by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VO'EIRO 5771 BS"D
Ch. 7, v. 3: "Es ososai v'es mofsai " - My signs and my wonders - What is the difference between these two terms?
1) An OS comes a while after it was announced and a MOFEIS comes almost immediately. (Rabbeinu Zecharioh)
2) An OS brings a person to believing in something or someone, while a MOFEIS, sourced from "m'fa'teh," seduces one into believing. (Minchoh V'luloh)
3) An OS comes from the heavens and a MOFEIS comes on or from the earth. (Minchoh V'luloh)
4) They are one and the same, but OS refers to the beginning of the sign while MOFEIS refers to the completion of it. (Medrash Habiur)
5) An OS comes from the earth and a MOFEIS comes from the heavens (diametrically the reverse of #3). (Medrash Habiur)
6) An OS is an indication of something while a MOFEIS is a very strong proof. (Abarbanel)
7) An OS is a sign that proves something while a MOFEIS does the same, but is so powerful or unusual that it brings one to wonder about what has taken place. (Targum Yonoson ben Uziel)
Ch. 7, v. 9: "Tnu lochem mofeis" - Give for yourselves a wondrous sign - Why is Paroh asking for a sign for the bnei Yisroel rather than just for himself? Rashi on 7:3 says that the plagues weren't just done to force Paroh into compliance, but also for those among the bnei Yisroel who were weak in their belief in Hashem, as per the verses in Tzefanioh 3:6,7, "Hichrati goyim noshamu pinosom, Omarti ach teeri osi tikchi musor." Paroh might well be saying to Moshe that he is against sending out the bnei Yisroel because their emancipation is predicated on their accepting the Torah, and at this point in time many of them are greatly lacking in a proper belief in Hashem's powers and control of the world. If so how are they ready to truly accept the Torah? He therefore told Moshe that a sign would have to be given that would affect not only himself, but also the bnei Yisroel. (n.l.)
Ch. 7, v. 23: "V'lo shos libo gam lozose" - And he did not take to heart also this - Mishnas Rebbi Eliezer ch. #19 explains that the plague of blood did not affect Paroh nor his household. One of the reasons offered is so that at the first of the plagues Paroh would seem impervious, and in turn his honour would rise in the eyes of his subjects. Thus when he would later have a downfall it would be a more devastating downfall. This would be most poignantly apparent by the next plague, frogs. They would make Paroh's palace their first stop.
Ch. 7, v. 28: "V'shoratz ha'y'ore tz'fardim" - And the river will propagate frogs - Isn't it obvious that frogs reside in bodies of water, and it is from there that they would come? The verse is stressing their location to point out the miracle that frogs propagated from the river even though just a few short weeks ago the river was blood, became fouled, and could not support any aquatic life. (Rabbi Y.Z. Pollack)
Ch. 8, v. 8: "Va'yitzak Moshe el Hashem al dvar hatzfardim asher som l'Faroh" - And Moshe cried out to Hashem regarding the matter of the frogs that He placed for Paroh - Why was it necessary for Moshe to cry out in prayer specifically here? The frogs made life miserable for the Egyptians and this was a fulfillment of Hashem's wishes. There were obviously varying degrees of accomplishing this. The frogs that plagued the rank and file were not as important as those who plagued Paroh's officers and servants. Those who plagued Paroh himself, the one with whom the final decision of letting or not letting the bnei Yisroel free, were doing the most important job. There were thus varying degrees of reluctance on the part of the frogs to let up their holy mission of plaguing the Egyptians. The harder it was to leave, the greater the need for more powerful prayers. Our verse is thus telling us that Moshe cried out to Hashem in most fervent prayer specifically regarding "hatzfardim asher som l'Faroh." (Rabbi Elozor of Reisha)
Ch. 8, v. 12: "V'hoyoh l'chinim" - And it will become lice - Rashi in parshas Va'yichi cites this as one of three reasons that Yaakov was insistent to not be buried in Egypt, as lice would crawl around his body. The Rambam cites this concern as a proof that lice did enter the areas where the bnei Yisroel lived, but caused them no pain, contrary to the Egyptians who suffered greatly. Rashi's other two reasons for Yaakov's reluctance were that he would suffer from rolling to Eretz Yisroel, or that he feared that the Egyptians would deify him. These two reasons are quite understandable, as rolling to Eretz Yisroel involves quite a bit of discomfort, as does the mental pain of being deified by the Egyptians, but if, as the Rambam writes, the bnei Yisroel did not suffer from the lice, of what concern was it to Yaakov that they would be present? Perhaps there was an halachic issue. There was such a proliferation of lice that they covered the ground and the Egyptians literally walked on lice and not on terra firma. If the lice were to go under and around his body, they would form a solid body of lice around him and he would no longer be considered buried in earth. (n.l.)
Ch. 8, v. 19: "V'samti f'dus bein ami u'vein a'mecho l'mochor yi'h'yeh ho'ose ha'zeh" - And I will place a division between My nation and between your nation tomorrow the sign will take place - The sign of the difference between My nation and Paroh's is "l'mochor," whether the nation is concerned about tomorrow. The bnei Yisroel, a righteous people, have the attitude mentioned in the Medrash Tanchuma parshas B'shalach #20, that he who has bread for today and is worried about tomorrow's bread is lacking in trust in Hashem. This is expressed in a berse in Mishlei (13:28), "Tzadik ocheil l'sova nafsho u'vetten r'sho'im tech'sor." (Divrei Yisroel of Modzitz)
Ch. 8, v. 28: "Va'yachbeid Paroh es libo" - And Paroh hardened his heart - We don't find these exact words in earlier instances where Paroh also was hard-hearted and would not emancipate the bnei Yisroel. Rabbeinu Bachyei writes that the next words "gam bapaam hazose" teach us that earlier he had the bolstering and agreement of his servants and advisors to not accept the plagues as indicators that there was a power or Deity that was greater than he, but when it came to the previous plague of lice they said "etzba Elokim hee." Once they admitted that it was indeed Hashem who sent the plagues they no longer goaded him on to be resistant to Moshe's demands. Here, where he was doing it on his own, the verse says "gam." Also here where he had no backing, he was stoic.
It would seem that this explains why we find Paroh being "va'yachbeid," putting in an effort to harden his heart, as he was going it alone. Taking a bit of poetic licence, we might take the final two words of the previous verse, "nishar echod" and combine them with "Va'yachbeid Paroh es libo," the next words, which are the beginning of or verse, and have, "He was left one alone (as his servants now recognized Hashem) and he therefore had to work on hardening his heart. (n.l.)
Ch. 9, v. 11: "V'lo yochlu hachartumim alamode lifnei Moshe" - And the magicians could not stand in front of Moshe - They could not stand in opposition of Moshe, as he had brought so many plagues upon them and they were helpless to fend them off. (Minchoh V'luloh)
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