Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Toldos

This week Rabbi Frand did not give his customary Thursday Night shiur and instead TCN carried a shiur by R' Shraga Neuberger who had an interesting view of the Ya'akov/Yitzchak interaction. The following is a brief summary of the vort. Same rules as usual apply -  I have attempted to reproduce the vort 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 the maggid shiur.

In Bereishis 27:19 the Torah recites the statement made by Ya'akov to Yitzchak wherein he says "Anoci, Esav Bechorecha" - this can be read as "it is I, Esav your bechor" or it can be read as "it is I Esav, your bechor." Rashi on the pasuk explains that Ya'akov adopts the former method and states to Yitzchak that Esav is the bechor.

R' Neuberger took issue with this explanation and the traditional approach taught to children that Ya'akov told the truth. Instead, he argued that Ya'akov did what was right by lying to Yitzchak. In fact, by taking the traditional approach, we are in effect saying to our children - it's OK to be sneaky and tell half truths, when in reality the lesson should be that it is sometimes permitted to lie.

R' Neuberger quoted the Maharam M'Pano who explains that Ya'akov committed an Aveirah L'Shma and Esav wanted to commit a Mitzva Shelo L'Shma and it is better to commit an Aveirah L'Shma, especially when his mother had told him that she had a prophecy that he should do this.

[R' Neuberger then said as an aside - tell your children that when their mother tells them that she had a nevuah its OK to lie, but only if she had the nevuah].

So what is the lesson from the language used by Ya'akov? That when you tell a lie, you stray from the truth as little as possible.

R' Neuberger brought a proof from a Rambam which interprets/applies a gemara in Bava Metzia. The gemara states that there are three things a person can lie about - the mesechta you are learning, whether you were with your wife the night before and to not publicize/praise a host over the quality of the food.

The Rambam applies the gemara and explains that if a person is asked which mesechta he is learning and he is learning Niddah he should say Mikva'os. 

R' Neuberger then asked - why do we need the Rambam to tell us which mesechta he should say that he is learning? He answered that the Rambam is teaching a lesson - if you say Bava Metzia instead of Niddah - there is no connection between the two. But if you are going to lie, you should make a switch as small as possible, and Mikva'os is much closer to Niddah than a mesechta in Nezikin.

Here Ya'akov had to lie - he was told by his mother to do so, based on the prophecy that she had received. But even when lying, it was the smallest possible lie which he told.

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