Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Bo

The following is a brief summary of some of the thoughts said over by R' Mansour on the parsha this evening. Although is post is usually a summary of parsha vorts said by R' Frand, I have substituted the summary of R' Mansour's shiur because we were unable to play the R' Frand shiur tonight. Same rules as usual apply - 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' Mansour.

R' Mansour gave an introduction to his shiur by talking about the name Elokim as one of Hashem's names. We generally view this name as one of judgment, but R' Mansour quoted the Arizal, who explains that the name Elokim has two parts - the first three letters are aleph, lamed, heh and the last two letters are mem and yud. These are two words - aleh (these) and either mi (who) or yam (sea). The Arizal explains that the aleh is chessed, whereas the mi is din. When the aleh comes before the mi, the mercy overcomes the judgment. But if one puts the judgment before the mercy, it is much more serious.

R' Mansour next mentioned two times when the words mi and aleh come together. In Parshas Vayechi (48:8-9), Yaakov says to Yosef, Mi Aleh - who are these children?  To this Yosef responds, no they are from Hashem. Rashi on 48:8, explains that the question Yaakov was asking was - are these children from wicked people and not deserving a blessing? To this Yosef responded these are the children that Elokim gave to me.

The second incident is from Vayishlach where Esav comes to Yaakov (33:5) and says who are all these people (your wives and children). On a basic medrashic level, Esav is asking - since you were only supposed to get olam haba, how are you deserving all of this? The Arizal explains that in so doing, Esav tries to create an ayin hara by reversing the mi and the aleh, by putting the mi first. To this Yaakov responds, these are the children that Hashem has given to me.

R' Mansour next referred to the Chassam Sofer who explains that the world is called an olam which comes from the root of he'elam - hidden. R' Mansour asked - which part of the world is hidden? He answered that Hashem is hidden, while nature is apparent. Therefore it falls to us to recognize Hashem in nature and publicize it to the world.

R' Mansour gave an example of a kidney. The kidney is a few pounds of flesh that filters the blood. Although science has created a dialysis machine, it cannot make a kidney which can be implanted to clean the blood. How can anyone say that a person was created accidentally, while the kidney is such a perfect organ?

R' Mansour gave a similar example of the sun. The sun is in the perfect place in the solar system. If it was closer to earth, the earth would burn up. If the sun was further away, the earth would freeze. Again, how can anyone say that this was an accidental act which created such a perfect existence.

The Chassam Sofer explains - those that think that the world just "happened" are the ones who are saying "mi", because they do not believe in Hashem. However, those who see Hashem in everything say "aleh" - these are things that Hashem created.

When Moshe first came to Pharaoh, Pharaoh said to Moshe in Shemos 5:2 - mi Hashem - who is Hashem? This was Pharaoh publicly saying, I don't believe that there is anyone who created and controlled the world. 

Hashem addresses Pharaoh's lack of belief with the plagues that are found in this week's parsha. The first pasuk of the parsha states that Hashem tells Moshe to go to Pharaoh because Hashem has hardened Pharaoh's heart and those of his servants, so that Hashem can put these (aleh) signs in his heart (bikirbo). Because Pharaoh was lacking the aleh, Hashem needed to harden his heart so that everyone could publicly see the aleh.

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