by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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L'ZECHER NISHMAS R' SHOLOM BEN YAAKOV YEHUDA MOZES Z"L, FIRST YAHRZEIT 11 SHVAT
SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS B'SHALACH 5770 BS"D
Ch. 14, v. 14: "Hashem yilocheim lochem v'a'tem tachari shun" - Hashem will do battle for you and you shall remain mute - In Yehoshua 5:2 it says, "Bo'eis hahee omar Hashem el Yehoshua a'sei l'cho charvos tzurim v'shuv mol es bnei Yisroel." This was just before the bnei Yisroel were to engage the residents of Canaan in warfare. The command was to have the bnei Yisroel circumcised. This is most unusual, as after circumcision one is quite weak, and especially on the third day, "Va'y'hi ba'yom hashlishi bi'h'yosom Kohein'avim" (Breishis 34:25). Rabbi M.M. Epstein Rosh Yeshivas Slabodka and Chevron answers that the timing was targeted to be just before engaging in war to drive home to the bnei Yisroel that "Lo v'Kohein'ach v'lo v'chayil" is the war won. This would be a full-fledged realization of "Hashem yilocheim lochem."
Ch. 14, v. 14: "Hashem yilocheim lochem v'a'tem tacharishun" - Hashem will do battle for you and you shall remain mute - our rabbis have taught that he who does not speak about secular matters during davening will be blessed with sufficient income. We can say that this concept lies in the words of our verse. Hashem will give you bread (livelihood) as long as you will remain mute (not discuss secular matters during davening). (Admor Rabbi Shlomo of Tchortkov)
Ch. 14, v. 21: "Va'yiboku hamoyim" - And the waters split - The Mechilta 4:6 says that not only did the lower waters, i.e. those on earth, split, but the waters above the heavens also split. It is well understood that waters throughout the world splitting brings great wonder and is a medium for sanctification of Hashem and for showing that He is in control of the world, but what purpose did the upper waters split? The Markeves Hamishneh answers that Yalkut Reuveini on parshas Vayikra says that when Hashem placed some waters above and some below, the lower waters cried, complaining that they too wanted to be in the upper, more spiritual spheres. Hashem consoled them by saying that the upper waters would only sing Hashem's praises after the lower waters do so. The praise is the actual flowing of the waters, as per M.R. Breishis 85:1. Once Hashem split the lower waters and they did not flow, i.e. did not sing their praises of Hashem, the upper waters were unable to do so as well.
Perhaps we can explain the Mechilta in another manner. When Hashem effects a salvation it is sometimes done in a manner that is clothed in what we call nature, and sometimes it is in a manner that we call miraculous, but nonetheless, it is done through intermediaries, i.e. fire, floods, explosions, etc. these cataclysmic happenings need take place only on earth. Here, however, the angels said that it was not justified to save the bnei Yisroel and drown the Egyptians, as both served idols, etc. It was only through the extra-ordinary kindness of Hashem that the bnei Yisroel were saved. There was no place for intermediaries to carry out the miracle, and it was Hashem in a direct "hands-on" manner that effected the splitting of the waters. This is what is meant in saying that the upper waters also split. It is an allegory for saying that it was Hashem from the heavens who brought this about, and it was not through an intermediary of the physical forces that are here on earth. (n.l.)
Ch. 14, v. 30: "Va'yar Yisroel es Mitzrayim meis al sfas ha'yam" - And Yisroel saw Egyptians dead/dying on the shore of the sea - In our daily "ezras" prayer we say, "Al zose shibchu ahuvim …… v'nosnu y'didim zmiros shiros v'sishbochos." A bit later we say, "Shiroh chadoshoh shibchu g'ulim l'shimcho hagodol al sfas ha'yam yachad kulom hodu." The earlier phrase indicates that a select group, the "ahuvim" and "y'didim" should offer praise in song, while later it says a more inclusive "g'ulim," as well as "yachad kulom." Those who are beloved and friends, so to say, to Hashem, those who implicitly trust in Him, should sing praise. Later, when it discusses being "al sfas ha'yam," includes everyone. This is because in spite of being miraculously saved there were those who feared that "Just as we are being saved after traversing the sea, the Egyptians too are going to walk out of the water unscathed and will again pursue us. The bnei Yisroel saw the dead/dying bodies of all those who pursued them "al sfas ha'yam," and this allayed their fears. Thus everyone gave praise, "yachad kulom hodu." (Chasam Sofer Droshos)
Ch. 14, v. 30: "Va'yar Yisroel es Mitzrayim meis al sfas ha'yam" - And Yisroel saw Egyptians dead/dying on the shore of the sea - Targum Yonoson ben Uziel translates "meis" as "Meisin v'lo meisin," meaning that they were dying. Why was it necessary to prolong the Egyptians' death throes? The spoils gathered at the sea shore was the fulfillment of Hashem's propmise of "r'chush godol" to Avrohom in parshas Lech L'cho. However, the gemara Kidushin 17 says that a non-ben Yisroel who dies is inherited by his sons. The gemara Ksubos 84 says that if a ben Yisroel were to take control of the possessions of a non-ben Yisroel, and then the goy dies, the ben Yisroel takes ownership, rather than the heir. This is why it was necessary to have the Egyptians not be killed in the waters. During their death throes there was ample time for their jewellery and the like which they took along with them to wash up on the seashore and be picked up be the bnei Yisroel and become theirs legally. (Ponim Yofos)
Ch. 15, v. 2: "Zeh Keili v'anveihu" - This is my G-d and I will enhance Him - The gemara Shabbos 133b derives from these words that one should not do a mitzvoh in the minimal manner, but rather, he should enhance and beautify it. The ratio of enhancement is 1/3rd, as mentioned in the gemara B.K. 9b and in halacha, Sh.O. O.Ch. #656. Why is this concept placed in the praise of "shiras ha'yam" and why is the amount of enhancement precisely 1/3rd? The gemara Yerushakmi Kila'yim 8:2 and Medrash Tanchuma 1:7, d.h. "L'susosi," relate that originally chariots were pulled by only one horse. Paroh instituted a two horsepower chariot when he coronated Yoseif, "B'mirkeves hamishneh," (Breishis 41:43). When Paroh and his army pursued the bnei Yisroel in our parsha he expanded the pulling power to a troika, as per the verse, "V'sholishim al kulo" earlier, in 14:7 (see Targum Yonoson ben Uziel).
We see that Paroh enhanced the horsepower of a chariot by 1/3rd (milbar). Hashem likewise took revenge on Paroh and his army by drowning even the most powerful war machine, the troika chariot and its horses, "Umivchar sholishov tubu v'yam suf" (15:4). Just as Paroh enhanced the power of his chariots by 1/3rd, we too take a lesson to enhance our mitzvos by 1/3rd. Tjis is a fulfillment of the verse, "Mei'oivai t'chakmeini mitzvosecho" (T'hilim 119:98). (Bnei Yisoschor maa mo'rei haShabbosos maamar #2 Tosfos Shabbos)
Ch. 15, v. 4: "Mar'k'vos Paroh v'cheilo yoroh va'yam" - Paroh's chariots and army He tossed into the sea - The word "yoroh" is used for throwing a projectile, as in "yoro yi'yo'reh" (Shmos 19:13). Here too, Targum Yerushalmi syas that Hashem shot arrows of fire into the chariots and the warriors of Paroh.
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