Thursday, January 21, 2010

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

In Shemos 12:1-2, the Torah provides the first mitzva which the Jews are given - to be mikadesh the new month. Immediately thereafter, the Torah provides the details of the korban pesach.

Rabbi Frand asked - why is that the first mitzva is to be mikadesh the month and only afterwards does the Torah recite the mitzva of korban pesach? Wouldn't it be more logical to have the korban pesach as the first mitzva?

Rabbi Frand first cited the Klei Yakar who answers the question from a pragmatic standpoint. He indicates that if one is to do the mitzva of korban pesach by schechting the animal on the 14th, he needs first to know when the month begins in order to calculate the date to prepare the korban.

Rabbi Frand offered an alternate explanation from the sefer Chikrei Lev. He explained that when the Jews were given the mitzva of kiddush hachodesh they were given the power over the calendar and the moon itself. Prior to this mitzva, Hashem would declare when Yom Tov would occur. However, by giving the Jews the power to be mikadesh the month, they were provided the power to designate when the month begins and when the holidays would fall.

Rabbi Frand then quoted a gemara that recited that although Hashem judges the world on Rosh Hashanah, He indicated to His heavenly court that He will not intervene in the designation of the new moon in this world as this was given to the Jews.

It was for this reason that this was the first mitzva for the Jews. When a person is enslaved, he has no power to determine anything. Indeed, the Ibn Ezra writes that there is no greater burden to bear then to be a slave to another human being. Since Hashem wanted to take the Jewish people away from their slave mentality (they had been enslaved in Egypt for 210 years), he needed to provide a medicine to allow them to look beyond the slavery they had always known. This medicine was the ability to determine their own calendar through kiddush hachodesh.

Rabbi Frand closed the vort by making reference to the famous story about the moon and the sun. The midrash recites that the moon came before Hashem and said - two cannot use the same crown. Hashem responded to the moon - then you go reduce yourself. The moon then said to Hashem - but I am right, there cannot be two strong bodies at the same time. Hashem then said to the moon, you are called katan, so too, Ya'akov and David will be called katan. Additionally, I will give you the stars to assist you.

Rabbi Frand asked - but if the moon was punished for protesting, why is it being rewarded?

Rabbi Frand answered that Hashem said to the moon - you did more than what was required. I told you to reduce yourself, but you did not have to do so to the degree that you chose. Indeed, you could have just reduced yourself slightly. However, since you acted lifnim m'shuras hadin, I will reward you.

This is the message of kiddush hachodesh to the Jews. You have power much like the moon. Use the power properly so that you can be rewarded.

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Jessel said...

The correct name of the sefer is Chikrei Lev. You Since there are other seforim with that same name, you might also wish to mention the name of the author, Rav Leib Heyman. It has two volumes - one on Bereishis and one on Shmos.

Shabbat Shalom,

Shlomo Zalman (Adam) Jessel
Moshav Matityahu

Neil T said...

Thanks for the comment. I am so flattered that you use my post while watching the shiur there.

I have changed the name to reflect Chikrei Lev.