CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS B'SHALACH 5772 - BS"D
1) Ch. 14, v. 9: "Kol sus" - Every horse - On the words in Shir Hashirim 1:9, "L'susosi b'richvei Pharoh dimisich ra'yosi" - to a female horse with the chariots of Paroh I have likened you my friend - the Holy Zohar writes that the male horses saw a vision of female horses and this spurred them on to travel forward. Some interpret this to mean that an image appeared in front of the horses in Yam Suf, and this appealing vision caused them to run into the Yam. Shaa'rei Aharon explains this to mean that Paroh harnessed female horses to the front of his chariots and males behind. Upon seeing the female horses the male horses became stimulated and indicated this with certain sounds. The females, who were in no mood for such activities while in the middle of military duty, ran forward in an attempt to get away. This propelled the chariots forward at an amazing speed. When they came upon the bnei Yisroel, Paroh strategically switched their positions, placing the males in front, as they are stronger, readying for combat.
All of this is good and fine. However, how does it explain the words in Shir Hashirim, comparing the bnei Yisroel, Hashem's friend, to female horses that pulled Paroh's chariot?
2) Ch. 14, v. 30: "MEIS al sfas ha'yam" - Targum Yonoson ben Uziel translates "MEIS" as "dead and not dead." The verse clearly says "meis" so how does he translate it as "dead and NOT dead?"
3) Ch. 15, v. 21: "Sus v'rochvo" - If the bnos Yisroel sang the complete "shiroh," why are only these words written, and if they sang only these words, why did they sing only this excerpt of the full "shiroh?"
4) Ch. 15, v. 25: "Shom som lo chok u'mishpot" - Rashi (gemara Sanhedrin 56b) says that Moshe taught them introductory lessons in the laws of Shabbos, "poroh adumoh," and monetary rulings. An introduction to Shabbos and monetary matters being taught at this point in time is understood, but why teach the bnei Yisroel laws of "poroh adumoh" since it would not be relevant until the Mishkon would be erected during their second year in the desert?
5) Ch. 16, v. 33: "Kach tzintze'nes achas v'sen shomoh m'l ho'omer mon …… l'doroseichem" - Since the command to save a jar of manna is "l'doroseichem," for all generations, why don't those who list the 613 mitzvos include this precept?
The Kedushas Levi explains that normally a wagon driver controls his horses, giving them guidance in direction, to begin moving, and to come to a stop. The M.R. says that when the chariots of Paroh came to the bank of Yam Suf Paroh the drivers were unable to stop the horses from running into the water. Perhaps this was because the ground under them became a morass of hot mud, as per the M.R. Upon seeing water they were spurred to run into it to find relief. In any case, the horses and not the riders were in control, contrary to the norm. This is the intention of this verse. As a rule, Hashem dictates. In this verse in the Song of Songs, Hashem is extolling the love He has for the bnei Yisroel, saying that they are likened to the horses that led Paroh's chariots. Just as the horses were in control, in spite of the wishes of the driver, so too, Hashem issues edicts that are sometimes negative. His beloved, the bnei Yisroel, through their heartfelt prayers, are in control and can turn around the edict.
Yalkut Shimoni #237 on 14:13 similarly says that the Egyptians died on the shore. They translate "MEIS" as "dying," a verb, and not "dead," an adjective.
The Beis Yitzchok answers that we know that the goal of the exodus from Egypt was to receive the Torah, as mentioned in Shmos 3:12. Women are exempt from the mitzvoh of Torah study (gemara Sotoh 21a). However the gemara Brochos 17a and Sotoh 21a says that women have the merit of Torah study by virtue of facilitating the Torah study of their husbands and children. The proof that a facilitator has equal merit as the one who actually carries out the act is seen from the fact that the horses of Paroh's army also drown along with the riders. The horses had done nothing wrong and were only punished as facilitators. Since Hashem's measure of reward is vastly greater than of punishment, (gemara Makos 5b) the women who facilitated the exodus from Egypt, as is mentioned in the M.R. Shmos 1:16 that in the merit of the righteous women the bnei Yisroel were liberated from Egypt, would surely deserve a great reward. This is why the drowning of the horses along with their riders is specifically mentioned.
This might give us another answer to the question mentioned above about the use of the word "lohe*M* rather than "lohe*N*." Since Miriam sang the verse which indicated that the women were on an equal footing with the men, she used the word "lohe*M*" in the masculine form to indicate this.
Tosfos on the gemara B'choros 56a d.h. "Ein" asks, "According to the opinion of Shmuel that "mei chatos" drawn from any body of water is not valid for "poroh adumoh" except that drawn from the Euphrates during the month of Tishrei, how did the bnei Yisroel purify those who were defiled in the desert, Misho'eil and Eltzofon, who involved themselves with the burial of Nodov and Avihu, to allow them to partake of the Paschal lamb? They were not in the vicinity of the Euphrates."
We can answer this by saying that the reason all other bodies of water are disqualified is that we need "mayim chaim," live spring water. This excludes almost all bodies of water and even the Euphrates for most of the year because we fear that the majority of the water found in these rivers, lakes, etc., is rainwater and not the original spring fed water. In Egypt it does not rain, thus this concern does not apply there. The Ibn Ezra on Shmos 3:1 says that Har Sinai is also called "Choreivoh," dry, because it is a three day distance from Egypt and it is very hot and dry there, with no rainfall.
Moroh is very close to Har Sinai and also experiences no rainfall. There is therefore no fear that any body of water in the vicinity has a majority of rainfall in it at any time of the year.
The Rambam in hilchos "poroh adumoh" 10:2 writes that one may collect water to use as "mei chatos" well before he plans to use it, as long as it is properly guarded.
When the bnei Yisroel came upon this body of water in Moroh, they were eager to draw some and save it for the "poroh adumoh" ritual, as they had no idea when they would again come upon water in the dry desert. However, the Rambam in hilchos mikvo'ose 9:7 writes that bitter water is disqualified as "mei chatos." Once Moshe sweetened the waters of Moroh, they became acceptable as "mei chatos." This is why Moshe taught them some of the laws of "poroh adumoh," so that they might draw from its waters and properly guard it for later use. (Rabbi Chaim Berlin)
Rabbi Chaim Brisker answers that the command "l'doroseichem" does not mean that all future generations are also required to maintain a jar of manna as testimony to the sustenance that the bnei Yisroel had while in the desert, but rather, a command to Moshe only to set aside a jar of manna for all future generations to see. A mitzvoh that is not binding on all generations is not included in the 613 precepts.
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