This week Daniel and Karl are joined again by Robin Holland for their investigation of Exodus 13. Daniel gives us the lowdown on a lot of Jewish practice, including the use of tefillin (in English, phylacteries) in prayer. You can listen below, or subscribe to the podcast through iTunes or other fine distributors. The midrash we used is at the bottom of this page.
(Rashi) 3 Remember this day: This teaches us that we are to mention the Exodus from Egypt daily. — [from Mechilta]
(Rashi)5 flowing with milk and honey: Milk flows from the goats’ [udders], and honey flows from the dates and the figs. — [from Kethuboth 111b]
You shall relate to your son on that day, saying: This is done because of what G‑d did for me when I came out of Egypt (13:8)
In every generation, a person is obligated to see himself as if he himself came out of Egypt; as it is written: “This is done because of what G‑d did for mewhen I came out of Egypt.”
(Talmud, Pesachim 116b)
5(Rashi) 9 upon your hand and as a remembrance between your eyes: This means that you shall write these passages [verses 1:10 and 11:16] and bind them on the head and on the arm.
(Midrash Rabbah) G‑d did not lead them through the way of the land of the Philistines (13:17)
The tribe of Ephraim had erred and departed from Egypt 30 years before the destined time, with the result that three hundred thousand of them were slain by the Philistines . . . and their bones lay in heaps on the road. . . . G‑d therefore said: If Israel sees the bones of the sons of Ephraim strewn in the road, they will return to Egypt . . .
Thus the verse says, v’lo nacham Elokim (“G‑d did not lead them,” which can also be translated as “G‑d was not comforted”). This is comparable to a king whose sons were carried off as captives, and some of them died in captivity. The king afterwards came and saved those that were left. While he rejoiced over those who survived, he was never comforted for those who had died.
G‑d led the people about by way of the desert (13:18)
This is comparable to a king who had a son to whom he wished to bequeath an inheritance, but he argued: “If I give it to him now that he is small, he will not know how to take care of it. I will therefore wait until my son studies the writings and comprehends the value [of the property]; then I will bequeath it unto him.” This is what G‑d said: I shall first give them the Torah, and then bring them into the Land.
G‑d said: If I bring Israel into the land now, each will immediately take possession of his field or vineyard, and they will neglect the Torah. Rather, I shall take them around the desert for forty years, so that they should eat manna and drink the water of [Miriam’s miracle] well, and the Torah will be absorbed in their bodies. Thus Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai would say: The Torah was given to be expounded only to the eaters of manna.
The children of Israel went out chamushim from the land of Egypt (13:18)
Chamushim means “armed”. . . . Another interpretation: one in five (chamesh) among the children of Israel came out of Egypt; four-fifths died during the three days of darkness [because they did not want to leave Egypt].
Rabbi Joshua interpreted it thus: fivefold they came out of Egypt, for five times their number in converts were gathered into the people of Israel upon their departure from Egypt.
(Talmud, Sotah 13a) Moses took the bones of Joseph with him. For he had laid an oath on the children of Israel, saying, “G‑d will surely remember you, and you shall carry up my bones away from here with you” (13:19)
How did Moses know the place where Joseph was buried? Serach the daughter of Asher remained from that generation. Moses went to her and asked: “Do you know where Joseph was buried?” She answered him: “The Egyptians made an iron coffin for him, which they sunk in the Nile so that its waters should be blessed.”
Moses went and stood on the bank of the Nile and called out: “Joseph! Joseph! The time has arrived regarding which G‑d swore, ‘I will deliver you,’ and the oath which you imposed upon the Israelites has reached the time of fulfillment. If you show yourself, well and good; otherwise, behold, we are absolved of your oath.” Immediately Joseph’s coffin floated to the surface of the water . . .
Rabbi Nathan says: He was buried in the sepulchre of the kings. Moses went and stood by the sepulchre of the kings and exclaimed, “Joseph! The time has arrived regarding which G‑d swore, ‘I will deliver you,’ and the oath which you imposed upon the Israelites has reached the time of fulfillment. If you show yourself, well and good; otherwise, behold, we are absolved of your oath.” At that moment Joseph’s coffin trembled, and Moses took it and carried it with him.
(Rashi) 22 He did not move away: [I.e.,] the Holy One, blessed be He, [did not move away] the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire at night. [This verse] tells that the pillar of cloud transmitted [its light to] the pillar of fire, and the pillar of fire transmitted [its light to] the pillar of cloud, for while one had not yet set, the other one would rise. — [from Shab. 23b]