(1:1) “V’Ayleh Shemos-These are the names” Why name the entire Sefer Shemos.? We know the Ramban calls it the Sefer Geulah, Exodus, which makes sense since it is the thrust of the narrative. Moreover the first five verses seem to be a repetition of the end of Sefer Bereishis? It even has more information over there than it does here? The Tolner Rebbe addresses this and says that this opening section of the second book of the Torah is coming to teach us the secret of how to survive the impending Golus. After all Egypt was the paradigm of all future exiles and redemptions. Based on what was suggested in Parshas Vayeche, when Yakov wished to reveal the Kaitz. The Posuk says (49:1)“Vayikra Yakov el-Bonav Vayomeru Heasfu Vagidah Lochem es Asher Yikrah Eschem B’achris Hayomim-Yakov called for his sons and said “Assemble yourselves and I will tell you what will befall you in the End of Days.” We would expect some profound message in the closing chapter of this Sefer. Rashi is of the opinion that Hashem prevented Yakov from divulging the final Geulah, since we don’t see it revealed in the next words spoken by Yakov. Instead he appears to go on to something else namely the blessings of the tribes. But perhaps we can suggest that hidden in those blessings Yakov actually does reveal the final days.
“Vagidah Lochem es Asher Yikrah Eschem-I wil tell you what will befall you.” The word Yikarah is spelled with an Aleph instead of a Hey. Literally meaning calling not happening. Yakov was teaching them the calling of the end of days. Instead of disclosing the time of the final Geulah Yakov calls each of the tribes by name. One of the reasons Yisroel would be redeemed from exile is that they did not change their names. The book of Exodus is called Shemos-Names. Right at the start of the Golus the exit plan is put into place. We know that Yakov died in the year 2255. If you add that number to the total Gematria of all of the names of each of the Shevotim (3745 counting Menashe and Ephraim instead of Yosef) you arrive at the number 6000. Yakov was saying “Assemble yourselves” in other words only through the Achdus-unity of Klal Yisroel (add up each of your names together) will we arrive at the Kaitz. Not changing their names was essential.
Perhaps we can say that this is why the second of the Five Books is called Shemos/Names because it is the names that will bring us the Geulah.
(1:1)“Ve-ayleh Shemos- These are the names” The “Vav” in the first word of this Sefer indicates a connection to the previous book. Here at the beginning of their servitude we are shown one of the ways out. There were three things that are credited to the children of Israel for having remained intact. They are their names, clothing and language. These first words hint at this fact by telling us “V’Ayleh Shemos-And these are the names.” They have kept the same names as before.
(1:1)“Ve-ayleh Shemos Benei Yisroel Haboim Mitzraimah- These are the names of the children of Israel who are coming to Eygpt.” Many commentators attempt to explain the terminology of these words. Why is their coming written in the present tense? We know that in Parshas Vayigash these same words were written, now several decades later, the words “who are coming” simply could not apply? But to understand this we need to explore another question. Why was it necessary for Klal Yisroel to go through this ordeal in the first place? What gain was there in them having to perform hard labor? In fact their labors bore no fruit. The store houses they built were built upon quick sand. There was nothing to show for their efforts! It would seem that the entire Egyptian exile was a failure. Klal Yisroel, at the time of their descent to Egypt, were on a very high spiritual level. Yet 210 years later they emerged on the 49th level of tumeh.
The Arizal writes that the reason Klal Yisroel went through this Egyptian holocaust was because they needed to correct the misdeeds of a previous life. The generations of Jews in Mitzraim were a reincarnation of the generation of the Tower of Bavel. He learns this from a Gezerah Shoveh. With regard to the Tower of Bavel the Torah writes that they built the tower from Chomer and Leveinim -Mortar and bricks. This same phrase is used for Klal Yisroel in their hard labor. But what is this connection?
The generation of the Tower attempted to challenge the spiritual world, to actually wage war against Hashem. They took the physicality of this world and made it paramount. They built a virtual skyscraper in ancient times! But even the greatest skyscraper is incapable of reaching Heaven. Why did Hashem need to intervene? The answer is that they could have affected the spiritual world because of the fact that they we're united, they were of one tongue. They were able to tap into the spiritual world to serve the physical. The mistake they made was making the physical the Ikar (primary) and the spiritual the Toful (secondary). This is what the generation of Jews in Mitzraim needed to correct. They needed to endure 210 years of intense physicality, hard labor in the purest sense with no recognizable fruits, all for the sake of refining them to emerge as the light unto all nations. They needed to make the reversal of priorities. They needed once again to make the spiritual the Ikar (primary) and the physical the Toful (secondary). This was a result of their adherence to the three things that saved them from a permanent exile. They did not change their names, their language and their clothing. The name of a person connects him to his essence, his soul. Language is the expression of that connection. And clothing is the statement that the physical side of man is secondary when clothed properly.
With this we may answer the first question of why the Posuk says they are “coming to Mitzraim” instead of saying “they came.” Mitzraim is the root of all future exiles. It therefore contains offshoots of the very elements that we find in our lives today. The quality of life we enjoy today is unparalleled by any previous generation. We run the risk of placing our physical existence above the spiritual reality. In every generation it is as if we are coming to Mitzraim. We must make sure not to let the physical become the Ikar (primary) and the spiritual the Toful (secondary).
Why is it that Benei Yi
great that what we see may only be a remnant of the light from that star which is only now reaching us. The same can be said of the Avos. Even though they are no longer here their light still has an effect on us today. Another answer is that we know Hashem calls out the stars each night by name because he knows the nature of each individual star and he uses them to affect and manipulate the physical world. So too are Klal Yisroel compared to stars because He knows the nature of each individual and how each one of us affects the physical world.
But perhaps even more compelling is that although the stars are invisible by day, they exist in their place. It is we who cannot see them, because of the illumination of the sky. The same is true of the righteous, they exist after death but we cannot see them from our dimension. So too our ancestors may not be visible at times but their affect still exists.
(1:5) “Vayehe Kol Nefesh Yotzei Yerech Yakov- Every soul that came out of the loins of Yakov.” The term Yerech Yakov is somewhat unique in the Torah. Avraham had Toldos as did Yitzchok, Yishmael even Essav. Why here is this different expression used? Perhaps we can say the following. The numerical value of the words Yerech Yakov is equal to 412 the same as Yom Kippur. We know there is a concept of Yisrael Af Al Pi Sh’chatah Yisrael Hu- A Jew remains a Jew even if he sins.” This began only with the descendants of Yakov. But what of those sins? Yom Kippur is required for this concept to work. In addition the words “Kol Nefesh Yotzei Yerech Yakov-Every soul that came out of the loins of Yakov.” Is equal to 1002 or “Hashiveinu L’Maan Shemecha- I will bring you back for the sake of the name.” We might suggest that the name here refers not to Hashem’s name but rather the names of Benei Yisroel that were not changed.
(1:9) “Vayomer el-Amo He-nei Am Benei Yisroel Rav Veatzum Mimenu - And he said to his people Behold the nation of the children of Israel are many and strong from us.” Even though they had multiple births the children of Israel were considerably stronger than the Egyptians. Another interpretation is that they became strong “Mimenu” from us. Meaning that the strength of Benei Yisroel should be attributed to the fact that Mitzraim supported them. They used our resources to become a great nation. This could also explain why in Posuk 5 the Torah repeats that there were seventy souls that came to Mitzraim a fact that was reported at the end of Parshas Vayigash. Why was it necessary to repeat this especially since here we do not find the names of the seventy listed as it was in Vayigash. The answer could be that the Torah here wanted to emphasize the fact that they began with only seventy souls and became this multitude of people “Mimenu” from us! (Ohr Hachaim)
(1:10) “Havah Nischachma Lo - Let us outsmart them.” Bereshis Rabbah writes that there was a long standing tradition that Benei Yisroel would overpower Canaan. This was supposed to take place after the Jews numbered six hundred thousand. Pharoh referred to this ancient prediction when he observed the rapid growth in numbers of Benei Yisroel. This is what the Posuk means by “He-nei” (Behold). In other words they began to realize that this prophecy had begun to come true. “Havah Nischachma Lo - Let us outsmart them.” They will move back to Canaan and destroy our Canaanite brothers. The first decree that Egypt made against this was to ban any Jews from leaving the country. The origins of anti-Semitism were formed then and for all times. The first sign of this was when the Jewish people refused to intermarry with the Egyptians. The outcome of this was the decree on the male babies. Their intentions were to extinguish the males so that the female Jews would have no choice but to marry outside of their faith.
The words (1:10) “Havah Nischachma Lo - Let us outsmart them.” go along with the words (1:12) “ V’Kasher Yanu Osoh Kain Yirbeh - The more they oppressed them the more they increased.” In fact the gematria of the words ““Havah Nischachma Lo” equal 571 the same as the words promised by Hashem that the Jews would leave “B’rechush Gadol-With great wealth.”
(1:12) “ V’Kasher Yanu Osoh Kain Yirbeh - The more they oppressed them the more they increased.” The Torah writes that “as they afflicted them, so they multiplied.” But Shevet Levi was not subjected to the hard work in Mitzraim that is why even to this day the Leviim are very small in numbers. They didn’t grow like the other jews because they weren't as physically oppressed. The words Ka’asher Yanu- is in the future tense because it means that even in the future whenever someone will afflict the Jews, the Jews will grow and get stronger.
The Zohar explains that when one must endure persecution the good which may have been mixed with the evil, is distilled from the evil joining other areas that are totally good. By the same token the evil of that mixture joins other areas of pure evil. The Torah here tells us that the more persecution Yisroel suffered the more good was released from what had been only a mixture of good and evil previously. With the release of that good Yisroel merited to have more children. Hence the Torah adds the words “Vechain Yifratz” (and so they spread out).
Yocheved gave birth to Moshe at the age of 130. When Sarah gave birth she was 90 it was considered a tremendous miracle, but here its not even brought down in the Posukim? The answer is that here by Yocheved (in Mitzraim) every Ledah (birth) was not Derech Hatevah-ie-they were all giving birth to 6 at a time strong and healthy children with many Nissim. By Sarah it was normal times and therefore a woman giving birth at age 90 is a big Ness.
(1:16) “Vayomer Beyaledchem - Im-Bain hu Vehamiten Oso V’Im-Bas He V’choyah - He said when you deliver the Hebrew women- If it’s boy, kill him; if it’s a girl, let him live.”
The Gemarah in Sotah says that when the handmaids were told to kill the baby boys and let the girls live they were also told how to tell if it was a boy or girl before the child was completely out of the mother. The reason for this is because they had to justify the death of a child by saying it happened during birth, there is nothing we could have done. So Pharoh told them if the head comes out facing up it’s a girl, face down means its a boy. The Midrash says that the reason for this is man is in his ultimate state while united with a woman, during which the man is on top facing down and the woman is facing up. Also the children were raised by Hashem. After they were born the parents would take them out to the fields and the ground would swallow them up. When the Egyptians would try to kill them they would disappear under ground. That’s why it says at the Red Sea the children were pointing and saying “Zeh Kali” sroel are compared to the stars? One answer is that just like the stars, whose light we see, may actually have burnt out years ago. The stars distance may be so
because they recognized Hashem from when they were being raised. This also is why Pharoh said the word “Henei” in Posuk 1:9, because suddenly six children returned to their parents when they became old enough. So where there were one thousand Jews, suddenly there were seven thousand Jews. This cycle kept repeating itself until suddenly “Henei -Behold” Benei Yisroel became a multitude.
When Moshe was born why was it necessary to put him in the Nile? Why couldn’t they just hide him? The answer is that Miriam wanted the astronomers to think that Moshe was cast into the Nile like all of the other Jewish babies and thereby stop the killing. In fact this is what happened. The astronomers ran to tell Pharoh that the savior of Israel had been cast into the Nile.
(1:20) “Vayitav Hashem L’Miyaldos Vayorev H’om Vayatzmu Miode-Hashem benefited the midwives and the people increased and became very strong.” When the midwives refused to kill the male babies Hashem rewarded them. But the verse here expresses that the people increased and became very strong? What connection is there to rewarding the midwives? R.Frand writes that he once heard in the name of R.Eliya that a cousin of his had a premature baby that needed to be in a hospital for several weeks after it’s birth. When the baby was released the father went to R.Eliya to ask how he could express his gratitude to the doctors? He was told that each year on the birthday of the child he should bring him to the hospital and show the doctors and nurses what their efforts accomplished. This is what the Torah is telling us here. The reward for the midwives would be to see the babies they saved grow and become very strong.
(2:2) Vatizpineihu Shloshah Yerachim-She hid him for three months.” The word for months in this verse is not the usual Chodesh but rather Yerech. This is a word that is more connected with a lunar cycle than a solar cycle. In a lunar cycle we have alternating months of 29 to 30 days. This was to repay the suffering Moshe had to endure being placed in the raging waters of the Nile. Moshe’s rescue from the Nile would therefore fall out on the 6th of Sivan, the day of Matan Torah.
(2:3) “ Vlo Yochloh Ode Hitzfino-She could no longer hide him.” Rashi explains that Moshe was born premature at 6 months and a day. Therefore after three months Amram remarried Yocheved the Egyptians came looking for him. Why didn’t they think of the possibility of a premature birth? The Daas Zekainim M’Baalei Tosefes explain that Yocheved was already three months pregnant when Amram remarried her. Therefore when Moshe was born prematurely it was only three months after their wedding. When the Mitzriim came to look for the baby, Moshe was already three months old and able to be placed in the basket.
(2:4) Miriam stood from afar to see what would happen to her brother. Where was his mother? It was Miriam who prophesied that he would be the savior and so she wanted to see what would become of that prophecy.
Yocheved acted cleverly by placing Moshe in the water. Through this sacrifice she was hoping that the astrologers would thus be fooled and end the drowning of all the Jewish babies. Thereby saving countless Jewish lives. ( R.Bachaya)
When Pharoh heard that the Jewish savior was about to be born he ordered all babies to be cast into the Nile. He was told that it was unclear if the child was Jewish or Egyptian. The reason for that is because since Batyah raised him as her own child she was viewed in the stars as a his mother. We learn from here that one who raises a child is considered as if she gave birth to it.
(2:5) “V’Tered Bas Pharoh L’Rchotz-The daughter of Pharoh went down to Bathe.”Why would the daughter of Pharoh bathe in public by the Nile? Did she not have a place to bathe in the palace? Chazal say that she went to bathe there because she had been stricken with leprosy. However the moment she touched the baby Moshe she became cured.
"Vatishlach es Amasah-She stretched out her hand." Chazal say that her hand miraculously extended. The question is what made her stretch out her hand in the first place? She didn't know that a miracle would be performed for her? The answer is that we learn a tremendous lesson from here. When a child is at risk we don't stop to evaluate whether or not we can succeed and give up if the situation seems hopeless. But rather if we sincerely do all that is in our power Hashem will make the impossible possible.
Why was it necessary for Moshe to have trouble with his speech? Because when the Benei Yisroel heard Moshe speak the words of Hashem they knew that it was coming from Hashem and not from Moshe.
(2:6) “V’Hinei Hnar Bocheh-Behold the child was crying” This refers to Moshe’s brother Aharon who was standing at the shore. The Gematria of “Nar Bocheh” equal Zeh Aharon Hakohen.
(2:11) Vayigdal Moshe Vayetze el-EchavVayar B'Sivlosom Vayar Ish Mitzri Makeh Ish Ivri M'echav-Moshe grew up and went out to his brethren and observed their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian man striking a Hebrew man. Vayifen Koh V'Koh Vayar ki Aiyn Ish Vayech es-H'Mitzri Vayitmineihu B'chol- He turned this way and that and saw that there was no man, so he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.” When Moshe grew up he left the house of Pharaoh to see the condition of his fellow Jews. “Vayifen Koh V'Koh he struggled with his Egyptian side and his Jewish side and saw Vayar ki Aiyn Ish he saw that there is no man. In other words he understood that a person cannot be two sided. Vayech es-H'Mitzri Vayitmineihu B'chol so he struck down the Egyptian side of himself and buried it in the sand. (Abarbanel)
(2:14) “Vayomer Achein Nodeh Hadovor-He said indeed the matter is known.” When Moshe took action against the Egyptian who was beating a Jew, someone from Klal Yisroel revealed the matter. The Midrash explains that now Moshe understood why the Jews deserved to suffer so. They were tale bearers. The question is why is this the reason for their suffering? There were many other sins committed by the Jews that had sunk them down to the 49th level of Tumeh? The answer is that Hashem created the world to operate Midah Keneged Midah (measure for measure). What this means is that a person is only punished through the same act
with which he sinned. If that person never spoke badly about anyone in his entire life, the accusing angel can never say anything bad about that person when he stands in judgement. Therefore only through Loshen Horoh can the prosecutor accuse them. If not for their evil speech no mouth would ever have been opened against them.
(2:21) “Vayoel Moshe Losheves es Ho’Ish-Moshe desired to dwell with the man.”Moshe thought that he would be safe with Yisro since Pharoh treated “Priests” well. Due to the fact that Yisro had seven daughters, Moshe knew he would be accepted.
Moshe lived two thirds of his life among gentiles. He had to set the example for every Jew to follow. People might say “I can not be like a Moshe, I was not raised by the Gadol Hador. The response is that Moshe was cut off from his people at childhood. Only from his inner strength did he become the “Man of G-d.”
How could Moshe be the one to bring down Pharoh when he owed him a tremendous debt of gratitude, so much Akoras Hatov? Moshe was raised on Pharoh's lap? However Hashem is the true Judge of man. When Pharoh forgot the Akoras Hatov he owed to Yosef, for saving not only his country but the world. Measure for measure he was repaid by having the very child he raised not exhibit Akoras Hatov to him as well.
(2:23) “Vayomos Melech Mitzrayim Vayianchu Bnei Yisrael Min H’Avodah-And the King of Egypt died and the Jewish people sighed from their work.” What does the death of the King have to do with he Jewish people sighing? The Egyptians knew that if the Jews would ry to Hashem He would answer their prayers and free them from slavery. Therefore they made the Jews work extremely hard. Whenever a supervisor would see a Jew crying, he would beat him.
But when Pharoh died all of the Egyptians attended the funeral leaving the Jews to cry out to Hashem.
(3:18) “V’Atoh Nailcha-Nah Derech Shloshes Yomim Bamidbar V’Nizbecha L’Hashem Elokim-And now please let us go on a three day journey in the wilderness, and we shall bring offerings to Hashem our G-D.” The question is why did Hashem use such devious methods against the Mitzriim? First he had Moshe speak to Pharoh about a three day religious holiday as well as borrowing the gold and silver from the Egyptians with no intention of ever giving them back?
The Gemarrah in Sotah 11 relates how the Egyptians had cleverly entrapped Benei Yisroel into slavery. They began by rallying the Jews to special duties that were reserved for aliens. Next they secretly ordered the midwives to kill all the newborn males, before the mothers had a chance to realize what was happening. Lastly, the Egyptians were ordered to drown all young Jewish males wherever they might be found. When the Egyptians realized that the king had loosened the restrictions they broke into Jewish homes at night, kidnapped their sons and immediately drowned them.(Ramban)
Hashem uses the Midah of “Measure for Measure.” Just as the Mitzriim acted deceitfully so to Hashem gradually brought them into their own trap. First he had Moshe speak to Pharoh about a three day religious holiday. Then gradually they became drawn into following them to the Red Sea by borrowing their gold and silver. The Egyptians thought that if Benei Yisroel really intended to steal their valuables, they would have done so, when they had the opportunity during the three days of darkness.
(3:16) “ Pokod Pokadity - I will surely remember you!.” When Hashem spoke to Moshe by the burning bush he gave him a sign that the Benei Yisroel would accept. The words “Pokod Pokadity” would be used by the person who would deliver Yisroel. But if this was given over from generation to generation what kind of sign could it be if everyone knew it? The Ramban asks this question and he answers that it was told over that only the true savior would use this phrase.
The Gur Arye questions this answer because throughout history we see that there were many false prophets who claimed to speak the words of Hashem. Why should this be different? Instead he suggests that this is the reason why Moshe had to be removed from his parents’ home at such an early age. Having grown up in Pharoh’s house this mesorah could not have been handed down to him. He therefore would not know about it.
This Loshon of “Pokod Pokadity” is used because the word “Pokod” is a term used at times for bad and at times for good. When Sarah is informed that she will have a baby the words “Pokod es Sara” is used. When Hashem will remember the sins of the father. The term used is “Pokod es Avon Avous”. Here the word is used because we know that there will be both bad and good. For every negative act that was done to the Egyptians a comparable positive act was done for the Benei Yisroel. This is why the term of Pokod is used here. In addition the fact only one fifth of the nation went out shows that the remembering (Pokod) was both good and bad. It was good for those Jews who followed Hashem and bad for the ones who did not.
According to the Baal Haturim the word Pokod equals 190. The meaning behind this is that only the true redeemer would know that length of the servitude, which was foretold to be 400 years, would be shortened by 190 years. Thus the meaning of this secret phrase reads “Pokod=190, Pokadity I will remove.” Only the true redeemer could explain this phrase to mean the time of redemption has arrived! The Gematria of the phrase Pokod Pokadity is equal to the phrase “Ki Ase Kaitz Higiya-The time of the redemption has arrived.”(778)
The fact that Moshe had difficulty speaking was a factor in proving him to be the true savior. He had difficulty with the letters “d t l n th.” Therefore the phrase “Pokod Pokadity” would have been virtually impossible for him to pronounce clearly. When Moshe said the words with perfect clarity, the people knew that he was sent by Hashem. (Meam Loez)
(3:11) “ Vayomer Moshe el H’Elokim Mi Anochi-Moshe said to Elokim “who am I" The use of the word "Anochi" instead of the usual "Ani" indicates that Moshe was asking "what became of the promise made to Yakov when Hashem said "Anochi Imo B'Tzorah-I will be with you in your troubles" and take you out of Egypt? Moshe is asking "Mi Anochi?" Where is G-D? (Shemos Rabbah)
(3:11) “ Vayomer Moshe el H’Elokim Mi Anochi Ki Aylech el Pharoh V’chi Otzi- Moshe said to Elokim “who am I that I should go to Pharoh and that I should take them out?” When
Moshe said “Me Anochi Vechi Otzi” who am I to speak with kings and with what merit should they go out? Hashem answered him that they will in the future serve me on this mountain and receive the Torah. But how can this be an answer? We learned with regard to Ishmael that Hashem judged him as he was at that time. Even though his descendants would kill Benei Israel. We see that a person is not judged by his future actions but rather as he is now. So how could Hashem say that he will take them out of Mitzraim now because in the future Benei Israel would accept the Torah on this mountain? The answer is that Hashem does a tremendous chesed for Israel. When it’s something bad he does not judge them on something they have not yet done. But if it’s something good he counts it as if it was already done.
Why was it that Moshe thought the Benei Yisroel would not listen to him? Hashem said they would listen? Moshe heard Hashem say that he would harden Pharaohs heart and that Pharoh would not let them go. If after appearing before Pharoh and he would not listen how can I expect Benei Yisroel to listen?
The Arizal writes that Moshe was a Gilgul of Hevel. Why did Hevel deserve to die? When Hevel brought a sacrifice to Hashem he knew it was accepted because a fire came down and consumed it. Hevel stared at this fire and did not turn away. This is the reason he deserved to die. Moshe was the Tikun of this act because it says that when Moshe first came to the burning bush he turned his face away so as not to gaze at the Shechina. This is alluded to in the very name of Moshe mem, shin, hey. From (min) Shes and Hevel. The argument that Kayin and Hevel had is not mentioned in the Torah but the Midrash says that Kayin was born with a twin sister Hevel was born with two sisters. Kayin thought that he should be the one to have two wives since he was the bechor. So he killed Hevel. The seforim write that Tziporah was the Gilgul of that sister. So Moshe, by marrying Tziporah, fulfilled what was denied to Hevel. The name Tziporah equals in Gematria the word L’Moshe. Yisro was the Gilgul of Kayin as we learned in the Midrash, Yisro was an adviser to Pharoh.
When Moshe was a baby he would play in the presence of the king. Once while playing he removed the crown from Pharoh and placed it on his own head. Bilam, who at the time was an adviser, told Pharoh that this child was the future Jewish savior foretold by his astronomers and he must dispose of him before he takes over the kingdom. Yisro advised Pharoh to test Moshe with a diamond and a glowing coal. This saved Moshe’s life so it comes out that the Gilgul of Kayin fixed this Chet with the Gilgul of Hevel.
(3:22) “V’Shoalah Isha Mishechentah U’Migoras Baisah Klei Kesef Ukilei Zahav Usimolos V’samtem al Benechem-Every woman shall ask of her neighbor and those who dwell in her house, silver, gold and raiments and you shall put them on your sons and daughters.
When the women were hiding their newborn babies they would offer gifts to the Egyptians to keep them from reporting the births. Now they were asking for those gifts to be returned.
The Oznayim L’Torah writes that the parents should not feel it immoral to take from the Egyptians and hide what they were doing, rather they should place them on their children to show how those Egyptians who exposed their hiding places were now being paid back.
(4:1) “Lo Yishmu B’Koli-They will not listen to my voice” But Hashem said they would listen? Moshe did not argue that Israel will not believe in Hashem, he argued that Yisroel will not believe that I spoke with Hashem. We see this from the words exchanged between Moshe and Hashem.
(B’Koli vs L’Koli) In 3:18 Hashem says “V’shomu L’Kolecha-They will hearken to your voice.” This means they will hear in your voice Hashem’s words. L’Koli implies the words coming from a higher authority. However in this verse the words are “Lo Yishmu B’Koli.” B’Koli hints that the words are mine not Hashem’s. This means that the words are coming from your voice, not from a higher authority, Hashem.
(4:2) “Vayomer Aylav Hashem Mahzeh B’yadeha-Hashem said to Moshe What is in your hand?” The word “Mazeh”is written as one word but read two, which can be understood as “Mi Zeh-from this.” From this rod you deserve to be punished for slandering Yisroel, saying they will not believe. If not for this skepticism the signs would have been unnecessary and Moshe would have been able to inspire the nation through hisprophecy and conviction. Thus the rod served a dual function. It helped Moshe perform the miracles plus it turned into a snake to remind him that he slandered Yisroel. Later it even became the instrument of his sin striking the rock twice and becoming denied entry into the land.
(4:9) “V’hoyo L’dam B’yabosheh-And it will be blood on the ground.” Moshe was given the additional sign of turning water into blood. Why was this needed? Seeing blood sends a serious message. This was not going to be some magic trick or slight of hand. Often the mere sight of blood can cause a person to faint. Hashem wanted the Jews to know that Moshe was coming to avenge the innocent blood of those cast into the Nile. This would send a stark message that Elokim would be working in the capacity of strict justice and that all of their years of oppression would be avenged.
(4:14) “Vayichar Af Hashem B’Moshe Vayomer Halo Aharon Achicha Ha’Levi- The wrath of Hashem burned against Moshe and he said “Is there not Aharon your brother the Levite?” Whenever the Torah uses the phrase “Wrath of Hashem” there are consequences involved. Here Rashi points out, that the use of the word “Ha’Levi” implies that Moshe lost the opportunity to be the Kohen Gadol. Moshe was projecting his own inadequacies on to his brother. Moshe’s reasoning for refusing the position of leader was due to the fact that he felt his older brother was more deserving. Had Moshe been passed over for a younger sibling he would have felt resentment. However Hashem testifies that this was not the case. Aharon was coming out to meet him and held no reservations about Moshe leading the nation. This Lev Tov was a trait Moshe lacked and was essential for the priesthood thus it was taken from Moshe.
(4:17)“V’es Hamateh Hazeh Tikach B’yadecha-And this staff shall you take in your hands.”
The staff that Moshe took with him was one of the ten things created just before the first Shabbos in the twilight of creation. Adom handed it down to Noach and it survived the flood. It
was further passed on to Avraham, Yitzchok, Yakov and Yosef. After Yosef’s death it became part of Pharoh’s treasure. Yisro, who was one of Pharoh’s advisors, knew there was something unique about it and took it with him when he left Egypt. He placed it in the ground in Midian where no one was able to remove it. Only the savior of the Jews would be able to remove it from the earth. Moshe came to Midian and recognized the engraving on the staff to be Loshon Kodesh. Engraved on the staff was one of Hashem’s mystical names plus an abbreviation of the Ten Plagues that Hashem was to bring to Egypt. Also engraved on the staff were the names of the Patriarchs, the Matriarchs and Yakov’s twelve sons. Although being made of sapphire, it was quite heavy, however Moshe was able to lift it with one hand. This indicated to Yisro that the savior of Israel had arrived. Only someone who could carry the history of a nation with him, would be worthy of that role. He then gave his oldest daughter to him for a wife.
At the end of the Parsha Pharoh tells Benei Yisroel that they will have to produce the same amount of bricks as before but they will no longer be given straw to make the bricks. For this Pharoh was later punished Midah Kinegged Midah. When he finally agreed to let Yisroel go Hashem hardened his heart. His Bechira was taken away. This is what Pharoh did to Benei Yisroel by taking away the straw he was making it impossible for them to accomplish their task. As we see in the next Posuk they weren’t able to meet their quota. In essence their Bechira was taken away. This is what allowed Hashem to prevent them from falling into the fiftieth gate of Tumah. Hashem took away this choice of falling further into Tumah.
At the end of the Parsha the Posuk says Benei Yisroel spread out all over Mitzraim to gather straw. The word used is “Vayofetz” the same word used by the generation of the tower of Bavel. When Hashem spread out the Dor’ Hafloga the word used is also “Vayofetz”. The Arizal says that this was a Tikun for that generation. Benei Yisroel are the second edition of the original man. "Atem Keruyim Adom-You are called Man" Their mission in this world was and is to correct the failings of the previous generations. Now a process had begun that would culminate in the Ten Macos which paralleled the Ten Mamoros through which the world was created.
Perhaps we can suggest that the reason Hashem made it harder for Benei Yisroel at the end of this Shibud was to weed out those who really had Emunah from those who lacked true Emunah. Also to bring out the underlying viciousness of the Egyptians for they would harass the Jews whenever they were found searching for straw in their fields. This was done so they could not later complain about the plagues befalling them by saying "It was Pharoh who refused to let you go, we did nothing to deserve this?" So through this “Mekoshesh Kash” Benei Yisroel brought out the true nature of the Egyptians. In essence they were gathering the Tumah of the Egyptians. This is hinted in the word “Likoshesh” which equals 730 the same as the word “Titzuraim” which means to harass.
(4:22) Koh Omar Hashem- Beni Bechori Yisroel-So said Hashem my first born son is Israel.” When Pharaoh refuses to let Yisroel go Moshe is to tell him that Israel is his firstborn son? What relevance does this have here? Besides how can Israel be considered firstborn when they were in fact the last nation of that time to emerge? Rashi says that this is where Hashem confirmed Yakov’s taking of the firstborn rights. The Maharal explains why here is the place to mention this. By Yakov taking the firstborn rights KlalYisroel is able to be the firstborn of the nations. The Chasam Sofer adds that just as Shabbos was the culmination of creation, it was the goal of the original plan. In other words although it was the end, the completion of creation, never the less it was the purpose of creation. So too Klal Yisroel although last on the scene was the purpose as well.
(4:23) “Henei Anochi Horeg es-Bincha B’chorecha - Behold I shall kill your firstborn son.”
Why is this prophecy told here a full twelve months prior to its happening? It appears that Hashem wanted to supply Moshe with some information which would temper any disappointment he might have at the long drawn out process of the broken promises by Pharoh. With this knowledge Moshe now knew that until he saw the Makos Bechorous there was no reason to believe that Pharoh was ready to give in or that Hashem was finished with him.( Ohr Hachaim)
(5:19) “Lo Sigru M’Livainim-Don’t diminish the quota of bricks.” The word for bricks L’vainim can also be read L’Beinim - To Bonim as in children.The Midrash explains that if they were short bricks the were forced to substitute a child in place of a brick in the wall.