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Friday, January 4

The Weekly Shtikle - Shemos

After the episode when Moshe eliminates the Egyptian who was beating up on an Israelite, he sees to men fighting and attempts to break up the fight. One of the assailants, identified by Chazal as Dasan, challenges Moshe and retorts (2:14) "Halehargeini ata omer ka'asher haragta es hamitzri?" Loosely translated, he asked, "Are you saying to kill me like you did to the Egyptian?" The difficulty with this accusation is that killing hardly has anything to do with words. What did Dasan mean when he said "Are you saying to kill me?"

Rashi writes that we may understand from this wording that Moshe killed the Egyptian with the Sheim HaMeforash, the Holy Divine Name which, when spoken, has lethal powers. Dasan was afraid that Moshe might use it on him as well. When Moshe actually killed the Egyptian, Rashi commented there (2:12) that Moshe examined his prospective descendants and saw that no good person would come out of him and then killed him. Why did he need to use the Sheim HaMeforash? Why didn't he kill him the old fashioned way? Additionally, why did he have to examine his future generations before killing him? If he was liable to be killed, then what difference would any righteous offspring make?

The Brisker Rav writes that according to Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 10:6) a gentile who strikes a Jew is liable for "Misah bidei Shomayim," death at the Hands of Heaven. This means that HaShem will see to it that this punishment is exacted. Moshe, therefore, could not kill the Egyptian with his own hands. Using the Sheim HaMeforash was, in essence, a way of carrying out the death penalty as a messenger of the Heavenly court. However, a Heavenly judgement is not like that of a regular court. A regular court will focus only on the crime and no other factors. The Heavenly court, however, may pass judgement based on outside factors. The Heavenly death penalty may be waived by virtue of a potential righteous offspring. Moshe, therefore, had to make sure that no good man would come out of the Egyptians descendants in order to determine that he was fit for the Heavenly death penalty.

My father offers a more straightforward approach to the first pasuk we dealt with. In the famous episode of Kayin and Hevel, we find a similar nuance. The pasuk (Bereishis 4:8) reads: "And Kayin said to Hevel, and they were in the field and Kayin came upon Hevel his brother and killed him." The pasuk does not recount what it was that he said. Rashi there writes that the words that were spoken were words of incitement. Rather than kill his brother out of the blue, Kayin was picking a fight in order to lead up to the murder. The use of "amirah" may be understood likewise in our case. Dasan's accusation may thus be understood, "Are you, Moshe, starting up with me and inciting me so that you eventually kill me as you did the Egyptian?" This is a more simplistic understanding of the pasuk.

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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