Points to Ponder

Shemos 5777

They embittered their lives (1:14) –  Rav Shmuel Laniado, the author of the Kli Chemda explained that in general, human beings find death sour and hard to deal with. This is why Aggag notes “Achein Sar Mar HaMaves” but the experience of slavery was so bitter for the Jews, they found death better than life. This led Hashem to show mercy and bring them to healthy living.

And all the daughters shall live (1:22) – Rav Chaim Kanievski Shlita explained that this too, was part of the torture of Pharaoh to counter the concern of population control. In other words, not only would he diminish the number of men and by extension, families of the Jews, he would leave the girls single and extend the other populations when they could not marry.

And behold the Naar cried (2:6) – Rashi notes that his voice was like that of a Naar. Ramban explains that such an impediment makes Moshe into a Baal Mum which we prefer to avoid. Rav Nebenzahl Shlita explained that the issue depends on how we view Moshe. If Moshe is a Kohein who was able to serve --- then his voice is not a Mum. Only a regular Levi, whose job it is to sing is Pasul with his voice (Chullin 24a), for that was his primary job in the Mikdash.


Should I call a nursemaid from the Jewish women? (2:7) – Rashi quotes from the Midrash that Moshe felt that a mouth that would ultimately speak with the Shechina should not take from a non-Jewish source.  Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky ztl. notes that although one could use a non-Jewish source, but why should a person cheat his child from a chance to speak with the Shechina? (Assuming it is not necessary). Rav Schachter Shlita added that the same thing is true today – with Yichus – that we should not just see things as a Middas Chassidus but that Hashem expresses his Shechina only on the Mishpachos Hamiyuchasos.

Take the shoes off your feet (3:5) – The Chofetz Chaim ztl. explained that sometimes people think that the daily grind of life prevents them from achieving their goals. Nothing could be further from the truth. The ground we stand on – at all times --- is holy ground. We need to take off the shoes and any other impediment to experiencing Hashem’s presence.

Who am I to go to Pharaoh and to take Bnei Yisrael from Eretz Mitzrayim (3:11) – Rav Shaul Yisraeli ztl. sees that there are 2 jobs here – to find the language to speak to the outside leadership and then to guide the broken nation and the discord that existed internally. Moshe was nervous about both jobs and whether he would be able to handle the different styles needed to handle both issues.

When he sees you, he will rejoice in his heart (4:14) – The Midrash comments that Hashem told Moshe that his impression that Aharon would be insulted is unfounded. He would be happy. And the heart that wears the Urim V’Tumim  would be thus rewarded. The Tanchuma takes this further: When the Possuk declares Mi Yitencha K’Ach Lee – it means that brothers technically do not get along and from the beginning of time (Kayin and Hevel), they’ve hated one another. Rav Gifter ztl. added that we see how even the greatest of people have had sibling rivalries and those who overcome it deserve to praise Hashem in the Mikdash.


Do not give them straw (5:7)- Rav Chanoch Henoch of Alexander ztl. asked why Pharaoh didn’t simply add to the number of bricks required. Why subtract from the number and take away from the straw? He answers that we see that the torture of the soul is worse than the torture of the body. Pharaoh knew that not knowing where they’d get straw from, would torture them more than the extra requirement of the bricks.

Haftorah – In coming times Yaakov will take root (Yeshayahu 27:6) – In his Nevuah for the future, Yeshayahu notes that the nation will put down roots in Galus and will spread itself and the knowledge of Hashem throughout the world. Rav Schwab ztl. explained that the Galus experience is not only punitive. Rather, it was Hashem’s way of making us better. In Galus we put down roots to produce the people like the Tannaim  and Amoraim, Savuraim and Geonim, Rishonim and Achronim long before the nation blossoms into Yisrael.