Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Bamidbar

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 Bamidbar 1:14, the Nasi of Gad is called Elyasaf Ben De'uel. However in Bamidbar 2:14, the Nasi of Gad is called Elyasaf Ben Re'uel. The obvious question is why is Elyasaf's father's name different later in the parsha?

R' Frand answered the question by quoting the Chida who observes that Moshe is buried in the land of the tribe of Gad. The Chida explained in the name of the sefer Imrei Noam that Gad was the bechor of Zilpa and Dan was the bechor of Bilha. Gad could have complained to Moshe and said why am I only a part of a tribe in the marching contingent? Dan is the leader of the tribe group and Gad as a bechor should be given a leading role. However, Gad kept his mouth closed and as such was a friend (reyah) of Moshe and did not challenge Hashem.

Had Gad been named a leader of a tribe group, it would have been temporary as this was only for purposes of travelling in the desert. However, by having Moshe buried in his land and earning the name Re'uel - the friend of Hashem, Gad was given an eternal gift.

R' Frand then told the story of the Sdei Chemed, a prolific author. They once asked the Sdei Chemed how he had such a fantastic memory and was able to bring together so many resources in his seforim? The Sdei Chemed answered that it had to do with a story which occurred when he was learning in yeshiva. There was a boy in yeshiva who was jealous of the Sdei Chemed. The boy bribed the cleaning lady to say that she had been intimate with the Sdei Chemed. When the story came out, the Sdei Chemed was very embarrassed and left the yeshiva. However, the Rosh Yeshiva did not believe the cleaning woman and fired her.

Months later, the cleaning woman visited the Sdei Chemed and confessed that she had been bribed. She asked for his help in getting her job back as she was destitute. She also offered to tell everyone that she had been bribed and he could then regain his reputation. The Sdei Chemed thought about this and agreed to help her get her job back, but on one condition -- that she would not reveal that she had been bribed to lie about him. The Sdei Chemed reasoned that it was already a tremendous chillul Hashem that lies had been spread that a student had been intimate with the cleaning woman. However, if the story got out that she had been bribed by a different student to make up the tale, there would be two chillul Hashem stories. As such, he got her the job back, but did not reveal the secret.

Following this incident, the Sdei Chemed experienced a tremendous surge in his memory and ability to learn. The Sdei Chemed attributed his success to his not speaking out about the bribe and preventing a terrible story from being told.

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Jessel said...

You write that the Sdei Chemed was a boy in yeshiva... an another boy bribed the cleaning lady, and he left the yeshiva, and the Rosh Yeshiva did not believe the cleaning woman and fired her.
But Rav Frand said that the Sdei Chemed was a young man in kollel at the time, and another Avreich was jealous of him, and the Rosh Kollel didn't believe the woman.
There are various versions of the story (see e.g., or ), but all of them have him in kollel. Also, the story took place in Constantinopl, which is where he learned after he was married.
It makes a difference to the flavor of the story, because this really was a place of talmidei chachamim and so the potential chilul Hashem would be much greater if the Sdei Chemed had not kept quiet, and also it's not good to have this story -- which will now be on the Web and turn up in any search about the Sdei Chemed-- mistakenly contradict the others. It risks putting the whole store into doubt.
I suggest your correct it.

I enjoy reading your summary of the shiur on the blog, which is a review for me which can be printed out on Friday and brought to the table on Shabbos.

Thanks, and kol tov

SZ Jessel

Neil T said...

Thanks for the comment. I am unaware of his being married at the time but you seem to have researched this very well.