Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayechi

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.

In this week's Parsha, Yaakov gives the brocha to Ephraim and Menashe and used the words "v'yidgu larov b'kerev ha'aretz." Rashi comments that this means that Ephraim and Menashe should be like fish who are not influenced by the ayin hara. The gemara in Berachos explains that fish which are under the sea are not seen by the eyes and therefore they are not subject to the ayin hara. As such, Yaakov's brocha to Ephraim and Menashe was that they should be like the fish - uninfluenced by the ayin hara.

R' Frand then said that there was another aspect to why fish are not subject to ayin hara. The Chizkuni states that there are no names of fish mentioned in the Torah. The Paneach Raza explains that various animals have names mentioned, be they kosher or non kosher and even the shratzim have names. Meanwhile, the fish are not named at all. The Paneach Raza explains that because the fish are anonymous, they are not subject to ayin hara.

R' Frand extrapolated this to people by quoting a Rashi in Sanhedrin. He explains that yes, it is true that people have names. However, Rashi in Sanhedrin writes that if a person has the ability to stay out of the public eye and not put himself in front of others and draw attention to himself, he can avoid the impact of ayin hara. He further explained that humility can be a protection against ayin hara. The Chida writes that a person who truly has humility is protected from the ayin hara. The gematria of ayin is 120, the gematria of anava (humility) is 121. The Chizkuni writes that if a person has humility, the person is above the ayin hara and will not be subject to its impact.

R' Frand next discussed the brachos that Yaakov gave to his sons. He quoted a mehalech of R' Yaakov Kaminetsky about the brachos given to Shimon and Levi. Yaakov tells them that they will be scattered among the shevatim. Rashi explains that Levi was not given any land and they had to be dependent on others for their livelihood. The tribe of Shimon were given the jobs of being itinerant teachers.

R' Kaminetsky asked - if these people are the melamdei tinokos and the sofrim which are very important jobs, how can this be a curse? R' Kaminetsky answers that it is not a curse - it is a very special kind of person who can be a teacher or sofer. Shimon and Levi were very special people and showed this through their kannaus. Everyone was aware of what happened to their sister, but Shimon and Levi were the only ones who acted.

But what happened to their kannaus? Levi refined their zealotry and perfected it, so they were able to act after the cheyt ha'egel. This is why they are given great brochos from Moshe in V'Zos Habrocha.

Shimon never refined or channeled their zealotry, which is what allowed them to be involved in the Zimri/Cuzbi story. R' Kamientsky explains that kannaus which is not tempered or directed by halacha will end up eradicating the people from the world. Only the gedolei yisroel can determine when its right to use this middah.

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