Monthly Archives: 13 Shevat 5777

Parshas BeShalach


וַיְהִי בְּשַׁלַּח פַּרְעֹה אֶת הָעָם וְלֹא נָחָם אֱלֹהִים דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ פְּלִשְׁתִּים כִּי קָרוֹב הוּא כִּי אָמַר אֱלֹהִים פֶּן יִנָּחֵם הָעָם בִּרְאֹתָם מִלְחָמָה וְשָׁבוּ מִצְרָיְמָה:

And it was when Paroh sent out the Nation…. (Shemos 13/17)

Our parsha opens with the possuk (Shemos 13/17), “And it came to pass (Vayehi) when Paroah sent the people out, Hashem did not lead them [by] way of the land of the Philistines for it was near, because Hashem said, ‘the people might reconsider when they see war and return to Mitzrayim‘.” The Medrash comments, “Who said “vie” (a play on the word, “vayehi“- in other word, who grieved?)? Paroah said “vie”!

Zera Shimshon quotes the Zera Beiraich who asks how does this Medrash fit with the second half of the possuk that speaks of how Hashem didn’t lead us on a straight route but rather on a winding one? What is the connection between Paraoh’s grieving and our leaving Mitzrayim on a winding route?

Another question. Chazal teach us that Paroah didn’t just send us out of Mitzrayim but he also escorted us. What was the purpose of escorting us?

He answers in light of two halachos concerning slaves. Firstly the Rambam (Avodim 8/13) paskens, “…a slave who was imprisoned flees from jail. If his master gave up hope of regaining ownership of him, he is granted his freedom.”

The second halacha is (ibid halacha 10), “When a slave flees from the diaspora to Eretz Yisrael, he should not be returned to slavery.”

According to these two halachos Zera Shimshon answers the two questions.

Paroah didn’t escort Bnei Yisroel to help them on their journey but rather to show that he did not give up hope of ever regaining possession of them. If he didn’t escort Bnei Yisroel he was afraid that they would go free.

However when he saw that Hashem took them out on a winding path because Hashem was afraid that they would return to Mitzrayim he realized that Hashem intended to bring them to Eretz Yisroel. When he realized this he said, “Vie” becaue he knew the halacha that “a slave flees from the diaspora to Eretz Yisrael, he should not be returned to slavery.”


יט וַיִּקַּח מֹשֶׁה אֶת-עַצְמוֹת יוֹסֵף, עִמּוֹ:  כִּי הַשְׁבֵּעַ הִשְׁבִּיעַ אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, לֵאמֹר, פָּקֹד יִפְקֹד אֱלֹהִים אֶתְכֶם, וְהַעֲלִיתֶם אֶת-עַצְמֹתַי מִזֶּה אִתְּכֶם.

(At the time of the Exodus from Mitzrayim) Moshe took the bones of Yosef with him because (Yosef) made Bnei Yisroel firmly swear that Hashem will surely remember (to redeem) you and you should take my bones from here with you. (Shemos 13/19)

We explained the words “hashba hishbia” as “firmly swear”. The truth is, though, the Torah doesn’t explicitly write the word “firmly”. Rather, the word “made them swear” (hishpia in Lashon HaKodesh) is repeated twice (hashbea hishbea). This is commonly understood as a way to show stress, therefore- “firmly swear”.

Rashi, however, explains the double wording differently. He explains that Yosef made his sons swear that they would make their children swear (in other words the next generation) to take out his bones when they are redeemed from Mitzrayim.

After Rashi explains the double language he asks, “Why didn’t he just make his children swear that they would bury him, just like Yaakov did with his son (Yosef). He answers that since Yosef we second to the Paroah he was able to fulfill Yaakov’s request. Yosef’s son, on the other hand, were not in the position to just leave Mitzrayim when they wanted. Therefore Yosef made them swear that they would make their children swear to take his bones with them when they are redeemed from Mitzrayim.

Zera Shimshon (and many meforshim) ask why did Rashi ask this question here in Parshas BeShalach” after he explained that the meaning of the double wording of “made them swear”? He should of asked this question in Parshas Vayechi where the Torah relates the incident that Yosef made his brothers swear etc.

He answers according to the Sifsai Cohen who points out that Yosef is called “the Shepherd of Yisroel and that the Navi refers to all of Clal Yisroel as “the remnants of Yosef”. The reason for this, he explains, is because it was in his merit that B’nei Yisroel were redeemed.

He explains that Yosef knew that the approaching bondage will be very difficult and he was afraid that the people will give up hope that they will ever be redeemed. If this happened, Yosef knew that the the truth is that they really won’t be redeemed! (Exactly what happened to the people who died in the days of darkness.) Only people who wait for the redemption are redeemed.

Because of this Yosef didn’t want to be immediately taken to and buried in Eretz Yisroel. He wanted that the people will see his remains and reason, “if Yosef, who was a tzaddik and a chachom waited for the Redemption to be buried, then surely he knew that there eventually be one.” This idea kept alive their hope in redemption until they were finally redeemed.

According to this, explains Zera Shimshon, we could explain that the double usage of “to make swear” means that there were actually two promises. One, that they wouldn’t take out his bones early (so B’nei Yisroel wouldn’t give up hope). And two, that they will bring his bones to be buried in Eretz Yisroel.

If this would be the reason for the double language then there is no question as to why he didn’t make his children immediatly bury him; he felt that his remains would help Bnei Yisroel wait to be redeemed.

However, since Rashi explains that the double use of “to swear” doesn’t mean that he made them swear not to bury him immedatly, but just that his grandchildren should bury him, Rashi asks why didn’t he just make his sons swear?


וַיְהִי בְּשַׁלַּח פַּרְעֹה אֶת הָעָם וְלֹא נָחָם אֱלֹהִים דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ פְּלִשְׁתִּים כִּי קָרוֹב הוּא כִּי אָמַר אֱלֹהִים פֶּן יִנָּחֵם הָעָם בִּרְאֹתָם מִלְחָמָה וְשָׁבוּ מִצְרָיְמָה:

And it was at the time that Paroh drove out the people (from Mitzrayim), and Hashem didn’t take them through the land of the Pelishtim because Hashem said to H.mself … and they will return to Mitzrayim. (Shemos 13/17)

Zera Shimshon asks why does the Torah refer to the time of the Exodus as “the time that Paroh drove the people out”. This implies that Paroh was responsible for the Exodus. It would seem more appropriate to refer to the time of the Exodus as “at the time that Hashem took the people out…” which implies that Hashem was responsible for our leaving. (Which is the way that Balak refers to the Exodus, “Hashem (Kail) took them out of Mitzrayim…”)

He answers by first asking and answering a different question: How could Bnei Yisroel cry out and pray to Hashem that H. take us out of Mitzrayim? At Bris Bein HaBesarrim, Hashem decreed that we would be in bondage for 400 years. Since the time didn’t yet come (we left Mitzrayim after only 210 years), how could we pray for the time to be shortened?

The answer to this second question is, explains Zera Shimshon, that Hashem doesn’t rule the world only with the Attribute of Justice. If H. would the world would cease to exist. H. also rules the world with the Attribute of Mercy.

Therefore, true, according to the strict letter of the decree Bein HaBessarim bondage would be 400 years; 365 days times 400. However, Bnei Yisroel davvened to Hashem that H. should judge us with H.s Attribute of Mercy and that the 210 years of tremendous harshness and severity that we suffered should be considered like we were enslaved for 400 full years.

By the fact that we left Mitzrayim after only 210 years it would seem that Hashem answers our prayers and H. judged us with the Attribute of Mercy. However, this isn’t true, Hashem judged us at that time with H.s Attribute of Justice.

However, since the enslavement was so brutal, draconian and Nazi-like, to a much greater degree than decreed at Bein HaBessarim, even the Attribute of Justice agreed that we could leave Mitzrayim. The remaining 190 years of bondage, though, was suspended for a later time.

The obvious difference between if our suffering fulfilled the decree of 400 years or we still have to make it up is if future generation will have to suffer more exiles. Zera Shimshon, though, proposes two other differences even for the generation of the Exodus.

Firstly, if all the years were fulfilled then we would have just gotten up and left. Paorh would not have had to sent us out.

Secondly, if all the years of bondage were finished then there would no worry or concern that we would return to Mitzrayim.

According to this Zera Shimshon now explains the original question why the Torah refers to the time of the Exodus as when “Paroh drove out the people…” and not when Hashem took us out.

This possuk continues that Hashem took us out a winding way because H. was concerned that if we left on a straight route and saw a war we would want to return to Mitzrayim. This concern is ONLY because we left before the end of the decree.

Therefore if the Torah wrote “at the time that Hashem took the people out…” (which implies that Hashem answered our prayers and judged us with the Attribute of Mercy) we would not understand why Hahem didn’t take us directly into Eretz Yisroel; we already fulfilled the decree of 400 years.

The Torah therefore writes that Paroh send us out, which implies that we still “owe” 190 years, therefore we were taken a round about way so we wouldn’t want to return to Mitzrayim.
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Parshas Bo

וַיֹּאמֶר יְדֹוָד אֶל משֶׁה נְטֵה יָדְךָ עַל הַשָּׁמַיִם וִיהִי חשֶׁךְ עַל אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם וְיָמֵשׁ חשֶׁךְ: (שמות י/כא)

On the possuk “and the darkness became concrete” (Shemos 10/21) the Medrash comments, “HaKodesh Baruch Hue said to the melachim (angels), “It is fitting that the Mitzriim get smitten with darkness.’ They immediately agreed with Hashem and they didn’t defy H.s command.”

Zera Shimshon asks why did Hashem discuss the plague that H. intended to bring on the Mitzriyim specifically in the plague of darkness and not in other plagues?

To answer this question we need to first backtrack.

Hashem told Avraham at the Bris Bain HaBessarim that his descendants (Bnei Yisroel) will suffer in bondage for four hundred years and at the end of that period they will leave “with great wealth” (b’rechush gadol). If we would have stayed in bondage all of the 400 years then the Mitzriyim would have smoothly handed over to us “great riches”, just like Hashem promised to Avraham. However, in actuality we were in bondage for only two hundred and ten years.

At that time we reached such a low spiritual level (the forty ninth out of fifty level of impurity) that if we would have remained in Mitzrayim any longer we would be lost for ever. Therefore H. counted the horrible and extreme bondage, which was much more intense than Hashem decreed on us, as if we suffered four hundred years and redeemed us early.

This “discount” of 190 years, unfortunately wasn’t absolute. It was given to us with a condition; that we would always go in the way of Hashem. If we stray from the proper path, then we would have to suffer three more exiles to make up those years.

Since at the time of the Exodus it wasn’t yet sure if we would be keep this condition not only did the Mitzriyim not give us their possessions “on a silver platter” but Hashem also didn’t want us to take them. Instead, Hashem commanded us to “borrow” from Mitzriyim. We were also not allowed to “borrow” them until the time we were actually leaving and not any earlier.

Rashi explains that the process of “borrowing” began with the plague of Darkness. During that plague, since the Mitzriyim couldn’t see but Bnei Yisroel could see, ax Bnei ax Yisroel looked around their neighbors’ houses to find where they hid their possessions. At the time of the Exodus, when they asked to borrow and the Mitzri refused saying that he didn’t have anything to give them, they walked right over to the hiding places and took them. This, of course, took time.

Another fact. The Medrash (Zohar Shemos 4b) learns from pessukim that not only did Yaakov and his family go to Mitzrayim but at that time 600,000 melachim also came with them to stay there until Bnei Yisroel eventually would leave. These ax melachim obviously detested being in such a despicable and impure place and wanted to leave as soon as possible.

According to these ideas ax Zera ax Shimshon explains that the ax melachim had to stay in ax Mitzrayim a little longer while ax Bnei ax Yisroel went around “borrowing” the Egyptian’s riches. Since they were affected by this whole process of “borrowing’ ax Hashem explained to them what was happening before it began.


וַיֹּאמֶר יְדֹוָד אֶל משֶׁה בֹּא אֶל פַּרְעֹה כִּי אֲנִי הִכְבַּדְתִּי אֶת לִבּוֹ וְאֶת לֵב עֲבָדָיו לְמַעַן שִׁתִי אֹתֹתַי אֵלֶּה בְּקִרְבּוֹ: וּלְמַעַן תְּסַפֵּר בְּאָזְנֵי בִנְךָ וּבֶן בִּנְךָ אֵת אֲשֶׁר הִתְעַלַּלְתִּי בְּמִצְרַיִם וְאֶת אֹתֹתַי אֲשֶׁר שַׂמְתִּי בָם וִידַעְתֶּם כִּי אֲנִי יְדֹוָד: וַיָּבֹא משֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן אֶל פַּרְעֹה וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֵלָיו כֹּה אָמַר יְדֹוָד אֱלֹהֵי הָעִבְרִים עַד מָתַי מֵאַנְתָּ לֵעָנֹת מִפָּנָי שַׁלַּח עַמִּי וְיַעַבְדֻנִי: כִּי אִם מָאֵן אַתָּה לְשַׁלֵּחַ אֶת עַמִּי הִנְנִי מֵבִיא מָחָר אַרְבֶּה בִּגְבֻלֶךָ: (שמות י/א-ד)

And Hashem said to Moshe, “Go to Paroh for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants in order to put My signs in his midst. And in order that you will relate in the ears of your sons and your son’s sons how I made fools of the Egyptians.” …. And Moshe and Aharon came before Paroh and they said to him….. for if you refuse to send out my people I will bring locust in your boundaries. (Shmos 10/14)These pessukim are difficult to understand. In the first 2 pessukim when Hashem commanded Moshe to go to Paroh, Hashem didn’t specify to Moshe what plague H. planned to inflict. How then, in the next possuk, when Moshe warned Paroh of the upcoming plague, did Moshe tell Paroh that Hashem was planning to bring locust (arbeh)? If Hashem didn’t reveal this to Moshe, how did he know?

The Medrash seems to be bothered by this question and explains that in actuality, Hashem DID specify to Moshe that H. will bring locust. Moshe, however, didn’t write it straight out but masked it in the words “you will relate in the ears of your sons and your son’s sons how I made fools of the Egyptians”.

Zera Shimshon asks what is unique about the plague of locust that Moshe didn’t write it openly and only alluded to it?

He answers according to the Shach on the Torah who writes that after Paroah (the forefather of the Paroah who ruled at the time of the Exodus) handed over his daughter Hagar to be Avraham’s maidservant, Hashem blessed Mitzrayim that they would not be infested with locust. (The gematria Hagar (308) is the same as arbeh (locust), alluding to the fact that Hagar replaced the locust.) From that time until this plague Mitzrayim was “locust-free”.

Since Hashem went back on H.s promise that H. made to the first Paroah, Moshe didn’t want to write it out specifically.

This idea that when Hashem brought this plague H. broke H.s promise to a previous Paroah answers another question.

After Paroah and his servants heard the description of this plague they were scared and he agreed (verbally) to let them go and sacrifice a korbon to Hashem. However he (Paroah) warned Moshe (Shemos 10/10) “… see that evil is before your faces.” In other words, even though Paroah said that they could leave, he warned them that will “pay for it”. Why only here did he warn them? In some of the previous plagues he also agreed to let them leave but there he didn’t try to scare them!

Zera Shimshon explains that Paroah understood that Hashem doesn’t deal with the Jewish nation in the same way that H. deals with the Nations of the World. Hashem keeps H.s promises made to the nations regardless of their conduct. It makes no different if they keep what Hashem tells them to do or not. Hashem’s promise to them is a promise.

Hashem’s promises to us, however, depends on our conduct. If we go in H.s ways, Hashem keeps them. If not…

Paroah inflicted us in Mitzrayim and didn’t feel that he was doing anything wrong since we didn’t go in Hashem’s ways when we were there.

However, Paroah was afraid that if we would leave and serve Hashem in the desert, then this would be some type of teshuva and Hashem would then keep the promise that H. made to Avraham that we would become a great nation.

This is the way that he felt UNTIL the plague of arbeh. However, after Moshe said that Hashem will bring arbeh into Mitzrayim, Paroah reasoned that just like Hashem reneged on H.s promise not to bring locusts into Mitzrayim so too H. will not keep H.s promise to Avraham even though that H.s people will go in H.s ways. Therefore he warned them to beware of the evil before their faces!

Obviously Paroah made a big mistake and Hashem is very trustworthy and Hashem keeps H.s promises to the Nations of the World regardless of their deeds. However this is only when they sin against H.m. However, when they needlessly inflict pain on Clal Yisroel things are different and H. isn’t bound by H.s promises.


וַיֹּאמֶר יְדֹוָד אֶל משֶׁה עוֹד נֶגַע אֶחָד אָבִיא עַל פַּרְעֹה וְעַל מִצְרַיִם אַחֲרֵי כֵן יְשַׁלַּח אֶתְכֶם מִזֶּה כְּשַׁלְּחוֹ כָּלָה גָּרֵשׁ יְגָרֵשׁ אֶתְכֶם מִזֶּה: דַּבֶּר נָא בְּאָזְנֵי הָעָם וְיִשְׁאֲלוּ אִישׁ מֵאֵת רֵעֵהוּ וְאִשָּׁה מֵאֵת רְעוּתָהּ כְּלֵי כֶסֶף וּכְלֵי זָהָב: (שמות יא/א-ב)

And Hashem spoke to Moshe….Please speak in the ears of the people that each man should borrow from his friend and each lady should borrow from her friend silver articles and gold articles… (Shemos 11/1-2)

Chazal (Brechos 9a) explain these pessukim, “(Hashem told Moshe) go and speak to Yisroel, ‘I ask you, please borrow from… in order that that the tzadik (Avrohom) will not claim that “and they will enslave and persecute them” Y. fulfilled but “and afterwards they will leave with a lot of possessions” Y.u didn’t fulfill?'”

Zera Shimshon asks two questions. Firstly, why does Hashem give the reason for taking the jewelery because of H.s concern, sort to speak, of what Avrohom would say and not simply because Hashem promised at Bris Bain HaBesorim that they will leave Mitzrayim with a lot of possessions?

Secondly, why did Hashem fullfull H.s promise in a seemingly deceitful way- by asking to borrow the Egyptian jewelry (even though they had no intention to ever give it back)? Why didn’t Hashem just tell them to take the possessions of the Mitzraiim?

He answers according to the concept we wrote about in last week’s parsha. Hashem rules the world using two contradictory attributes- the Attribute of Mercy and the Attribute of Justice. We don’t know which one H. uses at any given time. We only know that both are used to judge and rule the world.

Hashem decreed at Bris Bain HaBesorim that we we were to be enslaved for four hundred years. The degree of suffering that we were mandated to go through during these four hundred years was not limitless but was meant to be the normal degree of slavery. The Mitzriim, however, went way “overboard” and they persecuted and inflicted tremendous pain on us, much much more than average slaves.

Because of this, according to Hashem’s Attribute of Mercy, 210 years of the tremendous terrible suffering of the 210 years equaled 400 years of the slavery that was originally decreed.

Interestingly, Hashem’s Attribute of Justice also agreed that B’nei Yisroel should be redeemed from Mitzrayim early, after 210 years. But not because our suffering should be counted as if we served all four hundred years. Rather, simply because we didn’t deserve to suffer so much. The tremendous suffering was not part of the original decree Bain HaBesorim. The remaining years, according to Hashem’s Atrribute of Justice, would have to be made up, though, under some other nation.

The main difference between the Attribute of Mercy and the Attribute of Justice is if we have to “make up” the remaining 190 years. According to the Attribute of Justice we have to. According to Attribute of Mercy we won’t have to because our suffering made it is as if we “served the whole sentence”.

There is, however, yet another difference. If we didn’t yet complete the whole decree we are not yet entitled to “and afterwards they will leave with great possessions”. If however it is considered like we served the whole four hundred years, then we are entitled to leave “with great possessions”.

With this in mind we can now understand the above Gemorro.

Hashem judged us that it was time to leave Mitzrayim but it wasn’t clear if it was with Mercy or with Justice. Therefore they weren’t allowed to just take gold and silver articles from the Mitzriim because it is not 100% sure that they can take it (since according to the Attribute of Justice they don’t deserve it yet). This is because of the Halachik concept, “the burden of proof is on the one who claims”.

However, after it is in B’nei Yisroel’s hands and the burden of proof is now on the Mitzriim, they don’t have to give it back since the Mitzriim also don’t have a 100% claim on it (since B’nei Yisroel do deserve according to the Attribute of Mercy).

Hashem begged them to take the articles because H. knew that Avrohom Ovino who is the pillar of Mercy and looks at the world through merciful eyes held that the severeness of the enslavement was enough to fulfill the decree. Therefore if they would leave without the articles Avrohom would surely complain!These d’vrai Torah are dedicated to Esther Yenta Bas Chana Chassia. In the merit of the learning Zera Shimshon’s divrai TorahHashem should answer her prayers and she should quickly find her proper match along with all the other members of Clal Yisroel who are also looking for their zivug hagun.

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