web analytics
April 19, 2015 / 30 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

When Did Makkas Bechoros Occur?

This column is dedicated to the refuah sheleimah of Shlomo Eliezer ben Chaya Sarah Elka.

There is a contradiction in the pesukim as to when makkas bechoros occurred. The pasuk in this week’s parshah says, “vayehi bachatzos halailah, v’Hashem hikah kol bechor b’eretz Mitzrayim… – and at chatzos of the night, Hashem hit every firstborn in the land of Mitzrayim…” (Shemos 12:29). This pasuk states that makkas bechoros occurred by night. The implication from the pasuk in Bamidbar 8:17 is that makkas bechoros occurred by day, for the pasuk says: “b’yom hakosi kol bechor… — on the day that I hit all of the firstborn…”

Maseches Semachos begins by posing this contradiction, and offers the following solution Reb Yochanan says that at chatzos of the night, Hashem delivered a lethal blow to all of the bechorim that would kill them; however, they did not actually die until the morning. Hashem made it that their souls remained in them until the morning, in order that the Bnei Yisrael could witness their death.

The Peirush Nachalas Yaakov (found on the bottom of Maseches Semachos) explains why the masechta begins with this medrash. The Gemara in Sanhedrin 39a says that a min (apikores) asked Rebbe Avahu the following question: Hashem is a kohen, as it says “veyikcho li terumah.” When Hashem buried Moshe Rabbeinu, in what did He immerse himself? Rebbe Avahu answered that He immersed himself in fire. Tosafos there asks why the min did not inquire as to how Hashem was able to become tamei by burying Moshe Rabbeinu. Tosafos answers that this did not bother the min because he knew that we are considered children of Hashem and that a kohen is permitted to bury his children.

According to Tosafos, Hashem would not be able to be metamei by killing someone, since even a kohen may only become tamei by burying his children, not by killing them. The Haggadah states that Hashem himself performed makkas bechoros. How then did Hashem himself kill the bechorim of Mitzrayim?

It is this question that the Maseches Semachos wishes to address when it brings down this medrash. The beginning of Maseches Semachos discusses the halachos regarding when one is dying but is still alive (goseis). Therefore, it began with a medrash that proves to us that during such a state, a person is not considered dead and thus not yet metamei. Since Hashem only delivered the blow that would kill the bechorim, He was not metamei to the bechorim since they were not yet dead.

On a side note, Reb Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l, is quoted as explaining the discrepancy between the berachah of “ga’al Yisrael” that we say after Shema of Shacharis and the same berachah that we say in Ma’ariv. In Shacharis we say “miMitzrayim g’altanu … kol bechoreihem haragta.” The mention of redeeming us from Mitzrayim precedes the mention of killing the bechorim. In Ma’ariv we say “hamakeh b’evraso kol bechorei Mitzrayim vayotzei es amo Yisrael mitocham lecheirus olam.” The mention of hitting the bechorim of Mitzrayim precedes that of our redemption from Mitzrayim. This is because, as Maseches Semachos stated that at chatzos of the night Hashem only delivered the blow that would eventually kill the bechorim, the bechorim did not actually die until the morning. So at night we mention the blow that was delivered to the bechorim before the redemption, which only took place the following morning. In Shacharis, which is recited in the morning, we mention the redemption from Mitzrayim before the death of the bechorim because the redemption preceded the actual death of the bechorim, which occurred during the day.

The Shivus Yaakov (1:17) asks the following question on the Maseches Semachos: Why did the Mishnah not simply answer the contradiction in the pasukim (whether makkas bechoros occurred at night or by day) by saying that if a bechor was born after chatzos, even in the morning, he would die as well? The Shivus Yaakov suggests that based on this question it is imperative that a bechor who was born after chatzos did not die. Based on this observation, he rules that if one has a son born to him on the night before Pesach – after chatzos – he does not have to fast for that bechor since had he been a Mitzri in Mitzrayim, he would not have been killed. Therefore, his father, who would generally have to fast on Erev Pesach for his bechor who is under bar mitzvah age, does not have to fast for his son.

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “When Did Makkas Bechoros Occur?”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
ISIS affiliates murdering Christian Africans in Libya
African Christians Slaughtered by ISIS-Affiliates
Latest Judaism Stories
Hertzberg-041715

Lincoln was not a perfect man. But he rose above his imperfections to do what he thought was right not matter the obstacles.

Arch of Titus

Adon Olam: An Erev Shabbat Musical Interlude Courtesy of David Herman

Daf-Yomi-logo

Oh My, It’s Copper!
‘…And One Who Is A Coppersmith’
(Kethubboth 77a)

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

The omer sacrifice of loose barley flour was more fitting for animal consumption than human consumption and symbolizes the depths to which the Jewish slaves had sunk.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

When Chazal call not eating treif food a chok, that refers to how it functions.

His mother called “Yoni, Yoni!” Her eyes, a moment earlier dark with pain, shone with joy and hope

Kashrut reminds us that in the end, God is the arbiter of right and wrong.

In a cab with Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach & Rav Elayshiv discussing if/when to say tefillas haderech

The successful student listens more than speaks out; wants his ideas critiqued, not just appreciated

Why would it not be sufficient to simply state lehoros from which we derive that in such a state one may not issue any psak?

What do we learn about overcoming loss from the argument between Moses and Aaron’s remaining 2 sons?

Each of the unique roles attributed to Moshe share the common theme that they require of and grant higher sanctity to the individual filling the role.

Because of the way the piece of my finger had been severed, the doctors at the hospital were not able to reattach it. They told me I’d have to see a specialist.

“The problem is that the sum total is listed is $17,000. However, when you add the sums mentioned, it is clear that the total of $17,000 is an error. Thus, Mr. Broyer owes me $18,000, not $17,000.”

More Articles from Rabbi Raphael Fuchs
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Why would it not be sufficient to simply state lehoros from which we derive that in such a state one may not issue any psak?

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

The Netziv answered that there is a difference between a piece of bread that was cut already in front of you, and one that was cut from beforehand.

Why is it necessary to invite people to eat from the korban Pesach?

The Ran asks why the Gemara concludes that since we are unsure which two of the four we must recline for, that we must recline for all four.

The Chasam Sofer answers that one of only prohibited from wearing a garment that contains shatnez if he does so while wearing the garment for pleasure purposes.

The Aruch Laner asks: How can Rashi say that the third Beis Hamikdash will descend as fire from heaven when every Jew prays several times a day for the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash?

The Ohr Hachayim rules that one may not manipulate the system; rather he must state his opinion as he see the ruling in the case; not as he would like the outcome of the verdict to become.

He suggests that the general admonition only dictates that a father may not actively enable his son to perform an aveirah.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/when-did-makkas-bechoros-occur/2013/01/16/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: