Parsha Q&A - Parshas Vaera

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Parsha Q&A

Parshas Vaera

For the week ending 28 Teves 5759 / 15 & 16 January 1999

Contents:
  • Parsha Questions
  • Sherlox Holmes
  • I Did Not Know That!
  • Recommended Reading List
  • Answers to Parsha Questions
  • Solution to Sherlox Holmes
  • Back issues of Parsha Q&A
  • Subscription Information
  • Ohr Somayach Home Page

  • This publication is also available in the following formats: [Text] [Word] [PDF] Explanation of these symbols 

    Parsha Questions

    Answers | Contents

    1. Did Hashem ever appear to Avraham and say "I am Hashem?"
    2. What does "orlah" mean?
    3. How was Moshe commanded to act towards Pharaoh?
    4. How long did Levi live?
    5. Hashem told Avraham that his descendants would live as strangers for 400 years (Bereishis 15:13). When did this period begin?
    6. Who was Aharon's wife? Who was her father? Who was her brother?
    7. Why are Yisro and Yosef both referred to as "Putiel?"
    8. After which plague did Hashem begin to "harden Pharaoh's heart?"
    9. Why did Pharaoh go to the Nile every morning?
    10. Give two reasons why the blood was chosen as the first plague.
    11. How long did the plague of blood last?
    12. Why did the frogs affect Pharaoh's house first?
    13. What did Moshe mean when he told Pharaoh that the frogs would be "in you and in your nation?"
    14. Why didn't Moshe strike the dust to initiate the plague of lice?
    15. Why were the Egyptian sorcerers unable to bring about lice?
    16. Why didn't the wild beasts die as the frogs had?
    17. What two miracles took place when Moshe hurled the soot upward to begin the plague of boils?
    18. The dever killed "all the cattle of Egypt." Later, boils afflicted their cattle. How can this be?
    19. Why did Moshe pray only after leaving the city?
    20. What was miraculous about the way the hail stopped falling?


     
    Solution 
    Contents

    Sherlox Holmes and the Bloody Mystery

    "Whenever someone does something out of the ordinary," said world famous detextive Sherlox Holmes, "it arouses suspicion."

    "Speaking of the out-of-the-ordinary," said Watstein, "I'm perplexed. Regarding the first of the ten plagues, Moshe warns Pharaoh that the Nile waters will 'turn to blood (Exodus 7:17).' "

    "What's so perplexing?" asked Sherlox. "G-d can do anything."

    "It's Rashi that's perplexing. Rashi explains that before G-d punishes a nation, He first punishes their gods. The Egyptians worshipped the Nile; thus, as the first of the ten plagues, G-d smote the Nile waters by turning them to blood."

    "At last the Nile gets its just dessert!"

    "But what's wrong with the simple meaning of the text; that G-d was punishing the Egyptians by ruining their water supply? What forces Rashi to say that G-d was 'punishing' the Nile?"

    "Whenever someone does something out of the ordinary," said Sherlox, "it arouses suspicion."


    I Did Not Know That!

    "G-d will distinguish between the livestock of the Children of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, and nothing belonging to the Children of Israel will die." (9:4)

    In order to avoid the plague of cattle disease, some Egyptians sold their cattle to Jews. But since their sale was not sincere but was intended solely to avoid the ill effects of the plague, their cattle died anyway.

    (Ohr Hachayim Hakadosh)


    Recommended Reading List

    Ramban
    6:2
    Subtle and Sensational Miracles
    6:6
    Four Dimensions of Redemption
    6:9
    Why Moshe was Ignored
    6:10
    The Meaning of "Leimor"
    7:3
    The Free Will of Pharaoh (also see Sifsei Chachamim on Rashi)
    8:6
    Why Pharaoh said "Tomorrow"
    8:18,25
    Uniqueness of Fourth Plague
    9:3
    The Cattle in the Field
    Sforno
    7:3
    Pharaoh's Hard Heart
    8:12
    Structure of the Plagues.
    9:14
    Effects of the Plagues

    Kli Yakar
    6:26-27
    Aharon and Moshe
    7:17
    Three Sets of Plagues
    8:27
    "Mesiras Nefesh" of the Frogs


    Answers to this Week's Questions

    All references are to the verses and Rashi's commentary, unless otherwise stated

    1. Did Hashem ever appear to Avraham and say "I am Hashem?"
      6:9 - Yes.

    2. What does "orlah" mean?
      6:12 - Sealed.

    3. How was Moshe commanded to act towards Pharaoh?
      6:13 - With the respect due a king.

    4. How long did Levi live?
      6:16 - 137 years.

    5. Hashem told Avraham that his descendants would live as strangers for 400 years (Bereishis15:13). When did this period begin?
      6:18 - With the birth of Yitzchak.

    6. Who was Aharon's wife? Who was her father? Who was her brother?
      6:23 - Elisheva, daughter of Aminadav, sister of Nachshon.

    7. Why are Yisro and Yosef both referred to as "Putiel?"
      6:25 - Yisro fattened (pitem) cows for idol worship. Yosef scoffed (pitpet) at his evil inclination.

    8. After which plague did Hashem begin to "harden Pharaoh's heart?"
      7:3 - After the sixth plague - shechin.

    9. Why did Pharaoh go to the Nile every morning?
      7:15 - To relieve himself. Pharaoh pretended to be a god who did not need to attend to his bodily functions. Therefore, he secretly used the Nile for this purpose.

    10. Give two reasons why the blood was chosen as the first plague.
      7:17 - a) Because the Nile was an Egyptian god.
      8:17 - b) Because an invading army first attacks the enemy's water supply, and Hashem did the same.

    11. How long did the plague of blood last?
      7:25 - Seven days.

    12. Why did the frogs affect Pharaoh's house first?
      7:28 - Pharaoh himself advised the enslavement of the Jewish People.

    13. What did Moshe mean when he told Pharaoh that the frogs would be "in you and in your nation?"
      7:29 - He warned that the frogs would enter their intestines and croak.

    14. Why didn't Moshe strike the dust to initiate the plague of lice?
      8:12 - Because the dust protected Moshe by hiding the body of the Egyptian that Moshe killed.

    15. Why were the Egyptian sorcerers unable to bring about lice?
      8:14 - The Egyptian sorcerers' magic had no power over anything smaller than a barley kernel.

    16. Why didn't the wild beasts die as the frogs had?
      8:27 - So the Egyptians would not benefit from their hides.

    17. What two miracles took place when Moshe hurled the soot upward to begin the plague of boils?
      9:8 - 1) Moshe was able to hold four handfuls of soot (two of his own and two of Aharon's) in one hand.
      2) This small amount of soot spread over the entire land of Egypt.

    18. The dever killed "all the cattle of Egypt." Later, boils afflicted their cattle. How can this be?
      9:10 - In the plague of dever only the cattle in the fields died. The plague of shechin affected the surviving cattle.

    19. Why did Moshe pray only after leaving the city?
      9:29 - Because the city was full of idols.

    20. What was miraculous about the way the hail stopped falling?
      9:33 - The hailstones stopped in mid-air and didn't fall to the ground.



    Mystery
    Contents

    Solution to Sherlox Holmes

    "What's the first thing an invading army usually does to the enemy's water supply?" asked Sherlox.

    "They cut it off," said Watstein, "but what's your point?"

    "So why didn't G-d do the same to the Egyptians? Why didn't He simply cut off their water supply?"

    "Hmm...you mean, if G-d merely wanted to punish the Egyptians, He could have simply dried up the Nile?"

    "Exactly," said Sherlox. "A dry Nile would punish the Egyptians just as a bloody Nile would, without departing so far from nature."

    "I see," said Watstein. "Rashi is bothered by the added miracle of the Nile turning to blood. What purpose did it serve? Rashi answers that G-d wasn't punishing the Egyptians only. The extra-ordinary measure of turning the water to blood was also 'punishing' their god, the Nile."

    "Extraordinary, Dr. Watstein."

    (Based on Maskil L'David; Sherlox" is by Reuven Subar,
    inspired by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek's "What's Bothering Rashi")

    Written and Compiled by Rabbi Eliyahu Kane & Rabbi Reuven Subar
    General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
    Production Design: Eli Ballon
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