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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 14, v. 21: "Va'yiboku hamo'yim" - And the waters split - The verse in T'hilim 114:3 says, "Ha'yom ro'oh va'yonos." Medrash Plioh comments: What did the sea see? It saw Rabbi Yishmo'el's "braisa," teaching. What does this mean? The most well-known braisa of Rabbi Yishmo'el is the one we recite in our daily prayers, the 13 rules of interpreting the Torah. The twelfth rule is that we interpret a matter based on viewing its end, "Dovor halo'meid misofo." The prosecuting angels claimed that the waters should not split to save the bnei Yisroel because both the Egyptians and the bnei Yisroel served false gods. However, if we look at the conclusion, that if the bnei Yisroel would be saved they would shortly accept the Torah, while the Egyptians would not mend their ways, the bnei Yisroel deserve to be saved. When the waters saw the braisa of Rabbi Yishmo'el they split. This also gives us an insight into why Yam Suf split into twelve paths, as this is the twelfth rule. (Imrei Yehudoh)

Six more offerings follow, each one touching upon one of the first six rulings in the braisa of Rabbi Yishmo'el. They are all "b'derech tzachus" save the first one.

Alternatively, in the future the Jordan River would split at the bidding of Yehoshua. If a body of water that normally flows would split for the student, then surely the Yam Suf should split for his teacher Moshe. This is the first rule of Rabbi Yishmo'el, "kal vochomer." (K'hilas Yitzchok)

Alternatively, the Yam Suf was ready to split, but was not ready to accommodate the bnei Yisroel to the level of having a smooth paved walkway for them to pass. The next ruling of the braisa is "g'zeiroh shovoh," a cut that is smooth, i.e. a smooth path.

Alternatively, had the Yam Suf not split it would have ch"v been the end of the bnei Yisroel. Hashem promised each and every one of our Patriarchs that they would produce a large nation. This is the braisa's rule of "banyan av," the structure of the Patriarch, "mikosuv echod," from what was written in one verse (by Avrohom), "umibianyan av mishnei ksuvim," and what was written in two verses (by Yitzchok and by Yaakov).

Alternatively, Yam Suf was ready to split, but not into numerous paths. A further rule of the braisa is "klal ufrat," the general and the individual. We see that there can be one wide path for all 12 tribes, but also that there is a concept of the individual, i.e. a separate path for each tribe.

Alternatively, Yam Suf was ready to split, as this was needed to save the bnei Yisroel, but not to bring in its wake an influence to have all the waters of the world and in vessels to likewise split. Through the rule of "prat uklal," the individual and the general, it split, i.e. the individual body of water, and it invoked the general, i.e. all the rest of the world's waters.

Alternatively, Yam Suf was ready to split and them return to its natural flow and drown the Egyptians who pursued the bnei Yisroel, but not to also have the Egyptians back in Egypt drown too. It derived from "klal ufrat uklal" that since all the Egyptians (klal) were afflicted by the plagues, and now only those in pursuit of the bnei Yisroel (prat), that it should go on to drown the general populace (klal) back in Egypt.

Bez"H in a future edition of parshas B'shalach an application of the remaining seven rules as applied to the medrash plioh might be explored.

Ch. 14, v. 31, 15:1: "Va'yaminu baShem uvMoshe avdo, Oz yoshir Moshe" - And they believed in Hashem and in Moshe His servant, Then Moshe has/will sung/sing - The bnei Yisroel experienced numerous miracles in the desert. Why did they sing a song of praise only here (and in parshas Chukas) and not by the other miracles? They did not offer praise here because of the miracle Hashem wrought. Rather, they sang in praise of their reaching the level of true belief in Hashem and in his prophet Moshe. (Holy Admor Rabbi Yisroel of Ruzhin zt"l)

Ch. 15, v. 1: "Oz yoshir Moshe" - Then Moshe has/will sung/sing - Moshe questioned Hashem's telling him to confront Paroh. He expressed this starting with the word OZ, "U'meiOZ bosi el Paroh" (Shmos 5:23). He therefore used this same word to sing praises to Hashem. (Shmos Rabboh 23:3)

Ch. 15, v. 1: "Oz yoshir Moshe" - Then Moshe has/will sung/sing - Rabbi Chaim Brisker was asked if it is only appropriate to sing praise to Hashem AFTER a salvation came about or even before, if he feels assured that he will experience a salvation. Rabbi Chaim answered that we see from the verse, Vaani b'chas'd'cho botachti libi oshiroh laShem ki gomal oloy" (T'hilim 13:6) that it is only AFTER the salvation has come.

His grandson Rabbi Meir asked his own father the Gri"z that we seem to see otherwise from Divrei Ha'yomim 2:20, where Yehoshofot was to enter a battle and he was so assured of victory that he praised Hashem before the fact. The Gri"z answered that the words of Rabbi Chaim apply when a person feels assured based only on his high level of trust in Hashem. However, by Yehoshofot a prophet foretold that he would be successful. The Mechilta here says that the bnei Yisroel sang praises to Hashem for matters that had not yet taken place, but they were told by Moshe that they would.

If my memory serves me well, I believe the Holy Shal"oh differs, and says that one may praise Hashem pre-salvation.

Ch. 17, v. 13: "Va'yachalosh Yehoshua es Amo'leik v'es amo l'fi cho'rev" - And Yehoshua weakened Amo'leik and his nation by sword - The gemara Brochos 54a says that if one comes upon the stone upon which Moshe sat at the time that Yehoshua waged war with Amo'leik should recite the blessing, "Boruch she'ossoh nisim laavo'seinu bamokome ha'zeh." This is very puzzling because the miracle was on the battlefield and not at the stone.

The results of the battle came about through the bnei Yisroel subjugating their hearts to their Father in heaven, as stated in the mishnoh R.H. 29a. Thus, it was Moshe's efforts in lifting his hands in prayer to Hashem, which in turn positively affected the bnei Yisroel spiritually, that won the war. (Maharsh"o ad loc.)

Ch. 17, v. 14: "V'sim b'oznei Yehoshua ki mocho emcheh es zecher Amo'leik" - And place into Yehoshua's ears that I will surely destroy the memory of Amo'leik - This, being the first battle encounter with Amo'leik, contained in it the kernel of all future battles with Amo'leik, including the rise and fall of Homon. This is why Moshe was to only speak into the eras of Yehoshua, meaning not to publicize that in the future Homon would likewise fall. Had this become public knowledge, Mordechai would not have assembled the bnei Yisroel in fast and prayer, as the outcome was known. Hashem is eager to hear the prayers of the righteous, so it was kept a secret between Moshe and Yehoshua. (Rabbi Boruch of Mezhibizh)


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 academy 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 "eirev 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)."



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

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