Thursday, August 3, 2017

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Va'eschanan

Since there are no Rabbi Frand shiurim on the Parsha until Elul, I would like to substitute a vort from other Rabbanim each week, rather than leaving the blog without a vort for shabbos. This week, I am attempting to repeat a vort heard from R' Eli Mansour as recorded on Same rules as usual apply - I have attempted to reproduce the 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 the maggid shiur.

Last year I posted for this parsha based on a shiur on entitled "Suspended Mountain at Matan Torah." At the time I posted part of the shiur since the shiur was an hour long, but I regretted not giving more of it. To remedy, I have reposted the highlights from last year along with some more of the shiur. [The new portion follows the ----- below].

This week's parsha contain the Torah's second explicit discussion of matan Torah. There is a famous medrash which states that at matan Torah, Hashem held the mountain over the Jews' head and told them - if you accept the Torah then great, if not you will be buried here.

The medrash is difficult to understand and has been the subject of many explanations. In this shiur, R' Mansour offered a novel interpretation in the name of the Chida. 

The Chida began his explanation by noting that the giving of the Torah was the wedding of the Jewish people and Hashem. But this creates a greater question - if this is a wedding then why was there an element of compulsion by having the mountain over their heads?

R' Mansour prefaced the answer by making reference to the concept of the Onnes - one who rapes a single girl. The rule applicable to this situation is that if the girl wishes to marry her attacker - he must marry her and is forbidden from divorcing her for all of his days.

The Chida applies this rule to matan Torah by way of the following scenario - before the Jews married Hashem, they had a concern - what if the Jews committed sins and Hashem wanted to kivyachol divorce them? Hashem solves this problem by making the chuppah "under duress" and that as a result, Hashem must follow the rule of the Torah and cannot send the Jews away.

R' Mansour then digressed to discuss how this week is called Shabbas Nachamu - that the Jews should be consoled. But why should the Jews be consoled - what changed from last week? Last week during Shabbas Chazon we were in galus and there was no Beis Hamikdash. This week too, there is no Beis Hamikdash and we are still in galus!

R' Mansour answered this quandry by discussing what the Beis Hamikdash stood for prior to its destruction. When it was around, the Jews would get kapparah based upon the avodah of the Kohanim. But this also allowed them to be lax, because they knew that the avodah would get them forgiveness.

R' Mansour then gave the following analogy - there was a great artist who painted a painting on site at a mountain. The artist finished the painting and took a few steps back to get perspective. He then took another few steps back. And then another few. Now, the artist was stepping backwards near the edge of a cliff. The bystanders yelled - "look out the edge is near", but the artist was solely focused on the painting and continued to walk closer to the edge. Out of desperation, one of the bystanders ran to the painting and cut it with a knife. The artist exclaimed "what did you do that for?" The man answered - you were so focused on the painting you would have fallen off the cliff.

So too the Jews kept looking at the Beis Hamikdash and thinking - this will cover all our acts. So Hashem  needed to destroy it in order for us to regain perspective. Even though He had to destroy His house and the Shechinah had to go into galus.

At this time the Jews were nervous - will Hashem divorce them and send them away forever? The answer is that since the Jews were the me'anes, Hashem is stuck with them and cannot divorce them for all time.

R' Mansour tied that into the haftorah - Nachamu Nachamu Ami. As discussed above, yes things are the same as last week and the troubles of the week of Chazon are still here in Nachamu.  But Hashem's message is - you are still My nation ("Ami"). Hashem says to the Jews, you are still my nation and  I am not going anywhere. 

R' Mansour also tied this into a story in Parshas Vayishlach. After Ya'akov leaves Lavan he crosses the river and fights the angel of Esav. When he has subdued the angel, the angel gives him the beracha that his name will change from Ya'akov to Yisrael. A number of pesukim later, following the story of Dina, Ya'akov brings sacrifices and then is addressed by Hashem. Hashem then tells him your name is Ya'akov. But that will not be your name anymore, it will be Yisrael.

Why does Hashem repeat the same beracha that Ya'akov had already received from the angel? It would be like going to a Rebbi for a beracha and he says a beracha that the recipient should get married. He protests, I'm already married. He asks, why do I need the beracha if he already has it?

R' Mansour answered that the angel had an ulterior motive. The angel was saying --you were Ya'akov, the heel. But now you are higher --you are Yisrael. But if you sin now you can't slide back and blame your acts on being a heel. You are not just Ya'akov anymore. And while you may not, your children will be susceptible.

So Hashem straightens this out by saying to Ya'akov first --your name is Ya'akov. You will be called Yisrael, but don't worry. You will always be Ya'akov.

The message from Hashem is --you are Ya'akov. Even when Bnei Yisrael are not going to Bnei Yisrael and more like Ya'akov, don't be concerned. Because you will still be Ya'akov and I will tolerate their acts.

R' Mansour compared it to a husband whose wife has a drug problem. The husband says, don't worry, he will stay with her through rehab, even though she has chased illegal drugs. Kv'yachol, Hashem says, even though you are in rehab and have been in rehab for nearly 2,000 years, I will stay with you and stay loyal to you.

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