subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

For sponsorships and advertising opportunities, send e-mail to:SHOLOM613@AOL.COM


Ch. 11, v. 5: "Zocharnu es hadogoh asher nochal b'Mitzrayim chinom eis hakishuim v'eis ho'avatichim" - We have remembered the fish that we ate in Egypt gratis the gourds and the melons - Why indeed did the lowly slaves have fish gratis? All vegetation was sustained by tributaries drawn from the Nile. The Nile was replete with fish. Not only did the water flow in the tributaries, but also fish swam in them and washed up onto the land. Thus the bnei Yisroel found fish among their vegetables. We can now explain the words "EIS hakishuim v'EIS ho'avatichim" as WITH the gourds and WITH the melons. (Rabbi Yitzchok Karo in Toldos Yitzchok)

Ch. 11, v. 5: "Asher nochal" - Which we WILL eat - This is the literal translation of "nochal." Since the bnei Yisroel were reminiscing about the fish they ATE in Egypt why did they say "Nochal" rather than "ochalnu," in the past tense? They surely didn't receive fish or vegetables gratis. If they were not even given straw for the bricks that they made surely they did not receive food for free. Rather, they were saying that once they had left Egypt for a while, they were sure that upon their return, the Egyptians would be so appreciative that they would give them these items gratis. (Rabbi Eliezer Ashkenazi in Maa'sei Hashem)

Ch. 12, v. 3: "V'ho'ish Moshe onov m'ode mikole ho'odom asher al pnei ho'adomoh" - And the man Moshe was exceedingly humble more so than any person on the face of the earth - Moshe was the greatest prophet who ever lived, and whoever would be a prophet in the future, obviously knew of his own greatness. If so, how could he be so humble? A well-known answer is that although he surely recognized his greatness he felt that there was nothing about which to be so proud. He felt that he was given a special heavenly gift. Had someone else had the same opportunity he would have developed into an even greater person. Alternatively, he indeed did not have an accurate picture of himself. He was so self-effacing that he felt that he fell short of his capacity.

A most enlightening answer is offered by Rabbi Meir Simchoh haKohein, not in his classic Meshech Chochmoh, but rather in his commentary Ohr So'mei'ach on the Rambam hilchos teshuvoh 4:4, in the name of his grandfather Rabbi Chaninoh. Near the end of his very lengthy comments on the famous words of the Rambam dealing with the question of predetermination, reward and punishment, and free choice, he writes that since Moshe ascended to the heavens and was privy to see a glimpse of Hashem's sanctity that no one else ever saw, he clearly saw the connection between the spiritual and the physical. All his future actions had the added impetus of knowing as an eyewitness the results of complying or ch"v not complying with Hashem's wishes. Whenever a mitzvoh came his way he had no test. His belief in Hashem was not a test, as he had actually entered heaven. Moshe was therefore not as great as any other ben Yisroel in this aspect. Everyone else believed in Hashem without seeing, did mitzvos, and refrained from doing negative precepts with the strength of belief only.

A proof for this is that Hashem told Moshe, "v'gam b'cho yaaminu l'olom" (Shmos 19:9). How could Hashem guarantee this if Moshe still had free will? Perhaps he would later ch"v become a sinner and people would rightfully loose their trust in him. We clearly see that Moshe had such powerfully clear manifestations that he was beyond this.

He goes on to explain an argument in the Sifri on our parsha piska #45 based on these words of his grandfather. The Sifri explains the words of verse 7, "b'chol beisi ne'emon hu," in all My house Moshe is trustworthy. The Sifri brings an opinion that Moshe is not more trustworthy than the angels, and Rabbi Yosi posits that he is more trustworthy than even the angels. Rabbi Meir Simchoh explains "ne'emon," as one who acts out of faith. There is an argument between the Rabonon and Rabbi Yosi in the Mechilta parshas "bachodesh" parsha #4 if Hashem lowered the heavens down to Har Sinai's peak (Rabonon), or if only Hashem's voice emanated from the top of the mountain (Rabbi Yosi). It follows in kind that if Moshe was actually in the heavens he had at least the same exposure to Hashem as the angels and just as the angels are creatures that have no choice to do right or wrong because of their open exposure to Hashem's sanctity, so too, Moshe had this same exposure, and in turn had no more faith, "ne'emon," than did the angels. Rabbi Yosi, who posits that Moshe did not literally ascend to heaven, and in turn had less spiritual exposure than the angels did, likewise was more "ne'emon," acted more out of faith and trust, than did the angels.

Ch. 12, v. 3: "Onov" - Humble - The gemara Brochos 56a says that gourds appear in a dream only to a person who is G-d fearing with all his being. Rabbi Naturnai Gaon was asked for an explanation of this enigmatic statement. He responded that he was not given an explanation by his teachers but offered his own insight. Gourds grow very large and are too heavy to be staked. Therefore they grow lying on the ground. This is symbolic of the humility of great people. (It seems he equated a totally G-d fearing person with one who is very humble.) They are spiritually very large and in spite of this they lie very low, i.e. they behave humbly.

Ch. 12, v. 13: "R'fo noh loh" - Heal her please/now - The Sefer Chasidim derives from the use of the pronoun "loh," rather than saying "l'Miriam," that when one prays for the well being of a person it is not necessary to mention the person's name. In a previous edition we have brought the difference between praying for someone who is in front of the supplicant and one who is not. Perhaps another insight can be gleaned from Moshe's use of the pronoun "loh," rather than mentioning his sister by name. The story is told of the great tzadik Rabbi Yeshaya'leh of Kerestir who was greatly distressed by his son's being gravely ill. A relative came to visit Rabbi Yeshaya'leh and attempted to calm him by saying that will Hashem's help his son will regain his full health. Rabbi Yeshaya'leh responded, "Although I am concerned about my child's health, I am exceedingly bothered with myself. I had always thought that I had true love of my fellow ben Yisroel. When someone came to me to report that a relative was ill and asked me to pray for his recovery I was quite pained by hearing that someone was so ill. Now that my own son is ill I realize that I am more pained by this than by another's illness. It is this lack of proper concern for another person that pains me so extremely, and not the illness itself." Moshe's love for his fellow ben Yisroel was so strong that he prayed for Miriam's well being in the same manner as he would pray for a stranger, "loh," heal HER. (Nirreh li)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel