Vol 31.07 - Va'eira 4 Spanish French Audio Video
Rashi (9:18): "at this time tomorrow": The differences in Rashi's commentary (in the aspect of "He made a scratch on the wall etc.) - here, in Parshat Va'eira 18:10 and ibid 21:2. The reason that only by the plague of hail did Moshe publicize the exact moment of the plague and the explanation according to pnimiyut. (5740 - Vol. 31, XXXI, Pg. 41)
1. Regarding the warning to pharaoh in the plague of Hail (Barad), the Parsha (Ex. 9:18) states:
“Behold, I am going to rain down at this time tomorrow a very heavy hail etc.”
הִנְנִ֤י מַמְטִיר֙ כָּעֵ֣ת מָחָ֔ר בָּרָ֖ד כָּבֵ֣ד מְאֹ֑ד אֲשֶׁ֨ר לֹֽא־הָיָ֤ה כָמֹ֨הוּ֙ בְּמִצְרַ֔יִם לְמִן־הַיּ֥וֹם הִוָּֽסְדָ֖ה וְעַד־עָֽתָּה:
“At this time tomorrow: (מָחָר כָּעֵת lit., at the time tomorrow, meaning) at this time tomorrow. He made a scratch on the wall (to demonstrate that) “Tomorrow, when the sun reaches here, the hail will come down.”
כעת מחר: כעת הזאת למחר, שרט לו שריטה בכותל למחר כשתגיע חמה לכאן ירד הברד
The commentators explain that Rashi’s precise wording stems from the words “at this time tomorrow/ כָּעֵ֣ת מָחָ֔ר” (where it does not just state, “tomorrow” like it does previously regarding the plague of pestilence). For “At the time” (with the vowel Kamatz ׇ) means “at this time tomorrow”. In other words the “time that he is speaking with him”.
However, one must examine this. How does Rashi know, according to the simple meaning of the verse, that Moshe did not just indicate to pharaoh the time that the Barad would fall (“at this time tomorrow”) but also that "He made a scratch on the wall to demonstrate that 'Tomorrow, when the sun reaches here, the hail will come down'“?
One cannot say that this was the only way to clarify and publicize a specific time of the day. For they certainly had different types of apparatus to know the time, for example a water-clock and so forth.
(In the sefer Maskil l’David on this Rashi, he writes that “the rabbi (of the sefer) Yaffa To’ar has already noticed and added his portion (“הניחו חלק”). However, the truth is that Aggadot like this cannot be understood except according to the esoteric ways of Torah (“עפ"י הנסתר”)”. He therefore goes on to explain this according to sod (secret/ סוד), as will be explained par. 5).
2. There are those who explain that the necessity for this is from the word “At the time/ כָּעֵ֣ת”. For the explanation of “At the time/ כָּעֵ֣ת”, with the vowel of a Kamatz, is like “like the time” (כהעת), in other words, the known time. Therefore, it was necessary for him to say “this”. For the word “this” and “that” ("זה" ו"זאת") depict pointing with one’s finger, as the Sages state in many places . . Therefore, it was necessary for him to “scratch on the wall and point to it with his finger to indicate that when the sun reaches that point. For on this it is fitting the pointing of a finger. This is also explaned in the Tanchuma regarding Avraham where it states, “I will surely return to you at this time next year’ (כעת חי'), and this is due to the aforementioned reason”.
However, besides that which it still does not answer how Rashi knows that he specifically made a scratch on the wall,
(and that he did not point to a “water clock”, and so forth, that at this time tomorrow the Barad would fall),
in addition, in a previous comment of Rashi regarding Avraham it proves, that it is not the view of Rashi that the word “At the time/ כעת” means that he pointed to it with his finger.
On the verse “I will surely return to you at this time next year’ regarding Avraham, Rashi explains that it means “At this time in the coming year”. Moreover, he does not cite there, the explanation of the Tanchuma that G-d made a scratch on the wall. (He also not cite any other explanation that is relevant to say that “pointing with a finger”).
Similarly, later on, on the verse (regarding G-d‘s words to Avraham),
“At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year and Sarah will have a son”, (למועד אשוב אליך כעת חי' ולשרה בן)
Rashi explains (the word):
“At the appointed time (למועד): At that time that was appointed, that I set for you yesterday, (when I said) (17:21): “at this time next year.”.
However, he does not explanation the words “At this time/ כעת חי'“, at all.
It is even more puzzling:
In the story of Yitzchak’s birth it states:
“And Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the time of which G-d had spoken to him”
“at the time of which G-d had spoken: i.e., the time that He had spoken and fixed, when he (the angel) said to him (18:14):“At the appointed time, I will return to you.” He made a scratch on the wall, and said to him,“ When the sun reaches this scratch next year, she will give birth.”.
Yet there, Rashi does indeed, cite the explanation of the Tanchuma.
From all this it proves that according to Rashi’s view, there is no necessity to maintain that the words “At this time” involved any deed of “pointing with a finger” - it is just an expression that depicts the setting of a specifically and clear time.
(One could say that Rashi’s necessity (in Parsha Vayeira) to state that G-d “made a scratch on the wall etc.” is from the extra words of the verse in the story of Yitzchak’s birth.
After it states,
“And the L-rd remembered Sarah as He had said, and the L-rd did to Sarah as He had spoken”,
it is simple the Yitzchak’s birth was precisely “as He said” namely “at the time of which G-d had spoken to him”. Therefore, why is it necessary for the verse to delineate this detail?
Therefore, Rashi explains that, this superfluousness teaches us that at the time of Yitzchak’s birth it was recognizable to all that the birth was “at the time of which G-d had spoken to him”. How so? Therefore, Rashi states that G-d “made a scratch on the wall etc.” in a manner that everyone saw and gave witness that Yitzchak was born precisely “at the time of which G-d had spoken to him”).
If so, how does Rashi know in our Parsha that Moshe Rabbeinu not only indicated to pharaoh the precise time of the falling of the Barad (“At this time tomorrow tomorrow”), but that he also made a sign and “made a scratch on the wall etc.”?
One can explain this by prefacing a question:
In what way was this plague different from the other plagues, that specifically with this one, Moshe indicated to pharaoh the precise time of the beginning of the plague?
Seemingly, there is room to say that this was because of those “who feared the word of the L-rd” to enable them to bring his servants and livestock into the houses. Therefore, Moshe indicated to pharaoh the precise time of the beginning of the falling of the Barad in order that they know when to bring the servants and livestock into the houses.
However, to negate this explanation, Rashi adds, “He made a scratch on the wall etc.” Through this addition, it is clear that Moshe’s purpose in saying “At this time tomorrow” was not for the benefit of “who feared the word of the L-rd”. For they were not present in pharaoh’s palace and they could not discern when (the sun reached) this sign of the “scratch on the wall”. Therefore, this was solely and specifically for pharaoh himself. For when pharaoh would see that not only are G-d’s words fulfilled, but that they are precise to the exact moment that was set for the plague, it would be impossible for him have any doubt that truly, the hand of G-d is doing this.
(And the necessity to say that this was not for the benefit of those “who feared the word of the L-rd” is understood simply. For even if Moshe plainly said “behold, I am going to rain down tomorrow a very heavy hail,” (like he said with the plague of the noxious creatures (Arov) and pestilence), those “who feared the word of the L-rd” would have been able to save their servants and livestock. Moreover, was Moshe’s intent to profit by enabling them to place their servants and livestock in the field, for the little time of the beginning of the following day until the Barad fell?!)
One should not ask why G-d did this just with the plague of Barad
(And not before this with the plague of pestilence and noxious creatures (Arov) whose time was set just in a general manner, namely that it would be tomorrow),
for this is self-understood from the flow of the verses here:
In the wording of the warning of the plague of Barad, we find a specific preface (that we do not find with the other previous plagues).
“Because this time, I am sending all My plagues into your heart . . in order that you know that there is none like Me in the entire earth . . But, for this (reason) I have allowed you to stand, in order to show you My strength and in order to declare My name all over the earth”.
In other words this plague (more than all the other previously plagues) clearly proved G-d’s power. Therefore, the reason that G-d showed “His power” to pharaoh, even with regard to the setting of the time of the plague, in that he intended the exact moment that the plague would begin, is plainly understood.
4. According to all of the aforementioned, one can also explain the necessity to say that Moshe specifically “made a scratch on the wall”. (And he did not point an Egyptian “clock”). And in general, why we know that he made some sign and did not just plainly say “At this time tomorrow”.
Since the entire intent of the setting of the time was to show pharaoh that G-d is able to synchronize the exact moment, there was no place to rely on a time-piece, which belonged to pharaoh and his astrologers, in order for them to see how G-d sets the precise time. For it is possible that these clocks (that are man-made) are not precise, or it could be that the astrologers would err in their calculation etc., and they would think that Moshe did not calculate the correct moment.
Therefore, Rashi explains further on regarding the Plague of the Firstborn, in Moshe’s words to pharaoh,
“So said the L-rd, At the dividing point of the night (midnight/ כחצות הלילה), I will go out etc.”
“Moshe said כַּחִצֹת, about midnight, meaning near it (midnight), either before it or after it, but he did not say בַּחֲצֹת, at midnight, lest Pharaoh’s astrologers err and (then) say, “Moshe is a liar”.
Therefore, it is necessary to say that Moshe made a sign that is impossible to err with. Therefore, he explains that “He made a scratch on the wall to demonstrate that ‘Tomorrow, when the sun reaches here, the hail will come down”. For this sign is not dependent on man but rather heaven (the course of the sun) and one cannot err in it.
(According to this, it is fitting why Rashi is in his aforementioned comment in Parshat Bo, on the verse “At the dividing point of the night” also states in the heading of the comment “the night”,
(And also in the body of his comment, he says, “Our Rabbis, however, interpreted it like כַּחֲצִי הַלַיְלָה, at about midnight (lit., half the night”, and he does not say concisely “like half the night”).
For one could say that the foundation of Rashi’s comment is because it is specifically speaking of midnight. For f it would have been speaking of noon, there would not have been any need to deviate from G-d’s words in order that they not say “Moshe is a liar”. For it would have been possible to make “a scratch on the wall” (like he did with the plague of Barad). However, since here it is speaking of midnight, and there is no sign that one cannot err with, he did not have any choice but to deviate and say “at about midnight”).
5. From the homiletic style of Torah in Rashi's commentary (“Yayina shel Torah”):
The words of the Maskil l’David were mentioned previously, that he explains Rashi according to Sod.
The essence of his words are:
Rashi cites further on that the Barad was a “miracle within a miracle. The fire and hail intermingled. . . to perform the will of their Maker they made peace between. This intermingling of fire and water depicts the inclusion of the Midah of mercy (Rachamim) and the Midah of judgment (din).
Since they are intermingled together, it depicts the Unity of G-d (Havaye) and His Shechinah (din) “through peace (shalom)”. This is also the allusion why “He made a scratch on the wall to demonstrate that . . ‘when the sun reaches here, the hail will come down’”. For the making of a “scratch on the wall” as well as “when the sun reaches here” depict the Unity of G-d and His Shechinah (like it is explained there according to Zohar).
One could add that the inclusion of mercy and din in this plague – is explained simply in the verses:
The plague of Barad was unique among all the other plagues in two extremes.
One could say that the combining of these two opposites is also emphasized in the general topic of this Rashi that, “At this time tomorrow “He made a scratch”.
For with this it emphasizes (as aforementioned, at length) how G-d intended the exact moment of the beginning of the plague.
The plague came from G-d’s name, as has been explained many times. For through the plagues pharaoh (and the Egyptians) knew that “I am the L-rd”, as is explained in the plague of Barad itself, as it states “And the L-rd gave forth thunder and hail etc.” For “G-d’s name Havaye indicates that He transcends time, that “He was, is, and will be — all at the same instant”. Together with this, the plague comes at the precise moment of (physical) bounded time, in the exact moment – the connection of above time - with time (חיבור של למעלה מזמן וזמן).
MSichas Shabbat Parshat Va’era, and Shabbat Parshat Bo 5740
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