Parshas Bo 5759

ALWAYS THERE

“And Hashem said, Come to Pharaoh. . .” (Shemos 10:1)
The verse doesn't say 'go to Pharaoh'; rather “Come to Pharaoh'”since one cannot go anywhere without Hashem. Hashem said, “Come with me to Pharaoh, I am going together with you.”
(R’ Menachem Mendel of Kotzk)


A WISE MAN’S TALE

"Hashem said to Moshe, 'Go to Pharaoh. I have made him and his advisors stubborn so that I will be able to demonstrate these miraculous signs among them. Then you will be able to recount to your children and grandchildren how I made fools of the Egyptians, and how I performed miraculous signs amongst them. Then you will fully understand that I am Hashem.'" (Shemos 10:1-2)
From here we learn that telling over the account of the Exodus from Egypt brings one to full knowledge and understanding of Hashem. The Passover Haggadah tells us concerning the recounting of the Exodus from Egypt that the one who expounds on the story is considered praiseworthy. What is his praise? His knowledge gained!
(Sfas Emes)


PUBLIC EDUCATION
Lifelong education is the cornerstone of Judaism.

"And Pharaoh's servants said to him, 'How long will this man continue to be a menace to us? Let them go and serve their G-d. Don't you realize that Egypt is being destroyed?' Moshe and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. 'Go serve your G-d', he said. 'But whom exactly will be going?' 'Young and old alike will go', replied Moshe 'We will go with our sons and our daughters, with our sheep and cattle. It is a festival to Hashem for all of us.'" (Shemos 10:7-9)
The Pardes Yosef says that there is deep meaning in this exchange between Moshe and Pharaoh. Pharaoh asked “. . . who will go?”; which of your people are planning on going to this festival. In Egypt, the people were divided into classes, especially since the time of Yosef. The priests enjoyed special privileges that none of the other citizens enjoyed. When it came to a religious festival, their level of participation quite different from the average Egyptian’s. Moshe’s answer; 'Young and old alike will go. . .’, in our society everybody is equal. Young and old alike have a place in our festivals.

R’ Elimelech of Lizhensk, in his work Noam Elimelch learns from Moshe's answer, some of the foundations of Jewish education.

“Chanoch L’Na’ar al pi Darko, gam ki yazkeen, lo yasur meemenu.” Educate each child in his own way, and as he grows older he won’t stray from that path. (Proverbs 22:6) Children do things with a childlike enthusiasm and curiosity. If as a child one is given an opportunity to participate as much as possible in religious life, when he grows up he will continue in that path of divine service with. Since in childhood, the child was engaged in serving Hashem in a holy way to the best of his understanding, when he grows older, he will not have any regret or embarrassment over how he spent his childhood. As an adult he will continue his service with the same enthusiasm as during his childhood, yet with deeper understanding.

This explains why the Torah was given in the midst of a smoky and fiery mountain. It is a reminder as to how Torah learning should be approached, with great fiery desire and energy.

Moshe said to Pharaoh, ”Young and old alike will go. . .We will go with our sons and our daughters, with our sheep and cattle. It is a festival to Hashem for all of us." We will go with our children, for they must be led in the paths of holiness, and this is a vital part of their education. And we are even taking our flocks, because we strive to inculcate even our physical matters with the same holiness.


ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

"And one could not see another and was unable to stand up from his place for three days. . .” (Shemos 10:23)
The verse tells hints to us the result of living without unity. During the three days of darkness, a person was unable to see his friend, and unable move from his place. The deepest darkness occurs when one chooses not to see one’s friend, ignoring his pain and despair and not able to recognize what he needs.

R’ Moshe Lieb Sassover used to tell his chassidim that he learned what it mans to love a fellow Jew from two Russian peasants. Once he came to an inn, where there were two thoroughly drunk Russians peasants sitting at a table draining the last drops from a bottle of strong Ukrainian vodka.

One of them, in a slurred drunken drawl yelled to his friend, “Igor! Do you love me?”

Igor, somewhat suprised by the question answered, “Of course Ivan, of course I love you!”

“No no”, insisted Ivan, “Do you really love me, really?!”

Igor, now feeling cornered assured him, “What do you think? I don’t love you? Of course I love you. You are my best friend Ivan!”

“Oh yes, yes?”, countered Ivan. “If you really love me. . . then why don’t you know what hurts me and the pain I have in my heart?”


PUTTING HASHEM FIRST
The concept of Mesiras Nefesh in everyday life.

“And the Nile will swarm with frogs, and they will come up and go into your houses, into your bedrooms and even into your beds. They will go into the houses of your servants and of your people, into your ovens and into your kneading troughs. (Shemos 7:28)
Says, the Tzanz Klausenberger Rebbe, ztz”l (recorded in Divrei Torah #677), a Jew is required to learn from the self-sacrifice of the frogs who came to plague the Egyptians (Parshas VaEra) They are an example of how to serve Hashem with mesirus nefesh (self-sacrifice).

The frogs were not commanded concerning Kiddush Hashem (sanctifying the name of Hashem), nor were they promised any reward for being the agents of the plague, as it is written, “And the Nile will swarm with frogs. . . they will go into . . .your ovens and into your kneading troughs.” Asks the Talmud (Pesachim 52b), “When are the kneading troughs found by the oven? When the oven is hot and the dough is ready to bake.” The frogs voluntarily went into the ovens even though they were glowing hot. They gave their lives for the sanctification of Hashem’s holy name in carrying out the plague. All the more so we, who are commanded concerning Kiddush Hashem, are we required to go the extra mile to insure the sanctification of Hashem’s name in the world.

This is a special quality seen in Tzaddikim; the willingness to sacrifice that which was most dear to them, including their portion in the world to come for the sake of even a small mitzvoh. They were willing to even give up their lofty spiritual levels to accomplish Kiddush Hashem.

The Tzanz Klausenberger Rebbe, ztz”l tells of his grandfather, R’ Chayim of Tzanz, who on several occasions, sold whatever portion he had earned until then in the world to come. And it is certain that he sold it with a full heart, an absolute irrevocable sale and not simply some kind of trick. R’ Chayim’s father also, R’ Aryeh Leibush of Tarnograd, once promised his portion in the world to come to a Jew on condition that he remain to sleep with him in the Sukkah one night when it was cold and rainy and almost impossible otherwise to sleep in the Sukkah.

Even though a person may learn Torah lo lishma (with an ulterior purpose), since he will eventually come to learn lishma (because it is a central mitzvoh of the Torah)(Pesachim 3b), learning and doing mitzvohs in order to gain compensation in the next world, is not the recommended way for a person to engage in divine service.

The Jews in Egypt did learn a lesson from the frogs concerning the concept of self-sacrifice. When they were commanded to take the Pesach sacrifice, they took a sheep per family and they tied it to the their bedposts where it remained for the next five days. The Egyptians saw and demanded an explanation. “What are you doing with our deity tied up on the bedpost!” (Shemos 12:1-6)

B’nei Yisroel could have answered that they were going to take care of it like a pet and enjoy its milk. Yet they were full of the a great desire to serve Hashem with mesirus nefesh. They told the truth upon pain of possible reprisal, that they intended to slaughter the animal for a sacrifice to the Hebrew G-d. The Egyptians could only gnash their teeth in frustration. They now felt powerless to respond. (Tur Orach Chaim 430 in the name of the Seder HaOlam)

This is really quite amazing, since only a person of exceptional stature is allowed by Halacha to give his life for Kiddush Hashem, and especially over a small mitzvoh. An ordinary Jew is required to exhibit self sacrifice on for the three cardinal transgressions; idol worship, forbidden sexual relationship and murder. B’nei Yisroel were not at that time on such a high spiritual level. They were entrenched deep in 49 levels of spiritual impurity, still dabbling in idol worship (Moshe had to exhort them to withdraw from idol worship (Shemos 12:6,21), and close to spiritual annihilation. How was it permitted them to challenge the Egyptians and risk their lives for Kiddush Hashem?

The Yismach Moshe (Parsha Ki Thissa, p.188) writes that perhaps is on account of the fact that they already started keeping the Shabbos in Egypt. (see Tur Orach Chaim 281) And the sages have said that one who keeps the Shabbos according to all its laws, is forgiven from any transgressions; even if he served idols as heartily and enthusiastically as the generation of Enosh. (Shabbos 118b) Furthermore, in the place where Ba’alei Teshuva (penitents) stand, even perfect Tzaddikim cannot stand there. (Shabbos 34b) Therefore at that critical moment B’nei Yisroel were elevated by the mitzvoh of Shabbos. They allowed and able to carry out the mitzvoh of taking the Pesach lamb, with great self sacrifice, effecting a resounding Kiddush Hashem. This is our heritage.


YESTERDAY’S FASHIONS

"And the Israelites also did as Moshe told them. They requested from the Egyptians gold and silver vessels and clothing. And Hashem made the Egyptians look upon the Israelites favorably, and they granted their requests. Thusly, they despoiled Egypt of its wealth." (Shemos 12:35-36)
Gold and silver, yes, but for what did the Israelites need the clothing of the Egyptians? They certainly didn't have any use for their miniskirts and other immodest styles. A verse in Parshas Shemos answers the question.

"And I will make the people favorable in the eyes of the Egyptians that when you go out (of Egypt) you will not leave empty-handed. Every woman shall request of her neighbors gold and silver vessels, and clothing which you shall put on your children. In this way you will despoil Egypt of its wealth." (Shemos 3: 21-22)
The clothing of the Egyptians was to be used for the children. The miniskirt of an Egyptian woman would make a skirt the perfect length for an Israelite child.



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