Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayechi

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.

In this week's parsha is the famous story of the blessings that Yaakov gives to Yosef's sons, wherein Yaakov switches his hands and put his right hand on Ephraim's head and gave him the better blessing, even though Menashe was the older son.

The Chizkuni asks - why is it that Yaakov switches his hands, why did he not just ask the boys to switch sides?

R' Frand mentioned four answers to this question. The first answer was the Chizkuni's answer to his own question (also mentioned by the Maharshal) which was that Yaakov did not want Menashe to feel bad. Yaakov knew that Ephraim was more deserving of the better blessing, but he did not want Menashe to suffer the public indignity of being moved around. As a result, he only switches his hands in order to minimize the possibility of hurting Menashe's feeling.

R' Frand noted that the words of the pasuk support this answer, as the Torah in Bereishis 48:14 uses the words "Sikeil es Yadav Ki Menashe Habechor." Although the word Sikeil is usually translated as switch, R' Frand explained that Yaakov used Sechel (wisdom) because Menashe was the first born and he should get the better brocha, but Yaakov did not want him to feel any additional pain.

The second answer given by R' Frand came from the Ksav Sofer, who explains that the way that Yaakov did this, Menashe did not realize that there was any problem. R' Frand surmised that the boys had their heads down when the brochos were given. As a result, Yaakov's wisdom in moving his hands rather than moving the boys, prevented Menashe from even realizing that he was not getting the better brocha. 

The third answer was given in the name of the Ma'adanei Asher. R' Frand noted that the gemara in Taanis states in the name of R' Yosi that a place does not give honor to the person, the person gives honor to the place. Whether a lesser man sits in a good seat, or a greater man sits in the back - it makes no difference. This was the message to Menashe - its not where you sit, its what you do with the seat.

The fourth answer was mentioned in the name of the Imrei Emes, who says that this the most important lesson in chinuch - teach the child based on where he is. Yaakov did not move the children around - he moved himself because the teacher must go to the child and teach him based on his own way, and not to pigeon hole based on the teacher's own thoughts.

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