CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS YISRO 5767 - BS"D
1) Ch. 18, v. 2: "Achar shilu'chehoh" - What do these words mean?
2) Ch. 18, v. 3,4: "Sheim ho'echod Geirshome ki omar geir hoyisi b'eterz
nochrioh, V'sheim ho'echod Eliezer ki Elokei ovi b'ezri va'yatzi'leini meicherev
Paroh" - Wasn't Moshe first saved from the sword of Paroh when being judged for
killing the Egyptian (2:12,15) before being a sojourner in the foreign land
of Midyon where Yisro resided? If so, he should have named his first son
Eliezer and his second son Geirshome.
3) Ch. 18, v. 9: "VA'YICHAD Yisro" - The simple translation of VA'YICHAD is
that he rejoiced. Perhaps in a manner of drush, homiletics, it can be said that
since Yisro came to convert to Judaism and had previously pursued every other
form of religion in the world, as per the words in verse 11, "mikol elohim,"
Yisro now came to accept the one true Hashem, Creator and Master of the world.
"VA'YICHAD Yisro," - And Yisro accepted the ONE Hashem, from the source word
However, the gemara Sanhedrin 94a brings two opinions for the translation of
VA'YICHAD. Rav says that it means he took a SHARP sword and passed it over his
flesh. CHAD means SHARP. This means that he had himself circumcised in the
process of conversion to Judaism. Shmuel says that when he heard of all the
punishments that befell Paroh and the rest of the Egyptians his flesh raised goose
pimples, SHARP points, or possibly wrinkles which had SHARP ridges, as per
Rashi on Sanhedrin 94a. Rashi explains that this was the result of Yisro's
suffering greatly from the report.
Rav goes on to say, "This illustrates the common parlance, 'When in the
company of the offspring of a convert, even up to ten generations later, do not
speak about an Arami in a disparaging manner in front of him.'"
There is an obvious problem in understanding the words of the gemara. It
seems that Rav's parting words are a proof for Shmuel, and contrary to his own
4) Ch. 20, v. 2: "Onochi" - Why not the word "Ani?"
5) Ch. 20. v. 8: "Zochor" - In the Ten Commandments in our parsha, the word
"zochor" is used, and in parshas Vo'es'chanan the word "shomor" is used. Which
of these was etched into the tablets?
1) Rabbi Yehoshua says that this means after sending her away with a writ of
2) Rabbi Elozor of Modiin says: After he verbally sent her away. Upon
Aharon's meeting Moshe with his wife and children outside Mitzrayim, Aharon
suggested that he not bring them into servitude and suffering. Moshe agreed and sent
her and the children back to her parents for the meantime. (Mechilta brought by
3) The Ibn Ezra offers that these words mean after her sending Moshe
presents, as we find "shiluchim l'vito" (M'lochim 1:9:16).
4) The Sforno says that this means after Tziporoh originally sent Moshe an
inquiry. She asked when it would be advisable to join him. He responded that he
was in the desert and that the encampment was not settled in one place for an
extended period of time. Once he sent her that they had come to rest at "har
hoElokim" (verse 5), the area of Har Sinai, she and her children came.
5) The Rashbam says that this means "after Moshe sent his wife back the
'n'dunia,'" presents that were given him upon marrying her.
1) At the time of the birth of his first son Moshe was still a fugitive and
on Paroh's most wanted list. He was not yet free of the sword of Paroh.
However he was already in a foreign land, not being among his brethren.
2) At the time of the birth of his first som, Moshe was still relatively new
to the community in Midyon. Had he named his first son Eliezer as a praise to
Hashem for saving him from the sword of Paroh, he feared that the Midyanites
and even his father-in-law would banish him from the community, or even have
him turned over to Paroh, since he had killed an Egyptian. His second son was
born after he had lived there for a while and at that point he felt confident
that he had built up a reputation as an upright person and they would not evict
3) If one has experienced a number of experiences which have made a profound
impression upon him, he should not name his child after a more distant
happening, but rather after the most recent. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh and Imrei Noam)
4) "Geir hoyisi b'eterz nochrioh" refers not to Moshe's feeling as a
foreigner in the land of Midyon, but rather to his sojourning in this ephemeral
world. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)
5) Moshe knew that a descendant of his firstborn son, Y'honoson ben
Geirshome, would become a functionary for idol worship. He therefore did not want to
give him a name that would incorporate the name of Hashem in it. (Meshech
6) Along the lines of the previous answer, perhaps Moshe was reluctant to
give a name to his first son which incorporated Hashem's name in it since he had
agreed to Yisro's condition upon marrying Tziporoh, that he would allow his
first son to be raised with the theological training of idol worship as per the
Mechilta #67 and Yalkut Shimoni remez #268.
7) Although chronologically being a sojourner in the foreign land of Midyon
was experienced after being saved from the sword of Paroh, being away from his
brethren who suffered inhuman servitude under Paroh was foremost in his mind,
this in spite of human nature to first care about saving one's own skin,
which was Moshe's being saved from the sword of Paroh. His extreme concern for his
brethren is accentuated even more by virtue of his not having been brought up
among them, as he was raised in the palace of Paroh. As well, his first
experience of involvement with them was very short-lived as after smiting the
Egyptian he was to be executed and escaped, leaving Egypt. In spite of his limited
involvement with his brethren, he took to heart first and foremost their
suffering, thus naming his first son after his situation of being away from them.
This is the quality of a true and caring leader. (Meshech Chochmoh)
8) "Geir hoyisi b'eterz nochrioh" refers not to Moshe's feeling as a
foreigner in the land of Midyon, but rather to his feeling as a foreigner in the land
of Egypt. He yearned to live in Eretz Yisroel, in spite of never having been
there, being born and having only lived in Egypt, and having ALL the bnei
Yisroel living in Egypt. (Rabbi Uri Meir Kahanov in Mishmeres haKohanim)
This question is raised by the Maharsh"o on the gemara.
1) He answers that the proper text in the gemara is "Rav Poppo says, 'This
illustrates the common etc.'", not Rav. He bolsters this text by saying that
it is found in the Yalkut Shimoni remez #268. The GR"A also changes the text to
2) Rashi d.h. "giyuro" says that although this is a common folk expression,
Yisro was actually not a tenth generation descendant of the person named
Mitzrayim. Perhaps Rashi is forewarning the difficulty posed by the Maharsh"o and
is answering that Rav is saying that the concept Shmuel brought out is correct
for up to ten generations, but cannot be the explanation of our verse, as
Yisro was beyond a tenth generation descendant from Mitzrayim.
3) Since it is common parlance there is no need for the Torah to teach us an
already well known point. This therefore disproves Shmuel's position.
A difficulty with this answer is that possibly only AFTER the Torah tells us
this has it become a popular folk expression.
4) Rav is saying that only until ten generations but not including the tenth
does a descendant of a convert feel hurt. Although the word AD - up to, is
inclusive of the matter mentioned when this word is used in the Torah, as is
explained in the gemara Rosh Hashonoh 30b on the verse "AD etzem ha'yom ha'zeh"
(Vayikroh 23:14), and also in the gemara Arochin 18a on the verse "AD yom
hashvii" (Shmos 12:15), "bilshone Torah AD v'AD bichlal," but in common
conversation, "bilshone bnei Odom AD v'LO AD bichlal," AD -up to, is NOT inclusive, as we
see in Shulchan Oruch Ch.M. 43:27. So "Ad asoro dori" - up to ten
generations, means up to ten, but not including the tenth.
Rabbeinu Bachyei and Chizkuni both say that Yisro was a tenth generation
descendant of Mitzrayim, contrary to Rashi, and therefore he would not have felt
pained upon hearing what had befallen Paroh and the rest of the Egyptians. (See
Gilyone Hashas Sanhedrin 94a.) This disproves Shmuel. (Likutei Shoshanim)
5) Similar to #4 - Since it is well known, Moshe would never have done this
to hurt Yisro, so again it disproves Shmuel. (Peninei Kedem)
This answer seems contrary to the words of verse 8, "Va'y'sa'peir Moshe
l'chosno eis kol asher ossoh Hashem l'Faroh u'l'Mitzrayim."
1) The gemara Shabbos 88b uses the four letters of "Onochi" as an acronym for
a few different four word phrases.
2) The Yalkut Shimoni #286 says that since the bnei Yisroel had just been in
Egypt for a few generations they were very fluent in the Egyptian language.
The word for "I - Ani" in Egyptian is "Onoch."
3) The Malbim says that "Ani" simply means "I." If one says "ani KOSEIV," it
means that I am writing, but not erasing. The stress is on the action and
not on the pronoun. If one says "ONOCHI koseiv," the stress is on "I" am
writing, but someone else is not writing. Therefore, the Torah says "ONOCHI," only
I am Hashem, to the exclusion of others.
1) The Ibn Ezra (Yisro) brings the opinion of one of his colleagues, that
2) The Ibn Ezra brings another opinion, that since the letters were etched
all the way through the stone, there was text appearing on both sides. Through
a miracle, one side showed "zochor" and one side showed "shomor".
3) The Ibn Ezra himself disagrees with all the opinions he quotes, and says
that only "zochor" was written. The Ramban (Yisro) also says that only
"zochor" was written on both sets of tablets.
4) There is an opinion that the first tablets had "zochor" and the second
5) Another opinion is that the first had "shomor" and the second had
It is possible to connect some of the above opinions with a Yerushalmi
Sh'kolim 6:1. Rabbi Chaninoh ben Gamliel says that each set of tablets had the Ten
Commandments, five on each side. The Rabonon disagree and say each set of
tablets had twenty commandments, a full set of ten on each side. Possibly,
according to the Rabonon, since the full text appeared twice on each set of luchos,
one tablet may have had "zochor" and the other "shomor."
MVRHRH"G Rav Yaakov Kamenecki ztvkllh"h brought a proof that "shomor"
appeared on the luchos, from the words in the "amidoh" of Shabbos Shacharis,
"V'chosuv bo'hem SHMIRAS Shabbos." (Also in N'tzi"v)
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