אחרון של פסח – תשע”ה
Volume 8, 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.
ויהי בשלח פרעה את העם
“And it came to pass when Pharaoh sent out the people.” (7th Day Pesach, Shemot 13:17)
QUESTION: Why is the cantillation (“trope” printed above the Hebrew text) revi’i munach on the words “vayehi beshalach”?
ANSWER: Regrettably, there existed among the Jewish nation a group of wicked people uninterested in leaving Egypt. Had Hashem punished them publicly, the Egyptians would have erroneously thought that the suffering affected everyone, both the Jews and themselves. Therefore, during the plague of darkness, when the Egyptians were unable to see anything and were literally tied to their places, these unworthy Jews died and were buried.
The Torah relates, “vachamushim alu Bnei Yisrael” – “and Bnei Yisrael went up armed” (13:18). Rashi explains that the word “chamushim” alludes to the fact that only one fifth of the people left Egypt, while the other four fifths died.
Consequently, the words “vayehi beshalach” have the cantillation of “revi’I munach” (which can be read as meaning “four remains”) to indicate that four of the five portions remained, and that only one fifth of the people left when Pharaoh sent them out. (Zar HaTzvi)
ותקח מרים הנביאה אחות אהרון את התף בידה ותצאן כל הנשים אחריה בתפים ובמחלת
“Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron took the tambourine in her hand. And all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing.” (7th Day Pesach, Shemot 15:20)
The Torah here calls Miriam a prophetess. Rashi comments that since this verse describes her as the sister of Aaron, ignoring the fact that she was also the sister of Moshe, the prophesy referred to was before Moshe was born, when she was the sister of only Aaron. At that time, she predicted that her mother would give birth to a son who would rescue the Jews from Egyptian bondage. Therefore, it is especially appropriate that the Torah call her a prophetess now, when her prophecy was finally confirmed with the destruction of the Egyptian army. This explains also why it was she who led the women in praising Hashem, since the salvation they had just witnessed was the fulfillment of the prophesy she had over eighty years earlier. (Something to Say)
ששת ימים תאכל מצות וביום השביעי עצרת לה’ אלקיך לא תעשה מלאכה
“For six days you shall eat matzah and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly for Hashem your G-d, when you may not do any labor.” (8th Day Pesach, Vaykira 16:8)
The present verse reads atzeres laHashem Elokecha, “a solemn assembly for Hashem”, whereas in Bamidbar 29:35 we read, atzeres tehiyeh lachem, “a solemn assembly for yourselves.” The Gemara (Pesachim 68 and Beitzah 15) notes this discrepancy and Rabbi Yehoshua resolves it by saying, “Divide it in two, one half for Hashem, the other half for you.” What is the meaning of his statement?
Rabbi Yehoshua teaches us that the Yom Tov day is to be divided in two, by spending half the day, “La’Hashem”, in prayer and Torah study, and the other half, lachem, “for yourselves,” in leisurely enjoyment of festive meals.
There is an allusion to Rabbi Yehoshua’s statement in the numerical values of the words La’Hashem, and La’chem (for you). The numerical value of the word La’Hashem amounts to 56. Dividing it in half (as Rabbi Yehoshua suggests with his statement, “Divide it in two”) yields 28. The numerical value of the word la’chem is 90. Dividing it in half yields 45. Adding these two quotients yields 73. And 73 is the exact numerical value of the words, יום טוב. (Vilna Gaon)
איש כמתנת ידו כברכת ה’ אלקיך אשר נתן לך
“Every man shall bring according to his ability, according to the blessing that Hashem your G-d grants you.” (8th Day Pesach, Vayikra 16:17)
The Hebrew text of this clause reads kematenas yado kevirkas Hashem. The repetition use of the prefix ke, denoting “according to”, or “just like”, teaches us the attitude with which we must approach the mitzvah of tzedakah and the mitzvot in general.
When giving charity, let no one think that he is bestowing his own bounty. It is Hashem Who gave him the means to help others. This is implied by the words, kematenas yado, it is “just like”, as though he were giving his own gift.
Conversely, let no one think that Hashem’s benevolence flows in a never-ending abundant stream to everyone. Hashem grants His bracha only to those people who arouse and generate the bracha by their generosity on earth. Man’s beneficence here on earth is reciprocated by Hashem’s bracha from Above. This reciprocity is implied by the word kevirkas, “just like the blessing.” Hashem’s blessing comes as a reflection of man’s kindheartedness. This principle of “arousal from below” that must precede the “arousal from Above” is a fundamental theme that applies to all mitzvot. (She’lah)
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