Thursday, September 10, 2015

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Netzavim

The following is a brief summary of some of a thought said over by R' Frand on the parsha. 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. 

The parsha begins with Moshe telling the Jews that they are standing (Netzavim). Rashi comments that the Jews were concerned as they had just heard the 98 curses which are recorded in Parshas Ki Savo and they were worried as to how they could survive. To address this, Moshe says to the Jews - don't worry - you are still here. Even though you have previously sinned against Hashem, He has not wiped you out.

R' Frand asked - doesn't this diminish the force of the Tochacha? If the point of the curses is to shake them up - why tell them not to worry?

The sefer Abir Yosef quotes R Elya Berel Wachtfogel (the Rosh Yeshiva of the Yeshiva of South Fallsburg) who gives an explanation to Moshe's statement. He quoted the Tosefta which writes that of all of the people in the world, the people who were the most serene and calm were the people of Sodom. This is why Lot chose the city of Sodom to live in.

R' Wachtfogel explained that Lot had lived previously with Avraham and saw that Avraham had this kind of serenity and he wanted it too. Why did Avraham have the serenity? Because his soul and his body were not in conflict - he was completely devoted to Hashem and there was no tension.

Lot said - I can't live the life of Avraham because I enjoy the worlds pleasure. So Lot looked for the other extreme - the people who have no tension, no guilt, because they have no conscience and only want to chase pleasure.

With this introduction we can re-examine Moshe's statement to the Jews. Moshe says - what happened to Sodom is going to happen to you, but only if you forsake the spiritual and are wholly devoted to hedonism. But Moshe sees and knows that this cannot really occur. Because after Moshe tells them the Tochacha's 98 curses, he sees that they are scared and concerned. By having this reaction, the Jews are showing Moshe that they have not given up the battle and are committed to the spiritual side. 

R Frand closed the vort by noting that we are on the eve of Rosh Hashanah and we know what we have done wrong and what we need to improve on. But because we are still in the battle, because we keep trying and get up after falling and because our failings bother us - is a testament that we are not serene like Sodom and should be a zechus for us in the New Year.

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