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In this week’s parshah, the Mitzriyim are punished with the first seven plagues. Before the plague of barad, Moshe warns Pharaoh and his servants to go indoors and bring all their livestock and possessions inside as well. Anything left outside will be killed or destroyed.

The Torah (Shemos 9:20-21) states that individuals who feared the word of Hashem brought their belongings indoors. But those who did not take Hashem’s word to heart (“lo sam libo”)left their belongings outside. Mefarshim question the Torah’s wording. Instead of saying that the Mitzriyim didn’t take Hashem’s word to heart, why didn’t the Torah say that they didn’t fear or adhere to the word of Hashem?


Harav Yeruchem Levovitz, the Mirrer Mashgiach, explains that the Torah is explaining how one acquires yiras shamayim and how one looses it. The only difference between having and not having yiras shamayim is if one is “sam libo,” if one pays attention. If one contemplates, one acquires yiras shamayim.

Perhaps there is another explanation for the Torah’s wording based on an explanation of the Brisker Rav. Hashem told Moshe that the barad would fall on the entire land of Mitzrayim – on the people, on the animals, on every blade of grass. The Brisker Rav asks why Hashem detailed everything that the barad will fall on. Why didn’t He just tell Moshe that the barad would fall over all of Mitzrayim, period?

The Brisker Rav suggests that the barad, in fact, only fell on people, animals, and vegetation. The barad did not fall on empty land. It was as if each hailstone had a heat sensor of some sort; each one had a target.

Additionally, if a person was in his house, the barad would not fall on his roof. This proved that it wasn’t the house that kept people safe; rather, it was their yiras shamayim.

The sefer Masas Hamelech adds that if a house was missing part of its roof, but was halachically still considered a house (i.e. via the principle of lavud), barad would not fall on it. This further proves that the physical house did not afford the protection, but rather the fear of Hashem. Parenthetically, Rav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita, questions this view since the halachos of lavud and the like do not apply to non-Jews.

Masas Hamelech also points out that the Torah stresses that only those items not brought inside would be destroyed. The implication is that if an item was brought inside a house and then accidentally left it (e.g., an animal), it would not be damaged by the barad. This, as well, attests to the true source of protection.

It is not clear, however, what would happen to someone or something that was already in a house before Moshe Rabbeinu announced the plague of barad. If someone happened to be in his home when the announcement was made and stayed there for no particular reason (perhaps he was sick), would he be saved even though he hadn’t demonstrated yiras shamayim?

Rabbi Shlomo Cynamon, shlita, suggests that the Torah answers this question by specifying that some people did not take Hashem’s word to heart (“lo sam libo”). If someone went indoors because he feared the word of Hashem, he was protected. If, however, he remained indoors simply because it was convenient, and not because Hashem demanded it, he would not be protected.

What this means is that two people theoretically could have been sitting in the same house and one would be killed from the barad and the other one would be protected. Hashem would protect the person who feared Him even if there was a hole in the roof over his head. And Hashem would kill the person who didn’t fear Him even if he was sitting under the sturdiest portion of the roof.


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Rabbi Fuchs learned in Yeshivas Toras Moshe, where he became a close talmid of Rav Michel Shurkin, shlit”a. While he was there he received semicha from Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, shlit”a. He then learned in Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn, and became a close talmid of Rav Shmuel Berenbaum, zt”l. Rabbi Fuchs received semicha from the Mirrer Yeshiva as well. After Rav Shmuel’s petira Rabbi Fuchs learned in Bais Hatalmud Kollel for six years. He is currently a Shoel Umaishiv in Yeshivas Beis Meir in Lakewood, and a Torah editor and weekly columnist at The Jewish Press.