Thursday, December 8, 2016

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayeitzei

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 29:35, the Torah describes how Leah named her fourth son Yehuda as a "thank you" to Hashem and that thereafter she stopped having children.

The Ibn Ezra explains that that the cessation of having children was a punishment, since Leah did not ask for more children and in essence said to Hashem, Yasher Koach for giving me these four children, I have enough.

R' Frand asked - but why is she being punished for saying I have enough and thank you? The Chazal teach that Leah was the first to say thank you to Hashem and she is even praised for doing so.

R' Frand answered by quoting the Rambam in Hilchos Berachos (Ch10) who writes that a person should cry out to Hashem about the future and ask for rachamim, while also acknowledging and thanking Hashem for what he has.

R' Frand observed that the word "modeh" has more than one connotation. It is not just saying thanks, it is also admitting that what you have is due to someone else. Thus when a person says thanks to Hashem he is not just saying thank you for what I have, he is also saying, I can't live without your help.

R' Frand gave a mashal of a person who wins a $450 million lottery. If he says thank you Hashem and I will see you later, it would be insufficient. He needs to say, I appreciate what you gave me in this big lottery windfall, but I still need you.

This is also why our Shemoneh Esreh is structured the way that it is. We begin with Shevach - praise and then go into our Bakashos - requests. Afterwards there is Modim wherein we admit that Hashem is responsible for all that we have. However, the Shemoneh Esreh does not end after Modim. Instead we have one more request after Modim, a request for peace. The greatest vessel for beracha is peace, so we do not end Shemoneh Esreh with thanks. Instead we complete our acknowledgement of Hashem's role by making that request for peace.

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