Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Mishpatim

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.

This week the TCN shiur was given from the Yeshiva as Baltimore has more than 54 inches of snow on the ground. I don't know if shiur was said differently because of the location of the shiur, but the the parsha portion of the shiur was atypical as it had one short vort and the balance of the time was spent on stories.

In Shemos 23:25 the Torah writes "You shall worship Hashem your g-d and He shall bless your bread and water and I shall remove illness from your midst."

Rabbi Frand quoted the Chidushei HaRim who explains that the blessing of the bread and water is linked to the removal of illness as the illness is not illness in the traditional sense. The Torah is actually discussing the illness of "Da'agas HaParnasah" - worry about finances. Hashem is telling the Jews that if they worship Him properly, He will remove their worries about earning a living which is in their midst (aka human nature).

Rabbi Frand then told a series of stories which were linked to honesty. [The parsha contains the pasuk (23:7) of Midvar Sheker Tirchak - "distance yourself from falsehood"].

A person once asked R' Ya'akov Kaminetzky whether it was permitted to take off work for Purim. The man had been told that business was too hectic for employees to take personal days and that workers could only miss time if it was for sick leave. The man rationalized - I will have fasted on Ta'anis Esther and people sometimes don't feel well on Purim - can I take the day off as a sick day?

Rabbi Kaminetzky told the man that he should not take Purim off. The Rabbi explained - Purim is a mitzva d'rabbanan, while Midvar Sheker Tirchak is a mitzva d'orisa. Indeed, this is the only time in the Torah where we are instrcuted to stay far away from something.

Another story about R' Kaminetzky related to his time as a Rabbi in Toronto. One year, the community gave him a silver platter as a gift. Later, the Rabbi was seen in a pawn shop with the platter. The people of the community were shocked and he was asked why he was selling the platter.

R' Kaminetzky responded that the platter was a financial benefit of his position and as such he would need to pay taxes on the platter. He had visited the pawn shop to find out the value of the platter so that he could properly declare it on his taxes, not sell it.

The final story involved R' Aharon Soloveitchik. R' Aharon was once at the airport with his mother in law. When he went to the ticket counter he was told by the desk clerk that the airline was running a special - spouses fly free. R' Aharon responded that this was his mother in law, not his wife. The desk clerk said that it was not a problem as the airline does not examine these things carefully. R' Aharon then asked - do you have permission to overlook this? The desk agent was unable to answer the question and the supervisor was called.

When the supervisor arrived, R' Aharon mentioned again that this was not his wife. The supervisor said that the airline does not check marriage licenses. R' Aharon asked - do you have permission to change the promotion? Ultimately, he bought the second ticket.

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