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

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Vol. 20   No. 15

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

Parshas Bo

Par'oh Learns (the Hard Way)
Who G-d Is

"Do not eat from it half-roasted or cooked in water, only roasted in fire, its head with its legs and with its innards" (12:9).

Quoting the I'bn Ezra, the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos explains the Pasuk in the following way.

Bearing in mind that the Egyptians revered the sheep, and that Shechting it, let alone eating it, was an act of extreme defiance, Yisrael would have been afraid to let them see (or smell) that they were actually roasting their gods.

Consequently, they would have opted to only half-roast the Pesach, to minimize the smell of roasting meat.

Alternatively, they would have preferred to cook it in a pot, to prevent the Egyptians from seeing their deity slaughtered, cut up and quartered, skewered and roasting a spit-rod in water, to minimize any smell that might escape the pot. Better still, they would have chosen to pot-roast it to hide it from the cruel eyes of their former Egyptian task-masters.

Therefore G-d ordered them to let the revered Egyptian god roast completely, on the open fire.

In this way, not only would the Egyptians witness first-hand, their beloved gods being slaughtered and roasted before their very eyes (perhaps that is why, even though Yisrael would only eat the Korban Pesach after nightfall, they were commanded to Shecht it by day), there would be no mistaking the fact that it was indeed their god (like it or not). And then, to make matters worse, the tantalizing aroma of roasting lamb wafting through the land, would further infuriate its worshippers, whipping them into a frenzy - without their being able to do anything about it.

This was the next step in the process of the answer to Paroh's retort when Moshe first requested that he let Yisrael go - "Who is Hashem that I should listen to His voice?"

That process began on Shabbos ha'Gadol, four days earlier (on the fourteenth of Nisan,) with the command to take a lamb and tie it to their bed-posts for four days. That was symbolical of taking the Egyptian gods alive and incarcerating them in chains. Now their god had been slain and further humiliated by the manner of its preparation (burned at the stake, as it were). And it would end (even as their erstwhile slaves surreptitiously enjoying the taste of the Egyptian god - destroying it in the most contemptuous manner imaginable), when G-d - the very same G-d whose very existence Par'oh had questioned (no, denied), killed all the Egyptian firstborn, just as He had said He would, exactly at the time that He had set.

Having proved beyond any shadow of doubt, that He was indeed G-d, Par'oh was forced to submit to His will, and let Yisrael leave - unconditionally, and with his blessings.


Commenting on the command to eat the Korban Pesach roasted on the fire, the Oznayim la'Torah too, explains that this was so that the Egyptians should smell the aroma of roasting meat and know that the B'nei Yisrael had Shechted their gods, were roasting it and would soon eat it. Whereas on the next Pasuk "its head, with its legs and its innards" he explains that it was so that the lamb should retain its form, in order that Yisrael should realize that they had Shechted the Egyptian god, were roasting it and would soon be eating it.

This conforms with Targum Yonasan, who comments on the Pasuk (12:21) "MIshchu, u'kchu lochem Pesach" - 'Withdraw from the idolatry of the Egyptians and take for yourselves a lamb ". The whole objective of Korban Pesach, according to him, was to rid themselves of their adherence to idol-worship, and to adopt the One G-d and His Mitzvos (as the Mechilta adds).

* * *

Parshas Pearls
(Adapted from the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos)

The Way Kings Fight

G-d, the Heavenly King, sent the Ten Plagues against Par'oh, just as human kings of ancient times would have attacked an enemy.

Blood - Blocking his water-supply.

Frogs - Trumpeters to frighten the enemy.

Lice - Firing volleys of arrows that pierced their bodies.

Wild Animals - Sending hoards of ferocious troops to attack them.

Pestilence - Sending men into the fields to loot their flocks.

Boils - Pouring petrol and foul-smelling materials over them.

Hail - Bombarding them with sling-shot.

Locusts - Destroying their crops.

Darkness - Incarcerating the captives.

The Slaying of the Firstborn - Executing all their leaders.

Citing Pesukim for each plague, the Medrash informs us that Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu will send all Ten Plagues against the nations of the world in time to come (presumably at the battle of Gog and Magog). May we merit seeing this prediction come true soon - very soon!


Eating the Korban Pesach in Haste

" you shall eat it (the Korban Pesach) in haste" (12:11).

The Chachamim instituted, says the Da'as Zekeinim, that the Korban Pesach should be eaten 'to satisfaction' - as a sort of dessert after having already eaten the main meal.

Hence the Mitzvah to eat the Chagigah first and to finish with the Pesach.

The Yerushalmi explains the reason for this - so as not to break a bone (in order to eat the marrow), which the Torah specifically forbids, and the likelihood of doing this when one is hungry is far greater than when one is satisfied. A proof for this lies in the fact that the Korban Pesach is the only sacrifice that is subject to the prohibition of breaking a bone whilst eating, and it is therefore the only sacrifice that needs to be eaten 'to satisfaction'.


Destroying Chametz - On Pesach?

" but on the first day you shall destroy leaven from your houses (12:15).

What, on the first day of Pesach!"

(See Rashi).

What the Pasuk means, the Da'as Zekeinim explains, is that when the first day of Pesach arrives, the Chametz shall have already been destroyed (on the fourteenth).

Similarly, he explains, when the Torah writes in Bereishis (2:2) that "G-d finished His work on the seventh day", it means that He finished His work on the sixth day, so that, when Shabbos arrived, there was no more work to be done.

(See Rashi there too).


The Destructive Angel! Which Destructive Angel?

"And He will not allow the destructive angel to enter your houses to plague you" (12:23).

In light of what we say in the Hagadah "I", 'and not an angel!', indicating that it was G-d Himself who would go round the Egyptian houses killing their firstborn, and not an angel, asks the Da'as Zekeinim quoting R. Moshe, which destructive angel is the Pasuk here referring to?

What the Pasuk means, he explains, is that although G-d went round Egypt killing the firstborn Himself, it is obvious that He was accompanied by an angel, since it is inconceivable that Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu should go anywhere without an accompanying angel. And so G-d and the angel would make their rounds together. And although G-d generally sent angels to carry out His commands, in this case, the accompanying angel was not given a mandate to do anything by himself, only to accompany G-d wherever He went, and G-d made it clear at the outset that He would not enter a Jewish home that night.


Work Done by Others

"On the first day it shall be a day of rest, and on the seventh day it shall be a day of rest, no work may be performed on them " (12:16).

Commenting on the passive form used by the Torah, Rashi explains that work may not be performed on Yom-Tov, even by others. Citing R. Moshe, the Da'as Zekeinim queries Rashi from the Gemara in Shabbos (150a), which defines 'Amirah le'Akum' (asking a non-Jew to work on Shabbos) as an Isur de'Rabbanan. And he answers that the D'rashah cited by Rashi here is indeed an Asmachta (an Isur de'Rabbanan that is hinted in the Torah).

Alternatively, he points out that the 'others' referred to by Rashi does not mean non-Jews, but one's own children, whom the Torah specifically forbids (in the Aseres ha'Dibros) to do work for their parents on Shabbos. And the Torah sees fit to repeat the prohibition here with regard to Yom-Tov, which is less stringent in various ways than Shabbos, and which we might therefore have thought is not included.

* * *


"Vehoyu l'cho le'os al yodcho (and they [the Tefilin] 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 one lays Tefilin on the left arm, but this is a nice hint.


" in order that the Torah of Hashem shall be in your mouth (Toras Hashem be'ficho)" Ibid.

The Gematriyah of "Toras Hashem be'ficho", he adds, equals that of 'zeh hu k'ri'as sh'ma (This is 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 do not wear them - Pesach, Shavu'os, Rosh ha'Shanah, Yom Kipur, Succos and Shemini Atzeres.


" mi'yomim yomimoh" (from year to year)" 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 Festival of Hashem in Shiloh; 3. Elkanah who would go from his city to Shiloh; 4. Chanah who would visit Shmuel every year.

Bearing in mind that "mi'yomim" also implies 'some days', the Ba'al ha'Turim cites Chazal, who extrapolate from "mi'yomim" - that there are days on which one does lay Tefilin, and some days on which one does not - to preclude Shabbos and Yom-Tov, which are exempt from Tefilin. Likewise, all of the above cases (except for the friends of bas Yiftach) refer to going to Shiloh or dancing there on Yom-Tov.

And the reason the Navi writes "Yamim Yamimah" by the friends of Yiftach's daughter, is because just as Shabbos and Yom-Tov are precluded form Tefilin, so too, are women.

* * *

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