April 19, 2024
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Zera Shimshon on Parshas Yisro

וַיְסַפֵּר משֶׁה לְחֹתְנוֹ אֵת כָּל אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה יְדֹוָד לְפַרְעֹה וּלְמִצְרַיִם עַל אוֹדֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל אֵת כָּל הַתְּלָאָה אֲשֶׁר מְצָאָתַם בַּדֶּרֶךְ וַיַּצִּלֵם יְדֹוָד: וַיִּחַדְּ יִתְרוֹ עַל כָּל הַטּוֹבָה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה יְדֹוָד לְיִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר הִצִּילוֹ מִיַּד מִצְרָיִם: וַיֹּאמֶר יִתְרוֹ בָּרוּךְ יְדֹוָד אֲשֶׁר הִצִּיל אֶתְכֶם מִיַּד מִצְרַיִם וּמִיַּד פַּרְעֹה אֲשֶׁר הִצִּיל אֶת הָעָם מִתַּחַת יַד מִצְרָיִם: עַתָּה יָדַעְתִּי כִּי גָדוֹל יְדֹוָד מִכָּל הָאֱלֹהִים כִּי בַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר זָדוּ עֲלֵיהֶם: מות י”ח/ח-י

And Moshe related to his father in law all that Hashem did to Paroh and to the Egyptians because of Yisroel and all the hardships that they had on the way and that Hashem rescued them. And Yisro got goosebumps (according to one explanation of Rashi) and was distressed about all of the good Hashem did to Yisroel, that He saved them from the Egyptians. And Yisro said; Blessed is Hashem who saved you from the Egyptians and from Paroh and that He saved you from under the hands of the Egyptians. I now know that Hashem is greater than all the other gods because what they plotted against you boomeranged on you.

Zera Shimshon asks several questions on these pesukim but we’ll only deal with two of them.

It is written in Sanhedrin (94A); It was taught in the name of Reb Pappeyas: It is a disgrace for Moshe and the six hundred thousand 600,000 that they did not say “that Hashem is blessed”, until Yisro came and said; “Baruch Hashem asher heetzeel esschem meeyad Mitzrayim, Blessed be Hashem who saved you from the hands of Mitzrayim etc.”

Zera Shimshon asks in the name of the Pairosh HaYalkut, what is the disgrace that Bnei Yisroel did not say “Blessed be Hashem” after the miracle of the splitting of the sea? Even though Bnei Yisroel did not say “Blessed be Hashem,” they sang the whole Az Yashir which contains many praises to Hashem! Why is it a disgrace that Bnei Yisroel did not specifically use the praise of “blessed” and simply said praises?

Zera Shimshon answers that praise is not a bracha and a bracha is not praise. There is an obligation for a person to whom a miracle happened to recite a bracha and this obligation cannot be fulfilled by simply saying praise or even a lot of praises. A bracha must be said. Therefore, Reb Pappeyas said it was a disgrace for Bnei Yisroel and Moshe that they did not say a bracha on the miracle that happened to them even though they did sing praises.

(There is something that has to be added here. From this answer we see that Zera Shimshon understood that Yisro didn’t just praise Hashem when he said “Baruch Hashem” but he also made a proper bracha, if not how can Reb Pappeyas differentiate between them. There is a problem with this, though, because the halacha is that a bracha that doesn’t mention that Hashem is the King is not considered a bracha! How then can Zera Shimshon say that Yisro made a brachah to Hashem something that Bnei Yisroel didn’t do when he also didn’t make a proper bracha?

The Pnei Yehoshua (Berachos 54A) answers this question that there is no greater mention of Hashem being a King than what Yisro said; “asher hitzeel esschem meeyad Mitzrayim u’meeyad Paroah” and after that; “atah yadatti, I now know that there are no other gods other than Hashem!” In other words, even though that Yisro didn’t say the word, “king” he mentioned the characteristics of a king and this can certainly be considered as if he made a proper bracha!)

The second question that Zera Shimshon asks is that it is written in the Gemara Brachos that the source to make a bracha on miracles is that Yisro said Baruch Hashem after Moshe told him all that happened to him and to Bnei Yisroel. The Maharsha says that the halacha is that the bracha on miracles can be said only in the place where the miracle took place but not somewhere else. If that is the case, how could he make such a bracha since when Yisro met Moshe they were in the midbar, desert, and not next to the Yam Suf?

The Maharsha himself answers that since many miracles also happened in the desert it is as if the midbar is an extension of the Yam Suf and it is as if he was in the place of the miracle.

Zera Shimshon gives a different answer: In truth Yisro didn’t make the blessing, “Baruch sh’ahsaw nais, Blessed be the One that made a miracle,” because he wasn’t in the place of the miracle. Rather, he made the bracha of “baruch hatov v’hamaitiv, Blessed is the good One and the One who does good,” which is said on hearing good news. When the Gemara asked, “m’nah hanie milay, from where do we know to make a bracha,” it wasn’t asking what is the source for the specific bracha made on miracles,”baruch sh’awsei lee nais b’makom hazeh” but the Gemara was asking in general what is the source to make a bracha on miracles. The Gemara brought a proof from Yisro that, generally speaking, one must make a bracha on miracles. Which bracha? The Gemara wasn’t dealing with which specific bracha to make but the halacha is that it depends. In the place of the miracle, “baruch sh’awsei lee nais b’makom hazeh.” If he is not in the place where the miracle happened; baruch hatov v’hamaitiv.

Zera Shimshon then brings a proof from the pesukim that Yisro blessed, “Baruch hatov v’hamaitiv” and not “Baruch sh’awsei lee nais b’makom hazeh.”

In the first pasuk, pasuk 8, it is written that Moshe told Yisro of the miracles that happened to Bnei Yisroel. In the next pasuk it is written “vayichad Yisro” and Chazal took this to mean that he got goosebumps because he was distressed and upset about the destruction of Mitzrayim. After that, in the next pasuk, it says that Yisro said, “Baruch Hashem asher hitzeel esschem etc. Zera Shimshon argues that if he made the bracha of, “baruch sh’awsei lee nais b’makom hazeh” why did the Torah separate his hearing about the miracles and his making a bracha with his being sad about what happened to the Egyptians? Right after he heard of the miracles that happened to Moshe and Bnei Yisroel, the Torah should have written that he blessed Hashem!

However according to his peshat, that he made the bracha, “baruch hatov v’hamaitiv” the reason for the separation is totally understandable. The halacha is that on good tidings the bracha hatov v’hamaitiv is recited and on bad news the bracha baruch dayan haemes is recited. It is written in Gemara Berachos (59b) that if a father dies and leaves over an inheritance, the children who inherit him make two brachos; “baruch dayan haemes,” because they lost their father and then, “baruch hatov v’hamaitiv” because of the inheritance.

According to this, the order of the pesukim is exact. When Yisro heard all that happened to Bnei Yisroel he had mixed feelings. He was happy for Bnei Yisroel but sad for the Egyptians. There, it is written in the Torah right after the Torah related what he heard that he was sad and therefore he made the bracha, “baruch dayan haemes” and only after that did he make the bracha, “baruch hatov v’hamaitiv” in the same order of a son whose father passes away makes!

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