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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 1, v. 8: "Va'yokom melech chodosh al Mitzrayim" - And a new king ascended on Egypt - M.R. on this verse says that once the bnei Yisroel began neglecting the mitzvoh of circumcision the former appreciation the king of Egypt had for the bnei Yisroel turned to hatred, as per the verse, "Hofach libom lisno amo" (T'hilim 105:25). The correlation is that Hashem wanted the bnei Yisroel to be safe from assimilation. Circumcision was a major component of the safeguard and barrier. Once some of the bnei Yisroel discarded circumcision the barrier was greatly weakened and had the Egyptians continued to appreciate the bnei Yisroel there would be a great fear of assimilation. It was precisely at this time that the Egyptians' attitude to the bnei Yisroel soured. This explains why these words are found in the chapter of T'hilim where Hashem's kindness to His children is detailed and extolled. These words seem to be a major deviation. The Egyptians began hating them, a none too pleasant development. However, the exact opposite is true. This was a great favour for the bnei Yisroel. Once hatred set in the barrier between them and the Egyptians was strengthened. The message of the M.R. on our verse is so clearly understood. (A compilation of Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh, Beis haLevi, Sfas Emes)

Ch. 1, v. 12: "Va'yokutzu mipnei bnei Yisroel" - And they became disgusted because of the bnei Yisroel - The Imrei Chaim of Vizhnitz translates "mipnei" as "from the face of." The Egyptians were bothered when simply seeing the refined face of a ben Yisroel.

Ch. 1, v. 20: "Va'yeitev Elokim lamyaldos va'yorev ho'om" - And Hashem bestowed kindness upon the midwives and the nation multiplied - The next verse tells us that the kindness was that Hashem made them houses (see Rashi). It seems that the words are out of order. It should first be mentioned that Hashem bestowed the kindness of making them houses and then to state that the nation grew. This question is raised by the Holy Alshich. Pirkei Ovos 4:2 states that "S'char mitzvoh mitzvoh," the reward for executing a mitzvoh is the opportunity to do another mitzvoh. The midwives were doing the great mitzvoh of facilitating safe births, and at a great risk to their lives as well. This mitzvoh brought as a reward the opportunity to do another mitzvoh, namely that the bnei Yisroel multiplied greatly and they had the opportunity to do this same mitzvoh numerous other times. "Va'yorev ho'om" was their reward. (Chasam Sofer, Aperion)

Ch. 1, v. 21: "Va'y'hi ki yoru hamyaldos es hoElokim va'yaas loheM batim" - And it was when the midwives feared Elokim and he made for them houses - The male form "loheM" is puzzling, as the verse refers to Shifroh and Puoh, the midwives. Medrash Lekach Tov explains that when the midwives feared Elokim over Paroh, and did not kill the babies, there was a larger than expected increase of bnei Yisroel. Paroh them built houses for the Egyptians between the houses of the bnei Yisroel and when they would hear a newborn baby cry they would investigate if it was a boy, and if it was, they would have it thrown onto the Nile. The antecedent of "loheM" is the Egyptians.

Ch. 2, v. 3: "Vato'sem basuf al sfas ha'y'ore" - And she placed it in the reeds at the edge of the river - Moshe was saved through the actions of Bisyoh. Why did Hashem orchestrate his being saved in specifically this manner? All the bnei Yisroel males were to be thrown into the river. Had Moshe been saved in a different manner and not even have "tasted" being in a great peril in the river he would not have felt their plight as greatly as he did. He also needed to suffer in the same manner, albeit that it was but for a short period of time, and he would thus be more affective. (Oznayim laTorah) Along the same line of thought: Rabbi Mendel of Riminov went to great lengths and expense to free incarcerated bnei Yisroel. On totally trumped up charged he was once incarcerated, irony of ironies. After spending a bit of time in jail his mind wandered in the direction of "Is that right? I, of all people, who goes to all lengths to free people, should be locked up himself?" A woman appeared at the very small cell window and said to him that he was going to be released very shortly and the reason he was put into jail was that he would from now on work even harder at this great mitzvoh, now that he himself had tasted the discomfort of being locked up unjustly.

Ch. 3, v. 2: "Va'yeiro malach Hashem eilov b'labas aish" - And an angel of Hashem appeared to him in a flame of fire - Why was its appearance that of a flame of fire? It was so that he have strength of heart, "b'labas" = "leiv," so that when he would later ascend Har Sinai to receive the Torah he would not fear the fire. (M.R. and Medrash Tanchuma)

Ch. 3, v. 5: "Ki homokome asher atoh omeid olov admas kodesh" - Because the location upon which you stand is terra sancta - Pirkei Ovos 2:4 says, "Al tomar lich'she'efneh eshneh," do not say that when I will be available I will learn. This means that a person should not push off the opportunity to learn for a time when he has no distractions or disruptions. If he has a challenging situation he should just learn anyway. M.R. Shir Hashirim 8:10 says that he who learn when in pain receives 1,000 as his reward, while he who learns when all is well receives but 200 (as per the dictum in Pirkei Ovos 5:23, "l'fum tzaara agra). Hashem wants certain people to do their service under demanding circumstances. This is an insight into our verse. The location upon which you find yourself, be it convenient or inconvenient, is holy because this is where Hashem wants you to function. (Chofetz Chaim)

Ch. 5, v. 9: "Tichbad ho'avodoh al ho'anoshim" - The work shall become heavier upon the men - M.R. says that the bnei Yisroel had scrolls which they would read and soothe themselves on Shabbos, as the scrolls told of their imminent redemption. They had time to read them on Shabbos because they did not work then. When Moshe came to Paroh and told him of the bnei Yisroel's hiatus, as dictated by Hashem, he reacted by adding to their work and rescinding the Shabbos respite. He told Moshe that a departure before 400 ears was too early, as Avrohom was told that his descendants would be exiled for 400 years. Moshe responded that the calculation began with the birth of Yitzchok. Paroh said that those years cannot count as they were in their own land. Moshe responded that it was not their land yet as the Rambam in hilchos mechiroh 1:17 writes that a ben Noach has no acquiring ability with "chazokoh," and Yitzchok had the status of a ben Noach. To this Paroh responded, "If so, you may no longer rest on Shabbos as "nochri sheshovas chayov misoh," and this is why he rescinded Shabbos off time at this point in time. (Holy Admor of Ostrovtze)

Ch. 5, v. 23: "Umei'oz bosi el Paroh l'da'beir bishmecho heira lo'om ha'zeh v'hatzeil lo hitzalto es a'mecho" - And from the time I came to Paroh to speak in Your name has he done bad to this nation and You have not saved them - If Paroh has done bad to this nation doesn't it follow that Hashem has not saved them? The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh explains that the verse stresses that Paroh's harshness has increased once Moshe has spoken in the name of Hashem. Thus there are two issues at hand, the increased suffering of the bnei Yisroel and the honour of Hashem, since Paroh has scoffed at Hashem's wishes. The former issue is "heira lo'om" and the latter is "v'hatzeil lo hitzalto es a'mecho," with the stress on their being YOUR nation.



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

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