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וימתו הצפרדעים מן הבתים מן החצרת ומן השדת... ויסר הערב מפרעה מעבדיו ומעמו לא נשאר אחד

The frogs died from the houses, from the courtyards, and from the field… He removed the swarm of wild beasts from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people – not one remained. (8:9,27)

The frogs (most of them) died. The arov, wild beasts, and arbeh, locust, did not. Kli Yakar explains that Hashem sought to teach that one who gives himself up for Kiddush Hashem, to sanctify Hashem’s Name, will be saved. Thus, those frogs that climbed into the burning hot ovens belonging to the Egyptians – lived. The other frogs, who did not enter the ovens, but rather “chose” to invade the country, the fields, the homes – died. The ones that risked death for the glory of Hashem were spared; the others were not. It was this lesson that Chananyah, Mishael…

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אמר אל אהרן קח מטך ונטה ידך על מימי מצרים

Say to Aharon, “Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt.” (7:19)

So begins the Ten Plagues that shook up the underpinnings of Egyptian arrogance and obstinacy. Hashem instructed Aharon to strike the waters; later, he struck the water from which emerged the frogs and then the earth which produced the lice. Why Aharon, and not Moshe? Chazal explain that the Nile River had protected Moshe Rabbeinu when he was an infant. It would have been wrong for him to serve as the instrument to inflict a plague on it. Likewise, the earth concealed the Egyptian that Moshe had slain. The Torah considers it wrong to show ingratitude even to an inanimate…

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לך אל פרעה בבקר הנה יצאה המימה

Go to Pharaoh in the morning – behold! He goes out to the water. (7:15)

Rashi explains the purpose of Pharaoh’s daily jaunt to the Nile as going to the place in which he regularly relieved himself. Pharaoh pretended to be a god, and he would say that he has no need to relieve himself – as humans do. He would, therefore, arise early in the morning, go out to the Nile River and secretly tend to his body’s needs. We derive from here, comments Horav Gamliel Rabinowitz, Shlita, the strength of the power of the yetzer hora, evil inclination. Pharaoh lied to his entire country. He sold the lie that he was a god…

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אלה ראשי בית אבתם בני ראובן בכר ישראל... ובני שמעון... ואלה שמות בני לוי לתלדתם גרשון וקהת ומררי

These were the heads of their fathers’ houses: the sons of Reuven… the sons of Shimon… These are the names of the sons of Levi in order of their birth: Gershon, Kehas and Merari. (6:14,15,16)

The Shlah HaKadosh wonders why, concerning Reuven and Shimon, the Torah states simply: Bnei Reuven u’Bnei Shimon, the sons of Reuven and the sons of Shimon, while with regard to Levi it says, V’eileh shemos Bnei Levi, “And these are the names of Bnei Levi.” Why does it not simply say Bnei Levi – why the extra word – shemos – names of? The Shlah explains that Levi knew that his shevet, tribe, would not be subjected to the Egyptian slavery. He was quite aware that while the rest of the nation would be suffering under the cruel subjugation of…

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וידבר ד' אל משה ואל אהרן ויצום אל בני ישראל ואל פרעה מלך מצרים להוציא את בני ישראל מארץ מצרים

Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon and commanded them regarding Bnei Yisrael and regarding Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to take Bnei Yisrael out of Egypt. (6:13)

Easier said than done. Hashem commanded Moshe and Aharon to take the Jews out of Egyptian bondage. Two problems surfaced: Pharaoh has to agree, and the Jews have to want to — and believe that they actually can — leave. Moshe Rabbeinu had earlier voiced his concerns, but Hashem told him not to worry. The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh explains how this played out. Hashem told Moshe, “I have appointed you to be their ruler.” That is wonderful. Who says that the nation that had been enslaved body and soul, for 210 years, was prepared to accept Moshe’s leadership? How did…

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ואלה שמות בני לוי לתלדתם גרשון וקהת ומררי

These were the sons of Levi in order of their birth: Gershon, Kehas and Merari. (6:16)

Shevet Levi was the one tribe that was excluded from the Egyptian bondage. They studied Torah all day, while their brethren slaved for Pharaoh. One should not think for a moment that they had it “easy,” since they did not work. Pharaoh was no fool. He knew that, as long as a segment of the Jewish People maintained its bond with the Torah, the nation would survive. In order to break Levi’s bond with the Torah, Pharaoh decreed that only those who worked were entitled to food: no work; no food. He thought that he could starve the Leviim into breaking…

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ואלעזר בן אהרן לקח לו מבנות פוטיאל לו לאשה ותלד לו את פנחס

Elazar, a son of Aharon, took for himself from the daughters of Putiel as a wife, and she bore to him Pinchas. (6:25)

Rashi comments that the name Putiel refers to two ancestors of the wife of Elazar: Yisro and Yosef. Putiel was a name given to Yisro, because he fattened calves for idol worship. (Putiel is a contraction of Putim, fatten, and l’Kail, to G-d, for idol-worship – not Hashem.) Yosef HaTzaddik is also called Putiel (Putiel being derived from pitpet b’yitzro), because he disparaged or toyed with his yetzer hora.). This was not Yisro’s only other name. He had seven names. Why is it that with regard to Elazar’s wife, mother of Pinchas, the name of Yisro which is used is…

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קע בשופר גדול לחרותנו

Teka b’shofar gadol l’cheiruseinu. Sound the great shofar for our freedom.

In referencing the return of the exiles to our Holy Land, we underscore that our homeland has maintained its overwhelming loyalty to us. When we were gone from the Land and it was overrun with our conquerors, the Land did not produce for our enemies. Eretz Yisrael is in mourning over the loss of its children. It is only when we will return, with the advent of the Final Redemption, that the blessings which relate to Eretz Yisrael’s fertility and sustenance-giving nature will be fulfilled. Thus, we petition Hashem thrice daily that He return His children to His Land. This…

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ולקחתי אתכם לי לעם

And I will take you to Myself as a people. (6:7)

The destiny and concomitant exclusivity of Klal Yisrael are described in these few words. Hashem took us to Him as a nation via the medium of the Torah, which we accepted. Horav S. R. Hirsch, zl, observes that people have thoughtlessly grouped the Jewish religion together with the religions of the other nations of the world, when, in fact, our religion encompasses many elements beyond those commonly regarded to be integral to religion. The above verse – Li l’am, “To Myself as a People,” clearly delineates that Judaism as established by Hashem is, indeed, not a religion at all; rather,…

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ולא שמעו אל משה מקוצר רוח ומעבודה קשה

But they did not heed Moshe, because of shortness of breath and hard work. (6:9)

Imagine that a person is afflicted, persecuted, the victim of a vicious and cruel despot who has enslaved him for years. One would think that if someone would come along and tell him that it will soon be over– he will be able to leave — he would jump for joy and begin counting the minutes until the cuffs would be off and he could finally say good-bye to his life of misery. Yet, we see here that, when Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon HaKohen told Klal Yisrael that it was finally all over, they paid no attention to them. They…

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