Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayera

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.

R' Frand started the vort by mentioning the Rashi on Bereishis 18:4 where Avraham offers the angels a bit of water to wash their feet. Rashi explains that Avraham thought that these people were part of a sect which worshiped the dirt of their feet. Avraham did not want avodah zarah in his house, so he made them wash. Rashi continues and explains that Lot was different than Avraham as Lot told his visitors to rest and then wash their feet.

R' Frand noted that Rashi on Bereishis 19:2 did not make the comparison with Avraham. Instead, Rashi on Bereishis 19:2 explains that Lot was concerned about the image he would have if the people of Sodom saw that they had washed feet. Because Sodom was against having guests, Lot did not want it to look like he had been keeping the guests for a long period of time. Therefore he told them to rest before washing their feet, because if the "hospitality police" showed up, he could say - they have dust on their feet - they just came!

R' Frand (quoting the Tolner Rebbi) asked three questions on these statements of Rashi: (1) The two statements of Rashi appear to contradict as Lot differed from Avraham for a purpose! (2) Why does Rashi mention Lot in the first statement but not even discuss the comparison in the actual Lot story? (3) Why does Avraham tell the angels to take a little water? He gave them delicacies to eat including tongue with mustard, so why was he stingy with the water?

R' Frand answered these questions by stating that the way of the world is to honor a guest, but suspect him - treat him well but count the silver when he is leaving.

R' Frand said that Chazal teach the rule differently. He quoted a mishna in Maseches Derech Eretz which states that that you should be suspicious of your guest like he is a thief, but respect him like R' Gamliel. The mishna then tells a story about R' Yehoshua who brought in a guest and gave him lodging upstairs. After the guest went upstairs, R' Yehoshua took away the ladder. The guest started to collect the silver and was about to descend when he fell and broke his leg. R' Yehoshua found the guest and the guest began complaining about the lack of ladder, even though he had the stolen goods at his feet. From this R' Yehoshua said - suspect a man like a thief, but honor him nonetheless.

R'  Frand said that the message of the stories is that you should suspect, but not be overt in your suspicions. Avraham told the guests - take a bit of water and wash. If he had said take a lot and bathe they would know that he suspected them. But Avraham was subtle.

This also answers the question as to why Rashi mentions the difference with Lot in the first pasuk. Lot never understood that Avraham was doing this for a purpose, so he did not emulate Avraham. Later, Lot had a reason not to offer water first, but it was not because he was like Avraham.

The Tolner Rebbi then linked the Mishna in Maseches Derech Eretz to the famous Gemara in Berachos involving R' Yehoshua and R' Gamliel. The Gemara tells a story about how the two had different calculations of when Rosh Hashanah would fall. R' Gamliel as the Nasi said that he would enforce the law by mandating that R' Yehoshua come with his money bag and staff on the day R' Yehoshua thought was Yom Kippur.

The Gerrer Rebbi asks - if R' Gamliel wanted to make a point, why did he not R' Yehoshua to come and eat a sandwich on Yom Kippur? He answered that R' Gamliel did not want to crush R' Yehoshua. By having him come with his walking staff and money he was merely violating muktza, but eating on Yom Kippur is a Kares violation. R' Gamliel was not looking to break him and make him feel like nothing, that was why he only had to come with his staff.

R' Frand concluded that this was the message of the Mishna in Derech Eretz - R' Yehoshua teaches to suspect the guest, but respect him like R' Gamliel did for me.

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