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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 18, v. 3,4: "Ki omar ger hoyisi b'eretz nochrioh, Ki Elokei ovi b'ezri" - Because he said a sojourner was I in a foreign land, Because the G-d of my father is my support - Why in the second verse don't we have "ki omar?" The first verse tells us that Moshe said that he once was a sojourner in a foreign land, past tense. This is because after a while he was no longer a sojourner and the land was no longer foreign to him. "The G-d of my father is my support" is not to be expressed with "ki omar," - he once said - indicating that this is ch"v no longer true. (Degel Machaneh Efrayim)

Ch. 18, v. 6: "Va'yomer el Moshe ani chosencho Yisro boh ei'lecho" - And he said to Moshe I am your father-in-law Yisro who is coming to you - The Ramban explains that Yisro sent a letter to Moshe advising him that he was on the way. Regarding numerous matter halachic authorities deal with the question of whether or not writing has the same weight as speaking. Responsa Maharsha"m 6:60 derives from these words of the Ramban that it does. The verse says "Va'yomer el Moshe," and the Ramban says that Yisro wrote to Moshe.

Ch. 18, v. 6: "Ani chosencho Yisro boh ei'lecho" - I am your father-in-law Yisro who is coming to you - Rashi says that Yisro sent the message that if Moshe would not be willing to come out to greet him, he should at least do so in deference of his wife's coming, and if he would not go out for her, he should do so out of deference of his children. Taamo Dikro explains that Moshe's not going to greet Yisro might be because Yisro had converted to Judaism and is considered a person with a new identity, and as such, is no longer his father-in-law. He might not go out to greet Tziporoh because he had given her a writ of divorce, as per the Medrash on the words "achar shiluchehoh." However, he should surely come out to greet his children.

Ch. 18, v. 20: "Asher yaasun" - That they shall do - The gemara B.K. 99a and B.M. 30b say that this phrase teaches us that not only is it incumbent upon us to do as the clinical law dictates, but we are also to go beyond the letter of the law, "lifnim mishuras hadin." The gemara applies this to being yielding with one's money, and to pay another even when we are not required to do so by the strict letter of the law. Sefer Chasidim #323 writes that it is preferable to join with a person who is a total boor in Torah knowledge who is yielding in money matters than with a Torah scholar who is not. In entry #1,075 that he who is magnanimous and generous with his money, when he gives a loan, the borrower will be successful in his use of this money. We find this by Iyov, as is stated in the gemara B.B. 15b.

Ch. 19, v. 22: "V'gam haHohanim" - And also the Kohanim - Matan Torah took place before Aharon and his descendants were given the position of K'hunoh. Who are the Kohanim?

1) Aharon and his sons - They are called Kohanim here since in the future they would replace the firstborn as Kohanim. (Ralbag)
2) The firstborn - (Rabbi Avrohom ben hoRambam)
3) The ministers, leaders of the tribes (Rabbi Avrohom ben hoRambam)
4) The seventy elders - (Chizkuni)
5) The ministers and judges - (Chizkuni)
6) The firstborn are indicated through the word "v'gam" and Aharon and his sons are the Kohanim. (Ibn Ezra Ezra)

Ch. 19, v. 23: "Lo yuchal ho'om laalose el Har Sinai ki atoh ha'eidosoh bonu" - The nation will not be able to ascend Har Sinai because You have warned us - In verse 21 Hashem tells Moshe to descend and warn the masses again (see verse 12) to not ascend Har Sinai. What sort of response is this on Moshe's part? The Ibn Ezra cites Rabbi Saadioh Gaon who says that our verse has puzzled him for years. It was only when he came upon a book of protocols for the Persian kings, where it says that when the king tells his messenger to do a task, the messenger, even though he has completed it, should not tell the king that he has completed the task until the king gives him another job to do. Moshe's response came here only after Hashem told him to warn the people again. At this point it was appropriate to say that he had completed the previous task, and therefore the nation cannot ascend the mountain. This was in no way questioning the need to tell them again.

The Ibn Ezra himself offers that since in verse 22 Hashem tells Moshe, "Pen yehersu liros," Moshe wondered if there was now an additional prohibition, that of even peering at the happenings taking place on Har Sinai. Moshe said that the nation will not ascend the mountain, as that is all he told them previously, but should he add a restriction against looking? Hashem answered (verse 24) that the restriction is limited to ascent only.

The Mahari"k explains that Moshe questioned who was included in the ban. Since in verse 21 Hashem said "ho'eid bo'OM," Moshe thought that both he and Aharon might be included. (This is evidenced by "Ki atoh ha'eidoso BONU," and not "bo'hem." Possibly the reading of the whole phrase, "Lo yuchal ho'om laalose el Har Sinai ki atoh ha'eidoso bonu" is to be read as a question. "Is the complete nation, included Aharon and me not allowed to ascend since You have restricted US?") To this Hashem responded (verse 24) "V'oliso atoh v'Aharon."

The Rokei'ach says that Hashem indicated to Moshe His great modesty, that Moshe may speak his mind to Hashem.

Mo'ore Ho'a'feiloh says that Moshe was so eager to stay in the heavens in Hashem's presence that he simply wanted to stay there longer, and said that there might be no need to warn them again.

Ch. 20, v. 2: "Onochi" - I - The gemara Gitin 57b relates that the king of Rome forced a woman and her seven sons to appear in front of him. He threatened her oldest son with death if he would not bow down to an idol. He refused, citing our verse. This horrible scene repeated itself another six times, with each child refusing to bow down. Each son quoted a different verse to show that idol worship is prohibited. The Maharsh"o asks why they didn't all cite the same verse. He answers that these children were put to the test one per day, starting on Sunday. Each one said a verse corresponding to that day of the week in relation to the days of creation. AYIN SHOM and finish this vort.

Ch. 20, v. 2: "Asher hotzeisicho mei'eretz Mitzrayim mi'beis avodim" - Who has taken you out of the land Egypt from the house of slaves - The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh asks why there is a seemingly superfluous phrase "mi'beis avodim" here. Perhaps this is a lead-in to the next verse, "Lo yi'h'yeh l'cho elohim acherim al ponoy." Even though we were taken out of Egypt by Hashem, if we don't cleanse ourselves of the "slave to a master" mentality to anyone or anything besides Hashem, we are really deifying another. "Ein ode milvado" (Dvorim 4:35). (n.l.)

Ch. 20, v. 3: "Lo yi'h'yeh l'cho elohim acherim al ponoy" - Let there be no god for you in My presence - The gemara Y'vomos 47a relates a conversation between Noami and her daughter-in-law Rus. They were discussing Rus's becoming a convert to Judaism. One point Noami raised to dissuade Rus from accepting this awesome responsibility was that the Torah prescribes 613 precepts. Rus responded "amcho ami" (Rus 1:16). Noami then says that serving false gods is prohibited and Rus responded "vEilokayich Elokoy." Since Noami already said that there were 613 mitzvos, which include the prohibition against serving false gods, why was this enumerated separately? Perhaps Noami first said that there is a major load of 613 mitzvos, but did not enumerate anything. Then she mentioned one of the severest sins. (n.l.)

Ch. 20, v. 13: "Lo saa'neh v'rei'acho eid sho'ker" - Do not testify against your friend testimony that is a lie - In a previous issue we have dealt with the Ibn Ezra's question that was plaguing him for years, of why the verse doesn't say "eidus," testimony. "Eid" means the witness himself. He offers an answer as does the Meshech Chochmoh.

We find another translation for the word-form "eid," and that is "warning," as in "Ho'eid hei'id bonu ho'ish" (Breishis 43:3), in our parsha, "Reid ho'eid bo'om (19:21), and "Ha'eidosi vochem" (Dvorim 30:19). Our verse is discussing testimony regarding a matter that carries capital punishment, as mentioned in the Ibn Ezra here. There is an absolute requirement that the perpetrator of the sin be warned against sinning and told which punishment is administered for transgressing. If the testimony is false, this could well include that there was no warning either, especially based on the explanation of the Meshech Chochmoh that the verse is discussing "eidim zom'mim." We might say that "eid sho'ker" means that their testimony of warning is a lie. (n.l.)



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

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