Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Bo

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.

Towards the end of Parshas Bo (13:9), the Torah makes reference to the mitzva of tefillin and states that the tefillin should be an "os" (sign) on your arm and a "zikaron" (reminder) between your eyes. The Mechilta learns from this that as long as a person has tefillin on his arm then he can wear tefillin on his head. However when removing tefillin, one must first remove the tefillin of the head before removing the tefillin on one's arm.

Rabbi Frand then quoted the sefer Bei Chiya who connects this concept with a gemara in Avodah Zarah which discusses the time of moshiach. The gemara writes that during the time of moshiach, geirim will not be accepted as they will be insincere. The gemara further states that these "wanna be" geirim will want to wear the trappings of Judaism including tefillin on their heads and their arms. However, when these putative geirim see the war of Gog and Magog they will leave Judaism and remove their religious objects.

Rabbi Frand asked - why did the gemara describe the donning of the tefillin in the opposite of the normal order? Rabbi Frand answered that the tefillin are symbolic of the Jews. The Medrash states that before Hashem gave the Torah to the Jews, He went to all the other nations of the world and offered them the Torah. Each individual nation asked Hashem what was in the Torah. When they heard about the various proscriptions such as do not steal or do not kill, the nations said that they were not interested.

R' Frand then quoted R Weinberg, who explained that the problem for the nations was not that they were unhappy with the answers, but that they asked the questions in the first place. For the Jews, the situation was the opposite as they said na'aseh v'nishma - we will do and then we will listen.

The decision to first do and then only later understand can be seen in the order that the tefillin is put on. Jews first put the tefillin on our arms to indicate action, only once we have acted do we put the tefillin on our heads.

The wanna be geirim in the times of moshiach demonstrate by their actions that they are not ready to embrace the concept of first doing and then understanding why. It is for this reason that they first put tefillin on their heads and only afterwards put it on their arms. As their acceptance of Judaism is based on thought first, it is not suprising that when they see adversity they take their tefillin off and leave Judaism behind.

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