Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shemos

The following is a brief summary of a vort said over by R' Frand this evening. 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 Shemos 1:15-16, the Torah writes that Pharaoh told Shifrah and Pu'ah that when they are delivering Jewish children that they should kill the male children, but allow the female babies to live. Rashi explains that Shifrah and Pu'ah were actually Yocheved and Miriam. Yocheved was called Shifra because she was skilled in delivering the babies, while Miriam was called Pu'ah because she would "coo" to the babies to calm them down. Based on their love and caring for the babies, the Torah calls them by their nicknames. When the women were told by Pharaoh to kill the babies they did not listen because they feared Hashem and they allowed the children to live. As a result of their actions, Hashem gave them "batim."

R' Frand remarked that it was strange that the Torah introduced the women by their nicknames which indicated that they loved and cared for the children and then said that they did not kill the babies because they feared Hashem. Would it not have been more obvious that they did not kill the babies because they loved and cared for the children as this was part of their nature?

R' Frand answered that we see from here that at the end of the day, there is only one thing that prevents a person from doing something that they should not do - fear of Hashem. When a person's life is on the line, love will not carry the day. The person's actions will be influenced by their core - in this case by their fear of Hashem.

R' Frand brought a proof from Avraham at Akeidas Yitzchak. The Torah writes that when Avraham was about to act against Yitzchak at the Akeidah, Hashem says (Bereishis 22:12) "now I know that you are G-d fearing." Why does Hashem say that He knows that Avraham is G-d fearing? Would it not have been more logical to say, now I know that you follow instructions? Rather we see from this that Avraham showed through his actions that that he feared Hashem.

R' Frand brought another proof from the conversation between Yosef and the wife of Potiphar. In Bereishis 39:10, Yosef says to her - how I can do this act and sin against G-d. By this we see another expression of the motivation not to act as fear of Hashem.

R' Frand then quoted Shemos 1:20-21 which discussed the reward for Yocheved and Miriam for their actions. The Torah writes that they were given "batim" which Rashi explains were the house of Kehunah and the house of Malchus. However, Rashi does more than this as he indicates that the Torah interjects between saying that Hashem rewarded the women in 1:20 and the discussion of the reward in 1:21 the fact that the Jews increased in number and became very strong.

R' Frand then quoted R' Mordechai Kaminetzky who tells a story about a woman who had a premature child. The child was in the NICU where there was care around the clock for the baby for two months. When the baby left the NICU, the parents wanted to buy something for the doctors and nurses to show their gratitude. The parents went to R' Elya Svei and asked what they should do. He responded that on the child's birthday they should bring the child back and show them that the child has grown up. Do this for the doctors and nurses not only on the child's first birthday, but on multiple birthday's thereafter to show that the doctors and nurses' efforts were not in vain and were greatly appreciated. R' Svei tied this into the above pasuk about how the Torah interjects between the statement about a reward to Yocheved and Miriam and before the identification of the reward, the fact that the Jews multiplied greatly. R' Svei takes issue with Rashi - the reward was seeing that the Jews had multiplied so greatly. There were personal presents in the following pasuk, but seeing what they had accomplished was a great reward to them as well.

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