Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shelach

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 inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

Parshas Shelach is perhaps most well known for the story of the meraglim - the "spies" who went to look at the land of Canaan and returned with a negative report. Once the nation began to cry about what they had heard, Hashem became angry with them. Moshe then pleaded with Hashem to spare the Jews and in so doing invoked two tactics. First, Moshe mentioned the embarrassment which would be cause by the killing of the Jews by stating at Bamidbar 14:15-16 "V'amru hagoyim asher sh'mu es sh'macha laymor, m'ibilti yecholet Hashem l'havi es ha'am hazeh..." - the nations of the world will say that Hashem lacked the ability to bring the Jews to the land He swore to give them...

Next, Moshe invoked the 13 middos of Hashem by stating at 14:18 "Hashem, erech apayim..." -Hashem slow to anger... Then Moshe asked Hashem at 14:19 to forgive the Jews in the words we replicate in selichos "S'lach na Hashem k'godel chasdeacha..."

Hashem responds to Moshe that he has forgiven the Jews as per Moshe's wishes "Salachti Kidvarecha." Following this statement, Hashem says the cryptic phrase at 14:21"V'ulam cha Ani, V'yimaleh k'vod Hashem es kol ha'aretz" - But as I live and the glory of Hashem shall fill the entire world.

The Netziv in the Ha'amek Davar states that David in Tehillim 126 fills in the gaps from Bamidbar 14:21 to explain what Hashem is saying. In Tehillim 126:2 David states that when Hashem brings the Jews back from exile, the nations of the world will say Hashem has done great with the Jews. The Netziv explains that when Hashem took the Jews out of Egypt, He wanted to bring them straight to Israel to show a Kiddush Hashem. When the Jews sinned by following the meraglim, Hashem could no longer take them straight to Israel. Instead, Hashem decided that he would scatter them around the world in exile and that the nations of the world would see the Kiddush Hashem -- that despite thousands of years of exile, the Jews still have maintained their Jewish identity.

R' Frand then mentioned R' Ya'akov Emden's introduction to his siddur where he asks - would a philosopher be able to say that a nation which has been exiled and scattered for 2,000 years could be able to maintain its national identity, though removed from its homeland? The fact that the Jews continue to identify themselves as Jews is a greater miracle than the exodus from Egypt and the longer it continues, the greater the miracle.

R' Frand then mentioned some of the stories of how the Mirrer Yeshiva was saved during the holocaust and miraculously made it to Shanghai, before stating in the name of R' Hatzkel Levenstein that the miracle of the Yeshiva making it out of Europe and crossing Russia and China was a Nes Nigleh and a greater miracle than the Purim story.

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