Thursday, January 4, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shemos

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

R' Frand began the vort by quoting the gemara in Sota 11a which states that as a reward for the righteous Jewish ladies actions in Egypt of encouraging their husbands to have children, the Jews were zoche to leave Egypt with great reward. The meforshim explain that the men did not want to procreate as they saw the children being thrown into the river or used as bricks and they were wondered why should they make children who were doomed. However the Jewish women were able to convince them to continue and have children nonetheless. Hashem rewarded the Jewish people for these acts by giving them the great wealth when they left Egypt.

Rabbi Frand asked four questions on this gemara. The first question was a rather basic question - how was wealth a reward for their encouraging their husbands to have children? What was the connection between the two?

The second question had to do with the mechanism of receiving the wealth. In Parshas Bo (Shemos 11:2) Moshe is told to ask (Daber Na) the Jews to please request that the Egyptians give them gold and silver vessels. Why did Hashem need to ask the Jews to please request the gold and silver from the Egyptians when they knew that they would be leaving Egypt with these items as payment for their labors? Why ask them with a "please" to ask for their wages?

The third question was related to the second in that it asked - why did Hashem need to use this as the mechanism for extracting payment for the Jews? 

The fourth question was based on a comparison of the request for payment in Shemos vs Bo. In Shemos 3:22, the Jews are told to ask for gold and silver vessels and clothing. But in Shemos 11:2 the Jews are only told to ask for gold and silver, without reference to clothes. Why?

R' Frand answered these questions in the name of R' Elya Svei who quoted the Seforno in explaining that the request to the Egyptians was a sign of bitachon. At the time that the Jews has asked, the Egyptians had just sustained the ten plagues and lost their first born sons. When the Jews would walk out with their possessions, the Egyptians would be riled up and angry and would have motivation to chase after them. So Hashem asked the Jews to make this request as a sign of their trust in Hashem that we would take care of them.

This also explains why the reward for working in Egypt did not just appear on their doorsteps. This was a growth process so that the Jews would learn to have faith in Hashem, much like tying the lamb to their bedposts.

This also explains why Hashem had Moshe ask the Jews to "please" take their wages from the Egyptians. This was not a simple request for payment, it was a show of faith.

R' Frand also quoted Rashi who explained that the clothes were the most difficult for the Egyptians to give up. It was for this reason that the first request made was for the Jews to ask for gold/silver and clothes, but the second time they were only told to ask for gold and silver. But the Jews did make the request for all three classes of goods.

R' Frand then answered his initial question. The reason that this was a reward for the women encouraging their husbands to have children is that the action of having children was a show of faith in Hashem continuing the Jewish people. The Jews learned this faith from the women and cemented it by asking for the payment which became their great wealth. 

R' Frand closed the vort by noting that leaving with great wealth was also Hashem's way of keeping His promise to Avraham. Rashi and the Ramban explain that Avraham was punished for asking, how do I know that the Jews will inherit the land, and this was a sign of lack of faith. But in asking for payment the Jews showed that they did have faith and were able to "fix" Avraham's slight failure. By leaving with the great wealth the Jews showed that they had a "wealth" of emunah as well.

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