Thursday, January 1, 2015

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayechi

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 quoted a Rambam in Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah (5:10) which states that a Chillul Hashem is when a person commits an aveirah, even in private, not because he has a desire for the act, but rather as an attempt to rebel against Hashem. The other side of the equation is that a Kiddush Hashem is created when a person does a Mitzvah or refrains from committing an aveirah, even in private and does the act not because he fears Hashem or punishment and not for the sake of reward. It is equated with the act of Yosef who resisted the wife of Potiphar because it was the right thing to do and so he created a Kiddush Hashem.

R' Frand next quoted a Gemara in Yoma (35b) which discusses the judgment of the wicked man in Shamayaim. The Gemara states that he will be asked - why did you not engage in Torah study? If he answers that he was handsome and became trapped by his evil inclination, they will say to him - were you any more handsome than Yosef?

The Sefas Emes is bothered by this Gemara and asks, how can the evil person be compared with Yosef? Yosef was known as Yosef HaTzaddik, a title bestowed on a select few people.

R' Frand answered the Sefas Emes' question by quoting a set of pesukim in this week's parsha where the brothers approach Yosef in fear that now that Yaakov is dead, Yosef will take revenge. Yosef responds to them in Bereishis (50:20) that although you intended for me harm, Hashem intended it as good, in order to accomplish “Kayom Hazeh” to sustain a great nation. 

R' Frand, quoting the Be'er Moshe tied the use of Kayom Hazeh to a pasuk in Parshas Vayeshev which is in the middle of the story of how the wife of Potiphar attempts to seduce Yosef on a daily basis. The Chumash writes in Bereishis (39:11) that one day - “Vayehi K’Hayom HaZeh”. Rashi explains that there was a holiday and everyone was at the house of Avodah Zarah, except the wife of Potiphar who stayed back feigning illness, and Yosef, who was working. She said to herself, there is no better day for me to chase him, but Yosef resisted her. 

When Yosef invokes the term Kayom Hazeh in Parshas Vayechi, he is in effect telling the brothers that Hashem had a plan and He needed me to be there in Egypt to resist the urges of the wife of Potiphar. Based on my resistance, the Jews will be able to survive their time in Egypt and emerge from a country which was on the lowest level of tumah, intact.

This resistance was not only manifested in Egypt during the 210 years that the Jews were enslaved there. The act of Yosef in resisting the wife of Potiphar changed our DNA and gave us a trait which allows us to fight the yetzer harah. The Sefas Emes concludes that the question that was asked to the rasha is why did not you use the immunity you received from Yosef to fight the yetzer hara?

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