Points to Ponder

Bo 5776

Who and whom are those travelling (10:8) – Shouldn’t the proper wording be who will go? Why the stress on the present tense? Rav Mordechai Banet ztl. is quoted as having connected this trip to that of the Olim to Yirushalayim wherein the Mishna (Chagigah 1:1) notes that only those who can walk are obligated to go up to Yirushalayim. Here too, Pharaoh assumed that since the trip was for a spiritual retreat, it would have the same parameters as the Aliyah L’Regel. Thus he said – only the men.

For on the day you see my face you shall die (10:28) – Why does he not say when you see my face? Why the reference to the day? Targum Yonasan reveals that Pharaoh had a deal with Dasan and Aviram that on the day that Moshe would appear before him, he would inform them and they would kill Moshe. Since they were not welcome in the palace, the punishment would come later in the day. Rav Aizik Ausband Shlita points out that one sees the terrible effects of personal humiliation here. Dasan and Aviram had been embarrassed privately by Moshe Rabbeinu many, many years earlier and still were willing to murder him and preclude an entire nation’s freedom in order to get even.

Please speak to the people to request that each man should ask from his neighbor and each woman from her neighbor to receive silver, gold and clothing (11:2) – Why was the idea of material wealth so crucial? Rav C.Y. Goldvicht ztl. notes that part of the job of a Galus is that it is supposed to teach us how to take from the experience and turn it toward Hashem. The same Keilim that were used by the Egyptians for inappropriate purposes should now be refashioned into appropriate things. Thus, at the end of the Galus, part of the Geulah is the taking of the Nitzozos and dedicating them for Hashem.


This month is for YOU the first of the Months (12:1) – Rav Schachter Shlita would often quote the Netziv who notes that the reason why the nations of the world count Rosh HaShana from Tishrei is because all of the rules of nature, indeed, all of the sciences and political events of the rest of the world are destined based on the 6 days of creation. They are predictable based on the rules that were apparent on Rosh Chodesh Tishrei at the end of creation. Rav Schachter Shlita would add that herein lies the difference as it relates to us, the Jewish nation: we are a nation that lives above the rules of nature. As a result, we exist miraculously. The month of miracles is the month of Nissan and it seems only logical to count the Rosh HaShana for our nation based on the Rosh Chodesh Shel Nissim v’HaGeula.

And when your children will ask…And the nation bowed (12:26-27) – Rashi notes the bowing was out of excitement and thanks for the news of children. But this is the question of the Rasha! Why bow for children who oppose the religion? Rav Shlomo Heiman ztl. explained that as long as the Torah remains inspiring and living, it is crucial that everyone continue to ask questions – even the heretical ones. That guarantees that the children will continue to delve into Torah and will still find places that one gets to ask important questions to.

And the Egyptians strong-armed the nation to get them out quickly arguing that they were all dying (12:33) – Why would they freak out thinking that they were all dying? They knew the death was limited to the first born male children? Besides, it was after Chatzos – why fear death now? Rav Eliezer Turk Shlita, Rav of Perushim/Brachfeld  explained that the Egyptians were learning that there were many more covert Bechorim than they realized and that many were left over suffering a slow death. It was this discovery that they were rushing to get the Jews out of.

And every firstborn donkey you shall redeem with a lamb (13:13) – Why is the donkey singled out? Rav Dovid A. Gross Shlita comments that the donkey is responsible for bringing the Jews TO Mitzrayim. Citing the Meshech Chochma, he argues that the role of the Peter Chamor Mitzva is that it provides us a commemoration that Hashem orchestrated the entire process – from exile to redemption – with an extreme reminder that Hashem did not CHANGE his mind but rather planned on redeeming the people AT THE RIGHT TIME. This is why we commemorate not only the end of the process but the beginning of it as well.

Haftorah:  "Why have the mighty ones been washed away…because Hashem repelled him"  (Yirmiyahu 46:15)Rav Aviner Shlita explains that Egypt was accustomed to its supremacy and was confident of a miraculous victory.  They were certain that they would be successful in battle and they were not at all concerned before the young, brazen king Nevuchadnetzer. Here is where they erred: No nation on Earth, and no empire – no matter how strong – lasts forever.  Nations appear on the stage of history, fulfill their historical role and disappear.  This is what Yaakov Avinu understood when he saw the angels ascending and descending the ladder.  The meaning of the dream is that each nation is represented by an angel and it can reach great heights, but in the end it will go down into the annals of history.  Yaakov Avinu began to fear that this would also be our fate, and he asked Hashem, who calmed him: No, you are different from the others.  You are an eternal Nation.  It may be that you have a difficult history, but you will overcome the trials!  You are incapable of being destroyed! "For I am with you" , Hashem promises us.  This promise, like the others, is fulfilled each day.  Just as He dismantled and caused each and every one of our worst enemies to fall, He also returned the Children of Yaakov to their Land in order to enjoy eternal peace and security.