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Submitted by on January 6, 2008 – 1:19 amNo Comment | 2,221 views

Sunday: The Missing Warning

G-d instructed Moses to rebuke Pharaoh for his refusal to release the Jews from Egypt. Moses delivered this rebuke and then informed Pharaoh of the upcoming plague of locust.  Why does Torah neglect to mention that G-d informed Moses of the upcoming plague?

G-d relayed both the rebuke and the information about the upcoming plague at the same time, but the Torah only mentions the rebuke because, at the time, this was G-d’s main point. G-d wanted to demonstrate that the plagues were necessary because Pharaoh was incapable of softening his heart.

The rebuke to Pharaoh was essentially, “Why do you only heed the divine instruction when you are in the midst of a plague, why don’t you obey simply because you are so instructed? Don’t you see that it would end your suffering?” Indeed, the Egyptian servants understood this message as the biblical narrative goes on to describe, but Pharaoh was powerless to soften his heart. This too was part of Pharaoh’s punishment. To be so obstinate in his refusal despite the terrible suffering wrought upon Egypt was humiliating for the king of Egypt. Kli Yakar

Monday: Not a Single Locust

The Torah testifies that after the seventh plague, “not a singe locust remained in all of Egypt.” Rabbeinu Chananel explained that ever since the cessation of that plague, locusts have never reappeared in Egypt. In fact, even if a swarm of locust were to pass through Egypt it would not consume its crop.

This explains why the Torah says that this plague would be talked about for generations. Other plagues left no observable trace in their wake whereas this plague left an imprint for later generations. When later Egyptians would wonder why Egypt was impervious to locusts they would be told of this plague. This is true despite the fact that modern Egypt is susceptible to locusts because today’s Egypt is not defined by the borders of Biblical Egypt.  Kli Yakar

Tuesday: An Odd Prophecy

Pharaoh had just banned Moses from his palace. The Torah tells us that G-d informed Moses that one more plague would be visited upon Egypt after which the Jews would be liberated. Moses must therefore instruct the Jews to borrow gold, silver and clothing from their Egyptian neighbors.

This text presents a number of difficulties. A, moses refused to pray to G-d within the Egyptian cities because they were contaminated by idol worship and here G-d appeared to Moses in Pharaoh’s palace? B, the prophecy only informed Moses that there would be a plague, but did not tell Moses which plague it would be. C, G-d already told Moses at the burning bush that Jews would borrow valuables from their Egyptian neighbors before they left Egypt, why was this instruction repeated?

For these reasons Or Hachayim concludes that this prophecy did not actually occur in Pharaoh’s palace. The Torah here is referring to an earlier prophecy Moses received. At the burning bush, Moses was told that the last plague would involve the slaying of the Egyptian firstborn. In effect, when Pharaoh banned Moses from his palace Moses understood that the time for the final plague had arrived. The Torah summarizes the prophecy here, but does not need to repeat every detail. Or Hachayim

Wednesday: It Is Up To You

Speaking of the Hebrew calendar, G-d told Moses, “This month is to you.” The start of Hebrew months is determined by the Sanhedrin, the Jewish High Court. (Since the disbandment of the Sanhedrin in the fifth century the calendar is set in accordance with astronomical calculations.) This means that Jewish holidays are determined by the Jewish High Court. As the Talmudic sages put it, “The whole of the world awaits judgment on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, but if the Sanhedrin postpones the first of that month, the world’s judgment is also postponed.”

With this G-d granted our nation mastery over time. The Hebrew Calendar, the Jewish holidays, the days of awe, nay, the judgment of the entire world, is up to us. Kedushas Levi

Thursday: Why Bother?

The wicked son asks, “Why do you bother with this work?”  The work he refers to is the preparation of the Pascal Lamb. He understands that we eat the lamb, it tastes good and is a Mitzvah too, but why do we bother with menial tasks such as preparing and roasting the lamb? Let the servants do that.

We respond by telling him that G-d, Himself, extracted us from Egypt. He visited Egyptian homes on that night to slay their firstborn, but passed over the Jewish homes. G-d could have sent a messenger, but He didn’t. Out of love for us, He did it Himself. Out of love for G-d, we cherish every Mitzvah. We cherish the performance of the Mitzvah and also its preparatory work. We do it ourselves because it is a labor of love. Ktav Sofer

Friday: A Night for G-d

The Torah declares the night of Passover is “A night for G-d.” What does this mean? In typical Jewish fashion we answer this question with another question. Why are the Passover miracles celebrated more  than any other miracle that we have experienced over the course of history? The Passover miracles are unique, but the overwhelming celebration of this miracle versus the complete silence about other miracles is incongruous.

The answer lies in what happened after Passover. The liberation from Egypt led our ancestors to Mount Sinai where we received the Torah. The night of Passover did not bring relief from slavery; our ancestors were already released from servitude when the plagues began. The night of Passover enabled our ancestors to travel to Sinai. It was a night of celebration, a night of liberation, because it was a night that enabled us to worship G-d. Hence it is called “A night for G-d.” Ktav Sofer

Shabbat: Five Nations

At the end of our Torah portion G-d promises to “Deliver us to the land of the Canaanites, Hitites, Emorites, Hivites, and Jebusites, a land that flows with milk and honey.” What happened to the other two nations, the Girgashites and Prizites?

Rashi explained that the Torah does not need to enumerate each name because all seven nations are included in the collective name Canaan. The founders of each of these nations were children of  Canaan. However, following this logic, mention of the other four nations is also redundant.

Nachmanides argued that the Torah, in this instance, was referring specifically to the portion of the land that would flow with milk and honey. The two nations that are not mentioned in this verse resided on the east bank of the Jordan River. Many Jews settled on that side because of its abundant grazing lands. Grazing was abundant on the east bank of the Jordan, but milk and honey flowed only on the west bank of the Jordan, where the other fiver tribes resided. Ramban

Edited by Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort, Director of Chabad at La Costa.

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