פ’ בשלח תשע”ח
Volume 22, Issue 4
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.
וחמשים עלו בני ישראל מארץ מצרים
“The Jewish people were armed when they went up from Egypt.” (13:18)
Bnei Yisrael took weapons with them even though Hashem was protecting them because Hashem intervenes only after one has put forth hishtadlus. As the Gemara in Pesachim (64b) states, “ולא סמכינו אניסא” – we do not rely on miracles. Rather one must makes as much of an effort as he can, and then rely on Hashem the rest of the way. (Rabbeinu Bechayeh)
ויבאו בני ישראל בתוך הים ביבשה
“And the Jewish people went into the midst of the sea on dry land…” (14:22)
One of the great miracles of Krias Yam Suf was the fact that every tribe has its own private path. Why was this necessary? On a practical level we can understand that this certainly helped to achieve order and organization among the crowds. But there is a deeper message here.
Rav Shmuel Rozovsky tz’l said, “A yeshivah is nisht a zekel kartufel – A Yeshiva is not a sack of potatoes!” You can’t just throw everyone together into one room and expect them all to learn the same way and succeed. Chanoch Lna’ar al pi Darko – Educate a child according to his way (Mishlei 22:6) means that we must educate and cater to the individual needs of every child and help him develop his strengths and take pride in his accomplishments! We must all realize that we each have our own unique and individual path in avodas Hashem, and that is the lesson we learn from the fact that each shevet had its own path through the Yam Suf.
ויסר את אפן מרכבתיו וינהגהו בכבדת
“And he took off the wheel of their chariots, and He made them drive difficulty.” (14:25)
QUESTION: Why does the pasuk say “ofan” – “wheel” – in the singular, although a chariot has four wheels?
ANSWER: Had Hashem removed all four wheels of their chariots, the horses could have exerted themselves and dragged the chariots on the ground. However, by removing only one wheel, Hashem caused their ride to be turbulent and agonizing with the chariots violently swaying from side to side. Thus, the riders were pummeled and pounded by the damaged chariots. (Sha’ar Bat Rabim)
ויאמר משה אל יהושע בחר לנו אנשים וצא הלחם בעמלק…ומשה אהרון וחור עלו ראש הגבעה
“Moshe said to Yehoshua, ‘Choose people for us to go do battle with Amalek’…Moshe, Aharon and Chur ascended to the top of the hill.” (17:9-10)
QUESTION: Why was it necessary to have a team consisting of Moshe, Aharon the lover of peace, Yehoshua, and Chur the aggressive fanatic to fight Amalek?
ANSWER: Under normal circumstances, when the Jewish people behave properly, Amalek is unable to attack them. However, he attacked the Jews in the city of Rephidim, whose name indicates two reasons for their vulnerability to attack:
1) “Ripu atzman midivrei Torah” – their involvement in Torah weakened” (Sanhedrin 106a). 2) “Pirud” – lack of unity (see Kli Yakar).
The first letters of the names “Aharon”, “Chur”, “Yehoshua”, and “Moshe” form the acronym “achim” (אחים) – “brothers”. Moshe’s call to the Jewish people was to act as brothers, live in brotherly harmony, and be united in the study of Torah and observance of mitzvot. This would assure that Amalek would be unable to penetrate the Jewish camp. (Yalkut Reuveini)
ויאמר ה’ אל משה כתב זאת זכרון בספר ושים באזני יהושע כי מחה אמחה את זכר עמלק מתחת השמים
“And G-d said to Moshe, ‘Write this as a remembrance in the Book, and speak it into Joshua’s ears that I will surely wipe out the memory of Amalek from beneath the heavens.” (17:14)
Hashem instructed Moshe to record in the Torah the obligation to obliterate the mention of Amalek. Moshe was also commanded to personally relay this obligation to Yehoshua. Yehoshua was able to see for himself this mitzvah in the Torah; what was the purpose of having it conveyed orally to Yehoshua?
The Vilna Gaon explains that it was necessary to avoid future errors. The Talmud (Bava Basra 21b) tells us that when David sent Joab to destroy Amalek, he slaughtered the males and spared the females. David challenged him on what he had done, and Joab replied that the Torah only mandated the eradication of zachar, the males, of Amalek; that was how he had always been taught to read it, he insisted. Not so, claimed David, the zecher, the memory, of Amalek is to be eradicated. This confusion arose due to the lack of vowels signs in the Torah itself, and the only way of possibly resolving it was through an oral tradition with regard to the proper vowelization of the words. Thus, it was not enough to “write it in the Book.” It also needed to be “spoken into Joshua’s ears,” to be passed down to all future generations. (Torah Anthology)
Rav Yisrael Salanter tz”l would say: “On Judgment Day, I will not be afraid of the question of why I was not like Moshe Rabbeinu. The questions I have to keep in mind is why I was not everything that Yisrael Salanter could have been.”
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