Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayeitzei

The following is a brief summary of a vort said over by R' Frand on the parsha. I have attempted to reproduce the 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.

The gemara in Bava Basra 123a recounts the conversation between Yaakov and Rachel when they decided to get married. The gemara tells over that Yaakov asked Rachel to marry him and she agreed, but she also told him that her father was a crook and "you won't be able to get past him" as he is a ramai. Yaakov then told her - I am his equal in tricks - this is what is meant by the pasuk (Bereishis 29:12) that Yaakov told Rachel that he was "her father's brother." This is seemingly an odd choice of words for Yaakov as his mother was Lavan's sister and he was certainly not her uncle. However, the mefarshim explain that he was saying that he is Lavan's equal in tricks.

The problem with this, is that the previous parsha called Yaakov an ish tam, which Rashi explains is a person who does not know the ways of the world. How did Yaakov go from ish tam to the brother in rama'us?

Before answereing, Rabbi Frand spoke to the meaning of the phrase ba'al middos, which he explained is not that the person has middos, but that he had control over his middos.

Rabbi Frand then told a story about a man who came to R' Bunim with a problem. The man's problem was that he was too generous as he kept giving away all he had to charity. R' Bunim told the man a vort from the Chozeh M'Lublin about Yaakov who was an ish tam but also said he was equal in tricks. How? He explained that Yaakov was an ish tam, but he was an ish first and when required he would turn away his tam and act with cunning if the situation desired. So too, the man who visited R' Bunim needed to learn that there were times when he needed to say no to the aniyim, because a person needs to be in charge of himself and his middos.

R' Frand then noted a seeming contradiction in mishnayos in Pirkei Avos. In the second perek it says - lo habaishan lamed - an easily embarrassed person who is too timid, cannot learn. However in the fifth perek it states boshes panim go to Gan Eden! R' Frand explained that a baishan is someone who is defined by his midah of bushah, however a boshes panim means that only the person's face shows embarrassment, but he has control over the rest of himself.

R' Frand also made reference to a pasuk in Megillas Esther - where Mordechai says if you stay quiet now, the Jews will be saved by others. The Medrash says that Esther came from a long lineage of being quiet - derived from Binyamin who did not spill about his brothers and Shaul who did not argue with the people. Mordechai says to Esther - now is not the time to stay quiet, even if this is your nature, because the Jews need saving and if it does not come from you, Hashem will send another.

R' Frand closed by linking the pasuk in Esther to the stone for Binyamin in the choshen. The tribal stone for Binyamin was yashpeh - which can also be read as yesh peh - there is a mouth. The Chiddushei Harim asks - Binyamin was the opposite of vocal, so the stone should have been ein peh! The Chiddushei Harim answers that the tribe of Binyamin were quiet, but they knew when to speak, when there truly was a time for the peh. This is a true ba'al middos - not one who is controlled by his middos, but one who controls his actions and knows when to employ them.

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