Thursday, December 31, 2015

Dvar Torah for Parshas Shemos

       This week, we begin the new sefer of Shemos. It is also called the Sefer Hageulah since in it we were redeemed from slavery and built the Mishkan for Hashem’s Shechinah to rest. According to the Ramban, though Eretz Yisrael is the only place where we can be called completely redeemed, if we have a set place for the Shechinah, then there is a certain amount of redemption in that as well.
       The story of Moshe’s growing up in the house of Paroh is well-known, maybe most for the irony of Paroh raising the one who would lead the charge against him! But after Moshe kills an Egyptian for beating a helpless Jew, Paroh turns against him and tries to have him killed. A pasuk later in the parsha, during Moshe’s famous conversation with Hashem by the burning bush, gives us the details.
       “וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהֹוָ֜ה אֵלָ֗יו מִ֣י שָׂ֣ם פֶּה֘ לָֽאָדָם֒ א֚וֹ מִֽי־יָשׂ֣וּם אִלֵּ֔ם א֣וֹ חֵרֵ֔שׁ א֥וֹ פִקֵּ֖חַ א֣וֹ עִוֵּ֑ר הֲלֹ֥א אָֽנֹכִ֖י יְהֹוָֽה“And Hashem said to him (Moshe), ‘Who gave man a mouth, or made him mute or deaf or seeing or blind? Is it not I, Hashem!” (Shemos 4:11). Rashi brings a medrash that explains that this refers to when Paroh decided to have Moshe executed, he tried to shout out to the guards to grab him, but Hashem made him mute. Additionally, Hashem made the guards deaf so they couldn’t hear Paroh tell them to grab Moshe, and He made the executioner blind so he couldn’t see Moshe while he ran off the stage.
       I had a question on this medrash which I was happy to see is asked by the Sifsei Chachamim. Once, Hashem made Paroh mute, why did He have to do anything else? Once Paroh can’t say anything, there is no danger of anything happening to Moshe! He explains that Paroh became deaf long enough to allow Moshe to run away. Once Moshe escaped, Paroh tried to command his guards to chase after him, but Hashem made them deaf, and all they knew was that Paroh needed something done quickly. So they went and starting running around without any clue of what they were supposed to be doing. But Paroh didn’t realize that they hadn’t understood him, so he assumed that they had chased after Moshe without success.
       This still doesn’t answer why Hashem made the executioners blind; in fact, I believe it only strengthens the question! At this time, I don’t have an answer.
       The Sifsei Chachamim continues with his explanation of the Rashi. How come the pasuk needs to tell me that Hashem gives people sight? If the whole pasuk is representing what He did to Paroh and his servants, why does it include that Moshe retained all his senses? He explains that the word used here for sight, “פִקֵּ֖חַ”, is also used to mean someone who keeps his eyes open, someone who pays attention to his surroundings and to details. Specifically in this case, it means someone who was expecting something to happen, someone who was expecting Hashem to be there for him.
       Moshe did not know what was going to happen while he was being brought to the executioner’s stand, but he did know that he needed to be ready for any opportunity afforded to him. He was not walking with his head down in despair or held high with pride, he walked with purpose; observing the situation to see if Hashem would provide an opportunity for him. He noticed right away, even before anyone else, when the executioner went blind and couldn’t see him, so he was able to jump off the stage and into the desert before anyone had a chance to move. The pasuk tells us that this was a direct inspiration from Hashem, and Hashem was confirming to Moshe that He would always be looking out for him.
       And so begins Sefer Shemos.

Shabbat Shalom!

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