The Weekly Shtikle Blog

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Friday, December 31

The Weekly Shtikle - Va'eira

   In the plague of barad, hail, HaShem brought down hail accompanied by kolos, thunder. The hail also seemed to include rain. However, points out Minchas Yitzchok, when Paroah demands that Moshe pray that the plague end (9:28) 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 (33) 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.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Dikdukei Va'eira by Eliyahu Levin
Dikdukian: Leshon Yachid veRabbim by Eliayhu Levin
AstroTorah: Stars Fell on Egypt by R' Ari Storch

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites,

Friday, December 24

The Weekly Shtikle - Shemos

After hiding Moshe for three months, Yocheved is forced to send her away for she can no longer hide him from the Egyptians. Rashi (2:3) writes that Moshe was born after six months of pregnancy and that is what gave Yocheved the three month period in which she was able to hide him. What bothered me about this Rashi is that the entire parsha, Rashi quotes from the gemara in Sotah that deals with this parsha. The gemara (12a) writes that Yocheved actually became pregnant before Amram divorced her and then he took her back three months later. The Egyptians made a mistake and counted from when Amram took her back. It seems quite clear from the gemara that Moshe was born after a nine month pregnancy but it was the three month error that the Egyptians made at the beginning of the pregnancy that gave her the time. For some reason, Rashi chose to neglect the gemara in Sotah and instead quote the Midrash HaGadol on this pasuk. Why?


     The Da'as Zekeinim MiBa'alei Tosafos seem to try to reconcile the two Midrashim that they are not actually arguing with one another but I don't quite see how it works. This question is dealt with in the sefer Rashi HaShaleim. They answer there that in the order of the pesukim, the conception of Moshe is recorded after Amram takes Yocheved. Therefore, it is in greater accordance with pshat to say like the Midrash HaGadol than like the gemara in Sotah.  

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikduian: Bas Paroah (Guess what I have to say about that!)
Dikduian: From the Children of the Hebrews
Dikduian: The Strange Thing about Straw
Dikduian: Affliction
Dikduian: Raamseis
Dikdukian: Random Dikduk from Shemos by Eliyahu Levin

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites,

Friday, December 17

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayechi

    At the beginning of this week's parsha (47:29), Yaakov asks his son, Yoseif, for a favour, to bring his body back to Eretz Yisroel and bury him with his forefathers. Yoseif has no objections and agrees immediately. However, Yaakov then asks Yoseif to swear to him to that effect. Yoseif was Yaakov's dear and trusted son. Did he really have so little trust in him that he needed him to swear that he would heed his word?

    It seems that Yaakov made Yoseif swear not out of mistrust but out of concern that Yoseif would run into problems getting permission to leave Egypt as, indeed, he did. Yoseif requests permission to bury his father and Paroah's answer is (50:6) "Bury your father as he made you swear that you would." Rashi goes into even greater detail explaining that if not for this vow, Paroah would not have let Yoseif go. Paroah actually insisted that Yoseif renege on his vow. However, Paroah himself had made Yoseif promise not to reveal that he knew only seventy languages while Yoseif knew Lashon HaKodesh in addition to the seventy languages. Yoseif countered that if he was to renege on his father's vow, he would then renege on the vow that he made to Paroah. Yaakov knew that Paroah would not be happy with his right-hand man leaving the country and so he provided this vow as a means to help Yoseif leave.

    The aforementioned exchange between Yoseif and Paroah is rather puzzling. Is it possible that Yosef retorted with such a threat? Paroah was the most powerful man in all of Egypt and would certainly eliminate anyone who spoke to him with such disrespect. The Steipler Rav explains in Birchas Peretz, (and my father offers a similar, if not identical approach) that Yoseif was really telling Paroah that a person naturally feels an obligation to honour a promise. The vows a person makes are sacred to him. The breaking of a promise destroys this sacredness. Yoseif was simply warning Paroah that breaking his word to his father would have a subconscious effect on him. The promises he made will lose their sacredness in his mind and that might ultimately lead to the inadvertent disclosure of Paroah's secret. Paroah, realizing the lesson that Yosef was teaching, accepted his argument and allowed him to fulfill his vow.

   Yoseif is often referred to as Yoseif HaTzadik for his many righteous deeds. However, he clearly made a point of not keeping this righteousness to himself. A careful analysis of his various interactions in Mitzrayim show that he was constantly trying to teach others lessons in life. As the first man of galus, Yoseif was the proverbial light unto the nations to which we should all aspire.

Chazak, Chazak, veNischazeik!

Have a good Shabbos

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
AstroTorah: Constellation Representation at Yaakov's Funeral by R' Ari Storch

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites,

Friday, December 10

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayigash

This motzaei Shabbos, 5 Teves, is the yahrtzeit of my wife's grandfather, R' Israel Frankel. The shtikle is dedicated l'iluy nishmaso, Yisroel Aryeh ben Asher Yeshayah.

When Yaakov and his sons travel down to Egypt, they make a brief stop in Be'er Sheva,after which it says (46:6) that they took their cattle and flock, etc. Does this pasuk not belong earlier on when they left home, before they got to Be'er Sheva? Ohr HaChayim writes that when they left, they thought they were only going to bring Yaakov to see Yosef and then return home. They did not think they were going to dwell in Egypt. But after the nevua in Be'er Sheva, it became apparent that they were going to live there, so only then did it recount all of their packing.  


Mahari"l Diskin has another interesting observation concerning the trek to Egypt. Before reaching Be'er Sheva, no mention had been made of the wagons that Paroah sent to Yaakov. Only upon leaving Be'er Sheva does it mention them. Before reaching Be'er Sheva, Yaakov was not certain that HaShem would allow him to go down to Egypt. He therefore did not use the wagons that Paroah sent him for it might not be using them for the purpose they were given to him. This is tantamount to stealing. Only after HaShem concurred with Yaakov's travel plans did Yaakov make use of the wagons.  

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
AstroTorah: The Goodnes of Teves by R' Ari Storch
Dikdukian: Just Do It!

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites,

Friday, December 3

The Weekly Shtikle - Mikeitz

When the brothers return home after their first confrontation with Yosef, Yaakov refuses to let them bring Binyomin back down with them. Reuvein boldly declares (42:37) that both his sons shall be put to death if he does not bring Binyomin back. Despite this impressive expression of dedication, Yaakov refuses to let the brothers return with Binyomin. Later, as the famine grows stronger, the return to Egypt seems imminent. Yehudah proclaims (43:9) that he will take responsibility for Binyomin and that if he does not return him and stand him up in front of Yaakov, then he will have sinned to his father for all of days. Rashi comments that "all of days" refers to the world to come. Yehudah was declaring that if he fails to return Binyomin, his sin shall be everlasting. Yaakov subsequently sent the brothers back down with Binyomin.


From a practical point of view, the reason why Yaakov accepted Yehudah's proposal and not Reuvein's may simply be because time was just running out. Reuvein's offer was presented when the brothers had just returned and could survive without returning to Egypt for a while. Later on, however, there simply was no other alternative.


The Ohr HaChayim, however, offers a comparison of the sincerity of the two offers. Reuvein, in fact, had four sons. He only offered the sacrifice of two of them because he was not willing to lose all his children and be bereft of the mitzvah of procreation. He was willing to sacrifice possessions of this world but not his reward in the world to come. Yaakov sensed this slight insincerity in Reuvein's offer. Yehudah, however, was willing to sacrifice even his portion in the world to come according to Rashi's interpretation. Yaakov, therefore, felt that Yehudah's acceptance of responsibility was sincere enough that he could trust with the life of his youngest son.

Have a good Shabbos and a Chanukah Samei'ach!

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Be Strong
Dikdukian: Clear the Halls (Chanukah)
Dikdukian: Dikdukei Mikeitz veChanukah by Eliyahu Levin
AstroTorah: The Greek Rosh Chodesh by R' Ari Storch

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites,