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P A R A S H A - P A G E
by Mordecai Kornfeld
of Har Nof, Jerusalem
Founder of the Dafyomi Advancement Forum

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This week's issue has been dedicated by Yaakov Wollner in memory of his mother, Rochel Chava bas Yitzchok Leib A"H, on her second Yahrzeit (26 Teves) and in memory of the Daniel children's father, Yitzchok Yisroel ben Rephael Noach Yoseph A"H (whose eighth Yahrzeit is on 7 Teves).

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Gather the Elders of Israel and tell them, "Hashem came to me ... and said, 'I have remembered you ("*Pakod Pakadti* Eschem") and what was done to you in Egypt'" (Shmot 3:16)

The Jews were given a sign: if a purported liberator uses the term "Pakod Pakadti," he is a true savior. That is what Yosef meant when he said, "*Pakod Yifkod* Elokim Eschem (Hashem will *remember* you)" (Bereishit 50:24). As soon as Moshe mentioned these words, he was trusted." (Shmot Rabba 3:8; Targum Yonasan to Bereishit 50:24; cited by Rashi Shmot 3:18)

If it was known to all that the true redeemer would use the words "Pakod Pakadti," what kind of a sign was it? Anybody could easily utter these words and claim the Messianic title! (The Ramban and Maharal [Shmot 3:18] both deal at length with this question. According to Shmot Rabba 5:13, the sign was actually a secret, known only to Serach the daughter of Asher. It is also possible that Moshe was trusted since he fled from Egypt at the age of twelve (Shmot Rabba 5:2 -- see Rashi to Shmot 2:14). He was still too young to have been taught by his father the secrets of the Jewish People. However, the latter is in disagreement with Shmot Rabba 1:27,30, where it is asserted that Moshe was 20 or 40 when he fled, and with Shmot Rabba 15:26, which claims that Moshe was taught by his father the secret of the redemption.)


To the contrary, suggests Rav Yitzchak of Volozhin, the sign was especially designed to prove beyond doubt that Moshe was a Divine emissary. The sign involved more than the mere mention of the two words "Pakod Pakadti" -- it entailed the performance of a miracle in association with those words. The Torah tells us that Moshe had a speech impediment (Shmot 4:10, etc.). Yet, the Midrash (Shmot Rabba 3:20) tells us, when Moshe relayed to others the words of Hashem his speech was miraculously perfect and unslurred; "the Shechinah (divine spirit) spoke from Moshe's throat" during his prophecies (see Zohar Pinchas p. 232, Shmot 19:19 with Rashi). The clear pronunciation of the words "Pakod Pakadti" was the surest sign that Moshe was truly G-d-sent!

When Moshe wondered to Hashem why he wasn't cured of his slurred speech when he was charged with bringing His word to the people (a question dealt with by Ramban 4:10; Drashot Haran, Drush 3), Hashem replied to him, "Who gave a person a mouth and who can make a person dumb or deaf, able to see or blind? Is it not I, Hashem?" (Shmot 4:11). Moshe's defect served a very important purpose. Without it, he could not have proven through the clear enunciation of the words "Pakod Pakadti" that he was indeed the long-awaited redeemer. (Peh Kakosh, Shmot 4:11)

It may be added that the main element of the phrase "Pakod Pakadti," according to the Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni 64), was the doubled letter "Peh"; "It was with a double Peh that Israel was redeemed from Egypt, as it says, 'Pakod Pakadti'." Moshe *lips* were defective ("Aral sfatayim"), and as such he probably could not pronounce the letters which are produced by the lips: "B" "V" "M" and "P." He would truly have had trouble vocalizing the sign of the redemption. His proper pronunciation of the Peh's of Pakod Pakadti was the harbinger of freedom!

When Moshe shirked accepting his mission by saying, "I am imperfect of *Peh* (normally, "mouth")" (Shmot 4:10), he meant that he was unable to pronounce the letter Peh -- how could he be the redeemer? Hashem responded, "Who gave a person a mouth and who makes a person dumb or deaf, able to see or blind? Is it not I, Hashem!" When the time comes, Moshe, your speech will be perfect!

(Rabbenu Bachya (Shmot 4:10), it should be noted, mentions that Rabbenu Chananel suggests an entirely different list of letters that were hard for Moshe to pronounce -- those that are pronounced with the teeth and the tongue.)


Along these lines, Asifat Chachamim (Rav Yisrael Iser'l Segal, Opebach 1722, Parashat Shmot), quoting Hagaon Rav Meir Frenkel, asks an interesting question. Why did Moshe asked Hashem, "If they ask me, 'What is His name?' what should I tell them"? Didn't Moshe learn the name of Hashem from his parents? In fact, Rashi (2:14) tells us that Moshe killed the Egyptian taskmaster who was hitting a Jew by "uttering the Holy Name of Hashem!"

Rav Frenkel explains that, as we have proposed, Moshe was "Aral *Sefatayim*" and therefore could not properly pronounce the letter "V." Moshe was asking Hashem to suggest a Holy Name to use other than the Tetragramatton, which includes the letter "Vav." (When Moshe killed the Egyptian he only pronounced the first half of the Tetragramatton, as the Kabballists inform us, which does not include this letter.)


What is the significance of the words "Pakod Pakadti?" (1) The Ba'alei Hatosefot explain that hidden in these words is a hint that instead of waiting the prescribed 400 years (Bereishit 15:13) to release the Jews from Egyptian bondage, Hashem would release the Jews after only 210 years -- *190* years earlier than expected. The Gematria (numerical value of Hebrew letters) of "Pakod" is 190 (if it is spelled with a Vav). "Pakadti" can mean "I have caused to be lost, or diminished" (see Bamidbar 31:49, "ve'Lo *Nifkad* Mimenu Ish"). "Pakod Pakadti" -- "I have diminished [the Egyptian bondage] by 190 [years]!" (Da'as Zekeinim, end of Bereishit)

(2) The Maharal (Gur Arye to Shmot 3:18; Gevurot Hashem Ch. 26) offers another insight into these words. Every Hebrew letter can be spelled out using two or three Hebrew letters -- for example, the letter Alef can be written out as, Alef Lamed Peh. The letters that follow the first letter when the full name is written out (e.g. the Lamed and Peh of the above example) are referred to as the "hidden letters" of that particular letter of the alphabet, since they are not usually pronounced when that letter is spoken as part of a word. The hidden letters of the word "Pakod" are the Aleph of the letter Peh, the Vav Peh of the letter Kuf, and the Lamed Tav of the letter Dalet. These hidden letters hint to different aspects of the Jewish nation's Exile in Egypt, from which they were freed by the words "Pakod Pakadti."

Tav, Lamed (430) -- the hidden letters of Dalet -- refer to the total years of Exile decreed upon the Jews in Egypt (Shmot 12:41). Vav, Peh (86) -- the hidden letters of Kuf -- refer to the years of forced labor that the Jews suffered in Egypt (Shir Hashirim Rabba 2:11). The Aleph refers to the last and hardest year of the exile, a year in which Jewish babies were slaughtered by the ailing Pharaoh (Rashi 2:23). All of these torments ended with the redemption of "Pakod Pakadti"!

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