Thursday, December 3, 2015

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayeshev

The following is a brief summary of some of 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 the Rambam in Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah (5:10) where it is written that if a person commits a sin, not because of desire, but because he does not care what Hashem thinks, he has committed a chillul Hashem. The Rambam further explains that if a person does a mitzvah or stops from doing an aveirah - not because of fear, or for the sake of honor, but because Hashem told him to do so - this is a Kiddush Hashem like Yosef HaTzaddik. Yosef refrained from going with the wife of Potiphar not because of fear or honor, but because Hashem forbade it.

R' Frand next quoted a Gemara in Yoma where a poor person goes to be judged after death and when asked why he did not learn and he responded that he was poor, the Heavenly Court asks - were you more poor than Hillel? A rich person is also judged and when he his asked why he did not learn and he says that he was too rich they ask - were you more wealthy than R' Elazar Ben Charsom? A rasha then comes to be judged and he responds - I could not because I was so attractive. They then ask - were you more handsome than Yosef. The Gemara learns that Hillel is M'Chayev the poor, R' Elazar is M'Chayev the rich and Yosef is M'Chayev the wicked.

R' Frand observed that there is a problem with the Rambam and the Gemara in Yoma. R' Frand quoted the Gemara in Sotah (36b) [which we learned in Daf Yomi this past Tuesday] wherein the Gemara writes that Yosef was about to go along with the wife of Potiphar, but he stopped when he saw the image of his father. So how is Yosef the paradigm of control and the one who reproaches the rishaim if what stopped him was seeing the image of his father?

R' Frand answered that Yosef constantly asked himself - what would my father do? Everywhere that he went, Yosef "saw" his father and used that as a barometer to measure whether he should do an act. When a person lives that way, then seeing the image of his father is not a supernatural event.

R' Frand then asked - but why is Yosef the one chosen by the Gemara and then Rambam to illustrate the point? If the person is being judged, they could respond - "they don't call me ___ HaTzdaddik"! I am not Yosef!

R' Frand answered by quoting the Chidushei Harim who explains that Yosef changed the Jewish people and gave us the ability to fight this yetzer hara. Our DNA was changed and we were given the ability to say no to being with a woman who is not Jewish.

R' Frand also quoted the Brisker Rav who notes that when the wife of Potiphar attempts to seduce Yosef and he comes up with many reasons, before finally saying - and I will sin to Hashem if I do this. The message is that you can come up with many excuses or reasons, but the bottom line for refraining from doing the wrong thing is that it will be a sin to Hashem.

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