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 said his first vort about HaKaras HaTov and quoted the Alshich who cited the well known vort on the first pasuk in the Torah (Bereishis Bara Elokim) that because of what was called first - the Torah, the Jews and Bikkurim, Hashem created the world. This is understandable as it relates to the Torah which preceded creation as well and as it relates to the Jews who are called reishis by Hashem, but why Bikkurim? The Alshich explains that since the concept of Bikkurim is emblematic of Hakaras HaTov, the world was created for the mitzva of Bikkiurim so that we could see the importance of having HaKaras HaTov.
R' Frand quoted the Vilna Gaon on Sefer Yehoshua to illustrate this point. After the meraglim were saved by Rachav, she says to them - I did you a chessed and I want you to do for my family a chessed - I want you to save the lives of my family. The Gaon notes that Rachav says that she wants them to save her because that is Emes whereas saving her family was a chessed. Why the distinction? Because since she did a chessed for them, they are required to do a good deed for her - this is mandatory in order to recognize the good that was done for them. For her family -- that was just chessed.
R' Frand next said a vort on Rosh Hashana. He quoted the Chazon Ish who says that on Rosh Hashana one is allowed to make personal requests. However this is controversial and in the Vilna Gaon quoting the Zohar says that one cannot make personal requests. In fact, we see the tefillos are all about asking Hashem to reveal himself and his glory. If we are devoted servants, it should be incumbent on us to be focused on causing Hashem glory and not on our own needs. The personal needs can be addressed during the Aseres Yimei Teshuva and Yom Kippur.
R' Frand quoted R' Nosson Wachtfogel who heard from R' Leib Chasman who heard from the Chazon Ish the reason he stated that a person can make personal requests.
He began by telling a story about how the Czar wanted a parade, so he first went to St Petersburg and had a large parade and then went to Moscow and also had a parade. This continued into the smaller cities until he wound up in a small town filled by simple farmers. The townsfolk did not know who the Czar was and they actually feared strangers and would stone them. The Mayor was concerned that if the people were to throw stones, the Czar would order the town to be plowed under, so he asked them not to throw stones. The Czar proceeded through the town to small applause and all was fine.
On Rosh Hashanah, Hashem comes down and is first given a respectful greeting by the Avos. He then comes to Moshe Rabbeinu and gets a similar greeting. He then continues down eventually to the common folk. We don't recognize Hashem's greatness and we are like the simple townsfolk. Our job is to recognize that it all comes from Hashem and that He is responsible for our needs. We are so far removed from the revelation of Hashem's greatness that we don't even recognize it. In a perfect world we would be lauding His revelation and greatness, but we cant. However, we do see that He is responsible for all that we need and He can help us with finding parnassah, or a shidduch or health. By recognizing that it all comes from him, we are revealing his greatness in the only way that a 21st Century Jew can do.
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