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 began the vort by quoting the Ohr HaChayim HaKadosh which notes that this week's parsha which contains the story of the acceptance of the Torah and which is the most fundamental act of the Jews, begins with Yisro telling Moshe to establish a judicial system. Why does the Torah start the parsha this way?
The Ohr HaChayim HaKadosh answers that the Torah wants to make the point that the Jews did not receive the Torah because they are smarter than the other nations. Yisro represents brilliance among the other nations and he is not an exception. (R Frand quipped that Bill Gates is not Jewish, although he is from Seattle).
The Torah is telling the Jews that they did not receive the Torah based on brains and they are no smarter than the other nations. Rather, the Jews were chosen because we are descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov who Hashem loved. And this point is so important to make, that Hashem uses it as an introduction to the giving of the Torah.
R' Frand next noted that the story of Moshe's implementation of the judicial system is replicated in Parshas Devarim. Moshe states in Devarim 1:14 when I proposed this to you, you responded "great idea." Rashi on this pasuk states that Moshe was telling the people that they should not have said great idea. They should have said - we want to learn Torah from you, even it means waiting in line for four hours. But instead, the people said great if we don't like this judge we can hop over to another judge. Even if Moshe had eventually acquiesced, they still should have said no, initially.
R' Frand next quoted the sefer Yad HaTorah which explains that Rashi was saying that Moshe's complaint was that the Jews should have said that they want to hear from you, because you sweated to learn Torah. You were on the mountain for 40 days and nights without food. Your Torah is greater because you worked hard for it. Its not that Moshe was the most brilliant, but he worked the hardest for it.
R' Frand closed the vort by quoting the Ponovitch Rav who asked - why is it that we don't have gedolim now like we had in Europe? He answers that it is because the Rabbanim in Europe had to work hard and live in conditions of poverty and without the quality of life that we have in modern times. The key to gaining Torah is working for it.
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