Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Lech Lecha

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 Bereishis 12:10-20, the Torah tells the story of Avraham and Sarah venturing down to Egypt because of the famine. In Bereishis 12:13, Avraham tells Sarah to say that she is his sister "l'maan yitav li" - so that he may go well. Rashi explains that Avraham expected that he would receive gifts from the Egyptians if they thought that Sarah was his sister.

This request and the expectation of receiving material wealth is hard to understand, especially since later in the parsha, Avraham turns down the offer from the king of Sodom to split the spoils of war. In so doing, Avraham remarks that he does not want the king of Sodom to be able to say, I was the cause that Avraham became wealthy. So why does Avraham here put himself in the position to accept wealth and in fact, he does become wealthy as a result?

R' Frand began his answer with an introduction from the Medrash Tanchuma on Bereishis 13:3 which states "Vayelech L'Masa'av" - that Avraham proceeded on his journey. The Medrash explains that en route to Egypt, Avraham had made numerous stops and at each stop he borrowed money in order to pay for his necessities to live. Now, on the way back from Egypt, Avraham stopped in all of those places and repaid his benefactors for lending him the money.

R' Frand stated that this teaches a valuable lesson - when you borrow money, you need to pay it back. But there is another valuable lesson behind the scenes, to not be a tzaddik on someone else's dime. At a time that you owe other people money and someone is offering you a gift, you should not turn it down as a sign of piety.

R' Frand closed this vort with two stories - the first involved R' Dovid from Ner Israel, who when he came to America refused to eat meat because he had concerns about the shechita. But while he ate chicken, he allowed his wife and children to eat meat, because he did not need to be a tzaddik on their dine.

The second story involved a young married kollel man who came to R' Shach to complain that his Rosh Kollel wanted him to stop learning late into the night. As related by the Tolner Rebbi, R' Shach approached the Rosh Kollel and asked him why he had given this instruction. The Rosh Kollel responded that the young man had expressed to him that there was friction in the house because his wife had recently taken a job and she needed to get up early to make food for the children and get them ready for school and he was unable to help because he would learn too late at night to be able to get up early to help her.

Having learned the 'back story', R' Shach told the young man that his Rosh Kollel was absolutely correct. This young man had promised in the kesuva to support the wife, yet she was allowing him to learn while she went to work to support the family. Given how she needed help from him to get all of her tasks completed, it was not time for him to be a tzaddik on her dime and learn late into the night if it prevented him from getting up early to help her.

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