Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Ki Seitzei

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 Devarim 23:4-8, the Torah teaches that males from Amon and Moav are not allowed to convert to Judaism. The Torah explains that this is because they did not greet the Jews with bread and water when the Jews were passing through those lands. However in 23:5, the Torah adds an additional reason - because they hired Bilaam to curse the Jews. The Torah then makes a point of informing that Hashem reversed the curse to a blessing because He loves the Jews.

R' Frand asked the question - why does the Torah need to tell us that Hashem did not heed Bilaam's curse? The point of these pesukim is to teach the reasons that these people cannot convert!

R' Frand answered the question in the name of the Dubno Maggid. He gave a parable wherein a person traveled to a fair to purchase goods which he intended to bring back to his town and sell in order to earn a living. On the way back from the fair, the man stopped at an inn to rest. The next morning, he found that his wagon had been stolen!

The man was despondent and began the trek home. At some point he noticed his wagon in the distance, still laden with the goods he had purchased. He caught up to the thief and asked for the return of his items. The thief responded to him - don't you want to pay me for my trouble in lugging your wagon this far?

This was the argument that Bilaam and the people of Moav could have raised - they could have said, it is because of us that you received this wonderful beracha. We should be praised. By mentioning that Hashem did this because He loves us, we are given the answer to the false claims of Moav. Our beracha had nothing to do with you, Hashem did this because of His affection for the Jewish people.

But Rabbi Frand also gave a deeper explanation which he said in the name of the Tolner Rebbi. He began by quoting a Rashi who writes that the failure to greet the Jews with bread and water makes reference to the idea that Bilaam and the Moav people plotted to entice the Jews by seduction through the daughters of Midyan. But this is difficult to understand as the plain language of the pasuk is bread and water.

R' Frand next quoted the Ramban who observed that Moav actually did provide food, based on a pasuk in Devarim 2:29. So why does the Torah give this as a reason for the bar on conversion?

R' Frand also mentioned another question from the Ramban - if the Jews had the well from Miriam and the Manna, why did they even need the bread and water from Moav?

R' Frand answered these last questions first, quoting the Ramban who explains that during the first 39 years in the desert, the manna and well were enough. However, during year 40 the gedolei yosroel began purchasing delicacies from the outsiders. It was these items which were provided by Moav that is reference in Devarim 2:29.

However, notes the Klei Yakar, the provision of the food and water was part of a plot. The people of Moav knew that the Jews wanted these items and desired them. So they made the Jews wait for the delicacies. As time passed, the Jews wanted the items more and finally the people of Moav said - now you can have them - they are in that tent. Overcome with hunger, the people would enter the tent and were greeted by daughters of Midyan who said - you can have the bread, but at a price. 

The Tolner Rebbi explains that now we can understand Rashi - the bread and water was part of the seduction plot. When a person really wants something and it is finally given to him, he may look past certain issues which would normally not lead him astray.

This point was the reason that Hashem was angry with Moav - they did not merely attack the Jews, they plotted to attempt to destroy the Jews as a people.

R' Frand closed the vort by stating - if Hashem got so angry with the Moav people for plotting this attack, how happy He would be with us if we plotted our own strategy for teshuva in the coming year.

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