Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Yisro

The following is a brief summary of some of the 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 Shemos 19:18 the Torah gives a glimpse of the imagery of matan Torah where it states that Har Sinai was full of smoke because Hashem descended on it in fire. There is another discussion of the way that Har Sinai appeared in Gemara Shabbos where R' Dimi teaches that Hashem turned Har Sinai upside down in the air over the Jewish people and offered them a choice - accept the Torah, or here will be your burial.
Tosafos asks the obvious question - since the Jews already had said Na'aseh V'Nishma -- "we will do and we will hear", why was there a need to hold the mountain over their heads? Tosafos answers that this "threat" was there in case the Jews upon seeing the fire and smoke of Har Sinai, decided that they did not want to accept the Torah.

R' Frand quoted R' Shmuel R. (I did not catch his last name) who asked a deep question - if the reason that Hashem held the mountain over the Jews' heads was to counteract their potential second thoughts after seeing the smoke and fire on Har Sinai, then why did He not simply avoid the issue by not appearing in smoke and fire? He answered that this is an indicia that the Torah needed to be given in fire.

R' Frand next quoted the Chafetz Chaim, who stated that in this world there are many groups of Jews - there are those who are ashkenaz and those who are sefard. There are Jews who are modern and Jews who are charedi. There are black hats, knitted yarmlukes and leather yarmulka wearers. However, in the next world the classifications have to do with warmth (quoting Yiddish terms which he translated into English) which run from boiling to warm to luke warm to cold to frozen. The purpose in this world is to be passionate about Judaism, which is learned from the fact that Har Sinai was covered in smoke and flames. The same way that the Torah was given in this environment, we must be passionate and fiery in learning and keeping it.

R' Frand next quoted the pasuk in Shemos 19:12 wherein the Jews are told to make borders around Har Sinai. These borders were based upon classifications as there were areas for Moshe, Aharon and the elders. Rashi explains that these borders existed as a warning to the Jews that they should not move beyond those points. Even though the Jews had the fiery motivation, they also needed to know that there must be limits to their passion.

R' Frand next quoted the Clei Chemdah who asked question on the famous gemara which tells that Hashem went to all the nations and offered them the Torah. Each nation asked - what does it say and then refused to accept the Torah based on certain commandments. The Clei Chemdah asked what was the commandment which Hashem told the Jews that they needed to be aware of? He answered that it was the pasuk in Shemos 19:12 that there should be borders - that even when passionate, a Jew must need to know his place.

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