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Posted on March 21, 2024 (5784) By Rabbi Yissocher Frand | Series: | Level:

These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Tapes on the weekly portion: #1286 Oy! I Forgot To Have Kavanah in Sh’monei Esrei – Now What? Good Shabbos!

The Medrash Rabbah, on the opening words of Sefer Vayikra (“Vayikra Hashem el Moshe…“), mentions that Moshe Rabbeinu actually had ten different names. However, Hashem made it a point to call Moshe only by the name he was given by Basya, Paroh’s daughter. The Torah says that she called him Moshe “Ki min hamayim mishe-seyhu” (Shemos 2:10). The simple reading of this Medrash is that the reason HaKadosh Baruch Hu chose to use that name was to give everlasting honor to Paroh’s daughter. She, in effect, saved the life of Moshe, going against her father’s decree and the “law of the land” that all Hebrew boys were to be drowned. Thus, even though he had a name Tuvya and a name Avigdor among many other names, Hashem addressed him by the name Moshe, given to him by the woman who risked her life and saved him from death by drowning.

The Kesav Sofer, however, gives an interesting alternative interpretation of why Hashem specifically called Moshe by the name Moshe. The Gemara in Maseches Nedarim (38a) says, “The Holy One Blessed be He does not cause prophecy and Ruach haKodesh (the power of His Divine Presence) to rest on anyone who is not mighty, wealthy, wise, and humble. This is all learned out from Moshe (who was all of the above).”

We can understand that modesty and humility are prerequisites for being a recipient of prophecy and Ruach haKodesh. But where do we find in Yiddishkeit that a person’s strength or wisdom should be a factor in his ability to receive Divine prophecy? We normally do not give special consideration to gevurah. Chochma, perhaps yes, but gevurah, no. The Kesav Sofer explains that if a person is a 90-pound weakling and is not very bright and is not very successful, and as a result he is also not very wealthy, the fact that such a person is modest is no ‘kuntz‘. It does not demonstrate a major accomplishment. What, after all, does he possess that would justify his strutting around proudly? It is only right that a person who does not have anything going for himself should be modest!

The Gemara (Pesachim 113b) states that one of the four categories of people who are intolerable is the poor braggart (dal gayeh). He is impoverished, and nevertheless he thinks of himself in haughty terms.

On the other hand, a person who has all these attributes: He is a “gibor“. He is a “chochom“. He is an “ashir“. And yet, he remains an “anav” – that, according to the Kesav Sofer, is real humility. This person has what to be proud of and even what to be arrogant about, and yet he maintains his modest bearing – that is a real anav. It is not “gevurah” or “chochma” or “ashirus” per se that is required. Humility qualifies a person for nevuah and Ruach haKodesh. Nevertheless, true anivus is tested when a person has what to be arrogant about and nevertheless maintains his humility.

When a person is Rav Moshe Feinstein, zecher tzadik l’vracha, and knows kol haTorah kulah and has reviewed Shulchan Aruch 150 times and knows every comment of the Pri Megadim and nevertheless, when he is walking on the street on the Lower East Side and someone calls out “Hey, Moshe!” (calling out to somebody else with the name Moshe) this Gadol HaDor turns around and thinks the fellow is calling out to him—that demonstrates humility! Rav Moshe, zt”l, was a humble person despite the fact that he had so much going for him. The same is true of virtually all the Gedolim. They are men with tremendous intellect and nevertheless they are humble. That is true anivus.

Rav Yosef Salant (the Be’er Yosef) comments on the Chazal that the Matriarch Sora was a beautiful woman. The Gemara says (Megilla 14a) that Yiska daughter of Charan (mentioned in Bereshis 11:29) was really Sora and two explanations are given for this derivation. The first explanation is she’sachsa b’Ruach haKodesh (that she spoke with Divine Inspiration). The second explanation is that she is called Yiska because everyone talked about her beauty (she’haKol sochin b’yofya). There cannot be two more diametrically opposed praises than these two interpretations. One is “She possesses Ruach haKodesh“; the other one is “She was a knockout beauty!” We don’t usually put those two accolades in the same sentence.

The Be’er Yosef explains: No, because she was the talk of the town as the most beautiful of women and nevertheless, she did not let those praises go to her head, that is why she merited to speak with Ruach HaKodesh.

That brings us full circle to where we began: Moshe Rabbeinu grew up in the palace of Paroh. He was a prince. He had the world on a platter and had everything going for him. Nevertheless, he was an anav. That is why Hashem chose to address him with no other name than the name he was given by Paroh’s daughter. Basya bas Paroh put him in the palace and gave him every excuse in the world to think of himself proudly as the Prince of Egypt. Nevertheless, Moshe retained his humility. To highlight this personality accomplishment, Hashem chose to always address him by the name he was given by the Princess of Egypt, Basya bas Paroh!

A “Kutzo Shel Yud” Differentiates the Daled from the Reish

The following thought on Parshas Zachor comes from the sefer Bnei Yisoschor, who often presents matters in a “Chassidic fashion”.

The Bnei Yisoschor sums up the essence of Amalek with the words “M’dor dor” (which is the conclusion of the pasuk “…A war for Hashem with Amalek from generation to generation (m’dor dor)) (Shemos 17:16). This pasuk actually does not appear in Parshas Ki Seitzei, from which we read Parshas Zachor. It appears in Parshas B’Shalach – the first time the Torah describes the battle of Klal Yisrael with Amalek. (This section is read as the Krias haTorah on Purim morning.)

How do these two words contain the essence of Hashem’s battle with Amalek and explain the essence of Amalek’s hatred for Israel?

The Gemara (Chulin 139b) asks: “Where in the Torah (in the “Chumash“) do we find an allusion to Haman?” This famous Talmudic passage cites the pasuk in Parshas Bereshis after Adam ate from the Etz Hada’as. Hashem questioned him: “Hamin (spelled Hay-Mem-Nun like Haman) ha’etz asher tze-vee-see-cha l’bil-tee echol mi-menu achalta?” (Did you eat from the tree from which I forbade you to eat?) (Bereshis 3:11)

The Bnei Yisoschor asks two questions. First, why do we need an allusion to Haman in the Torah? Second, this is not the only place where the letters Hay-Mem-Nun appear as a stand-alone word in the Torah. Actually, if we had to pick the most appropriate allusion to the wicked Haman in Chumash, we would not pick Bereshis 3:11 where the vowels make it into a different word (Hamin rather than Haman). Rather, we would pick Shemos 16:35 (“And the Children of Israel ate the Mann (es haman) for forty years…”). The word haman in that pasuk sounds exactly like the name Haman in the Megilla!

The Bnei Yisoschor says an amazing idea. He cites a Daas Zekeinim m’Baalei Tosfos, which in turn is from the Medrash Rabbah. In Parshas Bereshis (3:11), the Daas Zekeinim says on the above-cited pasuk (Hamin ha’etz…): Hashem told Adam haRishon not to eat from the Etz Hadaas and that on the day he eats from it he will die. However, they ask that on the day Adam ate from the tree, he did not die! The Medrash says that Hashem said to Adam: I was going to hang you on that tree, because you are chayav meesah. But instead, I am going to keep that tree (or perhaps another tree) and that will be the tree upon which I will hang Haman.

The Bnei Yisoschor says that we see from this Medrash that there must be some kind of connection between the aveira of Adam haRishon and Haman. He elaborates: When the Gemara in Chulin asks the question “From where is Haman seen in the Torah?” the Gemara is not merely asking for a word allusion – where is Haman alluded to in the Torah? There does not need to be a remez for Haman in the Torah. The Gemara wants to know: Amalek waged a war against Hashem that started there in the Wilderness; and continued through the time of Shmuel and Shaul; and continues to this very day.

Where did Haman get that koach harah (power of evil), which he uses for evil throughout the generations, throughout eternity, throughout all of history? It is an amazing thing—there is this perpetual power of evil in the world. Where did it originate? The answer is that it all started with the aveira of Adam haRishon. Because of the chet of Adam HaRishon, Amalek was given the power to exist and to do his evil.

How is that? (Here is where it gets very novel and interesting.) After Adam sins Hashem curses Adam and says “kotz v’dar-dar” (thorns and thistle) will grow for you” (Bereshis 3:18). The Bnei Yisoschor says that the word dar-dar is spelled Daled-Reish-Daled-Reish. What distinguishes a Daled from a Reish? The only thing that distinguishes between those two Hebrew letters is the “kotz” (literally thorn). The kotz is like the point at the right side of the roof of the Daled. The Daled comes to a point (as we say in Tractate Menachos (34a) “kutzo shel yud” – the “point” of the letter Yud).

What is the difference symbolically between the Daled and the Reish? The Daled is symbolic of the pasuk Shema Yisrael HaShem Elo-keinu Hashem EchaD, which ends with a large Daled in the Sefer Torah. The pasuk Lo Sishtachaveh l’el AcheR ends with a big Reish. The difference between the pasuk “Hear O Israel the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One” and the pasuk “You should not bow down to other gods” is the difference between the Daled and the Reish. And the difference between the Daled and the Reish is the Kotz.

The aveira of Adam HaRishon was that he mixed up the Daled and the Reish. When he didn’t listen to the Ribono shel Olam, that was the beginning of the confusion between Hashem EchaD and el-acheR. That is where it all started – Amalek is about the confusion of knowing what is right and what is wrong. The thing that distinguishes the Daled and the Reish is that Kotz. Adam failed to make that distinction. From there began all the confusion that causes our aveiros.

That, says the Bnei Yisoschor, is what the pasuk means when it says “A war between Hashem and Amalek m’dor –dor.” Hashem says that this war, which is going to go on forever, is about dor dor. It is about dar-dar, the inability to distinguish between right and wrong, the inability to distinguish between Hashem EchaD and el acheR.

A Freileche Purim!

Transcribed by David Twersky; Jerusalem [email protected]

Edited by Dovid Hoffman; Baltimore, MD [email protected]

This week’s write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissochar Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Series on the weekly Torah portion. A listing of the halachic portions for Parshas Vayikra is provided below:

  • #003 The Korban Pesach Today
  • #048 Is Shaving Permitted on Chol Ha’Moed?
  • #091 Americans in Israel: Two-Day Yom Tov or One?
  • #139 Confidentiality: The Prohibition Against Revealing Secrets
  • #186 Shalach Manos and Other Purim Issues
  • #232 Maror: A Bitter Problem?
  • #276 Is Theft Permitted to Save a Life?
  • #322 A Unique Erev Pesach & Its Broader Implications
  • #366 Chametz She’avar Olov HaPesach
  • #410 The Obligation to Testify
  • #454 Eruv Tavshilin
  • #498 Honey–Why Is It Kosher
  • #542 Selling Chametz
  • #586 Rabbinic Confidentiality
  • #630 Gebrokts and Kneidelach
  • #674 Saying Karbonos
  • #718 Karbanos: The Basis for Tefillah
  • #762 Standing During Davening
  • #806 Voice Recognition – How Reliable?
  • #850 Taking Medicines on Yom Tov
  • #894 Pesach-Daled Kosos: Must You Drink All 4? And Other Issues
  • #938 Davening on an Airplane/Train: Must You Stand?
  • #981 Accepting Shul Donations from Non-Shomrei Shabbos
  • #1026 Salt on the Table
  • #1069 Should Yeshiva Bochrim/Kollel Members Say Karbonos?
  • #1112 A Rabbi’s Dilemma–Reveal A Confidence and Get Sued or Remain Silent?
  • #1155 Pesach Issues: Maos Chittin; Ta’anis Bechorim
  • #1198 Blood On Your Finger/Gums: Is It Permitted To Suck It? And Other Maaris Ayin Issues
  • #1242 Seder with the Zayde – Not as Simple As You Think and Other Seder Issues
  • #1286 Oy! I Forgot To Have Kavanah in Sh’monei Esrei – Now What?
  • #1330 Can One Sell Any Type of Chometz?
  • #1374 Pesach Shalos You May Never Even Have Thought About
  • #1418 The First Bracha of Shmoneh Esrai and the Bracha of Modim – More Important Than You May Have Thought
  • #1462 The Institution of the Chazan in Halacha and Minhag
  • #1506 Halachic Implications of Erev Pesach on Shabbos That Apply to Shailos the Whole Year
  • #1548 Are There Exceptions to the Rule of Doctor Patient Confidentiality?

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