Back to This Weeks Parsha | Previous Issues
by Daneal Weiner
This is my bar mitzvah parsha so I got a little carried away. Either that
or; one email I received asked me to make my dvar torah longer!!! He said
he reads it while the Rabbi speaks and he's still catching the last 10
minutes. Hey, this ones for you!
In the last few paragraphs of last weeks dvar Torah it was mentioned that
Yaakov established the two sons of Yoseph as two of the tribes. There is a
vort on this which I have to share with you. When Yaakov feels his days are
drawing near he asks Yoseph to swear to bury him in the Ma'aras
Hamachpelah, the Cave of the Patriarchs, in Chevrone. The Torah then says
"It was after these things..." meaning that time has past and Yoseph is
told that Yaakov is not well. Yoseph grabs his 2 sons and runs to Yaakov.
Yaakov bless his grandsons and makes them 2 new members of the Tribes of
Israel (48:5). Then he tells Yoseph the reason he didn't bury Rachel in
Chevrone was because Hashem wanted her buried along that road (48:7
according to Rashi). This way she would be able to pray with her future
children when they are exiled south, out of Yerushalayim and pass her
kever. Now Yaakov tells him this???
When Yaakov wanted Yoseph to take his remains from Egypt to Israel and made
him swear because he knew Yoseph was going to have a hard time asking
Pharoah for permission, then he doesn't say anything. But later, when
Yaakov is blessing his grandsons, now it's time to mention about Rachel?
The gevaldik answer has to do with a Midrash brought in parshas Vayaitsay
when Rachel asks Leah for her dudaim, a gift Reuven just gave her. The
sisters make a trade. The Midrash has on this, "Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachman
says, 'She lost and she lost. She gained and she gained. Leah lost the
dudaim and gained tribes and burial with Yaakov. Rachel gained the dudaim
and lost tribes and burial with Yaakov.'"
It's now 50 years later. Yaakov asks Yoseph to be buried in Chevrone.
Yoseph knows that his mother lost the right to be buried there. Nothing to
say. A later time, just before Yaakov's death, and he tells Yoseph his two
sons will be to 2 tribes of Israel. Hey! Rachel just gained a tribe!! Maybe
she did deserve to be buried with Yaakov as well?!? Yaakov knows it is now
necessary to tell Yoseph he buried his mother where he did for it was
Hashem's desire he do so! Maybe not just His desire. As Rav Moshe
Shternbach points out, Leah prayed for a husband and she was buried with
her husband. Rachel prayed for children and she was buried with her children.
The last few words of last weeks parsha was Yoseph being put in a coffin.
<><><><><> Parshas Shmos <><><><><>
opens with, "And these are the names..." The Sha'arai Aharon brings
Rishonim who say it is from these neighboring verses that we learn to have
the deceased's name indicated on their resting place. The whole world may
be doing it but they saw it here first!
By the way, the Hebrew for coffin is "arone" which is also the word for a
closet or cabinet. Just as we use a closet/cabinet for temporary storage of
things we will take out again, so to does Hashem use the coffin as a
temporary storage for when He takes us out again at the resurrection of the
dead! But I digress.
1:8> "And there arose a new king over Egypt that did not know Yoseph." In
verse 1:10 Pharoah "says to his people, 'Let us deal wisely with them.'"
Rashi explains, being that soon Pharoah is going to try killing the Jewish
males through water, that Pharoah knows G-d promised not to destroy the
world with a flood. My point is, Pharoah knows about the flood 800 years
earlier but he doesn't know about Yoseph from Egypt's own history 60 years
earlier?? Perhaps this is what leads Rashi to say on verse 1:8 that Pharoah
made himself as if he did not know Yoseph, meaning he owed nothing to the
Jews. The whole world may be doing it but they saw it here first.
Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch has a very interesting explanation for the
above verses. He said there was a government takeover. A small, powerful,
outside force came in and overthrew the Egyptian government. Rav Hirsch
bases his interpretation on the Torah telling us Pharoah "says to his
people". This would also explain the verse in the middle (1:9) where
Pharoah complains the Jews are grater in number and stronger then they are!
This can't be an Egyptian born Pharoah comparing the Jews to his Egyptians.
Now the problem is for this self imposed Pharoah to get the Egyptian public
on his side so they won't rebel against him. The answer- a scapegoat! Rav
Hirsch says this is the first case of classic anti-Semitism. Groundless
hatred for political gain. On High, the hatred was not groundless at all.
As soon as Yaakov died his descendants feared they would not have the same
influence and left their ghetto safe haven of Goshen and began assimilating
into Egyptian society. It was only a matter of time before they were
worshipping idols. The proof of the assimilation is in Pharaoh's having to
say "let us deal wisely with them". Due to our social acceptance, the new
Pharoah was going to need a way of sifting us out.
Frightening, Rav Hirsch's foreshadowing, since late 19th century German
Jewry could not possibly imagine early 20th century's civilized man. A
small force, one man. An outside force- a school dropout and a blue color
worker- the antithesis of everything educated and cultured which Germany
stood for. He overtook the government and he 'dealt wisely' with us. 50
years ago or 3350 years ago, such implausible events could only occur under
the specific direction of the Master of the Universe.
Pharoah wanted to destroy the Jewish savior, with water. The first thing
Pharoah did was to tax the Jews. The word for 'taxes' is 'misim'. Taking
out the letter samech from the middle, we're left with mem, yud, mem,
'mayim'- water!! I noticed that myself! Don't ask me what it means but it's
too close to leave behind! As for some real Torah, the next thing Pharoah
had the Jews do was build cities, Pitom and Ramses. "Pitom" means
'suddenly'. After it would be built, it would suddenly be gone. The Midrash
tells us Pitom is from 'Pi Tehom'- the mouth of the deep. And Ramses is
from 'mitrases' which I think means 'vibrate' The buildings would suddenly
begin to shake and then the ground would swallow them up. The meaning
behind these names is Pharoah trying to break the spirit of the Bnei
Yisrael by having them fruitlessly build cities which would inevitable
collapse before their very eyes. If he succeeded at that it wouldn't matter
if the savior was born.
I'm sure you all know the little ditty about John Brown's body a smolderin'
in the grave. John Brown was an abolitionist from early American history.
He managed to seize control of an arsenal in Harpers Ferry,,,,,,Virginia, I
think. (It's been a while.) His expectation was that as soon as word was
out, slaves would come running from all directions to grab weapons and
fight for their freedom. He did not anticipate their broken spirit. Alone
he could do very little. John Brown was eventually arrested and hung. But I
If you will talk to your local neighborhood land prospector, he will tell
you that for your building to stand firm you need a strong dry foundation
on which to build. What can cause your building to, pitom, collapse? To
high a water content in the foundation.
Next Pharoah ordered the midwives to kill the males on the birthing stool.
He gave them signs, indications as to whether the fetus was a boy or girl.
All thought, technically speaking, the expectant mother's 'water' had
broken, Pharoah is still holding true to his instrument of attack. When
this failed, all that was left was throwing the male infants into the Nile.
This caused Moshe Rabbeinu to be raised in Pharaohs very own home! Only
the King of kings can take a decree of destruction and turn it into the
very salvation of that which is to be destroyed. Blessed are You Hashem Who
straightens the bent!
There is a remarkable psychological lesson in this weeks parsha. Not that
there isn't in every one but this one I know about. When Moshe was born it
says that his mother saw he was good and hid him. Rashi says on 'good' that
the house was filled with light. The Kli Yakar says the light was the 'Ohr
Haganuz'- the Hidden Light which G-d created on day one and hid for the
future. When Yocheved, Moshe's mom, sensed the hidden light she took the
message to hide her son.
The question is, what mother wouldn't hide her son?? Who needs an excuse to
protect the lives of one of their children?? Yocheved saw he was good and
hid him. And if she saw he was average she would have called the Egyptians
to come get him? Of course not! The lesson is how powerful the mind is to
even sabotage the actions of even saving ones own child's life.
When Yoseph was 22 years in Egypt, before Yaakov come down, everyone asked
why he didn't send Yaakov some kind of message? Or try to escape for that
matter? Egypt was a remarkable place. A powerful and remarkable place.
Yoseph couldn't send a message. He couldn't escape! Alcatraz boasted it but
you heard it hear first!!! So when Pharoah sends out a decree that they
will kill every male Jew, it's a done deal. This doesn't mean mother's
didn't try to hide their children but that their efforts were sabotaged by
their belief that no matter what they did it wasnt going to be successful.
Only when Yocheved saw that Moshe was good did she tell herself that THIS
one was different. THIS one had to saved at all costs. THIS one broke the
helplessness which undermined every other effort! So much so that when the
Torah says that she couldn't hide him any more, when she tried absolutely
every which way, she still did not give up! She still tried something
else!! She put Moshe in a basket and put dropped him in the Nile!
Now if you think about that...all over Egypt, Egyptians are coming to the
Nile. Not just to kill infants but for every other thing that they used the
Nile for. For drinking, fishing, laundering, watering, worshipping...and
here comes this little basket floating down stream. "Hey, Sahid. Look at
that basket. You think maybe there's a baby in that basket?" "There you go
again, Swaheemee! You and your crazy ideas!" This is only just occurring to
me as I'm typing. This is what saved Moshe Rabbeinu!?!? What on earth was
going on over there? It can certainly be said that the greatest efforts or
the most foolish are all meaningless because everything is up to G-d.
Still, the Torah doesn't sound like Yocheved tried just any desperate act.
It seems she had some specific intention. Ask around. If anyone comes up
with something, let me know. I'll do the same.
We do know that while Moshe was floating down stream, his sister Miriam
followed him from a distance to see (2:4) "mah yai'aseh lo"- what would be
with him. The Chasam Sofer says that we are told Miriam's reward for this
act was that Bnei Yisrael waited for her in the desert when she had
Tsara'as, inaccurately translated as leprosy. A Midrash tells us that
another reward was for her to lead the women in song after the splitting of
the sea, after Moshe and the men sang "Ahz Yashir". The Chasam Sofer asks,
what does one have to do with the other?
There is little we know of Hashem's system of reward and punishment. Only
what He chooses to reveal to us. We know the idea of 'midah k'neged midah'-
measure for measure. We see it all through the Torah. Right here, under my
nose, I said that Pharoah wants to get the Jews through water because he
thinks G-d's punishment, measure for measure will be hampered by His
promise not to flood the earth again. Pharaoh doesn't realize G-d said He
wouldn't flood the world. Drowning a nation is doable.
Another insight we have is in a number of places including the 10
commandments where it says, (20:5-6) "...a zealous G-d Who visits the sins
of the father upon children to the third and fourth generations, for those
who hate Me; but Who does kindness for thousands of generations for those
who love Me and observe My commandments." There is a general principle that
when a plural is mentioned without a number it means 2, the minimum plural
number, i.e.: two thousand generations. So we have punishment to the 4th
and reward to the 2000th. That's a 1:500 ratio. Punishment is 1 to 1 for
sinning and reward is 500 to 1 for the good deed. Now the Chasam Sofer's
question is a little bigger. What is the measure for measure of Miriam's
reward and where is the 500 to 1?
First we have to know what Miriam did. She went/waited to see what would be
with Moshe. How long? A Midrash and a Mishnah in Sotah says that she spent
1 hour. We can hear Bnei Yisrael waiting for her when she has tsara'as as a
fitting reward. They waited a week. How many hours are in a week? 24 x 7 =
168. Woh! A long way from 500!
Good news! Tosofos on the Mishnah in Sotah says that it wasn't a full hour
Miriam waited but a small hour. The Chasam Sofer says Tosofos is referring
to a myl. A measure of distance and time. It takes a myl of time to walk a
myl in distance. He says it is even alluded to in the verse, "Miriam
followed him from a distance to see 'mah yai'aseh lo'." The first letters
of these three Hebrew words spell out the word myl. So to figure out how
much the pay back was when Bnei Yisrael waited, we need to know how many
myl are in a day.
Good news! A Gemorah in Pesachim says that Bnei Yisrael were able to walk
40 myl a day! 40 x 7 = 280. Woh! Still to small!
Good news! Not only did a pillar of cloud lead Bnei Yisrael by day. There
was also a pillar of fire leading them by night! So in a 24 hour period
they could put in 80 myl!!! Super! 80 x 7 = 560! Darn shame!
Good news! Shabbos! Can't travel on Shabbos! Take off a days worth of myl.
560 - 80 = 480! Still in the ball park but not batting 500 yet.
Good news! Remember when the brothers left the Viceroy, Yoseph and we said
it was Shabbos morning? (Parshas Mikaits) So there is some travel on
Shabbos! But as we saw it is limited to the 'techum Shabbos.' How far is
allowed? The brothers stopped 2000 amos outside of the city limits but this
is actually a Rabbinical injunction. According to the Torah, the 'techum
Shabbos' is 12 myl. No one would walk that distance for fear of
transgressing Shabbos so 11 myl is the most Bnei Yisrael would go. So 480 +
11 = 491. Man o' schevits! We're 9 short!!!
Great news!!! There was a second reward given to Miriam! Leading the women
in song. The words of Miriam's song are, (15:21) "Shiru l'Hashem ki gah'oh
gah'ah soos v'rochvoh rahmah vayam!" The Hebrew for 'word' is 'mylah'! This
song is 9 mylim long!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! going for 500
My Rav, Rav Osher Reich said the Chasam Sofer would think of these things
in-between 'aliyahs' of the Torah reading, as the next man would be called
to the Torah. This explains how when the Chasam Sofer was asked how he
became so great, he answered, "In 5 minutes." He never let a '5 minutes' go
by without flipping open a book and learning what ever he could in those
few available moments.
Speaking of flipping open a book, Rav Wolfson explains that The book of
Shmos IS the book of names. "And these are the names of the Children of
Israel who came to Egypt..." It was only a week ago that we mentioned these
very names!? Why say them again? There is a Gemorah Chullin which asks,
where is Moshe alluded to in the Torah? How about the 1000 times it's
mentioned outright? They need a hint? The first thing we're hit with in
Shmos is the slavery of Bnei Yisrael. Not just servitude but severe
oppression! Building buildings with no substance! Innocent babies thrown
into the Nile! More killed so Pharoah can bath in their blood!! Being
placed into the walls as bricks!!! Who's in charge here?!? Hold these
1:15,16 > "The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, the name of one
Shifra and the name of the second was Puah. And he said, 'In your
assisting...if it is a son you shall kill him..." What's question comes to
mind from these two verses? It says, "The king of Egypt said...And he said"
Torah suddenly have a stutter?
1:18 > "The king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said, 'Why have you
done this thing and have kept the boys alive?'" One more time?. "Why have
you done this thing AND have kept the boys alive?" Sounds like Pharoah is
questioning the midwives on two things!? And it was only a moment ago that
we have Pharoah speaking twice! What's the missing ingredient? Both the
Chasam Sofer and the Bnei Yissaschar agree that in fact Pharaoh gave two
orders!!! The first thing Pharoah commanded was that these two maidservants
were to be named Shifra' And 'Puah'!
We know them to be Yocheved and Miriam. The wife of the current leader of
the Jewish nation and her daughter. Pharoah is calling on the two most
righteous woman and asking them to kill Jews? He must be crazy! What
Pharoah, the king idolater knows is that everything is a channel for
energy, especially a name! A name is the essence of a person. Their purpose
on earth. The reason for their existence. Nothing is more dear to the soul
then it's name. When someone is, G-d forbid, unconscious or in a coma the
doctor shouts out the name to induce a response. Any good sales course will
tell the future seller to mention the customers name as often as possible
to suck 'em in, I mean to gain rapport. Now there are good names and there
are bad names. Every book on child rearing will warn parents not to give
their child a 'bad name'. Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, Droopy... Do so and be
guilty of making the child that which he/she is labeled! The whole world
may be conscious of it but they saw it here first.
Pharoah knew who he was talking to. And intentionally so! If his plan was
to work, he had to have midwives whom the Jews trusted. You hear a
maidservant killed the last 50 boys she delivered you'd think twice about
calling her up. If its Yocheved and Miriam, who else would you call? But
Pharoah had to crack through their shell of sanctity to win them over. The
first thing he said was for them to be called by Egyptian names, Shifra and
Puah. If your looking to channel some bad energy through a name, I'd say an
Egyptian name would deliver more junk for your drachma. After giving these
treif names a time to water down the foundation of these two women, then
Pharoah calls them again and this second time he said to them to kill the
males. The same explanation applies to verse 1:18 and Pharaohs words, 'Why
have you done this thing AND have kept the boys alive? The first half
regarding the names and the second half regarding the obvious.
Another thing about names. How is Shimon the Righteous a man who was the
High Priest in the Temple for 40 years and, yet, Shimon HaPorets was the
head of the Biryonim, Jewish zealots against the Rabbis and the Romans who
caused senseless bloodshed before the fall of the second Temple. Two
Shimons, and one served the Jews and one killed Jews? If a name defines a
person than how are they so different? Now Rav Wolfson introduces the idea
of 'tsirufim'- combinations. Although both Shimons have the same letters
they have different combinations which describe their individual essence.
Like taking the same elements of the periodic table but bonding them
together in different ways. A different result each time. The science world
discovered it but they saw it here first!
Last week we had the names of the tribes of Israel. But those names had the
'tsirufim' of Jews going into exile. Now we have seemingly the same names
again but this time their tsirufim make them Jews on the brink of
redemption. When Moshe speaks with G-d at the burning bush, he asks G-d,
"If they ask Your name, what shall I say?" Which 'tsirufim' of the
ineffable letters is taking them out? Is it a temporary redemption or the
final one? G-d lets him know cryptically that it is not the final
redemption. G-d breaks up His response over a couple verses. If He told
Moshe outright the pain would have been to great for him to bear.
Another idea about names, the first time a person appears in the blueprint
of the universe, the Torah, that is where the roots of their name are
planted. Sure the Gemorah knows the first time Moshe's name appears in the
Torah but is that where he is rooted? Or is he alluded to anywhere else?
The answer is back in Breishis (6:3) "...b'shagam who basar..." 'B'shagam'
has the same gematria as 'Moshe'. These words mean, "since he is but
flesh." Unlike other religious leaders who have been made into gods, Moshe
is but flesh and blood. The end of the sentence? "...his days shall be a
hundred and twenty years."
The Torah has just introduced us to Noach. 3 verses later is a hint to
Moshe. This is where Moshe's roots are. And if you think about it, Noach
had trouble with water. Moshe had trouble with water. Noach was saved by an
ark. Moshe was saved by an ark. The daughter of Pharoah who pulled Moshe
out of the water, her name was Batya, which in Hebrew is the same letters
as 'tayva'- ark. G-d willing, in a few weeks, if the Mashiach hasn't come,
we'll see how Moshe makes the reparation for Noach's/his soul.
And finally the most pressing questions, what about the oppression and all
the innocent infants killed? Who's in charge here??? G-d's in charge, of
course! "And these are the names of the Children of Israel..." And all
these names have there purpose here on earth, even if it is to live but for
a few days, hours, moments. The Zohar explains there was a generation of
people who were decreed to die by a flood. For some, their sins were so
great that one drowning wasn't enough! We have criminals in jail for
multiple life sentences, due to their crimes. We can only hope each life
sentence adds 15 minutes before they're paroled. G-d's system is a little
more accurate. The babies thrown into the Nile were a reincarnation and a
final reparation for souls who were killed by Noach's flood.
There was a generation of people who banded together to build a tower to do
battle with G-d! The Torah says with bricks and mortar they built. All that
energy fruitlessly put into building with no substance. That was of their
free will. Now in Egypt they fruitlessly build against their will. Also,
the Torah tells us, with bricks and mortar. The Midrash says that by this
Tower of Bavel, should a brick fall from the scaffold they wept but should
a person fall he was easily replaced. Now in Egypt the bricks also have
more value then the lives of the builders.
More recent of our holy Sages have said that the Jews senselessly killed in
the massacres of Tach v'Tat where the souls of those Biryonim who cause the
senseless killing of Jews of the second Temple era.
"And these are the names of the Children of Israel..." Only since the
Holocaust do we have unfortunate Jews with even more unfortunate education
asking where was G-d during the Holocaust? As if no evil ever befell the
Jewish people before 1940. G-d was where He always was. Going through his
Book of Names. The same book which begins with us at the lowest levels of
existence, raises us to the level of Mt. Sinai, builds with us the Mishkan,
and who's very last words tell of the Presence of Hashem's Shchinah resting
in our midst in all our travels. In all our trials. In all our
tribulations. And in all our tragedies.
As I mentioned last week, the name of this time of the year is Shovevim,
spelled by the first letters of the first 6 chapters of the Book of Names.
The same 6 chapters which bring us to Mt. Sinai. Shovevim is not just a
name. It's an essence. A power implanted in time and space which we can tap
into even today. Especially today. Our great grandparents used to take on
fasting during this time. Put aside extra time for learning. They would get
up early to say Tehillim before davening. The Bnei Yissaschar points out
the last letters of the first 5 words of Shmos are the letters which spell
I heard Rav Mordechai Isbee say that when the Jews entered Israel, not only
did they merit coming in but the present occupants filled their measure of
wickedness and deserved to be kicked out. There is no question that our
enemies are filling their share of wickedness. We have to fill our share of
merit! What better way than to tap into the power of Shovevim and have an
awakening Shabbot Shalom.
Back to this Weeks parsha| Previous Issues