Thursday, January 8, 2015

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shemos

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 4:22, Hashem tells Moshe that he should tell Pharaoh "Beni Bechori Yisrael" - loosely translated as "My first born son is Israel."

Rashi on this pasuk states that the language of bechor does not mean first born, it means great. Then Rashi adds a second explanation from the Medrash and says that in making this statement, Hashem gives his approval for Yaakov's purchase of the Bechorah from Esav.

Rabbi Frand asked three questions on this Rashi. 

(1) Rashi usually states the simple pshat and only uses the Medrash if something is bothering him. What was bothering Rashi that he had to use this Medrash?

(2) Yaakov bought the Bechorah from Esav more than 250 years prior. Did Hashem not have an opportunity to give his approval until now?

(3) The concept of Bechor is giving the oldest child a double portion. Didn't we just see that the brothers had issues because Yosef was given something extra? Additionally, the Gemara in Ta'anis states that a man should not show favoritism among his children. So why is there a concept of Bechor?

Rabbi Frand answered these questions based on a vort from the Tollner Rebbi. He gave an introduction which noted that Hashem is disgusted by someone who is a kafui tov - an ingrate. Hashem does not tolerate an ingrate and one who does not recognize the good done for him by another will come to reject the good done for him by Hashem.

The next introduction came from the Meshech Chachma who states that a Bechor gets the double portion because the father owes the first born son, because he made the father into a father. This is why there is no problem of showing favoritism - because the father recognizes the good done for him by the son.

R' Frand next quoted a pasuk in Tehillim (chapters 14 and 53) which states that a menuval says in his heart that there is no Hashem. The Medrash on this pasuk relates a story wherein Esav wanted to kill Yitzchak so that he could inherit the berachos. Esav could not do the wet work himself, so he went to Yishmael and asked him to do it. As part of this plan, he said to Yishmael - if you kill Yitzchak, then I will kill Yaakov and we can rule together. But in his heart he said - at the end, I will kill Esav (who happened to be his father in law) and it will all be mine --this is the menuval.

Similarly, Pharaoh is also an ingrate. The Jews saved Egypt and the Egyptians are aware of this, but Pharaoh has no cognizance of this and he does not seek to repay their kindness. 

When Hashem sees this, He agrees to the sale because Bechorah is all about someone who recognizes the good that is done for him. Esav had not cognizance of the good and planned for the death of his father, brother and father in law. Seeing a person with similar traits, Hashem says - I agree with the sale of the Bechorah to someone who does recognize the good done for him.

This also answers the first question. Before the pasuk of Beni Bechori, Hashem talks to Moshe about going to Pharaoh and each time there is a direct reference to Pharaoh without the use of pronouns. When Hashem gives Moshe the message to tell Pharaoh that the Jews are the Bechor, the Torah again says tell Pharaoh. Rashi is bothered by the choice to say tell Pharaoh instead of say "to him." So Rashi quotes the Medrash now, in order to link together two ingrates. The Arizal states that the letters of Pharaoh can be boggled to read Haoref - the back of the neck - because a person who turns his back is an ingrate. Rashi brings this here because Hashem is saying, now is the time to show the ingrate that I approved of the transfer of the Bechorah from an ingrate to one who recognizes the good done for him.

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