Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 6, v. 3: "Vo'eiro" - And I have appeared - Rashi has a two-word comment on this, "El ho'ovos," to the patriarchs. Commentators are hard-pressed to explain what light Rashi is shedding on the understanding of our verse. What do you have to offer?

2) Ch. 6, v. 14,15,16: "Bnei Reuvein, Uvnei Shimon, V'eileh shmos bnei Levi" - The children of Reuvein, And the children of Shimon, And these are the names of the children of Levi - Why by Reuvein and Shimon does the Torah just say "the children of," while by Levi "these are the NAMES" is added?

3) Ch. 6, v. 20: "Va'yikach Amrom es Yocheved va'tei'led lo es Aharon v'es Moshe" - And Amrom took Yocheved and she gave birth to him Aharon and Moshe - In Shmos 2:1 the marriage of a couple and the subsequent birth of Moshe is recorded, but the parents' names are not mentioned until this verse. Why?

4) Ch. 9, v. 2: "Ki im mo'ein atoh l'sha'lei'ach v'odcho machazik bom" - If you refuse to send and still hold onto them - What is added by "v'odcho machazik bom"? Why is this term not used by the warnings of any of the other plagues?

5) Ch. 9, v. 26: "Rak b'eretz Goshen asher shom bnei Yisroel lo hoyoh borod" - Only in Goshen where the bnei Yisroel were present there was no hail - If a ben Yisroel was outside Goshen would it hail upon him?



Some say that Rashi is alluding to the fact that each of the Patriarchs was a self-made man and did not coast along on the spiritual coattails of his father. Others translate "ovos" as "those who have a great lust," those who are emotionally driven to serve Hashem. This is all good and fine but does not explain Rashi as the commentator on the verse.

The mishnoh B.K. 1:1 tells us that there are four primary types of damage, called "ovos n'zikin." The gemara says that where there are "ovos," there are also "toldos," secondary types of damages. The question that follows is, "Do the 'toldos' have the same rules as the 'ovos'"? The gemara cites the same term by the primary prohibited acts of Shabbos, called "ovos mlochos," which likewise have "toldos," and the "toldos" do not have the same ruling as the "ovos" in regard to the number of required atonement offerings for multiple desecrations of the Shabbos when one is not aware that it is Shabbos. In short, the gemara says that the "toldos" are not the same as "ovos."

The gist of our verse is a reprimand of Moshe for complaining that things have gotten worse since he completed his mission and that no improvement is in sight. Hashem tells Moshe that He appeared to our Patriarchs and also promised them great things that they did not experience, and yet, they did not complain. Rashi, wanting to carry on the thrust of this point, but most covertly and delicately, as we are discussing Moshe, says "el ho'ovos." Where we have the term "ovos" it indicates that there are "toldos." The "toldos" are not the same as the "ovos." The "ovos," our Patriarchs, had complete faith and did not complain. The "toldos," the leader of the later generation, is not like his "ovos." (Nirreh li)


This teaches us a most powerful lesson. The tribe of Levi was not subject to the arduous slave labour. Nevertheless, they wanted to commiserate with their beleaguered brethren and show sympathy by NAMING their children names that were indicative of the hardships, Gershon, that they were aliens, K'hos, that they were overpowered, M'rori, that their lives were embittered. (Muso'rei haShalo"h)


The Mahara"l of Prague explains that by not mentioning their names immediately a lesson is driven home. By mentioning these two most exalted people by name we might incorrectly conclude that it was only by the merit of such special parents that the unique Moshe Rabbeinu came into existence. This is not the case. Moshe had to exist on this world, even if he would have been the child of the simplest of people.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein explains that when parents have a very talented and gifted child, especially when he is extremely intelligent, they drop their guard and do not concern themselves with his upbringing, assuming that he will excel with such great inborn talents. The exact opposite is true. The child could well use his talents to move into fields and realms that are very damaging, as per the dictum of the gemara Sukoh 52a, "Whoever is great has a powerful evil inclination." This point is driven home by not crediting Amrom and Yocheved with their illustrious son until he was an adult and had already become Hashem's messenger to bring the redemption from Egypt.


The mishnoh Eiduyos 2:10 says that the Egyptians were judged with plagues for 12 months. The gemara R.H. 11a says that the servitude of our forefathers in Egypt came to a halt on Rosh Hashonoh. Armed with these 2 pieces of information we may assume (although contrary to some commentators such as Rabbeinu Bachyei in parshas Bo) that the fifth plague took place slightly before half a year after the onset of the plagues, as half the plagues would take place in half a year. This would bring us to the month of Tishrei since the plagues ended on the 15th of Nison and they had begun 12 months earlier in Nison as well. We can thus say that Moshe had up to this point only mentioned sending the bnei Yisroel away as free people. Obviously included in this would be the end of their servitude. However, here at the fifth plague, even if Paroh would not set them free, they would afterwards not be enslaved, only stuck in Egypt. This is why Hashem told Moshe to warn Paroh regarding 2 matters, sending them away and forcing them to work as slaves. This is the intention of "v'odcho machazik bom." After this plague even if Paroh would not let them go free there would be no "machazik bom," as the servitude would end on Rosh Hashonoh. Earlier it was not mentioned since if he would not grant them total freedom he would still enslave them as well.

The Rambam in hilchos teshuvoh 6:4 explains that when a person transgresses a very terrible sin or constantly repeats a sin it is appropriate for Hashem to close the gates of repentance so that the sinner should die with his sin intact and then Hashem would exact full punishment from him. In the next halacha he says that this is why Hashem hardened Paroh's heart, as Paroh premeditatedly diabolically planned to enslave and treat the bnei Yisroel harshly. However, the Rambam does not shed any light on why this took place specifically by the sixth plague and onwards, "Va'y'cha'zeik Hashem es leiv Paroh" (9:12). With the above we can explain this. Until now, even though Paroh and his people were smitten with some devastating plagues, nevertheless someone with great resolve might reason that it takes a lot more than plagues to force him to release a workforce of 600,000 adult men. Once Paroh was advised by the 5th plague that in any case he would no longer hold sway over his Jewish servants from Rosh Hashonoh onwards, what sense did it make for him to hang onto them? Even the most obstinate of people would back off when dealt such devastating blows if they know that they have lost their workforce in any case. From this point onwards Paroh's resolve could only be explained as being supernaturally Heavenly induced, "Va'y'cha'zeik Hashem es leiv Paroh." (Nirreh li)


Rabbeinu Menachem notes that our verse could have left out the word "rak." By stating "rak" the verse has two exclusions, "rak" and "lo." We have a rule that a double exclusion creates an inclusion, and we may derive from this that even areas outside Goshen where a ben Yisroel was present had no hail.

Gri"z haLevi Brisker says that the hail did not come down indiscriminately, but rather, each piece of hail was a "smart bomb," precisely hitting a specific target. It would surely follow that no hail hit a "ben Yisroel."



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

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