Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Yisro

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.

Rashi on the first pasuk in this week's parsha notes that Yisro had seven names. Rashi further explains that Yisro (the most commonly used name) was given because Yisro caused a "parsha" to be added to the Torah. [In this case, parsha means story or topic, not the entire Parshas Yisro].

What was the parsha which was added to the Torah? Rashi answers that the parsha is V'ata Sechezeh (Shemos 18:21) - that Yisro told Moshe that he should choose a number of men to serve as magistrates in a hierarchical system of judges.

Rabbi Frand asked two questions on this Rashi. The first question was --why did Yisro need to tell Moshe this - wasn't it obvious? Also, why does the parsha start with the instruction to choose judges, when the story began a few pesukim earlier (Shemos 18:18) where Yisro states - this is not good what you are doing.

Rabbi Frand quoted R' Meir Shapiro who answers that the parsha starts from V'ata Sechezeh because anyone can criticize. However, a notable positive addition takes place when a person gives advice as to how the problem can be solved. Yisro's solution for the problem begins at 18:21 and this is why his parsha begins here.

Rabbi Frand then asked - why did it take Yisro to tell Moshe that the Jews needed a judicial system? Couldn't they have figured it out on their own?

Rabbi Frand quoted the Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh who explains that the lesson of Yisro is that there are smart people who are not Jewish. Jewish people may assume that they have a monopoly on intelligence, but this is simply not true - there were many many non-Jews who are very smart. [R' Frand gave many examples - ranging from Galileo to Ben Franklin to Steve Jobs and Warren Buffet].

The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh explains that the Jews were not chosen to receive the Torah because they were smarter than all the other nations. The preamble to the parsha which contains the ten commandments and the acceptance of the Torah is that the Jews were not chosen to receive the Torah because of their intelligence. Hashem is telling the Jews - I chose you because I loved your forefathers. Again, this was not because they were smart, but because they are good people. Thus the introduction to the acceptance of the Torah demonstrates that there are other smart people and the Jews were not given the Torah based on their intelligence.

R' Frand closed the vort by quoting the Rabbeinu B'chaya who writes on Sefer Shmos - see that the Torah is the middos, which the avos personified. The Jews' "claim to fame" is that they come from "good" stock, not smart stock. The reason we are the am segulah is because of the middos of our forefathers which carried over to us.

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1 comment:

Yaakov said...

Mazel Tov on the bas mitzva