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by Daneal Weiner
"Ma'asay Avos simin l'banim"- The events of the forefathers are an indication (of events) for their descendants. Yaakov left Lavan's house in broad daylight to give the impression that his exodus was with the approval of Lavan who was away for a few days. After three days, Lavan came back and he was told that Yaakov had left. Interesting that he didn't notice himself. Since the Rabbis, Chazal, argue whether Yaakov had 600,000 sheep or 600,000 flock of sheep, even according to the 1st opinion, it would be kind of hard for Lavan to miss. This can be answered with the answer to another question. Yaakov told Eisav that 20 years he lived with Lavan and was not influenced by him. The question is, how was Lavan not influence by Yaakov? The answer to both is that Yaakov kept such distance between himself and Lavan that he couldn't influence him and Lavan would not know that he was gone. But I digress.
After the three day head start, Lavan comes chasing after Yaakov and catches up to him on the 7th day. After some up and back, back and forth, to and fro, hither and yon, Lavan leaves and is a threat to Bnei Yisrael no more.
In this weeks
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we have Bnei Yisrael's mass exodus from Egypt. The previous night, after midnight, Pharaoh came running to Moshe and told him to leave right then. Moshe said, "I will not let them go...till daylight." Bnei Yisrael leave. After three days it is told to Pharaoh that the Jews are running away. Pharaoh comes chasing after them and catches up to them on the 7th day. The Egyptians follow the Jews into the sea- how dumb can you get?- we'll see!- and the waters close in on them. They are thrown up and back, back and forth, to and fro, hither and yon and is a threat to Bnei Yisrael no more.
And that's basically the parsha. Thank you. Good night everybody!
Well, maybe I have one or... twelve things to add to that.
13:18>"G-d turned Bnei Yisrael the way of desert, towards the Suf Sea and Bnei Yisrael went 'chamushim' out of Egypt." Rashi says there's no 'chamushim' other than 'armed' with weapons. To travel by way of the desert means they have to take with everything they need, especially weapons for protection and conquering Israel. Then Rashi brings another famous explanation. That 'chamushim' is from the root 'chamaish'- 5. This is where we learn that only 1/ 5 of the Jews came out of Egypt. Not so famous is what the Targum Yonasan ben Uziel brings down on this verse. You're not gonna believe it! 'Chamushim' from the root 'chamaish'- 5 means every family left Egypt with 5 kids!
Two questions should come to mind. 3 if you include, "What???" It's taught at the beginning of Shmos that G-d said regarding Pharaoh, "He thinks to deal wisely with Bnei Yisrael LEST they multiply? They WILL multiply!" Hashem caused every birth to be sextuplets. All healthy. Infant mortality rate, zero!. So how does each family leave with only 5?! One can guess, well, maybe not every woman became pregnant at that time and since the boys were being killed and since babies were being used for bricks, r'l, maybe the ones who had the over five suffered the losses... Still you have to ask the question, everyone 5? Exactly 5? Every single family exactly 5?" You hear the question?
This dvar Torah, which belongs to the Bair Yoseph, has one more question. The Targum Yerushalmi has his interpretation of 'chamushim.' He sides with the first half of Rashi who said it means 'armed' but he claims armed with a good deed! Another two questions leap off the page! 1) What??? 2) Chazal said that the reason Hashem commanded the slaughter of the lamb was that since the Jews were on the 49th level of tumah- which cause the angels to ask Hashem, "Why are You saving them from the others? They're both idolators!"- G-d wanted to give them a mitsvah so they will have SOME merit for being saved! And now it sounds like they were leaving with a spare tucked under their belts! What is the Targum Yerushalmi talking about? (As was so mellifluously expressed in question no. 1.)
The Bair Yoseph gives an incredible answer which makes them all come together! The 1/5, the 5, the children, the good deed! I kid you not! Hashem looks into the hearts and minds of all Bnei Yisrael and decides that 4/5 are to die. Who constituted that 4/5? Who would G-d hold accountable to such a degree? The ADULTS! Not the children! (You see it coming?)
Out of every 5 families, 4 sets of parents were killed off meaning. 4/5 of the children were now orphaned! Each of the remaining couples decided to take upon themselves the responsibility for 4 families of orphans. This means, as the Targum Yonansan says, that each left with 5 (sets of) kids! And why is all this information brought down in this verse and not back in Parshas Bo (12:37) when it says, "Bnei Yisrael traveled...600,000 men, excluding the children"?!
Because the Targum Yerushalmi wanted us to know just how big a good deed this was! Maybe you once chaperoned a grammar school class trip? To the zoo or to a museum? You watched and shmoozed while they all ran around. Not so bad. What does the beginning of our verse (13:18) say? "G-d turned Bnei Yisrael the way of desert..."! Dozens of children and it's just you and the dunes! Wow! What a chesed that was! Finally we can understand the remaining interpretation of 'chamushim', that Bnei Yisrael came out armed with weapons. "You 8 get your feet off the coffee table! (Blam!)" "Eat your vegetables! I've got a 9mm. Don't make me use it!" "GET AWAY...I'm loading the bazooka...get AWAY from the crystal cabinet, NOW!!!"
I just got off the phone with my Chumash Rebbe and was it worth the dime! And what siyata dishmaya too! I had a question I wanted to ask him so I called and I forgot the question. So I just started talking out this vort to him waiting for the question to pop up. It didn't. My question wasn't on this. But when I got to the end he said he added on to it!
The Ohr Gedalyahu brings the Zohar which says that 'chamushim' alludes to not 1/5 or 5 but 50! The Ohr Gedalyahu explains that although physically it took Bnei Yisrael one time to leave Egypt, spiritually they would have to leave 50 times. Maybe this has something to do with the exodus being mentioned in the Torah 50 times. Also, this can be one idea behind the 50 days till Mt. Sinai. Every day is another time out. Again we can ask why is all this information brought here? If you open your siddurs to the counting of the Omer, what s'firos parallel the first day? What was the first step of 50 which needed to be taken to leave Egypt? Chesed sh'b'chesed! Kindness within kindness. Taking care of 4 families of orphans certainly indicated their success making that first step.
So right now there are 600,000 men and, say, 5,000,000 children. How about 40 years later when all these children are certainly over 20 years old, how are there still only 600,000 Jews counted going into Erets Yisrael? Good question? Late in sefer Bamidbar the daughters of Tslafchad heard the inheritance of Israel was to be portioned out according to the males of the family. The 5 daughters came to Moshe saying that their father died in the desert of his own sins and they have no brothers. They asked that their fathers name not be forgotten and that they get a portion of Israel. Moshe brought their case before Hashem and Hashem said they spoke well. The land would be devided up according to the males as they left Egypt. Here too we can say that the counting of Bnei Yisrael was always according to the males over 20 who left Egypt and their descendants. This then would always exclude these children from the count, even in their older years. The question may be better than the answer. Still, we have an answer. Next!
4:3> "And Pharaoh says to Bnei Yisrael, "They are wandering in the land and the desert closed in on them." That's a pretty good trick Pharaoh, talking TO Bnei Yisrael after they've all left! Rashi says 'to' means regarding or about Israel. The Targum Yonasan ben Uziel does it again! He informs us, yes, Pharaoh IS talking TO sons of Israel. 2 sons to be exact! Dasan and Aviram!!! Are these guys wacky or what?
We just learned 4/5 of Bnei Yisrael died during the plague of darkness. This was so they could be buried without the Egyptian knowing about it. Killed because G-d knew they didn't want to leave. [There are many explanations why- from having no hope for Bnei Yisrael to being too caught in Egypt to want anything else.] Here are two of these Jews! The big question is why weren't Dasan and Aviram killed during the darkness?
The Maharil Diskin explains that they had some tremendous merit going for them. Back in Shmos, when the decree went out that there was to be no more straw but the same number of bricks were expected, dreadfully so, production did dropped off and babies were used for bricks. This heinous act did not stop the Egyptians from beating the Jewish taskmasters expecting them to pass this 'motivation' on to their enslaved brethren. The taskmasters, however, did NOT beat their fellow Jew. They took it all themselves. Their merit for this m'siras nefesh- self sacrafice, was so great ultimately, when G-d asks Moshe to gather men to receive Divine inspiration to become the first Sanhedrin, Moshe took from these men!
Also in Shmos we read that Moshe and Aharon came out from Pharaoh's palace and were met by two taskmasters who greeted them with, " Thanks but no thanks! "We'd like to say 'you're doing fine, but you're not! Don't quit your day job! " Who would speak this way to Moshe and Aharon? Rashi says it's Dasan and Aviram (5:20). For their fellow man they'd be beaten and beaten again. Show them an authority figure, a divinely appointed authority figure, forget it! "Ma'asay Avos simin l'banim"- They survived then and they survive till this day.
15:8> "And with a blast of Your nostrils the waters 'ne'ermu'-were heaped up..." Moshe leads the men in singing Hashem's praises for splitting the sea. The Hebrew "ne'ermu" is from the word 'aramah' which means 'pile'. But 'aramah' also means ‘trickery’! The water played tricks?? The Mechilta says BINGO!
Two parshas back we saw that just as Pharaoh wanted to mix the keddushah of Bnei Yisrael with the tumah of Egypt by relations, measure for measure G-d sent the frog, spiritually mixed with tumah and keddushah, to sterilize the Egyptians. Three parshas back, Pharaoh said "Let's deal wisely with the them [Bnei Yisrael]." The commentaries said Pharaoh meant with water. He thought G-d's promise not to flood the world preventing Him from exacting punishment, measure for measure, with water. Sorry Pharaoh. Measure for measure G-d had the water deal wisely with Pharaoh.What did it do?
14:21> "Moshe stretched out his hand over the sea and Hashem sent the sea with a strong east wind all night and turned the sea dry and the waters split." Sea, Sea, sea...water? After we are told that G-d made the sea dry it says the water split!? Remember the opening verse when we commented how dumb Egypt would have to be that after 10 plagues, they chase after Bnei Yisrael, they catch up and are blocked by a pillar of fire that bounces back any arrows, that makes it pitch black for them but the other side is as bright as day, then the sea splits open in front of Bnei Yisrael to take them to safety, and they run in after them!?! I ask you, if you were an Egyptian, would you? Of course not- because you don't want to. But if you wanted too so badly, then any excuse you could find would be reason enough to take the chance.
After the east wind dried up the sea bottom which meant the sea was already split, the verse says the 'water' split. Three times the verse says ‘sea’ and suddenly it uses ‘water’. Rashi says, “Water- All the water in the world.” Moments ago, there was an incredible miracle being performed just for Bnei Yisrael. But now, it's an unbelievable fluke of nature. All the water in the world has split in half. Bath water, pitcher water, I would venture to guess an Egyptian couldn't spit in one spot if his life depended on it. And if its just a fluke of nature...no reason it shouldn't stay open for the Egyptians just like it's open for the Jews. "Let's get em!" Very tricky, water. Very tricky!
This is how the Egyptian sees even the open miracles of the world. Flukes and phenomenon's. How does a Jew see the world? 14:22, "And Bnei Yisrael came into the water on dry land..." 14:29, "And Bnei Yisrael walked on dry land amidst the water..." The Amshinover Rav said that verse 22 is telling us what a miracle it was that B'nei Yisrael entered the sea and it turned to dry land! And verse 29 tells us that the truth of the matter is, even to walk on dry land is a miracle! There is nothing natural about nature.
15:23-25> Bnei Yisrael came to Maratah and they couldn't drink the water because it was bitter. Hashem showed Moshe a tree. He threw of its wood in the water and it became sweet. Chazal say that the wood was also bitter. It was taught in Gateshead Yeshiva: Many people drink bitter coffee. How? They put sugar in it. It's STILL bitter coffee but with enough sugar, it has the illusion of sweetness. So many unfortunate people live their lives this way. Such bitter lives. But if they can heap on enough shallow, transient pleasures they can fool themselves to think their lives have become sweet.
As Jews we know it we have to take a bitter piece of wood. No matter how busy we are, we have to make time for davening. We have to make time for Torah study. No matter how poor we spend our last pennies on Shabbos and the Holidays. No matter how rich we mut bend our will to the Rabbis. No matter how berated we stand our ground against the desires and depravities of the nations around us. Because we know, then our lives truly become sweet!
Nutrasweet? More lies! Sweet'n'low? Don't kid yourself! Have yourselves a real Shabbot Shalom.
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