Archive for the ‘Parshas Shemos’ Category

A New Reign of Egypt - Parshas Shemos 5769

Posted by Dovid Boruch Kopel
January 16, 2009 - כ"א טבת ה' תשס"ט
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Just some ha’uros on the parshah as I quickly read through. When I learn like this the style is usually kfeching the simple meaning of the words against the words of Chazal. Meaning to say even though I know the truth of the Torah, none the less I still need try to understand how Chazal came to their conclusion. Of course within the many punim of Torah there is no limit to the ways to explain a pasuk, none the less I would first like to understand the great understanding of Chazal first.

Almost right in the beginning of the parshah the pasuk says “וימת יוסף”, “Yosef perished”. It is quite troublesome to state this when the Torah just recorded this with the last pasuk in sefer Brayshis. Even if the pasukim were further away the question would still trouble me. Being that the pasukim are so close it only makes the question stronger. You can ask that it shouldn’t make the question stronger because this is a new sefer. True, but there is still a recollection of the first sefer. I think that the answer is that the first death was that of the Avos. Yosef was somewhere in between an av and one of the shevatim,[1] by his death the era of the Avos also concludes. By beginning shemos with the leaving of Egypt and the passing of Yosef we are linking the two. The truth is we need to lo ok in to the leaving of Egypt first. It is a worthy observation that as the pasuk states there were seventy people who left. In saying so the pasuk adds on by saying “כל נפש”. Why say kol, which always comes to add to something? The end of the pasuk states that Yosef was in Egypt. Then we have the pasuk that says Yosef passed away. What a weird way to write that! First Torah accounts for all those who left Egypt, that is all seventy people and Yosef was in Egypt. Then say Yosef died and all his brothers and his entire era. Perhaps we need to look back and think a little bit. The reason why Yosef came to Egypt was due to his brother’s actions. It is therefore understandable to say that they are also responsible for Yosef having lived in Egypt. It is as if not only did the brothers cause the slavery in Egypt but also prevented Yosef from leaving Egypt. Yosef being the continuation of Yaakov, was unable to continue in his path. For he was left in to stay in Egypt. Due to their actions they caused Yosef to die in Egypt. Such a death also led to their death and all of their generation. It isn’t by rote that the pasuk lists the deaths of Yosef and then his brothers. This was the result of their actions that Yosef was destined to die and not be able to continue out of Egypt.

The Throwing Of the Males

The pasuk state that Paroh obligated the people of Yisroel to throw their newborn Male children into the יאור, or ya’or this body of water was the main sustenence for the people of Egypt. Isn’t it odd that the thing that personifies the source of nourishment be that which was used to exterminate these newborns!? It is of course also found in the dream of Paroh in the beginning of Parshas Miketz it is interesting that both of the cows come from the ya’or. Perhaps this can be explained from the yesod of the Arizal, he says that מצרים is also the word מיצר ים which a I have previously discussed is the greatest compression of physicality that we see. This nature of existence is given to the people of Egypt. As my great Rebbe Rav Nochum Lansky Shlit”a always says that it is seen in the names of all of the rulers they all have to do with physicality.

If you look at the word of מזונונות, Mezonos which means sustenance its root is זן. That is also the same letters as the root of the word זנות, Znus, which means illicit relations. This is most likely the exact opposite of sustenance. Things that sustain a person is not for the mere taste or enjoyment, but to satiate a person and allow them to function. Znus is the pure lust for endless pleasures. This is Egypt. Egypt is the source of all of the exiles that the People of Yisroel experience until today. Their basis of existence is a culture of pleasure and physical indulgence. This is also seen in the Mummification process that they do to all their dead. They believe so strongly in the importance of physicality that it should be preserved even after death.

There is a discussion in the Midrash what does the pasuk mean when it says ותרא אתו כי טוב ההוא, one opinion that of R’Meir says that Tov or good was his name. Another opinion sugest that he was נולד שכהוא מהול, which means he was born circumcised. Finally another opinion, that of the Rabanan states that when he was born נתמלא כל הבית כלו אורה, the entire house filled with light. An amazing thing, all of them. The first suggest that he himself was Tov. The Zohar says on that opinion that in fact his tov is the same as the tov of Brias HaOlam.

The Torah writes that Yocheved was able to hide Moshe for three months but no more. Says Rabbeinu Bachyah that the day of the conclusion of the three months was Shavuos Says the Zohar on the account of the תבת גומא that it is hinting to the ארון that will carry the sacred luchos habris. Says the Zohar that just like the tayvuh was constructed with soft inside and a tought outside so too was the Torah it containing both the positive commandments and the negative commandments as wlell. It is my opinion that the positive commandments represents the the inside of the taivuh and the negative mitzvos representing the outside of the tayvuh. It is the positive mitzvos which are to bring further ahavah to Hashem that is an internal closeness. it is that of the negative commandments which represents the outer shell, that which protects the Torah and its values.

Moshe Rabbeinu who personifies that of the Written Torah as opposed to his brother Aharon who represents the Oral Law. That is why of course Moshe was born circumcised but at the same time was unable of properly speaking with his mouth. The bris milah is of course the words millah which literally means a word, that is the connection as is well known between the bris of the mouth and the milah.

The Males of the nation of Yisroel are being tossed in to the ya’or. It is Moshe who is sailed down the same place. It is perhaps the aspect of the aron that is the vessel that carries Moshe. The din is that all that carry the aron are carried. Perhaps through the ya’or and its journey Moshe and the aron was rescuing the helpless children as his beginning of opposition to the rule of the Paroh. Even in a infantile state Moshe was destined to redeem the People of Yisroel, and so he did.

We are not all Moshe, that is clear. Know that we all have a capacity to redeem the People of Yisroel. Not only do we have such a capability but it is our responsibility to do so. We should are be privileged with the assistance of Hashem constantly to realize our strengths. To find the place that we fit in where no one else does. Take that and run with it! It is all up to us, let’s go!

He Was Good

As I already mentioned the pasuk calls Moshe tov. The Gr”a says that if you take the words of the Shema, there are five words before the word echad. There are six words following the word echad. Those five words represent the Five Books of Moshe, and the six represent the six orders of the Mishnah. Rebbe Akiva who passed away saying the word echad of the Shema shows that he is the one that connects these two entities together. As my great Rebbe Rav Nochum Lansky Shlit”a puts it he is the av of Torah Shel Ba’al Peh. I wanted to add that we see that Moshe is called tov, which is gematriah echad. That means that even though Moshe is Netzach which is the written code, and he is still the source of the oral law. That goes well with the opinion that tov means that Moshe was born circumcised, because he was without a blemish in his bris but he was incapable of clear speech, further personifying the attribute of the written code.

  1. Look in the Prushus D’Rachim for further deatil about this thought. []

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Helping Others - Parshas Shemos 5769

Posted by Yosef Tropper
January 14, 2009 - י"ט טבת ה' תשס"ט
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ותקרא שמו משה ותאמר כי מן המים משיתיהו (ב:י).

“…and she called his name Moshe stating, ‘on account that I drew him from the water’” (2:10).

When one analyses the name of Moshe Rabbeinu, there are many interesting insights and revelations that may be gleaned.

The Maharsha (end of Chullin) is bothered by the following question. If Basya was trying to call this child whom she had drawn out of the water with a name expressing that event, then his name should have been Nimsha or Masoy, the drawn out person. Why call him Moshe which translates as “he will draw others?”

He explains that Moshe’s name refers to the fact that in the future he would be involved in saving and bringing out the Jewish people from Egypt. Thus his name in fact does refer to drawing others out! However, this explanation seems to be contradicted by the very verse itself! It says that her justification for the name was because “she drew him out!?”

The Seforno ties everything together by adding vital clarification in how to read our verse. Basya called him Moshe because she recognized that Hashem had guided her to draw him out, in order that he should live on and dedicate his life to saving others. Divine Providence allowed him to be saved, to perform the special task of caring for others. Now everything is well understood!

This is the purpose of life and in this merit one can save one’s own life. We are here to help others and to focus on how we can make other people comfortable and happy. We strive to be sensitive and caring to other people’s needs.

R’ Yitzchok Volozhin (Introduction to Nefesh HaChaim) writes that his illustrious father R’ Chaim Volozhin constantly taught him to be sensitive to the pain and needs of others in order to help them. He would say, “this is what man is all about, he wasn’t created solely to focus on himself. You should dedicate yourself to assisting others to your full ability!”

There are many resources that we possess which we can share with others. Whether it’s time, assistance, support and encouragement, or just a smile or a good word, they are all unimaginably helpful.

The Binah LeItim explains the words in Avos, “If you have Torah knowledge which you have acquired, Al Tachzik Tova L’Aztmecha, (the simple meaning is “do not take credit for it”, for it is from Hashem) don’t keep this precious commodity to yourself, rather share it with others!”

This is the message of Moshe. The epitome of a Jew and of proper living is a focus on pulling others out of troubles and sadness and helping the world become a more pleasant and happy place to live.

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