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The Fathers Within Ourselves

04/01/13 09:02:34


R Pesach Siegel

The following Torah thoughts are based on the words of Mori VeRabi Harav Mordechai Gifter, zichrono livracha. The yartzeit of the Rosh Yeshiva is this Friday night, the 23rd of Teves.

The Fathers Within Ourselves

Parshas Shmos 5773

The parshah begins with the words “These are the names of the Bnei Yisroel who are coming to Mitzrayim together with Yaakov.”[1]

This is almost identical to what is written in Parshas Vayigash, “These are the names of the Bnei Yisroel who are coming to Mitzrayim, Yaakov and his sons.”[2]

The posuk in Parshas VaYigash gives Yaakov Avenu a primary role, as it says that Yaakov came to Mitzrayim with his sons.

The posuk in this week’s parshah places the emphasis on the Bnei Yisroel. They came to Mitzrayim. They came together with Yaakov.


Why is the passage that was already written in Parshas VaYigash repeated in Parshas Shmos?[3]

Why is the posuk in Parshas Shmos written as if it were happening in the present? The Bnei Yisroel had already gone down to Mitzrayim in Parshas VaYigash.

Why is the order reversed? In Parshas VaYigash it states that Yaakov went with his sons. In Parshas Shmos it says that the sons went with Yaakov.


The posuk says in Shir HaShirim, “Kol dodi hinei zeh ba medaleg al heharim” – The voice of my beloved behold it is coming, skipping over the mountains.[4]

The medrash says in the name of Rabi Yehudah, Hashem searched among the righteous acts of the Bnei  Yisroel and found them lacking. They possessed not the merits to be redeemed from exile. They would therefore remain in exile for all eternity. Hashem turned his gaze to the mountains. There He found the hope of the nation. They are to be redeemed due to the merits of the mountains. Who are the mountains? They are the bedrock of the nation. They are the Avos HaKedoshim, Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov.[5]

There is a similar medrash to be found concerning Moshe and Aharon.

The posuk in Parshas Bo says, “HaChodesh hazeh lochem[6]” – The renewal of this month is yours. The medrash explains that Hashem is addressing His words to Moshe and Aharon. He found the Bnei Yisroel empty of merit. They had no zechus among them to merit redemption. Hashem found nothing, until His search came upon Moshe and Aharon. In their merit the Bnei Yisroel will be redeemed. The renewal of the Bnei Yisroel in the month of Nissan belongs to Moshe and Aharon, thus “HaChodesh hazeh lochem[7]” – the renewal of the month is yours, Moshe and Aharon. It is yours alone.

The medrash explains with a parable. A king searched for a bride. One maiden under consideration was about to be ruled out due to her poverty. The king’s advisors told the king, “All that she possesses is two golden nose rings.” The king replied, “Indeed, she has two golden nose rings. She is suited to be my bride.”

The words of the medrash reveal depth and meaning. A maiden who has no precious possessions has no bond with value and preciousness. She may not marry the king. If, despite her poverty, she managed to preserve two golden nose rings, that is a sure sign that she has majesty buried deep within. The poverty covers it over. But she values precious things and has an appreciation for them. She is worthy of them.

Although externally, the Bnei Yisroel do not seem to possess a single merit, this is only on the surface. Had this been true, they would be incapable of producing ones such as Moshe and Aharon. Moshe and Aharon are very much a product of the Bnei Yisroel.

The existence of Moshe and Aharon are evidence that the Bnei Yisroel are worthy of becoming the “Bride of the King”. Their majesty is deeply buried, but it is revealed through the emergence of Moshe and Aharon.

The same holds true for the Avos HaKedoshim.

The posuk says in Tehillim, “Esa einai el heharim mayin yavo ezri” – From where will come my deliverance? I lift up my eyes to the mountains.[8]

When one is in need of deliverance and he doesn’t manage to find any source of deliverance within himself. He finds himself devoid of all merit. Let his gaze rise up to the mountains. The mountains are the Avos HaKedoshim. The Avos HaKedoshim are within him. He is a product of the Avos. He is born from them. He is an extension of them. Although the spark of the Avos is deeply buried, it is there, nonetheless. When one succeeds in coming in contact with one’s true essence, and discovers the good within, then he merits salvation, as the posuk continues, “Ezri me’im Hashem.”


Parshas VaYigash relates the fact that the Bnei Yisroel went down into exile. Yaakov Avenu went down with his children.

The posuk in Parshas Shmos is not needed to tell us this. The purpose of the passage in Parshas Shmos is to teach us how one goes down into exile.

It is a lesson for all exiles. It is a lesson that must constantly remain in our present.

We go down into Mitzrayim with Yaakov. The “Yaakov” referred to in this posuk is not necessarily Yaakov, the person. In order to survive golus, we, the Bnei Yisroel must go down with the Yaakov Avenu inside of ourselves. Although we will undoubtedly come under the influence of the surrounding society, as long as we are recognizable as “einiklach” (grandchildren) of the Avos, we possess the wherewithal to be released from bondage.

May these words serve as a form of strength and comfort in our day and age when we find ourselves so challenged and engulfed by our surroundings. Klal Yisroel is at the stage when we are barely recognizable from the surrounding nations. Let us find the Avos HaKedoshim within ourselves.

May we be zoche to sing out the words of praise, “Elokei Avi va’aromimenhu!”[9]


[1] Shmos, perek 1, posuk 1

[2] Breishis perek 46, posuk 8

[3] Ramban, perek 1, posuk 1

[4] Shir HaShirim, perek 2, posuk 8

[5] Medrash Rabbah, Shmos, 15,4

[6] Shmos, perek 12, posuk 2

[7] Medrash Rabbah, Shmos, 15,3

[8] Tehillim, perek 121, posuk 1

[9] Shmos, perek 15, posuk 2

Sat, September 19 2020 1 Tishrei 5781