Vol 36.11 - Beshalach 1                    Spanish French Audio  Video

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Rashi (Ex. 15:16) "May dread…fall upon them" and "and fright".  Dread upon the distant ones and Fright upon the nearby ones - according to Pshat and Avodas HaAdam (5750 - Vol. 36, XXXVI pg 65ff)


1. On the verse (Ex. 15:16):

 "May dread…fall upon them . . and fright". (תִּפֹּל עֲלֵיהֶם אֵימָתָה וָפַחַד)

Rashi explains:

“May aimah/dread…fall upon them: (אֵימָתָה) upon those who are far away.”

“and pachad/fright: (וָפַחַד). Upon those who are nearby, as the matter states: “For we have heard how the L-rd dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, etc.”

The commentators have already asked:

“Perhaps it is the opposite, that “aimah” applies to “close ones” and “pachad” applies to “far ones”, for in the beginning the close (ones) fear and afterward the far (ones)”

And even though in the Mechilta there, it states like Rashi (“aimah/dread - upon the distant ones and pachad/fright - upon the nearby ones”), nevertheless:

  1. It has already been explained many times that it is not the style of Rashi in his commentary on Torah to (just) cite commentaries of the Sages, but rather that he explains just the simple understanding of the verse (and those commentaries that he cites in his own commentary, are there because they resolve the simple understanding of the verse (Pshat).


  1. In the Mechilta of the Rashbi here, the text is (the opposite of Rashi): “aimah/dread - upon the nearby ones and pachad/fright - upon the distant ones”. Therefore why did “far ones” choose the version that strays from the simple understood of the verses?

It is also puzzling in that:

The Rabbeinu Bachye here writes that “according to Pshat, it is ‘aimah to the close ones’ and ‘pachad to the far ones’ like the verse ‘For we have heard how the L-rd dried up the water of the Red Sea for you’” which is contrary to Rashi’s explanation.

One could seemingly say (and this is also answered by the commentators) that it follows what Rashi writes in the conclusion of Parshat Eikev on the verse (Deut. 11:25):

Fear of you and awe of you . . (will G-d, place upon the surface of the entire land)” (פחדכם ומוראכם יתן ה׳ גו״)

Rashi writes there:

Fear of you and awe of you: Is not fear/פַּחַד the same as awe/מוֹרָא? But (the answer is that) “fear of you/פַּחְדְּכֶם” refers to those nearby, and, “awe of you/מוֹרַאֲכֶם” refers to those distant. Fear/פַּחַד denotes “sudden fear” (בעיתת פתאום) and awe/מוֹרָא denotes anxiety enduring many days (דאגה מימים רבים).”

 In other words the reason that “fear/פַּחַד” refers to those nearby is because it is the translation of the word “pachad” – a “sudden fear“.

(For this fits when one the cause of the fear is close in place (בקירוב מקום). Therefore the fear in is in a manner of “sudden fear“)

And the word “awe/מוֹרָא” refers to those that are far away, for he explains it as “denotes anxiety enduring many days“(meaning that the cause of the fear is far from him, whether it is distant in place or distant in time).

However, this is seemingly difficult to explain that this is Rashi's reason here in our verse. For according to this “far ones” should have cited here the explanation of the words “pachad” and “aimah”

(That “pachad” is an expression of “sudden fear“; and “aimah” is an expression of “anxiety enduring many days“)

Additionally – since the order of the verses here shows, seemingly, that (the word) “aimah” refers to the “close ones” and “pachad” refers to the “far ones”

(for he prefaces “aimah” to “pachad”),

he should have explained the reason of the verse.

In other words, that which was explained above, is just a reason for Rashi's comment, where he explains that “aimah refers to the far ones; and pachad refers to the close ones” – however it is still problematic in the verse itself.

Since “aimah refers to the far ones; and pachad refers to the close ones” why does the verse preface “aimah” to “pachad” and it does not state: “May pachad/fright and aimah/dread fall upon them”

(Like in Parshat Eikev there where the verse first states “pachad” and then “awe/מוֹרָא”)?

[And one could add from that which is noted in the commentary, that in Rashi's commentary on the Talmud it appears that he explains it oppositely, namely that “pachad” is “worry that does not come suddenly” (דאגה שאינו בא פתאום). And to note, there has already been extensive debate how to resolve this with his aforementioned commentary in Parshat Eikev]

2. One can understand this by prefacing the reasoning in the general topic of this verse:

 In the previous verses (14 and 15) it states:

“(14) Peoples heard, they trembled; a shudder seized the inhabitants of Philistia. (15) Then the chieftains of Edom were startled; the powerful men of Moab, trembling seized them; all the inhabitants of Canaan melted”

שָׁמְעוּ עַמִּים יִרְגָּזוּן חִיל אָחַז ישְׁבֵי פְּלָשֶׁת

אָז נִבְהֲלוּ אַלּוּפֵי אֱדוֹם אֵילֵי מוֹאָב יֹאחֲזֵמוֹ רָעַד נָמֹגוּ כֹּל ישְׁבֵי כְנָעַן:


In these verses it already describes the fear and “pachad” (היראה והפחד) that fell on all the nations (including the detailed differences between them:

  • ״ירגזון״ -they trembled
  • ״חיל״ - a shudder seized them
  • ״נבהלו״- they were startled
  • ״רעד״ - trembling seized them
  • נָמֹגוּ”- they melted)

And the innovation in our verse “May aimah/dread and pachad/fright fall upon them: (תִּפֹּל עֲלֵיהֶם אֵימָתָה וָפַחַד)" is:

In the aforementioned verses, the intent is to tell the occurrences (in the past tense). Namely that after Splitting of the Red Sea, “Peoples heard, they trembled; a shudder seized them, they were startled, trembling seized them, they melted etc. “

[Even though plainly, all the aforementioned nations did not know about the Splitting of the Red Sea until later, yet the Song of the Sea (שירת הים), was said by Bnei Yisroel immediately after they came out of the Red Sea. However the song was said with Divine Inspiration (ברוח הקודש)

(As is understood from Rashi's comment (from the Mechilta) that at the time of Splitting of the Red Sea “He revealed Himself in His glory to them . . a maidservant perceived what prophets did not perceive“). And this is why they said with Divine Inspiration that when the nations heard of the Splitting of the Red Sea that it would cause trembling etc.”]

However, in our verse, it states “fall” (תִּפֹּל) which is in the future tense. For this is an aspect of prayer or prophecy for the future, as is explained in the flow of the verses:

“(May dread and fright fall upon them; . . may they become as still as a stone) until Your people cross over, O L-rd, until this nation that You have acquired crosses over

In other words Bnei Yisroel asked or prophesized that that these “fear” and “pachad” (from the miracle of Splitting of the Red Sea) should continue until after Bnei Yisroel would cross the Jordan and enter into Eretz Yisroel.

Accordingly, one could explain Rashi's reason in explaining that “aimah refers to the far ones”, for then (אז), when Bnei Yisroel would cross the Jordan, what was mainly pertinent was the condition of the nations that could prevent their entering the land, and they were the “far ones” (הרחוקים) from the Red Sea.

In other words:

Even though, at the time of entering the Land, these aforementioned nations would be close to the place of the Jewish people – nevertheless, here, it is not speaking of the “pachad/fright” that would then be created in those nations (due to the proximity of Bnei Yisroel to their land), but rather on the “aimah/dread” that fell upon them due to the miracle of the Splitting of the Red Sea. And this was the request or prophecy of Bnei Yisroel, that this dread of the Splitting of the Red Sea (that fell upon them from “afar” (מרחוק) should remain engraved in their hearts.

And this is like the verse that Rashi cites as a proof “For we have heard how the Lord dried up etc.“ For Rachav said this to Yehoshua’s messengers, that even then (after forty years) they still had this fear in their hearts from that which “the Lord dried up [the water of the Red Sea for you when you went out of Egypt“.

And since in the aspect of “until Your people cross over, until etc.” the dread that fell at the Splitting of the Red Sea needed to remain on the nations in Eretz Yisroel (and also over those that surrounded Eretz Yisroel), therefore it prefaced “aimah - to the far ones”. And only afterwards he said “pachad to the close ones”, for this was the “pachad” that fell on the nations that were in proximity and close to the Red Sea

And one should not question why it states “pachad to the close ones” at all. For what matter is the “pachad” of the “close ones” to the ys to the aspect of Bnei Yisroel’s crossing the Jordan? – for it is understood that if this feels of “aimah” from “far ones” did not diminish after forty years, and certainly and how much more so that the “pachad” from the “close ones” still did not diminish by those “close ones”, and we see in the nature of people that when they know that everyone is “pachad” from a certain thing that this itself places “aimah” on all of them individually. The same is in our case that this that the “pachad” was still strong () by the “close ones”, it added to the feeling of “aimah” by the “far ones”.

3. One could additionally say (in a slightly different manner) and by prefacing another question in Rashi's commentary here, that he cites the proof “ “ in continuation of his comment “pachad to the close ones”. For it is puzzling - it is plain that Canaanim are in the category of “far ones” (of whom that “aimah” fell), if so, Rashi should have cited this proof in the comment “aimah” that preceded this one?

The commentary write that this proof does indeed refer to the previous comment “aimah to the far ones” [and they add that Rashi's intent is to the language of the verse in Yehoshua there: “ “, for subsequent to this it says “ “. It is thus clear that the words “aimah” are close to the hearing of the miracle of Splitting of the Red Sea

This can also be more fitting, if we say that the two comments of Rashi would be said in one heading (). And this is apparent also from that which Rashi cites in the heading “ “. From this it is understood that his intent is not to explain the difference between the two expressions of “aimah” and “pachad”, but rather that his intent is to (also) explain the subject () of the verse, that the intent of the verse is as if it would have written “ “. And afterwards he cites a proof for this “ “ and this is a proof, for this actually occurred to those who were “far ones”

However, this explanation is somewhat difficult in Rashi's words, for from the plain flow of his words it shows that it refers to his explain “pachad to the close ones”

And perhaps one could say that Rashi's intent in “far ones” and “close ones” is not to “far ones” and “close ones” in place () . But rather it is similar to the two categories in Rashi's comment in the previous verse. For on the verse “the chieftains of Edom were startled; [as for] the powerful men of Moab “he writes “

the chieftains of Edom…the powerful men of Moab: Now they had nothing to fear at all, because they [the Israelites] were not advancing upon them. Rather, [they trembled] because of grief, that they were grieving and suffering because of the glory of Israel.

And on melted he writes

melted: Heb. נָמֹגוּ, [as in the phrase] “with raindrops You dissolve it (ךְתְּמֹגְגֶנָּה)” (Ps. 65:11). They [the inhabitants of Canaan] said, “They are coming upon us to annihilate us and possess our land.”

And this is the difference between “far ones” and “close ones” that “aimah to the far ones” is an “aimah” of the nations that Bnei Yisroel remained far from at the time of their entering the land. For they did not come to inherit their land. Nevertheless, they had “aimah” from the power of Yisroel. Whereas the “pachad to the close ones” was a “pachad” that fell on those nations the Bnei Yisroel came to inherit their land.

According to this one could say that the “far ones” and the “close ones” in Rashi's commentary here are the nations that are mentioned in the previous verse. For Edom and Moab (who “ “ ) were the “far ones” ones that the “aimah” fell upon and the inhabitants of Canaan ( who “ “_ were the “close ones” where the “pachad” fell upon them – and on this Rashi cites an explicit verse how this prophecy was fulfilled. That the “pachad” that fell of the inhabitants of Canaan due to Splitting of the Red Sea, remained in them until Bnei Yisroel crossed the Jordan “ “

According to this explain, the order “aimah” and “pachad” is understood plainly. Fro in the beginning “aimah” fell of the “far ones” (Edom and Moab) and only afterwards did “pachad” fall on the “close ones” who were the inhabitants of Canaan.

4. One can explain the order of the verse “aimah to the far ones” and “pachad to the close ones” in Avodat HaAdam

The wars of Yisroel with the nations also alludes to the war against the Yetzer (inclination). For each one of Yisroel must vanquish the seven evil Middot of the animal soul that they should become under the rulership of holiness.

And in the nations there are two categories: “close” and “far”. The “far” nations of the Bnei Yisroel are the evil desires which are such that a Jewish person must distance himself from. For due to the nature of his soul it is incomprehensible that he should succumb to them. However, at times, the inclination of a person overpowers him. And after he has sunken, with the multitude of his desires, he is able to bring him down even in them.

And the “close ones” are those evil Middot that have a greater potential of a Jewish person succumbing to. And the main battle of the inclination is to overpower these desires.

The Sages state that “And if not for the Holy One, Blessed be He, Who assists him with the good inclination, he would not overcome it”. For G-d helps a person to overcome his Yetzer and to vanquish it. And this is what the verse means by “ “, that G-d places “aimah” and “pachad” on the Yetzer hara, so that it cannot overpower and rule, G-d forbid, on a Jewish person.

According to this, the order is also understood:

For in the beginning “aimah” falls of the “far ones” and afterward “pachad” falls on the “close ones”. For the effect of the help from Above goes from lenient to stringent. At the very beginning this aid helps, that the person not be susceptible to such desires that are far from him. And afterward this aid helps even more so that it places “pachad” on the Yetzer hara, in a manner that it does not have power to overcome the person even with regard to such desires that are close to the person to stumble in them.

So much so that he is given the power to completely subdue the Yetzer hara. And even more so – to overturn it for good as the Sages say “with all your heart – with both inclinations”.

Msichas Shabbat Parshat Beshalach and Shabbat Parshat Mishpatim 5739

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