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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS SHMOS 5774 BS"D

Ch. 1, v. 1: "Habo'im Mitzraimoh" - Who are coming to Egypt - Albeit the bnei Yisroel were destined to be in exile in a foreign land, why was it Egypt, the most decadent land of them all? The Holy Zohar answers that Hashem wanted to create a structure on this physical world that corresponds to the celestial structure. He embedded "chochmoh" in Avrohom, "tvunoh" in Yitzchok, and "daas" in Yaakov. With the further expansion of twelve sons, twelve tribes, the structure was complete. Had Hashem sent them to another land, one that is more moral, etc., it would have been hard for the bnei Yisroel to avoid mixing with them. The totally depraved people of Egypt considered both the bnei and the bnos Yisroel despicable and did not mix with them. The bnei Yisroel were in their personal ghetto for generations and there was absolutely no intermarriage. This kept the structure intact.

Ch. 1, v. 1: "Ish uveiso bo'u" - A man and his household came - Rabbeinu Bachyei says that these two words allude to Hashem (ish milchomoh) and His "Beis din" also came to Egypt in keeping with the dictum, "Golu l'Mitzrayim Sh'chinoh imohem."

Ch. 1, v. 1: "Ish uveiso bo'u" - A man and his household came - This means that even those who were not married, and this includes one and two year olds, had a future wife set aside for him, so as to safeguard against marrying an Egyptian woman. (Medrash Hagodol parshas Va'yigash)

Ch. 2, v. 21: "Va'yitein es Tziporoh vito l"Moshe" - And he gave his daughter Tziporoh to Moshe - How could Moshe marry a Midyonite woman, let alone that she was an idol worshipping priest's daughter? Moshe instinctively didn't even nurse from an Egyptian woman! Moshe was a reincarnation of Hevel, while Yisro was a reincarnation of Kayin. Part og Kayin's soul also transmigrated into the Egyptian man whom Moshe killed. Tziporoh was a reincarnation of the female twin born with Hevel, who was the cause of Kayin and Hevel's argument and an eventual murder. Moshe evened the score with Kayin for killing him by killing the Egyptian, a.k.a. Kayin. Yisro's giving his daughter Tziporoh to Moshe was reparation for taking Hevel's twin sister. When Yisro said, "Atoh yodati ki godol Hashem " he made reparations for saying that there is no law and no judge (see Targum Yonoson ben Uziel in parshas Breishis). (Shalo"h citing the Holy Ari z"l)

Ch. 3, v. 1: "U'Moshe hoyoh ro'eh es tzone Yisro chosno" - And Moshe did shepherd sheep of Yisro his father-in-law - Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer says that Moshe did this for forty years and not even once did a marauding animal attack the flock. As well, the flocks grew exponentially.

Ch. 4, v. 4: "Va'y'hi l'ma'the b'chapo" - And it became a staff in his hand - The snake turned back into a staff. Likewise the leprosy on his hand disappeared. However, we do not find that the blood turned back to water. These three correspond to three incidents. When the people spoke badly of Hashem and Moshe snakes came and bit them. This was resolved through the "n'chash hanchoshes." The leprosy that came upon Aharon and Miriam likewise disappeared. The waters of discontent, "mei m'rivoh," were not resolved, corresponding to the water that turned to blood not becoming water again. (Admor of Ishbitze in Mei Hashilo'ach)

Ch. 4, v. 19: "Va'yomer Hashem el Moshe b'Midyon leich shuv Mitzaimoh ki meisu kol ho'anoshim hamvakshim es nafshecho" - And Hashem said to Moshe in Midyon go return to Egypt because all the people who seek your life have died" - See how devoted Moshe was to any task that Hashem would send him. It was only now in Midyon that Hashem told him that all danger has passed. When Hashem told Moshe of the task by the burning bush Moshe's negative response did not include that he feared Doson and Avirom, who wanted him dead, only that he felt that he was not cut out for the job. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

Ch. 4, v. 19: "Ki meisu kol ho'anoshim hamvakshim es nafshecho" - Because all the people who seek your life have died - Rashi says that this refers to Doson and Avirom. They were actually alive but have fallen from grace in Paroh's eyes because they have become destitute. A destitute person is akin to a dead person, "Oni choshuv k'meis." There is no longer a reason to fear them.

What indication is there in our verse that in fact they were still alive rather than taking it literally? The GR"A says that our verse says "hamvakshim," who are actively seeking, rather than "asher bikshu," who did seek.

There are three others who are likened to a dead person, one who has no children, a leper (metzora), and a blind person. If so, why don't we say that Doson and Avirom were one of the other three types? Chizkuni answers that they could not have been blind, as by the incitement of Korach they said "Ho'einei ho'anoshim ha'heim t'na'keir," indicating that they were not blind. They could not have been lepers, as they were later within the encampment. They had children as the verse says by the above-mentioned incident that their children were swallowed by the earth. Ra"n (on gemara N'dorim)says that we cannot say that the intention of "ki meisu" is that they were childless, as this would not have impacted on their remaining close advisors to Paroh.

As an aside: We see the commentators feel that Paroh was a very hollow person. If he had sufficient trust in Doson and Avirom to believe their words and to even act on them, their becoming destitute should not have impacted on his trust in them. "If my money is gone there is no reason to believe my brains have gone the same way."

Ch. 5, v. 7: "Heim yeilchu v'kosh'shu lohem tevven" - They should go and collect for themselves straw - Paroh's intention wasn't just to add to their workload by requiring the same quota of finished bricks and also their finding straw. He figured that when so many people would spread out and try to gather a lot of straw quickly, they would come to fighting with each other over the straw. (Rabbi Yitzchok of Volozhin)

Ch. 5, v. 7: "Heim yeilchu v'kosh'shu lohem tevven" - They should go and collect for themselves straw - The mishnoh Eiduyos says that the punishment of the Egyptians in Egypt lasted twelve months. Shortly after the new edict of collecting their own straw the plagues began. Straw is readily available only starting in the month Iyor. The bnei Yisroel left Egypt the next Nison, hence twelve months. (Raava"d ad. loc.)

Ch. 5, v. 22: "Va'yoshov Moshe el Hashem" - And Moshe returned to Hashem - Moshe returned to Mount Chorev, where Hashem appeared to him with the announcement that he would be the go-between to Paroh to bring about the exodus. (Mahari"l Diskin)

Ch. 6, v. 1: "Va'yomer Hashem el Moshe atoh sir'eh asher e'eseh l'Pharoh" - And Hashem said to Moshe NOW you will see what I will do to Paroh - Had the difficulty of the servitude been at an easier level the years of servitude would have dragged out to fulfill the literal 400 years. Because things have become even harsher, the qualitive servitude will make up for the quantitive servitude and the redemption will come earlier and you will NOW, during your lifetime see it with your own eyes. (Chofetz Chaim)

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


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