Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vaera

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 7:9 the Torah states that the Chartumim in Egypt were able to replicate the act of the stick turning into a snake.

Rabbi Frand quoted the Zohar which explains that not only did the Chartumim perform the act of changing the staff to a snake but their wives and even their children were able to do so.

Rabbi Frand quoted R' Yaakov Kaminetsky who asks in Emes L'Yaakov - if this was so commonplace in those times, what has changed that now these acts cannot be done? He answered that there is a concept that Hashem makes a "level playing field". If Moshe had the ability to perform miracles, it would be impossible to deny the truth of Judaism and everyone would want to convert to Judaism. It would also destroy the concept of free choice and the reward for choosing to follow Hashem would be lessened. Therefore, as long as there was a Koach HaKedushah, Hashem created a parallel power for the rest of the world.

He brought a proof from the Ramban who notes that in Shemos 14:21 that the Torah describes a Ruach Kadim Azah - a wind that came before the splitting of Yam Suf. Why? So that Pharaoh could say that this was a natural event and he would go into the sea without fear. Because by making this an open miracle there would be no chance that Pharaoh would follow.

This is also supported by the Gemara which states that there never was a Navi like Moshe among the Jewish people, but there was among the rest of the world - Bilaam. This was a counterbalance so that the other nations could not say that we did not observe Hashem because they did not have a prophet similar to Moshe.

Rabbi Frand next quoted the Rambam in Perush HaMishnayos who states that there are no sheidim. He noted that the Gra takes issue with this Rambam since in the time of the Gemara there clearly were sheidim. But this too is explained by R' Yaakov in Emes L'Yaakov as he states that the reason there were sheidim in the Gemara was because there was a great level of Kedushah. However, as the generations' level of kedusha receded, the counterbalance of tumah lessened as well. As such, when the Rambam said that there was no sheidim, he was talking about his generation, because they were not on the same level as the Gemara.

R' Frand closed this part of the vort by quoting R' Yaakov who explained that the last exorcising of a dibbuk was performed by the Chafetz Chaim. It was observed by R' Elchanan that this would probably be the last dibbuk, because it could only exist if there was someone on the level of the Chofetz Chaim and that only if there was a strong city of kedushah would Hashem allow another dibbuk.

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