Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayishlach

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.

In the beginning of the fourth aliyah, the parsha tells the order of the introduction of Yaakov's family to Esav. The Torah recites at Bereishis 32:6 that the shfachos and then their children came forward to greet Esav. The next pasuk indicates that Leah then came forward with her children and afterwards Yosef and Rachel. Rashi explains that the reason that Rachel followed her child instead or preceeding him was that Yosef reasoned that his mother was beautiful and that he did not want Esav to eye her. As such Yosef said I will block him (a'akvenu) from seeing her.

R' Frand quoted the sefer Seder Hadoros which teaches that Yosef at the time was either four or six years old. R' Frand then asked, given Yosef's diminutive stature, how could he have prevented Esav from seeing Rachel? Furthermore, even if he could get in the way for a moment, Esav would just walk around so that he could see Rachel!

R' Frand then quoted a medrash which states that Yosef grew to be six feet tall when he attempted to block Esav. However, Yosef could not have known that this would happen and could not have been anticipating it when he stood in front of Rachel, so why did he act?

R' Frand answered by quoting the Tolner Rebbi that Yosef's use of the term a'akvenu teaches that Yosef reasoned that even if he could just block Esav for a little bit, it would be worthwhile. This was Yosef's game plan - even a little is better than nothing.

R' Frand then told a story about the Tolner Rebbi and the birth of his son. The Rebbi had two daughters before having a son. He wanted to name the boy after his father in law, but his father in law's middle name was the same as the Rebbi's first name. He also knew that while his father in law was alive, his father in law believed that one needed to use both the names of the deceased when naming. The Rebbi was unsure how to proceed, so he sent a messenger to the Gerre Rebbi to ask the question. He received back an answer - nothing is nothing, if you do this it will at least be something (R Frand said this in Yiddish and it sounded much better that way).

This was the message and the method of Yosef. Even if someone cannot be completely successful, he should try and do what he can, rather then giving up.

R' Frand brought a proof to this from a medrash about Yosef's interaction with Potiphera. The Torah writes that every day she tried to seduce him, but he resisted. The medrash explains that she said to him - one day you will give in to me. Yosef would respond to her, this may be correct, but it will not happen today. This was yet another example of Yosef's method of looking at things in smaller increments and doing what he could under the circumstances.

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