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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