CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS YISRO 5766 - BS"D
1) Ch. 18, v. 4: "V'sheim HO'ECHOD Eliezer" - Why doesn't the verse say
"v'sheim HASHEINI" as it does in Bmidbar 28:4 "v'es ha'ke'ves HASHEINI?"
2) Ch. 18, v. 21: "So'rei alofim ... mayos ... chamishim ... asoros" - Rashi
says that they are 600, 6,000, 12,000, and 60,000. Excluding these
administrators from the count of the remainder, there should have been 600, 5,994,
11,868, and 58,153.
3) Ch. 19, v. 6: "Ei'leh hadvorim" - Rashi says, "Exactly these words, no
more and no less." Why is this stressed by the giving of the Torah over any other
prophecy that Moshe was told?
4) Ch. 19, v. 9: "V'gam b'cho yaaminu l'olom" - The Rambam in hilchos yesodei
haTorah (8:1,2,3) explains how the prophecy of Moshe can never be refuted, as
stated in this verse. The Rambam expounds and expands this idea in his
famous "Igeres Teimon," stating that he who denies in the truth of Moshe's
prophesies, without a doubt his ancestors were not present at the time of the giving
of the Torah. How is it then, that throughout the generations, there were bnei
Yisroel who did not believe in his prophecy? This question is exacerbated when
it applies to someone who was actually at Har Sinai, namely Korach.
5) Ch. 19, v. 13: "HEIMOH yaalu vohor" - Who are the antecedents of the
Answer to questions on parshas B'shalach:
1) Ch. 13, v. 18: "Vachamushim" - What does this word mean?
1) ARMED for war. (Rashi, Targum Onkelos, M.R. The word indicates five
weapons, as per Yechezkeil 39:9.)
2) One FIFTH of the bnei Yisroel, as four fifths died during makas choshech.
(Rashi, Mechilta 14)
3) One FIFTIETH. (Mechilta 14)
4) One FIVE-HUNDRETH. (Mechilta 14)
5) Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says the bnei Yisroel left with FIVE children
per family. The Holy Admor of Belz explains that since four fifths of the bnei
Yisroel died during makas choshech, there were orphans of four families. The
survivors adopted the orphans, so each family had FIVE families of children,
its own, plus those of four other families.
6) PREPARED with FOOD, as in Breishis 41:34, "v'chimeish es artzo."
7) Grouped into FIVE CAMPS. Degel macha'neh Yehudoh in the east, Reuvein in
the south, Efrayim in the west, and Dan in the north, as enumerated in
Bmidbar ch.2. The fifth camp was macha'neh Levi, which was situated in the centre.
8) Another possible interpretation: The bnei Yisroel were one FIFTH of those
who left. The Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says on 12:38 that 2,400,000 "eirev
rav" left with the bnei Yisroel. This makes a total of 3,000,000, of whom the
bnei Yisroel were one fifth. (Nirreh li)
2) Ch. 14, v. 7: "Sheish mayos rechev bochur" - Sending only 600 men to
overpower the bnei Yisroel seems illogical. Paroh must have thought that Hashem
was angry with them, and they therefore would be able to be overpowered by a
very small group, in keeping with the verse in Dvorim 32:30, "Eichoh yirdof echod
elef, u'shnayim r'vovo." If so, why wasn't it sufficient to send only 120
men, as every two could overpower 10,000?
1) Paroh did not know that four fifths of the bnei Yisroel died in makas
choshech. He thought there were 3,000,000. That number requires 600 men. (Rabbi
2) Targum Yonoson ben Uziel on 12:38 says that 2,400,000 "eirev rav" joined
the bnei Yisroel. Paroh sent enough men to overpower the whole group.
3) Two only overpower 10,000 when the two are united. Rashi says on
"Mitzrayim NO'SEI'A" (14:10), "b'leiv echod k'ish echod." This does not mean united
(Avnei Neizer). By Matan Torah Rashi says on "Va'yichan Yisroel" (19:2), "k'ish
echod b'leiv echod," with the order switched. This means united. (Bl"n the
difference will be explained in parshas Yisro.) Once the Egyptians were not
united, only the section of the verse, "yirdof echod elef" applies. When the
pursuers are "shnayim," two who are united, they can pursue 10,000. When they
are "echod," individual, each can only pursue 1,000. Therefore 600 men were
required for 600,000 of the bnei Yisroel.
3) Ch. 15, v. 20: "Achose Aharon" - Why does the Torah stress Miriam's being
the sister of Aharon and not the sister of Moshe as well?
1) To point out that she was a prophetess at an early age when Moshe was not
yet born (See gemara Sotoh 12b), and at that time she was the sister of only
2) Miriam was struck with tzoraas (a spiritually caused leprosy). Aharon put
himself out in beseeching Moshe to have her healed (See Bmidbar 12:10 and
12:12). In this merit she was called the sister of Aharon. (Rashi in the name of
3) Since Aharon was three years older than Moshe, Miriam was already called
the sister of Aharon earlier and this title stayed with her. (RAVa"M) This is
similar to the explanation given by the Rashbam as to why Yoseif was called
the "ben z'kunim" of Yaakov and Binyomin wasn't.
4) Since the appellation "prophetess" is being used here, it is appropriate
to relate Miriam to Aharon, whose level of prophecy is similar to hers as
indicated in Bmidbar 12:2, "Gam bonu dibeir Hashem", and not to Moshe whose
prophecy was above either of theirs. (RaVa"m)
5) Since Moshe and Miriam are mentioned in relation to the "Shiroh," the
song of praise and thanks to Hashem, the verse did not want to leave out Aharon.
6) It is common for the Torah to relate one's relationship to the oldest son
of the family, as we find in Divrei Hayomim 1:2:42, "U'v'nei Choleiv achi
Y'rach'm'eil," even though he had a brother named Rom (D.H. 1:2:9) as well.
7) It is common for the Torah to mention the oldest brother of a woman, as
we find in Breishis 36:3, "V'es Bosmas bas Yishmo'eil achose N'voyose," and in
Shmos 6:23, "Elisheva bas Aminodov achose Nach'shone." (Rashbam and Rivo"sh)
8) Since both Miriam and Aharon were born to Amrom and Yocheved during their
first marriage, and Moshe was born to them after they remarried (See gemara
Sotoh 12b), the Torah connects Miriam to Aharon only. (Toras Shlomo)
9) Moshe was a Levite. The Levite's servitude to Hashem is marked by
singing, "U'Lviim b'shirom u'v'zimrom" (Musof service of Yom Tov). Aharon was a
Kohein. Kohanim's servitude to Hashem is marked by action done with a physical
object, i.e. processing sacrifices, etc. Since the praise to Hashem had only taken
on the form of singing, "Oz yoshir Moshe," there was no place for Aharon, the
paradigm of physical servitude. Miriam wanted Aharon to have an opportunity
to praise Hashem along his lines of servitude. She introduced the accompaniment
of musical instruments in the praise of Hashem, thus initiating this form of
praise. Therefore she is mentioned as the sister of Aharon only. (Avnei Nezer,
the Holy Admor of Sochatchov)
4) Ch. 15, v. 21: "Vataan" - If we translate "Vataan" as "And she responded,"
we have the question - To what did Miriam respond?
1) She responded to the men's song with the repetition of one part of their
song, "Shiru laShem ......" (Ramban)
2) She responded in a similar fashion. Just as Moshe said one verse of the
"shiroh" at a time and the bnei Yisroel repeated each one, so also, Miriam said
all the verses, a verse at a time, and the bnos Yisroel repeated them as per
the gemara Sotoh 30b. (B'eir Yitzchok) The opinion of the Rivo"sh Baal Tosfos
is also that the women repeated all the verses.
It remains to be explained why only a part of a particular verse was
mentioned in "shiras Miriam" if the complete "shiroh" was said. See later on in this
verse on the words "Sus v'rochvo."
3) Miriam CAUSED a response to her first saying the verses of the "shiro," as
the bnos Yisroel repeated the verses after her. (B'eir Yitzchok)
4) Perhaps an answer can be given based on the offering given above
regarding the women having stronger trust in Hashem's bringing about a complete
salvation after leaving Egypt. This was expressed by their bringing along musical
instruments to be played at the time that thanks would be given for the
salvation. Miriam responded to the manner of "shiroh" the men sang, which was without
instruments, to give the "men" admonition because they didn't also bring along
The above answers are all of the opinion that "Vataan" means "And she
responded" or caused a response. However, there are those who translate differently,
and the question posed at the beginning does not begin.
1) "Vataan" can simply mean "And she SAID," and its use does not require a
prior statement or action. We find this in Shmuel 1:18:9 and Iyove 4:1. (Lekach
2) "Vataan" can be translated as "And she said in a raised voice." (Michlole
We find this in Dvorim 27:14, "V'ONU ha'L'viim ...... kol rom," which teaches
us that "aniyoh" is done in a loud voice. As well in Dvorim 26:5 it says
"V'oniso v'omarto," which Rashi explains to mean "And you should say in a loud
5) Ch. 15, v. 21: "Lohe*M* ...... SHIRU" - Since Miriam was addressing the
women why didn't the verse say "lohe*N*" and "SHEIRNOH"?
1) Miriam spoke to the men, saying that they should sing first. (Baalei
2) The men had already sung their praises and now the women were about to
begin. The angels complained to Hashem that they had already waited for the men
to sing first, but they did not want to wait until after the women sing.
Miriam responded that the angels should sing before the women sing. (Riv"o)
3) The women had greater trust in Hashem than the men had, as indicated by
their bringing along musical instruments, and were more courageous than the
men. Courage is a manly characteristic, so the verse expresses the women's
actions in the male form. (Baalei Tosfos and the SheLo"H)
4) Miriam addressed the unborn children (See gemara Sotoh 30b) to also
praise Hashem. (Baalei Tosfos)
5) The women chastised the men for not bringing along musical instruments.
Miriam said to the men, "This is how you should sing to Hashem."
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