Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Mysterious Parsha Of The Bitter Waters

לרפואת הרב בנימין יהודה בן רחל
לרפואת שרה לאה בת רבקה
לזכות עדינה בת שבע בת נעכא גיטל

I had a few minutes so I started reading some psukim in parshas Beshalach [פרק ט"ו] and was bothered by the following questions. There are many more questions but this will suffice for now.

 So here goes. 

וַיַּסַּע מֹשֶׁה אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל מִיַּם סוּף וַיֵּצְאוּ אֶל מִדְבַּר שׁוּר, וַיֵּלְכוּ שְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים בַּמִּדְבָּר וְלֹא מָצְאוּ מָיִם. כג וַיָּבֹאוּ מָרָתָה, וְלֹא יָכְלוּ לִשְׁתֹּת מַיִם מִמָּרָה כִּי מָרִים הֵם, עַל כֵּן קָרָא שְׁמָהּ 'מָרָה'. כד וַיִּלֹּנוּ הָעָם עַל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר: "מַה נִּשְׁתֶּה?". כה וַיִּצְעַק אֶל יְהוָה, וַיּוֹרֵהוּ יְהוָה עֵץ, וַיַּשְׁלֵךְ אֶל הַמַּיִם וַיִּמְתְּקוּ הַמָּיִם. שָׁם שָׂם לוֹ חֹק וּמִשְׁפָּט וְשָׁם נִסָּהוּ. כו וַיֹּאמֶר: "אִם שָׁמוֹעַ תִּשְׁמַע לְקוֹל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וְהַיָּשָׁר בְּעֵינָיו תַּעֲשֶׂה וְהַאֲזַנְתָּ לְמִצְו‍ֹתָיו וְשָׁמַרְתָּ כָּל חֻקָּיו, כָּל הַמַּחֲלָה אֲשֶׁר שַׂמְתִּי בְמִצְרַיִם לֹא אָשִׂים עָלֶיךָ כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָה רֹפְאֶךָ". כז וַיָּבֹאוּ אֵילִמָה, וְשָׁם שְׁתֵּים עֶשְׂרֵה עֵינֹת מַיִם וְשִׁבְעִים תְּמָרִים, וַיַּחֲנוּ שָׁם עַל הַמָּיִם.

Moshe led Israel away from the Red Sea, and they went out into the desert of Shur; they walked for three days in the desert but did not find water.

They came to Marah, but they could not drink water from Marah because it was bitter; therefore, it was named Marah.

The people complained against Moshe, saying, What shall we drink?

So he cried out to the Hashem, and the Hashem instructed him concerning a piece of wood, which he cast into the water, and the water became sweet. There He gave them a statute and an ordinance, and there He tested them.

And He said, If you hearken to the voice of the Lord, your God, and you do what is proper in His eyes, and you listen closely to His commandments and observe all His statutes, all the sicknesses that I have visited upon Egypt I will not visit upon you, for I, the Lord, heal you.

They came to Elim, and there were twelve water fountains and seventy palms, and they encamped there by the water.

A number of questions I am pondering and need help.

1] On the words ויסע משה, Rashi says that he led them away against their will because of all the great bounty that was available to the Jews from the horses of the Egyptians who were adorned with gold, silver and jewelery. 

My question is - What were the Egyptians thinking when they dressed up their horses. Who puts jewelry on his horses?? And to wage war?? 

2] The people complained to Moshe and asked "What will we drink?" And Moshe cries out to Hashem. After 10 makkos and Krias Yam Suf didn't it occur to the Jews that the correct address for their request would be Hashem?  

3] Why couldn't Hashem just make the water sweet without the piece of wood? What was the meaning of this wood throwing? 

3] "The water became sweet. There he gave them a statute and ordinance" - Rashi says that in Marah he gave them a few laws such as Parah Aduma, Dinim [court related laws] and Shabbos. GRRREAT! But what is this information doing in the very same pasuk where it says that the water became sweet?? They seem to have NOTHING to do with each other yet are in the same pasuk?! And then the pasuk goes back to the water story and says ושם נסהו - there they were tested. How does one explain the flow of the pasuk? 

4] Why didn't Hashem wait until Matan Torah to give them these laws?

5] Why specifically these laws and no others?

6] Rashi says that the test was if they were going to ask nicely but they spoke disrespectfully and complained. Shouldn't the test have been whether they were going to daven to Hashem [as we said earlier]? It seems that they were SUPPOSED to turn to Moshe and just speak nicely. 

7] אם שמוע תשמע - Why the tautology ["double lashon"]?

8] First the pasuk says that we must "listen". Rashi says that this means to accept. Then the pasuk continues and says that we should do what is ישר in the eyes of Hashem. All good. But then we continue "והאזנת למצותיו" - You listen to his mitzvos. Rashi says תטה אזניים לדקדק בהם - Incline our ears to be careful about them. But this is after we ALREADY accepted and did them, so what are we adding. And first it is קול ה' אלקיך and then it is מצוותיו. What is the difference? Then we say ושמרת כל חקיו. You guard ALL of his statutes. So why not והאזנת לכל מצותיו - Listen to ALL of His mitzvos. But no - here it just says והאזנת למצותיו without the כל. 

9] Rashi says that the חקים are those mitzvos we don't understand such as shaatnez, eating חזיר and Parah Aduma. Odd. We haven't yet been commanded about חזיר and שעטנז so why are we already being warned??

10] First Hashem is called twice by his שם הויה. Then he is called הויה אלקיך. What changed?