Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 10, v. 4: "Hin'ni meivi mochor arbeh" - Although Moshe predicated these words with "Ko omar Hashem," where do we find that Hashem told Moshe of the impending plague of locust?

Ch. 10, v. 7: "Va'yomru avdei Pharoh eilov shalach es ho'anoshim v'yaavdu es Hashem Elokeihem ha'terem teida ki ovdoh Mitzroyim" - And Paroh's servants said to him send the men and they will serve Hashem their G-d do you not yet know that Mitzrayim is lost - Paroh was so impressed with their advice that he had Moshe and Aharon brought back and he asked them who would go on the three-day hiatus to serve Hashem (verse 8). When they responded that absolutely everyone would go and that they planned to take all their livestock as well (verse 9), Paroh countered that only the adult men may go, and had them driven out of his presence (verse 11).

From this point onwards we no longer find Paroh's advisors suggesting that the bnei Yisroel be sent to serve Hashem. What changed? Actually things got even worse as they experienced the devastation of the locusts and the total darkness, yet not a word from them any more.

Ch. 10, v. 21: "V'yomeish choshech" - Rashi says in the name of Targum Onkeles that "v'yomeish" means "and it should be removed." How are we to understand this? Quite to the contrary, the darkness did not leave, but rather it intensified.

Ch. 12, v. 35: "Va'yishalu miMitzrayim" - A) If the translation of "va'yishalu" is "and they BORROWED," how were the bnei Yisroel allowed to keep the Egyptian's possessions? B) We see in 3:18 and 8:23 that Moshe told Paroh that the bnei Yisroel wanted only a three day hiatus into the desert to serve Hashem. Why did Hashem tell Moshe that they would leave permanently (3:17) and how were they allowed to leave permanently?

Ch. 12, v. 42: "Leil shimurim hu laShem l'hotzi'om mei'eretz Mitzroyim hu halailoh ha'zeh laShem shimurim l'chol bnei Yisroel l'dorosom" - A night of guardings it is for Hashem for His taking them out of the land of Egypt it is this night for Hashem guardings for all bnei Yisroel to their generations - There seems to be quite a bit of redundancy in this verse.




Tosfos Hasho'leim answers that Hashem told Moshe all the plagues that He would visit upon Egypt. However, He did not tell Moshe their order. This is why Hashem later told him plague by plague what would next happen. At this point, after seven plagues were already sent, Moshe calculated that locust were next. He knew that the smiting of the firstborn would be the last plague (4:23). He also knew that darkness would be the penultimate plague, as Hashem told him that the bnei Yisroel would leave Egypt with the vessels given them by the Egyptians (3:23). If darkness would not come shortly before the smiting of the firstborn, then the vessels of the Egyptians that the bnei Yisroel would discover during the plague of darkness could be hidden. Moshe deduced that darkness would come on the tail of the smiting of the firstborn, thus not allowing the Egyptians time to hide their vessels. This calculation brought Moshe to the conclusion that locust would be the eighth plague.


The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh answers that Paroh told his servants that they had a good point, but it was inconclusive that Hashem had the power to take the bnei Yisroel out of Egypt against Paroh's will. Moshe had requested a three-day hiatus to serve Hashem, a round-trip ticket for each of the bnei Yisroel. Paroh reasoned that there is the possibility that Moshe would be true to his word and that indeed he only wanted three days for a festival to serve Hashem with sacrifices. If that is the case it surely isn't worth being obstinate at the price of suffering through more plagues, as his servants posited. On the other hand if Moshe's true intention was to permanently leave, why would he request a three-day jaunt to the inhospitable desert? It might just be that Hashem was (ch"v) incapable of extracting them from Egypt proper, as it was under Paroh's domain, but once they would be in the desert, no man's land, He would be able to lead them further afield, i.e. back to Eretz Yisroel. This could be simply clarified by asking Moshe who the intended participants in the sacrificial service would be. When Moshe answered that all would be involved, even young boys and girls, Paroh concluded that the request was a fa?ade, as children never participate in such activities, and that Moshe wanted to lead the bnei Yisroel out of Egypt never to return. He felt assured through this reasoning that Hashem had no power to remove the bnei Yisroel from Egypt and that it was worthwhile to grin and bear it for a while rather than permanently lose such a large free workforce. This reasoning satisfied his servants and not a peep was heard from them afterwards.


1) The Ibn Ezra translates this word the same as the Targum Onkeles and says in the name of Yefes that the standard darkness was required to leave to make room for a different entity, a more intense darkness.

2) The Holy Admor of Schatz shlit"a in his Hagodoh shel Pesach "Hiska'deish Chag" answers this question with the words of Rabbeinu Bachyei. He says that the darkness was actually such an intense light that it blinded the Egyptians. This might be similar to staring directly into sunlight, which blinds a person. If so, we now understand the need for the removal of darkness. Standard light is not intense, as there is an element of its being subdued. This can be considered a bit of darkness in the light itself. Hashem sent a plague of such intense light that the element of darkness in light was removed, resulting in a powerfully blinding light.

3) The Torah T'mimoh, says that the plague of darkness was that the Egyptians contracted cataracts. He bases this on the M.R. 14:1 which says that the darkness was as thick as a dinar. Rest assured that this interpretation is very controversial.


An answer ro the second question will bring us an answer to the first. Regarding the verse in 12:31 "Kumu tz'u mitoch ami" the Yerushalmi P'sochim 5:5 says that Paroh said to Moshe, "Until now your people were my slaves. Now they are the servants of your Hashem." Upon hearing this, the bnei Yisroel said, "Hallelu avdei Hashem (T'hilim 113:1)."

If Paroh had allowed all of the bnei Yisroel, including women and children, to travel for three days into the desert to sacrifice to Hashem, they would have done so and returned. Possibly this would have brought a great spiritual uplifting which might have elevated them from the morass of the 49 levels of impurity into which they had sunk. They would then have been able to remain in Egypt for a longer period of time, possibly even until the completion of the 400 years of exile. However, as stated in the above Yerushalmi, Paroh freed them from bondage by saying that they were now servants of Hashem. They were now free to do as they wished. Hashem knew that this would happen, and therefore told Moshe that they would leave permanently.

We can now answer our original question regarding the borrowing of the Egyptians' property. Since all the people of Egypt were slaves of Paroh as recorded in the end of parshas Vayigash (47:23,25), their possessions were also his. His open aggression of pursuing the totally freed bnei Yisroel was not justified and constituted an open act of war. When Paroh and his army were defeated through Hashem's intervention at the time of the splitting of the sea, the bnei Yisroel had the right to keep all private and governmental property as spoils of war. (Nirreh li)


Rashi alleviates this by explaining that the "night of guardings" at the beginning of the verse refers to Hashem's waiting for the opportunity to fulfill His promise to redeem the bnei Yisroel from their exile. "It is this night for Hashem" refers to His promise to Avrohom to redeem his descendants on this particular night. "Guardings for all bnei Yisroel to their generations" refers to this night being a night of safety for all future generations against any destructive forces.

The reference to Hashem's promise to Avrohom is not very apparent in the words of our verse. As well, why repeat the word "laShem"? Also, why is the first word for night "leil," and the second "leiloh"?

The word "shimurim" can also be read "shemorim," - that they teach. We can thus interpret our verse to first be saying as explained by Rashi. The second half, beginning with "hu halailoh ha'zeh" can be understood as: This night is dedicated for Hashem through "sheMORIM l'chol bnei Yisroel l'dorosom," - they teach all the bnei Yisroel for all future generations - through fulfilling the mitzvoh of MAGID, relating all that has transpired and thanking Hashem for the miracles He wrought.



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

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