(13:17)“Vayehe Beshalach Pharoh es Ha'am- And it was when Pharoh sent out the nation.”
Whenever it says the word “Vayehe” it’s always a loshon of impending tzarus. Here after more than two hundred years of servitude, Benei Yisroel is finally released, it should be a time of great celebration? Why is it expressed in a loshon of sorrow? Secondly we find throughout the Torah that Hashem expresses the fact that He took us out of Mitzraim. Here in our parsha when the event is actually taking place it is credited to Pharoh? The Zohar says that whenever the word Ha'am is used it refers to the Eruv Rav that left with Benei Yisroel. This is why the loshon of sorrow is used here, because they were the cause of much of the dissent that occurred during the forty years in the Midbar. The word Ha'am used again when there were complaints at the Yam Suf and again by the lack of water. Later in the parsha we find that all the people were complaining. The influence of the Eruv Rav had already begun to take effect. It was Pharoh who sent out the Eruv Rav in order to insure that Benei Yisroel would return after the three days. Thus the use of the word "Vayehe" was justified.
Another answer is that the sorrow here was due to the fact that only one fifth of Klal Yisroel actually left. The other 80 percent died during the plague of darkness. Which begs the question, Why? Why did millions of Jews have to die in one week? If they merely refused to leave, why not just let them fall into the 50th level of Tumeh. Why did they deserve to all die? We have learned that when Moshe encountered Hashem by the Burning Bush, he argued as to what merit Israel had to warrant their redemption? Hashem replied that they will stand at the foot of this mountain and accept the Torah. Through that merit they would be able to be absolved from the sin of Idol worship they were guilty of. But those who refused to leave would have no way of absolution and therefore died in the plague of darkness. Had they been allowed to remain in Egypt it would have been a tremendous Chilul Hashem.
But perhaps we can offer a different explanation. The question was raised as to why the frogs that had not offered themselves to be thrown in the ovens died. Why would Hashem destroy His creations. One answer given was that the overpopulation of frogs was unnatural. It was merely done to harass the Egyptians. Once this was accomplished there was no longer a need for so many frogs, so Hashem reverted their numbers back to only what was ecologically needed.
Perhaps we can say the same with regard to the unnatural growth spurt of the Jewish population? For years they were reproducing in totally unnatural numbers, all for the purpose of harassing the Egyptians. Now that they were leaving Egypt there no longer was a need for that many of them. Therefore Hashem reduced their numbers back to the core 600,000 souls.
After a year of miracles and revelations how could anyone refuse to leave? For 210 years the Jews endured harsh slavery and mental torture in the form of being denied the satisfaction of seeing any fruits of their labors. All of their construction ended up sinking into the sands. Now after the arrival of Moshe and Aharon the servitude ended and they were able to enjoy a full year of living in the highly advanced Egyptian society. Now the temptation was great not to leave.
(13:17)“V'lo Nacham Derech Eretz Phlishtim Ki Karuv Hu- Hashem did not lead them through the land of the Philistines because it was close.” The reasoning for this was lest they see war and want to return to Egypt. After four hundred and thirty years of slavery would Benei Yisroel run back to Egypt at the first sign of trouble? And the very next posuk says that they were armed? According to the Ohr Hachaim the words “Ki Koruv Hu” is referring to the Eruv Rav and the reasoning is that they who had it good in Egypt would certainly be the first to run back since they had just recently been converted.
Another interpretation is that when the inhabitants of Canaan heard about the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt, they began burning all of the trees and vegetation of the land so that the Jews would not benefit from them. The words “Ki Koruv Hu” means that the time was too close. Hashem wanted to wait a period of time in order that the land once again be restored for Klal Yisroel.(Mechilta)
(13:17)“Vayehe Beshalach Pharoh es Ha'am V’lo Nochom Elokim Derech Eretz Pelishtim- And it was when Pharoh sent out the nation.” It says that when Hashem took Benei Yisroel out of Mitzraim he didn't take them through the land of the Philistines “Ki Koruv Hu” (which was close) because perhaps they will see war and want to return to Miztraim. But before this parsha is over they do see war with Amalek anyway? So what was the point in not taking them the direct way? Rashi says that the tribe of Efraim counted the 400 years of servitude from the Bris Bain Habesarim. They believed the time of the redemption was 30 years earlier and they left before the right time and were all killed. That’s why it says Hashem didn't want to take them the direct way “ki koruv” koruv also means relative. Benei Yisroel would have seen war in the form of the graves of their relatives and would have been scared into returning to Mitzraim.
The question that remains is how could the tribe of Ephraim have escaped? We have learned that no slave was ever successful in escaping Mitzrayim? The Sifsei Kohen writes that they were never actually slaves they were of noble birth, direct descendants of Yosef and since the idol Baal Tzfone only stopped slaves, they were able to escape.
In the beginning of the parsha the words “ha'am” are mentioned three times. First when Pharoh is sending out the nation. Second it says “lest they see war and wish to return to Mitzraim.” And third when it says Hashem took them by the way of the Midbar. The fourth time the nation is mentioned it says “Benei Yisroel.” Why this change of terms? Also it says they came up “chamushim” (armed). But Hashem fought for them why should they need to mention that they are armed? They had just come out and were not accustomed to using weapons. The Kli Yakur says that the word “chamushim” means prepared. They were prepared with the Chamishe Chumshe Torah. But that is difficult to say since at this time they weren't prepared yet to receive the Torah. It was only after they had acquired proper Emuna could they be ready to receive the Torah. That emunah was manifested in the act of going out into the wilderness without questioning how they would survive. By doing this they showed great faith. That would explain why they are called Benei Yisroel here in this posuk after they showed their faith. However when the posuk calls them “ha'am” it is referring to the Eruv Rav, which is why they were sent out by Pharoh and not that Hashem sent them out.
Another explanation of the word “Chamushim” cited by Rashi is that only one fifth came out of Mitzraim. The other four fifths died in the plague of darkness. However this would not appear to be the place to mention this. At the end of parshas Bo the Torah records how many went out, Six hundred thousand. That is where it should have hinted to how many died. Here where the Torah is praising Benei Yisroel for their faith in following Hashem into the wilderness, is not the place to mention those who lacked faith, those who died?
The Targum Yonason says the word “Chamushim” means when Benei Yisroel came out of Mitzraim they each had five children. The question is how could this be? We learned that when they were having children in Mitzraim they had six at a time. Also how could they all have had the same amount? The Targum Yerushalmy says “Chamushim” means armed with good deeds (Ma'sim Tovim). Why good deeds? The fact that they had faith to go into the Midbar without knowing where they would get their next meal is not a good deed but rather a case of Emunah. The answer is that it might be true that four fifths died but that does not take into account the children? They didn't deserve to die? What it means then is that each family took in an additional four orphaned families of children and now had five families of children. They had their own plus four fifths of the newly orphaned. This also explains the Targum Yerushalmy. The good deeds they are referring to are the fact that they would take in all these children even though they had no idea how they would sustain them.
(13:19) “Vayikach Moshe es Atzmas Yosef Imo-And Moshe took the bones of Yosef with him” This would not seem to be the place to mention this? Klal Yisroel had already left Mitzrayim at this point. Perhaps we can say that since this parsha is the parsha of Kriyas Yam Suf and Klal Yisroel were about to be finally saved from the Egyptians completely. As the verse reads (14:14) “Hashem Yilochem Lochem V’atem Tachrishun-Hashem will battle for you while you hold your peace.”It was necessary for their rescue to include the bones of Yosef. As the verse says Vayar Vayonos-The sea saw and (fled) split.” The same wording was used when Yosef fled from the wife of Potifar. What it saw was the bones of Yosef. Meaning just as he went beyond his nature to resist the temptations of Potifar’s wife, so too the sea went beyond its nature to split. The gematria of the words “Vayikach Moishe es Atzmas Yosef” equal the words “Hashem Yilochem Lochem V’atem Tachrishun.”
(13:19 "Vehalisem es Atzmosai Mizeh Eschem-You shall bring up my bones from here with you." The word "Mizeh" in this verse seems extra? What is the Torah coming to include with it? The Ohr Hachaim is bothered by this and explains that Yosef made his brothers swear that they would take his remains with them when they left Egypt. He considered it as repayment for all he did for them while in Egypt. This would compensate for the time they separated themselves from their brotherhood with him. When Yakov sent him to Shechem to seek out his brothers, he did not find them there. An angel told him that they had left from there. The wording being "Nasu Mizeh" they had left from here Mizeh-from Zeh=12. They left from the unity of the 12. Yosef used the words Mizeh Eschem to indicate to them that if they fulfill their oath he would consider them as having re-installed him in their midst. In other words Yosef would forgive them posthumously if they kept their oath.
(14:2) “Dabaer el Benei Yisroel V’Yoshuvu-Speak to the Children of Yisroel to return.” Three days after leaving Egypt, Hashem tells the newly freed Benei Yisroel to turn back towards Egypt, give up your newly acquired freedom, cease running towards safety and put yourselves in the clutches of your oppressors. Why? Because it is Hashem’s will. Earlier we learned (3:18) that Hashem told Moshe to tell Pharoh that Benei Yisroel would be going out for three days to sacrifice to Hashem. In posuk (10:26) Moshe tells Pharoh that even he doesn’t know what Hashem will request of them until we get there. Whatever happened to those sacrifices? Was the three day journey they spoke of a lie? Perhaps we can say that the sacrifice after three days was here. No animal sacrifice, but rather the giving up of the new freedom they had just attained. The sacrifice was to be willing to turn back simply because it was the will of Hashem.
(14:2) “Vyachanu Lifnei Pi Hachirus- And they camped by Pi Hachirus.”This was the last Egyptian idol that remained. It was where the vast treasure collected by Yosef during the years of famine, was buried. Pharoh thought that Israel was there in order to loot the remaining riches of Egypt. Hashem orchestrated this in order to insure that the Egyptians would pursue. This treasure was far greater than anything borrowed earlier from the Egyptians. It was mostly this treasure that was used to build the Mishkon. In our day we find a strange parallel. Just as the Egyptians buried their treasure beneath a religious shrine in order to preserve it, so too, for more than 2000 years the treasure of the Beis Hamikdosh is buried under the Temple mount guarded by a religious shrine above it.
Rashi explains that the name Pi Hachirus is in part due to the freedom Israel had just acquired. But three days earlier they were free when they left Mitzrayim? Perhaps we can say that now that the last barrier had been removed they were never returning to Egypt. The last remaining idol was spared for this encounter with Yisroel. In part to lure Pharoh into thinking his God had any power, and in part to test Yisroel in order to see if they had abandoned idol worship.
(14:3) “Vayomer Pharoh el Benei Yisroel-And Pharoh said to Benei Yisroel” How could Pharoh speak to Benei Yisroel three days after they had left? The answer is this was Doson and Aviram the two names that come up every time there is trouble amongst Israel. They are credited with revealing to Pharoh that Moshe killed an Egyptian. Many other evil acts are credited to them. The question is how were they able to survive the plague of darkness? Should they not have died with the 80% of Israel that refused to go? The answer is that when Hashem caused all of those Jews to perish during the plague of darkness, Moshe asked Hashem how this could be? Hashem replied that he will spare two of them and when we will see the results we will understand why all of the others had to perish. From here we can surmise that the four fifths that died in the plague of darkness were all like Doson and Aviram.
(14:5) “Voyaged L’Melech Mitzrayim Ki Vorach H’am-And it was told to the King of Egypt that the nation had fled.” The Rebeinu Bachya writes that Pharoh was told about the Bris ben Habasarim, where Avraham was told that his descendants would remain slaves for four hundred years. Since the four hundred years were not yet completed, Pharoh wished to bring Yisroel back. This is the meaning of the word “Vorach” which equals 210 in gematria.
(14:22) "Vayovou Benei Yisroel B'toch Hayom B'yabasha V'hamayim Lohem Chomah-The children of Israel came within the sea on dry land and the waters were a wall for them." Later on in posuk 29 the exact words are repeated. There is a difference in the spelling of the word Chomah-wall which is spelled without a “vav” the second time. This spelling allows for the reading of the word to be Cheima-anger. The Midrash explains this to mean that the walls were angered at the nation. What did it see to cause this anger? It saw an object used for idol worship being carried through the split sea. This is why the second mentioning contains this deficient spelling of the word. For it was now at the end of the miracle when the Egyptians were being drowned that the walls were angered. The accusers were saying why are they any different than the ones being drowned? Both are idol worshipers.
How could this be? How could someone carry an idol through the sea? Earlier when Moshe witnessed the Egyptians using Jewish babies to fill in for bricks he asked Hashem how could He allow this to happen? Hashem told him he should save one of the children. That baby was Micha. When Benei Yisroel were leaving Mitzrayim Moshe was searching for the coffin of Yosef. He was told that Yosef’s coffin was sunk beneath the Nile River. Moshe used a certain plate with the words Alei Shor written on it and cast it into the Nile. The words mean "Arise ox" (a reference to Yosef). The coffin rose to the surface. Micha witnessed this and took this plate because he thought it contained mystical powers. At the time of the sin of the Eigel he threw that plate into the donated gold and the golden calf came out. This is what he was carrying through the Red Sea. This is what it means that the walls were angered at the nation. Whenever a tremendous revelation occurs, an equal measure of doubt is generated as well. By bringing this mystical plate through the Red Sea a slight doubt was cast on the event.
(14:22) "Vayovou Benei Yisroel B'toch Hayom B'yabasha V'hamayim Lohem Chomah-The children of Israel came within the sea on dry land and the waters were a wall for them." As mentioned above later on in posuk 29 the words are repeated but this time we find a minor change in the order. “U’Benei Yisroel Holchu B’Yabasha B’Toch Hayam V’Hamayim Lohem Chomeh- The children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea, the water was a wall for them.” The difference again is the spelling of the word Chomah-wall which is spelled without a “vav” the second time. But also this time the Torah says they went on dry land into the sea. Before it said they went into the sea on dry land? Why the change in spelling and why was it necessary to repeat this information at all?
The Torah records that the sea did not split until Nachshon ben Aminadov jumped into the waters and they reached up until his nostrils, however it says (14:21) “Vayet Moshe es Yado al Hayam Vayolech Hashem es Hayam B'ruach Kodim Azoh kol Halayloh-Moshe stretched out his arm over the sea, and Hashem moved the sea with a strong east wind all the night.” Now if the sea split for Nachshon ben Aminadov how can we say that Moshe split the sea?
The different spelling of the word Chomah-wall allows for the reading of the word to be Cheima-anger. The Midrash explains this to mean that the walls were angered at the nation. If so why use the term only in the second verse?
The answer is that there was two splittings of the sea. The first was by Nachshon ben Aminadov. He along with all those of tremendous faith entered into the sea before it split. We know that whenever there is transcendence to another level there is also a test of Emunah. When Klal Yisroel left Mitzraim it was a gift. They did not work on themselves to deserve their freedom. This is one of the tremendous lessons that holds true in every aspect of life. We are first given a tremendous lift, undeserving and then it is taken away. When something is new there is an excitement that is artificially given to portray a potential that could be attained. That potential can only be achieved through building and working. But the gift is given to show what could be attained.
Now that Klal Yisroel experienced that potential it became necessary for them to earn that closeness to Hashem. As they stood at the edge of the sea Moshe was told this is not the time to pray. Rather it was the time to act. Nachshon ben Aminadov acted, he jumped into the sea and as the waters reached up until his nostrils he was no longer visible. He was the first. But on the shore of the sea no one saw what had become of him. The sea split for him alone but only he was aware of it. Then more of the righteous displayed their total Emunah. They each jumped into the sea and each was swallowed by the water not knowing what had become of the others. Thousands of believers proved their faith as they were prepared to give themselves over into the hands of Hashem. Again and again the sea split for each believer individually as they disappeared into the waters. Until finally there was silence. All that remained were those of lesser faith, the Eruv Rav, the Nation plus Moshe. Moshe then lifted his hands skyward and the sea split. Suddenly all those who had entered the sea before became visible. The sea became a transparent wall on each side of them. This time the word for wall- Chomah is spelled without the “Vav” without the letter of connection. This time it could be read as anger for the lack of faith that those now entering had exhibited. But Moshe brought up the rear. He was the last to cross over the sea and he kept the waters from crashing down upon those of lesser faith, the Eruv Rav. This explains why the Midrash says the walls were angered at the nation only in the second verse. Because it was only now that those crossing were undeserving of such a miracle. This is also why we read first that they went into the sea and then it became dry land. Whereas the second time we find that they went on dry land into the sea.
(14:25) "Ki Hashem Nilcham Lochem B'Mitzrayim-For Hashem battles for you in Egypt." The Midrash comments that it was not only against Egypt, but against anyone who would oppress Israel to the ends of time. This is based on the root of the word Mitzrayim which is plural of the noun Tzorar to oppress.(Mechilta)
(14:30) “Vayar Yisroel es Mitzrayim Mase al Sefas Hayom- Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea-shore.” The verse does not say Benei Yisroel but rather just Yisroel. The Zohar writes that this Yisroel refers to Yakov Avinu. Hashem had promised Yisroel that he would see his descendants come out of the Golus. Yakov being resurrected was one of the many miracles that occurred at the sea.
(14:31) "Vayar Yisroel es Hayad Hagedolah-and Yisroel saw the great hand." This refers to when it all began. The large hand is the hand of Bas Pharoh which extended far beyond its reach to retrieve the basket containing Moshe from the Nile.
(15:1) "Az Yashir Moshe-Then Moshe began to sing." How could anyone sing when 80% if Benei Yiroel had just recently perished? Each surviving family must have had someone they knew or a relative die? We have learned that this is a reference to the resurrection of the dead in future times. Only after knowing the possibility of resurrection could they sing.
(15:20) "Vatikach Miriam Hanevia Achos Aharon-Miriam the prophetess sister of Aharon." The Kli Yakar writes that she is called the prophetess sister of Aharon to point out that her prophecy was equal to that of Aharon but not equal to Moshe. Also she said her prophecy when she was just the sister of Aharon before Moshe was born.
(15:25) "Vayoreihu Hashem Eitz-Hashem showed him a tree." There is a difference of opinion what this tree was. An olive tree or some other bitter wood. The Zohar writes that it was Torah. This fits in with what was later said that we learn from here not to go three days without learning Torah and that it was taught at that time. The verse goes on to say they were tested there. The woman were suspected of being unfaithful back in Egypt. The waters were the waters of a Sotah which are bitter and which contain passages of Torah in them.
(16:16) "Zeh Hadovor Asher Tzivoh Hashem -This is the the thing that Hashem commanded " Meam Loez writes that this verse contains every letter of the Aleph Beis. This teaches us that if one immerses himself in the study of Torah he will have a livelihood without toil just as they had in the Midbar.
Rabeinu Bachya writes that this verse contains two significant themes. 1.The significance of the Aleph Beis 2. Parnassa. There is nothing in this world that is not rooted in the Aleph Beis and neither is there anything in the celestial spheres which does not require continues input by a heavenly force.
(16:21) "V'cham Hashemesh Vnmus-It heated in the sun and melted." Why did the Torah need to tells us that the Munn melted and why did Hashem make it this way? In order for Yisroel to be able to give Tzeddaka.
Those who delayed gathering the Munn in the morning were not able to supply food for their families that day. Those who did have Munn were able to give of their own thereby fulfilling the Mizvah of Tzeddaka.
(16:22) “Vayehe Beyom Hasheshe Likto Lechem Mishneh- And it was on the sixth day they gathered double portions of bread.” Again why does it say “Vayehe” a Loshon of tzar? The Midrash says that reshoim (the Wicked) benefit even in Gehinom from the crown of Shabbos. Even the wicked have some Masim Tovim (good deeds) and when do they get rewarded? On Shabbos, for even the wicked that was Mechalel Shabbos Befarhesya (desecrated the Sabbath openly). Shabbos is called “Sholem.” Therefore in order to have a full Oneg Shabbos they are punished twice on Friday hence the term “Vayeche” a Loshon of tzar, because on Yom Sheshe they are punished double.
We learned that by each plague that hit the Egyptians there was a Refuah for Benei Yisroel. By the plague of the first born there was an extra Makeh. Many houses had several deaths. This was because so many of the Egyptians were unfaithful that the household contained several bochorim. So during this makeh they each found out about their true family infidelities. Where do we find the comparable refuah by Benei Yisroel? By the Mann because it says that each family received a correct portion for each member of the family. This testified to the fact that each Jewish child was not fathered by anyone outside of Benei Yisroel.
After the incident of Amalek Hashem tells Moshe to speak into the ears of Yehoshua to remember what Amalek had done to Benei Yisroel. The Villna Goan says that this is because the words “Zachar Es asher Asa L'cha Amalek” could be pronounced Zochar Meaning male as opposed to Zachar meaning to remember. By speaking into the ears of Yehoshua the correct pronunciation would be given over to the generations.