This week’s parshah begins with Bnei Yisrael finally leaving Mitzrayim and beginning their journey through the desert. Some of the most amazing miracles to happen in the entire Torah, such as the Splitting of the Sea and the Manna, take place in this week’s parshah. These miracles continued to show Hashem’s control over the entire chapter of the Jewish People leaving Mitzrayim.
However, the opening pasuk of the parshah seems to say differently. The parshah begins, “ וַיְהִי בְּשַׁלַּח פַּרְעֹה אֶת הָעָם” “And it happened when Pharaoh sent out the people” (Shemos 13:17). The Ohr HaChaim asks two questions on this pasuk. The gemarah in Megillah (10b) tells us that the word “וַיְהִי” in a pasuk means that something bad is about to happen. Why would that word appear here at a time of great happiness for Bnei Yisrael, when they are leaving Mitzrayim? Secondly, why does the pasuk put the emphasis on Paroh sending out Bnei Yisrael? Hashem is the One who performed all the wonders in Mitzrayim that convinced Paroh to let us out, so why doesn’t the pasuk give Him the credit?
The Ohr HaChaim explains that Hashem could have taken Bnei Yisrael out of Mitzrayim at a much earlier time, in full defiance of Paroh; however, He decided instead to have Paroh reach a point where he asked the Jewish People to leave. Why did Hashem act in this way? The simple answer is what we explained in last week’s parshah, that the Egyptians needed all Ten Makkos in order that they would be suitably punished for how they treated Bnei Yisrael. However, that doesn’t explain the wording in our pasuk.
The Ohr HaChaim explains that Hashem wanted Paroh to believe that he was the one who let Bnei Yisrael go so that he would be motivated to chase after them when they didn’t return. If Paroh had known that it was only because of Hashem that Bnei Yisrael had left, he would not have thought that chasing after them would have accomplished anything. Why was it so important for Paroh to have this assumption?
Because Paroh chased after Bnei Yisrael, he and his people suffered greatly. They pursued Bnei Yisrael until the Yam Suf, where they drowned in the sea. That same gemarah in Megillah (ibid.) tells us that Hashem is bothered when any of his creations are destroyed. If Hashem had taken Bnei Yisrael out in a way that Paroh clearly realized that he had nothing to do with it, then Paroh never would have chased Bnei Yisrael and the Egyptians never would have died. Instead, it was Paroh’s decision to chase after Bnei Yisrael.
When you combine all these factors, we can understand that Hashem did not want to be associated with this pain of His creations being destroyed. Therefore, the pasuk does not say that Hashem took Bnei Yisrael out of Mitzrayim, but rather, that Paroh sent them out. This also explains why the pasuk starts with “וַיְהִי”, because this was a painful time; it was a painful time for Hashem knowing that His creations were on the way to their deaths.
We see from here an amazing idea, we know that we are the chosen nation, and as such, we are more precious to Hashem than anything else on Earth. However, the rest of Hashem’s creations, even the ones who do evil towards us, are precious to Him as well. They are so precious to Him that He was willing to have His name not mentioned in the Torah in relation to Yetzias Mitzrayim, one of the great triumphs of our history, because it involved some of His creations perishing. We must understand that Hashem must cherish us all the more so.
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