Rabbi Reisman – Parshas Bo 5782
1 – Topic – A Halacha Thought
As we prepare for Shabbos Parshas Bo the Parsha of Yetzias Mitzrayim. Let’s discuss a somewhat Halachik issue and a Machshava issue and maybe even a question to end with. Let me start with one topic which involves a Ramban in Parshas Bo and a Ramban in Parshas Yisro and in both of them the Ramban introduces a topic which is somewhat ambiguous whether the words of the Ramban are Halacha L’mayseh.
On the Posuk that is found in 12:2 (הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם) the Ramban says that it is a Mitzvah to count the months starting with the month of Nissan. Even though the year begins with Tishrei, but it is a type of Zeicher Yetzias Mitzrayim that Jews count the months from Nissan of year one, year two and so forth. Ai the months all have names; Nissan, Iyar, Sivan, Tammuz, Av… and these names don’t appear in Tanach until the end of the Galus of the Bayis Rishon. In Megillas Esther and in Zecharya we find these months. The Yerushalmi says that these are not Jewish names and that they are names which came with them from Paras and Madai and they are not Jewish names at all. Why did Jews use non-Jewish names?
The Ramban says that it is a Kiyum of Yirmiyah’s Nevuah. Yirmiyah said that the Jews will return to Eretz Yisrael after 70 years. Yirmiyah 16:14 (ולא יאמר עוד חי ר' אשר העלה את בני ישראל מארץ מצרים). 16:15 (כִּי אִם-חַי-יְרוָר, אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱלָה אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאֶרֶץ צָפוֹן). We are going to praise Hashem not just for taking us out of Mitzrayim but for bringing us back from the Galus Bayis Rishon and as a Kiyum of that we have these names. So we use the names Nissan, Iyar, Sivan, Tammuz, Av, Elul with a Kiyum of Nevuas Yirmiyah to use names that were brought back from Bavel with the Yidden by the Bayis Sheini. What does the Ramban mean? Does he mean that the Mitzvah changed? The Sefer Ha’ikrim in Maimar Gimmel Perek Yud Ches wonders because it sounds like the Ramban holds that the Mitzvah changed.
The Abarbanel in this week’s Parsha says no. He says that Minyan Chadasha Lo Zaza Mimikoman. We still count the months by their number but we also have a name. He brings numerous examples from Megillas Esther. It says in 2:16 (בַּחֹדֶשׁ הָעֲשִׂירִי, הוּא-חֹדֶשׁ טֵבֵת). It says in 3:7 (בַּחֹדֶשׁ הָרִאשׁוֹן, הוּא-חֹדֶשׁ נִיסָן). It says in 3:13 (בִּשְׁלוֹשָׁה עָשָׂר לְחֹדֶשׁ שְׁנֵים-עָשָׂר הוּא-חֹדֶשׁ אֲדָר). In each of these cases it says the number plus the name. The Minyan – for example – (לְחֹדֶשׁ שְׁנֵים-עָשָׂר) plus the name (חֹדֶשׁ אֲדָר). Says the Abarbanel that is the idea of the Ramban that we have name plus number and that is the way we deal with months today.
There is a Shtarka Kasha on this. The question is if you listen carefully when they are reading a Kesuba and the same thing is true when Gittin are written, we say B’yom Ploni L’chodesh and we right just the name of the Chodesh like we say L’chodesh Shvat. If you go to a wedding you will see that they say Chodesh Shvat. Why are they saying Chodesh Shvat why don’t they say Chodesh Achad Asar Hu Chodesh Shvat? It is a big Tzorech Iyum Gadol on our Hanhaga. The Ramban says that it is a Mitzva to count months by the number and we don’t.
You know something, why do I have to mention a Kesuba, when we Bentch Rosh Chodesh we said Rosh Chodesh Shvat Yi’yeh B’yom Sheini Habo Aleinu V’al Kol Yisrael L’tovah. Why do we say Rosh Chodesh Shvat, why don’t we say Rosh Chodesh Achad Asar Hu Chodesh Shvat Yi’yeh B’yom Sheini?
Tzorech Iyun Gadol. It needs a Hesber as to why we do Kiddush Hachodesh without mentioning the name of the month and not the number of the month. As I said at the outset, it is a little ambiguous as to whether this Ramban is Halacha L’mayseh.
There is a second matching Ramban. The Ramban in Parshas Yisro in 20:8 talks about the days of the week and there he says that it is a Mitzvah to count the days of the week from Shabbos and that is part of the Mitzvah of (זָכוֹר אֶת-יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת). It is to count the days of the week by Shabbos. Just like days of the month in the Torah there are no names for the month, same thing names of the week there are no names for the week anywhere in the Torah.
The Torah Temimah there in Yisro Os Nun Ches says that not only don’t we find names of the day of the week but we don’t even find the name of the week mentioned in the Torah. The Torah always tells us dates, the Torah doesn’t tell the day that we left Mitzrayim, the day we stood at Matan Torah etc. The Torah never mentions it.
The Torah Temimah asks why when we write a Kesuba or Gittin do we write the name. If you listen when they read the Kesuba under the Chuppah they will say (if it is a wedding on a Monday night B’ezras Hashem), B’yom Shlishi Asara Yomim L’chodesh Shvat. Why do they say the name of the week, who asked them to write the name of the week in the Kesuba or in a Get, if the Torah never writes it why is it that we do? It needs a little bit of an explanation.
Our Minhag in general needs explanation. We use the name of the week Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or in Yiddish Zuntig, Muntig, Dinstig, we do use the name of the week. It needs something of an explanation that the second Ramban that we don’t seem to practice.
The Satmar Rebbe in Sh’Ut Divrei Yoel Siman Tes Vav says that we don’t Pasken like this Ramban. The Ramban says (זָכוֹר אֶת-יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת). Part of the Zechira of Shabbos is to mention the day of the week until Shabbos. We have other Drashos from (זָכוֹר) as Rashi brings there in Parshas Yisro. He says I guess we don’t Pasken like this. But it is interesting that the Torah doesn’t have names for both the day of the month and the day of the week and we in our expressions constantly do use names of days and names of months. It is also interesting in the Gemara it always says years by the name of kings and we for whatever reason count years to Maiseh Beraishis when we talk about Jewish years. It is interesting that we do things so differently.
At any rate, these are two Ramban’s. Mis’tum it is good to do the Ramban’s Mitzvah even if we don’t Pasken like the Ramban and to say what day is it today? It is Yom Chamishi. Everyone knows when is Mishmar? Mishmar is Leil Shishi. It is coming Erev Shabbos. Leil Shishi is a special Zechus to stay up and learn. If not a whole night then late and learn. That is called Leil Shishi. That is tonight. As I say these Ramban’s are Halachik Rambans but somewhat ambiguous as to Halacha L’mayseh.
2 – Topic – A Machshava Thought
Rav Schwab on the Haggadah writes an interesting idea. That when a Rasha uses a Middah Tovah, afterwards it gets pulled away from him and if he doesn’t grab it right back he goes to the opposite extreme. When a Rasha uses a Midah Tovah he has an opportunity, and if he doesn’t hold onto it tightly then he loses it.
He gives a few examples. Eisav in the beginning of Parshas Vayishlach, Nich’miru Rachamav, he genuinely expressed love for his brother Yaakov. After that, (וְעֶבְרָתוֹ שְׁמָרָה נֶצַח) as it says in Amos 1:11. His anger is eternal. He had a Nisayon to grab onto that Midah and once he lost it, it was gone forever.
The Mitzrim, as it says in 11:2 (וְיִשְׁאֲלוּ אִישׁ מֵאֵת רֵעֵהוּ, וְאִשָּׁה מֵאֵת רְעוּתָהּ). Rashi on 12:36 says that somehow Klal Yisrael found Chein in the eyes of the Egyptians at that moment. (אף מה שלא היו שואלים מהם היו נותנים להם). They gave with a genuine desire to give. So for a moment there was an expression of Midah Tovah to Klal Yisrael and they didn’t hold onto it. Afterwards they ran after them to kill them, to kill Klal Yisrael. Midah Tovah, they expressed it and it came to the forefront, and once they lose it they don’t hold onto it and it is gone.
Rav Schwab, the same thing with Germany. Germany in the 1800’s was open to Jews, was kind to Jews. They let go of that Midah. Once they let go of that Midah they had a terrible hatred for Klal Yisrael which of course came out in our century. So this is an observation of Rav Schwab.
I would like to add a Nekuda to this. Rav Pam used to say that just like the Gemara says Hillel is Mechayeiv the Aniyim, certain people are Mechayeiv other people. Rav Pam often said that every person has their own time that is Mechayeiv him. What he said was that sometimes you do something that is a kindness to somebody else, that is a special Chesed to somebody else, and at that time when you achieve that level, you have to hold onto it. You grab it and you have to hold onto it. It is a Mechayeiv. It sort of obligates you to try to stay with that which you have held onto a Midah Tovah.
According to Rav Schwab you better hold onto it. It is a Sakana. Once you shine at something, you got to grab onto that Midah and hold that Midah. Once you start for example giving over to a Tzibbur, being involved with a Shul, helping with even the practical things in Shul, don’t let go of it. Because if you let go of it, it is a Sakana that you will go to the other extreme. Once you do a Hanhaga Tovah you have to be careful to hold on as best you can to that Hanhaga Tovah. It is a danger that you will lose it. It shines and it is meaningful to you, preserve it, stay with it and guard it.
3 – Topic – A Question of the week
There are two Rashi’s in this Parsha that need explanation. The Posuk in 12:3 says (בֶּעָשֹׂר, לַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה: וְיִקְחוּ לָהֶם, אִישׁ שֶׂה לְבֵית-אָבֹת). On the 10th of Nissan the Jews took a sheep which was offered for a Korban Pesach and it was a miracle that the Mitzrim could do nothing. They saw that this was their god, the sheep and they did nothing. It was a miracle. Some miracle. Rashi in 10:22 says (חשך) was for six days. Rashi in 11:4 says that Pharoh when he told Moshe Rabbeinu don’t come see me again and Moshe said that Hashem had said (כַּחֲצֹת הַלַּיְלָה, אֲנִי יוֹצֵא בְּתוֹךְ מִצְרָיִם). He told him about Makkas Bechoros. That was in the same time that he was standing there by the end of Makkas Choshech. So that Choshech ended and it was in the same time that they were standing there that he told Pharoh that tomorrow is Makkas Bechoros.
If that is true and you count back that Makkas Bechoros would be the next day that means that they were standing there on Yud Gimmel. So Choshech was six days and let’s say Yud Gimmel was one of them. It means that Choshech was Ches, Tes, Yud, Yud Aleph, Yud Beis and Yud Gimmel. On the 10th of Nissan the Mitzrim were in the middle of the Yemai Hachoshech. What is Rashi saying that they saw Klal Yisrael taking sheep and they could do nothing. What did they see if Choshech means darkness, Choshech presumably means that they did not see. It needs an explanation. What does it mean that they saw and they could do nothing?
I hope before the Pesach Seder we have an answer because I am going to file this Kasha away Bli Neder for Pesach for the Seder night. This is a new Kasha that needs an answer. With that I will wish everybody an absolutely wonderful Mishmar night. Wishing everyone an absolutely wonderful Shabbos Kodesh!