by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek
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Last Day[s] of Passover (68) (Sh'vi'i shel Psesach)The last day of Passover commemorates the day Hashem split the Reed Sea allowing the Israelites to cross through it and reach ultimate freedom while their erstwhile oppressors drowned in that sea. We read that section (Exodus 13:17- 15:26) on the seventh day of Passover.
Exodus 14: 9-10
9) And Egypt pursued them and overtook them [as they were] encamped by the sea; all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh and his horsemen and army, by Pi-Hachiros before Ba'al Tzaphon.
10) And Pharaoh brought himself near and the Children of Israel raised their eyes and behold - Egypt was journeying after them and they were very frightened and the Children of Israel cried out to Hashem.
Was journeying after them: Rashi: With one heart, as one man. Another interpretation: "And behold Egypt was journeying after them" They saw the ministering angel of Egypt journeying from the heavens to help the Egyptians.
What would you ask on this Rashi?
A Question: Why does Rashi need to explain 'as one man with one heart'? And why does he offer a second explanation? What is bothering Rashi?
WHAT IS BOTHERING RASHI?
An Answer: The verse "was journeying" (Hebrew: 'nosei'a) is in the singular even though it refers to all the Egyptians that were pursuing the Israelites and therefore should have been a plural verb. In fact the previous verbs in verse 9 are in the plural ("pursued" and "overtook"). Why was the verb construction changed here? That is what was bothering Rashi.
How does Rashi's comment deal with this?
An Answer: Rashi explains that the singular verb referred to the Egyptians as a unit - they were all united as one man to destroy Israel. How eternally true! Our enemies forget their own internal hatreds when they unite to destroy the Jewish People. Their hatred for the Jews unites them.
A SECOND QUESTION
A question: Why did Rashi need the second interpretation?
Can you see why the first explanation may be faulty?
Hint: Look over the previous verse and see if the words 'journeyed after them' makes sense.
An Answer: The previous verse says that Egypt journeyed after the Israelites. But it also says that the Israelites were encamped. One doesn't journey after someone who is standing still (encamped). More fitting would be 'journeyed towards'. If the word 'after' is used then Egypt would have to be journeying after someone else who is also traveling!
Therefore Rashi's second, midrashic, explanation understands 'Egypt" as the name of the ministering angel of the Egyptians. He, the angel, (named 'Egypt') was journeying after the Egyptians to help them. Both the angel and the Egyptians were moving, so the term "journeying after" makes sense. This is how Rashi's second explanation fits in with the Torah's word.
The uniting force of hatred is witnessed by the Jews today as it is "in every generation" as our enemies rise up against us to destroy us. Today Israel is surrounded on the East (Iran), the South (Hamas) and the North (Hizblallah & Syria) by enemies whose sole uniting goal is to destroy the Jewish nation. Our prayer to G-d today is that He protect us from our vicious enemies, who are also G-d and humanity's enemies.
Shabbat Shalom & Chag Somayach
What's Bothering Rashi?" is a production of "The Institute for the Study of Rashi."
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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