The Weekly Shtikle Blog

An online forum for sharing thoughts and ideas relating to the Parshas HaShavua

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Monday, January 30

פרשת וארא - Non-believers

I had an interesting observation on כופרים from this past week's parsha:

For מכת ברד, the pasuk recounts:
ט:כ הַיָּרֵא אֶת-דְּבַר יְהוָה, מֵעַבְדֵי פַּרְעה--הֵנִיס אֶת-עֲבָדָיו וְאֶת-מִקְנֵהוּ, אֶל-הַבָּתִּים
However, the next pasuk, dealing with those who did not listen, reads:
וַאֲשֶׁר לא-שָׂם לִבּוֹ, אֶל-דְּבַר יְהוָה--וַיַּעֲזב אֶת-עֲבָדָיו וְאֶת-מִקְנֵהוּ, בַּשָּׂדֶה
Note that it does not begin וַאֲשֶׁר לא יָּרֵא אֶת-דְּבַר ה. The God-fearing are referred to as those who fear the word of God. However, the ones who did not listen simply did not take the word of God to heart. The way I understand this, it is not that the warning had no effect on him whatsoever. Deep down, there was a fear of the forthcoming plague. However, as many בעלי מוסר often teach, someone who fails to see the proper way is not because the truth is not there for them to see but rather, something inside is influencing them and convincing them not to see it. Likewise, here, inside, everyone knew that this plague was coming just as the first six did. But those who were not belivers at heart were able to convince themselves and turn their heart from the word of השם.

Friday, January 27

פרשת וארא - Make (some of) it stop!

In the plague of ברד, hail, HaShem brought down hail accompanied by קולות, thunder. The hail also seemed to include rain. However, points out מנחת יצחק, when Paroah demands that Moshe pray that the plague end (ט:כח) he asks him to pray that the thunder and the hail should cease, but he does not mention the rain. This is because, as Rashi has mentioned many times, Egypt did not receive rain and relied solely on the Nile for irrigation. Therefore, Paroah would have been more than happy for the rain to stay. They needed it. However, when Moshe davens to HaShem, the pasuk (לג) recounts that the thunder, the hail and the rain ceased. Thus, when Paroah saw this, as the next pasuk tells us, that he saw that the rain, the hail and the thunder had ceased (note how the order is switched from the previous pasuk), he hardened his heart for he saw that his request wasn't fully carried out.

שבת שלום
Have a good Shabbos

פרשת וארא - To...

ח:כא וַיִּקְרָא פַרְעה אֶל משֶׁה וּלְאַהֲרן

Isn't it strange that the prefix for Moshe is אֶל whereas that for Aharon is לְ?

I think the answer lies in the :גמרא יומא ד where it is stated "קול לו קול אליו - משה שמע וכל ישראל לא שמעו" What the gemara is ultimately saying there is that the term אליו connotes a more direct and focused manner of speech than does לו. Perhaps here, the call of Paroah was direct primarily at Moshe. The call for Aharon was slightly less significant and so, the term אֶל is used for Moshe but not for Aharon.

Thursday, January 26

פרשת וארא - Whose staff is it anyways?

In order to give Paroah a warning for the plague of blood, (ז:טו) Moshe is told to meet Paroah at the nile and "וְהַמַּטֶּה אֲשֶׁר נֶהְפַּךְ לְנָחָשׁ תִּקַּח בְּיָדֶךָ," the staff that was turned into a snake you shall take in your hand. The question is, who's staff is it?

A staff was turned into a snake twice, once in front of B'nei Yisroel and once in front of Paroah. It would seem that in front of B'nei Yisroel it was done with Moshe's staff as HaShem had demonstrated in front of the burning bush. From pasuk 9, it appears that the staff used in front of Paroah was Aharon's. Which one, then, is being referred to in this pasuk?

The כלי יקר on pasuk 9 points out that Moshe's staff turned into a "נחש" while Aharon's turned into a "תנין." He then goes on to explain the difference between the two. Since our pasuk reads "וְהַמַּטֶּה אֲשֶׁר נֶהְפַּךְ לְנָחָשׁ" and not "וְהַמַּטֶּה אֲשֶׁר נֶהְפַּך לְתַנִּין," it would seem that the staff being referred to is Moshe's.

The אבן אזרא asserts that even the staff that was used in front of Paroah was Moshe's. According to this, it would seem to leave no doubt that the staff was Moshe's. [It is noteworthy, however, that when the signs are in fact performed in front of B'nei Yisroel, (4:30), it seems to be Aharon who performed them. Why this would be is a question unto itself. But if Aharon was the one who performed them, perhaps it is not so simple that Moshe's staff was used.]

Nevertheless, תרגום (המיוחס ל)יונתן here states outright that it was Aharon's staff to be brought to the nile. In תוספות השלם, an interesting reasoning for this is brought. Moshe's staff had the שם השם, HaShem's name, etched on it. Rashi here tells us that Paroah was at the Nile bank to relieve himself. Therefore, taking Moshe's staff with HaShem's name on it would have been like taking a sefer into the bathroom. So, it had to be Aharon's staff, one on a slightly lower level of קדושה that was brought to the nile.

Sunday, January 22

פרשת שמות - Teven / Taven

As many of you probably notice, most words change when they are at the end of a pasuk or if they are the primary stop in the middle of a pasuk. For instance, שֶׁמֶן becomes שָׁמֶןָ. However, in this (past) week's parsha we find an interesting exception. The word תֶּבֶן, which follows the same structure as שֶׁמֶן , at the end of a pasuk, remains תֶּבֶן. It bothered me for quite some time why this is so.

I came up with a possible answer. I found that the word תָּבֶן actually appears in איוב יג:א. The word there, וַתָּבֶן, is from the root of the word meaning "understanding." Perhaps the rule is that if the conversion of the word at the end of the pasuk would make it appear to mean something completely different, we do not change it. I haven't yet proven this rule but I have defeated many attempts debunk it.

Better late than never

With this blog, I will probably be more relaxed about sending out shtikles after Shabbos. Besides, some of the ארץ ישראל readers who have become accustomed to not receiving the shtikle before Shabbos have mentioned that they tend to be more "in tune" with the parsha after Shabbos. Sometimes, in the middle of laining, something just hits you. Until now, it would have had to wait another year, assuming I actually remember it. But thanks to the Weekly Shtikle Blog - no more.

Friday, January 20

פרשת שמות - The long and the short of it

So, the first week didn't really go too well. I wasn't able to get things out in a timely manner. Hopefully, we'll have better results for פרשת וארא

The following observation was told to me by a friend from the sefer Tosafos Brachah. When R' Baruch Epstein, author of Torah Temimah and Baruch She'amar came to America, he delivered a speech in which he brought a reference from the Torah concerning our standards of modesty when it comes to dress, that our clothes are longer and more concealing than those of the gentiles. When HaShem tells Moshe about the forthcoming exodus from Egypt, he is told (3:22) that the women will ask of her neighbours silver, gold and clothing and they will put it on their sons and daughters. Why could the women not wear the clothing themselves? It must be, therefore, that the clothes that the Egyptian women wore were not big enough for the modest B'nos Yisroel and they could not wear them and so, they had to give it to their children to wear. What would have been small on Egyptian children was a perfect fit for theirs.

שבת שלום
Have a good Shabbos.

Thursday, January 19

Getting Started

If this blog is to be about you, the reader, what better way to kick it all of than to link to an essay from my good friend, the one and only David Farkas, renowned author of הדורש והמבקש. In this article he explores the frightening yet fascinating similarities between the Egyptian persecution and the Holocaust.


Wednesday, January 18

Blogosphere meets Shtiklesphere

To be completely honest, I'm not a big fan of blogs. However, as the blogosphere underwent its exponential growth in popularity, I saw an opportunity to expand the reaches of the Weekly Shtikle. I saw two main purposes a blog would serve:
  1. Every now and again, I will get a comment or two vie e-mail from a Weekly Shtikle reader. While we might engage in a valuable exchange which enhances, challenges, or maybe even corrects the shtikle, it is shared only amongst those parties who engage in this exchange. If these exchanges were centralized in a blog, it would facilitate wider participation and exposure.
  2. Very often I (or a reader) will have a valuable small thought on the parshah. I generally like the shtikles to have a significant size to them and some thoughts and observations are merely deemed not "shtikle-worthy." A blog would provide a forum where all thoughts, big or small can be presented

And so, on the occasion of the beginning of Sefer Shemos, I have finally taken the dive and started the Weekly Shtikle Blog. I encourage all readers to share all their comments on the shtikle as well as any independent thoughts on the parshah, although all content will be monitored and screened. Also, please tell your friends about the Weekly Shtikle and its blog, להגדיל תורה ולהאדירה.

While is probably the best and easiest place to put this blog, I was attracted by the Baltimore flavour of and decided it would be nice for the Weekly Shtikle Blog to have some of that Baltimore flavour as well. In my infinite indecisiveness, I resolved to set up both blogs (the Baltiblogs one is taking some time to set up) and do my best to have the content mirrored.