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Parshas VaEirah (Va'eira)
Levi's Tears Go A Long Way
In the beginning of Parshas VaEirah the Torah tells us the children of Reuven, Shimon, and Levi. With Levi the Torah goes into great detail and then does not continue with the other Shevatim. If the whole purpose was to document Moshe and Aharon's lineage why start with Reuven?
Rav Eliezer HaGadol Ashkenazi in his classic, Maasei Hashem, says that the Torah is teaching us why Levi's descendants played a central role in Yetzias Mitzrayim and not the descendants of his older brothers. He says that Levi foresaw and felt the pain of the upcoming Tzaros and gave his children names hinting towards the galus. Gershon, that they would be strangers in a strange land; Kehos, weak and battered; Mirori, they would lead bitter lives.
This is seen in the wording of the parsha when documenting each family. By Reuven it says "the heads of the families were..." By Shimon it says "the children of Shimon..." By Levi it says "these are the "names" of the children of Levi." It was the tears shed behind these names that not only helped save his family from being pulled into slavery but it also the made this family the worthy redeemers of the Bnei Yisroel.
It says in the last perek of Yeshaya (66:10) regarding the Binyan Bais HaMikdash "Sisu Ita Masos Kol Hamisablim Aleha", rejoice those who mourned over her. Those who cry most in the Galus are the ones who are zocheh to merit rejoicing in the Geula.
Rav Moshe Feinstein - Moshe, Aharon, and You, Can All Be Equal
"Hu Aaron Umoshe" (6:26); "Hu Moshe ViAaron" (6:27) Rashi points out, that there are places where the Torah places Aaron before Moshe and there are places where it places Moshe before Aaron. This is to teach us that they are of equal significance (Shkulim Haym). The obvious question is, how can we say that Aaron was equal to Moshe? Doesn't the Torah say that there never was or will be a Navi as great as Moshe?
The Maskil L'David answers, at this point they were of equal significance. It was only after Mattan Torah where Moshe was alone for 40 days and nights with the Shechina that he elevated himself above Aaron.
R' Moshe Feinstein offers a different answer. Of course Moshe was greater than Aaron even at this point. They were of equal significance in the aspect that each one of them fulfilled his Tafkid (potential) in this world. Hashem does not look how great one is, rather if he was able to "be all that he could be". If one reaches that level, he achieved the highest level. Aaron reached that level; therefore in this sense he was as great as Moshe who also reached the level of fulfilling his total potential. This is a comforting thought for all of Klal Yisroel. We too have the potential to be as great as Moshe in this sense.
Steipler Gaon - How Do Deal With Ugly Frogs
Vata'al ha'tz'fardaya vat'chas es Eretz Mitzraim (8:2)" - "And the frog arose and covered the land of Mitzraim." Why is tz'fardaya (frog) written in the singular? Rashi quotes from the Medrash that the plague began with one large frog. Whenever the Mitzrim hit it, streams of frogs came pouring out of it. Ultimately, so many frogs came out that the whole land of Mitzraim was covered.
The Steipler asks the very obvious question. Once the Mitzrim saw that each hit brought forth more frogs, why didn't they stop hitting it? The Steipler explains, they became furious when they saw the large frog spewing more frogs... They couldn't control their anger and frustration... They hit it again... It spewed more frogs... They got even angrier... They hit it again... It spewed more... And again... "Va't'chas es Eretz Mitzraim" - The whole land of Mitzraim was covered with frogs.
When we're angry, we act in a counterproductive and self-destructive manner. If someone acts aggressively toward us our automatic response is to respond with anger. Stop! Think. If we'll stay silent, the other person would gradually cool down. Our angry response will simply fuel the fire further. Counterproductive. Self-destructive. Think. Plan out the proper response - if any. Act on impulse - va't'chas es Eretz Mitzraim and the whole land will be covered with frogs.
Optical Illusions - Is It Blood? Is It Water?
The magicians of Pharaoh did the same with their charms (to make water in to blood), and Pharaoh's heart became hard and did not listen to them". Where did the magicians get the water to change in to blood, if all the water in Mitzrayim turned in to blood?
Some Meforshim answer, if an Egyptian purchased the water from a Jew in remained water. The Ibn Ezra answers, since the pasuk says "All the Egyptians dug roundabout the river for water to drink" (7:24) - that water below the ground did not turn in to blood.
I once heard yet another explanation. The Chartumay Mitzrayim were not performing real magic, rather illusions. They therefore took the water that was now blood and made it look like water. When they removed the illusion, it looked again like what it really was....blood.
Kli Yakar - The Holy Frogs That Didn't Die
After Makas Arv the animals picked up and left. Rashi says the reason they didn't die was so that the Mitzrayim should not enjoy their furs. The Kli Yakar asks why did the frogs die? Why didn't they leave just like the Arv and Abe left?
He answers that Hashem wanted to teach us a lesson in Kiddush Hashem. Although there was a general command for the frogs to go into the ovens, most frogs chose safer roles for themselves like the cozy confines of the bedrooms. The frogs that jumped into the burning ovens did so ready to die Al Kiddush Hashem. After the Makas was over Hashem made all the frogs die except the ones who jumped into the ovens. Hashem was teaching us that if you choose to be Mikadesh Shem Shamayim you can be saved. However if you think you will save yourself by taking the safer route and not making a Kiddush Hashem, you are wrong. Hashem will catch up to you no matter where you are.
This is seen in the words of the pasuk (8:9) that says all the frogs died from the houses, from he courtyards, and from the fields. It does not say the frogs from the ovens died because they didn't die.
Vilna Gaon - The Mysterious "Adam HaSadeh" Comes To Attack Mitzrayim
"I shall incite against you a mixture of wild beasts (Arov), and the houses of Mitzrayim will be filled with them and even the ground which upon they are." What is the pasuk adding by saying, "Vigam HaAdama Asher Hem Aleha" - "and even the ground which upon they are"?
The Vilan Gaon answers, the Mishna in Kilayim discusses a unique animal called the Adam HaSadeh - also known as the "Yidauni". Its discription is as follows:
"He is a wild animal that lives in the fields and a type of root growing out from the earth is attached to his navel. His form is similar to that of a man, with a face, arms and feet. No creature can come close to him for he is vicious and will kill them if they come near. Those wishing to hunt this creature shoot arrows at the root until it snaps in half. Then he cries out a bitter scream and dies."
Since the Makkah is called Arov - a mixture of all types of animals - we can assume that all species came to kill the Mitzriyim. If so, how did the Yidauni come to Mitzrayim; he is attached to the ground? On this the pasuk answers, "Vigam HaAdama Asher Hem Aleha" - "and even the ground which upon they are" - The Yaduni came to attack the Mitzryim while being attached to the ground. Hashem caused a miracle to occur, and the Yidauni was tranfered with the earth below it!
What Moshe Rabbeinu and Yonah HaNavi Had In Common
Moshe Rabbeinu says to Hashem (6:12) "Hein Bnei Yisroel Lo Shomah Eilai V'Eich Yishmi'eini Paroh"; the Bnei Yisroel didn't listen to me why will Paroh? The meforshim all ask that Bnei Yisroel didn't listen because of their suffering but what does this have to do with Paroh listening?
Rav Yehonoson Eibushitz answers that Yonah HaNavi ran away from Hashem because he didn't want to go to Ninvei to tell the Goyim living there to do teshuva. The reason for his refusal was that at that time Bnei Yisroel were worshiping avodah zara and ignoring the pleas of the Nevi'im to return to Hashem. Yonah knew that if Ninvei does teshuva upon hearing the words of the Navi, it will reflect poorly on Bnei Yisroel and the Teshuva of Ninvei will give them the moral authority and power from Shamayim to conquer Bnei Yisroel who did not do teshuva.
Similarly, Moshe was afraid that Paroh may listen to him. This would give Paroh zechusim greater than the Bnei Yisroel who did not listen to Moshe and it would cause untold harm to the Bnei Yisroel. Therefore Moshe cried to Hashem not to make him go to Paroh. The pasuk should be read, "Bnei Yisroel didn't listen, and what would happen if Paroh listens?"
Moshe to Hashem - The Chulent Is Only As Good As The Guests
What was the big deal that Moshe was Aral Sifasaim? Did we need a great orator to take us out of Mitzrayim? Rav Yehonoson Eibushitz explains that the leaders of each generation reflect the level of the people. The greatest leaders are given to the greatest generations. If we are not happy with our leaders instead of blaming them we should know we are staring at a mirror image of ourselves.
To take the Bnei Yisroel out of their bondage in Mitzrayim required the greatest leader ever. Moshe said to Hashem, "Look at me I am an Aral Sifasayim, I can't even speak clearly. Bnei Yisroel took one look at me at dismissed me saying this can't be our leader. If this is the leader there is no way we are worthy to leave Mitztrayim." If so continues Moshe Rabbeinu, "Is there chance that Paroh will be impressed?"
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