subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues



Ch. 10, v. 18: "Va'yeitzei mei'im Paroh va'yetar el Hashem" - We find almost this exact verse when Moshe's left Paroh and entreated Hashem to end the plague of wild animals (8:26). The difference is that the word Moshe is skipped here, while in 8:26 it says "Va'yeitzei MOSHE." An explanation for the difference would be appreciated. As well, although we find that Targum Yonoson ben Uziel translates "va'yeitzei" the same way here as in 8:26, "Un'fak (Moshe) MILVAS Paroh," Targum Onkeles translates it here as "MILVOS Paroh," while in 8:26 he says "MIN KODOM Paroh." Again, an explanation for the change would be appreciated.

Ch. 10, v. 21: "Vihi choshech al eretz Mitzroyim" - The Medrash Tanchuma on our parsha #1 and the M.R. 14:1 bring the verse in T'hilim 105:28, "Sholach choshech va'yachashich V'LO MORU es dvoro," saying that it refers to the plague of darkness. There are different opinions as to who "V'LO MORU." One opinion is that V'LO MORU means "and they did not accept as master," l'ka'beil MORUS, refering to the Egyptians, and thus they deserved to be punished with the plague of darkness. The more common translation of V'LO MORU is "and they did not rebel," and the verse tells us that the angels who were the agents to bring the darkness did not rebel against Hashem. Why should I think that they would rebel? This is answered in numerous ways. 1) Because the darkness was not in the original master plan of the creation of the world, and a departure from that is not readily followed by the angels 2) The angels might have been reluctant since they knew that 4/5ths of the bnei Yisroel would die during this plague 3) The angels added darkness to the darkness that Hashem had already decreed as indicated by "choshech va'yachashich," but this was not considered deviating from Hashem's command as there was an indication from Hashem that He wanted them to add to the darkness by his first asking them if the Egyptians deserved it (Beis haLevi)

4) The Medrash says that ALL the angels agreed, and this included the arch angel of Egypt as well, whom we might have thought would not cooperate. A most interesting antecedent of "v'lo moru" is the bnei Yisroel, who did not rebel against Hashem's word. The Ksav Sofer explains this with the words of verse 23, "V'lo komu ish mitachtov." Rashi explains that the darkness was of such an intensity that it had denseness and the Egyptians were not able to move. This presented an ideal opportunity for the bnei Yisroel to not only "ask" for items from the Egyptians, but also to make a quick exit. Remember that they had experienced over the last ten or eleven months a most ambivalent Paroh, changing his mind numerous times, even after promising to let the bnei Yisroel leave. Yet they had the self control to wait for the time that Hashem designated, the day of the fifteenth of Nison, after the devastating plague of the smiting of the firstborn. Yoseif had told them to not force the exodus before its time, "Pokode yifkode Elokim es'chem v'he'eloh es'chem min ho'oretz hazose" (Breishis 50:25). This was the "v'lo moru es dvoro" of the bnei Yisroel. (MVRHRH"G Rabbi Yaakov Kamenecki zt"l makes a similar point regarding the bnei Yisroel not leaving during the night of the smiting of the firstborn even though Paroh clearly told Moshe that the bnei Yisroel should leave immediately during the night. Yet they waited for the morning as per Hashem's command.)

The Holy Admor of Satmar answers a question with these words of the Ksav Sofer. Indeed, why was the arch angel of the Egyptians agreeable to have his people smitten with the plague of darkness? He answers that since this angel knew that the bnei Yisroel would have a wonderful opportunity to leave Egypt unhindered during the plague, he was sure that they could not restrain themselves and would leave early, resulting in catastrophic results, as we find happened to the 32,000 bnei Efrayim who left early. He therefore agreed. To his great shock the bnei Yisroel were also "v'lo moru es d'voro."

It might be in place to point out that since the exodus from Egypt is a portender for the future final redemption, just as the exodus from Egypt was not to be brought earlier than Hashem's wishes, so also we should not push through our actions to speed up the redemption. The Medrash Tanchumo Dvorim #4 on the words "rav lochem sove es hohor ha'zeh" (Dvorim 2:3) states that Hashem made the bnei Yisroel make three vows (as mentioned in Shis Hashirim 2:7). One was "shelo yidchaku es ha'keitz," that no attempt should be made to FORCE the speeding up of the coming of Moshiach.

Ch. 12, v. 26: "Mah ho'avodoh hazose LOCHEM" - These words are well known from the text of the Hagodoh of Pesach as the remarks of the "ben horosho" when he sees his father preparing for Pesach. The Hagodoh says that we can derive from his use of the word LOCHEM that he has excluded himself from the community of bnei Yisroel, and has thus denied in Hashem. In turn the father responds, "Baavur zeh ossoh Hashem LI b'tzeisi miMitzrayim," from which we derive Li, to me, "v'lo LO," and not to the evil son, for had he lived in Egypt at the time of the exodus, he would not have been redeemed.

Many commentators on the Torah as well as on the Hagodoh shel Pesach ask that seemingly the same negative connotation can be indicated by the words of the wise son. He asks, "Ki yisholcho bincho mochor leimore moh ho'eidus v'hachukim v'hamishpotim asher tzivo Hashem Elokeinu ES'CHEM" (Dvorim 6:20). Why don't we derive from ES'CHEM ,"v'lo lo," just as we do from LOCHEM? There are many many answers to this question, and perhaps bez"H for Pesach some answers may be offered.

A most interesting approach to answer this question is to be found in the Rambam in his halachic work Yad Hachazokoh. As is well known to those who know it well, the Rambam at the end of his laws of Pesach gives us his complete text of the Hagodoh shel Pesach. Wonder of wonders, when he gives us the words of the wise son he writes that this son asks, "Moh ho'eidus v'hachukim v'hamishpotim asher tzivo Hashem Elokeinu OSONU." The word OSONU means US, thus he includes himself, and the question is answered by the question never beginning.

This leaves us with two serious questions. From where did the Rambam get this text, and even if we find a most reliable source, how could that source change from the text of the Torah, which says ES'CHEM?

The last section of the Mechilta on our parsha 18:6 quotes the verse mentioned above from Dvorim 6:20 as the question of the wise son, but instead of the word ES'CHEM at the end of the verse it says OSONU! We now have the source for the Rambam, but how could the Mechilta change from the text of the Torah? Perhaps the Mechilta understood that the verse was referring to the son born after the exodus or too young to remember what happened, as Rashi (Medrash Tanchuma #14) points out that "mochor" means "l'achar zman," a while later, and not literally tomorrow, right after the exodus, asking his father who was one who actually left Egypt, "What are the statutes ...... that Hashem our G-d has commanded you, ES'CHEM. Since the parents actually went through the Egypt experience the son says ES'CHEM, as Hashem directly commanded them.

The Mechilta is paraphrasing this for later generations, where the wise son will ask his father who was also not a live participant in the Egyptian experience. Thus the commands of Hashem are transmitted to father and son equally, hence the term OSONU is most appropriate.

Ch. 12, v. 40: "U'moshav bnei Yisroel asher yoshvu b'Mitzroyim shloshim shonoh v'arba mei'os shonoh" - Commentators explain that the calculation of the bnei Yisroel living in Egypt starts from the covenant Hashem made with Avrohom when he was 70 years old (Breishis 15:13). Although the verse in Breishis mentions 400 years and not 430 years, this is also explained by different commentators. I suggest looking into the commentary of the Ramban for a straightforward answer. In keeping with the dictum of "maa'sei Ovos siman labonim" Rabbeinu Efrayim points out that Avrohom and Yaakov descended to Egypt, whilt Yitzchok never left Eretz Yisroel. The numerical value of the letters of the names Avrohom and Yitzchok equal 430.

Ch. 12, v. 40,41: "Shloshim shonoh v'arba mei'os shonoh" - Although the Torah states here that the bnei Yisroel resided in Egypt for 430 years, and in reality it was only 210 years, the amount of time that they were enslaved and suffered bitterly from the Egyptians was even less, a total of 86 years, as mentioned in the Psikta Zut'r'so 15:11 and M.R. Shir Hashirim 2:13. They state that Miriam was given her name, which connotes bitterness, because when she was born the true suffering and enslavement began in earnest. She was 86 years old when the bnei Yisroel left Egypt.

The Holy Admor R' Yitzchok of Vorke says that there is an allusion to the 400 years of exile being commuted to 210 years in the words "Va'y'mor'ru es chayeihem" (Shmos 1:14). This explains that the harsh enslavement shrunk the years of their exile to 210 years as they suffered 400 years of enslavement compacted into this lesser period. The cantellation on these words, "trup," is "kadmo v'azlo," which is loosely translates as "they preceded," they left early. How many years earlier than Hashem's statement to Avrohom in Breishis 15:13, "arba mei'os shonoh?" The numerical value of "kadmo v'azlo," 190 years earlier, leaving a total of 210 years. The next words of the verse in parshas Shmos are "baavodoh koshoh," which have the cantellation "munach rvii." The loose translation of "munach rvii" is "there stayed (remained) four parts." Perhaps this can be interpreted as the 86 years of true enslavement and hardships which were a fifth of the 430 years, while 4/5ths of the 430 years remained without suffering, "munach r'vii."

In Shmos 6:6,7 we find four expressions of redemption, "v'hotzeisi, v'hitzalti, v'go'alti, v'lokachti."

1) Rashi and Rashbam on the gemara P'sochim 99b say that these four expressions of redemption are the source for drinking four goblets of wine on the night of the Seder. This is stated in the Yerushalmi P'sochim (10:1) and in the M.R. Breishis (88:4) as the opinion of Rav Huna.

2) The above two sources also bring the opinion of Rav Shmuel bar Nachmeini that the four goblets correspond to the four times the word "KOSE" is mentioned in the butler's dream and Yosef's interpretation at the end of parshas Va'yeishev.

3) The above two sources also bring the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi that the four goblets correspond to the four bitter goblets of punishment that Hashem will mete out to the nations of idol worshipers (Yirmiyohu 25:15, 51:7, T'hilim 11:6, 75:9).

4) The above Yerushalmi also brings that the four goblets correspond to the four salvations mentioned in T'hilim: "Hashem m'nos chelki v'CHOSI" (16:5), "KOSI r'voyoh" (23:5), and "KOSE y'shuos" (116:13). This last verse alludes to two goblets, as the word, "y'shuos," salvationS, is plural.

5) The four goblets correspond to the four times the word "govia" is mentioned in parshas Mikeitz (44:2, 12, 16, 17). "Gvi'i" in verse 2 is not included, but might allude to the fifth goblet of Eliyohu. (Tosfos Hasholeim) Perhaps an allusion can be drawn from the above opinions that state that the four goblets drunk on the Seder night are based on verses dealing with goblets to the number of years of actual slavery the bnei Yisroel endured. Drinking a goblet of wine is an act symbolic of freedom. The word KOSE has the numerical value of 86. The four cups that are drunk show our thanks for the 4x86 years = 344 years that we did not suffer as slaves, the allusion of the cups of salvation mentioned in T'hilim (#4 above). The fifth cup of wine that is not drunk symbolizes the 86 years that we did suffer, thus we restrain ourselves from drinking it.

Source #5 above is from the word "govia," spelled Gimel-Veis-Yud-Ayin, whose numerical value is 85. The gemara Rosh Hashonoh 10b states that during the last year of slavery the bnei Yisroel did not suffer at the hands of the Egyptians who were fully occupied with the ten plagues. This reduces the years of suffering to 85.

The Kankordanzia on TaNaCH differentiates between a KOSE and a GOVIA. A KOSE is an individual goblet from which one drinks, while a GOVIA is a larger DECANTER from which one pours into the smaller KOSE. (Although in Breishis 44:5 we find "Ha'lo zeh asher yishteh adoni BO," this should be translated as "Isn't this the one that my master drinks THROUGH it," i.e. by pouring from it into a goblet, since the verse does not say MI'MENU.) He brings a proof for this from Yirmiohu 35:5, "G'VIIM m'lei'im yayin v'CHOSOSE." The allusion of the KOSE to 86 years of servitude includes the last year, which was without actual slavery, and embodied the beginning of freedom with the advent of the ten plagues. This is similar to the contour of a KOSE, which widens and flanges out on top, indicating freedom. The GOVIA, the DECANTER, on the other hand, is contoured quite differently, with a very wide base and a narrow opening on top to allow for pouring over without spilling. This continuos narrowing from the base until the top alludes only to the years of suffering without the last year of freedom, a total of 85 years.

The contour of a GOVIA, narrowest on top and broadening as it extends downward, until it is widest at its base, is also alludes to by the letters Gimel, Beis-Yud, Ayin which spell this word. Gimel = 3, Beis-Yud = 12, Ayin = 70, from smallest down to largest. This hints to the different generations of the bnei Yisroel until they descended to Egypt, Gimel = 3 Ovos on top, Veis-Yud = 12 tribes in the middle, Ayin = a total of 70 people who descended to Egypt, at the bottom.

Ch. 12, v. 42: "LEIL shimurim hu ...... hu haLAYLOH ha'zeh" - What is the difference between LEIL and the more common LAYLOH? The Holy Zohar on parshas T'rumoh pg. 131a says that the first half of the night is called LEIL, while the second half is called LAYLOH. (Possibly we can thus explain the verse in Mishlei 31:17, "Toamoh ki tov sachroh lo yichbeh baLEIL(OH) neiroh." The word is spelled baLEIL, KRI, while read baLEILOH, KSIV. One who sees that his Torah (TOV is Torah) is a good endeavour will not extinguish his light neither in the first half, nor in the second half of the night.) The Rokei'ach says that LEIL is the last part of the night before daybreak, and he brings a proof for this from Yeshayohu 21:11, "Shomer mah miLAYLOH shomer mah miLEIL." He offers another interpretation. LEIL refers to a night during which the moon shines brightly. He brings a proof for this from Yeshayohu 16:3, "Shisi chaLAYIL tzi'leich b'soch tzohoroyim."

Ch. 13, v. 16: "V'hoyoh l'ose al yodchoh ul'totofose bein einecho" - The gemara M'nochos 34b derives from the words of our verse that the shel rosh tefillin have four compartments and that each one houses a different paragraph of the four parshios that mention the mitzvoh of tefillin, while the shel yad tefillin is constructed to have only one chamber that also houses the same four parshios. The shel rosh symolizes the thought capacity of a person, and the depth of intention and understanding of each person when he does a mitzvoh differs, hence separate compartments. The shel yad tefillin symbolizes the action of a person. The action of a mitzvoh is done the same by each person, hence only one compartment. (Gan Yoseif)



Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel