by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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Yom Tov Selections PESACH - 5768
B'dikas chometz should preferably begin at the BEGINNING of the night of the fourteenth of Nison. The first mishneh in P'sochim begins with the words, "Ohr l'arba osor bodkin es hechometz l'ohr ha'neir." The gemara derives from the word "ohr" that one should speak in a refined manner. Why is this terminology placed here? I heard that the use of the word "ohr" by b'dikas chometz actually serves a purpose in the laws of b'dikas chometz as well. The word "ohr" literally means LIGHT. This indicates to us that we should begin checking for chometz at the beginning of the night, when there is still a glimmer of light in the western sky.
ISSUR ACHILAS MATZOH B'EREV PESACH - THE PROHIBITION OF EATING MATZOH 0N THE EVE OF PESACH
The Yerushalmi P'sochim 10:1 says: Rabbi Levi says that one who eats matzoh on the eve of Pesach is enlikened to one who has relations with his betrothed fianc? while she still resides in the home of her parents.
The Abudrohom explains this analogy. Just as one must first have seven blessings made before marriage, and if these blessings are omitted the Ma'seches Kalloh chapter 1 says that taking a wife without the seven blessings is akin to approaching her while she is in a state of "nidoh," so also with the matzoh on the eve of Pesach, since he has eaten the matzoh before making seven blessings , first, which occur in the order of the Seder.
(Some explanation is needed to arrive at seven blessings before the eating of matzoh.)
1) The Baal Halochos G'dolos in his commentary on the gemara P'sochim chapter 10 says in the name of Rashi that the prohibition was instituted so that by abstaining for a short period before the time of the mitzvoh one shows a love for the mitzvoh.
2) The Rambam hilchos chometz u'matzoh 6:12 says that the reason is to separate between eating of matzoh which is "r'shus," voluntary and not a mitzvoh, and eating of matzoh on Pesach, which is a mitzvoh.
3) The Kolbo says that the reason is that by eating matzoh on the eve of Pesach one displays a character of being ravenous.
4) The Pri Chodosh O. Ch. #471 says in the name of the Rokei'ach that since the verse says, "Bo'erev tochlu matzos" (Shmos 12:18), we derive from this that it is prohibited to eat matzos before the night of Pesach.
Perhaps a Chassidic style vort can be added to the Rokei'ach's explanation. "BO'EREV" can also be translated as "with sweetness" (as in the blessing "v'haa'rev noh"). With SWEETNESS shall you eat matzos. If you indulge on the eve of Pesach, you will not eat the matzos at night with enthusiasm. This would equate this explanation with the next offering from the M'iri.
5) The M'iri in his commentary on the gemara P'sochim says that by refraining from eating matzos on the eve of Pesach one will then eat the Matzos shel mitzvoh on the night of Pesach with a great appetite.
FROM WHAT TIME ON THE EVE OF PESACH DOES THIS PROHIBITION BEGIN?
1) The Ramban in his commentary to the rulings of the Rif on gemara P'sochim chapter 3, called "Milchamos Hashem," says that it begins on the night of b'dikas chometz.
2) The Magid Mishneh on the Rambam hilchos chometz u'matzoh at the end of chapter 6 says that the Rambam's opinion is that it begins at daybreak of the 14th of Nison.
3) The Rosh on gemara P'sochim chapter 3, siman #17 says that it begins at midday of the 14th of Nison.
MUST ONE OWN THE MATZOH WITH WHICH ONE FULFILLS MATZAS MITZVOH?
The Sfas Emes on gemara Sukoh 35a d.h. "b'gemara assia" says that one must own the matzoh.
WHY IS NO BLESSING MADE ON THE MITZVOH OF RELATING THE STORY OF THE EXODUS FROM EGYPT?
1) It is included in the blessings of kiddush in which we have already said "Zeicher litzias Mitzrayim."
2) It is included in the blessings of the Maariv prayers where we say some of the details of the exodus and say the blessing "go'al Yisroel."
3) It is said at the end of relating the story of our exodus from Egypt in the blessing which ends with the words "go'al Yisroel." Even though we have a rule that we make a blessing on a mitzvoh before doing it (first chapter of gemara P'sochim), this is an exception. Just as a convert makes the blessing on his immersing in the mikveh after his immersion, since before the immersion he was still not Jewish, here too, one is to perceive himself as if he had left Egypt now, at the end of "magid." Likewise it is appropriate to make the blessing at the end of the mitzvoh of "magid" and not earlier. 4) We don't make a blessing because one should perceive himself as if he had just left Egypt. Before relating the story, one is as if he was not yet freed, and at that point it is inappropriate to make a blessing.
5) The Rashbo says that we don't make a blessing on a mitzvoh that has no clear parameters. Since the mitzvoh of relating the exodus from Egypt can be fulfilled through just a few short sentences as well as through lengthy discourses lasting many hours, no blessing is said.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SIPUR Y'TZIAS MITZRAYIM
Relating the experience of the exodus from Egypt is possibly our most potent tool in carrying over to the following generations our history and special purpose in fulfilling Hashem's wishes through his Torah as the Jewish nation. This opportunity should not be passed up. It must be maximized. This can be done with proper preparation of sections of the Hagodoh, related at the level that one's children, guests, etc., can comprehend.
While in attendance at the Seder of my father-in-law o"h, I heard him say that we find no other mitzvoh were the Torah teaches us details of how to practically apply the mitzvoh according to different situations. The mitzvoh of "magid" is detailed to the point that the Torah tells us how to respond to each of four different types of sons. This is something that we could theoretically figure out on our own. The Torah's detailing this shows us how very important it is to reach each person on his own level.
The word "MAGID" appears in the Torah once. Where?
PESACH SELECTIONS CHUMASH COMPENDIUM PARSHAS SHMOS
Ch. 1, v. 1: "Habo'im" - Tosfos Hasholeim says that the four letters spelling out "bo'im" allude to the four exiles: Beis - Bovel, Alef - Edom, Yud - Yovon, Mem - Modei.
The Nachal K'dumim in the name of Rabbi Eliezer of Germeiza says that "bo'im" equals 613, beis = 2, alef = 1, yud = 10, final Mem = 600. This indicates that the only power we have to survive the four exiles is through the Torah.
Ch. 1, v. 7: "Poru va'yish'r'tzu" - The M.R. 1:8 says that they gave birth to sextuplets. How is this derived?
1) Six words, "poru, va'yish'r'tu, va'yirbu, va'yaatzmu, b'm'ode, m'ode.
2) "Poru vayish'r'tzu" equals "shisho b'kerres echod". Although short by two, "b'm'ode m'ode" adds two more. (Baal Haturim) 3) "VaTiMoLEi" is an acronym (in reverse) for "Isho L'olom Misaberres T'umim Vov. (Tosfos Hasholeim)
Ch. 1, v. 1: "Habo'im Mitroymoh" - The Nitzotzei Orose (Chid"o) says that "Mitzroymoh" is mathematically equal to "Sh'chinoh" (385) to indicate that although the bnei Yisroel went into exile they did not go alone. The Divine Spirit of Hashem accompanied them as is stated in the Holy Zohar Shmos 2b. Perhaps the Sh'chinoh stayed with them throughout their 210 years in Egypt in the merit of their retaining a semblance of being Hashem's holy nation. This was demonstrated by their not altering their names, nor mode of apparel, and speaking in the holy tongue, as mentioned in the M.R. Bmidbar 13:20. Please note however, that there are numerous variations to the list of virtues for which they merited to leave Egypt (M.R. Vayikroh 32:5, M.R. Shir Hashirim 4:12, and Medrash Tanchumoh parshas Bolok 4:16). A mathematical allusion to this might be that the word "Sh'chinoh," as mentioned above, has a value of 385. "Loshon," language, equals 386 - "u'shmom," and their names, equals 386 - "u'l'vushom," and their garments, equals 384. We know that an inaccuracy of one in gematria is negligible, as mentioned in the Baal Haturim in parshas Va'yichi (48:5).
Ch. 1, v. 1: "Ish u'veiso bo'u" - They did not come to Egypt with the intention of blending into the smelting-pot of Egyptian culture. Instead they came with their "homes," with the atmosphere and ambiance of the values they learned from Yaakov. (Hadrash V'ho'iyun)
Ch. 1, v. 7: "Vatimo'lei ho'oretz osom" - The gemara Sotoh 11b and the M.R. 1:12 say that after Paroh decreed that all newborn Jewish males be killed, a miracle took place where angels took the newborn boys and placed them below ground and they received their sustenance by sucking oil and honey from two stones in the shape of loaves, as is written "Va'yeini'keihu dvash mi'sela v'shemen meichalmish tzur" (Dvorim 32:13). The Baalei Tosfos and the Kli Yokor say that this is the meaning of the words of our verse "vatimo'lei ho'oretz osom," to be taken literally as, "and the (inside of) the earth became filled with them."
Ch. 1, v. 7: "Vatimo'lei ho'oretz osom" - Hashem told Avrohom that his descendants would be aliens in a land that is "lo lo'hem," not theirs (Breishis 15:13). This can be interpreted to mean Goshen, which was not "theirs," not belonging to the Egyptians. It was given to Soroh by Paroh as compensation for taking her from Avrohom (Medrash Breishis 12:20). As long as the bnei Yisroel remained in their own neighbourhood, there was no escalating of the enslavement. However, when "the land filled with them," they became as thorns (v. 12) in the eyes of the Egyptians. The Yalkut Shimoni on our verse says this was specifically when the bnei Yisroel joined the Egyptians in their centres of entertainment, i.e. theaters, stadiums, and circuses.
We can take a lesson from this, ESPECIALLY during Cholo Shel Moed Pesach, to plan family outings to places that are not contrary to the idea of the above medrash. How ironic it would be to celebrate Pesach and engage in the same activities that plunged our ancestors into the enslavement of Egypt.
Ch. 1, v. 10: "V'olo min ho'oretz" - Rashi brings the gemara Sotoh 11a that says that "v'olo," and he will leave, refers to the EGYPTIANS themselves. Rather than verbalize this, Paroh expressed this as if it would happen to someone else, "toleh kil'loso b'chaveiro".
However, the Sforno explains that Paroh intended for the BNEI YISROEL to leave in response to his unfair edicts of increased labour and tax burdens. The M.R. (1:8) explains that initially Paroh refused to tamper with the people who had not only saved his country from the devastation of famine, but had even brought untold wealth to its coffers. As a result, Paroh was deposed, and only after three months, upon agreeing to go along with the diabolical schemes of his advisors, was he reinstated. This is the "melech CHODOSH" (1:8), a king with NEW policies. The Sforno says that Paroh wanted to tax and burden the bnei Yisroel to the point that they would leave the country, and thus the problem of the Jewish population explosion would be solved. The bnei Yisroel, however, reacted differently. They were used to the life in Egypt and were reluctant to leave. They accepted the unfair tax and work burden, saying that they had a responsibility to do this as upright citizens of Egypt. At that point Paroh realized that he had a free work force, and the idea of slavery began, partially brought upon the bnei Yisroel by themselves.
1:10 "Hovoh nis'chakmoh lo" - The gemara Sotoh 11a, Sanhedrin 93a, 106a and M.R. 1:12 say that Paroh called a cabinet meeting to discuss how to deal with the "Jewish problem." The three members of his cabinet were Bilom, Iyov, and Yisro. Bilom gave Paroh counsel to kill the newborn Jewish males. Iyov abstained from advising. Yisro ran away from the meeting. Each was recompensed with a fitting reward or punishment. The M'ga'leh Amukos says that we symbolize this historic cabinet meeting during the Seder by mentioning the four sons. The WISE son corresponds to Yisro who acted wisely by running away from the meeting (See Bmidbar 10:31, "V'hoyiso lonu l'EINOYIM"). The evil son corresponds to Bilom who gave evil counsel (See gemara Brochos 7a, 55b, Taanis 20a, Sanhedrin 105b, Z'vochim 116a, and Nidoh 31a which give him the appellation "Bilom hoROSHO"). The simple son corresponds to Iyov who abstained (See Iyov 1:1, "Ish TOM"). The son who KNOWS NOT to ask, corresponds to Paroh who said, "Mi Hashem asher eshma b'kolo ...... LO YODATI es Hashem" (5:2).
Ch. 1, v. 12: "Kein yirbeh v'chein yifrotz" - The Ramban (Bmidbar 3:14) says that the reason for the tribe of Levi having such a disproportionately small population compared to the other tribes is because they were not under the yoke of servitude. Because they were not subject to "v'chaasher y'anu oso," they did not receive the blessing of "kein yirbe v'chein yifrotz."
Ch. 1, v. 14: "Va'y'mor'ru es chayeihem" - The cantillation (trup) on these words is "kadmo v'azlo." The original decree was for the bnei Yisroel to be in Egypt for 400 years (Breishis 15:13). This was diminished by 190 years through the arduous labour to which they were subjected. "Kadmo v"azlo" can be translated "they preceded and went," they had an early departure, because "va'y'mor'ru," the Egyptians embittered their lives. By how many years did the bnei Yisroel depart earlier? By 190, the gematria of "kadmo v'azlo." (The Holy Admor R' Yitzchok of Vorke)
Ch. 1, v. 14: "Bo'avodoh kosho b'chomer u'vilveinim" - The Holy Zohar interprets these words to mean: "kosho" - kushios u'firukin, difficulties and answers, "chomer" - kal vochomer, logical deduction of rulings, "l'veinim" - libun halacha, clarity of laws. They merited these because of their suffering great hardships. The R'shash had a difficulty in understanding a Tosfos in gemara Y'vomos. This plagued him for numerous years. Once, the N'tziv visited Vilna and met with the Rshash. The Rsha"sh presented his difficulty to the N'tziv. Upon contemplating for a short while, the N'tziv came up with an insightful and elucidating answer to the Rsha"sh's problem. The Rsha"sh was excited to hear the answer, but at the same time felt very inferior for not being able to resolve this problem for years, and seeing the N'tziv had come up with a clear answer in a few minutes. The N'tziv realized this and said that since the Rsha"sh was a wealthy businessman and did not endure the physical deprivations that the N'tziv had endured, he did not have the extra "siyato d'Shmayo" given to one who has gone through hardships for the sake of Torah.
Ch. 1, v. 22: "Va'yomeir Paroh l'CHOL AMO" - Rashi quotes the gemara Sotoh 12a which says that this decree included the destruction of the newborn Egyptians. Paroh's stargazers saw that the redeemer of the bnei Yisroel was born on that day, but did not know if he was a Jewish child or an Egyptian child. This is very hard to fathom. Even if they had no indication from which nation he came, shouldn't logic dictate that the redeemer of the Jewish people would be from among their own? The Kli Yokor answers that Moshe who was the saviour was born to a Jewish mother, Yocheved. However, he was brought up by Bisyoh the daughter of Paroh. The stargazers were not in doubt because this point of information was not indicated to them at all. To the contrary, it was somewhat indicated, but not fully clarified. Moshe, on one hand was Jewish by virtue of birth. On the other hand he was considered an Egyptian by virtue of his upbringing. Therefore they were not sure. The words of the Kli Yokor can be strengthened by bringing the verse in Divrei Hayomim 1:4:18 "Yered v'Avi G'dor ...... v'eileh bnei Bisyoh bas Paroh." This verse gives us a few names of Moshe and ends by saying that his mother was Bisyoh, the daughter of Paroh. The gemara Sanhedrin 19b derives from this that if one rears an orphan in his home it is as if he gave birth to this orphan. We see from the verse in Divrei Hayomim as well as from the gemara that there was ample room to consider Moshe the son of an Egyptian woman. I heard an interpretation of the words in 2:12 which is an extension of the Kli Yokor's insight. The verse discusses Moshe's coming upon an Egyptian beating a Jew. "Va'yi'fen ko v'cho va'yaar KI EIN ISH va'yach es haMitzri." Moshe turned in all directions and saw no person. He then smote the Egyptian. After being raised in the home of Paroh, Moshe went out to see the plight of his brethren. When he saw an Egyptian in conflict with a Jew, he saw (realized) KI EIN ISH, that he also had an internal conflict between being an Egyptian and a Jew; that he himself was not a complete man, but rather half Egyptian by virtue of his upbringing and half Jew by virtue of his family lineage. This was the same lack of clarity the stargazers had in identifying the saviour of the Jewish people. At that moment Moshe realized that this blend could not continue. "Va'yach es haMitzri." He internally smote the vestiges of his feeling like an Egyptian, and now felt totally Jewish. With this empowerment he went on to save his fellow Jew from the murderous hands of the Egyptian.
Ch. 2, v. 23: "Min ho'avodoh" - The Tiferes Shlomo, the Holy Admor of Rdomsk, interprets: Rather than cry out to Hashem about their physical pains, the bnei Yisroel cried out about their inability to SERVE Hashem properly, "min ho'avodoh." Ch. 2, v. 25: "Va'yeida Elokim" - The Beis HaLevi says a very big "chiddush." The bnei Yisroel were not able to serve Hashem properly during the time of their great oppression. However, if they would not have served him properly even without the oppression, they would have been held responsible for every sin they did. Only Hashem knows if the non-compliance with halacha was motivated solely by their circumstances. This is what is meant by "va'yeida Elokim." The Beis haLevi derives from this that if a person who desecrates the Shabbos willingly, has a medical emergency which halachically requires desecrating the Shabbos, he is not included in the exemption of "v'chei bo'hem" (Vayikro 18:5). This exemption only applies to one who is left with no sin. Rabbi M.A. Stern zt"l told me that this was a "chiddush" beyond his comprehension, since there is a command of "v'chei bo'hem" for every person. Everyone is responsible to save his life even at the expense of a sin (save the three cardinal sins). He raised this question to Horav Y. Gustman zt'l who responded that the Beis HaLevi could not have said such a thing, and we must assume that someone added it to the writings of the Beis HaLevi.
It is interesting to note that Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman in Kovetz He'oros #49 says the same as is found in the Beis HaLevi. Ch. 5, v. 2: "Mi Hashem ... lo yodati es Hashem" - The Rambam in hilchos teshuvoh 6:5 asks, "Since the Torah states (Breishis 15:13) 'And they will enslave them and they will persecute them,' why are the Egyptians deserving of punishment?" He answers that since the Torah did not mention any specific person, each Egyptian had the free choice to not persecute the bnei Yisroel. The words of our verse seem to make a very clear case for Paroh's deserving punishment to the fullest extent of the law. Since Paroh clearly states in our verse that Hashem does not exist in his universe he cannot lay claim to acting out of motivation to fulfill Hashem's command. Why then didn't the Rambam offer this answer? Possibly we can say that the Rambam could indeed have answered that the leader of the Egytians denied the existence of Hashem, and was thus subject to punishment, but he wanted to avoid our making a mistake by inference. If he were to say that Paroh denied the existence of Hashem, then we might conclude that if there was no denial of Hashem, he would have had a valid excuse. Therefore the Rambam says that as long as no specific persons are mentioned, each individual is free to behave properly and is thus subject to punishment for improper behaviour. As well, Paroh's denying the existence of Hashem does not explain why the rest of the Egyptians were punished.
Ch. 5, v. 3: "Nikro" - Here it is spelled with an "alef" and by Hashem's command to Moshe (3:18) with a "hei." The Baal Haturim says that with a "hei" it equals 355, the same as "shono," a year, to advise Paroh that the ten plagues would take place within a year. It would seem that the "hei" should have appeared here and the "alef" in 3:18. An explanation would be appreciated.
Ch. 5, v. 11: "K'CHU lochem teven MEI'ASHER timtzo'u ki ein nigroh mei'avodas'chem dovor" - The GR"A says that K'CHU means PURCHASE, as in Breishis 23:13, by the purchase of the M'oras Hamachpeiloh. PURCHASE straw, MEI'ASHER timtzo'u, RATHER THAN using from what you will find. Paroh told them that since the quota of bricks they had to produce was not diminished, and since from this point on, they would no longer be supplied with the straw with which to make the bricks, they would be forced to PURCHASE the straw, RATHER THAN gathering it on their own, which would take too much time.
Ch. 5, v. 22: "Lomo ha'rei'osa" - The Jewish community in the Ukraine suffered greatly during the time of the Rebbe R' Elimelech of Liszensk. A contemporary of his, a very elderly Admor, brought upon himself much physical deprivation through fasting, etc., in the hope that this would provide a merit which would alleviate the Jews' suffering. The Rebbe R' Elimelech advised the venerable Admor to stop his deprivation, and to wait until after his death to intercede with the Heavenly Court. The Admor passed on, but the edicts against the Jews became even harsher. The Rebbe R' Elimelech was surprised that the intervention of the departed tzaddik had not helped. Through his holy powers, the Rebbe R' Elimelech communicated with the deceased and asked why things were not improving. The deceased Admor told him that once one is in heaven, closer to Hashem, one sees more clearly. Matters that seem negative on earth are viewed as positive in the heavens. All that Hashem does is for the good. With this concept, the Imre Emes explains our verse. Moshe asked Hashem, "Why have you done BAD TO THIS NATION? Why have you sent me? Please send an appropriate agent to fulfill this task." The situation will be viewed as "bad" TO THIS NATION. Because Moshe was so close to Hashem, he wasn't able to pray for a change for the better with a full heart, since he realized that everything Hashem does is for the good. He therefore requested that Hashem have this mission carried out by an appropriate agent, one who is not that close to Hashem, and who would therefore pray more fervently.
Ch. 6, v. 6,7: "V'hotzeisi, v'hitzalti, v'go'alti, v'lokachti" -
1) Rashi and Rashbam in the gemara P'sochim 99b say that these four expressions of redemption are the source for drinking four goblets of wine on the night of the Seder. This is stated in the Yerushalmi P'sochim (10:1) and in the M.R. Breishis (88:4) as the opinion of Rav Huna.
2) The above two sources also bring the opinion of Rav Shmuel bar Nachmeini that the four goblets correspond to the four times the word "kose" is mentioned in the butler's dream and Yosef's interpretation at the end of parshas Va'yeishev.
3) The above two sources also bring the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi that the four goblets correspond to the four bitter goblets of punishment that Hashem will mete out to the nations of idol worshipers (Yirmiyohu 25:15, 51:7, T'hilim 11:6, 75:9).
4) The above Yerushalmi also brings that the four goblets correspond to the four salvations mentioned in T'hilim: Hashem m'nos chelki v'CHOSI (16:5), KOSI r'voyoh (23:5), and KOS y'shuos (116:13). This last verse alludes to two goblets, as the word, "y'shuos," salvations, is plural.
5) The four goblets correspond to the four times the word "goviah" is mentioned in parshas Mikeitz (44:2, 12, 16, 17). "Gvi'i" in verse 2 is not included, but might allude to the fifth goblet of Eliyohu. (Tosfos Hasholeim)
Many commentaries question Rashi and the Rashbam who say that four "EXPRESSIONS" of redemption are mentioned. The M.R. and the Yerushalmi actually say "FOUR REDEMPTIONS" and leave out the words "expressions of." Rashi and Rashbam's source is the Yalkut Shimoni (Yirmiyohu #307) which clearly says "four expressions of redemption."
There are numerous explanations of four stages of redemption:
1) Ramban: a) no severe workload, b) no work at all, c) Hashem takes revenge on the Egyptians, d) bnei Yisroel become a chosen nation upon coming to Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah.
2) Sforno: a) no more servitude, b) coming to Raamses, which is beyond the border of Egypt, c) splitting of the sea, d) standing at Mt. Sinai.
3) Aderres Eliyohu (GR"A): a) no severe workload, b) no work at all, c) free of being slaves, d) standing at Mt. Sinai. 4) Eitz Yosef on M.R. Shmos: a) no severe workload, b) no more throwing Jewish children into river, c) no more slaughtering Jewish children for Paroh's baths, d) retracting edict of no more straw being supplied for brick making.
5) Meshech Chochmoh: a) extraction of a nation from within a nation, b) being saved from the murderous Egyptians, c) not enslaved, d) becoming Hashem's chosen nation.
6) Torah T'mimoh: a) lightening of workload, b) no work at all, c) complete redemption and leaving Egypt, d) spiritual redemption.
Ch. 6, v. 6: "Mitachas sivlos Mitzrayim" - The Sfas Emes interprets: I will take you out of your tolerance and complacency toward Egypt. You cannot expect to be redeemed from Egypt if you are tolerant of your situation. This is the first step towards leaving Egypt. Likewise, if we truly want to have our bitter "golus Edom" come to an end, it cannot happen if we have become tolerant, complacent, and even comfortable with our "golus."
Ch. 6, v. 8: "V'hei'veisi ES'CHEM" - A difficulty raised by many commentators is that it seems that Hashem promises in our verse to bring those who leave Egypt to Eretz Yisroel, and in reality almost all of them die out in the desert. A few answers have been offered in Sedrah Selections 5760 Parshas B'haalos'cho (9:20), and 5760 Parshas Ki Sovo (26:9). The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh adds to the difficulty by pointing out that this was actually a vow, as in verse 6 it says "Lochein emor," and in M.R. Shmos 6:4 it says that the term "lochein" connotes a vow. The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh answers by pointing out that in the previous verse there is a phrase that seems to be totally out of place. After the expressions of Hashem's taking the bnei Yisroel out of their difficulties is interjected "vida'tem ki ani Hashem," before stating "v'hei'veisi es'chem." He explains that this is a condition placed on the fulfillment of the words in our verse "v'hei'veisi es'chem." He points out that "vida'tem ki ani Hashem" is very strategically placed, specifically after the four promises of redemption, and before this promise of bringing them into Eretz Yisroel. The earlier expressions of redemption are a promise not subject to any conditions, as leaving Egypt was guaranteed, but for the generation of those who depart from Egypt to merit being brought into Eretz Yisroel the condition of "vida'tem ki ani Hashem" must be met. Since that generation sinned in the desert and violated "vida'tem ki ani Hashem," they did not merit to be brought into Eretz Yisroel.
Ch. 6, v. 9: "V'lo shomu el Moshe mikotzer ruach u'mei'avodoh kosho" - The bnei Yisroel did not listen to Moshe because they said it was too early to leave. The four-hundred years of golus Mitzrayim had not yet been completed. Moshe responded that Hashem would deliver them earlier for two reasons; "mikotzer ruach," their shortness (low level) of spirituality, as they had sunk to the 49th level of impurity. If they would drop any lower, they would reach the point of no return. Also, "mei'avodoh kosho," because of their extreme workload, they had concentrated four-hundred years of labour into a much shorter period of time. In spite of these two points, they did not accept his words. (Pardes Yosef) Ch. 6, v. 9: "Mikotzer" - The Baal Haturim points out that the numeric value of "mikotzer" is 430, the number of years that the bnei Yisroel were in this exile (Shmos 12:40,41).
Ch. 6, v. 9: "Mikotzer ruach" - The Paa'nei'ach Rozo points out that "mikotzer" is spelled without a Vov. This brings the mathematical value of "mikotzer" to 430, the number of years the bnei Yisroel spent in Mitzrayim, as mentioned in Shmos 12:40,41. The bnei Yisroel did not hearken to the words of Moshe "mikotzer," because the 430 years of exile were not yet complete, and Moshe told them that the exodus was at hand.
Ch. 7, v. 14: "Kov'eid leiv Paroh" - The M.R. 9:6 interprets "ko'veid" as a LIVER. Rabbi Zvi Elimelech of Dinov (author of Bnei Yisos'chor) explains that all meats become softer the longer they are cooked. Not so with liver. The more it is cooked, the tougher it becomes. Similarly, most people soften and become more yielding when they are subject to punishment and tribulations. Not so Paroh. With each new plague, his resistance and toughness increased.
Ch. 7, v. 18: "U'vo'ash ha'y'or" - The Baal Tosfos Rabbi Yosef Bchor Shor says that the plague of blood lasted for a short amount of time, just long enough to kill the marine life in the bodies of water. The blood then reverted to water. With the death of so many fish, there was a very powerful stench in the water, making it undrinkable. This seems to be the simple gist of verse 21. The Bchor Shor explains that this plague is called BLOOD rather than STENCH, because the name of the plague refers to that which is visible, namely blood. I have difficulty with the name "Devver," pestilence. The disease was not visible. Only the result of dead animals was. Possibly, there were distinct features of this disease visible upon the dead animals.
Ch. 7, v. 24: "Va'yach'p'ru" - The Ibn Ezra says that if we explain the plagues according to the simple indication of the verses, "ki achar hakosuv nirdof," we conclude that the first three plagues affected the bnei Yisroel, as well as the Egyptians. Therefore "va'yach'p'ru" includes the bnei Yisroel. He says that this should not be hard to believe, as the negative impact of these three plagues is limited. The Ibn Ezra is aware of many midroshim (for example see M.R. 9:10) which are contrary to this statement, but is explaining this strictly on the basis of the words of the verses. The Radbaz in his responsa, volume 2, #813, says, "ossur l'haamin zeh," it is prohibited to believe the interpretation of the Ibn Ezra. The Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l in Likutei Sichos explains the Ibn Ezra, also according to "pshuto shel mikro." The thrust of the first three plagues was not to punish Paroh and his people, nor to start the process of Paroh being forced into freeing and sending away the bnei Yisroel. We see from 8:6, "l'maan teida ki ein KaShem Elokeinu" that the purpose of the first plagues was to TEACH Paroh that Hashem is THE MASTER. Paroh and his nation deified the Nile River. Hashem showed them that He had mastery over the waters. This could be shown even more forcefully if it extended to the bnei Yisroel as well. Paroh could not say that Hashem wasn't able to affect the areas where the bnei Yisroel lived. I have difficulty in understanding this explanation, as the Ibn Ezra goes on to say that Orov and Devver were devastating and did not visit the bnei Yisroel, but not so with Sh'chin and Arbeh. This seems to indicate that Sh'chin and Arbeh afflicted the bnei Yisroel. In 9:9 the Ibn Ezra clearly says that Hashem did not separate the bnei Yisroel from the Egyptians regarding Sh'chin. At that point the plagues were no longer sent for the above lesson (see 8:18, 8:30), so why include the bnei Yisroel? It is interesting to note that a number of details in the verses are very easily explained according to the Ibn Ezra. The first time it says that Hashem would differentiate between the Egyptians and the bnei Yisroel was by the plague of Orov (8:18). Specifically by Sh'chin and Arbeh does it say that it extended to the WHOLE LAND (9:9, 10:14,15).
Ch. 8, v. 6: "V'samti f'dus" - The concept of "mesoroh" has been discussed in the past. A certain word or group of words appearing in a limited number of places connects the concepts of those verses. As mentioned earlier, this is often found in the Baal Haturim. We find the word P'dus in two other places, in T'hilim 111:9, "P'dus sholach l'amo," and again in T'hilim 130:7, "V'harbei imo F'DUS." The P'ninim Y'korim points out that this word in our verse and in T'hilim 111:9 is spelled lacking a Vov, while in T'hilim 130:7 it is spelled in full, with a Vov. He explains that Hashem said that He would send "liberation" (Those who translate F'dus as a distinction are not really disagreeing with the translation "liberation," as noted in the Ibn Ezra and Rashbam.) which would be incomplete, as it is not permanent. Unfortunately, the bnei Yisroel would endure other exiles. This is indicated by the fact that Hashem did not take them out directly by Himself, but rather through the intermediary, Moshe. This is "P'dus SHOLACH l'amo," again spelled lacking, a non-permanent liberation, because SHOLACH, it was done through an agent, a SHOLIACH. However, when Hashem will personally take us out of the final exile, it will be a P'dus with a Vov, as in T'hilim 130:7, "V'harbei IMO f'dUs."
I note that upon searching in many different editions of T'hilim, including the authoritative Koren edition, I have found in all of them the word "p'dus" in T'hilim 111:9 spelled with a Vov.
Following the theme that "P'dus" spelled with a Vov indicates a permanent redemption, there might be a hint to this in Megilas Rus. We know that at the time of the final redemption we will have the King Moshiach from the house of Dovid Hamelech reign. In Megilas Rus 4:17,18 we find the genealogy of the house of Yehudoh down through king Dovid. Starting from the last word of verse 17 and going consecutively into verse 18 we find "Dovid, V'eileh Toldos Peretz. The first letters of these words spell "P'DUS."
Ch. 8, v. 15: "Etzba Elokim" - Paroh's sorcerers attributed the plague of lice to the powers of the finger of Elokim. To which finger does this refer? The Daas Z'keinim on Shmos 30:13 says that it was the ring finger.
Ch. 8, v. 17: "V'GAM HO'ADOMOH asher heim o'lehoh" - Five offerings to explain these words:
1) If an Egyptian ran into Goshen to escape the wild animals, they would pursue him into Goshen. (Divrei Sho'ul) However, the simple meaning of the words of verse 18, "V'hifleisi ...... es Eretz Goshen asher ami o'leho l'vilti heyose shom orove" seems counter-indicative to this explanation. Indeed, the Tosfos Hasholeim brings an opinion that from these words we see that an Egyptian entering the bnei Yisroel's community of Goshen would escape the wrath of the wild animals. There is a second opinion of the Tosfos Hasholeim that says the same, but derives it from the words of the next verse, "V'samti f'dus." See comment on Ch. 9, v. 4, below.
The Ramban says that if an animal of a member of the bnei Yisroel would leave Goshen it would still not be attacked by the wild animals. This is derived from the Torah saying "V'samti f'dus" in verse 19, which is above and beyond what the Torah already indicated as a distinction between the Egyptians and the bnei Yisroel in verse 18 with the word "V'hifleisi."
2) The Sforno says that these words teach us that the ground on which the houses stand will be infested with snakes and the like, which will come to the surface from below, so that the Egyptians would not be safe even in enclosed fortified buildings. However, the Ibn Ezra says that these words specifically mean the open areas where there are no houses.
3) Since the mixture of animals included every species, a problem arises. The mishneh K'layim 8:5 mentions a creature called Adnei Haso'deh which looks like a human and receives its nourishment through an umbilical like cord which is attached to the ground. There are other very unusual features to this unique creature. If its umbilical cord is severed it perishes. How then would this creature make the trip to Egypt? The Rebbe Reb Heshel and the GR"A say that these words teach us that a section of ground which had the cord of this creature attached to it was also transported to Egypt.
4) The Arugas Habosem says that these words teach us that the CLIMATE of the land in which the animals normally reside was brought along with them. Since a change from hot, warm, or cold to another condition could be fatal, it was necessary to bring along the climate.
5) Haksav V'hakaboloh translates V'GAM as "and it will CUT," from the verb source GOMOM. This means that Paroh was warned that the wild animals would also "damage the earth." A similar translation is given by the Ari z"l on the verse in Koheles 11:3, "Ten cheilek l'shivoh v'GAM lishmonoh," which Rashi says in one interpretation refers to the mitzvoh of bris miloh which is done on the eighth day of a male child's life. The Ari z"l says that this is alluded to in the words "v'GAM lishmonoh," which mean "and CUT on the eighth day."
We see that the wild animals indeed destroyed the ground as mentioned in verse 20, "U'v'chol Eretz Mitzrayim tishocheis ho'oretz mipnei ho'orove." Please note that only according to explanations 1,2, and 5 does the placement of the words "V'gam ho'adomoh asher heim o'lehoh" at the end of the verse flow smoothly. According to explanations 3 and 4, had these words been placed directly after the word "orove" they would be more cohesive than at the end of the verse, interrupting the description of what is being brought as a plague with where the effect will take place, and then returning to again describe what is being brought as a plague.
Ch. 8, v. 23: "Derech shloshes yomim nei'leich bamidbor" - The Shem miShmuel says in the name of his father the Avnei Nezer that the three days Moshe requested would be used by the bnei Yisroel to cleanse themselves of "kinoh, kovod, and taavoh." This was also the reason for a three day preparation before the receiving of the Torah, "Heyu n'chonim lishloshes yomim" (Shmos 19:15). (The gemara Shabbos 87a says that the three days were needed for purification purposes.) Paroh was not of the school of serving Hashem with any sort of preparation. He felt that even if the bnei Yisroel were to bring sacrifices for Hashem, they may be brought while the people have not elevated themselves above daily physicality, and therefore said in verse 21, "Zivchu lEilokeichem," - sacrifice to your G-d, "BO'ORETZ," (the prefix 'B' means "with") - with earthiness, and without preparation.
Ch. 8, v. 26: "Va'yetar" - In 8:8 where Moshe prayed to Hashem to remove the frogs the word used for his prayer is "va'yitzak." To explain the difference in terminology the Chasam Sofer quotes the gemara Sukoh 14a and Y'vomos 64a that explains that the word "va'yetar" comes from the source word "asar," Ayin-Tof-Reish, meaning a pitchfork. Just as a pitchfork totally turns over hay, bringing that which was on the bottom to the top, so also the prayers of the righteous change a decree for punishment into total mercy. When the plague of frogs came to a close and they died there was not a change from suffering from the plague to total relief, as the verse states that the piles of dead frogs reeked, "vativash ho'oretz" (8:10). Therefore the term "va'yitzak" was used to describe the prayer of Moshe. In our case of the removal of the multitudes of wild animals, all the animals left the land and there was total relief. This indicates that Moshe's prayer was of the magnitude of changing the situation to total mercy, hence "va'yetar" is used to describe his prayer. Rashi says that the term "va'yetar" indicates numerous and very intensive prayers. Rabbi Ovadioh of Bartenuroh explains that intensive prayers were needed here and as well to bring the plague of locust to a close, where the same word is used (10:18), because Moshe prayed that they should be totally removed so that the Egytians should derive no benefit from the hides of the wild animals nor from the locust that they preserved in salt, as mentioned in Rashi in verse 27 and in 10:19. The difficulty with requesting total removal of what Hashem sent is that the gemara Taanis 25a says that as a rule when something is given from the heavens it is not taken back. To override this, severe prayers were needed, hence "va'yetar." Ch. 9, v. 3: "B'mik'n'cho asher BASO'DEH" - The Ramban and Rabbeinu Bachyei say that pestilence affected the cattle even if they were brought into the Egyptians' homes. The reason the verse says "in the field" is because cattle are commonly found in the field, "dibeir hakosuv b'ho'veh." They bring a proof for this. It says (9:6) that "all" the livestock died. Rashi in 9:10 and 14:7 says that only the cattle left in the field were affected. The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh says that "all" in verse 6 refers to all that were left in the field.
A strong indication to the opinion of the Ramban and Rabbeinu Bachyei is that the Torah goes to some length and detail by the plague of hail to instruct the Egyptians to bring their cattle to their homes to be spared the devastation of the hail, and here, by Devver, just mentions "which are in the field." If we are to learn one from the other, it should be elaborated upon EARLIER, and have the latter learn from the earlier. The Rivo, Paanei'ach Rozo, and the Sifsei Chachomim answer according to Rashi that it is common to have pestilence kill herds of cattle. The slightest indication that their cattle could be saved is sufficient to bring the Egyptians to compliance. Not so by the plague of hail. It is very unusual to have such a severe hail-storm that would kill all the cattle. This necessitates elaboration. Another indication that the Egyptians were more eager to comply by pestilence is that Rashi 9:10 says that those who feared the word of Hashem took their cattle out of the fields. These were the animals that were left over, of which many were killed during the plague of hail. If only the animals of those who feared the word of Hashem survived, these same people would place their cattle out of harm's way again during the hail. Yet we find that cattle were left in the fields (9:21,25). This shows that more people were persuaded to seek shelter for their cattle during the pestilence than during the hail. Another possible answer to the elaboration of shelter regarding hail, and only a mention of "that are in the field" regarding pestilence might be derived from an insight brought in the K'hilas Yitzchok. He says that the only shelter afforded during the hail-storm was the HOMES of the Egyptians. The verse (9:19) says clearly that the people and animals had to be brought into their HOMES. This is retribution in kind, "midoh k'neged midoh," for the Egyptians forcing the bnei Yisroel to remain away from home at night and to stay with the cattle in barns. Hashem wanted to bring about this punishment during the plague of hail. During the plague of pestilence the verse says "cattle which are in the FIELD" will be smitten. This does not indicate that they need to be brought into the HOMES to be saved. Even if brought into BARNS, the animals are no longer "in the field" and are safe. Therefore it is sufficient to just mention "in the field" by pestilence. To be out of harm's way from hail required specifically bringing the people and the animals into the Egyptians HOMES, hence the elaboration.
Ch. 9, v. 4: "V'hiflo*H*" - The Baalei Tosfos note that this word appears in only one other place in the Torah, Dvorim 28:59. However, there it is spelled with an Alef at the end, which is the normal spelling, and here it is spelled with a letter Hei at the end. They say that this alludes to the five types of animals the Torah enumerates in the previous verse which will be negatively affected by the pestilence - horses, donkeys, camels, bovines, and sheep. Perhaps another insight can be gleaned from the letter Hei. Paroh of his own volition refused to allow the bnei Yisroel to leave Egypt in spite of the first five plagues. However, during the final five plagues Paroh's heart was hardened by Hashem. Perhaps the letter Hei whose numerical value is five, placed in the word "V'hiflo*H*," - and Hashem will make a distinction, indicates that the plague of pestilence which is the fifth plague visited upon Paroh, is the end of the plagues where Paroh has no external impediments to comply with Hashem's wishes. This is in contra-distinction to the last five plagues where he is restrained by Heavenly intervention.
Ch. 9, v. 4: "V'hifloh Hashem bein miknei Yisroel u'vein miknei Mitzroyim" - The Tosfos Hasholeim says that if an Egyptian placed his cattle into Goshen to avoid the pestilence it would be of no avail. This is contrary to the plague of wild animals where the Tosfos Hasholeim posited that there was respite for an Egyptian who seeked safe harbour in Goshen, as mentioned earlier in 8:17 explanation #1.
The difference is indicated by the words in the plague of wild animals "v'hifleisi ba'yom hahu es ERETZ GOSHEN," indicating that Hashem would make the LAND OF GOSHEN distinct. However, here by the plague of pestilence our verse says "V'hifloh Hashem bein MIKNEI Yisroel u'vein MIKNEI Mitzroyim," indicating that there would be a distinction by OWNERSHIP and not by LOCATION.
Ch. 9, v. 20: "Ha'yorei es dvar Hashem MEI'AVDEI Paroh" - Paroh commanded his Egyptian slaves to stop people from seeking refuge for their livestock. He wanted no one to show concern for the words of Moshe. If someone attempted to bring his cattle into his home for refuge, he might incur the wrath of Paroh's police force. We now interpret our verse to say, "He who feared the word of Hashem, "MEI'AVDEI Paroh, MORE THAN HE FEARED THE SLAVES OF PAROH," brought his slaves and livestock to the safety of his home. (Meshech Chochmoh)
Ch. 9, v. 6: "U'mi'miknei vnei Yisroel lo meis echod" - The Shach says that not one animal of the bnei Yisroel died, not even an ill one whose time had come to die, so that the Egyptians should not say that the plague affected the bnei Yisroel as well. The GR"A says the same thought regarding the plague of the smiting of the firstborn, that on that night no ben Yisroel died, even one whose time had come to die.
Ch. 9, v. 22: "N'tei es yodcho AL hashomayim" - Stretch your hand ONTO the heavens. Rashi in the name of the Medrash Agodoh says that Hashem lifted Moshe above the heavens and told him to stretch his hands from above ONTO the heavens, and thus initiate the plague of hail. The Shem miShmuel notes that by the plague of darkness we also find that Hashem said to Moshe "N'tei yodcho AL hashomayim" (10:22), and there Rashi does not mention that Hashem elevated Moshe above the heavens. (It might simply be that once Rashi said this here it is not necessary to repeat it later by the plague of darkness.) He answers that in verse 24 on the words "v'eish mislakachas b'soch haborod" Rashi says that there was fire inside the balls of hail. Although fire and water always oppose each other, water extinguishes fire and fire evaporates water, to fulfill the wish of Hashem they made peace and coexisted during this plague. For this supernatural relationship to take place a power of coexistence between water and fire has to be drawn from a very lofty heavenly sphere above the point where water and fire could no longer coexist. The same is true of the makeup of the heavens themselves, which the M.R. Breishis 4:7 says is a combination of Fire and water. The word SHOMAYIM itself indicates this, phonetically AISH & MAYIM. The heavens, a coexistence of fire and water also received their power of existence from a source above them, as on this physical world these two elements cannot coexist. This is the meaning of Hashem lifting Moshe ABOVE the heavens, as he must draw from a power that the heavens themselves draw from for their existence, from above. By the plague of darkness this was not needed, hence AL hashomayim can simply mean TO the heavens, and not ONTO the heavens, as the Ramban points out in Shmos 2:5 that "AL ha'y'or" is translated as "EL ha'y'or." Perhaps a seemingly minor point can be explained according to the Shem miShmuel. Here by the plague of hail we find "n'tei ES yodcho," while by the plague of darkness we find "n'tei yodcho" without the word ES. ES connotes an addition, "ES l'rabose" (Sotoh 17a, M'nochos 11b). On a simple level we can say that the word ES indicated to Moshe that he should initiate the plague with an ADDITION to his hand, as we find in verse 23, "Va'yeit Moshe es MA'TEIHU," he made use of his staff. According to the words of the Shem miShmuel perhaps we can say that by the plague of hail, where Moshe had to enlist a supernal power, beyond the laws of the natural world, ES is used, while by the plague of darkness, where this was not necessary, the word ES does not appear. Alternately, where Moshe had to make use of loftier than heavenly powers he had to enlist the use of his staff. By the plague of darkness, where this was not necessary, he used his hand only. More on the staff being symbolic of a higher level of supernatural powers in parshas B'shalach by the splitting of the sea.
Ch. 9, v. 29: "K'tzeisi es ho'ir" - Why by the plague of hail was it necessary for Moshe to leave the city before he could pray for it to cease? Answers are grouped into two sections; the first, that Moshe always left the city to pray because it had idols throughout and it is not permitted to pray in such a place (O.Ch. end of #94), and the second, that he had to leave the city specifically here.
1) Paroh demanded that the hail stop immediately. Moshe said that his prayers would only begin when he left the city. (Ramban)
2) Moshe always prayed at home. Here to accommodate Paroh somewhat, he said he would pray earlier, just beyond the city limits. (Ramban)
3) The Egyptians deified their sheep. Since many animals were brought into homes for refuge from the hail, the city had many more gods than usual. It is therefore pointed out here. However, even when there were less gods present, Moshe would also pray outside of the city. (Daas Z'keinim)
If you will ask according to Rashi that there was safety in homes from Devver, so there was also an increase of sheep during that plague, possibly the D.Z. agrees with the above Ramban, or according to the difference pointed out earlier, that by Devver specifically, even a barn would be a safe haven, only by the hail was it necessary to bring their animals into their homes which were in the city.
4) Paroh said (9:27) "Hashem is the Righteous One." He indicated that he accepted Hashem as the supreme authority and negated all of his gods. If so, Moshe could now pray immediately, even in the city. Moshe responded that he did not accept this. If a gentile negates his idols out of fear of punishment then it is not a proper negation (Y. D. #146:7). That is why Moshe responded (9:30), "terem tiro'un," you still have no fear of Hashem. Your gods are still valid in your eyes, and I must, as in the past, wait until I leave the city. (Boruch Taam and Rabbi Shlomo Kluger)
1) To show Paroh that although all that was left in the field died (9:19), Moshe was not afraid of the hail, and would walk to the outskirts of the city before praying for the hail to cease. (Chizkuni)
2) To see the full extent of the devastation wrought by the hail, so that he could pray properly. This was most manifest in the fields beyond the city. (Rivo and Chizkuni)
3) There is an halacha that one should hear himself when he prays (Yerushalmi Brochos Chapter 2, O. Ch. 101:2). The Machzeh Avrohom says that Moshe had to shout (8:8) when he prayed for the plague of frogs to end, because he had to out-shout the loud croaking of the frogs, as per the above halacha. Possibly here, within the city, the hail hit the roofs of the buildings and created such a powerful din, that Moshe could not hear himself at all. He therefore had to go to the fields, where the banging of the hail was not as loud. Some say that this is why the verse says "efros es ka'pei," as he was not able to pray even outside the city because of the tremendous noise, and could only spread his hands in prayer. The Chizkuni offers a third explanation. "K'tzeisi es ho'ir" means, "as I will walk INTO the city." He did not leave the city to pray, but could not pray right in front of Paroh as requested. There is an indication to this interpretation from 8:25, "hi'nei onochi yotzei MEI'IMOCH v'ha'tarti."
Ch. 10, v. 1: "Bo" - The Baal Haturim says that the numeric value of "bo" is three, the number of plagues which occurred in this parsha. Why are the plagues divided? Why not have them all occuring in one parsha? 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."
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).
Ch. 10, v. 2: "U'l'maan t'sapper b'oznei bincho u'ven bincho" - Why will this plague be one that will be recounted to later generations more so than any of the other plagues? Rabbeinu Bachyei answers that after the prayers of Moshe that the locust be removed, there has remained for all future generations a phenomenon that locust no longer enter the land of Egypt, even when they are great in number and are prevalent in neighbouring countries. Even if a few fly off course and enter the air space of Egypt, they will consume nothing. This is something concrete we can relate to our children during later generations. All the other plagues have left no visible sign for generations.
Ch. 10, v. 5: "V'lo yuchal liros" - Rashi says that this is a shortened verse, as it does not tell us that the "onlooker" will not be able to see. 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.
Ch. 10, v. 6: "U'molu vo'techo" - The Ramoh points out that this is a most unusual behaviour. Locust, upon stripping an area of its vegetation, will fly on to another area. If a whole country's vegetation has been devastated, the locust will fly further afield wreaking their havoc, but will normally not fly into homes seeking food. This was an indication to the Egyptians that this was not a natural calamity, but rather, the hand of Hashem.
Ch. 10, v. 5: "V'lo yuchal liros" - Rashi says that this is a shortened verse, as it does not tell us that the "onlooker" will not be able to see. 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.
Ch. 10, v. 6: "U'molu vo'techo" - The Ramoh points out that this is a most unusual behaviour. Locust, upon stripping an area of its vegetation, will fly on to another area. If a whole country's vegetation has been devastated, the locust will fly further afield wreaking their havoc, but will normally not fly into homes seeking food. This was an indication to the Egyptians that this was not a natural calamity, but rather, the hand of Hashem.
Ch. 10, v. 17: "Rok es hamov'es ha'zeh" - Why did Paroh equate the locust with death? The locust consumed not only what was in the fields, but also all the food found in their homes. Having absolutely no food is truly a death sentence. The Medrash Hagodol says that the locust had the unusual property of unleashing lethal saliva. If saliva of a locust came into contact with an Egyptian, he died. This might be derived from the word "rok" which can also be read as "roke," saliva. Ch. 10, v. 18: "Va'yeitzei mei'im Paroh va'yetar el Hashem" - We find almost this exact verse when Moshe's left Paroh and entreated Hashem to end the plague of wild animals (8:26). The difference is that the word Moshe is skipped here, while in 8:26 it says "Va'yeitzei MOSHE." An explanation for the difference would be appreciated. As well, although we find that Targum Yonoson ben Uziel translates "va'yeitzei" the same way here as in 8:26, "Un'fak (Moshe) MILVAS Paroh," Targum Onkeles translates it here as "MILVOS Paroh," while in 8:26 he says "MIN KODOM Paroh." Again, an explanation for the change would be appreciated.
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. There are different opinions as to who "V'LO MORU." One opinion is that V'LO MORU means "and they did not accept as master," l'ka'beil MORUS, refering to the Egyptians, and thus they deserved to be punished with the plague of darkness. 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.
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 an 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. (MVRHRH"G Rabbi Yaakov Kamenecki zt"l makes a similar point regarding the bnei Yisroel not leaving during the night of the smiting of the firstborn even though Paroh clearly told Moshe that the bnei Yisroel should leave immediately during the night. Yet they waited for the morning as per Hashem's command.) The Holy Admor of Satmar answers a question with these words of the Ksav Sofer. Indeed, why was the arch-angel of the Egyptians agreeable to have his people smitten with the plague of darkness? He answers that since this angel knew that the bnei Yisroel would have a wonderful opportunity to leave Egypt unhindered during the plague, he was sure that they could not restrain themselves and would leave early, resulting in catastrophic results, as we find happened to the 32,000 bnei Efrayim who left early. He therefore agreed. To his great shock the bnei Yisroel were also "v'lo moru es d'voro."
It might be in place to point out that since the exodus from Egypt is a portender for the future final redemption, just as the exodus from Egypt was not to be brought earlier than Hashem's wishes, so also we should not push through our actions to speed up the redemption. The Medrash Tanchumo Dvorim #4 on the words "rav lochem sove es hohor ha'zeh" (Dvorim 2:3) states that Hashem made the bnei Yisroel make three vows (as mentioned in Shir Hashirim 2:7). One was "shelo yidchaku es ha'keitz," that no attempt should be made to FORCE the speeding up of the coming of Moshiach.
Ch. 10, v. 21: "V'yomeish choshech" - Rashi says in the name of Targum Onkeles that "v'yomeish" means "and it should be removed." How are we to understand this? Quite to the contrary, the darkness did not leave, but rather it intensified. 1) The Ibn Ezra translates this word the same as the Targum Onkeles and says in the name of Yefes that the standard darkness was required to leave to make room for a different entity, a more intense darkness.
2) The Holy Admor of Schatz shlit"a in his Hagodoh shel Pesach "Hiska'deish Chag" answers this question with the words of Rabbeinu Bachyei. He says that the darkness was actually such an intense light that it blinded the Egyptians. This might be similar to staring directly into sunlight, which blinds a person. If so, we now understand the need for the removal of darkness. Standard light is not intense, as there is an element of its being subdued. This can be considered a bit of darkness in the light itself. Hashem sent a plague of such intense light that the element of darkness in light was removed, resulting in a powerfully blinding light.
3) The Torah T'mimoh, says that the plague of darkness was that the Egyptians contracted cataracts. He bases this on the M.R. 14:1 which says that the darkness was as thick as a dinar. Rest assured that this interpretation is very controversial. Ch. 10, v. 22: "Va'y'hi choshech" - The M.R. 14:1 relates that Hashem asked for the agreement of the angels to punish the Egyptians with the plague of darkness and they unanimously agreed. Further on (14:3) the M.R. asks why Hashem sent specifically darkness. The medrash answers that this allowed for the bnei Yisroel to freely roam the Egyptians homes and see what items were there. Prior to their exiting Egypt they would then ask for (borrow) these items. A second reason is also given. Hashem planned to kill those of the bnei Yisroel who refused to leave Egypt. He did not want the Egyptians to find out about this severe punishment to the bnei Yisroel and therefore brought darkness.
Rebbe Reb Heshel asks that the order of these two statements in the M.R. is most difficult. Shouldn't the M.R. first ask why Hashem decided upon a punishment of darkness before mentioning that Hashem asked the angels if they agreed that the Egyptians deserved it?
He answers that we have a rule that if a court decides unanimously that one is liable for capital punishment, the defendant is acquitted. Since the M.R. stated that the celestial court unanimously decided that the Egyptians should be punished with the plague of darkness, the medrash therefore goes on to ask why indeed did Hashem visit the plague of darkness upon the Egyptians since it was by unanimous decision, and in such a case the defendant is not punished. The medrash answers that there were two reasons for bringing darkness. This means to say that although the angels of the court all agreed that the plague of darkness should be sent, they had different reasons for arriving at the same conclusion. The rule of a unanimous decision resulting in the defendant going free only applies if the judges come to their decision for the same reason. If however they have differing reasons this rule does not apply. Perhaps another explanation can be given for the order of the above two statements in the M.R. We know that the plague of darkness was unique among the plagues in that it had two levels of intensity. The first group of three days had a heavy darkness, while the second group of three days was of such intensity that the Egyptians could not physically move. Possibly the earlier statement in the medrash refers to the first three days. (As far as the problem raised about a unanimous decision, this only applies to capital punishment that was relevant in the last three days only, when no Egyptian could even move an organ of his body. This likely resulted in some deaths. Not so the plague of the first three days which was only intense darkness.) The medrash then goes on to ask why Hashem brought darkness, meaning why did He bring a second level of darkness of a more severe nature. The medrash answers because this allowed the bnei Yisroel to roam freely in the Egyptian homes, as mentioned above. This activity might have met with resistance on the part of the Egyptians had they been able to move, albeit in the dark. A second answer the medrash gives is so that the Egyptians should not be aware of the death of many of the bnei Yisroel. Again, had they been able to move about, some of the Egyptians would have no doubt gone to the bnei Yisroel's homes in an attempt to seek relief from the lengthy blackout by asking the bnei Yisroel for help since for the bnei Yisroel it was light. They would have stumbled upon many dead of the bnei Yisroel upon entering their homes.
By the way, what was accomplished by the bnei Yisroel seeking out the possessions of the Egyptians at this early stage during the plague of darkness? Why didn't Hashem allow the bnei Yisroel to see the Egyptians hidden items just prior to their departure? The M.R. 14:3 answers that once the bnei Yisroel found the possessions of the Egyptians while they were immobile, and yet did not take advantage of the situation to steal their possessions, the Egyptians trusted them and willingly lent them their objects later. Perhaps this is the meaning of 12:36, "VaHashem nosan es CHEIN ho'om b'einei Mitzrayim va'yashilum."
Ch. 10, v. 22: "Va'y'hi choshech" - The M.R. (14:2) says that during this plague those of the bnei Yisroel who did not want to leave Egypt died. Through the duration of the plague there was ample time to bury these people, so that the Egyptians would not be aware of this punishment visited upon the bnei Yisroel. In the town of Ostrovtze, Poland, there was a man who became quite displeased with his neighbour. He heaped scorn upon scorn on his neighbour. The pleas of numerous townspeople to stop belittling the fellow, fell on deaf ears. It was decided that the matter be brought to the attention of the great spiritual leader of the community, the Holy Admor Rebbi Meir Y'chiel haLevi. The Holy Admor had the maligner called in. When asked why he so denigrated his neighbour, he responded that the man was terribly evil, and had committed many sins against Hashem and his fellow man. He added on that it is a mitzvoh to bury such a "rosho."
The Holy Admor responded that it is not so. He brought the following proof. The M.R. (15:12) says that the bnei Yisroel were given the command to prepare a lamb for the Paschal sacrifice four days in advance so that they would have the merit of a mitzvah. If it were a mitzvoh to bury a "rosho," then the bnei Yisroel had just completed doing a few million mitzvos by burying a few million "r'sho'im."
Ch. 10, v. 22: "Shlo'shes yomim" - The M.R. 9:12 mentions a number of opinions regarding how long the plagues lasted. See the Ibn Ezra (9:10) who says that the length of the plagues varied.
Ch. 10, v.23: "U'l'chol bnei Yisroel hoyoh ohr b'moshvosom" - The Rashbam interprets this to mean that to the bnei Yisroel there was light even in the homes of the Egyptians. The Egyptian was in complete darkness while at the same location there was light for the bnei Yisroel. It would seem that this was very relevant when the bnei Yisroel came to the homes of the Egyptians to ask for vessels and clothing (12:35).
Ch. 10, v. 26: "Va'anachnu lo neida ma naavod" - The Chiddushei HoRI"M interprets: Even if someone thinks that he has served Hashem properly throughout his lifetime, "We will not know what value our servitude has in the eyes of Hashem, "ad bo'einu shomoh," until we come there, in front of the Celestial Court.
Ch. 11, v. 2: "V'yishalu" - The Rashbam (here and 3:22) translates this as, "and they shall request (as a present)," and not as, "and they shall borrow."
Ch. 11, v. 5: "U'meis KOL bchor" - The M.R. (18:3) says that the killing of the firstborn included the women. This would have included Bisyoh, the daughter of Paroh. Moshe prayed for her to be spared and Hashem agreed. This was in the merit of her having saved Moshe and brought him up. The medrash says that this is the intent of the verse (Mishlei 31:18) "To'amoh ki TOV sachroh, lo yichbe BA'LEILOH neiroh." Because Bisyoh involved herself with Moshe, who is called TOV (2:2, "ki TOV hu"), her soul (ner) was not extinguished that night. The indication that it refers to the night of the slaying of the firstborn is either because the verse says BA'LEILOH, in THE SPECIFIC night, or (Medrash Shochar Tov 136:6) because the word BA'LEILOH is written without a letter HEI (kri and ksiv), as if it would say BA'LEIL, and the night of the slaying of the firstborn is called "LEIL shimurim" (12:42). This is a source for the opinion (O.Ch. #470:1, also see M.B. s.k. #3) that women must also fast on Erev Pesach.
The word "bchor" in our verse and in 12:12 where Moshe tells the bnei Yisroel that Hashem will smite the firstborn is spelled "mollei," with the letter "vov" after the "chof." Where Hashem actually slays the firstborn (12:29) the word "bchor" appears three times "mollei vov," but by the words "mibchor Paroh" the word "mibchor" is spelled mem, beis, chof, reish, missing the letter vov. This can possibly be explained with the above medroshim. Originally, Hashem planned to slay ALL firstborn, including Paroh's daughter Bisyoh. Moshe intervened for her with prayer and Hashem acquiesced. Therefore, when relating that the firstborn will be killed (11:5, 12:12), which included Bisyoh, "bchor" is spelled with a vov, indicating EVERY firstborn. In the interim Bisyoh was excluded from punishment. When Hashem actually killed the firstborn (12:29), Paroh's daughter was saved, hence "mibchor" is spelled without a vov.
Ch.12, v. 9: "Lo sochlu mimenu NOH U'voshol m'vushol" - What were you taught as the meaning of the word NOH in our verse? I was taught that it means "incompletely roasted," as in medium rare. However the Chizkuni says that the Vov at the beginning of the word "U'voshol" is superfluous and the word NOH means PLEASE. Read "Do not eat from it, PLEASE, cooked. Indeed Rashi (Breishis 36:24) says that there are numerous places that we have superfluous letters Vov.
Perhaps the need to add the request PLEASE when prohibiting cooking the Paschal lamb might be because the Baalei Tosfos and the Chizkuni himself say that the details of preparation of the Paschal lamb are such that it should become abundantly noticeable that the deity of the Egyptians, the lamb, is being prepared. The act of processing the first Paschal lamb required a measure of self sacrifice, as Moshe pointed out when he said regarding slaughtering the lamb in the midst of the Egyptians, "V'lo yis'k'lunu?" (8:22) - Will the Egyptians not attempt to stone us? This is why it is also required to prepare the Paschal lamb whole with the head intact. As well if roasted rather than cooked it is not hidden by being submerged in water. Also the flavours of roasting are far more powerful and spread much further than when cooking. Shades of the smell of the neighbour's backyard barbecue. Since this brought about considerable risk to the bnei Yisroel, Hashem added the word PLEASE in his request.
Ch. 12, v. 9: "U'vosheil m'vushol bamoyim" - The Siach Sarfei Kodesh says in the name of the Ksav Sofer a most interesting explanation for the prohibition of COOKING the Korban Pesach. In T'hilim 81:4,5 it says, 1) Tiku Bachodesh Shofor, - 2) Ba'kesse L'yom Cha'geinu, - 3)Ki Chok L'Yisroel, - 4) Hu Mishpot L'Eilokei Yaakov. As indicated, the Ksav Sofer divides these two verses into four sections. Upon taking the first letters of each group, we find the following words: T-B-S = Shabbos, B-L-CH = Cholov, K-CH-L = K'chal, H-M-L-Y = Miloh. These four words have in common that they represent the characteristic of mercy in a situation that is basically one of stern judgement, "din." The six days of the week are days of "din." However, Shabbos is the exception. It has the trait of mercy, i.e. Gehinom is cooled on Shabbos. Injury to one's body is generally also a concept of "din." Miloh, however, is the exception. It improves and elevates, although it too is an injury. Foodstuffs derived from animals is also "din" in that it requires the killing of the animal to halachically allow for consumption. Milk is an exception, in that it does not require killing of an animal.
K'chal, an animal's udder, is also an object that signifies mercy. Meat may not be cooked with milk (Shmos 23:19). An insight into this might be that since the meat represents "midas hadin," Hashem does not want it to be cooked with milk, which as stated above, represents "midas horachamim." An udder, when cooked in its own milk which has not been previously removed from it, may be eaten. The characteristic of the milk, mercy, overpowers the characteristic of the meat, din. Given the above, an obvious question arises. Why is it permissible to cook and consume meat that is boiled in water? The Ksav Sofer answers that only milk succumbs to the "midas hadin" of the meat, because the milk is also a product of an animal. Water, however, is such a pure and powerful midas horachamim, as it is not an animal product, that it is not negatively influenced by its involvement with meat. The above gives us a new insight into the prohibition of COOKING the Korban Pesach in WATER. The Holy Zohar says that the level of impurity in Egypt on the night of the smiting of the firstborn was so great, that Hashem would not send angels to carry out the plague for fear that even they would become contaminated from the severe impurity that prevailed. In such a negative spiritual environment, even water, the embodiment of that which is pure, could be overpowered by the "midas hadin" of coming in contact with meat. Therefore cooking the Korban Pesach in water was prohibited on that night. To remember this concept it has been prohibited for all generations. Ch. 12, v. 23: "V'lo yi'tein hamash'chis" - The Daas Z'keinim asks in the name of Rabbi Moshe from the text of the Hagodoh. It says there, "ANI v'lo maloch," I, and no angel, will come to slay the firstborn. From our verse we see that Hashem will protect the homes of the bnei Yisroel so that the "destroying angel" will not enter their homes. This indicates that there was an angel involved in the slaying of the Egyptian firstborn. The Daas Z'keinim answers that "ANI v'lo maloch" means, "ANI," I with an angel, "v'lo maloch," and not an angel alone. It is obvious that Hashem always has an escort.
Ch. 12, v. 26: "Ki yomru a'leichem b'neichem" - These verses, read on Seder night, are the text of the questions raised by the "ben horosho," the evil son. What indicates that it is the evil son who is talking? The Hagodoh Yalkut Shimoni answers that we see that "bneichem," your SONS, a GROUP of sons ask. The "ben horosho" is more interested in rabble rousing than in finding the truth. One who has questions on the basics of our faith should be encouraged to ask them, but privately. When a GROUP of sons comes to ask, it is surely spurned on by a "ben horosho."
Ch. 12, v. 26: "Mah ho'avodoh hazose LOCHEM" - These words are well known from the text of the Hagodoh of Pesach as the remarks of the "ben horosho" when he sees his father preparing for Pesach. The Hagodoh says that we can derive from his use of the word LOCHEM that he has excluded himself from the community of bnei Yisroel, and has thus denied in Hashem. In turn the father responds, "Baavur zeh ossoh Hashem LI b'tzeisi miMitzrayim," from which we derive Li, to me, "v'lo LO," and not to the evil son, for had he lived in Egypt at the time of the exodus, he would not have been redeemed. Many commentators on the Torah as well as on the Hagodoh shel Pesach ask that seemingly the same negative connotation can be indicated by the words of the wise son. He asks, "Ki yisholcho bincho mochor leimore moh ho'eidus v'hachukim v'hamishpotim asher tzivo Hashem Elokeinu ES'CHEM" (Dvorim 6:20). Why don't we derive from ES'CHEM ,"v'lo lo," just as we do from LOCHEM? There are many many answers to this question, and perhaps bez"H for Pesach some answers may be offered. A most interesting approach to answer this question is to be found in the Rambam in his halachic work Yad Hachazokoh. As is well known to those who know it well, the Rambam at the end of his laws of Pesach gives us his complete text of the Hagodoh shel Pesach. Wonder of wonders, when he gives us the words of the wise son he writes that this son asks, "Moh ho'eidus v'hachukim v'hamishpotim asher tzivo Hashem Elokeinu OSONU." The word OSONU means US, thus he includes himself, and the question is answered by the question never beginning. This leaves us with two serious questions. From where did the Rambam get this text, and even if we find a most reliable source, how could that source change from the text of the Torah, which says ES'CHEM? The last section of the Mechilta on our parsha 18:6 quotes the verse mentioned above from Dvorim 6:20 as the question of the wise son, but instead of the word ES'CHEM at the end of the verse it says OSONU! We now have the source for the Rambam, but how could the Mechilta change from the text of the Torah? Perhaps the Mechilta understood that the verse was referring to the son born after the exodus or too young to remember what happened, as Rashi (Medrash Tanchuma #14) points out that "mochor" means "l'achar zman," a while later, and not literally tomorrow, right after the exodus, asking his father who was one who actually left Egypt, "What are the statutes ...... that Hashem our G-d has commanded you, ES'CHEM. Since the parents actually went through the Egypt experience the son says ES'CHEM, as Hashem directly commanded them. The Mechilta is paraphrasing this for later generations, where the wise son will ask his father who was also not a live participant in the Egyptian experience. Thus the commands of Hashem are transmitted to father and son equally, hence the term OSONU is most appropriate.
Ch. 12, v. 26: "Ma ho'avodoh hazos lochem" - The Ksav Sofer says that the question of the son is, "Why are you PERSONALLY involved with all the menial tasks of Pesach preparations? Why not have your maids and workers do it for you?" The father answers that just as Hashem has PERSONALLY intervened to smite the firstborn and to take us out of Egypt without use of an intermediary, similarly we prepare for Pesach by being PERSONALLY involved. It might be appropriate to add that Rashi (12:34 in the name of the Mechilta) says that although the bnei Yisroel had many animals to carry their parcels, they themselves carried the items which were used for the mitzvos of Pesach.
Ch. 12, v. 28: " Va'y'hi bachatzi ha'leilo" -The Ibn Ezra interprets, "And it was the BEGINNING OF THE SECOND HALF of the night." Possibly, he was dissatisfied with the common "And it was at the precise moment of midnight" translation, because exactly at midnight is not a point in time. The exact midway point where exactly one half of the night has passed and the second half begins, is a concept, but not a point in time. If you cut an object EXACTLY in half, you have half to one side and half to the other, but the point of the cut is not part of the object you split. This might be the reason for his pshat. 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 Ezra)
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, ch. 13)
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. (Beis haLevi)
Ch. 12, v. 29: "B'chor haSHVI asher b'veis hasohar" - See 11:5 where this same information was related but there was different wording -"B'chor haSHIFCHOH asher achar hareichoyim."
The Rashbam and the Ibn Ezra in the name of Yefes answer this. They say that they are one and the same. Hashem earlier told Moshe what would take place. This was told by day and at that time the son of the maidservant worked by the millstone. Our verse relates the actual killing of the firstborn, which took place at midnight. At that time the son of the maidservant was locked up in a jail, his overnight lodging, hence "b'chor haSHIFCHOH." I heard a most marvelous answer to this question from R' M.Y.Z. based on the words of the Meshech Chochmoh. In 12:9 we find the prohibition to eat from the Paschal lamb when it is not fully roasted or if it is cooked. The words for the prohibition are "AL tochal." The next verse prohibits leaving over any meat of the Paschal lamb beyond the prescribed time of eating, midnight. In verse 10 the words expressing this prohibition are "V'LO sosiru." Why is the word "AL" used in verse 9, and "V'LO" in verse 10?
The Meshech Chochmoh answers that "AL" is a term used when REQUESTING that something not be done. "LO" is used as a COMMAND that something not be done. We find this in the story of the two women who appeared in front of King Shlomo with the question of who was the true mother of a child (M'lochim 1:15:26). Shlomo said that the child be physically split. The true mother responded that the child not be split, expressed, "AL t'misuhu." King Shlomo responded with (v. 27), "LO s'misuhu." The woman could only REQUEST of King Shlomo not to kill the child. The king, however, COMMANDED that the child not be killed.
The crucial point of differentiation between the bnei Yisroel and the Egyptians took place at the moment when Hashem killed the Egyptian firstborn and saved the firstborn of the bnei Yisroel. This created a new relationship between Hashem and the bnei Yisroel. He was NOW their king, "Ki li bnei Yisroel avodim, v'lo avodim l'avodim." On the night of Pesach before "makas b'choros," Hashem only REQUESTED that they prepare the Korban Pesach as per His requirements, "AL," while still not having a firm relationship with the bnei Yisroel as their King, hence a request only. Not leaving over the meat of the Korban Pesach takes place after midnight, when the slaying of the firstborn had already taken place. At this point Hashem had become their KING. He therefore COMMANDED, "V'LO," that they not leave over the meat of the Korban Pesach until the morning. R' M.Y.Z. told me that this concept of the Meshech Chochmoh answers the above-mentioned question. The Egyptians had a mind set that the lowest human creature was a slave, namely because they had enslaved the bnei Yisroel for so many years. The verse in 11:5 discusses the future plague of the smiting of the firstborn. At that moment the description of the complete gamut of human beings as per the perception of the Egyptians, ran from the top, the heir apparent to Paroh, to the lowest, the child of a maidSERVANT.
However in our verse which is the description of the plague in action at the stroke of midnight, there was a total change. The mindset of a slave being the lowest had changed. The Jewish slaves now had Heavenly power interceding on their behalf, wielding the decisive blow to the Egyptians. The slaves were no longer the lowest on the rung of society, hence the child of a prisoner of war now occupied that position.
Ch. 12, v. 31: "Kumu tz'u mitoch ami" - The Yerushalmi P'sochim 5:5 says that Paroh said to Moshe, "Until now your people were my slaves. Now they are the servants of your Hashem." Upon hearing this, the bnei Yisroel said, "Hallelu avdei Hashem (T'hilim 113:1)." This might give us an understanding of why Moshe told Paroh that the bnei Yisroel would travel for three days into the desert and bring sacrifices to Hashem (3:18, 8:23), when in reality he planned to take his nation out of Egypt permanently, as Hashem had told him (3:17). If Paroh would have allowed all of the the bnei Yisroel, including women and children, to travel for three days into the desert to sacrifice to Hashem, they would have done so and returned. Possibly this would have brought a great spiritual uplifting which might have elevated them from the morass of the 49 levels of impurity into which they had sunk. They would then would have been able to remain in Egypt for a longer period of time, possibly even until the completion of the 400 years of exile.
However, as stated in the above Yerushalmi, Paroh freed them from bondage by saying that they were now servants of Hashem. They were now free to do as they wished. Hashem knew that this would happen, and therefore told Moshe that they would leave permanently.
Ch. 12, v. 35: "Va'yishalu miMitzrayim" - If the translation of "va'yishalu" is "and they BORROWED," how were the bnei Yisroel allowed to keep the Egyptian's possessions? This can be answered by raising another question and answering it. We see in 3:18 and 8:23 that Moshe told Paroh that the bnei Yisroel wanted only a three day hiatus into the desert to serve Hashem. Why did Hashem tell Moshe that they would leave permanently (3:17) and how were they allowed to leave permanently? Regarding the verse in 12:31 "Kumu tz'u mitoch ami" the Yerushalmi P'sochim 5:5 says that Paroh said to Moshe, "Until now your people were my slaves. Now they are the servants of your Hashem." Upon hearing this, the bnei Yisroel said, "Hallelu avdei Hashem (T'hilim 113:1)." If Paroh had allowed all of the bnei Yisroel, including women and children, to travel for three days into the desert to sacrifice to Hashem, they would have done so and returned. Possibly this would have brought a great spiritual uplifting which might have elevated them from the morass of the 49 levels of impurity into which they had sunk. They would then have been able to remain in Egypt for a longer period of time, possibly even until the completion of the 400 years of exile.
However, as stated in the above Yerushalmi, Paroh freed them from bondage by saying that they were now servants of Hashem. They were now free to do as they wished. Hashem knew that this would happen, and therefore told Moshe that they would leave permanently. We can now answer our original question regarding the borrowing of the Egyptians' property. Since all the people of Egypt were slaves of Paroh as recorded in the end of parshas Vayigash (47:23,25), their possessions were also his. His open aggression of pursuing the totally freed bnei Yisroel was not justified and constituted an open act of war. When Paroh and his army were defeated through Hashem's intervention at the time of the splitting of the sea, the bnei Yisroel had the right to keep all private and governmental property as spoils of war.
Ch. 12, v. 40,41: "Shloshim shonoh v'arba mei'os shonoh" -
1) Rashi and Rashbam on the gemara P'sochim 99b say that these four expressions of redemption are the source for drinking four goblets of wine on the night of the Seder. This is stated in the Yerushalmi P'sochim (10:1) and in the M.R. Breishis (88:4) as the opinion of Rav Huna.
2) The above two sources also bring the opinion of Rav Shmuel bar Nachmeini that the four goblets correspond to the four times the word "KOSE" is mentioned in the butler's dream and Yosef's interpretation at the end of parshas Va'yeishev. 3) The above two sources also bring the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi that the four goblets correspond to the four bitter goblets of punishment that Hashem will mete out to the nations of idol worshipers (Yirmiyohu 25:15, 51:7, T'hilim 11:6, 75:9).
4) The above Yerushalmi also brings that the four goblets correspond to the four salvations mentioned in T'hilim: "Hashem m'nos chelki v'CHOSI" (16:5), "KOSI r'voyoh" (23:5), and "KOSE y'shuos" (116:13). This last verse alludes to two goblets, as the word, "y'shuos," salvationS, is plural.
5) The four goblets correspond to the four times the word "govia" is mentioned in parshas Mikeitz (44:2, 12, 16, 17). "Gvi'i" in verse 2 is not included, but might allude to the fifth goblet of Eliyohu. (Tosfos Hasholeim)
Perhaps an allusion can be drawn from the above opinions that state that the four goblets drunk on the Seder night are based on verses dealing with goblets to the number of years of actual slavery the bnei Yisroel endured. Drinking a goblet of wine is an act symbolic of freedom. The word KOSE has the numerical value of 86. The four cups that are drunk show our thanks for the 4x86 years = 344 years that we did not suffer as slaves, the allusion of the cups of salvation mentioned in T'hilim (#4 above). The fifth cup of wine that is not drunk symbolizes the 86 years that we did suffer, thus we restrain ourselves from drinking it. Source #5 above is from the word "govia," spelled Gimel-Veis-Yud-Ayin, whose numerical value is 85. The gemara Rosh Hashonoh 10b states that during the last year of slavery the bnei Yisroel did not suffer at the hands of the Egyptians who were fully occupied with the ten plagues. This reduces the years of suffering to 85. The Kankordanzia on TaNaCH differentiates between a KOSE and a GOVIA. A KOSE is an individual goblet from which one drinks, while a GOVIA is a larger DECANTER from which one pours into the smaller KOSE. (Although in Breishis 44:5 we find "Ha'lo zeh asher yishteh adoni BO," this should be translated as "Isn't this the one that my master drinks THROUGH it," i.e. by pouring from it into a goblet, since the verse does not say MI'MENU.) He brings a proof for this from Yirmiohu 35:5, "G'VIIM m'lei'im yayin v'CHOSOSE." The allusion of the KOSE to 86 years of servitude includes the last year, which was without actual slavery, and embodied the beginning of freedom with the advent of the ten plagues. This is similar to the contour of a KOSE, which widens and flanges out on top, indicating freedom. The GOVIA, the DECANTER, on the other hand, is contoured quite differently, with a very wide base and a narrow opening on top to allow for pouring over without spilling. This continuos narrowing from the base until the top alludes only to the years of suffering without the last year of freedom, a total of 85 years. The contour of a GOVIA, narrowest on top and broadening as it extends downward, until it is widest at its base, is also alludes to by the letters Gimel, Beis-Yud, Ayin which spell this word. Gimel = 3, Beis-Yud = 12, Ayin = 70, from smallest down to largest. This hints to the different generations of the bnei Yisroel until they descended to Egypt, Gimel = 3 Ovos on top, Veis-Yud = 12 tribes in the middle, Ayin = a total of 70 people who descended to Egypt, at the bottom. Ch. 12, v. 42: "LEIL shimurim hu ...... hu haLAYLOH ha'zeh" - What is the difference between LEIL and the more common LAYLOH? The Holy Zohar on parshas T'rumoh pg. 131a says that the first half of the night is called LEIL, while the second half is called LAYLOH. (Possibly we can thus explain the verse in Mishlei 31:17, "Toamoh ki tov sachroh lo yichbeh baLEIL(OH) neiroh." The word is spelled baLEIL, KRI, while read baLEILOH, KSIV. One who sees that his Torah (TOV is Torah) is a good endeavour will not extinguish his light neither in the first half, nor in the second half of the night.) The Rokei'ach says that LEIL is the last part of the night before daybreak, and he brings a proof for this from Yeshayohu 21:11, "Shomer mah miLAYLOH shomer mah miLEIL." He offers another interpretation. LEIL refers to a night during which the moon shines brightly. He brings a proof for this from Yeshayohu 16:3, "Shisi chaLAYIL tzi'leich b'soch tzohoroyim." Ch. 12, v. 42: "Leil shimurim hu LaShem ...... shimurim l'chol bnei Yisroel l'dorosom" - The Tosefta P'sochim 10:8 says that a person should stay up the whole first night of Pesach, relate the miracles that Hashem did to the bnei Yisroel when bringing them out of Egypt, as well as give thanks for them. The Chizkuni says that just as on the night of the exodus Hashem guarded us, "leil shimurim," likewise we should pay back this kindness by guarding this night, "shimurim l'chol bnei Yisroel l'dorosom." A guard does not fall asleep on the job. Therefore we should remain awake the complete night and spend it as mentioned in the above Tosefta.
Ch. 14, v. 5: "Va'yugad l'melech Mitzrayim ki vorach ho'om" - VORACH, spelled Veis-Reish-Ches has the numerical value of 210. Paroh was advised that the nation left after only residing in Egypt 210 years, and not 400 years, as was prophesied to Avrohom (Breishis 15:13). He therefore took chase. As well he was told that HO'OM, the lower level of the nation, the "eirev rav," ran away with the bnei Yisroel, and he therefore took chase. (Nachal K'dumim)
Ch. 14, v. 13: "Lo sosifu lirosom ode ad olom" - There was a man who worked for his communal burial society. One evening he stepped into a meeting of the leading Rabbis of his community. He posed a most interesting question to them. He had once been involved in a bitter argument with a neighbour, and in the heat of the argument, had made a vow to never look his neighbour in the face. The neighbour had just died, and the member of the burial society questioned whether he was permitted to perform the "tahara." Possibly, since the man was deceased, it might be permissible. Seated with the Rabbis was a scholarly student, Rabbi Boruch Epstein, the author of Torah T'mimoh. He brought a proof that it is permissible. Our verse says that the bnei Yisroel would never see the Egyptians again. However, in 14:30 it says that the bnei Yisroel saw the Egyptians DEAD on the shore of the sea. Obviously, seeing them dead is not included in the statement of "you will never see them again." That only means while they are alive.
Another scholarly student responded that this proof might not be conclusive, as in verse 30, the bnei Yisroel only saw the Egyptians from a distance, but did not see their faces clearly. Rabbi Epstein responded that the medrash (Mechilta 30:13) says that the bnei Yisroel recognized the dead Egyptians and said, "This was my taskmaster who beat me," etc. It is obvious that they did see the faces of the Egyptians clearly. Thus he reinstated his proof. This is brought in the Sefer M'kor Boruch vol. 4. I have a problem with the proof. The above Mechilta and Yalkut Shimoni #237 also say that the Egyptians were not actually dead, but rather DYING on the shore. If one were to bring a proof from this, it would be permitted to see the face of one who isn't even dead, but only dying. There will be more on the word "MEIS" in verse 30. Are you wondering how the bnei Yisroel saw the actual faces of the Egyptians, since they crossed THROUGH the sea and were on the other side? You might answer that the sea ejected the Egyptians to the other side. However, the truth is that the bnei Yisroel DID NOT CROSS THROUGH the sea. They walked in an arc and came out on the same side. See Arochin 16a Tosfos d.h. "K'sheim," which even supplies us with a diagram.
Ch. 14, v.16: "Ho'reim es matcho u'n'tei es yodcho al ha'yom" - The verse does not say "ho'reim es matcho u'n'teihu al ha'yom," which would seem to indicate that Moshe was commanded to stretch out his hand over the body of water while holding the staff. As mentioned in Sedrah Selections 5759 there are different opinions on this, with some commentators saying that Moshe split the sea with the use of the staff, while others say that he did not use the staff.
1) Targum Yonoson ben Uziel (2:21, 14,21) says that he did use the staff.
2) Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer chapter 42 says that he attempted to split the sea with the staff, but failed. He split it by raising only his hand when the Divine Presence appeared. The Rosh, in the name of his father Rabbi Yechiel of Paris, agrees with the Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer and brings a Medrash Shochar Tov's parable to prove this. He adds that "ho'reim" does not mean "elevate - lift up" but rather "separate - put down."
3) Medrash Shochar Tov on T'hilim 106 and 114 brings both opinions.
4) M.R. 21:9 says that the staff was not used.
5) The Sforno says that the command to lift the staff was to do so eastwardly to activate a powerful wind and the command to stretch his hand was to do so over the Yam Suf to have it split.
5) The Haa'meik Dovor says that Hashem told Moshe to use the staff and to also use his hand only. The intention of doing both these actions was to initiate both a miracle that is openly above the rules of nature, and that is done with the use of the miraculous staff, and a miracle that is hidden within the rules of nature, and that is done without the use of the staff. Whether Hashem would wrought an overt or covert miracle depended upon the reaction of the bnei Yisroel when push came to shove at the brink of the Yam Suf. If they would just wait there, hoping for Hashem's salvation, He would respond with a covert miracle, having the east wind blow so strongly that it would stop the flow of the Yam Suf and create a path in it for the bnei Yisroel to cross. If they would jump into the Yam Suf, relying on a miracle, Hashem would respond in kind, by overtly miraculously splitting the Yam Suf. Indeed a path was beginning to be formed in the Yam Suf by the driving wind, as mentioned in verse 21, "Va'yolech Hashem es ha'yom b'ruach kodim azoh kol halayloh va'yo'sem es ha'yom lechorovoh," - Hashem guided the Yam Suf with a powerful eastern wind all night and the Yam Suf began to dry, until Nachshon ben Aminodov jumped in and the water totally split in a flash, as the verse ends "va'yiboku hamayim." This is somewhat similar to the Sforno in that there was an act to initiate the east wind to blow and another act to initiate the splitting of the Yam Suf. However, the Sforno says the opposite of the Haa'meik Dovor, that the blowing of the wind was initiated with the staff, while the stretching of his hand over the Yam Suf to make it split was done without the staff. With this concept of the Haa'meik Dovor a new insight can be given in parshas Vo'eiro 9:22. It was mentioned in the name of the Shem miShmuel that the plague of hail, which entailed fire inside the balls of hail, having them make peace to do Hashem's bidding, required a power higher than the heavens, hence "n'tei es yodcho AL hashomayim," ABOVE the heavens. This means that although fire and water always oppose each other, water extinguishes fire and fire evaporates water, but to fulfill the wish of Hashem they made peace and coexisted during this plague. For this supernatural relationship to take place a power of coexistence between water and fire had to be drawn from a very lofty heavenly sphere above the point where water and fire could no longer coexist. This explains why we find that Hashem only told Moshe to stretch his hand to initiate the plague of hail, "n'tei es yodcho al hashomayim" (9:22), and yet we find that Moshe did so with the use of the staff, as mentioned in the next verse, "Va'yeit Moshe es MA'TEIHU al hashomayim." Since Moshe realized that this plague entailed an overt miracle the use of the staff was in place. It seems that with the insight of Haa'meik Dovor an answer can be given to the well known question of the difference in terminology found in the Torah for the splitting of the Yam Suf 14:16, "U'V'KO'EIHU" and 14:21, "VAYIBOKU hamayim," and the term used by Chazal of KRIAS Yam Suf. The gemara Brochos 6a says that the text in our tefillin gives praise to Hashem, while the text in Hashem's tefillin praises the bnei Yisroel, as they contain the verse "Umi k'amcho Yisroel goy echod bo'oretz" (Shmuel 2:7:23, Divrei Hayomim 1:17:21). The Kedushas Levi similarly explains that we call the Yom Tov Pesach to show our appreciation of Hashem Who jumped (had mercy) over the homes of the bnei Yisroel when He smote the Egyptian firstborn. Hashem, in turn, calls the Yom Tov "Chag Hamatzos" (Shmos 23:15), extolling the praises of the bnei Yisroel by stressing that they left Egypt with matzos as their only provisions, totally trusting in Hashem. As mentioned earlier, if the bnei Yisroel would not have shown that they believed in Hashem's miracles to save them, He still would have saved them with the covert miracle of the wind cutting a path in the Yam Suf. This would happen by stopping the flow of the water a bit at a time, slowly creating a path in the Yam Suf, as mentioned in verse 21. We can explain the difference between the terms B'KIA and KRIA as follows. B'KIA means a total splitting of something in one go, as we find the term "shemo yiboka hanode" (gemara Eiruvin 37b), meaning perhaps the keg will burst, which takes place in a moment. KRIA means ripping. Although one can rip something in a moment, the action of ripping is actually a bit by bit process, as continued pressure is exerted throughout the process. Going with the maxim that Hashem praises us for our actions and we praise Him for His, the Torah calls the splitting of the Yam Suf B'KIA, as this refers to the total sundering of the body of water in two in a split moment by Hashem, a measure for measure response to our high level of belief in Him to even bring about an overt miracle for our benefit. Thus with the use of the word form B'KIA great praise is conferred upon the bnei Yisroel. We, on the other hand, want to praise Hashem and call the splitting of the Yam Suf KRIA, as this refers to Hashem's readiness to save us by having the powerful east wind clear a path for us in the Yam Suf, a bit by bit process similar to ripping. This choice of terminology confers a great praise upon Hashem indicating that He would have saved us even if we did not have the high level of trust in Him to wrought an overt miracle.
Ch. 14, v. 21: "Va'yiboku" - Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer ch. 42 and Midrash Shocher Tov chapter 114 say that the sea split and created twelve pathways, one for each of the twelve tribes. The S'fas Emes quotes a medrash on the words "Forarto b'ozcho yom" (T'hilim 74:13) which says that the sea split and created 600,000 separate paths. Each individual merited a separate miracle.
Ch. 14, v. 21: "Va'yiboku" - Medrash Shocher Tov (T'hilim 114:3) on the words "hayom ro'oh VA'YONOSE," says that the sea should flee (split) upon seeing Yoseif's casket, since Yoseif also fled from the wife of Potifar, "VAYONOS vayeitzei hachutzo" (Breishis 39:12). The K'sav Sofer explains the connection. The Ibn Ezra asks: Why was a miracle necessary? Why not have the bnei Yisroel battle with the oncoming Egyptians? The Ksav Sofer says that this would have entailed standing up against the Egyptians with physical force. Although the Egyptians deserved no mercy, nonetheless there is a certain appreciation the bnei Yisroel should have, as the Egyptians were their hosts for many years. The Torah says, (Dvorim 23:8) "Do not hate an Egyptian, since you were a sojourner in his land." Only if the bnei Yisroel had the characteristic of being grateful to their host, would Hashem be willing to perform the miracle of splitting the sea, rather than subjecting them to do war with their former host. This was demonstrated by Yoseif. When he ran away from the enticements of Poti Phera's wife, she grabbed his garment from him (Breishis 39:12). Logically, he should have turned around and forcefully taken it back, so that she should have no incriminating evidence against him. (This question is raised by the Ramban). The Ksav Sofer answers with the above concept. Yoseif did not want to turn against his hostess with physical force, even at the cost of leaving incriminating evidence in her hands. This act implanted this positive characteristic into future generations of bnei Yisroel. When the "yam suf" saw the casket which held Yoseif, the person who demonstrated and implanted the middoh of "hakoras tovah," gratefulness, into the bnei Yisroel, it was willing to cooperate, even against its nature, and split. This avoided having the bnei Yisroel engage in combat with their former hosts, thus enabling them to show their gratefulness. The Ksav Sofer says that now we have an understanding of the Rashi at the beginning of parshas Yisro (18:1). On the words "Va'yishma Yisro," Rashi (gemara Z'vochim 116a) says that Yisro heard about the splitting of "yam suf" and the war with Amoleik. It is obvious that Yisro heard all that had happened. If so, why point out only these two happenings? The Ksav Sofer answers: Yisro was reluctant to come to the bnei Yisroel as he had been a priest for idol worship in Midyon. He thought that he might be rejected. However, upon seeing a diplay of gratefulness on the part of the bnei Yisroel, he knew he would not be rejected, as he had given Moshe refuge at the time of his need. Upon hearing of the splitting of the sea he wondered why a miracle was necessary and came to the same conclusion as above, that the bnei Yisroel did not want to forcefully stand up against their former hosts. This could indicate their gratefulness, although not conclusively. Perhaps they were unable to wage war. (Indeed this is the answer given by the Ibn Ezra.) When he also heard that they had successfully battled against the powerful Amoleik nation, he knew that they were capable of waging war, and the only reason the sea split was because the bnei Yisroel were imbued with the middoh of "hakoras tova." If so, they would not reject him either, and therefore he came to the bnei Yisroel.
Ch. 14, v. 27: "L'ei'sono" - "L'tno'o," to its STIPULATION (M.R. 21:6, Yalkut Shimoni #236). A condition was made with the sea at the time of creation that although its norm was to flow continuously, at this time the sea should split. If so, why is this mentioned here, at the time that it went back to its norm of flowing? It should have been mentioned in verse 21 when it was required to split. The Sfas Emes answers that once the sea split and this brought about a world-wide sanctification of Hashem, as all nations were aware of what happened and a great fear of Hashem gripped them (15:16), the water was reluctant to flow again. It wanted to remain as a wall and be a permanent sanctification of the powers of Hashem. Therefore a condition was made with the water at the time of creation that it should flow continuously, save for the time of the crossing. We can now understand the statement of the gemara Sanhedrin 22a that it is as difficult to create a match between a man and a woman as the "krias yam suf." This comparison is hard to comprehend. The match brings together, but the splitting of the sea separates. According to the above it can be understood. A single person sometimes feels that he or she can accomplish a lot more while single, without family responsibilities, than when married (see gemara Kiddushin 29b, "reichayim al tzavoro v'yaasok baTorah?"). This is like the sea wanting to remain split and thus serving Hashem. However, Hashem wants people to serve Him and do His mitzvos also while married. The comparison to "krias yam suf" is to the sea becoming one again, just like marriage, where the two souls were once one, then separated into two people, which now become one again, in marriage.
Ch. 14, v. 27: "L'eisono" - In the M.R. Breishis 5:5 Rabbi Yochonon says that Hashem stipulated with the Yam Suf at the time of its creation that it should split at the time the need would arise, when the bnei Yisroel will be boxed in at its shores with the Egyptians in hot (literally) pursuit. This is indicated by the unusual word used for "its strength - l'eisono." The word "l'eisono" is phonetically similar to "lis'no'o," to its conditional agreement. The difficulty in comprehending this medrash is obvious. Should this not have been pointed out in a verse dealing with the splitting of the Yam Suf rather than the verse dealing with the Yam Suf returning to its nature of flowing with its full strength? To answer this another question will be posed. The gemara Chulin 7a relates that Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir was on his way to attempt to fulfill the great mitzvoh of redeeming captured people, "pidyone shvuyim." He came upon the River Gino'i and was unable to cross it. He needed to be on the other side to accomplish what he set out to do. He spoke to the river and demanded that it split for him. The river refused to cooperate, saying that if it would continue to flow it would SURELY be fulfilling the will of its Creator, as Rashi there explains that in Koheles 1:7 it says, "Kol hancholim holchim el ha'yom," all rivers must flow into the sea. However if it were to stop flowing to accommodate Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir, he is DOUBTFUL if he will be successful in freeing the captured people, thus the fulfillment of Hashem's will is not a sure thing. Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir responded that if the river would not cooperate he would pray to Hashem that the river should permanently dry up and thus cease to exist. Upon hearing this threat the river promptly split. The splitting of this river is not recorded anywhere as being a condition set into motion at the time of its creation. (See the commentary of Rabbi Shlomo Kluger "Y'ri'ose Shlomo," printed in the Rabbi Yaakov Emdin prayer book, on the words of the Amidoh, "V'al ni'secho sheb'chol yom imonu" where he differentiates between miracles that were stipulated at the time of creation and miracles that were not.) If Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir was able to cause a river to split, Moshe could surely do the same, so why was it necessary to stipulate this at the time of the creation of the Yam Suf?
To answer this question we have to analyze the details of the above-mentioned story. Why with the demand to split did the river not cooperate and yet with the threat that Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir would pray to Hashem to have it permanently dry up did it cooperate? The answer is that the river was right in stating that it had the priority over Rabbi Pinchos because of its SURELY fulfilling the Creator's will. However, if the river would cease to exist there is no contravention of the verse in Koheles, as only a river is commanded to flow into the sea, but if there is no river existent there is no command to flow. This was the intention of Rabbi Pinchos when he threatened to cause the river to permanently dry up. However, Moshe was unable to do the same. To ask the Yam Suf to split wouldn't work, as per the response of the River Gino'i to Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir. To threaten to have the Yam Suf totally dry up was also not an option, as Hashem had ordained that the Yam Suf continue to exist so that it may later drown the Egyptians. Only Hashem could cause the Yam Suf to split. Indeed the M.R. says that the Yam Suf did not split at the bidding of Moshe and only did so when the Divine Presence demanded that it split. This is the intention of the M.R. in parshas Breishis. It states that HASHEM stipulated a condition with the Yam Suf. If you will ask why it is necessary to have HASHEM make this pre-condition since Moshe could have caused it to split with the threat of causing it to dry up totally, as did Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir, the answer is that Hashem also required that the Yam Suf return to its strength and flow again to drown the Egyptians. Moshe was therefore unable to cause the Yam Suf to totally dry up. To demand the Yam Suf to only split was also impossible, as it was SURELY fulfilling the will of Hashem by flowing, while Moshe taking the bnei Yisroel successfully through the Yam Suf was NOT A SURE THING. Indeed, we find that while they were in the middle of the Yam Suf an angel complained to Hashem that the bnei Yisroel and the Egyptians should be treated equally, as there were idol worshippers in both groups. (Likutei Shoshanim)
Ch. 14, v. 31: "Va'yaaminu baShem" - The Rashbam explains that "they believed in Hashem" means that they trusted that they would not die of starvation in the desert.
Ch. 14, v. 30: "MEIS al sfas ha'yam" - Targum Yonoson ben Uziel translates "MEIS" as "dead and not dead." Yalkut Shimoni #237 was mentioned above in 14:13 which similarly says that the Egyptians died on the shore. They translate "MEIS" as "dying," a verb, and not "dead," an adjective.
THE CAUSES FOR, THE NATURE OF, THE EXONERATION OF, THE REDEMPTION FROM: GOLUS MITZRAYIM
Ch. 14, v. 31: "Va'yaaminu" - I would like to bring together a few ideas which will create an overview and insight into "golus Mitzrayim" and into the exodus. In parshas Lech L'cho (14:14) I brought the three opinions mentioned in the gemara N'dorim 32a for Avrohom's deserving to have his descendants suffer slavery in Egypt for 210 years.
A) Rabbi Avohu in the name of Rabbi Eliezer: Because he caused BITUL TORAH when he emptied his Torah School of students to have them do battle with the four kings (Breishis 14:14).
B) Shmuel: He displayed a weakness in his trust (emunoh) in Hashem by asking "Ba'moh ei'da" (Breishis 15:8).
C) Rabbi Yochonon: He gave up the opportunity to bring more people under the wings of Hashem by allowing the king of Sdom to keep the people who were captured in the battle (14:23).
If there was a prophecy to Avrohom that his descendants would be enslaved in a foreign land for 400 years (Breishis 15:13), how were they able to leave after only 210 years? The Rebbi R' Heshel answers that the 400 years of enslavement were compacted into 210 years for three reasons. A) They worked at night as well as by day. B) Their population explosion brought about a large amount of work being done. C) They had an extremely heavy and painful workload, "koshi hashibud." He says that this is indicated in D'vorim (26:7,8), "Va'yaar Elokim es ON'YEINU v'es AMO'LEINU v'es LACHATZEINU.
The Hagodoh tells us that "on'yeinu" refers to the men being separated from their wives at night. A) The men were forced to work at night as well as by day.
"Amo'leinu" refers to their children. B) The great increase in the number of bnei Yisroel.
"Lachatzeinu" refers to the great oppression. C) Their extremely heavy and painful workload. Because of all the above, (verse 8) "And Hashem took us out (earlier)."
Possibly, these three sufferings were an exoneration of the three shortcomings mentioned above. A) Avrohom emptied his Torah School of its students at night and fought his war at night (14:15). Similarly the bnei Yisroel suffered by having to also work at night. B) For not bringing numerous souls under the wings of Hashem, there was a population explosion and numerous more bnei Yisroel were born into slavery. C) For his weakness in trust in Hashem, the bnei Yisroel suffered great pain. This is truly the greatest test in emunoh a person can endure, to suffer greatly and still not lose trust in Hashem. Having experienced the above three sufferings which exonerated them of the three shortcomings, the bnei Yisroel similarly experienced three levels of redemption. A) In Dvorim 16:1 it says that the bnei Yisroel left Egypt by NIGHT. B) In Shmos 12:51 it says that they left by DAY. C) In Shmos 14:30 they had a final complete redemption when the bnei Yisroel saw the Egyptian army dead on the shore of the "yam suf." These three levels of redemption correspond to the three levels of golus which correspond to the three shortcomings. A) Although they did not leave at night (see Rashi on Dvorim 16:1), they were freed from slavery by Paroh and given permission to leave at night. They merited redemption at night through their working at night. This was also an exoneration for emptying Avrohom's Torah School of its students at night. They reconnected to the toiling in Torah of which it is said, (Pirkei Ovos 6:2) that one who toils in Torah merits to be called a "FREE MAN," ben chorin, cho'rus - chei'rus (Shmos 32:16). B) Their actual departure by day brought about a large increase in the number of people who would adhere to the word of Hashem. The "eirev rav," who numbered 2,400,000 according to Targum Yonoson ben Uziel on 12:38, joined them. This, incidentally, is the exact amount as the number of bnei Yisroel who perished during makas choshech. By virtue of a large number of bnei Yisroel working for Paroh, they merited to have a large number of "eirev rav" join them in serving Hashem. This exonerates the lost opportunity of bringing the people captured in the battle under the wings of Hashem. C) The complete redemption realized at "yam suf" after the splitting of the sea brought the bnei Yisroel to a new level - "va'yaaminu baShem u'v'Moshe avdo." After having successfully weathered the pains inflicted by the Egyptians, which was a daunting test of their trust in Hashem, they merited true emunoh, both in Hashem and in His servant Moshe. This new "EMUNOH" came about through seeing the HAND of Hashem, and possibly also, the "HAND" of Moshe without the use of his staff, as above (14:16). Possibly, therefore the "mesorres," the words used to indicate the number of verses in the parsha, is "YAD EMUNOH." Reaching this high level of emunoh in Hashem corrected the shortcoming of the utterance of "Bamoh ei'da (Breishis 15:8)."
Ch. 15, v. 1: "Va'yomru LEIMOR" - Why the double expression? Two great happenings took place. Hashem's greatness was witnessed by the whole world, and the bnei Yisroel were saved from death. The bnei Yisroel might have chosen to sing praises to Hashem for their miraculous rescue. However the bnei Yisroel decided to only sing praises to the fact that Hashem had become exalted. "Va'yomru," and the bnei Yisroel said, "LEIMOR oshiroh LaShem ki go'o go'oh," TO SAY that their song of praise would be for Hashem's becoming exalted, and not for their being rescued.
Ch. 15, v. 2: "Zeh Keili v'anveihu" - The gemara Shabbos 133b derives from these words that when one fulfills a mitzvoh he should do so in a beautiful manner, i.e. have a Torah written by a holy scribe who writes neatly on clean parchment, and then have the Torah scroll wrapped in beautiful coverings. This is called "hidur mitzvoh" and is derived from the word "v'anveihu," which has the source word form "noy," meaning beautiful. Why is the source for this concept placed in this verse? Perhaps this can be explained with the words of the Mechilta on our parsha #4, Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer chapter 42, and Pirkei Ovos 5:4. They state that ten miracles took place for the bnei Yisroel at the splitting of the Yam Suf. Among them are miracles that were totally not necessary for saving the bnei Yisroel from the charging Egyptians. They include that the river basin was dry, tiled, and that there was a canopy above them as they crossed. All these things were done for their convenience only, as explained in the commentary of the Tosfos Yom Tov on Pirkei Ovos. We see from this that although Hashem could have saved the bnei Yisroel in a "no whistles and bells" manner, He nevertheless did it in a manner that was glorious and comfortable for the bnei Yisroel. What better place is there than this to point out that we should respond in kind when we fulfill mitzvos, to not just get by, but to do them in an upgraded most beautiful manner?
Ch. 15, v. 21: "Vataan lo'hem Miriam 'Shiru laShem ki go'o go'oh sus v'rochvo romoh va'yom'" - We find by the song of praise of the men that there was mention of being saved (verses 13,16,17,19) besides mentioning the downfall of the Egyptians. However, Miriam only mentioned the downfall of the Egyptians in her song of praise and no mention is made of the women being saved. This is explained by the Tiferes Y'honoson.
1) The gemara Gitin 38a says that the animals belonging to the bnei Yisroel are more beloved to idol worshippers than their own wives. If so, the wives of the bnei Yisroel are surely dear to them. Thus even if the bnei Yisroel would have ch"v been attacked, the women would have been saved.
2) We find in Shmos 1:22 that Paroh decreed that only the male newborns be drowned since his wise men foretold that the saviour of the bnei Yisroel would meet his end through water. The women were thus foretold that they would not meet their end through water, and felt assured that they would not drown upon entering the Yam.
3) The gemara Sotoh 11b says that in the merit of the righteous women were the bnei Yisroel redeemed from Egypt. They realized that they had a greater merit than the men had and were in less danger of being destroyed by either the Egyptians or the Yam.
Ch. 15, v. 21: "Sus v'rochvo" - If the bnos Yisroel sang the complete "shiroh," why are only these words written, and if they sang only these words, why did they sing only this excerpt of the full "shiroh?"
The Beis Yitzchok answers that we know that the goal of the exodus from Egypt was to receive the Torah, as mentioned in Shmos 3:12. Women are exempt from the mitzvoh of Torah study (gemara Sotoh 21a). However the gemara Brochos 17a and Sotoh 21a says that women have the merit of Torah study by virtue of facilitating the Torah study of their husbands and children. The proof that a facilitator has equal merit as the one who actually carries out the act is seen from the fact that the horses of Paroh's army also drown along with the riders. The horses had done nothing wrong and were only punished as facilitators. Since Hashem's measure of reward is vastly greater than of punishment, (gemara Makos 5b) the women who facilitated the exodus from Egypt, as is mentioned in the M.R. Shmos 1:16 that in the merit of the righteous women the bnei Yisroel were liberated from Egypt, would surely deserve a great reward. This is why the drowning of the horses along with their riders is specifically mentioned. This might give us another answer to the question mentioned above about the use of the word "lohe*M* rather than "lohe*N*." Since Miriam sang the verse which indicated that the women were on an equal footing with the men, she used the word "lohe*M*" in the masculine form to indicate this.
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