Points to Ponder

Shemos 5776

And they multiplied by many multitudes (1:7) – Why is it called B’Meod Meod? Why not Meod Meod? Rav Ovadiah Yosef ztl. explains that the first way the people grew, was financial. (B’Chol Meodecha) It was because of the wealth that the Egyptians despised the Jews. Hence, they tried to tax them to death. It was also the reason that the Egyptians paid back from the 10 Makkos – Eser – from Oisher.

Let us outthink them (1:10) – The Haggada refers to this as VaYareiu Osanu haMitzrayim. Rav Shach ztl. notes that it does not say, that the Mitzrayim were bad TO us but rather they made us bad. This teaches us that the Jews themselves got infected with the Egyptian style. Rav Shach explains that this was possible not because of a particular event but rather due to being steeped in the general culture. He adds that the antidote to this problem is the need to constantly be aware of the tendency toward assimilation and to label attempts in order not to succumb to them.

And Egypt enslaved the Jews with back-breaking labor and they embittered their lives… with back-breaking labor (1:12) – Why the repeat of the Perach? Rav Nosson Gestetner Ztl. cites Tosafos (Sotah 11a) that the work that was done was for naught…and in addition, it was sought out for the Jew. In other words, the only purpose was to make the Jewish life miserable.

Any male child born shall be cast into the Yior and the daughters shall live (1:22) – Rav Norman Lamm Shlita points out the national hypocrisy in the intentions of Pharaoh. First, he does not announce a genocide, he tries to hire a group of midwives to do the dirty work for him. When this failed, he needed to sanction murder as state policy. But he limits himself to baby boys and he notes that it was not limited to the Jews but rather it was part of the national cult. Rav Lamm notes that most of the story does not speak of the average Egyptian when assessing blame because it was not he who tried to deny it. The message is true throughout history as well.

                Rav Nosson Gestetner Ztl. notes the difference between this Possuk and that of 1:16 – between V’Chaya and Tichayun noting that the boys he would kill outright and the females he would put on governmental programs to feed them – from the foods of the Goyim which would damage the souls.

And the king of Egypt died and they cried and their cries went to Hashem as a result of the work (2:24) – Rav Yechiel Yitzchak Perr Shlita would often quote his father Rav Menachem Perr ztl. who would note that initially people would think that the slavery was the result of the king and that once he expired so would the slavery. This was not to be the case. It was only thereafter, when they saw that their simple explanation failed, that they cried and set their sights heavenward. Rav Perr Shlita adds that this was the challenge Moshe asks of Hashem when he declares “When they ask me for His name what should I say?” He explained that the people were confused for Hashem was always in the background for the Avos and Moshe wanted to know how to bring the message that he would be in the forefront for them.


They will not believe me () – Rav Schachter Shlita would often point out to us that there was a dual nature to the power of Nevuah of Moshe. One part of the Nevuah was the overpowering power of prophesy of Horaas Shaah. This power needed the signs that all Neviim need to bring in order to prove their right to prophesize. The Nevuah of the Halachos was L’Doros and didn’t need confirmation and came with Shechina Midaberes MiToch Grono without the speech difficulties.

And they met at Har HaElokim and he kissed him (4:27) – Sforno explains that he kissed him as one kisses something holy. Why does the Sorno care if he kissed him with reverence or as a brother who missed his brother long thought to be dead? Rav Boruch Dov Povarsky Shlita explained that this place was the place of the Shechina. It would be improper to use it for a personal expression. The only reason to express emotion would be because it is the emotion directed toward Hashem and holiness. Accordingly, the Sforno responds that the kiss was one of reverence.

Haftorah: And it shall come to pass on that day, that a great shofar shall be blown, and they shall come who were lost in the land of Ashur, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mountain of Jerusalem" (Yeshayahu 27:13)- Rav Tzaddok Hakohein of Lublin distinguishes between the lost ones of Ashur who lose themselves in the anxiety of constantly pursuing wealth and other worldly gains so that they never stop to appreciate the Hashem behind the experience of the wealth.  The Mitzri spends all of his time so engrossed in relaxation and Zima, he will never pursue anything. Rav Yehuda Amital ztl. explains that both extremes are dangerous for a healthy growth of Avodas Hashem. One cannot live with total tension or he will not appreciate the presence of Hashem and one cannot live in total “tranquility” without constant striving for a better relationship with Hashem if s/he is to thrive in a life as a servant of Hashem.