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

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Vol. 19   No. 13

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
Yehuda ben Mordechai z"l
whose Yohrzeit is 14 Shevat

Parshas Sh'mos

Why Me?

"And Moshe said to G-d 'Who am I that I should go to Par'oh and that I should take Yisrael out of Egypt?' (3:11).

'How important am I', Rashi explains, 'that I should communicate with kings? And even assuming that I am, what have Yisrael done to merit that You should perform miracles on their behalf and that I should then take them out of Egypt?'

The Ramban however, prefers to connect both of Moshe's statements to his deep humility (rather than to Yisrael's shortcomings). He explains that Moshe was responding to the two promises that G-d had just made to him. Firstly, that He would deliver them from the yoke of Egypt - something that He could well have done even had they remained in Goshen, where Yisrael resided. Secondly, that He would take them out of Egypt and bring them to the land of the Cana'ani , and that He had chosen Moshe as his emissary to perform these tasks.

Querying the first appointment, Moshe asked how an individual as lowly as himself, a mere shepherd, could possibly appear before a king as mighty as Par'oh, who would probably sentence him to death for having the audacity to enter his presence. Interestingly, Shmuel ha'Navi, was similarly afraid that King Shaul would kill him if he heard that he (Shmuel) had anointed David king.

And regarding the second appointment, Moshe claimed that he was not worthy to take this great and wise nation out of Egypt and lead them to a land of great and mighty nations, since they would simply not trust him to achieve such a formidable task.

And G-d's response solved both of Moshe's questions simultaneously: " because I am with you!" - so you have nothing to fear from Par'oh, who will be powerless to harm you. And as a sign (for the people) that it is I who sent you, when you take the people out of Egypt, you will serve G-d at this mountain" (with reference to Matan Torah)". From that moment on, they will undertake to serve Me and will follow you to wherever you lead them.

Note that the Ramban refers to the conquest of Cana'an, even though the Pasuk mentions only 'taking Yisrael out of Egypt'. It says nothing here about taking them to Eretz Cana'an.


The K'li Yakar, who follows a similar path to that of the Ramban, differs from him in a number of points. First of all, he carries Moshe's humility to an even higher plane than the Ramban does. Secondly, according to him, Moshe's second complaint had nothing to do with Eretz Cana'an. The point Moshe was making was that a nation as exalted as Yisrael, the children of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov, would never follow a lowly and despicable person as himself out of Egypt.

And G-d's reply was forthcoming: "Because I will be with you!" - 'It will not be you who will speak to Par'oh, but I, and you will merely serve as My mouthpiece!'

'Neither will it be you whom the people will follow - but "after Hashem they will go", since "I will be with you!"

And what bothered Moshe as to why G-d chose as His emissary, someone as lowly as himself, the answer to that was, to the contrary, such is G-d's Midah, to join forces with those who are lowly and downcast. Indeed, that is why the Pasuk continues "This is a sign that I sent" (to the people, when they confront you with the question that you asked). When you take the people out of Egypt, you will serve G-d on this mountain, Har Sinai, the lowliest of mountains, on which to give the Torah. This will serve as proof that G-d prefers those who are humble. In any event, both of Moshe's fears were now duly allayed.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Riva)

The Shechinah

" she (Par'oh's daughter) opened it (the casket containing baby Moshe) and saw (va'tir'ehu) the child" (2:6), Rashi explains that she saw the Shechinah with him.

He learns this, the Riva explains, from the fact that the Torah writes "Va'tir'ehu" instead of simply "va'tar" - since 'Hu' is one of the Names of Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu.


The Name Moshe

"And she called him 'Moshe' " (2:10),

She actually called him by an Egyptian name which is the equivalent of 'Moshe' (draws out),says the Riva, since she was an Egytian, and the Egyptians did not speak Lashon ha'Kodesh.

But why, he asks. did she call him 'Moshe' and not 'Moshuy' (meaning 'drawn out')?'

Citing R. David that when she called him 'Moshe' she was actually prophesying about the day when he struck the rock, where he was indeed drawing water for others (See following Pearl).

I once heard from the Gatesheader Rav z.l that this was simply a message that just as he was drawn out of the water (and his life was saved); so too, should he make it his duty to draw out others (and save their lives).

He said this with reference to the Skulener Rebbe Sh'lita, who after being ransomed from a communist jail in Romania, spent a major part of his life raising funds to redeem others who were incarcerated in communist jails.


The Postponed Decree

" and she said 'because I drew him from the water' " (Ibid.)

What she was saying, says the Riva, was that her father's astrologers erred when they said that the leader who would arise among the B'nei Yisrael was destined to die in the waters of the Nile. Having drawn him out from there, he would not return. He was however, destined to die as a result of the waters of Merivah, where he was drawing water for others, which is why she called him 'Moshe' and not 'Mashuy' (See previous Pearl).


Dumb, Blind and Deaf

"Who supplies man with a mouth, and who makes him dumb or deaf, or able to see (pikei'ach) or blind" (4:11).

The Riva queries this Pasuk, in that whereas "dumb" is the opposite of a person with a mouth, and "pikei'ach" the opposite of "blind", the Torah does not mention the opposite of "deaf". Why did it not say 'or someone who can hear or is deaf'? Citing the Ram from Coucy, he explains that 'pikei'ach' is the opposite of both deaf and blind. And he supports this with two Pesukim in Yeshayah, who writes in (42:20) " who opens (peko'ach) the ears", and a few Pesukim earlier (42:7), " to open (li'f'ko'ach) the eyes".

* * *


"And a woman will ask/borrow/ from her (Egyptian) friend silver vessels, golden vessels and clothes (s'molos) (3:22).

The word "s'molos" appears twice in the Torah, here and in Parshas Bo (12:35), each time without a 'Vav' (as if it was written in the singular).

This teaches us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that although they took silver and golden vessels in abundance, they took only two garments, one in which to wrap the dough that they took with them when they left Egypt (as the Torah states), the other, to wear. And that second garment, he explains, lasted the entire forty years that they wandered in the desert, as the Torah (Eikev 2:4) attests " your garments did not wear out!"

This explanation is difficult to understand however, in view of the Pasuk, which continues "and you shall put them on your sons and daughters".


And G-d said to him 'What is this (Ma-zeh) be'yodecho', and he said 'a stick' " (4:3).

"Ma-zeh" is read as two words ('mah zeh'), the Ba'al ha'Turim observes, but written as one. In the latter form, it can be read as 'Mem' zeh - 'This weighs forty Sa'ah', hinting at the enormous weight of the staff.

(See last entry in Highlights).

In a more homolitical interpretation, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains that the Pasuk is informing Moshe that for forty years, the twelve tribes (the Gematriyah of "zeh" is twelve) will be in your hands (under your jurisdiction), .


"And this staff (ve'es ha'mateh ha'zeh) take in your hands" (4:17).

The 'hey' (others say the 'Tes') in the word "ha'mateh" has four tagin (crowns), says the Ba'al ha'Turim. This is because Moshe was the ninth Tzadik to own the famous staff - Adam, Chanoch, No'ach, Sheim, Avraham, Yitzchak, Ya'akov, Yosef and now Moshe.

The Gematriyah of "ve'es ha'mateh" is equivalent to that of 'Sapirinun' (sapphire), which is what the staff was made of.

* * *

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