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.
This week's parsha begins with the word "Vayehi" which the gemara teaches is a word which connotes pain. Chazal learn that when Pharaoh saw the Jews leaving Egypt, he cried out - oy - what have I lost.
The Medrash Rabbah uses the following analogy to explain Pharaoh's distress. A man had a significant string of mixed pearls, but he had no idea that it had value. He happened on another man and he offered him the pearls for free. The second man took the pearls and worked on them and created pearl necklaces of various sizes and sold them to the public at great profit. The first man saw the sales taking place and ripped his clothing in distress.
R' Frand related a story about R' Zevulun Groz the former Av Beis Din of Rechovot. Before R' Groz went away to Yeshiva, his father asked him a question about the analogy in the medrash - why are these situations comparable? Pharaoh had no choice about sending the Jews out of Egypt, but this person gave the pearls away for free.
R' Groz' father answered his own question as follows. When Pharaoh saw the Jews leaving he did not cry out in loss that they were leaving. Instead, Pharaoh cried out when he saw that the Jews were leaving in formation and were organized in their travels. These were not common slaves who ran away from bondage. Instead, the Jews left in an organized fashion. He said to himself - these Jews have talents and could have accomplished great feats for Egyptian society. Instead, I used them to make bricks! I wasted the opportunity I had while they were under my control.
R' Groz' father said to his son - you are leaving now to learn in Yeshiva. Don't waste this time when learning will come easy and without distraction.
The second vort that R' Frand discussed was in the name of the Tolner Rebbe. He asked four questions about Miriam's shira (Shemos 15:20-21). The pesukim state that Miriam the prophetess took... Why did the Torah have to tell us now that she was a prophetess. Also, why does it say that Miriam answered them instead of she sang to them. The third question is why does it say that Miriam spoke to them in masculine form? The final question is why did Miriam say to them that the Egyptian horses and riders drowned.
The Tolner Rebbe answered that this parsha was not about dancing. There was a demonstration/protest by the women and Miriam as a prophetess was able to discern that the women were upset about their roles. The women were saying - the men gave up and we had to motivate them and it is in our zechus that the Jews left Egypt. Now that we come to the final conclusion, why are only the men allowed to sing? Its not fair that men get all the glory! Therefore the pasuk relates that Miriam answered to them - you want to be like the men, I will answer you like men. This was a question that even until today resonates.
Miriam's answer to them was that the horses and riders drowned in the sea. Why did the horses drown if they did not do anything wrong? Only the riders did the evil deeds! The answer is that the the facilitator gets punished as much as the actor.
Miriam explained to the women - much as the way that the horses were punished for facilitating evil acts, those who support good deeds get their reward as well. A woman who assists her husband by watching the children while he learns gets the same reward as the men who are learning.
[I can recall Mrs KB making a similar comment to me when I finished Shas the first time. She remarked that this is my mitzva and reward too. At the time I was zoche to finish Shas the second time this past summer, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude to her for all that she had done to support my learning and the thousands of nights that she let me learn out from 10-11 PM].
The Tolner Rebbe then connected this to a pasuk in Shir Hashirim where Shlomo says that he compares his love to the horses of Pharaoh. The plain meaning of the pasuk is difficult - I love you like a horse. Can this possibly be a term of endearment?
The Rebbe explains - I love you because this is the message of the horses of Pharaoh. Because you reward those who facilitate and assist those who do the mitzvos.
The vort ended with a story about a cleaning woman who met R' Moshe Feinstein Ztl. When they were introduced, the person making the introduction told R' Moshe that the woman had been a cleaning lady in a yeshiva for 40 years. R' Moshe said to the woman - you have the same reward as the boys who have been learning here for the last 40 years.
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