Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshios Vayaykhel - Pikudei

This evening R' Frand did not say his usual shiur and there was a substitute maggid shiur who spoke on the badim (rods) of the mishkan. I also heard a shiur from R' Mansour in connection with Pesach/HaChodesh and I would like to briefly summary of some of the thoughts said over in the shiur. 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' Mansour.

R' Mansour's shiur was a discussion of a derasha given by a R' Lichtman in Lebanon in 1940. The derasha involved seven question and I will try to summarize them herein.

The first question involved the name for the upcoming holiday -- it is sometimes referred to as Pesach and other times as Chag MaMatzos. R' Mansour asked - since we no longer have a Karban Pesach, but we still eat matza, why don't we call the holiday by the Chag HaMatzos name? To add the question, he observed that the main food we eat on Pesach is the matza and the pesukim tell us that we eat the matza because we left in haste and the dough did not have time rise. So again, why don't we call the holiday by the matza name? 

The next question refers to Yirmiah where he writes that Hashem said to the Jews - I remember the chesed that you did for me when you were a young nation--in that you followed me into the desert. But what is the great thing about going to the desert? The Jews left the prison of Egypt and went to the desert. If a person is in hell and they are told that they are free, do they care where they are going? Anywhere is better than jail! So why is Hashem so complimentary that we left prison for Egypt? 

R' Mansour prefaced the next question by stating that "the question will confuse you all." (I believe that was stated by R' Lichtman). The question involved the plague of darkness in which 4/5 of the Jews died. These Jews were those who did not want to leave Egypt? But if they were slaves or prison inmates, why would they not leave if they had the possibility to go? Furthermore, when the Jews got to the desert and things went wrong, the remaining Jews said --why not go to back to Egypt? But again, even if things are bad, why would they say go back to Egypt? Egypt was a land of flowing milk and honey for the Egyptians, but for the Jews it was flowing with pain and troubles!

The last question involved the request by Moshe to the Jews that they go to their Egyptian "friends" and ask them for jewelry and valuables. Why were they described as friends? The Jews were not friendly with the higher echelons of Egyptian society!

R' Mansour answered by quoting a gemara in Rosh Hashana 11 which states that the Jews left Egypt in Nissan, but the hard work of Egypt stopped six months earlier in Tishrei. R' Lichtman explained that previously, the Jews had been slaves for 210 years and no one rebelled or spoke out against the Egyptians. But then Moshe and Aharon come and demand that Pharaoh let the Jews go. Pharaoh senses that there is a rebellion. And when a tyrant thinks that there is a rebellion, he wipes out a city block. So Pharaoh passes a law that the Jews now had to collect their own straw to make bricks. The Jews complained to Moshe as if to say --why are you making worse for us?

But Pharaoh's plan did not work as Moshe and Aharon returned to Pharaoh and then the plagues came. The people started to swing towards Moshe's side and Pharaoh realized this. So Pharaoh decided to swing the pendulum back -- he passed a law on Rosh Chodesh Tishrei which abolished slavery. The Jews reacted well to this and found themselves as equals. And once they were accepted as equals they ran towards the Egyptian way of life. Pharaoh knew that this would bring the people back to his side and also make them comfortable enough to leave the Jewish way of life. 

The Jews became addicted to this way of life, much like the Jews did in pre-WW II Egypt. R' Lichtman made comparison to the Jews of Europe and the level of Torah scholarship prior to the age of Enlightenment. After all the years of persecution, once the doors were opened to the Jews, the assimilation began. R' Mansour noted the irony that this was being said/written by a Rabbi on the eve of the Holocaust (1940).

By the time that the plague of darkness came it was so comfortable that the Jews did not want to leave Egypt. People did not want to go from the comforts which they had been acclimating to over the last six months. Many people did not want to leave Egypt and go with Moshe. This is why it was great that the Jews wanted to go to Egypt, because it was no longer Rikers Island, it was Beverly Hills.

R' Mansour gave the analogy of all the people being at the airport to go away for winter vacation and the TSA announcing that the Moshiach had come. How many people would ask --why would he come now? Couldn't he come after vacation?

When the Jews eat matza they remember that they did not say --lets stay-- they ran with Moshe and ate the bread which did not have time to rise. This is also why the Torah writes that the Jews should go to their Egyptian friends, because at that point they were the Jews friends. It also explains why the Jews wanted to go back to Egypt when things were difficult in the desert --because they remembered the last six months of the good life in Egypt.

Lastly, he answered the first question of Chag HaPesach --because we recognize that even though we did not deserve it and had begun to assimilate, Hashem passed over their homes. But Hashem looks at us and says, I'm also calling it Chag HaMatzos, because the Jews ran when Moshe said to leave.

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