4:13 AM

Parshas BeShalach

Posted by chanie

  • "And it came to pass when Pharaoh sent out the people." (Exodus, 13:17)
The Gemora in Megilla states that whenever the word "vayehi" is used, it denotes a time of distress. If this is so, then why was it used in this case? It would seem to be that this was a joyous occasion- the Jews were waiting for many years for this freedom. Moshe pleaded with Pharaoh to free the Jews, but Pharaoh kept refusing, until Hashem performed many miracles and finally, the Jews left. However, there were still some Jews who thanked Pharaoh for his "kindness" in letting them go. This is why the Torah uses the word "vayehi"- to indicate the sad situation that after all the suffering under Pharaoh, some still gave Pharaoh credit for sending them away, instead of thanking Hashem.

  • "And Moshe took the bones of Yosef with him." (Exodus, 13:19)
The Gemara (Sotah 13a) says that while all the Jews were occupied with acquiring the gold and silver of the Egyptians, Moshe was occupied with the mitzvah of the "bones of Yosef." The Gemara connects this with the pasuk "chacham-leiv yikach mitzvot" (the wise-hearted takes mitzvot) (Proverbs 10:8).

What wisdom did Moshe show here? Moshe was considered a Kohen (for the 40 years the Jews were in the wilderness, or at least until after the seven days of inauguration, (Zevachim 102a). It is forbidden for a Kohen to defile himself by contact with a corpse. However, a corpse no one is taking care of, is considered a meit mitzvah (a mitzva to take care of it), and even a Kohen is allowed to defile himself for its sake. Since all the Jews were occupied with gathering the gold and silver of the Egyptians, no one took care of the bones of Yosef. Moshe, in his wisdom, occupied himself with this mitzvah of caring for the bones, since it was a case of meit mitzvah, for which even a Kohen may defile himself.

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