Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Pikudei

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 Shemos 38:24 it computes all the gold which was used for the work in the Mishkan. R' Frand noted that Parshas Pikudei is an accounting of all that was donated to the Mishkan and that this pasuk identifies the gold that was donated. 

The Seforno explains that all the gold, silver and copper that was donated to the Mishkan was a pittance in comparison to the amount which was used in the First Beis Hamikdash and much less than Herod used in the rebuild. Notwithstanding this fact, the Shechinah was present in the Miskhan much more often (proportioned to the amount of time the Mishkan existed) than the First Beis Hamikdash and certainly more than the Second Beis Hamikdash. 

The Seforno teaches that we we can derive a lesson from this that the Shechinah does not dwell in the most opulent places, instead it chooses those places where the people have Yiras Shamayim and are respectful to one and other. 

R' Frand tied this into a pasuk in Isaiah where Hashem asks - where will I reside? I will look to the humble person, the person who has Yiras Shamayim. 

R' Frand next quoted the Maharal who cites a Gemara in Nedarim that a person should be careful of the students who are poor, because they will be the next leaders of the Jewish people. The Maharal explains that the Torah resides in these poor people because they are humble and this is where the Torah prefers to go. 

R' Frand illustrated this story by quoting a story told by R' Aharon Soloveitchik about his "great great" grandfather, R' Moshe Soloveitchik whose son was the Beis Halevi and from whom the Soloveitchik dynasty began. R' Moshe had a profitable lumber business, but he lost everything. This was very traumatic to the people in the town, many of whom had been employed in the business. It became such an important issue that they convened a Beis Din to look into his actions in order to see what would be the reason that he lost everything. The Beis Din examined many issues but could only come up with the fact that he violated the rule against giving too much charity as he gave more than 20% of his assets. 

R' Chaim Volozin rejected this answer and said that a person could not lose his fortune for giving too much charity. He explained that after R' Moshe lost his fortune, he sat and learned in the Beis Medrash. Because Hashem directs the Torah to those who are not wealthy and sit and learn, R Moshe was zoche to have children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who were gedolei Torah. This was the reason that he lost his fortune. 

R' Frand next quoted R' Meir Shapiro (the originator of Daf Yomi) who explained that Torah comes from students who are poor, because the students see how their parents struggle to pay for their tuition. The students realize and understand how important it is to their parents that the children go to yeshiva and the sacrifices that their parents make to pay for their studies. Because the children see this and appreciate that it is so important to their parents that they learn, the children excel in their limud of Torah. 

R' Frand closed the vort by telling a story he had recently heard about the father of a man (R' Morris Esformes) who is a great financial supporter of Torah. When R' Esformes was in yeshiva in Keren B'Yavne in the 1960s he stayed there for two years and did not call home because it was prohibitively expensive to do so. As such, he was unaware of the story of what happened to his parents while he was in Israel. Many, many years later R' Esformes learned that while he was in Israel, his father lost his business and the bank foreclosed on their home. His father and mother worked menial jobs and even took on second jobs washing pots and pans overnight in a bakery, just so that they would be able to pay for R' Esformes and his sister's yeshiva/Beis Yaakov tuition. This was their priority because they wanted their children to learn Torah and they would sacrifice to accomplish their goal. They were certainly successful as the name Esformes can be found on the donation walls in many yeshivas around the world.

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