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

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Vol. 9   No. 14

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Menachem Mendel ben R' Yisrael Elazar z.l.
Niftar 4th Sh'vat 5750

Parshas Va'eira

And My Name Hashem ...

Va'eira opens with the distinction between Moshe Rabeinu, who prophesied with the name Hashem, and the Avos, who used the Name Keil Shakai. Although Rashi and the Ramban each present a different viewpoint concerning the significance of the two names, both agree that this Parshah is heralding a new era, and that in one way or another, Moshe's level of prophecy was on a higher plane than that of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov.


On the one hand, the Pasuk pays tribute to Moshe, since it is no mean feat to be described as superior to the Avos, particularly at this very early stage of prophetic development (Moshe was to reach higher levels still at Matan Torah). Yet on the other, "ba'Asher mishpoto shom po'olo", even as it portrays Moshe's greatness, the Torah bewails the departure of the Avos, whose emunah it seems, was more complete than Moshe's (at least, at that time). For Moshe queried Hashem, when he asked Him why He harmed Yisrael, whereas the Avos' trust in Hashem was flawless. That is why we find the expression "Va'yomer " (signifying G-d's mercy) no less than sixteen times at the Burning Bush. Whereas here, Hashem switches to "Va'yedaber", signifying the Divine justice, also implied by the use of the name "Elokim".


But let us return to the 'dispute' between Rashi and the Ramban over the names of G-d. According to Rashi, Keil Shakai denotes potential, the ability to do anything (for 'Shakai' is a corruption of the word 'she'dai'), that He has sufficient (i.e. the means) to do as He pleases, meaning that G-d has the wherewithal and the ability to fulfil His promises. Whereas 'Hashem' denotes that He actually fulfils them (since the Name 'Hashem' is made up of 'Hoyoh, Hoveh ve'Yihyeh'), suggesting that G-d transcends time, and that He will always be there to reward and punish when the time falls due, and when He sees fit.


The Ramban, who interprets the Pasuk with regard to G-d's interaction with the Avos (in addition to the level of prophecy, as Rashi explains it) explains that the name Shakai denotes miracles within the realm of nature, whereas Hashem signifies supernatural ones. Hashem accompanied the Avos, he explains, saving them from famine, delivering them from the hands of their enemies, and blessing them with wealth and riches. All of this, He did within the framework of nature.

In other words, the lives of the Avos were a constant stream of miracles, even though the onlooker would not have seen any miracles occurring. And the concept 'miracles' is then based on the fact that there is no natural reason for a Tzadik to prosper and to live a life of constant success, or for the Rasha to fall. After all, the wind and the rain, the sun and the elements, do not operate differently for the one more than for the other. Consequently, when Tzadikim do prosper and Resha'im suffer, it is because G-d's hidden Hand is at work, and is nothing short of a miracle.

(The fact that Tzadikim do not always enjoy miracles, and Resha'im, do not always suffer for their sins, is the gist of the Kashya that Moshe already asked Hashem, and does not fall under the topic currently under discussion.)


With the advent of Moshe, all this changed. For the first time, G-d would perform supernatural miracles which were open for all to see. And this was the hallmark of Moshe Rabeinu's leadership, during which time open miracles occurred on an ongoing basis. That is why, from the moment Moshe came upon the scene, G-d changed from the Name Shakai to that of Hashem, the name that Moshe would use throughout the Torah. The Avos never did that, the Ramban explains. Whenever they used the name Hashem, it was always together with the Name of Adnus.


The Ramban also asks why the Torah changes its expression from "vo'Eiro el Avraham ... ", to "u'Sh'mi Hashem lo noda'ti lahem". Why did it not either begin with "vo'Ivoda el Avraham ... ", or conclude with "u'Sh'mi Hashem lo nir'eisi lohem", for the sake of consistency? And he answers with the above explanation. 'Re'iyah' (vision), he explains, is a term that denotes a vision at night, which is how G-d revealed Himself to the Avos. With Moshe on the other hand, Hashem spoke by day too, as Chazal have taught. Therefore, the term 'Yediy'ah' is more appropriate. In any event, 'yediy'ah' is a more intimate term than 're'iyah'.

And he goes further, connecting this with Chazal's description of Moshe's prophecy, which they say, was 'be'Ispaklaryah ha'Me'irah' (a clear vision), unlike that of the Avos, which was 'be'Ispaklaryah she'Einah Me'irah' (an unclear vision). Yediy'ah' then refers to 'Ispaklaryah he'Me'irah' and 're'iyah' to 'Ispaklaryah she'Einah Me'irah'.


Parshah Pearls

(adapted from the Ba'al ha'Turim)
Broad Hints

" ... lo'seis lohem es Eretz Cana'an ... asher goru vah (to give them the land of Cana'an ... in which they dwelt)" 6:4.

The numerical value of the word 'lo'seis' is 830 - the combined years of the two Batei Mikdash (410 and 420, respectively), says the Ba'al ha'Turim. And the numerical value of "asher goru vah" is 717 - the number of years that the ten tribes lived in the land, which means that they were exiled in the year 3165 (173 years before Yehudah). But this is not correct, since the ten tribes were exiled in the year 3205 (133 years before Yehudah)!

Perhaps the Ba'al ha'Turim initially added the letter before (the 'Mem' of the previous word "megurerihem', making up the missing forty years), and this was omitted by the printer.


Like Moshe, Like Pinchas

"Lochein Emor (Therefore say to B'nei Yisrael I am Hashem)" 6:6.

The words "Lochein Emor" occur again at the beginning of Parshah Pinchas Lochein Emor (Therefore say that I am giving him My covenant of peace)".

The Ba'al ha'Turim cites a Sifri, which, on the assumption that Pinchas is Eliyahu, cites many things that happened both to Moshe and to Pinchas. Just as an angel came to kill Moshe's son, and Moshe saved him through Tefilah, so too, did Eliyahu save the son of the widow through Tefilah; just as Moshe spent forty days in Heaven without eating, so too, did Eliyahu spend forty days in a cave without eating. And just as Moshe ascended to Heaven, so too, did Eliyahu. But above all, just as Moshe was chosen to redeem K'lal Yisrael from the Galus of Egypt, so too has Pinchas been chosen to redeem Yisrael from the current Galus (see also Ba'al ha'Turim, Parshas Sh'mos 5:22).


The Merit of the Avos

The numerical value of "Lochein" is a hundred. A hint, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that Yisrael were redeemed from Egypt on the merit of the Avos. Because Avraham fathered Yitzchak when he was a hundred, Yitzchak found a hundred times more than he sowed, and Ya'akov fathered his children as he approached a hundred.



"Ve'hotzeisi, ve'hitzalti, ve'go'alti, ve'lokachti" (6:6).

Believe it or not, the numerical value of these four words, is equivalent to that of 'Zeh oni she'be'Yisrael, lo yifchesu lo me'arba kosos shel yayin' (Ba'al ha'Turim).

Once we know that the obligation to drink four cups of wine at the Seider (albeit a Rabbinical Mitzvah), is based on these four expressions of redemption, and if we take a look at the opening Mishnah of Arvei Pesachim, the above Gematriyah is truly stunning.


Eretz Yisrael and Torah

"And I will give it to them as an inheritance (moroshoh) ... " (6:8). The Torah uses the same word in ve'Zos ha'Brachah (in connection with Torah) "Torah tzivoh lonu Moshe, moroshoh kehilas Ya'akov" (Devarim 3:4).

This hint, explains the Ba'al ha'Turim, is based on the Pasuk in Tehilim (105:44-45) where David specifically connects Yisrael's rights to Eretz Yisrael to their observing the Mitzvos. Without Torah we have no right to Eretz Yisrael! It is a lesson that we need to take very much to heart in these trying times, and to pass on to our secular brothers, who are perhaps unaware of it.


And the Torah uses the word "moroshoh" (not yerushah), implying something that one passes on to one's children, without inheriting it oneself. A hint that this generation would not enter Eretz Yisrael (see also 'Parshah Pearls' ve'Zos ha'B'rachah vol.8).

Conversely, we might also infer that the Torah was given to us to keep in Eretz Yisrael, because keeping the Torah whilst we are in golus is only a means of ensuring that we keep it when we return to Eretz Yisrael (see Rashi, Devarim 11:18).


The Sons of Korach

"And the sons of Korach were Asir and Elkanah and Aviasaf" (6:24).

The same word appears in Yeshayah (42:7) "Lehotzi mi'masger Asir (to take the captives out of prison)".

This hints at Chazal, who say that a special place was reserved for the sons of Korach (high up) in Gehinom, from where they later taken and brought back to earth.


The Great Crocodile

"And throw it before Par'oh; it will become a crocodile (yehi lesanin)" 7:9.

The Torah does not write 'vi'yehi lesanin (and it will become a crocodile), but "yehi le'sanin '(it will' [or 'let it be ...'])", observes the Ba'al ha'Turim. This implies that after Aharon had thrown down his stick, he was to command it to turn into a crocodile. This was to make Paroh realize that the stick had turned into a crocodile at Aharon's command. The significance of that is based on the fact that Paroh referred to himself as 'the Great Crocodile' (since the Egyptians presumably held crocodiles, which were [and still are] peculiar to the Nile, in awe). The hint to Paroh therefore was that just as this crocodile would soon turn back into a lifeless stick, so too, was Paroh destined to become dust and worms (and that he was not immortal, as he made himself out to be).



"Odcho mistolel bo'ami le'vilti shalchom (You continue to quash my people, and refuse to send them out)" 9:17.

The first leetters of "Odcho mistolel bo'ami le'vilti" spell 'Bil'am. Because it was thanks to Bil'am, one of Paroh's three advisors, that Par'oh refused to let Yisrael go (refer to 'Poor Old Bil'am' Parshah Pearls, in last week's issue).


The Hail and the Tower

"Va'yachdelu ha'kolos ve'ha'borod (and the noises [the thunder-claps] and the hail ceased)" 9:33.

The same word occurs in No'ach (in connection with the Tower of Bavel) "Va'yachdelu li'v'nos ho'ir (and they stopped building the city)".

Because there too, explains the Ba'al ha'Turim, G-d stopped them from building the Tower by confusing them with thunder-claps, just like those that jarred the Egyptians. And just as there the noises were instrumental in stopping the building, so too here, as a result of the noises, Yisrael stopped building for the Egyptians and left Egypt.


The Amidah

(based largely on the Siddur "Otzar ha'Tefillos")
(Part XVI)
Atoh Kodosh

The first two B'rochos of the Amidah correspond to Avraham and Yitzchak respectively, as we have already explained. And this B'rachah, says the Avudraham, corresponds to Ya'akov, whose children were all righteous and who never wasted a single drop of seed. Indeed, he waited seven years before marrying Rachel who was only five when he first arrived in Charan, because he would not live with a woman who was too young to have children (Rabeinu Bachye).

The Medrash explains how, when Ya'akov arrived in Beis-Eil, came across the Gates of Mercy and declared G-d's sanctity, he exclaimed 'ho'Keil ha'Kodosh'. Similarly, we say in 'u'Vo le'Tziyon' - 'And You the Holy One, sits astride the praises of Yisrael (Yisrael our grandfather)', thereby reinforcing the association between the Holy G-d and Ya'akov.

Even the conclusion of the B'rachah 'ho'Keil ha'Kodosh', reflects Ya'akov's personality, for when the Torah writes in Vayishlach "And he called it (the Mizbei'ach) Keil Elokei Yisrael", Chazal (quoted by Rashi) interpret the Pasuk to mean that it was G-d who called Ya'akov 'Eil'. Ya'akov is called 'Eil' and he is called 'Kodosh'. Consequently, although the B'rachah itself obviously refers to G-d and not (Chas ve'sholom), to Ya'akov, it is no coincidence that these expressions appear here in the third B'rachah, that corresponds to Ya'akov. As we just explained, the B'rachah reflects Ya'akov's personality.


Atoh Kodosh ve'Shimcho Kodosh ...

According to the commentaries, Kodosh means 'removed from materialism'. And it is in this light that they explain the B'rachah with which we are currently dealing. 'You are Kodosh, both as far as Your Personality is concerned and as regards Your deeds ('Shimcha'), and Yisrael and the Angels praise You ...' . Nevertheless 'Boruch ... ho'Keil ha'Kodosh', they acknowledge that Your sanctity is superior to theirs, You are further removed from the world than they. Because, as the Iyun Tefilah explains, the Torah describes Yisrael as a holy nation only in comparison with the other nations of the world. It is only G'd who is intrinsically Holy. Regarding others, 'holy' is only relative. In truth, "there is none who is holy like Hashem our G-d".


The Eitz Yosef quoting the Kol Bo, explains that 'Atoh Kodosh' refers to the upper worlds, 've'Shimcho Kodosh', to the lower world, and 'u'Kedoshim be'chol yom ... ' means that they will praise him forever and ever. This explanation follows the same pattern as the Targum's interpretation of "Kodosh, Kodosh, Kodosh" (which we cite in 'u'Vo le'Tziyon Go'el').


And if we interpret Hashem and His Name to pertain to G-d and the Torah (which is made up of Names of Hashem), then 'You', 'Your Name' and 'Holy ones', would comprise Hashem, the Torah and Yisrael. This is very similar to the opening paragraph of the Shabbos Minchah Amidah, which reads - 'You are one, Your name is one and who is like Your people Yisrael ... '.


Le'Dor vo'Dor Nagid Godlecha

Although the Chazan's version of the B'rachah (Nusach Ashkenaz) is worded differently than that of the individual, in content the two are similar. For 'Godlecha' refers to Hashem's good deeds, 'Kedushoscho' to His personality (see 'Atoh Kodosh ve'Shimcho Kodosh ...', above). And 've'Shivchacho Elokeinu' refers to His sovereignty over Yisrael. And we invert Melech and Kodosh in the final phrase before the actual B'rachah ('Ki Keil Melech Godol ve'Kodosh ...'), because the B'rachah concludes 'ha'Keil ha'Kodosh', and the last phrase before the B'rachah needs to be similar to the conclusion.


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