotion dictate the politics of national extremism, and peaceful coexistence is delayed.

And the blame game begins. We all blame the terrorists who committed the murders. The Palestinians blame the Israelis for the occupation. The Israelis blame some Palestinians for celebrating the murders. The Palestinians blame the Israelis for blowing up the homes of the terrorists in an effort to discourage future such acts. The Israelis blame the Palestinians for non-cooperation. The Palestinians blame the Israelis for not actively pursuing a political arrangement. The Israelis blame the PA for collaborating with Hamas. The Palestinians blame the Israeli government for including ultra-Nationalists.

But do you know who I blame? The Reboinoisheloilum.

At the end of the day, we are witnessing once again that the world that He created is imperfect. It is flawed. If it were an automobile, it would be recalled. If it were a pharmaceutical product, He would be facing myriad lawsuits and be put out of business. If it were a restaurant, no would go there, and, in any case, it would be closed by the Department of Health.

Hakadoshboruchhu has created an imperfect world, and we are simply fated to suffer in His imperfect creation.

We of course are not the first to ponder the nature of the world and its imperfections. On the contrary.

-- The great Prophets, Yirmiyahu and others, reassured us that the evil that befalls Klal Yisroel is a result of our wickedness and rejection of the Melech Malchei Hamelachim.

-- The RAMBAM described the Aimishteh as non-etherial, and beyond human understanding.

-- The circle of the Spanish Kabbalists described the Reboinoisheloilum as a complex combination of elements – the Sefirot -- that interact in strange ways, and as a result humanity suffers. Evil in this world is a by-product of the Sefirah of Din. Yesoid is separated from the Shechinah (in translation: Hakadoshboruchhu is feeling like a Frum husband the day before his wife FINALLY goes to the Mikvah.

The Kabbalists make a valid point – not in a literal sense, but in a sociological/ historical sense. As we are told in the Haggadah, “MiTechilah Oivdei Avoidah Zarah Hayo Avoidoiseiynu”. “At the beginning, our ancestors worshiped foreign gods.” Our ancestors were Pagans. They believed in a pantheon of deities and forces that interacted, while we, mere mortals, could only hope to not be harmed as “collateral damage” while the gods wrestled with each other for universal control.

To be on the good side of the gods, we would bring sacrifices to one, or many, of the gods. This was an effort to do “our best”. The fine print read: “Outcomes not guaranteed. Former performance is not a predictor of future gains. Local laws apply.”

But our faith, the emergence of Judaism, left us with one God. One address. What an innovation! We are the Chosen Ones!

The question is, “Chosen for what?”

Sometimes I wonder what my grandmother thought as she walked with her young daughter and her old mother, having been forced to strip naked, and then commanded to either enter the rickety wooden synagogue to be burnt alive or climb into the pit to be shot en masse.

And so we are left with no answers, only questions:

-- Why did God create an imperfect world?

-- Is God dead?

-- Is God incompetent?

-- Is God evil?

-- Is God like that alien from Star Trek who was nourished off of the energy created by negative emotions, by war and hostility, and indeed He wants us to suffer?

So the rationalist RAMBAM excused God as beyond understanding. The Kabbalists re-introduced neo-pagan elements into our understanding of the Divine. Spinoza declared that there is no conscious God, only a set of ethical criteria we can arrive at through envisioning and enacting morality. And Eliezer Berkovits argued that there is a God, but that man’s inhumanity to man is the result of human free will.

I would like to suggest that God is a tempestuous three year old child. He is very cute when He is asleep. But when He is awake He wreaks havoc with His toys. He is mischievous. He is cruel. He chooses favorites. He has temper tantrums. He neither comprehends nor cares for the consequences of His actions. In the words of Shakespeare in King Lear, “As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods — They kill us for their sport.”

And what to do with the tempestuous child that is God?

Well, we must do what we do with any mischievous three year old: He must face the consequences of his actions. Perhaps we should put Him in a Time Out. Or we should take away His toys. Or we should send Him to his room. Or we should get a baby sitter and go out for and evening, and let someone else deal with His temper tantrums. Or we should take Him to a doctor or psychologist and have Him diagnosed and perhaps get Him a prescription for Ritalin.

But the most important thing to keep with mind when dealing the Divine Tempestuous Child is to try to not allow Him to consume our lives. Reboinoisheloilum knows, He has a long history of disappointing Klal Yisroel. Just as we have established our political self-determination, we must focus on personal self-determination, without reliance on a deux ex machina.

Hakadoshboruchhu is prone to create distractions and seek attention by throwing temper tantrums. But we have to be firm and take control of our own lives, not stand around in fear waiting for Him to save us. Go ahead and say Tehilim and Daven as much as you like. But remember that "Ain Somchin Al HaNess", we must never rely on miracles, but on ourselves.

"Kol HaOlam Kooloh Gesher Tzar Meod. VeHaIkar Lo LeFachayd Klal."

Ah Peaceful Shabbos, You Minuval

---------

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sukkois Drasha


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Sukkois Drasha

On this holiday, the yuntif of Sukkois, we wave fresh fruit at the sky for seven days, and eat in an open air beehive. We cap it off by dancing cheek to cheek with a bunch of bearded men. (I have a date with a talmid named Yerachmiel; I hope I get lucky!)

According to Chazzal, Sukkois is the time when Moshiach will come. And according to Reb Hai Goyn, it is the holiday when you are supposed to separate yourself from the secular world. He cites as proof the fact that you are forced to take off so many work days right before end of year reviews, you might as well start polishing up your resume.

The RI holds that Sukkois is actually a celebration of homosexuality. When Klal Yisroel were preparing for the long winter, planting in the fields by day and sleeping in huts at night, at the end of a long day they would sit down bichavrusa (in pairs) and study a little Talmud. One minute they are on daf yud baiz, amud alef, and the next minute they are on the floor, committing Mishkav Zachor. And who can blame them? I get excited by a gevaldik Toisfois myself!

The RI cites various Sukkois practices as proof for his position:

- We wave our phallic lulavim on the faces of all the other men, boasting about how ours is the biggest in the shul;

- Alongside our lulav is our esroig, where the gemarrah tells us that the more bulbous and full of veins, the better;

- We commit a sadomasochistic act with a handful of willow branches;

- We dance around the Toirah with other men, our fingers firmly entwined with others' hot, sweaty, hairy hands.

However, most Rishoinim disagree with the RI, referring to his rather abrupt departure from his position as director of the all boys Orthodox summer camp in Northern Lithuania (although they settled out of Baiz Din, so no one can prove a damn thing).

The RIF points to the beauty of the Sukkah celebration as a unique mitzvah within Yiddishkeit. Fresh fruit. The outdoors. Many Rishoinim hold that you should live in the Sukkah for eights days. It says in the Gemmarah that Rish Lakish would move into the Sukkah, and use it as an excuse for not having to deal with his mother in law all week. Rav Ashi, on the other hand, insisted that his mother in law sleep in the Sukkah, and take one or two of the kids with her.

The Sukkah offers many opportunities to be Hiddur Mitzvah, to go above and beyond the letter of the commandment. It is customary to decorate the Sukkah with pictures and other decorations. (Vooz iz givehn plastic fruit, anyway? I understand the Reform decorate their Sukkahs with shrimp.)

According to Rabbeinu Tam, it is actually a Mitzvah Dioraisa to buy Christmas decorations in January at fifty percent off, to be used in decorating the Sukkah the following year: Flashing lights. Ornaments. Candy canes. Indeed, one year the Vilna Goyn decorated his Sukkah with a nativity scene he bought for six dollars.

There are other things that one can do with a Sukkah. A Braisah brings down a story of Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah, who, as a teenager, had the roof removed from his family's minivan so that he could drive down to the beach and be mekayaim the mitzvois of pleasuring his girlfriend and eating in the sukkah at the same time. What a tzaddik!

Yet the most beautiful element of Sukkois, and the aspect most shrouded in mystery, is the mitzvah of esroig. I still can't figure it out. It looks like a lemon. It smells like a lemon. It even tastes like a lemon. But it costs as much as heroin. How come it is easier to buy fresh peaches from Antarctica than it is to buy an esroig at a reasonable price?

And how many times in your life have you heard of esroig jelly. I bet you have heard of it all your life, but have NEVER seen it. You know why? Imagine this boast to your friends and neighbors: "I took 100 esroigim that last week retailed for a total of $5,000, mixed them up with a little sugar and pectin, and now it's worth about $1.50." Really impressive.

For this reason, I have a personal minhag. Two days before Sukkois, I buy 5 pounds of lemons in the supermarket, take them home, and then take a baseball bat to them. After about ten minutes of beating the crap out of them, I have plenty esroigim for myself and the kinderlach, and sell the remainder in the shul. With the extra money I buy some cologne, so I can smell nice for my dancing partner on Simchas Toirah night.

Ah Gutten Yuntif, you Minuval.

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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess