CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS SHMOS 5773 - BS"D
1) Ch. 1, v. 15: "Va'yomer melech Mitzrayim" - And the king of Egypt said - Why until now were the harsh edicts expressed in the plural form, "va'yosimu, v'chaasher y'anu, va'yaavidu, va'y'mor'ru," and now in the singular?
2) Ch. 1, v. 22: "Va'y'tzav Paroh l'chol amo leimore KOL ha'bein hayilod ha'y'oroh tashlichuhu" - And Paroh commanded even regarding his own nation that every son who is born into the river you shall throw him - How many bnei Yisroel were actually thrown into the river?
3) Ch. 2, v. 1: "Va'yeilech ish" - And a man went - Why doesn't the verse simply say "Va'yikach ish mi'beis Levi"?
4) Ch. 2, v. 2: "Vatitz'p'neihu" - And she hid him - In parshas v'Zose Habrochoh we have the words "usfu'nei t'mu'nei chole" (Dvorim 33:19). Rashi explains this to mean "and it is covered that which is hidden in the sand." Two verses later we have "chelkas m'chokeik sofun." Rashi explains this to mean the same, "the burial plot of the statute giver (Moshe) is covered and hidden." We thus find three words, two of which are phonetically the same, and the third, very similar in sound, "sofun" with the letter Sin, "sofun" with the letter Samach, and Tzofun, with the letter Tzadi (The Syrian pronunciation of a Tzadi is virtually the same as a Sin or Samach in Ashkenazic pronunciation). What are the nuances of difference among these three words?
5) Ch. 4, v. 8: "V'he'eminu l'kole ho'ose ho'acharone" - And they will believe the calling of the last sign - The next verse goes on to offer a third sign if the first two are not sufficiently convincing. If so, why does our verse call the penultimate sign "ho'acharone?"
The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh explains that although all the previous laws were Paroh generated, they were given much publicity and all the law enforcers of the land were involved, hence plural. However, this hideous law, to kill babies was not given publicity. It was told behind closed doors to the midwives only, because going public would bring the pregnant women to avoid using them, hence the singular form.
M.R. on Shir Hashirim 2:15 cites two opinions. One is that 10,000 were thrown in, based on the verse in Yechezkeil 16, "R'vovoh k'tzemach haso'deh n'satich." Rabbi Levi says that 600,000 were thrown into the river.
1) The gemara Sotah 12a says that "va'yeilech" means that he went after the counsel of his daughter to remarry his wife.
2) When a person performs an act that takes great valour the Torah often not only tells of the act, but adds "va'yeilech," as it takes much courage to move oneself to act. (Ramban)
3) His wife simply lived in another town, so he had to go there to marry her. (Ibn Ezra)
4) Many men gave up on reproducing because of the evil decree. They sent their wives to another community. Thus remarrying them required traveling. (Malbim)
Perhaps we can say as follows: The least hidden is the word "tzofun," as we find that Moshe was hidden, but obviously not hidden for posterity. His mother hoped that he would be found and somehow saved from the cruel decree. Similary, we find "Moh rav tuvcho asher tzofanto l'rei'echo" (T'hilim 31:20). The reward is hidden, only to be later brought out and awarded to those who fear Hashem. Tzofun on the night of the Seder is likewise an item that is hidden, only to be taken out at the end of the Seder.
"Sofun" with the letter Sin might mean more hidden than "tzofun." The items hidden in the depths of the sea and the sea-bed will stay there forever, unless someone goes fishing or dredging, but when it is pursued, it becomes uncovered.
"Sofun" with a Samach might mean hidden, with no possibility of being found. This was the case with Moshe's burial plot. Even those who attempted to find it were not successful. It might well be appropriate to spell this word with a Samach, since the configuration of a Samach is a complete circle. It thus totally covers that which is within.
The letter Sin has two almost closed inner spaces, indicative of being hidden, but with the possibility of being uncovered. The letter Tzadi has one almost closed inner space, and one wide- open inner space, indicative of being hidden, but with the intention of being brought out in the open. (Nirreh li)
Ibn Ezra offers that since the third sign was an occurrence that had not yet taken place, at this moment the second sign was the final one. In Sedrah Selections parshas Bo 5759 we offered in the name of K'hilos Yitzchok that "acharon" doesn't only mean FINAL, but also LATTER, as per the verse in Chagai 2, "Godol yi'h'yeh k'vode bayis ho'acharone min horishon," even though there will eventually be a third and final Beis Hamikdosh bb"o. This is alluded to in Shmos 12:13, "V'hoyoh hadom lochem l'ose al habotim." The blood, not referring to "makas dom," but rather to the third sign (Shmos 4:9), will be a sign for the three Houses, Bo'tei Mikdosh.
However, the Holy Zohar on Vayikra page 221a says that the second Beis Hamikdosh is called the FINAL one because indeed it was the final one built by man, as the third will descend from heaven. (See responsa Rashba 4:187)
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