Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shemini

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand in his parsha shiur this evening. I have attempted to reproduce this vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistencies are the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In Vayikra 9:6 the Torah recites that Moshe told Aharon "zeh hadavar" - this is thing that Hashem has commanded you to do and then the Kvod Hashem will appear to you.

The Sifri asks what was it that they needed to do? They had already prepared for and built the mishkan, which was inaugurated at the end of Tzav?

The Sifri answers that the thing which must be accomplished is to get rid of that yezer hara and once this is accomplished, the Jews can be united together in one group before Hashem.

Rabbi Frand pointed out that the Sifri is also an enigma as he does not define which yetzer hara should be eradicated.

Rabbi Frand answered his question by first citing the Netziv who states that people should not invent their own type of avodah of Hashem. Instead people should stick to the rules as laid down by Hashem in the Torah and not chase their own inclination to create new ways to serve Hashem.

Rabbi Frand then quoted a proof brought by the Netziv that after this part of the parsha there is a story of Nadav and Avihu who were killed after they brought an aish zara - a foreign fire before Hashem. Had Nadav and Avihu merely stuck with the regular service they would not have been killed.

Rabbi Frand then quoted the Tumim (in sefer Panim Yafos) that the yetzer hara is ga'ava - becoming haughty and letting one's acts go to one's head (as my father would say - reading your press clippings).

Rabbi Frand next quoted the Imre Emes (a prior Gerrer Rebbi) who says that the yezter hara is machlokes - fighting or arguing with each other. People may have worked together to build the mishkan, but now people will argue. The Imre Emes supports this explanation by referring to the language of the Sifri where he writes that if they destroy the yezter hara they will be united as one group before Hashem.

A more recent Gerrer Rebbi (the Beis Yisrael) asks - why didn't the Sifri explain which yetzer hara he was referring to? The Sifri knew how to be specific!

The Beis Yisrael answers that the yetzer hara changes from generation to generation. This can be seen on both an individual and group level. Each person will have different weaknesses and desires which need to be conquered. A person may have a desire for money which he will have to overcome in order to be charitable. Another person may have a desire for recognition.

In the same way, each generation will have its own yetzer hara to overcome. Over one hundred years ago at the end of the 19th century there was a yezter hara for the pursuit of philosophy which is not present today. Other generations may have had a yetzer hara for worship of other religions. Since the yezter hara changes from generation to generation the Sifri did not want to define it. The Sifri's message is that once you have accomplished big things such as building a shul, the generation still needs to keep an eye out for the yetzer hara which comes upon the generation.

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