Sunday, January 28, 2007

why leave in the spring?

Parshat Bo

The potential question for this weeks shabbos table discussion is:

At the end of the parsha this week Moshe tells the Jewish people that they should remember this day that they are leaving Egypt and not eat chametz, etc.. He then says in 13:4, "היום אתם יוצאים בחודש האביב" - This day you are leaving in the month of the spring.

Rashi points out that we already know when they are leaving, so why does it need to be siad specifically in this fashion?

Rashi explains that it is telling us the great chessed that Hashem did for them that He took the nation out in the spring when the weather is pleasant, rather than in hot or cold weather when it would have been less pleasant.

My question is, why is this such a big chessed - we know the Jews were encircled and protected by the ananei hakavod - the clouds of glory - and they were a form of climate control. We know they were not affected by the weather and elements because of the clouds. So who cares what the weather was like when they left?

My initial thoughts are that while it is true that when they left Egypt they were not affected by the weather, however they did not know that would be the case. They knew they were about to leave Egypt and maybe they were nervous that they were running out in the heat or cold. So Moshe, to allay their concerns told them that Hashem scheduled it as a chessed that they are leaving in pleasant weather. Even though the facts are that it would not matter later. It was to calm their fears.

Answer: I still think there might be something to the above answer I suggested, I now have a better answer. My 7 year old son gave me an answer that I think is correct.

I asked the question at the shabbos table and he answered right away.The ananei hakavod were only put into place when bnei yisroel travelled from Sukkos, which at the beginning of parshat B'Shalach we see was on the second day after having left Egypt. The first day they travelled from Ra'amses to Sukkos and did not yet have the clouds of glory or the pillars of fire.

That being the case, they needed the good weather for that cloudless day.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Why all the threats

Parshat Va'eira

I am not sure yet, but I think I already have this weeks possible question. Let me know what you think and possible answers.... Here goes..

Hashem told Moshe he would be hardening Pharoahs heart and make Pharoah refuse to let the Jews leave. If Moshe knew that in advance, and he had the experience of seeing Pharoah agree to let them go and then reverse his decision (as happened a couple of times), why did he go through the charades?

Throughout the plagues Moshe approaches Pharoah and demands the right to leave. He uses it as a threat and ultimatum.. Why does he press the point so much? He knows Pharoah is not in control and cannot let them go. So just give it a mention, but why all the threats?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

How old was Moshe?

Parshat Shmos

This weeks shabbos table question was about Moshe growing up. I began: Moshe was born and as a baby was hidden for 3 months and then placed in a basket/ark in the Nile River. Batya, the daughter of Pharoah found him and "rescued" him.

The child would not eat from Batya's wetnurses, so she was given to Miriam and Yocheved to take care of. Eventually they had to return the child to Batya. The Passuk does not say how old the child was when returned, and that might be the source of the answer to the question.

We are then told that Moshe grew up in the palace of Pharoah. At some point, he went outside to see "his brothers". Rashi says he went out to see how his brothers the Jews were doing. He saw an Egyptian fighting with a Jew and Moshe interceded and slaid the Egyptian.

My question is, how did Moshe know to go see his brothers the Jews, and why would he defend the Jew against the Egyptian? He was raised as an Egyptian prince in the palace of Pharoah, not as a Jew. He should have had more powerful feelings for his Egyptian identity than his Jewish one, if he even knew he was Jewish at that point.

It probably depends on how old Moshe was when Miriam/Yocheved returned him to Batya.

On the one hand, Moshe was probably returned to Batya right when he passed the stage of needing a wetnurse. Meaning, he was probably somewhere in the range of 2 years old. Maybe 3. Maybe 1. But somewhere between 1 and 3. If that is the case, he would not have known he was Jewish or would hardly have known, so the question is strong.

On the other hand, maybe his return was delayed a bit. Maybe they kept him in their care a bit longer and had the opportunity to teach him about his heritage before they had to return him. If that is the case, the question is weaker. He would have known at least a little bit about being Jewish and what was happening to his people. He could have been curious so he went out to see what was really happening to them and then came upon an Egyptian beating to death the Jew so he defended him.

My 7 year old son thought that Yocheved and Miriam probably had a chance to tell Moshe who he was and that would answer the question. It seems to make more sense in the context of the Parsha.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

did he ever find out

Parshat Vaichi

Did Yaakov ever find out what his children had done to Yosef?

On the one hand when Yaakov dies the borthers tell Yosef that their father insisted Yosef not take revenge on them and harm them. That indicates he knew what they had done and was considered he would take the opportunity of his death to avenge the old fight.

On the other hand, if he knew, why did he not censure them (all the kids) when he gave the brachos, like he censured Shimon and Levi for their actions against Shchem and Chamor? So maybe he did not know.

But if he did not know, when all of the sudden Yosef show up as Prime Minister of Egypt, was he not curious where Yosef had been and what had happened to him for the past 22 years and how and why he disappeared? He must have asked some questions - how did they all answer those questions?