In the beginning of this week’s parshah, Parshas Beshalach, the Pasuk says that when Bnei Yisroel left Egypt they were ‘vichamushim’. There are a number of explanations for what ‘vichamushim’ means.
According to one opinion, it means that only one fifth of Klal Yisroel left Egypt. Four fifths of Klal Yisroel were killed during the plague of darkness because they weren’t worthy of redemption.
A second explanation for ‘vichamushim’ is that the Jews were armed with Mitzvos. However, the Pasuk tells us that on the day they left Mitzraim, they were empty of Mitzvos. So what Mitzva did they have now when they left?
The Targum Yonasan interprets ‘vichamushim’ to mean that each family had ‘5 tafla’. Tafla means children, so the simple understanding of the Targum is that each family had five kids. An obvious question on this explanation is that from EACH pregnancy the women had [at least] SIX kids. So what does the Targum mean that they only had FIVE TAFLA???
The Baeir Yosef provides us with a beautiful approach that answers all of these questions: He explains that the four fifths of Klal Yisroel who died were only those who were twenty or older and therefore able to be punished in the Heavenly Court. Their kids were certainly not deserving of punishment and were therefore not killed. Thus there were many orphans who had no parents. The remaining one fifth of Klal Yisroel adopted all the orphaned kids! That is what the Targum means when he says 5 ‘Tafla’, i.e. five FAMILIES of kids. That besides their own kids, each family adopted four other families, so that all the children of the 4/5 of Klal Yisroel who died would have surrogate parents! That was the big Mitzva that they were armed with when they left Egypt!
We all know that throughout the recent generations there have been many Jews who have chosen different paths and have not remained committed to Yiddishkeit. They have produced many ‘orphans’, kids and even grownups who don’t know anything about the beauty and depth of Yiddishkeit and what our mission in life is. There are a number of organizations and special people who help fix this sad trend. All of the Gedolei Yisroel laud their work and encourage all of us to do our share in this holy Mitzva. We can all support these organizations [each person according to his/her financial situation] AND do our share in bringing these ‘orphans’ close to Yiddishkeit; by inviting them to our Shabbos meals, talking & acting respectably in the work place and the street, etc.
I would like to connect this idea to current events. Why is it that people are so into watching and rooting for sports teams when they are not even the ones playing?
I think the answer is that Hashem put into the world the ability to associate oneself with others. ‘That’s my team’! Like every mida, character trait, and force in the world there is the ability to channel this force for the better. Just like one is proud when the team in his city wins the World Series or the Super Bowl, one should try to be proud of the spirituality of one’s city. We should take pride in the talmidie chachamim and chashuva Rabbonim of our city. We should take pride in the great Yeshivos, schools, and Shuls of our city. We should take pride in the unity and harmony of our city. And just like people care so much for strangers on a team that doesn’t know them at all [and probably doesn’t care one bit about them] let us all try to use that force to care for Jewish strangers who are distant from Judaism. They’re also on our team!
In the merit of this crucial Mitzva which parallels the Mitzva we had when we left the exile of Egypt, may we merit soon the final redemption speedily in our days.
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