by Zvi Akiva FleisherBack to this week's parsha | Previous Issues
PARSHAS VO'EIROH 5759
Ch. 6, v. 6,7: "V'hotzeisi, v'hitzalti, v'go'alti, v'lokachti" -
1) Rashi and Rashbam in the gemara P'sochim 99b say that these four expressions of redemption are the source for drinking four goblets of wine on the night of the Seder. This is stated in the Yerushalmi P'sochim (10:1) and in the M.R. Breishis (88:4) as the opinion of Rav Huna.
2) The above two sources also bring the opinion of Rav Shmuel bar Nachmeini that the four goblets correspond to the four times the word "kose" is mentioned in the butler's dream and Yosef's interpretation at the end of parshas Va'yeishev.
3) The above two sources also bring the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi that the four goblets correspond to the four bitter goblets of punishment that Hashem will mete out to the nations of idol worshipers (Yirmiyohu 25:15, 51:7, T'hilim 11:6, 75:9).
4) The above Yerushalmi also brings that the four goblets correspond to the four salvations mentioned in T'hilim: Hashem m'nos chelki v'CHOSI (16:5), KOSI r'voyoh (23:5), and KOS y'shuos (116:13). This last verse alludes to two goblets, as the word, "y'shuos," salvations, is plural.
5) The four goblets correspond to the four times the word "goviah" is mentioned in parshas Mikeitz (44:2, 12, 16, 17). "Gvi'i" in verse 2 is not included, but might allude to the fifth goblet of Eliyohu.
Many commentaries question Rashi and the Rashbam who say that four "EXPRESSIONS" of redemption are mentioned. The M.R. and the Yerushalmi actually say "FOUR REDEMPTIONS" and leave out the words "expressions of." Rashi and Rashbam's source is the Yalkut Shimoni (Yirmiyohu #307) which clearly says "four expressions of redemption."
There are numerous explanations of four stages of redemption:
1) Ramban: a) no severe workload, b) no work at all, c) Hashem takes revenge on the Egyptians, d) bnei Yisroel become a chosen nation upon coming to Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah.
2) Sforno: a) no more servitude, b) coming to Raamses, which is beyond the border of Egypt, c) splitting of the sea, d) standing at Mt. Sinai.
3) Aderres Eliyohu (GR"A): a) no severe workload, b) no work at all, c) free of being slaves, d) standing at Mt. Sinai.
4) Eitz Yosef on M.R. Shmos: a) no severe workload, b) no more throwing Jewish children into river, c) no more slaughtering Jewish children for Paroh's baths, d) retracting edict of no more straw being supplied for brick making.
5) Meshech Chochmoh: a) extraction of a nation from within a nation, b) being saved from the murderous Egyptians, c) not enslaved, d) becoming Hashem's chosen nation.
6) Torah T'mimoh: a) lightening of workload, b) no work at all, c) complete redemption and leaving Egypt, d) spiritual redemption.
Ch. 6, v. 6: "Mitachas sivlos Mitzrayim" - The Sfas Emes interprets: I will take you out of your tolerance and complacency toward Egypt. You cannot expect to be redeemed from Egypt if you are tolerant of your situation. This is the first step towards leaving Egypt. Likewise, if we truly want to have our bitter "golus Edom" come to an end, it cannot happen if we have become tolerant, complacent, and even comfortable with our "golus."
Ch. 6, v. 9: "Mikotzer" - The Baal Haturim points out that the numeric value of "mikotzer" is 430, the number of years that the bnei Yisroel were in this exile (Shmos 12:41).
Ch. 6, v. 9: "Mikotzer ruach u'mei'avodoh kosho" - The bnei Yisroel did not listen to Moshe because they said it was too early to leave. The four-hundred years of golus Mitzrayim had not yet been completed. Moshe responded that Hashem would deliver them earlier for two reasons; "mikotzer ruach," their shortness (low level) of spirituality, as they had sunk to the 49th level of impurity. If they would drop any lower, they would reach the point of no return. Also, "mei'avodoh kosho," because of their extreme workload, they had concentrated four-hundred years of labour into a much shorter period of time. In spite of these two points, they did not accept his words. (Pardes Yosef)
Ch. 6, v. 12: "Hein bnei Yisroel lo shomu eilei v'eich yishmo'eini Paroh" - Rashi tells us that this is one of ten "kal vochomers" in the Torah (Tanach). They are listed in the M.R. Breishis 92:7. 1) Breishis 44:8, 2) Shmos 6:12, 3) B'midbar 12:14, 4) Dvorim 31:27, 5&6) Yirmiyohu 12:5, 7) Shmuel 1:23:3, 8) Mishlei 11:31, 9) Megillas Esther 9:12, 10) Yechezkel 15:5.
Why does the M.R. leave out the following? 1) Shmuel 2:12:18, 2) Shmuel 2:16:11, 3)M'lochim 2:6:4, 4) Yirmiyohu 49:12. I await your answers.
The "kal vochomer" in our verse seems to have a refutation. In verse 6 it says that the bnei Yisroel did not hearken to Moshe's words because of their shortness of spirit and difficult labour. These do not apply to Paroh, so he might listen. A number of answers:
1) If the bnei Yisroel suffer from shortness of spirit and difficult labour, all the more so that they should hearken to words of redemption. (Daas Z'keinim in the name of the R'I of Lisbon)
2) In spite of the drawbacks, the bnei Yisroel would listen as they are not in a position of authority to argue, and they are of Moshe's nation. Paroh is a king and as such doesn't readily take orders, especially from someone of a different nationality. (Ibn Ezra)
3) Although the Torah tells us the true reason for the bnei Yisroel not listening, Moshe assumed it was because he had a speech deficiency. (Rivo in the name of Rabbeinu Tam)
4) Paroh will claim that he heard that the bnei Yisroel did not accept Moshe's words, and then he surely won't accept them. (Paanei'ach Rozo)
5) "And I have difficulty of speech" is included in the "kal vochomer." If I have difficulty of speech and the bnei Yisroel did not hearken to my words, surely my difficulty of speech will be a deterrent to Paroh. This pshat is indicated by Rashi, as he explains the words "va'ani aral sfosayim" before the words "v'eich yishmo'eini Paroh," indicating that it is part of the "kal vochomer." Verse 30 also seems to indicate this. (Bartenura)
6) The "avodoh kosho" is explained in the M.R. to mean idol worship. If the bnei Yisroel didn't listen because they SERVED idols, surely Paroh, who has made himself a god, will not listen. (Chasam Sofer)
7) The "kotzer ruach and avodoh kosho" refer to Moshe. He had difficulty being convincing to the bnei Yisroel, "mikotzer ruach," because his spirit was dampened, and he found his task to convince the bnei Yisroel an "avodoh kosho," a difficult challenge, after his efforts to intercede on behalf of the the bnei Yisroel had resulted in an increased workload. (Ralbag)
8) It is more difficult to convince Paroh who has no belief in Hashem, than the bnei Yisroel, who in spite of their hardships, are true believers. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh and Sfas Emes with a slightly different contrast, purity and impurity)
9) If the leader of the nation does not have the backing of its people, no matter what the reason, he surely cannot convince an adversary. (Sfas Emes) The Yismach Moshe interprets: If the bnei Yisroel will not hearken to the words of Moshe, "v'eich," then how will it look, if "yishmo'eini Paroh?" This interprets the verse in a manner that does not contain a "kal vochomer," contrary to the M.R.
Ch. 6, v. 13: "L'hotzi es bnei Yisroel" - Earlier (6:6,7,8,) Hashem told of much more than just departing from Egypt. The Meshech Chochmoh says that after the bnei Yisroel did not hear Moshe's words which included telling of their glorious future, Hashem said that they are in such difficult straits that they only can relate to the situation at hand, which is their bondage. Therefore they should only be told that they will be freed and will leave Egypt.
Ch. 6, v.23: "Achos Nach'shon" - Rashi tells us that we derive from here that one should inquire concerning the brothers of the woman one is considering marrying (gemara B.B. 110a). The gemara goes on to say that one should do this because the majority of one's sons are similar to the brothers of the mother. Is there a similar rule that the majority of one's daughters are similar to the sisters of the father?
Ch. 7, v. 3: "Va'ani akshe es leiv Paroh" - If Hashem hardened Paroh's heart, why did Paroh deserve punishment? This is a well-known and well-answered question. I would like to ask the readership to send in answers in a concise form. Hopefully, these answers will be listed next week.
Ch. 7, v. 9: "Tnu LOCHEM mofeis" - Should it not have said "LONU" or "LI?" The Noam Elimelech answers that Paroh was aware that a false wonder, "achizas einayim," visual only, could be done by almost anyone. He demanded a wonder that would even astonish the one who brought it about.
Ch. 7, v. 14: "Kov'eid leiv Paroh" - The M.R. 9:6 interprets "ko'veid" as a LIVER. Rabbi Zvi Elimelech of Dinov (author of Bnei Yisos'chor) explains that all meats become softer the longer they are cooked. Not so with liver. The more it is cooked, the tougher it becomes. Similarly, most people soften and become more yielding when they are subject to punishment and tribulations. Not so Paroh. With each new plague, his resistance and toughness increased.
Ch. 7, v. 18: "U'vo'ash ha'y'or" - The Baal Tosfos Rabbi Yosef Bchor Shor says that the plague of blood lasted for a short amount of time, just long enough to kill the marine life in the bodies of water. The blood then reverted to water. With the death of so many fish, there was a very powerful stench in the water, making it undrinkable. This seems to be the simple gist of verse 21. The Bchor Shor explains that this plague is called BLOOD rather than STENCH, because the name of the plague refers to that which is visible, namely, the blood. I have difficulty with the name "Devver," pestilence. The disease was not visible. Only the result of dead animals was. Possibly, there were distinct features of this disease visible upon the dead animals.
Ch. 7, v. 24: "Va'yach'p'ru" - The Ibn Ezra says that if we explain the plagues according to the simple indication of the verses, "ki achar hakosuv nirdof," we conclude that the first three plagues affected the bnei Yisroel, as well as the Egyptians. Therefore "va'yach'p'ru" includes the bnei Yisroel. He says that this should not be hard to believe, as the negative impact of these three plagues is limited. The Ibn Ezra is aware of many midroshim (for example see M.R. 9:10) which are contrary to this statement, but is explaining this strictly on the basis of the words of the verses. The Radbaz in his responsa, volume 2, #813, says, "ossur l'haamin zeh," it is prohibited to believe the interpretation of the Ibn Ezra.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l in Likutei Sichos explains the Ibn Ezra, also according to "pshuto shel mikro." The thrust of the first three plagues was not to punish Paroh and his people, or to start the process of Paroh being forced into freeing and sending away the bnei Yisroel. We see from 8:6, "l'maan teida ki ein KaShem Elokeinu" that the purpose of the first plagues was to TEACH Paroh that Hashem is THE MASTER. Paroh and his nation deified the Nile River. Hashem showed them that He had mastery over the waters. This could be shown even more forcefully if it extended to the bnei Yisroel as well. Paroh could not say that Hashem wasn't able to affect the areas where the bnei Yisroel lived.
I have difficulty in understanding this explanation, as the Ibn Ezra goes on to say that Orov and Devver were devastating and did not visit the bnei Yisroel, but not so with Sh'chin and Arbeh. This seems to indicate that Sh'chin and Arbeh afflicted the bnei Yisroel. In 9:9 the Ibn Ezra clearly says that Hashem did not separate the bnei Yisroel from the Egyptians regarding Sh'chin. At that point the plagues were no longer sent for the above lesson (see 8:18, 8:30), so why include the bnei Yisroel?
It is interesting to note that a number of details in the verses are very easily explained according to the Ibn Ezra. The first time it says that Hashem would differentiate between the Egyptians and the bnei Yisroel was by the plague of Orov (8:18). Specifically by Sh'chin and Arbeh does it say that it extended to the WHOLE LAND (9:9, 10:14,15).
Ch. 9, v. 3: "B'mik'n'cho asher BASO'DEH" - The Ramban and Rabbeinu Bachyei say that pestilence affected the cattle even if they were brought into the Egyptians' homes. The reason the verse says "in the field" is because cattle are commonly found in the field, "dibeir hakosuv b'ho'veh." They bring a proof for this. It says (9:6) that "all" the livestock died. Rashi in 9:10 and 14:7 says that only the cattle left in the field were affected. The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh says that "all" in verse 6 refers to all that were left in the field.
A strong indication to the opinion of the Ramban and Rabbeinu Bachyei is that the Torah goes to some length and detail by the plague of hail to instruct the Egyptians to bring their cattle to their homes to be spared the devastation of the hail, and here, by Devver, just mentions "which are in the field." If we are to learn one from the other, it should be elaborated upon EARLIER, and have the latter learn from the earlier.
The Rivo, Paanei'ach Rozo, and the Sifsei Chachomim answer according to Rashi that it is common to have pestilence kill herds of cattle. The slightest indication that their cattle could be saved is sufficient to bring the Egyptians to compliance. Not so by the plague of hail. It is very unusual to have such a severe hail storm that would kill all the cattle. This necessitates elaboration. Another indication that the Egyptians were more eager to comply by pestilence is that Rashi 9:10 says that those who feared the word of Hashem took their cattle out of the fields. These were the animals that were left over, of which many were killed during the plague of hail. If only the animals of those who feared the word of Hashem survived, these same people would place their cattle out of harm's way again during the hail. Yet we find that cattle were left in the fields (9:21,25). This shows that more people were persuaded to seek shelter for their cattle during the pestilence than during the hail.
Another possible answer to the elaboration of shelter regarding hail, and only a mention of "that are in the field" regarding pestilence might be derived from an insight brought in the K'hilas Yitzchok. He says that the only shelter afforded during the hail storm was the HOMES of the Egyptians. The verse (9:19) says clearly that the people and animals had to be brought into their HOMES. This is retribution in kind, "midoh k'neged midoh," for the Egyptians forcing the bnei Yisroel to remain away from home at night and to stay with the cattle in barns. Hashem wanted to bring about this punishment during the plague of hail. During the plague of pestilence the verse says "cattle which are in the FIELD" will be smitten. This does not indicate that they need to be brought into the HOMES to be saved. Even if brought into BARNS, the animals are no longer "in the field" and are safe. Therefore it is sufficient to just mention "in the field" by pestilence. To be out of harm's way from hail required specifically bringing the people and the animals into the Egyptians HOMES, hence the elaboration.
Ch. 9, v. 20: "Ha'yorei es dvar Hashem MEI'AVDEI Paroh" - Paroh commanded his Egyptian slaves to stop people from seeking refuge for their livestock. He wanted no one to show concern for the words of Moshe. If someone attempted to bring his cattle into his home for refuge, he might incur the wrath of Paroh's police force. We now interpret our verse to say, "He who feared the word of Hashem, "MEI'AVDEI Paroh, MORE THAN HE FEARED THE SLAVES OF PAROH," brought his slaves and livestock to the safety of his home. (Meshech Chochmoh)
Ch. 9, v. 29: "K'tzeisi es ho'ir" - Why by the plague of hail was it necessary for Moshe to leave the city before he could pray for it to cease? Answers are grouped into two sections; the first, that Moshe always left the city to pray because it had idols throughout and it is not permitted to pray in such a place (O. Ch. end of #94), and the second, that he had to leave the city specifically here.
1) Paroh demanded that the hail stop immediately. Moshe said that his prayers would only begin when he left the city. (Ramban)
2) Moshe always prayed at home. Here to accommodate Paroh somewhat, he said he would pray earlier, just beyond the city limits. (Ramban)
3) The Egyptians deified their sheep. Since many animals were brought into homes for refuge from the hail, the city had many more gods than usual. It is therefore pointed out here. However, even when there were less gods present, Moshe would also pray outside of the city. (Daas Z'keinim)
If you will ask according to Rashi that there was safety in homes from Devver, so there was also an increase of sheep during that plague, possibly the D.Z. agrees with the above Ramban, or according to the difference pointed out earlier, that by Devver specifically, even a barn would be a safe haven, only by the hail was it necessary to bring their animals into their homes which were in the city.
4) Paroh said (9:27) "Hashem is the Righteous One." He indicated that he accepted Hashem as the supreme authority and negated all of his gods. If so, Moshe could now pray immediately, even in the city. Moshe responded that he did not accept this. If a gentile negates his idols out of fear of punishment then it is not a proper negation (Y. D. #146:7). That is why Moshe responded (9:30), "terem tiro'un," you still have no fear of Hashem. Your gods are still valid in your eyes, and I must, as in the past, wait until I leave the city. (Boruch Taam and Rabbi Shlomo Kluger)
1) To show Paroh that although all that was left in the field died (9:19), Moshe was not afraid of the hail, and would walk to the outskirts of the city before praying for the hail to cease. (Chizkuni)
2) To see the full extent of the devastation wrought by the hail, so that he could pray properly. This was most manifest in the fields beyond the city. (Rivo and Chizkuni)
3) There is an halacha that one should hear himself when he prays (Yerushalmi Brochos Chapter 2, O. Ch. 101:2). The Machzeh Avrohom says that Moshe had to shout (8:8) when he prayed for the plague of frogs to end, because he had to outshout the loud croaking of the frogs, as per the above halacha. Possibly here , within the city, the hail hit the roofs of the buildings and created such a powerful din, that Moshe could not hear himself at all. He therefore had to go to the fields, where the banging of the hail was not as loud. Some say that this is why the verse says "efros es ka'pei," as he was not able to pray even outside the city because of the tremendous noise, and could only spread his hands in prayer.
The Chizkuni offers a third explanation. "K'tzeisi es ho'ir" means, "as I will walk INTO the city." He did not leave the city to pray, but could not pray right in front of Paroh as requested. There is an indication to this interpretation from 8:25, "hi'nei onochi yotzei MEI'IMOCH v'ha'tarti."
QUESTION: Under what circumstance do we alternately say and skip "Tzidkos'cho" at the Mincha prayer of Shabbos afternoon for nine consecutive weeks? A hint to the answer should be self-evident.
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