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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 13, v. 17: "V'lo nochom Elokim derech eretz Plishtim" - Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says that the reason for Hashem's diverting them from the more direct path was as follows: Thirty years before the Exodus the tribe of Efraim left Egypt. They were not supposed to leave at that time. They met up with the Plishtim and were all killed, but not buried. They were the dried bones about which Yechezkel prophesied (Yechezkel 37). Had the bnei Yisroel seen these bones, they would have headed back to Egypt. (See gemara Sanhedrin 92b.)

Ch. 14, v. 2: "Pi hachiros" - Rashi comments that this is Pisom. It is now called Pi Hachiros because the bnei Yisroel were free from bondage once they reached this location (Cheirus means freedom). The Chizkuni explains this with a Psikta Zut'r'sa that says that the Egyptians guarded their slaves very carefully. They were so confident that no slave could escape that they enacted a law that if a slave were to escape and reach this location, he was a free man. The bnei Yisroel were free even according to Egyptian law.

Ch. 14, v. 27: "L'eisono" - In the M.R. Breishis 5:5 Rabbi Yochonon says that Hashem stipulated with the Yam Suf at the time of its creation that it should split at the time the need would arise, when the bnei Yisroel will be boxed in at its shores with the Egyptians in hot (literally) pursuit. This is indicated by the unusual word used for "its strength - l'eisono." The word "l'eisono" is phonetically similar to "lis'no'o," to its conditional agreement. The difficulty in comprehending this medrash is obvious. Should this not have been pointed out in a verse dealing with the splitting of the Yam Suf rather than the verse dealing with the Yam Suf returning to its nature of flowing with its full strength?

To answer this another question will be posed. The gemara Chulin 7a relates that Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir was on his way to attempt to fulfill the great mitzvoh of redeeming captured people, "pidyone shvuyim." He came upon the River Gino'i and was unable to cross it. He needed to be on the other side to accomplish what he set out to do. He spoke to the river and demanded that it split for him. The river refused to cooperate, saying that if it would continue to flow it would SURELY be fulfilling the will of its Creator, as Rashi there explains that in Koheles 1:7 it says, "Kol hancholim holchim el ha'yom," all rivers must flow into the sea. However if it were to stop flowing to accommodate Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir, he is DOUBTFUL if he will be successful in freeing the captured people, thus the fulfillment of Hashem's will is not a sure thing. Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir responded that if the river would not cooperate he would pray to Hashem that the river should permanently dry up and thus cease to exist. Upon hearing this threat the river promptly split.

The splitting of this river is not recorded anywhere as being a condition set into motion at the time of its creation. (See the commentary of Rabbi Shlomo Kluger "Y'ri'ose Shlomo," printed in the Rabbi Yaakov Emdin prayer book, on the words of the Amidoh for Chanukah "Al hanisim," where he differentiates between miracles that were stipulated at the time of creation and miracles that were not.) If Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir was able to cause a river to split, Moshe could surely do the same, so why was it necessary to stipulate this at the time of the creation of the Yam Suf?

To answer this question we have to analyze the details of the above-mentioned story. Why with the demand to split did the river not cooperate and yet with the threat that Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir would pray to Hashem to have it permanently dry up did it cooperate? The answer is that the river was right in stating that it had the priority over Rabbi Pinchos because of its SURELY fulfilling the Creator's will. However, if the river would cease to exist there is no contravention of the verse in Koheles, as only a river is commanded to flow into the sea, but if there is no river existent there is no command to flow. This was the intention of Rabbi Pinchos when he threatened to cause the river to permanently dry up.

However, Moshe was unable to do the same. To ask the Yam Suf to split wouldn't work, as per the response of the River Gino'i to Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir. To threaten to have the Yam Suf totally dry up was also not an option, as Hashem had ordained that the Yam Suf continue to exist so that it may later drown the Egyptians. Only Hashem could cause the Yam Suf to split. Indeed the M.R. says that the Yam Suf did not split at the bidding of Moshe and only did so when the Divine Presence demanded that it split.

This is the intention of the M.R. in parshas Breishis. It states that HASHEM stipulated a condition with the Yam Suf. If you will ask why it is necessary to have HASHEM make this pre-condition since Moshe could have caused it to split with the threat of causing it to dry up totally, as did Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir, the answer is that Hashem also required that the Yam Suf return to its strength and flow again to drown the Egyptians. Moshe was therefore unable to cause the Yam Suf to totally dry up. To demand the Yam Suf to only split was also impossible, as it was SURELY fulfilling the will of Hashem by flowing, while Moshe taking the bnei Yisroel successfully through the Yam Suf was NOT A SURE THING. Indeed, we find that while they were in the middle of the Yam Suf an angel complained to Hashem that the bnei Yisroel and the Egyptians should be treated equally, as there were idol worshippers in both groups. (Likutei Shoshanim)

Ch. 15, v. 21: "Vataan" - If we translate "Vataan" as "And she responded," we have the question - To what did Miriam respond?

1) She responded to the men's song with the repetition of one part of their song, "Shiru laShem ......" (Ramban)

2) She responded in a similar fashion. Just as Moshe said one verse of the "shiroh" at a time and the bnei Yisroel repeated each one, so also, Miriam said all the verses, a verse at a time, and the bnos Yisroel repeated them as per the gemara Sotoh 30b. (B'eir Yitzchok) The opinion of the Rivo"sh Baal Tosfos is also that the women repeated all the verses.

It remains to be explained why only a part of a particular verse was mentioned in "shiras Miriam" if the complete "shiroh" was said. See later on in this verse on the words "Sus v'rochvo."

3) Miriam CAUSED a response to her first saying the verses of the "shiro," as the bnos Yisroel repeated the verses after her. (B'eir Yitzchok)

4) Perhaps an answer can be given based on the offering given above regarding the women having stronger trust in Hashem's bringing about a complete salvation after leaving Egypt. This was expressed by their bringing along musical instruments to be played at the time that thanks would be given for the salvation. Miriam responded to the manner of "shiroh" the men sang, which was without instruments, to give the "men" admonition because they didn't also bring along tupim.

The above answers are all of the opinion that "Vataan" means "And she responded" or caused a response. However, there are those who translate differently, and the question posed at the beginning does not begin.

1) "Vataan" can simply mean "And she SAID," and its use does not require a prior statement or action. We find this in Shmuel 1:18:9 and Iyove 4:1. (Lekach Tov)

2) "Vataan" can be translated as "And she said in a raised voice." (Michlole Yofi)

We find this in Dvorim 27:14, "V'ONU ha'L'viim ...... kol rom," which teaches us that "aniyoh" is done in a loud voice. As well in Dvorim 26:5 it says "V'oniso v'omarto," which Rashi explains to mean "And you should say in a loud voice."



Ch. 14, v. 31: "Va'yaaminu" - I would like to bring together a few ideas which will create an overview and insight into "golus Mitzrayim" and into the exodus. In parshas Lech L'cho (14:14) I brought the three opinions mentioned in the gemara N'dorim 32a for Avrohom's deserving to have his descendants suffer slavery in Egypt for 210 years.

A) Rabbi Avohu in the name of Rabbi Eliezer: Because he caused BITUL TORAH when he emptied his Torah School of students to have them do battle with the four kings (Breishis 14:14).

B) Shmuel: He displayed a weakness in his trust (emunoh) in Hashem by asking "Ba'moh ei'da" (Breishis 15:8).

C) Rabbi Yochonon: He gave up the opportunity to bring more people under the wings of Hashem by allowing the king of Sdom to keep the people who were captured in the battle (14:23).

If there was a prophecy to Avrohom that his descendants would be enslaved in a foreign land for 400 years (Breishis 15:13), how were they able to leave after only 210 years? The Rebbi R' Heshel answers that the 400 years of enslavement were compacted into 210 years for three reasons. A) They worked at night as well as by day. B) Their population explosion brought about a large amount of work being done. C) They had an extremely heavy and painful workload, "koshi hashibud." He says that this is indicated in D'vorim (26:7,8), "Va'yaar Elokim es ON'YEINU v'es AMO'LEINU v'es LACHATZEINU. Va'yotzi'einu Hashem." The Hagodoh tells us that "on'yeinu" refers to the men being separated from their wives at night. A) The men were forced to work at night as well as by day. "Amo'leinu" refers to their children. B) The great increase in the number of bnei Yisroel.

"Lachatzeinu" refers to the great oppression. C) Their extremely heavy and painful workload. Because of all the above, (verse 8) "And Hashem took us out (earlier)."

Possibly, these three sufferings were an exoneration of the three shortcomings mentioned above. A) Avrohom emptied his Torah School of its students at night and fought his war at night (14:15). Similarly the bnei Yisroel suffered by having to also work at night. B) For not bringing numerous souls under the wings of Hashem, there was a population explosion and numerous more bnei Yisroel were born into slavery. C) For his weakness in trust in Hashem, the bnei Yisroel suffered great pain. This is truly the greatest test in "emunoh" a person can endure, to suffer greatly and still not lose trust in Hashem.

Having experienced the above three sufferings which exonerated them of the three shortcomings, the bnei Yisroel similarly experienced three levels of redemption. A) In Dvorim 16:1 it says that the bnei Yisroel left Egypt by NIGHT. B) In Shmos 12:51 it says that they left by DAY. C) In Shmos 14:30 they had a final complete redemption when the bnei Yisroel saw the Egyptian army dead on the shore of the "yam suf." These three levels of redemption correspond to the three levels of golus which correspond to the three shortcomings. A) Although they did not leave at night (see Rashi on Dvorim 16:1), they were freed from slavery by Paroh and given permission to leave at night. They merited redemption at night through their working at night. This was also an exoneration for emptying Avrohom's Torah academy of its students at night. They reconnected to the toiling in Torah of which it is said, (Pirkei Ovos 6:2) that one who toils in Torah merits to be called a "FREE MAN," ben chorin, cho'rus - chei'rus (Shmos 32:16). B) Their actual departure by day brought about a large increase in the number of people who would adhere to the word of Hashem. The "eirev rav," who numbered 2,400,000 according to Targum Yonoson ben Uziel on 12:38, joined them. This, incidentally, is the exact amount as the number of bnei Yisroel who perished during makas choshech. By virtue of a large number of bnei Yisroel working for Paroh, they merited to have a large number of "eirev rav" join them in serving Hashem. This exonerates the lost opportunity of bringing the people captured in the battle under the wings of Hashem. C) The complete redemption realized at "yam suf" after the splitting of the sea brought the bnei Yisroel to a new level - "va'yaaminu baShem u'v'Moshe avdo." After having successfully weathered the pains inflicted by the Egyptians, which was a daunting test of their trust in Hashem, they merited true emunoh, both in Hashem and in His servant Moshe. This new "EMUNOH" came about through seeing the HAND of Hashem, and possibly also, the "HAND" of Moshe without the use of his staff, as above (14:16). Possibly, therefore the "mesorres," the words used to indicate the number of verses in the parsha, is "YAD EMUNOH." Reaching this high level of emunoh in Hashem corrected the shortcoming of the utterance of "Bamoh ei'da (Breishis 15:8)."



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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