1)

Why did Hashem command Yisrael to go back towards Egypt?

1.

Rashi: To trick Par'oh into believing that they were lost - to encourage him to chase after them. 1


1

Refer to 13:22:2:1.

2)

What is the significance of Pi ha'Cshiros?

1.

Rashi and Targum Yonasan: Pi ha'Chiros was a valley between two tall rocks, 1 originally known as Pisom, 2 was so-called because that was the location from where they traveled to freedom.


1

Targum Yonason: In the shape of a man and a woman, with open eyes.

2

One of the store-cities that Yisrael built as slaves. See Shemos (1:11).

3)

What is the significance of Ba'al Tzefon?

1.

Rashi and Targum Yonasan: It was the only idol to survive Makas Bechoros. Hashem did this in order to fool Par'oh into believing that it was all-powerful 1 and able to stand up to Hashem (Kevayachol). 2

2.

Mechilta: This was the town that was originally called Pisom, which Yisrael built as the royal treasury, 3 to house all the money that Yosef collected for the sale of grain, which they hid there, and which they subsequently renamed Ba'al Tz'fon (probably for that very reason 4 (from the word 'Tzafun' [hidden] - Oznayim la'Torah).


1

See Sifsei Chachamim.

2

Moreover, it had succeeded in trapping Yisrael beside the Yam-Suf, for his army to attack - another means employed by Hashem to lure Par'oh and his army to the Yam-Suf (Refer to 14:2:1:1*), as the Pasuk writes in Iyov (12:23) "He tricks the nations and destroys them" (Rashi, citing the Mechilta). Refer also to 14:5:3:2 - and Par'oh and the Egyptian army now came to bow down to Ba'al Tz'fon and to praise it (Targum Yonasan). Refer also to 14:10:13.

3

Which, unsurprisingly, they also worshipped as a god.

4

In any event, not because it was in the north - See Oznayim la'Torah.

4)

Why did Ba'al-Tz'fon survive Makas Bechoros?

1.

Rashi and Targum Yonasan: Refer to 14:2:3:1.

2.

Oznayim la'Torah (citing the Yalkut Shimoni): The Egyptians' water, animals, produce, firstborn and gods - the Nile, the sheep and the cows, had all been smitten, The sole survivor was 'the golden god' that remained and that Par'oh believed to be invincible. Little did he realize that Hashem had spared it until now, so that Yisrael should take [posession of all the silver and gold that it contained, that their ancestor Yosef had collected to complement the payment 1 for the years that they had slaved in Egypt 'by the sweat of their brow and the blood of heir heart' free of charge!"


1

See Oznayim la'Torah DH 'Lifnei Ba'al Tz'fon #2 - who explains that he vessels that they took out of Egypt, served as payment for their houses ans furniture which they left behind when they left Egypt and who elborates further.

5)

Why does it say "Lifnei Ba'al Tzefon", seeing as it is forbidden to mention an idol in order to locate a place!

1.

Da'as Zekenim: It is forbidden for people but permitted for Hashem, just like He judges on Shabbos, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipur, which is forbidden for people. 1

2.

Sanhedrin 63b: Any idolatry mentioned in the Torah, one may mention its name. 2

3.

Oznayim la'Torah #1 (citing Ba'alei Tosfos): Since it is in honor of Hashem (who was about to perform the miracles of Keri'as Yam-Suf 3 ).

4.

Oznayim la'Torah #2: Because one of the reasons that Hashem ordered Yisrael to camp infront of Ba'al Tz'fon was to show them its downfall - in which mentioning it here is to its shame and not to its honor.


1

Rashi (Rosh Hashanah Sof 30a): People may not build the Mikdash on Yom Tov or at night, but Shamayim may. Hadar Zekenim left the question difficult. He holds that Hashem observes the entire Torah; Sanhedrin 39a implies so. (PF)

2

Hadar Zekenim left the question difficult. He must hold that since the Torah was not yet given, this Heter did not apply. (PF)

3

Of which Ba'al Tz'fon was part, inasmuch as Hashem used it to lure Par'oh to the Yam-Suf.

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