Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shemini

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.

The Ba'al Haturim writes on the first pasuk of the parsha that the Yom HaShemini was the first of Nissan. Previously during the last seven days of Adar, the Jews had been involved in the process of inaugurating the mishkan and karbanos were brought. During this time frame, Moshe was the Kohen Gadol. Moshe now states that he was zocheh to be the Kohen Gadol for seven days and that this was based on (according to the Ba'al Haturim) Moshe's being engaged in a seven day dialogue with Hashem as to whether he should take the Jews out of Egypt. During this period, Moshe argued with Hashem that Moshe should not take the Jews out of Egypt.

This episode is also discussed in a gemara in Zevachim wherein R' Yehoshua Ben Karcha indicates that Hashem got angry at Moshe and it is explained that the original plan was that Moshe would be the Kohen and Aharon would be the Levi, but because Moshe refused to take the Jews out of Egypt he lost the kehuna.

The concept is difficult to understand - because Moshe argued with Hashem for seven days that he should not take the Jews out of Egypt, he was zoche to be the Kohen Gadol for seven days? One would expect that he would have been punished for delaying and arguing, not rewarded! What would have happened if he argued for thirty days - would he have been Kohen Gadol for thirty days?

R' Frand quoted R' Simcha Zissel who explained that Moshe refused for good reasons - he was humble and it was this humility that caused him to argue with Hashem that he should not take the Jews out of Egypt. Hashem punished Moshe for his refusal to act in accord with Hashem's wishes as His directives must be followed. As a result, Moshe lost the permanent Kohen Gadol position. However, Hashem also recognized that Moshe's motives were pure and therefore his seven days of humility were rewarded by seven days of being Kohen Gadol.

R' Frand then quoted R' Isaac Bernstein who offered a different approach to the perplexing statement of the Ba'al Haturim. He started by discussing a mishna in Pirkei Avos that a person who is consumed with jealousy, desire or honor will (through his actions) lose his olam haba. The Midrash Shmuel asks why does it say that he loses his olam haba? It should say that he does not receive olam haba. The Midrash Shmuel answers that it states that he loses olam haba because the person is allowed entry to see olam haba and then he is taken out. A person who loses olam haba without understanding it does not feel a loss. Therefore he is allowed brief entry and then is taken out.

Similarly, Moshe loses the kehuna, but needs to understand what he loses to appreciate his punishment. Moshe is given a taste of the kehuna so that he could appreciate what the reward would have been and why he lost it.

R' Frand then mentioned a story wherein he discussed this vort with a person who was in a wheelchair. The person in the wheelchair then told R' Frand about a friend of his who has spinal bifida and never was able to walk. This person stated that if he ever came back to this world through gilgul he would want to have spinal bifida again. He explained that everyone is so nice to him and takes care of him and he has nice friends and is allowed entry to Camp Simcha. He felt that his life was so good as it was and that he never needed to walk. R' Frand related that the fellow who told him the story said that he would never have said that. The speaker knew what it was like to walk before being confined to a wheelchair. The speaker understood what he lost and like Moshe understood the other side of the coin.

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