Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Yisro

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 18:13-23, the Torah recounts the story of Yisro's observation of Moshe's role as a judge and Yisro's recommendation that Moshe appoint magistrates to assist in judging. As part of this conversation, Yisro tells Moshe at 18:20 that Moshe should warn the new judges about the chukim and toros (the decrees and teachings) and show them the derech (path) they should go down and the deeds they should do.

The Sefer Tiferes Shlomo (the Radomsker Rav) asks - why does the pasuk appear to be redundant? Wouldn't it have been enough just to say that Moshe should warn them about the chukim and toros? The Tiferes Shlomo answered that the pasuk teaches us that there is more than just keeping the Torah. A person needs to work on the way that he does his avodas Hashem and the manner in which he conducts himself when doing the mitzvos. Each person is different in nature and the way that he does his avodas Hashem should reflect his nature.

Rabbi Frand then quoted the Gra on Mishlei who explains that each person is different - in the way that they appear, or think or act. During the times of the prophets, a person would approach the Navi and he would tell the person how that person needed to act, based on that person's nature.

Rabbi Frand also quoted another Gra on Mishlei which took a similar tact in explain the famous pasuk "Chanoch L'Na'ar al pi darco" - teach the child according to his way. The Gra explains that a person must look at the student and understand how he learns and then teach the child in the way that he is comfortable learning. If a teacher attempts to force a method on a child which is not suitable for the child, the child may learn for a few years, but eventually he will rebel.

Rabbi Frand then quoted the sefer Bei Chiya which brings down a story from Gemara Gittin 58a. In this gemara, R' Yehoshua Ben Chananya had gone to Rome and people told him that there is a Jewish boy in prison who has a fine appearance. R' Yehoshua went to the entrance of the prison and quoted the beginning of a pasuk from Yeshaya (42:24) "who has given Ya'akov for spoil and Yisrael to plunder? The boy answered R' Yehoshua with the end of the pasuk - That Hashem was responsible for this situation because the Jews sinned against Hashem.

R' Yehoshua then stood outside the prison and said that he was certain that the boy would someday render judgment (Morah Hora'ah) for the Jews. Therefore, R' Yehoshua said that he would not leave there until he had enough money to redeem the boy from the prison. R' Yehoshua was able to raise the money and the boy was redeemed. Not long after the boy began to to render judgment - he was R' Yishmael Ben Elisha.

Rabbi Frand then asked about the gemara - merely because the boy was able to finish the pasuk from Yeshaya, was that enough of a reason to proclaim that the boy would teach halacha? Surely many children knew how to finish pesukim!

Rabbi Frand answered by citing R' Bunim in his sefer Sod See'ach who states that the problem in that generation was that people were running around without knowing their purpose. R' Yehoshua knew from the boy's answer that he was capable of giving direction to the Jews, because he gave direction to R' Yehoshua in the way that he finished the pasuk. The boy essentially said to R' Yehoshua - don't cry about me. Do the task you were destined to perform and raise the money needed to redeem me from prison.

This was the language of Morah Hora'ah - that the boy would some day grow up to be able to tell people the proper way to live their lives.

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