Monday, April 21, 2008


Something both Ed and Chaim G. said a while back reminded me of this piece from several years ago by the Rabam.
[The Rabam, as is well known, is the founder of Yeshivas Chipas Emmes - West Coast (California headquarters of Chabadass Chossidus).]

Shiur of the RABAM on Masechess Pesachim

"Tayere yingeln, we give a slight bow on being introduced to someone, because touching hands is sharing germs.

Or palm sweat - as it says in Vayikra 22:6 "nefesh asher tiga bo vetame'ah (a soul which touches it shall become defiled). And it is rude to immediately sterilize one's hand afterwards. Though the verse cited above goes on to say "...velo yochal min ha kodashim ki im rachatz besaro ba yamim" (...and shall not eat of koidesh things until he has washed his flesh in water). So neither should you eat after meeting strangers.

This is greater derech eretz than that of Mordechai, who refused to bow, wherefore Homon torched his embassy, as it says in Megillas Esther. Though Ben Bag Bag says it was because he doodled. Drew a cartoon of Ahura Mazda. And a camel. And there are several obscene jokes about camels.

Why is this not mentioned in the Megilla?

-- Because the version used by the P source was replaced, bitch.

-- Because the E source proved a point that the redactor also wanted to make.

-- Because the J source says "you are special, we are special, and forget about that other bunch".

-- Whereas the redactor says "we're ok, but that bunch there are truly nasty".

Say not 'we pissed off the Persians. We pissed off the Syro-grecians, we pissed off the Romans'..... But say rather 'the Persians were pissed at us, the Syro-grecians were pissed at us, and the Romans, having no imagination and being Amalek besides.... were also pissed at us.'

Reish Lakish asks: "Or rather, 'we pissed on the Persians. we pissed on the Syro-grecians, did we not also piss on the Romans?"

And Rabban Gamliel says that 'pissed' is a metaphor for engaging in the cloth trade.... because it is used as a fixative for dyes. Such as techeiles and argamom.

Whereas Elazar ben Hurkanos brings up the plural, to show that right and wrong are never singular. And are as opposite as red and blue.

Or as Rashi shatnez and Rabbeinu Tam shatnez (though some Chassidim wear both, to be hiddur mitzvah).

Why was this said?

-- So that you may remember the commandment.

-- So that you not invite Persians to parties where alcohol is served.

-- So that you write an eighteen page letter refuting the cartoons (and note: eighteen is the gematria of life - you shall write it that you may live).

But Abaye says 'so that you not draw cartoons for the newspapers of the nations, lest they hate us for it'.

Rashi explains newspaper as indicating that the text was edited. For there is no newspaper that is not edited. And there is no place that does not have a newspaper.

Shmuel says "Start reading the paper with mention of political disturbances in the land of Egypt (Dvarim 6:20) and move from the repressiveness of contemporary Middle-Eastern societies to political liberation.

Rav said: Start with Terach, Abraham's father and the state of golus to which we had descended. "Once upon a time our fathers lived among idolators who worshipped heathen gods. Now Hashem has brought us to vote for UTJ and Shas".

And know from this that even though we're really hosed, we are still better than the Arabs, because we have a free press and they don't (and following this is when it is customary to recite the blessing 'shlosha neenerim').

The Kitzer Shulchan Aruch explains that you should open the newspaper to the editorial page first. Then read the letters to the editor, starting at the top left hand corner of the page and proceding, with kavanah, all the way through to the last letter in the bottom right hand corner (if you are interrupted, start again at the top).

Finish that page by reading the cartoon. Then close the paper (along the crease), and compose an angry letter to the editor, so that it may remind you of tefillah.

But know that Lubavitch hold that there has been no editor since the Rebbe's petirah.

Satmar calls the entire question a depraved goyishe plot - there should be NO newspaper until the redeemer comes - and then we will ALL have newspapers.

Neturei Karta hold that it is best to read an Arab paper until the ketz. Ad mosai? Ad ki yavo....

Harav Kreiswirth (, before he died, was meikel, but paskened that frumme yidden avoid the Nieuw Israelitisch Weekblad - at least until the techiyas hameisim.

Belz avers that like the students of Rabbi Ben Bag Bag, you should 'turn it over, again and again, for everything you want to know is found within it'.

Why does one read a paper?

Shimon HaTzaddik said: "The world rests on three things: on the sports scores, on the real-estate page, and on the want-ads".

Akiviya Ben Mehalalel said: "consider these three things and you will not fall into the clutches of sin: Know from whom you buy the paper, know to whom you will give the paper after you have clipped the coupons, and know where the coupons are redeemable."

Rabban Gamaliel said that whoever has not read these three things (the Washington Post, the Racing Times, and Playboy Magazine) has not fulfilled his obligation to disdain the goyishe world, lament losses at the track, and drool over unattainable hot shiksas. For in this you will know that you are truly in golus.

Regarding illustrated men's magazines, the Rambam says that one should not even look at the clothing of woman.

Why was this said?

Clothing reminds us (of the fig-leaves with which Adam and Chava clothed themselves), as is written in Bamidbar 15:39 "ve haya lachem le tsitsit u reitem oto u zechartem".

From this, know that it is a mitzvah and a blessing to look at pictures in Playboy magazine, because it recalls to us the Garden of Eden and man's primal purity.

And you should discuss this with your neighbor, on the road and in the home, whether standing or resting...until you are physically uncomfortable, and trembling (in awe). As it says "With all your heart, and all your means".

And now antshuldiks, I am stepping temporarily away from the shtender...

To buy a newspaper...., yes, that's it, a newspaper.

Grisn, und zolst hobn a gitn shabbes

Yeshiva Chipass Emmess -- San Francisco Campus


The RaBaM received shmicha from HaRav HaGadol HaMoreinu Pinky Schmeckelstein (the 'Ripass'), Rosheshiva of Yeshiva Chipass Emmess. If you wish to inquire about the yeshiva's curriculum or the courses for the current academic year, please contact the administration of this blog. We have connections.

No comments: