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כבד את אביך ואת אמך

Honor your father and your mother. (20:12)

The Sefer Hachinuch explains that the shoresh, root, of the mitzvah of Kibbud Av v’Eim, honoring parents, is a sense of hakoras hatov, gratitude, to those who have acted kindly towards him. One who is a kafui tov, ingrate, is a naval, abominable person. He acts as if his benefactor, in this case his parents, are strangers to him. He quickly ignores the fact that his parents are the reason that he is here altogether. For this alone, he should honor them. One who does not honor his parents will soon present a similar attitude toward his Father in Heaven….

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לא תענה ברעך עד שקר

You shall not bear false witness against your fellow. (20:13)

Chazal (Pesikta Rabbasi 21) teach that each of the Aseres HaDibros, Ten Commandments, corresponds to one of the Ten Utterances, through which Hashem created the world. (Understandably, this concept is beyond the scope of this paper.) The Midrash goes on to identify which commandment coincides with which equivalent utterance. Interestingly, the prohibitive commandment, Lo sa’ane b’reiacha eid shaker, “You shall not bear false witness against your fellow,” corresponds with Hashem’s declaration that mortal man should be created, Naase adam b’Tzalmeinu kidmuseinu; “Let us make Man in Our image, after Our likeness” (Bereishis 1:26). How do these two (commandments) parallel one…

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ופרעה הקריב וישאו בני ישראל את עיניהם והנה מצרים נסע אחריהם וייראו מאד ויצעקו בני ישראל אל ד'

Pharaoh approached, Bnei Yisrael raised their eyes and behold! Egypt was journeying after them, and they were very frightened; Bnei Yisrael cried out to Hashem. (14:10)

Did it have to be this way? Finally, after 210 years of brutal enslavement, the Jews were leaving. It was a happy day, but it did not last very long. A few days later, when the Jews were standing at the banks of the Red Sea, suddenly Pharaoh and his minions were chasing after them. Understandably, the nation broke out in all-consuming fear followed by their audible crying to Hashem. We return to our opening question: Did it have to be this way? Chazal (Shemos Rabbah 21:5) ask this and give a simple, but profound, explanation: Hashem desires the prayers…

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וישם את הים לחרבה ויבקעו המים

And He turned the sea to damp land and the water split. (14:21)

The Midrash (Socheir Tov 114) states that the waters of the Red Sea split when they saw arono shel Yosef, the coffin of Yosef, which was being transported to Eretz Yisrael for burial. At first, the waters remained in place, despite the presence of Moshe Rabbeinu, Aharon HaKohen and all of Klal Yisrael. Only after the waters took note of the presence of Yosef’s coffin did they “agree” to split. David HaMelech immortalized this tete-a-tete in Tehillim (114:3), Hayam raah va’yanoss, “The sea saw and fled.” “What did the sea see? It saw arono shel Yosef.” What was it about…

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ויאמר ד' אל משה נטה את ידך על הים וישבו המים על מצרים

Hashem said to Moshe, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, and the water will go back over Egypt. (14:26)

Upon perusing the narrative surrounding the splitting of the Red Sea, we are confronted with a difficulty. Why did Hashem involve Moshe? Why was his participation in the splitting necessary? Hashem smote the Egyptian firstborn by Himself: no messenger, no angel. Why should this be different? In this situation, we find Hashem instructing Moshe to raise up his staff and stretch out his hand over the sea, so that it would split. Undoubtedly, it was Hashem Who split the sea. Why then was Moshe involved? Horav Nissim Yagen, zl, explains that herein lies a profound insight. If we were to…

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למשמרת לדרתיכם למען יראו את הלחם אשר האכלתי אתכם במדבר

It shall be a keepsake for your generations, so that they will see the food with which I fed you in the wilderness. (16:32)

Throughout the entirety of the human experience on this earth, phenomenon is remotely comparable to the manna. Hashem fed an entire nation for forty years in a wilderness that provided no hope of sustenance. We did receive the slav, quail, from Hashem, but, when one peruses the narrative, it seems that the quail was not a basic necessity for survival. The manna was the Jew’s staple. Hashem commands us to pattern our lives after those who ate the manna, the ochlei mann. Furthermore, Moshe Rabbeinu instructed Aharon HaKohen to place the tzintzenes ha’mann, a jar of manna, before the Testimony,…

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כי אני הכבדתי את לבו

For I have made his heart stubborn. (10:1)

Kveidus ha’lev, translated as “a hardening of the heart,” making it stubborn, is derived from the word, kaveid, heavy; a hardened heart is a heavy heart. Why is the heart the reference point, as opposed to any other organ? Horav Baruch Dov Povarsky, Shlita, explains that a human being is comprised of 248 eivarim, organs, which coincide with 248 mitzvos asei, positive commandments. Each individual organ is designated for a specific mitzvah. Thus, if a specific organ is flawed or defective, the mitzvah with which it coincides will likely be compromised. In other words, organs matter because of their relationship…

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ולמען תספר באזני בנך ובן בנך את אשר התעללתי במצרים

So that you may relate in the ears of your son and your son’s son that I made a mockery of Egypt. (10:2)

Relating the events preceding and surrounding the Exodus is more than a lesson in Jewish history. As the seminal event in world history, it demonstrates Hashem’s mastery over nature to all. Thus, it has become a lesson in Jewish theology and dogma. Hashem is the Creator of the world and the G-d of history. As He wrought the miracles in Egypt thousands of years ago, He continues to control and guide the events of the world (history) to suit Klal Yisrael. Nations have come and gone. We are still here and will continue to maintain our presence as long as…

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שבעת ימים מצות תאכלו ... ושמרתם את המצות

For a seven-day period, shall you eat matzos … You shall safeguard the matzos. (12:15,17)

The association of our departure from Egypt and the prohibition against eating chametz, leaven, for seven/eight days, requires some explanation. Furthermore, the fact that a mitzvah d’Oraisa, Biblical commandment, obligates us to eat matzah (on the first night) begs elucidation in its relationship to the Exodus. The fact that we were compelled to rush out of Egypt, which precluded our ability to make leavened bread, is the obvious and accepted reason for eating matzah (for its commemorative value). Is there a deeper reason for negating leaven and replacing it with matzah? Horav Moshe Shapiro, zl, explains that when one mixes…

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והיה כי יאמרו אליכם בניכם מה העבודה הזאת לכם

It shall be when your children say to you, “What is this service to you?” (12:26)

The first question which was cited in our parsha is that of the rasha, wicked son. The second question which is to be found in Sefer Devarim is that of the chacham, wise son. On the surface, they appear to be asking the same question. The difference lay in the subtle changes in their relative vernacular. The wicked son does not ask; he states. His question, if anything, is rhetorical, since he has all the answers. He refuses to acknowledge that the service is Divinely mandated, and, since mitzvos are “man-made,” they are not binding on him. Conversely, the wise…

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