Thursday, April 14, 2016

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Metzorah + Matza Teasers

This week R' Frand did not give his shiur on the parsha as he customarily cedes the pulpit to another Rav for the last shiur before Pesach. As the replacement shiur (although interesting) was halachic in nature, I will be reproducing a prior vort from R' Frand on the Parsha, followed by part of a shiur by R' Mansour on Pesach (courtesy of Same rules as usual apply - I have attempted to reproduce this vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistencies are the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In Parshas Metzorah, the Torah goes into detail about various forms of tzara'as (loosely translated as leporosy) and how they are treated. The Torah writes about three categories of tzara'as - those occurring on houses, clothing and on the body.

Chazal write that the affliction is not a physical illness. Instead, it is a sign of a spiritual problem which manifests itself as a physical ailment. Rabbi Frand stated that the "disease" actually develops in stages - first on the home, then on the clothes and finally on the body.

In Vayikra 14:33-57, the Torah discusses the malady of tzara'as of the house. In so doing, the Torah states at 14:35 that the homeowner comes to the Kohain and tells him "K'nega Neera Li BaBayis" - like an affliction has appeared to me in the house.

Rashi (quoting a mishna in Negaim 12:5) writes that the person tells the Kohain that it appears to be a nega even if the homeowner is an expert in determining whether a spot is tzara'as.

Tosafos Yom Tov asks on the mishna in Negaim - if he is a talmid chacham, why does he not simply state - this is a nega?

Tosafos Yom Tov gives four answers. The first answer (said in the name of R' Eliyahu Mizrachi) is that a person should teach his tongue to say "I don't know" - that a person should not always believe that he knows it all. The second answer was that a person should show derech eretz to the Kohain. The third answer given is that the homeowner should not attempt to influence the Kohain's decision. The final answer given by the Tosafos Yom Tov is that the homeowner should not be "poteach peh l'satan" - not give the satan an opening to allow bad things to happen.

Rabbi Frand then asked two more questions. The first (in the name of the Tosafos Yom Tov) question was - why is this taught only in negai batim? The second question (which was asked in the name of the Tolner Rav) was why is this rule not equally applicable to other halachic questions? When a person asks his rav a shaila about kashrus or taharas hamishpacha, he is not prevented from giving his own opinion as part of the conversation!

The Tolner Rav answers the questions by explaining that the nega on the house is an indication that there is something wrong with the way that the children in the house are being raised. The Tolner Rav then teaches each of the Tosafos Yom Tov's four answers as applicable to this scenario.

The first cause of the nega could be because the parents give the impression that they know everything. Children should be taught that there is nothing wrong with saying "I don't know" and that their parents do not know everything.

The second possible cause of the nega could be because the parent does not show respect towards others who are lower in stature or intelligence. This is also not a proper atmosphere to raise children.

The third possible cause of the nega could be that the parents are too dominating in their personalities and they do not allow the children to grow and assert themselves.

The fourth possible cause of the nega could be that the parents are always looking at the negative possibility - assuming the worst and making the children feel that there is no hope -thus allowing their very fears to come true.

This is the reason that the lesson only appears by negai batim - because a person needs to know that he must carefully examine the education of the children in the home.

R' Mansour began his Pesach shiur by noting that the Jews were told in Shemos 11:2 to ask from "Re'ehu" gold and silver objects. The word "Re'ehu" means one's friend. But were the Egyptians the Jews friends? They were the tormenters, the taskmasters. They were no more the Jews' friends than the Nazi yms' were. So why did the Torah refer to them as friends?

R' Mansour next mentioned the line in the Hallel prayer of Btzais Yisrael in which it states that the sea saw and it split. The Medrash asks - what was seen that caused the sea to split? The Medrash answers - Yosef's coffin. But why would that be a reason for the sea to split?

R' Mansour began his answer by quoting a Gemara in Sanhedrin 91 wherein Alexander Mokdon (as ruler of Egypt) challenged the Jews as owing money because the Jews in Shemos 13:35 had borrowed the money and it was never returned.

In response to this claim Geviha Ben Pesisa came to Court and asked Alexander - what is your source that we owe you money? Alexander responded - your Torah! Geviha responded - good, but the Torah also states that the Jews were enslaved in Egypt for 210 years - this is our payment! Alexander's case was then thrown out.

R' Mansour observed that there is a problem with this answer - the neighbors were not the Egyptian government. The Jews were owed money by the Egyptian government for the slave labor. But the average Egyptian was not the government. By example - if you are waiting for an IRS refund (like much of the country right now), you can't go to your neighbor and take his watch and say - the government owes me money. The neighbor is a neighbor, not the government.

R' Mansour addressed this quandry by quoting Parshas Vayigash where the Torah discusses how the Egyptians first came to Yosef and traded their livestock for food. When that food ran out, they came to Yosef and offered to trade their land and themselves for food. Yosef agreed and the Torah states in 47:18-19 that Yosef bought  bought all the land and all its occupants became slaves because of how strong the famine was. 

At this point, everything belonged to the State and to Pharaoh.

R' Mansour tied this into the pasuk in Bereishis 15:13 where Hashem tells the Jews that they will be in a land that was "Lo Lahem." This could be translated as a land did not belong to the Jews. But it can also be taught as the land did not belong to its occupants - because it belonged to Pharaoh. R' Mansour joked that when the Jews say Avadim Hayinu L'Pharaoh - the Egyptians could say - so were we!

R' Mansour also observed that in the Ten Commandments, Hashem says that He took the Jews out of Beis Avadim. Based on the statements above the Beis Avadim was the house of slaves - because everyone in Egypt was a slave.

Based on this - the Jews did not take possessions that belonged to their neighbors - everything belonged to Pharaoh, because what is owned by a slave is owned by his master.

This answers the question of how they asked their neighbors for possessions. But why did the sea split when it saw Yosef's coffin?

The short answer is that it saw Yosef who ensured that when the Jews came down to Egypt they would stay Jews and be able to leave Egypt without losing their identity. The Jews were not like the Egyptians - they were different and it was all due to Yosef.

If I have time over the weekend, I will b'n blog more of the shiur and Yosef's role in ensuring the Jews kept their identities.

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