CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS B'SHALACH 5766 - BS"D
1) Ch. 13, v. 18: "Vachamushim" - What does this word mean?
2) Ch. 14, v. 7: "Sheish mayos rechev bochur" - Sending only 600 men to
overpower the bnei Yisroel seems illogical. Paroh must have thought that Hashem
was angry with them, and they therefore would be able to be overpowered by a
very small group, in keeping with the verse in Dvorim 32:30, "Eichoh yirdof echod
elef, u'shnayim r'vovo." If so, why wasn't it sufficient to send only 120
men, as every two could overpower 10,000?
3) Ch. 15, v. 20: "Achose Aharon" - Why does the Torah stress Miriam's being
the sister of Aharon and not the sister of Moshe as well?
4) Ch. 15, v. 21: "Vataan" - If we translate "Vataan" as "And she responded,"
we have the question - To what did Miriam respond?
5) Ch. 15, v. 21: "Lo'he*M* ...... SHIRU" - Since Miriam was addressing the
women why didn't the verse say "lo'he*N*" and "SHEIRNOH"?
Answer to questions on parshas Bo:
1) Ch. 10, v. 1: "Bo" - Why are the plagues divided between parshas Vo'eiro
and parshas Bo? Why not have them all occurring in one parsha?
1) The Abarbenel answers that the last three are unique in that they are all
called "choshech," darkness. By the plague of locust the verse says (10:15),
"va'tech'shach ho'oretz," and the earth darkened. Regarding the plague of the
smiting of the first-born it says (Eichoh 3:16, var. T'hilim 143:3)
"B'machashakim hoshivani k'meisei olom."
2) The Rav P'ninim Chumosh says that these three plagues are separated
because from locust and onward there was a new level of fear in the hearts of the
Egyptians. For the first time we see them displaying fear of a plague BEFORE
it has come upon them (10:7).
2) Ch. 10, v. 5: "V'lo yuchal liros" - Who will not be able to see?
1) Rashi says that this is a shortened verse, as it does not tell us that
the "onlooker" will not be able to see.
2) The Maharil Diskin says that this refers to the locust. There will be
such a large assembly of locust that those in the lower area of the "locust
cloud" that will descend to the earth will not be able to see the earth, as the
sunlight will be totally blocked by the solid mass of locust above it. This
will have the further deleterious effect that the locust will not easily be
satiated. When one does not have the visual aid of seeing his food, he eats more
(gemara Yoma 74b). The locust will then enter the Egyptians' homes (10:6)
seeking more food.
3) Ch. 10, v. 11: "O'SOH attem m'vakshim" - What is the antecedent of the
1) The SERVICE of Hashem. (Rashi)
2) The REQUEST of having only men go. Paroh said that Moshe requested that
even the children go as a bargaining ploy, so that Paroh would at least agree
to send the men (see gemara N'dorim 21a). (Abarbenel)
3) The BAD INTENTION of escaping. (Medrash Rabboh 13:5)
4) Each of the WOMEN going. Paroh agreed to allow the women to go, but not
the children. (Maharil Diskin)
5) "OSOH" the wife of Levi. The Daas Z'keinim (Bmidbar 26:59) says that the
wife of Levi who bore Yocheved was named Osoh. Paroh did not agree to let
this matriarch figure, the grandmother of Aharon, Moshe and Miriam leave. This
would assure the return of the bnei Yisroel. (Yarchon Ohel Moed, year 3, #46)
4) Ch. 10, v. 21: "Vihi choshech al eretz Mitzroyim" - The Medrash Tanchuma
on our parsha #1 and the M.R. 14:1 bring the verse in T'hilim 105:28, "Sholach
choshech va'yachashich V'LO MORU es dvoro," saying that it refers to the
plague of darkness. Who are the antecedents of "v'lo moru"?
1) The Egyptians did not accept Hashem as master, "l'ka'beil MORUS, and thus
they deserved to be punished with the plague of darkness.
2) A most interesting antecedent of "v'lo moru" is the bnei Yisroel, who did
not rebel against Hashem's word. The Ksav Sofer explains this with the words
of verse 23, "V'lo komu ish mitachtov." Rashi explains that the darkness was
of such intensity that it had denseness and the Egyptians were not able to
move. This presented an ideal opportunity for the bnei Yisroel to not only "ask"
for items from the Egyptians, but also to make a quick exit. Remember that they
had experienced over the last ten or eleven months a most ambivalent Paroh,
changing his mind numerous times, even after promising to let the bnei Yisroel
leave. Yet they had the self-control to wait for the time that Hashem
designated, the day of the fifteenth of Nison, after the devastating plague of the
smiting of the firstborn. Yoseif had told them to not force the exodus before its
time, "Pokode yifkode Elokim es'chem v'he'eloh es'chem min ho'oretz hazose"
(Breishis 50:25). This was the "v'lo moru es dvoro" of the bnei Yisroel.
3) The more common translation of V'LO MORU is "and they did not rebel," and
the verse tells us that the angels who were the agents to bring the darkness
did not rebel against Hashem. Why should I think that they would rebel? This
is answered in numerous ways.
1) Because the darkness was not in the original master plan of the creation
of the world, and a departure from that is not readily followed by the angels.
2) The angels might have been reluctant since they knew that 4/5ths of the
bnei Yisroel would die during this plague.
3) The angels added darkness to the darkness that Hashem had already decreed
as indicated by "choshech va'yachashich," but this was not considered
deviating from Hashem's command as there was an indication from Hashem that He wanted
them to add to the darkness by his first asking them if the Egyptians
deserved it. (Beis haLevi)
4) The Medrash says that ALL the angels agreed, and this included the arch
angel of Egypt as well, whom we might have thought would not cooperate.
5) Ch. 12, v. 30: "Ki ein bayis asher ein shom meis" - If only the firstborn
were slain, why did every home have a dead person?
1) This should not be taken literally. Most homes had a dead person. (Ibn
2) If there was no firstborn present, then the head of the household was
considered as a firstborn, and was slain. (Rashi)
3) There was an abundance of adultery among the Egyptians, and there were
many children who were firstborn to the men who sired them, even though the
mother had given birth previously. (Rashi in the name of the Mechilta, ch. 33)
4) The Egyptians had a custom that when a firstborn died, they made a form
(icon) similar to the appearance of the firstborn and displayed it in their
homes. At the time of "makas b'choros" these forms melted. This greatly
distressed the Egyptians and they felt as if their firstborn had just died. (Mechilta
Pis'cha, ch. 13)
5) All Egyptian firstborn who had previously died were dragged out of their
graves by mice and brought to the homes of their families. (Mechilta Pis'cha,
6) The firstborn insisted that the bnei Yisroel be sent out before the
plague would come. Those who were not firstborn, and Paroh in spite of being a
firstborn, did not agree. The firstborn then slayed 600,000 Egyptians, including
their own parents. (Medrash Shochar Tov 136:6)
7) Since so many firstborn were slain, their dead bodies brought on an
epidemic, similar to the bubonic plague, which caused the death of many Egyptians.
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