Thursday, January 11, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Va'era

The following is a brief summary of some of 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 7:26-8:11 the Torah tells the story of the plague of frogs which descended on Egypt. As part of this discussion, the Torah writes at 7:28 that the frogs would descend everywhere in Egypt from the palace to bedroom to the kitchen of the servants. In bringing the plague, Hashem commands Moshe to tell his brother Aharon to bring up the frogs, using the word "V'Ha'al" (8:1). The Ba'al Ha'Turim notes that this is one of two places in the Torah where Hashem uses that word. The other occurrence is when Hashem tells Moshe to bring Aharon up to Hor HaHar where Aharon will die. (Bamidbar 20:25). 

But what is the connection between the two events? [An entertainment lawyer in attendance at the shiur in WH theorized that the connection was both croaked. But I will supply R' Frand's answer as well].

R' Frand quoted the gemara in Pesachim which discusses how Chananya, Mishael and Azaraya threw themselves into a fiery furnace rather than bow down to an idol of Nebuchadnezzar. The gemara explains that they drew a kal v'chomer from the frogs. Since the frogs were all over Egypt from the bedrooms to the kitchens and these frogs chose to fall into the ovens rather than the beds, Chananya, Mishael and Azaraya chose to fall into the furnace. These frogs did not even have a mitzva to die Al Kiddush Hashem, but people do have this obligation and so they chose to enter the furnace.

The Ba'al HaTurim then quoted a Medrash on Tehillim which notes that when the Torah discusses the death of the frogs after Moshe prayed to Hashem there is no mention that the frogs that were in the oven died like all the other frogs...because those frogs who threw themselves into the ovens did not die! Moshe & Aharon had a chance to sanctify Hashem's name but did not do so. For this reason they would die on Hor HaHar.

R' Frand then quoted Tosfos on Pesachim which asked, why did Chananya, Mishael and Azaraya have to draw a lesson from the frogs? There are three mitzvos which a Jew must die rather than transgress. Since idol worship is one of those three mitzvos, this would have been enough of a reason for Chananya, Mishael and Azaraya to fall into the furnace, rather than bow to the idol! Tosafos answers that the idol was not truly an idol. It was a statue of Nebuchadnezzar had made of himself which he wanted people to worship to show their loyalty to him. He did not view himself as a deity and the bowing was not meant to treat him that way. Thus Chananya, Mishael and Azaraya had a real reason to draw a kal v'chomer from the frogs.

R' Frand closed the vort by quoting R' Kalmanovitz of the Mirrer Yeshiva who said that each person who saw the people bowing to the idol said to himself, someone should stand up and say no and act in the name of heaven. Chananya, Mishael and Azaraya said to themselves, we could be like all the others and bow down, or we can make a statement that this is not right. They drew their inspiration from the frogs as any of the frogs could have said --why do I need to be the one that falls into the oven instead of the bedroom. But the frogs did not dodge this task and Chananya, Mishael and Azaraya decided that they would not either.

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Jessel said...

Thanks. It clarifies parts that I missed.

Neil T said...

You are very welcome. Have a good shabbos.