These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Tapes on the weekly portion: Tape # 469, Tu B’Av. Good Shabbos!
Tzur Goes Down In The Rankings — And It Bothers Him For Eternity
In Parshas Pinchas, the Torah names the woman who was killed together with the Prince of the Tribe of Shimeon. Her name was Kozbi the daughter of Tzur. Her father, Tzur, is further identified as “the head of the peoples of a father’s house in Midian” [Bamidbar 25:15]. Rashi identifies him as one of the five ruling Princes of Midian and states that he was the most important of all five. However, Rashi says that when the Chumash later [Bamidbar 31:8] lists the five kings of Midian, Tzur is listed as the third in line. The reason for this demotion was the fact that he cheapened himself by allowing his daughter to debase herself in the incident described at the end of Parshas Balak.
Rav Elya Meir Bloch asks what kind of ‘punishment’ this is for Tzur that the Torah demoted him by placing him as “number three” on the list of Midianite Princes? Tzur was killed. He never knew how the Torah listed him. Does it bother him that each year the Jews read the Torah and list him as “number three”, when he was in fact “number one” in the Midianite hierarchy?
A similar observation is made regarding Efron the Hitite in Parshas Chayei Sarah. Normally his name is spelled ‘full’ (with five letters). However after he negotiated in bad faith with Avraham for the field for burying Sarah, Efron’s name is spelled ‘missing’ (with four letters) [Bereishis 25:9] as a sign by the Torah of the belittling of his stature. Here too, the question can be asked, what difference does it make to Efron that he now has a letter missing from his name? What kind of punishment is it?
The premise of these questions, however, is the thought that when a person dies, that is the end: there is no more emotion, no more anxiety, no more suffering. In fact, just the opposite is true. The world that exists after we die is a world that is more real than this world. In this world, we can delude ourselves. This is a materialistic world. Whatever spirituality exists here is always somehow mixed in with physicality and materialism. Therefore, it is possible to somehow ignore our spiritual side and become preoccupied with our physical side. We can thereby not be bothered by something that is bad for us spiritually because we delude ourselves by focusing on the fact that it is good or pleasurable for us physically.
However, this is not the case in the True World — the world of the soul after death. That is the “real world” — where there is no escaping the reality of what is or was spiritually detrimental. We will be in a state where we will be keenly aware of the vast difference between that which was spiritually advantageous and that which was spiritually destructive.
When Tzur looks down (or looks up — whatever the case may be) at this world, he sees that, for all generations, he has lost favor because of the fact that he debased his daughter. He will indeed be pained every single day of his existence, for Eternity.
Efron likewise will be pained when he looks down and see that the Torah has diminished him because of his unfaithful dealings with Avraham. In this world we have the “blessing” of forgetfulness. Things fade from our memory. Even when we have a really bad day, the memory will eventually recede and we will not be bothered by it anymore. This is not so in the World to Come. There is no forgetfulness in that world.
Every day of Efron’s afterlife involves ‘waking up’ and realizing that his name has been made defective. Tzur knows that for all Eternity he will be remembered as the man who prostituted his own daughter for strategic and political purposes. What a disgusting father! This is a painful reality that he must confront every day of Eternity.
We do not relate to this well, because we are accustomed to thinking that we are alive and then we die and that is the end. If, when a person confronts temptation in this life, he will recognize that after 120 years he will have to give an accounting and that his actions in this world will make a profound difference on his Eternal experience in the next world, that recognition will have a profound effect on his behavior.
Ours is the False World. It is possible to sleep it off here, to drink it off, to play it off. The next world is the True World. It is not like this world. Tzur will forever be confronted with the character flaws that he displayed in this world.
Technical Assistance by Dovid Hoffman; Yerushalayim.
This week’s write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Torah Tapes on the weekly Torah portion (# 469). The corresponding halachic portion for this tape is: Tu B’Av. The complete list of halachic portions for this parsha from the Commuter Chavrusah Series are:
- Tape # 064 – The Yarmulka: At Home and In the Office
- Tape # 154 – Writing a Halachically Sanctioned Will
- Tape # 201 – Fasting on Tisha B’Av: Is It For Everyone?
- Tape # 246 – Hilchos Brachos: Ikar Ve Tofel
- Tape # 291 – The Do’s and Don’t of Kashering Keilim
- Tape # 336 – Tisha B’Av on Motzoei Shabbos
- Tape # 381 – Making A Zecher Le’churban
- Tape # 425 – Minhagim of the Three Weeks
- Tape # 469 – Tu B’Av
- Tape # 513 – Leining on Fast Days and Other Ta’aneisim Issues
- Tape # 557 – Disinheriting
- Tape # 645 – Women and Bentching
- Tape # 689 – Leaving Eretz Yisrael
Tapes or a complete catalogue can be ordered from:
Yad Yechiel Institute
PO Box 511
Owings Mills, MD 21117-0511
Call (410) 358-0416 for further information.
Also Available: Mesorah / Artscroll has published a collection of Rabbi Frand’s essays. The book is entitled:
and is available through your local Hebrew book store or from Project Genesis, 1-410-654-1799.