Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 11   No. 16

This issue is sponsored
with wishes for a Refu'ah Sh'leimah for
Yosef Yehudah ben Chayah Fruma n.y.

Please note: Last week's issue, Parshas Bo, was sponsored le'Iluy Nishmas Naomi Ninah Freedman bas David Yosef z.l.

Parshas Beshalach

G-d's Relatives

There are two basic interpretations of the phrase "ki korov hu", that appears in the opening Pasuk of the Parshah. The Ramban and other commentaries translate it as 'although it was near', meaning that although the land of the P'lishtim was the nearest transit point between Egypt and Eretz Yisrael, which is therefore the route that one would have expected Hashem to use when guiding Yisrael after leaving Egypt, He did not do that. He took them via the desert, so as to discourage them from returning to Egypt as soon as the P'lishtim threatened them with war, precisely because of the ease with which they would have been able to return to Egypt.


Rashi, on the other hand, translates "ki korov hu", as 'because it was near', meaning that Hashem did not lead them via the land of the P'lishtim because, due to its proximity to Egypt, He feared that, the moment they encountered war, they would have no trouble in retracing their steps, to return to Egypt via the same route that they had come. According to Rashi then, "ki korov hu" is part of the reason, and not a clause. See also 'Relativity', Parshah Pearls.

The Ha'amek Davar, on the one hand, agrees with Rashi's translation of "Ki ... ", on the grounds that 'because' is one of the four interpretations of "ki" given by Chazal, whereas 'although' is not. On the other hand, he disagrees with Rashi's equating "ki korov hu'' with the reason that follows. Because, as the Ramban asks on Rashi, if that is correct, the Torah ought then to have inverted those words with "because Hashem said" that follows it.

In addition, the Ha'amek Davar asks, firstly, why G-d needed to be 'afraid' that Yisrael would return to Egypt (Rabeinu Bachye actually explains that it was not that G-d was afraid that they might return to Egypt, but that He knew for sure that they would). Surely, he maintains, G-d could have found ways and means of stopping them from being afraid, or from returning to Egypt, as He in fact did, on the various occasions when, in the course of the forty years in the desert, they threatened to do just that. Indeed, Rashi himself alludes to those occasions, casting doubts as to what G-d achieved by taking them the long way round.

And secondly, why, in the first place, the Torah needs to add the words "because Hashem said"? Why would it not have sufficed to write 'because it was near, and the people might ... return to Egypt when they encountered war'?


He therefore explains that "ki karov hu" is the true reason why Hashem took them via a roundabout way, though what it means is subject to the many interpretations given by the Mechilta. Whereas "because Hashem ... " is a subsidiary reason, as we shall explain shortly.


Among the explanations of the Mechilta, are 1. Because the first battle was close to the second one. Although the Mechilta's meaning is unclear, it is possibly a reference to G-d's battle with the Egyptians at the Yam-Suf, and 2. Because the time of G-d's promise to Moshe that, after leaving Egypt, Matan Torah would take place at Har Sinai, was imminent. In that case, the Pasuk is referring to two major events that were due to take place then, and which served as G-d's prime reason for leading Yisrael into the desert, rather than taking the direct route to Eretz Yisrael via the land of the P'lishtim - K'riy'as Yam-Suf and Kabalas ha'Torah.


The Ha'amek Davar himself, presumably based on the Medrash that explains "Ki korov Hu" to mean 'because G-d is a relative of Yisrael' (as the Pasuk in Tehilim [148:14] specifically writes), and due to the personal interest that one has in a relative's well-being, one's dealings with him are often more intricate than they would be with a stranger, and less comprehensible, too. Consequently, he refers to the Pasuk in Ha'azinu (32:11/12 [see Rashi there]) comparing G-d's relationship with Yisrael to that of a mother eagle hovering over her young, and concludes with a reference to Yisrael's division from among the nations. He explains that when the Torah describes how an eagle takes its young on its wings, and flies with them high into the sky, it is preparing it, already from birth, to fulfill the destiny of an eagle, which flies higher than all other birds.


Likewise, when G-d took Yisrael out of Egypt, he immediately began to train them for their special destiny, a destiny that is more elevated that that of all the other nations. And in order to achieve this, he took them round via a long route (like the eagle takes its young higher in the sky than it seemingly needs to).

And the reason that G-d did this, he explains, is because He knew that Yisrael were not yet ready to segregate from the nations in order to fulfill that role, and would quickly have integrated among the P'lishtim. To avoid that, they would need to spend more time in the desert, until their training for their unique historic role was complete.

However, He did not wish to hurt Yisrael by conveying to them directly how spiritually weak they were. That is why He added the reason that the threat of war would cause them to retreat to Egypt. And that explains why the Torah adds "because He said to them ... ". The major reason that G-d took Yisrael via a longer route was to train them for their unique spiritual destiny; but He told them that it was because of the wars that they would encounter that He was doing so.


Parshah Pearls
(Based on the commentary of the Rosh on the Chumash)


" ... and G-d did not lead them by way of the P'lishtim, because (although) it was near" 13:17.

The Rosh translates "ki korov hu", not because (or although) it was near, but because they (the P'lishtim) were relatives (of the Egyptians - see Rashi Bereishis 10:14).

And that is why G-d did not lead Yisrael from Egypt to Eretz Yisrael via the land of the P'lishtim.

The Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos translates "ki korov Hu" in the same way, only according to him, it is not the P'lishtim who are relatives of the Egyptians, but G-d who is a relative of Yisrael ('Hu', after all, is one of Hashem's Names). And what the Pasuk is telling us here is that G-d did not treat us in a conventional manner. Rather, because of that relationship, He put into motion the special plan that He had in store for us, including giving us the Torah at Har Sinai. See also main article.


Just With His Hands

" And as for you. Raise your staff, and stretch out your hand over the Sea and split it" (14:16).

This is the simple explanation of the Pasuk, which begins "ve'Atatoh, horeim es matcho". The Rosh however, quoting his father, interprets it differently. According to him, "horeim es matcho" means 'remove your staff', and what the Pasuk is saying is that Moshe was to remove his staff, and split the Sea by stretching out his arm without it.

This was because the people were beginning to doubt Moshe's ability to act without his staff. Moshe was no big deal, they were saying, and anybody who held that staff in his hands was capable of performing the miracles that Moshe had performed. So G-d instructed him to remove the staff before splitting the Sea, to demonstrate to all and sundry that he, and he alone, was G-d's choice as His representative, and that nobody, before or since, was able to match his greatness.

That is precisely what Moshe did, and that is why the Torah concludes "And they believed in Hashem and in Moshe, His servant". When they saw Moshe operating without the staff, they perceived his greatness, and they openly admitted, retroactively, that Moshe was indeed G-d's sole chosen representative.


A Third of the Way

"The depths congealed in the heart of the Sea" (15:8).

Just as a person's heart is located a third of the way down his body, explains the Rosh, so too, did the water congeal from a third of the way down. In other words, the Sea split up to a third of the way down. The surface of the congealed Sea, he adds, was mud.

That is why the Pasuk writes in Shir ha'Shirim "My friend stretched out His Hand from the hole", with reference to the old men who had difficulty in walking in the mud, so G-d stretched out His hand, and helped them along.

And based on the connection between the Parshah of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim and Tzitzis, Chazal instituted that the top third of the Tzitzis should be G'dil (fringes), and two thirds, P'sil (the actual threads) The eight threads too, correspond to the days that they delayed the Shirah, from the time that they brought the Korban Pesach until they crossed the Yam-Suf eight days later.


Michah and Mikah

"Mi Chamocho bo'eilim Hashem, mi Kamocho ... " (15:11).

Why is the word first written "Chamocho" (without a 'Dagesh' in the 'Chaf', and then 'Kamocho' (with one), asks the Rosh? Grammatically speaking, he answers, it ought to be 'Chamocho'. And the Torah added a 'Dagesh' in the second one, so that the name of the Rasha 'Michah' should not appear next to the Name of Hashem.


Dead and Buried

"You stretched out Your Hand, and the earth swallowed them" (15:12).

This teaches us, says Rashi, that the Egyptians merited burial (even though they died by drowning), because Paroh proclaimed "Hashem ha'Tzadik".

The Rosh attributes their reward to the fact that the Egyptians accompanied Yosef and his brothers to Cana'an when they went to bury Ya'akov, and assisted in the burial. And as we know, Hashem does not withhold the just reward from any creature, and so he repaid them 'measure for measure', and they were duly buried.


Torah, Avodah and Gemilus Chasadim

"You guided in Your kindness this people whom You redeemed ... " (15:13).

This Pasuk serves as a support for the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos, which lists the three things on which the world stands 'Torah, Avodah and Gemilus Chasadim'.

"You guided in Your kindness" hints at Gemilus Chasadim; You led them with Your might", at Torah (for 'might' ["Oz"] refers to Torah, as in the Pasuk in Tehilim "G-d gives 'Oz' to his people"). And "to Your holy dwelling-place" (hinting of course to the Beis Hamikdash) refers to the Avodah.


No Water, No Torah

"And they went for three days in the Desert and they did not find water, And the people grumbled ... " (15:22).

Comparing water to Torah, Chazal explain allegorically that three days without Torah leads to rebellion. That is why Ezra instituted the Mitzvah to Lein every Shabbos, Monday and Thursday.

The question arises however, why he added Shabbos Minchah to the list, asks the Rosh?

And he replies that it was so that the Kohanim and Levi'im should not feel in any way inferior to Yisre'eilim. The five Yisre'eilim who are called up on Shabbos, plus the two, on Monday on Thursday, makes seven.

Whereas the Kohen and Levi who are called up on Shabbos, on Monday and on Thursday only add up to six. So he added another Leining on Shabbos afternoon, so bringing the total up to eight Yisre'eilim and eight Kohanim and Levi'im.


Don't Start with the Beis-Hamikdash

" ... because I will surely blot out the memory of Amalek" (17:14).

Elsewhere (in Parshas Ki Seitzei), the Rosh observes, the Torah places the onus of blotting out Amalek upon us.

That, he answers, was before they stretched out a hand to destroy the Beis-Hamikdash. Once they did, Hashem took it upon Himself to do the job.


Rashi apparently sees no discrepancy between the two Pesukim. He explains that G-d ordered Moshe to prepare Yehoshua (who was destined to take the nation into Eretz Yisrael) to avenge Yisrael by punishing Amalek, because that was what G-d intended to do. And this is also what the Yalkut at the end of Ki Seitzei seems to mean.


Others explain that if we blot out Amalek below, then G-d will do the same with their guardian angel in Heaven.


(Part 16)

What One May Donate as a Neder or a Nedavah
(Based on the Rambam Hilchos Ma'aseh ha'Korbanos Chap.14)

The following is a list of all the Kodshei MIzbei'ach that one is permitted to donate either as a Neder or a Nedavah - An Olah, a Shelamim, any of the five kinds of Minchah, any of the three kinds of Minchas Nesachim, a Nesech, Levonah, oil and even wood for the Ma'arachah.

With the sole exception of the Minchah, any of the above, even one bird (an Olas ha'Of) may even be donated by Shutfim (partners).


The Time to Shecht the Tamid shel bein ha'Arbayim
(Based on the Mishnah in Pesachim (5:1)

The Tamid (shel bein ha'Arbayim) is generally Shechted at eight and a half hours (two hours after midday), and brought on the Mizbei'ach at nine and a half hours.

This is two hours after the earliest time that it may be brought (at six and a half hours), to enable the Kohanim to bring all the Nedarim and Nedavos before the Tamid shel bein ha'Arbayim (after which they could no longer be brought).

On Erev Pesach however, when numerous Pesachim had to be brought after it, it was brought forward by one hour, to be Shechted at seven and a half hours, and brought at eight and a half.

And when Erev Pesach falls on Erev Shabbos, when in addition, the Pesach (which was brought after it) had to be roasted before Shabbos, they began one hour earlier still, to Shecht it at six and a half hours, and bring it at seven and a half.


An Index of the Korbanos discussed in the 'Midei Shabbos be'Shabbato' over the years

Over the years, we have written many articles concerning the Dinim of Korbanos.

Here is a comprehensive list of articles that appeared before we began the current series of 'The World of Korbanos'.

Avodas ha'Korbanos (concerning voluntary Korbanos, incorporating Olah, Shelamim and Todah) - Part 1. vol. 6, Parshas Vayikra; Part 2. Parshas Tzav; Part 3. vol. 7, Parshas Vayikra; Part 4, Parshas Tzav.

The Korban Chatas - vol. 8, Parshas Vayikra.

The Korban Asham - vol. 8, Parshas Tzav.

The Olas ha'Of and Chatas ha'Of - vol. 9, Parshas Vayikra.

The Korban Minchah - Part 1+2. vol. 9, Parshas Acharei-Mos; Part 3+4, Parshas Kedoshim. Also Part 1. vol. 10, Parshas Tzav; Part 2, Parshas Shemini.


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