Thoughts from Kollel KLAL


At the beginning of the parsha Hashem tells Moshe two reasons why He brought the makkos on Mitzrayim. One reason is “למען שתי אתתי אלה בקרבו, in order to place My signs amongst them.” The second reason is, “ולמען תספר באזני בנך… את אשר התעללתי במצרים ואת אתתי אשר שמתי בם וידעתם כי אני ה’ and in order that you shall tell over to your son and your son’s son that which ‘התעללתי במצרים’ and My signs that I placed against them, and you shall know that I am Hashem.” What does התעללתי במצרים mean?

Rashi explains התעללתי means “that which I teased Mitzrayim” or “belittled and disgraced Mitzrayim.” The Ramban explains differently, התעללתי means “that which I mocked.” Hashem says, “Tell over to your children that which I mocked, put down, and teased Mitzrayim.”

Onkelos translates התעללתי as “the miracles that I did in Mitzrayim.” The Rabbeinu Bachya explains, Onkelos understands התעללתי literally means “occurrences and happenings,” as the passuk states (דבה”י א, טז, ח) “הודיעו בעמים עלילותיו let the nations know about His occurrences,” meaning the actions that Hashem does. The words התעללתי and עלילותיו comes from the lashon עלה, occurrence, which refers to Hashem Who is the cause of all occurrences, as it states “ולו נתכנו עללות and to Him is calculated occurrences.” Anything that happens is able to be done because Hashem enables people’s existence and gives them the ability to do things in the world. The words “את אשר התעללתי במצרים” mean “because of the occurrences in Mitzrayim,” which refer to the miracles which Hashem performed. Hashem revealed Himself and showed He is the source of all occurrences. Hashem became known in the world as being the One and only Who is in charge of everything, and rewards and punishes. Mitzrayim was the starting point for people throughout the world to know Hashem’s name, and that He can change nature with miracles and wonders. One of the main purposes of the makkos was in order for us to tell over to our descendants that Hashem is the cause of everything.

The Mishnah brings, the ten makkos which Hashem punished the Mitzri’im are k’neged the ten ma’amoros with which Hashem created the world. The purpose of the makkos was to express and convey that Hashem created the world and is charge of the entire creation.

The passuk states “למען שתי אתתי אלה בקרבו which Onkelos translates as “and in order to place these signs (אתי) of Mine amongst them.” The following passuk states “ולמען תספר… ואת אתתי אשר שמתי בם” which Onkelos translates as “and in order that you shall tell over to your son… and My signs (אתותי) that I placed against them.” Why does Onkelos translate אתתי in the first passuk as אתי and in the second passuk as אתותי? The Ohr HaTargum answers, the first passuk states אתתי about the makkos arbeh and choshech which Hashem was going to bring.  This is as it states in the beginning of the passuk “as I hardened his heart and heart of his servants in order to pIace these signs…” By makkos arbeh and choshech it mentions “ויחזק ה’… and Hashem strengthened the heart of Pharaoh.” Therefore Onkelos translates as “אתי, My few signs,” limiting the amount of signs. However, the second passuk refers to telling over all the signs which Hashem performed, all ten makkos, and therefore Onkelos translates as אתותי, My many signs.

May we learn from the makkos that Hashem is the cause of all actions and He is in charge of everything!

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