Rov Torah Pessach A collection of thirty shiurim by the Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik Zatzal or based on his teachings

in honor of his 10th Yarhziet.
Collected by Rav Ari Kahn

Index: • • Lecture of January 1975 Agaloth Bo Sketch The tenth plague • VaYayehi (why Yakov did not want to be buried in Egypt) • Bo -January 10, 1976 hardened heart • Bo wealth of Egypt • Asking for Goods Lecture of February 1, 1975 • "Bo el Paroh" January 1975 Moshe as messenger • First Born --February 8, 1975 • haggadah1 Shiur HaRav Soloveichik ZT'L on Haggadah Shel Pesach The mitzvah of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim • haggadah2 Shiur HaRav Soloveichik ZT'L on Pesach and Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim (shiur date: 3/25/69) • bshalach.98 Shiur HaRav Soloveichik ZT"L on Parshas Bshalach (Shiur date: 2/9/71) • Bshalach Shiur Harav on Parshas Bshalach"Ashira L'Hashem Ki Gao Ga'ah". • Bshalach Shiur HaRav Soloveichik ZT'L on Parshas Bshalach (Shiur Date: 2/5/74) Moshe charged Yehoshua


Shiur HaRav Soloveichik ZT"L on Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim (Shiur date: 1969) • Shiur HaRav Soloveichik ZT"L on Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim - 2 • Lecture deleivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik on Saturday night, April 7, 1979 “Shabbos Hagodol” • Lecture delivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik on Saturday night, January 12, 1989 “Parsha Shmos” • Lecture delivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik on Saturday night, January 19, 1989 Sedra Vayroh • Lecture delivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik on Saturday night, February 3, 1980 • Parsha B’shalach / Shabbos Shirah • Lecture delivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik on Saturday night, February 9, 1980 “Yisro” • Lecture delivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik on Saturday evening, January 27, 1979 • Lecture delivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik on Saturday night, February 3, 1979 “Humility of Moses” • Lecture delivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik Saturday evening, February 10, 1979. “Parsha B’Shalach” Lecture delivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik on Saturday night, Feb 17, 1979 Yisro. • Lecture delivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik Saturday evening, February 24, 1979 “Yisro” • Lecture delivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik on Saturday night, March 3, 1979 “Parsha Terumah” … • peasch.01 Shiur HaRav Soloveichik ZT"L on Erev Pesach Shechal B'Shabbos • Shiur HaRav Soloveichik ZT"L on Makas Bchoros • Pesach: The Four Cups of Yosef Selection from “Emanations”© Rabbi Ari D. Kahn Based on teaching of the Rov regarding why Moshe was to ask for only three days.

Lecture of January 1975 Agaloth Egypt had highly developed its technology. Especially, Egypt had domesticated the horse for use-especially for warfare. It is the first we find mentioned in history the use of the horse, the rider and the chariot for warfare. The horse and rider, therefore, was the might


and power of the Egyptian empire. Countries that discover new weapons win wars, and it is interesting to note that from the time that Egypt arrived, 3000 B.C.E., until almost modern times, the horse has remained the means of conducting war throughout the world. England introduced the tank during the first war, and thus won the war. The weapon of the second war was the atomic bomb. "Sus v'rochbo, rama vayam" (the horse and the rider, G-d cast into the sea). We ask ourselves, "Is the throwing of man and his horse into the sea the power of G-d?" However, there is a deeper meaning. Whatever the secret weapon may be in its given era, it proves no deterrent to the Almighty. Whether the weapon is the horse and rider, the tank, the atom or hydrogen bomb, in the eyes of G-d it is as nothing. "Sus v'rochbo," whatever the weapon, He will cast it into the sea and make it as if it never existed. In the case of Pharaoh, the horse and the chariot was Egypt's exclusive weapon, manufactured by the government. We find twice in the Torah in Sedra Vayigash, that Pharaoh instructs Joseph and his brothers to bring their father (Jacob) and their families. The first one is immediately after he hears of the brothers' arrival; the second is a few sentences later. The first time he merely gives a suggestion, but the second time is an actual command. "And now I command! Do this: Take for yourselves chariots from the land of Egypt for your children and your wives, and carry your father and come." The reason for the command was that the chariots and wagons could not be taken out of the land without an order from the king himself. Without Pharaoh's order it would be a criminal act. It is comparable to today where it takes an executive command or order to involve the movement of atomic weapons. Also, these chariots were to be used only for carrying goods, provisions etc.-not to be sold or given away. This is one of the reasons why the Torah states that when Jacob saw the agaloth (the wagons) his heart was revived, for he understood that Joseph must be close to the king. The rumor was heard that Joseph's brother had come and it was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and the eyes of his servants. Why were they happy? Actually, Pharaoh had usurped his power by elevating a slave, a prisoner, to such a high position. The laws or constitution of Egypt specifically stated that a slave could not rule. Until the advent of the brothers and the disclosure of Joseph's family, Pharaoh's advisors were adamant in their demand that a slave could not rule. They kept objecting. Suddenly, Pharaoh had the answer to his critics. When they discovered that he came from the highly respected family of Abraham, it made a vast difference, for Abraham's influence was widespread, and even though they may have disliked him, they respected him.


What constituted Joseph's greatness? It was the durability in his personality. He was a tough practitioner-one who could dream and practice his dreams. He was a dreamer and at the same time an implementer. This was his greatness, and Pharaoh understood it and was greatly thankful to Joseph. Pharaoh envisioned eleven more brothers of this nature, and was extremely eager to have them in Egypt. It is a well known fact, that after both wars, the victorious nations had stolen the great scientists from the vanquished for their own benefit. Having the brothers would be to Egypt's advantage. Pharaoh never understood why Joseph never asked permission to inform his family, to bring his family, between the years of Joseph's ascension to power and the final revelation. Undoubtedly, Pharaoh was told by his advisors that Joseph had dual loyalties. The reason is that Joseph saw that Hashgacha (Divine) was planning something which he could not interfere with. Why was Pharaoh so excited at learning the news of the brothers? It is understandable that he might want the young people, but why did he say first, "Bring your father?" Certainly, he did not have in mind the creation of a moshav z'kaynim (a home for the elderly). It almost seems to indicate, "If Jacob comes you are welcome; if not then you are not welcome." Joseph must have spoken much to Pharaoh many times about his father, about life at home, and Pharaoh was enchanted and enlightened. Pharaoh had great understanding of spirituality, and he understood that Joseph's greatness was rooted in his father. Pharaoh felt that the "fertile soil" must be in Egypt or he would lose all the talent. Later, the mourning for Jacob was not merely ceremonial, but they felt they had lost a truly great man. They felt that something very great had been lost, an it was called the "Mourning of Egypt." Also, with Joseph and Jacob there was a movement in Egypt towards morality and high ideals in addition to strength and might. Later in history with "vayakam melech chadash" the arising of a new king, there was a revolution against the teachings and principles. Why did Pharaoh instruct that the wagons were for the wives and children (other articles), but for Jacob the Torah states "unsosem" (and you shall carry him). This statement makes a great spiritual person of Pharaoh. Later, in the desert during the wanderings of the Israelites, we find that the children of Gershon and Merrari used animals or wagons to carry various parts of the Ohel Moed (the Tabernacle). The Holy Ark was carried on the shoulders! The connection is that if an ark had to be carried, a great human must also be carried! Rashi tells us that when Jacob saw the agaloth (wagons), his heart revived because Joseph left his home to visit the brothers, they were studying the section of the Torah from the conclusion of Sedra Shoftim which states that if a slain person is found without city


limits and the murderer is unknown, the elders of the nearby cities come out and measure the proximity of the slain to the nearest city. Then the elders of that city bring a heifer (never used for work) into that rough terrain, break its neck and wash their hands over the heifer declaring, "Our hands have not shed the blood." Do we not know that the elders, the most highly respected, did not kill the stranger? It means, however, that a stranger, an unknown poor man came into the city and was sent away without lodging, without food, almost without regard. Had he been regarded and provided for, then perhaps he would not have been slain. If such a man was refused shelter, the heads (roshim) of the city were responsible. They did shed blood indirectly. (Joseph, when he sent his brothers to inform Jacob that he, Joseph, was alive, informed them to use the word agaloth as a key word and Jacob would remember what they studied together and would believe.) This parsha deals with Jewish responsibility. It is almost frightening how the Torah demands responsibility from a leader. It demands not only direct action, but indirect action as well. Jacob knew by holy spirit (ruach hakodesh) that Joseph would be a leader of unlimited power, and that is why he studied with him this section. It taught him how to be great, and in turn, Joseph informed his father, "I have never misused my power." Bo Sketch notes taken from Rabbi Soloveitchik's lecture on Saturday evening January 13, 1972 1. The tenth plague of Egypt was against the first born because they were all guilty of the crime called, "primogeniture" (exercising the power of the first born). In Egypt if a father left the house, the first born held absolute power of imprisonment and death over even members of his own family. It can be imagined then how they treated slaves such as Israelites. They were all guilty and worthy of death punishment. G-d warned against the practice, and we find that among leaders of Israel the first born were not necessarily the leaders. For example, we find Moses and David being the last in their families, and Joshua came from the tribe of Benjamin, the twelfth son of Jacob. Thus, G-d abandoned primogeniture. Each b'chor (first born) of Egypt was a tyrant and was guilty of enslavement. Already, the patriarchal hierarchy was establish with Cain, the first born son of Adam and Eve. Even his name Kayin means, "I have established or purchased." The words of Chava were, "Kaniti ish et Hashem." (I have purchased, or acquired, a man from G-d.) The word ish means here a "master." The text follows, "Vatosef laledeth" (and she gave birth again). This means that the second one already was not important to her; he would merely be a helper to Cain. This is exemplified by his name "Hevel," which in Hebrew


means vain or foolish. Under these circumstances, he had no right to become a shepherd, but merely a helper--a farmer to Cain. However, he rebelled, he violated the social order. 2. After the murder of his brother, Cain argued with G-d saying, "Should I be my brother's keeper, or should you?" Apparently, if Abel died, it was your predestination, and if so, how can you charge me with murder? G-d answered him, "You are bound to moral law." The earth, of which you are a tiller, has stamped your act as immoral. If a man starts to question morality, he ceases to be moral. In this respect, naivet ‫ י‬is greater. A philosopher said that if you start to philosophize about prayer, you won't pray. 3 "Listen, the voice of your brother's blood cries out to Me." (Do you hear the voice?) Whenever a murder is committed, it is not only the person who is gone, but the possible genius, or the people or generations that could possibly have ensued. Therefore, we say the plural "shfichat damim" (the spilling of bloods). This is a historical crime, and so is the neglect of children's education, for also here we don't know what we have destroyed for the future. That too is a historical crime. 4. Insulting is also a "shfichat damim" because it undermines confidence, and this in turn can destroy initiative for the future. Rashi says that Cain killed Abel many times before the fatal blow with the shfichat damim of insult. 5. Shatnez (intermingled) is the product of the farmer (linen) with the product of the shepherd (wool, and should not be intermingled. 6. In connection with primogeniture, the Torah completely abhors one person exercising power over another, and declares that Joseph, who was almost the youngest of the brothers, died first (before all of them) because he exercised power over them before the revelation even though he treated them better than they deserved. 7. G-d declares, "Kadesh li kol b'chor." (Sanctify to me all the first born.) They are mine and are not the ones to hold the all potent power. 8. If this is so, why does the Torah declare that when a father leaves an inheritance, a double portion shall go to the first born? The reason for this is not because of extra power, but because a first born is a helper to his father. In many cases, he helps the father to rear the smaller ones, to help educate them with the knowledge he has acquired, and to guard over them. Thus, the father is allowed to pursue his work in order to earn a living. Thereby, the Torah rewards the first born with an extra portion, but it does not give him extra power. Parashat VaYayehi Lecture by Rabbi Soloveitchik (date unrecorded-perhaps Winter of 1972)


There are some stages where the patriarch is called Israel, and other stages where he is called Jacob. He is called Jacob whenever he is not free, or is dependent on others. Therefore, by grabbing the heel of Esau, he demonstrates dependency, and is called in the Torah Jacob. Thus, when a Jew is not free to mold his own destiny, he is called Jacob. When the patriarch emerged victorious from the struggle with the angel, he is now called Israel. The final sedra of Breishit begins with the words "Vayechi Yaakov" (and Jacob lived) because he was now about to die, and enslavement was about to commence. We see that it would be inappropriate to use the name Israel at this time because it was the start of defeat and humility. Life in Mitzrayim is basically described in the prophecies of Yechezkel (Ezekiel) and in Tehilim-the psalms of David. The Jews were completely integrated; they had become an integral part of the Egyptian economy. They had come from Canaan-a land of shepherds-to a great society, perhaps the greatest of the world at that era. Consequently, there was degeneration and assimilation. However, they did not give up their identity! The people were taught that generations ago there was a father Abraham who made a covenant with G-d, and that at some point in time a mysterious redeemer would appear and would pronounce the words, "pakod pakadity etchem" (I will certainly remember you). Jacob gave them these words, a password, so that they shouldn't believe a usurper whose name they didn't know. Again, we find a correlation between Jacob and Israel, for physically they were Jacob, enslaved, but spiritually they were proud and independent, Israel. Thus, Moses found the people ready to listen; Jacob had prepared the people. Why did Jacob refuse to be buried in Egypt? It was motivated by one thought, one which had great importance. There is a tendency to come closer to parents as one gets older, to come closer to the roots. It was thought that their real identity was rooted far from Egypt. Jacob emerged as a spiritual giant, for he defeated the assimilation. It was the first time that a minority refused to shed its identity! Reuven and Shimon entered Egypt, and Reuven and Shimon emerged! "Vayakrivu y'mai Yisrael lamuth" (and the days drew near for Israel to die). It is symbolic that Israel will live. In teaching, it is felt that the younger the student and the older the teacher the better the results. It is important not only to teach the facts, but to teach the emotions and the experiences. Of course, the word zakain (elder) is symbolic because ripeness in years is not necessarily a qualification for transmitting ideas. However, an older individual who actually "experienced" can relate better. Jacob transmitted the tradition to Ephraim and Menashe prior to giving his blessings to his own sons because he desired to hand down directly to the third generation, not via Joseph (the second generation). Of course, the age difference was very great. And, he


gave priority to Ephraim because he was even younger. Thus, Jacob desired to prove that tradition could be handed through many generations, even skipping generations. Jacob proved that a man 3500 years ago can address himself to a person living today. When Jacob proved that an old man from ancient Canaan could communicate with young children (Ephraim and Menashe), born in Egypt aristocracy without the mediation of Joseph. In the sedra of Vayichi, Jacob pointed out to Joseph that Rachel was buried by the roadside and not in a lonely obscure grave. It is a fact that grandchildren rarely visit the graves of their grandparents, but by this burial, not only will her grave be visited but Rachel is considered the mother of the Jewish people and Jacob the father. We are told in Scripture that when the Jewish nation went into exile at the destruction of the first Temple, while they were in despair and on the way to captivity in Babylon, it was Rachel's soul that intervened for them, and G-d assured her that they would return. By Jacob declaring that Ephraim and Menashe are to me as Reuven and Shimon, he showed us that he was the father of all Jewish people. He assured Joseph that all generations passing along the way will consider her as the mother. The Torah tells us that Joseph taught the third generation-the children of Ephraim and Menashe-the same as his father showed him to skip over generations. Thus, Joseph emulated his father in the swearing that his bones be taken up from Egypt. Pakod (remember) is repeated twice at the end of the sedra. The first one means that he assures his brothers that they have won the battle of assimilation, "We have all had a share in the victory." "Vayishba bnei Yisrael" (and he made swear the children of Israel), not echav (his brothers). He wanted to prove that no matter how high a Jew becomes politically, he doesn't give up his Jewish identity. Of course, he is loyal to his community, but he doesn't allow his identity to suffer. Who was it who took the bones of Joseph out of Egypt? It was Moses, the grandchildren of Levi who had conspired to kill Joseph. Actually, Levi changed his mind about Joseph, and handed down beautiful stories about him so that the grandchild Moses loved Joseph. Moses came to love and revere Joseph as a rabbi and a master. Bo -January 10, 1976 Text of lecture-Ramban (Nachmanides) and Ibn Ezra "V'ani hichbad'ti et libo." (Sedra Bo) (And I have hardened his heart.) We all believe in freedom of will, for it is the very foundation of belief. We believe that without this freedom of will, the very foundation of the religion would be shattered. As evidence, we find it in Sedra Nitzavim (Deuteronomy). "I give you the choice of 'good and life,' or 'bad and death.' I advise you to accept the good." In all


physical aspects of life, G-d decrees and determines, except in moral life. Here, G-d does not interfere, for if there were no freedom of choice, the sinner would complain justly. Since there is freedom, a sinner should never despair because the gates of t'shuvah (repentance) are always open. That saying due to circumstance he had no choice is not mitigating. But, if the sinner can pollute himself, he can also cleanse himself. It is a narrow demarcation—a boundary over which one can easily step. Why did G-d intervene in Pharaoh's case? Maimonides declares that the whole concept of reward and punishment rests on freedom of choice. In this context, why then was Pharaoh punished? The first sentence of the sedra contains a contradiction, "Go into Pharaoh because I have hardened his heart in order to punish him!" Rabbi Yochanan and Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish (Resh Lakish) engaged in a controversy regarding this statement. Rabbi Yochanan said, "The sinners quote this word in defense of their wicked doings, for it appears that Pharaoh was unable to do t'shuvah--he is not responsible." Resh Lakish says, "There are no mitigating circumstances. If it concerns the scorners, then G-d scorns them. Gd warns man once, twice, thrice, and if he refuses to answer then, G-d closes the heart of the sinner so that he shouldn't repent." That happened to Pharaoh. G-d warned him five times--not three (the first 5 plagues do not say, "I have hardened his heart.")--and he paid no attention. G-d says, "You have hardened your heart, I will increase your uncleanness." G-d takes away the freedom of a sinner, not at once, but only after he has been warned. The habitual sinner has no way back, whereas the incidental sinner always has the promise of t'shuvah, never is freedom of the sinner removed if the chet (sin) is incidental, as long as there is no repetition. The moment chet becomes normal practice, the sinner loses. In modern history, we found similar circumstances, for in France, if a man was a habitual sinner or criminal, he was sent away to an island--removed for good from society. And yet, the answer cannot satisfy the Jew who prays on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Here, the concept is that the gates of t'shuvah are constantly open to the very last day of a person's life. No matter how he has sinned, even to the point of denying the existence of G-d, if he repents completely, truly all is forgiven. Nothing can stop t'shuvah. As for example, we have Nebuchadnezer who destroys the Beit Hamikdash, his great-greatgrandson being the great Rabbi Meir. To further illustrate the power of t'shuvah, we found that the executioner of the 10 great martyrs asked if he would receive Olam Habah (a share in the world to come) if he removed the wet wool which was placed on one of the martyrs to prolong his agony when he burned. The answer was that he would receive Olam Habah, even such a person. However, there


is a deeper meaning. G-d granted wisdom to man; He implemented reason and intellect in his heart in order to increase his salvation, or to protect him against evil and disaster. It is the ability to be divine. There is a being called adam (man), but this particular being is not free. When the man receives chachma (wisdom) the charisma becomes a divine quality. Then, the man becomes free to protect himself against disaster. He only becomes free when he receives the divine endowment. It is ridiculous to say that G-d interfered with freedom of choice. Ibn Ezra divides man into two types of beings. The first one is adam-the type of person before G-d gives man divine charisma or tzelem Elokim. It is up to man to accept it; if not, he can be an animal. This simple man is out to exist and to enjoy existence. All his interests revolve around enjoying himself. However, that does not mean that this type of person is a brute. On the contrary, he can be cultured, he has a set of moral laws and many objectives. However, his humanity is a very simple affair; it is wrapped up in a way for pleasure. As such, he doesn't have much choice or freedom of action. He cannot rebel against his own practicability. For example, in modern life we find it where manufacturers, business tycoons pollute rivers, streams, the environment despite the threat to life and despite that they understand it only too well. And they and their scientists deny everything, will fight all measures to suppress them, and will take their cases into court in an attempt to convince that what they are doing is all right; even though, they know they are polluting. Yet, their is no doubt of the possibility that their may be destroying them, and their very children, and their generations to come. What is it all for? It is for profit. They have only one norm-profit. For the military, it is pride. Don't governments, for instance, know that by exploding nuclear weapons they are releasing radioactivity into the atmosphere which can cause blood cancers, leukemia, which can kill them and their children? And yet, it is compulsive action-no freedom of will. This is adam. There is the other personality, and this is the one who receives divine charisma, the divine personality. This man differs in that he has a group of interests which the natural man doesn't have; his is free. He has two frames of reference. Quite often, the natural man digs his own grave and destroys himself. An example is capitalism. Especially during the first two decades of this century, capitalism became drunk with making profit. It oppressed terribly, such as the sweat shops of New York where the workers were paid two dollars a day, lived in the very building in which they worked (owned by the manufacturers), and was, in turn, forced to pay rent to the same


man who paid her. Thus, in order for man to exist, he must know how to sacrifice. "Hichbad'ti libo" (I have hardened his heart). It is ridiculous that G-d discouraged Pharaoh from letting the people go. It means that he made the choice for Pharaoh very difficult! Let us analyze the state of affairs as existed in Egypt at the time of the oppression of the Hebrews. Egypt was one of the two great empires of the world, Chaldea being the other. The people of the Egyptian empire did not starve, as we know to exist today in India, Bangladesh, Biafra. It manufactured the world's best cotton, linen, and made the fine things of life (not only necessities of life). Every commodity which a country that uses slaves manufactures is prosperous for the simple reason that they don't have to pay labor. The Egyptians built storehouses, had bumper crops and six hundred thousand slaves. The prosperity of Egypt was built on slavery! Suddenly, two people appear with the request to let all the slaves go free. Pharaoh knew that the prosperity of his country, and the economy was built on slaves. He knew that it would collapse, and that there would be a complete dislocation. It would cause civil war and collapse. G-d made the circumstance. "Natural man" became frightened. Who will take over if you send them away? Thus, the significance of slave labor tipped the scales. What if G-d hadn't hardened the heart of Pharaoh? He should have somehow informed Pharaoh that it is possible to be prosperous without slave labor. Thus, G-d didn't do. He didn't let him understand this fact. It is true that the economy may be incapacitated for a time, but it will recover. As examples we have the types of slavery which existed in America and in Russia under the czars where the masses were serfs to the few mighty. And yet, without the slavery in America, the economy not only recovered, but went on to greater triumph. G-d did not inform him of this, and it interfered with Pharaoh's decision. But, his choice was never interfered with. For example, it was easy to close a store in Lithuania on Shabbat, for even if it were open, the owner would not earn a dime. For the American Jew, especially at the turn of the century, it was much more difficult; it was almost economic suicide! But, was the Jew deprived of his choice? It was also a case of "hichbad'ti libo" (I have hardened his heart). One Jew lost job after job on account of Shabbat and capitulated. Others persevered to victory. He never lost his freedom of choice. Freedom of choice is not even taken away from the most hardened criminal. Referring to the original discussion between Rabbi Yochanan and Resh Lakish, we find one important thing lacking with Rabbi Yochanan. He never had the experience of sin and t'shuvah. He had


always lived a saintly life. Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish, on the other hand, originally was a sinner, rather an underworld personality who fortunately came under the influence of Rabbi Yochanan and rose to great heights. Rabbi Yochanan could not understand Resh Lakish's position, such as we may not be able to understand why a person turns to drugs or to alcohol. Therefore, Resh Lakish declared, 'Those that scorn are scorners." Every sinner, the first time, is warned by his conscience. If he repeats and repeats, t'shuvah becomes almost impossible, but it is always possible to open the gate. The key is in the hand of the sinner, the gates are never locked! How was Pharaoh punished? The plagues are divided into three groups, by not necessarily the three polemics of the Hagadah. The first 5 plagues constitute the first group-dam (blood), tz'fardaya (frogs), kinim (lice), arov (noxious animals), sh'chin (boils). This group inflicted plain misery, a miserable situation to live with. The second group-dever (destruction of cattle and domestic animals), barad (burning hail), and arbeh (locusts)-was a destruction of economy. The third group—choshech (darkness or intense fear), and makat b'chorot (death of the first born). The choshech (darkness) may be interpreted as ignorance because slavery makes life very comfortable for the master, and the second objective of slavery is to become rich and opulent. G-d showed Pharaoh that the economy collapsed anyway, in spite of his stubbornness. G-d did not take away freedom; He just made the choice very difficult! Bo Shiur HaRav ZT'L on Parshas Bo "And each woman shall ask from her neighbor and house mate silver vessels and gold vessels (V'sha'ala Isha M'shchenta Umigras Baysa)" (Shemos 3:22). "Please speak to the people that each man should ask from his friend... ('Vyishalu Ish Ma'ais Ray'ayhu)" (Shemos 11:2-3). The Rav ZT'L explained the different terminology used in these verses, in the first verse neighbors and house mates and in the other a person should request from his friends. The term She'ayla throughout Tanach means to request or to demand something, not (in the simple definition) to borrow. When Hashem tells Moshe that a woman should request FROM her neighbors and a man should request FROM his friend, the connotation is to demand and take something away from them. When the Torah discusses the laws of a borrower (Sho'el, Parshas Mishpatim) the term Ma'im (from with) is used. This connotes borrowing with an obligation to repay or return the item as the original owner retains his rights to the object. Apparently the intent of Hashem was that the objects taken by Bnay Yisrael should be given to them without reservation (Matanah Gemurah, see Rashbam, Shemos 11:2). Why was it


necessary for Bnay Yisrael to demand these things? Another obvious question is why did Hashem have to bring the 10 plagues on Egypt and Paroh when He could easily have forced Paroh to let Bnay Yisrael go much more readily and quickly? The Rav explained that Hashem was manifesting the concept of "Kophin Oso Ad Sheyomar Rotzeh Ani", we apply force to someone until the individual in question comes to the self realization that what is demanded of him is correct and he expresses his desire to comply. Hashem wanted Paroh to recognize on his own the need to send the Jews out of Egypt and to comply with the demand of Hashem. As Paroh said "Arise and leave from among my people, also you and also all of Bnay Yisrael" (Shemos 12:31). However the question remains: why did Hashem prolong the stay of Bnay Yisrael? Could Paroh not have been made to realize this in a shorter interval? The Rav further explained that Hashem wanted Paroh not only to allow Bnay Yisrael to leave Egypt, but to come to respect them as well. As long as they were slaves, Paroh thought of them as subhuman. Chazal say on the verse of "Who is Hashem that I shall listen to him" (Shemos 5:2) that Paroh searched through his chronicles and was not able to find the name of Hashem the Gd of Israel mentioned anywhere. What Chazal intended to indicate was that Paroh did not consider Bnay Yisrael a bona fide nation, therefore he saw fit to enslave them. The 10 plagues were intended to show Paroh that Bnay Yisrael were a great nation, more so than to punish him and Egypt. Paroh was made to realize that they were not a bunch of insignificant Hebrews, rather they were a great national entity. As the Torah says "And afterwards he shall send you out" (Shemos 11:1). It does not say I will take you out, rather Paroh will realize that you are a great nation and a significant entity and he will send you out. Property ownership is an extremely important and fundamental right and principle according to the Torah. This is best illustrated by the law that one may defend his home and property from clandestine thieves (Ba B'machteres), and to struggle to protect them even to the extent of taking the life of the thief. Property, material possessions, gives a man self esteem and self value. It also commands respect from others. On the other hand, a slave has no property of his own, for whatever he acquires belongs to his master. Hashem told Moshe that "When you shall leave, you shall not leave empty handed" (Shemos 3:21). Had Bnay Yisrael left Egypt without material possessions and wealth, they would have still been looked on as slaves. Therefore Hashem asked them to demand from the Egyptians items of value as payment for their years of service. These items were to be taken from their neighbors


and house mates, for they were the ones who had taken away their property and self dignity in the first place. (The Rav noted that when the Jews were liberated form the concentration camps after the Second World War, they went to the surrounding towns to retrieve their stolen property from the local populace who so eagerly took it from them.) "And I will give the favor of this people" etc. (ibid) The Egyptians will come to see you as a nation, a people with dignity and no longer look upon you as slaves. Some might have thought that the Egyptians chased the Jews out of Egypt because they had become lepers. The Torah tells us just the opposite: that they left with tremendous self respect and dignity. One aspect of this self respect was their departing with great material wealth, Rechush Gadol. "V'nitzaltem Es Mitzrayim" (Shemos 3:22): Rashi explains V'nitzaltem as derived rom the verb to save. That is to say that you shall save something for yourself when you leave: you shall save your dignity and earn great respect in the eyes of the Egyptians. As it says that Moshe gained great respect in the eyes of the Egyptians and the house of Paroh (Shemos 11:3). The Rav explained the different terminology between neighbors and house mates in one verse and friends in the other. The Gemara teaches us that the term 'Ray'ayhu' applies exclusively to a Jew. Hashem wanted the Jews to share the wealth among themselves. A Jew living in a more affluent Egyptian neighborhood would take more wealth from his neighbors than the Jew who lived in a less affluent area. Hashem wanted the Jews to distribute the wealth more equitably. This was an extreme act of Chesed, charity, that bound the people and demonstrated their sense of a common destiny. Similarly, the Rambam writes (Matnos Aniyim 10:2) "would not a brother take pity on his brother". If Jews do not look after their own brothers and take pity on them, who will? The different terminology reflects the desire that each Jew take possessions from their Egyptian neighbors and that they in turn should redistribute the wealth among themselves so that all Bnay Yisrael would enjoy equivalent wealth. After the Jews left Egypt, Hashem asked them to give up a part of their wealth to build a Mishkan for Hashem (V'yikchu Li Trumah) (Shemos 25:2). A freed slave, who has had nothing of his own, finds it extremely difficult to willingly give up any part of his newfound possessions. To show that they were truly free men and women, Bnay Yisrael had to demonstrate their willingness to give up some of their own wealth for a higher cause. Bnay Yisrael answered this call, particularly the women, who were most eager to part with their finest jewelry for the sake of building the Mishkan of Hashem. As it says that the women came forward with greater zeal than the men, "Vayavou ha'anashim al h'nashim" (Shemos 35:22).


___________________________________________________________ (c) Dr. Israel Rivkin and Josh Rapps, Edison N.J. Permission to reprint and distribute, with this notice, is hereby granted. These summaries are based on notes taken by Dr. Rivkin at the weekly Moriah Shiur given by HaGaon HaRav Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveichik ZT'L over many years. Asking for Goods Lecture of February 1, 1975 This lecture deals with "asking for goods from Egypt, placing them upon your children, emptying out Egypt. You cannot force people to love you, but you can command respect according to your worth. If there is respect, there will be no contempt; act in a dignified manner and it will precipitate respect. The Egyptian discovered suddenly that the slaves of yesterday were charming today. During the year of negotiations, they found Israel charming!" The man, ish, Moshe was great in the eyes of the officials and the common people. This respect built up in the year of negotiations. At the beginning, Pharaoh treated Moshe and Aaron with humor, almost contemptuously. Pharaoh declared, "Go mind your own business!" Later, the touch of humor is gone. Pharaoh realized that it was a serious business, but there was no reverence. Each time that a plague struck, it interrupted the economy. Just before the last, it is stated that Moshe was great in the eyes of the people. Moshe had ruined the Nile, the economy etc., and yet they respected him, and yet greater was the admiration. Also, unique to Egypt was the fact that they respected him as a human being, not a super being. The Egyptians, being pagans, could have deified him, but the Almighty ruled a different relationship. They looked upon him, not as a G-d in a pantheon, but as an ish (a man). It was the first time in pagan history that a "man" was considered "great." Previously, their kings were considered as gods. However, Moshe and Aaron taught the Jews never to idolize any man, no matter how great. It was therefore later, when Moshe failed to return on time (their calculation) from Mt. Sinai, that they said in fear, "Ze ha'ish" (that man). They feared because they knew he was just a mortal man. There are three aspects in the change of feeling of the Egyptians towards the Jews. (1) They saw Moshe's love and tenacity for the people. When Moshe was with the Almighty, he was the defender, with the people he was the accuser. (2) Humans pass the right to take vengeance upon others for wrongs committed upon them (to refuse to punish criminals is to turn society into a jungle). Two purposes of punishment are to punish for the crime, and secondly, a catharsis to rehabilitate. However, the catharsis rarely works.


Consider what would have been if Pharaoh had declared, "All right, go ahead," and the Jews had walked out. How about the years of slavery, the killing of the children etc., all would have been forgotten. They would have walked out with merely a thank you. This would have been the greatest tragedy! However, this depended on the Almighty. That is why it is written, "He will not let you out until I smite Egypt with all my wonders." Otherwise, it would have been comical. It was a lesson that human blood which is spilled cannot be forgotten. As long as people are not punished for crimes, there cannot be freedom. G-d wanted to teach Pharaoh that the Jews are an abandoned race. (3) The conduct of the Hebrews themselves! During Greek and Roman eras, the populace was in great fear of slave rebellions. The rebellions were bloody as exemplified in more modern times, such as in France and in Russia. The feudals were always haunted by such occurrences, for slaves rebel at the worst times of crisis. Pharaoh's own officers said, "Don't you see that the land is ruined?" His own prestige was in trouble because his officers spoke to him abusively-a far cry from the autocracy he held previously. During the three days of darkness, they (Israel) could have destroyed the entire populace, certainly could have could have robbed the treasury. They, certainly, had many grievances. There would have been no resistance. But instead, they left it to G-d. Who taught them? Moshe! Consider during the night of the exodus, they could have taken vengeance. Instead, what did they do? They ate the korban pesach and sang Hallel. Thus, after the plague of darkness, the Egyptians realized how great Moshe and the people were. The people of Egypt started to change towards Israel before the requesting of jewels. It states that the women borrowed from their women friends because they were closer, and knew one another more intimately. After the ninth plague, however, we find man borrowing from his friend. Yad Chazaka (a strong hand) is the plague dever (smiting the cattle). It ruined the agriculture and the economic resources, such as horses and cattle. But the emptying of Mitzrayim took away the riches, leaving the land bankrupt, and showing that you cannot prosper from slavery. Egypt was famous for its manufactured clothes and its fabrics; the people should have worn these items, but they didn't. "You shall putt it on your sons and your daughters, but no display of the brocades and beautiful things on yourselves." G-d's intention was not to promote vanity, but to discipline the Egyptians. He did not want them to display it. "I allow you to place it upon your children!" A child is the most envious person on earth when he sees things on other children which his parents cannot afford to give to him. Children feel the pain! The children of Egypt had suffered pain, and therefore it said, "Place it on your children." These are the two


purposes of the riches-punish the Egyptians and give your children an hour of joy. Right after the giving of the ten commandments, Gd commanded them to build the Mishkan (the Tabernacle). Cannot a small house accommodate the Almighty? G-d wanted from them the very items they took to demonstrate that they were not miserly. "Lift your eyes to G-d and be happy with what he gives you!" The people responded well. "Bo el Paroh" January 1975 "Bo el Paroh" (go to Pharaoh) is different from the wording used in the Torah in Sedra Va'era when G-d sent Moshe to confront Pharaoh for the first plague of blood at the Nile River. There, we find the word lech (which also means to go). Here, before the onset of the fourth plague of arov (pestilence), G-d said, "Place yourself before Pharaoh." When the word lech is used, it means meeting Pharaoh at the Nile; bo means, "Place yourself in front of him." The words bo or lech are characteristic of the messages. We speak of people with two personalities. There are people who are always sinning and always repenting. King Herod was such a one. He murdered sages and then redecorated the Beit Hamikdash and prostrated himself before G-d. A man of power should not be a dual personality; they must reconcile their contradictions. If the king wants to enjoy many good years on the throne, he must reside amongst the people. To be authoritarian does not mean to lack compassion. Moses was told to approach Pharaoh as the emperor and also to approach "another" Pharaoh as a private person. When he approaches Pharaoh as the king, he met him at the Nile, the symbol of power in Egypt. "Address yourself to the power oriented Pharaoh at the source of power, Nile. Stop him; block him. Tell him there are forces stronger. Place yourself strongly in front of him and protest!" Then, we find the word bo used. "Go into the king in the palace when he is an ordinary man, a person, a father. Tell him how wrong it is to throw a child into the water. Tell him about Abraham, about morality. Perhaps he will respond." There is a spark of good even in the most wicked. We use the word bo when we ask someone to come closer. Lech means go, go away. In this case, the words lech el Paroh would seem to be of no sense. The Almighty who is ubiquitous is remote and close at all times. There is no difference; therefore, G-d can use bo and lech. When G-d told Moses the first time, "Lech el Paroh," the voice originated near Moshe. One can never leave the Almighty, for He walks with man, and when man reaches his destination, he finds G-d. "Bo el Paroh," "When you come, you will find Pharaoh and Me." Or, it could mean, "I will go with you."


Why did G-d command in such a strange way--"Come to Pharaoh and Me," or "Come with me?" When Moshe said, "Who am I to go to Pharaoh," G-d answered, "Because I will be with you." There are two forms of shelichot (being an agent). First is simply to perform a mission by proxy. The second is personalistic--two people united by a bond of friendship, committed, sharing each other's trials or joys. They achieve a common identity. Thus, in the Beit Hamikdash, the kohen who prepared the sacrifice did it for the person who brought it , but the one who brought it had to be present. He could not send it by proxy. This is the personalistic one. The chazan (cantor) is the shaliach (agent) of the tzibur (congregation), but the people must be present. People cannot, for instance, say, "I'll let the chazan represent me; I'll stay home." It can only be performed in the presence of the people, not by proxy. It is only accomplished by common identity. Maimonides ruled that the chazan should not be close to the aron kodesh, but in the center, close to the congregants. The people surrounded the shaliach tzibur. Man feels the hot breath on his cold face, and this experience is the supreme common identity. That is why in the first expression G-d said, "Lech." Come with me in common identity. It is not sending him away, but like the prayer L'cha Dodi--lets go together. Man can come so close that there is one voice, one feeling. We live in an era where people don't take history for granted. G-d waits for man to seize the initiative, waits a long time for the shaliach (messenger). Let us ask ourselves, "What does G-d need man for? Why should he depend upon a human being?" The answer is that G-d wants man to be a participant in the geulah (redemption). We find in the Megilah, it talks about the search for the girls, the perfumes etc. Suddenly, the theme changes, and we find written, "Ish Yehudi etc." There was a Jewish man by the name of Mordechai etc.) Why? Because there would have been nothing without the "Ish Yehudi." The same applies here in the Torah, concerning the redemption from Egypt. The time had arrived as promised to Abraham. G-d needed the shaliach for the geulah (the agent for the redemption). After the mission is accomplished, the shaliach is not mentioned. The individual deserves no praise. G-d is the warrior! man never is the warrior. When man becomes the teacher, the mentor, he deserves praise. G-d does not bestow political economic power on man. G-d was the speaker, the actor. G-d longs for man, but he accomplished all. "Lo al yadai shaliach" (not through the hands of a messenger)-not second class! He was in first class a s merely a proxy. Without Moshe there would be no geulah, but the entire geulah, the entire credit is G-d's. We do not say "Moshe Go'alainu" (Moses the redeemer), for man is not powerful. Power does not belong to man. The little malignant cell kills the most powerful. We


do, however, say "Moshe Rabbainu" (Moses our teacher). Kingship and power belongs to G-d, but the attribute of knowledge, grace and kindness can be man's to be like G-d. G-d did not permit Moshe's name to be mentioned in the exodus, but He did permit his name to be recorded throughout the Torah. G-d tells Moshe, "You will never be called a man of power, but will always be called the great leader." Thus, in Shir Hashirim we have but an allusion to Moshe; his name is not mentioned. "In the middle of the night on my bed I sought him (that is Moses). When I found whom I love, I held him and would not let him go. I brought him to my mother's house!" On the night of Mitzrayim, Moses's name is eliminated. Similarly, when the Haggadah of the Mashiach (Messiah) is written, Mashiach's name also will not be mentioned. First Born --February 8, 1975 The exodus from Egypt led to matan Torah (giving of the Torah) and the 613 precepts. With many of the precepts it refers to the exodus from Egypt, such as "I am the Lord your G-d who took you from Egypt." We are warned to discipline ourselves in corporeal excessiveness as was practiced in Egypt. The body should be disciplined not to be the beast of the field. This includes sexual excessiveness or immorality and the dietary laws. To discipline the mind is easy but the body is difficult. Thus, all the pagan religions worshipped pleasure. Also included are the precepts of justice. "Deal kindly with strangers etc." This encompasses the entire principles of the Torah--kedushah (holiness) and justice. There are precepts associated with exodus which serve as a memorial, such as eating of matzoh, the paschal lamb and the injunction against eating chametz. They are the echoes or reflections of Yetziat Mitzrayim (exodus from Egypt). They are not permanent or perpetual precepts but practiced only at certain times of the year. However, there are two precepts regarding the exodus which serve the entire year--b'chor (first born) and t'filin (wearing the phylacteries). This is an analysis between b'chor and Yetziat Mitzrayim. Why was the plague of the "first born?" It ties in with the mitzvah of b'chor. G-d said, "Israel is my first born. Let him go or I will kill your first born." Why didn't G-d tell this to Moshe the entire time He spoke to him at the revelation at the bush, but only after Moshe spoke to Yitro (his father-in-law) and was on his way to Egypt? Often, the first born are the most cruel to the younger ones. They often utilize their bigness to exploit the younger ones. Often, the gangs of the street started in parental home with display of authority. It was a patriarchal slave society--primogeniture. Each first born was a master of slaves. Why did G-d punish the gods? Because when you punish a nation you must punish its philosophy.


We (Israel) have recognized the unique role of the first born, not as power. Jacob was not interested in blessings of power. He was afraid that Esau should not be in line to his covenental destiny. He wanted to be in line. Actually refuting the theory of power to the first born, the younger ones almost always were the elected or the great ones. G-d owns the world in general but especially the living matter-man. According to the Torah law, man has very limited access to the animal kingdom for food and it is loaded with limitations (dietary laws). There is little prohibition in the organic world, unless there is kilayim (cross breeding of forbidden species). Blood was prohibited because it belongs to G-d; the exclusive possession synonymous with life. The more precious a thing is, the more specific the prohibitions are from G-d. It belongs to G-d. Children, the most precious of all, belong to G-d as exemplified by Chana (the prophet Samuel) a d Abraham (his son Isaac). If the birth of every child is important to the parent (especially mothers), the birth of the first child is the greatest experience. It borders almost on the miraculous. The bachelor is egocentric. Marriage with a child is a "closed community." With a child the area expands. According to Hebrew law a childless man could not sit in criminal judgment because he lacked compassion. Neither can an old man (in capital cases) because he also lacks compassion. The first born is a source of deep pleasure. The more precious the love, the more it belongs to G-d. G-d claims the first born for Himself because the parents enjoy him so much. Thus, on the night of the exodus, the Egyptian concept of first born (power) was defeated; the Hebrew version of (love) conquered. The first born received two portions. Regarding inheritance he becomes the "paternal" b'chor. It is a repayment because during his youth he carries the load and becomes the father's helper. At birth (Pidyon haben) it is "maternal" b'chor. In the paternal case the double portion inheritance is for the services he rendered to father especially in olden times when he helped the father accumulate wealth. In the maternal case, the b'chor not only opens the womb but opens the spiritual and emotional community--love. When one introduces a child as "this is my b'chor," what does it imply? It means that you have more children--this one is the first born one. When G-d said to Pharaoh, "Israel is my b'chor," it meant that He has other children--nations--and loves all his children. What is the role of Israel as b'chor (first born)? "You are my first born--I'm giving you the Torah--but don't think I am abandoning the world. You will be my messengers, my teachers," but "Li chol ha'aretz" (the whole world is mine). "I am not abandoning the world. As b'chor you will have to teach."


G-d is prepared to accept any nation as long as they will walk along the laws. But the b'chor must teach. The older child is the greatest teacher to the younger ones because they can communicate. The mother and father belong to the "older generation." But, it cannot be said about the older brother and sister, for they are of the same generation. Pharaoh did harm to the 600,000 Jews only, but by depressing the nation as slaves, he prevented Israel from assuming its role as the teacher. So, he sinned not only against the Jews but against the whole world. He prevented us from taking up our teaching although the assignment was still valid. At the end of Sedra Shmot we are told that Moshe forgot to circumcise his son. Why is it told at this time? Tziporah (Moshe's wife) saved him. Gershom (the older son) was supposed to teach Eliezer (the younger) and Moshe forgot. It was only a physical circumcision but a spiritual one as well. Therefore, until he did so, he couldn't appear before Pharaoh. haggadah1 Shiur HaRav Soloveichik ZT'L on Haggadah Shel Pesach The mitzvah of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim includes the re-telling of the story of the exodus as well as the obligation to learn the Halachos of Pesach. The Hagaos Maymaniyos (end of Hilchos Chametz and Matzah) says there is an obligation to learn the laws of Pesach all night based on the Tosefta (Pesachim 10:8) that states that Rabban Gamliel and the Chachamim that were in the house of Bytis Ben Zunin and discussed the Halachos of Pesach all night. (this is a variation of the story of Rabbi Eleazr and the other Tanaim that spent the entire night discussing Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim.) The Vilna Gaon derives this obligation to learn the Halachos of Pesach from the answer given to the Ben Chacham, (which according to the Gaon was) we must teach him all the Halachos of Pesach, UNTIL (Ad) Ayn Maftirin Achar Hapesach Afikomen. The Parsha in Vaeschanan describes the answer given to the Ben Chacham who asks what are the Aydos Chukim and Mishpatim that Hashem has commanded us: that we were slaves to Paroh in Egypt (the Sippur aspect) and then that Hashem commanded us to perform all the Mitzvos (learning the Halachos) of Pesach. The Rav noted that the Baal Haggadah only mentions the second part of the answer given to the Chacham, that of learning the Halachos of Pesach. Why don't we tell him the complete response to his question as described in Vaeschanan? The Rav explained that in Vaeschanan, there is only one child being discussed, the Ben Chacham. The Torah gives him the complete answer to his question, that of the story of the exodus and the obligation to teach


him all the laws we were given. However at the Seder, all 4 sons are represented and must be told the story of the exodus. The Baal Haggadah, in the response given to the Ben Chacham, wants to single out the uniqueness of the Ben Chacham by noting that in addition to the Mitzvas Sippur, he is the one who is taught the Halachos of Pesach. In reality there are 3 Mitzvos involved in Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim: 1) telling the story (Sippur); 2) Singing praise to Hashem for taking us out of bondage (Hallel V'Shevach) based on Hashir Hazeh Yihyeh Lachem Klayl Hiskadesh Chag; 3) learning the Halachos of Pesach. The third is the most important as the concept of Vayetzavainu Hashem Laasos Es Kal Hachukim Hayleh, the receipt of the Torah on Har Sinai, was the ultimate goal of the exodus. (The Chinuch says that Sephira is intended to connect Pesach and Shavuos, as the exodus was the medium for Kabbalas Hatorah which was the desired end. Shavuos is called Atzeres because it is the conclusion of the holiday of Pesach.) As mentioned above, Avadim Hayinu, the story of the exodus, is how the Torah begins the answer to the Ben Chacham. It immediately follows the Mah Nishtanah. Who asks the Mah Nishtanah at the seder? The 4 questions are complex and beyond the capabilities of either the simple son (Tam) or the son who is incapable of asking intelligent questions. The Rasha scorns the entire process. It must be the Ben Chacham who asks these questions at the seder. We answer him initially with the Avadim Hayinu as mentioned in the Torah, we quickly tell him that we will complete the rest of the story of the exodus when we involve the other 3 sons. We immediately involve the Ben Chacham by giving him a halachic answer, and discussing some of the Halachos of Pesach that apply to this night. "Had not Hashem taken our forefathers out of Egypt we and succeeding generations would have remained as slaves to Paroh in Egypt": this is the Halacha of Bchal Dor Vdor Chayav Adam Liros Es Atzmo K'ilu Hu Yatza Mi'Mitrayim, in each generation we must see ourselves as if we personally were redeemed from Egypt. We then say that as far as the Mitzvah of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim is concerned, the more the merrier: this is the Halacha of no upper limit for Divrei Torah. Next we read the Berysa that shows that all are obligated in the Mitzvah of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim no matter how learned one might be. Next, we talk about the Halacha of Zechiras Yetzias Mitzrayim and discuss when it applies. The section of the 4 sons describes the Halacha that we must relate and teach the Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim according to the sophistication of each child. The Chacham is to be taught differently than the Tam and so on. The "4 sons" also instructs us


that we can not dismiss any of these children from the Mitzvah of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim. We can't say that the child is either not interested or not smart enough to appreciate and therefore neglect that child. The Torah charged us with teaching 4 types of children, each according to his capabilities, even if it takes all night to get it across. We then continue with the laws of Vhigadta Lvincha, when is the appropriate time to perform all these Mitzvos and to teach the children. The Rav considered Pesach as the most "Lomdish" (requiring the highest level of Torah learning acumen) of the festivals. One must be fluent in the various parts of the Shulchan Aruch to prepare for Pesach. One must understand the intricacies of Choshen Mishpat to know how to write a proper document for the sale of the Chametz. (Shtar Mechiras Chometz is among the more difficult documents to understand and prepare.) Choshen Mishpat is also needed to understand the rules of Bal Yaraeh and Bal Yimatzay and how they relate to the definitions of possession and financial responsibility and obligations regarding personal Chametz. One must be fluent in Yoreh Deah to handle questions of Issur V'heter regarding Chametz B'Mashehu, Taaruvas Chametz, Hagalas Kaylim (Chametz/non-Chametz mixtures, purification of vessels that were used with Chametz for use on Pesach). And of course Orach Chayim describes the general laws of Pesach. Yet when we discuss the Halachos of pesach with the Ben Chacham at the seder, we concentrate on telling him the Halachos of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim. The answer to the Ben Chacham given in Vaeschanan says that Hashem took us out of Egypt B'Yad Chazakah. The Haggadah at the outset in Avadim Hayinu, essentially quotes the answer as given in Vaeschanan, and mentions B'Yad Chazakah, simply described as the mighty hand of Hashem, k'vayachol, that punished Paroh (Note: the Baal Haggadah interprets Yad Chazakah as the plague of Dever). However it also includes the words Zeroah Netuyah which are not found in Vaeschanan. These words come from the text of Arami Ovayd Avi at the beginning of Parshas Ki Tavo. The Rav asked why is this phrase from Arami Ovayd added to the Yad Chazakah that was mentioned in Vaeschanan as part of the answer to the Ben Chacham presented in Avadim Hayinu? The Rav explained Zeroah Netuyah as the promise that Hashem will repeat the miracles of the exodus for Bnay Yisrael. It represents the promise that Hashem is prepared and ready to protect us from assimilation and annihilation throughout the generations and is constantly watching over Bnay Yisrael. Yad Chazakah alone, which connotes the recognition of the miracles Hashem brought in Egypt and to Paroh and our resultant obligation to perform the Mitzvos of Pesach, would have been a sufficient answer to the question of the


Ben Chacham. The miracles done for us during the exodus from Egypt alone would have been sufficient for us celebrate Pesach and thank Hashem for that redemption. The Chinuch describes the section of Arami Ovayd, the Mitzvah of Bikurim (which contains the term Yad Chazakah), as an obligation to show Hakaras Hatov, to recognize and thank Hashem, for all the miracles and acts of Chesed He has done for us throughout the ages. We also tell the Chacham at the seder,as implied by the term Zeroah Netuyah, that we are obligated to give Hakaras Hatov to Hashem for all these miracles, past and future. The Rav mentioned that according to the Chachmei Hakabbalah the fourth cup of wine at the seder is symbolic of the ultimate redemption of Klal Yisrael, the Zeroah Netuyah. V'ilu Lo Hotzi Hashem Osanu Haray Anu Uvaneinu etc. We have a second statement later in the Haggadah of Becahl Dor Vador Chayav Adam Liros Es Atzmo Kilu Hu Yatza M'mitzrayim. Why do we need both apparently redundant statements? There are 2 aspects which we recognize, the historical aspect that Hashem took our forefathers out of Egypt which is relevant to us. There also is an obligation to make the exodus personal, as the Rambam says that a person must view the seder night as if he himself, right now, has gone out of Egypt. For the former, relating the story would have been sufficient. However for our personal obligation, we must say Shirah Chadasha, we recite a specific Bircas Hashevach for taking us out as well. This is consistent with the Gemara (Berachos) which notes different Berachos to be recited when one passes a place where a miracle happened to his forefathers and when he passes a place where he himself was saved by a miracle. At first we thank Hashem for saving our forefathers and must fullfill the obligation to offer a blessing when passing the place where one's forefathers were saved. The second aspect is for personal salvation. We associate Hallel with the aspect of personal salvation, as we emulate the redemption as if it was happening to us right now. The Baal Haggadah mentions Afilu Kulanu Chachamim Kulanu Nevonim Kulanu Zekaynim Kulanu Yodim es Hatorah. Why were Zekaynim included here (according to some texts it is omitted)? Zekaynim implies a Baal Horaah, for example Zakayn Mamreh, a member of the Sanhedrin who rebels against the majority opinion of Beis Din. The members of the Sanhedrin were called Zekaynim. The original Beis Din chosen by Moshe in the desert was selected by a lottery where the tickets stated Zakayn or were left blank. So there is a close association between Zakayn and Sanhedrin, who were the most knowledgeable in Torah. The Baal Haggadah is telling us that even those that are far superior in their Torah knowledge are obligated to participate in an exchange of views about Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim. The Haggadah


tells us who was gathered around the table in Bnai Brak. It included students like Rabbi Akiva and their master teachers like Rabbi Yehoshua. The Rambam juxtaposes the Halachos of one who has no child to ask him the questions and the obligation of scholars to participate in Sippuir Yetzias Mitzrayim, saying that he who extends himelf in this Mitzvah is Meshubach. What is the connection between these disparate individuals as to their obligation of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim? The Rav explained that the fundamental Mitzvah underlying Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim is Talmud Torah, which has no upper limit. The more one discusses the more he knows about Yetzias Mitzrayim, the more different viewpoints he has about it, the more nuances he sees in it. Even the greatest scholars should learn one from the other in order to increase their knowledge base, which makes them Meshubach, improved in their knowledge of Torah. The Rav explained the other intellectual personalities described by the Haggadah. The three mentioned are Chacmah Binah and Daas. The Rav based this on the verse where Hashem selected Betzalel to build the Mishkan. "V'amalay Oso Ruach Elokim B'chachma U'betvunah Uvdaas", Betzalel was gifted with these various qualities that were all needed to build the Mishkan. This notion is said every day in the bracha of Ata Chonen, we pray for Chachmah Binah and Daas. (The alternate text of Deah Binah Vehaskel is essentially the same, in the reverse order.) The Rav described Chachmah as the ability to be Mechadesh things in Torah, someone who has an almost mystical gift for feeling their way through a difficult topic in Torah, where they will all of a sudden be hit with an idea that will unravel a major question or discrepancy. The Rav mentioned that Reb Chaim Brisker was such an individual. He had the "Nefesh Hatorah" which would express itself by illuminating the intellectual darkness with a bolt of lightning, a chiddush, that solved the problem. The second quality is that of Binah. This describes someone who is capable of analyzing and organizing different opinions and concepts and make them readily understandable. He possesses a wealth of knowledge that he can draw on to resolve questions and present his viewpoint in a discourse. The third quality is that of Daas. This the Rav described as those that are capable of being undisputed and recognized Baaly Horaah. Such gedolim like Reb Yitzchak Elchanan, who lived in the time when there were many great Gedolei Torah, are still sought out in areas of Horaah, even by other Gedolim. Each of these three personalities will view the Mitzvas Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim differently, yet in a completely valid way. The Rav compared this to the Gemara (Gittin 67a) where Isi Ben Yehuda was enumerating the various Tanaim and their strengths. Each Tana had


a different quality that made him special and that made his learning and teaching unique. For such gedolim there is also an obligation to participate in Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim to improve their own knowledge and add to the knowledge of others. The Rav noted that in general when the Haggadah refers to Hashem it is as HKB'H. There are 2 places where Hashem is referred to as Hamakom: prior to the 4 sons and when Yehohua is quoted (Vachshav Kervanu Hamakom). Why are these 2 places singled out? Also, what is the connection between the discussion of the various Tanaim in Bnei Brak and the 4 sons and the Parsha from Yehoshua? The Rav explained this by noting the Gemara regarding the difference between the prophecy of Yeshayahu and Yechezkel. Yeshayahu describes Hashem as Kadosh while Yechezkel uses the term Makom. In explaining the differences between a city dweller who sees the king all the time and the village dweller who describes the king in full detail to those who have never seen him, the Rav explained that the prophecies of Yeshayahu and Yechezkel derived from their different perspectives. Yeshayahu was given prophecy during a time prior to the exile of Bnay Yisrael where there was no hint yet of Galus and Churban. Ir was an Ays Ratzon for the people before Hashem to repent. Hashem was Kivayachol readily visible through the Bays Hamikdash where the Avodah was K'tekunah and Kohanim B'avodasam and Leviim B'duchanam. It was apparent that Hashem was there and Kadosh. Yechezkel on the other hand was given prophecy after the first stages of Churban had occurred. It was a time of Hester Panim, Bnay Yisrael were no longer close to Hashem. Under exile conditions it was very hard to see the immediacy of Hashem. In such a case the term Mimkamo, wherever Hashem may be found, is used. The Rav noted that as an example that in times of Avaylus when we console the mourners we use the term Hamakom Ynachem Eschem. There is no greater Hester Panim than in time of tragedy. It is difficult to see and feel Hashem under such circumstances where one feels so distant from HKB'H. We therefore use the word Hamakom, as Yechezkel did. When Avraham entered the Bris Bayn Habesarim he was promised the Torah and Eretz Yisrael through the difficult process of a 400 year exile in a foreign land. Under optimal circumstances we could have expected that these things would have been given to Avraham in an easy to achieve way, without pain, suffering an tribulations. Yet Avraham entered the covenant through a dark fear. Hashem was showing that there will be a distance, a Hester Panim, which was to begin at that time and would not be broken till Yetzias Mitzrayim. That is why we refer to Hashem as Hamakom when we describe our forefathers and their selection. For from the


time of Bris Bayn Habesarim, there was an element of distance, therefore Hashem is referred to as Hamakom. However at the time of the redemption from Egypt, it says that HKB'H Chishaves Hakaytz, not in terms of Hamakom, because in this situation the closeness of Hashem and Bnay Yisrael was revealed. The first reference to Hamakom is regarding the giving of the Torah to Bnay Yisrael, Baruch Hamakom Baruch Hu. The Torah was given to us through suffering, and great difficulties that were associated with keeping the various Mitzvos throughout the ages. If the name "HKB'H" would have been associated with the granting of the Torah, we would have enjoyed a more sanguine and protected life as a nation. However our destiny is that we have to search for Hashem, as Hamakom, wherever we may be, both in our daily lives as well as in our search for Torah knowledge. ____________________________________________________ This summary is Copyright 1996, 1997 by Dr. Israel Rivkin and Josh Rapps, Edison, N.J. Permission to reprint and distribute, with this notice, is hereby granted. Subject: Shiur HaRav Soloveichik ZT'L on Haggadah haggadah2 Shiur HaRav Soloveichik ZT'L on Pesach and Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim (shiur date: 3/25/69) The Rav noted that the Rambam (Hilchos Chametz Umatzah 8:1) refers to "Seder Assiyas Mitzvos Aylu" (the order of performing these Mitzvos) when referring to the order in which one fulfills the Mitzvos of the night of Pesach. The term "Seder" clearly applies to the topics discussed in the previous chapters in Hilchos Chametz Umatzah, where the Rambam mentions the obligation to eat Matzah, Marror, to relate the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim, Charoses, the 4 cups. The Rav noted that even though the Rambam does not dwell on the Mitzvah to eat the Korban Pesach in Hilchos Chametz Umatzah, which is dealt with at length in Hilchos Korban Pesach, he still mentions it in passing in connection with the obligation of eating Marror. Therefore the Rambam uses the term Aylu, which includes the Korban Pesach as well, even though he mentioned it only in passing. As noted above, the Rambam uses the word Seder. The Gemara does not mention this term in connection with the obligations of the night. The Rambam uses the term Seder in connection with the Mitzvos that were performed on Yom Kippur. Now there is no doubt that if the Kohen Gadol performs any part of the service out of the specified order he disqualifies the entire process. However the Rav raised the question as to whether the term Seder, when used in connection to Pesach, also stipulates a specific order to follow. For example, would someone who ate and recited Bircas Hamazon on a cup of wine and then recited the Haggadah on another cup of wine


fulfill his obligations? In other words, he performs the Mitzvos connected with the third cup of wine on the second, and the obligations associated with the third cup of wine on the second cup. The Rav stated that even though he did it out of order, he has fulfilled the obligation to eat Matzah and Marror on the night of the fifteenth. However, he will be lacking the fulfillment of another facet of the Mitzvah, that of Pesach Matzah Umarror as part of the obligation of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim. Rabban Gamliel teaches us that one must recite the significance of Pesach, Matzah and Marror before eating them. The notion that Matzah and Marror are included in the Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim can be seen from several areas: 1) Many Rishonim explain the statement of Rabbi Eliezer Ben Azaryah that limits the time one may eat Matzah till midnight, which is the final time for eating the Korban Pesach, as also limiting the Mitzvah of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim to Chatzos as well. 2) The Ramban says (Berachos, Milchamos) that one who does not recite the statements of Rabban Gamliel prior to eating Matzah and Marror, lacks fulfillment of his obligation in the most acceptable way. In other words, he is missing the Kiyum of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim through the eating of Matzah and Marror. This is based on the statement in the Haggadah that one must recite these things at the time that Matzah and Marror are laid out before you. 3) The Rambam states explicitly (Hilchos Chametz Umatzah 7:10) that Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim is not just an obligation to speak about it, but one must take steps to demonstrate that he also left Egypt on this night. Examples of this are the drinking of the 4 cups of wine and the requirement to eat in a leaning position. In both cases he is demonstrating the freedom that he now enjoys. 4) According to most Rishonim, one is required to drink the 4 cups while leaning. All Rishonim agree that Matzah must be eaten in a leaning position. If a person did not lean while eating Matzah he must repeat it again. Since the person has obviously fulfilled the obligation to eat Matzah on the night of the fifteenth, why must he repeat the Mitzvah again? Because in order to fulfill the additional requirement of eating Matzah as part of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim, he must eat the Matzah while reclining. Now, what if he recites the Haggadah on the first cup and recites Kiddush on the second? The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 472:1) states that one must wait till nightfall before reciting Kiddush on Pesach night. The Magen Avraham and the Taz both explain the reason for this is because Kiddush is also one of the 4 cups of wine which must be drunk at the proper time when one may also eat Matzah, which is at night. In addition, one may not recite Kiddush before nightfall, even if he intends to wait till after nightfall to drink


the wine. We see from this that there are 2 aspects to the Mitzvah of Kiddush on Pesach night: 1) The mitzvah of Kiddush associated with Zachor, like on Friday night and all other Yomim Tovim. 2) It fulfills one of the aspects of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim. The Rav noted that the Rambam mentions (Hilchos Chametz Umatzah 7:4) that one must begin with Genus and end with Shevach. The Rambam says that we have to mention that Hashem separated us and brought us close to Him. Where do we find the notion that Hashem separated us? The Rav said that the selection of Yisrael by Hashem is part of the theme of Kiddush. Kiddush is a key part of the Mitzvah of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim. The Rambam (Hilchos Chametz Umatzah 7:1) says that the Mitzvah of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim is similar to the Mitzvah of Kiddush on Shabbos that is based on Zachor Es Yom Hashabbos. The Rav asked why does the Rambam compare the two? The Rav answered that Kiddush on Shabbos declares and dedicates the upcoming night and day with the sanctity of the Shabbos. Kiddush on Pesach night declares and dedicates the evening to the Mitzva of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim. Therefore it must precede the actual telling of the story which takes place on the second cup, after Kiddush has beed recited. So the Rav concluded that the order of the first 2 cups of wine is specific and must be followed in sequence. The Rav asked if the third and fourth cups of wine must also be performed in order. The Mishneh says they pour for him the third cup of wine and he recites Bircas Hamazon. On the fourth cup he completes the Hallel. The third cup of wine is recited over the concept of Hodaah, we thank Hashem for all he has done, while the fourth is recited over Shevach, praise to Hashem. Bircas Hamazon on Pesach night takes on a different characteristic than during the rest of the year. Otherwise, it would not have been included in the 4 cups. On Pesach, Bircas Hamazon has another role of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim, we thank Hashem for redeeming us from Egypt. Prior to the conclusion of Maggid, we say Lefikach, therefore we are obligated to thank Hashem and to praise Him. The Hodaah is for the past, for the redemption from Egypt. Hallel, on the other hand, is for the future redemption which is recited over the fourth cup of wine and culminates with Nishmas, which is praise to Hashem for the upcoming redemption that we hope will come soon. (We find in Tehillim the concept of thanking Hashem in advance, Vaani Bchasdecha Batachti Yagel Lebie Byeshuasecha, thanking Hashem now for redemption that will come in the future.) The Gemara (Pesachim 117a) says that the prophets established the practice of reciting Hallel as thanks to Hashem whenever the Jewish People are saved from a looming catastrophe, that should not befall them. From this we see that it is permissible to pray and


recite Hallel as an insurance policy and as prayer even before a tragedy occurs. (Note that Rashi did not have the exact same text as we do, and was of the opinion that Hallel is recited only upon delivery from a crisis.) The various chapters of Hallel fall into the following categories: 1) Shevach (see the first 2 chapters of Hallel) 2) Tefila (see Lo Lanu, Ana Hashem) 3) Bitachon (see Hashem Zecharanu) These three themes are scattered throughout the other chapters of Hallel. Before we can continue with the prayers expressing our confidence in the future we must first make sure to fully thank Hashem for the favors we have already received. Only then can we turn to Shevach, and thank Hashem for the favors that we will receive. So from the above discussion, it is clear that the Rambam's uses the term Seder to indicate a strict order that must be adhered to, similar to his use of the term in Avodas Yom Hakippurim. The Rav continued to analyze the Rambam (Hilchos Chametz Umatzah 8:1). According to the Rambam there is a Mitzvah for everyone, including women, to drink the 4 cups. The Rambam previously mentioned this as well (Hilchos Chametz Umatzah 7:7). Tosfos (Pesachim 99b) disagrees and says that one person can be Motzi others, and that they do not have to all drink the 4 cups. Tosfos is of the opinion that the important aspect of the 4 cups is the reciting of the blessings over the cups of wine, not necessarily the drinking of the wine. The Rambam in describing the process of the 4 cups of wine paraphrases to a large degree the Mishnayos in Arvei Pesachim. Since the Mishna did not simply start with Kiddush, but rather with Meziga, apparently Meziga plays an important role. The Mishna mentions Meziga by the first 3 cups of wine but not the fourth. Perhaps one might say, that since the third and fourth cups of wine are discussed in the same Mishna, the term Meziga though mentioned once, applies to both. However the Rambam mentions Meziga by the fourth cup, including the third cup in his discussion of Bircas Hamazon. Apparently the Rambam had a different text of the Mishna than we do. The Rav asked if there was a difference between the texts. Also, the Rav wanted to understand why the Rambam introduces the Meziga of Kiddush with the word B'techila, (at the outset). The Rav explained that the term B'techila teaches us that the Meziga is part of the Mitzvos of the night of Pesach. It is the beginning of the seder. If one set up a cup of wine earlier in the day on the fourteenth for use at the seder, he would be lacking in the complete fulfillment of the seder. It is also clear from the second cup that Meziga is an integral part of the seder, as the Mezigas Kos


Shayni, pouring of the second cup of wine, is a prerequisite for the son to ask the 4 questions. The Meziga is necessary to arouse the curiosity of the child so that he will ask his father the questions. (See Rashi in Pesachim 116, where he implies that the pouring of the wine is what obligates the son to ask at that point). The Meziga is actually a part of the Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim. Vehigadta Lvincha requires us to actively arouse the curiosity of the children so they will be moved to ask questions. The formal Meziga is one of the added nuances we use to make sure the child notices that this night is truly distinct from all others. The Rav explained that Vehigadta Lvincha teaches us that we must explain to our children the events that took place in the past to gain our freedom. The first 3 cups concentrate on telling about the redemption from Egypt, therefore Meziga is important as a part of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim. However the fourth cup refers to the eventual, ultimate redemption. This topic is not part of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim and therefore the fourth cup, according to our text, does not require Meziga. (according to the Rav, all three cups that require Meziga are intended to stimulate the children to ask, even though the third one is done after the formal Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim is concluded.) The Rav explained that according to the Rambam, that the fourth cup requires Meziga, the Mitzva of Vehigadta Lvincha extends to the future redemption as well as the exodus from Egypt. We are teaching our children that just like Hashem took us out of Egypt, he will take us out of Galus and redeem us again in the near future. Why according to the Rambam is there no Meziga by the third cup? The Rav explained that since the pouring of the third cup takes place within the context of the meal, it does not stir the curiosity of the children. Since the third cup does not affect Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim, there is no need to mention Meziga with it. ___________________________________________________________ This summary is Copyright 1997 by Dr. Israel Rivkin and Josh Rapps, Edison, N.J. Permission to reprint and distribute, with this notice, is hereby granted. bshalach.98 Shiur HaRav Soloveichik ZT"L on Parshas Bshalach (Shiur date: 2/9/71) "And Moshe and Aaron told Bnay Yisrael: in the evening you will know that Hashem took you out of Egypt. And in the morning you will see the glory of Hashem etc." (Shemos 16:6-7). The Ibn Ezra interprets these verses to mean that via the events of the evening and the morning you will come to know that Hashem took you out of Egypt and you will see the glory of Hashem. Rashi says that the difference in the presentation of the Manna and the Slav was related to the appropriateness of the request. The


request for Manna was a legitimate request for a basic necessity, hence it was granted by day, representing a pleasant countenance (Bsever Panim Yafos). However the request for meat was a desire for a luxury, something they should not have asked for in the desert. Therefore it was granted at night, representing Panim Chashechos, a dark, less receptive demeanor. The Rav interpreted the first 2 verses of Bircas Kohanim in this manner. The blessings of Yevarechecha and Vyishmerecha can be granted in a way that is simple and easy for the recipient to accept. They may also be granted in a way that may be accompanied by some degree of hardship. The second verse of Yaer Hashem is the blessing that the Yevarechecha and Vyishmerecha just granted in the previous verse should occur Bpanim Maeyros, with a pleasant and shining demeanor, without any associated difficulties. Bnay Yisrael's request was also inappropriate in that they requested luxury before the necessity, "As we sat by the fleshpots and ate bread till we were sated". The Manna was granted with Panim Maeyros (both Yevarechecha and Yaer) because it was a legitimate request for a basic staple, while the Slav, an out of order request for a luxury that was not necessary, was granted with Panim Chashechos (with associated hardship, only with Yevarechecha). The Ramban says that the difference between the Manna and the Slav was the ease with which each miracle was perceived. The Slav was carried on the wind, and to the untrained eye might have appeared to be an act of nature. Only those that realized that this was a gift from Hashem appreciated the miracle that occurred. Hence the use of the word Vyedatem, and you shall know or understand the great hidden miracle performed by Hashem. However the Manna was an open miracle for all to see as it was Yesh M'ayin, ex nihilo, all Bnay Yisrael realized that this was truly a miraculous event. Therefore the word Ureysem, and you shall see, the great miracle performed by Hashem for you, as the greatness of the miracle will be evident to all. The Rav explained that Rashi's interpretation carries a practical implication for us all: one prays for that which he absolutely needs. One should not pray for frivolous things. Man has the right to pray for the basics. This is seen from the story of Akilas the convert who asked Rabbi Eliezer (Breishis Rabba 70:5) if Hashem loves the convert why does He provide the convert only with bread and clothing? Rabbi Eliezer answered that the convert is no worse off than Jacob who prayed for bread to eat and clothing to wear. Jacob prayed only for the basics. Our prayers should also be for the basics. The Rambam refers to Shemoneh Esray as the place where man asks Hashem to provide for his basic needs. It is inappropriate to request luxuries in the Amidah. The Rav said that King David (Psalms 131) was careful not to ask for his personal luxuries in


Tefilah. However, Klal Yisrael has no limits on what it can ask for [as long as it asks appropriately, which was not the case with the request for meat in Parshas Bshalach]. The Rav continued the thought of the Ramban regarding Erev and Boker. Erev represents the time since the destruction of the Temple and our long exile. The time of Erev is most closely associatedwith Hester Panim, Hashem remains hidden from us and we must try very hard to find Him. The untrained eye might assume that nature and the normal course of events are responsible for all that has happened to the Jews and the world during these years of Hester Panim. Only the discriminating faithful recognize (Vyedatem) that everything happens only through the will of Hashem. In the time of Moshiach, when it will be Boker, all will see (Ureysem) the hand of Hashem and recognize His greatness. __________________________________________________________ This summary is copyright 1998 by Dr. Israel Rivkin and Josh Rapps, Edison, N.J. Permission to distribute this summary, with this notice is granted. Bshalach Shiur Harav on Parshas Bshalach "Ashira L'Hashem Ki Gao Ga'ah". Rashi's first interpretation is to mention the Targum Unkelus, who explains the verse as "I will sing to Hashem because (or since) he is above all". Rashi adds an additional interpretation: the praise that is appropriate to offer Hashem is infinite and due to human limitations it is always incomplete, as opposed to a mortal king who is praised even though he is found wanting of deeds and not deserving of praise. According to the second interpretation offered by Rashi, Moshe was indicating that Bnay Yisrael lacked sufficient praise to offer Hashem. This is the same concept found in the Gemara (Megilla 25a) that restricts our praise of Hashem in our Tefilah to Ha'kel Hagadol Hagibor V'hanora. This limitation is so stringent that anyone who adds praises of Hashem beyond that which the Anshei Kneses Hagedolah established is viewed negatively based on the verse L'chah Dumiah Tehila (Megilla 18a). The second interpretation of Rashi defines the word Ki as "even though", or "despite" (similar to the use of Ki Karov Hu, that Hashem did not lead Bnay Yisrael through the Land of Plishtim EVEN THOUGH it was closer). The Passuk is saying that I will sing to Hashem EVEN THOUGH he is exalted above all and I can't possibly sing all His praises. Based on the above mentioned restriction that limits the praise we may offer Hashem, how did Bnay Yisrael and Moshe have the right to offer the additional praise of Shiras Hayam?


The Gemara (Megilla 25a, Berachos 33b) says that had the Anshei Knesses Hagedolah not incorporated the words Ha'kel Hagadol Hagibor V'hanora into our Tefilos, we would not have been able to utter these words of praise of Hashem either. Their right to incorporate these words was based on Moshe using these words in praise of Hashem (Devarim 10:17). However we still need to understand the fundamental source of permission (Mattir) to pray, on which even Moshe relied to utter these praises. The Rav offered 3 explanations of the Mattir of Shira, each derived from Shiras Moshe (Note: The Rav used Tefilah and Shira interchangeably in much of this shiur): The first explanation is based on the Rambam (Note: The Rav mentioned Hilchos Berachos but did not specify the Halacha. See 1:3.). Man has an instinctive need to give thanks and recognition to someone who performs an act of kindness towards him. As pertains to Hashem, this natural urge is translated into praise to Hashem for all His acts of kindness that He does for man on a continuous basis. Limited man is generally enjoined from praising Hashem because he can not complete the praises of Hashem. However, Moshe and Bnay Yisrael at that moment on the banks of the Yam Suf were incapable of controlling their need to sing the praise of Hashem for His many miracles and acts of kindness towards them. There was an urge for Bnay Yisrael to recite Shira and thank Hashem that could not be stifled (similar to the uncontrollable urge felt by Joseph when he revealed himself to his brothers). This uncontrollable need to thank Hashem is also the basis of permission (Mattir) for our Tefilos in general. Man is distinguished from the animal kingdom by his ability and need to pray. Even though man recognizes the inadequacy of his Tefilos, even before he offers them (Ki Gaoh Gaah), he instinctively must offer them anyway (Azi Vzimaras Kah). This uncontrollable need to thank Hashem serves as the Mattir for Shira and Tefilah. The Rav offered a second suggestion as to what is the Mattir for Shiras Hayam: How did Moshe know that Shira is permissible? Shiras Hayam required a precedent. Moshe had a tradition from father to son back to Avraham Avinu, that the Jewish Nation is a people that offers prayer and praise to Hashem in times of need and times of joy. The Gemara (Berachos 26b) says that our forefathers established the various Tefilos that we have. The intention of the Gemara is not merely to present a history lesson. Rather, it is to show us that because they established the Tefilos (Shacharis, Mincha and Maariv), we too are permitted to pray accordingly. As Moshe mentioned in the Shira, Elokay Avi V'aromimenhu, just as my fore-fathers before me offered Shira to Hashem, so too will I. The Rav offered a third possibility as to what is the Mattir for Shira based on the Rambam (Note: Source believed to be Moreh


Nevuchim). As mentioned in the Gemara (Megilla 25a), only one who is capable of reciting all the praises of Hashem may praise Him (Mi Y'mallel Gevuros Hashem Yashmia Kol Tehilaso, Tehillim 106:2). This of course is impossible for mortals. Yet the prophets often revealed the praise of Hashem (e.g. Rachum Vchanun). These revelations were intended to teach us the ways. Bshalach Shiur HaRav Soloveichik ZT'L on Parshas Bshalach (Shiur Date: 2/5/74) The Torah says that Moshe charged Yehoshua with the responsibility of selecting an army to battle with Amalek. The Ramban comments that even though the Torah says in Parshas Shlach that Moshe called Hoshea Bin Nun Yehoshua, this name change occurred previously, at the time that Yehoshua came to be Moshe's devoted student. When Yehoshua came to Moshe and he realized the potential of his student, he changed his name by adding the letter Yud. The Midrash that says that the Yud represented the prayer that Hashem should save Joshua from the evil plans of the spies. From their earliest association Moshe realized that Yehoshua would be among those that would be sent to spy on the land and he added the letter Yud to his name so that Hashem would save him from being ensnared by the terrible plans of the spies. The Rav explained the importance of the name change from Hoshea to Yehoshua. The Midrash says that when Hashem changed Avram's and Sary's names by removing the Yud from Sary and replacing it with a Hay and adding a Hay to Avraham, the Yud complained. Hashem consoled the Yud by promising that it would be added to the name of another great personality Hoshea, changing his name to Yehoshua. The Rav noted that this was an amazing Midrash and explained it as follows. The change in name for Avram represented a major change in the personality of Avram. The Mishna in Bikurim states that a convert may bring Bikurim and state the word Avoseinu because Avraham was Av Hamon Goyim, the father of the multitude of nations. For this reason a convert may daven Shemoneh Esray and say Elokeinu Valokay Avoseinu. The Rambam points out (Hilchos Avoda Zarah) that Avraham had a major impact on the people of his generation, having converted tens of thousands to recognize the One Creator of the universe. The letter Hay was added to represent Avraham as the externally visible and accessible spiritual father to all. He was not someone who was capable of remaining hidden inside his tent. The Hay represents an openness, the Pesach Haohel, the door of the tent, where Avraham always sat, always seeking out people to help and bring them closer to the Shechina. The Hay symbolizes Hispashtus,


a willingness to extend oneself to all. Simply put Avraham was a leader who epitomized Chesed, as such he was always available to his people. The letter Yud on the other hand represents the possessive form (my chair kisie, my house baysie). It shows the private, hidden part of the person who separates himself from the public. He separates himself because he wants to associate himself completely with Hashem, to the exclusion of all others. It is the Midas Hagevurah, Midas Hatzimtzum of minimizing accessibility. There are 2 distinct dimensions to a leader: his public and private personalities. On the one hand, the leader must exemplify Chesed to all, and be front and center before the people and sharing in their spiritual and daily experiences. We find that by Krias Yam Suf Moshe and Bnay Yisrael sang praise to Hashem. Also by Mattan Torah, Moshe took the people out towards Hashem because he also wanted to be part of the spiritual experience of Kabbalas Hatorah at Har Sinai. In these cases Moshe was the public leader who stood before the people and was their teacher, leader and guide who participated in their experiences as a people. On the other hand, a leader must possess the attribute of Gevurah, Tzimtzum, to separate himself from others in order that he might excel in his personal relationship with Hashem. Again we find that Moshe would set up the Ohel Moed outside of the camp of the people as a place where he could communicate with Hashem, away from all others. He could not be in the public eye at all times. There is a time and place for both. These attributes are seen in Gedolei Yisrael. In some cases, a Gadol may excel in one over the other. The Rav related that he heard from his father who received a tradition from his father that the Vilna Gaon did not say formal shiurim. For the year after the passing of his mother he said shiurim in Mishnayos Zeraim and Taharos, however few if any were capable of keeping up with his brilliance and intellect. The students who heard these shiurim collected them as Shenos Eliahu on Zeraim and Eliahu Rabbah on Taharos. People think of Reb Chaim Volozhin as the Talmid of the Gaon. In reality Reb Chaim's access to the Gaon was that he would assemble questions for the Gaon and twice a year he would present them to the Gaon for a couple of hours at a time. Otherwise the Gaon was completely occupied with his own studying. The Gaon represented the Yud that symbolizes the Midas Hatzimtzum. On the other hand, the Baal Shem Tov represented the Midas Hachesed as the publicly available leader, personifying the Hay of Hispashtus. Yehoshua already possessed the critical dimension of a leader, the Hay of Hispashtus, he was a man of the people. His personal predilection was towards the Midas Hachesed. Moshe recognized this and wanted to add the Midas Hatzimtzum to him as well. There


is a time and place for both attributes in a leader. Therefore the Yud was added to the Hay that was already part of his name. The benefit of this addition to Yehoshua's personality was evident after the episode of the Meraglim. Without the reinforcement of the Midas Hagevurah, Yehoshua's strong sense of being a man of the people might have led him to be engulfed by their evil plan. The Yud symbolized his newly found inner strength to withdraw from the group and to be firm and true in his convictions that Bnay Yisrael could and would conquer Eretz Canaan with the help of Hashem. ___________________________________________________________ This summary is Copyright 1997 by Dr. Israel Rivkin and Josh Rapps, Edison, N.J. Permission to reprint and distribute, with this notice, is hereby granted.

haggadah1.99 Shiur HaRav Soloveichik ZT"L on Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim (Shiur date: 1969) The Rav observed that, at times, the recitations comprising the Haggadah appear at first glance to lack continuity and structure. The Rav focused on the analysis of the Maggid portion of the Haggadah, from Mah Nishtanah through the concluding blessing of Go'al Yisrael. The Rambam refers to this section as the Haggadah, which forms a unique composite of recitations. The sections concluding the Hallel after Bircas Hamazon and Nishmas are not unique to the night of Pesach, as they are recited on the various festivals and every Shabbos morning. The Rav focused on the structure of the Haggadah, dividing Maggid into 3 sections, beginning with Mah Nishtanah/Avadim Hayinu and concluding with Go'al Yisrael, and enumerated and examined them in reverse order. We have the section that begins with Bchal Dor Vador (in every generation the Jew must view himself as if he just left Egypt...) concluding with the first 2 sections of Hallel, hymnal praise to Hashem. The middle section comprises the narrative portion from Arami Oved Avi and concludes with the description of Pesach, Matzah and Marror based on the statements of Rabban Gamliel which is included as part of the narrative. The first section presents the philosophical principles that form the root and foundation of the Mitzvas Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim. Without these postulates it would be impossible to conduct Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim. The first section


also includes some Halacha as well as it pertains to the obligations of the night. The Rav noted that we split Hallel into 2 parts. The first 2 sections are recited at the conclusion of Maggid while the remainder is recited after Bircas Hamazon. Why separate the sections of Hallel on the night of Pesach when we never make such a separation at any other time in the year that we recite Hallel? Why leave some of it for recitation over the fourth cup? What is unique or special about the 2 sections we include in Maggid relative to the rest of Hallel? The Rav explained that the first 2 sections are completely dedicated to thanksgiving and praise of Hashem. It is void of any request or petition on the part of man to Hashem. These sections mention the selection of Bnay Yisrael as the chosen nation. They fit comfortably into the context of the Haggadah section. The remaining sections of Hallel introduce supplication together with praise. For example, the chapter of Min Hamaytzar juxtaposes the verses Zeh Hayom with Ana Hashem Hoshiya Na, praise with supplication. The focus of these verses is that although we have been delivered and we rejoice on this day, we can't escape the fact that we are not completely free. There are still enemies that surround and threaten us and we pray to Hashem for salvation. In the section of Lo Lanu, we express the greatness of Hashem but we juxtapose it with the scoffing of the nations of the world mocking us to point out the location of Hashem. Similarly, the themes of praise and supplication can be seen in the section of Ahavti. This juxtaposition of praise and supplication is noted in the Mishna as the format of praying to Hashem. We express gratitude for the past and supplication for the future. Man is never secure. Happiness today does not guarantee happiness tomorrow. Hallel is split up on the night of Pesach because after we tell the story Of the exodus, we have an obligation to praise Hashem in a format that is complete praise without any petition. We suspend our normal method of prayer, removing all non-praise elements. We do not exclaim Zeh Hayom Asah Hashem in the Maggid section, which would appear to be very appropriate at this point on the night of great joy, because it continues with the petition of Ana Hashem. We focus at this point completely on the praise of Hashem which is the theme of the first 2 chapters of Hallel. The conclusion of Hallel, recited over the fourth cup, is a mixture of Joy with an outcry of pain. Tefila plus Shevach. At the very moment we reach the height of joy we cry out in pain. The structure of Hallel is dialectical in approach: the happy Jew followed by the desperate


Jew. These sections are specifically chosen for the fourth cup, because they do not mention the exodus from Egypt, rather they refer to our pain and longing for the ultimate redemption that will come with Moshiach. We express this yearning even though we are in a celebratory mood this evening. The fourth cup is devoted to the idea that in the Messianic Period, all pledges on the part of Hashem to Bnay Yisrael will be fulfilled. As mentioned before, the narrative section begins with Arami Oved Avi and concludes with the interpretation of Rabban Gamliel's statement on Pesach Matzah and Marror. Why were the sections based on the explanation of Arami Oved Avi selected to form the core of the Haggadah? If the main purpose is to tell the story of the exodus, why don't we simply read the sections in the Torah from Parshas Shmos through Parshas Bo which tell the story of the exodus in detail? After all the Haggadah does not really contain extensive stories of the exodus. Our Maggid is barely a synopsis of the events of the exodus. Indeed, the Karaites would read the stories from the Torah on the night of Pesach as their "Haggadah". Why select a portion from Sefer Dvarim instead of a section from Sefer Shmos as the central part of Maggid? The Rav explained: Arami Oved Avi is related to the Mitzvah of Bikurim (bringing the first fruits to the temple). There were 2 Mitzvos associated with Bikurim: 1) the actual bringing of the Bikurim; 2) the recitation of the Parsha of Arami Oved Avi. Apparently, Chazal felt that there was a common denominator between Bikurim and Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim. The Rambam and the Chinuch explain that the main theme behind Mikra Bikurim is to express gratitude, Hakaras Hatov, to Hashem who gave us the gift of the land. Hakaras Hatov is also the central theme of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim, as we recite Lfikach Anachnu Chayavim Lhodos (therefore we are obligated to thank Hashem...). In order to express thanks to Hashem for all the miracles that He performed for us, we have to tell the story of the exodus. The gift of the land was the fulfillment of the fifth form of Geulah (redemption), V'hayvaysi (and I will usher you in to the land). The Jew is obligated to thank Hashem not only for the fulfillment of the fifth form of Geulah, but for the other 4 as well, Vhotzaysi (and I will take you out of Egypt), Hhitzalti (and I will Rescue you), Vgoalti (and I will redeem you), Vlokachti (and I will take you Unto me as a nation), which refer to the events of the exodus. The obligation to thank Hashem as part of Mikra Bikurim is equated with the obligation to thank Hashem for the exodus on the night of Pesach. If the Torah formulated the Parsha of Arami Oved Avi as the proper format to express gratitude to Hashem for the exodus and


the gift of the land, then the Parsha must be recited in both cases, on the night of Pesach and upon bringing Bikurim. However, there is a difference in emphasis between the 2 recitations. For Mikra Bikurim, we stress the aspect of having been brought into the land and receiving it as a gift, while for Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim, we focus on the aspects surrounding our enslavement and redemption from Egypt. On the night of Pesach we are not all that interested in the details of The exodus and the events that led up to it. For instance, we don't devote much text and time to the suffering of the Jews in Egypt, or to the plagues that were visited upon the Egyptians. Arami Oved Avi serves the purpose of thanking Hashem for our freedom and the ultimate gift of Eretz Yisrael. The focus of the evening is thanks to Hashem as expressed through the Mitzvah of Vhigadta Lvincha, and you shall teach your child. Would not additional details of the story inspire me to thank Hashem even more? The answer is that the Torah was not as interested in the telling of he story as much as in the study of the story. Otherwise, we would have read the early chapters of Sefer Shmos which give all the details of the bondage and exodus of the people. There is a difference between narrating a story and studying a story. Narration relates past events. However when I study past events, I appreciate the significance of these events and their impact on me. A good study of history does not include every last detail. Rather, Lhavdil, the historian tries to capture that which is important outside of the Context of time and space. This approach keeps the events alive for us today. That is why we spend very little time describing the plagues. Our focus is on the greatness of Hashem, who took us out of Egypt. We are interested in the moral motives of the exodus that are still with us today. Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim simply put is a Mitzvah of Torah study. We are obligated to study not only the events of the exodus, but the laws of the festival as well. The Tosefta quotes a slightly different version of the story in Haggadah of the sages that were gathered in Bnay Brak and were involved all night in Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim. The Tosefta states that they were studying the laws of Pesach that night. The study of this night requires us to immerse ourselves in Torah Shbeal Peh, to examine and interpret each and every word of Arami Oved Avi. This Parsha is examined not as an abstract event in the past but as something that impacts us here and now. With this approach we can understand many aspects of the structure of the Haggadah. For example, why do we introduce many of the


sections with questions, e.g. Matzah Zu? Because Talmud Torah is conducted through a process of question and answer. The Rambam says that anyone who devotes extended time to interpreting the Parsha of Arami Oved Avi is praised because this is the essence of Torah study, it is not simply a time of story telling. Even though the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah applies all year, on Pesach night there is an extra Mitzvah to study all the aspects of Yetzias Mitzrayim. The answer of Avadim Hayinu, we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, is the answer written in Sefer Devarim (Parshas Vaeschanan) that is given to the wise son. We say Vayotzianu, and Hashem took us out of Egypt. The exodus happened thousands of years ago, why do we include ourselves in this event? This is the principle of Bchal Dor Vdor, in each generation, we are obligated to view ourselves as if we just left Egypt. Before we begin to develop the theme of Yetzias Mitzrayim and its study, we lay down the premise of full identification with Jews of past generations and the events they encountered. Not only do we remember the events, but we relive and reenact, restage and re-experience these events. The Jew is closer to his past and history than any other nation. The best example is his attachment to Eretz Yisrael. The memory of the Jew is both factual and experiential. Not only do we remember the destruction of the temple, but we relive it each year during the 3 weeks and on Tisha Bav. The past does not die for the Jew. The focus of our celebration is Vayotzianu, it impacts us as much as our forefathers. Chachmay Hakaballah describe the life of man as an experience of various levels and stages of slavery. Man has many masters in his lifetime, sometimes he himself (unknowingly) is both the master and slave. Through the story of the exodus we relive the individual and national redemption. Instead of Avadim Hayinu L'Pharoh, we might have substituted the phrase Avday Pharaoh, we were the slaves of Paroh. The latter phrase would imply that the Jew lost his identity, his personality, his quest for freedom. It would give the impression that all the Jew knew was slavery and the service of his master. Avadim Hayinu L'Pharoh says that the social status of the Jew was that of a slave to Paroh. But slavery was an external manifestation. Internally, the Jew remained the descendant of the patriarchs and yearned for the day that he would be free. We find the phrase Avday Hashem, the slaves of God, which defines the Jew in terms of his total commitment to serve Hashem. Slavery can be both a social as well as a psychological institution. We may have been slaves to Paroh, but we always resented the servitude.


When Moshe encountered the burning bush, the Torah describes the event as the bush was burning in fire, but the bush was not consumed. Rashi interprets the words Labas Aish as 1) the flame 2) the fire was in the heart, or center of the bush. The exterior of the bush was not on fire. Many interpret Moshe's question as "why is the bush not consumed"? Another interpretation of his question is why does the fire remain in the middle, why doesn't it spread outward? The angel of God spoke to Moshe from within the heart of the bush, as if there were concentric circles comprising the extremities of the bush, the center of the bush within that, and the angel at the burning epicenter. What is the symbolism of the bush? The Rav explained that even though there was an intense fire at its core, the fire did not affect the rest of the bush. The same was true of the Jew in Egypt. Hashem was showing Moshe that while externally they are the slaves to Paroh, internally they are yearning to be free and their aspirations are not those of slaves. In the center of the personality of the Jew, the fire burns. Often the fire does not extend beyond the core and leaves the outer parts of the Jew cold. Moshe's experiences with Bnay Yisrael led him to doubt their worthiness and readiness to be free. The bush showed him that it is possible for one bush among many to be different and unique, to have a flame ablaze inside while outwardly appearing to be unaffected. God showed Moshe that the Jew is the same as this bush. He is surrounded by Egyptians and externally he appears to have fit into his niche, yet the internal flame can be exposed to reveal the true personality of the Jew. Throughout the ages the Jew has been accused of various characteristics that, externally, have pained him very negatively. The burning bush says that the Jew may be abused externally, but internally he remains pure and aflame seeking Hashem. --------------------------------------------------------------------------Copyright 1999, Josh Rapps and Israel Rivkin, Edison, NJ. Permission to reprint this Shiur, with this notice, is granted. To subscribe to this service, send email to with the following message: subscribe mj-ravtorah firstname lastname. Subject: Shiur Harav Soloveichik ZT"L on Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim - 2 Date:


Tue, 30 Mar 1999 14:06 EST haggadah2.99 Shiur HaRav Soloveichik ZT"L on Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim - 2 (Shiur date unknown) Sippur, as in Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim, comes from the word Saper, the Same root that includes Sofer, which is Hebrew for scribe. A scribe is not the same as a simple writer. Throughout Tanach the word Sofer is used to indicate that the position of scribe was one of importance, for example Sofrei Hamelech in Megilas Esther. In Talmudic parlance, Sofer means a Talmid Chacham, a scholar. In contrast to Divray Torah we have the term Divrei Sofrim, which are the teachings of the scholars. There are many examples in the Talmud where the word Sofer refers to the scholar. Apparently the Hebrew language scribe or scholar is distinguished by his ability to write. A Talmid Chacham must be capable of writing. Historically, when a Jew showed the ability to write, he was accepted as a scholar. The statements of the transmitters of learning, the Maatikay Hashemuah, are referred to as Divray Sofrim. The definition of Sippur goes beyond simple oral story telling, but it includes the ability to tell a story through writing it down. The word Sefer, book, derives from the same root, L'Saper, to tell a story. In Hebrew, writing and oral communication are both included in the framework of the root word Saper. The Gemara says that Megilas Esther refers to itself first as an Igeres, letter, and later as a Sefer, a book. There are significant differences between these 2 forms of writing. A letter is written for a short term purpose. It does not need to be written on parchment; it can be missing letters and may not be complete yet it still conveys the gist of the story. In contrast, a Sefer is intended to transmit the story to future generations. It requires parchment and if even one little letter is missing it is halachically voided. For example, the prophet commanded the people to write contracts on their land in a Sefer and place them in earthen vessels so that they may last a long time. Sefer documents an event for present and future generations. Another example: Hashem commanded Moshe to document the eternal conflict between God and Amalek in the Sefer and transmit it to Joshua. This message could only be transmitted through a Sefer. Chazal note that a major Kabbalah principle is that Hashem created the world through acts of Kesiva, writing. For example, the notion of


writing is found by the 10 commandments that were written Betzba Elokim, K'vayachol, by the finger of God. The Sefer Hayetzira maintains that the world was created through 3 Seforim (forms of the word Saper): B'sfor, B'sippur U'Bsefer, through counting, relating a story and through the book. We know from the Torah that Hashem wrote the Luchos, but how does the Sefer Yetzira know that the world was created through these 3 forms of the word Saper? According to the Kuzari, when the Torah repeatedly mentions Vayomer Elokim, it is referring to the act of Sippur by Hashem. The result of this Sippur was the Sefer, all of creation. It was the word of God that created the world and is embedded in nature and continues to drive it. At the same time, nature must obey the will of Hashem. If the flowers bloom, the birds fly, man walks and the heavenly bodies remain in motion it is because this is the Ratzon Hashem, the will of God. The manifestation of the will of God was inscribed into every function of nature. According to the Baal Shem Tov, the word of God, the Vayomer Elokim, that created everything is as real and ongoing today as it was at the time of creation, Udvarcha Emes Vkayam Load, and Your words are true and everlasting. Chazal valued very highly of the ability to write. Chazal say that Ksav Vmichtav were among the miraculous things that were created at twilight of the sixth day prior to the onset of the Shabbos. Chazal recognized the amazing gift in the ability of man to to record events that happened thousands of years ago in such a way as to allow subsequent generations to identify with, understand and appreciate the thoughts and feelings that moved the author so many years before. The events of past generations are alive for us today. For example, when we read in the Torah the stories of the patriarchs and the 12 tribes, we feel as if we are part of the actual events that are unfolding before us. We cry with Joseph when he is sold into slavery by the brothers and we rejoice with him when he is elevated to the position of Viceroy of Egypt. We travel with Abraham as he leaves Charan for the unknown land of Canaan and our hearts skip a beat as Yaakov narrowly departs with the blessings before Esau enters his father's room. Reading the written word allows us to span generations in an instant and to identify with our ancestors. Educators today must make the stories of the Torah come alive for their students and make them feel as if they are part of the story and not some impartial bystander. In contrast, the Rav noted that today, unfortunately, parents and children can't communicate across a gap of a single generation. Children of today can't understand or relate to the experiences of their parents. To many Jews today, the Lech Lecha of their parents, their life experiences and their Judaism, means nothing to them. In


order for us to inject meaning into the stories that we write during our lives, we must do more than simply put words on paper. We have to create a climate through which we appreciate all the events that shaped Jewish history, for example to feel the pain of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash or to understand other events in Jewish history. Today we have many aids to study, unprecedented numbers of translations of the various texts are readily available to the masses to assist them in study. However in too many cases, we have words written on paper, but we lack the atmosphere of involvement and participation in the events we study. The greatest Sofer, scribe, is not one who can write on parchment or paper, but rather the one who can write on the hearts of living beings and influence their lives. The great scribe is the one that can transmit a living Torah that passes on The Torah world of Rabbi Akiva, the Rambam and the Vilna Gaon to the next generation. This is Torah Shbeal Peh, which is dependant on the ability of each generation to make these experiences come alive for the subsequent generation to ensure that the flame of Torah burns for eternity. The scholars were called Sofrim because they were the transmitters of the tradition between generations. Their greatest accomplishment was not the writing of Torah on paper, but rather etching Torah into the hearts and souls of their students to keep it alive for subsequent generations, creating living Seforim. One need not write tomes during his life to earn the title of Sofer. For example, we have no recorded writings from the Baal Shem Tov. Yet his vast Torah was spread throughout the world by his living Seforim, the many students that he taught during his life. Moshe Rabbeinu was called Safra Rabba D'Yisrael, the great scribe of Israel. Did Moshe spend his time as a scribe of Sifrei Torah, Tefilin and Mezuzos (STAM)? We find that Moshe wrote a Sefer Torah towards the end of his life. Yet he earned the title as the great scribe in Israel because of the Torah he taught all Bnay Yisrael and how he inscribed it into the parchment of their hearts and souls so that they might act as the scribes that would teach the next generation. Just as the original word of God continues to drive nature, so to the Torah that Moshe gave Bnay Yisrael in the desert is as alive for us today as it was thousands of years ago. It is the ability to transmit from generation to generation, despite great difficulties, without diluting the message that makes Bnay Yisrael unique. Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim is more than telling a story. Vhigadta L'Bincha means that the father must write the book that will become his son. It is the obligation of the father to view his son as a Sefer to be carefully written and not as an Igeres. The obligation to be the scribe of this book extends well beyond the Seder night to


encompass all of life. Bchal Dor V'dor Chayav Adam Liros Es Atzmo K'ilu Hu Yataza M'Mitzrayim, in every generation the Jew must view himself as if he has just left Egypt. Man must feel that he has participated in the entire, collective Jewish experience and he must inscribe this knowledge into the book that is his child. Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim is the book of Jewish existence. The greatest accomplishment is when a father carefully transmits his experiences so that he may pass it on intact to his child before he passes on. There were many great scholars who were not able to permanently inscribe themselves into the Sefer that was their children. They were only able to write an Igeres, a short term note, that their children quickly erased when they left home. Yet there are simple parents who succeeded in making a permanent inscription into their children's personality. They were able to write on the hearts of their children their Seder, their feelings on Tisha Bav, the beauty of their Shabbos, the solemnity of their Yom Kippur and their blessing of their children before Kol Nidrei in a way that made a lasting impression on the child, an impression that stayed with him throughout many years of separation and struggle. The Rav asked why should the scholar fail where the simple person succeeds? Chazal say that there are 10 synonyms for prophecy, one of which is the word Masa. There are 2 explanations why Masa refers to prophecy. The first is that the prophet would raise his voice when presenting the message of God to the people. The second is the Rambam in the Guide (Moreh Nvuchim) who explains that Masa is used to indicate that prophecy was a heavy load for the prophet to bear. The essence of prophecy is that it is a truth entrusted only to the specific prophet. He is the only one privileged to know this truth communicated to him by Hashem. The vision is a burden that does not let him rest. He has a need to spurt forth spontaneously and a desire to share it with others. For example, when someone is entrusted with a secret they have a difficult time maintaining the confidence. They find themself constantly struggling to refrain from blurting it out. The prophet seeks to unburden himself by telling the message of God to others. When it comes to a prophecy or to Torah that a Jew knows, the only relief from his load comes through sharing it with others. The Rambam says that the prophet is required to tell his prophecy to others even when he knows that his intended audience is not interested in the message and may seek to harm him as a result of it, even if it costs him his life. Jeremiah was an example of a prophet who wanted to hold back his prophecy when the scoffers opposed him but he could not hold it back. When the Jew has a prophecy or Torah to transmit, he must view it as a Masa, a heavy burden, that in order to endure must be


transmitted with great care and exactness as a Sefer to the next generation and not as an Igeres. The ability of the Jewish parent to sacrifice themself for their child is so great that it approaches the point of self negation. How can such a person refrain from transmitting to his child the beauty of Shabbos, Yom Tov, Tanach or Torah Shebal Peh and the great Jewish personalities? Like the prophet of old, he can't control himself, he must blurt out the message. If he does not transmit it to his child, the reason must be because he himself is lacking the feeling for these things. In order to be a successful scribe, you yourself must feel the burden of prophecy, the Masa Dvar Hashem. In essence, this is the Mitzvah of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim, V'Higadta L'Bincha, and you shall instruct your children. A Jew must present his child with a Sefer and not an Igeres. Inscribing such a Sefer for the next generation is the way for every Jew to attain the level of prophecy in his lifetime. If you would ask what is the greatest characteristic of Knesses Yisrael, it is the great wonder of Jewish History, the ability to engage in Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim not just on Pesach night. It is the ability for one generation to turn the subsequent generation into its carefully written Sefer. The Rav noted that the night of Pesach is a symbol for this intergenerational transmission process. We are all familiar with the story of the great rabbis that were assembled in Bnay Brak and were involved in Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim all that night till dawn. The Rav asked which night was it? The Rav interpreted the night as extending beyond that immediate night of Pesach. The "Night" refers to the long and dark exile period that we have endured for 2 thousand years. It is the long night of pogroms and blood libels and crusades and inquisitions and holocaust that we have endured. Not only were Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Yehoshua at that table, but Gedolei Rishonim and Achronim who lived through the rain of Jewish blood and misery throughout the ages were there as well. Yet despite all these difficulties, Gedolei Yisrael recognized that they had a mission to be the scribes of the their generation, not in terms of writing books but as scribes that engrave a love of Torah in the heart of each Jew. Gedolei Yisrael carried the burden, the Masa Hashem, and transmitted their Torah as an inter-generational Sefer and not as a fleeting Igeres. They seized on the method Hashem uses, the Sippur Bsefer, writing on the book of creation, to ensure the continuity of faith in Hashem and the eternity of the Jewish people. The Torah remains alive to us today because of them. If not for their efforts, we would not be able to sit at our Seder table and discuss the xodus on the night of Pesach. Jews are called the Am Hasefer, the people of the book,


not because they are avid readers, but because each and every Jew is a living book that has been authored by the previous generations. How long must we function as Sofrim, as scribes? When does the Jew complete his assignment of studying Torah? How long must we emulate the ways that Hashem created the world, through Sfor, Sippur and Sefer? Until we see that the next generation is ready to shoulder the load and assume its role in this never ending chain. Until the students knock on their teachers' door and say "Our Teachers, the time to recite the morning Shema has arrived", that they are now ready to assume the leadership role. The essence of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim is to create the living books, the Seforim, that will ensure the continuity of Torah and Judaism, is not limited to the night of Pesach. It is an eternal mission. --------------------------------------------------------------------------Copyright 1999, Josh Rapps and Israel Rivkin, Edison, NJ. Permission to reprint this Shiur, with this notice, is granted. Lecture deleivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik on Saturday night, April 7, 1979 “Shabbos Hagodol” Tonight, I shall concentrate on a few lines of the section of the Hagaddah “Arami Ovad Avi”. However, I want to remind you of the construction of the Hagaddah. Constructionwise it is a very difficult book considering the sequences and events. It can be divided into either 3 or more parts (that is the section which precedes the meal). It is not merely the first half but rather more than the first half. It is the narrative or story-telling which constitutes the first half. It is sort of a “masoreh” or tradition told to younger peope than ourselves. We can say that hagaddah consists of 3 or 5 parts. The first part where emphasis is placed are the laws or “hilchos” pretaining to “yetzias Mitzraim” beginning with “Avodim Hoyinu”. We say, “there is a Mitzvah ‘sippur yetzias Miztraim’ -- declaring the Exodus; we identify the halacha. We state the basic law. We say that in essence even if we know the story, the reason it is a “mitzvah” for us to recite Yetzias Mitzraim, is because it is the study of Torah -like “talmud Torah,” we never know it all. We never know all; there is always something to learn. The more a person will study, the more he will learn and know. Therefore, the first part is not contingent upon erudition or knowledge but is a positive commandment.


Next, we are told of the five “Rabonim” of which none was greater. Yet, they learned something new, apparently. Next follows “Omar Rav Elozor” (Rabbi Elazar, son of Azariah said). This identifies the “time” for “Sippur Yetzias Mitzraim” (declaring the Exodus). Next come antohre halacha, “Boruch Hamokom” (Blessed in G-d who gave the Law to His people Israel). Why is the Bal Hagaddah overcome in an ecstatic mood? Why does he get so excited, praising G-d and telling of the four sons, including the skeptic and the agnostic? Why this ecstatic enthusiasm? The answer for the rejoicing: Each one has a share! The great scholar cannot say tot he ignorant man, “My share is greater.” The man who was not blessed by the Alm-ghty with a great mind but who puts in a sincere effort is recognized as an equal to the great. There is a separate text for the great mind, the simpleton and even the one who refuses -- the skeptic. A Jew has greatness and we don’t know when it will emerge. It is derived from the prophet Ezekiel “Boruch Shaym K’vod Malchuso” (Blessed is the Name, the glory of His kingdom is forever). We are all in the embrace of the Alm-ghty. “Boruch Hamokom” -- Everyone, everything is in space. As one cannot escape space, so can he not escape “Hakodosh Boruch Hu”. When He gave the Torah, He did not give it just to the great mind. For istance, although some minds cannot understand science and therefore have no share in science, in Torah everyone has a share. It is perhaps more important to tell the simple child than the great mind. G-d embraces the whole world as a mother embraces all her children, no matter how many. He embraces all mankind, especially the Covenental Community. Next comes “Mitchila” (orginally our ancestors). What kind of a statement is this and what does it tell? There is not a superfluous word in the Hagaddah. Therefore, why was this recitiation from the prophet Joshuah introduced? It tells of our humble origin -- our low origin. According to mythology, people came into the world due to a love affair between a god and a human (Greek, Roman, Nordic). Not so us. We tell of our low origin. “We would have remained there in Egypt.” “My parent was a simple idolator.” The fact that we introduced such great standards is not due to us but the initiative belongs to G-d. Our greatness is due to a special act of grace from G-d. It could have been any nation. We were chosen because of an act of grace -- a special favor. We are not deserving. Gratitude is the very basis of our faith. He invited us to come nearer. It is an act of “Chessed” - loving kindness. “You didn’t display any specific traits of character to make you worthy. I selected you due to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Next. The thought is very cryptic - short about Mount Seir for Esau - and Jacob to Egypt. They were two brothers; their destinies should have been identical. How did Esau get “Har Seir”. In sedra


Vayishlach - chapter 36, line 6, we are told: “Esau took his wives, sons and daughter, livestock - all he had acquired and went to a different land.” He didnt’ eat manna in the desert for 40 years. He merely took over the land because G-d promised it to him. He took it over quickly rather than waiting a long, long waiting period. The same promise was made to us! Did Jacob get it? For a while he did -- not quickly -- and even not now. Eventually, yes! So what idea is expressed in this short terse statement? It is the uniqueness of this statement. No other nation has received such a promise which took so long to implrement. The gentile writer Ibsen said, “What is a Jew? He who waits!” No other nation knows how to wait as the Jew. This is the characteristic trait of the Jew. Therefore, there are two ideas in this paragrah -- grace and waiting. Next is the leap! Let us start telling the history of our destiny. Now begins the history -- “Arami Ovad Avi” (either my father was a wandering nomad or the Syrian almost killed my father). Relating Yetzias Mitzraim is not a narrative. It is a study in depth every Pesach; it is Talmud. We find this statement in sedra “Ki Sovo” of Deuteronomy. It is a statement or recitation made in the Bais Hamikdosh and was adopted by the Hagadddah. This they said every time they come with their gifts. Here in Hagaddah it is not merely a statement but is analyzed in depth. We employ comparative analysis between the two places. Up to this point, we merely stated halachos and the traits of our people - humble origin, etc. Now by stating these principles we start to tell the story. “Sippur” is not to tell but to study. It means “semantics in depth”. In Bais Hamikdosh, it was merely a statement. Where does the analysis end in the Hagaddah? It ends at “Rabbi Yehuda Hoyoh Hosayn Bohem Simonim” (Rabbi Yehuda assigned to them initials Detsach, Adash, Beachab”. Rabban Gamliel that the 3 symbols Pesach, Matzo, Moror - be identified. Then the final “Boruch Atoh --- Asher Goalonu” (Blessed is G-d who brought us forth to this night). Therefore, how many parts? 1) Halocho (laws). 2) Mitchila (short recitation - Jew was elected - Kabolas Ohl Hashomayim - (We accepted our role!). (It is strange that the struggle which began 3500 years ago still has not been resolved because Esau went to Seir (Rome) and Yaakov waits his destiny). We are eternally indebted to Him no matter how long it will last. This is Kabolas Ohl Hashomayim. 3) Sippur - Arami - not merely “told” but studied and understood. 4) Then we come to Hallel -- only the first 2 chapters before the meal. Why the division? Because Mitzraim is not mentioned in the second half of Hallel and it belongs to “Pesach L’osid” - the Passover of the future. Therefore, we ahve four (4) parts.


Tonight, I would like to pick out four comparisons. A) Vayorayu Osonu HaMiztrim. (And the Egyptians ill-treated us). Again, this is taken from sedra Ki Sovo - the statement made by each person who came to the Bais Hamikdosh and then introduced into the Hagaddah. In the Torah, we find the same passage twice described but in slightly different language semantically. There is the famous epistle in which Moshe sent messengers to the children of Esau in order for the Israelites to pass through their land. In sedra “Chukas” of Bamidbar, chapter 20, line 16 “Vayorayu Lonu Mitzraim” (the Egyptians ill-treated us). In sedra “Ki Sovo” of Devarim - chapter 26, line 6 - “Voyorayu Osonu HaMitzrim”. Again, it has exactly the same translation - Lonu - Osonu both mean “to us”. Yet, there is a choice of different words. Moshe employs Lonu - the Israelites say Osonu. What did Pharoah say? “Let us act with cunning because the Jew is cunning. Let us outwit him.” He considered the Jew disloyal, one who will eat the fat of the land but will not defend the land. Pharoah created a reputation for the Jew as a deceitful being. It has accompanied us through the ages but was begun by Pharoah. He has made us to be “bad fellows”. He has maligned us, he has blackened our personality. “The Jew cannot be trusted.” There are many verbs in Hebrew which might occur with several cases. For example, we have “Asher Bochar Bonu” (in the blessing, “He who chose us.”) This is the ablative case. It also comes in the accusative or objective case “Asher Bochar Osonu.” Both mean the same superficially but what is the difference. Semantically, between the ablative and accusitive case, when “Bochar” is in the ablative case, it means no consolation possible. It cannot be revoked or altered (Therefore, in Bochar Bonu - it means for example that G-d chose us and it is irrevocable.) Rambam says that the Kedushah of the Bais Hamikdosh cannot be altered. It is absolute, irrevocable. If it is accustaive it is weaker. It can be altered and undone. Irrevocably, we have the following: a) Torah; b) Nevuah (the prophecies); c) Eretz Yisroel; d) Yerushalaim. Therefore, ablative is strong and cannot be cancelled. There is another way of expressing the article in Hebrew grammar. It can be expressed B’(Baze) or L’ (Lamed) or we can use the article Es before the noun. “Es” is stronger. It is the ablative. B’ or L’ is weaker - accusative. How do we know this? This is a classic example in Torah referring love of man towards man and love of man towards G-d. Concerning love towards man it is written, “V’Ohavto L’Rayacho Komocho” (and you shall love your neighbor as yourself). Concerning G-d, it is written “V’Ohavto Es Hashem Elokecho”. Towards man it is objective, weaker. Towards G-d, accusative, irrevocable. It is impossible to be absolutely dedicated to even a brother. It is not humanly possible. There is


the controversy of two people in the desert with a small pitcher of water. If they share, both will die because it cannot sustain two. If one drinks, he will live, the other die. The sage Ben Peturah advocates sharing. Rabbi Akivah says that the one who has the pitcher drinks and lives. Why does he say this? Is Akivah heartless? It is because he illustrates that one cannot love another person’s life as his own. For G-d is is “Es” even at the cost of your life. This is the difference between L’ (Lamed) and Es. Therefore L’Ryacho for man -- Es for G-d. Do help your brother but not the same degree as yourself. Therefore, it does not say Es Rayacho. If it is a human problem, I come first. To G-d it is unmitigated love. Now concerning Pharaoh’s treatment of the Jews - If it said Yorayu Lonu it would not be as strong. It would mean he made life a little unpleasant, irritated us, but did not want to destroy us. Osonu means to enslave the entire people, to destroy because he hated them. The same was Hitler’s decision of the “final solution” at Vansee. The Germans thought he meant “Lonu”. The “heads rolling in the dust” meant Osonu. This is the “Hava Nischakmo Lo” - let us be cunning. It was the same language of Goebbels. “They acted as naive children. We won the battle. It was the “final solution”. Why say Pharaoh? Because they are a security risk. They will make us leave the land. The Osonu, therefore, is complete destruction. This is how “Bal Hagaddah” interprets this. Vayanunu. They tortured us. They caused us pain! What does it mean? It is physical forced hard labor without compensation, where each individual must deliver a certain quota. It is either the daily quota or the whip. It is either a brick made or a child entombed in its place. If I don’t profit by meeting the quota it is psychologically very hard. Vayar Es Onyanu - He saw our affliction - the enforced separation of man and wife. What prompted the Bal Hagaddah from interpreting differently between the verb of “Vayanunu” and the noun “Onyanu”. It says He heard our voice. Then why does it say, “And He saw our affliction?” - our burden - our oppression. Apparently, these things were not included in their prayer. In addition to their prayer, G-d recognized things which they themselves didn’t know and didn’t include. What did they complain? The work! There are many forms of slavery. The most obvious is chicanery - making people work without pay. They only felt the physical aspect but not the spiritual. The other phenomena they didn’t realize. Their cry rose to G-d but was limited. Otherwise, if according to their prayers, He would have saved them physically but would not have changed them to spiritual greatness. It is said that if He merely listened to our prayers, it would have resulted in half a redemption, indeed, bad for us. Therefore, “Vayar”. He took a good look. He understood


that which they couldn’t understand. Therefore, the “Vayar,” in addition to “Vayishma”. They were aware of the torture bu of the different level in store for them, they were unaware! Kol Habayn (all the sons you shall throw into the water). At the time of “Yetzias Mitzraim, this was already long, long forgotten. It was a statute which was once on the books perhaps 2 or 3 generations before. It existed once for 3 months when Moshe was born, eighty years ago. It had been abolished by the “Melech Chodosh”, the new king. The people themselves had forgotten that their children had been killed. The statute of limitations had expired. They forgot to mention it in their prayers. The same applies today. From 1944 to 1979, people have forgotten Treblinka, Maidenek, etc. Everyone forgot. They mentioned only labor in their prayers. But, G-d didn’t forget. The mind of the tortured becomes physically exhausted. It is hard to imagine but survivors of the death camps whose children were killed say, “If he or she had not been killed, they’d be around 50 now. Many people die at age of 50 anyway. The martyr’s deaths were not mentioned in the prayers. “Lachatz” - oppression. The element of “lachatz” is what tipped the balance in favor of Israel. What is decisive about “Lachatz” which is not in “onyanu” and “Vayanunu” etc? It means, “Action is imperative now.” They had to spend there 400 years and were there but half the time. G-d accelerated it as much as possible. “It is now or never.” There are pain thresholds of which some have high thresholds and some have low ones. The same applies to persecution thresholds. Some people may easily be shattered by persecution. G-d had to act quickly because of the tremendous pressure for assimilation. They were severely threatened. Chazal says that “Yetzias Mitzraim” was as taking a baby from the mother’s womb. It was now or goodbye. Otherwise, let us forget the promise to Abraham, the eschatological future, the messianic future. “But I cannot do it, I have already promised Abraham.” Worthy or not, it must be. “The Jew can fall very low but can rise very high.” It was declared by a philosopher we don’t at all care for -- Zeresh, wife of Haman. “When Israel falls, it is as low as the ground, but when she rises it is up to the stars.” Thus, the problem must quickly be resolved. Torah says, “Despite all of Israel’ faults, it is still my child.” She can rise as high as the sky.


Lecture delivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik on Saturday night, January 12, 1989 “Parsha Shmos” We raised the question about the second book of the Torah last week but not about the name of the book. Most authorities called it “Sifra D’Hafkona” - Exodus. Others called it by a strange name, merely “sefer sheni” - the “second book”. This is no so with the other books such as three, four or five (they have specific names as will be shown). Still however this is not universal for as example Ulla did not accept. Also, Rambam (Nachmanides) calls it “Sefer Hageulah” the book of redemption. Apparently, there is something important to “Sheni”. We will accept it as “shmos” which literally means ‘names’. The names of Chumoshim can be selected merely by accepting the first word (of importance - we naturally wouldn’t use the word V’ayla). The only question is while regards to other Chumoshim we have other names. Vayikra is Sefer Kohanim - the book of the priests. However, Shmos doesn’t work that way. For instance, Bamidbar is not merely the first word of the fourth book but it is very typical of the entire 38 years in the desert. Almost as a matter of a sentence, we have a passing of 38 years in sedra Chukas, we have the laws of the “Parah Adumuh” given in the first or second year and then is mentioned the death of Miriam which occured in the 40th year. So we see that it all took place Bamidbar or in the desert. It is not only semantically, but the most logical name due to the entire stretch of years. Devorim is a repetition of all the “things” previously given in Torah. Why Vayikra? Because there was an appointment between G-d and Moshe in the Ohel Moed. What I am showing is taht the names of the Chumoshim are not technical but for good solid reasons. They are not technical but he experiences recorded. What about Shmos? Shmos is characteristic for the second book! I would never imagine that Shmos contains something other than technical. Rashi, however, betrays the secret. Rashi was motivated to explain that the children of Israel are named during their lifetime in sedra Vayigash and here again -- to announce how G-d was fond of them. What basically does a name indicate? It means individuality! It is singleness, uniqueness. Basically, a name is indicative of being individual, different -- one person from another. It is ego awareness. It differs from individual to individual. I recall that years ago when I was in Eretz, I was taken to a kibbutz, a socialistic one. My guide showed me a cow which he called, “Rachel”. I intuitively stepped aside. “Is that against you rabbis too?” he asked. It is wrong because individuality belongs to a human who cannot be replaced. If someone died and was an ignorant person, without character --


not worthy of respect, it is still a loss. Every individual has been endowed with “Zelem Elokim,” no matter who he is. That is why Torah introduced “avaluth” - mourning. There is a loss which cannot be replaced. Therefore, even to the point of M’chalal Shabbos every individual must be preserved. Reuven is not like Shimon. That is why man feels lonely and it is most typified in time of sickness. That is why Torah introduced Bikur Cholim, Hachnosas Orchim, Avalus -- with such great importance. A dog has great friendship for his master but the second one will have the same friendship. Therefore, a dog has no name; it is only a species. Therefore, no “Avalus” for a dog, no matter how devoted. That is why Yehadus was so conscious in recording K’suvos in Hebrew according to the exact name. The name means something. How was Abraham elevated to spiritual greatness? By changing his name. Rambam says that where Jacbo is designated as Ya’akov it is typical of one destiny. Where it is Yisroel, it is another destiny. Hakodosh Boruch Hu has concluded the covenant not with a nation but with an individual. Finally, it developed into a community of seventy people. But the individual covenant was with Abraham. The Ten Commandments was addressed not in the plural but to the individual - to emphasize that G-d is ready to do business with even the individual. Even if the whole community faltered, He is willing to deal with but one person. That is why in Shmos, the names are repeated and emphasized. Thus, it says these are the names, Ish U’vayso - each man and his family. Each man is dear to Hakodosh Boruch Hu and each man is dear to G-d as the entire community and maybe even more. That is why halacha is so concerned with the individual. There is dignity of the Yochid - the individual. The first posek is the motto of the Chumash. G-d took the people out not because they were an “Am” - nation, but because they suffered individually. Torah tell us that Rabbi Akivah came to Ginzu, perhaps to gather money to support Kochba’s revolution. He told them the story of the “mabul” - the great flood - but no one was emotionally affected. The next day he told them another and all burst out crying. After all, the Flood involved all humanity. The story he told was of a personal tragedy where a house collapsed on a person. What does it show? The tragedy of the Yochid has a greater impact often than the multitudes. Some people may not be as emotionally motivated by the loss of 6 million Jews in Germany as by the individual store of inhuman suffering. Therefore, Torah tells us that in “V’aylah Shmos” - Yetzias Mitzraim - the Exodus would have taken place even if one individual had been there. It did not have to be a multitude. “Ish U’Vayso” - one man and his family. Because of the few families, a relationship was established with G-d.


The Aseres Hadivros - the commandments - was also written in the plural. Where? In sedra Kedoshim. (Actually it is recorded in three places - Yisro, Kedoshim, V’etchanan.) Once numbers are introduced we are then interested in the collective entity. It is now an established entity. But in Shmos, we still have the individual. We cannot say that Yehadus is interested in only an individual or only a community. Both is correct! One individual would have been worthy of liberation but G-d wanted them to become a great nation. Point II “Hamitzi B’mispor Zvoam” - He that bringeth out the host by number. This is a sentence from Rashi and can best be exemplified as the position of all the stars and constellations in the entire cosmos. Collectively, each one is but part of one universe comprising the entire cosmos. And yet each one is numbered, named and accounted for individually by G-d. Each has its individual function presumably wihtout which the universe cannot function. Similarly, in Knesses Yisroel, it is a system which is composed of individuals comprising a unique system. Yet each one has its individual worth. Therefore, here in Shmos, G-d was ready to destroy the world (the greatest center of the world, Mitzraim) in order to liberate them. Later, however, in Bamidbar, when it came to taking the census, we have them counted by families, by clans. In taking a census, we don’t count by individuals because it would destroy the individulity of the Jew. Therefore, in the desert, they counted the Shekalim contributed by each. In later times, a census was counted by fingers. Point III Vayokom Melech Chodosh - A new king arose who didn’t know Joseph! In a sense, he didn’t know what Joseph did for Egypt. Targum Onkelos says, “Lo M’kayam G’zarus Yosef,” - he didn’t uphold the edict of Joseph. What G’zara did Joseph implement? It means he was stupid and an ingrate. He didn’t recognize what Joseph had done; for with Joseph, Egypt would have been destroyed. Apparently, when Jacob came to Egypt there was a question of supporting the family. It was not just feeding but apparently there was an agreement or a promise that Pharaoh, the government would supply food to Jacob’s family, irregardless of circumstances. This is “G’zarus Yosef” - Joseph’s decree or edict. In sedra Vaychee, we find “Al Tirov” - do not fear; Pharaoh will implement that which he promised. “And Joseph settled his family as Pharaoh instructed. Pharaoh instructed that the family be fed no matter how long the family remain. Now we have “melech chodosh” - a new king - who doesn’t want to honor the agreement. “Asher Lo Yodah” -- who doesn’t recognize,


who doesn’t appreciate. There are two points of interest! In sedra Vayigash we find: “Bring your father and your household. Take -birng father -- do not long for your goods; the best of Egypt is before you!” We get the impression that Pharaoh wanted the whole family to come! Why? He appreciated Joseph, recognized him as a genius who foresaw the future and told Pharaoh how to prepare. He had unlimited confidence! “If one is a genius, they may all be!” “If you have to spend money don’t worry. The best of Egypt is before you!” It was a strong statement. Apparently, his successor changed. In sedra Vaychee, we find that a whole multitude of Egyptians went to bury Jacob. It was a great mourning. What is amazing is that the Egyptians mourned Jacob. The place of mourning is called “Ayval Mitzraim” -- Egyptian mourning. Egypt actually was in despair. Zohar asks a question “Why?” The answer is that they already beheld the decline of Egypt as a world power. It commenced to become a secondary power. Chazal says that as long as Jacob was in Egypt the Nile River used to rise to water the land. With his death, it stopped rising. They intuitively felt that Egypt will face money crises which will eventually reduce it as a nation. We almost feel the same here in Russian feelings towards America. We feel that we are declining. “With the passing of that old Jew something radical will happen.” Of course, if they hadn’t started with the Jews, it wouldn’t have brought plagues. With Joseph’s death, there was no one to qualify to guide the destinies of the Egyptian nation. Therefore, the statement in Torah, “Hovo Nischarmo Lo” - (Let us act with guile against them) means automatically the decline of Egypt. The same applied to Germany! Point IV What was actually the plan of G-d regarding Yetzias Mitzraim? G-d told Moshe: “Go to Pharaoh and tell him to let the people go out for three days. They will offer their Korbonos and will come back as usual.” Pharaoh refused! “Nirpin Atem” -- You are lazy! If you introspect, you find nothing about liberation of slaves. It merely states a three day festival. Pharaoh refused and so began a drama. But what was the nature? What if Pharaoh had complied? What impression do you get when you read it? What if he had said yes! G-d could have taken them out in 5 seconds if He so desired. Why the engagement of debates, the months of threats? Apparently, they wanted to convince Pharaoh, to get the people out without coercion. He waited a long time so that he, Pharaoh should realize that he is wrong and the people are right. In fact, Pharaoh did realize but a little too late. We find in sedra Bo, “You too will send your cattle along!” What does Moshe mean by this? It means, you will ask us to sacrifice for you and your nation! You’ll join us. You, Pharaoh, will become a “gayr” a convert and a “gayr” has to


offer a sacrifice. The “Yetzias” was not merely to take out the slaves and not the master. This is why it says “You will give sacrifices (cattle) too!” Had he done so, Pharaoh would have undergone the process of T’shuvah. In the time of Bais Hamikdosh, the process of “Gayrus” consisted of “milah” (circumcision), “T’vilah” (immersion), and “Korban” (a sacrifice). (Now it only consists of the first two.) Therefore, Moshe says to Pharaoh, “You will entrust to us ‘Zvochim’ - sacrifices. In other words, what was the objective of ‘Yetzias Mitzraim’? It was not merely to take the Jews out but to convert the Egyptians. Had this occured, “Melech Hamoschiach” would have come along. Since it didn’t, the salvation is slow in coming. Therefore, since he refused, he was in essence stupid. Pharaoh is insensitive; he does not understand. At other times, he did see the light. “Perhaps I should convert not only myself but the whole empire.” Therefore, in scripture it is written at times “M’chabad es libo.” And at times “m’chazak”. When it says “chabad” it means “he is hard headed (stubborn).” When it is “chazak” it is encouraged strengthened. There are two types of sins. One individual is “chabad” like a stone -- insensitive. The other sinner is “chazak”. He sees the truth but he has no courage. This is why Pharaoh’s heart is described in two different terms. At times, his heart was hard as a stone; at times, he tried to understand. The mere fact that he didn’t lock up “those two old men,” Moshe and Aaron, shows that he had sensitivity. Despite his initial outcry, “Who is G-d? I don’t know him!”, he had an inward feeling that these two men are right. But he didn’t have the courage. The same applies to people I ahve known who have been intelligent, who have come to my shiurim but still were “mchalal mitzvos” - desecrated. When I asked them why, they answered that they lacked the courage to face their families and declare their change. However, Pharaoh made one mistake. It was when his scouts returned after seven days to say that Israel had not returned, that which he thought would be 3 days. The truth is that had Pharaoh let them go without coercion, it would have been 3 days. But here there was no agreement and hence it was enlarged. The same thing was regarding the 1948 war and the territory. The Arabs never agreed so the territory was enlarged in 1967. Otherwise, if they had agreed to the U.N. mandate, they would be justified. Point V Poru (terms regarding the Jews) - Fertility. It was a blessing that woman should be fertile. “Vayishr’tzu” No fetus should die. “Vayirbu” means to grow up, to mature. The complaint was “they are not ready for release; not mature.” Therefore, Vayirbu. So it was conception, incubation, childhood growth without succumbing to disease. Then “Vayatzmu” - They were courageous. Egypt says, “They are more than us!” Ridiculous. Of course, Egypt had


numerical superiority. intellectually!”

It means: “They are superior to us

Lecture delivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik on Saturday night, January 19, 1989 Sedra Vayroh We will start with the first two or three P’sukim of today’s sedra and Rashi’s interpretation. “And G-d spoke unto Moses and said to him: I am the L-rd. And I appeared unto Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as G-d Alm-ghty, ‘Kal Shadai’ but by My name Yud Kay Vov Kay (Havaya) I made Me not known to them.” It is difficult to understand the continuity. Rashi poses the problem: “The Avoth (patriarchs) knew “Havaya” as well as Moshe. When you study Bereshis you are left with the impression that they knew “Havaya” as well as Kal Shaddai. “They knew of Me as ‘Havaya’ but it was not an intimate knowledge. They knew Me better as ‘Kal Shaddai’. We were not on the friendly basis of ‘Havaya’. I did not befriend them as ‘Havaya’.” Abraham was not only a servant of G-d but a friend. Man must be obedient but also is a friend of G-d. “G-d was my shepherd since my youth” means He was my friend, my playmate from youth. Rambam declares, “let us walk together holding arms.” This experience of friendship was related to Kal Shaddai -- not Havaya. G-d’s name as Kal Shaddai comes always when G-d makes a promise. Rashi says that it is exclusively connected with promise. (It must be kept in mind that whenever the name Kal Shaddai is used in Torah, it indicates a promise but not necessarily fulfillment. The word Hashem or Havaya means: “I am faithful to fulfill my promise whether for reward or punishment.) “To them, the Patriarchs, I promised but did not fulfill. You, Moshe, are fortunate to be selected to become acquainted on both levels. Abraham was my friend with whom I walked but not as ‘Havaya’. He had limited knowledge. “To you I reveal the very essence. I established my covenant -- I have heard the cry, etc. I have reminded myself!” The Alm-ghty declares “Gam Hakimosi Brisi” - I am about to fulfill my covenant. It is difficult to understand! What find of a promise did G-d make to the patriarchs which He didn’t fulfill? When Moshe failed at his first encounter with Pharaoh, he came back with the complaint to G-d: “The situation is more difficult; You haven’t saved!” These were strong words for man to use to G-d. He answered, “The old men had more faith than you. Then the three examples are cited. A) When Abraham needed a burial plot for Sarah, he paid a high price (400 pieces of silver) and yet never complained, although the entire land had been promised to him. B) When Isaac’s servants dug wells and they were repeatedly filled with sand by the inhabitants, he never lost faith and complained. C) When Jacob wanted to build a home upon his


return from Laban, he paid 100 “ksita” (monetary denomination) and didn’t complain. All this was despite the promise “All the land will I give you.” They never complained. “You, Moshe, complained at once.” “What is your name that I shall tell them? They won’t believe me!” Apparently, Rashi interprets, “They experienced me on the level of Kal Shaddai - promise only. Friendship as “Havaya” was granted to Moses and this in turn to the Covenental Community. But the “Avoth” - the patriarchs - did not have this share. Theirs was absolute faith. There is not a single mention that G-d had to convince Abraham. Abraham never asked, “Why not give me the land?” But this is minor. How about the “Akedah”? Why didn’t he ask a single question when G-d requested that Abraham bring his son up for a sacrifice? The question he asked was only after G-d had already directed, “Don’t touch the lad!” Abraham is the knight, the greatest man of faith to the last iota. Therefore, G-d tested him many times. There was the “moving away from the land of his ancestors,” the circumcision, etc. But why is Akedah so frightening? What is frightening is that the whole world would have said, “Abraham is a liar! He has done the opposite of what he constantly preached against (human sacrifice) and Abraham preached to countless thousands. “This man of the Middle East who preached against hurting people, took his child for whom he waited 100 years. Fully realizing this, what did Abraham say? Nothing! This is the great act of “Emunah” - faith. Basically, Abraham was tested quite often. Sometimes the tests contradicted all that which he tried to teach the people. Yet Abraham never said a word. Take another example! When Lot was snatched away by the kings, Abraham became involved in a war where he didn’t belong. It is as the final was which wil take place on the hills of Judea (the war of Gog and Magog in the messianic era as prophesized by the Prophet). Who will have invited them? Therefore, Abraham’s friendship with G-d was not based on success or riches but rooted in faith. Yet sometimes, G-d reveals Himself in two ways. There is “Chessed V’Rachamim” - kindness and mercy, in which whatever man does results in success. Then the answers come immediately. Sometimes the answer is not so simple. Eventually all prayers of man will be fulfilled. It means G-d befriends man through “midas Harachamim” - the attribute of mercy. Sometimes, it is both, to some people and to some antions. He bestows unlimited riches, etc., as we believe will be B’mos Hamoshicach - in the messianic era. (I believe this is as G-d has bestowed on the United States.) If man feels “G-d befriended” him, it means “B’shmi Hashem” through the “Havaya”. “My friendship to the Avoth was not based on bestowing My grace, in fact, not at all; it came very slowly!” Abraham had to wait a long time (G-d did nto reveal Himself to him until he was 75 years old).


Yitzchak, Yaakov -- all had to wait. This is what Abraham represented - “Bitochin” - faith. But as for Moshe, there was no waiting. At the most it was a year. This is not considered waiting in terms of human history. What is “shaddai”? Man is in a state of waiting while G-d is not ready to fulfill. “Shaddai” is “limited”. G-d who created the universe says “Stop! It is finite.” What can man learn from this? It is the capability or the ability of self-contraction, self-restriction. He taught Abraham the ability to say, “I must not cross the boundary! I must stop.” What is observing Torah and Mitzvos? It is rooted in one idea: Man must learn to say, “Enough”. He must control temptation! If he doesn’t, he doesn’t observe the Law. It is man’s capability to say to his own intellect, “Enough”. Not everything can be resolved! It is my ability to contradict my own intellect. When Abraham took the “Akedah” he contradicted his own intellect. The intellect tries to convince man that what he does is absurd. In most cases, man should be guided by intellect. But in some instances, it must be faith. Th intellect sometimes has no say. The greater the paradox, the stronger is the faith. Even concerning the land which G-d promised to one individual, Abraham, how is it intellectually possible for one man to get the land of seven nations (Canaan, Hittite, Amorites, etc.)? One should reason the possibility thusly: “You will train your son in warfare and strength and he in turn will train his sons.” The educational system will revolve around a plan of strength. The seven nations are primitive while you will advance. In the course of years, you will be ready to overtake, to conquer. How did the European courntries overtake so many nations of the world (Orient, Africa, etc). The Europeans were sophisticated and trained! Now, had G-d such a promise, He should have said to Abraham, “Don’t move! Train your army and you’ll be able to conquer. So the first command should have been: “Stay here! You’ll develop a military nation for the future!” But, this is not how the promise was made at all. “How can I defeat them?” “You have to leave the land; do not leave a single soul. If you do you won’t get the land. Leave, go to Eretz Mitzraim, become slaves for 400 years. When you come back, you’ll get it. The land will be yours. If Jacob had remained in Canaan it never would have been implemented. Strange? Yet Abraham didn’t ask a question! The greater the paradox, the greater the faith. “V’Gam Hakimosi” -- And I’ll establish my covenant. “I established my covenant and insisted that they leave - desert it.” “Come back in 400 years and it’s yours!” Abraham believed and accepted. Why did G-d emphasize “Brisi” - covenant? Because it was a great paradox and Abraham accepted. It is not


coincidental with logic. This is B’kal Shaddai. They defied their own personality. For Moshe, it was already simple -- no paradox. So the question is, “Who was actually greater, Abraham or Moshe?” In Shmono Esrei, we only say, “Elokay Avrohom, Elokay Yitzchok, Elokay Yaakov,” not Elokay Moshe. Yet, we have a posek in Torah in which Miriam was critical of Moshe and G-d punished her. G-d admonished her: “Moshe is a greater prophet than you. You are not the same!” When did Moshe achieve this exalted position? It was the second time that he went up the mountain for 40 days. The first time that Moshe recieved the “luchos” the Tablets, Torah doesn’t describe him. After he recieved the “luchos” the second time, Torah already describes him: “He didn’t perceive that the skin of his face shone.” At that moment, he was elevated to the title, “Rav Lan’viim” (the chief of all prophets). Therefore, the answer is that until this moment, Abraham was greater than Moshe and that included even Moshe’s accomplishments in Egypt and the Exodus. At this moment, Moshe rose above Abraham. His uniqueness lay in the fact that the “Taryag Mitzvoth” the entire commandments were entrusted only to Moshe. Only after the second “luchos” did he become the teacher. Why did G-d direct Moshe to prepare the second set of “luchos” and that He (G-d) will inscribe them? Why not give it to him? Why make him prepare it? What is the difference between the original ones of G-d and those prepared by Moshe? What does it indicate? It indicates that the luchos are owned both by G-d and by Moshe. It is called “Toras Hashem and Toras Moshe”. Interestingly, we have two Brochos recited at the reading of the Torah. In the first one, we say “Asher Nosun Lonu Es Toroso” - He gave us His Torah. After the reading, the Torah becomes ours. In other words, the second “Luchos” are representative of the Torah Sh’Bal Peh -- the Oral Law. The written Torah (Biksav) is characterized by the first Luchos which is prepared by G-d and given to man. “Bal Peh” the Oral Law, is man’s effort. It is the Mishna, the Talmud worked at by man. It belongs to man. “You prepare; I’ll write.” It becomes a partnership. Now Moshe becomes “Rav Han’viim”. The entire Torah, Oral and Written, is entrusted to Moshe. But if Moshe is so great, why “Elokay Avraham” and not “Elokay Moshe”? Reason: Abraham searched for G-d for many, many years and G-d did not react by responding for a long time until Abraham was 75. Abraham was the searcher! Moshe didn’t search. G-d found Moshe. Therefore, it is very simple! G-d came to the “Avos” after they searched a long time. Therefore, they are worthy of the title “Elokay Abraham, Yitchok, Yaakov.” Important question: Today we read “Vohayroh”. What are the tenets regarding “geulah” - (salvation) and faith? First, we are all


duty bound to believe that the people will be redeemed. As far as our relationship with G-d is concerned, it is rooted in Kal Shaddai the promise. The promises have not yet been fulfilled. How long could the experience of ‘Havaya’ be related to the people? (This is the fulfillment which did occur vis a vis the geulah from Mitzraim.) We are still Shaddai - still suffering. No other nation on the face of the world has so suffered throughout the centuries. It would not be bragging but we have survived because we have expereience it as Kal Shaddai. “What are you waiting for? It will not be implemented!”, have been the taunts of the nations. The Jewish people have shown great perseverence, overcome great temptations -- a very difficult existence. But we are still here. The “midah” or creed of Abraham is true of the Jewish people: “Af Al Pih Shehishamaya” -- Even though the redeemer tarries, I will have perfect faith (from the principles of Maimonides). The second is the following “Geulah” - redemption or salvation. “Hakodosh Boruch Hu” sends a human being. There was no need to send Moshe! If He wanted to redeem, He could have accomplished it in seconds. Why the lengthy debate of seven days. Of course, Gd is the redeemer. But for the physical aspect, He sends a human. Hillel says: “There will be no person anointed as moschiach! G-d will bring it alone!” Gemorah answers: “Forgive Hillel. He doesn’t deny it but says that G-d will perform. When the time will come, Gd will appoint. In Egypt, G-d had to beg Moshe. Rambam says that moschiach will be more brilliant than Shlomo but that Moshe as a prophet will be greater. Interestingly, though Moshe had a share in the “Geulas Mitzraim” he is not recognized -- not even mentioned on Pesach night. G-d would not have performed the Geulah without Moshe. Yet there is no mention. Not even a “Yarshakoach”. In “shir Hashirim” it reads “Bikashti - V’lo Motzosi.” (I sought him but did not find him.) Medrash says that it refers to the fact that Moshe disappeared just at the moment of the redemption. Where was he? He was searching for the coffin containing the remains of Joseph. Serach Bas Osher a very aged woman showed Moshe where to find it. My opinion is differnt. “I am searching for Moshe’s name. It is not mentioned.” There is no trace of Moshe on Pesach night. G-d didn’t want Moshe to appear as the redeemer. But He was extremely generous when He gave the Torah to Moshe. Therefore, in Shir Hashirim, “I found him and I wouldn’t let him go.” This is at “Shavouoth”, the time of giving the Torah. The “Goayl”, the redeemer, is only G-d. But as far as Torah it belongs only to Moshe. Melech Hamoshiach will also be the teacher as described by Isaiah. The redeemer will be G-d (therefore, we can understand what Hillel meant). This is what G-d told Moshe when he was reluctant to accept the mission. “Who am I to approach Pharaoh? There are


better ones! I am not a proper leader!” He was convinced that he had shortcomings. G-d answered, “Don’t worry. A “Sheliach” (messenger) has the right to do whatever he wants when the ‘m’shalach’ (sender) is not there. But I, the m’shalach, will go with you, the sheliach. So the sheliach should not worry about failure because the m’shalach will be there too. Rambam says the sheliach tzibur (chazon) stands in the center. One ark is at mizrach - the east; the other or bimah, is in the center. Why is the sheliach in the middle? Because if he stands outside, away from the congregants near the mizrach, the sheliach is alone and can err. But if he is surrounded by the people, they are the m’shelochim. They back him up. If congregants appoint a sheliach and they depart, then it is not a sheliach. They must stand and answer “Amen” - in his very presence. Each novi - prophet - is a sheliach - so in every instance, G-d accompanies him. Thus, in Tefilah, the sheliach is the novi. “It is true that I selected you! Aaron is more of a speaker. He was raised in the ghetto.” Moshe was there but a short time. This was Moshe’s objection. “I don’t belong there; I wasn’t in ghetto.” This was his argument. G-d answered, “You are right! If I needed a great speaker, organizer, leader, I’d choose Aaron or other persons. But this is not what I need. I need a “M’lamed” -- a teacher, who will take the slaves and in seven weeks will convert them to “mamleches Kohanim” a priestly nation. For this, you are best. The rest leave to me. This is also to be for Melech Hamoshiach. He will be able to teach. “This is what you, Moshe, can accomplish -- no one else!” Lecture delivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik on Saturday night, February 3, 1980 Parsha B’shalach / Shabbos Shirah We call this Shabbos, “Shabbos Shirah” and it is the one in which Parsha B’shalach is read. It is the one in which we recite the Shira or song of Moshe Rabbenu at the miracle of the crossing of the Red Sea. Who actually said Shira concerning the miracle of the Exodus, Yetzias Mitzraim? If you carefully read today’s Shira from A to Z, you find no mention of Yetzias Mitzraim. All you find is the miracle of Yam-Suf -- the Red Sea. It is very strange! If you look into the “P’sukei D’zimra” (those prayers each morning of praise of G-d from Ashrei on) you will notice something strange. It was arranged by Chazal -- the sages and runs to the paragraph which ends “Kol Hanshama T’hallel Koh Halelukah”. A Jew cannot daven, cannot say Brochos without talking of the great event, Yetzias Mitzraim - the birth of the nation. Whenever you praise G-d, the Exodus always comes up. Then in the following paragraph Vayvorech Dovid - the


praises of David, there begins a balance between Yetzias Mitzraim and Kryas Yam Suf - the crossing of the sea. From this, we go on to the “shira” only. Therefore, in the prayers of “P’sukei D’Zimra” we have a combining of both. We mention Mitzraim and then go on to the Shira. (All this concerns us - the people who lived ages after the actual event - but not the people who took part in the Exodus. They only sang at the sea.) Actually, who was the first one to sing praises concerning the liberation from Egypt? It was Yisro, Moses’ father-in-law in next week’s sedra. When he came and heard of the deliverance, he exclaimed (Yisro, chapter 18, line 10) , “Blessed is G-d who saved you from the hand of the Egyptians.” It is said that Moshe was wrong in not saying Shira earlier. Gemora is critical of Moshe. But it isn’t so, after all, Moshe did say the Shira. However, he didn’t mention Yetzias Mitzraim. Why did he leave it out of the context? Apparently, there was something missing in Yetzias Mitzraim which did not generate the feeling. Then something occured to create the feeling. What happened which did not happen seven days earlier? Interestingly, just before Shira, the paragraph reads, “On that day, they believed in G-d and in Moses His servant.” “Bayom Hahu” - it was on that day. The Shira begins, “Oz Yoshir Moshe.” What is “Oz”? (“then” did Moses sing). I would translate “Then they witnessed the miracle and were impressed.” Only then did he recite the Shira. Actually, even then he would have abstained but suddenly, he realized that something occured which did not happen a week ago. He realized that he shouldn’t be reluctant. He consulted his mind: “Should I say Shira or not?” The decision was “Yes”! This Nas - (miracle) - was worthy of Shira. Moshe, himself, was impressed. “There I thought the miracle was not complete!” Shouldn’t it have been instead at “Layl Shimurim” - (a night for watching or waiting for) the very moment they became free? Wouldn’t that be the appropriate moment? Apparently, Torah did not think this was the right moment. Torah abstains at the point of Layl Shimurim; it comes to fruition and conclusion right here -- at the sea. When did Torah pick up the axiological conclusion at the sea? “Krias Yam Suf” is not only “nas” - miracle - but it is the entire “geulah” - redemption. Therefore, “Bayom Hahu” - only that very day did the people realize what “Yetzias Mitzraim” means to them. “Vayar Yisroel Nas Al Sfas Hayom” - they saw the miracle at the sea’s edge - is not just a physical redemption. Only then did they recognize in retrospect what had happened. There were miracles before then but those they didn’t understand. A man can see a miracle and not recognize it as such. If a man could recognize all the miracles that occur to him, he’d say “shira” all his life. “Emunah” - faith is more than seeing a miracle. The people in


Mitzraim only saw or recognized “Etzbah Elokim” the “finger” of Gd. Here, they recognized the entire “Yad” - Hand. Here began their “Emunah”. The “pshat” - meaning - is “Bayom Hahu” - on that day G-d redeemed the people not only physically and politically. One can be a free person politically and physically but not spiritually. Here there was spiritual liberty. G-d’s rebuttal to Moshe when he argued against going to Egypt was “My purpose is not only physical or political redemption for if such I could have chosen someone from amongst the slaves who had been himself in servitude. That is not My purpose! They must be made into a great spiritual people. They (the people) didn’t realize it. At “Yam Suf” they realized there is a greater form of liberty than that which most people understand. That is what transpired at “Yam suf”; this is where the transition occured, where they began to understand true freedom. It is a completely different approach than at Egypt. Why at “Yam suf”? Because suddenly they beheld a vision of “nevuah” - prophecy more sublime than that which the prophet Yehezkal saw (from the greatest to the lowest milkmaid). What is meant by “miyad Mitzraim” (saved from the hands of the Egyptians). It means saved from the method of thinking in the Egyptian manner. “Miyad Mitzraim” is not only liberation from Egyptian territory of slave drivers but from Egyptian culture. “Mays Al Sfas Hayom” (the Egyptians dead at the sea’s edge). It wasn’t an ordinary conflict between slave and master. It was that at “Yam Suf” they realized the truth. The physical defeat of Mitzraim is not to be interpreted as the mundane Mitzraim but the spiritual freedom. There is no Shira to be said unless the person himself understands and comprehends. Moshe saw that in Egypt they didn’t understand. All they saw was “Etzba” - finger. They didn’t comprehend - only recognized it as master and slave, cruelty, mundane, secular. Chazal (sages) said, “Zeh Kali” - (this is my G-d) means every child recognized G-d. Who are meant when Tenach refers to “Bnai Neviim” - the children of the prophets? It means those who are trained, who are taught to understand. Here, everyone became a “novi” - a prophet because all understood. And this is why Moshe said Shira here but not there. There, all they knew was that Pharaoh came in the middle of the night and begged them to leave. Therefore “Oz Yoshir” - only then were they able to sing. One of the most important Mitzvas is for a human to understand a “nes” - a miracle and to interpret it. There are two experiences - when G-d bestows a blessing in which all is good, and second when there is a time of distress. One should understand distress. One should not say “Chavivim Yisroel” -- that one should live by pain. Instead, he should overcome it by all means. When G-d bestows “Chessed” - lovingkindness - one should recognize it and do all he can in his power to show his appreciation


to G-d. The sin of Job was that he didn’t utilize to good the blessings of G-d. When you don’t recognize it, you cannot say Shira. “Chazal” say that G-d wanted Cheziahu - the pious King of Israel (under whose kingship the Assyrian army was miraculously destroyed) to be the Messiah but he didn’t say Shira after the great miracle because he didn’t understand the significance. Therefore, he couldn’t be “Moshiach”. If there is “Emunah” there is Shira; otherwise no Shira. There is another aspect. Yetzias Mitzraim was a miracle which didn’t spread easily throughout the Middle East. People didn’t understand it easily, not even the “Mitzrim” themselves. The leaving of the Jews made little impression upon the peoples of the time. In fact, when theologians tell the virtues of Christianity, how often do they mention our name? How often do they mention Maimonides? They circumvent it. They talk of Thomas Aquinas instead. This is one of the aspects of “Golus” - diaspora. “Yetzias Mitzraim” had little luck; it made little impression. “Krias Yam Suf” made an impression. What is “malchus of Rosh Hashanah”? All nations will recognize the kingship of G-d. Suddenly the “Krias Yam Suf” spread to all neighboring nations. (In sedra Yisro - what was it that Yisro heard? - Rashi: “the crossing of the Red Sea”.) They suddenly realized: “Here is a nation of an enigma.” They felt that here was a singular people. This is what happened at “Krias Yam Suf” - not “Yetzias Mitzraim”. “Krias Yam Suf” led to “Matan Torah” - the giving of the Torah - but was almost a cosmic event. Many nations came to Bilam who was a great teacher to ask, “What is it?” He answered, “G-d has given His Torah to His people!” What Chazal wants to explain is that “Matan Torah” was not just for Jews but all nations came to Bilam, the scholar, for explanation. But “Yam Suf” did not have the impact. “Krias Yam Suf” was universal in proportion: “Yetzias Mitzraim” was local. Here nations realized “there is a great nation - a great people.” After the Jews reazlied the impact of “krias Yam Suf” then in retrospect they reazlied the meaning of “Yetzias Mitzraim.” At the seder, however, all the stress is placed on “Yetzias Mitzraim”. They only place we mention “Krias Yam Suf” is in the “Hallel”. Why? Because “Hallel” was generated by “Krias Yam Suf”. Another event is not mentioned in the Hagadah - Eretz Yisroel. There is no tendency to talk about the land because that belongs to a different holiday, Shavouoth. We who live thousands of years later can revalue this but they couldn’t. Therefore we say the “Hallel”. We enjoye the privilege which Moshe did not enjoy. “Zeh Kali V’anvayhu, Elokay Avi V’arom’menhu” (This is my G-d and I will glorify Him; my father’s G-d and I will exalt Him). “V’anvayhu” - I’ll build a temple - Bais Hamikdosh. Whatever I’ll do, whatever Mitzvos, I’ll do it in a beautiful way. We want that when man shall


perform a mitzvah, it shall be not as a burden but because we love it. We can do a mitzvah in an ugly way. For instance, although a mitzvah, one can put on tefilin and take them off as a burden. Secondly, I’ll be like Him. He is merciful, I’ll be merciful. Man should imitate G-d, follow in his footsteps. It all has the same root. “V’anvayhu” - all merge into “Ani V’hu” (I and He) - imitating being like G-d. Rav Yochanan says that if Torah didn’t say it (being like Gd) it would be blasphemy (for it would intimate that man is trying to be G-d). How can man say I’ll be as G-d? We cannot create metaphysically the earth, the atmosphere. But it means ethical virtues. I don’t like the word “like G-d”. It means, whoever sees me will be compelled to say, “G-d resides in me.” If we see a person who is obnoxious, we say he is not a G-dly person. If we see a great person we say, “he is divine”. Whoever meets one should say, “That person is so fine, so sublime because he is divine -- because there is “Shechina” (G-dliness) - there is something of G-d in him. We don’t need proof that G-d exists, that He rules the world. A person who doesn’t believe cannot say, “Only I exist”. But all the arguments come from the cosmos. The proof of the creation is from the Creator. If I walk by a beautiful house and everthing is exquisite - the dwelling, the lawn, the trees, we want to see and to know the builder, the master. This is what every man should want to reazlie when he lifts his eyes and sees the stars, the sky; the presence of Gd. When man wakes and says the “brochos” he comprehends the great Creator. “Pesukei D’Zimri” is not related to miracles bu to the beauty of the cosmos. This is how the human mind can understand the cosmos. “I’ll give a better place to find G-d, not in the stars millions of miles away but in my very self.” “I walked everywhere the streets, the market places, the cities; I didn’t find Him in myself.” This is the “Zeh Kali V’anvayhu”. No human could exist in the beautiful way unless the “Shechina” existed in him. His actions are so impressive, so kind, so morally perfect only because the “neshama” - the soul exists within him. As I said, to find G-d in me, you can do a mitzvah beautifully or not beautifully. Many Orthodox don’t! What is Kiddush Hashem (sanctifying G-d) or Chillul Hashem (desecrating G-d)? Walking into a store and not paying at once but procrastinating the payment causes the owner to misinterpret - “He won’t pay,” even though he pays the next day. What is: I’ll build him a “Bais Hamikdosh”? It doesn’t mean a Temple of brick and stone. It means myself! G-d doesn’t need a home. If G-d needs a home, it it man. Therefore, the common denominator is, give the opportunity to G’d to speak through man. “Give Him the microphone to address Himself -- not through long sermons but through the actions of man. Through me, G-d has the opportunity to address Himself. I’ll perform the mitzvos in the most beautiful way!


What else do we find in the sedra? I should call today’s sedra the “Doctrine of Private Property”. Americans in general, if they don’t like something, put it into the waste basket. The way things are now, we’ll almost all have a Marxist order. Has “yehadus” given us a qualified approval of private property or a rejection of private property? What makes possession immoral? It is a serious problem. I believe that we have a comparison here in sedra B’shalach and in sedra B’haloscha where in both instances do we find the people complaining for food and receiving both the manna and the “Slav” the quail. Here in today’s section, we are told that the manna should be picked up just so much for each morning, for each person. What about the quail? Here, it doesn’t say how much each person was to gather when the quail fell in the midst of them. In sedra B’haloscha it is described in great detail that so much fell that there was enough for all the people to feed for a month’s time and that the ones who took the least gathered at least 10 groups. Apparently, the “slav” was unlimited. What did Moshe require from them concerning the manna? Basically, he told them, “Collect as much as is necessary to feed the household from day to day. It was one measure alloted to a household. Some grabbed more but it all ended the same for all. Those who took more found it had shrunk. Those who took too little found a full measure. All had but one measure. First, it is alloted to each member and you cannot grab more. Second, don’t hoard. Third, on Shabbos, you will have a double portion so that you can prepare the previous day without cashing on Shabbos. Why is Shabbos brought into the matter of manna here. Aren’t we told all about Shabbos in the Ten Commandments? There is a link between the two, Shabbos and manna. The people were in slavery for hundreds of years. Egypt, right to private possession was denied to them. Here, the manna was the first thing which they owned through acquisition. People who were released from concentration camps have said that their first desire after liberation was to “make up” for lost time. Here Moshe taught them the basic tenets of possession. That which can be moral can also be immoral. First is Shabbos. Shabbos is the foundation of private property. In order to be entitled to private property, man must observe Shabbos. G-d created so He owns the world. What is Shabbos? It means cutting off -- stopping. It is the day when humans must recognize that G-d is master of the world. No private property. The same is when a person is engaged in celebration and hears suddenly bad news. He stops. Dynamics do belong to G-d. Basically, there is no private property. But Moshe said, “Before I tell you how to function let me tell you of Shabbos.” In the Ten Commandments, it’s only a short repetition. Basically, there is no private property. However, six days shall you work. G-d gives it to


man! Man doesn’t take it but G-d gives it. It isa concession. When we say, “Hamotzi Lechem Min Ha’aretz” it means “Man must also participate.” True, without G-d’s blessing, all man’s work would be of no avail. But man must work. Concerning the manna from heaven, man had nothing to do but to pick it up. G-d gives; man just has an illusion that he produces. “Lechem Min Hashamayim” bread from heaven requires Shabbos, one day a week. The “Chet of M’chalal Shabbos” -- sin of Sabbath desecration basically is stealing, that which doesn’t belong to us. By observing, we manifest belongs not to us but to G-d. Secondly, we are taught, “Zdokah and Chessed” - charity and kindness. If we begin to hoard, we imply, “Only I am entitled to it.” It destroys “zdokah”. Why did Elimelech, husband of Naomi in the days of Ruth, die? Because he should not have thought only of himself and left the poor. Thus, if they hoarded the manna, it spoiled and they had to discard it. It taught us the lesson of sharing with the needy if I have too much and he too little. Lecture delivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik on Saturday night, February 9, 1980 “Yisro” (Note: These notes are slightly abridged because I arrived a little late.) Point I There is a link between the end of last week’s sedra B’shalach and today’s sedra, Yisro. Last week’s sedra concludes by telling of the sudden hostile attack by Amalek against Israel, newly liberated from Mitzraim, at Refidim. We are told of the ensuing struggle during which Joshuah led the battle which hung in a balance. Moses ascended a mountain with Aaron and Hur. Sitting on a rock, Moses’s hands were supported in elevation so that the people might gain spiritual encouragement by elevating their thoughts to G-d at the sight of Moses’s upright hands. At the end of the day, Israel was victorious over Amalek. Today’s sedra tells us that Yisro came because he heard of the miracles of the splitting of Yam Suf and the war of Amalek. Directly thereafter the Israelites came to “Midbar Zin” - the desert of Zin, encamped at Har Sinai and received the Torah. “Vayovo Amalek” - And Amalek came! What was the purpose of Amalek’s coming? Amalek was in no position to personally benefit for here was a nation just liberated from slavery, possessing no land or great wealth. (In a previous lecture of a former year, the Rav pointed out that all the objectives which an enemy hopes to gain in normal warfare was lacking here. There was no land to gain, “they were on the way in the desert.” There was no fame to gain. (Israel was unknown - a group of slaves.) - There was no riches to gain; they were weak. Then why attack? Because, “Lo Yoray Elokim,” Amalek didn’t fear G-d -- It was merely an act of hate. He would


have derived no profit had he won the war G-d forbid. It was simply “hate”. When G-d created the world, He didn’t completely eliminate “Tohu Vovohu” - void and emptiness! This is what Amalek represented. It was the inscrutable will of G-d taht “Tohu Vovohu” should not disappear. In certain instances, the world suddenly goes beserk and “Tohu Vovohu” breaks through the crust of decency and inundates the world and brings forth destruction. From time to time, “Tohu Vovohu” breaks through. I call it “Hester Ponim” (G-d hides his face). There are certain malignant people who are the representatives of “Tohu Vovohu” and this was Amalek. How can you combat “Tohu Vovohu” in the world? The answer you find in today’s sedra. It is the “Aseres Hadibros” - the Ten Commandments -- the Torah. Thus, we have the link, the bridge between the forces of evil (Amalek) and the forces of good (Torah). How can you help mankind? It is by teaching the “Onochi Hashem Elokecho” (I am your G-d_ - It is by teaching “Lo Sirtzoch - Lo Sinov Lo Tignov -” -- no murder, etc. Many have reservations about the first half of the commandments. I believe that many reject the image of G-d and the “Tohu Vovohu” becomes stronger. However, all who do wrong are not necessariloy of the class of Amalek, of the “Tohu Vovohu” - those given over to completely void and emptiness. For instance, Pharaoh is indicative of man’s weakness but not wickedness because of his concept of the sense of economic security through slave labor. In other words, he based his prosperity (wrong as it was) on slave labor. He had something to gain. “If the Hebrew slaves go, I will lose their economic wealth!” So, thus Pharaoh is not representative of “Tohu Vovohu”. In the Torah, we find that others wouldn’t let the Israelites through their borders due to conflict of interest. This is understandable. However, here, “Vavovo Amalek” -- Amalek came from the distance. Israel never heard of them -- didn’t know they existed. Simply, Amalek couldn’t tolerate the “community of the Covenant”. Pharaoh on the contrary was indicative of those who will look for labor to pay cheaper. Amalek will pay “more for trefa” just to have it on his table. It is true of the Jewish people as a nation and true of an individual. An individual may suffer, is in a state of depression, is frustrated. Undergoing this experience of Israel -- the sudden unprovoked attack of Amalek is sometimes destructive, sometimes constructive. What are we told here? “They moved directly from Refidim (battlesite against Amalek) to “Midbar Sinai” to receive the Torah. The removing of the ring from the finger of Ahasverus and placing it on the hand of Haman accomplsihed more in bringing Jews back to the fold than the accomplishment of the teaching of 48 prophets. The same is here at Refidim. It purified them. Man has a creative


power to change from the experience at Refidim to the great heights of Sianai. It not for the experience of Refidim, I doubt if the Jews would have been able to survive the Holocaust. At Refidim, you acquire vision; you become ablt to do things you’d not be ever able to do. This is why Amalek is told before “Matan Torah”. In chapter 19, line2 “Yisro” - the text reads, “Vayichan Shom Yisroel Neged Hahor” - Israel encamped near the mountain. However, it is written in the singular. Each man was an individual there; all were together singular in purpose. After the experience of Amalek they didn’t spread helter skelter into the desert but all came to the mount. This was all due to Amalek and the Torah was given to us to destroy the evil of Amalek. This evil, this Amalek will never be reconciled with Israel. We come across certain characteristic traits of our enemy which in general is to hate the Jew. All this made “Matan Torah” possible. It is one. Point II The Torah was given to a small group of people, 600,000 persons, in comparison with the people of the world. But G-d offered the Torah to many nations as Chazal tell us -- to Ishmael, to Edom - to others. All refused because they wanted a sample of what it contains. G-d was a traveling agent to sell “His merchandise”. The Torah was given to us but with the prospect that finally it will become the universal book of knowledge. How long will it take? It might be tomorrow or perhaps thousands of years. G-d wanted ti be be universal. Who was Yisro? He was the first “Gayr” - convert. Whether he came to Israel at the desert, before or after “Matan Torah is disputed by Chazal”. Two aspects are understood! The first is that the Torah can be implemented by man. (It is not a Law which is impossible or impractical for man.) Some may ask, “Who can observe all these laws? -- Shabbos -- Yom Tov -- Kashrus, etc.” Many people declare, “You cannot even carry a handkerchief on Shabbos; it is slavery! Who can observe Kashrus? You cannot enter a restaurant!” The “Naase V’nishma (we will do and listen) means, “We are convinced we can do it!” It is not something beyond us. If there were a 14th principle of faith, I believe it should read: “I believe that all the 13 principles are attainable.” “Naase” is “we can do it; we will do it!” Secondly, the Jew had to know and believe that the “chukim” -statutes -- will be accepted universally. All nations, all mankind will accept the Torah. But it has to be proved by a “gayr” and this is Yisro. He was the “Goy” who says “Chochmaschem U’vinaschem” Your wisdom and your understanding. He is the one who says, “Your wisdom is great for all!” He is the prototype who said that which we expect mankind to say in the messianic era. Yisro shows that all mankind is capable. Thus, first we are at Refidim. This is the story


of Amalek, the non-Jew who will never reconcile; it is evil personified. With him, you will be engaged in war. On the other hand, there is another segment of people that will reconcile, that will recognize and accept. Yisro came to tell them that a desert person can recognize. He (Yisro) is the real “Gayr” - the prototype. This is why Torah tells of Refidim, then Yisro, then Matan Torah. It is a bridge. I was asked a question. Why was it when Eliyohu Nahavi was hiding as a fugitive in a cave in Sinai (from enemies) - and the Spirit of G-d called him to emerge, first there was a tremendous fire, wind, thunder -- he said, “This is not G-d!” Then there was a whisper and he declared, “This is G-d!” G-d addresses in small tones! If so, why was there thunder and lightning at the giving of the Ten Commandments? The second time Moshe went up to receive the new Tablets, it was given quietly, almost secretly. (No one shall come up with you.) The first “luchos” - the Tablets were with noise, even G-d it would be an ill omen (Ayin Horah) and G-d knew it would be but ithad to be so in order for bilam and all the sheiks and kings to be cognizant that the Torah had been given to Israel. Thus, G-d addressed Himself to the whole world. The second time - second “luchos” were quiet. It is only for Israel until that time in the eschatological age when it shall then be for all. Lecture delivered by Rabbi evening, January 27, 1979 Soloveitchik on Saturday

The Torah recorded three incidents about Moshe’s early years, his birth, his encounter with the Mitzri and subsequent defense against persecution and flight from Egypt, and his joining of Yisro (father-inlaw to be). There could have been more! When we read carefully, not only the words tell us a story, but we learn to decipher by that which is missing and not disclosed. Pharoah not only prosecuted him for murder but condemned him for murder. I would like to know what occured during that span of time, perhaps fifty to sixty years, between his young years and having a son Gershom. We have to read and interpret not the text but the gap (the time gap). What happened during those circa 60 years? We have no script. What does Torah tell us? By not telling us, it is recorded in clear unequivocal manner. Torah itself simply doesn’t tell! It is a time when G-d covered His face. If we are judged on Rosh Hashanah on face value only, without considering extenuating circumstances, who can win? The whole concept of Rosh Hashanah is changing “Din” (strict justice) into “Rachamim” (mercy). Not even the Archangels can win and will be found wanting. But there is another aspect which is worse than “Midas Hadin” -- strict justice. It


is called “Hester Ponim” -- hiding His face. “He has turned His back on Israel; there is no confrontation. We address our prayer; He doesn’t listen! This was the historical experience which the Jew underwent in that period. It was tragic. We find in Parsha Vayelech of Chumas Dvorim - Chapter 31 sentence 17, the following statement. “And My anger will wax hot against him on that day and I shall avoid him and hide my face from them and they shall be for prey when the many evils shall befall them; And he shall say on that day, “Behold it is because G-d is not with me that these evils have befallen me!” This is exactly what happened then to the people, “Hester Ponim”. Why were they slaves is a different problem and does not concern us here. He executes the world in perfect justice and none said a word. They worked as slaves in silence. That is why Torah doesn’t record. His face was covered up. Moshe wanted to become acquinted with his brethren about whom he learned from his parents Amram and Yocheved. It was not only, “Hester Ponim” on the part of G-d but on the part of Moshe on account of what happened. In Parsha “Shmosh” chapter 2, line 14, it records, “Ochayn Nodah Hadovor.” “Now I understand. I was wrestling with a tremendous problem. Why are the Jews deserving of such a fate? Now I udnerstand; there is no devotion among them. You went and told the authorities; such people do not deserve salvation!” These words of denunciation come from the mouths of Jews against Moshe, their loving, devoted friend. For him, it was not only flight from Pharoah but flight from his brethren. He broke up his relationship with his brethren. “It is not what I hoped for or imagined. I thought I would find the doctrine and morality of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They are not ready! Thus, he broke relationship and wanted to remain in Midyan as a permanent resident, not a temporary sojourner. Jacob in his twenty years with Laban always had in mind to return. “Garti” (I was a sojourner); not so Moshe. In the same Chapter of Shmosh -2- line 15, the word “Vayeshev” is written twice. “He dwelt in the land of Midyon - he dwelt at the well.” This double “Vayeshev” is the proof of his intention of remianing there. “Chazal” (sages) tell us taht the prince Moshe carried the burdens of his brethren on his shoulder while he was in Egypt. He would have lived with them and left with them. This incident, however, caused him to doubt if they were worthy of leaving. He was confused and settled in Midyon -- settled at the well. Moshe’s prayer was very important and never rejected by G-d (except for his own misdeed). This, however, was one silent period -- “Hester Ponim”. Thus, the Torah tells us a story not by screaming but by silence. A motion of the hand sometimes tells more than a long story. Silence is the best story teller of suffering.


The people who slaved in Egypt already felt that this is life; such should it be. Yayhi Bayomim HoRabim HaHaym “And it came to pass after many days.” What does this mean? -- Those days which have not been recorded -- the days of silence. It is interesting that the Torah says, “HoRabim HoHaym”. Only G-d could interpret “how many days”. People who suffer the torture of time lose the concept of time -- day, night, hour. Time becomes abstract! You cease to feel time. Sometimes it goes quickly, sometimes slowly. When one is a slave or one is in fear there is not appreciation of time. To people who are in danger or are very sick, time becomes a heap of minutes, days or hours. “HoRabim” -- there was nothing to count. It was same humiliation, the same ridicule. It was many days of silence. The only differentiation was that day was light, night was dark. Thus was it in the German concentration camps. They were days which merely piled up. Thus Torah uses this condition to convey a long time without significance. We Jews have experienced it not only in Mitzraim but much more in the Holocaust. This picture is projected merely by the few words. “Hayomim HoRabim HaHaym”. What happened? “Vayomos Melech Mitzraim -- the Egyptian King died! Why is this so important for us to know? Rambam explains that quite often when the Jew meets with hostility or enmity, he is inclined to assume that merely a certain government leader displays hostility and calls it “Coincidental”. People said it couldn’t happen in Germany because there had been good interrelationship for so many years. “How about Hitler?” The answer: “Merely coincidental! Once he achieves power, he’ll forget anti-Semitism!” However, unfortunately it isn’t so. The same was in Egypt. They believed that once there is a change in government the new King will be progressive -- a different type of individual. Instead, according to Rambam, the old dies and the new is worse. I believe the answer is simple. We know what the death of a King in Egypt meant. They built pyramids and enshrined the royal dead. Now the Jews were assigned the job of building the pyramids. The job was assigned to them and that which was bad previously became unbearable now. This was in addition to their other labors. Torah is not merely a script but has a beautiful fragrance. “Vayaonchu” -- and they sighed. We are told that they moaned; those were sounds emitted by people in pain. What Torah tells us is that “Vayaonchu” was unbearable. The same was in Germany. “To the right - to the left” - life or death according to the whims. Why “Vayaonchu”? It is a strange sound -- not intentional. I cry when I want G-d to help but “Vayonchu” is not speech. It is the sound which can be produced by animal as well as man. It is the defense


mechanism of survival. G-d granted this defense mechanism to all creatures. Before the “Melech Chodesh” - the new King, there was not even a sound. What is “Vayizaku”? Is is complaining! It is part of the defense mechanism. It is the natural instinct. “Vayizaku” is “asking why”. These are the various stages. First, there is no complaining at all -complete silence. “They night of silence”. Second is the death of the King - “Vayaonchu”; they felt pain and began to moan. Third is “Vayizaku” -- they complained -- resented, protested. Suddenly, they regained human dignity. Dathan and Aviram were subhuman because a human doesn’t complain against one who is ready to help. Fourth was “Acceptance”. “Vatal Shavosom” -- their appeal, their prayer arose. Once their prayers came up, He gave them credit for all the steps they had gone through in silence and G-d shortened their stay. These are the semantics, the fragrances of the text. Now Torah should say, “Vayared Hashem L’Hatzil” (G-d descended to help them). Instread, Torah now begins to tell us of Moshe. “Vayar Elokim Es Bnai Yisroel” (And G-d saw the children of Israel). Of course, G-d saw the children of Israel. What is imparted to us? A few sentences later - sentence 7 - it says “Ro-oh Roisi”. “You saw them superficially with one eye; I see them as well with both eyes!” Moshe, you made a terrible mistake because one individual wronged you. You still remember but after sixty years you should forget already. But you were wrong in your evaluation. They are not bad. Their surface may have been bad. Sometimes they do not display the “Chesed” of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov but deep down they are different. I looked deeply. Three months after “Yetzias Mitzraim” you will be confronted by a new people who understand “Onochi Hashem” (I am G-d). This is “Ro-oh Ro-Isi”. I see them through and through but your estimation is wrong. They are worthy. You must awaken them, teach them! You escaped not only from Pharoah but from your brethren. These two words represent the finest words of Yahadus and T’Shuvah - faith and repentence. If the sin has penetrated the deepest recesses there is no possibility for “Tshuvah” except for the two words, “Ro-oh-Ro-Isi”. I see deeper and more profoundly. Then there is “Vayada Elokim” (and G-d knew them). “Yizaker” means to be concerned to to feel. We say on Rosh Hashanah “Habayn Yakir Li. Yeled Shaashuim.” “It is a beautiful child to me -my baby; every time I speak of him, I recollect, I feel, I share his trouble. I am restless when he is in trouble. I mention him with a tremor in my heart!” Going back to Egypt, therefore “Vayada Elokim”, “He suffered with him -- he felt with him. “Vayada Elokim” follows “Vayizaker Elokim” G-d liberated Himself with Israel. Liberation meant also liberation of


G-d. This is confirmed by the double expression “Vayizaker” and “Vayada”. He suffered with them and was freed from bondage with them. The whole drama of Yitzias Mitraim and the whole vision will be the final redemption. All that depended on one thing, something which meant a lot to Gd. If this condition had not been met, it would have prevented the “Geulah” the redemption. Only if Moshe will accept the mission! -providing Moshe accepts. If he refuses there is no redemption. G-d is the redeemer but likes to have the tool for redemption, the man to do the mission. Why did G-d have to explain all this? “Laych” (Go) would have been sufficient. Because G-d wanted Moshe to acquiese. A person cannot be a “sheliach” or an agent if he doesn’t want to accept. A mission must have the consent of the “sheliach”. What else is Ro-oh Ro-Isi indicative of? What new institution is introduced? What was Moshe doing? He was a shepherd; he had forgotten the people. He wanted to forget, he tried to forget and erase it from his mind. They were not deserving to be represtatives of G-d. Moshe was not ready fro them and tried to get further and further away from their sufferings. As long as he is merely “Roah Tzon” (a shepherd) he cannot be the redeemer. When G-d wants to punish or to save, He doesn’t send an angel but a human. He sends him as a “sheliach”. Therefore, He made everything dependent upon Moshe. He must change his opinion of the people; he must change from shepherd to redeemer. That is why G-d spent so much time, seven days, speaking with Moshe. And Moshe did not give in until the final day. When he finally said he’ll go, G-d accepted. G-d’s job was not to persuade Pharoah but Moshe. Lecture delivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik on Saturday night, February 3, 1979 “Humility of Moses” We spoke last week of the “parsha” which tells the story of silence “Hester Ponim” - G-d hides His face. Extreme despair is best described by not telling anything. Here we have an interim, a separation of approximately 60 years time. We know that Moshe accepted Yisro’s offer but much we don’t know. What he did. What he said. What events occured are not revealed. But is is not important. After the matter of keeping the flock of “Kohan Midyon” (the priest of Midyon - Yisro) - there is a strange word (Chapter 3 line 1 of Shmosh) “Vayinhag Es Hatzon Achar Hamidbar”) - “And he led the sheep towrads the wilderness”. Instead of “Achar” it should be El Hamidbar which meant “to”. Some interpret that Moshe actually kept the flock in the furthest part of Midyon - therefore “Achar” (after). This was in keeping with the principles of Abraham,


namely removing one’s flocks from “G’zayla” - infringement upon other peoples properties. In the previous sentence we find: “U’Moshe Hoyo Roeh Es Tzon” (and Moshe was keeper of the sheep). The word “Hoyo” teaches us that it is not past tense but rather a participle. It is not a statement about what he did but who he was, his work, his occupation. It is a description of the person - “Moshe, the shepherd”. “Vayinhag Es Hatzon” and he led the flock, “Vayovo El Haar Elokim” (and came to the mountain of G-d). This is the past tense. “It once happened.” He came to Sinai - to the place where he shouldn’t infirnge on other people’s territory. However, this is to mean, “Hu Hoyo Nohages Hatzon”. He used to always come to the “Har Elokim”. Thus Rashi informs us that it was always his custom to go there so that the sheep shouldn’t pasture or graze in other people’s place. This would be “G’zayle” - robbery as the conflict between Abraham’s and Lot’s shepherds. Abraham’s shepherds were trained to be careful of other people’s money. However, if you interpret the word “Vayinhag”, it means he reached it only once in many years. My suggestion is that the whole “posek” should be interpreted as a participle. If so how can Rashi make such a statement? It would seem that it were merely an accident his reaching the Mount. Now the question, “Vayovo Har Elokim”. If you interpret it in terms of a participle what does it mean? After all, why is it called “Har Elokim?” It did not have that connotation yet; it would only be so inthe future. If the whole “posek” is a participle (many, many times) why was it necessary to bring them here to a mountain? (Certainly not much of a place for grazing.) The answer to this we find in Sedra “Shlach” of Chumash Bamidbar - Chapter 13, line 22. It states, “Vayalu Banegev Vayovo Ad Chevron”. “Vayalu” (They all come up in the south - the 12 spies) Vayovo (and He Caleb) (singular) came to Chevron to offer prayers that the counsel of the spies should fail). Otherwise, instead of “Vayovo” (singular) it should state Vayovou (They all came to Chevron). We have to understand that here with Moshe it was identical. He was not the only shepherd of Yisro. Yisro was a rich man, had a very large flock and many workers. They were the other shepherds with whom he left the sheep constantly and would go up himself to be alone at “Har Elokim”. What did he do? It was the same objective as Caleb -- to pray for his people, his brother whom he left behind in Egypt. At the beginning, he wanted to leave them, to divorce himself from them. “Now I understand! Are they worthy of liberty?” They informed the authorities knowing only too well that he was defending his brethren. “They are not worthy.” This is what prevented Moshe from accepting at once! Therefore, he was praying that his brothers should rise spiritually, with dignity -- not to inform on their own people. We understand from the Holocaust the


principle of informing. When the Germans formed the “Judenpolizei” some gave their lives to save their brothers, many could not rise to the occasion and informed. Moshe was startled! “A Jew should collaborate with the enemy?” So he came always to Har Elokim to pray. How long Moshe prayed, we don’t know any more than Caleb. He also prayed concerning the Egyptians that tyrants should understand basic human rights. Converting people into slaves is not only immoral but this type of a society will eventually decay into ruin. He wanted to inform the Egyptian government of pragmatism. Thus, Moshe constantly made a pilgrimage to “Har Elokim”. What answer did he receive? It was silence! It was the time of “Hester Ponim” (hidden face). Hakodesh Boruch Hu has given us only the promise of hearing prayer, not answering Tefilah. This is applicable to all peoples and even to animals. Thus, no answer. What happened? Once after many years, on a routine visit -- this time something great happened. “Vayara Maloch” (An angel appeared). I would interject two words, “Pa’am Achas” (One time it happened). When I interpret this posek the best I can, I turn to the “M’forshim” -- the commentators. There are two problems! At the very first revelation, when Moshe reached the “Har” and began to pray he saw the “Sneh” - the bush. “And an angel of G-d appeared to him in a flame in the center of the bush, etc.” It tells us that an angel revealed himself, not G-d. Then it says, “And G-d saw that he turned aside to gaze, and the L-rd called to him from the midst of the bush, etc.” Now, instead of angel, G-d Himself appears. What happened to cause this change, “Malach” to G-d? In fact, I’ll analyze it but first want to tell a story which occurred in Europe. The Gaon of Vilna excommunicated the Chassidim of his time because of their desire to change certain vital tenets of faith. The letters urging excommunication were sent out by the Gaon of Vilna and his council to many European communities that the rabbis should sign the excommunication. There was one notable exception. Rav Rafael of Hamburg, a great halachic scholar received the letter and refused to sign. An argument commenced, a delegation was sent to him to convince him and yet he refused. Subsequently, in defending his stance, he employed the following rebuttal. When the Al-mighty sent Abraham on the mission of the Akedah of Yitzchak, who was it who sent Abraham. It was G-d Himself. When it came to the critical moment of saving Yitzchak it was the Angel who called to Abraham. The answer is that to kill a Jew only G-d can order it. To save a Jew even an angel can do it. The same applied here. “The Vilner Gaon may be an angel but in effect, excommunicating is tantamount to killing. For this I need the order from G-d!”


Also at the “Sneh” we have the same application. The first call was to liberate or save the Jews. This could be done by the “Malach”. But we find directly the posek, “He (G-d) said “Do not draw nigh, remove the shoes from your feet for the place where you stand is holy.’” To draw too close to the “Shchina” of G-d could have been Moshe’s death. Therefore, G-d had to speak. Interestingly, the Torah tells us that the “Sneh” burned but was not consumed. “HaSneh Aynenu Ukol”. It should say, “Maduah HaSneh Aynenu Ukol”. (Why wasn’t the bush consumed?” Instead, the words are, “Maduah Lo Ivar HaSneh”? This was not just a unique event but a great event as far as events are concerned. He attributed great significance to this. Moshe already felt intuitively that something great was happening, that which he waited for many years. If he were merely interested why the bush was not consumed, he wouldn’t be so intrigued. What he saw was a fire in the middle (Mitoch) but did not spread to the periphery. This is what is meant by “Lo Ivar HaSneh”. What kind of a fire is it which is limited to the center and doesn’t spread to the periphery? It is restricted only to the center. Why did G-d do this? There are two separate miracles! In order to draw Moshe, to catch his attention is “Maduah lo Ukol” -- why isn’t it consumed. The second is “Lo Ivar” -- why is the fire limited to the center. Basically, it is the same answer. The “Sneh” didn’t burn; it retained its characteristic. The fire was limited to a center point. The point is, why didn’t the fire spread? This was a test of Moshe. If he merely asked, “Lo Ukol”, why isn’t it consumed, he might not receive the leadership. But, “Why doesn’t it spread,” shows his capability to be a leader. “If I were looking for a diplomat, for an ambassador, I wouldn’t have chosen you. There are better qualified! But I am not looking for a military marshal; I need a teacher. I need someone to take a people, degraded by torture, by slavery, by humiliation and to elevate them. The time allotted is short -- merely three months. They are degraded. Some are informers. They didn’t cry loudly enough! Only one man can do it. It is Moshe despite “Kvad Peh” -- slowness of speech. Moshe understood at once what G-d wanted. This represents the quality of “Yahudus” - faith. Often G-d is far away but from the distance communicates with man. When G-d told Moshe to build a “mishkan”, Moshe was frightened. “Is it possible that I shall build for a an abode of twenty foot square, Master of the Universe? “ Shlomo Hamelech asked the same question. The founders of “Chabad” says that here we find Chassidus. G-d declares, “If I want, the Heavens cannot contain Me. But ‘Im Rotze’ - if it is My will, I descend from the transcendental world and compress Myself into one cubic foot of the “Kaporos” -- the cover of the Ark. This is what G-d wants to teach Moshe. In the center of circle there is no


dimension. G-d can expand ad infinitum and if He wants, He occupies no space at all. Basically, what does Torah want the Jew to do? We must imitate Gd. Why is there slavery in the world? Because humans want power, to expand - more space, more space. “Midas Hatzimtzum is how to occupy space. This is humility. Moshe said, “Osuro Noh” - let me turn aside and see the great wonder. As G-d contracts let man contract. Let man demonstrate humility, smallness - let him contract, shrink. This was the Serpent’s wrong advice to Adam and Eve. “Expand like G-d!” What does G-d want? The opposite. “Contract.” Sometimes ambition is good but only if guided by Divine law. In inter-human relationship absolute honesty is required. Contract yourself; do not try to grab all you can. In Chumash Devarim - Sedra V’Zos HaBrocho, Chapter 33, line16, there is Moshe’s blessing to the tribe of Joseph, “ Urtzon Shochni Sneh” (Him that dwelt in the bush). G-d who first dwelt in the bush. This was the blessing to Yosef, the most capable of the brothers, the greatest businessman and innovator. “G-d should grant him that he never forgets “Midas Hatzimtzum” -- humility. “Enjoy this world, be attractive, be successful, pass it on to your generations, but remember -- G-d does not just reside in the entire universe but in the “Sneh” -- the lowly bush. Try not only to satisfy all desires but learn humility!” Thus with Moshe! G-d could have spoken from thunder and lightning -from the entire universe, but it was not so. It was from nothing. Yes, try to improve yourself but always keep in mind the “Sneh”. Now Moshe realized at once why the fire didn’t spread. Now he learned humility and this is how he was appointed! Lecture delivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik Saturday evening, February 10, 1979. “Parsha B’Shalach” In today’s Parsha B’Shalach we come across strange words in the first 5 P’sukim. “Vayhi B’Shalach Paroh Es Hu’om, V’loh Nochom Elokim Derech Eretz P’lishtim, etc.” In all parshas, G-d is referred to by the name “Shem Havaya” -- the Tetragrammation (Yud Kay Vav Kay). Here it is written “Elokim”. There in the entire Sedra we find the name “Hashem” straight through except for the very beginning. We find a similar question in the encounter between Hashem and Moshe at the “Sneh” -- the bush. (Shmos, Chapter 2, line 23). “Vayhi Bayomim Horabim Hohaym”; we find again “Elokim”. Also in Shmosh (Chapter 1, line 17), “And the midwives feared G-d and did not do as the King of Egypt bade them and saved alive th male children) -- again Elokim! Again at the “Sneh” in sentence 4, we find angel of “Hashem” and then “Hashem saw that he turned aside to see and “Elokim” called to him. Further in sentence 11, “And Moshe said to Elokim, who am I etc”. Finally in sentence 14, G-d


granted Moshe permission to call Him Hashem. “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh”. We’d like to have clarity why Torah changes it several times. Let us analyze why Hashem and why Elokim. The name “Havayah” was revealed to Moshe when G-d was about to send him. Moshe asked His name and was answered, “Havayah”. Before that we always imploy Elokim. The following was evolved by the great commentator Kozaya. After Creation we always find the “Havaya”. When G-d reveals Himself to man it is through two media. There are for example the ideas of Y’hi Ohr (let there by light). It was called into existence and it does exist! Secondly, this also includes the function and existence of light. It is always constant; it never changes. A philosopher declared that he couldn’t see a tree changing its phenomena in a fraction of an instant. In other words, a tree cannot be barren one minute and covered with leaves the next. Such is with light. It is a steady identical performance. Creation is not only the beginning but the continued function. If there were Cosmos instability, there’d by no scientific research. This is “Y’hi Ohr”. This is Elokim. As Elokim, He created, carries and sustains the world. And He makes it function constantly. We find this idea expressed in the 104th Psalm of Tehilim - “Borchi Nafshi”. What is the idea in Sedra Haazinu that Moshe should invoke Heaven and Eearth? One interpretation is that he invoked longevity -something which exists for ever as witnesses. Rashi quotes another interpretation. “Did heaven ever change its activities? Did the sun ever reverse its course, rising in the west and setting in the east? Did wheat planted ever produce rice or oats? There is a routine in nature and now should follow. Thus, Y’hi Ohr is not only creation ex nihilo but constancy. G-d supervises function of the Cosmos. This is basically the function of our daily Brochos. G-d reveals to man through the Cosmic nature. This is simply His dynamics. He is the Bal Hakochos -- master of strength. Then there is the “Shem Havaya” as Kuzaya says. It is relationship of G-d and man. As two people become acquainted, G-d calls man and reveals Himself. “I am G-d!” It is the principle of prophecy. “Havayah” is direct relationship to man. The Alm-ghty befriends man and makes man talk to Him. This is Maimonides idea. There are two aspects of prophecy. “He inspires man -- man establishes a relationship. After the conversation ends man is burdened with a load. “Maaso B’yad Hashem” -- burdened by hand of G-d. One does not turn away just as that! It is not light, it is a heavy load for man. Thus Moshe was not eager to accept and the same was true of Jeremiah. Moshe’s burden was not as onerous but Jeremiah had to come to the people, tell them that the people will be killed, that their King will be blinded, that their Temple will be destroyed. It was not an easy job and it was easy to see his reluctance. Neither


Moshe nor Jeremiah were eager to accept. According to Maimonides, prophecy (the state of it) should be the final objectiv for which every man should aspire. It is to reach a level spiritually at which “N’vuah” (prophecy) could be possible. When you meet with G-d, man is burdened a great load. A covenant is signed! G-d calls man often. We find ion scriptures, “Abraham, Abraham! Shmuel, Shmuel. Moshe, Moshe.” In Abraham’s case he searched for G-d a long time- many years but at the end of the revelation it resulted in a covenant. No more was Abraham a free man! Thus not only a nation was formed but a great nation (Goy Godol). When he wants to redeem man, he will do it not by Himself but through the medium of man. It lasted seven days because G-d needed the “Sheliach” the messenger. Now G-d makes a promise, in spite of suffering the individual or antion will be redeemed and rewarded. If redemption is not possible in the natural way, G-d will suspend the Cosmic order for a fraction of a second to implement the promise which He made to the covenental founder. This is represented by the Tetragrammation - the “Shem Havaya”. It is the “Shem Havaya” which suspends the natural. We find this in Exodus! There was no war. If there were, Israel would have lost, In today’s Sedra we find 600,000 Israelites against 600 Egyptian chariots. Why the great fear? We find this with Amalek. Amalek was not a major or powerful force. But here the Israelite had to fight. If G-d did not suspend the natural Cosmos the Jews would never have left. If it were postponed there would not be a community left -- died to assimilation. This suspension of the natural -- this speeding process is represented through “Shem Havaya”. Elokim works through a slow process. The people would not understand this. A basic change had to take place in their personality. Under these conditions of natural process it would have taken hundreds of years for them to be ready for “Kabalas HaTorah” -- receiving the Torah. “If I have to wait for them to repent and come back, they never will.” “Midas Elokim” (natural order) should have been the entire 400 years. Instead, we find it in four generations (Moshe, Amram, K’hos, Levi). Rabbi Akivah says that the 400 years were converted to 4 generations. This is “Midas Havaya” the speeding process. Thus Moshe said, “It is too soon!” Medrash says, “When I tell them of redemption they will say, ‘It is too soon!’” G-d says, “if not now, it will never happen!” “M’Karetz al Heorim.” “Havaya” acts instantaneously it eliminates the slow process. If they acted differently, (no danger of Avodah Zorah). Elokim would have prevailed. Instead, “Havaya”! This is why the name told to Moshe was, “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh.” Thus they will be able to say in such a short time, “Naase, V’Nishma”. The same will also apply in the days of Moshiach.


Events which are happening today - the painfully slow process, the accusations and counter accusations can be appreciated from the standpiont of Elokim. That is one explanation. Another explanation is that if you extend the idea of “Havaya” it should be extended to Esther. The idea that the megilah should be incorporated into the holy writings and that Purim should be accepted by Sanhadrin is indicative of “Havaya” - a sudden divine change. There have been instantaneous reactions in everyone’s life. That which profoundly changes our lives is “Havaya”. We find in Torah, Etzba Elokim (a slow process) but at the sea they saw “Yad Hashem” - Havaya. In today’s “Shira” not a word is mentioned about Mitzraim. There was no “Shira” about Mitzraim. The only one who praises G-d for Egypt is Yisro. “Blessed is G-d who saved you from Egypt!” Moshe only said “Shira” about that which the people saw and were impressed. The people didn’t realize “Havaya” at Egypt (the process was too painfully slow). They did realize it at “Yam Suf”. Gd can get along without thanks if we are not impressed. Moshe did not feel that “Shira” was necessary until the people were impressed, until they accepted G-d’s kingship. Then he said Shira! “Eser Makos” (the ten plagues) did not impress them. The same applies to each person! Some are sensitive; some find Havaya every day. “The fact that I can walk, I can speak -- I can still teach Chumash every Saturday at my age!” It all depends on how we look at it. We need the double approach. Everything is natural and many are supernatural. It depends on the individual. In Sedra “Vayera”, in the first few lines, Rashi says: “They (the Patriarchs) knew me as “Kal Shaddai”. (It is sufficient that I promise you). I was not known to them “B’Midas Hashem” -- the attribute of Havaya. They didn’t see the absolute truth! I made promises and I didn’t fulfill. (I promised them the entire land. Yet Abraham had to pay 400 Shkolim for a grave site. Yitzchak had to struggle for wells. Yaakov had to pay 100 pieces of silver for a parcel of land in Shchem.) It means their era was the era of promises. There is the era of promises (short - it is quick to promise) -- and the era of fulfillness (it takes long to fulfill). As humans, they die before the realization of the promies). “You Moshe are fortunate that you live in the time of fulfillment. Abraham knew me as Elokim. I could burden you as I did Abraham. It will take a long time! Those are the promises which we find in Sedra “Haazinu” - for the Messianic future. That which I promise now will come quickly because I reveal myself as “Havaya”. “Havaya” has no patience. That which shall happen comes instantly. Now reverting to the opening statement - we have all the Elokims in the first few sentences. For a short time, for a few seconds He availed Himself as “Elokim” - the circumventing of the land of the Philistines, the trek in the desert, the roundabout route. He took


them out with “Havaya” but here there are tremendous risks with “Elokim” - with the slowness of natural order. He changed the route from straight to circuitous. Had the Havaya been used, then Bnai Yisrael would have reached Eretz in 10 days. There would have been a change in history. If Moshe would have brought them in, the Kings of Canaan would have given up instantly, there would have been no Temple destruction, no expulsion. The whole history would have changed. But we don’t understand and have no right to question! The risk of taking them by Philistia was dangerous. They might have returned. It is hard to reconstruct the route. Why so circuitous? Under “Havaya” they would have been protected would have reached their goal very quickly. There is the circuitous route of Elokim because Moshe couldn’t entre and it is very tragic. Moshe wanted the kingship, not kingship as we know it for he was a King. He wanted the “Messianic Kingship” and G-d said “no”. This is the kingship which was denied to him. Had he taken them by the “Plishtim” as “Havaya” it would have been completely different. Now in Shmos (Chapter 3, line 3) why does does “Havaya” change to Elokim? G-d saw that Moshe turned aside (to see the burning bush). “Sor” does not mean to move. We find similar wording in Bereshis (Chapter 19- line 3) concerning the angels at Lot. “Vayosuru Aylov” - (they turned to him). The angels departed from the usual route to zig-zag -- to come through the back way in order to mislead the people of Sodom. Here we find with Moshe, “Osuro No” (I will turn aside). Not only Moshe saw the burning “Sneh”; -others saw it and disregarded it. Their philosophy was simple, materialistic approach. Theirs was not to see miracles. To them, there would be some explanation why the bush didn’t consume faster. Only Moshe saw it as a G-dly process. Moshe said, “Osura Hamarah Hagodol” -- “I’ll turn, I’ll study it; it is out of the ordinary. It belongs in the category of “Havaya”. G-d declares “There is someone cpapble of representing me as “Havaya” -- not in natural terms but in transcendental terms. G-d addressed Himself as “Elokim” because Moshe would be confused. “You Moshe, will be the representative not only of Elokim -- the natural order, but a representative of “Shem Havaya”. “I am the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I’ll have to change the order! You’ll have to represent me as “Havaya”. All promises will be quickly revealed. Lecture delivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik on Saturday night, Feb 17, 1979 There are some questions connected with this week’s Sedra of Yisro. The last chapter of the previous sedra B’Shalach ended with the story of the attack of Amalek. This week’s sedra commences with the advent of Yisro, Moshe’s father-in-law, and his advice to Moshe.


What is the continuity? It is hard to understand. Another question is that we call it, “And Yisro heard” but basically the parsha is devoted to his coming to the desert, being received by Moshe, his introduction to the elders of Israel. The major part of the sedra of course is devoted to the giving of the Ten Commandments. Yisro was the first one to praise the name of G-d in connection with “Yetzias Mitraim”. It is said that it is a shame that Moshe, Aaron and the 600,000 Israelites didn’t sing the “Shira” as soon as they left. The “Shira” at the sea doesn’t mention Mitzraim. The entire description is of the miracles at the Red Sea. Gemora is critical of this. The first one to praise the Exodus per se was Yisro. First, it is strange why Moshe didn’t mention it. Second, the Torah is eager to single out Yisro as a great personality. He also intuitively guessed at the judicial system which the Torah was to incorporate and which G-d would sanction. Even now we have the same judicial system as recommended by Yisro. It is interesting that in sedra Devarim - Chapter 1, line 9 - Yisro is not mentioned. “And I said to you at that time, I cannot carry you alone!” This system would have been introduced even without his advice, but why is it recorded? The fact of his advice apparently is of great importance! He is described in positive terms. Moshe begged him to remain with Israel. According to Chazal, Yisro did join the community because it is recorded that the children of Kenites (Yisro’s family) lived in Eretz. Why didn’t the judicial system occur to Moshe? Why did it occur to Yisro? The following is why “Hashgocha” (Providence) precipitated the series of events on the strength of Yisro’s advice. The main theme of today’s sedra is “Matan Torah” to the community which was started by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They were already a great nation at the Exodus but at “Matan Torah” they became not only great but holy. “Kedusha” was added on Sinai. The purpose of elevating Israel to the exalted position has a universal aspect. Yisro was charged with passing on the Torah so that humanity should accept! It is yet a long distance to the goal but a goal it is. We have the vision portrayed by many prophets. Many peoples dislike that the Jews were charged with the mission. Whether we have fulfilled our part is a different story. “My spirit will flow over every spirit, every flesh!” An entire prayer revolves about this theory! The Torah was given exclusively to us but for a limited time. At the Messianic age it will then be for all. This Tefilah is the one of “Machroysanu” of Rosh Hashanah, of which “Aleynu is part”. “And it is said the saviours shallup on Mount Zion to judge the Mount of Esau and the sovereignty shall be the L-rd’s. And it is said the L-rd shall be King over all the earth; and in that day shall the L-rd be One and His name One!”


It means the Torah will bcome the universal book of morality. These “Tefilos” are based on the prophet Isaiah and others. At present, the Torah is the exculsive possession of Israel but at the Messianic age ti will be passed on to the entire world. That is why the Torah was given amongst thunder, lightning and noise. The whole world trembled! All the creatures taht came into the world were frightened. It started with a universal affair and ended with a private affair. After all, the 600,000 was a small group in relationshiop to the world. It was covenant similar to marriage between man and wife; it was pirvate. Yet all knew it was of cosmic proportions, including not only the 600,000 ex slaves but all mankind. All knew although they didn’t understand. But basically it was a private affair. We have both propositions in “Shofros”. Not only the human beings but all creatures were involved. It taught all of nature how to live together! The Torah will teach “Chesed” and kindness not only to humns but to all elements of nature - in the eschatological era of Moshiach! All will become cooperative. Question: was it private or for all? Answer: Yes -- but in the future. It is to redeem the world -- not only the Jewish people. For a limited period of time it is limited but ultimately it will become cosmic. When this will be we don’t know. Jacob wanted to reveal the “Eschatological Era” but it was removed from him. The element of “Chesed” will be injected into the cosmic nature. The Torah will become the guiding book of all nature. But again, for the present time it is a private affair. This is why thunder and lightning accompanied it! Why? If it was a private affair why not give it quickly and in solitude? Rashi says in sedra “Ki Sisso” that when G-d told Moshe to ascend and He will inscribe the second Tablets it was different. The first ascent was accompanied with thunder and lightening but the second time, “No one shall accompany you.” It will be complete secrecy. Why? “Publicity caused the failure, the evil eye.” Modesty is better. Then why the first time with alarm, audible throughout he cosmos? Because the peoples of the world had to know that this giving will have great significance for the entire world. The world had to be notified. Therefore, the second time the world know already. “Now I don’t want a single soul to know.” There is a question to be raised! Who posed the question? Amalek! According to Chazal, G-d sent agents to several nations concerning acceptance of the Torah. All rejected. It is related “Lo Sirtzoch” - (do not kill). Esau rejected “Do not steal - commit adultery” - others rejected. There is a low in “G’ayrus” (conversion). You cannot impose it unless a person is ready! A man cannot become a “gayr” unless he feels he is able to comply with it. If a person declares, “I am not morally strong enough, you cannot impose it! This in effect is what Esau and Ishmael declared and the Al-mighty accepted it. If you do impose it,


it is invalid. Now is “Yehodus” (providence) ready to give this doctrine to the whole world? Is the world or mankind ready? Do men have the spirit to accept this? It means “losing money in the strict matter of honesty, etc.” It is a very costly affair economically. The peoples are not ready. Is humanity per se ready to accept our way of life? Actually, we the teachers are lacking too. We engage in “Loshen Horah” (slander), we are not above chaeting the government, etc. Economy is very ruthless. Karl Marx criticised our form and introduced his own which is even worse. Many of the people today are not ready to accept the “Choshan Mishpat” (the breastplate of justice). If he is not ready, why should he be converted? Is the world ready to accept this kind of a Torah? This doubt was aroused with tremendous impact at the “Milchemes Amalek” (the war of the Amalekites). Is Amalek ready to accept the Torah? “The Throne is not whole as long as Amalek (evil) exists. Can this evil power accept the Torah? Pharoah said, “We are guilty.” It was possible to convert Pharoah! But Amalek? Therefore it was a necessity to introduce to the people someone else - a non-Jew Yisro! - who will be ready to accept. Intuitively, Yisro was a Jew. The Torah purposely left out Moshe at this instant. Yisro guessed the judicial system for a definite reason. The whole concept of “chesed” was instituted by Yisro, the non-Jew. This teaches that despite the unfortunate incident with Amalek, Yisro ahd to come to dispel the idea that an outsider cannot accept the Torah. Actually, Amalek knew nothing about Israel. It was merely irritated by a small group of people. This was the basic trait of Naziism. They were inspired by murder, inspired by “R’Tzicha” (evil). Doing a good thing is a source of inspiration; evil is also a source of inspiration. “Mitzvah gorereth mitzvah - Avayrah gorereth avayrah.” (Good inspires good - evil inspires evil.) This was Amalek, inspired by doing evil. So, how can they be inspired by Torah? We have to teach by deed - not by book. If a Jew is engaged in proper activity, he enjoys te respect of the world and this is the concept of “Kiddush Hashem” (Sanctifying the Holy Name) - and prohibition of “Chilul Hashem” (profaning the Holy Name). Why is “Kiddush Hashem” so great and “Chilul Hashem” so bad? If our ethical deeds are good, they bring others closer. Otherwise, it teaches others to do evil. You won’t be able to be “Mamleches Kohanim” (a priestly nation) unless you are members of “Goy Kodosh” (a holy nation). Thus, Torah introduced Yisro! If there is one Yisro, there can be many Yisros, the antithesis of Amalek. Mankind will be converted to the Al-mighty. Will mankind ever be ready? Yes! Yisro confirmed it! Israel, in order to implement th message of Sinai must be on one hand the teacher and on the other hand the warrior. Are the two missions compatible? Yes! The idea that, “Yehodus” is absolute


pacifism is wrong. Yes, we are for pacifism but not when we are threatened. Therefore, we have parsha Amalek befroe “Matan Torah”. Even though “Asseres Hdibros” (commandments) has the injunction “Lo Sirtzoch” -- do not kill -- on the other hand, we often have to fight Amalek (evil). But there are people like Yisro! Why did Moshe send Yisro to proselytize other peoples? Because through a man like Yisro, the whole Torah assumes cosmic proportions. Even though Moshe would have known of the judicial system by word of the “Hashgocha” still it was Yisro who introduced it to make known that it will be possible by all - non-Jews alike - to accept the word of the Torah at the appointed time. Lecture delivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik Saturday evening, February 24, 1979 “Yisro” Last week, we discussed the link between Yisro’s assignment with “Matan Torah”. Tonight, I would like to continue in this vein by calling attention to the comments of Rashi and Rambam. Yisro basically asks Moshe two questions (chapter 18, line 14). A) “What is this thing that you do unto the people? It is obvious that although Yisro embraced Judaism, he didn’t fully comprehend the Jewish way. “People come in droves to you from morning till night! What do you do? What is your function? What do you accomplish?” He couldn’t understand it. B) “Why don’t you distribute and delegate power? Why don’t you organize and delegate a hierarchy of pwer?” Yisro couldn’t understand that a Rav has to do it. Moshe gave one answer to their two questions. “Vayomer Moshe L’Chosno” (And Moshe answered his father-in-law) “Because they come to me to inquire of G-d. When they have a problem they come to me and I judge between one man and his neighbor and I make known the statutes of G-d and His Law.” He told him what a Rav is supposed to do amongst his people. As to the second question, apparently the answer is not here. Where can it be found? There is one slight distinction. He didn’t quite implement Yisro’s program. Yisro indicated that Moshe should handle only the important cases, but I’ll return to it and show why Moshe did no implement all Yisro advised. What is Moshe’s first task? “They come to me to inquire of G-d!” Onkelos in targum declares, “They come to me to inquire knowledge of G-d.” Thus, the first task of the Rab is to teach. It is the best task! It is the best as far as effectiveness is concerned and the best regard of heartaches. (When I first came to Boston I became involved in Jewish politics and quickly discerned that one can sink spiritually to become involved in political problems. One is drawn away from Torah, forgets Torah and there is no reward of L’Olam Habah for political activity.)


The first task of the Rav is to study (without studying he obviously cannot teach) and to learn. The task of the King of Israel was to study and to teach. It was not to exercise political power. It was the same task as the Kohanim and the Leviim, homely teaching. The Prophet Moshe had the same power as a king -- to teach. This is Onkelo’s interpretation and Rashi sanctions it. The Rav asks enlightenment from “Pi Hagvorah” (Alm-ghty). Rambam’s interpretation is a little different. Rambam says, “Moshe explained that the people come to me for many reasons. “Mispalel Al Chalayhem”. I should pray to Hashem for the sick.” In Hebrew, this praying is “Lidrosh Hashem”. It is employed in Sedra Toldos. Rivka went “LiDrosh Hashem” -- to pray. Shlomo Hamelech defines “tefila” under the varied terms “sickness, exile, many crises with which man is confronted. This is what Rambam says Moshe answered, “Bikur Cholim” (visiting the sick). Many times the only recourse is to pray to G-d. “Bikur Cholim” has three distinct aspects. A) ‘Tefilah’. In Tehilim we have the “posek” - “G-d will nurse me!” The first thing which the sick person wants to achieve is “help”. A “talmud” of Rabbi Akivah had a severe infectious disease and all refused to come close to ehlp him, except Rabbi Akivah himself. The Rabbi nursed the sick person and brought him to health so that the person proclaimed taht his life was spared only through Akivah’s work. B) Allay the feeling of loneliness. There is no lonelier person than the sick man and this has nothing to do with his family. Sickness generates loneliness. It is the job of the one who visits to show interest. The feeling of loneliness is, “I am not needed anymore.” Thus he is told by the “M’vaker Chole” (the visitor), “How much he is needed.” C) The sick person desires that the visitor shall pray for him. “He shares in his distress, in his misery.” Chazal says, “One should take sick in an imaginary manner and to understand a person’s suffering.” If you help the person suffer by suffering with him, one is entitled to say a prayer for him. Otherwise, the “mish’barach” is very limited in effectiveness. Thus Rashi and Onkelos stree, “Teach”. Rambam stresses “Bikur Cholim” in all its aspects. Is there a common denominator between Rashi and Rambam? Both are good and semantically alright. Is it different or the same, the teacher and the one who prays? They both must care for the person! They must possess the ability to love the “Talmidim” (students). A teacher cannot fool the “Talmud”. The “Talmud” will discover the weakness of the teacher very quickly. If the “Talmud” feels the teacher loves him there are no limits to the accomplishments. Otherwise, the greatest teacher will accomplish zero. The same is the one who prays, “I must suffer and co-suffer.” Thus Moshe had both roles, the great teacher and the greatest one


to ask for salvation. That he was a great teacher we know for we call him, “Moshe Rabeynu”. How do we know that he loved the people? “V’hispalalti” (and I prayed for you) - He was ready to sacrifice himself for his people. He possessed both qualities - to pray and to teach. He had a supernatural passion for his people. Chazal says that Moshe not only prayed at the time of the golden calf for the forgiveness of the people but he “took hold of G-d’s garment” so as to speak. “Take leave of me,” said the Al-mighty to Moshe. Thus this became the day of Yom Kippur, the day of forgiveness and of love. It all evolves about “Ahavas Yisroel” - love of Israel. A) The next function which Moshe felt he should discharge was the implementation of justice! He was a judge and it was his function to perform. It is interesting that when Rambam discusses the function of a king, the first function of the “Melech” is study. The real mitzvah of study is first learn and then pass on the knowledge. Of course, if you don’t study you cannot pass it on. This is no mitzvah of plain study! Instead, it is “study and pass it on”. The next is “fill the world with righteousness and twist the arm of the “Chatoyim” - the sinners. Moshe was the greatest of all kings. If there is conflict and controversy, they come to me and I judge between one and another. B) Next according to Rambam is teaching. According to Rashi, you start with teaching and go to justice. According to Rambam, it’s prayer, justice, and Talmud Torah. It seems to be a duplication and would appear to be redundant. Many mitzvoth were given to Moshe with which he came and enlightened the people. If was not their request but he was the “Sheliach Hashem” and he had to pass it on to them. (On some mitzvoth he had to make inquiry; it wasn’t told to him. In this category we have “Pesach Sheni” and the daughters of Zelophchod (regarding inheritance). He had to inquire himself. Then there are some which the Torah doesn’t even mention and have to be evolved from the scripture. Even now in Talmud Torah there are different aspects. I satisfy my own curiosity on my own problem -- searching in depth, analyzing for the answer. Now we do not have the privilege of “Going to Hashem”. Thus the peple are curious I have students who distinguish themselves by curiosity. There is another part of Talmud Torah - to know the known, to find out for myself that which is already known. Thus we have A) to be inquisitive; B) to know that which is known -- available. Interesting is a laughable thing. In our own history since antiquity, since Abraham, Jewish people have developed three-fold leadership: The “Rav or Dayan” (rabbi or judge) - the “Rosh Yeshivah” (Rambam calls Moshe, Rosh Yeshivah) - the “Chassidiser Rebbe” - the Bal Shem Tov. If you define the task of the three, why is the Rav or


Dayan necessary? His job is to resolve “Din Torah” (litigation of the Torah). I remember in Europe when people didn’t go to court. There were no lawyers and they weren’t missed. If two people quarreled or had a legal problem, they were brought to the Rav, a fair, honest, sympathetic judge. The Rav may not have been worldly but was extremely honest. There is a story which transpired in Brisk involving my grandfather which illustrates the honesty and impartiality. There was a man who gave a great deal of money to Reb Chaim for charitable purposes. Reb Chaim would not even count the money but place it in his pocket and embrace the philanthropist. It happened that this person died and on the very same day a poor woman, the wife of a shoemaker died. The Halacha is that the Tahara for a woman must take precedence. However, due to the respect which the philanthropist enjoyed, the officials went to his house to atttend to his body first. Reb Chaim went to the house of his dear friend and forced them to stop the Tahara until they had completed it for the woman, despite knowing the feelings of his family. This illustrates the justice of the Rav. In my own father’s case, he would spend the entire day on the judgment of one case. Another illustration! There was a man who had a maidservant and she owned an expensive bracelet. Once on an occasion the wife of the master asked the maid if she could borrow the bracelet for an affair. Later, when the mistress came home (before she could return it) the bracelet was gone, stolen. So ordinarily, the man would have to pay the assessed amount of the jewelry. However, the law of Torah is that the employer is relieved of duty to the employee. This is a “Chok” (ordinance) of Torah and we cannot understand it. However, the parties came before the Rav and he asked both to touch the handkerchief, a legal gesture which now allows the Rav to make any decision as he deems correct. Once you touch the kerchief you are at the legal mercy of the Rav and the man refused - demanding strict “Din Torah” (literal interpretation). However, the Rav coerced him to touch and the decision was 90% for the maid, 10% for the master. Considering the litigant parties, it took great courage for the Rav to do this. There was a time in Czarist history where young Jewish children were actually conscripted into the Russian army for 25 years service. In effect the were kidnapped, sent far away and converted to Christianity. The rich bought their way out, the poor couldn’t afford to. But with their strict sense of justice many a rabbi fought heroically with the rich over the issue, thereby often losing his job. The job of the Rosh Yeshivah was simply to talk Torah. But there was no one to pray, to talk for the poor. This institution was begun by the Chassisher Rebbe. The Rebbe tood those who became sick and prayed for them. So we have the Dayan (justice), Rosh


Yeshivah (teacher), and Rebbe (the person who prays). This is the three-fold mission which Moshe described to Yisro. The son of Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakai became very sick and he asked Rabbi Chanina Ben Dosa to pray for him. Rabbi Yochanan’s wife asked him, “Why ask him? Aren’t you surely as great or greater?” He answered, “I am the prime minister before G-d. Rabbi Chanina is the butler. A prime minister needs an invitation to go before a king. A butler can go in and out at will!” This was Moshe’s explanation to Yisro. “Zdakah is mishpat.” (I settled mishpat among them.) Now, the second question: Why didn’t Moshe institute the judicial system? Of course, it did occur to Moshe, however, he felt it was wrong. Why was it necessary for Yisro to introduce such a simple plan? I believe that Moshe had a different approach to the heirarchy of justice. It rests on the assumption that a big claim needs special attention. In other words, a small amount in litigation needs smaller attention; a higher amount need greater attention. This is what Yisro implicated. “A million dollars needs a greater court!” This halacha does not exist All requirements of jsutice -- large amount of money is applicable to a small amount. Corruption of a million dollars is the same as corruption of ten dollars. In Jewish law, the amount plays no role. It is not the amount, it can be insignificant. According to Yisro, the assignment was not to be brought to Moshe unless it involved a lot. It is not the amount, it is the complexity. Moshe’s reply is, “This cannot be answered. This must be determined by Moshe. If according to Yisro it is the amount, he is right. Small litigation to small judges, large amounts to Moshe. But if it is the complexity, the substance, then the clerk cannot assign the court. It must be only Moshe. Therefore, all cases must first be brought to Moshe for disposition. Also, once you have already brought it to him for disposition, he’ll settle it also. To determine what is complex you must be a great scholar. I say that often I am presented with cases which the party thinks is minor and apologize even for calling. In reality it is so complex that in olden times it would have involved Sanhedrin a long time. On the other hand, often what a party thinks is complex can be answered in minutes. Basically, it remained as Moshe felt. But “Yahadus” (providence) feared that one man should sin and say, “Guilty - not guilty!”, even if that one person were Moshe. If so it would be paradoxical. No man is worthy to hold Damocles sword over another man’s head. Man is weak. Man is frail. To say that man has no place in the world to judge is to turn the world into a state of anarchy. Thus, when Moshe came with Yisro’s plan, G-d answered, “You are right!” But it is a concession to human nature which cannot institute perfect justice. Therfore, you must accept his advice. This is a concession


which Torah made to human beings knowing his frailities and weaknesses. Are we superior to the animal so that we are worthy to slay it and eat its meat. Actually not! But is a concession of G-d to man. Therefore, Yisro’s plan, a concession to man was partly accepted. Lecture delivered by Rabbi Soloveitchik on Saturday night, March 3, 1979 “Parsha Terumah” … Reading today’s sedra, I found an answer to a problem long bothersome. When G-d met Moshe for the first time and charged him with the mission to Mitzraim, “Go tke them out of Egypt.” He didn’t even tell him how to do it. One detail, however, He did tell Moshe to relay to the people. “When you leave you will not leave empty. The women will borrow beautiful clothing from their neighbors and put them on their children. Why is this necessary to tell them right away? He gave Moshe no details of the plagues, “Dom”, “Tzfadaya”, but when you leave, you will leave loaded. Then later again, “You will take gold, silver, etc.” A third time, “The people listened and borrowed clothing, etc.” Why is this so important before Matan Torah to be told three times? I believe the posek, “The people found favor in the eyes of the Egyptians,” has great importance. First, there is the procrastination on the part of Pharaoh, his lying -- the entire story -- what impression do you get? What did G-d want? G-d could have taken them out of Egypt in one hour! But G-d wanted that Pharoah should liberate them! Of course, some times you must stimulate Pharoah! But He wanted that Pharoah should send them -- that the Jews shouldn’t liberate themselves. Also, G-d shouldn’t liberate them immediately. There is a law concerning “Eved Ivri” (the Jewish slave). “Do not send him away empty handed. Why is this necessary to send the “Eved” away laden with gifts? Because basically you give gifts to one who is your equal. Heads of state give presents to the White House because it is an expression of being satisfied, mutual respect, sense of equality. G-d wanted Pharoah not merely to liberate the Jews but to liberate them because he felt they were his equal. The “Shaloh” is not borrowing. It is merely a request. At the beginning, Moshe was not respected. “N’rpim Atem, N’rpin” (Pharoah said to Moshe and Aaron - you are lazy). At the end, he was highly respected. Now the people were eager to give gifts. At least, for a while Pharoah recognized them as equals, to leave as free men -equal to the Egyptians. There is another answer. A slave has no property. Whatever he has passes on to the master. In Egypt, they had absolutely nothing - not utensils or anything. Clothes tell the plight of the people. In Egypt, while they wore rags, the Egyptians wore the finest silks, linens and


raiments. Suddenly, they were liberated with so much beautiful clothing and wealth. They suddenly could put on the same clothes as their mistresses. So, they could become greedy. However, at once there is a new request, “Vayikchu Li Terumah” -- take to me an offering. What were they asked for? The very same things which they just got. He let them fondle it for a while and then asked them to give it. But the way it was taken from them had a tremendous impact! peasch.01 Shiur HaRav Soloveichik ZT"L on Erev Pesach Shechal B'Shabbos (Shiur date: 3/19/74. Note that this Shiur has 3 sections: Erev Pesach Shechal Bshabbos, a discussion on egg matzo and drush) The Mishna (Pesachim 49a) quotes a 3 way Machlokes Ta'naim regarding how to deal with Chametz (leavened items) when Erev Pesach coincides with Shabbos. Rabbi Meir says 'Mva'arin Es Hakol Lifnay Hashabos', we eradicate all Chametz on Friday, Erev Shabbos. The Rabbis say the final Bi'ur, eradication, takes place `B'Zmano', in its appropriate time, on Shabbos. Rabbi Elazar Ben Tzadok distinguishes between Chulin, food permissible to all, and Terumah, which is restricted to Kohanim. Bi'ur for the former may take place on Shabbos, while Bi'ur for the latter must take place on Friday. Bi'ur Chametz is a fulfillment of the Mitzvas Tashbisu. The Mitzvas Bi'ur commences on the night of Erev Pesach. We perform Bdikas Chametz (a "search and destroy mission" on Chametz), and recite a blessing of Al Bi'ur Chametz (not Al Bdikas Chametz). The culmination of this activity is the final destruction of the Chametz (actual Bi'ur) during the day of Erev Pesach. The Torah obligation is to complete the Bi'ur by the sixth hour (noon, based on a 12 hour day of 60 minutes, Shaos Z'maiyos, starting from 6 AM). The Rabbis added an extra restriction to complete the Bi'ur by the end of the fourth hour (continuing with the above example, 10 AM). When the Mishna says that we must be M'vaer before Shabbos, the Rabbis were telling us that the Rabbinic obligation of Tashbisu begins Erev Shabbos. (Note that this is strictly a Rabbinic issue, as from the Torah requirement, Friday is still the thirteenth of Nissan, and there is no Torah restriction on Chametz on the thirteenth.) Our custom of Bi'ur Chametz by the end of the fourth hour on Friday the thirteenth, is not mentioned in the Mishna. The discussion there simply says that according to Rabbi Meir it must be eradicated before Shabbos. Bdikas Chametz is done on the night of the thirteenth. But the final Bi'ur can take place anytime prior to Shabbos. Again this is a


strictly Rabbinic issue of Tashbisu, since the fourteenth is Shabbos, and Bi'ur is forbidden on Shabbos, there can be no fulfillment of Tashbisu in such a year. So according to Rabbi Meir the Mitzvas Tashbisu migrates from the fourteenth to the thirteenth of Nissan. The Chachamim say that Tashbisu does not migrate. Bdikah can migrate to the night of the thirteenth, because there is a restriction of searching with a candle on Shabbos, but the rest remains in its right time. [There is a Machlokes between Chachamim and Rabbi Yehuda (Mishna Psachim 21a) as to how to fulfill the act of Tashbisu. According the Chachamim, Hashbasaso B'chal Davar, the Chametz may be eradicated by any means possible. According to Rabbi Yehuda it must be consumed through burning. Some explain that even Rabbi Yehuda's requirement to consume the Chametz through fire is relaxed in cases where it is impossible to fulfill. For example if he could not find wood for a fire, he can eradicate it through other means. The fullest Kiyum Hamitzvah according to Rabbi Yehuda is via burning. However when he can't burn it for whatever reason, there is still a Mitzvah to eradicate it B'chal Davar, through any means possible. So when Erev Pesach is Shabbos, and it is impossible to burn the Chametz, he can accomplish Bi'ur (even possibly according to Rabbi Yehuda) on Shabbos through other forms of Bi'ur.] According to the Chachamim the Mitzvas Tashbisu on Shabbos Erev Pesach ends the same time as on Erev Pesach of a regular year. One accomplishes Bi'ur through alternate means that are permissible on Shabbos, for example by crumbling it and casting it to the wind to disperse. The Machlokes between Rabbi Meir and the Chachamim is when does the Mitzvas Tashbisu apply when Erev Pesach is Shabbos. Rabbi Meir says it applies 24 hours earlier than normal and the Chachamim say the Mitzvas Tashbisu remains in its appropriate time, on Shabbos. According to the Chachamim, if one eradicates the Chametz on the thirteenth, he has not fulfilled the Mitzvas Tashbisu. Rashi explains that according to Rabbi Meir one sets aside what he needs to consume on Shabbos and is M'vaer everything else that he is destined to be M'vaer on Friday. Rashi is based on the earlier Gemara (13a): "We learned in a Braysa, if the fourteenth [of Nissan] falls on a Shabbos, we eradicate everything before Shabbos, and we burn Terumah that is definitely unclean (Tomay), possibly unclean and pure (Tahor) and we set aside from the clean food for 2 meals in order that we may eat it till the fourth hour. This is the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer the son of Yehuda of Bartuta, in the name of Rabbi Yehoshua". Here we find something that is contrary to the normal concept of Bi'ur Chametz. Bi'ur Chametz is


the fulfillment of the Mitzvas Tashbisu. The very moment that Bi'ur applies, the Chametz becomes prohibited because of the obligation of Tashbisu. Chametz after Chatzos according to the Rambam (Chametz U'Matzo 1:8) is forbidden by a direct prohibition (Lav) of Lo Tochlu Alav Chametz. According to Rabbi Yehuda, this prohibition applies during the time of Shechitas HaPesach. But the majority of Rishonim disagree with the Rambam. So from where do they derive the prohibition of Chametz on Erev Pesach? Tosfos (Pesachim 28b) says that Tashbisu on Erev Pesach is not just Bi'ur Chametz, but it also prohibits one from eating Chametz after 6 hours. How can there be Bi'ur Chametz if it is still permissible to eat it? In all cases where we require Bi'ur, Srayfa, the item has a definite prohibition, for example Klaay Hakerem, Chametz on Pesach etc. Nowhere else does the Torah require Bi'ur on something that has not yet attained prohibited status. Yet the Gemara on (Psachim 13a) says that we must eradicate everything on the thirteenth based on a Rabbinic application of Tashbisu that applies to Bi'ur but not to the Issur Achila. Mitzvas Bi'ur on Erev Pesach is based on Tashbisu. Also, if I leave the Chametz past 6 hours I violate the Issur A'say of Tashbisu. Tashbisu is both a Kiyum A'say of Tashbisu of Chametz and also an Issur A'say. I can fulfill a Mitzvas Tashbisu Byadayim. And if I leave it past 6 hours on the thirteenth, I violate an Issur A'say of Bi'ur according to Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Elazar Ish Bartuta. So there is a fascinating Halacha here that Mitzvas Tashbisu is split, it applies to the Kiyum A'say but not the Issur A'say, as evidenced by the fact that according to both Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Elazar Ish Bartuta we retain 2 meals worth of Chametz till the next day. B'achila it only becomes prohibited on Shabbos but the Mitzvas Bi'ur Bgufo Shel Chayfetz, the Mitzvas Tashbisu applies a day earlier. Why does Rabbi Meir disagree with the Chachamim? The Baal Hamaor says that Rabbi Meir agrees with Rabbi Yehuda, that since he can't do the Bi'ur on Shabbos he does it a day earlier. (The Rav noted the following difficulty according to the Baal Hamaor, that even (according to some) if Rabbi Yehuda agrees that if it's impossible to accomplish Bi'ur via burning, he may do it through any other possible means, on Shabbos. So if Rabbi Meir's opinion is that it must be done on Friday, he would disagree with Rabbi Yehuda. Be that as it may, the Rav continued to explain the Baal Hamaor.) The Rambam holds like Rabbi Meir, that we eradicate all Chametz before Shabbos and he also holds that Hashbasaso Bchal Davar, not like Rabbi Yehuda. According to the Rambam there is a specific Halacha, unrelated to Rabbi Yehuda, that Bi'ur Chametz in any form is prohibited on Shabbos. Such a Halacha is found in Rashi in Baytza, that in general Terumah Tmaya does not require specifically Srayfa, but he can feed it to his dog as Hashbasaso Bchal Davar. The Gemara in Shabbos says that one may be M'vaer Terumah Tmaya in such a


way based on She'Lachem (Shabbos 25a). Why can't he do so on Yom Tov? Rashi explains that there is a prohibition against any type of Bi'ur on Shabbos, not only via fire. Tosfos quotes an opinion of Rashi (Baytza 27b, D'H V'Al HaChalah Shenitmays). Since the Torah forbade burning Terumah Tmaya on Yom Tov, it also forbade giving it to the dog of a Kohen, because this would constitute an act of Bi'ur, and the Torah elevated such Bi'ur to make it similar to Srayfa which is forbidden on Yom Tov (and, the Rav added, if it is forbidden on Yom Tov, it is definitely forbidden on Shabbos!). This Rashi is difficult to understand, but we see that in his opinion anything that requires Bi'ur, Klaay Hakerem, Chametz on Pesach, etc., the Bi'ur can't be done on Yom Tov or Shabbos even if there is no work involved (as there is no effort involved in feeding it to the dog) and fire is not used to destroy it. The Rambam would appear to agree with this as he holds like Rabbi Meir, that the Bi'ur must take place before Shabbos. The Baal HaMaor (15b in the Rif pages) explains that Rabbi Meir based his opinion regarding Chametz on Erev Pesach that coincides with Shabbos on his agreement with Rabbi Yehuda's opinion that Bi'ur Chametz requires Srayfa. And since sometimes Erev Pesach falls on Shabbos and Srayfas Chametz is not Docheh Shabbos, and if some Chametz remains he will be unable to burn it, therefore they declared the sixth hour of Friday the thirteenth to be the same as the sixth hour of Erev Pesach in a typical year. Hence they declared that one must be M'vaer everything before Shabbos, Terumah or Chulin, as it is possible for him, to eat Matzo on Shabbos for his meals. The Baal HaMaor disagrees with the Rambam as to whether Rabbi Meir requires strictly Srayfa. According to the Baal HaMaor, since Rabbi Meir requires Srayfa, they had to take the thirteenth and treat it like Erev Pesach of a typical year, where Chametz becomes Assur after the fourth hour and full Isur applies after 6 hours. Once Chazal had to accelerate the Mitzvas Tashbisu when Erev Pesach is Shabbos, they did it completely in all regards. According to Baal HaMaor, Mechira to a non-Jew must be completed Friday during the fifth hour. According to Baal HaMaor they back ported the Issur Chamtez 24 hours. According to the Baal HaMaor, Rabbi Elazar Ish Bartuta disagrees with Rabbi Meir and agrees with Rabbi Elazar Ben Tzadok. According to the Baal HaMaor one can eat Matzo instead for Seudas Shabbos at night without any issue at all. And during the day, he can eat Matzo until the time that Chametz becomes Assur Bachila (the Baal HaMaor says till the sixth hour, but the Rav explained that he was referring to the time of Issur Doraysa but the Baal HaMaor would be Choshesh for the Mitzvas D'Rabanan to move up the Issur to the fourth hour). In this way he gets around the problem of the Yerushalmi (Perek 10), that anyone who eats Matzo on Erev Pesach is akin to Bo Al Arusaso in his future father in laws house. He proves this from the


very comparison of Matzo to Arusa. The Baal HaMaor says that Matzo becomes Arusa only when Chametz becomes Assur. The Baal HaMaor explains the opinion of the Chachamim who say B'Zmano, as they hold that because of the importance of Hashbasas Se'or, one can crumble and disperse it to the wind as this does not violate the Issur Bi'ur on Shabbos. According to the Baal HaMaor, the basic Machlokes between Rabbi Meir and the Chachamim is whether Bi'ur Chametz is permitted on Shabbos. But the Baal HaMaor describes a second Machlokes between Rabbi Meir and the Chachamim: what is Bi'ur Chametz? Does Bi'ur Chametz requires Srayfa or is it B'Kol Davar? The Rambam also deals with this secondary Machlokes described by the Baal HaMaor in a different way. According to Rabbi Meir, who the Rambam paskens like, Bi'ur Chametz is prohibited on Shabbos, no matter what form of Bi'ur Chametz is used. This is in agreement with the opinion of Rashi noted earlier. Another difference between Baal HaMaor and Rambam is according to the Rambam one sets aside 2 meals worth of Chametz and eats it on Shabbos while the Baal HaMaor says that he eats Matzo on Shabbos. The Mitzvas Tashbisu is done in half according to Rambam, the Bi'ur is done on Friday but Tashbisu does not result in any Issurim. According to Baal HaMaor, Tashbisu is completely done on Friday. (Someone raised the following question during the Shiur: according to the Baal HaMaor, Matzo is permitted as long as Chametz is not forbidden, until the sixth (or fourth) hour on Shabbos. Yet the Baal HaMaor says that the complete Mitzvas Tashbisu was accelerated by 24 hours, which presumably includes an Issur Chametz as well. So how may one eat Matzo on Shabbos, once the prohibition of Chametz based on Tashbisu applies? The Rav answered that Chametz becoming Assur results in Matzo becoming Assur (as an Arusah) on Erev Pesach. For example if Chametz became Assur on Purim Matzo would not become Assur, only on Erev Pesach. In other words, only on the real Erev Pesach does this linkage occur. So this Issur of eating Matzo that is connected with the prohibition of Chametz applies only on the real Erev Pesach, even if circumstances (i.e. the calendar) requires that the Issur Tashbisu be accelerated one day because of Erev Pesach coinciding with Shabbos.) [The Rav commented that all the pamphlets concerning Erev Pesach that coincides with Shabbos ignored the fundamental Machlokes Rishonim of when the Mitzvas Tashbisu applies in such a year. Instead they focused on when to eat the cake at the Taanis Bchorim! They missed the elephant and focused on the mosquitoes!) The Ramban in the Milchamos disagrees. He says that Matzo is Assur all day, not just from the sixth hour on, and he bring proofs from the Yerushalmi. He explains the concept of Arusah as deriving from the


fact that Bdikas Chametz was already done the night before (on a typical year), therefore Matzo becomes an Arusah immediately in the morning of Erev Pesach. (The Rambam also disagrees with the Baal HaMaor and prohibits eating of Matzo on Erev Pesach all day.) What is the connection between Bdika and the beginning of the prohibition of Matzo as an Arusah? The Mattir by Arusah is Nisuin as well as Kidushin. Kidushin is an Oser, it forbids her to all other men. Heter L'baala depends not only on Kidushin, but on Nisuin also. (From some statements of the Rambam it would appear that this is a D'oraysa, however there are some contradictory statement in the Rambam that require resolution, but the bottom line is...) that the Issur to the rest of the world does not grant a Heter for the Baal, he requires Chupa as well. The Yerushalmi teaches us that Matzo requires Heter, just like Nisuin is a Mattir. The Mattir is the Mitzvah of Ba'erev Tochlu Matzos. If someone ate Matzo on the night of Pesach and had intention not to fulfill the Mitzvah of Matzo he violates the concept of Arusa. It is a Kal Vchomer that if he inappropriately eats Matzo before Pesach he violates the concept of Arusa, then how much more so should he be considered to have violated the concept of Arusa on Pesach night itself, if he eats Matzo inappropriately! If he eats Matzo Kmitzvasah, then he has a Mattir. With inappropriate intent, not only does he not fulfill the Mitzvah of Baerev Tochlu Matzos but he also "violates" the concept that Matzo requires a Heter and he ate without such a Heter. How can one eat Matzo during the year? The answer is that when Chametz is permitted, Matzo is not Matzo, There is no special identity to Matzo when there is no special prohibition for Chametz. The moment that Chametz becomes prohibited, Matzo becomes an Arusa. But there is no Nisuin yet, it becomes a Nesuah with the Kiyum Hamitzva (at night). According to the Baal HaMaor, there is no difference between eating Matzo on Erev Pesach before the time that Chametz becomes Assur and eating Matzo on Chanukah: in neither case is the Matzo considered an Arusah, as long as there is no Issur Chametz in effect. The Ramban disagrees. Even though Chametz is not yet prohibited on Erev Pesach, however there already is a difference between Chametz and Matzo which derives from the fact that we already did Bdikas Chametz the night of Erev Pesach (on a typical year). We have already created the distinction between Matzo and Chametz. After all, the Mitzvas Bdika is to search for Chametz. Matzo does not become Assur until Erev Pesach. The night of the Bdika is not called Erev Pesach, Erev Pesach begins in the morning at sunrise. So at that time Matzo becomes Assur because there is a concept of Chamtez created the night before through Bdika. Even though Chametz may still be eaten,


since the Kiyum Bi'ur on the Mitzvas Tashbisu has begun, the special characteristic of Matzo begins as well. Where the Baal HaMaor requires a full-fledged Issur Chametz to turn Matzo into an Arusah, the Ramban only requires the Kiyum Bi'ur of Tashbisu, and the associated Chalos Shem Chametz. The Rav quoted the Maaseh Rav of the Vilna Gaon, that there is a further connection between Arusa and Matzo. Just like an Arusa requires the 7 blessings of Nisuin to permit her to her husband, on the night of Pesach we recite 7 blessings to permit us to eat the Matzo. Because of the classification of Matzo as Arusa, the Gaon would not uncover the Matzos at the various points in the Haggadah where many have the tradition to do so, because in addition to Chupa, Kalah without Bracha (the 7 blessing) is forbidden to her husband as if she were a Nidah. The seven blessings are: 1) Boreh Pri Hagefen; 2) Kiddush; 3) Shehechyanu; 4) Boray Pri Adamah; 5) Asher Gealanu; 6) Hamotzi Lechem; 7) Al Achilas Matzo. Based on the Rav's explanation of Arusa, we have a better understanding of this custom of the Gaon! The Gemara says (13a) that the Halacha is like Rabbi Eliezer Ish Bartuta. The Machlokes among the Rishonim is with whom does he agree: Rabbi Meir or Rabbi Eliezer Bar Tzadok? The Rambam paskens like Rabbi Meir. The Rif paskens like Rabbi Elazar Bar Tzadok. Rambam holds that Rabbi Eliezer Ish Bartuta aggrees with Rabbi Meir, and together they are an opinion of at least two, hence he paskens according to them and against the Chachamim. The Rambam felt that when Rabbi Eliezer Ish Bartuta said M'vaarin Hakol Lifnay Hashabos, he was referring to Chulin, just like Rabbi Meir. The Rif and the Raavad and Rosh held that Rabbi Eliezer Ish Bartuta agrees with Rabbi Eliezer Bar Tzadok and Chulin is B'zmano on Shabbos and Terumah is before Shabbos. Since together they form an opinion of at least two, these Rishonim pasken according to them and against the Chachamim. The Rif, and those that agree with him, pasken that when Erev Pesach is Shabbos one must fulfill the Mitzvas Bi'ur on Shabbos. Rambam (Hilchos Chametz U'Matzo 3:3) "If the fourteenth falls on Shabbos, we search for the Chametz on the night of Erev Shabbos that is the night of the thirteenth and we set aside from the Chametz enough to eat until the fourth hour on the day of Shabbos. He places it in a secure area and the rest [of the Chametz] he is M'vaer before Shabbos. If some of the Chametz [that he set aside for Shabbos] remains on the day of Shabbos after 4 hours, he is M'vatel [nullifies] it and he covers it with a vessel until after the first days of Yom Tov and then he is M'vaer it". The Rambam agrees with Rashi that according to Rabbi Eliezer Ish Bartuta and Rabbi Meir, there is a Mitzvas Tashbisu, yet this Mitzvas Tashbisu does not create a prohibition against eating Chametz and he fulfills the other part of Tashbisu, the Kiyum Hamitzvah of Bi'ur, on


Erev Shabbos. This is our custom, as in this regard we pasken like the Rambam. (see Maggid Mishna.) We take it as a given that according to Rabbi Meir Bi'ur is prohibited on Shabbos. But it is possible that to say that Rabbi Meir holds that it is preferable to do so before Shabbos. One might say that when Rabbi Meir says that M'vaarin Hakol Lifnay Hashabos means that the Mitzvas Tashbisu begins on Friday, before Shabbos. However Rabbi Meir does not say that one MUST be M'vaer before Shabbos, rather one MAY be M'vaer before Shabbos. If he does not, then he must be M'vaer on Shabbos. (According to the Baal HaMaor, one could not use this reasoning, as he holds that Rabbi Meir agrees with Rabbi Yehuda that Bi'ur Chametz requires burning, which must be done before Shabbos.) Does the Rambam agree with this possible interpretation of Rabbi Meir, that M'vaarin Lifnay Hashabos might mean that one could do it on Shabbos as well? The Rav explained that the Rambam removes all doubt regarding this when he says if some Chametz remained after 4 hours on Shabbos, he must cover it and dispose of it after the first day of Yom Tov. Since the Rambam normally permits Bi'ur of any kind and does not limit it to burning (like the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda) and yet he prohibits Bi'ur of any kind on Shabbos, we see that the Rambam's opinion is that according to Rabbi Meir there is an Issur Bi'ur, of any kind, on Shabbos. Therefore one must be M'vaer everything before Shabbos, except what he sets aside for eating on Shabbos itself. Since any sort of Bi'ur is prohibited on Shabbos, he has no choice but to cover up whatever is left till after the first day of Yom Tov. (Rambam is the only Rishon who paskens like Rabbi Meir.) The Rambam agrees with Rashi that Bitul protects against Bal Yayraeh and Bal Yimatzeh. But also, in Bitul there is a Kiyum Hamitzvah of Tashbisu. The Rambam says (2:2) "And what is the Hashbosah required by the Torah? It is that he must be M'vatel it in his heart and think of it as dirt and impress upon himself that he has no Chametz whatsoever in his possession...". (Unkelos says that Bi'ur is Bitul.) Such Hashbosah (of Bitul) can be done on Shabbos as well. But the Mitzvah of Tashbisu of Bi'ur Bguf Hachafetz, destroying the actual Chametz itself, can't be done on Shabbos. The advice given to crumble any remaining Chametz on Shabbos and flush it down the toilet according to the Rambam is forbidden. Any Chametz that remains, according to the Rambam, must receive Bitul, then take the Chametz and place it in the garbage. Leaving the Chametz in the garbage is not a problem, because Bal Yayaraeh and Bal Yimatzeh is not defined by the location of the Chametz, but by the ownership of the Chametz, in Dinay Mamonus. Once I renounce ownership of the Chametz it can remain in


my garbage can. Those of the opinion that one may flush it away do not pasken like Rabbi Meir. The Rif, Ramban and Rosh disagree and say that Rabbi Eliezer Ish Bartuta agrees with Rabbi Eliezer Bar Tzadok. If Bi'ur is permitted on Shabbos why does he disagree with the Chachamim regarding Terumah, why not be M'vaer Terumah on Shabbos as well? If Bi'ur is prohibited on Shabbos, then why does he permit Bi'ur of Chulin on Shabbos? Terumah has a more limited number of potential consumers, only Kohanim. Chulin on the other hand can be given to all one's friends and neighbors, therefore they allowed him to keep it till Shabbos. But since there are fewer potential eaters of Terumah, he must be M'vaer before Shabbos. Rashi says that it is impossible to hold on to it, Lhashoso E' Efshar (49a). If he will leave the Terumah he will have nothing to do with it, in other words he will not even be able to be M'vaer it on Shabbos. Therefore he must be M'vaer before Shabbos. Rashi (49a) holds that according to Rabbi Eliezer Bar Tzadok, Bi'ur is prohibited on Shabbos. The Rav explained Rashi that since the limited audience for Terumah virtually guarantees that there will be some left over into Pesach, in order that the Kohen should not be stuck with the Chametz well into Pesach, we tell him to be M'vaer before Shabbos. From Rashi it appears that there is an Issur Bi'ur on Shabbos. If there was no Issur Bi'ur on Shabbos, what risk would there be to allow him to wait till Shabbos with Terumah also? From Rashi it appears that he would be compelled to hold on to it because he can't do Bi'ur. Chulin however he can hold onto because he can always find sufficient people to consume it. The probabilities are better that he will dispose of it by inviting many guests to a party. According to Rabbi Eliezer Bar Tzadok, with Terumah there is no choice: anything that would remain after the fourth hour on Shabbos would have to be kept until after Yom Tov Rishon. But with Chulin, he can rely on the greater probability of more people; perhaps there will be nothing left to be M'vaer. But since he can't do Bi'ur on Shabbos in either case, if Chulin remains he will have to hold on to it till after Yom Tov Rishon and burn it then. Rabbi Meir felt that it is impossible to consume all the Chametz before Pesach, whether it is Chulin or Terumah. Since Bi'ur on Shabbos is prohibited, the Mitzvas Hashbosah was moved up by a day. Rabbi Eliezer Bar Tzadok agrees with Rabbi Meir in the case of Terumah. But in the case of Chulin, he permits him to wait because there is a better chance that it will be totally consumed, he has a way to help ensure that there will be nothing left because guest may come to partake of his Chametz. But if some Chametz remains, he must wait till after Yom Tov Rishon to dispose of it, because Bi'ur on Shabbos is prohibited. Therefore according to the Rambam, according to both Rabbi Meir and


Rabbi Eliezer Bar Tzadok, Bi'ur on Shabbos is prohibited, and that is the way he paskens. We can also learn another Pshat in Rabbi Eliezer Bar Tzadok; that he holds Bi'ur on Shabbos is permitted, that he agrees with the Chachamim as far as Bi'ur is concerned. Even if there are no guests we can still be M'vaer the Chulin on Shabbos, by flushing or through other means. Rashi holds that by Terumah Tmayah he can feed it to his animal. (Note: see Rashi Psachim 13a, D'H Thoros Lo Yisrfu, which seems to contradict the earlier explanation of Rashi's opinion that Bi'ur of any sort, even one that requires minimal exertion, is prohibited on Shabbos.) The Rambam disagrees and says that Terumah Tmayah requires actual burning. Since on Shabbos it is prohibited to burn Terumah Tmayah, they required that all Terumah be burned before Shabbos. But in reality Bi'ur would be permitted on Shabbos for regular Chametz, since it does not require actual burning, but Hashbosah Bchal Davar (only Rashi holds that he can dispose of Terumah Tmayah in ways other than burning). To fulfill both Kiyumim of Hashbosas Chametz and Terumah Tmayah they said to be M'vaer before Shabbos. Therefore all Terumos are to be consumed before Shabbos as Lo P'lug. Rabbi Eliezer Bar Tzadok holds that Bi'ur is permitted on Shabbos for Chulin, therefore he can flush it on Shabbos. According to the Rambam, who paskens like Rabbi Meir, it is definitely prohibited. But according to the Rishonim who pasken according to Rabbi Eliezer Bar Tzadok, one can do Bi'ur in this manner on Shabbos. The Rav said that he did not destroy the remaining Chametz on Shabbos. He would place it in the garbage. However he cautioned that the Kol Chamira must be said with great care and Kavana. It should be recited with both texts Livtal Vleheve Hefker Kafra D'ara (text of the Ree) and also Livtal Vleheve Kafra D'ara (according to Rashi because if it is Hefker there is no Tashbisu, because he has to show that Ayno Rotzeh Bkiyumo, hence it can't be Hefker before he pronounces the Bitul). Every year Bitul is done after the Bdikah for the Chametz that I did not find, D'lo Chazitay. It is repeated in the morning at the Srayfa as a Minhag, but this Minhag is not mentioned in the Gemara. But when Erev Pesach is Shabbos, the whole protection is received from the Bitul recited on the morning of Erev Pesach, Shabbos, and it must be a serious declaration. The Bitul pronouncement must include Chametz that I have seen and that I have to keep till after Yom Tov (Dchazitay)[because I am prohibited from disposing of it] as well as Chametz that I have not seen (U'Dlo Chazitay). Regarding the use of egg matzos: the Rav said that since Rabbi Eliezer Ish Bartuta says that we leave over 2 meals worth of Chametz for Shabbos, it is appropriate for us to do this and not use egg matzos. We don't agree with the Baal HaMaor, therefore we do not use Matzos (of any kind) on Erev Pesach. The Mitzvas Tashbisu creates a Kiyum of Bi'ur on the thirteenth but not an Issur Achila, a prohibition against


eating the Chametz until it's rightful Zman Issur, prohibited time. This was the Minhag of the Rav and his parents and Gedolei Yisrael. If one holds like the Baal HaMaor that the Issur Chametz begins Friday after 4 hours, he would have to eat Matzo from Friday on. The problem with Egg Matzo is as follows. The Gemara says that Matzo that was kneaded with fruit juice is not called Matzo. Rashi and the Raavad said that one is not punished with Kares, however the Issur of Chametz Nuksha still applies, even though it's not Chametz Gamur. (Raavad 5:2 Chametz U'Matzo) The Rambam considers Matzo kneaded with fruit juices as perfectly acceptable Matzo, as long as there is no water introduced to the batter. All Rishonim except for Rashi and the Raavad agree. Rabbeinu Tam is quoted to have eaten egg matzos on Erev Pesach (Tosfos Pesachim 35b, D'H U'May Payros) because in his opinion, fruit juice is not even a leavening agent, so egg matzos are permitted on Pesach as well as Erev Pesach. According to Rashi and the Raavad one may not eat egg matzos on Pesach because it is Chametz Nuksha. What about Erev Pesach? The Rama says one should not eat egg matzos even Erev Pesach, unless there are mitigating health reasons. For example if one is Mitztaer, uncomfortable eating regular Matzo, he may eat egg matzos. So in the core Halacha, the Rama paskens against Rashi, that egg matzos really are permissible (if egg matzos would be Assur M'Ikar D'Dina, if egg matzos were really prohibited, them the elderly and ill would not be allowed to eat them either). The Noda B'Yehuda permits egg matzos on Erev Pesach because on Erev Pesach Chametz Gamur alone is prohibited, not Chametz Nuksha. This depends on the Machlokes Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam if Chametz Nuksha is included in Bal Yayraeh and Bal Yimatzeh and if the Mitzvas Tashbisu applies to it. According to Rashi there is a Mitzvas Tashbisu on Chametz Nuksha, therefore there is an Issur Achila. According Rabbeinu Tam, Mitzvas Tashbisu does not apply to Chametz Nuksha, therefore there is no Issur Achila. Many Achronim permit egg matzos on Erev Pesach. Minhag Yisrael is not to eat egg matzos. There is an anomaly, according to the Rambam, regarding egg matzo that it is permissible to use on Pesach but not Erev Pesach. The Rambam excludes Matzo that was kneaded with the 4 liquids of wine, oil, milk and honey. Matzo baked with all other fruit juices are perfectly acceptable for fulfilling the Mitzvah of Achilas Matzo on Pesach. Therefore what we call egg matzos, would be acceptable for Matzo Shel Mitzvah on Pesach night and therefore forbidden on Erev Pesach. The Rav emphasized that when one reads in the modern Pesach books and literature that egg matzo is permitted on Erev Pesach, that is according to the other Rishonim, not the Rambam. According to the Gaon if one eats egg matzos, one must eat a lot in order to be Koveah Seuda. Other Achronim (with the exception of the


Gaon) require a smaller amount, based on the requirements of Eruv Techumin, between 3-4 eggs. (The Rav said that the students of Yeshiva Rambam experimented and discovered that 3-4 eggs are equal in volume to 2.5 matzos.) If people eat a significant amount of cake they are required to wash and make a Bracha of Hamotzi, not Borei Minay Mzonos. However once there is Kvias Seuda as defined by the amount eaten, once must wash and say Bircas Hamazon. Kvias Seuda is equivalent to between 3-4 eggs, or a few pieces of cake. Those that want to eat egg matzos on Erev Pesach for Lechem Mishna must eat a shiur. One who eats a sufficient amount of any form of Pas Haba B'kisnin that creates Kvias Seuda turns the Pas into Lechem and requires washing, Hamotzi and Bircas Hamazon. Sponge cake is excluded, it is not considered Lechem, however pies are considered Lechem if one eats a sufficient amount. Anything that is Blilaso Avah, if it is kneaded into a thick texture it is considered Pas and if a sufficient amount is eaten then one must treat it like bread.Regarding the Halacha that Bi'Ur Chametz on Shabbos is forbidden, the Rav noted an Agadadic/Kabbalistic reason that the Bi'ur should not be done on Shabbos. It is a given that there is evil on this world. The Torah says in Breishis that Hashem created light and Hashem saw that the light was good, which implies that the darkness is bad, essentially the creation of good and evil. At the time of creation, Hashem chose not to eradicate darkness from the world. Chazal say that Hashem hid the original light created at Maasei Breishis till the days of Moshiach, when complete and total light, without darkness, will reign. The Gemara (Makos 13a, Sukka 53a, Yerushalmi Sanhedrin Perek 10) says that when David dug the foundations for the Beis Hamikdash, he dug deep enough to find a piece of pottery, Atzitz, that was there according to some from the time of creation and according to others from the time of Maamad Har Sinai. David wanted to take it. The Atzitz warned David not to remove it, because it has been there all these years preventing the abyss beneath it from rising up and flooding the world. David took it anyway and when the waters threatened to engulf the world, Achitofel advised him to write the name of Hashem on a stone and throw it into the abyss, and the stone settled in the opening and the world was saved. We see from here that Hashem left behind within His creation certain abysses into which man may fall. Man's wickedness can break open the protective coverings from these dangerous places and the resulting evil can consume the entire world. Hashem created good and evil, He separated between good and evil but did not eradicate evil from the world, even though it says that Hashem saw all that He did and it was very good, Tov M'od. When the torah tells us that Hashem rested on the seventh day it is referring to Mizmor Shir Lyom Hashabos, to Yom Shekulo Shabbos Umenucha Lchayei Haolam Habo. The Rav said in the name of his father, that


when the Levites would sing the daily Hymn on Shabbos they would say L'Yom Shekulo Shabbos Umenucha Lchayei Haolam Habo. The true Shabbos is to come in the eschatological age, when evil will be eradicated and U'macha Hashem Dimah M'Al Kal Panim. How will evil disappear? Judaism suggests two approaches. The first is a war against evil, to simply eradicate and destroy it. This is symbolized by Milchama L'Hashem B'Amalek M'Dor Dor, there is an ongoing battle against the evil forces in the world and in nature, as represented by Amalek. When the Torah commands us to heal the sick, V'Rapo Y'Rapeh, it is telling us that illness is a bad thing and man should try his utmost to eradicate it from the world. According to Kabbalah, Amalek represents the generations of Tohu V'Vohu, of dark evil in the world. We find many times that we are commanded to eradicate the evil from among us, U'Bearta Hara M'Kirbecha, the Torah was very strict with murderers an sinners. The Torah warns us against becoming pacifists when dealing with those that commit grave sins (e.g. murderers) and commands us not to look the other way. On the other hand the Torah tells us that the evil can be overwhelmed by good and transformed into good through the power of Teshuva, repentance. No matter how deeply entrenched in sin a Jew may be, he has the possibility of doing Teshuva to correct the evil within him and elevate himself back to a state of complete good. There are people that have become so infected by evil that it is no longer possible to separate them from the evil. The Rambam and the Ramban say that it is possible for man to sink to such a level that he loses his free will, Bchira Chofshis, to change his ways and return to Hashem. At that point he personifies evil, his personality and the evil within it are indistinguishable. He becomes an Amalek. If he has not yet reached that stage, the evil can be elevated and Teshuva is possible. Shabbos and Pesach represent these two approaches to the eradication of evil. Pesach is Hashbosas Hara, an active campaign to eradicate evil. The Rambam in the well known first letter (of the Igeres HaRambam) says that each man has his own internal Paroh that he needs to eradicate. Every man can remove his internal Paroh. The removal from the standpoint of Pesach manifests in a physical immolation of the evil within. It requires great efforts. Shabbos, on the other hand, represents Teshuva. Chazal say that when Adam realized the great power of Teshuva, after Kayin told him that he was forgiven, he immediately said Mizmor Shir Lyom Hashabbos. What is the connection between Kayin's judgment and Adam's reaction of saying the psalm? It is that Shabbos represents the idea that in the eschatological age there will be no need to eradicate evil. It will transform into good through Teshuva, without a battle. Therefore


when Shabbos is Erev Pesach, there is no Bi'ur Chametz, no physical eradication of Chametz, evil, but rather an absorption and transformation of evil into good, as symbolized by Shabbos and Teshuva. _____________________________________________________________ Copyright 2001, Josh Rapps and Israel Rivkin, Edison, NJ. Permission to reprint this Shiur, with this notice, is granted. To subscribe to this service, send email to with the following message: subscribe mj-ravtorah firstname lastname. ---------------------- ---------------------+ Hosted by Shamash: The Jewish Network A service of Hebrew College, offering online courses and an online MA in Jewish Studies, ---------------------- ---------------------= bo.01 Shiur HaRav Soloveichik ZT"L on Makas Bchoros (Shiur Date: 2/8/75. Tape available from M. Nordlicht: #5218, #5219. Please refer to this Shiur for Parshas Bo as well.) Yetzias Mitzrayim is more than a story that happened to our people thousands of years ago. It is still as significant and relative today as it was those many years ago. The exodus was the preamble to receiving the Torah at Sinai. One could say that all 613 commandments are rooted in some way to Yetzias Mitzrayim and Kabbalas HaTorah. Often the Torah associates Yetzias Mitzrayim with Mitzvahs, for example Ani Hashem Elokaychem Hamotzi Eschem M'Eretz Mitzrayim. Shabbos as explained in the Aseres Hadibros in Sefer Devarim is rooted in Yetzias Mitzrayim. What is the guiding principle of the Mitzvahs that are explicitly associated with Yetzias Mitzrayim? For instance we are enjoined from acting as the Egyptians did. The Torah tells us (Vayikra 11:43-45) Al Teshaktzu Es Nafshosaychem etc., don't defile yourselves etc. for I am the Lord your God, and you shall be holy for I am holy etc. For I am the Lord who has lifted you out of the Land of Egypt, and you shall be holy for I am holy. The Torah uses similar language (Vayikra 18:3) Ani Hashem Elokaychem K'Maasay Eretz Mitzrayim Asher Yeshavtem Ba Lo Taasu The Torah then commands us to follow "My laws, I am the Lord your God". This is followed by a list of illicit sexual relationships. The general principle is that Mitzvahs where man is warned to discipline himself and refrain from over indulgence in corporeal desires are linked to Eretz Mitzrayim. Judaism recognizes and accepts that man is comprised of body and soul, intellect and desires. Yet, Judaism's approach to the body is one of discipline. The body must be more than a tool of the


savage, brutish caveman. The Jew must refrain and retreat from Torah prohibitions even though the actions promise him much pleasure. Engaging in such acts of pleasure ultimately defile man, therefore he must discipline his mind and subjugate his body to resist them. Indulging in the eating of forbidden food items, Maachalos Asuros, as described in Parshas Shemini and in forbidden sexual relationships as described in Parshas Acharay Mos, defile man. The Rambam grouped them both under Hilchos Kedusha. [The Rav noted that people criticize traditional Judaism for its emphasis on these things. He told the story of Jacob Schiff, a German Jew and potential donor, who was brought in to YU to observe a shiur from Rabbi Aharanovich. He inquired what he was teaching and was told that he was teaching Yoreh Deah Hilchos Basar Vchalav. Schiff said that he was not interested in supporting a religion of the stomach.] It is easier for man to enter a shul and pray for an hour with dedication and sincerity than to discipline his body. Judaism is interested in the disciplining of one's body through the conversion of physiological functions based on man's primitive drives into a service of the Almighty. The Rambam (Hilchos Deos 3:3) concludes that man should strive to serve Hashem when he eats, when he sleeps. This is the fulfillment of the command Bchol Drachecha Daayhu, know Him in all your ways [and activities]. Find Him not only on Yom Kippur at Neilah. Recognize Him in your dining room, your bedroom, the boardroom and in the rest of your personal and public life. Another category of Mitzvahs associated with Eretz Mitzrayim is idolatry. The highest ethical norm among the pagan religions was the pursuit of physical pleasure. They developed a voluptuous way of life wherein they worshipped their gods through the most immoral acts that promised themselves much pleasure. Another group of Mitzvahs is Ahavas Hager. Shabbos is a memorial to Yetzias Mitzrayim. Mitzvahs that are rooted in Yetzias Mitzrayim include Lo Tateh Mishpat Yasom Valmana (Devarim 24:18). These injunctions are principles of justice and charity. The Torah tells us (Shmos 22:20) Vger Lo Tonu Vlo Tilchatzenu. In summary, the principles of justice and sanctity encompass all 613 Mitzvahs and are associated with Yetzias Mitzrayim. Mitzvahs exhibit both characteristics. For example, Shabbos in Devarim deals with justice, while in Shmos the commandment to keep the Shabbos focuses on the aspect of Kedusha. Observance of Shabbos enhances one's inner strength, sanctity and spirituality and allows him to rise to exalted spiritual heights. In the commandment to keep the Shabbos in Devarim we are commanded to ensure that the servant and the poor person do not work 7 days. This stems from the principle of justice that governs


human relationships, including Tzedakah (charity) and Tzedek (righteousness). Yetzias Mitzrayim is fundamental to both. However there is a special group of Mitzvahs that are closely associated with and remind us of the Exodus. Two types of Mitzvahs belong to this group. Holidays, and precepts associated with the observance of all the festivals. Eating Matzo on Passover and sitting in the Sukkah are the echoes and reflection of Yetzias Mitzrayim. The exodus is not dead and irrelevant, we try to relive the events of Yetzias Mitzrayim. These Mitzvahs are practiced annually, for a fixed period of time. The second group includes precepts that we practice on an ongoing basis and symbolize the exodus. Two such Mitzvahs are the first born, Bchor, and Tefillin. How is the Mitzvah of the first born, Bchor, symbolic of the exodus? [The Rav pointed out that our analysis does not ask the question why, what is the motivation behind the commandment. Motivation applies to a human being. It is ridiculous to ask what motivated Hashem to give certain laws. Hashem is omnipotent and the realization of His will is the aim. In the explanatory sciences, the analysis and explanation means to reach outfor the cause and effects. The scientific method translates the relationships between phenomena into a mathematical equation. Understanding the relationship means "what does it say to me". The Ramban in discussing Shiluach Hakan (sending away the mother bird) says that it is nonsensical to ask why Hashem ordained this Mitzvah. But it is appropriate to ask what it says to me. What am I supposed to take away from the Mitzvah? What can I derive from it? Does the Mitzvah give me solace, does it depress me. How do I feel when I carry out the commandment? These are appropriate questions.] Let us analyze the relation between Bchor and Yetzias Mitzrayim, in particular the plague of the first born, Makas Bchoros. Those that sought to portray Judaism as a blood thirsty religion, often focus on the plague of the first born. An understanding of Makas Bchoros will provide insight into Mitzvas Bchor. Why did Hashem single out the Egyptian first born? In what respect were they responsible for the enslavement and torture of the Jewish People? There is another difficult verse relating to Makas Bchoros. But first let us review the context that precedes it. Hashem met Moses at the burning bush and offered him the mission of redeemer and messenger of redemption. The Torah describes a debate Kvayachol, where Hashem offers and Moshe counters. Moshe finally agreed. Hashem told him that Aharon would be his spokesman and he should take the staff with him to use when performing miracles. Moshe was given a direct and clear message to Paroh to let the Jews go so they may serve Hashem in the desert. Moshe reconciled himself to his mission


as redeemer. (see Shmos 3:18). Hashem then tells him that he should go to Egypt without any fear of prosecution, for the people who sought his death have died and no longer threaten him. Moshe takes the staff and receives a final message from Hashem that reviews the whole debate and conversation and the commandments he was given pertaining to his looming encounter with Paroh. Hashem foretells Moshe not to be depressed by the refusal of Paroh to listen to his message. Eventually the resistance you meet will fade away. Suddenly, Hashem tells Moshe you should tell Paroh that Israel is my first born and I command you "let My son go so he may worship Me". If you refuse I shall slay your first born. The transition to the discussion of the first born is sudden and unexpected. Why did Hashem mention this only after Moshe departed for Egypt and not at the burning bush? What is the parallelism between the frame of reference in which the statements about Bni Bchori Yisrael appears and the rest of the preceding Parsha? Chazal explain that the philosophy of power in ancient Egypt is described here. The oldest child is typically the strongest. The oldest son is capable of exercising authority over his younger siblings. Quite often the older, more mature children simply torture and order around their younger siblings. [The Rav observed that America is faced with the previously unheard of phenomenon of criminal youth, where they form gangs that terrorize children and adults as well. A child criminal was unheard of in previous generations. The origin of this behavior is the parental home. Later this activity develops into a conspiracy and a criminal organization.] Historians and sociologists are accustomed to speak about the ancient patriarchic society. But the Rav added the concept of the patriarchic community. Judaism is both a patriarchic and matriarchal community. When the father teaches his children, he teaches them reverence and respect which leads to love. The father's commands are followed not because he threatens the children but because they accept his orders out of love. This is the society based on Kibbud Av Vaym that Abraham (and Sarah) established. This applies to both father and mother who enjoy equal respect and love from the children. There was another patriarchic society in antiquity. In that society, the father was obeyed because he was the strongest. It was reverence based on tyranny. The Hebrews were not only slaves to Paroh. The weak were subjected to the brutality of every official, anyone who wielded power in Egypt. Bchor means not only the oldest, but the strongest as well. Anyone who exercised power was considered a Bchor. [The Rav remarked that in his youth, he was not victimized by the police or the government. Rather, the Jewish children were terrorized by a big gentile bully who simply would beat up the Jewish


children. The Rav said he never answered the question as to why ten Jewish boys should be afraid of one gentile boy! But he observed that years later in YU the same mentality still applied!]. What was the mentality of the Hebrew slaves? It was fear of an Egyptian society that subjected them to the brutality of the strong. The whole society consisted of tyrants and slaves. The father and older son ruled over his younger siblings. There is a hierarchy of slavery, see recently even in communist Russia. The cohesive force uniting society is fear. On the night of Passover the Almighty smote not only all of the first born but all those that exercised authority and compelled people to comply against their will. The Torah tells us that Hashem punished the Egyptian gods. Why? Because if you punish a nation you must also refute their philosophy, their ideology. Otherwise that nation will return and repeat the same mistake. On the night of Passover Hashem punished the Egyptian ideology of slavery, of terrorizing another person. Did the excesses of the Egyptian first born lead Judaism to simply abandon the institution of Bchor? Are all children assigned the same status? Or has it replaced the Egyptian institution of the first born by elevating it to a higher level? There is no doubt that Judaism recognizes the unique role played by the Bchor in the household. Even though primogeniture was not considered to be a source of power, the Torah still commands us to sanctify the first born. We all remember the story of the transaction of the Bchorah between Esau and Jacob. According to the text, it was clear that the acquisition of power was not the reason why Jacob wanted the Bchorah. Jacob was not interested in exercising authority over his brother. Kabbalah portrays Jacob as the symbol of Rachamim, mercy and charity. Jacob wanted to obtain the Bchorah in order that he may perform the service of God, the Avodah. Even without relying on statements of Chazal, it is clear that Jacob was not interested in the blessings to obtain worldly power. He accepted the Brachos almost against his will. Rivka commanded him to disguise himself and receive the blessings. Jacob had no interest in worldly blessings. He knew that the blessings of physical wealth would not satisfy him. Esau is interested in power and violence, to be the strongest and richest. This doesn't appeal to Jacob. Jacob knew that through the Bchorah he would inherit the covenantal destiny. He will be the successor of Abraham and Isaac. His purpose in attaining the blessings from Isaac was to ensure that Esau should not be the next in line after his father. Sarah was the first to fight for the covenantal destiny when she sent Hagar and Ishmael away. Throughout Tanach, there is a correspondence between the promotion of someone to greatness and the skipping over of the oldest. Abraham was not the oldest, neither was Isaac or Jacob. Judah,


Joseph, Levi and Binyamin received a greater share of responsibility. Also Moshe, the younger sibling, was greater than his older brother, Aharon. What is involved in Bchorah according to Judaism? God owns the world in general and the living world in particular. The cosmos generally consists of dead matter. No one knows if there is organic matter else where in the universe. The universe is divided into organic and inorganic matter. Hashem is everywhere even in the void of space. However, His mastery is greater and more visible where there is living matter, especially where man is found, as man is the jewel of creation. Dietary laws impose upon us many restrictions. Judaism limits access to the animal kingdom through a variety of laws that restrict access to and enjoyment of animal meat. There are no restrictions on the vegetative world, especially outside Eretz Yisrael. Man may consume all vegetables, unless man corrupts the species though cross breeding. In Israel there are laws of Orlah and Neteh Revai. But one can't compare the depth and scope of laws that govern access to the vegetative kingdom to those that govern access to the animal kingdom. With the exception of the requirement to make a Bracha before we enjoy them, there are no restrictions on the vegetative and mineral worlds. The number of Halachic prohibitions is related to the value placed on that object by Hashem. The Torah tells us that the blood is the soul and the blood was given to atone for our sins. Therefore we are enjoined from eating blood. Eating Chaylev is punishable by Ka'res (Vayikra 17:10). Chaylev and blood were prohibited because they belong exclusively to Hashem. Blood is the center of life, there is an equation between life and blood, and therefore the prohibitions are stronger. Blood was not released to man. It belongs exclusively to Hashem. He is master of all life and the entire world, particularly the living world, as He is Elokim Chayim. There are so many precepts regarding consumption of flesh because the Torah reluctantly released it to man in the time of Noah. Prior to Noah, man was vegetarian. The more precious the object is, the stronger the claim of the Almighty to that object. Hashem claims whatever is precious to man. The claim of Hashem is proportional to the importance man ascribes to the object. Children, man's most precious possession, belong to Hashem as well. Chana was the prime model of someone who recognized that the child belongs to Hashem. She said M'Hashem Sheiltiv. It can be interpreted as I requested him and also as I borrowed him from Hashem. After she nursed him, she returned him to Hashem. The birth of Isaac is also viewed in a similar manner. The concept of the Akeidah has been attacked by many including ignorant Jews as well. But they are all missing the upshot of the story, that the child belongs to Hashem. The birth of every child is an important event, especially to


the mother. The birth of the first child is the greatest and most cathartic experience for the mother, when she is truly prepared to be a mother. There is an emotional, spiritual and metaphysical relationship between mother and child. [The Rav remarked that the clamor of the liberals to permit abortion is abhorrent and incomprehensible. How can a mother approach a physician and ask him to kill her child? The pretext for abortions used to be that the girl was frightened because she would be excommunicated by society. But where fright is not involved it is incomprehensible and inexplicable (not that fright was a valid excuse). The Rav considered society of today as insane. The Rav remarked upon the insanity of the large number of abortions performed in Eretz Yisrael while there was a call for 60,000 youths to emigrate to Israel! How can this be reconciled? If you will kill a fetus, the time will come when even an infant will be killed. If the rationalization for abortion is that the depression of the mother, then what happens when the mother will claim after the birth of the child that her mental balance depends on the death of the baby? Perhaps her serenity will depend on the removal of the baby a day or a week or a month after the birth? Will that also be rationalized? Women from Orthodox homes consult Rabbis about abortion. There is a trend of Rabbis in the USA to march mindlessly with society on this topic, lest they be viewed as reactionary.] The birth of the first child, especially for the mother, borders on the psychologically miraculous. Young women are excited when they discover that they are pregnant for the first time. This excitement is often absent, unfortunately, in subsequent pregnancies. Judaism wanted to maintain the excitement of the first baby and extend it to all children. Without a child, husband and wife are a closed community. They care for themselves and are concerned only with themselves. In metaphysical, Halachic terms, the bachelor is an egocentric person. As long as his parents or siblings live he has a chance to be involved with someone else's needs. After that, there is no one left for him to be concerned with. Existentially the single person is selfish. That's why Chazal say (Brachos 8a) Matza Isha Matza Tov (one who finds a woman funds good), Kal Hasharuy B'lo Isha Sharuy Bli Simcha (Yalkut Shimoni Breishis Remez 22) (all that live without a wife live without joy) etc. A single existence is incomplete. Man can become selfish.The next stage is marriage. The existential area extends to encompass the spouses who care for each other. It now includes someone who I am ready to sacrifice for. Why is man admonished not to remain alone? After all he has no restrictions and encumbrances, there is convenience in being single. Yet


Hashem says Lo Tov Heyos Adam Lvado. The Torah is talking existentially. When man thinks only of himself and is concerned only with himself that is not good. So Hashem made Ezer Knegdo. But being does not culminate in marriage. Rashi (Breishis 2:24) interprets in the verse Al Kayn Yaazov Ish Es Aviv Ves Imo Vdavak Bishto Vhayu Lbasar Echad as referring to the child. With the birth of the first child, the wife begins to shift her focus from the husband towards the child. The husband cares for both wife and child. The area of concern now has expanded again. The couple alone is a closed community. With the arrival of the child they become part of an open community. [The Halacha says (having children depends on physiological factors and many can't have children.) that man can have children at any time by being concerned with the education of children. The childless couple that cares for the education or well being of another's child or an adopted child expand their area of being very wide as well. Many times such adoptive parents are superior to couples blessed with natural children. The Halacha says that a man without children can't be appointed as a judge in capital cases because he lacks sympathy and compassion. Also an old man can't be a judge because he has an innate cruel streak because his life is behind him. [The Rav remarked that he observed this in himself as well.] An older person never knows how much time he has ahead of him and feels a sense of envy towards the younger generation. Envy leads to cruelty at worst, and insensitivity towards others at best.] The closed community of husband and wife can't develop compassion and sympathy in the same way that people who have to care and be concerned for children can. With the birth of the child, the closed community opens its gates to a newcomer. From now on it becomes an open, hospitable community. Concerns of the parents encompass someone else. The first born son while an infant is a source of immeasurable joy to the parents. Parents sometimes have an ecstatic joy over the first born, boy or girl. And if they enjoy him/her more than any other child, then the claims of Hashem are more specific and more complete to that child because he is the most precious of all the children. Whatever belongs to Hashem precipitates Kedusha. That is why we are commanded Kadesh Li Kol Bchor. Because this is the most precious possession as far as the parents are concerned. The child widens the community and concerns of the parents and brings in a sense of love compassion and understanding that the parents never had before. That is why this child is Kadosh. Hashem claims the first born son for Himself because the parents enjoy him so much. Hashem asks that the child be returned and that is why he is sanctified and the concept of Pidyon HaBen applies.


The Jewish concept of Bchorah and the Egyptian concept are mutually exclusive. On the night of the fifteenth of Nissan, the Judaic concept of Bchora emerged victorious over the Egyptian concept. The main conceptual conflict between Paroh and Moshe and Israel and Egypt revolved around whether Bchorah is a symbol of Kedusha or one of power. Judaism tells us to sanctify the first born. Yet there are 3 types of Bchor. First born to the father, first born to the mother and first born to both parents. Kedushas Bchor depends on the first born of the mother, regardless of whether the father has other children. The Torah assigned Pi Shnayim, the right of Bchor to double portion, primogeniture, to the paternal Bchor. Ki Hu Rayshis Ono. Why vis-‫-א‬vis Kedusha does the mother determine the Bchor yet regarding inheritance the father determines the Bchor? The Rav explained that regarding inheritance, the paternal Bchor is usually father's helper. He carries part of the load. He takes fathers place in matters of business as well as manual work. [The Rav noted that since he was the oldest he was entrusted with duties that his father could not do. He was a helper to his father and therefore accompanied his father on various trips where his help was needed. Nowadays the father at home and the father at business are 2 different personas. Children have no opportunity to help and participate because the home is destroyed. The modern home is a house with all modern conveniences but it is not a home. The first born being the father's helper may sound as a foreign concept to the current generation. The Rav quoted the example of Eli Black, a student of the Rav and president of United Brands, a multi-billion dollar company, who committed suicide. His wife and children had no concept of the pressures that he was under. There is an unbridgeable gap between home and office today. ] The oldest son was fathers substitute, helper, his representative. That's why the Torah assigned him a double portion in father's estate as compensation for services performed and help extended while father was alive. After all, he helped father accumulate his wealth and estate. However in the patriarchic society the responsibility was focused in the Bchor so he wielded power over his siblings, male, female and even mother. When father got older then the oldest became the tyrant. But even in his lifetime the authority of the father was transferred to him. The younger child was afraid of the Bchor. Therefore as far as Kedusha was concerned, Hashem transferred Kedusha to the ones that suffered with their mother, the Bchor from the mother's side, not the father's. Because the first child born to the couple is the one that is symbolic of Peter Rechem, the opening of the womb as well as the opening of the spiritual and emotional community


to both parents. Suddenly they discover that there is someone else with whom they must be concerned. It is this child that is distinguished through his Kedusha and not simply as someone recognized with payment for services rendered to his father. Hashem said Bni Bchori Yisrael. If you refuse to release him I shall slay your first born. Hashem called Israel His first born, Bchori. If I introduce a particular child as "my Bchor", by inference we would understand that there are more children, but this is the oldest. Otherwise I would say that he is my Ben Yachid, my only child. When Hashem called Israel His Bchor, He implied that He has other sons, otherwise He would have specified that Israel is His only son. Who are those other sons? The answer is all the nations of the world. All people are created B'tzelem Elokim and loved by Hashem. The child has a code, the Tzelem Elokim that unites humankind to the Father, Hashem. Israel's role is that of Bchor, first born. But this does not exclude others. When Hashem gave the law at Sinai, He said "and you shall be Segula M'kal Ha'amim, Ki Li Kal Ha'Aretz". I am giving you, Bnay Yisrael, the law. You will be the chosen ones among all people because all of the world and all the nations are Mine. But don't think for a moment that I am going to abandon the rest of the world and humanity. Israel will be selected to be on intimate terms with Hashem to be His messengers and priests to carry the massage. But the world will not be abandoned. Hashem told Moshe to tell Paroh this message that Hashem does not abandon the world. The Paternal Bchor helps the father. But the maternal Bchor also has a most critical job, to teach the younger siblings. The older brother plays a big role in the education of his siblings. Honoring the father and mother is incumbent on each child because the father and mother teach the children. This also applies to the Bchor, the oldest child who teaches his siblings. Hashem is ready to adopt any nation if the latter is prepared to join the covenantal comm. As long as they walk along the righteous path of charity and justice as set forth by Abraham, they will be welcome. Girls have contempt for their mothers at a younger age than boys have contempt for their fathers. The impact of an older sister on younger ones is very great. Often the older brother or sister is the most influential teacher. Their teaching is by osmosis, through imitation. The role of the Jew is to be the Bchor, to teach the rest of the world, our siblings how to act. Sometimes a child will downplay their father or mother as belonging to an older generation, However, an older sibling is part of the same generation and can't be so dismissed. The parents are involved with the house chores. But the oldest siblings, brother or


sister, are involved in the education of the children. The role of teacher is not fulfilled simply by writing books. Teaching is done by example. Kiddush Shem Shamayim does not always require martyrdom. Rather, it can be accomplished through the daily dignified and honest interpersonal relations of the Jew with his fellow man. If a Jew commits a crime he is violating the assignment of teacher given to him. Every Jew is capable of teaching. Judaism is a living discipline, Lo Hamedrash Haikar Ela Hamaaseh (Avos 1:17). The simplest Jew can be an effective teacher. This is the message of Bni Bchori Yisrael and Kadesh Li Kol Bchor. _____________________________________________________________ Copyright 2001, Josh Rapps and Israel Rivkin, Edison, NJ. Permission to reprint this Shiur, with this notice, is granted. To subscribe to this service, send email to with the following message: subscribe mj-ravtorah firstname lastname. hagadah.02 Shiur HaRav Soloveichik ZT?L on Hagadah and Concept of Avdus (shiur date: 3/15/70. Nordlicht tapes 5194/5195. Thanks to Arnie Lustiger for providing the tapes.) There are two aspects to slavery: 1) the juridical/political and 2) the typological/personalistic. Under the political/political, slavery is identical with a doctrine of totalitarian, or all inclusive, private property. It embraces the animate and inanimate, including mankind. The body of the slave belongs to someone other than the slave himself. Under the second aspect of slavery, slavery represents a class of people who think, feel and act (or react) in a distinct manner, thus reflecting a peculiar personality. The personalistic aspect of slavery may be found even among free men. These two aspects of slavery do not always go hand in hand. When we say in the Hagadah (at the conclusion of Magid) that we praise Hashem for the redemption and freedom of our soul, it refers to both kinds of slavery. We were set free physically and we were also liberated from the highly restrictive slave personality. The Halacha calls the political/juridical aspect Kinyan Mamon. The master has property rights that one has concerning another. The Halacha calls the personalistic aspect Kinyan Issur, which refers to the Halachic constraints that are placed on the slave because of his strange and peculiar personality. It behooves us to analyze the Halachos associated with the personalistic or Kinayn Issur regarding the slave. There are fundamentally 3 Halachos that reflect our view of


the slave personality. 1) Eved is relieved of time oriented Mitzvos (Mitzvas Assay Sh’Hazeman Grama). 2) Eved is excluded from matrimony (Ayn Lo Tfisas Kdushin). His act of betrothal does not establish a matrimonial community. 3) The slave is disqualified as a witness in civil and criminal cases. The laws noted above are not just of technical significance. They are rooted in the slave mentality and personality, in his action and reaction. A slave (the Rav noted that we are talking about anyone who demonstrates the slave personality, which might include free men of distinction) is disqualified to testify in civil and criminal cases simply because we don?t trust him. Apparently the commitment to truth or as many ethicists and philosophers call it the “truth” norm is unknown to the slave. Only the free man can experience that norm, not the serf. The reason for the insensitivity of the slave to truth can be found at two levels. In the first level, the slave is a person without options. He has no freedom of choice between alternatives. He has only one course of action that he can follow. When the torah talks of free people in general and the Jew in particular, it talks of two alternative ways, Tov and Ra, Good and Evil, Bracha and Klala. The free man has the ability to choo! se between them. The slave does not have that freedom of choice. He has no faith in himself and lacks the urge and drive to initiate. His lack of decision making ability and freedom of choice manifests in an inability to intervene in certain situations to improve his lot. He lacks the tools that a free man would employ to help himself under similar circumstances. People who are not free (slaves or prisoners in concentration camps), whose opportunities are restricted, develop a more imaginative approach to the world. They view things the way they would like the world and reality to be, not the way it actually is. The inability to intervene and materially affect the reality of their situation leads them to perceive their world through a personalistic/subjective and slanted viewpoint in order to soothe their ego. (The Rav noted that people with various impediments often view the world from a slanted and imagined perspective, colored by their own personal situation and how they wo! uld like their world to be.) The Torah did not entrust the slave to testify because he does not see things objectively. He sees events and situations through his slanted subjectivity. Another manifestation of the slave personality is his fear to contradict others, not only those that have control or jurisdiction over him, but even in situations that contradiction would not result in any harm to him. A sense of unjustified fear is the motivating force in all aspects of his life. The Rav compared this mindset to that of many inmates in concentration camps who were afraid to contradict anyone, even a


child, no matter how outlandish the statement might have been. The Torah describes most beautifully this neurotic, unjustified fear that the Jews will experience as part of their exile and punishment. In those nations you will not find peace and will experience fear day and night. The Torah describes irrational fear, a phobia that is not necessarily based in reality. The slave deemed untrustworthy not only because of his imagination, but also because he is motivated by unjustified fear that will not allow him to contradict anyone of a higher station. When one testifies and tells the truth he has to contradict and antagonize someone. A person who is afraid to do antagonize is disqualified from giving testimony. Simply put, the slave is essentially a frightened person. He can?t be objective, his power of observation is determined by his imagination and fantasy and he is engulfed in fear. The slave has no power of observation or courage to stand up for his beliefs and ideas. The free man is capable of telling the truth no matter the situation that he may find himself to be in. The Rav offered his opinion that Chazal introduced the concept of Heseba, leaning on the side, as the symbol of freedom. The posture of reclining on the left side is one of complete relaxation that manifests abatement from tension or anxiety. One who is anxious can?t relax physically. Physical relaxation leads to emotional relaxation. Also, reclining is symbolic of the throwing off of the yoke that exists in one?s mind that deprives him of freedom of movement. It is the reverse of the stiff and direct posture that demonstrates obedience. A soldier standing erect at attention symbolizes obedience. Reclining, on the other hand, is indicative of disobedience, of a courageous stand of rejecting the authority of man. I am stating emphatically that I am free to relax and act as I choose. On Pesach night, the Halacha requires that we have a relaxed posture that should be viewed as disrespectful of those that would dominate us. We are no longer slaves. It is indicative of the fearless! man who is unhindered by any external forces. To appreciate that Chazal viewed this posture as one of disrespect, they enjoined the student sitting before his teacher from reclining because it is a disrespectful posture, and the student is obligated to respect his teacher. Chazal chose such a posture as the symbol of freedom specifically because it shows disrespect from a subordinate towards his superior. It demonstrates how the poor Jew in Egypt behaved towards his former master on the night of the exodus. The second Halacha is that a slave is relieved of commandments that are time oriented. The reason is that the slave lacks the time experience. Everything in the universe exists in time and space. All


evolutionary processes in nature are the result of time passage. The organic world is intertwined with the passage of time. The characteristic or cycle of all organic tissue is birth, life and death. The life of any organic tissue is the inexorable approach of death. Life and death are phenomenon experiences that can only be understood in the context of time. Even though everything exists in time, not everything experiences time. Man is the only creation endowed by Hashem with the capability of experiencing time. Man is capable of not simply living in time but to appreciate the meaning of the passage of time as the awareness of a time-existential stream of selfhood. Unfortunately not every human takes advantage of the ability to experience time and not simply to live in time. Many human beings simply flow with inexorable tide of all powerful and irresistible time. Yet such people have denied themselves the excitement of the experience of time. What are the components of the time experience? (Aging is not included, for even the animals in the field age but do not understand the time experience.) There are 3 component parts or acts to the time experience. 1) Retrospection. There is no time without retrospection. By retrospection we mean re-experiencing of the past. Retrospection for a young man is difficult, but it is very easy for an old man. Time is memory. Without memory there is no time. 2) The time experience consists in exploration of things yet unborn, of events not yet in existence, the exploration of the future. The anticipatory existence of events still unrevealed. 3) Appreciation of and valuation of the present moment as the most precious possession one has. It is an axiological act. Time is the most precious possession. This concept is often overlooked by youth. No one is capable of time awareness if retrospection is alien to him and if he is incapable of reliving past experiences. What is Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim? The whole Mitzvah does not express itself simply in relating a story of what happened. Rather, it is the reliving of the drama. We must re-experience and relive the exodus. That is history. Archeology describes events that disappeared long ago, and even though they may be reproduced by memory, they are not alive. There is no retrospection. History is not only the recorded story of events, but it is part of the time awareness of a people or group that I reenact and restage. No time awareness is imaginable if the latter lacks the historical experience. The Rav observed that the tragedy of the American Jew is based on the fact that he forgot his past. We are not referring to the simple stories of peasant life in Europe. Rather he lost the ability to relive


time as part of his own I-awareness, he lost touch with Judaism assertion that the past is relevant and is a part of me. Rabbi Akiva is not simply a figure that lived 1800 years ago. He and his teachings have been integrated into our personalities. The same applies to all the great scholars and leaders throughout the generations. Many American Jews forfeited their time awareness and retrospection, they became Jews without a past. The Rav met many young people who did not know the name of their grandfather. They would say that he died a long time ago in the “old country” and they forgot his name. Sadly, their I-awareness begins with his death, not his life. Their time awareness begins with their birth. The existence of the human being does not commence with his birth. The human being is born into the world as part of the endless stream of time. But if the world is born with him, if he has no past on which to draw, then his world is incomplete. On the other hand, to live in time, to feel the rhythm of time, one must move from the memory of the past to the unreality of the future. From events that were, to events that will be real someday. From reminiscing to anticipating. From visions of memory to visions of imagination. To live in time means a commitment to a great past and an unknown future. To facilitate time awareness, Judaism wants man to be free in order to appreciate the moral element of responsibility for emerging events and the anticipation that involves his intervention in the historical process. Judaism teaches that man is created free so that he may make central decisions that mold and fashion not only his future, but the future of the world as well. Time awareness requires man to intervene when intervention is called for. That is why the Hagadah commences with Avadim Hayinu that retells our earliest history and concludes with the eschatological vision of Nishmas Kol Chai. One can?t relive an event without connecting past and future. In order to connect retrospection and anticipation, one must cherish the present fleeting moment as if it represented eternity. Judaism teaches that each moment is valuable and precious. Each moment is the link between the history of the past and the anticipation of the future. With the fraction of a second, one may realize-life long hopes and aspirations, or he may lose them. That is why the Halacha is so time conscious. Sometimes we might think that the Halachic obsession with time borders on the absurd. But of course it does not. Take for example, doing work around the boundary of the beginning of Shabbos. One may do work a minute before sunset. If one does the same act 2 minutes later he is bound to bring an Asham Talluy. Is one minute so important that it can now label the person a sinner? Can the fraction of a second be that important? We see that the fraction of a second is most important to


the safety of the Apollo space program. The simplest miscalculation could spell the difference between life and death, success and failure. Apparently the Halacha is not alone in the valuation of adherence to time. The fulfillment of the mitzvah to recite Krias Shma in the morning requires that it must be completed by a certain time. One minute later, the act loses its value. There are many such cases. The Rav mentioned the story of King Saul who failed to comply with the explicit order of Hashem regarding the complete destruction of Amalek. Saul sought to explain away his actions without taking responsibility. The monarchy was taken away from him. On the other hand, upon being told of his sin with Bas Sheva, David immediately accepted responsibility and pleaded for forgiveness and atonement. The prophet immediately informed him that Hashem erased his sin. Why was David’s plea granted and Saul’s rejected? Because Saul argued with Samuel and tried to convince Samuel that he implemented his instructions. Only after Shmuel addressed himself to Saul his final words of rebuke that Hashem has torn away the monarchy from him, only then did Saul admit his failure. But it was to late and his destiny was sealed. This is typical of Judaism. Time is critical, not simply hours, but seconds. Time appreciation is a singular gift granted to free man. He can utilize time to the utmost, he can also waste it. To the free man, time is equated with creativity, growth, opportunity and accomplishment. Time is a gift to the free man, he wants time to slow down. He feels the pressure of so much to do. For the slave, time is a curse. His time is not his own, it belongs to his master. He is insensitive towards time, life is motionless to the slave personality. The Rav observed that American Jews, after they pass their fiftieth birthday and the children take over the business, are frustrated that they have too much time on their hands. They feel unwanted by their families and unneeded by society. They are gripped with the fear of death. Their lives become motionless and meaningless, without focus, like the life of a slave. Torah scholars are inoculated from such psychological turmoil. The study of Torah is always important, whether one is young or old. The study of Torah extends the person?s view and reveals new dimensions of existence. The free man?s life expresses itself in the motion of physical and intellectual accomplishment, Vzarach Hashemesh U?Ba Hashemesh, the constant striving and restriving to accomplish. The same can?t be said for the slave. What he neglected to do today can be made up tomorrow. The slave lacks the great excitement of opportunity knocking on the door and challenges that summon man to action, of great expectations coupled with the fear of failure. The slave never attempts and never succeeds. Any Mitzva that is inseparably bound up with time is inapplicable to him.


The free man time lives a three dimensional life, past present and future, while the slave lives in the flat uni-dimensional present. No wonder the first cup of the Seder is bound with recital of Kiddush. Kiddush encapsulates the concept of time. Time in the Kantian philosophy is empty, it is a frame of reference, a coordinate system. The same is true of physics, it is quantified and measured by space, but it is not real time. Real time can?t be quantified. So how can one correlate the notion of measured time with Kdushas Hayom? Kdushas Hayom represents a living entity that is sanctified and endowed with creativity that can?t be captured by a simple measurement. The festivals are called Zemanim, times. Time is a blessed entity charged with meaning and sanctity. That?s why the first sign of the free man on the night of Pesach is to acknowledge the sanctity of this time, through Kiddush. The Rav explained that even though a woman is not obligated to fulfill time bound Mitzvos, she differs from the slave in this regard. The Rav said in the name of his father that a woman is relieved of the obligation but if she performs it she is rewarded. Therefore the woman recites a blessing before fulfilling a time bound Mitzvah. Her act is as meaningful as that of a man. The woman lives in time even though she was relieved of the obligation. The slave is completely removed from the performance and the reward. Hence his act has no effect. The Rambam inserted in his Hagadah that we begin Magid with the statements that our forefathers departed Egypt in a hurry. Why is this aspect of haste, Chipazon, so important that according to the Rambam it became the focal point of the evening? Because Chipazon means time consciousness. It is the excitement of hurrying, of trying to catch up, because I miss time, and I want to make sure that I am in a position to act when the opportunity next presents itself. Chipazon is the attempt to cover distance, to move forward quickly. This is the manifestation of the concept of living time. That is why the Rambam includes the statement at the start of Magid that regarding the haste of our forefathers when they left Egypt 2 thousand years ago, for it was then that we regained the concept of time, and we became free. The third typological principle is that a slave can?t effectuate a marriage. Judaism considers marriage not only as a sociological institution but also as a metaphysical existential community. It is not only an economic/social partnership of disparate biological units based on mutual benefit, but as personalistic union. Marriage means to tear down barriers that separate individuals from each other. To step out of the shadows of egocentricity and self concern and into the bright spaces of joint existential experience. Marriage is supposed to precipitate the transition from an individual to communal existence.


From singular to together existence. There are people who can’t undergo the shared existential metaphysical change. They always remain in existential retreat, isolated in metaphysical aloneness. They are incapable of sharing basic personalistic experiences and assume ultimate commitment towards another person beside himself. Among the Sheva Brachos we have 2 similar blessings. The first, Yotzer Ha?adam, is a short version. We also have Asher Yatzar which also ends in Yotzer Haadam, a longer version. The first blessing does not refer to Eve. The second blessing mentions the divine nature of man?s character, his relatedness to Hashem. The second blessing also introduces Eve and describes human nature, that man was created in the image of God. Why? The first blessing deals with mundane, natural man, as a natural being. The Rav was not referring to the primitive brute. But rather to the sophisticated man, man doctor, man physicist etc., man who is capable of traveling to the moon. It refers to a man that can?t transcend himself or see beyond himself. He can?t transcend his natural boundaries and biological pressures. In his opinion there is nothing beyond nature, he is a prisoner of his own world outlook. Such a person can never form the ideal covenantal community. He can enter into a marriage contract for utilitarian pragmatic reasons but he is unable to bring about an existential community. Such a community is called Binyan Aday Ad in the second blessing. Only the person who is created in God?s image and can transcend himself and extend their concern for others is capable of creating a covenantal community. The oppressed, tortured and insecure slave lacking a sense of pride, is incapable of thinking in terms of compassion and love for others. (The Rav was told by inmates in concentration camps that the concept of love towards siblings and family, and friendships towards others disappeared in the camps. They did not know what would happen in the next minute. They were absorbed with self preservation. Fright extinguishes everything noble and altruistic in a person. Everyone is his enemy, he can?t be concerned with the needs of others. The symbol of Geula in the Torah is Korban Pesach. Pesach is distinct from all other sacrifices. The concept of a community does not exist by other sacrifices besides Pesach. Yet Pesach has been linked up with the concept of group to such an extent that according to one Tana only a group may offer the Pesach, an individual may not offer it. Why is Pesach different from all other sacrifices in this regard? Because Pesach is the symbol of community, it is called Seh Lbays Avos, because freedom expresses itself in the awareness of Bayis, community. This concept of Bayis, community, was revealed to the Jews with the dawning of their freedom.


Now we have a definition of slave and free person as typological categories. The slave is a frightened personality, living in time without experiencing the movement of time, imprisoned to live by himself without the ability to share his experiences with anyone else. The free man is just the reverse. Avadim Hayinu L?Paroh B?Mitzrayim. What is added by mentioning that we were slaves to Paroh in Egypt? There are 2 type of slaves, Sometimes the slave belongs to the individual. Other times the slave is property of the state. In the US before emancipation, the slave was the property of the individual master. In the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, China, there is/was slavery but the slaves were/are owned by the state. The Hagadah tells us that we were slaves to Paroh but not slaves to slaves. Why were Chazal concerned whether we worked for the state or were owned by individuals? After all, both forms of servitude are degrading. When one is a slave to an individual master, at the personal level, some relationship between master and slave may develop. The slave may develop a position of power or authority within the master?s household. He may run the affairs of the house, like Joseph did in the house of Potifar. However, if the slave is the property of the cruel state, then no personal relationship is possible. The state and the oppressors of Egypt were as cruel on the first day of the servitude as they were years later. Slaves of the state lose their identity and become simply numbers. No matter how long an inmate may be incarcerated, he remains as unknown to the warden as the day he arrived in the prison. The life of the serf owned by the government and the lives of the inmates in the concentration camps and the gulags of Russia shared a common theme of all-consuming torture. Egypt of antiquity and Russia were very similar. Both were corporate states, technologically capable. In Egypt, the personality of the king was subsumed and standardized into a common name, Paroh. There was no individuality. We don?t know which one in particular was the leader. They were all cruel. The Soviet dictators were also indistinguishable from each other. They used the same terms and language when referring to their enemies and in their attempts to dominate those that oppose them. Both were societies based on slavery, (and the Rav said that the Soviet systems was a slave society) where the individuality submerges and instead of the heterogeneous crowd of a free society you are faced with an impersonal and cruel society, like that of Paroh and Mitzrayim. Vayotziyanu Hashem Elokaynu Misham. In Tanach, we find the word Saper used together with the accusative or objective case, Es. But when it comes to Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim the objective case is


replaced with the ablative, Lsaper Bytzias Mitzrayim. Grammatically the ablative case does not belong here. We find many cases where Sapper is linked with the objective case. Why do we use the term Lsaper B'Yetzias Mitzrayim? Because Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim is much more than telling a story. It is an investigation, a study to comprehend, an analysis of the exodus. (The Rav said that if he would quit his position as Rosh Yeshiva and concentrated on the Hagadah it would take him over a year to study it.) Why does the Hagadah include the word Elokaynu? We must understand the semantics of the word Elokaynu and the phrase Hashem Elokaynu. We have the verse Shma Yisroel Hashem Elokaynu Hashem Echad. Hashem has been accepted as our King and whose law we are duty bound to abide by and implement. If the word Elokaynu would have been omitted, the use of the name Hashem (Tetragrammaton) would tell us that Hashem had mercy on us and took us out of Egypt, just as Hashem intervenes in nature and in various situations to rescue the oppressed from the oppressor. [Tape cut out momentarily at this point, just before the punch line? I am guessing that the Rav completed this thought in the following way?] The juxtaposition of the name Elokaynu tells us that there was an aspect of Din, judgment, associated with His actions, punishment for the Egyptians and the selection of Bay Yisrael as the Am Hashem for eternity. This selection was bound up with up willingness to submit to God and surrender our new found freedom to His will. Is the committed Jew who observes 613 Mitzvos, a free person or not? Of course he is. Apparently we understand freedom from a different level than most people do. When we say M?Avdus L?Chayrus, freedom in our opinion is in the service of Hashem and conforming to His wishes. Hashem created man as a free being, He endowed man with the most cherished of all gifts: freedom. Yet God wants man to surrender his precious freedom and submit to His moral law. The first encounter between Hashem and man was the instructions given to Adam how to live. Apparently, man who is not bound by any code and has not surrendered to Hashem and His moral code, has not achieved full humanity. Man?s task is to surrender his freedom, his most precious gift. But by surrendering his freedom, man regains it, but at a higher level. Fundamentally man is not a free being. At the physiological level, man is a confronted being. Man differs from the animals in the forest in that he is a confronted challenged being. He is a prisoner of natural laws and social institutions. Disaster can strike at any moment. He is subject to many restrictive measures, some due to his being a natural creature, while others are the result of his social integration. In fact,


the greater the role of the person, the less his freedom. From this perspective, the President of the United States is the least free of men. Man is a social animal and subject to praise and the opinion of the people. All men, be they slaves or free men, are subject to restrictions, customs and mores of behavior that make the notion of free man nonsensical. There is only one way to free man from his many phobias: surrender to Hashem. In antiquity man was afraid of leprosy. Modern man is still traumatized, but he has a different fear, fear of cancer. How many people are traumatized by the fear of developing this dreaded disease? Man is frightened of this possibility. The frightened man is not free. The only way to become free of this fright is through total surrender to God. One must have great fear of God as well. But a great fright frees man from little, smaller frights. Surrender to God does not mean surrender of freedom. It means that I must give up my freedom for a short time. For example, there are times that man?s natural urges lead him to violate certain laws, for example dietary or sex/morality. God wants man to surrender his free will in this case for a few seconds, till the urge passes. All man has to do is surrender temporarily to God and in a short while he will find that he is freer than ever before. If we had been t! aken out of Egypt without the attribute of Elokaynu, without accepting His code and without a willingness to surrender our freedom in order to attain a higher level of freedom, then we would be in bondage again. Had we exited Egypt without surrendering to Hashem and His laws, we would ultimately have been subjugated again by someone else, or by our fears and phobias. B?Yad Chazakah U?Bzroah Netuyah. Jewish philosophy is based on the concept of Vhalachta Bdrochav. We must imitate the actions and ways of Hashem. If Hashem used Yad Chazakah and Zroah Ntuyah, we must emulate Him and use it as well. How are we supposed to act when we are called on to act and intervene in historical situations? Yad Chazakah means effective action. Zroah Ntuyah means vigilance and being prepared. The idea expressed is that man is a responsible being. Judaism teaches that this responsibility transcends his immediate responsibility for his own actions, it is a part if his spiritual endowment. Man is charged with historical responsibility, Kol Yisrael Arayvim Zeh LaZeh. Man was called on to shape history towards worthwhile objectives. There are 2 groups of Mitzvos in Halacha, Tzibbur and Yachid, group and individual. Man?s activism and initiative within the historical drama is the foundation of Judaism. The individual is called upon from time to time to participate in the emergence and development of Knesses Yisrael. In order to participate in the historical


drama one must possess two capabilities: 1) always be ready for action; 2) when action is called for, to act effectively. Zroah Ntuya symbolizes vigilance. There are 2 aspects of vigilance. 1) In order to be watchful, one must be totally committed and dedicated. Who is watching? The mother is watchful when her child is ill. She is totally committed, watchful and keen. In Tanach we find that Mordechai portrayed such vigilance at its best. Mordechai was on guard as soon as Esther was taken to the palace. Because he was committed to her just like a father. A worried parent is a vigilant parent. (Children on the other hand are not always worried about their parents, hence they can?t be described as vigilant.) The totally committed person stands guard against danger unconditionally. One can?t alert someone to danger unless he is concerned. The Jewish community must be vigilant towards Eretz Yisrael and the Orthodox community in particular must be concerned with the preservation of Torah. It requires full commitment. The person who is not vigilant will act too late. 2) Vigilance goes beyond concern. One must possess historical perspective and the ability to discriminate between events that are truly critical and require immediate intervention and those that can wait. Mordechai had a sensitivity to history. He had the foresight and prescience indispensable for crucial decision making. Esther and Mordechai were exchanging messages. They disagreed to such an extent that Mordechai sent her a very stern warning. The crux of the disagreement was that Esther felt that she should wait to approach the king. She had not been summoned to appear before the king. If she acts prematurely she would in all likelihood be killed and then no one will be able to intercede on behalf of the people. Since the edict was issued before Pesach and the enactment of the edict was not due to happen for another year, there would be ample opportunity to act over the coming year. After all, over such a long period of time she will surely receive an invitation to appear before the king and at that time she would plead for the people. Mordechai disagreed and insisted that she act immediately. Mordechai was obviously right. He was sensitive to the needs of the situation. It is easy to rationalize secondary decisions of preference, why I like this car and not the other one. But when one asks why he is willing to sacrifice his life for a situation or a community, he cannot offer a rational explanation. Suddenly a light goes on and I grope towards my destination, to my decision. I know that I will somehow get there, but I don?t know how. Shuvi Shuvi Hashulamis, the gentile people address themselves to Knesses Yisrael. Why do you show such dedication to Hashem and Torah? Come back to us and forget about all of that. Why remain a


Jew? Give up your madness and your unlimited, bizarre commitment. She answers what can I tell you, I am involved in a dance between two camps, I cannot free myself from the dance. One cannot be a non-Jew, it is a part of me that I can?t explain or rationalize. It is a basic experience that can?t be explained or changed. It is an eternal commitment that is part of my I-awareness and my existence. Can I explain my relationship to my parents and children? I cannot define my existence in terms of a lack of commitment to God, like you. I must define it in terms of what I am committed to, to God and His Torah. It is the central experience and such an experience can?t be explained. Mordechai could not explain his pressure on Esther, he just knew that eventually he would be proven right. This dance is an eternal dance that the Jewish community is engaged in till the coming of Moshiach. When the Jew intervenes he must do it with a full heart. The Jewish community never undertook half measures in the past. Afilu Kulanu Chachamim, Kulanu Nvonim? Haray Zeh Mshubach. This is subject to two interpretations. One is subjunctive. The other uses the grammatical indicative. One explanation of the statement is that even if all of us were wise and if all of us were intelligent and if all of us were scholars we would still be obligated to tell the story of the exodus. But it is quite tempting to interpret the statement in the indicative: We are wise and we are scholars and we do know the Torah, we are still obligated to study the exodus. The verse does not refer to the hypothetical but rather the reality. Also, if the subjunctive is correct, and we really are not capable, then why do we have to relate the story? On the other hand, if we are using the indicative form, doesn?t it smack of haughtiness? The Rav said that the indicative form is applicable here as well. The obligation on this night is to study the events that occurred in Egypt. We don?t tell the complete tale. We read and explain the Parsha of Arami Oveyd Avi instead of the complete story as written in Sefer Shmos. If the goal was to simply tell the story on the night of Pesach, we would have studied Sefer Shmos instead. We only mention the highlights and we are interested in exploring the verses of Arami Oveyd Avi. Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim is inseparably linked with Talmud Torah on the night of Pesach. It is a Mitzvah of Talmud Torah. The Torah has prepared unique answers for the questions of the 4 sons, but there is a common denominator: teach them about Egypt and the exodus, but teach them the laws, Talmud Torah. The 4 answers that the Torah prepared are indicative that we must teach each child according to his ability. Every Jew is endowed with the potential to comprehend Torah. Rabbi Simlai says that each fetus is taught Torah within the womb and the angel slaps him prior to birth and he forgets.


Why teach him if he will forget? Because Torah must be acquired through hard work. If so why teach him in the womb? In order that subsequent study of Torah during his lifetime should be a process of remembering something that he once knew. Plato said that all learning is remembering. Since he knew it once it is not alien and he can reproduce it again. The potential of studying Torah is latent in every Jew. Every Jew can be a great scholar and attain Chachma, Binah and Daas. Even one who has failed to take advantage of the gift to study Torah. If a good teacher explains it, each Jew will be able to learn and follow. Torah is the possession of the entire Knesses Yisrael. The democratic philosophy of education is the Jewish philosophy. throughout world history, access to education was controlled by the aristocracy. Judaism always insisted on an exoteric approach to Torah education, that the opportunity to study and acquire knowledge be given to everyone. Because the Torah is not outside the Jew but it resides in the Jew. Sometimes he is conscious of it. Sometimes he is not. There is the knowledge of Torah and the sensitivity towards Torah. On Pesach night we reenact the events where each Jew beheld the divine revelation. The revelation was a public spectacle not only at the Red Sea, but also on the night of the fifteenth of Nissan. On that night every Jew was wise, sensitive and intelligent. Every Jew felt the presence of God, and was initiated into the inner circle. The Jews that left Egypt were met by Hashem. Each Jew must reenact that feeling of encountering the Shechina on the night Pesach. ----------------------------------Copyright 2002, Josh Rapps and Israel Rivkin, Edison, NJ. Permission to reprint this Shiur, with this notice, is granted. To subscribe to this service, send email to with the following message: subscribe mj-ravtorah firstname lastname ---------------------- ---------------------+ Hosted by Shamash: The Jewish Network A service of Hebrew College, offering online courses and an online MA in Jewish Studies, ---------------------- ---------------------=


Pesach: The Four Cups of Yosef Selection from “Emanations” © Rabbi Ari D. Kahn Targum Press 2002

On Pesach, one of the central aspects of the Seder is the four cups of wine. Unlike the Matzah or Paschal Offering (korban), the wine is a Rabbinic obligation, whose source, according to the Talmud, is the four expressions of redemption in God’s declaration to the children of Israel: Therefore say to the people of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you from their slavery, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments. And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. [Shmot 6:6,71] However when one consults the Yerushalmi we find other traditions concerning the symbolism of the four cups. The Talmud notes that the word "cup" is mentioned four times in the narrative of Yosef and the wine steward. (Jerusalem Talmud Pesachim 10:1, page 37c). While this is indeed the case, the association seems obscure at first glance. On the other hand, we should consider that Yosef's descent to Egypt marked the beginning of the exile of the children of Ya’akov, or, if you will, the antithesis of redemption. However, the association runs deeper: Yosef, who languishes in the pit of the Egyptian legal system, puts his faith in the wine steward, who will one day mention the name and talents of this Jewish boy to the king, Par’oh. On that very day, Yosef undergoes an incredible metamorphosis: One day a slave, the next a king. This prototype is also embedded in the story the Exodus: the story of the slave who became king, the story of God’s salvation which takes place in the blink of an eye. The Jews’ exodus is as stunning as Yosef’s metamorphosis: One day they are slaves, and the next day they are free. The downtrodden rise above their oppressors, acquire all the wealth of Egypt, and change the Egyptian Empire forever. When Yosef and his brothers meet after years of separation and Yosef’s metamorphosis is complete, the tension of the preceding chapters finally reaches its crescendo. Yosef is unable to contain himself, and with a few words he startles and frightens his brothers.
The next verse has a fifth expression “And I will bring you in to the land.” This may be the source for the fifth cup, which is on the table and not drunk: the cup of Eliyah. See Haggada Sh’lema by Rav M. Kasher for a full discussion. Also see the discussion in Chokei HaZmanim volume 2 by Rav Alter Hilovitz, where he claims to have written about this idea prior to the publication of Rav Kasher’s book


Then Yosef could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him; and he cried, 'Remove every man from before me.' And there stood no man with him, while Yosef made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud; and the Egyptians and the house of Par’oh heard. And Yosef said to his brothers, 'I am Yosef; does my father still live?' And his brothers could not answer him; for they were panic-stricken by his presence. (45:1-3) While his brothers stand in shock Yosef continues his soliloquy: And Yosef said to his brothers, 'Come near me, I beg you.' And they came near. And he said, 'I am Yosef your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years has the famine been in the land, and there will be yet another five years without plowing or harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and he has made me an advisor (literally, father) to Par’oh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. Hurry back to my father, and say to him, "Thus said your son Yosef, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, delay not. And you shall live in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you, and your children, and your grandchildren, and your flocks, and your herds, and all that you have. And I will sustain you there, for there are another five years of famine; lest you, and your household, and all that you have come to poverty." And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Binyamin, that it is my mouth that speaks to you. And you shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that you have seen; and you shall hurry and bring down my father here.(Shmot 45:4-13) While the initial burst of speech - the incredible disclosure - seems to be an explosion of emotion2, the second part of Yosef's talk sounds more measured, perhaps rehearsed. Here Yosef speaks, not merely in practical, human or personal terms3. Yosef speaks again, using the words of the visionary that he is. Yosef shares his theological perspective of recent history with his brothers. And Yosef said to his brothers, 'Come near me, … for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years has the famine been in the land; and there will be yet another five years without plowing or harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in
The question "Is my father alive" seems illogical. If Ya'akov were dead, why would Yehuda risk his neck to save Binyamin? 3 Yosef speaks twice without response. It sounds as if the repetition of the phrase, "And Yosef said" indicates a change in tone. Similarly in Bereishit 20:9,10 Avimelech speaks, and speaks again. The shift in that case may be attributed to a change in tone, from cynicism to curiosity.


the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and he has made me an advisor to Par’oh, and lord of his entire house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. Hurry back to my father, and say to him, "Thus said your son Yosef, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, delay not…" (ibid) Yosef's words are peppered with references to God. While his first words inform his brothers that he, Yosef, still lives, the second message conveyed is that Yosef is still spiritually intact. This is one cause of the brothers' shock: Perhaps Yosef, with great resilience and ingenuity, could have remained alive, but he could not possibly have survived the depravity of Egypt and emerged unscathed. Part of the brothers' problem vis a vis Yosef was their constant and continued underestimation of him. They never thought they would bow down to him, nor did they think that anyone else would prostrate themselves before Yosef. Yosef as lord of Egypt was an idea beyond their wildest dreams. But if there was a more bizarre suggestion, it was that Yosef would survive spiritually. The path toward the highest echelon in any society is fraught with spiritual landmines, all the more so in ancient Egypt. If Yosef survived, and indeed flourished, the brothers surmised that his soul would have been bought and sold numerous times, retaining no sanctity. Yosef would surely be a corrupt shell of his former self, whom the brothers did not particularly respect in the first place. Now we understand Yosef's numerous references to God. He speaks in theological terms, indicating that he has, indeed, survived. The brothers need not fear: Yosef continues to speak the language of his youth. The boy who sat on Yitzchak's knee, the boy who was closest to their saintly father Ya'akov, yet lives. It is Yosef who lives, not some Egyptian despot. From his words we see that Yosef has not only survived, he has thrived. Such references to God were not always a part of Yosef's speech. In Yosef's first dream, and indeed, in his first words in the Torah, we find his vision, but no Divine perspective. And Yosef dreamed a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. And he said to them, 'Hear, I beg you, this dream which I have dreamed; For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood around, and made obeisance to my sheaf.' And his brothers said to him, 'Shall you indeed reign over us, or shall you indeed have dominion over us?' And they hated him even more for his dreams, and for his words. And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it to his brothers, and said, 'Behold, I have again dreamed a dream; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.' (Bereishit 37, 5-9) Yosef tells of his dreams, but we do not know if God plays a part in his worldview. When the wife of Potifar makes her advances, Yosef does speak of God:


And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Yosef; and she said, 'Lie with me.' But he refused, and said to his master’s wife, 'Behold, my master knows not what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is none greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back any thing from me but you, because you are his wife; how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? (Bereishit 39, 7-9) While Yosef's consciousness of God certainly aided him in his battle against his desires, it does not seem to impress this wanton woman. The next time we see Yosef is in his prison cell, where he again makes references to God, but again his listeners do not hear: And they said to him, 'We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it.' And Yosef said to them, 'Do interpretations not belong to God? Tell them to me, I beg you.' And the chief butler told his dream to Yosef, and said to him, 'In my dream, behold, a vine was before me…'And Yosef said to him, 'This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days…But think of me when it shall be well with you, and show kindness, I beg you, to me, and make mention of me to Par’oh, and bring me out of this house; For indeed I was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews; and here also have I done nothing that they should put me in the pit…' Yet the chief butler did not remember Yosef, and forgot him. (Bereishit 40:8-23) The Rabbis perceived within this dialogue a sin on the part of Yosef: Another interpretation: ‘Happy is the man that has made the Lord his trust’ alludes to Yosef. ‘And hath not turned unto the arrogant nor unto such as fall away treacherously’: Because he said to the chief butler, 'But think of me... and make mention of me' (Bereishit 40, 14), two years were added to his sufferings. (Midrash Rabbah - Bereishit 89:3) Yosef, who speaks of God's dominion over all things, including dreams, has sinned in the eyes of the sages, by not trusting sufficiently in God. Indeed, when the butler recalls the conversation and remembers Yosef's power to interpret dreams, God is not in his vocabulary. And there was there with us a young man, a Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret. And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored to my office, and him he hanged. (Bereishit 41:12,13)


Over the next few years we discern a change in Yosef. The ideas of which he spoke earlier now become solidified. When Par’oh approaches, it is no longer Yosef’s personal God of whom he speaks, nor a passing reference. Now Yosef succeeds in affecting others with his belief. Then Par’oh sent and called Yosef, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon; and he shaved himself, and changed his garment, and came in to Par’oh. And Par’oh said to Yosef, 'I have dreamed a dream, and there is none who can interpret it; and I have heard say of you, that you can understand a dream to interpret it.' And Yosef answered Par’oh, saying, It is not in me; God shall give Par’oh a favorable answer … And Yosef said to Par’oh, The dream of Par’oh is one; God has revealed to Par’oh what he is about to do... This is the matter which I have spoken to Par’oh; What God is about to do he shows to Par’oh… And for that the dream was doubled to Par’oh twice; it is because the matter is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass…And Par’oh said to his servants, 'Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom is the spirit of God?' And Par’oh said to Yosef, 'For as much as God has shown you all this, there is none so discreet and wise as you are' (Bereishit 41:14-39) The impossible seems to have transpired: Not only does Yosef speak of God, but his belief is infectious. The corrupt, self-made deity, Par’oh, speaks of God. Yosef was not changed by Egypt, Egypt was changed by Yosef. This idea is critical in understanding a later chapter in the Torah: When the time for the Exodus had arrived, Moshe was instructed to ask Par’oh for permission to leave for three days: Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, 'The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Avraham, of Yitzchak, and of Ya'kov, appeared to me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt. And I have said, ‘I will bring you out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey. And they will heed your voice; and you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt, and you shall say to him, 'The Lord God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now let us go, we beseech you, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.' And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, if not by a mighty hand. (Sh'mot 3:16-19) And afterward Moshe and Aharon went in, and told Par’oh, 'Thus said the Lord God of Israel, "Let my people go, that they may hold a feast for me in the wilderness."' And Par’oh said, 'Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, nor will I let

Israel go.' And they said, 'The God of the Hebrews has met with us; let us go, we pray you, three days’ journey into the desert, and sacrifice to the Lord our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.' (Sh'mot 5:1-4) I once heard Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik pose an intriguing question regarding these passages: What would have happened had Par’oh allowed the Jews to leave for three days? Would they have returned afterward? Would the promise of the Land of Milk and Honey have gone unfulfilled? Would they really have returned to Egypt? Of course, the question is a tautology: God had already stated that Par’oh would not acquiesce. Why, then, ask for three days' leave, especially when the object of the Exodus is complete, permanent liberation? The purpose of the three-day sojourn would have been to receive the Torah. After receiving the Torah, the Jewish People would have returned to Egypt. After teaching the Egyptians and impacting, even revolutionizing Egyptian society, they would have continued their march toward destiny, to the Land of Israel. Such a march would have been qualitatively different from the circuitous path they eventually took. Had the Egyptians, the greatest nation in antiquity, been sufficiently theologically mature to encourage the Jews to worship God, the path to the messianic age would have been inestimably shorter. But how could the Egyptians possibly have reached such spiritual heights? The answer is that the prototype for influencing the local population was Yosef. Just as the name of God reverberates from Par’oh's lips after one meeting with Yosef, the entire nation should have been spiritually invigorated after interfacing with the Jewish nation over a period of hundreds of years. This is part of the reason for the exile to have been specifically in Egypt. This corrupt, twisted society would have to be either healed or obliterated in order for a messianic age to flourish. Our tradition has no illusions about Egypt4: Do not do the actions of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, and do not do the actions of the land of Canaan, where I bring you; nor shall you walk in their ordinances. (Vayikra 18:3) Similarly when Israel were in Egypt the Egyptians practiced whoring; as it says, 'Whose flesh is as the flesh of asses' (Yehezkel 23, 20). When they entered the land of Canaan the Canaanites practiced whoring and witchcraft; as it says, 'Because of the multitude of the harlotries of the well-favored harlot, the mistress of witchcraft' (Nahum 3, 4). The Holy One, blessed be He, said to them: 'My children, be careful that you not act either in accordance with the practice of these or in accordance with the practice of those.’ Hence it is written, 'Do not do the actions of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, and do not do the actions of the land of Canaan, where I bring
See the Sifra Achari Mot 8, (cited in Rambam Issuri Beah 21:8) where a number of the offences of the Egyptians are enumerated, including lesbianism, and other sexual rebellions and peccadilloes.


you; nor shall you walk in their ordinances.' (Midrash Rabbah - Vayikra 23:7) We have learned that these ten species of wisdom came down to this world, and all were concentrated in Egypt, save one which spread through the rest of the world. They are all species of sorcery, and through them the Egyptians were more skilled in sorcery than all other men. (Zohar, Vayikra, Section 3, Page 70a) If Egyptian society could be spiritually healed, the entire world would surely follow suit. Egypt was the epicenter of the ancient world. Unfortunately, the Jews as a People did not rise to the challenge. They were not successful in reaching out to the surrounding culture in any meaningful way, and did not reach the spiritual stratosphere, which was Yosef's domain. After Yosef's death, a new king arises who knows neither Yosef nor the God of Yosef: And Yosef died, and all his brothers, and all that generation…And there arose a new king over Egypt who did not know Yosef. (Sh'mot 1:6,8) And Par’oh said, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, nor will I let Israel go." (Sh'mot 5:2) With Yosef gone, the possibility of influencing the Egyptians seems to evaporate. By telling the Jews that they are to ask for three days, they are being told that this is the way it should have been: A three-day journey, following the two-hundred-year exile, should have been enough to revolutionize Egypt. If this seems impossible, they, and we, should remember that Yosef changed Par’oh's outlook in but one conversation. The crux of the matter is never to underestimate the power of the idea of God, or for that matter, never to underestimate the power of the Jewish people to convey that idea. The power contained therein is sufficient to change the world, and Yosef's greatness lay in his awareness and use of this power. When we drink from the four cups of wine we must recall the sudden transformation from slavery to freedom, how Yosef metamorphosed from slave to king. When we drink the wine we should taste the possibility of our own transformation, and always recall that the salvation of God is in the blink of an eye. That is the secret of redemption.


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