“I appeared to Avrohom, to Yitzchok, and to Yaakov…”
Rashi explains, “Vo’eirah– to the Avos.” Many Meforshim ask, “What is Rashi adding with his comment? It says so explicitly in the posuk.” We can resolve this difficulty with a play on Rashi’s words. The word Avos can also stem from the root word Avoh – to want. ‘Vo’eirah el Ha’avos’- Hashem can appear to anyone who truly wants Him and seeks Him, and not just to Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov.
(Rebbe Yechezkel of Kuzmir zt”l)
“This was the Aharon and Moshe, to whom Hashem said: Take the Bnei Yisroel out of Egypt… They were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh, king of Egypt… this was the Moshe and Aharon.”
The posuk tells us “this was Aharon and Moshe, to whom Hashem said…” How is it possible, that the holy Aharon and Moshe, to whom Hashem Himself spoke, ‘They were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh, king of Egypt’? Wasn’t it unsuitable for them to speak to the lowly and wicked king of Egypt?
We may answer with the words that follow, ‘This was the Moshe and Aharon.’ Moshe and Aharon did not actually speak to Pharaoh. They spoke to each other, and Pharaoh who was in their presence over heard their conversation. With this we can interpret that which Hashem told Moshe Rabbeinu regarding Aharon (Shemos 4:16), ‘And he will be for you for a mouth’—Moshe Rabbeinu’s words would be directed to Aharon’s mouth, and not towards Pharaoh.
“The necromancers did the same through their incantations, and they brought up the frogs upon the land of Egypt.”
Why are the words ‘over the land of Egypt’ necessary? The Midrash (Shemos Rabbah 10: 2) says that for many years, a war raged between the king of Egypt and the king of Kush, over a boundaries dispute. During the second plague, when Hashem sent the frogs over the land of Egypt, the frogs stopped at the rightful border between the two countries, in an obvious declaration of the truth.
When the necromancers stood up to defy Hashem’s strength and to prove their own skills by bringing frogs upon the land, they wanted their frogs to disperse beyond the borders of Egypt, into the land of Kush. However, Hashem made that ‘they brought up the frogs’ only ‘over the land of Egypt’. The frogs remained only within the rightful borders of Egypt, so that the Egyptians should not gain anything through their sorcery.
“Moshe said to Pharaoh: ‘Glorify yourself over me—for when should I entreat for you, for your servants, and for your people, to excise the frogs from you and from your houses? Only in the River shall they remain.”
When learning this posuk, a strong question can be posed. Pharaoh requested that Moshe Rabbeinu should remove the frogs ‘from myself and from my nation’. At first, Moshe responded accordingly, by telling Pharaoh, ‘for what time shall I entreat for you, and for your servants, and for your people…’ However, at the conclusion of the posuk, Moshe Rabbeinu omits one part of the request, saying ‘ to destroy the frogs from you and from your houses’ making no mention of the nation.
Chazal tell us that ‘Tefillah accomplishes half’. Tzaddikim who are constantly approached by people requesting that they pray on their behalf. Sometimes Tzaddikim employ an interesting method of prayer with guaranteed results. Instead of praying that the individual be granted this or that, and the person will only receive half of the salvation, tzaddikim work the other way around. “Let this Jew no longer have any suffering!” they proclaim. In this manner, the Jew in need will merit a complete salvation, because if he remains with even a bit of suffering, the Tzaddik’s prayer wouldn’t be considered answered at all.
Moshe Rabbeinu used this approach when entreating that the frogs be removed.
He was concerned that if he would pray, as Pharaoh had requested, for the frogs to be taken away from Pharaoh and the people, only half would be accomplished. Thus he beseeched that they should only remain in the river. In this manner, destroying half the frogs would not be considered that his prayer was answered, for if even one frog would remain on land, Moshe Rabbeinu’s prayer would be considered as having been completely unanswered.
This thought is insightfully implied in the posuk. Moshe Rabbeinu told Pharaoh, “If I will do as you had requested, ‘to entreat for you and for your servants and for your people,’ that will only help ‘to destroy the frogs from you and from your houses,’ and not from your people, because prayer accomplishes half. Therefore, I will pray that ‘only in the river they must remain’ and in this manner the frogs will be completely removed.”
“And the houses of the Egypt shall be fulled with the swarm, and even the ground upon which they are.”
The concluding phrase of this posuk, ‘and even the ground upon which they are,” seems superfluous. We can explain its significance based on the Gemara (Soteh 47) on the posuk (Melachim 2). When Elisha cursed the youths who had yelled after him, the Novi tells us that ‘Two bears came out of the woods…’ The Gemara quotes Rav and Shmuel. One claims that this involved one miracle; the woods were there, and the bears came miraculously. The other maintains that it involved a double miracle; neither the woods nor the bears had been there, and they both came about miraculously.
The Gemara questions the second opinion. “If there was no forest there before, why was it necessary for Hashem to miraculously create a forest? All they needed was the bears?” The Gemara (Rashi) replies that animals fear humans if they are not in close proximity to their natural habitats. Thus, the bears would have been afraid to attack the youths without a forest nearby, therefore it was necessary for Hashem to create the woods in addition to the bears.
Likewise, we can explain the seemingly superfluous words, ‘and also the ground whereon they dwell.’ If Hashem had brought the wild animals upon the land of Egypt, away from their natural environment, the animals would perhaps have been frightened to attack the Egyptians. Therefore, Hashem tells Moshe that the ‘houses of the Egyptians will be full of the wild beasts, and also the ground whereon they dwell’- Hashem will send along the woods and the natural ‘grounds whereon each animal dwells’ and thus they will strike unafraid.
“And these are the names of the Children of Israel who were coming to Egypt…“
“Who were coming“— is in the present tense. But didn‘t bnei Yisroel come to Egypt long ago? This comes to teach us that they were “outstanding there,“ that they never assimilated among the people of Egypt and many years later, it was as if they just arrived in Egypt.
(Maran Rebbe Yehoshua of Belz zy‘a)
“She saw that he was good and she hid him for three months.“
Yocheved saw with ruach hakodesh that Moshe would be punished since he would eventually say, “Shall sheep and cattle be slain for them to suffice them, or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them to suffice them“ (Bamidbar 11:22). She hid him for three months, the months of Adar—the mazal of fish, Nissan—the mazal of a lamb, and Iyar—the mazal of an ox, so that Moshe would not be denounced for what he would say in the future. “Sheep and cattle“—the mazal of Nissan and Iyar. “Or shall all the fish of the sea“—the mazal of Adar.
(Maran Rebbe Yehoshua of Belz zy‘a)
“During those many days it happened that the king of Egypt died, and Bnei Yisroel groaned because of the work and they cried out.“
Such is the nature of a person, that while he is oppressed and overloaded with pressures, his feelings are numbed, and he can‘t even think that life could be otherwise. Once he is relieved of some of his hardships, he begins to fathom how terrible his situation actually is.
Bnei Yisroel in Mitzrayim were so severely overburdened and sunken by their oppression, they were no longer capable of feeling that theirs was a difficult life, and that it is possible to live an easier life. However, after the king of Egypt died, they had a momentary respite from the taxing work, until a new king was crowned. Only then did they begin to feel how dreadful is their plight, and they began to sigh and cry because of the heavy labor.
(The Chozeh of Lublin zt“l)
“An angel of G-d appeared to him in a blaze of fire from amid the bush…“
Since Moshe Rabbeinu‘s heart blazed with a sacred fire because of his enthusiasm and fervor in avodas Hashem—“in the heart of the fire,“ he was therefore privileged to a revelation of the Shechinah—“an angel of Hashem appeared to him.“
“Hashem said, I have indeed seen the affliction of My people that is in Egypt , and have heard its outcry because of it‘s taskmasters…And now, behold! the outcry of Bnei Yisroel has come to me…“
The second pasuk here is clearly repetitious. What is the significance of Hashem‘s reiteration that ‘the cry of Bnei Yisroel comes to me,‘ after having said that ‘[I] have heard their cry…‘
Hashem consistently heard the cries of Bnei Yisroel, and interrupted his talk with Moshe Rabbeinu, lamenting like a father upon the hardships of His children, saying, ‘Ve‘atoh‘- Even now as I am speaking to you, ‘The cry of Bnei Yisroel comes to me.‘
(Maran Rav Sar Shalom of Belz zy“a)
“Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should take the Bnei Yisroel out of Egypt? And He said, “For I shall be with you—and this is your sign that I have sent you: When you take the people out of Egtpt you shall serve G-d on this mountain.“
Moshe Rabbeinu‘s question, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh,‘ stemmed from his tremendous humility. Thereby Hashem responded that because of this positive trait, ‘I shall be with you,‘ as a posuk in Yeshaya (57:15) tells us, Hashem rests with those who have a humble spirit. ‘And this shall be a token that I have sent you‘- What shall be a sign to you that I choose the humble? That ‘you shall serve G-d upon this mountain‘ which was chosen for Matan Torah precisely because it was the lowest of all mountains.
(Ach Pri Tevuah)
“Moshe said to G-d: Behold, when I come to Bnei Yisroel… and they say to me, ‘What is His Name?—what shall I say to them? Hashem answered Moshe, “I shall be what I will be,“
The Gemara states, (Shabbos 55) that the seal of Hakodosh Boruch Hu is emes, truth. Therefore, when Moshe Rabbeinu asked Hashem what he should tell Bnei Yisroel to prove his veracity, Hashem instructed him to tell them, ‘Eh‘keh asher Eh‘keh‘, the name that symbolizes truth. How? The numerical value of Eh‘keh is 21. Multiplied by the second Eh‘keh, (21 x 21) the product is 441, which equals the numerical value of the word emes.
This concept can be cleverly inferred from the piyut said on Rosh Hashanah (Mussaf): “Vechol ma‘aminim shehu dayan emes, hahogui be‘Eh‘keh asher Eh‘keh.
“Go, and gather the elders of Israel, and say to them… I have surely remembered you and what is done to you in Egypt… They will heed your voice…“
Rashi: Pokod pokadeti – Because you will tell them this specific expression, they will listen to your voice, since this sign has already been transmitted to them through Yosef and Yaakov, and they know that with this expression they will be redeemed…
A strong question can be raised on this Rashi. If everyone knew the ‘code‘, how did Moshe Rabbeinu‘s use of the expression pokod pokadeti make him the believable redeemer?
As we know, Moshe Rabbeinu had a speech defect, which made it impossible for him to clearly enunciate the letters si‘n, pei and sof. Only by way of a miracle was he able to transmit the words, ‘pokod pokadeti‘ to Bnei Yisroel.
Bnei Yisroel knew that when the words ‘pokod pokadeti‘ will be relayed to them miraculously, it would be a sure sign that they will indeed be redeemed.
Along these lines, we can interpret the posuk in Tehillim (81:6) ‘Edus beYehoseif somo – Yosef gave Bnei Yisroel a sign, with which to identify their true redeemer, ‘betzeiso al eretz Mitzrayim – when Hashem will go out to fight against the Egyptians and redeem His children. What will the sign be? Sfas lo yodati – From someone who does not know how to distinctly pronounce the letters of sfas – si‘n, pei, sof, ‘eshma‘- you will nevertheless clearly hear the words pokod pokadeti.