Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

מי ומי ההולכים

Which ones are going? (10:8)

Pharaoh seemed overly concerned with knowing whom Moshe Rabbeinu was taking to the “prayer retreat” in the wilderness. What difference did it make to him who went? Horav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Shlita, explains that Pharaoh could not accept that anyone other than Klal Yisrael’s gedolim, Torah leadership, would be involved in this trip. Hashem is Ram al kol goyim, above all Nations, His glory is above the Heavens. Why would He listen to the prayers of simple people – certainly not that of children? Pharaoh wanted to know who among the leadership of the Jewish People was leaving to pray. Moshe…

Continue Reading

לא ראו איש את אחיו ... ולכל בני ישראל היה אור במושבתם

No man could see his brother… but, for all Bnei Yisrael, there was light in their dwellings. (10:23)

During Makas Choshech, plague of darkness, the Egyptian people were overwhelmed with an opaque, fog-like condition that enveloped the country and extinguished all flames. Thus, even if an Egyptian could reach his lamp, any flame that he would kindle would immediately be extinguished. Horav Gamliel Rabinowitz, Shlita, says that the word b’moshvosam, in their dwellings, contains within it the letters which comprise the word b’shabbosam, in their Shabbosos, which he feels alludes to the notion that the reason the Jewish people were able to withstand the darkness of the Egyptian exile was that they observed Shabbos Kodesh. Indeed, Chazal (Shemos…

Continue Reading

והגדת לבנך ביום ההוא לאמר בעבור זה עשה ד' לי בצאתי ממצרים

And you shall tell your son on that day, saying, “It is because of this that Hashem acted on my behalf when I left Egypt.” (13:8)

No religious ceremony focuses more on the inclusion of children as does the Seder meal. Cloaked in profound esoteric meaning, the Seder is brought down to an elementary level in order to engender youthful participation. Indeed, we have activities and traditions that cater to youthful imagination, all for the purpose of motivating a child’s questions and the adults’ reply. The reason for this display is that Pesach commemorates our liberation and the path to nationhood, which we embarked on at Har Sinai when we accepted the Torah. In order to ensure that Pesach and its eternal message remains an integral…

Continue Reading

והיה לך לאות על ידך ולזכרון בין עיניך

And it shall be for you a sign on your arm and a reminder between your eyes. (13:9)

Ohr Yehudah is a city in the Tel Aviv district of Gush Dan, Eretz Yisrael. A member of the community was in the restaurant business. In fact, he owned all the restaurants in Ohr Yehudah. This was not because no one else was interested in competing, but rather, because he was a coarse person who did not do well with competition. Whenever someone had the “courage” to open a competing establishment, he would send his hoodlums to pay the man a visit. They subtly reminded the would-be restauranteur that there could be only one restaurant franchise in Ohr Yehudah, subject…

Continue Reading

ולא שמעו אל משה מקצר רוח ומעבודה קשה

But they didn’t listen to Moshe from impatience of spirit and from hard labor. (6:9)

One would think that, if someone were to appear at the domicile of a down-trodden slave to inform him that the end of his bondage is near and he would soon be a free man, his immediate reaction would be joy – overwhelming joy. Instead, when Moshe Rabbeinu informed Klal Yisrael that Pharaoh would no longer be their Master, they seemed impatient and not really interested in hearing his message of liberation. The Torah explains that they were victims of kotzer ruach, which Sforno interprets as: l’hisbonein, to comprehend, think it over; in short, they were plagued with an inability…

Continue Reading

ויעשו כן חרטמי מצרים בלטיהם

The necromancers of Egypt did the same by means of their incantations. (7:22)

Pharaoh did not heed Moshe Rabbeinu’s warning. Hashem instructed Moshe to have Aharon strike the Nile and stretch out his hand to bring the plague of dam, blood, all over the land. The reaction of Pharaoh and his magicians defies comprehension: they also demonstrated the magical ability to transform the water into blood. Is this sane? Imagine a fire breaks out in a city inhabited primarily by imbeciles. So what do the imbeciles do in reaction to the fire that has broken out in one end of the city? They start another fire in the other end of the city!…

Continue Reading

ושרץ היאר צפרדעים ... ובאו בביתך ... ובעמך ובתנוריך ובמשארותיך

The river shall swarm with frogs, and they shall ascend and come into your palace … and of your people and into your ovens and into your kneading bowls. (7:28)

The frogs were a hardy bunch who swarmed all over Egypt. No place was considered off limits to them. Even the burning hot ovens did not prevent them from fulfilling Hashem’s command. When the Almighty said, “Go,” they went. It took enormous mesiras nefesh, self-sacrifice, for those frogs to enter the burning oven. For all intents and purposes, it spelled certain death. In the end, they were the only frogs who did not die. Whoever carries out Hashem’s mitzvah comes to no harm. Chazal (Yoma 85:b) teach that years later Chananyah, Mishael and Azaryah entered the fiery cauldron, motivated by…

Continue Reading

הנני ממטיר כעת מחר ברד כבד מאד ... שלח העז את מקנך ... כל האדם והבהמה אשר ימצא בשדה ... וירד עליהם הברד ומתו ... הירא את דבר ד ... הניס את עבדיו אל הבתים ... ואשר לא שם לבו אל דבר ד ויעזב את עבדיו

Behold, at this time tomorrow, I shall rain a very heavy hail… and now send, gather in your livestock… All the people and the animals that are found in the field… the hail shall descend upon them and they shall die … Whoever feared Hashem chased his servants to the houses. And whoever did not take the word of G-d to heart he left his servants. (9:18,19,20,21)

Makas Barad, the plague of hail, begs elucidation. Horav Baruch Dov Povarsky, Shlita, presents us with a number of questions concerning this plague. Moshe Rabbeinu pinpointed to Pharaoh the exact time when the plague would commence by making a mark on the wall. He explained that when the sun would reach this mark, it would begin to hail. Afterwards, he told Pharaoh to have all his servants and possessions remanded indoors or else they would die or be destroyed. Why did Hashem warn them? The purpose of the plague was to punish the Egyptians. Why give them an exit strategy…

Continue Reading

ותיראן המילדות את האלקים ולא עשו כאשר דבר אליהן מלך מצרים

And the midwives feared G-d; they did not do as the King of Egypt told them. (1:17)

The Torah lauds the midwives, Shifrah and Puah, for defying Pharaoh’s diabolical decree, maintaining that their inner strength and courage were the product of their profound yiraas Elokim, fear of G-d. Two weak, defenseless women stood up to the most powerful despotic ruler in the world and refused to murder the Jewish infants. True, they gave excuses, but anyone with a modicum of intelligence knew that what they claimed could not have been true all the time. Their yiraas Shomayim, fear of Heaven, knowing fully-well that Hashem is above everyone and no excuses or mitigating, extenuating circumstances can rationalize transgression…

Continue Reading

בטרם תבוא אליהן המילדת וילדו

Before the midwife comes to them, they have given birth. (1:19)

The midwives explained to Pharaoh that the Jewish women were unique in that they gave birth even prior to the arrival of the midwife. Thus, the midwives were powerless to prevent the male infants from entering the world. Certainly, Pharaoh did not want them to commit a wanton act of murder. Horav Ovadia Yosef, zl, related the following incredible incident. One Erev Pesach, a young father who lived on a Moshav south of Yerushalayim came to him with a six-year old boy. “Kavod Horav, will the Chacham bless my son? After all, he was born because of ‘you,’” the young…

Continue Reading

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

You have Successfully Subscribed!