web analytics
April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

When Did Makkas Bechoros Occur?

Share Button

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.

Share Button

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.

No Responses to “When Did Makkas Bechoros Occur?”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Who will he take to the dance?
It’s Prom Time, and Abbas Must Choose a Dance Partner – Israel or Hamas
Latest Judaism Stories
Reiss-041814-King

Amazingly, each and every blade was green and moist as if it was just freshly cut.

PTI-041814

All the commentaries ask why Hashem focuses on the Exodus as opposed to saying, “I am Hashem who created the entire world.”

Leff-041814

Someone who focuses only on the bones of the Torah makes his bones dry and passionless.

The following is President Obama’s statement on Passover (April 14, 2014). As he has in the past, the President held an official Passover Seder at the White House. Michelle and I send our warmest greetings to all those celebrating Passover in the United States, in Israel, and around the world. On Tuesday, just as we […]

The tendency to rely on human beings rather than G-d has been our curse throughout the centuries.

“Who is wise? One who learns from each person” (Pirkei Avot 4:1)

In Judaism, to be without questions is a sign not of faith, but of lack of depth.

“I’ll try to help as we can,” said Mr. Goodman, “but we already made a special appeal this year. Let me see what other funds we have. I’ll be in touch with you in a day or two.”

Rashi is bothered by the expression Hashem used: “the Jews need only travel.”

Reckoning Time
‘Three Festivals, Even Out Of Order’
(Beizah 19b)

Two husbands were there to instruct us in Texas hold ‘em – and we needed them.

Question: Why do we start counting sefirat ha’omer in chutz la’aretz on the second night of Pesach when the omer in the times of the Beit Hamikdash was cut on Chol HaMoed?

M. Goldman
(Via E-Mail)

A few background principles regarding the prohibitions of chametz mixtures on Pesach may provide some shopping guidance.

According to the Rambam, the k’nas applies to any chametz on Pesach with which one could, in theory, transgress the aveirah – even if no transgression actually occurred.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

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

According to the Rambam, the k’nas applies to any chametz on Pesach with which one could, in theory, transgress the aveirah – even if no transgression actually occurred.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

One difference between Bnei Yisrael and Bnei Noach is that shiurim only apply to Bnei Yisrael.

The Gemara, in Kiddushin 57b, searches for a source to confirm that the bird that is to be set free is permitted to be eaten after the process is concluded.

The Gemara (Niddah 31b) states that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was asked why a woman who gives birth must bring a korban.

The Ritvah understands that the kosher signs are not just “signs” indicating that a fish is kosher; rather, they are what actually render the fish kosher. This may also be applied to the kosher signs of an animal, but the Ritvah does not indicate this.

If a korban chatas cannot be brought as a nedavah, how can one read the parshah of the korban chatas if he is not certain that he is obligated to bring one?

Following the Minchah (afternoon) service, led by the Vyelipoler Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Frankel, rally participants recited several passages of Tehillim.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

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: