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

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Vol. 21   No. 14

This issue is sponsored
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יצחק בן חיים צבי ז"ל
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Parshas Vo'eiro

G-d of Judgement, G-d of Mercy (1)

" … G-d (Elokim) spoke to Moshe and he said to him "I am Hashem" (6:2).

The Or ha'Chayim explains the switch from "Elokim" to "Hashem" in the following way: G-d spoke harshly to Moshe, for accusing Him of dong evil to K'lal Yisrael. He ought to have known that G-d's Midah is one of Mercy, as is hinted in the Name 'Hashem', and that He is 'Good to all', as the Navi Yirmiyah specifically states in Eichah 'Evil does not emanate from the One on high' (it emanates from man). Perhaps it was due to the lack of Emunah on the part of Yisrael, or was part of the initial decree of Inuy (torture) that was now coming to an end. Or perhaps it was due to the refusal of the elders to accompany Moshe all the way to Par'oh's palace and to stand with him before Par'oh.

Whatever the case, he explains, Moshe should have known better than to attribute evil to Hashem.

It seems to me that the source of this lies in Chazal, who, with reference to the Pasuk in Bereishis (2:4), which switches from "Elokim" to "Hashem Elokim", explain that when Hashem saw that the world cannot exist on the Midas ha'Din alone, He combined it with the Midas Rachamim. Moreover, He placed the Midas ha'Rachamim first. From that moment on, whenever Hashem applies the Midas ha'Din, it is only in conjunction with the Midas ha'Rachamim.


G-d of Judgement, G-d of Mercy (2)


The Oznayim la'Torah explains that when a few Pesukim earlier the Torah records that Moshe returned to Hashem (to complain about the harsh treatment that He had decreed on K'lal Yisrael), it means that he wanted to retract from the mission of redeeming Yisrael from Egypt. The opening Pesukim of Parshas Vo'eiro, he says, are presenting new arguments to convince him to continue.

What Hashem is therefore saying to Moshe here, is that even though it may look as if the Midas ha'Din has taken over, with a view of punishing Yisrael in the most extreme possible way, Moshe was seeing only half the story. In fact, the Midas ha'Din was working in conjunction with the Midas Rachamim to achieve what the Midas Rachamim could not achieve on its own.

To begin with, Yisrael were at this point unworthy to be redeemed, and if Hashem would have tried to take them out, the Midas ha'Din (in the form of the Satan) would have prosecuted them and prevented the redemption from taking place. Now however, the additional suffering was foisted upon them, which silenced the prosecution, allowing the Midas ha'Rachamim to prevail.

Furthermore, there were some people who were loath to leave Egypt, who would have claimed "I love my master; I will not leave!"

But now that the workload became intolerable, they too, would agree to leave (as we explained in the Main Article, Parshas Sh'mos).

This was one of the arguments that Hashem used to demonstrate the flaws in Moshe's arguments.

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)

The Four Expressions (1)

" … I will take you out from under the burdens of Egypt, and I will save you from their work; I will redeem you with an outstretched arm ... and I will take you to Me as a nation" (6:6).

The four expressions of redemption can actually be divided into two - 1. From slavery to freedom; 2. Becoming a nation.

As is well-known, Yisrael is a nation of extremes. When they fall, they go right to the bottom, and when they rise, they climb all the way to the top. Based on this fact, the Oznayim la'Torah explains the Pasuk in the following way:

Yisrael in Egypt did not only work for the Egyptians, they were also treated as slaves, as a result of which they were subjected to all forms of cruel treatment.

Hence the Pasuk says that not only did G-d take Yisrael from the burdens that the Egyptians subjected them to, He also saved them from having to work for them at all.

And the Pasuk continues that, not only did He redeem them from Egypt to become an independent nation in their own land, He also took them to him, to give them His precious Torah and to make them "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation".


The Four Expressions (2)


The Hagodoh of the Stypler, citing R. Chayim Kanievski, explains the four expressions of redemption in compliance to the four stages that led to the Exodus: "ve'Hotzeisi" refers to the Rosh-Hashanah prior to the Exodus, when Yisrael downed tools and stopped working.

"ve'Hitzalti" to the slaying of the Egyptian first-born. Chazal tell us that, Par'oh sought out Moshe and Aharon and complained that all the Egyptians were dying, to which they replied 'If you want the plague to cease, say "You are free, and that from now on you are servants of Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu!'

Par'oh began to shout out loud - 'Until now, you were my servants; from now on you are free men.'

"ve'Ga'alti" refers to the actual Exodus, and

"ve'Lokachti" to Matan Torah.


This Medrash clearly indicates that when they left Egypt, they left for good, and not with the intention of returning after three days.


From the Daughters of Putiel

" … Elazar, the son of Aharon, took a daughter of Puti'el as a wife, and she bore him Pinchas" (6:25).

Rashi informs us that Puti'el refers both to Yisro, who fattened calves for idolatry (Pitem agolim … ), and to Yosef who struggled against his Yeitzer-ha'Ra (pitpet be'yitzro).

The Oznayim la'Torah, citing the Gemara in Yuma, reminds us that the Torah warns us in particular against transgressing two major sins to which one easily falls prey, heresy and licentiousness. For so the Torah writes in the Parshah of Tzitzis - "And do not go astray after your hearts (heresy and idolatry) and after your eyes (thoughts of sin and immorality).

In Shitim, Yisrael sinned on both fronts, as the Pasuk states in Balak "And the people began to commit adultery, and Yisrael cleaved to Ba'al Pe'or. And it was Pinchas who, in an act of Mesiras Nefesh, brought the sin to a halt.

Where did Pinchas get this trait from?

He inherited it from his illustrious ancestors Yisro and Yosef, as we just explained - the loathing of heresy from Yisro and that of licentiousness from Yosef.


Aharon & Moshe

"That is Aharon and Moshe, to whom G-d said 'Take the B'nei Yisrael out of the Land of Egypt …'" (6:26).

Later, the Torah writes "That is Moshe and Aharon" (indeed, Moshe precedes Aharon wherever else they are mentioned).

Here, the Oznayim la'Torah explains that Torah is speaking about taking Yisrael out of Egypt. This task was originally allotted to Moshe, and it was only because Moshe, in his extreme humility, did not want to go, that G-d instructed Aharon to accompany him. Consequently, in order to negate the impression that Aharon was secondary to Moshe, the Torah places his name before that of Moshe, to teach us that now that Aharon had joined Moshe, he was his equal in this regard.

The Pasuk later, on the other hand, is written in connection with Aharon and Moshe conveying G-d's messages to Par'oh, as the Torah writes there "They are the ones who spoke to Par'oh", a capacity in which Aharon was the spokesman. And it is in order to negate the impression that Moshe was secondary to Aharon that the Torah places his name before that of Aharon, to teach us that Moshe accompanied Aharon as an equal partner in that role (Refer to Rashi in Kedoshim 19:3, for a similar idea).


Hardening Par'oh's Heart

"And I will harden Par'oh's heart, and I will increase My miracles and wonders in the land of Egypt" (7:3).

The commentaries ask how G-d could first harden Par'oh's heart, forcing him to disobey His orders to let Yisrael go, and then punish him for doing so? How can one remove a person's freewill and choice, and then punish him for taking the wrong path?

The Oznayim la'Torah answers simply that G-d did not force Par'oh's hand at all. What He did was to make him forget the pain and suffering of the previous plagues, leaving his freewill and choice intact.

It can be compared, he says, to the well-known Rambam, who explains that when Beis-Din beat a man who refuses to give his wife a Get at the behest of the Beis-Din, it is in order to remove the Yeitzer ha'Ra that is inciting him to rebel, leaving him able to give the act of his own freewill.

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