Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayishlach

The following is a brief summary of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these 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 R' Frand.
In Bereishis 32:5, Yaakov tells his messengers to say to Esav that Yaakov had lived with Lavan. In so doing, the Torah uses the word "Garti". Rashi learns from here that Yaakov was saying that he had lived with Lavan and despite the fact, he kept the 613 mitzvos as 613 is the numerical value of Garti.
R' Frand commented that when one talks to a person, he needs to speak in the language that appeals to the person that he is speaking with.  By way of example, if you were to meet a football player who plays at MetLife stadium, it will not impress the player if you tell him - you play football at MetLife stadium, I finished Shas at MetLife stadium. So why does it make a difference to Esav that Yaakov kept the 613 mitzvos? Esav has no interest in mitzvos and hearing this makes no impression on him.
R' Frand answered the question based on a vort said by R' Mordechai Druk in the Sefer Darash Mordechai. He explains that Yaakov had an agenda to try to get Esav not to hate him. He called Esav his master and referred to himself as your slave. Another tactic was appealing to Esav based on Esav's view that Yaakov was a rosha because Esav believed that Yaakov was faking while being in the beis medrash. Yaakov was saying to Esav, no this was not an act.
R' Frand quoted the following example from R' Druk's sefer. One day R' Druk was late running to give a shiur. He passed a Shames who was trying to get a tenth man for a minyan. R' Druk apologized for not being able to be the 10th man because he was late for the shiur. The Shames then said to R' Druk - you are running for money because you are getting paid to give the shiur, have you ever done anything for free?
The problem with the Shames' question and thinking was that R' Druk never got paid for giving a shiur. However, to the Shames who gets paid for his job, R' Druk must have been giving the shiur for money. R' Frand then quoted an expression - what Peter says about Paul says more about Peter than it does about Paul.
This was the same thing that happened with Yaakov and Esav. Yaakov says to Esav, I was with Lavan for 20 years. You think that I am just acting frum? No! You may be a faker, but I was with Lavan for 20 years and although there was no one else there who would have known I was doing something wrong, I kept the mitzvos because I am no faker.
R' Frand also said a separate vort in connection with the issur to eat the Gid Hanesheh. The Chinuch writes that the reason for this mitzva is to show that the Jews will never be destroyed. Throughout Jewish history they will be tortured by the other nations who will try to wipe them out, but the other nations will be unsuccessful. The mitzva arises because the angel of Esav tried to end Yaakov and his lineage by striking at Yaakov's thigh, but he was unable to end Yaakov.
R' Frand quoted a story from R' Matisyahu Solomon (who he said should have a refuah sheleima). When R' Solomon was learning in Gateshead, it was a very small yeshiva. There was not enough room for all the boys to have their gemaras out on the table at the same time. There was a town called Wallsend about 10 miles from Gateshead. The town drew its name from the wall that Hadrian built to protect England from the Scots and to keep them out of England. People still come to visit and see the pile of rubble where the wall once stood.
One day, a non religious Jewish journalist came from America to write a story about Wallsend. While in the town, the writer suddenly remembered that he had yahrtzheit. He asked, are there any Jews here? He was told that there was a yeshiva in Gateshead and the journalist went to the yeshiva. When he entered the yeshiva, he heard the boys arguing in Torah and one student say to the other, R' Akiva held... The journalist had heard of R' Akiva and was struck by the irony. Hadrian was the Roman leader who had R' Akiva killed for teaching Torah. Now, two thousand years later, Hadrian's wall had collapsed and lay as rubble and the teachings of R' Akiva are being discussed and learned. Upon his return to America, the journalist wrote about his visit to Wallsend and began the article by quoting the irony.
This is the message and promise of the Gid Hanesheh. The other nations may attack the Jews and make life difficult, but they will always survive.
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