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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 13, v. 18: "Vachamushim" - A number of translations:

1) ARMED for war. (Rashi, Targum Onkelos, M.R. The word indicates five weapons, as per Yechezkel 39:9.)

2) One FIFTH of the bnei Yisroel, as four fifths died during makas choshech. (Rashi, Mechilta 14)

3) One FIFTIETH. (Mechilta 14)

4) One FIVE-HUNDRETH. (Mechilta 14)

5) Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says the bnei Yisroel left with FIVE children per family. The Holy Admor of Belz explains that since four fifths of the bnei Yisroel died during makas choshech, there were orphans of four families. The survivors adopted the orphans, so each family had FIVE families of children, its own, plus those of four other families.

6) PREPARED with FOOD, as in Breishis 41:34, "v'chimeish es artzo." (Chizkuni)

7) Grouped into FIVE CAMPS. Degel macha'neh Yehudoh in the east, Reuvein in the south, Efrayim in the west, and Dan in the north, as enumerated in Bmidbar ch.2. The fifth camp is macha'neh Levi which was situated in the centre. (Trumas Ha'deshen)

8) Another possible interpretation: The bnei Yisroel were one FIFTH of those who left. The Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says in 12:38 that 2,400,000 "eirev rav" left with the bnei Yisroel. This makes a total of 3,000,000, of whom the bnei Yisroel were one fifth. (n.l.)

Ch. 14, v. 7: "Sheish mayos rechev bochur" - Sending only 600 men to overpower the bnei Yisroel seems illogical. Paroh must have thought that Hashem was angry with them, and they therefore would be able to be overpowered by a very small group, in keeping with the verse in Dvorim 32:30, "Eichoh yirdof echod elef, u'shnayim r'vovo." If so, why wasn't it sufficient to send only 120 men, as every two could overpower 10,000? A few answers:

1) Paroh did not know that four-fifths of the bnei Yisroel died in makas choshech. He thought there were 3,000,000. That number requires 600 men. (Rabbi Chaim Rappaport)

2) The Targum Yonoson ben Uziel in 12:38 says that 2,400,000 "eirev rav" joined the bnei Yisroel. Paroh sent enough men to overpower the whole group.

3) Two only overpower 10,000 when the two are united. Rashi says on "Mitzrayim NO'SEI'A" (14:10), "b'leiv echod k'ish echod." This does not mean united (Avnei Neizer). By matan Torah Rashi says on "Va'yichan Yisroel" (19:2), "k'ish echod b'leiv echod," with the order switched. This means united. Once the Egyptians were not united, only the section of the verse, "yirdof echod elef" applies. When the pursuers are "shnayim," two who are united, they can pursue 10,000. When they are "echod," individual, each can only pursue 1,000. Therefore 600 men were required for 600,000 of the bnei Yisroel. (n.l.)

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. 15, v. 20: "Vatikach MIRIAM" - Why was she named Miriam? The Psikta Zut'r'sa 15:11 and the M.R. Shir Hashirim 2:13 say that she was born when the true affliction of servitude began, 86 years before the exodus. Regarding that period the verse says "va'y'mor'ru es cha'yeihem" (1:14), hence the name Miriam.

Ch. 15, v. 20: "Achose Aharon" - Why does the Torah stress Miriam's being the sister of Aharon and not the sister of Moshe as well?

1) To point out that she was a prophetess at an early age when Moshe was not yet born (See gemara Sotoh 12b), and at that time she was the sister of only Aharon.

2) Miriam was struck with tzoraas (a spiritually caused leprosy). Aharon put himself out in beseeching Moshe to have her healed (See Bmidbar 12:10 and 12:12). In this merit she was called the sister of Aharon. (Rashi in the name of the Mechilta)

3) Since Aharon was three years older than Moshe, Miriam was already called the sister of Aharon earlier and this title stayed with her. (RAVa"M) This is similar to the explanation given by the Rashbam as to why Yoseif was called the "ben z'kunim" of Yaakov and Binyomin wasn't.

4) Since the appellation "prophetess" is being used here, it is appropriate to relate Miriam to Aharon, whose level of prophecy is similar to hers as indicated in Bmidbar 12:2, "Gam bonu dibeir Hashem", and not to Moshe whose prophecy was above either of theirs. (RaVa"m)

5) Since Moshe and Miriam are mentioned in relation to the "Shiroh," the song of praise and thanks to Hashem, the verse did not want to leave out Aharon. (Ramban)

6) It is common for the Torah to relate one's relationship to the oldest son of the family, as we find in Divrei Hayomim 1:2:42, "U'v'nei Choleiv achi Y'rach'm'eil," even though he had a brother named Rom (D.H. 1:2:9) as well. (Ramban)

7) It is common for the Torah to mention the oldest brother of a woman, as we find in Breishis 36:3, "V'es Bosmas bas Yishmo'eil achose N'voyose," and in Shmos 6:23, "Elisheva bas Aminodov achose Nach'shone." (Rashbam and Rivo"sh)

8) Since both Miriam and Aharon were born to Amrom and Yocheved during their first marriage, and Moshe was born to them after they remarried (See gemara Sotoh 12b), the Torah connects Miriam to Aharon only. (Toras Shlomo)

9) Moshe was a Levite. The Levite's servitude to Hashem is marked by singing, "U'Lviim b'shirom u'v'zimrom" (Musof service of Yom Tov). Aharon was a Kohein. Kohanim's servitude to Hashem is marked by action done with a physical object, i.e. processing sacrifices, etc. Since the praise to Hashem had only taken on the form of singing, "Oz yoshir Moshe," there was no place for Aharon, the paradigm of physical servitude. Miriam wanted Aharon to have an opportunity to praise Hashem along his lines of servitude. She introduced the accompaniment of musical instruments in the praise of Hashem, thus initiating this form of praise. Therefore she is mentioned as the sister of Aharon only. (Avnei Nezer, the Holy Admor of Sochatchov)

Ch. 15, v. 27: "V'shivim t'morim" - And seventy date trees - Rabbi Saadioh Gaon says that this means seventy species of date trees.

Ch. 16, v. 4: "Lechem min hashomayim" - Bread from heaven - Hashem rains down bread from heaven. A person should realize that his allotted sustenance is decided in heaven. (Rabbi Moshe of Kobrin)

Alternatively, since the distance the manna landed from one's home depended upon his spiritual level (gemara Yoma), the bread is "heavenly," measuring his spiritual stature. (n.l.)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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