The Oisvorfer and eishes chayil, take great pleasure in beginning this week’s review with a special mazel tov to the their machutanim Karen and Allen Perl of Teaneck, New Jersey, and to their friends of many decades, Rachel and Marvin Mandelbaum of Los Angeles, CA, upon the engagement this past Sunday of Zack Perl to the beautiful Sarah Mandelbaum. Zack Perl is the younger brother of Ariella Perl, she married to the Oisvorfer’s son Zachary Grossman. Mazel tov to the entire extended Mandelbaum, Lifschutz and Perl families. And a very special mazel to Mrs. Margo Silverman, Zack’s grandmother, who, like fine wine, keeps getting better with age.
The Jews ‘Cleaned’ Out Mitzrayim
Welcome to parshas Boi where the curtain comes down on a promise and master plan 400, or 430 years in the making. Though parshas Bishalach which we will read next week, has always, and continues to get top billing, it’s in Boi where the Yiddin will finally be set free, where we will be instructed regarding the Korban Pesach, be given another bunch of laws concerning Pesach observance in the future, be taught about Roish Choidesh, the lunar calendar, and even Tifilin. It’s mamish the jackpot of parshas for Toirah inspired entrepreneurs. Why parshas Boi inexplicably flies under the radar, ver veyst?
Twice in the last two weeks, and many times over the past seven plus years, have we mentioned the RBSO’s long memory. Avada you all recall, or should, that way back in parshas Lech Lecho, for no apparent specific reason, did the RBSO forecast to Avrohom while he was in a ‘tardaymo’ (deep sleep), that his progeny would become strangers in a land which did not belong to them. What He meant was that the Yiddin would eventually become enslaved to Paroy. Let’s quickly review those few pisukim and let’s read each word of the forecast.
|13. And He said to Avrom, “You shall surely know that your seed will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and they will enslave them and oppress them, for four hundred years.||יגוַיֹּאמֶר לְאַבְרָם יָדֹעַ תֵּדַע כִּי גֵר | יִהְיֶה זַרְעֲךָ בְּאֶרֶץ לֹא לָהֶם וַעֲבָדוּם וְעִנּוּ אֹתָם אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה:|
|14. And also the nation that they will serve will I judge, and afterwards they will go forth with great possessions.||ידוְגַם אֶת הַגּוֹי אֲשֶׁר יַעֲבֹדוּ דָּן אָנֹכִי וְאַחֲרֵי כֵן יֵצְאוּ בִּרְכֻשׁ גָּדוֹל:|
As we began Sefer Shemois (three shabosim back), The RBSO’s words came to fruition. Through a series of machinations only He could orchestrate, and carried out by supporting cast members which included Yoisef, his (at times) less than holy brothers, an unsuspecting Yaakov, and the rest of the Yaakov Ovenu family, at some point -back in parshas Vayigash- and following Yoisef’s revelation, the entire clan -sixty-six of them- migrated down to Mitzrayim. Little did they know what lie ahead. Two parshas back but 210 years later, we read of the mamish harsh slavery, and immediately thereafter -a few pisukim mamish- that the RBSO also remembered the rest of His promise. It was time to take His soon to be Chosen People out of Mitzrayim. Two new lead cast members were added in the form of Moishe and Aharoin supported by their parents Amrom, his wife (and aunt) Yoicheved (same person) who did her part by getting pregnant and delivering baby Moishe at the tender age of 130, and of course the very mature and overachiever six year old Miriam whose part in the gantze giulah myseh (entire redemption process) should not go without a proper shout-out. Let’s also give a nod to Biysa, Paroy’s father, and to Paroy himself for whom the RBSO would ultimately show a healthy measure of contempt for overplaying his part. Although Paroy’s role in the enslavement was preordained, he got more than a shtikel carried away and treated his slaves more harshly than the RBSO originally had intended. Seemingly the RBSO allowed Paroy to exercise free will knowing of course that He would be exacting heavy doses of revenge on Paroy and his cohorts. Paroy bounced back after each of the first plagues and remained resolute: the Yiddin could not leave. In the end, the RBSO removed Paroy’s free will, hardened his heart, and made him endure a few additional plagues.
And taka last week, two more words of the posik (verse) “V’don Onoiche” (I shall judge) promised to Avrohom in Lech Lecho, were about to become fulfilled. The RBSO had ten makos in His armamentarium and was going to use all of them before He was satisfied that Paroy was ready to play ball and understand that it was not he, but the RBSO who was in control of the world. Shoin, we ran out of parsha with but seven of the makos having been absorbed by the Mitzrim. Welcome to Parshas Boi, where as the parsha begins, the redemption in still a work in progress.
This week, Paroy and Mitzrim will be afflicted with the last three makos, the last -killing of the first born- will finally cause Paroy to not just allow the Yiddin to leave his country, but to mamish chase them out. As a last patch in punim (slap in the face), while finally insisting they leave, he will ask that the Yiddin (presumably when they arrive to their destination in the wilderness) also bless him. Eych noflu giboirim (how the mighty have fallen). Ha! Lesson finally really learned: the RBSO runs the world. Billions of umois ho’oiolm (Gentiles and others) know this amazing story because books, movies and plays and more, have been written on the miracles the RBSO performed during the redemption process and along the way. We the Yiddin recall them yearly as we celebrate Pesach either at home, or at any of the ever increasing number of hotels around the world which cater to this remembrance. We also recall Exodus daily during the recitation of the Shema prayer. In fact, remembering the events of Mitzrayim, which ultimately gave birth to a Nation of Yiddin, is what our religion is all about. Sadly it has, as we have discussed in past years, and will zicher again, morphed into one big business opportunity and an economy all its own. Spending to remember these events, exceeds well over $100 million annually and provides employment to thousands, some of whom work only a few months out of the year. Shoin, perhaps that’s the reason the RBSO also promised our zeyda Avrohom that his progeny wood leave with great wealth. They would certainly need it! Hec they would need it for one upscale Pesach program. With some spare change, they could also efsher afford a box or two of hand-made shmura matzo. Nu, efsher this too was all but part of the master plan. Was it?
Let’s go back to the RBSO’s long memory and mastery on delivering on His promises. Let’s revisit a few more words, the last forecast to Avrohom back in Lech Lecho. Said the RBSO (Bereishis 15:13) azoy: “….and afterword’s they will leave with great wealth.” Meaning avada, that after all was said and done -the slavery that is- the Jewish People would leave Mitzrayim wealthy. Ober how were the Yiddin to leave with great wealth when they had been enslaved and mistama getting paid, if at all, with but slave wages? Nu, the RBSO avada had a plan and let’s learn how it was implemented and executed.
Said the RBSO to Moishe in our parsha (Shemois: 11:2) azoy:
|2. Please, speak into the ears of the people, and let them borrow, each man from his friend and each woman from her friend, silver vessels and golden vessels.”||בדַּבֶּר נָא בְּאָזְנֵי הָעָם וְיִשְׁאֲלוּ אִישׁ | מֵאֵת רֵעֵהוּ וְאִשָּׁה מֵאֵת רְעוּתָהּ כְּלֵי כֶסֶף וּכְלֵי זָהָב:|
Note that the RBSO instructed Moishe to but whisper the plan into their ears. Moishe heard the plan, filed it temporarily away, related it to the Yiddin, and then at the appropriate time, as the heylige Toirah tells us, the Yiddin executed the plan. Says the heylige Toirah (Shemois: 12:35-36):
|35. And the children of Israel did according to Moses’ order, and they borrowed from the Egyptians silver objects, golden objects, and garments.||להוּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל עָשׂוּ כִּדְבַר משֶׁה וַיִּשְׁאֲלוּ מִמִּצְרַיִם כְּלֵי כֶסֶף וּכְלֵי זָהָב וּשְׂמָלֹת:|
|36. The Lord gave the people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians, and they lent them, and they emptied out Egypt.||לווַיהֹוָה נָתַן אֶת חֵן הָעָם בְּעֵינֵי מִצְרַיִם וַיַּשְׁאִלוּם וַיְנַצְּלוּ אֶת מִצְרָיִם:|
The Yiddin did just as Moishe had ordered. Did they ask questions? Not! When it comes to ‘borrowing,’ if you chap, silver, gold, and clothing, they did not forget, nor show signs of confusion. Grada the same is true for all chapping, if you chap.
Ober, why was it necessary that the Yiddin leave with wealth? Wouldn’t redemption from slavery after 210 years have been enough? Says Rashi quoting the heylige Gemora (Brochis 9A-B), azoy: this part of the plan was necessary so that Avrohom Ovenu (long dead) shouldn’t complain that only parts of the RBSO’s promises were fulfilled. The parts where his progeny wound up as strangers in a land which did not belong to them, and that they were oppressed. Ober where is the great wealth the RBSO promised upon their exit? Nu, the RBSO does not forget and though their wages were taka meager, they used leverage to increase their assets. Meaning they borrowed silver, gold, and clothing, with no real intention of ever repaying. Givaldig! Let’s recall: Moishe did not instruct them on repayment. It was a loan mamish; sadly, like many we give our friends: Never to be repaid!
Ober, couldn’t the RBSO just plant gold, silver, and other valuables on the other side of the Yam Suf (Reed Sea)? Why keep them occupied at the very last minute with having to borrow and then schlep these riches with them? Ober, an example the Oisvorfer’s father, OBM, would often repeat, efsher comes into play. Said he in Yiddish azoy: biz tzi di krechma darf menn oich a trink. (Translation: one who drinks, often time, needs a drink to hold him over until he gets to the bar.) After 210 years of slavery the Yiddin were nebech tzibrochen, downtrodden mamish. Moreover, as we will learn next week, they had sunk to the 49th level of ‘tumah’ (impurity), whatever that means and however that was manifested, ver veyst. Mistama it connotes sexual improprieties with the shiksa Mitzri girls. Certainly their heads were not yet in a place where they could mentally chap that the entire plan needed to unfold. That they would leave, make their way to Har Sinai where the RBSO would reveal Himself, and where they would become the Chosen People. Such information could not yet be absorbed, nor would they pay heed. Nor regarding riches days away across the river. At this very moment, meeting the RBSO and accepting His heylige Toirah was the last thing on their minds. What they needed now was epes a temporary fix, something to sooth them on the spot. Nu, after slave wages, the ability to get their hands on silver and gold, gave them a temporary fix, it consoled them, and kept them going.
Says the medrish azoy: The RBSO’s promise to Avrohom that his progeny would eventually leave with great wealth, was by plan, to be realized only after the Yiddin left Mitzrayim and crossed the Sea. In other words: when the redemption and their getaway was complete. Ober, the RBSO sensing their weakened state, chapped that they might not make it to, and zicher not across the sea. The heylige Toirah was not a concept they could chap at the moment. What they needed was something tangible, at least for now. What to do? He recalled His promise to Avrohom and decided to give them a healthy dose of wealth as they were leaving. Nu, with ‘borrowed’ assets which they had no intention of repaying, they were certain to skedaddle out as soon as they got word, and says the posik, the Yiddin ‘cleaned’ out Mitzrayim. They took as much as they could carry. No wonder they had no time to bake bread; with gold one can buy bread!
Is that so? Did they taka leave when directed? When were they directed and when did they leave? Nu, if you read the words of the heylige Toirah, it’s a shtikel confusing. We seemingly have three different times listed for their departure. Says the heylige Toirah in our parsha (Shemois 12:41) azoy:
“And it was at the end of four hundred and thirty years, and it was on this very day, that the legions of Hashem left the land of Egypt.” Pshat being that the Yiddin left during the day. Let’s go veyter. Over in Devorim however (16:1), we read azoy: “….for in the month of first ripened produce, Hashem your God, took you out of Egypt at night.” And the question is azoy: did they leave on ‘this very day,’ or did they leave ‘at night?’ Can both be true? Nu, to further confuse us, let’s look at one more posik which tells us (Devorim 16:6) “….in the afternoon, when the sun descends, the appointed time of your departure from Egypt.” The Yiddin left when? In the late afternoon, early evening when the sun descends. Can all the times listed be emes?
Nu, says Menachem Tzion so gishmak, azoy: all three are emes! How could that be? Says he that there were three categories of Yiddin that left Mitzrayim. Group number one was comprised of those very eager to leave, those who were mistama always on time to everything. Let’s call them the ‘zirizim group.’ They were already packed and ready, waiting to go in the early evening. They are described in Devorim 16:6. The next group of people to leave were the average Yiddin, those we call ‘beinonim’ (middling’s). This group took their time, got ready, and left at night as described in 16:1. The last group were seemingly not overly anxious to leave. They lingered and waited until they were mamish chased out. Let’s recall that by the next day, the Egyptians were mamish pushing to get rid of them. They had endured enough and wanted them out. This group, those who left half-heartedly, only did so during the day (the next day) as is described in our parsha. They left on ‘this very day.’ In other words: in order to move three million people which included 600,000 men, mistama at least that many, if not more wives and the hoards of children they were producing as we learned back in Shemois, it may taka have taken kimat twenty four hours to get them all out of Mitzrayim. Shoin: all the pisukim in the heylige Toirah are correct; aren’t they always? Nu, we must also bear in mind that the Exodus was a bit slowed as the Yiddin were laden down with great amounts of silver, gold, clothing (they had ‘borrowed’), and a few helpings of dough which turned into matzo.
Next week, we will be learning of yet another group, those who did not want to leave at all. Rashi and others will tell us that this group, comprised the great majority of Yiddin, and taka they did not leave. What happened to them? They mysteriously died during the plague of Choishech (darkness). Shoin.
Ober asks the Oisvorfer azoy: it’s taka emes that the Yiddin borrowed silver, gold and even clothing from the Mitzrim as they prepared to leave. Moreover, next week, we will learn that when the Mitzrim drowned, many riches were spit up by the sea and according to the medrish, commenting on the heylige Gemora (Brochis 9A-B), the riches found at sea were even greater than those borrowed. Ober how was that possible? If the Yiddin already ‘cleaned’ out Mitzrayim as they left, what riches were left behind? How could the sea spit out even greater riches? Nu, earlier this week the Oisvorfer asked this question to a chaver who had no answer. His mother did. Nu, as you all know, and as the rebbe tried hacking into your head many times -alis shteyt in the heylige Gemora (all answers can be found in the Gemora). And if it’s not there, zicher there is a medrish which proffers an answer. And guess what? The heylige Gemora too was wondering how the sea was able to spit out riches -perhaps even greater than those borrowed from their neighbors. Says the medrish (Tanchuma Yoshon on next week’s parsha which you have the great pleasure of reading this week) azoy: Ha! it’s not a kasha (question). Why not? Because Paroy’s own personal wealth and treasures were still intact. None of the Yiddin came to him with a request to borrow. Ober when Paroy decided to give chase (next week) and when he needed to convince a still shell-shocked army to follow, he was only able to entice them by opening up the palace and sharing, or giving them, of his treasures. Shoin, the Mitzrim took whatever they could, loaded various jewels and pearls onto their chariots and gave chase. Why these idiots didn’t drop them off at home first, ver veyst? Not quite believable? Let’s try another medrish which tells us azoy:
It’s taka emes that the Yiddin borrowed from their neighbors, ober let’s look at the words which tell us that the Yiddin were instructed to ask their ‘neighbors’ (only) to borrow silver and gold. And that’s what they did. Ober the Yiddin, let’s recall, were living over in Goishen. That’s where they borrowed from their neighbors. Mitzrim living in other cities were not affected and still had their wealth intact. Shoin, when they gave chase, for reasons only the RBSO knows, they loaded up their chariots with their own wealth and went out to capture the Yiddin. Idiots! On the other hand, efsher they thought that by dangling silver and gold, the Yiddin would return? Not a terrible idea.
Now, let’s re-read posik 2 way above which tells us that the RBSO instructed Moishe to whisper into the ears of the Yiddin and tell them to borrow silver and gold. And the question is azoy: why did the Yiddin also decide to borrow clothing? The answer is that back in Shemois, He also included clothing.
Let’s go back and read the instructions as given then.
|22. Each woman shall borrow from her neighbor and from the dweller in her house silver and gold objects and garments, and you shall put [them] on your sons and on your daughters, and you shall empty out Egypt.”||כבוְשָׁאֲלָה אִשָּׁה מִשְּׁכֶנְתָּהּ וּמִגָּרַת בֵּיתָהּ כְּלֵי כֶסֶף וּכְלֵי זָהָב וּשְׂמָלֹת וְשַׂמְתֶּם עַל בְּנֵיכֶם וְעַל בְּנֹתֵיכֶם וְנִצַּלְתֶּם אֶת מִצְרָיִם:|
Nu, for some reason, when Moishe later repeated the RBSO’s instructions, he did so sans clothing. Moreover, when the RBSO Himself repeated His own instructions to Moishe in our parsha, He too left clothing off the request list. Ober later in our parsha (Shemois 12:35) where the Yiddin submitted their request lists to the Mitzrim, clothing was back on. Says Rashi: the clothing was very important to them. How important? “These (the clothing) were even more important to them than the silver and gold for what is mentioned later in the verse is more important (than what precedes it).” And Rashi knew this how? Says the Michilta azoy: the fact that the Yiddin asked for silver before gold was proof that they were asking for items in ascending order of importance, and since clothing was the last item requested, it must have been really important to them. Nu, we need to recall that at this stage, only the RBSO knew that the parents of these children would all die out in the Midbar during the next 40 years, and that only the children would eventually grow up and be the generation of Yiddin to enter the Promised Land. They would need clothing to sustain them. Was anyone expecting the young boys and girls to wear the same clothing for forty years? Of course not! What to? The RBSO made sure to add clothing to the request list. Let’s recall the verse in Shmois (quoted above): the RBSO’s instructions also included these critical words: “…and you shall put them on your sons and daughters, and you shall empty out Mitzrayim.” Nu, is the RBSO great or what? Once again you must conclude that this was all part of the master plan: the RBSO left nothing to chance. Every detail was covered, including the outfits the children were to wear for Kabolas Hatoirah on Har Siani, their bar mitzvahs, weddings and for stam azoy lounging in the midbar. Gishmak.
Shtelt zich di shylo (the question arises): what’s pshat here? The Yiddin were told to borrow the above mentioned items from the Mitzrim but seemingly had no intention of returning said items!? Is this called borrowing? Does this borrowing nebech ring familiar? Is deceit kosher? Nu, mistama if the RBSO mentioned these instructions more than once in the heylige Toirah, they must be important ober as you can only imagine, many commentators were epes (somewhat) bothered by this story. Doesn’t leaving with great wealth take away from the gantze redemption and our understanding of what took place? Was this the reason for the entire slavery? Moreover, why was it necessary for the Yiddin to leave with great wealth? Did the Yiddin need gold and silver in the desert where they would spend the next forty years?
As you can only imagine, the medrish is replete with questions and ideas on what went down here, beside the Mitzrim into the sea. Ershtens (firstly) can we posit that efsher the Yiddin taka did not mean borrowing at all, instead they meant gifting. And taka a few medroshim cite sources which demonstrate that the root word ‘she’al’ may taka refer to a request for an outright gift, and one should not necessarily read that word to mean as only ‘borrowing’ (as it is usually translated). In other words: when, limoshol (by way of example) you ask a friend to borrow a book, a pen, an umbrella, are you planning to return it? Of course not! Is your friend expecting it to be returned? Of course not! And taka so says Reb Sa’adia Ga’on. Says Rabaynu Bachya: the Yiddin were commanded to ask the Egyptians for their gold and silver vessels not as a loan but as gifts. Shoin! They said borrow, they meant permanently. And this is not a case of genaivas da’as (misleading) the lenders, rather it was entirely permissible and just for the Yiddin to do this. And taka why? Nu, the Yiddin had worked for the Mitzrim as involuntary slaves for at least 116 years and their compensation due was immeasurable. And according to Toirah law, a Jew who works as an eved (slave) for seven years is showered with gifts when he is freed from servitude. The Yiddin were certainly entitled to a great deal more.
Borrowing meant gifting! And taka it’s very much similar to when people call you for a loan. Weeks and months past the due date, and without any signs of repayment, you’re left to figure out that what they meant was taka a gift. Some say that borrowing meant a mutual exchange. In leaving, the Yiddin were forced to abandon properties, fields, vineyards, and many items too heavy to schlepp. The slaves had fields and other possessions? OMG! Who knew slavery paid that well? Suddenly the entire slavery has epes a different feel to it, efsher it wasn’t that giferlich after all? Taka this approach is also mentioned by the Chizkuni and the Malbim (chapter 3). Said he: the Yiddin mamish possessed fields and vineyards, homes, and furniture; not too shabby for slaves. And they were farzorgt (worried) about these assets as they were getting ready to leave. Were the slave- masters going to buy them out or just plunder their homes and possessions, leaving them empty handed? Therefore, to rectify this potential injustice, the RBSO informed them that they would not leave destitute. Shoin- all justified! And as they were leaving, they asked their neighbors to take their homes and property in exchange for silver and gold articles of equal value, which would be more portable. Gishmak, no? The acquisition of Egyptian gold and silver was therefore simply a mutual exchange of possessions, and no ethical questions arise. And as an added benefit, it was seemingly also a tax free transaction.
Says the heylige Gemora: the gold, silver and other assets the Yiddin ‘borrowed’, represented unpaid wages. Says the Medrish quoting the heylige Gemora (Sanhedrin 91b) azoy: Thousands of years later, the Egyptians came before Alexander the Great and registered a claim against the Yiddin, demanding that they should be compensated for all the wealth that the Israelites had seized from their forefathers a millennium earlier. In response to this claim, Gevia ben Psesia, acting as the Jews’ defense attorney (and avada many Jews need a defense attorney now and then, if you chap), noted that the Yiddin had not received any wages for all the centuries they toiled as slaves in Mitzrayim. Thus, justice demanded that the Jewish people be granted a form of reparation – i.e. compensation for the exploitation they had endured at the hands of their masters. He (Gevia) responded in front of the Greek monarch, “From where do you bring proof that we took the money?” They responded, “From the Toirah.” He countered, “Then I will bring proof from the Toirah, where it states that the Jewish people dwelled in Egypt for 430 years. Please give us the wages of 600,000 workers for that time period, and we shall return the gold which we took.” Nu and with that brilliant defense, the Egyptians requested a three-day recess, and never returned to the courtroom.
Another pshat: the posik states that by asking their neighbors for all these costly items the Yiddin were just following orders. They did “as Moishe had commanded them to borrow…” (Shemois 12:35). Accordingly, the Yiddin were fulfilling a prophet’s holy command, and not asking out of greed. Shoin: guilty with an explanation?
Says another Medrish: the Yiddin were mamish reluctant to take the wealth of Egypt and had to be begged by the RBSO and Moishe to borrow the gold and silver from the Egyptians. They needed to be convinced to accept silver and gold? Where these people the real Yiddin? Or, were they ba’al tshuvas (penitents)? Shoin, let’s give them a pass; this all did take place before Matan Toirah and efsher we can argue that taka they were not yet real Yiddin. Moreover, the Yiddin were fearful that such an action could provoke their former masters into pursuing them and that’s taka just what happened as they made their way out and towards the sea. Say The Sforno and Chizkuni: taka this was part of the RBSO’s master plan to get rid of the oppressors.
The bottom line: whether cajoled or not, in the end, the Yiddin ended up with the great wealth the RBSO promised to our zeyda Avrohom. Another load awaits them next parsha; stay tuned.
A gittin Shabbis
The Oisvorfer Ruv