Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 14, v. 3: "V'omar Paroh LIVNEI Yisroel" - Rashi says REGARDING the bnei Yisroel. Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says TO Doson and Avirom, who were left in Egypt. If they didn't want to leave, why didn't they die during makas choshech?

2) Ch. 14, v. 6: "V'es amo lokach imo" - How many people did he bring along? The Rokei'ach says that he took along 900,000,000 people. How does he arrive at this number?

3) Ch. 14, v. 16: "HO'REIM es mat'cho" - Did Moshe use the STAFF to split the sea?

4) Ch. 14, v. 27: "L'ei'sono" - "Lis'no'o," to its STIPULATION (M.R. 21:6, Yalkut Shimoni #236). A condition was made with the sea at the time of creation that although its norm was to flow continuously, at this time the sea should split. If so, why is this mentioned here, at the time that it went back to its norm of flowing? It should have been mentioned in verse 21 when it was required to split.

5) Ch. 15, v. 21: "Vataan lo'hem Miriam shiru laShem ki go'o go'oh sus v'rochvo romoh va'yom" - By the song of praise of the men that there was mention of being saved (verses 13,16,17,19) besides mentioning the downfall of the Egyptians. However, Miriam only mentioned the downfall of the Egyptians in her song of praise and no mention is made of the women being saved. Why?



The Eidus BI'hoseif says that only those who knew that a permanent departure was planned, and still didn't want to leave, deserved to die. Since Doson and Avirom were confirmed informants to Paroh, they were not advised of the true plan, but were told that the bnei Yisroel would only be traveling for three days. Being unwilling to go for three days did not deserve death.


The opinion of the Medrash Tanchuma on our parsha chapter 1 is that "vachamushim olu vnei Yisroel mei'eretz Mitzroyim" (13:18) means one out of 500. If Paroh was not aware of the death of 499 out of 500 people, he thought that there were 300,000,000 bnei Yisroel who left. If we explain that "v'sholishim al kulo" (14:7) means that he sent three men after each of the bnei Yisroel, when we triple the number 300,000,000 we arrive at the 900,000,000 people mentioned by the Rokei'ach.


1) Targum Yonoson ben Uziel (2:21, 14,21) says that he did.

2) Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer ch. 42 says that he attempted to split the sea with the staff, but failed. He split it by only raising his hand when the Divine Presence appeared.

3) Medrash Shochar Tov on T'hilim 106 and 114 brings both opinions.

4) The Rosh, in the name of his father, Rabbi Yechiel of Paris, says that the bnei Yisroel did not feel that Moshe was a Divine Messenger of Hashem. They thought that the STAFF could bring about miraculous happenings even in the hands of a mediocre person. Hashem therefore told Moshe to PUT ASIDE (HO'REIM means SEPARATE, as in T'rumoh) his STAFF, and split the sea with the use of his hand only. Indeed, after the sea split it says (verse 30), "va'yaaminu BaShem u'v'Moshe avdo." Only now did they believe in Moshe, as he wrought a miracle without the use of his STAFF.

Rabbi Yechiel brings a Medrash Shochar Tov to support his opinion. (Above in #3 I have brought two locations in the M.Sh.T., but have not found Rabbi Yechiel's medrash yet.) The medrash relates a story of a king who agreed to allow his loyal servant to stroll through the royal botanical gardens. The guard of the gardens had strict orders to not allow anyone into the royal gardens except for the gardeners and the king. The king wrote a note to the effect that this servant be allowed entry. It was sealed with the king's official seal. The servant appeared in front of the guard and showed him the note. The guard responded that although he recognized this as a royal edict, he would not grant permission for entry. He said that the king specifically ordered him to only allow entry to the gardeners and the king. The king never told him that a person bearing a letter with permission to enter may be allowed in. (Does this remind you of dealing with the gov't?)

The servant related this incident to the king. The king personally escorted his servant to the royal botanical gardens. Upon seeing the king, the guard ran away in fear. The king demanded that he stop running away, and asked him why he was running. The guard responded that he feared the king's wrath because he had not allowed the king's servant to enter. The king responded that there was nothing to fear, as the guard had been right in refusing the servant entrance to the garden. Similarly, says the medrash, at the time of creation, Hashem commanded the sea to flow. When Moshe came with his STAFF, he said, "I am here with a royal edict (the Holy Name etched into the STAFF), to have you split." The sea responded that Hashem commanded it to flow continuously. Moshe returned to Hashem, saying that he was unsuccessful in splitting the sea. Hashem's Divine Presence escorted Moshe to the sea. Upon seeing the Divine Presence, the sea ran away. Hashem said that there is no need to run as the sea has fulfilled Hashem's wishes. This is what is meant by (T'hilim 114:5) "Ma l'cho hayom ki sonus." However, you are commanded to split. We see clearly from this story in the medrash that Moshe split the sea WITHOUT the use of his STAFF.


1) The Sfas Emes answers that once the sea split and this brought about a world-wide sanctification of Hashem, as all nations were aware of what happened and a great fear of Hashem gripped them (15:16), the water was reluctant to flow again. It wanted to remain as a wall and be a permanent sanctification of the powers of Hashem. Therefore a condition was made with the water at the time of creation that it should flow continuously, save for the time of the crossing. We can now understand the statement of the gemara Sanhedrin 22a that it is as difficult to create a match between a man and a woman as the "krias yam suf." This comparison is hard to comprehend. The match brings together, but the splitting of the sea separates. According to the above it can be understood. A single person sometimes feels that he or she can accomplish a lot more while single, without family responsibilities, than when married (see gemara Kiddushin 29b, "reichayim al tzavoro v'yaasok baTorah?"). This is like the sea wanting to remain split and thus serving Hashem. However, Hashem wants people to serve Him and do His mitzvos also while married. The comparison to "krias yam suf" is to the sea becoming one again, just like marriage, where the two souls were once one, then separated into two people, which now become one again, in marriage. 2) To answer this another question will be posed. The gemara Chulin 7a relates that Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir was on his way to attempt to fulfill the great mitzvoh of redeeming captured people, "pidyone shvuyim." He came upon the River Gino'i and was unable to cross it. He needed to be on the other side to accomplish what he set out to do. He spoke to the river and demanded that it split for him. The river refused to cooperate, saying that if it would continue to flow it would SURELY be fulfilling the will of its Creator, as Rashi there explains that in Koheles 1:7 it says, "Kol hancholim holchim el ha'yom," all rivers must flow into the sea. However if it were to stop flowing to accommodate Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir, he is DOUBTFUL if he will be successful in freeing the captured people, thus the fulfillment of Hashem's will is not a sure thing. Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir responded that if the river would not cooperate he would pray to Hashem that the river should permanently dry up and thus cease to exist. Upon hearing this threat the river promptly split.

The splitting of this river is not recorded anywhere as being a condition set into motion at the time of its creation. (See the commentary of Rabbi Shlomo Kluger "Y'ri'ose Shlomo," printed in the Rabbi Yaakov Emdin prayer book, on the words of the Amidoh for Chanukah , "Ulcho osiso tshu'oh g'doloh ka'yom ha'zeh" where he differentiates between miracles that were stipulated at the time of creation and miracles that were not.) If Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir was able to cause a river to split, Moshe could surely do the same, so why was it necessary to stipulate this at the time of the creation of the Yam Suf?

To answer this question we have to analyze the details of the above-mentioned story. Why with the demand to split did the river not cooperate and yet with the threat that Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir would pray to Hashem to have it permanently dry up did it cooperate? The answer is that the river was right in stating that it had the priority over Rabbi Pinchos because of its SURELY fulfilling the Creator's will. However, if the river would cease to exist there is no contravention of the verse in Koheles, as only a river is commanded to flow into the sea, but if there is no river existent there is no command to flow. This was the intention of Rabbi Pinchos when he threatened to cause the river to permanently dry up.

However, Moshe was unable to do the same. To ask the Yam Suf to split wouldn't work, as per the response of the River Gino'i to Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir. To threaten to have the Yam Suf totally dry up was also not an option, as Hashem had ordained that the Yam Suf continue to exist so that it may later drown the Egyptians. Only Hashem could cause the Yam Suf to split. Indeed the M.R. says that the Yam Suf did not split at the bidding of Moshe and only did so when the Divine Presence demanded that it split.

This is the intention of the M.R. in parshas Breishis. It states that HASHEM stipulated a condition with the Yam Suf. If you will ask why it is necessary to have HASHEM make this pre-condition since Moshe could have caused it to split with the threat of causing it to dry up totally, as did Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir, the answer is that Hashem also required that the Yam Suf return to its strength and flow again to drown the Egyptians. Moshe was therefore unable to cause the Yam Suf to totally dry up. To demand the Yam Suf to only split was also impossible, as it was SURELY fulfilling the will of Hashem by flowing, while Moshe taking the bnei Yisroel successfully through the Yam Suf was NOT A SURE THING. Indeed, we find that while they were in the middle of the Yam Suf an angel complained to Hashem that the bnei Yisroel and the Egyptians should be treated equally, as there were idol worshippers in both groups. (Likutei Shoshanim)


This is explained by the Tiferes Y'honoson:

1) The gemara Gitin 38a says that the animals belonging to the bnei Yisroel are more beloved to idol worshippers than their own wives. If so, the wives of the bnei Yisroel are surely dear to them. Thus even if the bnei Yisroel would have ch"v been attacked, the women would have been saved.

2) We find in Shmos 1:22 that Paroh decreed that only the male newborns be drowned since his wise men foretold that the saviour of the bnei Yisroel would meet his end through water. The women were thus foretold that they would not meet their end through water, and felt assured that they would not drown upon entering the Yam.

3) The gemara Sotoh 11b says that in the merit of the righteous women were the bnei Yisroel redeemed from Egypt. They realized that they had a greater merit than the men had and were in less danger of being destroyed by either the Egyptians or the Yam.



See also Sedrah Selections, Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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