The Torah relates that the Jewish people left
The Be’er Yosef beautifully suggests that all three explanations are really one. As Rashi mentions, the wicked Jews died during the plague of darkness. However, Hashem’s Heavenly Tribunal doesn’t punish a person until the age of 20 (Rashi Bereishis 23:1). While four-fifths of the adults died, none of the children did, resulting in a tremendous number of orphans.
The remaining adults were so overjoyed at being saved that they decided to “adopt” the orphans from the four-fifths of the families who were now without parents. Thus, in addition to their own biological children, each family went out with the children of another four families. The Targum Yonason doesn’t mean that each family had five children, but rather five families of children, and these mass adoptions are the good deeds referred to by the Targum Yerushalmi!
In Parshas Shemos, we quoted the calculation of the Oznayim L’Torah that the average family had 54 children. In light of this, it is all the more astounding to realize that as they were about to head out into the desert with no source of food, clothing, or sustenance, their trust in Hashem was so strong that they had no qualms about adopting another 216 children, bringing the grand total of the typical family to 270 children! We now have a new appreciation for the well-known verse in Yirmiyah (2:2), זכרתי לך חסד נעוריך אהבת כלולתיך לכתך אחרי במדבר בארץ לא זרועה – I remember for your sake the kindness of your youth, the love of your bridal days, your following after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown!
וידעו מצרים כי אני ד' (14:18)
The Darkei Mussar notes the striking contrast in Pharaoh’s actions over the span of just a few short years. In Parshas Mikeitz, the idolatrous Pharaoh had no problem accepting Yosef’s interpretations and recommendations, even though Yosef made it clear that his explanations emanated from Hashem.
Yet a short while later, the Pharaoh of the Exodus repeatedly denied Hashem’s existence and all of the benefits that his country had received through Yosef and refusing to heed Moshe’s command that he free the Jewish slaves. Even after agreeing to the release of the Jewish people, he still attempted to pursue and recapture them. Only at the
There was once a wealthy businessman whose associates received word that his entire inventory had been lost at sea. Unsure about how to inform him, they went for guidance to the local Rav, who volunteered to break the news himself. The Rav called in the businessman and engaged him in a lengthy discussion about trust in Hashem, as well as the insignificance of temporal, earthly possessions relative to the infinite, eternal reward of the World to Come.
At this point, the Rav asked the man what would happen if he were to receive word that his entire fleet had sunk in the ocean. The merchant, inspired by the insightful words of the Rav, answered that he could accept such a turn of events. Assuming that his plan had worked, the Rav informed him that this had actually occurred. Much to the Rav’s surprise, the man promptly fainted. After awakening the businessman, the Rav pressed him for an explanation. The man replied, “It’s much easier to have faith and trust in a G-d Who could wipe out my possessions than in One Who actually did.”
Pharaoh was an idolater to the core who never truly believed in Hashem. Nevertheless, it was much easier to “believe” in a Hashem Who sent His agent (Yosef) to bring him satiety and riches than in a Hashem Who sent His agent (Moshe) to order him to free millions of slaves.
The Medrash says that Hashem figuratively rides over the righteous, as the Torah states (Bereishis 28:13) regarding Yaakov והנה ד' ניצב עליו – Hashem was standing over him. The wicked, on the other hand, view themselves as superior to their gods. The Torah relates (Bereishis 41:1) ופרעה חולם והנה עומד על היאור – Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing over the
זה קלי ואנוהו אלקי אבי וארממנהו (15:2)
זה קלי - בכבודו נגלה עליהם והיו מראין אותו באצבע ראתה שפחה על הים מה שלא ראו נביאים (רש"י)
Rashi writes that the clarity of the revelation at the
The Mishnah in Bikkurim (1:4) rules that when a convert brings bikkurim (first-fruits) to the
The Vilna Gaon points out that our verse may be split in two, with the first half referring to “my G-d” and the second half discussing “the G-d of my father.” Why does the Torah split the praises in two, and what is the significance of the switch from “my G-d” to “the G-d of my father?”
The Gaon explains that the Jewish people said the latter praise and were therefore able to refer to the G-d of their ancestors, as per the opinion of the Mishnah in Bikkurim. The first phrase, which emphasizes the personal G-d of the speaker, must therefore have been said by the maidservants who were unable to refer to their forefathers. The praise said by the maidservants uses the expression “זה קלי” (this is my G-d). The word זה connotes a physical presence that one is able to point to. Rashi therefore concluded that the maidservants saw Hashem so clearly that they were able to point to Him, a level which even many of the prophets didn’t reach!
ותקח מרים הנביאה אחות אהרן את התף בידה ותצאן כל הנשים אחריה בתפים ובמחלת (15:20)
Some call it unquenchable optimism. Others call it a deep-seated trust in the goodness of Hashem. We all know somebody like this, a person who radiates joy and an eternal confidence that no matter how bleak things may seem, life has a curious way of working out for the best. It’s not that these people have the good fortune of enjoying easy lives, for they have faced many of the same curveballs that we grapple with. They actively choose to lead happy lives, turning the proverbial lemons into lemonade.
I recently returned from a trip to my hometown of
Similarly, after Hashem miraculously saved the Jewish people by splitting the
Rashi explains that the Jewish women were convinced that they would merit further miracles and brought along instruments to play while singing praises to Hashem. In spite of centuries of suffering, they remained so optimistic that although they left in a hurry without time for their bread to rise, they still managed to pack instruments to celebrate the salvation they were sure was just around the corner.
More recently, there was a tremendous drought in
With little choice, the Rabbinic leaders ordered everybody to go to the Kosel (Western Wall) to pour out their hearts and plead for Divine mercy. After reciting several chapters of Tehillim and other appropriate prayers the clear sky suddenly grew dark and full of ominous clouds, which shortly gave way to a full-fledged torrential downpour. Those present were so overjoyed by the answering of their prayers that they didn’t even mind that they were getting soaked to the bone, all except for one elderly, wheelchair-bound Chassidic Rebbe who remained completely dry … because he brought an umbrella!
Life will surely send us many challenges in the areas of health, finances, marriage, and children. Although the tests that we receive are beyond our control, we can learn from the Jewish women in
Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):
1) On the way out of Egypt, Hashem chose not to lead the Jewish people by way of the nearby land of the Philistines because He feared that when they would see a war there, they would get scared and return to Egypt (13:17). Indeed, the Targum Yonason ben Uziel writes (14:13) that when they were trapped at the Red Sea, one group of Jews suggested returning to
2) Hashem said to Moshe at the
3) Although Hashem commanded Moshe (14:16) to lift up his staff and stretch out his arm over the
4) Rashi notes (15:5) that the Torah compares the drowning of the Egyptians in the
5) The Gemora in Yoma (75a) teaches that the Manna fell at the doorsteps of the righteous, far away from the tents of the wicked, and somewhere in-between for the average. Hashem doesn’t give clear reward and punishment in this world because it would take away free choice and people wouldn’t receive reward for their actions. How did the Jews have free choice in the desert, and on what basis did the righteous merit reward for their good deeds? (Mishmeres Ariel)
6) The Gemora in Berachos (48b) teaches that after eating the Manna, the Jews recited Birkas HaMazon. Was this only when they made the Manna taste like bread, or even if it tasted like a food which doesn’t normally require Birkas HaMazon? (Taima D’Kra, Dagan Shomayim 13)
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