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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 1, v. 1: "Shmos" - This word is spelled Shin-Mem-Vov-Taf. We derive from these letters a mnemonic for Shnayim Mikro V'echod Targum, to say the weekly portion of the Torah twice in its original text and once in the text of Targum Onkeles. This is mentioned in Shulchan Oruch O.Ch 285:1. Why is this alluded to in the beginning of Shmos and not in the beginning of Breishis? The Otzar Chaim answers that since the beginning of Shmos relates the exile of all the bnei Yisroel to a foreign land, Hashem was assured that when the bnei Yisroel would learn the language of their new host country they would use it for Torah study, hence the need for Targum. However, Hashem wanted to impress upon us that the main language for Torah is Loshon Hakodesh. Therefore the original text should be read twice, while the foreign translation is to be read only once.

Ch. 1, v. 1: "Habo'im Mitzroymoh" - The Nitzotzei Orose (Chid"o) says that "Mitzroymoh" is mathematically equal to "Sh'chinoh" (385) to indicate that although the bnei Yisroel went into exile they did not go alone. The Divine Spirit of Hashem accompanied them as is stated in the Holy Zohar Shmos 2b.

Perhaps the Sh'chinoh stayed with them throughout their 210 years in Egypt in the merit of their retaining a semblance of being Hashem's holy nation. This was demonstrated by their not altering their names, nor mode of apparel, and speaking in the holy tongue, as mentioned in the M.R. Bmidbar 13:20. Please note however, that there are numerous variations to the list of virtues for which they merited to leave Egypt (M.R. Vayikroh 32:5, M.R. Shir Hashirim 4:12, and Medrash Tanchumoh parshas Bolok 4:16).

A mathematical allusion to this might be that the word "Sh'chinoh," as mentioned above, has a value of 385. "Loshon," language, equals 386 - "u'shmom," and their names, equals 386 - "u'l'vushom," and their garments, equals 384. We know that an inaccuracy of one in gematria is negligible, as mentioned in the Baal Haturim in parshas Va'yichi (48:5).

Ch. 1, v. 1: "Ish u'veiso bo'u" - They did not come to Egypt with the intention of blending into the smelting-pot of Egyptian culture. Instead they came with their "homes," with the atmosphere and ambiance of the values they learned from Yaakov. (Hadrash V'ho'iyun)

Ch. 1, v. 6: "Va'yomos Yoseif v'chol echov" - The death of Yoseif was already recorded in the last verse of Breishis (50:26.) Why was it repeated here? His brothers' deaths are only mentioned once, in Shmos and not mentioned earlier in Breishis. It seems that Yoseif served as both a child of the Patriarchs, similar to his brothers, and therefore the end of his life should be recorded in the book of Shmos, which deals with the generations after the Patriarchs. However, he also serves as a quasi-Patriarch, and therefore his life is dealt with in its entirety, including his demise, in the book of Breishis. Numerous inferences to this double position can be found. An obvious one is that he served as the central figure in numerous parshios of the book of Breishis, even more than our Patriarch Yitzchok. He merited to have two sons who were each the head of a tribe, similar to Yaakov. On the words of Yaakov's blessing Yoseif in Breishis 49:24, "Mishom ro'eh evven Yisroel," Rashi says that the word "evven" can be a ligature of the words "av" and "bein," father and son. This combination in one word indicates that Yoseif was in the positions of both a Patriarch and a son of the Patriarchs. We also find reference to the bnei Yisroel being called the children of Yoseif in T'hilim 77:16, "Bnei Yaakov v'Yoseif seloh," and in 80:2, "Noheig katzone Yoseif." We find the same in Omose 5:6, "Pen yitzlach ko'eish beis Yoseif."

Another most interesting indication to this is that the gemara Brochos 20a says that the children of Yoseif are not subject to the negative effects of an evil eye, "ayin hora." The gemara Brochos 55b says that if someone did something which would subject him to the effects of an "ayin hora," he should say, "I am from the tribe of Yoseif upon whom an evil eye has no effect." The gemara gives this as an counteragent for anyone, even if not from the tribe of Yoseif. We see from this that all of the bnei Yisroel are considered the descendants of Yoseif.

Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner zt"l in his work Pachad Yitzchok gives us a much more in-depth understanding of the position of Yoseif as a Patriarch. He says that each of our Patriarchs developed a characteristic which was a pillar in the development of the Jewish nation. Avrohom gave us the concept of a person becoming a Jew. He was born to a heathen family and through his pursuit of the truth came to the conclusion that there is a Creator of this world and that we are responsible to Him. Avrohom was the first "gevorriner," the first one who "became" a Jew. Yitzchok was the first person who was born to a Jewish father and followed suit. He was the first "geborriner," the first one who was "born" a Jew. However, there was still the opportunity to opt out of Judaism, as was the choice of Eisov, the son of Yitzchok. Each of Yaakov's children adhered to Judaism and there was no choice to leave the fold. Yaakov, thus developed the concept of the first "farfalliner," the first one who gave birth to "only Jewish" children.

Once these pillars of Judaism have been implanted into the fibre of future generations by the three Patriarchs, what was left for Yoseif to develop? Although all children of Yaakov and onwards must be Jewish, this is only true of those who sire children through a Jewish mother. (Some commentators posit that before Matan Torah this was dependent upon the father and not the mother.) If the mother was not Jewish, the child would follow its matrilineal line. Yoseif empowered the Jewish nation with the moral strength to only have children through Jewish women. This was displayed in his overpowering his inclination in the most trying test of the seductions of the wife of Poti Phera.

It would seem that even though, unfortunately, throughout the generations some of our people have fallen prey to involvement with women outside of our religion, as this is even recorded in the Torah at the end of parshas Bolok with the incident of the daughters of Midyon, nevertheless, Yoseif ingrained into future generations the spiritual stamina to withstand this sort of temptation during the 210 years of exile in Egypt as mentioned in M.R. Vayikroh 32:5, the formative years of the Jewish nation's population explosion, when if they would have succumb to this temptation, their identity as a Jewish nation would have been decimated. Even though the Jews were slaves, we have no recorded incident of a Jewish man marrying an Egyptian woman. This pillar was the contribution of Yoseif and confers upon him the status of a Patriarch.

1:10 "Hovoh nis'chakmoh lo" - The gemara Sotoh 11a says that Paroh called a cabinet meeting to discuss how to deal with the "Jewish problem." The three members of his cabinet were Bilom, Iyov, and Yisro. Bilom gave Paroh counsel to kill the newborn Jewish males. Iyov abstained from advising. Yisro ran away from the meeting. Each was recompensed with a fitting reward or punishment. The M'ga'leh Amukos says that we symbolize this historic cabinet meeting during the Seder by mentioning the four sons. The WISE son corresponds to Yisro who acted wisely by running away from the meeting (See Bmidbar 10:31, "V'hoyiso lonu l'EINOYIM"). The evil son corresponds to Bilom who gave evil counsel (See gemara Brochos 7a, 55b, Taanis 20a, Sanhedrin 105b, Z'vochim 116a, and Nidoh 31a which give him the appellation "Bilom hoROSHO"). The simple son corresponds to Iyov who abstained (See Iyov 1:1, "Ish TOM"). The son who KNOWS NOT to ask, corresponds to Paroh who said, "Mi Hashem asher eshma b'kolo LO YODATI es Hashem" (5:2).

Ch. 1, v. 22: "Va'yomeir Paroh l'CHOL AMO" - Rashi quotes the gemara Sotoh 12a which says that this decree included the destruction of the newborn Egyptians. Paroh's stargazers saw that the redeemer of the bnei Yisroel was born on that day, but did not know if he was a Jewish child or an Egyptian child. This is very hard to fathom. Even if they had no indication from which nation he came, shouldn't logic dictate that the redeemer of the Jewish people would be from among their own?

The Kli Yokor answers that Moshe who was the saviour was born to a Jewish mother, Yocheved. However, he was brought up by Bisyoh the daughter of Paroh. The stargazers were not in doubt because this point of information was not indicated to them at all . To the contrary, it was somewhat indicated, but not fully clarified. Moshe, on one hand was Jewish by virtue of birth. On the other hand he was considered an Egyptian by virtue of his upbringing. Therefore they were not sure.

The words of the Kli Yokor can be strengthened by bringing the verse in Divrei Hayomim 1:4:18 "Yered v'Avi G'dor ......v'eileh bnei Bisyoh bas Paroh." This verse gives us a few names of Moshe and ends by saying that his mother was Bisyoh, the daughter of Paroh. The gemara Sanhedrin 19b derives from this that if one rears an orphan in his home it is as if he gave birth to this orphan. We see from the verse in Divrei Hayomim as well as from the gemara that there was ample room to consider Moshe the son of an Egyptian woman.

I heard an interpretation of the words in 2:12 which is an extension of the Kli Yokor's insight. The verse discusses Moshe's coming upon an Egyptian beating a Jew. "Va'yi'fen ko v'cho va'yaar KI EIN ISH va'yach es haMitzri." Moshe turned in all directions and saw no person. He then smote the Egyptian. After being raised in the home of Paroh, Moshe went out to see the plight of his brethren. When he saw an Egyptian in conflict with a Jew, he saw (realized) KI EIN ISH, that he also had an internal conflict between being an Egyptian and a Jew; that he himself was not a complete man, but rather half Egyptian by virtue of his upbringing and half Jew by virtue of his family lineage. This was the same lack of clarity the stargazers had in identifying the saviour of the Jewish people. At that moment Moshe realized that this blend could not continue. "Va'yach es haMitzri." He internally smote the vestiges of his feeling like an Egyptian, and now felt totally Jewish. With this empowerment he went on to physically save his fellow Jew from the murderous hands of the Egyptian.


Where do we find the word GENESIS in Rashi in the book of Genesis? See Rashi 40:20, on "Yom huledes es Paroh." R' A.G. responded with this answer.

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