Beshalach 5778

Armed with good deeds[1]

…וחמשים עלו בני-ישראל מארץ מצרים
…and the Jews left from the land of Egypt “chamushim[2]

Shortly after the Jews had begun their Exodus from Egypt, the Torah uses an unusual word to describe them. It says the Jews left חמושים, “chamushim“. The commentators[3] explain that the simple meaning of this word means “armed”. They were going to encounter many battles in the future, and they had to bring the proper provisions. However, the Targum Yerushalmi[4] explains the word “armed” metaphorically. It says that they were armed with “good deeds”. In a completely different manner, Targum “Yonasan”[5] explains that the verse is telling us that each the 600,000 Jewish men between twenty and sixty[6] had with them five children[7]. This is based on the fact that the root of the word חמושים is חמש (five). However, both of these explanations have many difficulties.

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Bo 5778

The difference between a request and a command[1]

אל תאכלו ממנו נא וכו’ ולא תותירו ממנו עד בוקר
Al (Don’t) eat from [the Pesach offering] insufficiently roasted[2]VeLo (and don’t) leave over any of it until morning[3]

Many times, the Torah uses the word לא, lo (don’t), when it wants to express a negative statement. However, other times it uses the word אל, al (don’t). An example[4] of both is in this week’s parsha, in two adjacent verses. The Torah introduces the mitzvah of the korban Pesach, the Passover offering, with a list of several instructions for its preparation and consumption. All of these instructions constitute individual mitzvos. There’s a mitzvah[5] not to eat a korbon Pesach which wasn’t roasted properly over a fire[6]. Regarding this mitzvah, the Torah uses the word al, when it says not to eat from it insufficiently roasted. There’s another mitzvah[7] not to leave any of the korbon Pesach over until morning[8]. It must be entirely consumed. With this mitzvah, the Torah uses the word lo, when it says don’t leave any of it over. What’s the difference between these two words? Why does the Torah sometimes choose one over the other?

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Va’eira 5778

Moshe’s greatness and Pharaoh’s stubbornness[1]

ואמרת אליו וגו’ שלח את עמי במדבר והנה לא שמעת עד כה
You shall tell [Pharaoh]: “…Send out my people to the wilderness. Behold, you haven’t listened until ‘koh’”[2]

Just as the Ten Plagues were about to begin, Hashem commanded Moshe to send a message to Pharaoh: “You have been impudent until now. I have commanded you to send out My people from Egypt, and you have refused. You will know that I am G-d through the Ten Plagues. Then you will send out My people”. This is the simple understanding of the verse, which says you, Pharaoh, haven’t listened until כה (until now)[3]. However, the Midrashic understanding[4] is Pharaoh, you will not listen to me to send them out until you hear the word “כה (literally: thus). Before the final plague, the death of the firstborns, Moshe warned Pharaoh: כה אמר יקוק, כחצות הלילה אני יוצא בתוך מצרים ומות כל בכור…, “Thus says Hashem: ‘Around midnight I will go out within Egypt, and all the firstborn shall die …’”[5]. Moshe told Pharaoh only then will you send them out.

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Shemos 5778

The most fitting match[1]

ויואל משה לשבת את האיש ויתן את צפורה בתו למשה
Moshe decided to dwell with [Yisro]. [Yisro then] gave his daughter Tsiporra to Moshe [as a wife][2]

After Moshe saved a Jew’s life by killing an Egyptian taskmaster, he became a wanted man. He had no choice but to flee. He escaped to the land of Midian. There, he found Yisro and his family. Once Moshe impressed this prominent figure[3], Yisro had no reservations to suggest he marry into the family. Moshe agreed to marry Yisro’s daughter Tsiporra, and with that they were wed. If we look closely, we’ll be surprised to see how fitting this match was.

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