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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 6, v. 4: "V'gam hakimosi es brisi" - And I have also established My covenant - This is Rashi's translation of "hakimosi." Chizkuni translates it as "I have sworn," as we find Targum Onkelos translates "va'yishova Yaakov" (Breishis 31:53) as "v'ka'yeim Yaakov."

Ch. 6, v. 14,15,16: "Bnei Reuvein, Uvnei Shimon, V'eileh shmos bnei Levi" - The children of Reuvein, And the children of Shimon, And these are the names of the children of Levi - Why by Reuvein and Shimon does the Torah just say "the children of," while by Levi "these are the NAMES" is added? This teaches us a most powerful lesson. The tribe of Levi was not subject to the arduous slave labour. Nevertheless, they wanted to commiserate with their beleaguered brethren and show sympathy by NAMING their children names that were indicative of the hardships, Gershon, that they were aliens, K'hos, that they were overpowered, M'rori, that their lives were embittered. (Muso'rei haShalo"h)

Ch. 6, v. 20: "Va'yikach Amrom es Yocheved .. va'tei'led lo es Aharon v'es Moshe" - And Amrom tokk Yocheved .. and she gave birth to him Aharon and Moshe - In Shmos 2:1 the marriage of a couple and the subsequent birth of Moshe is recorded, but the parents' names are not mentioned until this verse. The Mahara"l of Prague explains that by not mentioning their names immediately a lesson is driven home. By mentioning these two most exalted people by name we might incorrectly conclude that it was only by the merit of such special parents that the unique Moshe Rabbeinu came into existence. This is not the case. Moshe had to exist on this world, even if he would have been the child of the simplest of people.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein explains that when parents have a very talented and gifted child, especially when he is extremely intelligent, they drop their guard and do not concern themselves with his upbringing, assuming that he will excel with such great inborn talents. The exact opposite is true. The child could well use his talents to move into fields and realms that are very damaging, as per the dictum of the gemara Sukoh 52a, "Whoever is great has a powerful evil inclination." This point is driven home by not crediting Amrom and Yocheved with their illustrious son until he was an adult and had already become Hashem's messenger to bring the redemption from Egypt.

Ch. 6, v. 23: "Achos Nach'shon lo l'ishoh" - The sister of Nach'shon for himself as a wife - The gemara B.B. 110a derives from these words that one should check into the quality of the brothers of a woman before marrying her. This is alluded to in the famous verse in Mishlei, "Eishes Chayil Mi Yimtzo" (31:10). Its first letters spell "achim," brothers. Alternatively, the letters form the words "mi ach," - who is the brother. (Chid"o in Pesach Einayim)

Ch. 6, v. 25: "Mibnos Pu'tiel" - From the daughters of Putiel - Rashi (gemara B.B. 109) says that she was a descendant of Yoseif who "pitpeit" his inclination. Rashi on the gemara Sotoh 43a writes that "pitpeit" means he denigrated and belittled.

Ch. 7, v. 10: "Va'yaasu chein kaasher tzivoh Hashem" - And they did accordingly as Hashem commanded - Even though they had great benefit from executing the wondrous miracles, namely that Paroh and his staff would believe that they had a mission that was authorized by Hashem, their one and only motivation was to do as Hashem commanded. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

Ch. 7, v. 28: "V'shoratz ha'y'ore tzfardim v'olu uvo'u .. uvsanu'recho" - And the river will promulgate frogs and they will ascend and come .. and into your ovens - The gemara P'sochim 53b states that Chananioh, Misho'eil, and Azarioh learned from the frogs of this plague that they should allow themselves to be thrown into a fiery cauldron to sanctify Hashem's Name. If frogs, who are not commanded to sanctify Hashem's name went into the hot ovens, we, who are commanded to sanctify Hashem's Name, should surely allow ourselves to be thrown into a flaming cauldron.

Many commentators ask that the frogs were clearly commanded to go into the ovens. The well-known answer of Rabbi Yonoson Eibeschitz, Mahari"l Diskin, and others is that there was no command to specific frogs to enter the ovens. Each frog could choose where to go, and no doubt other places were much more pleasant. Nevertheless, some frogs entered the ovens. It is from these frogs that the three above-mentioned people took their cue.

The Meshech Chochmoh (Breishis 15:13) answers that there was absolutely no command to the frogs. "V'olu" does not mean "and they SHOULD," a command, but rather, it is a statement of fact, "and they WILL."

Ch. 8, v. 7: "Rak ba'y'ore tisho'arnoh" - They will only remain in the river - Frogs were to remain in the country to remind the Egyptians of the devastating plague they experienced. It is like a father who hit his son with a belt and then hung it in clear view, on the wall, as a constant reminder to his son to behave properly. (Rabbi Yitzchok of Volozhin)

Ch. 9, v. 2: "Ki im mo'ein atoh l'sha'lei'ach v'odcho machazik bom" - If you refuse to send and still hold onto them - What is added by "v'odcho machazik bom"? Why is this term not used by the warnings of any of the other plagues? The mishneh Eiduyos 2:10 says that the Egyptians were judged with plagues for 12 months. The gemara R.H. 11a says that the servitude of our forefathers in Egypt came to a halt on Rosh Hashonoh. Armed with these 2 pieces of information we may assume (although contrary to some commentators such as Rabbeinu Bachyei in parshas Bo) that the fifth plague took place slightly before half a year after the onset of the plagues, as half the plagues would take place in half a year. This would bring us to the month of Tishrei since the plagues ended on the 15th of Nison and they had begun 12 months earlier in Nison as well. We can thus say that Moshe had up to this point only mentioned sending the bnei Yisroel away as free people. Obviously included in this would be the end of their servitude. However, here at the fifth plague, even if Paroh would not set them free, they would afterwards not be enslaved, only stuck in Egypt. This is why Hashem told Moshe to warn Paroh regarding 2 matters, sending them away and forcing them to work as slaves. This is the intention of "v'odcho machazik bom." After this plague even if Paroh would not let them go free there would be no "machazik bom," as the servitude would end on Rosh Hashonoh. Earlier it was not mentioned since if he would not grant them total freedom he would still enslave them as well.

The Rambam in hilchos teshuvoh 6:4 explains that when a person transgresses a very terrible sin or constantly repeats a sin it is appropriate for Hashem to close the gates of repentance so that the sinner should die with his sin intact and then Hashem would exact full punishment from him. In the next halacha he says that this is why Hashem hardened Paroh's heart, as Paroh premeditatedly diabolically planned to enslave and treat the bnei Yisroel harshly. However, the Rambam does not shed any light on why this took place specifically by the sixth plague and onwards, "Va'y'cha'zeik Hashem es leiv Paroh" (9:12). With the above we can explain this. Until now, even though Paroh and his people were smitten with some devastating plagues, nevertheless someone with great resolve might reason that it takes a lot more than plagues to force him to release a workforce of 600,000 adult men. Once Paroh was advised by the 5th plague that in any case he would no longer hold sway over his Jewish servants from Rosh Hashonoh onwards, what sense did it make for him to hang onto them? Even the most obstinate of people would back off when dealt such devastating blows if they know that they have lost their workforce in any case. From this point onwards Paroh's resolve could only be explained as being supernaturally Heavenly induced, "Va'y'cha'zeik Hashem es leiv Paroh." (Nirreh li)

Ch. 9, v. 17: "Odcho mistoleil b'ami" - You still trod upon My nation - This is Rashi's translation, "mistoleil" being sourced from the word "m'siloh," a path that is trodden. Chizkuni translates it as "lording over," as in "solu lorocheiv bo'arovos" (T'hilim 68:5).

Ch. 9, v. 19: "Ho'eiz es mik'n'cho" - Gather in your livestock - The reason Moshe did not advise Paroh to do the same by the plague of pestilence is because here humans would also be struck by the hail, while pestilence only killed livestock. (Chizkuni)

It seems obvious that Chizkuni is of the school of thought that bringing the livestock into buildings would have protected them (Rashi's opinion). However, according to those (Ramban, etc.) who posit that pestilence killed the livestock wherever they were, Chizkuni's question does not begin.

Ch. 9, v. 28: "Hatiru el Hashem v'rav mi'h'yose kolose Elokim uvorod" - Entreat Hashem as it is sufficient the sounds and hail - Note that Paroh asked Moshe to pray to "Hashem," the Name of mercy, and added that "Elokim" had already sufficiently punished him with the thunderous sounds and the hail itself. Perhaps we can say that although Paroh now admitted that the plagues were G-d's workings, but the G-d of punishment, Elokim, was One Being, while the G-d of mercy, Hashem, was another, hence Elokim sent the plague, but prayers for mercy should be directed to Hashem, the G-d of mercy. Moshe responded that he would pray to "Hashem," Who in His mercy for the bnei Yisroel and even for the Egyptians, to teach them who is the true "Boss," sent the plague. However, one verse later Moshe added that by virtue of Paroh's stating that he considered "Hashem" mercy, and "Elokim" judgment as ch"v two beings, he was still far from fearing "Hashem Elokim," Indivisible One. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 9, v. 32: "Afilos" - Rashi translates this word either as "late growers," or "wondrously saved." Chizkuni translates it as "in the dark." These plants were not destroyed by the devastating hail because they had not yet sprouted through the earth's surface.



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

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