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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 13, v. 17: "Vy'hi" - This word indicates a cry of WOE, VY-hi. Who cried out WOE?

1) Paroh. A person merited to have the king's son as his guest for an extended period of time. The king sent a message to his son that he would like him to return home. The host cried out at having to give up such an honoured guest. Likewise, Paroh merited to have Hashem's children as his guests for many years. Now they were leaving. (M.R. 20:7)

2) Paroh. A person had a large tree trunk which he sold for a pittance. The buyer recognized its potential. He carefully sawed it into planks, created a beautiful piece of furniture from it, primed, stained and buffed it to a brilliant lustre. The seller visited the purchaser and was shown his "tree trunk." Upon seeing it he cried WOE to me for selling such a beautiful piece of wood for so little. Likewise, Paroh thought very little of the bnei Yisroel when they were so physically and emotionally broken of spirit.

Coming upon them in the desert and seeing them organized, each tribe standing proudly with its flag and unique ensign, he cried out WOE to me for sending away such a distinguished nation. (Medrash brought in the Hadar Z'keinim) 3) Paroh. The king sent his servant to purchase fish. The servant brought back badly decaying fish for the king's consumption. The king was very displeased and gave his servant the choice of one of three punishments, to either eat all the fish, to receive one-hundred lashes, or to pay a very large fine. The servant decided that he surely did not want to pay the fine.

He decided to eat the fish, hoping to regurgitate it shortly afterwards.

Less than halfway through his ordeal he could no longer eat the disgusting fish, fearing he would die from it. He agreed to receive the lashes. Again, after having received about half the lashes he felt he would expire if he would be hit any further. He finally agreed to pay the heavy fine. He said WOE to me for eating the putrid fish and receiving so many lashes. I ended up paying the complete fine anyhow. Likewise, Paroh could have immediately freed the bnei Yisroel. In the end Paroh sent away the bnei Yisroel, but through his obstinacy he caused his nation and land to be devastated and also suffered much physical pain himself. (Medrash brought in the Hadar Z'keinim) 4) Paroh. A man found a bag of what seemed to him to be pebbles. He gave it as a present to a friend. This person realized that they were gems. He had them polished, and sold each one for a tidy sum. The first person came upon the second and found him selling even the smallest of the "pebbles" for an extravagant sum. He cried out WOE to me for giving away gems that are of such great value. Likewise, Paroh did not realize the vast number of bnei Yisroel until he saw them in the desert, and cried out, "Woe to me for releasing 600,000 people." (M.R. 20:9)

5) The Canaanites. An elderly king had an only son who was very young. He gave his vast estates to a loyal servant to be administered. As long as the estates were in the servant's hands, the servant felt very wealthy. When the son came of age to administer the properties, the servant cried WOE to me that I must now give up such great wealth. Likewise, the Canaanites inhabited Eretz Yisroel, but knew that the bnei Yisroel would return one day. Upon hearing that they left Egypt, the Canaanites cried out WOE. (Medrash brought in Hadar Z'keinim)

6) The Egyptians. They said that when Moshe was present and a plague came, he would pray and the plague came to an end. Now that Moshe is gone, WOE to us if Hashem brings another plague, since no one will be able to bring it to an end. (Medrash brought in the Hadar Z'keinim)

7) Moshe. The king appointed a caretaker to carry out all the arrangements for his daughter's royal wedding. The caretaker saw through astrology that he would only live long enough to bring the king's daughter from the royal palce to the wedding hall, but would not live to see the actual wedding take place. Likewise, Moshe knew that although he was successful in bringing the bnei Yisroel out of Egypt, he would not bring them into the promised land. (Medrash brought in the Hadar Z'keinim)

8) Hashem. WOE that Paroh did not retain the bnei Yisroel for longer and allow me the opportunity to show more of my mastery to him and to the rest of the world. (Medrash brought in the Hadar Z'keinim)

9) Hashem. WOE that the bnei Yisroel attribute their departure from Egypt to Paroh, as stated, "Vy'hi b'shalach PAROH," and not "b'shalach HASHEM." Even Bilom realized that HASHEM took them out of Egypt, "KEIL motzium miMitrayim" (Bmidbar 24:8). (Sifri parshas R'ei #128)

Ch. 13, v. 17: "V'lo nochom Elokim derech eretz Plishtim" - Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says that the reason for Hashem's diverting them from the more direct path was as follows: Thirty years before the Exodus the tribe of Efraim left Egypt. They were not supposed to leave at that time. They met up with the Plishtim and were all killed, but not buried. They were the dried bones about which Yechezkel prophesized (Yechezkel 37). Had the bnei Yisroel seen these bones, they would have headed back to Egypt. (See gemara Sanhedrin 92b.)

Ch. 13, v. 18: "Vachamushim" - There are 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.

Ch. 14, v. 2: "Pi hachiros" - Rashi comments that this is Pisom. It is now called Pi Hachiros because the bnei Yisroel were free from bondage once they reached this location (Cheirus means freedom). The Chizkuni explains this with a Psikta Zutrsa that says that the Egyptians guarded their slaves very carefully. They were so confident that no slave could escape that they enacted a law that if a slave were to escape and reach this location, he was a free man. The bnei Yisroel were free even according to Egyptian law.

Ch. 14, v. 2: "Lifne Baal Tz'fone nich'cho sachanu al ha'yam" - The Daas Z'keinim asks in the name of Rabbi Yehudah, "How could Hashem use this Egyptian deity as a sign for a location? The gemara Sanhedrin 13b prohibits this." The Daas Z'keinim gives two answers. Hashem is not bound by the mitzvos He places on people. We find that Hashem sits in judgement on Shabbos, Rosh Hashono, and Yom Kippur. (This is found as well in Rashi on gemara Rosh Hashono 30a d.h. "Ee nomi".) His second answer is that the Torah was not yet given, although Hashem obviously knows what it will contain. I find difficulty with the second answer. The Daas Z'keinim himself just said that Hashem judges on Shabbos, R.H., and Y.K. This is true even after Matan Torah. Sitting in judgement is a Rabbinical restriction only. An even greater question arises. How may Hashem cause rain to fall on Shabbos? This is a Torah prohibition of Zore'ah.

Ch. 14, v. 3: "V'omar Paroh L'VNEI Yisroel" - Rashi says REGARDING the bnei Yisroel. Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says TO Doson and Avirom, who were left in Egypt. If they didn't want to leave, why didn't they die during makas choshech? The Eidus BI'hosef says that only those who knew that a permanent departure was planned, and still didn't want to leave, deserved to die. Since Doson and Avirom were confirmed informants to Paroh, they were not advised of the true plan, but were told that the bnei Yisroel would only be travelling for three days. Being unwilling to go for three days did not deserve death.

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. (Bl"n the difference will be explained in parshas Yisro.) 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.

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 mat'cho" - Did Moshe use the STAFF to split the sea?

1) Targum Yonoson ben Uziel (2:21, 14,21) says that he did.

2) Pirke d'Rebbi Eliezer ch. 42 says that he attempted to split the sea with the staff, but failed. He split it by only raising his hand when the Divine Presence appeared.

3) Medrash Shochar Tov on T'hilim 106 and 114 brings both opinions.

4) The Rosh, in the name of his father, Rabbi Yechiel of Paris, says that the bnei Yisroel did not feel that Moshe was a Divine Messenger of Hashem. They thought that the STAFF could bring about miraculous happenings even in the hands of a mediocre person. Hashem therefore told Moshe to PUT ASIDE (HO'REIM means SEPARATE, as in T'rumoh) his STAFF, and split the sea with the use of his hand only. Indeed, after the sea split it says (verse 30), "va'yaaminu BaShem u'v'Moshe avdo." Only now did they believe in Moshe, as he wrought a miracle without the use of his STAFF.

Rabbi Yechiel brings a Medrash Shochar Tov to support his opinion. (Above in #3 I have brought two locations in the M.Sh.T., but have not found Rabbi Yechiel's medrash yet.) The medrash relates a story of a king who agreed to allow his loyal servant to stroll through the royal botanical gardens. The guard of the gardens had strict orders to not allow anyone into the royal gardens except for the gardeners and the king. The king wrote a note to the effect that this servant be allowed entry. It was sealed with the king's official seal. The servant appeared in front of the guard and showed him the note. The guard responded that although he recognized this as a royal edict, he would not grant permission for entry. He said that the king specifically ordered him to only allow entry to the gardeners and the king. The king never told him that a person bearing a letter with permission to enter may be allowed in.

The servant related this incident to the king. The king personally escorted his servant to the royal botanical gardens. Upon seeing the king, the guard ran away in fear. The king demanded that he stop running away, and asked him why he was running. The guard responded that he feared the king's wrath because he had not allowed the king's servant to enter. The king responded that there was nothing to fear as the guard had been right in refusing the servant entrance to the garden. Similarly, says the medrash, at the time of creation, Hashem commanded the sea to flow. When Moshe came with his STAFF, he said, "I am here with a royal edict (the Holy Name etched into the STAFF), to have you split." The sea responded that Hashem commanded it to flow continuously. Moshe returned to Hashem, saying that he was unsuccessful in splitting the sea. Hashem's Divine Presence escorted Moshe to the sea. Upon seeing the Divine Presence, the sea ran away. Hashem said that there is no need to run as the sea has fulfilled Hashem's wishes. This is what is meant by (T'hilim 114:5) "Ma l'cho hayom ki sonus." However, you are commanded to split.

We see clearly from this story in the medrash that Moshe split the sea WITHOUT the use of his STAFF.

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 Yosef 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. 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.


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. Va'yotzi'einu Hashem." 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 "eruv 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.


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