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Parsha Pearls Archives
- Shemos

  Parshas Shemos

SELFLESS SAVIOR

VaYavou HaRo'im Vayigorshum, Vayokom Moshe VaYoshian Vayishak Ess Tzonam VaTavona Ell Reuel Avihen

"And the shepherds came and chased them (Reuel's daughters) away. And Moshe (Moses) arose and saved them. And he watered the sheep. And they came to Reuel (a.k.a. Yisro or Jethro) their father.

The fact that Moshe let Reuel's daughters to go home without further ado illustrates his sincerity in saving them.

Moshe came to Midian without any contacts at all, as a refugee. After saving the daughters of a prominent family, he had a golden opportunity to make a connection with someone in their family. However, thoughts about his interests and needs did not even enter his mind. He simply went on his way and let Reuel's daughters go on theirs.

His actions were motivated solely by a desire for justice.

(R' Naftoli Trop - Pninim Mishulchan Govoha)

KEEPING WITS ABOUT

VaTikach Tzipora Tzur VaTichros Ess Orlas B'noh

"And Tzipora took a stone and she circumcised her son."

The Torah relates how an angel attacked Moshe and began to swallow him alive. Tzipora realized that the reason for this attack was that they had not yet circumcised their son. She acted quickly and circumcised him. Thereupon, the angel released Moshe.

This story illustrates Tzipora's incredible composure and courage. Imagine how the average person would react when she sees her spouse being swallowed up by an angel! No doubt, she would freeze in a panic. Tzipora, on the other hand, was able even to carefully analyze the situation and determine the proper course of action in order to rectify the situation. She was then able to implement this course of action, all in the face of circumstances which would leave other people shell-shocked.

(R' Nochum Zev Ziv of Kelm - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha)

SUPER TRAINING

"Vayihu Kol Nefesh Yotzai Yerech Yaakov Shivim Nefesh V'Yosef Hayah B'mitzrayim"

"And it was that all the souls of the offspring of Yaakov(Israel) were seventy souls and Yosef (Joseph) was in Mitzrayim (Egypt)" This verse mentions that Yosef was in Mitzrayim even though this had been established previously. Rashi says that the Torah repeated this fact to indicated that Yosef maintained his high level of righteousness even while ruling the immoral land of Mitzrayim.

Why, though, did the Torah choose to highlight this point while enumerating Yaakov's children? Wouldn't it have been more appropriate for the Torah to mention this point while discussing Yosef?

The reason that the Torah lists the children of Yaakov is to emphasize that the upbringing with which Yaakov raised his children bore fruit. All of his sons were righteous men. To further establish this point, the Torah singles out Yosef. Although Yosef had been living in the corrupt land of Mitzrayim, the fine upbringing Yaakov gave Yosef helped him withstand the trials he met in Mitzrayim.

(Darash Moshe)

DEATH OF A FALSE HOPE

"Vayomos Melech Mitzrayim Vayeinchu Bnei Yisrael Min Ha'avoda Vayizaku Vata'al Shavasom El HaElokim Min Ha'avodah"

"And the king of Mitzrayim (Egypt) died, and the children of Israel sighed from the work and they screamed; And their entreaties rose to Hashem from the work"

In the entire account of the Jews suffering in Mitzrayim this is the first time we find the Jews actually crying out to Hashem about their bitter lot. The need to pray to Hashem was felt only after the king died. Why? Wasn't the death of the wicked king a cause for celebration rather than anguished pleas for mercy? If they hadn't felt a need to implore Hashem for deliverance until this point, what changed with the evil rulers' death?

During the king's lifetime, the Jewish people did not turn to Hashem because they were able to fill themselves with a false hope. As long as the wicked monarch lived, the Jews thought that he alone was responsible for their misery. They believed that their suffering would die along with the king. When this  expectation proved false, they were forced to realize that their only true hope lay in imploring Hashem forsalvation.

(Peh Kadosh)

FEELING THE PAIN

2:11 Va’yar B’sivlosum

And he (Moshe - Moses) saw them in their hard labor.

When the Jewish people were in Egypt, there were many people who practiced idolatry. Although this was a very grave sin, Moshe did not let this distract him from having compassion for his people. Instead, Moshe concentrated completely on their suffering and he felt for their great pain.

(Rabbi Aharon Rokeach M’Belz)

A WHOLE DIFFERENT BALL GAME

6:11 Attah Tir’eh Asher E’eseh L’paroh…

Now you (Moshe) will see what I (G-d) shall do to Pharaoh.

Moshe demanded that Pharaoh release the Jewish people. Pharaoh responded with the following: "Who is Hashem (G-d) that I should accept his words (commands)? I have not known Hashem and I will not send out the Children of Israel." (Exodus 5:2)

Moshe questioned G-d over the subsequent turn of events.

G-d responded with the above verse, "Now you will see what I shall do to Pharaoh."

How do we understand the response?

The redemption was originally to be based on the merit of the Jewish people. This had an inherent disadvantage in case they lack sufficient merit.

Pharaoh’s response was offensive and it presented a challenge to G-d. This changed the subsequent events from being merely a redemption to being a demonstration of G-d’s existence and management.

Deserving or not, the Jewish people were now going to be redeemed.

(Shem M’Shmuel)


    NO PROBLEM

    Vayefen Paroh Vayavo El Bayso V’lo Shus Leebo Gam Lazos.

    And Pharaoh turned and went to his house. And he didn’t pay attention to this as well.

    All the water in Egypt changed to blood and the people had no water to drink. Understandably, this had great ramifications, as it affected the entire economy as well. Yet, Pharaoh paid no attention to all this!

    Why?

    The Egyptians were able to obtain water from the Jews, but only if they paid for it. Since Pharaoh raised Moshe, it was considered as though he had paid for his own water supply. Therefore, the water is Pharaoh’s home did not change to blood.

    Pharaoh did not pay attention to the problem because he was not personally affected by it.

(Meshech Chochma)

    HARMFUL SPEECH

    Exodus 8:7

    Vi’soru Ha’tze’fardi’im…

    And the frogs will go away.

    Moshe told Pharaoh that he would pray to Hashem (G-d) and Hashem will remove the frogs as a result of his prayer. It seems that Moshe was quite sure that his prayer would be answered in this instance.

    Later in the Torah, when the Jewish people spoke improperly towards Hashem and Moshe (Numbers 21:4-9), Hashem sent serpents and scorpions to punish them. Moshe did not user prayer to remove them in that instance. Why?

    Prayer is a form of speech and the Jewish people sinned with their speech.

    When a person speaks improperly of others, Hashem will be inclined to hear improper things about the speaker, as well.

    Since the speaker decided to focus solely on the faults of his "victim", in judging the speaker, Hashem will decide to focus solely on his faults.

    Moshe’s prayers, were therefore of no avail in the second situation.

(Chofetz Chaim)

    ONE HUNDRED PERCENT

    "Hu Aharon V'Moshe" "They are Aharon (Aaron) and Moshe (Moses)"

    When the Torah mentions Moshe and Aharon, sometimes Moshe's name is listed first and at other times Aharon's name gets first mention. Rashi comments that this interchangeability of order indicates (getting first mention in the Torah is usually a result of being greater or better) that they were equally great men. It is well established in Jewish tradition that Moshe was the greatest prophet of all time. Moshe is also the one who brought us the Torah. How is it conceivable that Aharon's stature can be considered equivalent to that of Moshe's? In which respect is Aharon considered to be the equal of Moshe, the most important leader in Jewish history? Hashem judges people not merely by what they have accomplished, but rather by what degree they have reached their potential in their service of Hashem. If a person of limited energies fully dedicates himself to the service of Hashem, he is considered more meritorious than a more accomplished person who has not harnessed all of his resources. In the final analysis, effort is Hashem's main criteria when judging people. By this yardstick, Aharon is considered to be Moshe's equal. Moshe actually had greater resources, yet both brothers channeled their respective energies to Hashem with equal perfection.

    (Darash Moshe)

    A "STUBBORN" CASE OF FROGS"

    "Vayomer Moshe L'Pharoah Hispoer Olai L'mosai Aatir L'cho V'Lavodecha V'Lamcho L'Hachris Hatzfardiim Mimcho U'Mibotecha Rak B'yeor Tisharno Vayomer L'Mochor"

    "And Moshe (Moses) said to Pharaoh "Brag over me as to when I should pray for you and for your servants and for your nation to eliminate the frogs from you and your homes, only in the river they will remain" And he said "Tomorrow".

    Pharaoh suffered greatly from the Plague of Frogs. Frogs croaked without respite anywhere he would turn. Upon being offered relief however, he chose to live with the plague for an extra day by (surprisingly!) requesting that the frogs be removed the next day instead. Why didn't he ask to be freed from the plague immediately? Although, Moshe had brought clear signs that he was indeed a divine messenger, Pharaoh wished to delude himself into thinking that the plagues were not heavenly retribution for enslaving the Jews. He wished to believe that the plagues were produced by black magic, and that Moshe was nothing but a sorcerer. Therefore, when Moshe offered to remove the frogs, Pharaoh convinced himself that Moshe was not in complete control over the plagues and that his power to remove the plague was limited to that particular moment. Such a lack of control would suggest that the plagues were limited to the rules of sorcery which dictate specific instants as auspicious for conjuring magic.

    Moshe indicated to Pharaoh that he could drive the frogs away through prayer at any given time, but Pharaoh assumed that Moshe expected him to request immediate removal of the frogs and that the options presented him were merely a ruse. Pharaoh therefore asked that the plague be removed only the next day. He hoped to "call Moshe's bluff" and expose Moshe as just a magician who would be completely powerless to stop the plague on the following day.

    Pharaoh, although he knew in his heart that Hashem wanted him to let the Jews go, desperately clung to every straw of false hope that he would not face justice for enslaving the Jews. An obstinate person will go great lengths to avoid facing the truth.

    (Chasam Sofer)

    JUSTICE IS MERCY

    VaYidaber Elokim Ell Moshe VaYomer Ani Ad-noy (Hashem)

    "And Elokim spoke to Moshe and He said to him 'I am Ad-noy (Hashem)"

    This verse contains two names of Hashem: Elokim and Ad-noy. Elokim symbolizes the Divine attribute of justice and Ad-noy represents the Divine attribute of mercy.

    Moshe was sent by Hashem to command Pharaoh to release the Jews from Mitzrayim. Pharaoh not only refused to release them, but increased their workload. Moshe asked Hashem why He sent him on a mission that seemed doomed to fail. Hashem answered with the above verse, which is in effect saying, "I, Elokim, am Ad-noy as well." Hashem was telling Moshe that the Divine attribute of Justice is identical to that of Mercy. When Hashem does something - even if it appears to be a severe judgment - it is actually a form of mercy in disguise. All of Hashem's ways are the ultimate mercy.

    (Steipler Gaon - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha)

    THE ENSLAVED KING

    VaYidaber Moshe Lifnei Hashem Laimor Hein B'nei Yiisroel Lo Shomu Ailay V'Eich Yishmoeni Pharaoh

    "And Moshe spoke before Hashem as follows: Behold, the Children of Israel did not listen to me, and how will Pharaoh listen to me?"

    Moshe drew a comparison from the way he was treated by the Children of Israel. Since they did not listen to me, he contended, surely Pharaoh the King will not listen to me. At first glance, it may seem that there is a simple counter argument to this claim. The reason that the Children of Israel did not listen to him, was because of their "shortness of breath and hard work". They were physically and emotionally enslaved by their Mitzri taskmasters. Otherwise, they would have gladly accepted any promises of freedom. Pharaoh, however, though it can be predicted that he wouldn’t be very receptive to Moshe’s message, was not under the influence of a foreign master. Thus, how can it be inferred that he would not willingly listen to Moshe?

    The Ibn Ezra writes (regarding the Torah's discussion of the laws of a Nazirite) "The majority of people are slaves to the figurative King of Passion". Most people understand on an intellectual level what is right and proper for them to do, and wish that they had the moral strength to act upon these realizations. Nevertheless, they follow their baser inclination. We are expected to turn to the Torah for guidance and thereby break free of our Evil Inclinations. Those who do not do so, are in essence slaves to their Evil Inclinations. Thus, the evil Pharaoh, though he was not physically bound by a taskmaster, nevertheless, had an even stronger "taskmaster" hindering him from listening to Moshe - his own Evil Inclination.

    (R' Yoseph Leib Nendik - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha)


HOLDING ON BY OURSELVES

"Why don't we see miracles in our times just as the Jews witnessed when they left Egypt?"

This question was once posed to Rabbi Aharon Bakst. He replied as follows:

When a child first learns how to walk, his parents must hold his hand to keep him from falling. As he matures, he no longer needs his parents' support.

The same concept applies to the miracles that G-d performed. The miracles of Egypt were performed so that the fledgling Jewish nation would have something to base their faith upon. They are analogous to a parents' lending a hand when their child takes his first steps. Now that we have already experienced the miracles in Egypt and we have already mastered the resulting lessons, we are comparable to the mature child who does not need his parents to hold him steady. That is, we should no longer need miracles to teach us faith.

From then on, we are expected to draw upon the lessons we have learned.

(Pninim MiShulchan Govoha)

DON'T PUSH TOO HARD

VaYikra L'Moshe U'L'Aharon Layla VaYomer Kumu Tzeu MiToch Ami

"And he (Pharaoh) called to Moshe and Aharon at night and he said "Arise, go out from among my people"

After the Plague of the Firstborn, Pharaoh proclaimed that the Jews were free to leave Egypt. The long-awaited redemption had finally arrived. Yet, not one Jew left Egypt at that moment. Instead, they waited until daybreak in order to fulfill G-d's commandment "No man may leave the entrance of his house until morning" (Exodus 12:22)

Even though the redemption was imminent, the tantalizing prospect of freedom did not dull their sense of judgment. No one thought of violating G-d's commandment in order to gain freedom more rapidly.

(R' Ya'akov Kamenetzky - P'ninim Mishulchan Govoha)

WATCHING FOR THE END OF THE TUNNEL

"Layl Shmurim"

"A Night of Watching"

The term "Shimurim" or watching often connotes a watchful waiting. An example of such usage is "And his father watched (for) the thing"(Gen. 37:11). In that verse, watched means that his father eagerly anticipated seeing the dreams come true. This interpretation can be applied to this verse as well in the following manner:Hashem-so to speak- "watched out for" the night of the Redemption from Mitzrayim (Egypt). Although the Jewish people learned important lessons and gained vital strengths during their enslavement, Hashem anxiously awaited the time that this painful (albeit useful) era in Jewish history could be drawn to a close.

(Peh Kadosh)

NISAN: GREAT BEGINNINGS

"Hachodesh Hazeh Lachem Rosh Chadoshim"

"This month (Nisan) is for you the head of months" Nisan is referred to as the head or first of the Jewish months although Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year is celebrated on the first of Tishrei. The Jewish New Year is so designated because the world was created on that day. Jews count calendar years from the creation of the world and accordingly the anniversary of creation marks the beginning of the Jewish year. The title conferred upon Nisan as 'the head of themonths' means that whenever the Torah mentions a month, it is referred to by a number counting Nisan as the first month and so on. Thus, Rosh Hashanah is referred to in the Torah as the first day of the seventh month! What is so significant about the month of Nisan that it serves as a focal point for the entire year? Why doesn't the Torah simply count months from Tishrei, the first calendar month?

While Tishrei marks the creation of the world, Nisan is the month of the Redemption from the land of Mitzrayim (Egypt). The creation of the world is important to commemorate because it demonstrates Hashem's mastery over the universe. Hashem-so to speak- is master of the universe because it is His creation. On the other hand, the Redemption from Mitzrayim was Jewry's first experience of how Hashem continues to exercise control over the world. Mitzrayim was known to be inescapable by prisoners.  According to the expected course of events, the Jews would have remainedenslaved there forever. Only Hashem's special intervention freed the Jews from bondage in Mitzrayim. It is incumbent upon every Jew not only to remember that Hashem created the world, but also that Hashem governs all of the world's affairs. Every world event is part of the Divine plan and Hashem carefully guides the course of global affairs. Because the message of Nisan is so important, it has been given high prominence among the months of the Jewish calendar.

NISAN: ENCORE

Another reason for Nisan's centrality in the Jewish year lies in another facet of it's importance. The Jews began their spiritual preparation for their acceptance of the Torah in Nisan. The Torah is the central object of the world because the purpose of creation is to enable people to grow spiritually through learning and practicing the Torah. It therefore stands to reason that the giving of the Torah -the object of creation- should be considered an integral part of creation. It was at this point that the world as a meaningful entity began to take shape. Since the events of Nisan are so central to the world's creation, it is the focal point of the Jewish year. Although as we have mentioned, Rosh Hashanah heralds the world's actual creation in Tishrei, prominence in the Jewish year is bestowed upon Nisan because it represents the advent of the crux of creation - the Torah.

The question arises however, why do we commemorate the preparations for the acceptance of the Torah rather than the giving of the Torah? Shouldn't the month of Sivan be the focal point of the year and counted as the first of months since it is the month that the Jews actually received the Torah?

To understand why the Jewish year revolves around Nisan, one must appreciate the importance of preparation for spiritual growth. In order to fully absorb the lessons of the Torah and incorporate them into one's being, one must prepare himself by enhancing his character and cultivating desirable traits in himself. Consequently, the spiritual life cycle of the world begins with the spiritual preparation that Nisan represents. The Jewish year mirrors this spiritual cycle and thus revolves around Nisan, which represents the first great step of the world's development as a place of meaning.

(Darash Moshe)

A TELLING STORY

U’lima’an Tisaper B’azney Bincha… Vee’da’atem Kee Ani Hashem
In order that you should tell your children… and you will know that I am Hashem (G-d).
(Exodus 10:2)

Moshe was told by Hashem that the purpose of the next three plagues is so that the story will be passed from generation to generation. Obviously, the purpose of the miracles being in the annals of our people is so they can reinforce our conviction that Hashem will do miracles to redeem us in the future.

It is interesting to note that the Torah first instructs us to tell our children about the miracles and it then tells us that we, the story-tellers, will come to know that "I am Hashem). Would it not have been more appropriate for us to first perceive the glory of Hashem’s existence before we tell our children about His miracles?

To answer, it is true that those who describe the ten plagues must have some knowledge of the miracles that took place. However, their full impact and the extent to which Hashem’s glory was revealed by them may not be obvious. When one seeks to actually explain these great happenings to others, he will almost invariably gain a deeper understanding of what transpired.

Indeed, this is what this verse is telling us when it says "that you should tell your children… (about the miracles, so that) you will know that I am Hashem."

The speaker will have a greater understanding of how Hashem’s glory was manifest in all of the plagues and miracles that occurred.

  • Razah in Iturei Torah

WEAKNESS IN STRENGTH

Vayavo Moshe V’Aharon El Paroh Vayomru Ailuv… Ad Mosai May’antuh Lay’unos Me’panay…
Moshe and Aharon came to Pharoh and they said to him… "Until when will you refuse to humble yourself before ME…"
(Exodus 10:3)

Moshe and Aharon are seen standing before Pharoh. Pharoh still refused to yield to Hashem’s will and he still does not wish to grant independence to the Jewish people. This is after he and his nation suffered through seven horrible plagues.

Even a righteous person can make mistakes. He feels great remorse when he fails and he strongly desires to have the moral strength and fortitude to do the will of Hashem. This is a very important and positive character trait in Hashem’s eyes.

On the other hand, not only did Pharoh not possess the "moral strength" to humble himself before Hashem, he had no desire at all to acquire such a quality. He purposely refused to humble himself. In his perverted set of values, indifference to the strong message of the plagues was a sign of courage and fortitude. To him, this reaction was a positive step in his own character development. So, not only did he not humble himself, he "refused" to humble himself.

  • Sfas Emes in Itturei Torah

HOLDING ON BY OURSELVES

"Why don't we see miracles in our times just as the Jews witnessed when they left Egypt?"

This question was once posed to Rabbi Aharon Bakst. He replied as follows:

When a child first learns how to walk, his parents must hold his hand to keep him from falling. As he matures, he no longer needs his parents' support.

The same concept applies to the miracles that G-d performed. The miracles of Egypt were performed so that the fledgling Jewish nation would have something to base their faith upon. They are analogous to a parents' lending a hand when their child takes his first steps. Now that we have already experienced the miracles in Egypt and we have already mastered the resulting lessons, we are comparable to the mature child who does not need his parents to hold him steady. That is, we should no longer need miracles to teach us faith.

From then on, we are expected to draw upon the lessons we have learned.

(Pninim MiShulchan Govoha)

DON'T PUSH TOO HARD

VaYikra L'Moshe U'L'Aharon Layla VaYomer Kumu Tzeu MiToch Ami

"And he (Pharaoh) called to Moshe and Aharon at night and he said "Arise, go out from among my people"

After the Plague of the Firstborn, Pharaoh proclaimed that the Jews were free to leave Egypt. The long-awaited redemption had finally arrived. Yet, not one Jew left Egypt at that moment. Instead, they waited until daybreak in order to fulfill G-d's commandment "No man may leave the entrance of his house until morning" (Exodus 12:22)

Even though the redemption was imminent, the tantalizing prospect of freedom did not dull their sense of judgment. No one thought of violating G-d's commandment in order to gain freedom more rapidly.

(R' Ya'akov Kamenetzky - P'ninim Mishulchan Govoha)


FOR KEEPS

VaYikach Moshe Ess Atzmos Yoseph Imo

"And Moshe took the bones of Yoseph with him."

When the Jews left Mitzrayim, they had two responsibilities - to collect the booty of Mitzrayim, and to bring Yoseph's bones for burial in the Land of Israel. Moshe felt that bringing Yoseph for burial was the loftier of the two mitzvos (commandments), and therefore involved himself with Yoseph's remains rather than with collecting booty from Mitzrayim. The Midrash praises Moshe's action by applying the verse "And the wise of heart shall take mitzvos" to Moshe. Moshe's action of choosing a great mitzva involving no personal benefit over a lesser mitzva with personal benefit involved shows that Moshe preferred spiritual gain over material gain. One advantage of choosing spiritual gain over material gain is that only spiritual gain is permanent. Material benefits do not stay with a person beyond the grave. Only the mitzvos which one performs stay with him and remain his forever.

The above verse hints to the concept that it is only a person's mitzvos which stay with him forever. At first glance the phrase "with him " may appear to be superfluous. The Torah could have stated simply "And Moshe took the bones of Yoseph." The verse "And Moshe took the bones of Yoseph with him." indicates that Moshe's taking of the bones of Yoseph was an action that would stay "with him" - meaning that the merit of this action would stay with Moshe forever.

(Kli Yakar - Ma'ayana shel Torah)

Compiler's note: Some of the background explanation of this verse was taken from Avnei Nezer as quoted in Ma'ayana shel Torah

TIME FOR ACTION

VaYomer Hashem Ell Moshe Mah Titzak Eilay, Daber Ell B'nei Yisroel V'Yisau

"And Hashem said to Moshe "What are you screaming to me for? Speak to the children of Israel and they shall travel!"

When the Jews were caught by Mitzrayim's army upon the edge of the Red Sea, they prayed to Hashem for salvation. Hashem told Moshe that it was not proper to pray then. Rather, he should tell the Jews to proceed into the Red Sea. Hashem would then provide them with a miraculous salvation.

The question arises: Why was prayer an inappropriate course of action in this situation? Don't Jews always pray to Hashem in times of crisis? Why was traveling into the Red Sea a better course of action?

One answer is that Hashem was telling Moshe that the Jews' salvation was dependent only upon this test of faith. The necessary step for the Jews to gain salvation was following Hashem's instructions, not prayer. This was because Hashem had already decided that the Jews would be saved as soon as they would develop and demonstrate their faith in Hashem. They were to accomplish this by putting their faith in Hashem's words into practice - by entering the Red Sea before the waters actually split upon Hashem's instructions. Since salvation was dependent upon the Jews' own actions, there was no point in further prayer - only in an act of faith in Hashem's words.

(R' Chayim of Volozhin - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha)

WHEN TO DEPEND ON MIRACLES

"Vachamushim Olu Bnei Yisrael Mei'Eretz Mitzrayim"

"And armed they ascended the Children of Israel, from the Land of Mitzrayim (Egypt)"

The Bnei Yisrael (the Children of Israel) left Mitzrayim fully armed in case they were attacked by enemies.

In contrast, we find (Exodus 12:39) that they took along no food for their trek across the desert. They relied entirely upon Hashem to provide them with food. Why did they prepare weapons for the journey while leaving the issue of their sustenance totally up to Hashem?

Hashem wants people to make an effort to provide for themselves even though ultimately it is He who provides all of their needs. It is not permitted to depend solely on supernatural miracles; Each person must expend effort to achieve his/her aims according to his/her individual level of faith. (Although nature is nothing more than the manifestation of Hashem's continual will, to expect that Hashem would alter that will for a person may be presumptuous.) Hashem therefore requires effort from each individual. However,  at times one is put into a situation where it is obvious that any amount of trying will be futile. The only recourse in such circumstances is to have complete faith in Hashem and pray for His salvation.

When Bnei Yisrael left Mitzrayim, there was no point in attempting to provide themselves with food; It would be impossible to carry enough food for the whole trip anyway. It was clear that Hashem wanted the Jews to trust in Him, rather than try to follow the Laws of Nature. Consequently, they took very little food with them. On the other hand, it was proper for them to take along weapons. By doing so, they were sufficiently prepared to defend themselves in the ordinary fashion.

(Darash Moshe)

GENUINE MANNA

"Vayikreu Bais Yisrael Ess Sh'mo Mon V'Hu K'zera Gad Lovon V'Taamo K'Tzapichas Bidvash. Vayomer Moshe Zeh Hadavor Asher Tzivo Hashem Ho'omer L'Mishmeres L'Doreseichem L'Ma'an Yiru Ess Halachem Asher Heechalti Eschen Bamidbar B'notzii Eschem Mitzrayim"

"And they (House of Israel) called its name Mon (Manna) and it is like a seed of coriander that is white and its taste is like a dough in honey. And Moshe (Moses) said "This is the thing that Hashem commanded 'Fill Omer measure of this for a keepsake for your generation so that they will see the bread that I fed you in the desert when I extricated you from Mitzrayim."

This verse (Exodus 16:31) is the Torah's first description of the Mon (Manna) although the Torah mentions the Mon in an earlier verse (Exodus 16:15) Why did the Torah choose to describe the Mon while mentioning the commandment to put away some Mon as a keepsake, instead of describing it immediately when the Mon was first discussed?

The Torah's reason for recording the appearance of the Mon was not merely to provide us with a full historical account of the Jews' trek in the desert. Rather, this description was useful to the prophet Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) in imparting an important lesson to the people of his time.(Rashi Exodus 12 :33) When the Jews were reluctant to set aside time for the Torah study, Yirmiyahu used the keepsake flask of Mon to encourage them. He showed them that Hashem provided for the needs of the Jews, even when they traveled through the barren desert. Therefore, He could surely sustain them even if they devoted some of their time to Torah study. Anyone who questioned the authenticity of Yirmiyahu's Manna needed only to compare it with the Torah's description of the Mon which Hashem gave the Jews in the desert.

The Torah wanted future generations to learn from the Mon that Hashem can provide for the people in any way He chooses. The description in the Torah was destined to support the credibility of anyone who wanted to use the keepsake Mon for this purpose. The Torah's account of the Mon's appearance serves to supplement the commandment to put some Mon away as a keepsake. Thus, the Torah gave this description together with the commandment to leave some Mon as a keepsake rather than immediately upon mentioning the Mon.


Exodus 10:14

Hashem Yilachem Lachem V’atem Tacharishoon…
G-d will fight for you and you will be quiet…

G-d had just performed great miracles for the Jewish people to take them out of Egypt. The Jewish people now enter a situation where their very existence is threatened. On one side the Egyptian army approaches, ready to do the worst. On the other side was the sea. There seems to be no escape.

Looking at this story in the context of the great miracles which G-d had just done, it seems inconceivable that G-d would not save them in this moment of crisis.

The above mentioned verse states, "G-d will fight for you and you will be quiet." This language can be understood as a directive for them not to defend themselves. What was the need for this directive?

In this case, it is reasonable to expect a salvation. However, the directive is not specific to this instance.

G-d has a tremendous love for the Jewish people, As such, G-d stands ready to fight on their behalf, even in situations that do not lend themselves to salvation or when the Jewish people do not merit a salvation.

G-d told them to "be quiet" to demonstrate that G-d will always come to the needs of the Jewish people now and forever, if for no other reason than for his great love of them.

  • Meshech Chochma’s explanation of a Mechilta

JUST FOR THOUGHT

Atoh Yodati Ki Gadol Hashem MiKol HoElokim Ki BaDovor Asher Zodu Aleihem

"Now I know that G-d is the Ultimate Power for with the things they plotted (judgment came) upon them."

Yisro was impressed with the fact that Egypt's crimes corresponded exactly to their crimes. For example, they drowned Jewish babies in the Nile, and were punished by drowning in the Red Sea.

It is interesting to note that the Torah uses the term "that they plotted" rather than the term "that they did."

Yisro was able to see that the Egyptian people were punished in a fitting way for all the schemes "that they plotted," not just for those that they were actually able to carry out . Yisro was privy to all the Egyptian schemes because he had formerly been an advisor to Pharaoh. He eventually fled the country because of his anguish over the Egyptian plots against the Jews. Since he saw that Egypt received fitting punishments for even the schemes that they were unable to carry out, he praised G-d for judging them "with the things that they plotted."

(Brisker Rav - P'ninm MiShulchan Govoha)

EARNING OUR WINGS

V'Atoh Im Shomoa Tishmeu B'Koli U'Shmartem Ess Brisi ... V'Atem Tihiyu Li Mamleches Kohanim V'Goy Kadosh

"And now, if hearken you will hearken to My voice and you will observe My treaty... and you shall be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."

These verses state that the Jews will be on a lofty spiritual level if they observe the commandments, referred to here as "My treaty."

The words "you shall be for me" also indicate that it is a responsibility for Jews to conduct themselves as "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." because they have the privilege of fulfilling "you will hearken to My voice and observe My treaty" It is a privilege for the Jews to be able to serve G-d by doing the commandments. It is therefore appropriate to endeavor to be worthy of this privilege - by truly acting like a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation"

(R' Yitzchok Aizik Sher - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha)

JUDGING WITH BENEVOLENCE

"Vayishma Yisro Ess Kol Asher Oseh Hashem L'Moshe V'L'Yisrael Amo"

"And Yisro (Jethro) heard all that Hashem had done for Moshe (Moses) and Yisrael his nation"

Yisro was very impressed with the miracles that Hashem had performed during the Redemption from Mitzrayim (Egypt), but what impressed him most of all was the manner in which Hashem meted out judgment to the people of Mitzrayim. 

The purpose of the miraculous plagues was not revenge upon Mitzrayim. If that were the case, Hashem would not have issued repeated warnings to Pharaoh and the people of Mitzrayim. Hashem would have simply given Mitzrayim its punishment without further ado. Rather the plagues were "for Moshe and Yisrael - his nation" for the benefit of the Jewish people. Through the ten plagues, Hashem forced Mitzrayim to concede that it had no hold over the Jews, and that the Jewish People was a nation onto itself and not a band of escaped slaves. Hashem's actions were defined by his infinite benevolence, not by anger upon Mitzrayim. It was this fact that made the greatest impact on Yisro. 

(Kedushas Levi)

ABOVE AND ABOVE THE CALL OF DUTY

"Kol Asher Diber Hashem Na'aseh"

"All that Hashem speaks we will do and listen"

It was a very special act on the Jews' part to say Na'aseh-"we will do" before Nishma -"we will listen." This implied that they were ready to accept upon themselves to do all that the Torah required of them before hearing exactly what this obligation actually was. Our Sages relate that as a reward for this meritorious deed, angels descended from heaven and placed two crowns on each Jew's head, one for Na'aseh and one for Nishma. One may ask, however why two crowns were given each Jew instead of one?

True, the reversal of Na'aseh and Nishma was a noble act, but it wasonly one reversal. One reversal constitutes only one act. The fact that a separate crown was given for each utterance indicates that each of these confirmations was an independent good deed; that each implied a readiness to go above the call of duty. (The Jews did not receive crowns for simply accepting the Torah; they were expected to do so.) How can we discern two separate noteworthy actions from a single change in the order of these two statements? When the Jews undertook to fulfill the Torah before hearing what the commandments entail, they were ready to rely on their own perceptions to discern Hashem's will. A true servant of Hashem, totally attuned to spirituality can draw upon his own logic and emotions to figure out the principles of Hashem's will. Avrohom Avinu (our forefather Abraham) kept the Torah before its being given by deducing its tenets through his understanding of the Divine Plan of Creation. It was to such a level of devotion that the Jews subscribed with the proclamation "Na'aseh"-we will do. They each earned a crown for this declaration of acceptance. An even higher level of service for Hashem than fulfilling Hashem's will through one's own perceptions is obeying Hashem directly. One who obeys Hashem's directives subordinates himself to Hashem's rulership. This is a very important form of devotion. One who fulfills the Torah, but has not been directly commanded to do so may serve Hashem well, but his service will be lacking this important element. The Jews embraced the concept of subordinating themselves to Hashem's direct commandments by proclaiming "Na’aseh"-"we will do" They said in effect "Not only do we accept upon ourselves to fulfill the Torah independent of any command to do so, we also want to subject ourselves to Hashem's direct orders so that we can be totally under Hashem's jurisdiction." Consequently, their stating" V'Nishma"-"we will hear" was a separate noble act. They thereby merited an additional crown.

(Nachlas Ya'akov)


LAWS FOR HUMAN USE

V'Eilah HaMishpotim Asher Tosim Lifneihem

"And these are the laws that you shall place before them."

The laws of human justice, as specified in the Torah, do not take exceptional circumstances into account. A thief who stole because of hunger is punished in the same manner as one who stole out of greed.

On the other hand, Heavenly judgment does take such factors into account, and each sinner is punished according to the circumstances.

The Torah does not give authority to mortal judges to judge according to the circumstances because a human being has no way of knowing the true situation. So, a thief may appear to be destitute, in actuality he may not be. G-d, the true Judge, will eventually settle all accounts according to the actual circumstances.

This is reflected by the above verse. The Torah states "And these are the laws that you shall place before them." The term "before them" indicates that the laws were directed specifically to human judges, instructing them how they must deal with their cases. Judgment will eventually be meted out by G-d, accounting for every aspect of the situation.

(R' Ya'akov Yoseph - Magid of Vilna - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha)

DOWN BUT NOT OUT

Im Ain Lo V'Nimkar B'Gneivoso

"If he does not have (resources to compensate his victim) and he shall be sold for his theft."

A thief must compensate his victim to achieve atonement for his sin. If he doesn't have enough money to repay them, the only way he can gain atonement is to be sold as an indentured servant.

The status of such a servant is so low that the master may compel him to live with a domestic maidservant, someone who is forbidden to the typical Jew. Even so, the Torah considers it worthwhile for the thief to place himself in this situation in order to rectify the sin of thievery .

(Chofetz Chayim - Pninim MiShulchan Govoha)

GIVING WITH CLEAN HANDS

The weekly portion of Mishpotim deals with monetary laws. It is followed by the weekly portion of Terumah which deals with the donations that people brought to construct the Mishkan (Sanctuary).

The order of these portions provides an important lesson.

Before making a donation to even a worthy cause (as represented by the portion of Terumah) a person must make sure that the money is rightfully his. He can only do so by insuring that he complies to the monetary laws that are in the preceding portion of Mishpotim.

Every donor surely wants that his gift should please Hashem (G-d) . Hashem will only be pleased by a gift that has been rightfully obtained.

  • (Bais HaLevy - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha)

ALL FOR THE BEST

V'Chi Yakeh Ish Ess Ain Avdo O Ess Ain Ahmoso V'Shichasa L'Chofshi Yishlacheno Tachas Aino

"And if a man hits the eye of his servant or the eye of his maidservant and ruins it, then he shall send him away to freedom in place of his eye

The Talmud (Gittin 9) discusses whether and how a person may act on behalf of another without that other person’s consent. He can only do so if the action is a complete benefit for the other person.

In this context, the Talmud states that it is not a pure benefit for the slave to obtain his freedom. This is because a male slave may prefer to remain in slavery in order to be permitted to continue consorting with a female slave. She would be forbidden to him upon his release from slavery. Therefore, another person may not receive a slave’s release papers without the slave’s consent.

The question arises: If being freed is not a pure benefit , why did the Torah say that one should free an injured slave? What kind of "compensation" is it for him to receive his freedom if it is not to his complete advantage to be freed?

The answer is that the Torah is concerned with the absolute benefit of the slave, not a slave's misguided perceptions.

It is really best for the slave to obtain his freedom and become a full-fledged member of the Jewish people. The Torah therefore grants him freedom as a compensation for his injury. Nevertheless, the slave himself may not necessarily see this and choose on his own to be freed. Therefore, without his consent another person cannot act on his behalf and accept his release papers.

The Torah's choice of compensation for the slave is based upon what is truly good for the him.

  • (Rabbi Yaakov Neiman - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha

PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR HEART IS

"Vaileh Hamishpatim Asher Tosim Lifneihem"

"And these are the laws that you should place before them"

The weekly portion of Mishpatim deals extensively with monetary laws. The Midrash explains that the conjunction "and" is used to indicate the connection between our current topic of financial law and the Ten Commandments discussed in the previous weekly portion of Yisro. The Torah considers monetary law a central issue in Judaism and in this way emphasizes that these laws were given to the Jews together with the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. The laws pertaining to financial matters are as fundamental to the Jewish religion as the Ten Commandments. A reason for the centrality of monetary laws in Judaism is that the way a person handles his financial affairs is a demonstration of his level of faith in Hashem. One who truly believes that Hashem governs the affairs of the world, knows that he will not receive more or less than his preallotted portion of material resources. Such a person would conduct his financial dealings with complete honesty and not be tempted by the prospect of ill-gotten gain. He would be satisfied to receive what he knows is Hashem's predetermined allowance for him only through fair and just means. Consequently, a person's financial dealings are a key determinant of his faith in Hashem. Thus, the laws of money matters are considered as central to Judaism as the Ten Commandment, the cornerstones of our religion. (Darash Moshe)

THE FRUIT OF DISSENSION

"Vchi Yirivum Anoshim V'Hikoh Ish Ess Rei'eihu B'Even O Be'grot"

"And when argue and a man strikes his fellow with a stone or a fist"

"Nothing good comes from arguing" So infers the Midrash from the sequence of this verse; first come the heated words, then come the stones or fists. At first glance this seems too obvious a lesson for the Midrash to teach. However, there are situations where the advice of this Midrash is valuable and none too obvious.

At times one might feel that it is worthwhile to argue with another person to end a disagreement. One may think that if he reproves the other party, they will concede on the issue ending the strife. The Midrash teaches us that peace is rarely achieved in the heat of debate. Each argument will be met with a counter argument and discord will continue to reign. The best way to promote harmony even where there is a preexisting disagreement is to appease the other party rather than to try to "win" by arguing. Arguing just flares tempers on both sides hence, the advice of the Midrash "Nothing good comes from arguing...."

(Maharal Diskin)


INVESTING IN ETERNITY

"Daber Ell Bnei Yisrael Vikchu Li Teruma"

"Speak to the children of Israel and they shall take for me donations" It is interesting to note that the Torah uses the term "take" when asking the people to make contributions for the purpose of building the Mishkan rather than the term "give". Why would the Torah refer to the donors as takers instead of calling them givers? Hashem, having created the universe, is the true owner of the world and all its contents. Whatever a person possesses does not belong to him for eternity. A person may use his possessions as a guest in his host's home  does, but essentially they remain Hashem's property. A person's materialwealth does not accompany him after death and therefore it cannot be considered his own in a permanent sense. Only a person's spiritual accomplishments are truly his own forever. If someone wishes to acquiresomething that is truly his own, the best way is to use it in the service of Hashem. The merit thus earned will be eternally his. Consequently, the torah refers to contributing to the holy cause of the Mishkan(Tabernacle) as "taking" donations for Hashem. The donors themselves would be the ones who stand to gain most; whatever they donate would earn them eternal benefits. By using the donated objects properly in the service of Hashem, it can truly be said that they "took" these items for themselves.(Darash Moshe)

A TIME TO BE FIRM

"V'Osiso Ess Hakroshim LaMishkan Atzei Shitim Onadim"

"And you shall make the boards for the Tabernacle [of] wood of cedar standing (vertical)."

The Midrash remarks "It is not fitting for the world to use cedar wood, it was created for the purpose of building the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and the Bais Hamikdash (Temple)! This Midrash requires explanation; Is cedar so precious that only the most holy edifices may use it? There seems to be enough cedar in the world not only for the Mishkan and Bais Hamikdash, but for many ordinary buildings as well!

When explained in a metaphorical sense, this Midrash contains an important lesson. In the writings of our Sages, Cedar commonly represents hardness and inflexibility. An example of this is the dictum "One should always be flexible as a reed and not unyielding as a cedar". This dictum advises people to be flexible when dealing with other people whose will opposes their own. It is not proper to be too rigid in a disagreement; one must be prepared to bend and compromise. However, in the area of Torah and holiness, one must maintain a firm stance. The stiffness and immutability exemplified by the cedar are quite in place in areas pertaining to holiness. The Midrash is making this point: "It is not fitting for worldly matters-to make use of the inflexibility of the cedar. Such manners should be reserved for issues as symbolized by the Mishkan and Bais Hamikdash.

(Avnei Azel)

EMULATING THE CHERUBIM

V'Hoyu HaKruvim Porsei Kinofayim L'Ma'alah Upneihem Ish Ell Ocheev

"And the Cheruvim will be spreading their wings above , and their faces (will be turned) each man to his friend."

Every person should try to emulate the charachteristics that are represented by the posture of the cherubim. On the surface, we can derive two lessons.

The first lesson is directed at the relationship a person has with Hashem (G-d).

The cherubim's wings spread above their bodies. In a symbolic way, we also have wings. They represent our ability to soar to heigher spiritual levels. Thus, a person should strive to reach greater spiritual heights.

The second lesson is directed at the relationship a person has with his fellow.

The Cheruvim faced each other . This represents the duty that everyone has to be concerned with his fellow.

(Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Spektor - P'ninim Mishulchan Govoha)

INTRINSIC BEAUTY

Kaftoreha U'Procheha Mimeno Yihyu

"Its knobs and flowers from itself should be."

The Menorah (candelabrum) was fashioned of a single block of gold. It was embellished with golden ornaments in the shapes of goblets, knobs and flowers. These decorations were not formed separately and then attached to the Menorah, but rather were carved of the same block of gold.

The Menorah is symbolic of the Torah. The fact that the Menorah was fashioned completely of one block of gold indicates an important lesson. The insights that we learn from the Torah should draw only upon the Torah itself, just as the decorations of the Menorah were formed of the same block of gold. The Torah should not be embellished with foreign ideas, which only serve to detract from its glory.

(Chasam Sofer - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha)

PROVIDING SUSTENANCE AND HONOR

MiBayis U'MiChutz Titzapenu

"From within and from without you shall coat it."

The Aron (Holy Ark) was made of wood covered with gold, from within and from without. It held the Torah Scroll, and thus it symbolized the Torah scholar. The fact that the Aron was covered with gold from within and from without indicates that one must provide the Torah scholar with adequate financial support, both from "within" and from "without". "Within" refers to the basic needs of his household, such as food. "Without" refers to the needs that are visible to the outside world, such as presentable clothing and a decent house, which are necessary in order that he maintain his proper sense of dignity.

(Bais HaLevy - Pninim MiShulchan Govoha)


SADNESS IN WHAT DIRECTION?

Kossis LaMaor
"Crushed (olives) for (making the) light"

This verse discusses the process of making oil for the Menorah lights. It can also be interpreted in a homiletical sense. Feelings of sadness and unfulfillment can be beneficial if they lead to selfimprovement. Alternately, they can be harmful, when they lead to depression. 

This thought can be seen in our verse, "crushed for light". Crushed can refer to being broken in spirit. This is only acceptable when the feeling is used for the light, or self improvement and enlightenment. Any other form can be destructive. (Choshva LaTovah - Maayana Shel Torah)

IN THE EYES OF THE BEHOLDER

V'Oseeso Vigdei Kodesh L'Aharon Ocheecho L'Chovod V'Lisifores V'Atah Tidaber Ell Kol Chachmei Lev Asher Milaisiv Ruach Chochma V'Asu Ess Bigdei Aharon Likadsho Likhuno Li

"And you shall make clothes of holiness for Aharon (Aaron) your brother for honor and glory. And you shall speak to all the wise of the heart that I have filled with the spirit of wisdom and they shall make the clothes for Aharon to sanctify him and to (initiate) him as a priest.

The priestly garments appeared to have two effects. One was honor and glory. The other was for sanctification. Those who percieved the clothes in a superficial manner saw only the "honor and glory". Those who were "wise of heart" had a deeper insight. They understood that these clothes were more than just beautiful garments. Rather, they were articles of holiness capable of enhancing the holiness of its wearer. It was the "wise of heart" who made the clothes. With every stitch they crafted the garments with the intention to sanctify and initiate the High Priest, not to merely enhance his honor and glory. (R' Shimon Sofer)

CLOAK OF SILENCE

"Vosiso Ess Meil HoEphod Clil T'cheles V'Hoyah Pi Roasho B'socho Sophoh Yihyeh L'fiv Soviv Maaseh Oreg Kifi Sachro Lo Yikorea"
"And you shall make the cloak of the Ephod (a certain priestly vestment) completely (of) blue wool. And the edge (lit. mouth) of its top (lit. head) should be turned into it , a border (lit. lip) should be to its edge (lit. mouth) all around woven, like the edge (lit. mouth) of armor, it (the collar) may not be torn."

The donning of the Meil (cloak) by the High Priest during the services in the Mikdosh (sanctuary) atoned for the sin of Loshon Hora, evil gossip (Talmud Erchin 16A). The design of the Me'il incorporated allusions to several lessons about Loshon Hora.

*The border of the Me'il, referred to as its mouth, was doubled over into the cloak itself and sewn as such. This is so that people should remember to keep their own mouths shut when tempted to speak ill of others. It is interesting to note that the verse refers to the turned-in "mouth" of the Me'il as being "like the mouth of a suit of armor". The references to armor, which protects its wearer, alludes to the fact that guarding one's mouth protects from sin and strife.

*The color of the Me'il was T'cheles a bluish hue which a person associates with the sky. Thinking of the heavens should make a person realize that all words are heard in heaven and judged by Hashem. Upon such reflection, people should refrain from evil gossip.

*The hem of the Meil was decorated with bells and woolen pomegranates in an alternating sequence. The bells would resonate as the high Priest would walk and the woolen pomegranates would remain silent. This symbolized that in some situations one must let his voice be heard like a bell, and at other times it is best to remain silent like the woolen pomegranates. When studying Torah and engaging in other holy pursuits one should put his power of speech to good use. One should keep silent, however, when tempted to speak in a forbidden manner.

(Shmiras Halashon)

A SIGHT FOR HOLY EYES

Regarding Ephod (one of the priestly vestments), Rashi writes: "I have not heard or seen in the Sages' writings how the Ephod looked, but my heart tells me that it was fashioned like a particular garment which noblewomen wear when they ride horses."

What does Rashi mean when he says "My heart tells me"? If he did not see any source for the way the Ephod looked, how did his heart tell him about it?

It is told that upon leaving the Bais HaMidrash (study hall), Rashi once saw a gentile noblewoman riding on a horse. Rashi was a very holy person and he guarded his eyes very scrupulously. He was very perturbed that something that would be forbidden to gaze at had crossed his line of sight. He expected to have Divine assistance in this regard and wondered why G-d allowed his eyes to stray. Rashi later learned about the Ephod and it came to mind that G-d provided this encounter because he had something to learn from this woman and her garments, namely the appearance of the Ephod.

Thus, Rashi learned about the Ephod from his heart's sense of propriety. This sense gave him the right perspective to suspect that Divine Providence had allowed his holy eyes to see something that he otherwise would not in order for him to gain Torah knowledge

(Ma'ayana shel Torah)

CONSECRATED BOLDNESS

V'Oseeso Tzitz Zohov Tohor U'Pitachto Olov Pituchei Chosam Kodesh LaHashem

"And you shall make the band of pure gold and you shall engrave upon it an engraving 'Holy to G-d."

The tzitz was a gold band that hung over the Kohen Gadol's (High Priest's) forehead. It was engraved with the words Kodesh LaHashem (Holy for G-d)

Our tradition teaches that the tzitz atoned for the sin of brazenness, referred to in Hebrew as "boldness of the brow" The tzitz indicated an important lesson about "boldness of the brow."

This teaches that one should only use the attribute of boldness to aid in G-d's service, to serve G-d even in the face of adversity. However, one should be careful not to apply this trait of brazenness in situations where it is not called for. When someone misuses the trait of brazenness, he can lose all of his inhibitions from sinning.

(Chassam Sofer - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha)


SIN AND JOY

Vayehi Ka'asher Korav Moshe Ell HaMachane VaYar Ess HoEgel U'Mcholos VaYichar Af Moshe VaYishlach MiYodov Ess HaLuchos
"And it was when he (Moshe) got close to the camp and he saw the Calf and the musical band (surrounding the Calf) the wrath of Moshe (Moses) became inflamed. And he cast from his hands the Tablets."

One must understand why Moshe became especially enraged when he saw the Jews sinning with the Golden Calf. G-d had already told him about this sin. What did he see when he came to the camp that inflamed his wrath even further?

The verse states that Moshe "saw the Calf and the musical band." That is, Moshe saw that the Jews were actually rejoicing with the Golden Calf. A sin which is committed with joy leaves a deeper impression upon the soul than one performed without joy. It was only when he saw the Jews rejoicing that he realized the full magnitude of their sin.

(Sforni - Ma'ayana shel Torah)

NO EXCUSES

Ono Choto Ha'om Chatoah G'dolah
"Indeed, the nation has sinned a great sin."

When Moshe prayed on behalf of the Jews for forgiveness, he said "Indeed, the nation has sinned a great sin" The question arises: If he was hoping to gain forgiveness for the sin of the Golden Calf, why did he call it a great sin? Why didn't he try to mitigate the sin?

This can be explained as follows.

When one repents and seeks to gain forgiveness, it is crucial that he realizes the full gravity of the sin. If he is still trying to rationalize his sin, he cannot regret his sin fully and his repentance will therefore be incomplete. Moshe said "Indeed, the nation has sinned a great sin," indicating that the people realized the greatness of their sin and were therefore worthy of forgiveness.

(Nechmod MiZohov - Ma'ayana shel Torah)

HOLY ENJOYMENT
V'Shomartem Ess HaShabbos Ki Kodesh Hee Lochem

"And you shall observe Shabbos (the Sabbath ) because it is holy for you."

It appears that the words "for you" are superfluous, as the verse could have simply stated "And you shall observe Shabbos because it is holy."

Actually, the words "for you " have a special meaning.

The Talmud states that on Shabbos there should be the element of "for you." That is, one should partake of sumptuous feasts and other material delights during Shabbos.

Yet, Shabbos must also be a holy ("holy for you"). The Torah is telling us that this element of "for you" must be done within the context and guidelines of holiness.

  • (Rabbi Nochum'ke of Horodna - Peninim MiShulchan Govoha)

COUNTING THAT COUNTS

"Ki Siso Ess Rosh Bnei Yisrael L'fkudeihem"
"When you raise (count) the head of the Children of Israel for their countings"

The Torah uses the figure of speech "raise the head of" to refer to the act of counting the Jewish people. This indicates that the counting raised the status of the Jews. It symbolized that each Jew is not only an individual acting for himself, but is counted as an integral part of the whole group as well. Each person can accomplish more within the framework of a community. Being included in a group, is therefore an enhancement to a person's standing. (Avnei Azel)

SELF PERCEPTION

"Heosher Lo Yarbeh V'Hadal Lo Yam-it .." "The rich person shall not increase(give more) and the pauper shall not lessen (give less) .."

This verse can also be interpreted in a homiletic sense. "the rich man" alludes to one who is rich in good deeds and spiritual accomplishments. Such a person should not "increase" by viewing his own righteousness in an exaggerated manner, for if he should so, he may become arrogant. It is best for such a person to keep an honest perspective of himself and realize his own shortcomings. By doing so, the person will be able to concentrate upon improving himself rather than develop an inflated ego. This is alluded to by the phrase "The rich one should not increase" This verse also contains a warning for a "pauper" one who is poor in spiritual accomplishments. Such a person should not "lessen" himself by belittling the worth of the small measure of spiritual accomplishments that he has achieved. If he were too minimize what he has actually accomplished he would create a poor self image. One who views his own spiritual status too negatively is apt to fall victim to despair. Once into the throes of despair, a person would be likely to let himself slide to greater depths because he sees his situation as hopeless, anyway. It is therefore important for a person who is in a spiritual rut not to view himself as worse than he actually is - so that he can keep up hope of eventually improving himself. This is the lesson of "The pauper should not lessen". (Noam Elimelech)


NO BARREN INTENTIONS

VaYavou Kol Ish Asher Nosau Libo V'Chol Asher Nodvoh Rucho Oso Heviu Ess T'rumas Hashem
"And they came, every man whose heart had elevated him, that his spirit made him generous, brought the offering to Hashem."

This verse indicates interesting phenomenon that occurred during the campaign to gather materials for the Mikdash (Sanctuary)

Ordinarily, when people are motivated to contribute to an important cause, some well-intentioned people do not end up carrying out their noble intentions to contribute. Here, however, the Torah states that "every man whose his heart had elevated him, that his spirit made him be generous, brought the offering to G-d." No one let his lofty thoughts remain dormant without translating them into action.

(CHiDA - Ma'ayana shel Torah)

WHEN YOU LEAVE, BRING ALONG THE YESHIVA'S ATMOSPHERE WITH YOU

VaYetzu Kol Adas B'nei Yisroel MiLifnei Moshe
"And they went out, the entire congregation of the Children of Israel from before Moshe."

Why did the Torah mention that the Children of Israel left "from before Moshe"? It was already mentioned in the beginning of this portion that Moshe had assembled all the Jews. Is it then not obvious that when they left, they were leaving "from before Moshe"?

The phrase "from before Moshe" indicates that this experience made an impression on the Jewish people. That is, their demeanor and behavior reflected the fact that they had just been learning at the feet of the greatest and holiest prophet who ever lived - Moshe.

(Alter of Kelm - Rabbi Ya'akov Neiman - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha)

U'Moshachto Osam Ka'asher Moshachto Ess Avihem
"And you shall anoint them (Aharon’s sons) just as you anointed their father (Aharon)."

Why was Moshe instructed to anoint them in a fashion similar to Aharon's anointing?

Moshe's position was equivalent to that of a king and he was the foremost prophet. His distinctions were greater than that which was being bestowed upon Aharon. Therefore, there were no grounds for Moshe to envy Aharon's installment as High Priest.

However, Moshe's greatness was not hereditary and his sons had no special position within the Jewish people. Thus, there could have been room jealousy when Moshe anointed Aharon’s sons, which represented the fact that Aharon’s greatness will extend to all of his future descendants.

So, Moshe was directed to anoint them "just as" he had anointed Aharon - meaning with the same whole heartedness and without the slightest twinge of jealousy

  • (Meshech Chochma - Ma'ayana Shel Torah)

THE MAGNIFICENT RACE

"Vayetzv Kol Adas B'nai Yisrael M'lifnei Moshe"
"And all the congregation of the children of Israel went out from before Moshe (Moses)"

Moshe assembled all of the Jews to tell them of Hashem's command to gather materials to build a Mikdash (Sanctuary). As soon as he finished speaking, all of the Jews left his presence. No mention is made in the Torah of a dismissal, so it would seem that the people left without waiting for Moshe's permission to leave. Why did the people leave their eminent leader's presence without being dismissed? Wouldn't respect for Moshe warrant their waiting for dismissal?

The Jews, in their great zeal to fulfill Hashem's will to build the Mikdash, felt the necessity to run to do this Mitzvah (commandment) before Moshe actually adjourned the gathering. They recognized Moshe's greatness of spirit and realized that Moshe may want to donate all the necessary materials for the Mikdash on his own. Everyone else would thus be deprived of the opportunity to participate in this worthy project. In order to prevent this from happening, the Jews wildly exited before Moshe actually dismissed them - and before Moshe had a chance to bring a donation of his own that would cover everything needed for the Mikdash. Thus, they were ensured a share in that holy undertaking.

This interpretation is implied by the Torah's choice of words. One of the alternative interpretations of "Milifnei" (literally from before) is "preceding". Hence the verse would read as "And all the Children of Israel went out "preceding" Moshe". The verse thus indicates the great zeal of the Children of Israel who rushed to precede Moshe to get materials for the Mikdash.

(Ohr Hachayim)

SELF STARTING GENEROSITY

"Kehu Me'it'chem T'rumah LaHashem"
"Take from with you a consecration for Hashem"

Sometimes when people behave in a generous manner the impetus for their actions comes from external factors rather than their own innate benevolence. For example, people may give to worthy causes because they feel the social pressure to do so, rather than because of their own generosity. When soliciting donations for the Mikdash (sanctuary) the Torah uses the phrase "Take from with you". "From with you" can be understood to mean that the donations should come from you - your own feelings and desires, not external pressure. This indicates that Hashem wanted the contribution to stem from the donors' own commitment to Hashem. This heartfelt commitment is the most pure form of generosity sought for, and it was expressed in these donations.

(Kli Yakar)


Vayakem Moshe Ess Hamishkon.... Ka'asher Tziva Hashem Ess Moshe
"and Moshe erected the Tabernacle ...and he put the covering of the tent over it from above just as Hashem (G-d) commanded Moshe."

It is interesting to note that when the Torah describes Moshe's erecting the Mishkan (Tabernacle) it says that he did what Hashem commanded Moshe, not what Hashem commanded him.

We can explain this as follows.

Moshe received instruction directly from Hashem, which is a great distinction. Although this could have made him proud, he carried out his instructions with great humility, as if he had not been the honored recipient of the divine instruction.

This is indicated by the usage of the phrase "just as Hashem commanded Moshe" rather than "just as Hashem commanded him. Moshe fulfilled the commandments as if they had been given through another individual named Moshe, rather than to himself.

  • (Choshva L'Torah Maayanim Shel Torah)

THE MAGNIFICENT RACE

"AILEH P'KUDEI HAMISHKAN"
"These are the accountings of the Mishkan"

The Torah's presentation of the Mishkan's (Sanctuary) accounting - how much of each material was received and how it was used - is quite lengthy. In fact, every aspect of the construction is repeated to relate all of the materials to the building. It is obvious from the great extent at which the Torah describes the figures of the Mishkan that this accounting was very important. What can we learn from this?

By emphasizing the accounts of the Mishkan, the Torah alludes to the importance of keeping track of one's resources and confirming that they are being used in Hashem's service properly. This must be done for even the most lofty of pursuits, such as building the Mishkan, How much more so should a person evaluate the use of resources for mundane purposes.

(Darash Moshe )

"KAASHER TZIVA HASHEM ESS MOSHE"
"Like that which Hashem commanded Moshe(Moses)"

Throughout the Torah's account of the building of the Mishkan, the Torah says at each stage of construction that the work was completed "Like that which Hashem commanded Moshe". The Torah repeats this phrase at every phase the construction.

What is the significance of this constant refrain?

Hashem - so to speak - expressed His will regarding the Mishkan through His directive to Moshe. Hashem has reasons for each aspect of the construction and they are quite profound (of course!). It was not a simple matter to fathom the deep symbolic meanings that lay in each of the instructions.

Consequently, it was required that the builders be attuned to every nuance of Hashem's will so that the final product would indeed reflect precisely the symbolisms that Hashem intended it to be. Had the builders of the Mishkan simply followed their instructions in the most basic sense, they indeed would have fulfilled their basic obligation. However, objective was to build the Mishkan exactly according to the exact definition of Hashem's will.

The builders of the Mikdash were indeed able to meet the challenge; each and every aspect of the construction was executed exactly according to Hashem's will. The Torah emphasizes this at every aspect of the construction "Like that which Hashem commanded Moshe".

Ohr Hachayim


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