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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS BO 5767 BS"D

Why are the ten plagues not all in one parsha? Once they are divided, why specifically seven and three? Abarbanel explains that now by the 7th plague we find for the first time that Paroh's servants exhibited great fear, "Ad mosai yi'h'yeh zeh lonu l'mokeish shalach es ho'anoshim" (verse 7), even BEFORE the plague came. (Abarbanel) Alternatively, from this plague onwards we find some compromise on Paroh's part, as he partially agrees, only questioning who would be the participants in the celebrations and sacrificing.

Tosfos Hasho'leim offers that Moshe thought that there would only be seven plagues, and therefore the previous parsha comes to an end after seven plagues. This is quite puzzling, as Hashem told Moshe that the grand finale would be the plague of smiting of the firstborn. Perhaps, since Moshe saw that Paroh was contrite and stated, "Chotosi hapo'am Hashem haTzadik vaani v'ami horsho'im" (9:27), he felt that now Paroh would surely send them out to freedom. Although Hashem foretold of the smiting of the firstborn, since each person is given free will, perhaps there would be no need for the last three plagues. Hashem therefore told Moshe that He hardened Paroh's heart and there would be a need for BO, mathematically three, for three more plagues.

Ch. 10, v. 1: "Bo" - Come - Why is BO used here, while in other places Hashem said LEICH?

1) The default term is "leich," but here Hashem said "bo," whose numerical value is three, to allude to the threesome coming to Paroh, Hashem, Moshe, and Aharon. (Tosfos Hasho'leim)

2) Similarly, to allude to three more plagues. (Tosfos Hasho'leim)

3) When Paroh was to be met by the Nile, where he relieved himself, Hashem's Holy Spirit would not go along, hence, "leich." When Moshe was to see him in the city or in his palace, Hashem's Holy Spirit would accompany him, hence, "bo." (Tosfos Hasho'leim)

Ch. 10, v. 1: "Bo el Paroh" - Come to Paroh - We do not find Hashem telling Moshe that the next plague would be that of locust before Moshe told this to Paroh. There are numerous explanations for this:

1) It is alluded to in the words "BO el Paroh." Put the letters BO into the word Paroh. Exchange the letter Beis for the Pei, as they are both lip-produced sounds, and Alef for Ayin, as they sound the same, and we have the word "arbeh." This is further indicated by the words, "l'maan shisi ososai eileh b'kirbo," so that I can place these LETTERS INTO HIM, i.e., place the letters Alef and Beis in place of Ayin and Pei, into him. (Ma'yonoh shel Torah)

2) Hashem told this to Moshe, but the Torah does not want to be lengthy. (Rabbi Yoseif B'chor Shor) This requires an explanation for why specifically here the Torah is succinct.

3) Moshe knew all 10 plagues through prophecy, but was not told their order. Since he knew that only locust, darkness, and smiting of the firstborn were left, he simply deduced that the smiting of the firstborn would be last, as Hashem told him in parshas Shmos. Darkness would be the penultimate plague, as it would facilitate their emptying Egypt of its possessions, and this would leave us with locust as the 7th plague. (Tosfos Hasho'leim)

4) Moshe derived this from Hashem's words "Ulmaan t'sa'peir b'oznei vincho" (verse 2). He compared this to the verse in Yoel, "livneichem sa'peiru." Just as there it was the relating of locust, so too, here. Alternatively, from the words "asher hisalalti," and Moshe compared this to the words "v'hodia vo'amim alilosov" (T'hilim 105:1).

5) There is a hint of this plague, to an extent, being the invention of Moshe in the commentary of the Chizkuni. He writes that Moshe announced this plague and Hashem was "meikim d'var avdo."

Ch. 10, v. 1: "Ki ani hichbadti es libo" - Because I have hardened his heart - Here we find the term "kibud leiv," while in 4:21 we find "vaani acha'zeik es libo." In 7:3 we find, "Vaani aksheh es leiv Paroh." What are the nuances of difference among these three terms?

Ch. 10, v. 1: "Es Libo V'es Leiv" - His heart and the heart - The first letters of these words are an acronym for ELUL, the month of repentance. Hashem has hardened their hearts so that they would not repent.

Ch. 10, v. 1: "Es Libo V'es Leiv" - His heart and the heart - The first letters of these words are an acronym for ELUL. This teaches us that the ninth plague, darkness, took place in the month of Elul. The plagues began on the 15th of Sivon, so their total span, save the grand finale of "makas b'choros," was three months. (Rabbeinu Efrayim)

This seems to be contrary to the mishnoh in Eiduyos, which says that they were spread out over a longer period of time. See Rabbeinu Bachyei and Ibn Ezra for other calculations for the timing of the plagues.

Ch. 10, v. 1: "V'es leiv avodov" - And the hearts of his servants - Where do we find that his servants' hearts were hardened? Earlier they admitted that the plagues were the results of Hashem's action (8:15). Here they likewise said that the bnei Yisroel should be sent out and allowed to serve their G-d (verse 7). However, once Paroh chased away Moshe and Aharon we hear nothing further from his servants. This was the result of the hardening of their hearts. (Nirreh li) The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh offers another reason for their not disagreeing with Paroh any more. At first Paroh was so impressed with their advice that he had Moshe and Aharon brought back and he asked them who would go on the three-day hiatus to serve Hashem (verse 8). When they responded that absolutely everyone would go and that they planned to take all their livestock as well (verse 9), Paroh countered that only the adult males may go, and had them driven out of his presence (verse 11).

From this point onwards we no longer find Paroh's advisors suggesting that the bnei Yisroel be sent to serve Hashem. What changed? Actually things got even worse as they experienced the devastation of the locusts and the total darkness, yet not a word from his advisors any more.

The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh answers that Paroh told his servants that they had a good point, but it was inconclusive that Hashem had the power to take the bnei Yisroel out of Egypt against Paroh's will. Moshe had requested a three-day hiatus to serve Hashem, a round-trip ticket for each of the bnei Yisroel. Paroh reasoned that there is the possibility that Moshe would be true to his word and that indeed he only wanted three days for a festival to serve Hashem with sacrifices. If that is the case it surely isn't worth being obstinate at the price of suffering through more plagues, as his servants posited. On the other hand if Moshe's true intention was to permanently leave, why would he request a three-day jaunt to the inhospitable desert? It might just be that Hashem was ch"v incapable of extracting them from Egypt proper, as it was under Paroh's domain, but once they would be in the desert, no man's land, He would be able to lead them further afield, i.e. back to Eretz Yisroel. This could be simply clarified by asking Moshe who the intended participants in the sacrificial service would be. When Moshe answered that all would be involved, even young boys and girls, Paroh concluded that the request was but a fa?ade, as children never participate in such activities, and that Moshe wanted to lead the bnei Yisroel out of Egypt never to return. He felt assured through this reasoning that Hashem had no power to remove the bnei Yisroel from Egypt and that it was worthwhile to grin and bear it for a while rather than permanently lose such a large free workforce. This reasoning satisfied his servants and not a peep was heard from them afterwards. This is a most wonderful insight.

Let us expand upon this idea. Moshe had stated to Paroh numerous times earlier that all he wanted was a three-day jaunt into the desert to serve Hashem (7:16,26 - 8:16,23 - 9:1,13). Why did this issue with all its reasoning delineated by the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh come to light here by the 8th plague and not much earlier? We can simply say that this is the first time that Moshe detailed exactly who would participate, in response to Paroh's asking who would go.

Ch. 10, v. 1: "L'maan" - So that - This word has the numerical value of 190, the number of years that were deducted from the 400 years prophesied to Avrohom that his descendants would be enslaved in a foreign land. (Tosfos Hasho'leim)

Ch. 10, v. 1: "Shisi" - My placing - Emphasis is placed upon the second syllable of this word, "milra," "shi-SI." If it were to be pronounced "SHI-si," with the emphasis on the first syllable, "mil'eil," its meaning would be changed to mean "place," a command to female singular, as in Yirmiyohu 31:21, "SHIsi li'beich limsiloh." (Rabbeinu Menachem)

Ch. 10, v. 1: "Shisi ososai ei'leh b'kirbo" - My placing these signs into him - "Shisi," spelled Shin-Sof-Yud, can be read as "shtei," two. Two of My plagues were literally placed into them, blood and frogs, as they drank the blood and the frogs entered their bodies. (Tosfos Hasho'leim)

Ch. 10, v. 1: "Ososai ei'leh" - These My signs - The signs were in front of Moshe, as the acronym of the ten plagues was etched into his staff, as per the M.R. 5:6.

Ch. 10, v. 2: "Ulmaan t'sa'peir b'oznei vincho u'ven bincho" - And so that you shall relate to your son and your son's son - This teaches us that a person is responsible to teach Torah to his son and son's son, two generations. (Paa'nei'ach Rozo)

Ch. 10, v. 2: "Hisalalti" - That I have mocked -

1) This is Rashi's translation. Perhaps this is related to "oleil v'yoneik" (Eichoh 2:11), I have treated them as babies.

2) "That I have wrought," from the word source "iloh," a cause for outcomes. (Targum Onkelos, This is also the second translation of Rabbeinu Bachyei.)

3) "I have behaved negatively," as in "v'som loh alilos d'vorim" (Dvorim 22:14). The Egyptians at this point have agreed that Hashem is a Power, however, only for bad. By relating to further generations that I have responded negatively to the Egyptians, but positively to the bnei Yisroel, they will come to know that "ani Hashem," I am the G-d of mercy. (Rabbi Shlomo Ashtruk)

4) "I have done My wondrous actions." (Rada"k)

5) "I have shown My supremacy." (Rabbeinu Yonah)

6) "I have caused anguish and worry," as in "asher olal li" (Eichoh 1:12), and "eini ol'loh l'nafshi" (Eichoh 3:51).

7) "I have crushed," as in "ba'eli" (Mishlei 27:22),

8) "I have responded openly, as in "baalil lo'oretz" (T'hilim 12:7).

9) "I have put a yoke upon them, as in "oloh o'lehoh ole" (Bmidbar 19:2).

Ch. 10, v. 2: "Hisalalti" - That I have mocked - Why was this plague a greater mockery than any other? Perhaps this was a mockery because the previous plague of hail smashed, froze, and burned the vegetation of the Egyptians, while leaving the bnei Yisroel's vegetation intact. When the locust came it would only be natural that they would attack and consume the wholesome standing growth found by the bnei Yisroel. Nevertheless, the locusts only attacked the ragged remains of the Egptians' fields, "es yesser hapleitoh hanish'e'res LOCHEM min haborod es kol eitz hatzomei'ach LOCHEM" (verse 5). Although the other plagues likewise did not attack the bnei Yisroel nor their property, there was no inherent reason that the bnei Yisroel or their property should be more likely a target for the plague, except here. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 10, v. 5: "Ho'eitz hatzomei'ach" - The growing trees - Ibn Ezra cites Yefes, who says that we must say that there was quite an elapse of time between the plague of hail and that of locust, as our verse does not say that they would consume the remains of battered vegetation, but rather, "hatzomei'ach," that which is GROWING. Only after a number of months would there be regrowth of trees.

Ch. 10, v. 9: "Bino'reinu uvizkeineinu neileich" - We will go with our youth and our elders - Why did Moshe mention the youth ahead of the elders? The Ksav Sofer answers that Moshe mentioned the more compelling ahead of the less compelling. The elderly, to whatever extent they were already exposed to the depraved society and value system of the Egyptians, the harm was done. Their likelihood of sliding further downhill spiritually if remaining in Egypt was minimal compared to the projected damage to the youth, if left there.

Ch. 10, v. 11: "Va'y'go'reish osom mei'eis pnei Faroh" - And he chased them out from in front of Paroh - Who was the chaser? It was none other than Bilom. We find the term "geirush" when Bilom's "skills" are described, "v'geirashtiv" (Bmidbar 22:11). (Medrash Habiur)

Ch. 10, v. 11: "Va'y'go'reish osom mei'eis pnei Faroh" - And he chased them out from in front of Paroh - Paroh had heard warnings of Moshe and Aharon that were not to his liking before. Why was he so kind and patient until now? In the old days, when a leader of a country communicated with the leader of another country and wanted to send him news that is surely displeasing, for example that he is going to war with him, that he is moving the border over and swallowing part of the neighbouring land, and the like, how does he send this communiqu?? Obviously, this was done by sending a messenger, as there was no other reliable way. However, if the recipient would blow up, it would be very realistic to have him pronounce, "Off with his head!" This, in turn, would complicate matters to the extreme, as the sender could not be sure that the messenger would deliver the letter, as he preferred to remain attached to his head. There was therefore established a pragmatic, universal protocol that now matter how distressing the message was, "Shoot the message and not the messenger." Not only was he not mistreated, but was given accommodation in a five-star hotel and wined and dined. (Today an email is sufficient to ignite a world war.)

However, this is only so when the messenger delivers the message of his leader accurately. If he takes the liberty to alter, add, or distort the message, then the law of the jungle is back in place. Paroh accepted that Moshe and Aharon were emissaries of Hashem, and as such, no matter how displeasing the message, the messengers weren't touched. (Moshe and Aharon declined the five star accommodations, wining, and dining.) However, when Paroh heard that there was a request to take along even the youngest children, he was sure that this was not in the script, but rather, it was Moshe's addendum. He did not feel compelled to treat the messengers civilly at this point.

Since Paroh agreed to send the adults, which he felt was Hashem's actual request, and in spite of this the locust came, he realized that he was in the wrong, "chosheid bich'sheirim," and confessed that not only had he sinned against Hashem, but also against them, "chotosi laShem Elokeichem v'lochem." (Rabbi Yochonon Luria in Meishiv Nefesh)

Ch. 10, v. 11: "Va'y'go'reish osom mei'eis pnei Faroh" - And he chased them out from in front of Paroh - Why doesn't the verse leave out the word "pnei"? "Pnei" indicates that the mistreatment and disrespectful act of chasing them out was only done because the bouncer was in Paroh's presence. The verse (11:3) tells us that, "Gam ho'ish Moshe godol m'ode b'eretz Mitzrayim b'ei'nei avdei Faroh uv'ei'nei ho'om." Moshe was greatly respected by all, save Paroh, who is glaringly left out of the list of admirers. When out of Paroh's sight, Paroh's servants treated Moshe with the greatest of respect. (Rabbi Yoseif Chaim Sonnenfeld)

Ch. 10, v. 12: "Va'yomer Hashem el Moshe n'tei yodcho" - And Hashem said to Moshe stretch out your hand - Abarbanel translates these words to mean, "And Hashem had already said to Moshe, 'Stretch out your hand.'" This means that this was told to Moshe before he was chased away by Paroh. The necessity for this was that Paroh seemed to be very, although not totally, accommodating. He only disagreed about sending the children. Moshe might have agreed to this offer, so Hashem immediately told him to not compromise.

Ch. 10, v. 12: "N'tei yodcho al eretz Mitzrayim" - Stretch out your hand upon the land of Egypt - The Chizkuni writes that the locust were located at a body of water to the north-east of Egypt before they were brought to Egypt through a powerful east wind. He therefore asks why Hashem didn't command Moshe to stretch out his hand over/towards the body of water rather than the land of Egypt, just as we find that Aharon stretched his hand out over the body of water that housed the frogs. He answers that Moshe was to shortly stretch out his hand over a body of water to activate its splitting, an act of great mercy for the bnei Yisroel. He therefore did not want Moshe to do a similar act that would bring about great punishment.

Ch. 10, v. 12: "Al eretz Mitzrayim v'yaal al eretz Mitzroyim" - Upon the land of Egypt and it will ascend upon the land of Egypt - The repetition teaches us that the locust did not even enter Goshen. (Abarbanel)

Ch. 10, v. 14: "Va'yaal ho'arbeh al kol eretz Mitzrayim va'yonach b'chole g'vul Mitzroyim" - And the locust ascended upon all the land of Egypt and came to rest everywhere inside the borders of Egypt - This seeming repetition might be telling us that the ascent of the locust came in a most unusual manner, adding to the terror it brought in its wake. Normally, swarms of locust come and attack the closest fields and move on and on. Not so here. Rather, the massive swarm of locust flew into Egyptian air space, directly above all the land, casting severe darkness over the whole country. Not even the sun by day, nor the stars and moon by night were visible because of the density of the swarm. Then, and only then, did they descend and begin their destructive work. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 10, v. 14: "Va'yonach b'chole g'vul Mitzroyim" - And they came to rest everywhere inside the borders of Egypt - The medrash relates that there was a dispute between the Egyptians and their neighbours over the exact border between their lands. The locust clarified this by covering every bit of space in the land, even places where there was no produce to consume. This seems quite puzzling, as it is repetitive. The borders were already determined, as the medrash itself relates that the plague of lice served this purpose.

The Egyptians wanted to avoid a repetition of the border dispute and planted trees along the newly demarcated line, serving as border markers. (The gemara relates that there is a type of tree whose roots grow straight down and do not meander.) However, along came the plague of hail. It shattered and destroyed almost all plants. This included these trees, and therefore a disagreement arose again. (Pninim Y'korim)

We might add that this is the intention of the verse in T'hilim 105:33, when relating the plague of hail, "Va'y'sha'beir eitz g'vulom," and it shattered trees on the border. Surely the hail destroyed trees everywhere, not just on the border. We can say that the verse is stressing that the trees specifically planted as border markers were also destroyed, necessitating a future clarification. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 10, v. 19: "Lo nishar arbeh echod" - There was not left over even one locust - Rabbeinu Chaim Paltiel says that creatures that were created anew for a plague, died, and we therefore should assume that the lice died, as did the frogs. However, creatures that already existed, but were brought to Egypt to plague them, "orove" and "arbeh," did not die.

Ch. 11, v. 7: "Ul'chol bnei Yisroel lo yecheratz kelev l'shono" - And to any of the bnei Yisroel a dog will not bark - The word "l'shono" is spelled without a letter Vov between the Shin and the Nun. This allows for a reading of "lo yecheratz l'shino," he will not sharpen his tooth. The verse tells us that the dogs would not bite any of the bnei Yisroel. (Rabbeinu Menachem)

Ch. 11, v. 7: "Ul'chol bnei Yisroel lo yecheratz kelev l'shono" - And to any of the bnei Yisroel a dog will not bark - The reward for dogs (those of future generations - so much for "yichus") for this restraint is that "n'veiloh" meat is to be thrown to them for consumption. As well, we find that donkeys, albeit that they are a non-kosher species, were rewarded with becoming sanctified (Shmos 13:13). Why is it that dogs are given such a paltry reward, meat, while donkeys are given a spiritual somewhat exalted reward of sanctity?

Rabbi Yoseif Chaim Sonnenfeld answers that the dogs only restrained themselves, while the donkeys ACTED, carrying tremendous loads of "emptying out Egypt" items, as well as the spoils at Yam Suf.

This question is also answered, based on the Sforno. He says that because a miracle took place through them albeit only short-lived, i.e. that they were able to carry such gigantic loads, this brought sanctity upon them, which we are required to (preferably) redeem.

Ch. 11, v. 7: "Asher yafleh" - That He will differentiate - Rashi says, "Yavdil." What need is there for this, since he has already pointed this out earlier in parshas Vo'eiro, 9:4?

Ch. 11, v. 7: "Asher yafleh" - That He will differentiate - The mishnoh in Pirkei Ovos 5:5 says that 10 miracles took place with out ancestors in Egypt. Commentators explain that this means that the 10 plagues did not negatively affect the bnei Yisroel. This might be alluded to in these words of our verse. "Asher" has the numerical value of 501, the same as "d'tzach adash b'achav," the ten plagues. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 11, v. 8: "V'yordu chol avo'decho ei'leh eilai" - And all of these slaves of yours will descend to me - Rashi (M.R. 7:3) says that Moshe's intention was that Paroh himself would be degraded to have to personally come and prostrate himself in front of Moshe, begging him to leave. However, Moshe did not say this directly since he was commanded to treat Paroh respectfully, as befits a king, regardless of his disrespectful obstinacy. He therefore clothed this in "your servants." In actuality, this statement of Moshe was totally accurate. No doubt, Paroh would not go anywhere unescorted. Thus, with Moshe's telling him that his servants would come to him, in a very thinly veiled manner conveyed that Paroh himself would come. (Rabbi Yoseif Chaim Sonnenfeld)

This might explain why Moshe added the word "ei'leh," THESE servants. What difference did it make which servants would come? By using this as an indirect message that Paroh would personally come, he mentioned THESE servants, those who now stood in front of Paroh, who would likely be his escorts as well. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 11, v. 8: "V'yordu chol avo'decho ei'leh eilai" - And all of these slaves of yours will descend to me - The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh raises this question: Moshe tells Paroh that ALL of these servants present will descend to Moshe, urging him and his followers to leave Egypt. Since Hashem was to smite ALL firstborn, how is it that ALL of them would remain alive? He answers that we would be forced to say that not a one of them was a firstborn. (However, Mei'ohr Ho'a'feiloh, a Rishon, says that the word "ho'ei'leh" teaches us that Moshe took his staff and hit each of the servants upon his head, announcing which one was and which one wasn't, a firstborn.)

Alternatively, he offers that there were firstborn among them, and nevertheless, Hashem spared specifically these firstborn so that there would be proper recompense. Moshe was embarrassed by Paroh, being banished, told to never show his face to Paroh again. This took place in front of these servants. One who embarrasses another in front of people is required to ask for forgiveness in front of those people. To an extent, Paroh's being embarrassed in front of these same servants, who witnessed Paroh running to Moshe in the middle of the night served as a bit of justice in kind. Were there any other firstborn among the Egyptians who survived the final plague?

Ch. 11, v. 8: "Asher b'raglecho" - Who follow your feet - This is Rashi's translation, basically meaning those who follow your guidance. Rambam in Moreh N'vuchim 1:28 says that the word "regel" has three connotations. The simplest is a physical foot. The second meaning is "as a result of," as we find that Yaakov credited himself with the tremendous increase in the size of Lovon's flock of sheep, "Va'y'vo'rech Hashem os'cho l'ragli" (Breishis 30:30. An extension of this is "ul'regel hamlochoh ulregel ha'y'lodim" (Breishis 33:14). There it means "need," but that is basically the same as "a result of." The third is the use of this word in our verse, where it means a following.

We might suggest in a homiletic manner that the mitzvoh of "aliyoh l'regel," required "sholosh p'omim," alludes to the three translations of "regel." One is literally foot, which one uses when making his thrice annual pilgrimage to Yerusholayim. The second is "cause." We go on this pilgrimage "liros pnei Hashem." At the same time it is not as much that we come to see, but to be seen, "yeiro'eh." "K'derech shebo liros bo lei'ro'ose." We are not the cause of the pilgrimage to see holiness, as much as to be sized up by Hashem. He is the cause of our ascent to Yerusholayim. He wants us in His home for Yom Tov. The third is "following." We show our allegiance to Hashem and that he has a great nation that follows him, through assembling in His holiest city to mark the festivals. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 11, v. 8: "Va'yeitzei mei'im Paroh bochori af" - And he exited from Paroh with burning anger -Minchoh V'luloh says that it was Paroh who was angry. There is no proof from the words of our verse for this, but we should assume that it refers to Paroh rather than saying that Moshe did not control his emotions.

Rabbi Yoseif Kaspi (a Rishon) says that "chori af" does not mean burning anger, but rather, great emotion, which in its wake heats up one's body. He sites the common reaction of a public speaker, who when he really "gets into it" sweats profusely. Moshe was emotionally charged at this point because he knew that he would no longer appear in front of Paroh in his palace, so his parting words were said with extreme emotion, a grand finale.

Ch. 12, v. 1: "Va'yomer Hashem el Moshe v'el Aharon" - And Hashem said to Moshe and Aharon - Although this communication was only directed to Moshe, Aharon is accorded the honour of being mentioned as well. (Rashi) It has been mentioned a few times in past issues that although the literal reading of many verses seems to indicate that Hashem spoke directly to Aharon numerous times, nevertheless, this is not the case. In general it means that only Moshe was addressed, and he told over the message to Aharon. The Medrash Tanchuma at the beginning of our parsha says that there are three exceptions where Hashem spoke directly to Aharon because it is impossible to say otherwise. The opinion of the Moshav Z'keinim and GR"A have been mentioned (interestingly, they do not even agree on one place) in the past. A new opinion is that of Rabbeinu Menachem. He says that the three places are Shmos 4:27 (same as GR"A), Vayikra 10:8, and Bmidbar 18:1 (last two same as Moshav Z'keinim).

Ch. 12, v. 2: "Hachodesh ha'zeh lochem" - This month shall be for you - See the Baal Ho'a'keidoh 3:16 and Emes l'Yaakov by MVRHRH"G Rabbi Yaakov Kamenecki, who explain why we have remained with foreign names for the months rather than ordinal names.

Ch. 12, v. 7: "V'nosnu al shtei hamzuzos v'al hamashkofe" - And they shall put it upon the two doorposts and the lintel - Commentators say that the Paschal offering had a sort of altar for the placement of its blood. The quasi-altar was the two doorposts and the lintel. However, the Derech Chaim (brother of the Mahara"l of Prague) writes that there was no aspect of sacrificial offering here, as there was no altar, among other aspects that were lacking. He so strongly posits that it was not a sacrifice that he needed an explanation for the disqualification of a blemished animal. He answers that this was required so that the animal, at least, was physically unblemished, and as such a respectable "idol" for the Egyptians. This animal was slaughtered in a manner that was not even sacrificial, and thus a mockery was made of their god, very small g.

Ch. 12, v. 7: "Hamashkofe" - The lintel - Rashi says that the source word means banging, i.e. the door bangs upon the lintel, which serves as a jamb. Rashbam questions this, as he finds no similar use of Sh-K-F as banging. (It would seem that a proof is required because the side-posts serve as jambs as well.) Rather, he says that it means a lintel because it is on top, in full view, similar to the word "hashkifoh," looking from up high. Ibn Ezra says that it means window.

Ch. 12, v. 9: "Uvosheil m'vushol" - Or even fully cooked - The gemara Chulin 115a derives from the double expression that there is another cooked food that is also prohibited, and that is "bossor b'cholov," meat and milk cooked together. There seems to be no indication for this exegesis, and indeed, the Kuzari writes that a heretic challenged him with this statement, going so far as to say that the Rabbinic extrapolations from the Torah are ch"v of their own invention. The Holy Admor of Ostrovtza says that the numerical value of the word "m'vushol" in the "milluy" system has the same value (i"h) as "bossor b'cholov."

An interesting answer emerges, based on the words of the Ksav Sofer. This was offered in parshas Bo 5759.

<< The Siach Sarfei Kodesh cites 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 the verse 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."

1) 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. 2) 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. 3) Foodstuffs derived from animals is also "din" in that it requires the killing of the animal to halachically allow for consumption. Milk is an exception, in that it does not require killing of an animal.

4) K'chal, an animal's udder, is also an object that symbolizes 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 that has not been previously removed from it, may be eaten. The characteristic of the milk, mercy, overpowers the characteristic of the meat, "din," in contra-distinction to regular cooking of meat and milk, where the opposite would result.

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," pure mercy, 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 being boiled 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.>> The extension of the Paschal prohibition onto meat cooked in milk, both based on the concept of "rachamim" succumbing to "din," is now well understood. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 12, v. 9: "Ki im tzli aish" - Only roasted on a fire - This Paschal lamb was the first mass sacrifice. Our prayers replace the defunct sacrifices, "U'n'shalmoh porim sifsoseinu." The verse tells us to not pray "partially done" or even "calmly cooked." Rather, we should pray, "tzli" as in "tzlo'us'hon," in a fiery enthusiastic manner, "aish." (Noam Elimelech)

Ch. 12, v. 11: "Pesach hu laShem" - It is called a Paschal offering to Hashem - Rashi explains that the title given to this offering is Pesach, which means jumping, skipping over (see Rashi on verse 23). Rashi goes on to say, "And you should do all Hashem's services likewise, for the sake of Heaven, in a manner of skipping and jumping, as a commemoration to the name of this sacrifice. Rabbi Noson Dovid Rabinovitch of Munkatch explains that Rashi is forewarning that one not act out of extreme emotion in reaction to the awe-inspiring miracle of clearly being saved from the plague of smiting of the first-born. This engenders the fear of not serving Hashem properly in the future, when the emotional effects of the miracle wear off. The basis for service of Hashem is firmly rooted in simply being a devoted soldier in Hashem's army and fulfilling His wishes for the sake of Heaven. This is the intention of verse 50, which says that the bnei Yisroel fulfilled the mitzvoh of "korban Pesach" in accord with the command Hashem told Moshe and Aharon, "kein ossu."

Ch. 12, v. 13: "Lochem l'ose" - For yourselves as a sign - Rashi (Mechilta 12:22) says that the blood was to be placed inside the doorway, hidden from the view of the Egyptians when the door would be closed. We find blood sprinkled upon a home in the purification process of a "bayis m'nuga," a house stricken with a specific type of spiritually caused "mold." There it is sprinkled on the outside. Perhaps here it is done internally, besides the obvious, to minimize the unbridled anger of the Egyptians, but also to symbolize that the bnei Yisroel's homes were saved in the merit of their insulating themselves from the negative effects of Egyptian society. This is a lesson we should well take from the exodus from Egypt if we want to be extracted from our lengthy exile intact.

A cause of "bayis m'nuga" is the stinginess of the owner, who never lends household items to a neighbour. All his belongings are removed for full public view before the house is verbally deemed defiled, causing him the shame of everyone knowing that he truly had a or a ... to lend. The blood on the outside symbolizes the requirement to share by allowing his household items to be used by neighbours outside his home. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 12, v. 15: "Shivas yomim matzos tocheilu - Ach ba'yom horishon tashbisu s'ore mibo'teichem - Ki kol ocheil chometz v'nich'r'soh ha'nefesh ha'hee miYisroel - MiYom horishon ad yom hashvii" - Seven days shall you eat matzos - Only/Rather on the previous day shall you negate sourdough from your residences - For whoever consumes leavened food and that soul will be excised from the nation Yisroel - From the first day through the seventh day - This verse flows smoothly until we get to "miyom horishon ad yom hashvii." If understood in order of phrases it would seem to be saying that the excision lasts from the first day of Pesach through the seventh day, which is ludicrous. Therefore, commentators call this a "mikra m'soros," an out of order phrase, and should be understood as if it came immediately after "ki kol ocheil chometz, v'nich'r'soh "

Haksav V'hakaboloh has a revolutionary understanding of this verse, which allows for the phrases to flow in order. (Besides explaining this verse it also impacts greatly upon a very difficult subject matter in the laws of "tashbisu," negating chometz, and "bal yeiro'eh ubal yimotzei," not to see or have in one's possession chometz during Pesach, which will be discussed later in this offering.)

He brings numerous examples of verses in Tanach where the syntax of verses allows for two leading statements to be made, and then have them followed up with elaboration/elucidation of the first and then the second statements. In simple terms: point 1, point 2, comment on point 1, then comment on point 2. This is true even in two verses.

To accommodate his interpretation, I have divided our verse into four sections above. The first statement is that matzoh be eaten for seven days. The following statement is that sourdough be negated. The following statement explains WHY matzoh should be eaten for seven days, namely that eating chometz rather than matzoh entails the punishment of excision. The final statement expands upon the command to negate chometz, i.e. that this mitzvoh (besides being applicable to the eve of Pesach from midday, as derived from "ach ba'yom horishon tashbisu") is applicable from the first through the seventh day (of Pesach).

Tosfos d.h. "bifro'tehoh" on the gemara P'sochim 95a says that the gemara there indicates that the R'i (Baal Tosfos) is correct when he said (see Tosfos on gemara 29b d.h. "avol") that the sins of "bal yei'ro'eh ubal yimotzei" are remedied through fulfillment of the mitzvoh of "tashbisu." A reading of the relevant gemara conclusively shows that the R'i must posit that the mitzvoh of negating chometz applies for all seven days of Pesach according to Rabbi Yosi haGlili, who says that one may derive benefit from chometz even during Pesach, and this involves a case of purchasing chometz from "Hekdesh" during Pesach. Tosfos is concerned with the prohibition of owning chometz and answers that the mitzvoh of "tashbisu" is "nitak la'a'sei," and remedies the sin.

Shaagas Aryeh in his responsa #81 cannot fathom this, as one may not consciously transgress a sin, even when it has a "nituk," a remedy through fulfillment of an accompanying positive mitzvoh.

Noda bYhudoh responsa #20 raises a more basic question. He cannot find any verse in the Torah that tells us to negate chometz during the Yom Tov itself, only on the eve of Pesach, and only at midday. He therefore formulates his own derivation, something not mentioned in the gemara, or anywhere else.

Haksav V'hakaboloh, with his innovative structuring of our verse has found the verse, as explained above.

He answers the concern of the Shaagas Aryeh on the basis of the opinion that the basic mitzvoh of negating chometz is not physical destruction, but rather, verbal or mental negation, "bitul b'lev." The moment a person owns chometz on Pesach but negates it, he avoids transgressing "bal yei'ro'eh ubal yimotzei" in the first place. He says that the statement of the gemara 6a that chometz is not yours at midday of the eve of Pesach onwards, except for the liability of "bal yei'ro'eh ubal yimotzei," is but a Rabbinical ruling, and thus alleviates this concern of the Shaagas Aryeh.

It is interesting to note that on verse 19, which tells us "lo yeiro'eh v'lo yimotzei," Haksav V'hakaboloh finds it openly contrary to the opinion of the Ran at the beginning of the gemara P'sochim, where he says that the reason the Torah is so strict with chometz, to the point that it be destroyed, and there is the sin of "bal yei'ro'eh ubal yimotzei," is because chometz has the strict punishment of excision, and in tandem, that one is used to eating it all year round. Haksav V'hakaboloh is bothered with this because our verse says that chometz is to be negated because of excision, with no mention of familiarity with chometz all year round.

His problem with OUR verse (he also raises a similar issue with the explanation in verse 19) seems to be in contradiction his explanation here. The phrase "ki kol ocheil chometz v'nich'r'soh" is not an explanation for "tashbisu," but rather for eating matzoh for seven days.

There is another way of answering the question he raises on verse 19. The Ran mentioned a combination of excision and the familiarity of eating chometz all year round. This could well be the intention of our verse. Negate chometz because: 1) Whoever eats chometz is subject to excision 2) Its prohibition lasts only from the first through the seventh day, but not throughout the year. With this explanation as well, the end of the verse is understood in order.

Ch. 12, v. 16: "L'chol nefesh" - We derive from these words that even lighting a fire (from an already lit fire) as "ner Yom Tov" is permitted. It was therefore the custom of many Sfardim to not recite a blessing upon these Yom Tov lights, as they may be lit on Yom Tov, and no blessing should be recited since there is no need to "prepare" for Yom Tov beforehand with illumination for "household peace." (Moshav Z'keinim)

It seems that lighting of lamps is derived from "nefesh" even though it is not food preparation, "ochel nefesh," through translating "nefesh" as NEED, similar to "im yeish es naf'sh'chem" (Breishis 23:8) independently of the previous word "yei'o'cheil." (Nirreh li)

Ch. 12, v. 17: "Ushmartem es hamatzos" - And you shall safeguard the matzos - Rashi (Medrash Tanchuma) quotes Rabbi Yashioh: Don't read this as "ushmartem es hamatzos," but rather, as "ushmartem es hamitzvos." The story is told of the students of Rabbi Yisroel of Salant who were on their way to bake matzos for Pesach. Because of the special exhortation to "safeguard" the matzos, they asked him for guidance in how to be scrupulously strict in their "safeguarding." He answered that he knew of a widow who worked in the bakery rolling out the dough. He told them to be extremely careful to not upset her in any way, in spite of their concern that the matzos go from flour and water to fully baked as fast as is possible. He warned that hurting the feelings of a widow greatly outweighs any perceived benefits of hurrying the process. We can thus say that the command to "safeguard the mitzvos" refers to keeping in mind the basic mitzvos "bein odom lacha'veiro" when "safeguarding the matzos."

Ch. 12, v. 35: "Klei chesef uchlei zohov" - Vessels of silver and vessels of gold - The Ibn Ezra says that each person according to his status requested items of varying value. He proves this from the tribal heads' being the only ones to donate precious stones. The commonly known opinion of Targum Yonoson ben Uziel is that the tribal heads acquired the stones with their portions of manna (see Shmos 35:27).

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


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