A most difficult match
אין מזווגין לו לאדם אשה אלא לפי מעשיו וכו’ וקשין לזווגן כקריעת ים סוף וכו’ והא וכו’ ארבעים יום קודם ליצירת הוולד בת קול יוצאת ואומרת בת פלוני לפלוני וכו’ לא קשיא, הא בזיווג ראשון והא בזיווג שני
A man’s wife is determined based on his actions…and it’s as hard (for Hashem, so to speak) as the splitting of the Reed Sea…But is that so? At the moment of conception a Heavenly voice calls out “The daughter of so-and-so is to marry so-and-so” …This isn’t a contradiction. [It’s preannounced] with a person’s first match, and [it’s difficult] when it’s their second match
This week’s parsha discusses the Sotah, a suspected adulteress, and the way in which she can clear her name to her husband. Since such topics are not the most positive, Reish Lakish would begin his class on the topic by relating a nicer discussion of how a couple meets in the first place. He says that a person’s second match is as hard for Hashem to make as it was to split the Reed Sea. Why is this so? Is it really so difficult? To compare it to one of the greatest miracles in our history? Something so intense that it caused the entire world to tremble? What’s the comparison? Also, why does a person’s first match need some sort of Heavenly announcement, and so early? Why couldn’t it have been when they were born, instead of when they were conceived? How does this announcement work, such that without it, the match is difficult to make? Finally, why is a match compared to the splitting of the sea, something representing separation and distance. A more appropriate comparison would have been the miracle of the Arnon valleys, where Hashem caused two mountains to come together to squish the Jews’ enemies.
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Decreeing their future salvation
ויקם מלך חדש על-מצרים אשר לא-ידע את-יוסף
A new King arose over Egypt that did not know Yosef
As we begin the book of Exodus, the Torah describes how a new Pharaoh became the ruler over Egypt, after Yosef and his brothers had died. The Torah says that this Pharaoh didn’t know of Yosef. Some say what this really means is he annulled the decrees of Yosef. What does this refer to? Yosef, while he was viceroy in Egypt, decreed that all the Egyptians had to become circumcised. This was their prerequisite to get food to eat during the ravaging famine. Yosef’s intention was that he that knew his family would be exiled to Egypt, and he didn’t want his circumcised brethren to feel alienated. With this decree, everyone would be the same. After Yosef died, Pharaoh annulled this decree. While this may be an interesting historical fact, why is it placed in the middle of the story which describes the beginning of the Egyptian slavery?
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A kiss from above
והנה אורחת ישמעאלים באה מגלעד וגמליהם נושאים נכאת וצרי ולט הולכים להוריד מצרימה
…behold an Arab caravan was coming from Gilad, and their camels were carrying spices, balm, and lotus; they were taking them to Egypt
The gemarra asks the innocent question: What was the miracle which prompted the establishment of the holiday of Chanukah? It answers that the Greeks, after they conquered the land of Israel, entered the Holy Temple and defiled all the oil that was to be found. When the Jews defeated them, they searched all around for sanctified oil to be used for the Menorah. All they could find was a single vessel that was still sealed. However, there was only enough oil in the vessel to last for one day. They used it anyways, and a miracle happened where the oil lasted for eight days. The following year they established that time of year as a season of rejoicing, with songs of praise and thanks.
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The most fitting match
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]
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, 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.
Continue reading “Shemos 5778”