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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Drasha for Sheva Brachos (#1)

Are you in the market for a drasha for a Sheva Brochos? This Dvar Torah is presented as a public service to the unprepared, to the ditherers and the feckless, prepackaged for your Sheva Brachos convenience. Or Sheva Brachot. It is free of charge, and guaranteed original with this author. It is, in my humble opinion, of reasonably good quality, and in field trials has been shown to be effective. No animals were harmed in these tests. It is not tied to any one parsha, and can be used at any time. (For other Divrei Torah for Sheva Brachos and for other life-cycle events, you may click on the relevant label in the column on the right.  As of July '11, we've posted eight divrei torah for Sheva Brachos.)

Traffic on this site is pretty light, so you probably could plagiarize my divrei Torah with confidence. There's always the small risk that someone in the audience spends time on the net and will recognize the theme. But that risk is unavoidable for any dvar Torah you say, so good luck.

This dvar Torah seems long, but it can be broken into several divrei Torah, or boiled down by skipping some tangential discussions.

The first part of this drasha is based on Rabbi Lau’s autobiography, “Ahl Tishlach Yodcho Ehl Hana’ar.” He is a great man and widely respected, so you can mention his name in most places. If you are speaking to an ultra-black or fringed audience, just say "I saw this maiseh in the name of an odom godol," as my Rosh Yeshiva used to say when he was quoting the Satmerer Rov.

R’ Lau was proposed as a shidduch to the daughter of the Rav HaRashi of Tel Aviv, R’ Yitzchak Frankel, who had known the young Rabbi Lau's father. Rav Frankel called him over to talk. He said, in Breishis 2:24, when the Torah is talking about the first zivug, between Adam and Chava, it is strange that the first thing that is said is a negative, that the person will leave his parents. It says “Ahl kein ya’azov ish es oviv v’es imo v’dovak b’ishto v’hoyu l’bosor echod," "and so a man will leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife". The Torah could have first said that purpose of the right zivug is to create shleimus, love and dveikus to each other, to do something positive. Why begin with a shlilus, a negative? That after the parents put a life of hard work and worry and hope into a child, the child would abandon his parents? That is not a pleasant thing to hear.

Rav Lau was caught off guard by the question. He thought hard, and admitted that in all the sheva brochos that he had attended, nobody addressed that question, and he had nothing to say.

R Frankel said that in all the years he was m’sader kiddushin, at every wedding he looked at the young couple and wondered, how can these two very different people make a kesher shel kayama, they are so young and inexperienced, they have such different ideas. But then he looked at the parents of the young couple standing at the side, and he remembered that twenty five years before, he was mesader kiddushin at the parents' weddings, and they looked exactly like the new couple, and somehow they had managed to create a home that produced this new generation. The young couple will have observed their parents’ behavior, and they will have learned, without words, the skills that go into building a bayis shel kayomo. And he realized that this is what the passuk is teaching. ‘Ya’azov’ means ‘leave,’ but is also can be read as a form of the word ‘Izavon,’ which means ‘heritage.’ (Note: in Mishpatim, Shmos 23:5, in the parshah of prikah, it says the word ‘azove.’ There, Rashi explains that the word means ‘help.’)

When a young couple gets married, they bring with them the heritage that they acquired as they grew up watching their own parents, and they bring with them the spiritual bequest that their parents have passed on to them. This is what builds a bayis shel kayama, when the azivah, the leaving to build their own home, is accompanied with a spiritual izavon.

R Frankel continued that he had heard about R Lau from many people, and he listed them, and he knew R Lau’s father and heard Torah from him, but he wondered, what izavon, what heritage of family life will this orphan bring to his marriage? He grew up in dormitories, in other peoples’ houses, by his rabbeim, what understanding and foundation is he going to bring to his marriage? At this point, Rav Lau started wondering if this was Rav Frankel’s way of telling him that he had decided to decline the proposed match.

But R Frankel continued, and said that when he saw that R Lau had a brother who had come with him through the war, and who had gone to work in Eretz Yisroel and was a shomer torah umitzvos, he was confident that R Lau had learned from his brother what was entailed in bringing a spiritual izavon to his own marriage. And, of course, Rav Lau and Rav Frankel’s daughter did get married and have lived happily ever after.

Now, let us look at the same question from a very different perspective.

Yosef HaTzadik named his first child Menashe, ki nashani Elokim es kol amoli v’es kol beis ovi, for God has allowed me to forget all my father's house. This choice of name for a child is puzzling. Obviously, Yosef did not forget his home; his father’s image was his conscience. And I don’t believe it means that he was grateful that Hashem helped him to overcome the paralyzing grief and homesickness so that they wouldn’t interfere with his ability to live a normal life, because that‘s not a reason to give that name to a son-- "Thank God I have gotten over my grief and longing to be reunited with my father". Anyway, more interesting than whatever the pshat in the pasuk is, is the teretz I saw in the Shai Latorah Vol. I. He brings a strange and thought- provoking teretz from R’ SZ Broide from Chevron, as follows.

Bava Metzia 85a: R’ Zeira was mispallel to forget toras chutz la’aretz before going to Eretz Yisroel. Obviously, he did not want to revert to am’oratzus. He wanted to push aside the primacy of what he had learned, the entrenched attitude which his learning in Bovel had engendered, so that he wouldn’t have a hard time adjusting to the new approach and svaros of Eretz Yisroel.

Shabbos 88b: R’ Yehoshua ben Levi: “le’chayov ke’arugas habosem:” kol dibbur v’dibbur she’yotzo mipi Hakodosh Boruch Hu nismalei kol ho’olom kulo besomim. V’kivon she’midibur rishon nismalei, dibur sheini l’heichon holach? Hotzi Hakodosh Boruch Hu ho’ru’ach mei’otzrosov, v’hoyoh maavir rishon rishon.” With every pronouncement of a Command from Har Sinai, the world filled with fragrance. And if the world was full of fragrance, where did the next Command go? God brought out a great wind and blew away each fragrance so that the next Command could fill the world once again.

What’s pshat? What’s so shver about the residual fragrance from the previous dibur? Why was it necessary to dissipate the residual fragrance from each of the Aseres Hadibros before beginning the next dibur?

We see from the Gemora that so long as the world was full of the fragrance of the first dibbur, Hashem did not want to say another dibur, and found it necessary to dissipate the remaining fragrance. If the first smell was still there, Klal Yisroel wouldn’t be able to absorb the rei’ach habesomim of the next dibur. In the broadest conceptual terms, one might say that the lesson of this Chazal is that a preoccupation with the past interferes with the march toward the future.

Yosef Hatzadik, who grew to greatness in the House of Yakov, if he didn’t have the tremendous power, the indomitable inner strength, to put aside his past in his father’s house, could never have been able to lead the house of Pharaoh, which was opposed in every way to his father’s house. It was with Hashem’s help that he was able to forget, in a sense, his past, that he was able to become the de facto ruler of Mitzrayim. A Yeshiva Bochur cannot be the head of Mitzrayim; the character of Mitzrayim was totally opposed to that of the household of Yaakov.

In Yeshivishe jargon, we would say that a person has to be able to shtell tzu one hundred percent in order to accomplish great things, and if Yosef was still holding in the matzev of being a talmid of Yakov and a talmid of the limudim of Shem v’Eiver, he couldn’t have shtelled tzu to become the ruler of Mitzrayim. A person has to be where he is, and not where he was. Once you decide you are going to do something important, then, even if you have to put aside being a yeshiva bochur and don the garb of secular, foreign potentate, you have to find a way to do so. It was this skill that Yosef was grateful for: for the ability to function as a Mitzri king-- to out-Mitzri the Mitzrim-- while remaining, inside, a student of the Yeshiva of Shem and Eiver and a member of Yakov's household.

With Rav Broyde’s observation, perhaps we can see a different answer to the question we began with. Perhaps this is why the first thing we learn about marriage is that “ahl kein yaa’zov ish es oviv v’es imo v’dovak b’ishto.” When a person leaves home to make his own family, he certainly needs to keep in mind everything that he learned at home. But he has to remember that his new home is not simply an extension of the home he grew up in. His wife is a different person with a different past, and his children will be the sum of new factors and experiences. He has to focus on his new situation and realize that the approaches of the past may not apply now. No matter how illustrious and beautiful his familial home was, one must not insist on blind loyalty to the past, but rather must focus on his and his wife’s new situation, and see what is best and most effective for them now. The reason we don’t marry our siblings is because we need to create something new, and not unthinkingly recreate the past.

Now we can see the deep meaning the Torah embedded in the word ‘ya’azov.’ In the simplest words, to encapsulate all that has been discussed above: the phrase first used in the Torah to describe marriage is “Ahl kein ya’azov ish es aviv v’es imo v’davak b’ishto.” It is surprising that this seemingly negative term is what the Torah considers the most essential description of marriage. The answer is that the word ‘azav’ has two meanings, and both are vital parts of a successful marriage. One is ‘izavon,’ a heritage. One must bring into his marriage a heritage of spiritual growth and the knowledge of how to make the home into a beis hamikdash m’aht. The other meaning is ‘azav,’ to forsake. A marriage is the combination of two different people from different homes, of different genders and emotional and intellectual natures. One must abandon the attempt to slavishly recreate the home he or she grew up in to the last iota. The new couple must learn to compromise and to create a new and unique home that combines elements of both families. Bring your heritage; it is priceless and essential. But be prepared to adjust and modify what you have learned as you build your new and unique bayis ne’eman b’yisrael.


Ayelet said...

It so happens that I checked the info before I posted for fear of sticklers like you (and because I would not have a clue)and he is a total genius and he is (now, not in fifth grade) a major masmid and he is 'on the market'. Know anyone? I'm itching to use your material! :)

Barzilai said...

As you must know by now, parents of a boy like that will soon come to wish that their telephone number was not listed. The real challenge is to avoid distractions like prestige and wealth and find a family of refined middos that will appreciate his talent and provide the environment in which it can flourish.

My wife's approach is to say tehillim and trust the Ribono shel Olam. I'm the due diligence guy. Her tehillim looks like it's been gone through hundreds of times, and my notebooks list all the proposed shiduchim and the answers to my prying questions and nosey inquiries. After all is said and done, I have come to believe that her tehillim does far more than my due diligence. My father likes to quote one of the Reichmans, who once said "Der Ribono shel olom hoht eich a dei'eh," or "God also has something to say about it."

Anonymous said...

thanks for the dvar torah. as a kicker for an intro i asked "how is marriage like the mitzva of amalek?" it got peoples attention. (the simple answer is they aren't related) both require forgetting and memory of the past.

Barzilai said...

To Anonymous February 27, 2007 1:02 PM, Yasher Koach to you. I didn't think anyone would actually read the whole thing, to say nothing of grasping the essential idea. I am happy that to know that you were able to use it. You are clearly neither feckless nor a ditherer.

The connection to Amaleik sounds great; it would work as a humorous intro as well as a valid extrapolation once the drasha unfolded.

Anonymous said...

I will hopefully use this dvar torah. It's really good. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

very nicely put together.. and I have just read the book (Al Tislach...)
Question: I need to give sheva brochos speech/chairman I have just been made, to a couple where the chosons parents are divorced...recently...can you help?!!
not an easy one, hu!

BARZILAI said...

What rotten luck for the chosson. That's really dangerous territory. I don't envy you; there most likely be someone there who takes offense at whatever you say, unless it is absolutely parev platitude.

How about this:
Shatnez is a mixture of two materials that separate are muttar to wear, but together are assur. (I can see your head shaking.) The mixture of the two is only muttar in two circumstances: in tzitzis and in bigdei kehuna. What does this teach us? Perhaps the Torah is showing us that even things that are by nature incompatible can combine to create a new identity as a repository and generator of holiness in which each element remains faithful to its true nature but also finds its fullest expression in juxtaposition to its antithesis. As we say in Shmone Esrei, Oseh shalom bimromav: Chazal say this refers to the fact that in Heavan, fire and water exist in peaceful combination. Men and Women by nature are emotionally and intellectually very different. It is specifically these differences that enable a Jewish marriage to create a microcosmic beis hamikdash in which disparate traits and talents combine to create a repository and generator of kedusha, the kli of shalom and hashra'as hashechina.

Bottom line is, Good luck. I'd be grateful to find out what you do end up doing and how it turns out.

joel said...

Absolutely loved the Dvar torah, nicely done and and expressed. Seeing your sound advice given, I have one for you as well. I just got divorced and am now making a sheva brochos for a dear friend. Anything come to mind that I can say that doesnt make me look like a hypocryte while im going on about shel kayomo?
Thanks again!

Barzilai said...

Joel, you must really like the guy.

Here's my advice; I assume everyone there knows about your divorce, so you need to defuse the tension by addressing it. Start by saying
"There are speeches that are platitudes, and then there are speeches that actually touch on the truth. It may be a little late for some of us, but what I'm going to say now, and I know this better than anyone here, is something that really is worth thinking about as you create your Bayis Ne'eman Be'yisrael/new home."

Good luck. This is a really personal matter, and only you know how it will fly for you and your friends; some people will say it and elicit from the audience knowing smiles and laughter. Done wrong, it can just compound the discomfort. It really depends on how cool you are when you say it. I suggest one martini two or three minutes before you begin. Always works for me.

I would appreciate knowing how you handle it. Please send email- see the profile on the main page- instead of responding here.

pc said...

Nice vort, hope to use it tonight...

Anonymous said...

I used your Drasha for Sheva Brachos #1 last night and it was very well received.

You provide an invaluable service to people like myself that suffer from a severse panick attack when asked to speak at any simcha.

Thank you

Anonymous said...

This is an outstanding thought and d'var Torah. Yiyasher kochachah to the author for putting it together and being kind enough to disseminate it. I plan to use it when I speak at a Sheva Brachos this evening IY"H.

Anonymous said...

I think that another proof to the idea that 'yaazov' can be a hint to the teich of "help" like in Mishpatim is the fact that earlier it says 'eeseh lo eizer k'negdo' (perek beis). the word 'k'negdo' means opposite. however, as I was once taught by R' Nechemia Gottlieb of Lakewood, opposite doesn't always mean against. He gave an example of two people carrying a heavy desk together. they are opposite each other, but yet they're both directed toward the same goal. (I admit this pshat won't fit in with Rashi on k'negdo, who learns it means against)

Barzilai said...

Thank you for writing, both the anonymous of July 5th and of July 8th. But I must say that despite my well-earned humility and mature indifference to the approval of others, I did very much prefer July 5 over 8.

Andrew said...

Thank you for this wonderful vort, which I used to great success last week. Unfortunately, I was unable to give it be'shame omroi because I don't know who you are, but I have been a keen reader of your blog for many years and have derived much pleasure from your thoughts and usable droshos to say over. Thank you.

I added this into the drosho which I think fitted well, regarding the question of Menashe's name:

Understanding Yosef’s reasoning, answers nicely a question I have always asked on this parsha, the circumstance of of Yosef’s elevation to ruler of Mitzrayim. What is perplexing is how the Torah describes the status and fame of the Yaakov Oveinu’s family. They were known as Ivrim and Rashi brings down two explanations of the word Ivri: they were from over the river, the other side of the River Euphrates and Mibenai Ever. What he explains is that there was effectively only one family, Yaakov Oveinu’s family, who were were called Ivrim who lived in Canaan and nevertheless they must have been known throughout the region to the extent that the Torah quotes the then laws of Mitzraim stating that it was a To'eivoh For Mitzrim to eat with Ivrim.

So lets set the scene, a poor young Ivri slave is dragged up from the dungeons and is appointed ruler of Mitzrayim, how can it be that the most sensational story in Mitzrayim would not have spread like wild fire – the story of the Ivri who is now ruller of Mitzrayim. How could it be that Yaakov would not have heard of this amazing story? There’s only only family of Ivrim in the world and of that family there is only one missing person – Yosef??

The answer I think, is, dos gufa, that was exactly the issue that Pharoh was facing.

The Torah relates the derogatory way the Sar Hamshkim describes Yosef, Naar, Ivri, Eved. Clearly Pharoh could not publicly appoint an Ivri to this new position, ruler of Mitzrayim, so he sat down with his spin doctors and devised a plan to hide the identity of Yosef. He first gave him a new name - Tzofnas Parneyach, and furthermore, he reasoned that the only people who knew Yosef and his origins was Potifar and his family, so to ensure their silence, he married their daughter to Yosef. They of course, were complicit in the deception, being delighted that their daughter was now married to the ruler of Mitzrayim, and certainly wouldn’t want to divulge his origins.

The final piece of the jigsaw was Yosef himself. He had to go along with the plan and hide his true identity. On the outside he took on the new persona, but inside he remained the true yid as we know.

This is what he was saying when he named Menasheh, that HKBH helped him forget his father’s house in playing the new role. etc.

Barzilai said...

Very cool. It's so annoying when people approach Breishis with only legal analysis, when there is so much insight into life realities there, like Reb Yaakov in his Emes L'yaakov does it.

When I began the blog, I had kids to marry off and didn't want to be constrained in what I wrote because someone on the East Coast. I've heard my divrei Torah used without attribution (once, the person was waiting for me to tell him "How clever you are!") so I've gotten used to it. Having married off my youngest the past January, I'm not so concerned anymore. But thanks for writing- I truly appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Paul said

With great appreciation I used your Drasha for Sheva Brachos and was well received - Thanks

Barzilai said...

Thank you for writing, Paul. Welcome to the very small peoplewhotakethetimetoexpresstheirappreciationforagooddvartorah club.

Anonymous said...

David said:
This was an awesome dvar torah! I said it at my sisters shabbos sheva brachos and it wasd a home run! Yasher Koach for making such a great and well thought out vort!

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Thank so much for writing. It's interesting. I've found that for some people the vort resonates deeply, as you felt, and for others not at all. I guess I will go on going on.

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Thank so much for writing. It's interesting. I've found that for some people the vort resonates deeply, as you felt, and for others not at all. I guess I will go on going on.

Anonymous said...

I'm in Eretz Yisroel for the marriage of 6th child ( and 3rd daughter) My wife and I are converts and his mother is a convert. I was looking for just the right thing to day by sheva brachot and this is such a perfect dvar torah! I hope it goes over as well as I expect it will. Thank you for making it available and I will mention where it came from! Thanks again.

Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Thank you for writing! May Hashem Grant you much nachas from all your children. If you do say where you saw this, you might prefer the name of the successor to this blog, Beis Vaad. Mazal tov!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this online, I was looking for something to say by an upcoming simcha & this was perfect for the main vort. I used it & everyone loved it. Thanks again. תזכו למצוות

Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Bless your heart for writing.
For future reference, I've moved my current work to

Unknown said...

Thanks I liked your idea, iyh I'll use it.

Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Good luck to you, Stanley. If it works out well, I always enjoy hearing about it!