Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shemos

The following is a brief summary of some of the 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.

The first pasuk of this week's parsha states that "These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt..." The pesukim which follow (1:2-4) contain a list of all of the sons of Yaakov who came down to Egypt.

Rashi comments that even though the sons of Israel and their offspring were specifically counted in Sefer Bereishis when they were still alive, they were counted again after their death, to show how dear they were to Hashem, much like the stars. Hashem named all the stars to show how dear they are to Hashem, so too the Jews are dear to Him.

R' Frand quoted R' Leib Baks (sp?) who asked - why are the stars dear to Hashem? He answered by quoting a Rashi in Bereishis which mentioned a medrash that the sun and moon were originally the same size and had the same luminescence. The moon then came to Hashem and said - how can two wear the same crown? Hashem responded to the moon - you are right, go and diminish yourself. However, Hashem did not want the moon to feel bad, so Hashem created the stars to assist the moon in lighting the night sky.

R' Frand stated in the name of R' Baks that we see that the stars were dear to Hashem because they assisted someone or something which felt bad. Hashem loves people who are sensitive to others and make them feel better. The Jews are compared to stars because they too help to make others feel better.

R' Frand closed this vort by mentioning the Rama who writes that there is a minhag that people should get married outside under the stars so that they should have children as multiple as the stars. R' Frand said that he once heard a vort that the children should be like the stars - they should be zoche to have the sensitivity for others like the stars had for the moon.

The second vort that R' Frand said related to Amram's taking Yocheved back as a wife. The gemara in Sotah 12 states that after Pharaoh made his decree that all the male children should be thrown into the Nile, Amram divorced his wife Yocheved. His reasoning was that if no more children were born, they would not be subject to death.

Amram is now approached by Miriam who says to her father - you are worse than Pharaoh - since Pharaoh only decreed against the boys and you have decreed against all children. Pharaoh only decreed death in this world and you are causing death in the world to come. Rashi explains this by saying that a person who is not born, cannot get to Olam Haba, but once a person is born, even if the person lives for a few moments, he can earn Olam Haba.

R' Frand further explained the second half of Miriam's statement by making reference to a gemara in Sanhedrin which recites a dispute as to when a person is zoche to Olam Haba. R' Chiya says that a person can earn Olam Haba from birth. But Ravina says that it is from the moment of conception. R' Frand quoted a teshuva from R' Moshe Feinstein wherein he states that we paskin like Ravina. Thus if a woman (c'vs) has a miscarriage, the embryo can still go to Olam Haba and her pregnancy and pains were not for nothing.

R' Frand closed the vort by quoting a story about the Vilna Gaon. The Gaon had a student who tried for many years with his wife to have a child and after much time, they finally had a child, but the child died as an infant. When the Gaon came to console his student and his wife he said - your child was the gilgal of a certain Polish Nobleman named the Graf Potutski (sp?) who converted to Judaism and abandoned the privileges of his noble birth. The Polish rulers were unhappy and said - renounce your conversion or die. The Graf refused and was burned at the stake in Vilna's public square. The Gaon said to his student - your child was the gilgal of this man and the few moments that he was alive completed his neshoma.

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