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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 10, v. 1: "Ki ani hichbadti es libo" - We are taught that the incident of Paroh's abducting Soroh and the ensuing plagues that he suffered (Breishis 12:10-20) were a forerunner, a "maa'sei ovose siman labonim," of what would take place later on a national level. Indeed, Paroh and his household were plagued, and Avrohom was sent out with great wealth.

Possibly, this incident also portended the hardening of Paroh's heart. In 12:17 it says, "Va'y'naga Hashem es Paroh .. v'es beiso." Rashi brings the medrash, which says that "va'y'naga" should be translated literally, that Hashem sent a "tzoraas" affliction upon Paroh. The smiting of his house refers to "tzoraas" appearing on the walls of his home. The Medrash Tanchuma parshas Metzoro chapter #4 tell us that Hashem first sends "tzoraas" to one's home, with the hope that he "gets the message" and improves his ways. If this doesn't help then the affliction invades his garments and vessels, and if even this is ineffective, "tzoraas" appears on his body.

We find that Paroh was smitten first and then his home, "es Paroh ..v'es beiso." Why didn't Hashem first afflict his home so that he might repent? We see from this that there was no hope of his getting the message before the heavy artillery would be brought out, so Hashem sent the "tzoraas" affliction immediately upon his body, portending that the future Paroh would also be stoic, only responding favourably when the devastating plague of death of the firstborn would take place.

Ch. 10, v. 4: "Hin'ni meivi mochor arbeh" - Although Moshe predicated these words with "Ko omar Hashem," where do we find that Hashem told Moshe of the impending plague of locust? Tosfos Hasho'leim answers that Hashem told Moshe all the plagues that He would visit upon Egypt. However, He did not tell Moshe their order. This is why Hashem later told him plague by plague what would next happen. At this point, after seven plagues were already sent, Moshe calculated that locust were next. He knew that the smiting of the firstborn would be the last plague (4:23). He also knew that darkness would be the penultimate plague, as Hashem told him that the bnei Yisroel would leave Egypt with the vessels given them by the Egyptians (3:23). If darkness would not come shortly before the smiting of the firstborn, then the vessels of the Egyptians that the bnei Yisroel would discover during the plague of darkness could be hidden. Moshe deduced that darkness would come on the tail of the smiting of the firstborn, thus not allowing the Egyptians time to hide their vessels. This calculation brought Moshe to the conclusion that locust would be the eighth plague.

Ch. 10, v. 22: "Va'y'hi choshech a'feiloh" - Rashi (M.R. 14:2) says that during the three days of heavy darkness those of the bnei Yisroel who did not want to leave Egypt died. Tosfos Hasho'leim quotes the Rashbam as saying that those who did not believe that there would be a mass exodus died. The Medrash Tanchuma says that they died on the 13th of Ador, not over three days. This is the same date that was decreed by Homon to be a day of slaughter ch"v of the bnei Yisroel. Because so many of the bnei Yisroel died on this day it is a most appropriate day for fasting, although the main reason is because Esther instituted the fast, as indicated by its name, "Taanis Esther."

Ch. 10, v. 25: "Gam atoh ti'tein b'yo'deinu z'vochim v'olose" - Shouldn't Moshe have said that Paroh would give them animals to sacrifice, "tzone u'vokor," rather than saying that he would give them "z'vochim v'olose," animals that were already sanctified as sacrifices? Possibly, Moshe knew that Paroh would later be brought to his knees and even ask that prayers should be said on his behalf, "u'veirachtem gam osi" (12:32). If so, no doubt, Paroh would send sacrifices to be slaughtered to appease Hashem and to bring a blessing upon himself.

Ch. 10, v. 29: "Kein dibarto" - In the previous verse Paroh threatened Moshe with death if he appeared in front of him again. Moshe responded "kein dibarto," you have already said this to me once before, when you said that I be put to death when I brought about the death of an Egyptian who struck a ben Yisroel (Shmos 2:12,15). (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

Ch. 11, v. 1: "Y'shalach es'chem .. go'reish y'go'reish es'chem" - The Malbim says that "y'shalach" means that he will send you away, but does not connote that you should not return. "Y'go'reish" means that he will send you away permanently, and that you should never come back. (Divorce is called "geirushin.")

Ch. 11, v. 2: "V'yishalu ish mei'eis rei'eihu" - Why did the Egyptians suddenly befriend the bnei Yisroel? The N'tzi"v answers that during the second set of three days of darkness when the Egyptians were unable to move, "v'lo komu ish mitachtov shloshes yomim" (10:23), the bnei Yisroel were kind enough to come to the homes of the Egyptians and feed them.

Ch. 11, v. 4: "Kachatzos halayloh ANI yotzei" - The Pesach Hagodoh says "ANI v'lo maloch," I, and not an angel. Simultaneous with the smiting of the firstborn the exodus began (see Rashi on Dvorim 16:1 d.h. "miMitzrayim loyloh"). This specifically required Hashem's involvement only. The actions of an angel are not permanent, while the actions of Hashem are. The exodus from Egypt is not only permanent, but is also ongoing; "Chayov odom lirose es atzmo k'ilu hu yotzo miMitzrayim." (N'sivos Sholom of Slonim)

Ch. 11, v. 4: "Ani yotzei" - Shouldn't the verse have said "ani NICHNOS?" The Moshav Z'keinim says that this must be the source of the gemara Shabbos 2a that says "hachnosoh hotzo'oh kori lei."

Ch. 11, v. 5: "U'meis kol b'chor b'eretz Mitzrayim" - We find medrashim that explain why each of the first 9 plagues are retribution in kind, "midoh k'neged midoh," for the pains the Egyptians caused the bnei Yisroel. However, the medrashim do not say this regarding the final plague, "makas b'choros." Rabbeinu Bachyei and the Tzrore Hamor say that the Egyptians deified their firstborn, as well as sheep, which is the first of the signs of the Zodiac. Since Hashem said that He would punish the false gods of Egypt, He destroyed their firstborn not as retribution, but as part of the eradication of their gods. This is the opinion of the Kolbo as well. However, Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer chapter #48 says that the killing of the firstborn is in retribution for hitting the bnei Yisroel, who are considered Hashem's firstborn. (Otzar Yad Hachaim)

Ch. 11, v. 6: "V'hoysoh tz'okoh g'doloh .. asher komoHU lo ni'h'yosoh v'chomoHU lo sosif" - We find a clash of genders among the words "tz'okoh, g'doloh, komoHU, ni'h'yosoh, v'chmoHU," and "sosif," the upper case letter stressing the male form. The Rashbam says that "tz'okoh" is a word that is both male and female in form, and we find that even within one verse the Torah uses both forms (Breishis 32:9).

The Ibn Ezra says that "tz'okoh" is female only, and we must add the understood word "shode" or "shever," and understand the verse to say, "which like it, the destruction (male), there never was such shouting (female) as a reaction."

Ch. 12, v. 1,2: "Va'yomer Hashem el Moshe v'el Aharon b'eretz Mitzrayim, Hachodesh ha'zeh lochem" - Aharon is mentioned because he was the head of the "Sanhedrin," the Rabbinical court, to whom the power of determining months and years is given. "B'eretz Mitzrayim" is mentioned to teach us that the court may decide this even if it convenes outside of Eretz Yisroel. (Eitz Hadaas Tov - Rabbi Chaim Vi'tal)

Ch. 12, v. 2: "Hachodesh ha'zeh LOCHEM" - We do not allow the king or the Kohein Godol to be members of the court that determines the calculation of the years, i.e. if a month should be added to the year. The king is biased to add a month because his contract with his army is based on yearly wages, hence an added month is to his benefit. The Kohein Godol is biased to leave the year with only 12 months so that Yom Kippur should be earlier and it would not be so cold when he has to serve all day in the Beis Hamikdosh. Our verse tells us that the calculating of the months is given LOCHEM, to Moshe the king and to Aharon the Kohein Godol. Their biases are thus counterbalanced. (Rabbi Naftoli Katz)

There seems to be a weakness in this thought, as Aharon served in the desert, where there was climate control through the clouds of glory.

Ch. 12, v. 23: "U'fosach Hashem al ha'pesach" ("ha'pesach" spelled with a Sof and not a Samach) - And Hashem will have mercy/will skip over the opening. As a rule, Hashem awaits the bnei Yisroel's making a move that leads towards their being redemption. This is called "isarusa diltata," an awakening from below. This move is an OPENING for Hashem to expand and bring about a complete liberation. However, here the bnei Yisroel had sunk to the 49th rung of impurity, and if there would be any delay in their leaving Egypt, things would so deteriorate that they would ch"v be beyond help. Thus Hashem had to skip over the OPENING, the "isarusa diltata," and redeemed them with "isarusa dil'eila." (Botzina Dinhora)

Ch. 12, v. 25: "V'hoyoh ki sovo'u el ho'oretz .. ushmartem es ho'avodoh hazose" - Rashi (Mechilta) says that this mitzvoh was only to begin when they would enter Eretz Yisroel. The one Pesach that they sacrificed in the desert was an exception, being a Heavenly directive. Is the mitzvoh that is subject to their entry into Eretz Yisroel only the sacrificing of the Pesach lamb, or also the eating of matzoh? The Ibn Ezra on our verse says that when they sacrificed the Pesach lamb in the desert they were encamped near Har Sinai, near a populated area, and were able to acquire matzos, but during the other 39 years they were in an uninhabited area and were not able to acquire matzos. From these words it seems that the mitzvoh of eating matzoh applied during their years in the desert, just they had no way of acquiring matzos.

Ch. 12, v. 29: "Ad b'chor hashvi" - Rashi (Mechilta 12:29) asks, "Why did the firstborn of those who were prisoners deserve to die?" (He raises this question earlier on 11:5 as well, even though that verse does not even mention the firstborn of prisoners. This question on Rashi is raised by the Moshav Z'keinim and the Sifsei Chachomim.) Rashi answers that although they did nothing against the bnei Yisroel, they rejoiced in their suffering. Alternatively, Rashi says that they were punished along with the Egyptian firstborn so that they would not be able to claim that the smiting of the firstborn was not a result of Hashem but rather of their deity who smote the Egyptians in revenge for incarcerating them.

We see that for every firstborn who was killed there was justification, and there was no umbrella firstborn killing. The Moshav Z'keinim therefore asks, "What justified the killing of the firstborn of foreigners who happened to be in Egypt (see Rashi d.h. "hikoh") on the night of the 14th of Nison?" He offers no answer.

However, with the words of the Ran in his "droshos," drush #8 this seems to be answered. He says that most events that take place, be they laws of nature or punishments upon mankind, are sent in a general manner rather than individual. He gives a simple example of the heat sent by the sun to nurture plants, which at the same time will cause discomfort even for a great tzadik. Hashem does not send the heat individually, but rather as a condition for the masses. He similarly says that when the smiting of the firstborn took place it was sent to all who belong to this group. Indeed, it was only through Divine intervention that the firstborn of the bnei Yisroel were spared. Thus all other firstborn were not spared, even those who were not guilty. When our Rabbis tell us that this or that group was punished because they were guilty, it is to explain that they were the ones upon whom the plague was directly sent, and not that they were incidental victims.

I have no doubt that some of the readers have problems with understanding the concept just quoted from the Ran. To them I suggest looking it up at the source.



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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