פ’ בא תשע”ט
Volume 27, Issue 3
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
ויאמר משה בנערינו ובזקנינו נלך
“And Moshe said, ‘we will go with our young and old alike’” (10:9)
Why does Moshe mention the young before the old? Should not the elders go before the young? The Kesav Sofer responds that the young had to be rescued as soon as possible. Since they lacked a proper spiritual upbringing, they were more susceptible than their elders to the Egyptian environment. Only after the youth had left, did the older generation, who still maintained some roots in Judaism, and were more likely to survive spirituality in Egypt, leave.
The Koznitzer Magid tz”l explains this verse in a homiletic fashion. As a person goes in his youth, so too will he go in his old age. If we use our young years properly in the service of Hashem, our older years will be a pleasure and filled with good memories. Similarly, if we accustom ourselves to serving Hashem when we’re young, we’ll find that it gets even easier and more pleasurable as we age. However, if we waste our young years, we will look back on decades that were spent on foolishness and we will see that they give us neither pleasure nor good memories. (Peninim)
נטה ידך על השמים ויהי חשך על ארץ מצרים וימש חשך
“Stretch forth your hand towards the heavens, and there shall be darkness upon the land of Egypt, and the darkness will be tangible…” (10:21)
It’s known that one of the authentic ways the Torah can be expounded upon is by something called the “Letter-Before/Letter-After” system. The way this works is that if one studies a word in the Torah and examines which letter appears before or after each letter of the word in the aleph-beis, it can reveal fascinating insights.
One such example of this is the word “v’yameish” in our verse. The word is spelled vav-yud-mem-shin. The letter that appears before each of these in the aleph-beis is hei-tes-lamed-reish, respectively. Amazingly, this spells the name “Hitler,” yemach shemo – may his name be erased. This is especially curious, as using the “Letter-Before” system reveals that his name appears in the ninth plague of darkness – which Chazal tell us is the one in which four-fifths of the Jewish people died in Egypt. According to some historians the Germans murdered 80% of Jews under their control. (Rav Bregman))
ולכל בני ישראל היה אור במושבתם
“However, for all of the Jewish people, there was light in their dwellings.” (10:23)
The last letters of the wordsולכל בני ישראל היה spells לילה – night. The light that shone upon the Jewish people was even during the night. אור – light, has the same gematria as the word באדר – in Adar. The plague of darkness took place in the month of Adar, the same month in which the downfall of Haman occurred, as the Megillah (Esther 9:16) says, “LaYehudim haysah orah – For the Jews there was light… (Nachal Kedumim)
החדש הזה לכם ראש חדשים ראשון הוא לכם לחדשי השנה
“This month shall be for you the head of the months. It shall be to you the first of the months of the year.” (12:2)
Rav Avraham Pam tz”l points out an interesting idea. He says that there are two ways in which the new month was designated through Kiddush hachodesh. Years ago, it was achieved through re’iyah, which means seeing. When two witnesses came to beit din and testified that they saw a new moon, Rosh Chodesh was declared. However, once Hillel wrote down the calendar for all future generations, the new month was declared according to cheshbon – the calculations of the calendar.
Rav Pam tz”l says this idea is symbolic of types of people; those who live according to re’iyah and those who spend their time according to cheshbon. People who don’t fully appreciate time will constantly say, “Let’s wait and see what happens.” They fritter away their time, and the days and years go by without them accomplishing anything. Then there are those who calculate their time and try to squeeze as many mitzvot and good deeds into their days as possible.
Every Jew must remember the old refrain: Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift; that is why the it is called the “present.” Let us never forget to use this great gift to its fullest.
What lesson can we learn from a leap year? The secular calendar follows the solar year, the cycle of the sun, and consists of 365 days. The Jewish calendar follows the lunar system, the cycle of the moon, and is approximately 354 days. To make the deficiency of close to 11 days, every few years we have a leap year, after which we actually end up a few days ahead of the solar year.
The leap year serves as a reminder that everyone has an opportunity from time to time to make up for what he has failed to accomplish in the past. Furthermore, just as the leap year not only makes up for the deficiency, but provides an “advance” on the future, a Jew must also intensify his efforts in his service of Hashem and store up additional merits. (Likutei Sichot)
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