by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS B'SHALACH 5771 BS"D
Ch. 15, v. 2: "Zeh Keili v'anveihu" - This is my G-d and I will beautify Him - The gemara Shabbos 133b derives from these words, based on the interpretation of the word, "v'anveihu" being sourced from "no'oh," beautiful, that one is to not do his mitzvos in a minimal manner, but rather, to enhance them up to the cost of 1/3rd more. There are two obvious issues we must deal with. The first is why this concept is placed here in these words of our verse, and the second is how we derive that the amount of enhancement is exactly 1/3rd. Although the first issue has been dealt with in an earlier edition, an explanation that deals with both points is being offered.
The gemara Yerushalmi Kilayim 8:2 says that it was common practice to have a chariot drawn by a single horse. Along came the Paroh of Yoseif's times and increased this to two horses, as per the verse, "Va'yarkeiv oso b'mirke'ves hamishneh" (Breishis 41:43), interpreting "hamishneh" as "having TWO (horses)." When Paroh took chase after the bnei Yisroel after their exodus, he increased the horse-power to three horses, as per the verse, "V'sholishim al kulo" (Shmos 14:7). Targum Yonoson ben Uziel likewise says on this verse that Paroh added a horse to the normal pair.
We see here that Paroh, when taking chase, even though he clearly emancipated the bnei Yisroel (see gemara Yerushalmi P'sochim 4:4) did not keep his word and to add insult to injury he was "m'ha'deir" to add 1/3rd to the number of horses. Hashem in kind drown the horses while they were still tethered as a troika, "umivchar SHOLISHOV tubu b'yam suf." When the bnei Yisroel saw the great miracle of Hashem's miraculously subduing the 1/3rd enhanced team of horses, they responded in kind that they would enhance their service of Hashem in a corresponding amount. This is an application of "Mei'oyvai t'chakmeini mitzvosecho" (T'hilim 119:98), from my enemies You educate me how to do Your precepts. (Bnei Yisoschor Maamo'rei Shabbos maamar #2 Tosfos Shabbos)
In a somewhat similar manner, the N'tzi"v as cited in Hagodoh shel Pesach Gedolei Yisroel questions the juxtaposition of our verse with "mar'k'vos Paroh ……" He likewise cites the above-mentioned gemara and also queries how we arrive at 1/3rd. He adds that the gemara (B.K. 9b) raises a question regarding the 1/3rd. How is it calculated, from within or externally? For example, if we have an object that we are about to purchase for fulfilling a mitzvoh that costs 6 and an enhanced one costs more, is our "hidur" 8, meaning that we calculate 1/3rd of the cost of the basic object, or is the "hidur" 9, meaning that we calculate the total cost and the increase is 1/3rd of the new total.
The gemara P'sochim 118b says: Rabbo bar Mori expounded, "Va'yamru al yam b'yam suf" (T'hilim 106:7). These words teach us that the bnei Yisroel were rebellious at the seashore of Yam Suf. They said in great concern, "Just as we ascend from this body of water here, the Egyptians are also ascending from another spot." In response to this Hashem said to the ministering angel of the water, "Expel the dead bodies onto the seashore. The ministering angel responded, "Is it appropriate for a master who has given his servant (in this case the fish in the water) a present and then asks to have it returned? Hashem said that He offers a 50% increase to the water at a later time. The response to this, although somewhat startling, was, "Does a servant chase after his master to collect a debt?" Hashem responded, "I will have another body of water, the Nachal Kishon, serve as my guarantor." The Yam Suf accepted this and immediately expelled the dead Egyptians, and the bnei Yisroel saw them on the seashore, as related in the verses. The increase by 50% was actualized by Cicero. Here by Yam Suf there were 600 chariots of soldiers, "Sheish mei'os rechev bochur," while by Cicero it says, "Teisha mei'os rechev barzel" (Shoftim 4). We see from all this that there was an increase of 1/3rd. I'm sure you've noticed that I have written that there was a 50% increase and at the same time stated that we derive a 1/3rd increase. The N'tzi"v says that based on this medrash the increase of 1/3rd is calculated from the new total, which is the same as ½ of the base number, one of the opinions mentioned in the above-quoted gemara.
Ch. 15, v. 19: "Ki voh sus Paroh" - Because/when Paroh's horse came - I am repeating an insight from a previous edition because I am left with a problem that I have not resolved. Hopefully, a reader will submit a satisfactory answer. In previous issues the subject of whether this verse is part of the "shiroh" or not has been dealt with, including some incorrect explanations. The main issue was that although we have a disagreement among Rishonim as to whether it is or it is not, why can we not clarify this by simply looking into a Torah scroll and seeing if this verse is written in the "shiroh" format, with spacing mid-verse, or not. I eventually came across a Machatzis Hashekel who writes that this is really the basis of the disagreement, how this verse is to appear in a Torah scroll.
In all our Torah scrolls we find our verse written in the "shiroh" format.
The Abudraham writes that the reason we repeat the verse, "Hashem yimloch l'olom vo'ed" and then follow it with its Targum, "Hashem malchu'sei ko'eim l'olam ulolmei olma'ya," "shna'yim mikra v'echod Targum," is to show that this is the last verse of the "shiroh." This on its own is good and fine. However, it seems to contradict all our Torah scrolls, where "Ki voh sus Paroh ……" is written in the "shiroh" format. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated. PLEASE ……
Ch. 17, v. 13: "Va'yachalosh Yehoshua es Amoleik v'es amo l'fi cho'rev" - And Yehoshua weakened Amoleik and his nation by sword - The gemara Brochos 54b says that he who sees the stone upon which Moshe sat when he prayed for the success of the bnei Yisroel in their war with Amoleik should recite the blessing "Boruch she'ossoh nisim laavoseinu bamokome ha'zeh." This is most puzzling. If the odds were greatly stacked against the bnei Yisroel in this war, the blessing should be pronounced when one sees the military zone, not where Moshe prayed. The mishnoh R.H. (gemara 29a) says that it was not Moshe's hands that made or broke war, but rather he symbolically indicated to the bnei Yisroel that when their hearts were elevated and they subordinated themselves to Hashem, they would be successful in war, and if ch"v not, then they wouldn't. The miracle took place at the location where Moshe prayed and it was so powerfully effective that indeed the bnei Yisroel subordinated themselves to Hashem, as we see from the outcome. What actually took place was simply acting out the pre-determined script. (Maharsh"o)
Ch. 15, v. 20: "Vatikach Miraim …… es hatof b'yodoh" - And Miriam took …… the drum into her hand - The Rambam in hilchos yesodei haTorah 7:4 writes that a prophet cannot receive prophecy at any given time. He has to have the right mindset, which is to be positive and happy. This is why they would sometimes go into solitude. Prophecy does not rest upon a person when he is morose or sluggish. This is why the "bnei hanviim" would have in front of them different musical instruments, which would be played to elevate their spirit. This explains why we sometimes find the word "misnabim" to describe their receiving prophecy. This is a reflexive verb and indicates that they would have things done to bring themselves to a level on which they can receive prophecy.
In M'lochim 2:3:15 the verse says, "V'atoh k'chu li m'na'gein v'hoyoh kimna'gein hamna'gein vat'hi olov yad Hashem." The Holy Baal Shem Tov explains these words as follows. Not any musician, even a very good one, can bring a prophet to the afore-mentioned levels expressed by the Rambam. The verse says "kim'na'gein ham'nagein, meaning that the player should be as the instrument. The player might be thinking very highly of himself, or some other self-aggrandizing intention. He must be like the inanimate instrument, and then and only then can he bring the prophet to a level that he can receive prophecy.
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