Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday's Torah Tidbits - Parsha Vayera

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.

In Bereishis 19:29, the Torah recites that when Hashem destroyed the cities of the plain (S'dom and Amorrah) that Hashem remembered Avraham, so he sent Lot out from the upheaval when he overturned the cities.

Rashi asks why does the pasuk say that Hashem remembered Avraham since it was Lot who was remembered and saved? Rashi answers that Lot knew that when Avraham went down to Egypt (in Parshas Lech Lecha) that Sarah was really Avraham's wife and not his sister and he did not reveal the secret, therefore Hashem remembered his connection with Avraham and saved Lot.

Rabbi Frand then quoted the Maharal (Sefer Gur Aryeh) who asked why not just say that Lot was saved because of Hashem's love for Avraham rather than because of Lot's staying quiet? Additionally, if we were to discuss Lot's significant act we should mention that he followed Avraham out of Haran in the beginning of Lech Lecha.

Rabbi Frand said that the Maharal answers that the z'chus for Lot's being saved is a great "sod" and that Lot's staying quiet formed a connection and bond with Avraham. R' Frand prefaced that he did not truly understand the concept and was translating the Maharal's answer. He urged those listening to look up the Maharal inside and stated that he wanted to give the answer from the Tolner Rav instead.

The Tolner Rav began his answer by citing to Pirkei Avos 5:22 that a person who has the following three attributes is a talmid of Avraham - Ayin Tova (gives charitably to others) Ruach Nemucha (humble spirit - not being self impressed) and Nefesh Shefeilah (not being too materialistic). He quotes the Maharal that every person is born stingy wanting to have it all and for others to have less. One must fight their very nature to be happy that someone else has the same as you. The Mishna does not state that anyone who has emunah is a talmid of Avraham - rather the person must modify his natural inclinations and be like these character traits of Avraham in order to be a talmid of his.

The Tolner Rav then states that Lot was connected to Avraham based on his not revealing Sarah's identity because Lot also fought human nature to hold back from speaking. A person who hears a secret feels compelled to tell the secret. While knowledge is power, being the one who reveals the knowledge is the way to achieve greater stature.

Rabbi Frand then offered the following hypothetical scenario - Avraham and Sarah come to Egypt and are greeted by the King. Everone is talking about Avraham and his "sister." Meanwhile Lot is in a bar and hears the people talking. He could have opened his mouth in order to appear important and say "I know the real dish on Avraham's sister..." But Lot conquers his nature and does not reveal the secret.

Rabbi Frand then mentioned that the Tolner Rav said that Lot was the gilgul for Yehuda and that the neshoma then came back again as Boaz. Lot started the process of conquering his yetzer to speak out when he kept quiet about Sarah. This was later refined when (as Yehuda) he quashed the need for self-preservation and opened his mouth to say that Tamar was right. All of this culminated with Boaz where he could have rationalized to himself that since he and Ruth were single there was no problem with them being intimate. Instead, Boaz conquered his yetzer and was only with Ruth after they married.

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