Points to Ponder

Vaera 5778

Speak to Bnei  Yisrael and tell them that I am Hashem (6:6) – Rashi and the Rashbam (Pesachim 99b) notes that the 4 cups at Pesach represent the 4 languages of freedom mentioned here. While one can drink if necessary between the first and second cups and between the second and third, one is not supposed to drink anything between cups 3 and 4. Rav Asher Weiss Shlita suggested an interesting hint here. Many see a difference between the redemption of the body and the soul. By telling us not to break the 4th language apart from the first 3, and the fourth – v’Lakachtee – representing the redemption of the soul, we are highlighting the necessity of not separating between the 2 Geulot.


Amram took Yocheved his aunt (6:20) – Amram is identified as one of 4 who died without sin (Shabbos 55b), how could he marry his aunt? How could a marriage that brought out Moshe, Aharon and Miriam result from a Shidduch that would be unacceptable in the Torah? Rav Moshe Feinstein ztl. answers that Amram and Yocheved knew that great people would come from them and thus, they knew that they should not keep the Torah before it was given. This is consistent with the words of Rav Chaim of Volozhin who explains that the Avos and others who kept the Torah did so as Einam Mitzuvim V’Osim  who acted on the basis of their own Seichel based on the merits of following that which they were not commanded to do. When that happens, it is ok to do that which is best for the Klal even if it is against the Mitzva. That is not the case post-Matan Torah.

My son my Bechor Yisrael () – The Kuzari notes that we are different than the rest of the world. Rav Schachter Shlita would often point out that this is the uniqueness of being Am HaNivchar. What does this mean? Rav Schachter notes that when we are Chaviv that means that we represent the sense of Godliness to the world. He would often remind us that this is the responsibility of the Bechor in general – that he is to represent the parental ideal to the other family members. Sometimes we do not do this job well, and it hurts our standing as Am HaNivchar.

You will say all that I command and Aharon your brother will speak to פרעה (7:2) - Rashi explains that what this pasuk means is that each time Hashem gave Moshe a message to transmit to פרעה, Moshe would relate it once, and then Aharon would repeat it in a way that פרעה would be able to understand.  The Ramban, on the other hand, learns that Moshe would not say it in front of פרעה at all.  Rather, he would tell it to Aharon who would then transmit the message to פרעה. According to Rashi, what was the purpose in Moshe Rabbeinu saying each nevuah one time, if פרעה was only going to understand it from Aharon?  Rav Moshe Twersky ztl. HYD opined that Hashem needed to be involved in the entirety of Yetzias Mitzrayim. This included the warnings.  If only Aharon would have sounded the warnings of each makah, that would have been a mechanism of shlichus (agency).  That is why Moshe Rabbeinu – who was the one who served as the mouthpiece, kavayachol, of the Shechina – had to say each warning to פרעה at least once.  That way, it was a full manifestation of Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu Himself taking Klal Yisrael out of Mitzrayim.

Tell Aharon to take your staff (7:19) – The first three Makos which involved hitting were done by Aharon as opposed to Moshe because both the land and the water had saved Moshe in his life and Moshe felt indebted to them. However, water and land are both inanimate so what difference does hitting it or not make? Rav Wolbe ztl. explains that the issue of refraining was not for the water or the land but rather for Moshe. Moshe knew that a refined person shows dignity to anything he comes in contact with and benefits from. If one trains himself in regard to even that which is inanimate, certainly s/he will do the same for animate items.

Tomorrow (8:6) – Why didn’t פרעה want the frogs out today? Why wait until tomorrow and continue to suffer for 24 hours? Rashi explains that פרעה wanted Moshe to daven now that the frogs disappear tomorrow because this would demonstrate that the power was distinct from that of the Egyptian magicians who could only do things immediately.  To make this point, פרעה was willing to suffer. Rav Simcha Zissel Broide ztl. notes the power of פרעה’s scientific curiosity that led him to wait it out. Once he had the freedom of mind, he hardened his heart – not because of his doubt but rather his stubbornness.


Moshe and Aharon went out and Moshe called out to Hashem about the frogs (8:8) – Why is it only by the frogs do we find Moshe crying out to remove a Makkah? Rav Chaim Kamil ztl. noted that the Frogs were famous for their Mesirus Nefesh and they serve as the source for the message of Mesirus Nefesh in the future (Pesachim 93b). That being the case, Moshe knew that ordinary prayer would not be able to remove them. In order to overpower the frogs, the style would need to be stronger – hence the Tzaakah.

Haftorah: The great 'tanim' (serpent) that crouches within its rivers, who has said, 'Mine is my river and I have made myself.'" (Yechezkel 29:3) – Rav Avraham Rivlin Shlita pointed out that in contrast to pharaoh who give credit to the great serpents in the waters, the Jewish view of the Leviathan (identified in the Gemara as the Taninim HaGedolim) is as a vehicle for Kavod Shomayim. In contrast to the arrogant Pharaoh, who says, "Mine is my river and I have made myself," the Jew says, "Know that Hashem, He is G-d; He made us and (not we) [we are His]." (Tehillim 100:3) The written form is, "and not we," and the spoken form is, "and we are his." These two readings of the pasuk complement each other. When we know that it is "not we" that made ourselves, then "we are His," and them we will merit to say, "For Hashem is good, His kindness endures forever!" (100:5) [Similarly, the Bnei Yissachar quotes that this is the song of the Leviathan.]