CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS BO 5773 - BS"D
1) Why are the ten plagues not all in one parsha? Once they are divided, why specifically seven and three?
2) Ch. 10, v. 2: "Ulmaan t'sa'peir b'oznei vincho u'ven bincho" - And so that you shall relate into the ears of your son and your son's son - The word "ulmaan" appears in the Torah in only one other place, in Dvorim 11:9, "ulmaan taarichu yomim." How do we connect these two phrases?
3) Ch. 10, v. 2: "Hisalalti" - How shall we translate this word and from where is/are your answer/s sourced?
4) Ch. 10, v. 7: "Va'yomru avdei Pharoh eilov …… shalach es ho'anoshim v'yaavdu es Hashem Elokeihem ha'terem teida ki ovdoh Mitzroyim" - And Paroh's servants said to him …… send the men and they will serve Hashem their G-d do you not yet know that Mitzrayim is lost - Paroh was so impressed with their advice that he had Moshe and Aharon brought back and he asked them who would go on the three-day hiatus to serve Hashem (verse 8). When they responded that absolutely everyone would go and that they planned to take all their livestock as well (verse 9), Paroh countered that only the adult men may go, and had them driven out of his presence (verse 11).
From this point onwards we no longer find Paroh's advisors suggesting that the bnei Yisroel be sent to serve Hashem. What changed? Actually things got even worse as they experienced the devastation of the locusts and the total darkness, yet not a word from them any more.
5) Ch. 10, v. 11: "Lo chein l'chu noh hagvorim v'ivdu es Hashem ki osoh a'tem m'vakshim" - Not so only the men will now go and you shall serve Hashem because that is what you request - Paroh seems to be contradicting himself in the same breath. He first says no to sending the children, whom Moshe just included in the previous verse, so how does Paroh say that this is your request?
1) Abarbanel explains that now by the 7th plague we find for the first time that Paroh's servants exhibited great fear, "Ad mosai yi'h'yeh zeh lonu l'mokeish shalach es ho'anoshim" (verse 7), even BEFORE the plague came.
2) Alternatively, from this plague onwards we find some compromise on Paroh's part, as he partially agrees, only questioning who would be the participants in the celebrations and sacrificing.
3) Tosfos Hasho'leim offers that Moshe thought that there would only be seven plagues, and therefore the previous parsha comes to an end after seven plagues. This is quite puzzling, as Hashem told Moshe that the grand finale would be the plague of smiting of the firstborn. Perhaps, since Moshe saw that Paroh was contrite and stated, "Chotosi hapo'am Hashem haTzadik vaani v'ami horsho'im" (9:27), he felt that now Paroh would surely send them out to freedom. Although Hashem foretold of the smiting of the firstborn, since each person is given free will, perhaps there would be no need for the last three plagues. Hashem therefore told Moshe that He hardened Paroh's heart and there would be a need for BO, mathematically three, for three more plagues.
The connection is based on the words of the Rambam to his son. Each person has an allotted number of years to live. Even if a person is given a short amount of time, it is not a tragedy. Obviously Hashem has decided that he has fulfilled his goals. However, even if one has fulfilled his goals, if he teaches his children Torah, then Hashem sometimes extends his life.
You will sometimes extend the days of your life if you relate the Torah to your sons and your sons' sons. (Pardes Yoseif)
1) "That I have mocked" is Rashi's translation. Perhaps this is related to "olale v'yoneik" (Eichoh 2:11), I have treated them as babies.
2) "That I have wrought," from the word source "iloh," a cause for outcomes. (Targum Onkelos, This is also the second translation of Rabbeinu Bachyei.)
3) "I have behaved negatively," as in "v'som loh alilos d'vorim" (Dvorim 22:14). The Egyptians at this point have agreed that Hashem is a Power, however, only for bad. By relating to further generations that I have responded negatively to the Egyptians, but positively to the bnei Yisroel, they will come to know that "ani Hashem," I am the G-d of mercy. (Rabbi Shlomo Ashtruk)
4) "I have done My wondrous actions." (Rada"k)
5) "I have shown My supremacy." (Rabbeinu Yonah)
6) "I have caused anguish and worry," as in "asher olal li" (Eichoh 1:12), and "eini ol'loh l'nafshi" (Eichoh 3:51).
7) "I have crushed," as in "ba'eli" (Mishlei 27:22),
8) "I have responded openly, as in "baalil lo'oretz" (T'hilim 12:7).
9) "I have put a yoke upon them, as in "oloh o'lehoh ole" (Bmidbar 19:2).
The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh answers that Paroh told his servants that they had a good point, but it was inconclusive that Hashem had the power to take the bnei Yisroel out of Egypt against Paroh's will. Moshe had requested a three-day hiatus to serve Hashem, a round-trip ticket for each of the bnei Yisroel. Paroh reasoned that there is the possibility that Moshe would be true to his word and that indeed he only wanted three days for a festival to serve Hashem with sacrifices. If that is the case it surely isn't worth being obstinate at the price of suffering through more plagues, as his servants posited.
On the other hand if Moshe's true intention was to permanently leave, why would he request a three-day jaunt to the inhospitable desert? It might just be that Hashem was (ch"v) incapable of extracting them from Egypt proper, as it was under Paroh's domain, but once they would be in the desert, no man's land, He would be able to lead them further afield, i.e. back to Eretz Yisroel. This could be simply clarified by asking Moshe who the intended participants in the sacrificial service would be. When Moshe answered that all would be involved, even young boys and girls, Paroh concluded that the request was a façade, as children never participate in such activities, and that Moshe wanted to lead the bnei Yisroel out of Egypt never to return. He felt assured through this reasoning that Hashem had no power to remove the bnei Yisroel from Egypt and that it was worthwhile to grin and bear it for a while rather than permanently lose such a large free workforce. This reasoning satisfied his servants and not a peep was heard from them afterwards. This is a most wonderful insight.
Let us expand upon this idea. Moshe had stated to Paroh numerous times earlier that all he wanted was a three-day jaunt into the desert to serve Hashem (7:16,26 - 8:16,23 - 9:1,13). Why did this issue with all its reasoning delineated by the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh come to light here by the 8th plague and not much earlier? We can simply say that this is the first time that Moshe detailed exactly who would participate, in response to Paroh's asking who would go. However, why didn't Paroh ask this earlier when he temporarily agreed under duress to release the bnei Yisroel (7:4, 8:21,24 - 9:28)?
In a homiletic manner we might answer this based on the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh himself. The essence of Paroh's refusal was based on the request for a three-day holiday in the desert, as mentioned above. This, coupled with the request to have every last ben and bas Yisroel leave misled him to erroneously believe that Hashem lacked the ability to extract the bnei Yisroel from Egypt proper. However, once the bnei Yisroel would be in the desert He could lead them further.
This is just like the nature of locust. They have four legs that transport them when they are earthbound. They are incapable of becoming airborne through the power of their wings alone. A pair of springing legs propels them into the air, and once airborne they can fly further with the propulsion of their wings.
Perhaps Hashem orchestrated matters so that the question of exactly who the participants are would not come to light until the plague of locust, as they symbolize, in a startling likeness, Paroh's miscalculation. Just as Paroh felt that Hashem did not have the ability to take the bnei Yisroel out of Egypt and could only take them back to Eretz Yisroel once they were in the desert, out of Paroh's domain, so too a locust cannot fly from a position on the ground, but only after he is airborne by springing upwards. Only then can his wings transport him a great distance. The punishment of locust is a punishment in kind, "midoh k'ne'ged midoh," coupled with Paroh's calculations that brought him to believe that Hashem is ch"v limited in ability and that Moshe is not being truthful.
Hashem's teaching Paroh this lesson might be esoterically alluded to in the parsha of kosher and non-kosher flying insects. In Vayikra 11:22 the verse states, "Ach es zeh tochlu mikole sheretz ho'ofe haholeich al arba asher LO chro'ayim mimaal l'raglov l'na'teir bo'hen al ho'oretz," - Only this may you consume from among the flying insects that walk on four (legs), that which *has not/has* jumping legs above its other (four) legs with which to spring upon the ground. Kosher locust and grasshoppers have the feature of a third pair of legs that propel them off the ground. The word LO in this verse is one of numerous ones in TaNa"CH that are spelled LO with an Alef ("ksiv"), meaning NO, and are to be understood as LO with a Vov ("kri"), "to it." (A most wonderful insight into the double meaning of LO in our verse was offered in parshas Shmini 5763 in the name of Rabbi Avrohom Steiner of Grosvardain in Beis Avrohom.)
Perhaps we can say as follows: The gemara Shabbos 88b says that the first word in the Ten Commandments, "ANoCHI" (Shmos 20:2, Dvorim 5:6), is an acronym for "Ano Nafshi Ksovis Y'hovis," - I (Hashem) have written My essence (in the words of the Torah) and have handed it over (to the bnei Yisroel). The letters of the Torah are the essence of Hashem in the written word (see the Holy Zohar Vayikra pages 73a, 265b, and 298b). As the written words of this verse appear in the Torah, i.e. the essence of Hashem, the locust, including "arbeh" as per the following verse, "has not" - LO with an Alef - any jumping legs. It can propel itself from the ground directly into flight. This alludes to Hashem responding to Paroh that he is mistaken, that Hashem does not need to have the bnei Yisroel first removed from Paroh's domain to be able to afterwards do with them as He wishes. Hashem can take them directly out of Egypt, right from under Paroh's nose. The read form, "kri," is not the essence of Hashem, and the "arbeh" does have jumping legs, LO with a Vov, and Paroh "reads" inaccurately into Hashem the limited ability of only being able to lead and direct the bnei Yisroel after they spring out of Egypt, out of Paroh's control.
Rashi remarks that when Moshe told Paroh that the purpose of their three-day hiatus into the desert was to offer sacrifices to Hashem, he said that only grown men involve themselves in such activities, not children. We can now understand Paroh as saying no to the children because "osoh," that "hosofoh," addition, you PERSONALLY request, and not Hashem. Even with keeping the children in Egypt Paroh felt he was acquiescing to Hashem's wishes. When the plague of locust was visited upon him, Paroh then realized that Hashem's command included the children. He therefore asked for forgiveness not just from Hashem, but also from Moshe and Aharon, "Chotosi laShem Elokeichem v'lochem" (verse 16). (The Holy Magid of Mezeritch)
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