Friday, January 25, 2019

Approaching Agadata

A short sichah I gave today's at the girls' high school in Vancouver in which our daughter, Mrs. Meira Federgrun, is the Menaheles. It is transcribed by my daughter.

Each week at Shalhevet, we are privileged to hear divrei Torah from a Rabbi or Rebbetzin in our community, a visiting guest speaker, or an out-of-town speaker. The inspirational words they share with us will be written in this column to enhance your ShabbosThis week, Rabbi Bechhofer, Rabbi and author, spoke to our students.

Chazal (our Sages) tell us that Pharaoh had three advisors who advised him about what to do with the Jewish People: Yisro, Bil'am and Iyov. Yisro advised Pharaoh to leave the Jewish Nation alone. Bil'am advised him to kill all the Jewish males. Iyov stayed quiet. Chazal say that each one was repaid according to his actions: Yisro was rewarded, Bil'am was punished and killed by Hashem (G-d) and Iyov suffered.

R' Tzadok HaKohen asks: Chazal say in another place that Bil'am was 34 when he died, and we know that he died in the 40th year of the Jews wandering in the Desert. If so, he was only born six years after the Jews left Egypt! How, then, could he have been on of Pharaoh's advisors?!

R' Tzadok explains that often Chazal use a name to describe a person's state of mind, rather than literally referring to that person. So Chazal are not saying that these three men were actually present when Pharaoh was making his decision. Rather, he had these three possibilities in his head and was conflicted about what to do. These were the Yisro, Bil'am and Iyov parts of his brain/thought process. Ultimately, he chose to do the wrong thing and tormented the Jewish Nation.

We find this often when learning Chazal: names can refer to something deeper, numbers, as well, are not always meant to be taken literally but allegorically, and more. When we understand this idea, we can uncover deeper ideas in Torah and walk away with lessons that are very relevant to our lives.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Sforno Shemos 19:6 - Everything else is commentary...

Casa Sforno. Rabbi Ovadia Sforno's house (the middle dwelling).

ואתם תהיו לי ממלכת כהנים
ובזה תהיו סגולה מכלם כי תהיו ממלכת כהנים
להבין ולהורות לכל המין האנושי
לקרוא כלם בשם ה', ולעבדו שכם אחד
כמו שיהיה ענין ישראל לעתיד לבא
כאמרו ואתם כהני ה' תקראו
וכאמרו כי מציון תצא תורה

And you shall be for me a nation of priests - and with this you will be unique among them, for you shall be a kingdom of priests to understand and to instruct the entire human race that all of them shall call out in the name of God and serve Him as with one shoulder. And this will be the accomplishment of Am Yisroel in the eventual future, as it says, And you shall be known as the priests of God, and as it says, For from Zion will the Torah emanate.

!ואידך פירושא, זיל גמור

Brought to my attention by my dear talmid, Reb Ari Brandwein.