Shemos 5778

Rabbi Boruch Kibel

At the end Parshas Shemos, Moshe has a debate with Hashem over whether or not he should become the leader of the Jewish people. For a full seven days, Moshe argues with Hashem, trying to get out of the position.
How could Moshe cause this delay? Because of his refusal to accept the position, the Geula was pushed off for a whole week. That meant another week of backbreaking labor for the Jews!
My father zt”l used to say that this demonstrates how important it is to avoid hurting another Jew. Moshe’s refusal was aimed at safeguarding Aharon’s Kavod. He was afraid that Aharon would be insulted and hurt if Moshe, his younger brother, became the leader of the Jewish people. Moshe felt it was worth delaying the Geula an entire week to prevent hurting the feelings of one Jew.
The Gemara (Sanhedrin 11a) gives an example of this concept: “Rav Yehuda Hanasi was once giving a shiur and someone had eaten garlic for lunch, and it smelled really bad. He couldn’t take the smell, and said that whoever had eaten the garlic should leave.
“Rav Chiya realized that the guilty party would be embarrassed, so he stood up and left the room. Everyone followed suit and also left the room.
“The next day, Rebbi Shimon, the son of Rav Yehuda Hanasi, met Rav Chiya and asked him, ‘Why did you cause so much pain to my father yesterday? You stopped the whole shiur!’
“Rav Chiya answered that ‘this should not happen in Klal Yisrael. I didn’t mean to hurt your father, but I couldn’t allow whoever ate the garlic to be embarrassed.’”
The Maharsha explains that Rav Chiya knew quite well that his actions would cause Bitul Torah. Although Bitul Torah is a terrible Aveira, it is less damaging than causing embarrassment to a Jew. Although Rav Chiya’s action caused Bitul Torah for the entire shiur, the embarrassment of one Jew is worse.
With this idea, the first Rashi in the Parsha is clear. The Parsha begins, “And these are the names of the Bnei Yisrael that are coming to Mitzrayim, Yaakov and his family” (Shemos 1:1). Rashi asks why the Torah repeats the names if they were already mentioned in Sedra Vayigash. He answers that the Jews are compared to the stars. Just as Hashem counts the stars every night when they come out, Hashem also counts the Jews all the time.
The Sfas Emes explains that Hashem is showing his love to the Bnei Yisrael and that He views every Jew as a star. If that’s the case, then the Kavod given to every Jew is even more important. This concept provides a clear understanding of why Moshe tried so hard to protect the Kavod of Aharon.
The question that remains is why this lesson of Hashem’s love is mentioned here, in the beginning of sefer Shemos. It seems to be out of place at the beginning of the Galus. Where is Hashem’s love? The Sfas Emes explains that the Torah wants to show that the Galus Mitzrayim did not come out of hate but out of love. If a parent sees his child do something wrong, the parent will rebuke him because he loves his child. However, if one sees another child do something wrong, he won’t rebuke that child, because the same love isn’t there. Hashem opened sefer Shemos by showing that he loved the Jewish people. Athough they had to go down to Mitzrayim for 210 years, this was not based on hate but out of love.
The Sfas Emes adds to his explanation. Not only this Sedra but the entire sefer is called Shemos. He says it is the names of Klal Yisrael that show Hashem’s love. With these names, Hashem showed that Bnei Yisrael would have the power to bring the Geula. Every Malach and star has a name that describes its כוחות, unique characteristics. Likewise, every Jew has a name, and that name describes his תפקיד, purpose, in the world. So sefer Shemos opens with these names to show Klal Yisrael that with these names they would be able to rise up fromעבדות to חרות, from slavery to freedom.

Rabbi Avrohom Miller

Other examples of עין הרע (A”H), “the evil eye,” include:
• When saying Yizkor, it is customary for all those whose parents are still living to leave the Shul. One reason given is due to the potential A”H on those who have parents. (Shaar Ephraim 10,32)

• When a child is born, the parents do not tell others what the name will be before the Bris or naming of the girl in Shul. One possible reason is to prevent A”H. (Harav S. Deblitzsky)

• In regards to Shidduchim, one of the well-known directives in the Tzavah of Rabbi Yehuda Hachasid is not to marry a girl whose name matches his mother’s, or a boy whose name matches her father’s. Many explain the reason for this is due to A”H. (see Shemiras Haguf V’hanefesh 169,1)

• When mentioning another person’s blessings, whether relating to wealth or family, one should also bless the person to prevent A”H. (Pele Yoatz). This seems to be the source for the custom to say “Bli Ayin Harah,” without the evil eye.
The Gemara (Pesachim 110b) states regarding שדים, demons, that if one is particular regarding them, they (the demons) are particular with him, but if one is not overly particular, they are not particular with him. Does this rule apply to A”H? Can one say he is not concerned with any issue of A”H? Harav Chaim Kanievsky emphatically wrote that it does not apply. (ז”ל לא שמעתי ואינו נכון) .
Harav Yitzchak Zilberstein was approached by parents with the following query. Their son had excelled in his Cheder in a contest testing his knowledge in Hilchos Shivi’is, and was chosen to represent the school in the next step of the contest competing against other Chadorim. He could potentially advance to the national finals. There was extensive publicity in the Chareidi newspapers, listing the names of all of the contestants. One of the parents’ concerns was the A”H aspect involved, especially considering that their son was younger than others in the Cheder who had not progressed as far.
Rav Zilberstein concurred that their concern was valid; A”H is something to be taken seriously. On the other hand, he had memories of his youth in Eitz Chaim, where there were also these sorts of public tests, with the participation of Gedolim.
The rationale, he explained, is due to the positive results of such contests. The excitement engendered and all the constant review to excel creates a tremendous Kavod HaTorah, and this itself will protect from A”H.
To conclude this topic on a positive note. The best way for one to protect himself from the dangers of A”H is to do whatever possible to not be the cause of the A”H. Rav Dessler stresses that one who does not live for himself, but is instead always a giver to others, does not cause jealousy and the resulting A”H. Also, one who looks at others with an Ayin Tov will cause blessing, and he in turn will be blessed. (Charedim 66,90).