Importance of שנים מקרא ואחד תרגום

The Parshah begins ואלה שמות בני ישראל (א,א). The Levush in אורח חיים סימן רפה סע' א writes the following:

חייבו חז"ל [ברכות ח ע"א] על כל אדם מישראל שישלים הפרשה בכל שבוע עם הציבור שנים מקרא ואחד תרגום, כדי שיהא בקי בתורה, וסימנך ואל"ה שמו"ת בני ישראל [שמות א, א], ו’חייב א’דם ל’קרות ה’פרשה, ש’נים מ’קרא ו’אחד ת’רגום, וזה חייבים כל בני ישראל.

The obligation of שנים מקרא ואחד תרגום is in the Gemara Brachos 8a that says אמר רב הונא בר יהודה אמר רבי אמי: לעולם ישלים אדם פרשיותיו עם הצבור שנים מקרא ואחד תרגום. However the obvious question is why is this חיוב of שנים מקרא ואחד תרגום being hinted to specifically in the beginning of Sefer Shemos?

Perhaps the explanation could be as follows. The Ramban writes in the beginning of Sefer Shemos that Sefer Breishis is known as the Sefer HaAvos and Sefer Shemos is known as the Sefer HaBanim. Sefer Breishis is mainly about the three Avos, the founding fathers of the Jewish People-the individuals-Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov. But Sefer Shemos is about the multitude of children of Klal Yisrael and the rapid growth of the Jewish people- ובני ישראל פרו וישרצו וירבו ויעצמו במאד מאד ותמלא הארץ אתם.

This is why this Sefer is called Shemos and the beginning Psukim discuss שמות בני ישראל because what naturally occurs when there is tremendous growth in population is that the individual is diminished, swallowed up, and not recognized. Therefore, it’s specifically at the beginning of the Sefer HaBanim that the Torah emphasizes the importance of שמות, the importance and recognition of each individual.

It says in Tehillim 147:2-4

בונה ירושלם ה' נדחי ישראל יכנס ,הרפא לשבורי לב ומחבש לעצבותם, מונה מספר לכוכבים לכלם שמות יקרא .

The meaning of these Psukim is that Hashem is going to rebuild Yerushalayim, but not only in the physical sense but that it’ll be rebuilt and restored with Jews as the Pasuk says in Zechariah 8:4עד ישבו זקנים וזקנות ברחבות ירושלם and in Lecha Dodi it says קומי לבשי בגדי תפארתך עמי that we call on Yerushalayim to wear her בגדי תפארתך which is עמי. So the rebuilding of Yerushalayim is through the נדחי ישראל יכנס. But how do the נדחי ישראל come together? It’s only through the רפא לשבורי לב ומחבש לעצבותם because the נדחי ישראל are heartbroken because they don’t recognize their significance and they feel inconsequential and therefore they need healing in order for them to be redeemed. So therefore it continues and says מונה מספר לכוכבים לכלם שמות יקרא that in spite of the fact that there are so many כוכבים, nevertheless each one has a name, a mission, and a purpose. That is what the Ribbono Shel Oilam is saying that these people shouldn’t think and feel that they are just another person, another face, but that each of them as a unique name, mission, and purpose that only he could fulfill. This is how the שבורי לב are healed and that is how the נדחי ישראל will be brought back together.

This could be the meaning of what the the Gemara in Brachos 8a says לעולם ישלים אדם פרשיותיו עם הציבור. On the one hand the יחיד needs to be connected with the ציבור. But on the other hand, the individual must realize that the communal reading is not sufficient, but rather each person needs to complete פרשיותיו-“his” Parshiyos with the ציבור. Like it says in Avos 1:14 אם אין אני לי מי לי וכשאני לעצמי מה אני that it’s true וכשאני לעצמי מה אני that a person needs the ציבור. But first a person must know אם אין אני לי מי לי that he can’t rely on the ציבור. He must first have פרשיותיו-“his” Parshiyos and then it could be with the ציבור.
Therefore, it’s specifically at the beginning of the Sefer HaBanim where there is a concern of the individual getting lost that we hint to שנים מקרא ואחד תרגום which emphasizes the importance of the individual alongside the ציבור.

The Zohar says that the Roshei Teivos of ישראל are יש ששים ריבוא אותיות לתורה that there are 600,000 letters in the Torah (not clear how to count it to get to that number because as we see it, there are much less) each letter corresponding to one of the 600,000 Jews. Each letter contributes to the kashrus of the Torah because if one letter is missing, the entire Torah is invalid. On the other hand, every letter has its own צורה and if any two letters are touching and each letter isn’t מוקף גויל, then the entire Torah is also invalid. We see that each letter needs to have its own individuality which contributes to the kedusha of the entire Sefer Torah.

Additionally, there is the importance of ואחד תרגום because going into Galus is מחייב תרגום for the here and now. When going in to Galus, it’s now necessary for the Torah to be translated from לשון הקודש to ארמית, the language that could be understood by the people in Galus. Torah must be able to be understood by the people of the time and place. But being that Targum Onkeles is not only a translation but many times he offers an explanation, we see the necessity of Targum to make Torah applicable, accessible, and relevant to the people of that place and time. However, when making the message of Torah relevant, it’s important not in any way to deviate from the original meaning. Therefore there is an emphasis on the מקרא that it’s שנים מקרא and just אחד תרגום that the תרגום should not be treated as equal to the מקרא rather there should always be more מקרא.

Lastly, the Gemara in Pesachim 87b לא הגלה הקדוש ברוך הוא את ישראל לבין האומות אלא כדי שיתוספו עליהם גרים. The purpose of Galus is to get גרים and included in these גרים in Galus was אונקלוס הגר. Therefore, we see a connection between Targum and the idea of Galus.

Failure to learn from Yosef

The Pasuk says ויקם מלך חדש על מצרים אשר לא ידע את יוסף (א,ח). The Rav suggested a novel explanation to the words אשר לא ידע את יוסף.

Yosef’s brothers tried so hard to make sure that his dreams didn’t come true. First they threw him into the pit and then they sold him down to Mitzrayim. All their efforts were in order to prevent his dreams from coming true. However, in the end, it was specifically their actions which were the catalyst for the dreams to come true. It was because they sold him to the Midyanim who then sold him to the Yishamaelim etc. that he ended up in Mitzrayim where the dreams ended up being fulfilled.

The same thing occurred with Pharaoh. He made all sorts of decrees in order to prevent the Jews from going out of Mitzrayim. And yet, he ended up playing a role in the Jews leaving Mitzrayim by having Moshe Rabbeinu raised in his own house! Pharaoh made decrees to kill all the Jewish boys to prevent the מושיע של ישראל from coming into existence and in the end, he raised the מושיע של ישראל.

In order for the Jews to be redeemed, it was necessary for Hashem to arrange that Moshe Rabbeinu specifically grow up in the house of Pharaoh as the Ibn Ezra 2:3 writes the following:

ומחשבות השם עמקו, ומי יוכל לעמוד בסודו, ולו לבד נתכנו עלילות. אולי סבב השם זה שיגדל משה בבית המלכות להיות נפשו על מדרגה העליונה בדרך הלימוד והרגילות, ולא תהיה שפלה ורגילה להיות בבית עבדים. הלא תראה, שהרג המצרי בעבור שהוא עשה חמס. והושיע בנות מדין מהרועים, בעבור שהיו עושים חמס להשקות צאנן מהמים שדלו. ועוד דבר אחר, כי אלו היה גדל בין אחיו ויכירוהו מנעוריו, לא היו יראים ממנו, כי יחשבוהו כאחד מהם.

The Ibn Ezra is explaining that perhaps the reason why Hashem had it arranged for Moshe to be raised in the house of Pharaoh was in order for Moshe to have a high level of confidence and spirit. This נפשו על מדרגה העליונה בדרך הלימוד והרגילות enabled him to do things which he wouldn’t be able to do had he been raised in a lowly בית עבדים.

So this that Moshe Rabbeinu ended up in the house of Pharaoh was only because of the decree of כל הבן הילוד היאורה תשליכוהו because they then put Moshe in the river which lead to Basya finding him. If not for that decree, Moshe would not have been raised in the house of Pharaoh and then he wouldn’t be able to redeem the Jews.

Therefore, When the Pasuk says there was a new king אשר לא ידע את יוסף, it means in the sense that he wasn’t aware of the fact that was clear from the story of Yosef and the brothers. The fact that a person can try to meddle and prevent something from happening, but in the end it’ll be those exact efforts that bring about the exact opposite of what you were trying to achieve.

Make us look bad

It says in the הגדה של פסח the following: וירעו אותנו המצרים כמה שנאמר הבה נתחכמה לו פן ירבה. The literal meaning of וירעו אותנו המצרים is not clear but simply it means that they did bad to us. But it also sounds like they made us do bad. But however one would translate it, how does it connect to theהבה נתחכמה לו?

An explanation could be as follows. The Ramban 1:10 explains in the beginning of the Parshah how it was possible for Pharaoh to decree all these cruel decrees especially against a people who came down at the request of the מלך הראשון and he writes the following:

לא ראה פרעה וחכמי יועציו להכותם בחרב, כי תהיה בגידה גדולה להכות חנם העם אשר באו בארץ במצות המלך הראשון. וגם עם הארץ לא יתנו רשות למלך לעשות חמס כזה, כי עמהם הוא מתייעץ, ואף כי בני ישראל עם רב ועצום ויעשו עמהם מלחמה גדולה. אבל אמר שיעשו דרך חכמה שלא ירגישו ישראל כי באיבה יעשו בהם, ולכך הטיל בהם מס, כי דרך הגרים בארץ להעלות מס למלך כמו שבא בשלמה (מ"א ט כא). ואחרי כן צוה בסתר למילדות להרוג הזכרים על האבנים, ואפילו היולדות עצמן לא ידעו בהם וכו' וזה טעם מאמר האומרים למשה רבינו אשר הבאשתם את ריחנו לתת חרב בידם (להלן ה כא), כי עתה יוסיפו בשנאתם אותנו, וימצאו טענה כי אנחנו מורדים במלכות ויהרגו אותנו בחרב לעיני הכל, לא יצטרכו עוד לעשות במרמה.

Pharaoh put a tax on the Jews which wasn’t something that appeared so terrible. But he thought that if he creates impossible conditions for the Jews, then they would rebel. As it says the people said to Moshe that his approaching Pharaoh to make things easier for the Jews seems like a rebellion and that will give Pharaoh the justification to kill the Jews.

So when the הגדה של פסח says וירעו אותנו המצרים כמה שנאמר הבה נתחכמה לו, it could mean that the Mitzriim came up with a way to make us look bad. Meaning, the Jews were really innocent people but by putting the tax on the Jews and making them work under difficult conditions that they will have to beg for mercy, they made the Jews look bad and it gave them the תרץ to fight with them.

Difficulty Proves Importance

The Pasuk says וכאשר יענו אתו כן ירבה וכן יפרץ (א,יב). Although it was כן ירבה וכן יפרץ, it wasn’t without effort. In Parshas Vayakhel, Rashi writes by the מראות הצובאת the following:

בנות ישראל היו בידן מראות, שרואות בהן כשהן מתקשטות, ואף אותן לא עכבו מלהביא לנדבת המשכן, והיה מואס משה בהן, מפני שעשויים ליצר הרע, אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא קבל, כי אלו חביבין עלי מן הכל, שעל ידיהם העמידו הנשים צבאות רבות במצרים. כשהיו בעליהם יגעים בעבודת פרך, היו הולכות ומוליכות להם מאכל ומשתה ומאכילות אותם ונוטלות המראות, וכל אחת רואה עצמה עם בעלה במראה ומשדלתו בדברים, לומר אני נאה ממך, ומתוך כך מביאות לבעליהן לידי תאוה ונזקקות להם, ומתעברות ויולדות שם.

It’s clear from here that there was an effort involved in the כן ירבה וכן יפרץ. But when it comes to עמרם, who was the גדול הדור, the Yetzer Hara worked extra hard against him to make sure he doesn’t have more children. As the Gemara in Sotah 11a says that he separated from his wife because he felt there was no point in having more children if they are going to be killed and it was only because his daughter convinced him that he remarried his wife and then had Moshe Rabbeinu.

Perhaps we could see from here that the more important things are, the Yetzer Hara puts up a bigger fight. Therefore, specifically when it came to Moshe Rabbeinu, the Yetzer Hara worked hard to have עמרם separate from his wife. The lesson could be that when a person experiences difficulties and hardships, it’s actually a message that what he’s doing is most important because the more important what a person is doing, the more difficulty we will experience. עמרם who was about to bring the מושיען של ישראל into the world, specifically he was having a difficult time and was seeing things in a negative way as opposed to all the Jewish women who understood that it was important to continue to have children.


Yahrzeit of the Rambam

This past week, כ טבת, was the Yahrzeit of the Rambam. He was born in the year 1138 and died in 1204. It’s befitting for his Yahrzeit to fall out the week of Parshas Shemos (the year he died was on the Monday of Shemos like this year) as this is the first Parsha to mention Moshe Rabbeinu. The חסיד יעב"ץ, who lived during the time of the Spanish Inquisition, in his Sefer Ohr HaChaim in the beginning of Perek ט writes אשר כבר נתפרסם על הרמב"ם ממשה עד משה לא קם כמשה. (The Chidah in the שם הגדולים מערכת מ אות קי talking about Reb Moshe Gaon who lived during the Gaonic period brings a כתב יד that says there wasn’t any Tana or Amora that was named Moshe והוא פלא וסוד והיינו דאמרי אנשי על הרמב"ם ממשה עד משה וכו' שלא היה תנא או אמורא שנקרא משה).Today, it is inscribed on the Matzeivah of the Rambam in Tiveria -ממשה עד משה לא קם כמשה.

Such a claim is rather astounding being that there were Neviim, Geonim, Tannaim, and Amoraim in between them so it’s difficult to understand such a statement. However Moshe Rabbeinu was a מלך as the Pasuk says in Vzos HaBracha ויהי בישורון מלך which according to some Meforshim is referring to Moshe Rabbeinu and as the Rambam writes in Hilchos Melachim. Moshe Rabbeinu was also a Navi. Nonetheless we don’t refer to him as Moshe HaMelech or Moshe HaNavi, but we refer to him as Moshe Rabbeinu. It seems that what is more important to us is that Moshe taught us Torah. It’s most likely in that sense that it is said about the Rambam ממשה עד משה לא קם כמשה. The Rambam was the first one to codify all the Halachos of the Torah and put it into the Mishneh Torah. The Rambam himself even writes in his introduction to Mishneh Torah that it was called such because it is a repetition of the Torah and that one must only need to learn the Torah Shebiksav and the Mishneh Torah and nothing else is needed. (As much as he felt that was the case, the Rambam became part of in depth learning and became part of “Pilpul” as we know it today.) As a Rabbeinu, it could be said about the Rambam ממשה עד משה לא קם כמשה.

However, throughout his lifetime and for a generation or two afterward, he received tremendous opposition. There were Rishonim in France who were against his philosophical writing, specifically the Moreh Nevuchim. Though it’s not clear if the burining was done by Jews or by non-Jews who confiscated them, in the year 1232 in France, many copies of Moreh Nevuchim and the Yad HaChazaka were burned as a result of the controversy. It’s said about Rabbenu Yona, who was involved in the controversy surrounding these writings of the Rambam, that he wrote his Sefer Shaarei Teshuva out of regret for his involvement. Some years later, in June 1242, 24 wagonloads of Talmud were burned in the same place. Many saw that as a punishment for what had been done to the seforim of the Rambam. As challenging as the Ramban is at times when he disagrees with the interpretation of the Rambam throughout Chumash and in philosophy, there is a touching and balanced letter written by the Ramban in אגרת ב (found in the כתבי הרמב"ן Mosad Harav Kook edition volume one) defending the Rambam against the חכמי צרפת who were out to denounce him. He begins with tremendous הכנעה to the חכמי צרפת saying who is he to say and he writes how the Rambam was only writing the Moreh Nevuchim for those who struggled in philosophy-

הלכם גאוני התלמוד הטריח עצמו? והוא כמוכרח ואנוס לבנות ספר מפני פלסופי יון שמה לנוס, לרחוק מעל ארסטו וגליאנוס, השמעתם דבריהם אם טעיתם אחרי ראיותיהם וכו' והצרכו ללמד בהם מספרי היונים והעמים שונים נמשגו הלבבות אחר המינות וכו' והנה שם הרב ספריו כתריס בפני הפורענות מגן הוא לחצי קשתי בני יון וכו'

He then continues describing his successful kiruv efforts he did and his social involvement which impressed upon all his followers and to try to denounce him will only cause catastrophe-

ורבים מעמי הארץ מתיהדים כי נפל פחד הרב עליהם ונתחזק מוראו על כולהם והנני מעיד עלי לפני רבותי שמים וארץ כי שמענו ממגידי אמת שבכל ארצות מלכות תימן קהלות רבות עוסקים בתורה ובמצות לשמן והיו מזכירים שם הרב בכל קדיש וקדיש: בחייכון וביומיכון ובחיי דרבנא משה בן מיימון, אשר האיר עיניהם בתורה העמידן בקרו אורה לבטל מהן גזרות קשות וכובד המס וכו' וקהלות האלה בשמעם את דברי האלה היוצאת הלא יפקרו עול המורא ויגלו פנים בתורה, להתריס כנגד רבני צרפת ידברו ואיש את רעהו יעזרו וכו' תעשה תורה כשתי תורות וכל ישראל שתי חבורות וכו' והלא אפילו לאנשי ביתו של אדם עבדיו ושפחותיו הכנענים צוו רבותינו: שלא להטיל אימה יתירה עליהם שמא יאכילוהו דבר איסור וכו' הצריכו למימרינהו בניחותא כי היכי דליקבלינהו מיניה, וזו קל וחומר שאין עליו תשובה על אחת כמה וכמה להזהיר את הרבים וכו'.

Potential of every child

Even though the Pasuk says about the Nevuah of Moshe לא קם בישראל כמשה עוד, nevertheless the Rambam writes in Hilchos Teshuva 5:2 כל אדם ראוי לו להיות צדיק כמשה רבינו- that every person must strive and believe that he could reach the level of Moshe Rabbeinu.

The Pasuk in the Haftorah says את מי יורה דעה ואת מי יבין שמועה גמולי מחלב עתיקי משדים. The Gemara in Sotah 12b says this Pasuk is referring to Moshe Rabbeinu as a baby who refused to nurse from מצריות because פה שעתיד לדבר עם השכינה יינק דבר טמא? והיינו דכתיב: את מי יורה דעה וגו', למי יורה דעה ולמי יבין שמועה? לגמולי מחלב ולעתיקי משדים. The Rama in YOD 81:7 rules that if avoidable, a Jewish baby should not nurse from a non-Jew and the Rama writes because חלב כותית מטמטם הלב. But the question is that the Gemara specifically gives the reason by Moshe Rabbeinu because he was שעתיד לדבר עם השכינה. But most children will probably not end up being דבר עם השכינה and therefore why should it be a problem to have a child nurse from a non-Jew?

It’s said from Reb Yaakov Kaminetzky that we see from here that a parent must keep all his child’s opportunities open and raise them as if they will speak with the Shechinah. It’s interesting that about the Rambam himself it was said ממשה עד משה לא קם כמשה.

Growth through struggle

The Haftorah begins with the Pasuk הבאים ישרש יעקב יציץ ופרח ישראל ומלאו פני תבל תנובה (ישעיה כז,ו). The Radak explains this Pasuk referring to the גאולה העתידה but Rashi explains this Pasuk going on Yaakov and the Galus Mitzrayim. The meaning is that when they went down to Mitzrayim-הבאים ישרש יעקב, they were small in number. But there in Mitzrayim, it was יציץ ופרח ישראל ומלאו פני תבל תנובה-“Israel will bud and blossom and fill the face of the earth like fruit”.

This idea expressed in the above Pasuk in the Haftorah is expressed in the beginning of the Parshah. The Ramban in Vayigash 46:2 discusses this idea regarding when the Pasuk uses “Yaakov” and when it uses “Yisrael” both in Vayigash and in the beginning of Parshas Shemos:

אחר שאמר לו השם לא יקרא שמך עוד יעקב כי אם ישראל יהיה שמך, היה ראוי שיקראנו בשם הנכבד ההוא. וכן הוא נזכר בפרשה הזאת שלשה פעמים, אבל קראו יעקב לרמוז כי עתה לא ישור עם אלהים ועם אנשים ויוכל, אבל יהיה בבית עבדים עד שיעלנו גם עלה, כי מעתה הגלות תתחיל בו. וזה טעם ואלה שמות בני ישראל הבאים מצרימה יעקב ובניו (פסוק ח), כי בשם בני ישראל יבאו שמה, כי יפרו הבנים וירבו ויגדל שמם וכבודם, אבל יעקב הוא עתה ברדתו שם

When they went down to Mitzrayim, it was as “Yaakovites” as the Pasuk saysהבאים מצרימה את יעקב איש וביתו באו referring to past tense that they came as “Yaakov”. It was only in Mitzrayim where they became “Yisrael”. Before the struggle and pain of Mitzrayim, they came down as “Yaakov”, few in number. But it was in the struggle and difficulty of Mitzrayim where they thrived-פרו וישרצו וירבו במאוד מאוד ותמלא הארץ אתם. At first it was הבאים מצרימה את יעקב, but then it was ובני ישראל פרו וישרצו וכו'. “Yisrael” is because כי שרית עם אלקים ועם אנשים ותוכל-that he overcame the struggle and was victorious. So too was happening in Mitzrayim as the Pasuk says וכאשר יענו אתו כן ירבה וכן יפרץ through the suffering and pain came about the growth and reaching of higher levels.

From him or from us

ויאמר אל עמו הנה עם בני ישראל רב ועצום ממנו (א,ט)

The word ממנו can sometimes mean “from him” or “from us”. The Ibn Ezra explains that it depends on whether or not the “nun” is רפה or has a דגש: כל ממנו בספרי אנשי מזרח סימן לרבים הנו"ן רפה כמשפט להפריש בינו, ובין, ממנו פנה (זכרי' י, ד), שהוא סימן לשון יחיד שאיננו נמצא בפני המדבר, שהוא דגוש כמשפט. וכל ספרי מערב שניהן דגושין בין שהוא סימן לשון יחיד, ובין שהוא סימן לשון רבים, והיה כן, כי ממנו לשון יחיד דגוש הפך המנהג וכו'.

The Gemara in Arachin 15a discusses that which in Parshas Shelach, the Meraglim said כי חזק הוא ממנו, the simple understanding is that they were saying the כנענים are more חזק than ממנו-us. But the Gemara says אל תיקרי כי חזק הוא ממנו אלא ממנו, כביכול בעל הבית אין יכול להוציא כליו משם, as if they were saying more חזק that ממנו-than him, referring to Hashem that the כנענים are stronger than Hashem.

However, Tosfos in Arachin 15b says there is no difference if it’s with a דגש or רפה against the explanation of the Ibn Ezra above:

אל תקרי ממנו אלא ממנו - פירוש אל תקרי ממנו רפי אלא ממנו דגש ואינו כן שכל ממנו שבתורה דגושין ואינו מחליף כלל זה בזה.

So according to Tosfos, the אל תקרי ממנו will have to be expressed with the finger, whether or not one is pointing towards the self or outward as there is no difference in pronunciation. Here we find another connection between the Rambam and this week’s Parshah. The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva 3:7 writes there are five types of people that are classified as מינים and one of them is האומר שיש שם רבון אחד אבל שהוא גוף ובעל תמונה. On this the Raavad says ולמה קרא לזה מין וכמה גדולים וטובים ממנו הלכו בזו המחשבה לפי מה שראו במקראות וכו' that how could such a person be classified as a מין if כמה גדולים טובים ממנו thought this way based on Pesukim. The simple reading of what the Raavad says כמה גדולים טובים ממנו is a very strong rip against the Rambam as if to say “much greater people than him” as in the Rambam. However the Kesef Mishnah asks on this גירסא that it can’t be the Raavad would have such a strong expression against the Rambam to say that such people who believed that Hashem has a גוף are גדולים וטובים ממנו and really the correct nusach is what is written in the ספר העיקרים פ"ב ממ"א וז"ל. א"א אף על פי שעיקר האמונה כן הוא המאמין היותו גוף מצד תפיסתו לשונות הפסוקים והמדרשות כפשטן אין ראוי לקרותו מין, עכ"ל.

However, the Chazon Ish YOD 62:21, to explain the Raavad, writes the following: ומש"כ הראב"ד ז"ל (כפי נוסחת הספרים) וכמה גדולים וטובים ממנו וכו' האי “ממנו"ר"ל ממנו עם ישראל. According to this translation of the word ממנו not meaning “from him” rather “from us,” it comes out the Raavad isn’t being so strong with the Rambam.

Life’s mission

ותקרא שמו משה ותאמר כי מן המים משיתהו (ב, י)

Although Moshe Rabbeinu was drawn from the water, he wasn’t called משוי which would mean that he was drawn from the water. Rather his name is משה which means “to draw”, because being that he experienced being drawn from water that should become his life’s mission. Any experience a person has, he should use that experience to help other. The message is here is that since Moshe was a משוי-drawn out, to be a משה-to draw others out, should become his life’s mission because one should do on to others what was done to you.

Jewish midwives

ויאמר מלך מצרים למילדת העברית (א,טו)

This that the Pasuk says מילדות העברית, is it describing them as “Jewish midwives” or midwives for Jews as opposed to for the non-Jews. The Rav suggested that it has to be that it means they were “Jewish midwives” and not just midwives for the Jews because otherwise, how would they be able to say to Pharaoh כי לא כנשים המצרית העברית כי חיות הנה בטרם תבוא אלהן המילדת וילדו. It’s only because they were midwives for both that they were aware of that difference.

On the words ותחיין את הילדים, Rashi says מספקות להם מים ומזון. But if this was the case, how were they answering Pharaoh when he questioned their waysמדוע עשיתן הדבר הזה ותחיין את הילדים. It’s one excuse that they couldn’t kill the babies on the אבן but why were they supplying food and water for the babies?

When they answered Pharaoh כי לא כנשים המצרית העברית כי חיות הנה בטרם תבוא אלהן המילדת וילדו, they were really answering him on why they supplied מים ומזון. Because by the time they got to the birth the baby was born already (being that Jewish mothers are כי חיות הנה unlike to non-Jewish mothers) if they were to not supply food and water, it would be ניכר what they were doing; trying to kill babies. (The Ramban 1:11 writes that such a decree to kill the babies would never have been accepted and therefore it was instructed to be done על האבנים, which was דרך חכמה שלא ירגישו ישראל כי באיבה יעשו בהם)Therefore in order to make it not noticeable that they were following instructions from Pharaoh to kill all the babies, they specifically needed to bring food and water.

ויקם מלך חדש

ויקם מלך חדש על מצרים אשר לא ידע את יוסף (א,ח)

Rashi bring the Machlokes Rav and Shmuel in Sotah, חד אמר חדש ממש וחד אמר שנתחדשו גזרותיו. But on the last words of the Pasuk אשר לא ידע את יוסף, Rashi says עשה עצמו כאילו לא ידע. It would seem that explanation only fits with the opinion that מלך חדש is שנתדשו גזרותיו and therefore he did know who Yosef was and it was only עשה עצמו כאילו לא ידע. But if he was actually a מלך חדש, then it wouldn’t make sense to say עשה עצמו כאילו לא ידע because he didn’t really know him.

This Machlokes between Rav and Shmuel appears in Eiruvin 53a as well. However, after bringing the Machlokes between them, the Gemara asks that according to the one who holds שנתחדשו גזירותיו, how it makes sense to say אשר לא ידע את יוסף because he did know Yosef. To which the Gemara answers מאי אשר לא ידע את יוסף - דהוה דמי כמאן דלא ידע ליה ליוסף כלל. So according to the way this Gemara brings it, this follow up explanation of Rashi on אשר לא ידע את יוסף is only going according to the explanation that חדש is שנתחדשו גזירותיו. However in Sotah 11a, it brings the Machlokes between Rav and Shmuel and then it brings the explanation on אשר לא ידע that עשה עצמו כאלו לא ידע in a general way. Therefore, the implication of the way the Gemara brings it is that this explanation is going according to both opinions in which case it is problematic.

Some texts of Rashi actually have it with a “vuv” that it says ואשר לא ידעו וכו' and therefore it’s clear in Rashi that his follow up explanation to אשר לא ידע is going on the second explanation which is שנתחדשו גזרותיו. This nusach of Rashi with the “vuv” would make sense according to the Gemara in Eruvin. However, according to the Gemara in Sotah, it would work better without the “vuv” to indicate that it’s not strictly going with the opinion of שנתחדשו גזירותיו but even according to the opinion that it was מלך חדש.

In order to explain how according to the way Sotah brings it that אשר לא ידע - עשה עצמו כאלו לא ידע is going even according to the explanation that he was מלך חדש, it could be because although he was a מלך חדש, he didn’t become a king when he was a baby and therefore he must’ve heard about the great leader who was Yosef and nonetheless he acted in a way כאילו לא ידעו. The Toras Chaim in Eiruvin says that a practical Halachik application of this Machlokes between Rav and Shmuel is if somebody sells a “new” house and he discovers that it was just painted fresh so the question is it considered a מקח טעות or not. So according to the opinion that מלך חדש is שנתחדשו גזרותיו, such a house can also be considered a בית חדש and therefore not considered a מקח טעות. There is a משנה למלך הל' מלכים (ז,ח) that has a similar question regarding who is considered חוזרים מעורכי המלחמה, if a renovated house qualifies as a בית חדש but he doesn’t connect this Machlockes between Rav and Shmuel.

Yahrzeit of the Baal HaTanya

This past week כד טבת, was the Yahrzeit of the Baal HaTanya. It’s interesting to note that Rav Shechter in the sefer Divfrei HaRav page 109 quotes Rav Soloveitchik from Boston saying the following about the Baal HaTanya: מזמן חורבן הבית לא היה כמוהו משכיל נפלא בעניני אמונה מלבד הרמב"ם.

It is told that the Baal HaTanya was by his Rebbe, the Magid M’Mezritch for Elul and the Magid needed a Baal Tokeah for Rosh Hashanah so the Baal HaTanya volunteered for the position. The entire Elul they learned together all the כונות האר"י on Tekias Shofer. On Erev Rosh Hashanah after they had learned through all these lofty things, the Baal HaTanya said to his Rebbe, it’s nice that I know all these כונות but I don’t know how to blow the Shofar. So the Magid asked him why he didn’t tell him in the first place. So the Baal HaTanya answered him that he learned from Moshe Rabbeinu who did the same thing. By the סנה, Moshe has a back and forth with Hashem learning the שמות. Moshe says to Hashem ואמרו לי מה שמו מה אמר אלהם to which Hashem answered him אהיה אשר אהיה. At the way end after the entire back and forth and Moshe learned everything, Moshe concludes ויאמר בי אדני שלח נא ביד תשלח, that he is not the right person to be the שליח.


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