A Student Publication of Torah Academy of Bergen County
Parshat Bo 9 Shevat 5763 January 11, 2003 Vol.12 No. 14
In This Issue:
Rabbi Avi Pollack
Rabbi Howard Jachter
This week’s issue of
Kol Torah has been sponsored by Rabbi & Mrs. Yosef Adler in honor of the
birth of a grandson, Gavriel Shalom, to Chedva and Scott Rothenberg.
Who's Our Friends?
by Rabbi Avi Pollack
Before the Exodus from Egypt, Moshe instructed the Jews to “borrow” gold and silver utensils from their Egyptian neighbors. When Moshe delivered this proposal to his people, he did not merely identify the Egyptian oppressors as neighbors but surprisingly called them “rayim,” “friends” (See Shemot 11:2). This description is difficult to understand. If the Egyptians can be described as “rayim,” how can Chazal repeatedly exclude Nochrim from various Halachot based on the Torah’s usage of the word Raya (friend) or Achicha (brother)? For example, in Devarim 22:3 the Torah requires that one return “your brother’s lost items.” The Gemara in Bava Metzia deduces from the term “brother” that a Nochri’s lost item is not included in the Torah’s command. Nochrim are not generally considered to be the “friends” or “brothers” of the Jewish people, and therefore this and other Halachot do not apply to them. Why then does Moshe use the term “Raya” to describe the Egyptians?
Rabbeinu Bachya answers that before the Jews accepted the Torah at Sinai “all people were friends as one” and it was appropriate to describe any citizen of the world as a “raya.” Only after the Nochrim rejected the Torah and the Jews accepted it did the term “raya” acquire an exclusive connotation. The spiritual demands of the Torah force us to distinguish ourselves from the Nochri world.
In other respects, Jews and Nochrim are very much alike. Rabbeinu Bachya seems to contradict himself later in Sefer Shemot. In the Aseret Hadibrot (Shemot 20:16) Hashem commands the Jews not to testify falsely against one’s “raya.” Rabbeinu Bachya comments there, that the term “raya” was carefully used (as opposed to “achicha,” “brother”) to highlight the fact that one may not even offer false testimony against a Nochri. Now if it is true that once the Jews accepted the Torah, “raya” implies a Jewish fellow. How can the word “raya” in the Ten Commandments include a Nochri? My father in law, Dr. Sam Juni suggests that before the Ten Commandments were complete the Jews could not have possibly accepted the Torah. Only after all the commandments were completely communicated did the Jews categorically commit themselves to accept the yolk of Heaven. At this point, therefore, Rabbeinu Bachya can accurately claim that the term “raya” includes Nochrim.
What's the Connection?
by Ami Friedman
In Perek 13, Hashem commands Moshe on the Mitzvot of Pidyon Haben, Pesach, and Tefillin. Pasuk 2 introduces the Perek commanding Moshe to consecrate all the first borns, man, and animal, to Hashem. In Pasuk 3, Moshe then commands Bnai Yisrael to do the Mitzvot listed in the Perek.
Rambam comments that this Mitzva of consecrating the human Bechor applies only to the generation of Moshe, while all the other Mitzvot are eternal Mitzvot. In addition, Pesach is a Mitzva kept exclusively during the spring.
Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch says that usually when Hashem commanded Moshe to do something Moshe would then teach it to Bnai Yisrael and we would know about it today based on the Mesora. But since this was only the second Mitzva commanded to Bnai Yisrael, the Torah gave an example of how a Mitzva is passed down by recording what Moshe said to Bnai Yisrael.
However the question arises, what is the connection between what Hashem commands Moshe and what Moshe tells Bnai Yisrael? Why does Moshe only tell Bnai Yisrael about the first borns later on if it was the only commandment he was told about? Rav Hirsch explains how the chronology of Perek 13 works out following Hashem’s commandment. Pasuk 3, which according to Rashi is the source for remembering the redemption daily, shows how all of Bnai Yisrael were freed from the Egyptians. With the consecration of the first borns, some Jews may have thought that only the first borns play a role of holiness in Klal Yisrael. So, Pasuk 3 reminds them that all of Bnai Yisrael are equal because Hashem took all of them out of Egypt.
Furthermore, not only were Bnai Yisrael physically redeemed in the spring, their they are also symbolically similar to the spring. During the spring new plants sprout but their fruits don’t immediately ripen. Similarly, Bnai Yisrael sprouted with their freedom, but only their living in Israel will enable their fruits to ripen. This is why we are allowed to make changes in the calendar to influence when Pesach will fall out. Pesach is a holiday resembling spring and ripening, and for one week every spring we bring about this process of ripening by remembering what happened in Egypt. During this time we are only allowed to eat Matza because it symbolizes a slave’s meal, and while before we were slaves to the Egyptians, now we are “slaves” to Hashem.
After Moshe tells Bnai Yisrael how to serve Hashem, he tells them about educating the children so they can follow in their fathers’ footsteps. According to Rav Hirsch, the consecrating of the first born, which Moshe talks about last when speaking to Bnai Yisrael, only ensures Bnai Yisrael that we all must live a life of service to Hashem. The first-born are only the first ones to be consecrated to Hashem, but all future children will be consecrated.
Every Jew has full obligation to Hashem, and although one may find many disparities between him and others both in characteristics and ability, everyone has an equal obligation to perform what is commanded of him. A Jew observing Mitzvot will influence others to do the same, and in this way every Jew is like a fruit bearing tree.
by Eitan Rapps
In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Bo, Moshe and Aharon request from Pharo to go to the desert for three days so that Bnai Yisrael can celebrate a festival for Hashem. Pharo denies the entire notion of going out, but Moshe says in Perek 10 Pasuk 9, “with our youngsters and with our elders we shall go, with our sons and our daughters, flock and cattle.” Pharo then replies in the next Pasuk, “See that evil faces you.” Rashi says two things about this. One is that Onkelos translated it as, “See that evil which you intend to commit turns back at you.” The second thing that Rashi says is that he quotes a Midrash that tells of a star called Raa. Pharo said to Moshe and to Aharon, “my astrological predictions tell me that this Raa star will meet you in the desert and it is an omen of blood and killing.” Later, when Bnai Yisrael committed the sin of Egel Hazahav, Hashem wanted to kill them, as the result. Moshe davened to Hashem, and said, “Remember what Pharo said? ‘See what Raa Is facing you.’ It will look as if you can’t control the fate of Pharo’s astronomers!” Because of this, in Perek 32, Pasuk 14, it says, “Vayinachem Hashem Al Haraa,” “Hashem reconsidered regarding the star Raa.” Hashem then turned the blood of death (of the star) into the blood of circumcision, and this was the reason that Yehoshua had to circumcise Bnai Yisrael’s males upon entry into the Land. When the circumcision was performed, in Sefer Yehoshua, Perek 5, Pasuk 9 it says “Hayom Giliti Et Cherpat Mitzrayim Mealeichem,” “Today, I have rolled away the humiliation of Egypt from upon you.” Egypt would have “proved” that Hashem has no control over astrological predictions. We, of course, know that this is false, and that is why Hashem changed the sign of death into the sign of life.
by Chaim Cohen
In Perek 10, Pasuk 1, Hashem says to Moshe that he should go to Pharo because Hashem hardened Pharo’s heart, “Leman Shati,” “So that I can put my signs.” The Ramban says that the reason Hashem wanted to put signs was to show Bnai Yisrael His glory, and not only to punish Pharo. Rashi disagrees and says, that since Pharo broke his word three times, Hashem saw that Pharo would not fully repent with all of his heart unless Hashem did wonders in Egypt.
Ramban’s opinion has more basis in the rest of Tanach. In Perek 3 Pesukim 6 and 7 the Navi Tzifanya writes, “Hichrati Goyim Nashamu Pinotav… Amarti Ach Tiree Oti Tikchi Musar.” “I have cut off nations, their to webs have become desolate… I said surely you will fear Me, you will accept Mussar.” So, we see that Hashem does destroy nations to send a message to Bnai Yisrael. Also, had the purpose been to punish Egypt, Hashem could have smitten Egypt with one fell swoop. Rather, it is drawn out to show Bnai Yisrael that this was from Hashem, the G-d of their forefathers. Next, Bnai Yisrael might not have accepted the Torah at Har Sinai if Hashem had not proven that he was their God, since when he appears to Klal Yisrael he says “For I am Hashem who took you out of Egypt.” We can learn from here that we should follow the news, even if it does not concern us or our brethren in Eretz Yisrael, since it can be a message from Hashem that we must improve.
Power of Prayer
by Jeremy Jaffe
In Parshat Bo Hashem said to Moshe “Rioo Ki Raa Neged Pineichem” Look the evil intent is opposite your face.” These words are very hard to understand. What does Hashem mean when he says this? The Seforno gives us a possible explanation. He says that it means that your actions are headed to an evil end, which you will certainly reach. Rashi offers another explanation. Rashi quotes a Midrash which states that there was a star called Evil which Pharo’s astrologers discovered. When Aharon and Moshe came to speak to Pharo, he told them, “I see by my astrology that a star rising towards you in the desert is a sign of blood.” When Bnai Yisrael sinned with the golden calf, Hashem wanted to kill them. Moshe prayed to Hashem, and said, “If you kill the Jews then the Mitzrim will say it is because of the star called Evil.” Therefore, Hashem forgave Am Yisrael right after hearing Moshe, at least to the extent that he would not wipe them out completely. This shows us the incredible power of prayer. Since Moshe davened to Hashem he spared all of Am Yisrael. Even if we do not have a personal need to daven to Hashem we should nevertheless Daven because there are other people that may still need Hashem’s help.
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