by Zvi Akiva FleisherBack to this week's parsha | Previous Issues
PARSHAS SHMOS 5759
The Ramban, at the beginning of Sefer Shmos, asks why Shmos, the "Sefer Ha'geuloh," doesn't end before parshas Trumoh, and why parshas Trumoh until the end of Shmos (possibly excluding Ki Siso) is not part of Sefer Vayikro, which deals with the Mishkan (Mikdosh) and the sacrifices. He answers that the concepts of Sefer Shmos include all that transpired until Klal Yisroel returned to the status of our Patriarchs, namely, living with the Shechinoh (Divine Presence) in their midst. This did not take place until after the building of the Mishkon, "V'osu li mikdosh v'shochanti b'sochom (25:8)."
Ch. 1, v. 1: "V'eileh shmos bnei Yisroel HABO'IM" - What is the meaning of the connecting "vov" in "V'eileh", since Shmos is a new book? The Kli Yokor answers that with the death of Yosef, the intensity of the servitude began, and it felt like they had JUST COME to Egypt. Yosef died AND the bnei Yisroel ARE COMING to Egypt. See the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh who gives other answers.
Ch. 1, v. 1: "Habo'im" - Tosfos Hasholeim says that the four letters spelling out "bo'im" allude to the four exiles: Beis - Bovel, Alef - Edom, Yud - Yovon, Mem - Modei.
The Nachal K'dumim in the name of Rabbi Eliezer of Germeiza says that "bo'im" equals 613, beis = 2, alef = 1, yud = 10, final Mem = 600. This indicates that the only power we have to survive the four exiles is through the Torah.
Ch. 1, v. 6: "Va'yomos Yosef" - Why did Yosef die first and at the youngest age of all the brothers?
1) He caused his father to be called "av'd'cho" 10 (5) times. (Pirkei d'Rebbi
Ch. 1, v. 6: "V'chol echov" - There is a medrash that says that Yosef died the youngest of all the brothers at age 110, and Levi the oldest at age 137. This is not in agreement with a number of opinions. A list follows, of some differing opinions as to the birthdates and ages of the brothers at their death.
MT is Medrash Tadshei, YS is Yalkut Shimoni, SO is Seder Olom, SOZ is Seder Olom Zuta, SH is Seder Hadoros, RB is Rabbeinu Bachyei, MY is Medrash Yoshon, SHY is Seder Hayom, SFH is Sefer Hayoshor.
Reuvane: Born - 14 Kislev. Died - 128 MT - 125 YS - 124 SOZ.
Ch. 1, v. 7: "Poru va'yish'r'tzu" - The M.R. 1:8 says that they gave birth to sextuplets. How is this derived?
1) Six words, "poru, va'yish'r'tu, va'yirbu, va'yaatzmu, b'm'ode, m'ode.
2) "Poru vayish'r'tzu" equals "shisho b'kerres echod". Although short by two, "b'm'ode m'ode" adds two more. (Baal Haturim)
3) "VaTiMoLEi" is an acronym (in reverse) for "Isho L'olom Misaberres T'umim Vov. (Tosfos Hasholeim)
Ch. 1, v. 7: "Vatimo'lei ho'oretz osom" - Hashem told Avrohom that his descendants would be aliens in a land that is "lo lo'hem," not theirs (Breishis 15:13). This can be interpreted to mean Goshen, which was not "theirs," not belonging to the Egyptians. It was given to Soroh by Paroh as compensation for taking her from Avrohom (Medrash Breishis 12:20). As long as the bnei Yisroel remained in their own neighbourhood, there was no escalating of the enslavement. However, when "the land filled with them," they became as thorns (v. 12) in the eyes of the Egyptians. The medrash says this was specifically when the bnei Yisroel joined the Egyptians in their centres of entertainment, i.e. theaters, stadiums, and circuses.
We can take a lesson from this, ESPECIALLY during Cholo Shel Moed Pesach, to plan family outings to places that are not contrary to the idea of the above medrash. How ironic it would be to celebrate Pesach and engage in the same activities that plunged our ancestors into the enslavement of Egypt.
Ch. 1, v. 10: "V'olo min ho'oretz" - Rashi brings the gemara Sotoh 11a that says that "v'olo," and he will leave, refers to the EGYPTIANS themselves. Rather than verbalize this, Paroh expressed this as if it would happen to someone else, "toleh kil'loso b'chaveiro".
However, the Sforno explains that Paroh intended for the BNEI YISROEL to leave in response to his unfair edicts of increased labour and tax burdens. The M.R. (1:8) explains that initially Paroh refused to tamper with the people who had not only saved his country from the devastation of famine, but had even brought untold wealth to its coffers. As a result, Paroh was deposed, and only after three months, upon agreeing to go along with the diabolical schemes of his advisors, was he reinstated. This is the "melech CHODOSH" (1:8), a king with NEW policies.
The Sforno says that Paroh wanted to tax and burden the bnei Yisroel to the point that they would leave the country, and thus the problem of the Jewish population explosion would be solved. The bnei Yisroel, however, reacted differently. They were used to the life in Egypt and were reluctant to leave. They accepted the unfair tax and work burden, saying that they had a responsibility to do this as upright citizens of Egypt. At that point Paroh realized that he had a free work force, and the idea of slavery began, partially brought upon the bnei Yisroel by themselves.
Ch. 1, v. 12: "Kein yirbe v'chein yifrotz" - The Ramban (Bmidbar 3:14) says that the reason for the tribe of Levi having such a disproportionately small population compared to the other tribes is because they were not under the yoke of servitude. Because they were not subject to "v'chaasher y'anu oso," they did not receive the blessing of "kein yirbe v'chein yifrotz."
Ch. 1, v. 14: "Va'y'mor'ru es chayeihem" - The cantillation (trup) on these words is "kadmo v'azlo." The original decree was for the bnei Yisroel to be in Egypt for 400 years (Breishis 15:13). This was diminished by 190 years through the arduous labour to which they were subjected. "Kadmo v"azlo" can be translated "they preceded and went," they had an early departure, because "va'y'mor'ru," the Egyptians embittered their lives. By how many years did the bnei Yisroel depart earlier? By 190, the gematria of "kadmo v'azlo." (The Holy Admor R' Yitzchok of Vorke)
Ch. 1, v. 14: "Bo'avodoh kosho b'chomer u'vilveinim" - The medrash interprets these words to mean: "kosho" - kushios u'firukin, difficulties and answers, "chomer" - kal vochomer, logical deduction of rulings, "l'veinim" - libun halacha, clarity of laws. They merited these because of their suffering great hardships.
The Rshash had a difficulty in understanding a Tosfos in gemara Y'vomos. This plagued him for numerous years. Once, the N'tziv visited Vilna and met with the Rshash. The Rshash presented his difficulty to the N'tziv. Upon contemplating for a short while, the N'tziv came up with an insightful and elucidating answer to the Rshash's problem. The Rshash was excited to hear the answer, but at the same time felt very inferior for not being able to resolve this problem for years, and seeing the N'tziv had come up with a clear answer in a few minutes. The N'tziv realized this and said to the Rshash that since the Rshash was a wealthy businessman and did not endure the physical deprivations that the N'tziv had endured, he did not have the extra siyato d'Shmayo given to one who has gone through hardships for the sake of Torah.
Ch. 2, v. 1: "Va'yeilech ish ...... va'yikach isho" - Why the cryptic statement that a man of the tribe of Levi married a woman from the tribe of Levi, rather than telling us their names? The K'hilas Yitzchok answers that since from this union came the birth of Moshe Rabbeinu, the greatest prophet of all times, it is stressed that he was conceived in a physical manner, by a man marrying a women. This comes to point out the fallacy of thinking that a very holy person might be created by immaculate con(de)ception.
Ch. 2, v. 2: "Ki tov hu" - The gemara Sotah 12a says that the home filled with light at the time of the birth of Moshe because he would be the one who would accept the Torah and bring about many miracles for the redemption of the bnei Yisroel. The Maharsha (ad loc) says that this is quite a chiddush, since these acts had not yet taken place. Similarly, the Rosh (2:3) says that when Moshe reached three months of age, on the sixth of Sivan, the date when the Torah would be given in the future, he could no longer be hidden, as there was a tremendous aura (aura zu Torah) emitting from him, making it impossible to conceal him at night. This also was a response to something that had not yet taken place.
Ch. 2, v. 2: "Va'titz'p'neihu" - Compare to "va'yit'm'neihu" (2:13). The Gan Roveh says that "hatzpono" means hiding something CONCEPTUAL, and "hotmono" means hiding something PHYSICAL. Yocheved hid the "knowledge" that she had given birth, for three months. Moshe hid the "body" of the Egytian. The Gan Roveh uses this explanation to clarify some verses in Yehoshua, Chapter 2. We will leave this for the Haftorah of parshas Shlach.
I have difficulty with the choice of the word "Tzofun" at the Seder, rather than "Tomun." Possibly, "l'shon Torah l'chud, u'l'shon Chachomim l'chud."
Ch. 2, v. 10: "Vatikro shmo Moshe" - The Ibn Ezra says that Bisyoh called him the Egyptian equivalent of Moshe, "Monyas," or that she knew loshon hakodesh. The M.R. Yayikro (1:3) gives us Moshe's ten names: Yered, Chever, Y'kusiel, Avigdor, Avi Socho, Avi Zonoach, Tovioh, Shma'yoh, Levi, and Moshe.
Ch. 2, v. 12: "Vayar ki ein ish va'yach" - The Medrash Shmuel on Pirkei Ovos (3:18) says in the name of R' Chaim Vi'tal that the reason a person is given the death penalty for the murder of a ben Noach is not for the murder itself, but rather because there will be a descendant of the murdered person who might be a righteous person, or a convert. The Medrash Shmuel writes that he asked R' Chaim Vi'tal that the Torah says (Breishis 9:6) a murderer should be killed, and the Targum says that this is true when there is a witness to the murder. We see the Torah gives us a blanket ruling. Surely there are times when there would have been no righteous descendant emerging from the murdered person. R' Chaim Vi'tal answered that Hashem would only allow the circumstance of a witness being present when there would have been a righteous descendant.
We can now understand our Rashi. Rashi says "pshuto k'mashmo'o" that Moshe saw that no convert would emerge from this person's progeny (Yalkut Shimoni #167). Is this "p'shuto k'moshmo'o?" Simple pshat would be that he looked around and saw no one to witness this act. According to the above answer of R' Chaim Vi'tal we understand the words of Rashi. Since Moshe saw no witness, he realized FROM THIS that no convert would come from this Egyptian's descendants.
Ch. 2, v. 21: "Tziporoh vito l'Moshe" - The Sefer Chasidim #504 says that a person should not delay getting married. We see that Moshe was willing to marry the daughter of Yisro rather than a bas Yisroel, in order not to delay getting married.
Ch. 2, v. 23: "Min ho'avodoh" - The Tiferes Shlomo, the Holy Admor of Rdomsk, interprets: Rather than cry out to Hashem about their physical pains, the bnei Yisroel cried out about their inability to SERVE Hashem properly, "min ho'avodoh."
Ch. 2, v. 25: "Va'yeida Elokim" - The Beis Halevi says a very big "chiddush." The bnei Yisroel were not able to serve Hashem properly during the time of their great oppression. However, if they would not have served him properly even without the oppression, they would have been held responsible for every sin they did. Only Hashem knows if the non-compliance with halacha was motivated solely by their circumstances. This is what is meant by "va'yeida Elokim." The Beis Halevi derives from this that if a person who desecrates the Shabbos willingly, has a medical emergency which halachically requires desecrating the Shabbos, he is not included in the exemption of "v'chei bo'hem" (Vayikro 18:5). This exemption only applies to one who is left with no sin.
Rabbi M.A. Stern zt"l told me that this was a "chiddush" beyond his comprehension, since there is a command of "v'chei bo'hem" for every person. Everyone is responsible to save his life even at the expense of a sin (save the three cardinal sins). He raised this question to Horav Y. Gustman zt'l who responded that the Beis Halevi could not have said such a thing, and we must assume that someone added it to the writings of the Beis Halevi. It is interesting to note that Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman in Kovetz He'oros #49 says the same as is found in the Beis Halevi.
Ch. 5, v. 3: "Nikro" - Here it is spelled with a "hei" and by Hashem's command to Moshe (3:18) with an "alef." The Baal Haturim says that with a "hei" it equals 355, the same as "shono," a year, to advise Paroh that the ten plagues would take place within a year. It would seem that the "hei" should have appeared here and the "alef" in 3:18. An explanation would be appreciated.
Ch. 5, v. 11: "K'CHU lochem teven MEI'ASHER timtzo'u ki ein nigroh mei'avodas'chem dovor" - The GR"A says that K'CHU means PURCHASE, as in Breishis 23:13, by the purchase of the M'oras Hamachpeiloh. PURCHASE straw, MEI'ASHER timtzo'u, RATHER THAN using from what you will find. Paroh told them that since the quota of bricks they had to produce was not diminished, and since from this point on, they would no longer be supplied with the straw with which to make the bricks, they would be forced to PURCHASE the straw, RATHER THAN gathering it on their own, which would take too much time.
Ch. 5, v. 22: "Lomo ha'rei'osa" - The Jewish community in the Ukraine suffered greatly during the time of the Rebbe R' Elimelech of Liszensk. A contemporary of his, a very elderly Admor, brought upon himself much physical deprivation through fasting, etc., in the hope that this would provide a merit which would alleviate the Jews' suffering. The Rebbe R' Elimelech advised the venerable Admor to stop his deprivation, and to wait until after his death to intercede with the Heavenly Court.
The Admor passed on, but the edicts against the Jews became even harsher. The Rebbe R' Elimelech was surprised that the intervention of the departed tzaddik had not helped. Through his holy powers, the Rebbe R' Elimelech communicated with the deceased and asked why things were not improving. The deceased Admor told him that once one is in heaven, closer to Hashem, one sees more clearly. Matters that seem negative on earth are viewed as positive in the heavens. All that Hashem does is for the good.
With this concept, the Imre Emes explains our verse. Moshe asked Hashem, "Why have you done BAD TO THIS NATION? Why have you sent me? Please send an appropriate agent to fulfill this task." The situation will be viewed as "bad" TO THIS NATION. Because Moshe was so close to Hashem, he wasn't able to pray for a change for the better with a full heart, since he realized that everything Hashem does is for the good. He therefore requested that Hashem have this mission carried out by an appropriate agent, one who is not that close to Hashem, and who would therefore pray more fervently.
ANSWER TO LAST WEEK'S QUESTION:
Which of Yaakov's hands was the upper one when he criss-crossed them to bless Yosef's two sons?
In 48:14 it says that Yaakov sent his right hand and placed it onto the head of Efraim, and his left hand onto the head of Menashe. This is indicative (far from conclusive) of Yaakov's right hand being placed first, leaving his left hand to be the upper one. However, in v. 17 it says that Yosef supported his father's HAND (note the singular form) to remove it from the head of Efraim. This indicates that Yaakov's right hand was the upper one. I have no conclusive proof either way and still await a response.
N.B. D.B.K. wrote regarding last week's Parsha: The piece on Dan should have said "concave" and "front" of spoon, rather than "convex" and "back" of spoon. Thank you.
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