These are the two special words that brought great smiles and joy to the Yidden. They were the special code words that identified Moshe as the great savior sent by Hashem to take out His nation from Mitzrayim.
Yosef had already apprised the Jews many years earlier that whoever utters these two special code words “Pokod Pokadeti”
would be the acknowledged savior of Klal Yisroel. Their savior had finally arrived. Moshe uttered these two words with great persuasion. They were convinced that he was their savior. After all, he had uttered the two special words “Pokod Pokadeti”
At first glance this seems quite strange! Everybody seems to be waiting for the man to come along and proclaim these two words loud and clear. It certainly couldn’t be much of a secret if everybody knows them. What prevents anybody from coming along and proclaiming “Pokod Pokadeti”. I’m sure there must have been plenty of impostors around in those days. History never lacked any of them. What prevented one of them from coming forth and placing his claim to fame! How could these words be accepted as the special password, if everyone knew them? In fact, the Ramban as well as many others ask this question. I take absolutely no credit for it!
The Ramban’s first answer is that Hashem assured us that no one would ever lie to us and abuse these words. One wonders then, if we’re so assured by Hakodosh Boruch Hu that there will be no impostors, then what’s the purpose of any password altogether? Let him simply present his credentials. Why a password?
The Ramban’s second answer is that Moshe was taken away from his father’s house at the very young age of 12. Therefore, it would be very unlikely for Moshe to have known of this password from his own home. Thus, when he uttered it, he was immediately believed. After all, how could he have known it?
Yet this answer too is difficult to comprehend. Moshe’s intelligence at 12 was far greater than ours at 100. He probably knew more at 3 than we at 93. He even knew the secret Shem Hameforash, which he used to kill the Egyptian. Doesn’t he know these two very very important passwords? Everybody does know them except for him? This is extremely difficult to comprehend!
The third answer the Ramban gives is that these words were a secret passed on from Yaakov to Yosef to Levi, etc. is also difficult to understand. If this were such a big secret, how would all the people know that he is telling the truth?
What special secret lies in the words h,sep suep that these two words have been chosen more than any other? Don’t they just simply mean, Remember, I have remembered.
Why use two passwords? Isn’t one enough?
The entire conversation between Hashem and Moshe screams out for an explanation. Hashem tells Moshe to tell the Yidden h,sep suep, and assures him that this will convince them. They will definitely listen and believe him. No doubt about it. Yet Moshe answers back hkuec ugnah tku hk ubhnth tk ivu-“They will not listen to my voice. They will not believe me.”
What’s going on here? Who are we dealing with? This is none other than Moshe Rabbeinu! All of our emunah doesn’t come to his toes. Hashem assures Moshe that they will listen as the posuk says ‘and they will listed to your voice.” Does Moshe have any doubts, chas v’shalom? This is preposterous! True, we do find that Moshe is immediately punished for this statement. He had no right to suspect the innocent and say loshon hora. But he committed a far greater offense. He expressed doubt and evenchallenged Hashem’s words. How could Moshe even have the slightest doubt as to the truth of Hashem’s assurance that they will listen?
Yet strangely enough, instead of Hashem telling Moshe that he should stop doubting His words and have proper faith in what he is told, we find that Hashem doesn’t even dispute Moshe’s contention. Instead, he goes along with Moshe’s contention and decides to give him an entire bag of proofs that he is to show them-One proof doesn’t seem to be enough. Maybe this will not convince them, so Hashem gives Moshe a total of three proofs. Moshe asks for one proof and Hashem gives him three. All of a sudden Hashem makes an about face and agrees to Moshe’s proposition? He must give Moshe three proofs. After all, perhaps there will be lots of skeptics that will not believe the first or the second? What’s going on! Hashem doesn’t make any mistakes! Why give Moshe any proofs whatsoever?
There are many, many more questions one can ask.The posuk actually begs for an explanation (also see the Ohr Ha’chaiyim Hakodosh). So let me put down my own possible thoughts on the matter.
We find the word Pokod used in many different ways in the Torah. Here are a few examples.
So we see that the word Pokod doesn’t simply mean remembering; it also has some other meanings.
When Yaakov Ovinu gathered all his children together and wanted to reveal to them the .e -the time when the golus will end- the shecinah suddenly left him. Neither could he tell them when the golus Mitzrayim would end nor could he reveal when thefinal redemption would arrive. When the Shechinah left him he realized that he should not be revealing this secret to them. Maybe it’s because it would dash all hopes for those who would realize that the final end is still so many hundreds of years away and couldn’t wait that long. The very thought that we don’t know when Moshiach is coming gives us the courage to continue on. Maybe he’ll be here today. Maybe he’ll be here tomorrow! It’s this hope that he can come any day that’s kept us going for so many years. Knowing the end date could be a very dangerous thing for most people. Knowing it’s so far off can make a person lose all hope.
The Medrash says that Yaakov passed this secret on only to Yosef. Yosef passed it on to Levi. Levi passed it on only to the greatest zekeinim (elders) of the next generation, and so this secret was known by very few. Only the greatest zekeinim knew theprecise moment of the redemption Only they knew that it would occur precisely at midnight of the 15th day of Nissan in the year 2448. This date was a carefully guarded secret. Nobody knew it except for the zekeinim. It probably was as well guarded as the coming of moshiach is nowadays. It’s totally unknown to any of us. Those who know it don’t say, and those who say don’t know!
Any person that would present himself as the Jewish savior would immediately be put to the supreme test. He would have to come to the zekeinim and tell them the precise moment of the Geulah. If he would be off by as much as one single day or perhaps even by a minute then they knew he was nothing but a con artist. When Shevet Ephraim instituted a rebellion thirty years earlier, Klal Yisroel refused to go along with them. The zekeinim told them that the time of the geulah had still not arrived. They had reckoned the 400 years incorrectly. They had started counting from the time of the “Bris bein hab’sorim.” They were not given any credence! The dates and times didn’t match the zekeinim’s carefully guarded mesorah.
Along came Moshe with the exact precise day, hour and minute. He gave them the exact information they required. Remember Pokod can mean appointed and also means count He gave them the precise appointed moment when Hashem will take them out of Mitzrayim. This is what is actually meant by the words h,sep suep. It means that Moshe gave them the precise appointed time when Hashem has counted them to finally be remembered. Knowing the two words themselves meant nothing; one had to know the precise moment when the “Pokod Pokadeti” would occur. The zekeinim were of course absolutely convinced that he’s the right man. After all, how could anybody have known this great secret unless Hashem had revealed it to him! This is what Hashem meant when he told Moshe that they would listen to him. If you look into the posuk you will see that He was referring only to the zekeinim to whom he was being sent. He had clearly instructed Moshe to go to the zekeinim and tell them “Pokod Pokadeti” They needed absolutely no further proof. “Pokod Pokadeti” was enough for them. After all, it matched the exact moment that Yosef had told them it would occur.
However, Moshe correctly asked Hashem, what about everyone else? They don’t know this secret. How will I convince them that I am telling the truth? If someone were to approach us today and tell us that he is Hashem’s messenger and that the exact day when the geulah will take place is on XX/X/XX at precisely 12:00 A.M., you can bet there will be lots of skeptics even if he has the full endorsement of the Moetzes Gedolai HaTorah! We don’t know the date so how are we supposed to know if he’s telling the truth? Moshe was not talking about the zekeinim. They were convinced. But what do we do about convincing everybody else that the time of their geulah had finally arrived and that he was the true messenger of G-d?
Here, however, Moshe made a blunder. He said “they” wouldn’t listen to me. With the word “they” he included everyone except the zekeinim. Here Moshe made a terrible mistake. There surely were some people that would believe Moshe on thezekeinim’s say so alone. You can’t accuse everybody of not believing our elders. There were still many people that did have emunas chachomim and would not ask for any further proof-the zekeinim’s word would be enough for them. They needed no further proof. For this, Moshe was punished. Watch out when you use the adjective “they” or “everyone” as we do many a time. However, on his basic premise that some people would not believe him, Moshe was definitely on target. In fact, he was so right, that Hashem had to give him three proofs. One may not be enough for everyone. Some people would need two proofs to be convinced. For them the second proof was the last. Why call the second proof the last one? It should have been called the second. But now the whole thing makes sense. For some people it was the last. They didn’t need a third proof! However, there were still others who were far greater skeptics and would need even a third proof.
Moshe never doubted Hashem’s word that the zekeinim would believe him. That would have been absurd. It was for those of Klall Yisroel that unfortunately had sunk into the deepest tumah of Mitzrayim that he asked Hashem to give him some further proof so that he could convince them as well. They unfortunately had lost all faith in the zekeinim and would certainly not listen to what anyone had to say. It was for these great skeptics that he said “and they will not listen to your voice.”.