Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Eikev

Since there are no Rabbi Frand shiurim on the Parsha until Elul, I would like to substitute a vort from other Rabbanim each week, rather than leaving the blog without a vort for shabbos. This week, I am attempting to repeat a vort heard from R' Eli Mansour as recorded on Same rules as usual apply - I have attempted to reproduce the vorts 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 the maggid shiur.

In Devarim 10:12, Moshe tells the assembled Jews, "V'ata Yisrael, mah Hashem Elokecha shoel mey'imach, ki im lirah es Hashem Elokecha..." Translated into English, the Torah tells us that Moshe says to the Jews, what does Hashem ask of you, only to fear him and to go in his ways... The Torah then begins to list various things a person should do.

R' Mansour noted that the Gemara in Menachos 43 recites a story about a plague which occurred during the time of David Hamelech where every day exactly 100 people died. King David had ruach hakodesh and he was able to figure out a solution to the plague. He established that a person should say 100 berachos a day.

The question is, how could David create a new halacha? The gemara learns from the pasuk in Devarim that when it says "mah" it means me'ah which means 100. But how is this an answer? What allows them to add a letter? Additionally, were they not making berachos before David? Even Eliezer, eved Avraham made bercachos!

R' Mansour quoted chazal who say that a prayer without intent is like a body without a soul. A person can say something akin to "how are you", but he does not really want to know the answer. Similarly, the berachos in David's time were perfunctory and not intended. David calculated if I put the intent back into the beracha, Hashem will put the souls (more likely keep the souls) in the people. This was not a new decree, just an emphasis that the bearachos should be properly made.

R' Mansour further noted that mah in Hebrew means "what". It is used as a valueless word as Moshe said v'nachnu mah - what are we, we are nothing. David saw that the berachos were mah - valueless. The letter aleph is connected with Hashem and is made of three letters - a vav, a yud and a second yud. This equals 26 which is the name of Hashem. This is what David was saying to the Jews - you must add Hashem to the something because your Berachos were meaningless.

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