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

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Vol. 19   No. 15

This issue is sponsored
in honour of the marriage of
Avraham Eliezer and Esther Malkah Ottenstein n"y
שיזכו לבנות בית נאמן בישראל

Parshas Bo

The Redemption by Night
(Adapted from the Beis ha'Levi)

"In order that you should remember the day that you left Egypt all (kol) the days of your life" (Devarim 16:3).

The Pesach Hagadah tells the story of the five sages (R, Eliezer, R. Yehoshua, R, Elazar ben Azaryah, R. Tarfon and R. Akiva) who sat all night in B'nei B'rak, relating the events of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim until the morning. And it continues with the statement of R. Elazar ben Azaryah - who stated that, in spite of his wisdom, he was unable to prove that the exodus must be mentioned by night (as well as by day) until ben Zoma learned it from the word "Kol", in the above Pasuk in Re'ei (16:3). "the days of your life", the Gemara explains, refers to the days. "all the days of your life" includes the nights. Now this statement of R. Elazar ben Azaryah, says the Beis ha'Levi, is quoted from a Mishnah in B'rachos in connection with the regular obligation to mention the Exodus. It has nothing to do with that of discussing it at the Seider, which in any event is confined to nighttime, even according to the Chachamim, who disagree with R. Elazar ben Azaryah regarding the Sh'ma the whole year round.

The question arises therefore, he says, as to why the Ba'al Hagadah cites R. Elazar ben Azaryah at this point in the Hagadah?

Furthermore, he asks, if R. Elazar ben Azaryah was unable to convince the Chachamim to recite the Sh'ma at night before he heard the D'rashah of ben Zoma, on what basis did he maintain that one should?


To answer these questions, the Beis ha'Levi cites the Gemara in B'rachos (9b), where R. Elazar ben Azaryah and R. Akiva argue whether the Mitzvah of eating the Korban Pesach (and subsequently, that of Hagadah) lasts all night (R. Akiva) or only until midnight (R.Elazar). The Gemara there explains that both Tana'im agree that the redemption (i.e. permission to leave Egypt) took place at midnight. And their dispute hinges around whether the chipozon (the haste), refers to the chipozon of the Egyptians, due to the slaying of the firstborn that had just taken place (R. Elazar), or that of Yisrael, who were driven out of Egypt the following morning (R. Akiva).

Elaborating on this point, the Beis ha'Levi explains that the reasoning behind their respective opinions is what is considered the major part of the miracle; whether it was when Par'oh announced to Moshe and Aharon to get up and leave … ! (chipazon de'Mitzrayim, as the Medrash relates, citing Par'oh's words 'From now on you are your own masters, you are servants of Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu!'); or whether it was by day, when Yisrael actually left the location of their slavery. Having said that, the author continues, we can say that when R. Elazar ben Azaryah initially required Yetzi'as Mitzrayim to be said each night, it was because he held that the main miracle of the redemption took place at night (even without ben Zoma's D'rashah). The Torah may well instruct us to mention it during the days of our life, but R. Elazar ben Azaryah says how much more so the nights, when the major miracle took place. The Chachamim (R. Akiva) however, disagree with R. Elazar's Kal-va'Chomer, on the grounds that the major miracle occurred by day, as we explained. And as for the word "kol", which R. Elazar cited to convince them to accept his ruling, they learn from there that we will continue to mention Yetzi'as Mitzrayim even in the times of Mashi'ach (as the Mishnah in B'rachos explains).

The fact that the five Chachamim were discussing Yetzi'as Mitzrayim the whole night (and not just until midnight) the Beis ha'Levi points out, proves that they followed the opinion of Rebbi Akiva, who maintained that the main miracle took place during the day (as we explained earlier). Other commentaries explain that they did so because R. Akiva was the Rav of B'nei B'rak, in which case it was his opinion that prevailed. Before he heard ben Zoma's D'rashah, R. Elazar ben Azaryah had nothing to prove that the main miracle took place by night and that one should therefore stop reciting the Hagadah at midnight. And that explains why the Ba'al Hagadah continues with R. Elazar's quote of ben Zoma, which supported his opinion, which adequately explains the juxtaposition of the two seemingly disconnected pieces of Hagadah, with which we began.

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Riva)

The Largest Plague of Locusts

"And the locusts came up over the land of Egypt … beforehand there had never been a plague like it nor would there be one like it ever again". (10:14).

The plague that struck in the days of the Navi Yo'el, Rashi explains, about which the Navi states that 'such a plague had never occurred before', consisted of many species of locusts (arbeh, chasil, yelek and gazam) whereas that of Moshe was confined to one species (arbeh). Consequently, the two Pesukim do not clash.

The question arises, says the Riva, that the Pasuk in Tehilim, with reference to the plague in the days of Moshe refers to Arbeh, Yelek and Chasil, indicating that in Egypt too, the plague of locusts incorporated various species of locusts?

Citing the Chizkuni, the author explains that what Rashi means is that the locusts in Egypt all came together, creating a combined number of locusts that far exceeded the plague in the time of Yo'el, where one species of locust followed another. Indeed, he explains, this is implied by the Pasuk there, which writes that 'whatever the Gazam leftover, the Arbeh ate'. And the individual species of locusts of Yo'el that exceeded the plague of Egypt.


Finding the Chizkuni's answer somewhat pushed, the Riva then cites R. Elyakim who gives the opposite explanation. In his opinion, what Rashi means is that in the days of Moshe, each species came individually with a specific break between one and the other. And the Torah is informing us that there would never be a plague where any species of locust would exceed any of those in Egypt. Whereas the plague of Yo'el came in one go, one species following the other without a break, and it was in the form of one extended plague that it exceeded even that of Egypt.


Finally, the Riva cites some commentaries, who explain that when the Torah says here that there would never be another plague like this one, it was referring to Egypt, whereas that of Yo'el took place in Eretz Yisrael.


The Plague of Darkness

" … there was a black darkness for three days … " (10:22)

Rashi explains that for three days the Egyptians were unable to see each other and for another three days, they were not even able to stand up.

This indicates, says the Riva, that the plague of darkness lasted for a total of six days. Citing the Medrash Tanchuma, he reconciles Rashi with Chazal, who explain that each plague lasted one week (as Rashi himself comments in Va'eira, 7:25), by pointing out that the seventh day took place at the Yam-Suf. The Torah itself describes there how "There was cloud and darkness" (for the Egyptians) "and it lit up" (for Yisrael).

In fact, the Egyptians at the Yam-Suf experienced more light than one does on a regular night, to enable them to see sufficiently to advance into the Sea (as Rashi explains in Beshalach).

Perhaps it was compared to Yisrael, whose night was brightly illuminated, that the Torah calls it darkness. A proof for this lies in the fact that there, like here, the Torah stresses the contrast between the Egyptians, for whom it was dark, and Yisrael, for whom it was light.

* * *


"Vehoyu l'cho le'os al yodcho (and they shall be for you a sign on your arm)" 13:9.

The Gematriyah of the entire phrase, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, is equivalent to that of 'Zera s'mol' (the left arm). Chazal do have other proofs that Tefilin should be lain on the left arm, but this is a nice hint.


"And it (the Tefilin) shall be for you a sign on your arms … in order that the Torah of Hashem shall be in your mouth (Toras Hashem be'ficho)" Ibid.

And the Gematriyah of "Toras Hashem be'ficho", he adds, equals that of 'zeh hu k'ri'as sh'ma'.


" ,,, you shall observe this statute in its time (le'mo'adoh)" 13:10.

The word "le'mo'adoh", the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, contains a 'Vav' (after the 'Mem'), a hint that one wears Tefilin only six days in the week.

Moreover, he says, there are six Yamim Tovim in the year that we don't wear them - Pesach, Shavu'os, Rosh ha'Shanah, Yom Kipur, Succos and Shemini Atzeres.


"mi'yomim yomimoh" (some days) Ibid.

This phrase appears in four other locations in T'nach - in connection with 1. the daughter of Yiftach ha'Gil'adi's friends; 2. the Chag Hashem in Shiloh; 3. Elkanah who would go from his city to Shiloh; 4. with Chanah who would visit Shmuel every year.

Chazal have said, comments the Ba'al ha'Turim, "mi'Yomim", some days, and not all days, to preclude Shabbos and Yom-Tov, which are exempt from Tefilin. Likewise, all of the above (except for the friends of bas Yiftach) refer to going to Shiloh or dancing there on Yom-Tov. As for Yiftach daughter's friends, the Navi writes "Yamim Yamimah", because, as we explained, this teaches us that, just as Shabbos and Yom-Tov are exempt from Tefilin, so too, are women.

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