Vertluch: Parshas Shemos


Based on the first two words in this weeks parsha lies a very well-known abbreviation for ‘v’chayev adam likros haparsha shnayim mikra v’echad targum.’ One is obligated to read the weekly parsha, twice in loshon kodesh and once in loshon targum. Why all of a sudden is there a remez at the beginning of parshas Shemos. Why not at the beginning of parshas Bereishis?

Rabbi Yaakov Forscheimer, the noted Rav and posek from Lakewood, NJ brings a beautiful idea to help understand this point.

Shnayim mikrah is when a person learns the parsha twice in loshon kodesh and once in targum. Targum means translation, an important aspect is for one to understand what they are reading. When we refer to Targum we are referring to Targum Onkeles. Onkeles lived outside of eretz Yisroel where the majority of people didn’t speak loshon kodesh. Being that they spoke the language of the land, he felt compelled to translate it to the language that the common folk would identify with. Technically, someone who speaks and understands loshon kodesh should not have to read Onkeles.

Sefer Shemos is better known as the sefer hageulah; it’s the beginning of symbolizing the first of the four galus’. While bnei Yisroel were in eretz Yisroel they didn’t have to read targum. Now, in parshas shemos, that they were going into galus and there begins a concept of galus, the concept of shnayim mikrah is taught.

Perhaps to explain this idea a bit deeper, is to know that the rishonim refer to this sefer, as previously noted, as sefer hageulah-the book of redemption. This seems to be a little problematic though. Indeed the first few parshiyos speak of the geulah. However, a nice number of parshiyos, primarily the latter half, do not deal with the geulah at all rather with the construction of the Mishkan. Why then refer to the entire sefer, as sefer hageulah?

Writes the Ramban that the galus did not officially end until klal Yisroel built the Mishkan. Even after they left Mitzrayim and were free from being slaves they were still ‘exiled people.’ Once they got the Torah and built the Mishkan, by having Hashem dwell amongst them, they returned to the level of the Avos. The Mishkan brought the Shechina back to klal Yisroel. Being that they lacked the constant present of the Shechina they were still ‘misplaced.’ They had nothing to connect themselves to. Therefore, says Ramban, the entire sefer shemos that deals with the Mishkan was part of the geulah because to get bnei Yisroel back to the level of the Avos, we needed a matan Torah and the building a Mishkan. Once they got the Torah and the Mishkan was erected they were able to connect and identify themselves and feel connected to something.

The Gemara in brachos (8a) says ‘from the day the Bais Hamikdash was destroyed the only place Hashem had to rest (to dwell and be present in klal Yisroel) was in the four amos of halacha.’ That is the only place, secondary to the Bais Hamikdash. How does this work?

Through Torah a person has the ability to connect themselves to the Ribono Shel Olam. How does a Jew stay afloat in galus when there is no Bais Hamikdash to connect with, to flock to and to identify with? We always have the Torah. Every single person can connect to Hashem through finding their area of comfort in Torah. The Torah is reminding us that as we head into galus we must remember what will keep us afloat-and that is the Torah.

The Medrash tells us that in Mitzrayim, bnei Yisroel didn’t work on Shabbos. How did they spend their time over Shabbos? They had scrolls that Yaakov brought down with him from eretz Cana’an and in them were the history of what happened to Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov. They would read these scrolls and strengthen themselves and tell one another I know Hashem told Yaakov to come down here but he also promised him we would get out of here soon, and as a wealthy nation. It was a tremendous chizuk for them and that’s what ultimately got them through the galus. The remez was specifically in Shemos, to pave the way for us and remind us that the Torah will be there to give us pride, to identity with and to be mechazek us throughout our galus.

We should all take this thought with us, especially as we enter the weeks of shovavim, and be mechazek ourselves through Torah as we anticipate the coming of Moshiach, b’karov, when Hashem will take us out and redeem us from this terrible galus.