Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Ki Seitzei

The following is a brief summary of two thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha. I have attempted to reproduce the vorts 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's parsha contains a discussion of the Ben Sorer U'Moreh - loosely translated as the rebellious son. The gemara in Sanhedrin teaches that the Ben Sorer U'Moreh is judged based on the end result - he is put to death before he sins against other because his pattern of activity teaches us that he will come to harm others.

R' Eliyahu Mizrachi asks, how is it that the Ben Sorer U'Moreh is judged and executed based on his predicted "end" when Yishmael was spared. In so doing, he makes reference to the medrash that when Yishmael was in the desert after being thrown out of Avraham's house, the angels begged Hashem to kill Yishmael before he grew up and began killing others. Hashem asked the angels - did he kill yet? The angels answered in the negative and as a result Yishmael was allowed to live.

So why is it that the Ben Sorer U'Moreh who has not yet sinned is not entitled to the same leniency?

Rabbi Frand answered by quoting the Sefer Bei Chiya who discusses a gemara in Rosh Hashanah. The gemara asks - how is that two people who have the identical illness, one will live and the other will not. Why is that two people who have been convicted and sentenced to death, one will be saved and not the other? The gemara answers that the one who lived prayed and was answered, while the one who did not make it prayed, but his prayers were not answered.

The Bei Chiya then asks - how does the gemara know this is the reason one lived while the other did not? Maybe the one that lived had more mitzvos and the one who died had more sins?

The Bei Chiya answers that we learn from the gemara that the power of tefillah has the ability to reverse the natural course. Despite the merits or demerits a person has, the power of tefillah can overcome the aveiros and the person will live. Similarly, a person may have mitzvos, but if he does not pray properly, he may not be saved.

This is the lesson of Yishmael vs the Ben Sorer U'Moreh. Yishmael should have been judged based on his end result. However, the power of Yishmael's prayers in Bereishis 21:17 (Vayishma ... B'kol) gave him merit to overcome his end result and caused him to be saved.

The other vort R' Frand said over related to the mitzva of Shiluach Hakein - the mitzva to send away a mother bird before taking the eggs.

The Netziv explains that a bird's natural inclination is to flee from people. However, the mother bird has compassionate instincts and wants to protect the eggs or chicks. If a person were to take the mother bird with the chicks, the person would be taking advantage of the mother's natural instincts and the Torah does not want a person to capitalize on the bird's rachmanos.

Rabbi Frand then quoted an Avnei Nezer who explained the mitzva by connecting it with the difference between man's eating habits before and after the flood. Prior to the time of the flood, man was not permitted to eat meat. After the flood, Hashem states that man is created b'tselem Elokim - man is on the highest level and animals now are on the lower level. As a result of this reshaped pyramid, man may partake of animal flesh.

Rabbi Frand then quoted the Abarbanel who explains that tzelem comes from the word tzel, meaning shadow. When a person moves, the shadow moves. Similarly, we were created b'tzelem Elokim which allows us to mimic Hashem. In the way that He is compassionate, we need to be compassionate. In the way that He is righteous, we need to be righteous. In the way that He buries the dead, we must bury the dead.

The Avnei Nezer writes - when the bird is acting as a mother, it no longer is acting as a bird. It is on a higher level and is trying to mimic Hashem. At that juncture, when the bird is acting with compassion, it becomes elevated and it would not be appropriate for it to be consumed by man.

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