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

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Vol. 9   No. 13

This issue is co-sponsored
in honour of the Pidyon ha'Ben of
Matan Shmuel Ravitzky n"y
May he continue to be a source of simchah and nachas
to his parents and all of Klal Yisrael.
and
l'iluy Nishmas Sheva Gittel bas Levi Lixenberg z"l

Parshas Sh'mos

Why Did This Happen to Moshe?

We know that everything that G-d does has a reason, and we know that everything that He does is for the good. This leads us to ask three questions, which we will attempt to answer in light of these two facts.

Why was Moshe of all people, taken away from his righteous parental home? Why was he placed in the royal palace of Egypt, under the tutelage of a man as evil as Par'oh? And why was Moshe thrown specifically into the river from where he was then saved?

*

In answer to the first question, let us refer to the Medrash which describes how the elders of Yisrael were handed down a tradition from Yosef, that whoever would appear to them using the words 'pokod yifkod' was the saviour who would take them out of Egypt. On the surface, this seems ridiculous, since any elder (all of whom know about the tradition) could feasibly turn up and claim to be that saviour. Enter G-d, who, through an act of Divine Providence, dispensed with the problem. In a miraculous way, he organized for the true saviour to be whisked away from his parents from the age of two. Consequently, when, almost eighty years later, Moshe appeared claiming to be the saviour and uttering the words "pokod yifkod", nobody could possibly accuse him of abusing his prior knowledge of the tradition.

*

With regard to the question as to why Moshe was placed in the royal palace of Egypt, under the tutelage of a man as evil as Par'oh, we will answer this with not just one question, but two! Bearing in mind that it was Paroh with whom Moshe would have to deal, coupled with the importance of knowing one's adversaries, what better method was there of getting to know Paroh intimately than growing up with him as a foster-father? And besides, where else would Moshe, destined to be king of Yisrael, learn the tactics of rulership?

What's more, nobody would be able to deny that, if, in spite of such a 'father' and 'Rebbe', Moshe emerged the Tzadik that he was, he was that unique individual described by the Torah later in Beha'aloscha, and not just the product of his righteous parents' superb Chinuch.

*

And we can answer the third question in three ways. Firstly, it may well be that G-d was simply magnifying the miracle. Even as all the other babies were being drowned in the Nile, Moshe, incredible as it may seem, was being saved from the very same location.

Secondly, it was G-d's method of bringing Paroh's decree to an end. Because no sooner had Moshe been placed in the water, than the astronomers (who never have a clear picture of their predictions), informed Paroh that the saviour of the Jews had been drowned, and he rescinded the decree. Indeed, says Rabeinu Bachye, that was precisely what Yocheved had planned. Incidentally, this may have been the first time that Moshe was instrumental in saving his fellow-Jews from death, but it was certainly not the last.

And thirdly, as Rabeinu Bachye points out, the date that Moshe's crib was placed in the river was the seventh of Sivan, exactly three months after he was born. It was an omen of a great event that would take place on that very same day eighty years later. For that was the day when Moshe would immerse himself entirely in the waters of Torah on Har Sinai, the day on which the Torah was given (in keeping with the dictum ('Ein mayim ela Torah').

***

Parshah Pearls
Sh'mos

(adapted from the Ba'al ha'Turim)
If You Do a Mitzvah, Do it Properly

"And they let the boys live" (1:17/20).

The fact that the Torah records this phrase twice, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, bears out what the Gemara says in Sotah, that not only did the midwives not kill the Jewish boys, but they actually sustained them, too.

*

The Trouble Begins at Home

"Kol ha'ben ha'yilod (All babies that are born)" 1:22.

The word ha'yilod appears in Shmuel too, in connection with David "Gam ha'ben ha'yilod lecho (Also the son who is born to you, Shmuel 2, 12:14) ... ".

This teaches us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that just as David fathered a son (Avshalom), who arose against him and attempted to kill him, so too, would someone from Par'oh's own household (Moshe, whom he brought up as a son) arise against him, bringing upon him Makos and eventually death.

*

Who Was the Sobbing Boy?

"And behold there was a boy sobbing" (2:6).

Moshe, right (see Rashi)?

No, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, Aharon (little three-year old Aharon), whom his mother had placed beside the box.

And to prove it, he points out, the numerical value of "na'ar bocheh" is equivalent to that of 'Zeh Aharon ha'Kohen'.

*

Avodah-Zarah Doesn't Pay, no Matter What

"u'le'Kohen Midyan sheva Bonos" (And the priest of Midyan had seven daughters) 2:16.

The same word appears twice with regard to the idolatry of Michah, in Shoftim (17:10, and 18:19), where the Pasuk writes "le'Av u'le'Kohen".

Yisro was a priest to Avodah-Zarah, explains the Ba'al ha'Turim. And when Moshe married his daughter, he made Moshe swear that his first son would follow in his footsteps.

Moshe accepted the condition, though only because he knew that Yisro would later relent (which indeed he did). Nevertheless, the Neder that he made, had its effect on him, and that one of his descendants "Yonasan ben Gershom ben Menasheh" (which really means 'ben Moshe') was a priest to avodah-zarah.

*

A Time to Look

"And Moshe hid his face (va'Yaster Moshe ponov)" 3:6.

The same word occurs in Iyov (3:10) "va'Yaster omol me'einai (and he hid troubles from my eyes)".

Had Moshe looked at the Shechinah when the opportunity arose, and prayed for mercy on behalf of Yisrael, they would never have gone into golus again, says the Ba'al ha'Turim. This is because the burning bush signified the Pasuk in Tehilim "imo Onochi be'tzoroh" (that G-d is with us in our troubles). Consequently, had Moshe not hidden his face there, G-d would have hidden troubles from Yisrael's eyes.

*

Five Troubles

"Ro'oh ro'isi" (3:7).

The double expression is there primarily because of the 'Hey' in"Ro'oh", which comes to hint at the five different kinds of trouble listed in the Pasuk - the rigor, the bitterness, the oppression, the torment and the hard work. And that is why the word "Sneh" appears five times in the parshah (see previous paragraph).

*

Poor Old Bil'am

"And I know that the King of Egypt will not let you go (la'haloch)" 3:19.

The word "la'haloch" occurs also in Bolok (22:13) in connection with Bil'am "because G-d has refused to allow me to go (la'haloch) with you".

The Ba'al ha'Turim connects this with the Chazal that Bil'am was one of Paroh's three councillors, and that he was the one to advise him to enslave the Jewish people.

What the Torah is therefore hinting here is, that G-d found it necessary to show Paroh His strong Hand, because otherwise he would have followed Bil'am's advice. And on the other hand, Bil'am was complaining that the same G-d who had nullified the advice that he offered Paroh, was now refusing to let him go and curse the people. Poor old Bil'am! He never seemed to get it right., did he?

*

History of a Stick

"ve'es ha'mateh ha'zeh ... (and take this stick in your hand)" 4:17.

There are four crowns on the ''Hey' (= 5, and 5+4=9, or on the 'Tes'), hinting at the number nine, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, because Moshe was the ninth Tzadik to have use of the stick - Adam, Chanoch, No'ach, Shem, Avraham, Yitzchak, Ya'akov, Yosef and Moshe.

***

More Haste ...
(contd. from Parshas Vayechi)

Last week, we discussed the problem of Ya'akov depriving Reuven of the birthright and giving it to Yosef, citing the answers of the Or ha'Chayim and the Kur Zahav.

We also quoted the Ramban, whose words merit elaboration. He explains how Ya'akov did not wish to deprive any of his sons of what was rightfully their's, and that, as a mark of love and esteem, he gave Yosef the one thing that was his to give away - the extra portion of the birthright which he captured from the Emori ... .

It is not at first clear why, if Ya'akov was careful not to deprive his other sons of their basic inheritance, he should be willing to deprive Reuven of his extra portion. And if, as the Kur Zahav there explains, he did it in order to punish Reuven for his sin, then one would have expected the Ramban to have said so. He should not have taken it for granted, particularly in view of the fact that this appears to contravene the Torah law of depriving a Bechor of his portion.

And besides, the gist of the Ramban's words is that the extra portion was his to give away, and not that he was taking it away from Reuven.

*

It therefore seems that Ya'akov was not contravening the Torah law at all, simply because there was no Torah law at the time, of a Bechor inheriting a double portion when his father died. Perhaps that was only introduced after the firstborn were chosen in Egypt. Perhaps the Ovos were not particular about observing the details of the Mitzvos, only the main Mitzvah, as the Ra'avad explains. This means that when Ya'akov died, neither Reuven nor Yosef inherited a double portion of Ya'akov's personal property (though it would not have mattered even if Yosef had, seeing as Ya'akov died in Chutz la'Aretz, and according to the Ramban, the Avos did not fulfill the entire Torah in Chutz la'Aretz anyway).

If that is so, the Bechorah that Ya'akov gave to Yosef had nothing to do with the Din Bechorah discussed in Ki Seitzei. Like the Kehunah and the Meluchah, it was a branch of Kavod which was customarily afforded a Bechor in those days as a status symbol. In other words, Ya'akov was referring, not to the extra portion of the Bechor, but to the various branches connected with the special status of a Bechor, because he captured it from the Emori (with his Tefilos), and it was now his to grant to whichever son he wished.

***

CHRONOLOGICALLY SPEAKING ...
The Chronological order of events in the Chumash (based mainly on the Seider ha'Doros).

Parshas Sh'mos

DATE EVENT
2309 Yosef is the first of the brothers to die.
2331 Levi is the last ... the slavery begins ... they build Pisom and Ra'amses B'nei Yisrael flourish.
2362 The slavery intensifies .. Miriam is born to Amram and Yocheved.
2365 Aharon is born.
2368 Paroh orders the Jewish midwives Shifrah and Pu'ah (Yocheved and Miriam, according to some) to kill all Jewish boys at birth, but they defy him ... He orders all his people to drown all baby boys that are born ... Amram divorces Yocheved, but soon takes her back ... the birth of Moshe ... Bisyah converts ... Bisyah and Moshe.
2370 Moshe is weaned and taken to the royal palace. He is brought up by Paroh.
2395 Moshe kills the Egyptian for maltreating a Jew ... Dasan and Aviram ... Mosh spends forty years in Africa.
2435 Moshe arrives in Midyan and saves Yisro's daughters ... he spends ten years in jail, before marrying Tziporah, Yisro's daughter.
2436 Gershom is born to Moshe and Tziporah.
2445 Paroh dies (some say he contracts Tzora'as) ... the afflictions increasa Yisrael groan under the burden. G-d remembers his covenant with the Avos.
2447 Moshe is looking after Yisro's sheep ... the Revelation at the Burning Bush (on the 15th Nisan) ... Moshe is chosen to lead Yisrael out of Egypt. He returns to Yisro to ask for permission to leave ... Eliezer, his second son, is born ... Moshe, Aharon and the Elders tell the people about the impending redemption ... Moshe and Aharon ask Paroh to let G-d's people go out for three days, but he refuses. Instead, he increases the pressure ... no more straw ... the Jewish policemen are beaten ... they plead before Paroh, but to no avail ... they blame Moshe ... Moshe questions Hashem ... he will not see the battle against the thirty-one kings.

*

Parshas Va'eira

Moshe objects to his appointment, so G-d appoints Aharon as his spokesman ... Moshe and Aharon before Paroh ... the sticks and the serpents ... the plagues of blood, frogs, lice, wild beasts, pestilence, boils and hail.

*

Parshas Bo

The plagues of locusts and darkness ... the Mitzvos of Rosh Chodesh and Pesach ... the smiting of the first-born ... Paroh asks Yisrael to leave Egypt. They leave from Ra'amses on the 15th of Nisan and arrive in Succos ... Leil Shimurim ... the continuation of the Parshah of Korban Pesach ... Kadeish ... ve'Hoyoh ki yevi'acho.

*

Parshas Beshalach

DATE EVENT
(The 15th of Nisan): Yisrael travel from Sukos to Eisam, the town bordering the desert ... The Pillar of Cloud and the Pillar of Fire join them.
(The 18th of Nisan): Par'oh gathers an army and chases after Yisrael.
(The 21st of Nisan): The Egyptian army catch Yisrael encamped by the Reed Sea. The Sea splits ... Yisrael cross, the Egyptians are drowned ... the Shirah.
(The 25th of Nisan): They arrive in Marah ... the bitter water turns sweet ... they are given some Mitzvos (Shabbos, Dinim and Kibud Av va'Eim, and according to some, Parah Adumah). They leave Marah and arrive in Eilim, where they find twelve fountains and seventy date-palms.
(The 15th of Iyar): They arrive in Midbar Sin (at Alush) ... the Manna and the quails (on the sixteenth) ... the first Shabbos.
(The 22nd of Iyar): They travel from Midbar Sin and arrive in Refidim (Masah u'Merivah) ... Miriam's well joins them ... the battle with Amalek.

***

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