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The Torah's Weekly Portions
Exodus/Shmot - Bo 101
Posted January, 2001
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Parashat Bo begins in Sefer Sh'mot (the Book of Exodus) at Perek Yud (Chapter 10) and continues through and includes Perek Yud-Gimel, pasuk tet-zayin (Chapter 13, verse 16).  Although brief, this Parashah contains a great deal of information including the story of the final plagues against Paro (Pharaoh), the exodus, the commandment concerning Rosh Chodesh (celebrating the new month), the commandments around Pesach (Passover), the first references to the commandments involving t'fillin and much more.  With so much to talk about, there is an opportunity to also have a long-winded weekly commentary.  However, having come across a beautiful little note, it seems more appropriate to show some comparisons between commentators and translations.  This week, we will focus on Perek Yud, pasuk hay (Chapter 10, verse 5).  The "they" and "it" are the locusts 

The Pentateuch
Translation and Commentary by Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch

Published by Judaica Press

 The Stone Edition Chumash

Published by Art Scroll Publishing

and they will cover the face of the earth so that one shall not be able to see the earth, and they will eat the residue of that which is escaped which remaineth unto you from the hail, and will eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field;

it will cover the surface of the earth so that one will not be able to see the earth; and it will consume the remaining residue that was left to you by the hail, and it will consume all the trees that grow for you from the field.

In this particular instance, and there is no consistency either way, Rav Hirsch is more wordy than the Stone Edition.  Of course, the Rav Hirsch also uses old English grammar. 

In any event, here are the various commentaries from the Stone Edition: 

All the trees. This term is the basis of a dispute among the commentators, for if the hail destroyed the trees (9:25), what trees were there for the locusts to consume? All agree that the hail did not totally destroy the trees; rather, that it broke limbs and caused severe damage. According to Ibn Ezra, several months must have elapsed between the hail and the locusts so that the damaged trees could flourish again. Ramban disputes this on several grounds, among them that the flax and barley were fully grown at the time of the hail, so that it must have occurred in the month of Adar (February-March), shortly before the Exodus. Consequently, Ramban holds that the hail fell in Adar, and the last three plagues -- locusts, darkness, and the death of the firstborn -- took place in quick succession, in Nissan, the month of the Exodus. As for the trees, not all the branches were broken by the hail, so that the remaining ones could have produced foliage in a few weeks. 

Rav Hirsch has a little different lesson to derive from this around two words, ayn ha-aretz, literally "eye the land" or "eye the world". 

The human eye is called ayin (ayn is the conjunctive pronunciation), a spring, or source, not because the soul of man flows out of it, but because it is through the eye that the world flows into a man.  The eye of the man is therefore literally ayn ha-aretz, the source of the world.  The locusts will bring about that nothing of the world will penetrate through, into the eye of man.  The eye will no longer be able to see the earth. 

In accordance with this being a plague, this stresses those riches which were the cause of Egypt's pride, and as these had been spared to them, filled them with the hope that they could yet flout the God of Moshe (Moses). 

Perhaps one of the reasons I enjoy Rav Hirsch so much is that his take is often times both very philosophical and very beautiful.


Translations in Torah Portions of the week are partially taken from the ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash and from Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch Chumash

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