The $100 Challenge – Some Food for Thought

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Pesach night is the time to put our brain into gear and try to understand the story of ye’tizas mitzrayim, so let me leave you with some food for thought.

Sometimes we find that Hashem tells Moshe to meet Pharaoh by the water while other times he is told to meet him in his palace. Why the change?

Sometimes Pharaoh is given a warning while other times there is no warning. Why the change of tactics?

While all the makos were certainly done through  Hashem‘s angels,( except for Makos B’choros which Hashem did Himself), two of them ( orov and  dever ) are done without Moshe and Aaron’s services at all. Why? Also why were these the particularmakos which Hashem did not want Moshe or Aaron involved?

Why was shchin the only mako that both Moshe and Aaron did together? This mako was actually done by Moshe Aaron and Hashem, says the Medrash. Why is it this particular mako that was chosen to be a united effort? Why not one of the others?

There are two perokim in T’hillim ( perek 78 and 105) where Dovid Hamelech mentions the makos, yet in each of them some of the makos are left out. Why? Also sometimes the makos are out of order. Why?(A possible answer to this question can be found in my book entitled Thoughts on the Haggadah.”. Sorry but it’s out of print.)

The $25 Challenge – What Happened to Moshe’s Stick?

Here is a very simple question, yet it’s not found in the meforshim of the Chumash. One can probably find it elsewhere. For all the makos, Moshe and Aron used a stick except for the mako of Shchin. Why not use a stick for this mako as well?

Answers should be written and handed in after Pesach. Best answer receives $25.


The $100 Challenge –

The Hand and the Stick


If you examine the pesukim very carefully, you’ll notice some very strange things happening. Just take a look and you’ll surely see what I mean.

We constantly find interplay between the uses of the word “mateh” – stick, and the word “yodcha”  – your hand.  There doesn’t seem to be any consistency.  Some times Moshe is told to raise his stick with his hand while other times he’s just told to stretch out his stick.

1) Dam.  The posuk tells him “take your stick and stretch out your hand.” It then continues by saying “And he lifted with his stick…”

2) Frogs. Moshe is told, “stretch out your hand with your stick.”  Thereupon it says “And Aaron stretched out his hand.”

3) By kinim it says “Stretch out your stick…” It then says “Aaron stretched out his hand with his stick…”

4) Orov – This mako was done only by Hashem and therefore no stick was used.

5) Dever – This mako was done only by Hashem and therefore no stick was used.

6) Shchin – Here we find that soot is used. Why no stick?

7) Borod. Here he is told, “stretch out your hand.” Then it says “and Moshe stretched out his stick.”

8) Arbeh. Here Moshe is told to “stretch out his hand.”  It continues by saying that “Moshe stretched out his hand.” (Why doesn’t it say with your stick?)

9) Choshech. Here Moshe is told to “stretch out his hand.” It continues by saying the “Moshe stretched out his hand.” (Why no mention of the stick?”)

10) Makos B’choros.  Done by Hashem and therefore no stick is used.

11) Yam Suf. It begins by telling Moshe to “lift his stick and stretch out his hand. It continues by saying that “Moshe stretched out his hand.  Later on Moshe is told to “stretch out his hand,” and then it says “Moshe stretched out his hand.” (Why no mention of the stick?)

To ask, that’s our task! Let’s remember that despite the beautiful pesh’atim the rebbayim have given you on the Haggadah, the seder is the time for the children to ask the questions and for the father to give the answers. Let’s not reverse the role. Try thinking of your own questions.  You can always use the many pesh’atim you’ve learned, throughout the other days of Pesach. Just try to make sure that your questions follow the style of the Chocham who wants to understand all the different types of mitzvos that we were commanded