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Parshas Bo part II

21/10/09 09:49:48


Rabbi Pesach Siegel



In the dawn of creation Hashem prepared the ultimate test for man. He created the serpent. A wily creature, master illusionist, capable of presenting right as wrong, dark as light. Hashem gave Adam one command. Had he heeded it, with the onset of Shabbos, Adam would have entered Olam Haba. The serpent could never have convinced Adam and Chava to blatantly disobey Hashem's explicit command. The serpent resorted to trickery. He convinced Chava that it was Hashem's will that she and Adam eat from the Eitz Hada'as. One can only completely worship Hashem by exercising one's free will to the fullest. One can reach great heights by descending to the lowest abyss and shining Hashem's light in the darkest of depths. It is a greater trial to serve Hashem after experiencing evil. (1) He propelled Chava towards the tree and she made contact with it. She didn't perish, contrary to what she had expected, supporting the serpent's point of view. (2)


   The serpent made an impression upon Chava. She changed as a result of his influence. He would have a share in everything she produced from then on. She passed this on to Adam by prevailing upon him to partake from the  fruit of the tree as well. The world would bear the imprint of the serpent upon it's nature. Through trickery, he effectively captured the world. (3)


   The Gaon MiVilna explains that one fights trickery with trickery. Any other tactic will be ineffective. (4)


   Eisav was born with an imprint of a snake upon his thigh. (5) This is a sign that his basic nature is that of the serpent. He was the "Bechor" - the first born. Yaakov Avenu, intent on recapturing the right of the first born, tricks Eisav. He waits for his opportunity, catches Eisav off guard when he is near death, and makes the trade, a bowl of lentils for the opportunity to be the primary servant of Hashem.


   The blessings of Avrohom Avenu were in danger from being passed on to Eisav. Yaakov "rescues" the brachos from the clutches of Eisav by way of an elaborate masquerade.


   Yaakov spent twenty years of his life by his uncle Lavan. The presence of Yaakov was a blessing to Lavan. He was bereft of sons prior to Yaakov's arrival, devoid of wealth.  Lavan was a deceiver par excellence. He tricked Yaakov into marrying his elder daughter, working at slave labor without any remuneration. He broke his contract with him one hundred times. Lavan was likened to a shape shifting snake. (6)


   Yaakov made Lavan an offer he could not refuse. He would give up all claims to the wages he had earned over the past six years, providing that the spotted, speckled, and striped offspring of the upcoming flock would belong to him. The female sheep would be isolated from all spotted, speckled, and striped male sheep.  


   The totality of Lavan's wealth passed to Yaakov's hands in this manner. Lavan was fooled.


   The enslavement of Yaakov by the hands of Lavan and his subsequent escape are a parallel to the bondage of the Bnei Yisroel in Mitzrayim and their redemption. One who brings Bikurim expresses his gratitude to Hashem by proclaiming, "Arami oved avi vayered Mitzrayma" -  Lavan the trickster attempted to destroy my father and we went down to Mitzrayim. (7)  The connection between these two themes becomes clear in light of the above. (8)


   Yaakov and his family went down to Mitzrayim. The wealth of the entire world followed them. Due to Yosef's counsel, Mitzrayim was the sole bastion of provisions during the years of famine. Mitzrayim held fast on to the Bnei Yisroel. They became the dominant world power.


   Mitzrayim was a serpent. (9)


   Pharaoh engaged in falsehood and Moshe exposed it. He proclaimed himself a deity, the waters of the Nile rose towards him at his approach. (This was actually due to the blessing he received from Yaakov Avenu). (10) A deity has no need to relieve himself. Moshe was specifically instructed to meet with Pharaoh early in the morning when he surreptitiously took care of his needs. (11) (We find similarly, Pharaoh laid claim to knowing all the existing languages and Yosef threatened to reveal his ignorance of Lashon HaKodesh).  (12)


   Pharaoh made assurances and didn't keep them. He slithered one way and then another. Moshe had Aharon turn his staff into a snake. The Chartumim duplicated this feat. Aharon's staff swallowed up those of the Chartumim. This is a sign that the trickery of the Egyptians is coming to it's end. The time has come to  out-trick the tricksters, beat the snakes at their own game.


   The Egyptians were filled with false confidence. The makos, some of them could be explained away, some of them their own Chartumim were equal to the task, and the final boost of confidence - the Bnei Yisroel could not leave without the consent of the Egyptians. (13)


The Final Trick


   Hashem instructed Moshe Rabeinu to demand of Pharaoh a three day leave, to allow the Bnei Yisroel to worship Him in purity. At the end of three days Moshe leads the Jews in a circuitous route, seemingly wandering aimlessly, in the vicinity of the sole Egyptian place of idol worship to survive the makos. The Jews are lost, they are not coming back, they are powerless in the face of the lone remaining Egyptian Avoda Zara. They pursue the Jews, back them up against the Yam Suf, and go in for the kill. It's a trap!!! But they are totally taken in. Their faith in the powers of Tumah remains intact. Hashem allowed it to be so. The waters part for the Jewish people and they follow. It parts for them as well. Until the last Jew left the Yam Suf and simultaneously the last Egyptian entered the sea. The Gaon of Vilna says that the greatest miracle of Yetzias Mitzrayim was that the Egyptians followed the Jews into the Yam Suf.


   In one fell swoop, the Jewish nation freed themselves from the clutches of the "Nachash", and the bounty of the entire world was returned to the faithful keepers of Adam HaRishon's destiny.


   Now it is crystal clear the importance of transferring from father to son the manner with which Hashem "played" with the Egyptians.




(1) Rambam, Moreh Navuchim, chelek 1, perek 2 / HaKsav VeHaKabala,   Parshas Breishis, perek 3, posuk5 / Be’er Mayim Chayim, ibid.

(2) Parshas Breishis, perek 3, posuk 4 – Rashi

(3) Meseches Yevamos, daf 103b

(4) Safra DiTzniusa, perek 3, paragraph – Ve’inyan haparsah

(5) Targum Unkelos, Parshas Toldos, perek 25, posuk 27 / Megaleh Amukos, Os 45 / Shalah, Sefer Breishis, Parshas Vayeshev, Miketz, Vayigash –Torah Ohr

(6) Ra’ayah Mehemna, Parshas Behar, daf 111b / Sharei Orah, HaShaar   Hashmini, Hasfira Hashlishis

(7) Parshas Ki Savo, perek 26, posuk 9

(8) Shalah, Meseches Pesachim, Biur HaHagadah

(9) Yechezkel, perek 29, posuk 3 / Medrash Rabbah, Shmos, Parsha 9,

      Piska 4

      10) Rashi, Parshas Vayigash, perek 47, posuk 10

      11) Rashi, Parshas Va’era, perek 7, posuk 15

 (12) Rashi, Parshas Vayechi, perek 50, posuk 6

 (13) See Rav Yonason Eibeshutz’s words in Part I (Parshas Va’eira)

Mon, August 10 2020 20 Av 5780