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שלח נא ביד תשלח

Send by the hand of whomever You will send. (4:13)

Rashi comments: “By the hand of he whom You are accustomed to send as Your messenger.” This refers to Aharon HaKohen, who heretofore was Hashem’s emissary and leading spiritual leader of the enslaved Jews in Egypt. Moshe Rabbeinu was reluctant to accept the leadership position of Klal Yisrael, lest he infringe in any way upon his older brother’s current role as leader. Horav Shneur Kotler, zl, related (as quoted by the Tolner Rebbe, Shlita) that his father, the venerable architect to Torah in America, Horav Aharon Kotler, zl, had, throughout his life, never been bested by anyone (his vast erudition…

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ויגדל משה ויצא אל אחיו וירא בסבלתם

Moshe grew up and went out to his brethren and observed their burdens. (2:11)

Pharaoh did not enslave the members of Shevet Levi, which, considering his evil character, is an anomaly. He was a cruel despot who had no regard for the feelings of others. He considered himself to be a deity, fearing and respecting no one. Why would he be lenient towards Shevet Levi? Horav Yonasan Eibeshutz, zl, offers a practical explanation which goes to the core of the concept of nosei b’ol im chaveiro, sharing the yoke/empathizing with (the plight of) one’s fellow. Pharaoh’s astrologers told him that the man who would be the Jews’ savior would hail from Shevet Levi. Pharaoh…

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ותרא את התיבה בתוך הסוף ותשלח את אמתה ותקחה

She saw the basket among the reeds, and she sent her maidservant and she took it. (2:5)

Rashi cites Chazal (Shemos Rabbah 1:21), who expound that amah (translated above as maidservant) means arm (she stretched out her arm), and, according to their interpretation, her forearm became long (stretched) many amos (cubits) to enable her to reach the basket and draw the basket out of the water. Bisyah’s (daughter of Pharaoh) behavior begs elucidation. Apparently, she was a few cubits away from the basket. What possessed her to think that she could just stretch out her hand and reach the basket? She experienced a miracle, since, by natural convention, she should not have been able to reach the…

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ויהי כי יראו המילדות את האלקים ויעש להם בתים

And it was because the midwives feared G-d that He made for them houses. (1:21)

The meyaldos, midwives, risked their lives to save and sustain the Jewish infants. Pharaoh was a mass murderer; he would have had no problem adding two more Jewish women to his list of victims. Yet, the Torah underscores not their act of saving the children, but that their behavior was the result of a deep-rooted sense of yiraas Shomayim, fear of Hashem. Imagine, if a Jew who had saved his fellow’s life at great risk to himself is presented to us. Would we laud his yiraas Shomayim or his life-saving efforts? Why does the Torah focus on their fear of…

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וימת יוסף וכל אחיו וכל הדור ההוא

Yosef died, and all his brothers and that entire generation. (1:6)

The Midrash (Shemos Rabbah 1:8) teaches that as long as any member of the original seventy souls that comprised Yaakov Avinu’s family that descended with him to Egypt was alive, the Egyptians did not enslave them. In other words, shibud Mitzrayim, the bondage to which the Jews were subjected, did not begin right away. Why was this? How did the group of seventy protect their descendants? Horav Aharon Cohen, zl (Rosh Yeshivas Chevron), explains that every member of that unique group enjoyed a close, personal relationship with the Patriarch. As a result, he had greatly influenced and inspired each of…

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ויאנחנו בני ישראל מן העבודה ויזעקו ותעל שועתם אל האלקים... וישמע... ויזכר אלקים את בריתו את אברהם את יצחק ואת יעקב

And Bnei Yisrael groaned from the labor, and they cried out, and their outcry rose up to G-d… and G-d heard… and G-d remembered His covenant with Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. (2:23,24)

The Jews had been suffering for years from the back-breaking labor forced upon them by the Egyptians. They must have cried, groaned and moaned before. Now, the covenant with the Patriarchs came into play. This was not a new covenant. It had been around for quite some time. Why now? What change transpired that now, after all this time, Hashem listened, remembered and responded to these pleas? Horav Yisrael Belsky, zl, recounts from a Shabbos Shuvah drashah, lecture, rendered by Horav Yonasan Shteif, zl, that responds to this question. Golus comes in two forms: physical and spiritual. Physical bondage is…

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ותרד בת פרעה לרחץ על היאר

Pharoah’s daughter went down to bathe by the river. (2:5)

The Baal HaTurim writes that the last letters of va’teired bas Pharaoh – daled, saf, hay, spell dassah, her religion. This teaches us that Bisyah, daughter of Pharaoh, was not taking a random trip down to the river. She went there to immerse herself as her concluding step toward converting to Judaism. This comment is already stated in the Talmud (Sotah 12b), “She went down to the river to wash herself off from her father’s idols.” Horav Gamliel Rabinowitz, Shlita, asks an intriguing question. Of all times to join the Jewish People, this was not the most propitious. No people…

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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…

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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…

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הלהרגני אתה אומר כאשר הרגת את המצרי

Do you propose to murder me, as you murdered the Egyptian? (2:14)

Moshe Rabbeinu’s conversation with Dassan and Aviram, his two nemeses, appears superfluous. Do we really need to know about their dialogue to the extent that it is recorded in the Torah? While it is true that Chazal derive from the word omer, say/propose, that Moshe killed the Egyptian with his power of speech, by using the Shem ha’Meforash, Ineffable Name, this exposition could have been written in its proper place when he actually intervened and killed him. It seems as if the entire dialogue is unnecessary. Horav Arye Leib Heyman, zl, posits that Dassan and Aviram’s statement was about themselves…

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