Did Hashem really instruct Moshe and Aharon to show respect to Pharaoh when speaking to him?
(6,13) “And Hashem spoke to Moshe and to Aharon and He commanded them concerning the children of Yisrael and regarding Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.”
Rashi explains here that He instructed them to show respect to Pharaoh when talking to him. But Rashi seems to be contradicting himself, because here he explains according to R. Yochanan, but elsewhere he explains according to Reish Lakish.
Because it says in the gemora in Zevachim 102a that whenever the Torah mentions that there was anger (חרי אף), there was a manifestation of that anger. The gemora asks what was the manifestation of anger in the posuk “and he (Moshe) went out from before Pharaoh in anger”? Reish Lakish answered that Moshe slapped his face and went out. But the gemora asks: Did Reish Lakish really give this answer? Behold, on the posuk 7:15 “and you shall stand to meet him” Reish Lakish explained that Hashem told Moshe: He is a king, and so you should behave agreeably towards him. R. Yochanan explained that Hashem said: He is wicked, and so you should act brazenly towards him. The gemora resolves this difficulty by answering that the opinions in this dispute should be reversed, and therefore Reish Lakish could well have said that Moshe displayed his anger by slapping Pharaoh’s face.
Now, Rashi explained above on the posuk 4:14 “and Hashem was angry towards Moshe”, that whenever the Torah mentions anger, there is a manifestation of that anger, and even here there was a manifestation of Hashem’s anger, which was that He took away the priesthood from Moshe and gave it to Aharon. If so, what was the display of anger when Moshe went out from before Pharaoh in anger, as the gemora in Zevachim asked? Perforce we must answer like Reish Lakish, that he slapped his face and went out, and therefore to be consistent, we must explain that the posuk “you shall stand to meet him” means that you must act brazenly with him.
Yet here Rashi explains that Hashem instructed them to show respect to Pharaoh when talking to him. If so, Rashi has contradicted himself. Think how to answer.
How does Rashi learn from here the rule that one should examine the brothers of his prospective bride?
(6,23) “And Aharon took for himself for a wife, Elisheva the daughter of Aminadav, the sister of Nachshon.”
Rashi commented that from here we learn that one who marries a woman should examine her brothers, because the majority of the children will take after the mother’s brothers.
This Rashi is difficult, because clearly Rashi is learning this from the phrase “sister of Nachshon”, since it is superfluous. But this is far from clear, because maybe what happened was that Aminadav had already died and so she was being married off by her brother Nachshon, and that is why she is referred to as the sister of Nachshon, and thus there are no superfluous words in the posuk. This is what we find in the gemora in Megillah 17a which comments on the posuk “and Eisav went to Yishmael, and he took Machlas the daughter of Yishmael, the sister of Nevayos” - since it says that she was the daughter of Yishmael do I not already know that she is the sister of Nevayos? But it is to teach that Yishmael betrothed her to Eisav, but then he died and so her brother Nevayos married her to him. If so, perhaps here also the explanation is that Aminadav died, and so Nachshom married her off.
Now, we cannot ask the question in reverse, that how do we know over there that Nevayos her brother married her off, since perhaps the explanation there is that Eisav examined her brothers, because if so, why would the Torah need to again teach by Aharon that the majority of children follow the mother’s brothers if we already learned this by Eisav? Therefore, we have no choice but to explain there that Yishmael died. If so, where do we learn the rule that the majority of children, etc? Therefore, this had to be taught by Aharon, to teach that one should examine the brothers.
But the reverse is certainly a question, that perhaps by Aharon also it is relating that Aminadav died, and she was married off by Nachshon, her brother. And we cannot ask here why this needs to be repeated, because the posuk is merely relating what occurred, that here also her father died, and she was married off by her brother.
The matter requires further investigation.
How did Hashem bring the wild man-like creatures against the Egyptians?
(8,17) “For if you do not let My people go, behold, I will send against you and your servants and your people and in your houses a mixture of noxious creatures, and the houses of Egypt will be filled with the mixture of noxious creatures, as well as the land which they are upon it.”
Behold, concerning this last phrase “as well as the land which they are upon it” many explanations have been given. But we can explain it with the Rashi which says that this plague consisted of every type of noxious creature, and the commentary of R. Shimon MiShantz on the Mishnah in Kilayim 8:5 explains that there is a wild man-like creature called yidoni which has a type of thick cord that emerges from a root in the ground through which it lives, and which is attached to its navel. When hunters come to trap it, they are unable to approach it closely, because it mauls and kills. Instead, they saw at the rope until it breaks, and the creature immediately dies.
Now, it says here that the houses of the Egyptians were filled with every type of noxious creature, and if so, how did Hashem bring upon them this particular creature, the yidoni, which was attached to the ground by a rope, and which would die if the rope was broken? Because of this the posuk says “as well as the land which they are upon it”, that is, the land to which this creature is attached.
How does this posuk teach that the plague of the firstborn was more severe than all of the other plagues?
(9,14) “Because this time I will send all My plagues into your heart.”
Rashi comments that from here we learn that the smiting of the firstborn was equal to all the other plagues. But everyone asks on this Rashi: Where does it mention the smiting of the firstborn here? This posuk is talking about the plague of hail!
But it says in parshas Shemos 4:23 “if you refuse to send them out, behold I will kill your son, your firstborn”, and Rashi explained that the smiting of the firstborn came last, but He warned Pharaoh with it at the start because it was the most severe of all the plagues.
And behold, from here it is also clear that the smiting of the firstborn was the most severe of all of them, because here with regards to the plague of hail it says “all of My plagues”, which teaches that it was equal in its severity to all of them. But this is problematic, because if so He should have warned Pharaoh at the start with the plague of hail. Perforce we have to say that the smiting of the firstborn was the most severe plague, even more than the plague of hail, and therefore He warned Pharaoh with the smiting of the firstborn initially and not with the plague of hail.
According to this the words of Rashi here are understood - the posuk writes “all My plagues”, to teach that this plague is equal in its severity to all the other plagues. If so, we have the difficulty that we mentioned above, why did He not warn with it initially? Therefore, he answers that we learn from here that in fact the plague of the firstborn was equal in its severity to all of them, including the plague of hail. Therefore, He warned Pharaoh with it from the beginning.
Or we could say that Rashi really explained about the plague of hail that it was equal to all the other previous plagues, but an error occurred in the printing, because Rashi had written the plague of hail (מכת ברד) as an abbreviation (מ"ב), and the printers thought that it stood for the smiting of the firstborn (מכת בכורות).
Why after the plague of hail specifically was Moshe partcular to exit the city before he prayed?
(9,29) “And Moshe said to him: When I leave the city I will spread my hands to Hashem.”
Rashi explained that within the city, however, he did not pray, because it was full of idols. But why specifically with the plague of hail was Moshe particular to exit the city before he prayed, whereas with the other plagues we do not see that he had not been particular whether he prayed within or without the city?
But we can answer that it is well known that sheep were the idols of the Egyptians. And here, in the plague of hail, it says in posuk 9:20 “Those of Pharaoh’s subjects who feared the word of Hashem made their slaves and their livestock flee indoors…And the hail struck throughout the entire land of Egypt, all that was in the field from man to beast”. Thus, all the flocks and cattle were within the city, and therefore Moshe prayed outside of it. But with all the other plagues the flocks were outside the city, and therefore he was able to pray within.