CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS YISRO 5771 - BS"D
1) Ch. 18, v. 4: "Va'yatzi'leini mei'cherev Paroh" - And He saved me from the sword of Paroh - After Moshe brought about the death of an Egyptian Paroh had him arrested and condemned to death. He was sentenced to decapitation. When the executioner swung the sword to Moshe's neck, his neck hardened, as if it were marble. The gemara Yerushalmi Brochos 9:1 says that the sword bounced back and severed the neck of the executioner. The gemara Brochos 10a and Yerushalmi A.Z. 3:1 says that we can derive from this incident that even if a sharp sword is pressed against one's neck, he should not despair from being saved by Hashem.
It seems that after one is dead that there is no hope. Is there any hope?
2) Ch. 18, v. 7: "Va'yishtachu …… lo" - And he bowed down …… to him - Is bowing down to a person have any tinge of sin connected to it, perhaps as a service of deifying the person?
3) Ch. 18, v. 9: "Va'yichad Yisro al kol hatovoh asher ossoh Hashem l'Yisroel asher hitzilo miyad Mitzroyim" - And Yisro rejoiced for all the kindness that Hashem did for Yisroel that He saved him from the hand of Egypt - How was Yisro in a position to know the kindness of saving the bnei Yisroel from the Egyptians? Although whatever had already taken place might be public knowledge, but whatever machinations that were not carried out are not known to the public (wikileaks).
4) Ch. 18, v. 10: "Asher hitzil es'chem miyad Mitzrayim u'miyad Paroh" - Who has saved you from the hand of Mitzrayim and from the hand of Paroh - What are these two saves?
5) Ch. 18, v. 10: "Asher hitzil es ho'om miyad Mitzroyim" - Who has saved the nation from the hand of Egypt - After all that was just mentioned just before this, what is being added?
The Shitoh M'ku'betzes on the gemara K'subos 104a writes that when Rabbeinu Hakodosh, Rabbi Yehudoh Hanosi, was close to death, he requested that his death not be immediately publicized. This is because he knew that many people were already praying for his recovery. Once they would hear that he died they would stop praying. Even if he had passed away but people would be unaware of this, their prayers for his welfare could possibly bring him back from the dead. (Medrash Halacha) This might explain why Ishoh Hashunamis did not tell her husband that their child had died, and hurried off to the prophet for help.
Rabbi Avrohom ben hoRambam says that this is totally permitted when the intention is only to honour the other person. Note that if the other person has claimed to be a god, or if people call him a god, then it is not permitted. This is dealt with in the gemara Sanhedrin perek "Arba Misose." If the person is not deified, but is wearing either an object that is deified, or a symbol of a false god, is it permitted to bow down? Mahara"m Alshakir writes in his responsa #76 that it is permitted, provided that one has in mind that he is only bowing down to the other person as a sign of homage, and has no intention of giving honour to the idol or symbol.
The gemara Sotoh 11 relates that Yisro was one of three advisors with whom Paroh conferred regarding the "Jewish problem." Only Yisro objected to Paroh's machinations. No doubt he was quite concerned that one day he might be taken to task for disagreeing with the "final solution." Now that he heard that Paroh and his people were trounced for their evil activities and Paroh finally conceded defeat, admitting that Hashem was the Master of the world, Yisro breathed much easier. This is the intention of the double phrase, "for all the kindness that Hashem did for Yisroel," and "that He saved him from the hand of Egypt." The second phrase is not an explanation of the first, but rather, the first is simply the kindness that Hashem did to the bnei Yisroel, and "asher hitzilo" refers to Yisro himself, who was saved from the retribution of Egypt. (Understand "asher" as if it were written with a letter Vov at the beginning.) (B'eir Mayim Chaim)
The first is from the clutches of the administering angel of the Egyptian nation, whose name is also Mitzrayim, while the second is from the hand of Paroh. (Sha"ch)
The Ibn Ezra and Ramban say that "hitzil es'chem" refers to Moshe and Aharon being saved from being punished in spite of their speaking so harshly to Paroh and his nation, warning them of devastating plagues. Saving the nation refers to their being saved from almost certain death at Yam Suf.
The Haa'meik Dovor says that "hitzil es'chem" refers only to Moshe and Aharon's exemption from labour and servitude, while "asher hitzil es ho'om" refers to those who were actually enslaved being released. It seems that the Haa'meik Dovor understands "asher hitzil es ho'om" as "VAasher hitzil es ho'om," as it is a continuum of those who were saved from servitude. The missing letter Vov seems to not be as problematic according to the Ibn Ezra and Ramban since Moshe and Aharon were saved from one thing and the nation as a whole from another.
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