Thursday, May 25, 2017

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Bamidbar

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 the beginning of Parshas Bamidbar, the Torah mentions the names of the various Nesi'im. Although I never focused on these names, R' Frand highlighted that the tribes of Asher and Naftali had Nesi'im with "interesting" names. The Nasi for Asher was called Pagi'el Ben Achran and the Nasi for Naftali was called Achira Ben Einan. R' Frand quoted Rabbeinu Ephraim, who explained that these names were actually nicknames which the Nesi'im took on in place of their birth names.

Why did these people take on these other names? Rabbeinu Ephraim explains that they were meant to protect their respective tribes from the influence of the tribe of Dan who had brought an idol called Michah with them from Egypt. For Asher, the name chosen was Pagi'el which loosely means the one who attacked G-d -- a reference to the idol worshipers in Dan Hashem put me in a bad situation. [Kudos to Shlomo Jessel for catching my error]. Similarly the name Achran means that the tribe of Dan were corrupt.

Similarly, the name for Naftali also identified the evil in Dan's midst. The name Achira means my brother is evil. And the name Einan implies that he (Dan) was thrown out by the cloud.

R' Frand identified three lessons which could be learned from these Nesi'im. The first lesson is that bad neighbors can lead to a bad result, even when one lives in a nice town. The second lesson is that one must take action in order to avoid being influenced by the evil neighbor. 

The third lesson was said in the name of R' Chaim Shmulevitz and requires an introduction. The Gemara in Sanhedrin 19 discusses a person who is sometimes called Palti and alternatively Paltiel. This "person" was encouraged by King Saul to marry his daughter, although she had already been betrothed by David. Although he married her, he placed a sword in the ground in between her beds and announced that if she was touched, that person should be felled by the sword.

R' Chaim asked - but what purpose did the sword serve? The same way that it was placed in the ground, it can also be removed from the ground! He answered the Palti knew that she was a married woman from Day One, but was concerned that he would come to rationalize and possibly be with her. So he placed the sword in the ground on Day One to remind himself every time that he looked at the sword, how strongly he felt on Day One that this was wrong.

R' Frand remarked that this same lesson can be seen in the Nesi'im. They realized immediately that Dan was involved with Avodah Zarah and took on changes to their name so that they would always remember the repugnance they felt to Dan's Avodah Zarah.

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Jessel said...

Rav Frand is misquoted here: "Pagi'el which loosely means the one who attacked G-d".

Acutally, Rav Frand said "Pagiel -- Paga bi El -- which means that G-d put me in a bad situation."

I listened to a recording of the shiur to verify this.

Shabbat shalom,

Shlomo Zalman Jessel

Neil T said...

Thanks for catching that - my notes were clearly off. Correction has been made (see above).