Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Bo

Regular readers of this blog are aware that during the scholastic year, the Thursday Night blog post is usually a summary of the vort said by R' Frand in his TCN shiur. Tonight, R' Frand was unable to give the shiur as he was out of town, but his son filled in and gave an excellent shiur in his stead. The following is a brief summary of some of the thoughts said over by R' Frand's son 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 the maggid shiur.

The Mishna in Pesachim quotes a pasuk from this week's parsha (Shemos 12:15) which juxtaposes the obligation to eat matza and the issur of chametz and learns from this that matza must be made from a grain which can become chometz. If a grain is exposed to water and can become leavened, it is permitted to be used for matzas mitzva. But a grain such as rice or millet which will merely rot and cannot become leavened when exposed to water cannot be used as matza.

He then asked the following question - if the point of matza is to be something far away from chometz, then the best matza should be made from flour which cannot be chametz. Why do we not make matza from these other grains?

Before answering the question, he gave a background to chometz. The gemara in Berachos calls the yezter hara the s'iur she'bissa = chametz. We see chametz as evil qualities - it is bloated, it comes from laziness. On the other hand, matza is simple and humble, it has a zerizus as one must jump and be precise when making it. The taste of matza is not overly rich and the matza is not full of itself.

The message of the Torah is that when a person has a yetzer and overcomes it, he is great. A person who has nothing to be proud of does not have to overcome being haughty. A person who has what to crow about and overcomes this yetzer to be arrogant and haughty is a great person. The matza could have been chometz, but it has been engineered not to be sloth or bloated. This is something to aspire to.

He next quoted a Medrash about a Rabbi who was confused about the praise that the dog gives to Hashem in Perek Shira. The praise that the dog gives is a statement that we should bow and subjugate ourselves to Hashem. The Rabbi was confused - this is not the nature of the dog, a dog is brazen and bows to no one. So how does the dog praise Hashem with bowing and humility?

The Rabbi was answered by an angel who came to him in a dream and explained that the dog can say this statement because we see that when the Jews left Egypt, the dog was silent. The dog went against its nature and was submissive to Hashem. So the dog has the background to make the statement to Hashem.

He continued by examining the reward given to the dog. The Torah states at Shemos 22:30, that the dog receives the neveilos thrown to him, which the gemara in Pesachim 22 states is a reward because the dogs did not bark when the Jews left Egypt.

But why do the dogs receive the biggest reward? It would appear that the frogs had an even greater role as they gave up their lives to jump into the ovens and otherwise harass the Egyptians, even though the Egyptians would kill them. Why do the frogs not receive a big reward for this?

He answered that the dogs went against their nature by not barking. However the frogs only did what they normally do. Frogs jump and these frogs just kept on jumping. But dogs naturally bark and they went against their nature and did not bark, even though they were nervous/frightened at seeing these events. Since the dog went against its nature, the dog received a reward.

This is the message of the matza - a person could have embraced any of the evil middos of chametz, but he went against his nature and became matza. If the person did not need to work on himself, there is no reward. Because if a person is alive, he is struggling. But if he is struggling, he is rewarded for his acts. 

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