פ’ שמות – תשע”ה
Volume 7, Issue 1
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, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
ואלה שמות בני ישראל הבאים מצרימה
“These are the names of the Children of Israel who were coming to Egypt.” (1:1)
Our Sages note that it is not written Bnei Yisrael who came to Egypt, but rather in the present tense. We therefore ascertain that Bnei Yisrael never considered themselves as citizens and permanent residents of Egypt. They always felt they were strangers in a strange land and they anxiously awaited their redemption and their journey to the land of their fathers. This deep feeling of alienation intensified their desire to maintain the unique characteristics of the traditions of their fathers. This has always been the greatest single strength of Bnei Yisrael during their many years of suffering and persecution.
The survival of Bnei Yisrael in Egypt was due to the transplanting of the house of Yaakov and the maintenance of its characters and principles. The Midrash states that the survival of Bnei Yisrael was the result of four things: They did not change their names; they did not change their language; they did not reveal their secrets; and they maintained their morality. Bnei Yisrael suffered terribly in Egypt. But after their suffering they were in a position to fully value their freedom and appreciate Hashem’s bountiful gifts. Their suffering refined and purified them in preparation for Matan Torah. (Torah Gems)
וימררו את חייהם
“And they made bitter their lives…” (1:14)
QUESTION: Why do the words “vayemararu et chayeihem” have a cantillation (“trope”) of a kadma ve’azla?
ANSWER: When Hashem spoke to Avraham, he told him that the Jewish people would be in Egypt for a period of 400 years. Actually, they lived in Egypt for only 210 years. One reason for the Jews’ departure 190 years early is that the Egyptians made them work extremely hard. Therefore, in 210 years they had endured the equivalent of 400 years of normal suffering. The “trope” of kadma ve’azla expresses this thought: The word kadma means to rise early, and the word “azla” means to leave. The Torah is telling us that they rose and left Egypt earlier than the appointed 400 years because “vayemararu et chayeihem” – “they made their lives extremely bitter” to the extent that 210 years were the equivalent of 400 years. It is interesting to note that the numerical value of the words “kadma ve’azla” (קדמא ואזלא) is 190, the number of years deducted from the original 400. (Vedebarta Bam)
ותקרא שמו משה
“She called him Moshe…” (2:10)
QUESTION: Why is he called “Moshe Rabbeinu”, while the Rambam is known as “Rabbeinu Moshe”?
ANSWER: Though Moshe had many names (see Midrash Rabbah Vayikra 1:3), the name his parents gave him at birth was not “Moshe”. If so, why throughout the 120 years of his life did he keep as his official name the name “Moshe”, which he first received three months after his birth?
Indeed, he was well aware that his original name was not “Moshe”. However, he retained his name to never forget one who had acted toward him with great kindness. Whenever he was addressed as “Moshe”, it would remind him of his being drawn from the water by Batya, the daughter of Pharaoh, and he would thank her in his heart. Thus, the term “Rabbeinu” follows the word “Moshe” to indicate that the name “Moshe” is Rabbeinu – it teaches a lesson to humanity on hakarat hatov – to recognize kindness and express gratitude. On the other hand, the Rambam is renowned for his scholarly works, through which he has educated generations of Jews. Therefore, he is affectionately known as “Rabbeinu Moshe” – “Our teacher, Moshe ben Maimon.”
Incidentally, it is most appropriate that the words “Moshe Rabbeinu” (משה רבינו) have the numerical value of 613, since he gave us the Torah which consists of 613 mitzvot. Also, “Rabbeinu Moshe” adds up to 613 because in his monumental work known as Mishneh Torah, he expounded all of the 613 mitzvot. (Yalkut Reuveni)
ויגדל הילד ותבאהו לבת פרעה ויהי לה לבן ותקרא שמו משה
“And the lad grew up and she brought him to the daughter of Pharaoh and he was to her as a son and she called him Moshe.” (2:10)
Ibn Ezra states that it is possible that the Almighty had Moshe raised in the palace of the king in order for him to experience a royal manner of behavior. He would both see it firsthand and get into the habit of acting this way. We see how this early training helped Moshe develop into a dynamic personality. He killed an Egyptian in order to defend a person he was attacking. He rescued the maidens in Midyan and enabled them to water their flocks. Moshe was the most humble of all men. In his personal life he mastered the ability to ignore any slights or insults. But he was a powerful leader who accepted responsibility upon himself to save people in difficult straits.
One’s self-image is a key factor in one’s behavior. Moshe’s self-image was of a prince growing up in the palace of an absolute Monarch. This allowed him to take any action necessary to do what was right. The most precious gift you can bestow upon any child is a positive self-image. Constant criticism and fault-finding knocks away at one’s self-esteem. A child growing up with inferiority feelings is handicapped. This will limit him in many ways. The key focus of anyone dealing with children must be, “How can I elevate this child’s self-image?” Yes, humility must be taught, but the humility of a Moshe Rabbeinu. This is an awareness of one’s greatness with the realization that all is a gift from the Almighty. (Growth Through Torah)
ויאמר אלקים אל משה אהיה אשר אהיה
“Hashem said to Moshe: ‘I will be what I will be’…” (3:14)
Why is Hashem referred to as I will be what I will be? This brings about repentance. Just as man regrets his transgressions and says I will be good from this day forward, Hashem immediately said: “I too will be with you and bestow you my Divine Presence.”
Hashem’s emblem is Emes, truth and as far as Moshe Rabbeinu’s question to Hashem how He can assure Bnei Yisrael that this prophecy will come true, Hashem replied that His name I will be as I will be alludes to truth. The word emes in gematria is equivalent 441. Eheyeh is equivalent to 21. Eheyeh is written twice. 21×21=441. In Mussaf of the Yomim Noraim, we therefore say: וכל מאמינים שהוא דיין אמת ההגוי באהיה אשר אהיה – All believe that he is a true judge whose name is expressed as ‘I will be as I will be.’ (Torah Gems)
Eheyeh is the numerical equivalent of 21. This is also the gematria of the initial letters of the three Divine Names which begin the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, י-ה, י-ה, א-ל – Hashem, Hashem, God; and the gematria of the initial letters of the Patriarchs, אברהם, יצחק, יעקב; and the gematria of the initial letters of five books of the Torah: ב of בראשית; ו of ואלה; ו of ויקרא; ו of וידבר; and א of אלה. The gematria of two times אהיה is 42, which implies that G-d taught Moshe the forty-two letter Divine Name. (Ba’al HaTurim)
כי כבד פה וכבד לשון אנכי
“For I am impaired of mouth and impaired of speech…” (4:10)
The Ran writes: “God had caused Moses to be impaired of mouth and of speech as part of His overall plan. He wanted everyone to know that Moses’ success as the messenger of G-d to Pharaoh and to the Jewish people was not due to his eloquence. He did not sway the hearts of king and ministers, and of his people, by means of rhetorical talent and his command of the language. This was clearly not the case, for though ‘impaired mouth,’ the king and his ministers trembled before him. All would know, then, that it was the hand of G-d which determined the course of events, and not the schemes of man, smooth talk, or power of persuasion.” (Parsha Anthology)
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