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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 18, v. 1: "Va'yishma" - Rashi says (gemara Zvochim 116a) that Yisro heard of the splitting of the "yam suf" and of the battle with Amoleik. This is alluded to in the letters of "va'yishma," Vov, Yud, SHin, Mem, and Ayin. "SHoma Milchemes Amoleik U'krias Yam." (Baalei Tosfos in Hadar Z'keinim)

Ch. 18, v. 4: "V'sheim HO'ECHOD Eliezer" - Why doesn't it say "v'sheim HASHEINI" as it does in Bmidbar 28:4 "v'es ha'keves HASHEINI?"

1) Since this name incorporates the name of Hashem, "Ki ELOKEI ovi b'ezri," just as Hashem is ONE, the expression "the one" is used. (Tosfos Hasholeim)

2) Moshe loved him as if he would have been a lone son. (Tosfos Hasholeim)

3) The Medrash Tanchumoh says that Hashem quoted the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer regarding the acceptable age of the red heifer (poroh adumoh). Moshe heard this and begged Hashem for Rabbi Eliezer to descend from him. Moshe also had this in mind when naming this son. Since this specific name was a wish of Moshe, he is called "the one." (Tosfos Hasholeim)

4) The Mechilta says that Yisro agreed to give his daughter in marriage to Moshe only on the condition that he not circumcise his first son. Moshe agreed. Eliezer, however, was circumcised. Therefore he is called "the one." (This is only according to one opinion in the gemara N'dorim 32a.) When an angel came to kill Moshe, Tziporah had Gershom circumcised. This is also the reason for the Rabbis placing the name Rabbi Eliezer into the first Mishnah of the chapter that deals with circumcisions, Rabbi Eliezer d'miloh (Shabbos chapter 19). (Tosfos Hasholeim)

Ch. 18, v. 4: "Va'yatzileini micherev Paroh" - The Rosh asks why Moshe didn't name his first son Eliezer, since Moshe had been saved from the sword of Paroh even before the birth of Gershom. He answers that as long as Doson and Avirom, the two informants, were still influential, Moshe did not feel secure. Only after they "died" (4:19) , which actually means that they became destitute (gemara N'dorim 31b), did Moshe feel that he was saved from the sword of Paroh.

Ch. 18, v. 21: "Sonei votza" - Rashi explains this to mean that they "hate their own money in judgement." The Baalei Tosfos explain Rashi as follows: A litigant might threaten a judge with destroying his property if the judge rules against him. A judge who is a "soneh betza," is one who hates his own property, meaning that the loss of his own property would not sway him from judging fairly.

Ch. 18, v. 21: "Sorei alofim ... mayos ... chamishim ... asoros" - Rashi says that they are 600, 6,000, 12,000, and 60,000. Excluding these administrators from the count of the remainder, there should have been 600, 5,994, 11,868, and 58,153. The following opinions clarify Rashi.

1) The administrators ministered over the lesser administrators. (Rabbi Yosef Bchor Shor Baal Tosfos)

2) The administrators were all from the tribe of Levi and from the non-Lviim who were over sixty years old, who were not in the count of the 600,000. (Tosfos Hasholeim)

3) The "sorei asoros" administered over nine, not ten, and so on. (Baalei Tosfos in Hadar Z'keinim)

Ch. 18, v. 22: "Hadovor HAGODOL" - Yisro advised Moshe to personally adjudicate cases which involved LARGE sums. Although Moshe heeded Yisro's advice, regarding this matter he said that he would personally judge the DIFFICULT cases (v. 26), "hadovor HAKOSHEH y'viun el Moshe."

Ch. 19, v. 2: "Va'yichan shom Yisroel" - Rashi comments, "k'ish echod b'leiv echod." Rashi on the word "no'sei'ah " (14:10) says that the Egyptians were "b'leiv echod k'ish echod." The Avnei Neizer says that the change of the word order in these two Rashis, is significant. Here it means that the bnei Yisroel are always united as if they are ONE person, but now they are also united in their "leiv," their desire. In 14:10 the Egyptians all have a similar desire, but are not united as one person, except in their pursuit of the bnei Yisroel. See Sedrah Selections on Bshalach (14:7 #30).

Ch. 19, v. 4: "Vo'essoh es'chem al kanfei n'shorim" - The Yalkut Shimoni #234 says that the prosecuting angels complained to Hashem that just as the Egyptians are idol worshippers, so are the bnei Yisroel. Hashem then elevated the bnei Yisroel to such a height that was beyond the reach of the prosecuting angels, similar to being lifted on the wings of eagles. How does this answer the claims against the bnei Yisroel? This is the intention of the Mechilta brought by Rashi, "It is better that the arrow (their complaint) enter into Me, rather than into my children. (Chidushei HaRI"M)

Ch. 19, v. 6: "Eileh hadvorim" - Rashi says, "Exactly these words, no more and no less." Why is this stressed by the giving of the Torah over any other prophecy that Moshe was told?

1) Since Moshe realized that the whole purpose of creation was dependent upon accepting the Torah, and that this would also be the greatest treasure that is imaginable for a nation to receive, there was a fear that Moshe might ENHANCE the words of Hashem to entice the bnei Yisroel to accept the Torah. (Emes L'Yaakov)

2) Moshe was about to become the transmitter of the Torah. It was absolutely necessary to warn him that he would be deserving of this position only if he would not alter the word of Hashem by even one iota. (Emes L'Yaakov)

Ch. 19, v. 9: "V'gam b'cho yaaminu l'olom" - The Rambam in hilchos Yesodei haTorah (8:1,2,3) explains how the prophecy of Moshe can never be refuted, as stated in this verse. The Rambam expounds and expands this idea in his famous "Igeres Teimon." How is it then, that throughout the generations, there were bnei Yisroel who did not believe in his prophecy? The Holy Admor of Satmar writes that the non-believers are the "eirev rav" or their descendants. The K'hilas Yaakov answers that one can become a non-believer by studying heresy.

Ch. 19, v. 10: " Ha'yom umochor" - Seemingly, the verse says that the Torah will be given two days later, but Moshe added a day according to his understanding of the intention of the verse. The gemara Y'vomos 62a says that this is one of three places where Moshe ruled according to his own understanding and Hashem went along with Moshe's ruling. This lesson was absolutely necessary at the time of the giving of the Torah. One should not chas v'sholom think that he is capable of reading and the understanding the Torah on his own. Without the interpretation of the Torah authorities, we cannot fathom the true meaning of the Torah. "Do not deviate from the matter that the Rabbis will relate to you, neither right nor left (Dvorim 17:11)."

Ch. 19, v. 11: "L'einei KOL ho'om" - Rashi quotes a Mechilta which says that from here we derive that at Mount Sinai, prior to the giving of the Torah, everyone was healed. Possibly, this is why many hospitals have been named Sinai or Mount Sinai.

Ch. 19, v. 12, 13: "Hishomru ...... u'ngo'ah b'kotzeihu. Lo siga bo yad" - What are the two prohibitions? The Ibn Ezra, the Rosh, and the Baalei Tosfos answer that the Torah first warns against ascending the mountain or even touching it, under the penalty of death. If a person has transgressed and the court wants to immediately carry out the punishment, it is warned, "Lo siga BO yad," Do not come into contact with him, the transgressor (not the mountain), since you would also be entering the restricted area. "Ki," rather, "sokol y'sokeil ......," Stone him from a distance.

Ch. 19, v. 13: "HEIMOH yaalu vohor" - Who are the antecedents of the pronoun "heimoh?" The Ibn Ezra says in the name of Rabbi Shmuel ben Chofni that this was permission for Aharon and the seventy Elders ONLY, to ascend the mountain. The rest of the bnei Yisroel were restricted from ascending because of a residual sanctity that remained on the mountain until the building of the Tabernacle. The Maharil Diskin says that it seems to be the opinion of Rabbi Saadiah Gaon that not only was permission granted for all of the bnei Yisroel to ascend, but possibly it was even a COMMAND, to indicate that the sanctity had ceased.

Ch. 19, v. 17: "B'sachtis ho'hor" - The gemara Shabbos 88a says that these words teach us that Hashem lited Mount Sinai above the bnei Yisroel and told them that if they accept the Torah, all is good and fine. If not, they would be buried under this mountain. Thia amounts to coercing the bnei Yisroel to accept the Torah. There is a well known question. If the bnei Yisroel willingly accepted the Torah, as it says (24:7) "na'a'seh v'nishmoh," why was coercion necessary? There are many answer to this. I await your responses. Time and space permitting, your responses will bl"n be listed next week.

Ch. 19, v. 19: "Moshe y'da'beir v'ho'Elokim yaanenu v'kol" - When a prayer for the healing of a person is said on Shabbos, "mi she'beirach l'choleh," the words "Shabbos hi milizoke" are inserted into the prayer. The previous Bobover Rebbe zt"l said that this is alluded to in our verse. Moshe is Mem, SHin, Hei. These are the first letters of "SHabbos Hi Milizoke." When praying on Shabbos in this manner, "v'ho'Elokim yaanenu," Hashem will respond to the supplicant, "v'KOL," with Kuf, Vov, Lamed, "U'rfuoh Krovoh Lovo." (Heard from Rabbi Shmeel Rosengarten z"l, talmid of the previous Bobover Rebbe)

Ch. 20, v. 1: "Va'y'da'beir Elokim" - In this verse, which is a prelude to the Ten Commandments, there are seven words which have twenty-eight letters in them. This is the same as the first verse in the Torah and as the words of "Y'hei Shmei Rabboh ......" The Medrash (I have only found part of this in Yalkut Reuvaini at the beginning of Breishis) says that this teaches us that one who says "Y'hei Shmei Rabboh" with all his strength becomes a partner with Hashem in the creation of the world and in the giving of the Torah. However, upon counting the letters of the words "Y'hei Shmei Rabboh ......" you will find twenty-nine letters. There are a number of resolutions to this disparity in the Beis Yosef on the Tur O.Ch. # 58, d.h. "V'chosav hoRav Dovid Avudrohom."

Ch. 20, v. 1: "Leimor" - This word indicates that the bnei Yisroel should respond to the Ten Commandments. The Mechilta ch. 4, 20:1, says in the name of Rabbi Yishmoel, that the bnei Yisroel responded to every positive commandment with "Hein," YES, and to each negative commandment with "lav," NO. "Zochor" is a positive commandment and "Shomor" is a negative commandment. They were said concurrently, "Zochor v'shomor b'dibur echod (Friday evening prayer of "l'cho dodi"). How did the bnei Yisroel respond upon hearing this commandment? I await your answer.

Ch. 20, v. 2: "Onochi" - The Rambam at the beginning of his Yad Hachazoko, hilchos Yesodei haTorah 1:1, says that this mitzvoh is that one should KNOW, "she'yeida," that there is Hashem. In his Sefer Hamitzvos he says that the mitzvoh is to BELIEVE, "b'he'emnosoh Elokus." Which is it? I heard in the name of Rabbi Chaim Brisker that as far as one's study can bring him to understand Hashem, he fulfills the mitzvoh with understanding. Beyond that point the mitzvoh is to believe.

Ch. 20, v. 2: "Onochi" - Why not the word "Ani?"

1) The gemara Shabbos 88b uses the four letters of "Onochi" as an acronym for a few different four word phrases.

2) The Yalkut Shimoni #286 says that since the bnei Yisroel had just been in Egypt for a few generations they were very fluent in the Egyptian language. The word for "I - Ani" in Egyptian is "Onoch."

3) The Malbim says that "Ani" simply means "I." If one says "ani KOSEIV," it means that I am writing, but not erasing. The stress is on the action and not on the pronoun. If one says "ONOCHI koseiv," the stress is on "I" am writing, but someone else is not writing. Therefore, the Torah says "ONOCHI," I am Hashem, to the exclusion of others.

Ch. 20, v. 3: " Lo y'h'ye l'cho elohim acheirim AL PONOY" - The Rambam at the beginning of hilchos avodoh zoroh, 1:1, says that idol worship evolved through people saying that celestial bodies are the ministers of Hashem, which do His bidding, and help make Hashem's world inhabitable. People felt that by giving honour to Hashem's agents, they were honouring Hashem. This spiralled further downwards to the point that people deified the agents themselves. Since giving honour to a king's appointees indeed gives honour to the king, what was wrong with the first stage?

The Maharil Diskin answers that it is proper to honour the king's ministers, but only when the king is not present. We find that Urioh gave honour to a general in King Dovid's army in front of the king and Dovid considered this to be a rebellious act. Hashem is the Omnipresent, "Mlo chol ho'oretz kvodo." Therefore it is wrong to show honour to any of Hashem's agents. This is the intention of the words "al ponoy."

Ch. 20. v. 8: "ZOCHOR" - The following appeared in Sedrah Selections parshas Vo'es'chanan. Since it had a very limited readership at that time, I take the liberty of offering it once again. In the Ten Commandments in Yisro, the word "ZOCHOR" is used, and in parshas Vo'es'chanan the word "SHOMOR" is used.

Which of these was etched into the tablets?

1) The Ibn Ezra (Yisro) brings the opinion of one of his colleagues, that both appeared.

2) The Ibn Ezra brings another opinion, that since the letters were etched all the way through the stone, there was text appearing on both sides. Through a miracle, one side showed "zochor" and one side showed "shomor".

3) The Ibn Ezra himself disagrees with all the opinions he quotes, and says that only "zochor" was written. The Ramban (Yisro) also says that only "zochor" was written on both sets of tablets.

4) There is an opinion that the first tablets had "zochor" and the second had "shomor."

5) Another opinion is that the first had "shomor" and the second had "zochor."

It is possible to connect some of the above opinions with a Yerushalmi Sh'kolim 6:1. Rabbi Chanina ben Gamliel says that each set of tablets had ten commandments, five on each side. The Rabonon disagree and say each set of tablets had twenty commandments, a full set of ten on each side. Possibly, according to the Rabonon, since the full text appeared twice on each set of luchos, one tablet may have had "zochor" and the other "shomor."

MVRHRH"G Rav Yaakov Kamenecki brought a proof that "shomor" appeared on the luchos, from the words in the amidah of Shabbos Shacharis, "V'chosuv bohem SHMIRAS Shabbos."

Ch. 20, v. 8,11: "Zochor es yom haShabbos ...... Ki sheishes yomim - Remember the Shabbath day ...... Because in six days Hashem made the heavens and the earth and He rested on the seventh day." The Torah commands us to keep the Shabbos in these Ten Commandments with very different reasoning from that found in the second time in Dvorim 5:12,15, "Shomor es yom haShabbos ...... V'zocharto ki eved ho'yiso ...... va'yotziacho Hashem - "Guard the Shabbath day... And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and Hashem, your G-d, has taken you out from there."

"Zochor - remember" is explained to differentiate Shabbath from the six weekdays.

"Shomor - guard" is explained to express our holy covenant, forged by our leaving Egypt [and accepting Torah at Har Sinai]. Why are two different explanations used for these two commandments?

"Remember the Shabbos," commands us to remember one specific day each week. Its explanation must focus on why that particular day is unique. Therefore, the Torah explains, "Because in six days Hashem has created the heavens and the earth ...... and Hashem rested on the seventh day." Remembering Shabbos differentiates it from the other days.

"Guard the Shabbath" commands us to not do creative work on Shabbos. Refraining from creative work does not differentiate Shabbos from other workdays, as one can refrain from creative work on any other day of the week as well. Rather, "Guard the Shabbos" expresses a more intimate connection with Hashem, Who created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. The explanation leads to another question. If all human beings were created by Hashem, why don't they all share the mitzvah of Shabbos? To this the Torah says, "You were a slave in the land of Egypt, and Hashem has taken YOU out ......"

The bnei Yisroel have a special connection to Hashem, which was forged upon their leaving Egypt and having accepted their unique spiritual mission at Har Sinai through their "kabolas haTorah." Thus, only they are commanded to keep this special, intimate, and divine connection. (Mahara"l of Prague in Tiferes Yisroel, chapter #44)


Why does the Torah use the word "B'KIAH" for the splitting of the "yam suf" (14:21), and Chazal call it "KRIAS yam suf?" See the Shem MiShmuel (son of the Avnei Neizer) on 14:21 for an answer. I have difficulty with his answer from a Rashi 17:6 who says "v'hatzur NIVKA miponov."


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