Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 10, v. 1: "Bo" - Why are the plagues divided between parshas Vo'eiro and parshas Bo? Why not have them all occurring in one parsha?

2) Ch. 10, v. 5: "V'lo yuchal liros" - Who will not be able to see?

3) Ch. 10, v. 11: "O'SOH attem m'vakshim" - What is the antecedent of the pronoun "osoh?"

4) Ch. 10, v. 21: "Vihi choshech al eretz Mitzroyim" - The Medrash Tanchuma on our parsha #1 and the M.R. 14:1 bring the verse in T'hilim 105:28, "Sholach choshech va'yachashich V'LO MORU es dvoro," saying that it refers to the plague of darkness. Who is the antecedent of "v'lo moru"?

5) Ch. 12, v. 30: "Ki ein bayis asher ein shom meis" - If only the firstborn were slain, why did every home have a dead person?

Answer to questions on parshas Vo'eiro:

1) Ch. 6, v. 12: "Hein bnei Yisroel lo shomu eilei v'eich yishmo'eini Paroh" - The "kal vochomer" 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.

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 interpretation 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 koshoh" 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 koshoh" 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 koshoh," a difficult challenge, after his efforts to intercede on behalf of 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.

2) Ch. 6, v. 14,15,16: "Bnei Reuvein, U'vnei Shimon, V'eileh SHMOS bnei Levi" - Why does the verse add the word SHMOS by the tribe of Levi and not by Reuvein or Shimon?

1) The Rokei'ach answers that SHMOS alludes to the Levite family line of Moshe, K'hos, Amrom, and Moshe, whose first letters Kuf-Ayin-Mem have the numerical value of 210, the number of years that the bnei Yisroel lived in Egypt.

2) The Shalo"h answers that since the L'viim were not enslaved Levi showed his concern and pain for his brethren by naming his children "Gershon," the bnei Yisroel are GEIRIM in a land that is not theirs, "K'hos," their teeth ached, KEIHOS, and "M'rori," the Egyptians embittered their lives, VA'Y'MOR'RU. (This is similar to the gemara Sotoh 36b, which relates that Binyomin gave names to all ten of his sons that indicated different sorrows that either Yoseif or he himself went through because of Yoseif's being separated from the family.)

It seems that Levi gave the names before all this took place in a spirit of prophecy of what the future held.

3) Ch. 7, v. 15: "Hi'nei yotzei hamaymoh" - Rashi (M.R. 9:8) says that Paroh went to the river early in the morning to relieve himself. Throughout the day he would not relieve himself, and thus claimed that he was a deity, very small d. We may assume that he justified his early morning aquatic activities as either being something enjoyable to start off his day, or that it was part of his physical fitness programme. (The Ibn Ezra on 8:16 gives us another reason.) Once the plague of blood came and the water became putrid and gave off a strong stench (7:21), how did Paroh justify his "hashkomoh," early morning, jaunt to the river? Did he give up this practice and admit that he was a plain human?

The Targum Yonoson ben Uziel translates "Va'yi'fen Paroh" (verse 23) as, "and Paroh relieved himself." On the words "v'lo shos libo gam l'zose" later on in verse 23, we have numerous explanations for the word GAM, see Rashi, Ramban, Rashbam, Sforno, and Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh. Perhaps, according to the Targum Yonoson ben Uziel a new explanation emerges. Besides the devastating suffering caused by the water turning to blood, Paroh personally suffered a second blow. This was that his unwavering visits to the river in the morning even when the water turned to blood, in spite of its severe stench, made him very suspect in the eyes of the Egyptians. Paroh still went to the river to relieve himself and took not to heart ALSO this second setback.

4) Ch. 8, v. 17: "V'GAM HO'ADOMOH asher heim o'lehoh." Since the plague is a mixture of wild animals, what does "the earth upon which they find themselves" have to do with the plague?

1) If an Egyptian ran into Goshen to escape the wild animals, they would pursue him into Goshen. (Divrei Sho'ul) However, the simple meaning of the words of verse 18, "V'hifleisi ...... es Eretz Goshen asher ami o'leho l'vilti heyose shom orove" seems counter-indicative to this explanation. Indeed, the Tosfos Hasholeim brings an opinion that from these words we see that an Egyptian entering the bnei Yisroel's community of Goshen would escape the wrath of the wild animals. There is a second opinion of the Tosfos Hasholeim that says the same, but derives it from the words of the next verse, "V'samti f'dus." See comment on Ch. 9, v. 4, below.

The Ramban says that if an animal of a member of the bnei Yisroel would leave Goshen it would still not be attacked by the wild animals. This is derived from the Torah saying "V'samti f'dus" in verse 19, which is above and beyond what the Torah already indicated as a distinction between the Egyptians and the bnei Yisroel in verse 18 with the word "V'hifleisi."

2) The Sforno says that these words teach us that the ground on which the houses stand will be infested with snakes and the like, which will come to the surface from below, so that the Egyptians would not be safe even in enclosed fortified buildings. However, the Ibn Ezra says that these words specifically mean the open areas where there are no houses.

3) Since the mixture of animals included every species, a problem arises. The mishneh K'layim 8:5 mentions a creature called Adnei Haso'deh which looks like a human and receives its nourishment through an umbilical like cord which is attached to the ground. There are other very unusual features to this unique creature. If its umbilical cord is severed it perishes. How then would this creature make the trip to Egypt? The Rebbe Reb Heshel and the GR"A say that these words teach us that a section of ground which had the cord of this creature attached to it was also transported to Egypt.

4) The Arugas Habosem says that these words teach us that the CLIMATE of the land in which the animals normally reside was brought along with them. Since a change from hot, warm, or cold to another condition could be fatal, it was necessary to bring along the climate.

5) Haksav V'hakaboloh translates V'GAM as "and it will CUT," from the verb source GOMOM. This means that Paroh was warned that the wild animals would also "damage the earth." A similar translation is given by the Ari z"l on the verse in Koheles 11:3, "Ten cheilek l'shivoh v'GAM lishmonoh," which Rashi says in one interpretation refers to the mitzvoh of bris miloh which is done on the eighth day of a male child's life. The Ari z"l says that this is alluded to in the words "v'GAM lishmonoh," which mean "and CUT on the eighth day."

We see that the wild animals indeed destroyed the ground as mentioned in verse 20, "U'v'chol Eretz Mitzrayim tishocheis ho'oretz mipnei ho'orove."

Please note that only according to explanations 1,2, and 5 does the placement of the words "V'gam ho'adomoh asher heim o'lehoh" at the end of the verse flow smoothly. According to explanations 3 and 4, had these words been placed directly after the word "orove" they would be more cohesive than at the end of the verse, interrupting the description of what is being brought as a plague with where the effect will take place, and then returning to again describe what is being brought as a plague.

5) Ch. 9, v. 29: "K'tzeisi es ho'ir" - Why specifically 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 out-shout 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'pai," 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."



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

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