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.
R' Frand's first vort began with a quote from the Medrash Rabbah which states that the world was not worthy of creating cedar trees and that they were only created for the Mishkan and Beis Hamikdash.
R' Frand quoted the sefer Menachem Zion which interpreted a Gemara in Ta'anis 20 which can explain the Medrash Rabbah. The Gemara says that a person should be soft like a reed and not hard like a cedar. The meaning of this Gemara is that a person can't interact with society or be in a relationship if their attitude is --its my way or the highway.
R' Frand said that when applying this to the Medrash Rabbah we see that a person should stand on principle and not compromise when it comes to aspect of religion. Because once a person (or a form of religion) begins to compromise on principles, its a slippery slope and they lose the appearance of their religion.
R' Frand developed this vort by quoting a Rashi which states that Ya'akov saw with Ruach HaKodesh that the Jews would eventually be travelling in the desert and would need the Atzei Sheetim to build the Mishkan. So Ya'akov took the cedar trees to Egypt and commanded his children that when they leave Egypt they should take the trees with them.
R' Frand observed that this did not start with Ya'akov, but actually began with Avraham who planted the trees in Be'er Sheva ("Vayeeta Eishel'). R' Frand quoted R' Avraham Bukspan who explained that Avraham Avinu was an iconoclast and stood separate from the rest of the world when he was the first to separate from idol worship and created the concept of monotheism. Avraham was unflinching and straight like a cedar and would not allow for polytheism. Ya'akov saw this and incorporated it into his thinking and the Jewish DNA.
R' Frand said a second vort in the name of R' Jonathan Sacks who asked why Terumah, Tezaveh, half of Ki Sissa as well as Vaykhel and Pikudei are all in Sefer Shemos? It would have made sense to put them in Sefer Vayikra which is dedicated to the laws of the acts of Kohanim in bringing sacrifices. Why are they in sefer Shemos?
He answered by looking back at the beginning of Sefer Shemos - its all about complaints - Shemos, Va'era, Bo, Beshalach, Yisro - the Jews are complaining about things - some rightfully, but all complaints. How does one make a nation out of a group of people who are constantly complaining?
Hashem says - I will give you a way to make a nation - have them all work together towards building a Mishkan - one will bring money, one will bring skill, one will bring strength - but they will work together towards a common goal. And once people start working together, the complaints fall away.
R' Frand quoted R' Ya'akov Kaminetsky who comments on the flags in Sefer Bamidbar. The Jews were told that they should travel in camps with certain flags. But this happened in the second year of the midbar. Why? Because flags can be a source of dissension. They could not have had the flags in year one, because they would be at each other's throats. But once there was a central force - the Mishkan that drew them together, then they could have some individuality. So first they needed the Mishkan in Sefer Shemos to bring them all together and stop complaining.
R' Frand closed by quoting a thought from R' Nachum Lansky who said that the end of Vayikra, Bamidbar and Devarim end with similar words - a discussion of how things occurred before the Jewish people. But the end of Shemos says that the events occurred before Bnei Yisrael - because they were becoming a nation.
He ended by telling a story about Mr. Goldberg who checked himself into the Cleveland Clinic with heart problems but checked himself out and went to a hospital in Brooklyn. The doctors in Brooklyn asked him - why did you come here? Were the doctors not treating you in Cleveland? No, he replied. Were the nurses inattentive? No, he responded. Was the food poor? No, that was not a problem.
So why did you come to Brooklyn they asked him - he responded - because I needed something to complain about.
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