Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Toldos

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

R' Frand began by quoting a gemara in Makkos 24 which states that Yaakov was reluctant to trick his father in order to get the bechora. R Frand then made reference to a gemara in Sanhedrin which states that lying is akin to idol worship. So why did Yaakov do this? Rashi in Makkos states that Rivka told Yaakov that Hashem told me that you must do this. This was the reason that Yaakov did it.

This begs the question (as asked by R' Yaakov Kaminetsky) - since Hashem wanted Yaakov to get the berachos, couldn't He have found another way for Yaakov to get the brachos, short of lying? Yaakov had the middah of truth, surely there must have been a way for him to get the bechora without challenging his nature.

R' Kaminetsky explained that each of the avos symbolized a different middah. Avraham was chessed - he looked at Hashem and saw that the world reflected Hashem and he brought people to recognize G-d by emulating the chessed he saw. But Avraham's tests were opposed to the middah - he was told to leave his father. He was required to send away Hagar and Yishmael. At the top of the pyramid was being told to slaughter Yitzchak. After spending a lifetime doing chessed, he was told to sacrifice his son. This is why it was a test - Hashem was saying - if you want to prove your devotion, then go against your nature and leave your father, send away Hagar and sacrifice your son. If you do these acts, I will know you are doing them because you are devoted to Hashem.

Yaakov saw a similar type of test. Yaakov's midda was emes - truth. Hashem said to Yaakov, I want to see if you are devoted, so I will test you by challenging you to go against your natural inclination of emes.

R' Kaminetsky asked - what is Yitzchak's test? It can't be the akeidah because his midda was gevura and he used gevura to follow his father to the akeidah! Rather the source can be seen in a gemara in Shabbos 89b, where R' Shmuel Bar Nachmeni states that in the future Hashem will come to the Avraham and say - your sons sinned and Avraham will respond - punish them. Hashem will come to Yaakov and he will react similarly. But when Hashem comes to Yitzchak and says your sons sinned, Yitzchak responds - are they only my sons and not Yours? When they said na'aseh v'nishma you called them Your sons - now they are only mine?

The gemara then goes into an analysis of people's lifetime wherein it gets parsed down to only 12 years that a person could have sinned. Yitzchak says to Hashem - I will split them with You - You take 6 and I will take the other 6 years.

R' Kaminetsky explains that this is Yitczhak's test. He is forced to against his midda of din and save the Jews. Although his natural inclination is justice, when the Jews need it, Yitzchak will go against his nature and save the Jews.

R' Frand closed by saying that all of us have our nisayon, our own akeidah. Our souls according to the Gaon have gone through a gilgal process and we have returned to fix the errors of the past. How do we know what we should be fixing? What we find difficult is the prior error and this is what we must work on. Be it a problem with anger or freely spending on tzedakah. Now that a person is here a second time, he should review his deeds and see where he stumbles - this must be what is needed to pass our nisayoin, our akeidah.

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