Pearls of Rashi – Parshas Vo’eiro

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In this week’s Torah portion, Vo’eiro, we read of the first few plagues which Hashem brought upon the Egyptians. These plagues lead to the Jews’ exodus from Egypt. Because of these plagues, not only did Pharaoh and the populace of Egypt allow the Jews to leave, they begged them to go and to take all of the wealth of Egypt with them.

The second of the plagues was frogs. The Torah tells us how this plague began[1]. “Aharon stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frog came up and covered the land of Egypt.” That is what the original Hebrew says; “the frog came up,” rather than “the frogs came up.”

Each word of the Torah is precise, and (obviously) grammatically correct. Why does the Torah use the singular form, i.e., “the frog?” There were many frogs. Rashi explains that in truth, “It was one frog, and as the Egyptians hit it, it split into many swarms of frogs.”

This fact teaches us a great lesson in the service of Hashem. Rashi says elsewhere[2], that “If you have started a Mitzvah, finish it. This is because Hashem only gives credit to the one who completes the Mitzvah.”

Aharon caused one frog to come up, as commanded by Hashem. Millions of frogs swarmed from this one frog, as G-d wished. If the credit for the Mitzvah goes to the one who completes it, why did Aharon not see to it that he achieved this Mitzvah? If there were any more frogs left to swarm, one would think that he should have completed this down to the very last frog!

The explanation is as follows. We say that Hashem gives the exclusive merit for performing a Mitzvah to the one who completes it only regarding Mitzvos that benefit others. This includes Mitzvos such as helping one’s fellow, lending or giving money to one who is in need or the like.

The opposite is the case regarding Mitzvos, whose purpose is to punish one’s fellow – such as the plagues. If there is even the slightest doubt that the punishment may be complete, the one who began the Mitzvah may not continue. It is prohibited to punish one any more than he needs.

Aharon thought that perhaps the one frog was enough, so he was not permitted to continue – just in case that was sufficient punishment.

This shows us how careful we must be to share only kindness with all of our fellows, thereby paving the road for Moshiach.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 16, Page 48-58

Mr. Sholom Moshe Hacohen
ben Reb Shlomo Meir Hacohen ע”ה Cohen
Passed away Shabbos Parshas Beshalach, 13 Shevat, 5779
May His Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
ר’ שלום משה הכהן בן ר’ שלמה מאיר הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטר ש”ק פ’ בשלח, י”ג שבט, ה’תשע”ט
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יו”ל ע”י חתנו ובתו שיחיו
הרה”ת ר’ שמואל ורבקה שי’ מענדלסאהן

[1]. Our Parshah, Shemos 8:2.

[2]. Parshas Aikev, Devorim 8:1.

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