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

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Vol. 19   No. 14

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l'iluy Nishmos

Parshas Vo'eira

The Four Expressions
(Adapted from the K'li Yakar)

"Therefore say to the B'nei Yisrael that I am Hashem, and that I will take you out from under the burdens of Egypt; I will rescue you from their work, I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgements; I will bring you to Me as a nation and I will be for you a G-d." (6:6/7)

The Torah uses these four expressions, the K'li Yakar explains, corresponding to the four progressive levels of oppression that Yisrael experienced, as recorded in Parshas Lech-l'cha (15:13), where G-d told Avraham "For your children will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and they will enslave them and afflict them for four hundred years ".

"For your children will be Geirim" - strangers.

" in a land that is not theirs" - distanced from the Shechinah, as Chazal have said 'Whoever lives in Chutz la'Aretz it is as if he does not possess a G-d'.

" and they will enslave them" - denoting a stage beyond that of 'geirus'. " and afflict them" - something that one does not necessarily do even to a slave, for no reason. G-d therefore informed Moshe that first of all He would take Yisrael out of the burdens of Egypt, from the affliction, then He would rescue them from slavery, that He would redeem them from the geirus, and that He would bring them close to Him as a nation. Finally, since living in Chutz la'Aretz is as if one did not possess a G-d, the Torah adds "and I will be for you a G-d", and it elaborates - "And I will bring you to the land ".

It is due to these four expressions, that Chazal fixed four kosos (cups) of wine at the Seider, as is well-known. And these four kosos in turn, are hinted in the butler's dream (in Parshas Vayeishev). Indeed, one of the explanations given as to why Yosef gave a positive interpretation to the butler was precisely because he dreamt about the ultimate salvation of K'lal Yisrael.

The K'li Yakar then goes on to connect the four expressions of Ge'ulah to the four times that the word "Elokim" (which has the same Gematriyah as 'Kos'), appears in the Pasuk in Sh'mos (3:15) spoken by G-d to Moshe at the burning bush "So you shall say to the B'nei Yisrael: Hashem, the G-d of your fathers, the G-d of Avraham, the G-d of Yitzchak and the G-d of Ya'akov sent Me to you ". To answer the question why the Torah needs to remind us as to whom the Avos were, he elaborates. Yisrael were saved

from Geirus on the merit of Avraham Avinu, who left "his land, his birthplace and his father's house" to go and live in a foreign country.

from slavery (Avdus) on the merit of Yitzchak, who was bound on the Mizbe'ach in the service (Avodah) of Hashem.

from affliction on the merit of Ya'akov, who bore a variety of sufferings throughout his life.

from being distanced from the Shechinah on the combined merits of all three Avos. That is why the Torah adds "the G-d of your fathers, all of whom cleaved to Him with equal fervour".

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted mainly from the Riva)

My Name 'Hashem'

" and My Name Hashem I did not inform them" (6:3).

Rashi rejects the apparent explanation (that G-d did not reveal Himself to the Avos by the Name of Hashem, as He did with Moshe), seeing as the very first time that He revealed Himself to Avraham Avinu, at the B'ris bein ha'Besarim, His first words were "I am Hashem".

Nor can He have meant that, as opposed to Moshe Rabeinu, the Avos did not query Him (by asking Him His Name), since the Torah ought then to have said 'and My Name Hashem, they did not ask Me'.

He therefore concludes that what the Pasuk means is that, based on the inherent meaning of Hashem, which refers to the fruition of His promises, unlike Moshe, who merited to see the fulfillment of the promises that G-d made concerning the B'nei Yisrael, the Avos did not (as detailed in Rashi). Yet they did not query Him in the way that Moshe did.


Drawing a Distinction

And I shall set apart on that day, the Land of Goshen that there shall not be wild beasts there" (8:18).

Why did G-d make this point here more than by the other plagues? asks the Riva.

And he answers that it was because animals move swiftly and there was nothing to stop them from entering Goshen and entering the houses of the B'nai Yisrael. On the contrary, that was where most of the sheep and cattle were to be found.

Which ought to have served as a great attraction for the wild animals of prey.

In fact, he observes, the Torah uses the same expression by Dever (pestilence). The reason there he explains, is because, as Chazal have said that when the destructive angel strikes, he does not differentiate between good and bad, but kills all who are in his path. Therefore the Torah found it necessary to state that in this case, G-d drew a distinction between the Egyptians and the B'nei Yisrael, to protect the property of B'nei Yisrael from the clutches of the destructive angel.

* * *


Why the River became Putrid

" .., The fish in the Nile will die and the Nile will stink" (7:18).

It was important for this to happen, the Da'as Zekeinim explains, because otherwise, the people would have drunk the water in spite of its looks.

On the other hand, he explains, the plague is called 'Blood' (exclusively) without any mention of the (vital) putrid smell, because smell is not something that is visible.


Standing One's Ground

" the sorcerers did the same with their incantations but they could not" (8:14).

Rashi explains that this was because demons (the means used by the sorcerers) have no power over something that is smaller than a lentil.

The Rosh, however, attributes it to the fact that the entire ground had become a carpet of lice, and witchcraft is ineffective unless the perpetrator stands on the ground. And he cites the well-known story cited in the Yerushalmi, of Shimon ben Shetach who, together with eighty young men, captured eighty witches by lifting them off the ground simultaneously, thereby disarming them of their ability to cast a spell on them.

(Presumably, in Pasuk 6, with regard to the frogs, when Par'oh asked Moshe to have them removed 'tomorrow le 'mochor)


Why Tomorrow?

" ,,, I will pray to Hashem, and the wild animals will depart from Par'oh tomorrow (mochor)" (8:25).

This is the only time that Moshe used the word tomorrow with regard to the cessation of the plagues.

And the reason for this, the Rosh explains, was because some of the ferocious animals moved slowly, and would simply not manage to leave Egypt before an entire day had passed.

The problem with the Rosh's explanation is that earlier, in Pasuk 6, , Par'oh asked Moshe to have the frogs removed "tomorrow" (le'mochor), it is clear that Moshe complied with Par'oh's request, and the frogs did indeed leave on the following day.

Perhaps that was because Par'oh specifically asked for that, whereas the Rosh is speaking about the other plagues, where he did not.


Par'oh Acknowledges G-d's Righteousness

" And Par'oh sent and he declared, 'Hashem is Righteous and I and my people are wicked!' " (9:27).

The Da'as Zekeinim explains that what prompted Par'oh to make such a declaration specifically by the plague of hail, was the fact that G-d had warned him to gather all the Egyptian animals indoors to avoid being struck by the fiery hail-balls. Those who did not comply, which presumably comprised most of the people, and probably Par'oh too, simply lost all their animals. Hence Par'oh announced that Hashem was righteous for forewarning them in advance, and they were wicked, for not paying heed to His warning, and displaying their lack of faith in Him.

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