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Friday, October 28, 2016

Ask Rabbi Pinky – On the Wearing of Shaytels


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Ask Rabbi Pinky – On the Wearing of Shaytels


Rabboisai,

This week’s shailah comes from my esteemed rabbinic colleague, the RAGU:

Dear Rabbi:

A non-Jewish colleague at work told me that I should convert to Christianity. His view is that Jews are being punished with cancer because they have not accepted Jesus as their savior. He says that the proof is that so many Jewish women wear wigs because Jesus's father has punished them with cancer and they lost all their hair during chemotherapy.

What do you recommend I should respond to him?

Your humble follower, the RAGU.

Eppis, this is a most disturbing shailah, and a difficult choice! Worship the Rebbonoisheloilum, eat lettuce and tuna out of a can at the finest restaurants, and sleep with a woman who is constantly reminding you of what a disappointment you are as a husband; OR adopt Yushka Pandra, eat shrimp and lobster, and get hot shiksa action every night. Hmmm, now THIS is a tough call…

Before we can responsibly address this shailah, we should review the basis for head covering in women and the significance of the mitzvah of wearing a shaytel. As background, we should probably also go out for a little traifus and surf porn on the internet, just so we can better understand our alternatives.

Shtatyt in Possuk – it says in the Toirah -- in Bamidbar, Perek Hay, Pussook Yud Khess, that when a Koihain is preparing to place a woman through the process of Soitah to see if she has cuckolded her husband, the Koihain should “Parah” the woman’s hair. There is great debate over the meaning of this term, but it is largely viewed as the presumptive basis for head covering.

Moreover, a Medrish in Beraishis Rabbah suggests that when Chava causes for herself and Adam to be cast out of Gan Eden, it is not because she ate of the Pri Etz HaDaas, the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Rather, it is because she uncovered her hair, that miserable slut, which caused the snake to extend fully, if you know what I mean.

Similarly, RASHI tells us that the reason that Rachel Imainu could not conceive is because she would walk around with her hair exposed, causing the Reboinoisheloilum to punish her by making her gain ten pounds in her butt, leaving her unattractive to Yankif Avinu, who was, to quote Rashi, “not into the whole Hispanic ‘Big Ass’ thing.” Shoyn.

So what is the essence of hair covering? A Mishnah and Gemarrah in Kesubois address the varying halachois requiring a woman to cover her hair, but the underlying reasoning is discussed by the Rishoinim. According to the TUR, hair is considered to be a form of Erva. Says the Tur, if a man sees a woman’s exposed hair, it is as if he sees her nakednedness. And if a man sees a woman naked, it is as if he has been mezaneh with her. And if a man sees a woman’s hair, and sees her naked, it is as if he is mezaneh with her twice in one day, an act which I have not been able to perform in thirty years.

The RAMBAM, however, disagrees. He holds that LeOylum, a woman’s hair is not Erva. If the issue was one of modesty, then all women, unmarried and married, would be required to cover their hair. Rather, women are encouraged by the Toirah to cover their hair so that they will not waste their husband’s money on fancy hairstyles. Says RAMBAM, yeshiva tuition is costly enough, and men should save whatever money they have left to buy single malt scotch and to pay for flowers for their pilegesh.

Which brings us to the issue of shaytlach, wigs. In our Toirah-true lifestyle, we know that shaytels are the essence of Yiddishkeit. Indeed, according to the Sifsey Chachomim, the mitzvah in the Asesres Ha Dibrois, the Ten Commandments, ordering us not to covet another man’s wife actually refers to the woman’s shaytel, not the woman herself. Says the Sifsey Chachomim, “the wife talks back, argues, and never knows when to shut the gehennim up, but the shaytel always sits there on the styrofoam head, ready to lend an uncritical, sympathetic ear. Who wouldn’t covet that?” So, according to the Sifsey Chachomim and many Poiskim, wearing a wig is a Dioraisa, and is indeed comparable to Aishess Ish, making it YeHuraig VeAll Yaavor, a mitzvah for which one should be willing to sacrifice his or her life.

However, this is nisht azoy pashoot, it is not so simple, you ignoramus. Because, there are many Poiskim who are in fact against the wearing of a shaytel, suggesting that this circumvents the basic intent of hair covering. This includes: Reb Yankif Emden, the Vilna Goyn, Reb Shloimoi (Big Hank) Kluger, the Chassam Soifer, the Maharshal, and none other than Oivadiya Yoisaiph before he became an oiver-buttel farbisseneh. (This is all true, by the way. Look it up, you michutziff.)

However, the Brisker Ruv was dismissive of this position, suggesting that any man who opposes women wearing shaytels is a chashash of Mishkav Zachor, a man who perhaps likes to spend a bit too much time in the mikvah every morning before davening checking REALLY, REALLY CLOSE to see if the other men have chatzitzahs on their schvantzels. His shita is supported by the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, Reb Moishe Feinstein, and Pat Robertson.

So Halacha LeMaaseh, the vast majority of Poiskim support the notion that a true Bas Toirah covers her hair in a shaytel. According to the Tzitz Eliezer, the shaytel should preferably be made of real hair and come from a hot shiksa. In the words of the Tzitz, “a Yiddishe woman should adorn herself in the finest coverings, to match the beautiful neshamah given her by Hakadoshboruchhu, and should cover her hair with the magisterial flaxen locks of a gentile woman, to complement the generous proboscis provided by the Reboinoisheloilum.”

However, the Schvantz Mordechai holds farkhert. If the purpose of hair covering is to ensure modesty, he asks, then what is the logic of a woman covering her hair with a shaytel that looks real, perhaps even better than the woman’s natural hair? And, he continues, if a Jewish woman parades before a Ben Toirah showing off the hair of an idol worshipping shiksa, could this not lead a Jewish man to intermarriage and idol worship? Or even worse, paying retail? Says the Schvantz Mordechai, wearing a real hair shaytel “makes about as much sense as waving a live chicken over your head.”

Rather, the Schvantz Mordechai holds that a woman should indeed wear a wig, but one that is easily distinguishable as a substitute for real hair. Citing a Gemarrah in Sukkoh, he suggests that women wear wigs made out of that stuff that Esroigs used to come wrapped in or out of leftover Hoishaiynois.

And this brings us to your question. Clearly, it is troubling that a goy, a shaygitz, an Oivaid Alilim, should infer that faithfulness to the Aimishteh is bringing a plague of cancer upon Klal Yisroel. Is this indeed true? And if it is not true, should we not still be worried about what the goyim are saying, for, as it says in Tehillim, “Lamah Yoimroo BaGoyim, ‘Ayeh Nah Elohayhem?’”

Well, to be honest, we cannot address this shailah without speaking with leading experts in the medical field. So I spoke to the guy who sits next to me in shul, and his brother in law knows someone who once worked as a nurse’s aide in Brooklyn Community Hospital, which is a really decent institution. And she insists that there is no link between shaytels and cancer, at least in lab mice. And that is good enough for me.

So as this allegation is not true, there are several options we should consider. Perhaps every Bas Yisroel should walk around with her hair uncovered, like a street shiksa. At the same time, maybe she should eat a ham sandwich and carry a flashing neon sign that says in bright letters, “I AM A SHIKSA – COME BE MEZANEH WITH ME!!!” I should think this is NOT an option, chass v’sholom!

Or perhaps we should ignore the taunting of the goyim. Let your colleague think that shaytels are a sign of cancer. Maybe this will get Klal Yisroel discounts on groceries and better seats on the subway, as well as select government subsidies. But, of course, Yiddishkeit is all about proclaiming the majesty of the Rebboinoisheloilum, and we would not want the shkutzim to think that Yiddishkeit causes cancer. We must go about our everyday lives, not by ignoring the goyim, but by leading them, so that in Yemois HaMashiach they will continue to follow us around while holding our tzitzis.

So the best mode of action for your wife, and for every Bas Yisroel, is to adopt the wearing of a burka. After all, this is a form of tzniyus that is consistent with the Toirah’s concerns for feminine modesty. The gentiles will no longer suspect that Bnois Yisroel have cancer because they will not be able to see any of them. This will prevent Aishess Ish because, Aimishteh knows, no one will be attracted to a woman underneath her burka garb. And this will remove the need for real hair shaytlach, leaving hair on the heads of the hot shiksas, the way Hakkadoshboruchhu originally intended.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval.

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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Friday, October 14, 2016

On Tikkun Olam


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On Tikkun Olam


Rabboisai,

I am sorry if we are a little confused today while developing this Drasha. I just came out of a Colonoscopy and the anesthesia is still wearing off. The good news: They found no polyps, but they did find a few gold coins, my car keys and that remote control that has been missing for two years. The bad news: The gerbil is dead. Baruch Dayan Emmes.

While we are discussing a distasteful but real, and important, medical procedure, I cannot help but be reminded of a basic concept in Lurianic Kabbalah - the Kabbalah of the ARI ZAHL. The ARI envisions a cosmic accident that occurred in creation known as "Shviras HaKelim", the "Shattering of the Vessels", which left sparks of holiness scattered in the "dross", the filth that was meant to be expunged from the universe during the act of creation - or more specifically, the act of the Divine to create space for the universe within Itself, also known as Tzimtzum. And the role of Klal Yisroel, and humanity as a whole, is to rescue those holy sparks from the "dross" through good deeds and acts of kindness. That is referred to as "Tikkun Olam", the "Fixing of the World".

Rabboisai, if we were to assess how we are doing in this score, I am not sure whether we are finding holy sparks these days, or simply more "dross", more filth that threatens to encompass our fragile existence.

In the political realm, we are faced by many imperfect realities, whether we are discussing the Iran deal, the hundred-years-war that is the Arab-Israeli/ Israeli- Palestinian conflict, or the seemingly growing tide of anti-Semitism. Let's face it. Our existence as Jews is perpetually tenuous.

But let's look at it from a different angle: Jews are not at the center of the universe; I am sorry to break it to you - it is not all about YOU, you Menuval! (I hope you were sitting down for that one, you Mechutziff.)

There is a civil war in the Arab world - while its reverberations are felt by Israel, the United States, the U.K., Australia and other countries throughout the world, it has nothing to do with Israel. If anything, this is a Kulturkamph, an internal political, religious, and cultural struggle that has been simmering since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and its temporary colonial successors. Similarly, all of Sub Saharan Africa is a disaster. The Jewish community in South Africa and the small communities in Kenya and Zimbabwe are fundamentally irrelevant to the gangland and mercenary leadership of a continent left bleeding by post colonial anarchy. And I am not even going to talk about Russia and the Ukraine, China, or the drug wars of Mexico and Columbia, and the poverty and inequities elsewhere across the globe.

Let's face it: The world is Farfucked.

Our Jewish experience is just one fragment of a world that is quaking. So while our existence as Jews is perpetually tenuous, our existence is still far more secure and self determined than it was 100 years ago, or 1,000 years ago. Plus we have Facebook.

So while we MUST always vigilantly protect our National and Tribal Jewish interests, we should also occasionally Shut The Fuck Up and realize that we are but a tiny fraction of the imperfect reality that we call human existence.

In the social realm, the rich get richer - which is OK in my book, but the middle class and poor are being left behind. Such are the seeds of social upheaval. Hillary Clinton/Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump did not emerge in a vacuum. So the U.S. is either about to become Socialist or to be turned into one big Trump casino. In either case, we are headed for bankruptcy.

And, of course, the Jewish world is a reflection of the broader trends.

I, Baruch HaShem, make a nice living, though, selling crystal meth, which subsidizes many Buchrim in their efforts to become the next generation of communal leaders. This year, Kenayna Hurrah, we have the largest class of Talmidim entering our Yeshiva! Consequently, we have even added some new classes to fit the modern rabbinate: President Richard Joel of YU will be teaching a class on "The Art Of Losing A Billion Dollars But Still Keeping Your Job"; Mordechai Willig of Yeshiva University, the RCA Bais Din, and the Young Israel of Riverdale will be teaching a course on "The Intricacies Of Covering Up Child Sexual Abuse in the Jewish Community"; And Jonathan Rosenblatt will be teaching a course entitled "Personal Hygiene - Up Close and Personal".

There are of course many less privileged members of our community. However, they clearly have not Davened to Hakadoshboruchhu with the right Kavvanah, are secretly putting bacon in their Cholent, or are being punished because some so-called-Jews are designating some so-called-women as so-called-rabbis. As the Toirah tells us, the Reboinosheloilum is an angry Aimishteh. Do not mess with Him. Trust me on this one; a few decades ago He took one look at Reform Jews in Germany and killed six million Jews without breaking a sweat. And, believe me, you do NOT want to hear about the time that the dinosaurs rebelled...

----

Rabboisai,

I am reminded of one of the great philosophical debates in history: Tzaddik V'Ra Loi - Why do bad things happen to good people. This question is age old. The book of Iyoiv - Job, as the Episcopalians and the Open Orthodox call it - struggles with that question. The Talmud as well. And the later religious philosophers and theorists.

The classic explanation is that man is rewarded for his good deeds and punished for his bad deeds. But as the book of Iyoiv states, Dos Iz Nisht Azoy Pashut - it is not so simple.

Others try to create alternate rationales for evil and suffering in the world. The RAMBAM rejects the notion of the Reboinosheloilum's involvement in human affairs. According to the RAMBAM, the world was created with its own rules, and Hakkadoshboruchhu does not intercede, save for a special few Jews from Egypt - including a Rabbi Doctor Philosopher who lived a thousand years ago, and the Frum owner of a beer factory who invested in a race horse which went on to win the Triple Crown, and is now going to make millions selling the horse's Zerah.

However, the Kabbalists sought mystical explanations for the counterintuitive nature of the universe. According to some, the different elements that comprise the Godhead - the ten Sephirois - interact in different ways. The Sephira of Din, or Justice, is the source of evil - essentially, evil is Justice gone awry in response to stimulus from other Sephirois.

However, there is an alternate explanation. The Ain Soif - the incomprehensible Source Of All - in order to create space for our world, withdrew into Himself. As It created sacred space, It moved the negative energies of the world into the space. As It was transferring some pure divinity in clay vessels, the vessels fell to the ground and shattered, scattering the holy sparks mentioned in the Reisha of this Drasha.

---

So Rabboisai and Rebbetznoisai, are we doing all we can to rescue the holy sparks? Is Judaism a garment we wear that we take off when no one is around? Or it is a way of life? Do we only care about Mitzvois Bain Adam LaMakoim, or do we care about Mitzvois Bain Adam KeChaveiroi? Are we the gold coins? Or are we the shit that lies beneath?

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Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval

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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

On Reciting Kaddish


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On Reciting Kaddish


Yisgadal VeYiskadash Shmey Rabbah...


I have been saying Kaddish in recent weeks in the wake of the passing of my uncle, Reb Velvel Henach Naftali HaGadol, also known as the VELHUNG, most noted for his commentary on the shape of Rashi script. The VELHUNG passed away after a long battle with a terrible disease that robbed him of his Toirah, as well as his collection of baseball cards from the Lithuanian Baseball League of 1941.


Kaddish is a strange prayer. It is in Aramaic, and declares fealty to the sovereignty of the Reboinoisheloilum. It is said as part of Davening, and, of course, by mourners themselves. Daily. Multiple times a day. On days when I say Kaddish both as a mourner AND Daven for the Amud, I recite Kaddish about 400 times. It is perpetual. Then I go home and recite Kaddish in my sleep. In a store, when a clerk brings me what I asked for, I reply "Umayn". When a waiter comes to me in a restaurant and asks me for my order, I respond "Brich Hu". And when I achieve my... errr... Makka BiPatish with my Bashert, Feigeh Breinah, I declare "Yehei Shmey Rabbah Mevorach LeOilam U'LeOlmey Olmayah". Shoyn.


What is the history and purpose of this custom, which in many ways is an anchor in ritual and popular participation in the Jewish liturgical service? And why is it an Aramaic prayer rather than a Hebrew prayer?


There is a famous Braisah brought down in Gemarrah Yuma that suggests that Kaddish is said in Aramaic to ensure a special bond between Klal Yisroel and Hakadoshboruchhu, since the Malachim, the angels, do not speak Aramaic. This is according to Rabbi Meir. But according to Rabbi Yehuda, the prayer of Kaddish is explicitly addressed to the angels, who are keeping score as to how many times a person meets his responsibility to say Kaddish for a loved one. And according to a Medrish in Eichah Rabbah, the Angels have an office pool to bet on who will say the most Kaddishes during their year of Aveilus. Almost every year the winner comes from the Lubavitch community: Not only do they insert several additional Kaddishes at the end of their Tfillois, but they also say Kaddish after reciting the obligatory, "Yechi Moreinu VeRabbeinu Melech HaMashiach LeOilum Vo'ed" after key daily events: After Davening, after Benching after meals, after getting some poor schmuck in the street to put on Tefillin even though he is dressed in a Santa outfit, and after Teeth Brushing.


Indeed, there are many types of Kaddish - A fact you do not realize until you have to say it 400 times a day. They are:

-- Chatzi Kaddish: The Half Kaddish recited multiple times by the Shaliach Tezibur -- the leader of the prayer service – To punctuate different segments of the prayer service, as well as to enable congregants to engage in a quick conversation with the person standing next to them.

-- Kaddish Sholem: The Whole Kaddish, typically recited once every prayer service, towards the end of the service. According to a Pnei Yehoishua, the purpose of this Kaddish is so that when a Shaliach Tzibbur accidentally stops halfway though, thinking that a Chatzi Kaddish was in order, members of the congregation can take turns humiliating the Chazan by screaming, “Nu, Tiskabel!!!!” at him at the top of their lungs.

-- Kaddish Yasoim: The Mourner’s Kaddish. This is the “bread and butter” of the year of mourning. Literally. There are people like me who are constantly going to Shul to recite this many, many times a day. Yet others hire a Litvak Yeshiva Bochur or some Hairy Chussid looking to supplement his Welfare, Food Stamps, Medicaid, and Section Eight by reciting Kaddish on behalf of someone who actually has a job.

-- Kaddish DeRabbanan: The Rabbi’s Kaddish. Like the regular Kaddish, it praises the Omnipresent and acknowledges Eternity. However, it also praises rabbinical scholars and their students, and the students’ students – essentially it is a prayer written by rabbis, praising rabbis. In other words, it is a bit like Congress voting to give itself a raise. This is also recited by a mourner, usually after content that includes rabbinic discourse, after a rabbinic lecture, or after an infomercial.

-- Kaddish D’Ischadasa: The Kaddish After Burial. This one is a lot of fun. Trust me. You have just buried a loved one, you are standing at the graveside, and then the rabbi asks you to recite this Aramaic tongue-twister in front of a bunch of crying relatives. About a half an hour before I needed to say this, the rabbi slipped me a Viagra; he said that “performance anxiety” was common the first time…

-- Kaddish Achar Hashlamas Masechta: Kaddish recited after completing a tractate of the Talmud. This is quite the opposite experience from the Kaddish After Burial. This comes at the end of a very long, complicated page of Aramaic, which, among other things, lists all of the sons of the Sage Rav Pappa. With that many children, it is a wonder he ever had time to get out of the house.

There are also a few lesser known forms of Kaddish

-- Kaddish D’Nittel: Special Kaddish recited on Christmas asking Santa for the most expensive gifts in the store.

-- Kaddish D’Gemoorrah: Kaddish recited after completion of a long cycle of events. This is typically said by Ashkenazim during half time of the Superbowl and during the seventh inning stretch during World Series games, and by Sephardim after the finals of a Soccer tournament.

-- Kaddish D’Kiddush: Kaddish recited upon completion of a bottle of good single malt Scotch or good tequila at a Kiddush after Shul on Saturday. When you can no longer pronounce the Aramaic without completely slurring your words (“Yehei Shmayay Robot… ummm… Robert…. Whatever…”) then it is time to go home and sleep it off.

Of course, the fundamental question one asks about Kaddish is “why?” Why do we say Kaddish in the first place? What is the purpose or intent of this tradition? To answer this properly, we need to review the history of prayer in general and Kaddish in particular.

Once upon a time, there was no Tefillah in Klal Yisroel. There – that is the truth. Worship was done by the priesthood on behalf of the nation and on behalf of individuals. This was the purpose of the first Bais Hamikdash, the Holy Temple, and all of the local Mikdashim. (Sure, you were told growing up that there were no other Israelite temples than the one in Jerusalem, but a quick trip to Arad and other archaeological sites will prove otherwise.) Perhaps there was an occasional festival that was celebrated by the broader populace, like Pesach – celebrated by the popular sacrifice of the Karban Pesach, Shavuois - celebrated by eating from the first fruits, and, of course, Shabboskoidesh, the weekly Sabbath, celebrated by refraining from work and trying to avoid being caught while checking in on Facebook.

However, during the Babylonian exile, the Jews needed to live religious life in Babylon, Alexandria and elsewhere without the Temple. Public reading of the Toirah, and likely prayer, became a part of the life of the common Jew. This phenomenon flourished during the Second Temple era, resulting in the emergence of the synagogue (itself a Greek word), and was more formally institutionalized after the destruction of the second Bais Hamikdash, reflecting the need to have a mechanism to engage the Divine, as well as a place to discuss politics, sports and the local Hot Chanies with your friends on Saturday mornings.

As Tefillah evolved over the centuries, the liturgy grew. First it was primarily comprised of Psalms and select Biblical writings. Later it incorporated Rabbinic compositions and then Piyut, liturgical poetry and prose. Among the compositions was the Kaddish. It is likely that Kaddish was originally composed to end a study session – hence composition in Aramaic, the Jewish lingua franca of the Talmudic period. However, at some point, Kaddish was adopted as a prayer for mourners to recite at the end of prayer services. The first extant documentation of a Kaddish for mourners is in the thirteenth century writings of the Or Zarua, who wrote that Kaddish should be inserted at the end of the Prayer book, right before the letters to the editor and the daily crossword puzzle.

Ironically, of course, Kaddish has no reference to death. It has no reference to the afterlife. It is actually an acknowledgement of the sovereignty of the Divine in eternity. So why are mourners required to recite Kaddish? This is the subject of a famous Machloikess.

According to the Netziv, the Kaddish is recited in order to pronounce ultimate faith in the Divine by someone who suffered a personal loss – That no matter what happens in this world, the mourner acknowledges the Aimishteh’s ultimate mastery of the universe. Consequently, the Netziv holds that someone should recite the Kaddish in the months after losing a loved one, going bankrupt, or getting a permanent ink stain, ruining his favorite shirt.

However, according to the Netziv’s Rabbinic arch nemesis, the Brisker Ruv – Reb Yoisheh Ber Soloveitchik – Kaddish is recited by the mourner for a more spiritual purpose – to power the transition of the Niftar’s Neshama, the soul of the person who passed away, towards the afterlife in Gan Eden. It is like providing fuel for the travel of the soul. However, not all fuels are equal. For example, when I, a great Ruv, say Kaddish, it is like rocket fuel. When a Shmendrick like you says Kaddish, it is like unleaded regular at the local gas station. And when a Reform Jew says Kaddish, Chass V’Sholom, it is like lighting a couple of wet twigs on a cold winter day.

Given the complexity of fulfilling one’s responsibility to say Kaddish at the three different prayer services every day, CHAZAL struggled to find an appropriate metaphor to describe the commitment.

According to the Ba’al HaChavas Da’as, it is like visiting a hotel that has set meals, and making sure to construct your schedule around those meals.

According to the Ketzois HaChoishen, saying Kaddish is like trying to catch an airplane flight three times a day for eleven months straight.

However, according to the Chasam Soifer, it is like having to constantly report in to a needy girlfriend or wife, and it is for this reason that we only say Kaddish for eleven months instead of a full year, so that we can get that woman off our backs already, for Reboinoisheloilum’s sakes.

I am reminded of a famous Maiseh Shehoya about the Vilna Goyn and the Baal Shem Toiv. The Gruh and the BESHT were each traveling to collect money for their respective movements. One Shabboskoidesh they ended up in the same Shul in the town of Yapchik. When the Gruh looked up from his Davening and saw the BESHT walk in, he stormed over to him, screaming at the top of his lungs, “Hey, Charlie, don’t you people believe in Zman Kriras Shmah?!”

The BESHT stared at the Gruh for a moment and the said in a forceful voice, “Reboinoisheloilum! IT knows how to say something that was not written down on a piece of paper by his Rebbe!”

They argued vociferously until the end of Davening. But when it came time for Kaddish, they both stopped immediately and began to recite the Kaddish in unison. The BESHT was saying Kaddish for the passing of his mother. And the Gruh was saying Kaddish following the recent death of his beloved black Labrador Retriever, which unbeknownst to the Gruh, was the source for the fur on the BESHT’s Shreimel.

As Jews, there are many things that divide us. Some are serious and border upon the existential. Some relate to cultural shifts and the balance between tradition and modernity. And some relate to the painful tension between Mistvois Bain Adam LaMakoim and Mitzvois Bain Adam LeChaveiroi.

But Kaddish is one thing that unites us. It reminds us of how infinitesimally small we are. In the words of the Paytan:

“Muh Anu. Meh Chasdeinu. Mah Tzidkoisainu, Mah Yeshuoisainu, Mah Koichainu, Mah Gevuroiseinu

“Mah Nomar Lifanechah HaShem Eloikeinu V’Eyloikei Avoiseinu

“Halo Kol HaGiboirim KeAyin Lifanecha

“VeAnshey HaShaym KeLoi Hayu

“VeChachamim KiVli Madah, U’Nevoinim KiVli Haskel

“Kee Roiv Ma’aseihem Toihu, V’Ymei Chayeihem Hevel Lifanechah

“U’Moisar Ha’Adam Min HaBeheima Uyin

“Kee Hakol Hevel”

“What are we? What are our lives? What is our kindness? What is our righteousness? What is our salvation? What is our strength? What is our bravery?

“What can we say before you, Reboinoisheloilum our Hakadoshboruchhu, the Aimishteh of our ancestors?

“The mightiest of men are like nothingness before you, and the men of renown are as if they never existed

“Wise men are like people without knowledge, and the insightful are like people without any sense

“For the majority of their accomplishments are meaningless, and the days of their lives are nothingness before you

“And mankind’s supremacy over the animals is a fantasy

“Because all of existence is emptiness.”

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Gmar Chassima Toivah, You Menuval

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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Yoim Kippur Drasha


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Yoim Kippur Drasha


You good for nothing Menuval, you have sinned all year long, and now you are going to pay for it!

From Kol Nidrei at sundown until the blowing of the Shofar, you will be cramped into an overcrowded room surrounded by unshowered, unshaven men whose empty stomachs are growling louder than the chazzan. But look at the bright side: at least you get your exercise. Between the frequent and incessant beating of your chest and the four instances of full kneeling, you have become a Moslem Tarzan. Shkoiyach.

Chazzal spent many, many hours contemplating the true meaning of Yoim Kippur, while awaiting the horses to reach the finish line. There is a famous machloikess (rabbinic debate) in Yuma on the subject between Bais Shammai and Bais Hillel. Bais Shammai holds that the true commandment of the Toirah is that you should sin all year long, and then repent on Yoim Kippur. Bais Hillel, on the other hand, holds that you should strictly avoid sin all year long, and then enjoy a nice honey glazed ham right after Kol Nidrei. Of course, this is one of the fourteen instances when we hold like Bais Shammai (along with such critical issues as not using toilet paper on Shabbos and the infield fly rule.)

The Reshoinim struggled to define the metaphor by which we can understand how the Jewish People should look upon a single day in which they can redeem themselves for past mistakes and plan for the next year without the aid of a good tax advisor or financial planner.

According to the Rabbeinu Tam, Yoim Kippur is like an all day telethon, where the Aimishteh is raising funds and support for the coming year, and you are asked to contribute of your soul. The ROISH disagrees, using the same metaphor, but reversing it. Says the ROISH, YOU are hosting the telethon, and are appealing to the Rebboinoisheloilum for his support, and you refuse to go off the air until He is ready to write you a check. (And if He pledges 75 dollars or more, you'll send Him an autographed CD of Luciano Pavoratti in concert.)

The RIF holds that the true metaphor for Yoim Kippur is that of the annual performance review. Hakkodoshboruchhu is your manager, and at review time, He reaches out to your colleagues, your superiors, your subordinates, and your clients, soliciting feedback on your performance. He looks at your numbers. He checks how often you have been absent or late to shul. He then synthesizes the information and decides your fate. Will you be terminated? Will you get a raise? Will you get a better bonus? Will you get a hot new secretary?

But how can you protect yourself as the Aimishteh's employee? How can you best ensure a positive year? According to the Pas Akum, this metaphor explains one of the age old questions, which is: Why does Sukkois so closely follow Yoim Kippur? Say the Aimishteh decides to terminate you. What can you do? Can you prove wrongful dismissal? Says the Pas Akum, we stand before Hakkodoshboruchhu four days after Yoim Kippur and wave our phallic looking palm branches at heaven as if to say, "if you terminate me, I'll sue you for sexual harassment!" And in the current politically correct environment, even He has to be careful.

We prepare for this holiest day of days with the greatest degree of sobriety. We set aside Ten Days Of Atonement for spiritual introspection. We say Selichois, special prayers beseeching the Aimishteh for forgiveness. We blow the shoifar, which is intended to strike an internal chord of repentance. And we wave a live chicken over our heads.

In the time of the Second Temple, there was a great debate over this strange practice. The Prushim (Pharasees) held that before Yoim Kippur, every Jewish male should take a chicken by the legs, wave it over the heads of his loved ones, as if to absorb their sins, and then send the chicken off to slaughter. We have recently learned from the Dead Sea Scrolls that the Essenes, on the other hand, held that before Yoim Kippur every Jewish male should choke the chicken, if you know what I mean. Given that the Essenes are not doing too well these days, I guess that was the wrong approach.

There is a famous story of Rabbi Chaim MiVerlozhin. Reb Chaim was traveling from town to town in Inner Mongolia, trying to raise money for his Yeshiva's IPO. When Yoim Kippur came, Reb Chaim went to the only shul in town just in time for Kol Nidrei. "We're sorry," he was told, "but you can't get in without a ticket." Not having purchased a ticket in advance, Reb Chaim was sent away, denied the opportunity to daven on Yoim Kippur in a minyan.

The next morning, as Reb Chaim went downstairs in the small hotel in which he was staying, the host greeted him saying, "Rabbi, please join us. The missus just made up a huge breakfast, including a fresh batch of muffins." Reflecting on his experience the night before, on his rejection at the shul and at the prospect of having to daven for the next sixteen hours by himself, Reb Chaim took off his yarmulke, sat down at the table, and began to serve himself.

That night, the Aimishteh came to him. "Reb Chaim," the Aimishteh said, "why did you sin today?"

"I'm sorry, Aimishteh. I was so drained by the ticket thing I just had to grab a bite to eat," Reb Chaim responded.

"No, you fool," the Aimishteh replied. "Why did you let all that nice bacon go to waste?"

Repentance, and sin, are somewhat in the eye of the beholder. So when you are standing before the Melech Malchei Hamelachim at Neilah, don't just mouth the words; picture it as a conversation, one on one. Before you beg for forgiveness, establish rapport. Tell a couple of jokes. Ask the Aimishteh how He's doing. Ask about the wife and kids. Sure He's busy, but a little brown-nosing never hurts.

Gmar Chassima Toivah, You Menuval

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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Presidential Endorsement by Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein: Donald J. Trump


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Presidential Endorsement by Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein: Donald J. Trump


Rabboisai,

Shtayt in Passook, it says in the Toirah: Sefer Republicans, Parshas 2016 Presidential Race, Perek Lamud Chess, Passook Aleph through Passook Yood Tesssss:

(א) Vayoimer Donald El Billy Bush Leymor -- And Donald sayeth to Billy Bush, saying.

(ב) "I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it.”

(ג) “Whoa,” said, Billy Bush, who was also knowneth by his nickname, Burning.

(ד) “I did try and fuck her. She was married,” Donald said.

(ה) "And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping.”

(ו) “She wanted to get some furniture.”

(ז) “I said, ‘I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.’”

(ח) “I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married."

(ט) And Donald paused thoughtfully.

(י) "Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.”

(יא) At that point, Donald and Burning saweth Arianne Zucker, the actress waiting to escort them to the town well.

(יב) “Your girl’s hot as shit, in the purple,” said Burning.

(יג) “Whoa!” Donald sayeth. “Whoa. I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her.”

(יד) “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them.”

(טו) “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

(טז) “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

(יז) “Whatever you want,” agreeeth Burning Bush.

(יח) And the Donald sayeth, “Grab them by the pussy.”

(יט) “You can do anything.”

(Editorial note: Translation courtesy of Art Scroll, 2016.)

Rabboisai, this recently rediscovered scroll has caused great shock waves across Klal Yisroel and all of the Nations of the world. "Donald is a false Messiah," some even claim. But Donald is a great man, a man of nuance, of layers. As CHAZAL teach us, Shivim Panim LaToirah”, “There are seventy faces to the words of the Toirah.” So to study and truly understand the Donald is no different than studying Yankif Avinu, Aroin HaKoihain, and Dovid HaMelech. We do not hold by Pashut Pshat, but must understand the Pessukim through the prism of CHAZAL.

Yankif Avinu approaches his blind father dressed in the clothing of his brother Eisav, and proceeds to steal his elder twin's birthright. While the Torah in Pashut Pshat implies some degree of criticism of Yankif’s behavior, and the circumstances arranged by Hakadoshboruchhu to have Lavan switch Leah for Rochel may be understood as Midah KiNeged Midah, a punishment whereby Yankif is penalized for his dishonesty by being the victim of a similar dishonest action, CHAZAL go out of their way to demonize Eisav. While the Toirah presents him as the unchosen brother, CHAZAL present Eisav as evil through and through – just like you, you Mechutziff -- and fundamentally whitewashes the dishonesty of Yankif. An ignoramus like you might believe that Yankif did something wrong, but CHAZAL teach us that Eisav deserved every misdeed done to him. After all, Eisav was a hairy Sheygitz who turned faking respect for his father into a lifelong Hollywood act. He was such a good actor, he even showed up at his father’s burial and mourned. What a faker!

Aroin HaKoihain responds to Moishe Rabbeinu's disappearance on Har Sinai by creating the Eigel HaZahav and driving Klal Yisroel into idolatry a mere 40 days after receiving the Toirah. Upon descent from the mountain, Moishe shatters the Luchois, and together with Aroin, crushes the burnt Eigel into water, forces Klal Yisroel to drink of the waters, and then sets the Levi'im to massacre 3,000 people. But what of Aroin HaKoihain, the Minuval? A MeChutziff like you might have thought that Aroin committed a mortal sin, a crime against the Aimishteh Himself. But you would be wrong, you Vilda Chaya!! CHAZAL teach us that Aroin was simply stalling for time. He started off with 15 minutes of stand-up comedy, followed by singing a few Sinatra songs. Then he gave an inspirational speech, based on the teachings of Tony Robbins. Then he read a few of Shakespeare’s sonnets. So the Eigel was just the next step on his stall tactics. Aroin was a Tzaddik! How can you not have understood that, you Shkutz?!?!

Finally, as is well known, Dovid HaMelech saw Bassssheva bathing naked, across the valley. She was very beautiful, and also very married to Uriah HaChiti, one of Dovid’s most loyal soldiers. But Dovid sent for Bassssheva to be brought to him, and he slept with her. And when he found out that she was pregnant, Dovid HaMelech ultimately arranged for Uriah to be killed on the battlefield, after which Nosson HaNavi, Nathan the Prophet, came to Dovid to express the displeasure of the Reboinoisheloilum.

Now, a Menuval like you might understand this episode in a terribly negative light. But the Talmud tells us that Dovid HaMelech was indeed without sin. What appears to us in the Pashut Pshat, the plain meaning of the Passook, as Dovid HaMelech seducing a married woman, impregnating her, and having her husband killed, was actually the will of Hakadoshboruchhu, even though the Toirah says quite the opposite! No, the Aimishteh really wanted Dovid HaMelech to seduce Bassssheva, for through her would emerge the next king, Shloimoi HaMelech, and the line of Moshiach Tzitdkeinu, the Messiah. You may have thought that Dovid HaMelech was at best a seducer and at worst a rapist, but he was acting at the will of the Reboinoisheloilum. Thank you CHAZAL! We would never have figured this one out by ourselves without your deep whitewash… errrr… insights into the underlying truth.

And so it is with Donald. In Pashut Pshat, Donald has indeed used unacceptable language, objectifying women in the basest terms, admitting to trying to seduce a married woman, and acknowledging that he at times is driven to kiss and grope women by the Makoim HaErva. But if you believe this at its simplest level, you would be wrong, you Am Ha’aretz!

In fact, what we see from this episode are the thoughtful actions of a natural born leader. First, a leader must be able to admit his flaws. Donald in fact does this, in Passook Baiz, "I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it.” The Donald shares with us a sensitive story, how in fact he took the woman in question furniture shopping, trying to help her be a good Balabusta, a good home maker.

And how committed was he to helping her? Passook Chess tells us BeFeirush, explicitly, “I moved on her like a bitch”, he supported her in her shopping quest the way a mother dog takes care of her young pups. He is truly a Tzaddik!

Finally, perhaps the most disturbing Passook is the methodology recounted by Donald as to how best to exploit one’s celebrity and aggressively court a woman, Shtayt in Passook Yood Chess, Donald suggests to Billy “Burning” Bush that one should “Grab them by the pussy.” This indeed does sound demeaning, dismissive of woman, and an example of sexual harassment, if not an outright criminal act of sexual abuse and exploitation. But if that is what you believe, it is because you are too stupid to understand the Passook. In fact, Donald is suggesting that you help a woman, first and foremost, by holding her pet cat for her, say, when she is reading Tehillim, or dropping her children off at Yeshiva. What reads like an act of sexual aggression is in fact an act of Gemilas Chassadim, kindness and generosity.

And it is indeed this innate kindness and generosity that compels me to formally endorse Donald Trump for president.

Indeed, even if one were to take this Parsha literally, without the interpretation of Chazal, how is this any different than any actions committed by Bill Clinton? How is it any different than the acts of enablement by Hillary Clinton, who persecuted the victims of Bill?

Now, of course Bill Clinton has already been president, is not running for president, and while accused, has never been found guilty of forcing himself on a woman, even as those woman have been funded by millions of dollars coming from various anti-Clinton donors, and even as the Starr Commission and many other public investigations spent millions on exploring every rumor about Bill Clinton. And as none of those alleged encounters have been proven, assertions of Hillary Clinton’s role in their cover up are vague, at best.

Bill Clinton did of course in fact have an affair with a White House intern, and was impeached for it. It is inexcusable, and is a stain on his legacy. But that episode is long gone from our political discourse, the same way that the creamy white stain, once it was removed from Monica’s blue dress by the dry cleaners, is no longer present.

More important, Donald Trump’s deserving leadership is proven in many other ways:

-- Donald Trump is opposed to the presence of illegal immigrants, will expel them once elected, and will create a wall between the United States and Mexico. This is terrific news! I am sick and tired of going to a restaurant and having the kitchen help not understand a word I am saying! The Mexicans have been stealing our jobs; instead of illegal Mexican immigrants working in restaurant kitchens or in lawn care or in construction or in child care, those jobs should rightly be given to American citizens! Why, I know dozens of families in Brooklyn, Monsey, and KJ where the men have no work, and as a result are forced to sit and learn in Bais Medrish all day, Rachmana Letzlan. These Bochrim, instead of Shteiging while sitting on their asses, will now be able to take up the employment opportunities created by shipping those undesirables back to Mexico!

Now the best part: With a wall between Mexico and the United States, we will have the opportunity to perform many Mitzvois more easily. People living along the border will be able to use the wall as one wall of their Sukkas. This is a tremendous cost savings. And with a physical wall along the border with Mexico, all we need are walls along the border with Canada and walls along the East and West coasts in order to enclose the entire United States – serving as one massive Erev. What a Kiddush Hashem!!

Now, some of you may be wondering whether we, as Klal Yisroel, should be more sensitive to the plight of immigrants, given that the United States was founded as an immigrant nation, and that many of us, our parents, our grandparents, and great grandparents came to the country as immigrants, some legally and some in any way they could. But that was fundamentally different! After all, they were Jews fleeing anti Semites! How can you argue against their being let into this country, you self-hating Jew?!

-- Donald Trump counts among his supporters David Duke, the KKK, and various White Supremicist groups. It has been reported on many occasions that reporters of Jewish descent who have written critically of Trump have been subjected to unprecedented anti-Semitic attacks, including messages about how “Hitler forgot you” and “you should burn in the ovens”. Now, some are critical that Trump has not adequately disavowed the words and actions of these “alt activists”, as they are referred to in the Media. But… let’s face it… all of these attacks have been reported by the left wing media, which is controlled by Jews!

I do not like the Jewish Media, with their liberal sentiments and their big noses and their aspiration for world government. So why should I expect anti-Semites to like them either? After all, I am not a hypocrite!

-- Donald Trump boastingly joked during the first debate about how he is smart for not paying taxes, and subsequent reports suggest that he may not have paid personal federal income taxes for twenty years following a big loss and a large bankruptcy. Some would suggest that this is a core inconsistency for a man claiming to be a successful businessman and a fiscal genius.

But there is no inconsistency here: I have not paid taxes for the last twenty years either! And neither has anyone else I know. I say: Let the suckers…. Errrr…. Goyim pay taxes, while the rest of us focus on Avoidas Hashem, studying Toirah, and mastering the complex Sugya that is the “Tax Loss Carry Forward”

-- Donald Trump speaks about banning Moslems from entering the country, and assailed the parents of a fallen Moslem American soldier who addressed the Democratic convention. Should we be troubled by this? Of course not! After all, all of ISIS are Moslems. So of course we should keep all Moslems out of the country.

And, of course, the Russians, who are currently putting nuclear capable weapons on territory contiguous with Poland, are Orthodox Christians. So of course we should keep all Orthodox Christians out of the country. And Catholics? Do you know how many Jews they killed throughout the centuries? Of course we should keep all Catholics out of the country. And the Germans killed the Jews during the Shoah, so we should of course keep all Germans out of the country. And since many Germans are Lutherans, we should keep all Lutherans out – and in fact all who follows in the steps of Martin Luther -- meaning all Protestants, out of the country.

And the members of the Black Lives Matter movement are all black. So of course we should keep all blacks out of the country. And the Japanese attacked the US at Pearl Harbor. And the North Koreans are going nuclear. And the Chinese are taking all of our jobs. So of course we should keep out all Asians. And the British, because of the terrible job they did in Mandatory Palestine.

And, of course, Bernie Madoff is a Jew, as are numerous white collar criminals all over the country. So of course we should keep all Jews out of the country.

So, in fact, the only people who should be allowed in the country are the Native Americans. We can certainly support Donald Trump’s logic on this topic.

-- Donald Trump promises to fix our economy by negotiating with American debt holders – the countries and institutions that hold Treasury Bills and other forms of federal debt. And I applaud him for it! Why should America, the strongest economy in the world, have to pay our debts? NO ONE understands bankruptcy laws better than Donald Trump! So why not put those laws to work for US? We should be paying pennies on the dollar! And if they do not like it, what are they going to do? Not sell to us? Put sanctions against us? Go to war with us?

So what if US Treasury Bills are the cornerstone of the world’s economy, the definition of “risk free debt” in financial circles? This country was not built on avoiding risks. Did the founding fathers avoid risks when declaring independence? Did Lincoln avoid risks when freeing the slaves? Did Reagan avoid risks when he attacked Grenada? Did George W. Bush avoid risks when he attacked Iraq?

No. Leadership is built on taking risks. So if President Trump is able to renegotiate the US debt at the risk of causing the collapse of the global financial markets, it is a risk that I, for one, am willing to take. I will of course have to check that my Israeli, Canadian, EU, Saudi, and Russian citizenships are all up to date… just for documentation purposes, of course.

-- Donald Trump is committed to getting NATO to pay their fair share, those freeloaders. NATO has been the cornerstone of Western security since 1945. But NATO is sooooooo 1970s. Russia is no longer an enemy: Putin is a strong leader, a leader who is popular in his country, a leader whose own national media never criticizes him… and lives to talk about it.

All the freeloading countries should start to pay their fair share… or they are out of NATO! Germany? Who needs them in NATO! How dangerous can a Germany, disconnected from the Western powers, with a struggling economy, and left to fend for itself against the Russian threat, possibly get?!

-- Finally, there is Eretz Yisroel. Donald Trump is good for Israel. He is great for Israel. His daughter and grandchildren are even Orthodox Jews. And his principle advisors on Israeli policy read the New York Times and the AIPAC daily briefing; what other expertise could they possibly need?

Yes, Donald Trump is good for Israel. The misguided US agreement with Iran is an example of the worst agreement even negotiated! As Donald has said, rather than avoid nuclear proliferation, let’s embrace it! Why should the US have paid billions to Iran to get rid of its nuclear materiel. It is only natural that all countries in the world will get nuclear capabilities. So which way are we better off – with Israel as the only nuclear power in the region, and a united global effort to keep Iran nuclear free for the next ten years? Or with a nuclear Iran, a nuclear Saudi Arabia, a nuclear Egypt, and a nuclear Turkey? If all countries in the Middle East are nuclear, then there is no threat, because of the notion of mutual self-destruction. If one country gets nuked then all countries get nuked. It is actually a very democratic solution to the 100 year old Arab-Israeli conflict and the thousand year old Sunni-Shiite conflict. And, as we know, everyone in the Middle East behaves like rational actors, so what could possibly go wrong?

----

And so, I, on behalf of Yeshivas Chipass Emmess, wholeheartedly endorse Donald Trump as the next president of the United States. He will lead this nation forward with grace, style, an even temperament, and by grabbing the country by the pussy.


Ah Gmar Chassima Toivah, You Minuval
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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Sunday, October 02, 2016

On Nixon in a Pantsuit


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On Nixon in a Pantsuit


Rabboisai,

Let us spend this Roish Hashana talking about peace.

According to the Toirah, the world started as a peaceful place. Heaven and earth. Water and dry land. Dinosaurs and human sized frogs and cockroaches the size of Trump Tower.

And then… the Reboinoisheloilum created Man.

But Man was a whiney Minuval. Man complained that he was lonely, so Hakadoshboruchhu decided to create him an "Eizer Kinegdoi", a "help mate". The Toirah tells us that the Aimishteh created every beast in the field and every bird in the sky. And, yet, Adam, Man, observes and "tests" all animals of the land and birds of the sky, but he does not find his "help mate".

Reboinoisheloilum knows, he tried. Adam tried to be Mezaneh with a goat, but it reminded him too much of his third grade rebbe. He tried to make out with a swan, but the swan just bit his lips every time he tried to kiss the bird. Adam tried to make love to a dolphin, but the swimming mammal asphyxiated. Adam tried to be Mezaneh with an elephant, but ended up in traction for 6 weeks. Adam even competed for the love of a Peacock, but he fell short in the demonstration of his feathers, and the female peacock chose his competitor. Shver Tzu Zein Ah Homo Sapien.

And so, in frustration, Adam reached out to the Aibisther and asked another request. "Big Dude, I need something a bit more like me. You know, without feathers or a trunk or a blow hole or webbed feet or a voice that sounds like a Rosheshiva giving a Mussar Schmuz."

And so the Reboinoisheloilum put Adam into a deep sleep. While under anesthesia, Hakadoshboruchhu removed a rib from Adam and created Eve to be Adam's "help mate".

But as Adam learned very quickly, Woman understands the concept of being a "mate", but thinks that the term "help" in "help mate" goes both ways, inferring gender equality. And it is from this point forth that Woman aspires to match Man in all of his achievements, while all the while... let's face it... she was fashioned out of Adam's rib, not from his brain, or his heart, or one of his Shvantzylach. So in the process, Woman realizes that to get ahead in life, she must resort to all sorts of "dirty tricks" to achieve equality.

Hence... Chava, Eve, is taken in by the snake, eats of the forbidden fruit, tricks Adam into eating the same fruit, and then... Bam! We are thrown out of Gan Eden, Paradise, and suddenly have to dedicate serious money to our wardrobes, our mortgages and our cars.

Sarah Imeinu laughs mockingly at the words of Hakadoshboruchhu when He declares that she will become pregnant at the age of ninety, and... Bam! The Reboinoisheloilum complains to Avraham Avinu, files a defamation lawsuit, and destroys Sedom just to let off a little steam.

And let's not forget that Sarah insists that Hagar and Yishmael be cast into the desert. And... Bam! Now we have to take off our shoes every time we go through airport security, Aimishteh-dammit.

It does not end there. Rivka Imainu coaches Yankif Avinu to steal the birthright from Eisav HaRasha from Yitzchak Avinu. Bam! Our ancestry is like a bad episode of Downton Abby. Or, more accurately, Game of Thrones.

The list goes on. Rochel Imainu and Leah Imainu compete for Yankif Avinu's attention, and... Bam! They drive Yankif to sleeping with those Shiksas Bilhah and Zilpah, and blind him to the fact that his sons are racists, delusional, kidnappers, and homicidal maniacs. Basically - the Shvatim become the precursors to the Republican candidates for president.

Miriam HaNeviyah attacks Tzipoirah, Moishe Rabbeinu's wife, because of the dark color of her skin, and is punished by Hakadoshboruchhu with Leprosy (although, according to a Medrish in Beraishis Rabbah cited by Rashi, it was actually Genital Herpes). And according to the RAMBAN, Miriam was actually sent away to cultural sensitivity training, but ended up cutting classes and investing in speculative real estate at an oasis in the Sinai Desert, an investment that ultimately lost money and resulted in years of hearings amongst the Zekainim, the so-called Whitewater Scandal that plagued the entire Moshe Rabbeinu administration and led to the political rise of Yehoishua, who invaded various communities in the Middle East without adequate funding, and oversaw the collapse of Klal Yisroel's economic system, the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and the bailouts of several Shvatim that were deemed "too big to fail".

Which brings us to Hillary Clinton.

Where shall I start?

How should we relate to someone whose sense of entitlement makes her believe that she is immune to the most common sense of propriety and responsibility, such as refusing to use a secure State Department e-mail address for all of her correspondence, inevitably including top secret matters of state?

How should we relate to someone who, when challenged on this poor judgment, proclaims to the world, “I could not be troubled by carrying more than one device?” Does that mean that when she is President of the United States, she will not carry around the “Football”, the briefcase with the nuclear launch codes, because it is “inconvenient”?

How should we relate to someone who is brilliant and accomplished – a graduate of Yale Law School, a corporate lawyer, First Lady, United States Senator, and Secretary of State – yet so flawed that she is struggling to win the nomination against Crazy Uncle Bernie and his silly Communist ideas?

Even if we set aside all of the crazy anti-Clinton conspiracy theories, we cannot but be troubled by Hillary’s use of a private e-mail address for official State department business, Hillary’s coddling of Wall Street – an obvious conflict of interest, Hillary’s use of “female talking heads” to shame women into voting for her in the primaries over Bernie Sanders, and the fact that she has been married for decades to a man with the sexual morality of an alley cat.

In short, how should we vote when the candidate who represents our political “space” inspires distrust and not faith. Instead of President Obama's "Hope" campaign, we have Hillary's "I'm in charge" campaign, super delegates and all. Instead of "Hope" and "Trust", we have Richard Nixon with an Erva, wearing a pantsuit.

But, thankfully, we are Klal Yisroel. We do not need to use our Reboinoisheloilum given brains to make such decisions - we let our rabbis make such decisions for us.

According to Reb Shmiel Kalbasavua, it is an Issur Dioraisa to vote for a woman as President, as a woman can never be the leader of an institution or a nation. This is related to the Inyan of Serara, leadership, discussed by CHAZAL extensively, and in particular by the RAMBAM. The RAMBAM writes in the Mishnah Toirah, Hilchois Melachim, Perek Aleph, Halacha Hey:

“Ein Maamidim Ishah BaMalchussss, Shene’emar ‘Alechah Melech’, V’Loi ‘Malkah’. VeChain Kol Mesimois ShBiYisroel Ein Memanim Ba’Hem Ela Ish.”

“One does not place a woman in a position of king (literally – kingship), as it says in the verse (regarding appointing a king over Israel) ‘king’ and not ‘queen’. And for all leadership roles (literally – projects or initiatives or missions) in Israel we only designate a man.”

Says Reb Shmiel, based on the teachings of CHAZAL, a woman can never become the most senior political leader in the world, the President of the United States. However, according to Reb Shmiel, there are numerous positions that a woman may hold in the White House, such as First Lady, Sous Chef, or on her knees in the Oval Office while former President Bill Clinton is sitting at his desk on the phone with world leaders. (See under – Lewinsky, Monica.)

Reb Asher Katievsky agrees with Reb Shmiel, but for a different reason. Reb Asher compares the election of a woman as President, or in any leadership position, as akin to Muktza, items which are on Shabboskoidesh. And as any scholar knows – but probably not you, you Groissah ignoramus – there are four basic categories of Muktza:

-- Kli ShMelachasoi LeIssur – An object that is designed to do work forbidden on Shabbos Koidesh, such as a pen;

-- Muktza Machmass Chisaroin Kiss – An object of great value that one may come to violate the Sabbath to save from damage;

-- Muktza Machmass Goofoi – An object that has no inherent functional purpose, such as a rock. Note: It is for this reason that my colleagues in Niturei Karta designate rocks BEFORE Shabboskoidesh to throw as passing cars or immodestly dressed women, so as not to violate Hilchois Muktza. What Tza-dick-im!!;

-- Muktza Machmass Miyus – An object which is inherently disgusting, like dog shit or Rabbi Steven Pruzansky.

Says Reb Asher, a woman cannot become President of the United States because it is disgusting, it is Muktza Machmas Miyus. As proof, he quotes the esteemed scholar Reb Donald Trump who has described women as “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals", and described one woman, the journalist Megyn Kelly as, "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever." According to Reb Asher, “the risk of having a President menstruate all over the carpet in the Lincoln bedroom far outweighs any benefit of representative democracy”, unquote.

However, Maharat Avigail Katievsky, Reb Asher’s sister, hold Farkhert. Maharat Katievsky holds that Le’Oilum, a woman can hold a leadership position in Klal Yisroel or anywhere else, citing well regarded female leaders from the Toirah and Jewish history, including Miriam HaNeviyah one of the early leaders of Klal Yisroel, who led Klal Yisroel along with her brothers Moishe Rabbeinu and Aharoin HaKoihain, the Minuval; Devoirah HaNeviya, who led Klal Yisroel for a generation, and Shloimtziyoin HaMalkah, the Chashmonai Queen who is perhaps the most highly regarded leader of the Hasmonian Dynasty by CHAZAL.

Further, Maharat Katievsky points to social evolution and the role of women in modern society, an era when women take on all levels of leadership and responsibility. In particular she points to recent heads of state such as former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, Former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and current German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Says Maharat Katievsky, "of course LeFee Halacha you can vote for Hillary Clinton, even though she is as conniving and dishonest as a used car salesman in Las Vegas, or an investment banker, Chass V'Sholom".

So, Rabboisai, how should you vote?

I will not even entertain such a Shailah. Because I am an optimist. I believe that Moshiach will come any day now, and definitely before the election.

But even if Moshiach does not come, I am an optimist. I can always move to Israel. In addition, my Canadian citizenship should be coming through any day now. And worst case, I can always move my Yeshiva to Antarctica.

Ah Gutten Yuntif, You Minuval
---------

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

On Klal Yisroel's Leadership Paradigm


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On Klal Yisroel's Leadership Paradigm


Rabboisai,

It has been a busy week here at Trump headquarters. We have been running out of people to offend, and are struggling to come up with new ones. We started with Mexicans and Hispanics in general, moved on to Muslims, and embraced White Supremicists - thereby offending blacks and Jews. And Reboinoisheloilum knows, we set our targets on women.

We have boasted about our sexual prowess, thereby insulting religious social conservatives, and attacked China and Mexico while manufacturing Trump branded goods in China and Mexico, thereby offending everyone with any brain matter left.

So all that leaves are non-ethnic males with no brains - that is our core Trump target voting segment. Sheygitz Am Haaratzim... The kinds of people all of our Jewish ancestors came to America to get away from.

But this is the voting block that will "Make America great again." Boruch HaShem - the Moshiach is about to arrive, and he has small hands, a Groisseh Schvantzyl, and quite a bit of alimony to pay. He even shared his great wisdom through the failed Trump University.

And like a king, he often speaks of people getting on their knees before him.

It sounds like Shloimoi HaMelech all over again.

Rabboisai, when we think about the different leadership models for Klal Yisroel, we open up a historical Shailah: Who in the long history of Klal Yisrael were considered to be the best class of leaders? Were they the Avois, the forefathers. Were they to the Shoiftim, or the Koihanim, or the Neviim, or the Kings? Were they the Persian or Greek overlords, or the Chashmonaim, or the Sadducees or the Pharisees? Were they the Tannaim or the Amoraim or the Rabbis in general? Were they the leaders of the Jewish Federation, or AIPAC, or other Jewish organizations?

Or were they the great Roishei Yeshiva, or, Chass V'Sholom, the great Chassidic Rabbeihim?

The answer of course comes from the first Mishnah in the first Perek in Pirkei Avois.

משה קיבל תורה מסיניי, ומסרה ליהושוע, ויהושוע לזקנים, וזקנים לנביאים, ונביאים מסרוה לאנשי כנסת הגדולה.

"Moishe Rabbeinu received the Toirah from Hakadoshboruchhu on Sinai and passed it on to Yehoishua, who passed it on to the Elders, who passed it on to the Prophets, who passed it on to the Men of the Great Assembly."

The Mishnah later tells us that the Toirah was passed on to the various Tanaim, in a chain of tradition. And by Toirah, the Mishnah is not speaking of obscure teachings given on a mountain, but of the actual mantle of the leadership of Klal Yisroel.

Let us note: The Toirah, according to the Mishnah, was not handed down to the Koihanim, the priestly class, or to the Kings - from the House of David HaMelech or any other line. It also does not speak of lawyers, or investment bankers or accountants or Jewish studio executives or Malcolm Hoenlein for that matter.

Farkert! Our model for leadership, as defined in the Mishnah, idealizes Moishe Rabbeinu as the penultimate leader of Klal Yisroel. And by not mentioning the Koihanim, the Mishnah envisions Aroin KaKoihain, the Minuval, as no more than Moishe Rabbeinu's bitch.

Moishe was the soft spoken one - the Toirah tells us how Moishe declares to the Aimishteh, כי כבד-פה וכבד לשון, אנכי, "I am heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue". This is traditionally understood by CHAZAL to mean that Moishe either had a stutter, had burnt his mouth in a miraculous incident where some angels forced Baby Moishe to put hot coals in his mouth - believing them to be glowing jewels, or that Moishe suffered from Cerebral Palsy.

Meanwhile, Aroin HaKoihain, the Vilda Chaya, never know when to be quiet. For example, during the Chayt HaEigel, did Aroin HaKoihain, the Mechutziff, urge Klal Yisroel to be patient and wait a little longer for Moishe to descend from the Har Sinai? No! He gathered all the gold jewelry from Klal Yisrael and fashioned an Eigel HaZahav, a golden idol shaped like a calf. In addition, he used the extra gold to put gold caps on his teeth and many chains to wear on his neck and wrists and renamed himself "Notorious AHK". In fact, according to a Medrish, when Yehushua Bin Nun protested to the Cheyt HaEigel, Aroin responded, "Yo Yo Yo, Shut the fuck up you motherfucker or I will put a cap in yo ass!!" He then set off with his posse and they spent the night at the most expensive Midianite clubs, which he left at 4:30 the next morning with three leperous women on his arms.

There is a beautiful Gemarrah that talks about the political struggles in Judea. Rabban Gamliel was the Nasi, the President, of the Sanhedrin, but he acted in a disrespectful fashion to Rabbu Yehoishua, and was removed from his position and was temporarily replaced by Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah. The only reason Rabban Gamliel was not impeached permanently was because the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, as they were too busy debating whether circumcision was the most important Mitzvah in the entire Toirah or was an anachronistic practice of genital mutilation. (They ultimately ruled that it was a Mitzvah, since Jews always insist on getting 20% off on everything.)

This story appears twice in the Gemarrah, in both the Babli and the Yerushalmi. The Yerushalmi has a slight variant on the story. In the Yerushalmi version, Rabban Gamliel asked all members of the Sanhedrin to raise their right hands in solidarity with him, in something akin to a Hitler salute. According to this same Gemarrah, during the period of his temporary removal from the Nasiut, Rabban Gamaliel took the time to get married to his longtime companion, Eva Braunstein.

So what do we learn from these important incidents in the history of Klal Yisroel? We learn that leadership is not equated with being the loudest or most obnoxious person in the room. Sadly, this is not a lesson that Steven Pruzansky has taken to heart. Leadership is also not necessarily based on popularity - Rabbi Yoichanan Ben Zakkai's polling numbers were very low, but he is credited with saving Yiddishkeit by moving the center of scholarship from Jerusalem to Yavneh. And fifty years later, Rabbi Akiva’s and “messiah” Bar Kokhba’s popularity ratings were at an all-time high when they led the Messianic rebellion against Rome, until Rabbi Akiva ended up as a Roman lamp shade, Bar Kokhba ended up as a puddle of blood at the last stand in Betar, and the Jews were banned completely from Jerusalem for the next few centuries.

So, from the perspective of CHAZAL, the penultimate model of leadership is to be like Moishe Rabbeinu. What does that mean? The first Perek of Avois brings down numerous members of CHAZAL citing examples of model behavior:

-- Hillel: נגד שמא אבד שמא, דילא מוסיף יסוף
“One who advances his name, destroys his name. One who does not increase, diminishes.”

-- Shammai: אמור מעט ועשה הרבה; והוי מקביל את כל האדם, בסבר פנים יפות
“Say little and do much. And receive every person with a pleasant countenance.”

-- Rabbi Shimoin Ben Gamliel:
כל ימיי גדלתי בין החכמים, ולא מצאתי לגוף טוב אלא שתיקה; ולא המדרש הוא העיקר, אלא המעשה; וכל המרבה דברים, מביא חטא.
“All my life I have been raised among the wise, and I have found nothing better for the body than silence. The essential thing is not study, but deed. And one who speaks excessively brings on sin.”

-- Also from Rabbi Shimoin Ben Gamliel:
על שלושה דברים העולם קיים--על הדין, ועל האמת, ועל השלום.
“The world is founded on three things: On law, on truth and on peace.”

Rabboisai, these are the Heiligeh words of CHAZAL. However, they are all dead. We have now entered a new leadership paradigm, and I can tell you, from my seat in Trump headquarters, we ARE going to Make America Great Again. Here are a few actual quotes from our candidate that represent the new leadership paradigm for Klal Yisroel:

-- "My IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don't feel so stupid or insecure; it's not your fault."

-- “The beauty of me is that I’m very rich.”

-- “You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young, and beautiful, piece of ass.”

-- “I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

-- “One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace. Good people don’t go into government.”

Rabboisai – We are privileged to live on the dawn of a special period, when we are about to embrace a new leadership paradigm for America and all the world. And with the help of the Reboinoisheloilum, Donald Trump will return America to the pristine country it once was – A lifeless arctic wasteland.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval

---------

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

On Teshuvah


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On Teshuvah


Rabboisai,

There is a famous story in the Zoihar Hakadoish that describes the ritual in Shamayim whereby the Ain Soif delivers an annual report immediately prior to Roish Hashanah before a joint session of the Sefirois, the Malachim, the Tzaddikim, and the Neshsamois of the unborn. The Zoihar also reports that one year, during this annual gathering, Hakadoshboruchhu noted that the world was expected to have a peaceful year, without any additional persecution directed at Klal Yisroel. Suddenly, the spirit of Nosson HaNavi shouted out, “You lie!” towards the Aimishteh. Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarfon forcibly removed Nosson HaNavi from the room, and after numerous apologies to the Reboinoisheloilum and his Chief of Staff, the Buddha, he was banished to Eretz Yisroel, where he is fated to spend all of eternity as one of the guys who do random ticket inspections on Egged busses.

There is also a Medrish in Medrish Tanchuma that talks about the annual PYW (Pumbedisa Yeshiva World) Awards. One year Rava was honored with the “Chiddush of the Year” award for his “Yeyush Shehlo Mida’as Loi Havei Yeyush” insight. As he was standing at the Shtender to accept his award, Rav Huna burst onto the Bimah and screamed out to the crowd of Yeshivah-Yingeleit, “Sure, Rava, your Chiddush was okay. But Rav Ashi really deserved the award for his ‘Yoim Toiv Shaynee Shel Goliyois Does Not Apply In Antarctica’ Chiddush. No offense, Dude.” After being booed off the Bimah and having a sandal thrown at his head, Rav Huna apologized for his outburst and blamed his behavior on the Besomim-laced mead he had been drinking all day, and also on the fact that he had not been adequately molested by his Rebbe when he was a teenager.

Finally, there is a famous story in a Gemarrah in Gittin that describes the detailed ruling associated with the Bavel Open, the annual sporting contest where leading Rabbis would throw turbans at each other across the Bais Medrish in Sura. The Gemara notes how one year Rav Chisda was disqualified in the quarterfinals against Rav Pappa by the line judge, Mar Zutra, when he threatened to “ram his turban so far up Mar Zutra’s ‘Bor’ that Mar Zutra would have to make an Eirev Chatzayrois every time he needed to go to the bathroom on Shabbos-Koidesh.” He later explained that he had been misunderstood, and that he really meant that Mar Zutra would need to make an Erev Tavshilin before eating on a Shabbos following a Yoim Toiv. But Rav Chisda finally apologized to Mar Zutra after Rav Shayshess threatened to make him pay a fine of thirty thousand zuzim and three goats. Shoyn.

I share this collection of stories as we engage in the spiritual exercise known as Teshuvah – repentance. Every year, after a full twelve months of being Mezaneh with hot shiksas -- at least in your mind you Minuval, after eating pork or shrimp or lobster, or cottage cheese that’s not Cholov Yisroel, Chass V’Sholom, or after murdering your neighbor for 12 dollars in loose change, cutting up his body into little pieces, and burying the pieces in the backyard between the rose bushes and the apple tree, near where you once buried the bunny rabbit that your cat had killed just to shut your children up already, Reboinoisheloilumdammit…. Ummm…sorry. After a year of committing Aveirois, you get in front of Hakadoshboruchhu, and ask Him for forgiveness.

But, as in the famous stories in the Gemarrah and the cosmic history recorded in the Zoihar, you must ask yourself, “Is my Teshuvah sincere? Do you mean it when you say “Selach Lee Kee Pushahtee”, “Forgive me for I have sinned”, and by implication, you will never do it again? Are you in fact sincere in your Teshuvah, or are you simply reciting a medieval liturgical formula, simply biding your time until the Chazzan finishes reciting the sections where the Aron Koidesh is open, so you can finally sit down and rest your aching feet already?

RAMBAM addresses this question in Hilchois Teshuvah of Mishnah Toirah. He notes that sincerity is a prerequisite for real Teshuvah, and he advises all his followers “MiSpharad Ad Mitzrayim”, from Spain to Egypt, to engage in penitence through prayer and acts of mortification, such as fasting and self-flagellation. He states, however, that the Jews of Eastern Europe should, quote, “not bother doing Teshuvah, as Hakkadoshboruchhu can never grant forgiveness to people who have names like Yankel, Berrill, Shprintze and Chraindie, and sing songs with the lyrics ‘Ai Digi Digi Dai’”.

The RAMBAN, living in the golden age of Kabbalah, writes that Teshuvah can only be achieved when the Sefirois are aligned, with Kesser, Chochmah, Chessed, Netzach, and Yesoid on one side, and Binah, Da’as, Tiferess, Gevurah, and Malchus on the other. In that way, the cosmic aspects of the Aimishteh are in perfect balance and may collectively engage in the act of forgiveness in the human realm, as well as participate in a pick-up basketball game.

The MAHARAL, however, disagrees with the RAMBAN, and suggests that before writing his opinion, the RAMBAN must have popped some of the pain killers he always carried in his medical bag for house calls. He suggests that real Teshuvah emanates from purposeful introspection joined with concrete actions. He points to the liturgical reference in the Nesaneh Toikeff on Roish Hashanah and Yoim Kippur “Oo’Seshuva, Oo’Sefillah, Oo’Tzedakah Ma’Avirin Ess Roiyah Hagezeyrah”, “And repentance, and prayer and charity deter the evil decree.” The MAHARAL notes that the juxtaposition of the three words connected by the term “and” highlights the underlying belief that the actions cited must be combined – It is not enough to commit Teshuvah OR Tefilla OR Tzedakah. But to have real impact, they must be committed by a human being as complementary acts of repentance emanating from the soul, prayer emanating the heart, and charity emanating from the bank account (Ed. Note: Preferably in a check made out to “Yeshivas Chipas Emmess”).

The Abudraham argues farkhert, that repentance is an inner process, enabled by inward contemplation, prayer, and uniting with the Reboinoisheloilum through Hisboidedus. But he notes that Teshuvah is quite separate from Tzedakah, stating that “The act of giving Tzedakah is an outward gesture, absent the soul. Nu, Bernie Madoff gave lots of Tzedakah, and trust me, you don’t want to be where he is going.”

So when we examine the words of Chazal, we discover a range of ideas centered on the notion of exorcising sin from the soul, of sincere Teshuvah as inner commitment. Even prayer is not a substitute for inward change – at best it is a catalyst. This point is clear when we examine the actual words of the liturgy. On Yoim Kippur we spend hours in the Viduy, the Jewish form of “confession”. But do we say “I sinned, I committed Act Aleph, Act Baiz, or Act Gimmul?” No, you ignoramus! We frame our confession in the form of the plural collective: “Ashamnu”, “Al Chaiyt Shechatahu Lifanecha” – “We have sinned”, “(We repent) for the sins which we have committed before You.” The listed sins are formulaic, and include many sins that most of us would never commit, unless we got really lucky. So reciting the formulas cannot be equated with personal repentance. Rather, Viduy, listing and repeating these sins again and again and again, is itself an act intended to inspire a mood, to incite an action, to encourage a behavior. It is like porn, but for Yoim Kippur.

So how else can we ensure sincerity in our Teshuvah? I am reminded of a Maiseh Shehoya. Reb Issur Zalman Meltzer, the Even HaEzel, was once walking home from the Central Synagogue in Slutsk when he was accosted by a group of three Communist youths. “Rabbi”, they teased him, “Who were you just praying to – the boogieman?” They then held Reb Issur Zalman down and forced him to listen to the first two chapters of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. With every word he heard, Reb Issur Zalman became more incensed. When the brutes finally let him go and turned around to walk away, Reb Issur Zalman attacked them from behind. Using his Masechta Baba Kamma, he crushed the skull of one of his assailants, killing him instantly. He used his Yoireh Dayah to break the jaw and knock twelve teeth out of the mouth of the second assailant. And as the third assailant ran away, Reb Issur Zalman threw his Mikraois Gedoilois at him, hitting his spine, and crippling him for life.

That night the Reboinoisheloilum came to him in a dream. “Issur Zalman”, Hakadoshboruchhu called. “What do you have to say for yourself?!!”

Reb Issur Zalman replied, “Oy, Aimisteh, I am so sorry. I did not mean to really hurt those boys. But all that talk about the redistribution of wealth really upset me.”

“No, you schmendrick” the Reboinoisheloilum retorted. “I am not upset that you killed one of those thugs and mortally wounded the others. But you let my holy Toirah fall on the floor. And for that you will lose your Christmas bonus this year!”

“That’s ok,” Reb Issur Zalman said, his ears turning red with anger, “as long as you share it with the underprivileged Proletariat hordes, you Opiate of the Masses!”

Rabboisai, real Teshuvah is not easy. If it were, we would not have ten days dedicated to repentance, as well as many long hours in shul that perhaps could have been better been spent learning Toirah, doing Maiysim Toivim, or surfing porn. But our mission at this time of year is to become better human beings. But we cannot become better people simply through empty apologies, no matter how many times they are repeated, and wherever they are repeated – even in Shul or on Oprah. Or in smug press releases or internal reports that ring hollow.

When we talk about Teshuvah, we are talking about real change, which is ultimately a function of humility. We must realize that we are all fallible, especially you, you Michutziff. We are all simple grains of sand passing through the winds of time. As written by the Paytan, “Kee Heenay KeChoimer BeYad HaYoitzer”, “We are like clay in the hands of the potter.” And only when you realize your true insignificance will you be able to undergo real Teshuvah, real change, and perhaps become a bit more tolerable for the rest of us.

Ah Gutten Yuhr, You Minuval.

---------

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess

Roish Hashanah Drasha



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Roish Hashanah Drasha

I have recently returned to the Bais Medrish in my Yeshiva, where our talmidim are studying twenty-two hours a day in preparation for the Yomim Noraim (High Holidays), as well as for their upcoming Real Estate license exams.

This week we will celebrate and embrace Roish Hashanah, the New Year, pray for forgiveness of our past sins, and moan about the need to pay extra for seats when we are already spending too much as it is on annual synagogue membership.

In a famous Mishnah in Masechta Roish Hashanah, Rabban Gamliel asks why synagogues charge for seats on the High Holidays -- shouldn't they embrace all who attend services and not put up any potential barriers to their participation? In the Gemarrah, Rav Pappa builds on this question, pointing out that Jewish communal responsibilities also include Yeshiva tuition, kosher food and paying off the annoying schnorrers who show up at our doors uninvited. So why must shuls engage in Lifnei Iver and chase away any returnees to the faith?

Toisfois offers a gevaldik answer to this question, based on lessons we learn from Yaakov and Eisav. As Eisav returns from a day of hunting empty handed and hungry, Yaakov tricks Eisav into surrendering his birthright by giving him a bowl of lentil soup in exchange. Says Toisfois, we must choose to be like one or the other -- either fiscally bankrupt like Eisav, or morally bankrupt like Yankif Avinu. And clearly most shuls in our day choose the latter.

This rabbinic shakuvetaria (discourse) very much helps to define and capture the essence of our existential quandary at this time of year. The question really is: why do we have one special point in the year for repentance and renewal; are we not always encouraged, and even invited, to improve ourselves, or to at least make a healthy donation? Indeed, what is the nature of the choice that confronts us? How does Roish Hashanah help us along a new path?

(And an additional key question is: why was I assigned THAT seat, next to that guy I can't stand, and so far from the aisle that I may as well pee in my pants during mussaf?)

The classical answer is that the sound of the shoifar-- the ram's horn -- is intended to awaken within us our innate desire to embrace the Aimishteh through repentance and the fulfilling of Kol HaToirah Kooloh. Clearly, whoever came up with this response never heard the shoifar blown in the Yeshiva where I received Smicha (rabbinical ordainment), where, to insure that each shofar note is 100% koisher, they repeat the blows again and again. And again. And again. It's enough to make the Rosheshiva himself pray to Yushka for salvation.

Reb Hai Gaon offers an alternate answer, suggesting that Roish Hashanah is like a woman getting a facial. Sure she can put on makeup every day, but the act of spending eighty-five dollars to get her pores cleansed makes the meeskeit at least FEEL prettier.

Rabbi Akiva Eigar points to the three central themes of the Roish Hashanah liturgy as providing the answer: Malchiyois, Zichroinois, and Shoifrois. Malchiyois represents the father, Zichroinois the son, and Shoifrois the holy ghost. Of course, Reb Akiva is known for his secret affinity for Catholicism and his attraction to hot nuns.

But the Chassam Soifer points to the same three themes. He says that Malchiyois, the theme of the Kingdom of heaven, is like your father, who, no matter how successful you have become, is always ready to tell you what a disappointment you are. Zichroinois, the theme of heavenly remembrance, is like your mother, who, no matter how old you are, will always remind you of how you used to wet your bed. And Shoifrois, the theme of the sound of the shofar, is like your mother-in-law, whose constant talking and picking and nagging and complaining leaves a mind-numbing, deafening ringing in your ears.

Of course, we set the pattern for the coming year on Roish Hashanah. My alter zeidey used to tell me not to sleep on Roish Hashanah because that would cause me to have a farshlufinah year. I have always taken that lesson to heart. Consequently, I have a personal minhag to ride my bashert, Feigah Breinah, like a shtender in the afternoon of Roish Hashanah, in order to guarantee a new year with LOTS OF HOT ADULT ACTION. All the while, the einiklach and kinderlach are out poisoning the fish with leftover challah from last week.

It is also critical that our Teshuvah be sincere and complete, not like your usual insincere prayers, you Vilda Chaya, when you anxiously await the guy who knows all the sports scores to show up at shul. We need to commit to renouncing sin in our everyday lives in order to be true Bnei and Bnois Toirah. A few suggestions for the coming year:

-- Stop buying from Macy's. Macy's sells shatnez, and if you continue to buy there, someone may mistakenly assume you are buying shatnez, and believe it is okay to buy shatnez too.

-- Start using your 500 dollar set of Shass more. If not for learning, at least for the benefit of lifting those heavy books. Reboinoisheloilum knows, you can stand to lose a few pounds.

-- Don't let your wife distract you from Toirah. You should seek every opportunity to go into the other room and pick up a Chumash, or go to your weekly shiur. Watching your twelve kids so your wife can have a ten minute break and go to the Bais HaKeesay is no excuse for Bittul Toirah!

-- Grow your payiss to be long enough to have monkeys swing from them. You never know when you'll be at a Chassanah at the zoo and you'll have the chance to be Mesamayach the Chussen and Kallah.

-- Next time you sneak out for a little traifus, remember to make a Shehakol on your pork. After all, the Aimishteh created it too.

-- When you are in the middle of being mezaneh with your wife, instead of delaying your passion by thinking of baseball players, think of famous Chassidic masters instead. Unless, of course, you get excited by bearded men with shaved heads. In which case, stick with the baseball players.

In taking these measures, we will greet the new year with a deeper commitment to making the world a better place and embracing all mankind, in order to maximize our tax deductions, improve interest rates in the coming year, and bring peace between the Eskimos and the Mongolians.

A Chessiva V'Chasima Toivah, you Minuval.

---------

Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess