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Friday, January 13

The Weekly Shtikle - Shemos

After Moshe grows up, we learn of the famous incident where he kills the Egyptian officer. The Abarbanel asks some fundamental questions on the episode. The pasuk says (2:11) that Moshe saw an Egyptian hitting an "ish Ivri mei'echav," a Hebrew man from his brethren. The word "mei'echav" seems superfluous. Surely, if he is a Hebrew, he is from his brethren. Then, when Moshe kills the Egyptian it says that he looked both ways and saw that there was no man. If that is the case, how did Dasan know that he had done it as we see from the events that followed?

Abarbanel offers a novel interpretation of the events. There were in fact many present at the time. The word "mei'echav" is telling us that the Egyptian grabbed this one man from amongst his (Moshe's)  brothers and began to beat him only. Moshe saw this and looked both ways and saw that there was no man, that no one was man enough to stick up for his fellow Jew. Then Moshe saw that he needed to be the one to stand up and do something about it so he killed the Egyptian. But, it was indeed in front of many.

There is an alternative answer to Abarbanel's second question. According to the Midrash (Shemos Rabba) the man being flogged by the Egyptian was none other than Dasan himself. It is therefore no surprise that he was aware of Moshe's having killed the Egyptian. But it paints an even uglier picture of what went on. Dasan challenges Moshe the next day, saying, (2:14) "are you  going to kill me like you killed the Egyptian?" Not only is he pointing a finger at Moshe for a noble deed,  he is showing complete ingratitude for having saved his own life.

The above interpretations fit well with Rashi's second interpretation of Moshe's reaction when he states, (Ibid) "Alas, it is known." The obvious meaning is that his killing of the Egyptian is known. But Rashi offers another angle. "I was always bothered, why the Israelites were deserving of such oppression. Now I know they are deserving." This episode brought out the worst in B'nei Yisroel. First, a crowd watches idly as their brother is beaten. And then Dasan fails to acknowledge Moshe's virtuous bravery.

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

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