Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shemos

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.

The second perek of this week's parsha introduces Moshe as a persona in Jewish history. However, the allusion to Moshe is without fanfare, as the Torah states that a man from the house of Levi went and married a woman from the house of Levi. It is not until Parshas Va'era that we learn that Moshe's father is Amram and his mother is Yocheved.

The Ramban explains that the reason that the Torah does not mention the names of Moshe's parents was pragmatic. Had the Torah written Amram, it would have needed to list his lineage going all the way back to Levi. To avoid having to list the entire genealogy, the Torah merely states that Moshe came from the house of Levi.

R' Frand next quoted R' Sorotzkin in Aznaim L'Torah who explains that the reason that Moshe's parents are not mentioned was to show that anyone can have a son like Moshe. R' Frand explained that the anonymity of Moshe's lineage demonstrates that a person does not need to come from a family of gedolim in order to succeed and become a leader in Klal Yisrael.

R' Frand also quoted an explanation from R' Ya'akov Kaminestky, who explains that the Torah intended to teach that Moshe was a mortal and came from mortals - a regular guy and a regular girl. In so doing, the Torah alludes to the foundation of the Jewish faith -- that the physical and spiritual can be united for a positive purpose. A person has a body which is infused with a soul which can be used for a positive purpose. This stands against other religions which believe that the soul is compartmentalized and the body exists to do evil.

R' Kaminetsky also referred to a pshat in Sefer Bereishis (2:4) about creation. The medrash recites a dispute between R' Eliezer and R' Yehoshua as to the nature of things in the heaven and on Earth. R' Eliezer explains that everything in shamayim was created in heaven and everything on Earth was created from the Earth. R' Yehoshua explains that everything (both the physical and in the heavens) was created in shamayim.

R' Kaminetsky explains that the dispute is actually about the nature of humanity in this world. R' Eliezer states that the spiritual is created from above and the physical remains on the Earth. R' Yehoshua disagrees and states that both physical and spiritual aspects of man come from above.

R' Kaminetsky linked this dispute to another dispute recorded in Gemara Beitzah about the proper activities for yom tov. R' Elazar states that yom tov is either for learning Torah and davening or eating and having a good time and enjoying the yom tov. R' Yehoshua states that the day can be split, the first half in davening and the second half enjoying the yom tov. R' Kaminetsky states that the dispute follow the prior dispute as to creation. Since R' Eliezer believes that spiritual and physical are distinct, then on yom tov one must choose one course of activity. R' Yehoshua says that everything came from above and the day can be split so that the physical enjoyment can be elevated to a spiritual level.

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