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

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Vol. 18   No. 15

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
Naomi Nina (Freedman) bas David Yosef z"l

Parshas Bo

Tefilin on Shabbos and Yom-Tov
(Adapted from the Torah Temimah)

R. Akiva in a B'raisa in Menachos (36b) exempts Shabbos and Yom-Tov from Tefilin, from the fact that the Torah in Parshas Bo (13:9) describes Tefilin as an 'Os' (a sign). This precludes Shabbos and Yom-Tov, which are themselves an Os, and do not therefore require another Os.


This D'rashah, says the Torah Temimah (quoting Rashi), explains Shabbos, which the Torah in Ki Sisa specifically describes as an Os. But where he asks, is Yom-Tov referred to as such? Indeed, Rashi does not cite a source for Yom-Tov.

To answer the question, the Torah Temimah refers to numerous sources that refer to Yom-Tov as 'Shabbos'. One of them is the Gemara in Shevu'os (15b) which attributes the reason that the construction of the Beis-Hamikdash does not override Yom-Tov, to the Pasuk "Observe My Shabbasos and fear My Mikdash" (giving precedence to Shabbos and Yom-Tov over the Beis-Hamikdash); another is the Mechilta, which learns that the Manna did not fall on Yom-Tov, because, after informing us that it only fell during the six days of the week (precluding Shabbos), the Torah adds that "on Shabbos, there will be no Manna".

Tosfos in Shabbos defines the Os of Yom-Tov as the fact that one is forbidden to eat Chametz on Pesach and the obligation to sit in a Succah on Succos. Perhaps we can add to the list Rosh Hashanah, which has the Os of Shofar, and Yom Kipur, that of fasting.

The question arises however, how about Shavu'os, which has no specific Os? From where do we then know that one does not wear Tefilin on Shavu'os?

It cannot be on account of the special Musaf offering that one brings, since then, the same exemption ought to apply to Rosh Chodesh, on which special Korbanos are also brought; yet nowhere is it written that one is Patur from Tefilin on Rosh Chodesh.

One might answer that the special Os pertaining to Shavu'os is the prohibition of Melachah on Yom-Tov, but that is a second answer cited by Tosfos, which applies not only to Shavu'os, but to all the Yamim-Tovim.

The difference between Tosfos' two reasons concerns Chol ha'Mo'ed, which will be Patur, if the reason is because of Chametz and Succah (since they apply equally to Chol ha'Mo'ed), but Chayav, if it is due to the prohibition of Melachah on Yom-Tov (according to the opinion, that is, of those who hold that the Isur Melachah on Chol ha'Mo'ed is mi'de'Rabbanan, and that min ha'Torah it is permitted).

According to what we just learned, the Rashba's ruling that Chol ha'Mo'ed is Patur from Tefilin is based on his dual opinions that a. the Os is the prohibition against working on Yom-Tov - and b. that Melachah is prohibited on Chol ha'Mo'ed min ha'Torah.

The Poskim conclude that (in Chutz la'Aretz) one lays Tefilin on Chol ha'Mo'ed without a B'rachah, thereby satisfying both opinions, and they ascribe the reason for this ruling to the principle that the B'rachah before a Mitzvah is not crucial to the Mitzvah. The Torah Temimah asks that, on the contrary, if the B'rachah is not crucial, then one fulfils the Mitzvah in its entirety. How has one then satisfied the opinion that holds that one is Patur?

He therefore suggests that the ruling of putting on Tefilin without a B'rachah removes the aspect of 'Bal Tosif' (adding to the Mitzvos), much in the same way as (in Chutz la'Aretz) one sits in the Succah on Shemini Atzeres without reciting a B'rachah (for the very same reason). In both these cases, the fact that one omits the regular B'rachah indicates that one is performing the Mitzvah on account of the Safek, and not with the intention of adding to the Mitzvos.

Indeed, he explains, that is why the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (28b) asks that somebody who sleeps in the Succah on Shemini Atzeres ought to receive Malkos (due to the Isur of Bal Tosif). It does not ask from someone who eats in the Succah, he explains, since he can easily avoid 'Bal Tosif' by simply not reciting a B'rachah before eating, unlike sleeping in the Succah, over which we do not tend to recite a B'rachah anyway.

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Riva)

An Un-specified Plague?

" tomorrow I will bring locusts " (10:4).

How come, asks the Riva, that we do not find the Plague of Locusts mentioned before (i.e. we are not told that Hashem informed Moshe in advance, like He did by the other plagues)?

Quoting the Ram from Coucy, he explains that this plague was merely a continuation of the previous one. When, at the end of last week's Parshah, Par'oh began to humble himself before G-d, the plague of hail stopped before its due time expired. But then, when he began to sin again, Moshe warned him that if, taking advantage of the fact that the hail had ceased early, he still refused to send Yisrael out, G-d would send a plague that would continue the devastation where the hail had left off - namely, the Plague of Locusts.

Whereas in the name of R. Yosef B'chor Shor he answers that to be sure, G-d told Moshe about the locusts, but the Torah omits it in order to present the statements of Par'oh's servants, suggesting that Par'oh let Yisrael go, and Par'oh's reaction based on his fear that Yisrael would run away and not return (though it is not clear how these statements, mentioned in the current Parshah, are connected to what G-d did, or did not, say in last week's Parshah).

In any event, he concludes, it is the Torah's way to be brief in one place and lengthy in another. And he proves this from Moshe's statement to Aharon (following the death of Nadav and Avihu) "This is what Hashem said 'I will be sanctified by My holy ones!', even though the Torah does not record any such statement made by G-d.

(See also following Pearl and Rashi, Parshas Shemini 10:2).


Makas Bechoros - Who Told Moshe to Tell Par'oh?

"And Moshe said 'So says Hashem: When it is midnight ' " (11:4).

Rashi explains that it was whilst he was still standing before Par'oh that this was said to him. This is because, as the Torah explicitly writes, once Moshe left Par'oh's presence, he would never see him again. Consequently, if G-d did not say it now, then when did He say it?

The question arises however, how G-d could speak to Moshe in the midst of the city. Did Rashi not comment at the end of the previous Parshah that Moshe refrained from Davenning in the city because it was full of idols, By the same token then, it is obvious that G-d would not speak to Moshe there either?

Citing a Medrash, the Riva answers that G-d raised Moshe ten Tefachim into the air (and ten Tefachim above ground level is considered a different domain).

Alternatively, he quotes the Chizkuni, who interprets Rashi to mean (not that G-d told Moshe but) that Moshe told Par'oh whilst he was still sanding before Par'oh.

Otherwise, he points out, Rashi ought to have made his comment in Pasuk 1, where the Torah writes "And G-d said to Moshe 'One more plague I will bring on Par'oh' ".

In fact, the Chizkuni explains, G-d did not instruct Moshe to tell Par'oh about Makas Bechoros at all (bear in mind that the first warning that Moshe issued to Par'oh (in Parshas Sh'mos [4:23]) was that if he failed to let His firstborn (Yisrael) go, then He would kill his firstborn. Consequently, warning Par'oh of this last plague was Moshe's own initiative, much in the same way as he did regarding the plague of locusts (See previous Pearl).

See also following Pearl.


Moshe Decrees, G-d Carries Out

Elaborating on the Chizkuni's answer, the Riva cites a Medrash Tanchuma: "Meikim d'var avdo (He fulfils the words of His servant)" - this refers to Moshe, as the Torah writes 'Not so My servant Moshe'. "And the advice of His angels he carries out" - this refers to Moshe (too), as the Torah writes (with reference to Moshe) "And He sent an angel, who took them out of Egypt".

G-d told Moshe to tell Yisrael that He would "pass over the Land of Egypt on this night"; And Moshe added "So says Hashem, 'When the night is divided into two (i.e. midnight) ' ".

Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu subsequently declared "Did I not already promise Moshe and say 'Not so Moshe; in all My house he is trustworthy?' ". I did not tell him to say "When the night is divided ". But now that he said it, it will appear as if he lied. Consequently, now that he said it, I will do as he said and kill the Egyptian firstborn when the night is divided!', so as to fulfil the word of Moshe '.


The Dogs Did Not Bark

The Riva cites three reasons as to why it was unusual for the dogs not to bark.

Firstly, quoting the Ram from Coucy, he cites the Gemara in Bava Kama (Perek ha'Koneis), which states that when the Angel of Death comes to town, the dogs generally bark. Yet here, despite the fact that the Angel of Death accompanied G-d on His rounds, not one dog barked!

Secondly, quoting R. Menachem, they did not bark, even though dogs tend to bark during the night.

And thirdly, he quotes his Rebbe, who ascribes the Chidush to the fact that when dogs see a person holding a stick they react by barking; and here, the whole of Yisrael were holding sticks, yet the dogs remained silent.


Four Days Before

"And it shall be for you a charge until the fourteenth of the month " (12:6).

Rashi explains that the lambs had to be inspected for blemishes four days before they were Shechted. The reason for this, he adds, is in order to equip Yisrael with Mitzvos (Pesach and Milah) with which to busy themselves, and with which to merit their freedom.

Quoting R. Elyakim, the Riva attributes the four days to the Pasuk "Withdraw (from Avodah-Zarah) and take for yourselves lambs!" This indicates that the Korban Pesach was an antidote to the idolatry that they had practiced in Egypt, like a sin-offering. That is why, like a sin-offering, it required inspection four days in advance.

And when Rashi goes on to say that they performed the B'ris Milah on that night, says the Riva, he is referring, not to the night of the fourteenth (since it would have been dangerous to travel within three days after circumcising). He is clearly referring to the night of the tenth of Nisan, the night when they took the lambs, so that the B'ris Milah would coincide with their withdrawal from Avodah-Zarah, as we will explain in 'Highlights from the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos ' (12:4).


Cooking for Animals,
Cooking for Gentiles

"Only (ach) what is eaten by any person, that alone may be done for you (lochem)" (12:16).

Rashi explains that this comes to include cooking for one's animals on Yom-Tov.

The Riva queries Rashi from Chazal, who extrapolate from the word "lochem" - 'for you, but not for dogs'. And he answers that dogs are different inasmuch as they tend to search for their own food, and do not therefore require feeding.

One wonders why he does not answer that Chazal are referring to dogs that belong to somebody else, which in fact, one is forbidden to feed.

Rashi also extrapolates from the word "Ach" that one is not permitted to cook for a gentile on Yom-Tov.

Once again, the Riva queries Rashi from Chazal, who extrapolate from the word "Ach" - 'but not for gentiles'. Now why do we need two D'rashos to teach us the same thing?

Had it said only one Pasuk, he explains, we would have confined the prohibition to cooking on Yom-Tov on behalf of a gentile only. We therefore need the second Pasuk to teach us that even cooking for oneself, and merely adding a little extra on behalf of a gentile is prohibited too.

* * *


"And He will not allow (ve'Lo yiten) the destructive angel to come " (12:23).

We find the words "ve'Lo yiten" on two other occasions in the Torah: 1. in connection with the sin-offering and 2. in connection with the Korban of a Sotah. By both of these, the Torah writes "And he shall not place (ve'Lo yiten) on it frankincense". This hints, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, at the two merits on which K'lal Yisrael left Egypt: on the merit of the Korbanos, and on the merit of the righteous women. And it is because the Sotah did not go in their footsteps that her Korban was not enhanced by adding frankincense.


"It is a Leil Shimurim (a guarded night) for Hashem to take them out of the Land of Egypt; guarded (shimurim) for all of the B'nei Yisrael for (future) generations" (12:42):

Commenting on the repetition of the word "Shimurim", the Ba'al ha'Turim explains that G-d divided the fifteenth of Nisan into two halves, one for the Exodus from Egypt, the other, for the Exodus from the current Galus (may it take place soon).



"This month (ha'Chodesh ha'zeh) shall be for you the head of the months" (12:2).

"ha'Zeh", say Chazal, 'kazeh re'ei ve'kadeish' (this is how you shall see it and sanctify it!')

The Da'as Zekeinim comments that Rosh Chodesh taking effect depends entirely on 'Kidush Beis-Din'.

And he goes on to quote the Medrash which describes the scene in the Heavenly Court when Rosh Hashanah is due to take effect. G-d instructs the angels to erect a platform and to 'bring out the (Three) Books', in preparation for the following day, when He plans to judge His world.

Meanwhile, the Sanhedrin decides to postpone Rosh Hashanah until the following day. The next day arrives and G-d does not arrive to judge His world. The angels appear before Him and ask Him what happened, and He informs them that the Beis-Din shel Matah have exercised their right to postpone Rosh Hashanah until tomorrow and that the Beis-Din shel Ma'alah (the Celestial Court) is bound by their decision.

And it is about this Divine connection that Moshe Rabeinu wrote in Va'eschanan "For which other nation is so great who has a G-d that is so close, whenever we call to Him (be'chol kor'einu Eilav)". Read it, Chazal say, as if it had said 'be'Chol k'ri'oseinu Eilav' (whenever we announce the months) G-d follows suit.

The Gemara in Menachos (29a) also teaches us, says the Da'as Zekeinim that this (the size and position of the moon) is one of the three things which Moshe had difficulty in understanding.

The problem is that the moon at the end of the month is just as small as the new moon at the beginning of the month. So how can one know that it is the new moon that one is seeing and not the old one?

G-d's answer was twofold; 1. Whereas at the end of the month the missing section of the moon is pointing towards the west, at the beginning of the month, it points towards the east. 2. Whereas at the end of the month, the moon is situated on the south-eastern corner of the sky, at the beginning of the month it is to be found in the south-west.


" on the tenth of the month they shall take for themselves a lamb " (12:4).

Seeing as the Exodus from Egypt took place on a Thursday, as we know, the tenth of Nisan fell on a Shabbos that year, says the Da'as Zekeinim. When the Egyptians saw Yisrael taking the lambs that they worshipped, with the intention of Shechting them, a large group gathered to attack them. But G-d performed a miracle and stopped them from carrying out their plans. This is one of the reasons that we refer to the Shabbos before Pesach as Shabbos ha'Gadol.

The question remains however, as to why they needed to take their lambs four days before Shechting them?

Quoting R. Yitzchak from Ibra, the Da'as Zekeinim answers that it was in order to perform the B'ris Milah (so that the blood of Milah would combine with the blood of the Pesach) and then wait three days for the wound to heal, before setting out on their journey into the Desert (See Parshah Pearls 12:6).

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch and are not necessarily Halachah.

Mitzvah 470:
To Examine the Simanim of a Bird

It is a Mitzvah to examine the Simanim (the wind-pipe and the esafogus) of a bird, as the Pasuk writes in Parshas Re'ei (14:11) "Every Tahor (Kasher) bird you shall examine!" The Sifri explains that this is a Mitzvas Asei. Everything to do with this Mitzvah, the reason behind it and its Dinim, the author already wrote at the beginning of Parshas Shemini with regard to the Mitzvah of examining the Simanim of animals, Chayos, fish and locusts (Mitzvah 153-155), since their Dinim are one and the same. He also pointed out there that the Ramban disagrees with the Rambam, who reckons the examination of the various species of animals as a Mitzvas Asei. In his opinion, the Torah is rather coming to add an Asei to the Lo Sa'aseh of not eating what is Tamei. And he explained there some of the Simanim of a bird, as he heard them from his Rebbes.


Mitzvah 471:
Not to Eat Sheretz ha'Of (Winged Rodents)

It is forbidden to eat a winged rodent, such as flies, bees, hornets and other similar creatures. In this connection, the Torah writes in Re'ei (14:19) "And all winged rodents are 'Tamei' for you, they shall not be eaten". The Sifri categorizes this as a Lo Sa'aseh. One should know that if the Torah lists the 'Tamei' birds, mentioning them by name, it is because they constitute the minority of birds (as the author explained in Parshas Shemini, in Mitzvah 157 ['Not to Eat a Tamei Bird']). Consequently, all other birds have a Chazakah of 'Taharah'. And this is why the Torah finds it necessary to specifically prohibit Sheretz ha'Of , to teach us that they are not included in the Chazakah that permits other birds to be eaten, despite the fact that the signs of Taharah (which the winged rodents do not possess) are known to us. Or perhaps it is because Sheretz ha'Of is an independent species that the Torah finds it necessary to designate a specific La'av for them. Indeed, in Shemini, the Torah writes: "And these you shall abhor from the birds"; whilst here it writes "And all winged rodents ... "; indicating that birds and winged rodents are two completely un-connected species. (to be cont.)

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