Points to Ponder

Vaera 5776

And they didn’t listen to Moshe due to a shortness of spirit and hard labor (6:9) – Rashi explains the Kotzer Ruach to be like one who has trouble breathing. Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau Shlita explains the idea as being like one with an asthma attack who must reach for steroids in order to breathe. He explains that in those moments, the asthmatic cannot think long term because he is merely concerned about the next breath. One cannot discuss the languages of Geulah at that point.  But that immediate urge style of living without long term vision destroys the potential for a united vision and hope.

And Amram married Yocheved his wife (6:20) – It is interesting that in regard to the section of the Arayos in Parshas Achrei Mos and Kedoshim, no punishment of Kares is mentioned explicitly in regard to one who marries his aunt. The Baalei Tosafos explain that this is done on purpose to protect the Kavod of Amram similar to the reason why no Kares is mentioned in regard to the idea of marrying 2 sisters (out of respect for Yaakov) . Both times it is left to Torah She’Baal Peh to explain. Rav Yehuda Cooperman ztl. explained that the Torah clearly understood that both times it was necessary for Yaakov and Amram to break what would later be considered Torah. However, had it left an identifiable mark even in a later Parsha, it would be the subject of debate to the actions of Yaakov and Amram perhaps punishing them with what the Netziv considers a form of KAres – a suggestion of impropriety that can never be wiped away as it is as forever as the Torah. Therefore the Torah left it out.

The Makkos – The Ran (Derashos 6) notes that when Hashem promises that he shall not put any of the punishments of Egypt on Bnei Yisrael, what kind of promise is it, not to punish an Oved Hashem simply by keeping from the punishments of sinners? Ran explains that the promise was not limited to the maakos but rather that the Egyptians got EVERY Machala in Mitzrayim. Rav Mattisyahu Salomon Shlita explains how each Makkah was actually representative of multiple makkos – Dam caused a cessation of fluid in the land and consequently in the people – it affected the kidney and urinary tracts. Those who drank the blood suffered gastro-intestinally, the smells caused fainting or asthma. Tzfardeia caused ulcers and complex gastro difficulties, the noises causing hearing difficulties and loss of sleep and madness. Kinim caused fatigue. Arov brought about anxiety and traumatic stress not to mention resulting toxins from poison and potential sclerosis if bitten. Shechin brought forth all the dermatological illnesses and the psychological complexes that came with it. Barad destroyed the roof over the head of the Egyptian and exposed him to the respiratory illnesses of collapsed buildings…the list is endless.

And in your ovens (7:29) – The Talmud (Pesachim) learns from here that the frogs even went into the hot ovens despite their danger. In fact, the gemara notes that Chananiah Mishael and Azaria made a Kal VaChomer to determine that they too, must go into the oven at the time that they were tested. Tosafos asks why we needed a Kal VaChomer for this if it is a clear Halacha? Rav Schachter Shlita cited Rabbeinu Tam who noted that perhaps the Avodah Zara that they were supposed to bow to was not a real Avoda Zara and in the face of torture, they could have been lenient. Therefore they used a Kal VaChomer. Rav Schachter added that many of the other Rishonim were not happy with this explanation but it demonstrates the lesson that one can learn issues of sacrifice for Kiddush Hashem from animals too.


And Aharon raised his hand over the waters of Mitzrayim and the frog infestation arose and covered the land of Egypt (8:2) – Rashi notes that the plague began with a single frog. The Mitzrim hit it until swarms sprung forth and covered the land. In 1986, Rav Pam ztl recognized that the splintered groups of terrorists from the PLO would grow in number with the retaliatory attacks to them. He added that Terrorism seemed to grow with every military response to it. Rav Pam noted that despite the need to combat terror, the best way to end it is to do what Moshe and Aharon did in order to end the terror epidemic – Tefillah.

And he said “tomorrow” (8:6) – Why would Pharaoh ask to remove the frogs tomorrow instead of immediately? Or HaChaim offers a perspective but Rav Simcha Zissel Broide ztl. suggested that based on Rashi’s comment that Moshe davened immediately for an event to happen later, we learn that the magicians only had the power of immediacy. By requesting the change to  “tomorrow” Pharaoh hoped to catch Moshe in an old sorcerers trick. Alas he was not to be fooled. (Parenthetically, we see the lesson of immediacy as an Egyptian trait as opposed to patience which is a Jewish virtue) 

We shall travel 3 days into the desert and bring a sacrifice to Hashem (8:23) – At the beginning of the Parsha Moshe was told that this was to be emancipation and suddenly he is turning it into some kind of Shabbaton? Rav Belsky Shlita suggested that perhaps the Bnei Yisrael were incapable of comprehending the idea of full emancipation and thus Moshe spoke of a 3 day “break” to warm them to the idea of freedom, to warm them to the idea of freedom. At the same time, the idea of a 3 day excursion allows one to contemplate kedusha independent of secular responsibilities. It affects the preparations for the moment and the relations from the time spent and how it is taken into the rest of the year. This too, was part of Moshe’s desire for the people.

Haftorah: Son of man, Nevuchadnetzer, king of Bavel etc. Therefore, so says Hashem, for his efforts I have given him the land of Egypt. On that day, I shall bring forth the savior to the Jewish people (Yechezkel 29:21) – What is the connection between the reward of Nevuchadnetzer and that of the destiny of the Jewish people? And what does the Novi mean when he speaks of “That day”? Rav Nebenzahl Shlita explains that Nevuchadnetzer fought with Tzur not because of his desire to fulfill the word of Hashem but rather due to his own plan of global domination. Still, since in the end, he achieved Hashem’s plan, he is deserving of reward. How much more so will this be true for the children of Israel who follow Hashem’s plan – on the day that Nevuchadnetzer is rewarded for his efforts Shelo L’Shma, they will receive reward for their efforts L’Shma.