CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS VO'EIRO 5768 - BS"D
1) Ch. 6, v. 5: "V'GAM ani shomati naakas bnei Yisroel" - V'GAM seems superfluous.
2) Ch. 7, v. 15: "Hi'nei yotzei hamaimoh ……v'hama'teh asher nehpach l'nochosh tikach b'yo'decho" - Whose staff was this?
3) Ch. 7, v. 28: "V'shoratz ha'y'ore tzfardim" - And the river will proliferate frogs - In T'hilim 105:30 it says, "Shoratz artzom tzfardim," their LAND proliferated frogs, while our verse says that the river will do this.
4) Ch. 8, v. 9: "Va'yaas Hashem kidvar Moshe va'yomusu hatzfardim" - When the bnei Yisroel were attacked by venomous serpents Moshe prayed for their removal, but it was to no avail, and it was required of Moshe to create a form of a snake and place it onto a staff (Bmidbar 21:7-9). Why wasn't it sufficient for Moshe to only pray to alleviate the problem as he did here?
5) Ch. 9, v. 14: "Es kol ma'geifosai" - Rashi says that we derive from the expression "all My plagues" that the plague of smiting of the firstborn is equal to all the rest of the plagues combined. Since these words refer to the plague of hail, how is this an indication of the severity of the smiting of the firstborn, a totally different plague?
The Mei'am Lo'eiz explains that the gemara Taanis 25b says that in the days of Shmuel the Humble there was a severe drought. Shmuel decreed that the people should accept upon themselves to fast and to say many prayers so that Hashem should have mercy and send the much needed rain. The people accepted to do these things and before they even began to pray a tremendous downpour of rain came. Shmuel told everyone, "Don't think highly of yourselves by seeing such a great response even before you began to pray. This is because Hashem was willing to have mercy upon you, but was not interested in your prayers. Had your prayers been dear to Hashem, He would have waited until after you prayed and then sent the rain."
This is the meaning of "V'GAM ani shomati es naakas bnei Yisroel." Not only will Hashem bring salvation, but He holds dear the prayers of the bnei Yisroel and has ALSO heard their prayers.
1) Rashi (M.R. 9:8) says that Paroh went to the river early in the morning to relieve himself. The Moshav Z'keinim says that we now understand why Hashem told Moshe to specifically take Aharon's staff that was turned into a snake earlier (verse 10), and not Moshe's personal staff, since it had the Holy Name of Hashem on it, and it was thus inappropriate to bring it to the place where Paroh relieved himself.
2) The Ibn Ezra says that this staff was Moshe's and the verse refers to his staff turning into a snake in 4:3. The problem of taking the staff to where Paroh relieved himself might be alleviated by Moshe's being told to stand at a distance. While Paroh was in the water, Moshe was told to stand at a distance, "al sfas ha'y'ore."
Since the frogs came from not just one body of water, but rather, from all bodies of water, as indicated by the words "al hanhoros al ha'y'orim v'al ho'agamim" (8:1), it is as if the land gave them forth, since this took place all over. (Rada"k)
The Chofetz Chaim answers that the bnei Yisroel sinned with "loshon hora," speaking negatively of Hashem and Moshe. The punishment of being bitten by snakes is commensurate measure for measure with their sinning with their mouths. The condemning angels created through the sin of "loshon hora" do not readily dissipate, and Moshe's prayers alone were not sufficient.
1) "Makas b'choros" does not mean smiting of the firstborn, but rather, smiting of the early ripened crops, as in the word "bikurim." (Chizkuni)
2) Since there was respite from this plague by bringing one's livestock and slaves into
their homes (verse 19) and by the smiting of the firstborn there was no escape, by comparison we see that the smiting of the firstborn was equal to all other plagues. (Tosfos Hasho'leim)
Why Rashi mentions this in this verse requires clarification.
3) Some texts have the word "bitzo'res," famine, in the place of "b'choros." (Rabbeinu Chaim ben Paltiel)
4) If the plague of hail is called "kol ma'geifosai" because it affected man and animal, surely the smiting of the firstborn is even more severe as it brought the death of both man and animal, both in Egypt and abroad, both the Egyptians and to foreigners in Egypt at the time. (Rabbeinu Avigdor)
5) "Kol ma'geifosai" does not refer only to hail, but to the last three plagues as well. Thus we may rightly assume that the final plague is the severest. (Abarbanel)
6)There is a text "makas borod." Possibly someone's transcript had these two words abbreviated as Mem-Beis, meaning "makas borod," and a later transcriber incorrectly wrote this abbreviation in full incorrectly. (GR"A)
Indeed, Medrash Hagodol clearly states that "makas BOROD" was equal to all the rest of the plagues.
7) In Shmos 4:23 Hashem told Moshe to relate to Paroh that if he would not send the bnei Yisroel free that He would kill the Egyptians' firstborn. Rashi says that this was a warning right at the beginning, ahead of all the other plagues that would take place earlier, because it was the most severe, "she'hee koshoh miKULON." (The text in Rashi in my Chumash is "she'hee koshoh" only.) If our verse tells us that hail is called "kol ma'geifosai," why didn't Moshe warn Paroh that hail would eventually come rather than "makas b'choros"? We must conclude that smiting the firstborn was even more severe than hail. (Sefer Zikoron)
N.B. Some of the answers stress that "makas b'choros" is the most SEVERE plague, while the actual words of Rashi are "shkuloh ch'neged kol hamakose," equal to all the plagues.
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