Torah Teaser – Parshat Va’eira Questions & Answers – January 27 2117-5777

Levi’s Tears Go A Long Way In the beginning of Parshas VaEirah the Torah tells us the children of Reuven, Shimon, and Levi. With Levi, the Torah goes into great detail and then does not continue with the other Shevatim. If the whole purpose was to document Moshe and Aharon’s lineage, why start with Reuven? Rav Eliezer HaGadol Ashkenazi in his classic, Maasei Hashem, says that the Torah is teaching us why Levi’s descendants played a central role in Yetzias Mitzrayim and not the descendants of his older brothers. He says that Levi foresaw and felt the pain of the upcoming Tzaros and gave his children names hinting towards the galus. Gershon, that they would be strangers in a strange land; Kehos, weak and battered; Mirori, they would lead bitter lives. This is seen in the wording of the parsha when documenting each family. By Reuven it says, “The heads of the families were…” By Shimon it says, “The children of Shimon…” By Levi it says, “These are the names of the children of Levi.” It was the tears shed behind these names that not only helped save his family from being pulled into slavery, but it also made this family the worthy redeemers of the Bnei Yisrael. It says in the last perek of Yeshaya (66:10) regarding the Binyan Bais HaMikdash, “Sisu Ita Masos Kol Hamisablim Aleha; Rejoice those who mourned over her.” Those who cry most in the Galus are the ones who are zocheh to merit rejoicing in the Geula.

Paroh Suspects Moshe Has Inside Information By Makas Tfardei’a Moshe asks Paroh, “When shall I daven for the frogs to go away?” Paroh answers, “Tomorrow.” The Ramban asks, “Why did Paroh not want them to go away immediately?” He answers that Paroh suspected that Moshe knew the Maka was about to end and, therefore, Paroh wanted to test Moshe to see if he had any control over the frogs, or he just knew the secret of when the maka would end. Rav Chaim Kanievsky says that this Ramban is hard to understand, since Paroh summoned Moshe to the palace, this meeting could not have been planned by Moshe to coincide with the end of the Maka. Rav Chaim suggests a different explantion for Paroh’s delay. “Paroh, for the first time, agreed verbally to let Bnei Yisrael leave Mitzrayim. He then asked Moshe to daven to make the frogs go away. He fully expected Moshe to say that he will do so once the Bnei Yisrael are safely out of Mitzrayim. Yet, he didn’t, and he asked Paroh when he wanted the Maka to end. When Paroh heard this he suspected that Moshe knew that the time was now, and therefore, did not hold it over Paroh’s head as a guarantee that he live by his word. Therefore, Paroh asked him to daven only tomorrow to see if indeed the frogs would stick around until then.”

What Killed the Frogs? After Makas Arov all the animals disappeared, Rashi (Va’eira 8:27) explains that unlike the frogs who died and littered the land, Hashem did not want the Mitzrim to enjoy the hides and furs of the animals. “Why did the frogs die?” asks the Kli Yakar. “It could not be in order to make them suffer with the smell, because if so, the Arbeh should have been left to litter the land as well. The Kli Yakar says that the frogs died to teach us a lesson about Kiddush Hashem. Hashem commanded the frogs to go into everything including the burning ovens. Most frogs chose the more comfortable locations like the houses, courtyards, and the fields. Only a select few were brave enough to be Moser Nefesh and jump into the ovens. All the frogs died except for those as we see the pasuk says (8:9), “Vayamusu HaTzafrdim Min HaBatim Min HaChatzeiros U’Min HaSados.” The pasuk does not say that the frogs in the ovens died. The lesson is that if you are Moser Nefesh, you can save yourself. This was the lesson learned so well by Chananya, Mishael, and Azarya. Trying to save yourself rather than show true mesiras nefesh will not help, as Hashem has many ways to kill a person, or a frog.

Aharon’s Non-Growing Staff Represents Annihilation Of Mitzrayim After all the staffs that turned into snakes turned back into staffs, the pasuk says (Vaeira 7:12), “Vayvla Matei Aharon Es Matosom; Aharon’s staff swallowed all the other staffs.” The Medrash says that a great Nes happened and Aharon’s staff did not bcome any thicker even after swallowing the others. When Paroh saw this, he became very scared and worried he will lose his throne. Why did this make Paroh so scared? The Ksav Sofer answers that Moshe and Aharon’s first appearance before Paroh marked the ascension of Am Yisrael to power. A staff represents ruling power, and the staff of Bnei Yisrael swallowed all the other staffs. One of two things could happen when Bnei Yisrael reach the top. Either, they will rule over all the other nations who will still maintain their own identity. Or, alternatively, the other nations will cease to exist altogether without any trace or remembrance. Had Aharon’s staff become thicker after swallowing the staffs of the Mitzrim, it would have signified that Mitzrayim will remain, albeit subservient to Bnei Yisrael. However, when Paroh saw that Aharon’s staff did not get bigger, rather it stayed the same and no trace was left of the other staffs, he became afraid that Mitzrayim will be wiped out, and his throne will be lost forever.

Created By Rov Avrohom Sherman

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