With an outstretched arm but not with a strong hand by Jerry Karp


In Parshat Vaera, 6:6, Hashem says that He will redeem Bnai Yisrael “Bizroa Netuya,” – “with an outstretched arm.”  This phrase is usually used in conjunction with the phrase, “Biyad Chazaka,”  “with a strong hand.”  However, in this Pasuk, the latter phrase is missing.

The Haaymek Davar explains that each phrase has a specific connotation.  He quotes the passage found in the Haggada which says that “Bizroa Netuya” signifies “Cherev,” the sword, while “Biyad Chazaka” signifies “Dever,” the plague. By the Maka of Dever, it says that the “hand of Hashem” will strike the cattle of Egypt. From this, the Haggada derives that “Biyad Chazaka” signifies Dever.  The Haaymek Davar explains that this “Yad Chazaka,” which implemented the Dever, was an instrument of force.  However, the redemption of Bnai Yisrael from Egypt did not require force, since all of Bnai Yisrael were willing to leave.  Therefore, the “Yad Chazaka” is not mentioned by the final redemption.

However, the “Ziroa Netuya” had to be mentioned.  The Haaymek Davar explains that if Pharo had been able to discuss the matter with his advisors, he would ultimately have decided to kill all of Bnai Yisrael.  After all, Hashem was plaguing his people because he would not let Bnai Yisrael go. If Pharo killed all of Bnai Yisrael however, there would no longer be a reason to plague all of Egypt.  To prevent Pharo from considering this option, while Hashem was constantly sending Makot against the people of Egypt, He was also killing Pharo’s advisors, in between the actual Makot.  In this way, Pharo never actually contemplated this solution that would have had dire consequences for Bnai Yisrael.  The phrase “Bizroa Netuya,” representing the sword, denotes this strategy.

In addition, the Haaymek Davar may also be answering the famous philisophical question regarding the story of Yetziat Mitzrayim.  Many ask, “How is it possible that Hashem could have coerced Pharo into doing His will by ‘hardening his heart?’  Is this not a violation of Bechirat Chofshit?”  However, the Haaymek Davar seems to explain that this “hardening of heart” does not mean  that Hashem did not allow Pharo to think about letting Bnai Yisrael out of Egypt.  Rather, it means that Hashem did not allow for Pharo’s contemplation of the matter, which would have led him to kill all of Bnai Yisrael.  Had Hashem not implemented this plan, Bnai Yisrael would never have been allowed to leave.  Hashem’s “Ziroa Netuya” caused the redemption of Bnai Yisrael.

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