Thursday, May 26, 2016

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Behar

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.

In Vayikra 25:14 the Torah states that one should not gauge his brother in price ("Al Tonu"). There is another similar pasuk (Vayikra 25:17) which uses the same language ("Lo Tonu") but this pasuk deals with not saying hurtful things to one's friend.

R' Frand quoted a Medrash which recited a story about Rebbi to explain this second pasuk. The Medrash states that Rebbi made a meal for his students in which Rebbi served tongue. The platter of meat had soft and hard pieces of tongue. When the students took from the platter, they chose the soft pieces and left the hard pieces. Rebbi then said to them - "see what you are doing - you are taking the soft pieces and leaving the hard - you should be consistent with each other and speak softly with one and other."

R' Frand asked - there are many possible mussar shmuzes which could have been given to illustrate the point that a person should speak nicely to his friends. Tongue is a very expensive piece of meat and it would have been a much cheaper lesson for Rebbi to just tell the boys - be careful how you speak with one and other.

R' Frand answered by quoting R' Beryl Soloveitchik (ztl) who explained that if Rebbi would have just given a shmuze, the individual students would have said to themselves - he is not talking to me. I don't speak that way - maybe once in a while I will I might give a little dig, but I don't generally speak harshly like that. Thus the shmuze would not have been effective.

Therefore Rebbi wanted to make a point by comparing it to food - look how careful you were in picking the softest tongue from the platter. This is how careful you need to be when you use your tongue to speak with your friends.

R' Frand next quoted a Gemara in Bava Metzia wherein R' Shimon (Bar Yochai) said that one who lends on interest loses more money than he made. This applies to the  pasuk in this week's parsha (Vayikra 25:36) which bars lending on interest.

R' Frand asked - if this is talking about a loss related to gehennom or Olam Haba, why is this different than any other aveirah? 

R' Frand answered by quoting a Klei Yakar who explains that interest causes a person to lose faith in Hashem. In ordinary business, a person knows that he can make money or lose money. A person who is a salesman knows that he could have problems selling. A person could invest in an invention which might take off or fail. Thus the businessman must have faith in Hashem that he will help.

However, a person who lends on interest (if the loan is secured) knows that he will get paid and make money and he loses his faith in Hashem. And if a person does not have faith and does not know that Hashem runs the world, he will not believe that Hashem will help when something goes wrong. Then when something happens he will panic and be overcome with worry because he has no faith in Hashem. 

This is why the person loses more than he gains when he lends on interest. He loses his faith in Hashem and his ability to cope when things get difficult. This is worth more than the few points of interest he earns.

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