by Zvi Akiva FleisherBack to this week's parsha | Previous Issues
PARSHAS BO 5759
Ch. 10, v. 1: "Bo" - The Baal Haturim says that the numeric value of "bo" is three, the number of plagues which occurred in this parsha. Why are the plagues divided? Why not have them all occuring in one parsha? The Abarbenel answers that the last three are unique in that they are all called "choshech," darkness. By the plague of locust the verse says (10:15), "va'tech'shach ho'oretz," and the earth darkened. Regarding the plague of the smiting of the first-born it says (Eichoh 3:16, var. T'hilim 143:3) "B'machashakim hoshivani k'meisei olom."
The Rav P'ninim Chumosh says that these three plagues are separated, because from locust and onward there was a new level of fear in the hearts of the Egyptians. For the first time we see them displaying fear of a plague BEFORE it has come upon them (10:7).
Ch. 10, v. 2: "U'l'maan t'sapper b'oznei bincho u'ven bincho" - Why will this plague be one that will be recounted to later generations more so than any of the other plagues? Rabbeinu Bachyei answers that after the prayers of Moshe that the locust be removed, there has remained for all future generations a phenomenon that locust no longer enter the land of Egypt, even when they are great in number and are prevelant in neighbouring countries. Even if a few fly off course and enter the air space of Egypt, they will consume nothing. This is something concrete we can relate to our children during later generations. All the other plagues have left no visible sign for generations.
Ch. 10, v. 5: "V'lo yuchal liros" - Rashi says that this is a shortened verse, as it does not tell us that the "onlooker" will not be able to see. The Maharil Diskin says that this refers to the locust. There will be such a large assembly of locust that those in the lower area of the "locust cloud" that will descend to the earth will not be able to see the earth, as the sunlight will be totally blocked by the solid mass of locust above it. This will have the further deleterious effect that the locust will not easily be satiated. When one does not have the visual aid of seeing his food, he eats more (gemara Yoma 74b). The locust will then enter the Egyptians' homes (10:6) seeking more food.
Ch. 10, v. 6: "U'molu vo'techo" - The Ramoh points out that this is a most unusual behaviour. Locust, upon stripping an area of its vegetation, will fly on to another area. If a whole country's vegetation has been devastated, the locust will fly further afield wreaking their havoc, but will normally not fly into homes seeking food. This was an indication to the Egyptians that this was not a natural calamity, but rather, the hand of Hashem.
Ch. 10, v. 10: "Ro'oh neged p'neichem" - The Yalkut Shimoni in parshas Ki Siso #392 says that Paroh was referring to a red star named "Ro'oh" which is a portender of blood. The Baal Haturim says that this is alluded to in our verse by the end letters of "ro'oH negeD p'neicheM," which spell "hadam," the blood.
This red star is Mars. Every Pesach season Mars is readily visible in the night sky over Egypt.
Ch. 10, v. 11: "OSOH attem m'vakshim" - What is the antecedent of the pronoun "osoh?"
1) The SERVICE of Hashem. (Rashi)
Ch. 10, v. 14: - "L'fonov lo hoyoh chein ......v'acharov lo y'h'yeh kein" - The M.R. (13:4) says that the locust flew only within the borders of Egypt, clearly demarcating its borders. Our verse is saying that the locust landed en masse, but " l'fonov," in front of this body of locust, " lo hoyoh chein," it was not like this, but rather it was completely empty of locust, demarcating the border on one side of the locust. As well, "v'acharov," and at the other end, behind the body of locust, "lo y'h'yeh kein," there will not be any locust, thus demarcating the Egyptian border at the other end. (Pardes Yosef)
Ch. 10, v. 17: "Rok es hamov'es ha'zeh" - Why did Paroh equate the locust with death? The locust consumed not only what was in the fields, but also all the food found in their homes. Having absolutely no food is truly a death sentence. The Medrash Hagodol says that the locust had the unusual property of unleashing lethal saliva. If saliva of a locust came into contact with an Egyptian, he died. This might be derived from the word "rok" which can also be read as "roke," saliva.
Ch. 10, v. 22: "Va'y'hi choshech" - The M.R. (14:2) says that during this plague those of the bnei Yisroel who did not want to leave Egypt died. Through the duration of the plague there was ample time to bury these people, so that the Egyptians would not be aware of this punishment visited upon the bnei Yisroel.
In the town of Ostrovtze, Poland, there was a man who became quite displeased with his neighbour. He heaped scorn upon scorn on his neighbour. The pleas of numerous townspeople to stop belittling the fellow, fell on deaf ears. It was decided that the matter be brought to the attention of the great spiritual leader of the community, the Holy Admor Rebbi Meir Y'chiel haLevi.
The Holy Admor had the maligner called in. When asked why he so denigrated his neighbour, he responded that the man was terribly evil, and had committed many sins against Hashem and his fellow man. He added on that it is a mitzvoh to bury such a "rosho."
The Holy Admor responded that it is not so. He brought the following proof. The M.R. (15:12) says that the bnei Yisroel were given the command to prepare a lamb for the Paschal sacrifice four days in advance so that they would have the merit of a mitzvah. If it were a mitzvoh to bury a "rosho," then the bnei Yisroel had just completed doing a few million mitzvos by burying a few million "r'sho'im."
Ch. 10, v. 22: "Shlo'shes yomim" - The M.R. 9:12 mentions a number of opinions regarding how long the plagues lasted. See the Ibn Ezra (9:10) who says that the length of the plagues varied.
Ch. 10, v. 23: "Lo ro'u ish ochiv" - The Eshkol Anovim says that the verse tells us that the Egyptians did not see, did not concern themselves with, "ochiv," their brothers. Everyone was only concerned with himself.
Ch. 10, v.23: "U'l'chol bnei Yisroel hoyoh ohr b'moshvosom" - The Rashbam interprets this to mean that to the bnei Yisroel there was light even in the homes of the Egyptians. The Egyptian was in complete darkness while at the same location there was light for the bnei Yisroel. It would seem that this was very relevant when the bnei Yisroel came to the homes of the Egyptians to ask for vessels and clothing (12:35).
Ch. 10, v. 26: "Va'anachnu lo neida ma naavod" - The Chiddushei HoRI"M interprets: Even if someone thinks that he has served Hashem properly throughout his lifetime, "We will not know what value our servitude has in the eyes of Hashem, "ad bo'einu shomoh," until we come there, in front of the Celestial Court.
Ch. 11, v. 2: "V'yishalu" - The Rashbam (here and 3:22) translates this as, "and they shall request (as a present)," and not as, "and they shall borrow."
Ch. 11, v. 5: "U'meis KOL bchor" - The M.R. (18:3) says that the killing of the firstborn included the women. This would have included Bisyoh, the daughter of Paroh. Moshe prayed for her to be spared and Hashem agreed. This was in the merit of her having saved Moshe and brought him up. The medrash says that this is the intent of the verse (Mishlei 31:18) "To'amo ki TOV sachroh, lo yichbe BA'LEILOH neiroh." Because Bisyo involved herself with Moshe, who is called TOV (2:2, "ki TOV hu"), her soul (ner) was not extinguished that night. The indication that it refers to the night of the slaying of the firstborn is either because the verse says BA'LEILOH, in THE SPECIFIC night, or (Medrash Shochar Tov 136:6) because the word BA'LEILOH is written without a letter HEI (kri and ksiv), as if it would say BA'LEIL, and the night of the slaying of the firstborn is called "LEIL shimurim" (12:42). This is a source for the opinion (O.Ch. .......) that women must also fast on Erev Pesach.
The word "bchor" in our verse and in 12:12 where Moshe tells the bnei Yisroel that Hashem will smite the firstborn is spelled "mollei," with the letter "vov" after the "chof." Where Hashem actually slays the firstborn (12:29) the word "bchor" appears three times "mollei vov," but by the words "mibchor Paroh" the word "mibchor" is spelled mem, beis, chof, reish, missing the letter vov. This can possibly be explained with the above medroshim. Originally, Hashem planned to slay ALL firstborn, including Paroh's daughter Bisyoh. Moshe intervened for her with prayer and Hashem acquiesced. Therefore, when relating that the firstborn will be killed (11:5, 12:12), which included Bisyo, "bchor" is spelled with a vov, indicating EVERY firstborn. In the interim Basyo was excluded from punishment. When Hashem actually killed the firstborn (12:29), Paroh's daughter was saved, hence "mibchor" is spelled without a vov.
Ch. 12, v. 9: "Al tochal mi'menu noh" - The Daas Z'keinim says in the name of the Ibn Ezra that Hashem wanted the bnei Yisroel to prepare the Pesach sacrifice in a very open manner, thus standing up against the ideology of the deification of the lamb by the Egyptians. Therefore the lamb had to be roasted without water. This maximizes the aroma during preparation. It may not be partially roasted nor cooked in water, "u'vosheil m'vushol," to minimize the smell. As well, cooking requires a pot, which would somewhat hide the lamb from view. It must be prepared with its body intact, "rosho al kro'ov v'al kirbo," so that it is clear to all that a lamb is the sacrifice.
Ch. 12, v. 9, 10: "AL tochal ...... V'LO sosiru" - Why is the word "AL" used in verse 9, and "V'LO" in verse 10? The Meshech Chochmoh answers that "AL" is a term used when REQUESTING that something not be done. "LO" is used as a COMMAND that something not be done. We find this in the story of the two women who appeared in front of King Shlomo with the question of who was the true mother of a child (M'lochim 1:15:26). Shlomo said that the child be physically split. The true mother responded that the child not be split, expressed, "AL t'misuhu." King Shlomo responded (v. 27), "LO s'misuhu." The woman could only REQUEST of King Shlomo not to kill the child. The king, however, COMMANDED that the child not be killed.
The crucial point of differentiation between the bnei Yisroel and the Egyptians took place at the moment when Hashem killed the Egyptian firstborn and saved the firstborn of the bnei Yisroel. This created a new relationship between Hashem and the bnei Yisroel. He was NOW their king, "Ki li bnei Yisroel avodim, v'lo avodim l'avodim." On the night of Pesach before "makas b'choros," Hashem only REQUESTED that they prepare the Korban Pesach as per His requirements, "AL." Not leaving over the meat of the Korban Pesach takes place after midnight, when the slaying of the firstborn had already taken place. At this point Hashem had become their KING. He therefore COMMANDED, "V'LO," that they not leave over the meat of the Korban Pesach until the morning.
Ch 12, v. 9: "U'vosheil m'vushol bamoyim" - The Siach Sarfei Kodesh says in the name of the Ksav Sofer a most interesting explanation for the prohibition of COOKING the Korban Pesach. In T'hilim 81:4,5 it says, 1) Tiku Bachodesh Shofor, - 2) Ba'kesse L'yom Cha'geinu, - 3)Ki Chok L'Yisroel, - 4) Hu Mishpot L'Eilokei Yaakov. As indicated, the Ksav Sofer divides these two verses into four sections. Upon taking the first letters of each group, we find the following words: T-B-S = Shabbos, B-L-CH = Cholov, K-CH-L = K'chal, H-M-L-Y = Miloh. These four words have in common that they represent the characteristic of mercy in a situation that is basically one of stern judgement, "din." The six days of the week are days of "din." However, Shabbos is the exception. It has the trait of mercy, i.e. Gehinom is cooled on Shabbos. Injury to one's body is generally also a concept of "din." Miloh, however, is the exception. It improves and elevates, although it too is an injury. Foodstuffs derived from animals is also "din" in that it requires the killing of the animal to hallachically allow for consumption. Milk is an exception, in that it does not require killing of an animal.
K'chal, an animal's udder, is also an object that signifies mercy. Meat may not be cooked with milk (Shmos 23:19). An insight into this might be that since the meat represents "midas hadin," Hashem does not want it to be cooked with milk, which as stated above, represents "midas horachamim." An udder, when cooked in its own milk which has not been previously removed from it, may be eaten. The characteristic of the milk, mercy, overpowers the characteristic of the meat, din.
Given the above, an obvious question arises. Why is it permissible to cook and consume meat that is boiled in water? The Ksav Sofer answers that only milk succumbs to the "midas hadin" of the meat, because the milk is also a product of an animal. Water, however, is such a pure and powerful midas horachamim, as it is not an animal product, that it is not negatively influenced by its involvement with meat. The above gives us a new insight into the prohibition of COOKING the Korban Pesach in WATER. The Holy Zohar says that the level of impurity in Egypt on the night of the smiting of the firstborn was so great, that Hashem would not send angels to carry out the plague for fear that even they would become contaminated from the severe impurity that prevailed. In such a negative spiritual environment, even water, the embodiment of that which is pure, could be overpowered by the "midas hadin" of coming in contact with meat. Therefore cooking the Korban Pesach in water was prohibited on that night. To remember this concept it has been prohibited for all generations.
Ch. 12, v. 12: "V'ovarti" - Why is the expression, "I will PASS THROUGH the land of Egypt used? I heard in the name of the Maharil Diskin that since Hashem said that the smiting of the firstborn would take place precisely at midnight, the complete smiting could not take place in one moment. The exact moment of midnight varies from place to place. It comes earlier in the east and moves on to the west, just as sunrise and sunset take place earlier in the east. Hence Egypt experienced a literal "wave of death," moving from east to west, occurring at each location exactly at midnight. Therefore, Hashem PASSED through.
Ch. 12, v. 23: "V'lo yi'tein hamash'chis" - The Daas Z'keinim asks in the name of Rabbi Moshe from the text of the Hagodoh. It says there, "ANI v'lo maloch," I, and no angel, will come to slay the firstborn. From our verse we see that Hashem will protect the homes of the bnei Yisroel so that the "destroying angel" will not enter their homes. This indicates that there was an angel involved in the slaying of the Egyptian firstborn. The Daas Z'keinim answers that "ANI v'lo maloch" means, "ANI," I with an angel, "v'lo maloch," and not an angel alone. It is obvious that Hashem has an escort.
Ch. 12, v. 26: "Ki yomru a'leichem b'neichem" - These verses, read on Seder night, are the text of the questions raised by the "ben horosho," the evil son. What indicates that it is the evil son who is talking? The Hagodoh Yalkut Shimoni answers that we see that "bneichem," your SONS, a GROUP of sons ask. The "ben horosho" is more interested in rabble rousing than in finding the truth. One who has questions on the basics of our faith should be encouraged to ask them, but privately. When a GROUP of sons comes to ask, it is surely spurned on by a "ben horosho."
Ch. 12, v. 26: "Ma ho'avodoh hazos lochem" - The Ksav Sofer says that the question of the son is, "Why are you PERSONALLY involved with all the menial tasks of Pesach preparations? Why not have your maids and workers do it for you?" The father answers that just as Hashem has PERSONALLY intervened to smite the firstborn and to take us out of Egypt without use of an intermediary, similarly we prepare for Pesach by being PERSONALLY involved. It might be appropriate to add that Rashi (12:34 in the name of the Mechilta) says that although the bnei Yisroel had many animals to carry their parcels, they themselves carried the items which were used for the mitzvos of Pesach.
Ch. 12, v. 28: " Va'y'hi bachatzi ha'leilo" -The Ibn Ezra interprets, "And it was the BEGINNING OF THE SECOND HALF of the night." Possibly, he was dissatisfied with the common "And it was at the precise moment of midnight" translation, because exactly at midnight is not a point in time. The exact midway point where exactly one half of the night has passed and the second half begins, is a concept, but not a point in time. If you cut an object EXACTLY in half, you have half to one side and half to the other, but the point of the cut is not part of the object you split. This might be the reason for his pshat.
Ch.12, v. 30: "Va'yokom Paroh" - Rashi says that Paroh stood up from his bed. This shows us that Paroh's heart was hardened beyond human comprehension. He had already suffered through nine devastating plagues which had decimated his country, and was told that all the firstborn will be killed on the night of the fifteenth of Nisson. He was a firstborn himself, and yet was able to go to SLEEP IN HIS BED! (The Holy Admor R' Pinchos of Piltz)
Ch. 12, v. 30: "Ki ein bayis asher ein shom meis" - If only the firstborn were slain, why did every home have a dead person?
1) This should not be taken literally. Most homes had a dead person. (Ibn
Ch. 12, v. 31: "Va'yikro l'Moshe ul'Aharon leilo" - The Targum Yonoson says that Paroh called from his palace to Moshe and Aharon who were 200 "parsoh" away. The Yerushalmi P'sochim 5:5 says that on this occasion Paroh's voice was heard in an area of 400 "parsoh" by 400 "parsoh," throughout all of Egypt. However, the M.R. 7:3 says that Paroh went to Goshen to seek out Moshe and Aharon in the middle of the night. This is a fulfillment of the prophecy of Moshe who said (11:8), "And your servants (actually meaning Paroh) will descend to me."
Ch. 12, v. 31: "Kumu tz'u mitoch ami" - The Yerushalmi P'sochim 5:5 says that Paroh said to Moshe, "Until now your people were my slaves. Now they are the servants of your Hashem." Upon hearing this, the bnei Yisroel said, "Hallelu avdei Hashem (T'hilim 113:1)."
This might give us an understanding of why Moshe told Paroh that the bnei Yisroel would travel for three days into the desert and bring sacrifices to Hashem (3:18, 8:23), when in reality he planned to take his nation out of Egypt permanently, as Hashem had told him (3:17). If Paroh would have allowed all of the the bnei Yisroel, including women and children, to travel for three days into the desert to sacrifice to Hashem, they would have done so and returned. Possibly this would have brought a great spiritual uplifting which might have elevated them from the morass of the 49 levels of impurity into which they had sunk. They would then would have been able to remain in Egypt for a longer period of time, possibly even until the completion of the 400 years of exile.
However, as stated in the above Yerushalmi, Paroh freed them from bondage by saying that they were now servants of Hashem. They were now free to do as they wished. Hashem knew that this would happen, and therefore told Moshe that they would leave permanently.
Ch. 12, v. 38: "V'gam eirev rav" - The Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says that 2,400,000 "eirev rav," four times the number of bnei Yisroel, left with them.
Ch. 12, v. 42: "Leil shimurim hu LaShem ...... shimurim l'chol bnei Yisroel l'dorosom" - The Tosefta P'sochim 10:8 says that a person should stay up the whole first night of Pesach, relate the miracles that Hashem did to the bnei Yisroel when bringing them out of Egypt, as well as give thanks for them. The Chizkuni says that just as on the night of the exodus Hashem guarded us, "leil shimurim," likewise we should pay back this kindness by guarding this night, "shimurim l'chol bnei Yisroel l'dorosom." A guard does not fall asleep on the job. Therefore we should remain awake the complete night and spend it as mentioned in the above Tosefta.
Ch. 13, v. 10: "L'mo'adoh" - The Baal Haturim points out that the word "l'mo'adoh" is spelled "mollei vov." Vov equals six. This teaches us that tefillin are not worn on six DAYS OF FESTIVAL, "shisho Y'MEI mo'eid." They are Pesach, Shvuos, Rosh Hashono, Yom Kippur, Sukkos, and Shmini Atzerres. If you count accurately, you will find that there are seven days, as Pesach has a first and last day of "mo'eid." Don't answer that the Baal Haturim means six mo'adim. He specifically says "shisho Y'MEI mo'eid," and not "shisho mo'adim." I heard a brilliant answer, but await your response.
Ch. 13, v.16: "U'l'totofos" - The gemara Sanhedrin 4b and M'nochos 34b derives from this word that the head tefillin has four compartments to house its four chapters of script. The hand tefillin, having no such indication, may have one compartment. The Rosh says that the four compartments of the head tefillin indicate that we should subordinate the four senses that are found on our heads to serve Hashem. They are: sight, hearing, talking, smelling. The hand tefillin, with only one chamber, corresponds to the sense of touch, which is found on the hand.
ANSWERS TO LAST WEEK'S QUESTIONS:
1) The Medrash Rabboh Breishis 92:7 listed ten "kal vochomers" from Tanach, but left out four (five including Yechezkel 33:24 which I forgot to list last week). Why? See the Baalei Tosfos in Moshav Z'keinim on Breishis 44:8. I am not writing the answer because it is quite lengthy and intricate.
2) If Hashem hardened Paroh's heart, why did he deserve punishment? I wrote that I would list the answers I receive. Here is the lone answer I received. A person is given his nature and circumstances with which to fulfill Hashem's will. Some are given harder situations than others. (DBK) Although Hashem hardened Paroh's heart, he was still able to make the right choices.
3) There is a rule that most sons are similar to the brothers of their mother. Is there a similar rule that most daughters are similar to the sisters of their father? Yes. See Baalei Tosfos in Moshav Z'keinim on Breishis 28:2. They say that this explains why Yitzchok suggested to Yaakov to marry a daughter of Lovon. Although Yitzchok knew that Lovon was a rosho, he felt that Lovon's daughters would be righteous, because they would probably be similar to Lovon's sister, the tzadek'es Rivkoh.
4) Under what circumstance do we alternately say and not say "Tzidkos'cho" for nine consecutive weeks at the Shabbos Mincha prayers? I mentioned that there is a self-evident hint to the answer. The hint is that I asked a question that is totally not related to the parsha. It was asked now because the answer is related to this time of the year. Once again, DBK sent me the correct answer. The Mahari Bruna in responsa #150 asks this. He answers that this takes place when Rosh Chodesh Shvat falls on a Shabbos. This is true in a regular year and in a leap year.
Week #1 - Shabbos parshas Shmos, before Rosh Chodesh Shvat. YES
FEEL FREE TO DISTRIBUTE BY COPY OR ELECTRONICALLY. TO SUBSCRIBE, SEND REQUEST TO: SHOLOM613@AOL.COM FEEDBACK IS APPRECIATED. A GUTTEN SHABBOS KODESH.
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.