Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Bo

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand in his shiur this evening. I have attempted to reproduce this vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistencies are the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand. Also, please be advised that the vort reproduced in this post was actually part of a longer thought. Unfortunately, our Internet connection broke off and the last portion was not heard at our site.

Tonight, Rabbi Frand asked the well known question which has been asked at seder tables for generations - why did Hashem need ten plagues before Pharaoh would let the Jews leave Egypt? Why didn't Hashem just use one large and terrible makkah which would have convinced Pharaoh to let the Jews leave?

Rabbi Frand then followed up the question with another question related to the Jews geulah from Bavel. Rabbi Frand noted that the geulah from Egypt was not the only return from exile as the Jews were also exiled to Bavel and were then permitted by King Coresh to return to Israel and rebuild the Temple (indeed, Koresh funded a good portion of the construction). The book of Ezra explains that this return resulted from Hashem's having influenced Koresh, as Koresh stated that he was inspired by Hashem to allow the Jews to return to Israel. Rabbi Frand then asked, why didn't Hashem influence Pharaoh in the same way?

Rabbi Frand answered by quoting to R' Shlomo Kluger who said that Hashem wanted Pharaoh to be strongly opposed to the Jews leaving Egypt so that the eventual redemption would come at a time that Pharaoh was a broken man. We see this as the pesukim say that Hashem hardened Pharaoh's heart to resist letting them go. This required ten makkos to systematically break Pharaoh down publicly. Without this public display, the Jews would not have had a strong connection to Hashem. Instead, they could have said reasoned that they were leaving Egypt because Pharaoh had benevolently allowed them to leave. In order to build a strong kesher with His people, Hashem needed the Jews to see that the redemption came as a result of His acts.

Rabbi Frand then quoted a line from the haggada, where it is written that had Hashem not taken us out of Egypt we would still be "mishubadim" (enslaved) to Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Rabbi Frand then asked - its been thousands of years and many nations have risen and fallen since the Jews were enslaved in Egypt, how is it possible that we would still be enslaved?

R' Frand answered that had we not been overtly taken out of Egypt we would have been indebted to Pharaoh for letting us go. This was very different from when the Jews left Bavel. The gemara states that when the Jews left Bavel there were only 43, 000 Jews who went to Israel. When they arrived there they did not have their own monarch. Additionally, the second Temple was nothing in comparison with the first. Indeed, the gemara notes that those who had been alive at the time of the first Temple cried when they saw the second Temple, as it lacked so much from the first.

In sharp contrast, when the Jews left Egypt they left en masse, with six hundred thousand men in addition to the women and children. When they came to Israel they had their own leaders and divided the land. Had this been accomplished because Pharaoh had voluntarily allowed them to leave, there simply would not have been a strong connection to Hashem. As such, the Jews needed to see the yad hachazakah, that Hashem was the sole cause of their redemption from Egypt and that we are meshubad to Him.

The mefarshim say that geulas mitrzayim is the paradigm for the geulah that will come in the future. R' Frand then quoted R' Paam who asked in his sefer - why do the umos ha'olam hate the Jews so much. R' Frand then alluded to what he called the "law of the playground" that if you hit someone they will hit you back. Why is it so foreign to the world that if you send thousands of thousands of missiles from Gaza into Israeli towns for years, that finally the kid being hit will hit back hard after years of abuse?

R' Frand then made reference to yesterday's conference in Davos where there was a discussion about Gaza involving Ban Ki-Moon, Amr Moussa (arab league president), the Turkish Prime Minister and Shimon Peres. Peres went last and spoke for 25 minutes which enraged the Turkish Prime Minister. Why? Because Peres asked - how would you react if someone was shooting missiles into Istanbul. R' Frand then asked - how would the US react if they were shooting missiles from Tijuana into San Diego?

R' Frand then quoted R' Paam's answer - its because in the future it will not be the nations of the world who will stand up for and defend the Jews. It will be like geulas mitzrayim, Hashem alone and not through any surrogate or assistant, will be the one who redeems us.

R' Frand also quoted R' Paam about the UN. What is their purpose? He answered by making reference to the gemara in Avodah Zarah (2:2). There it states that Hashem will say to the people of the world - what did you do. They will respond that they built bridges and structures and cities all for the Jews to learn Torah. Hashem will then respond to them - you are liars, you did this all for yourself. R' Paam said that the UN is a symbol of this gemara. Every vote in the UN is recorded. All their speeches vilifying Israel are recorded. When the time of judgment comes in the future when the umos haolam are asked what did you do for the Jews and they respond by making reference to the UN, Hashem will pull out all of their votes and show that they truly acted for their own purposes. At that point it will again become obvious that like yetzias mitzrayim, all of our help only comes from Hashem.

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