B’Shalach – On Wings of Eagles

As I sit on an airplane contemplating this week’s Parsha it became obvious what should be the topic. When we leave Egypt the Pasuk says that we travelled from Ramses to Sukkos, six hundred thousand men aside from children[1]. As Rashi[2] quotes the Pasuk from Yisro, this was done as if on the wings of an eagle. And even though in the Pasuk Klal Yisroel was travelling towards Geulah, and we are travelling away from Eretz Yisroel, it is still a fitting topic.

Every miracle has a purpose. Why here do we need to travel so quickly, and why is the destination Sukkos? The Sfas Emes[3] writes that the immediacy of the change is indicative of the inherent status of Klal Yisroel. One could imagine that a nation enslaved for so long would find it difficult to leave that mentality and be unable to become a free nation. Therefore, the Pasuk tells us that even though they were slaves, inherently they were the descendants of the Avos, and as soon as the external factors were removed, they were immediately ready to accept the Torah. This is true not only sociologically, but more important in Ruchniyos. We were at the forty ninth level of Tumah, and one could imagine the despair at ever being able to climb out of such depths. Therefore, HaShem took us immediately, on that first day, to a higher place so we could realize what we can accomplish.

This is a basic concept of Pesach, that everything that took place was B’Chipazon. The Matza, the bringing of the Korban, the being ready to leave, are all B’Chipazon. The alacrity here has many different facets, but this is one of them; the almost instantaneous change from slaves to accepting the Torah.

It is interesting that Rashi brings this Pasuk somewhere else. In the Parsha of Tzitzis the word Kanaf is used. And Rashi[4] writes the use of the word is parallel to the Kanaf of Yetziat Mitzrayim.  The Zohar writes[5] that the Tzitzis are the Kanfos; which means corners and also wings. They are the wings of fear and love of HaShem that lift the Mitzvot up, in a way beyond the regular process. Again this is a type of Chipazon to lift us up beyond the norm.

That is also the idea of going to Sukkoth. If one examines the structure of the Regalim, Pesach is the beginning, and Sukkoth is the goal. As the GRA writes in Shir HaShirim, it is the Mishkan, where we dwell with HaShem. So even though we still need to cross the Yam Suf, count fifty days to get the Torah, and build a Mishkan; already on the first day we are at Sukkoth. Again, we are accomplishing quickly what will ultimately take time to accomplish and solidify.

The word Sukkah is also tied to the word Soche with Ruach HaKodesh[6], to see not with eyes of Teva- nature, but with eyes of Kedusha. The end of the process of the ten Makos was not just to punish Egypt, but that we are meant to see as a Sukkah, not as Egyptian. We are meant to see the whole world as directed by HaShem. And that might be the connection to Tzitzis. The Parsha of Tzitzis is to teach us to guard our eyes. Only someone who knows where to look and where not can see with Ruach HaKodesh. The time where the entire nation began to see with Ruach Hodesh was here, and that is connected to Tztzis. So the Tzitzis do two things they remind us of Yetzias Mitzrayim, and remind us where to look to be a Sukkah.

This is similar to the concept that many Ba’alei Macshava write. When HaShem wants us to accomplish something, he first shows it to us as Matanah- a gift; and then takes it away. That is not Chalilah a tease, but it is so we can see what we can accomplish, and then we can reach there on our own[7]. The most basic example of this is the Torah that a fetus studies with a Malach and then is removed. But the imprint is there, and we know we can reacquire it[i].

What does Rashi mean that we travel one hundred and twenty Mil? The very specific distance needs clarification, especially since the number is so significant, most renowned as the life of Moshe. One hundred is always the completion of ten times ten. But the extra twenty needs understanding. The GRA writes that the Gemarra in Sanhedrin says that after the sin of Adam he was diminished and was only one hundred Amos. Moshe’s life is beyond that since through the Torah of Moshe we return to the level of Adam before the sin. So when we leave Egypt we travel instantaneously beyond the one hundred to the original level of Adam before the sin.

This all explains the Rashi here, hopefully. But we find the Nesher itself in two other contexts. One as the protection for the Jewish people that HaShem carries us on his back, and says let the arrow enter Me rather than My children[8]. The second is when HaShem is described as approaching us with the delicacy and care of an eagle approaching its nest, so as to not startle its fledglings[9]. How does that integrate with what we learnt here?

It would seem that such a jump in Ruchniyus would seem overwhelming and many of us would find this almost scary to be lifted to such heights so quickly. That is what we are learning here. As the Pasuk says in Ha’azinu, that HaShem approaches us a as a Nesher, who first rustles the nest so they know he is coming, and only then enters the nest. As great as the jump was and as far and quick as the journey was, it was still with mercy as the Nesher does.

And when the Egyptians chase us out and catch us with us by Yam Suf, the battle there was much more than the physical; it was also the spiritual. And many in Klal Yisroel lost that spiritual connection to Sukkoth and desired to return to Egypt. One can imagine that they said, that this was too much, we jumped too far, we really are only slaves. And HaShem once again acts in the guise of the eagle parent who is willing to carry its progeny even higher than it itself, and allow the arrow to enter into Him “so to speak” so we can be on that tremendous level. That is maybe another level of the Chazal that a parent is never jealous of a child’s accomplishments, even if that Parent is the Abba of HaSheiveinu Aveinu. HaShem always wants us to grow, even if he has to lift us up.

But there seems to be one more issue, the Nesher is one of the non-Kosher birds? The Shem Mishmuel writes that as much as being there way up in the sky is good, that is not the highest level. In the final chapter of the Mesilas Yesharim he writes that the highest level of Kedusha is not complete separation, but when a Kadosh uses what he needs from the world to serve HaShem.  Even though the Nesher is very high, maybe his lack of edibility is exactly that. We need to be able to access and use things to serve HaShem. And therefore the place of Kanfei Nesharim is high, but not what we are supposed to always be at. The Nesher can be on the Kise HaKavod, but we live here and serve HaShem here, once we leave Mitzrayim and receive the Torah.

[1]  ספר שמות פרק יב – (לז) וַיִּסְעוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵרַעְמְסֵס סֻכֹּתָה כְּשֵׁשׁ מֵאוֹת אֶלֶף רַגְלִי הַגְּבָרִים לְבַד מִטָּף:

[2]  רש”י על שמות פרק יב פסוק לז – מרעמסס סכותה – ק”ך מיל היו ובאו שם לפי שעה שנאמר (שמות יט) ואשא אתכם על כנפי נשרים:

[3]   שפת אמת ספר שמות – פרשת בא – שנת [תרנ”ה]  -ואין לתמוה על זה שיותר מזה כתיב ואביא אתכם אלי. ולשעה קלה נאספו מחומר ולבנים. ואשא אתכם על כנפי נשרים הוא מעשי אבות ועי”ז ואביא אתכם אלי. וכבר כתבנו בפ’ שמות כי עיקר יצ”מ הי’ בירור הברית של אברהם אע”ה.

[4]  רש”י על במדבר פרק טו פסוק מא – על כנפי בגדיהם – כנגד (שמות יט) ואשא אתכם על כנפי נשרים

[5]   שפת אמת ספר במדבר – פרשת שלח – שנת [תרנ”ה]  -וכ’ רש”י רמז כנפי בגדיהם למ”ש ואשא אתכם על כנפי נשרים. והענין כנ”ל כי ביצ”מ נתעלו בנ”י שלא בהדרגה ואביא אתכם אלי ונשאר זה הכח בבנ”י ואיתא בזוה”ק כי ציצית הם כנפי מצוה כמ”ש בזוה”ק מצוה דלא אתעבידת בדחילו ורחימו לא פרחת לעילא. וזה רמז לבן ותכלת. לבן אהבה לזכור תמיד חסד ה’ החופף על האדם תמיד. ותכלת ליראה ממדת הדין והם כנפים להעלות כל המצות.

[6]   שפת אמת ספר דברים – לסוכות – שנת [תרנ”ד] – כמ”ש אתם ראיתם כו’ ואשא אתכם על כנפי נשרים ואביא אתכם אלי. ואמרו חז”ל שזה יום שבאו מרעמסס לסוכות כהרף עין. סוכה הוא מלשון סוכה ברוה”ק דכ’ צאנה וראנה כו’ בעטרה כו’. והוא מי שיכול לצאת מן הטבע והגשמיות

[7]  ספר לשם שבו ואחלמה – ספר הדע”ה חלק ב – דרוש ה ענף ב סימן ה – והנה נודע הוא מדברי האריז”ל בכוונת פסח כי בליל א’ של פסח הנה נשתנו סדרי בראשית … וכן נתעלו אז כל ישראל ג”כ וכמ”ש ותרבי ותגדלי כו’ ונעשו אז כבריה חדשה והאירו כולם באור פני מלך חיים. ונעשה כ”ז הן למעלה והן למטה ומעין תיקון העתיד. כדי להראות לישראל שהוא ית”ש חפץ בהם להיות לסגולתו ומרב טוב הצפון להם. וכדי שיקבלו את תורתו ולשמוע בקולו בכל אשר יצוה עליהם וכמ”ש בפ’ יתרו אתם ראיתם כו’ ואשא אתכם על כנפי נשרים ואביא אתכם אלי ועתה אם שמוע תשמעו בקולי ושמרתם כו’. ובאשר שהרי היה כ”ז שלא במעשיהם כלל והוא נגד הסיבה המכוונת לכן לא היה אפשר לכל אלו האורות הנפלאים להתקיים עליהם כלל כי היה נתבטל הבחירה מהם ע”י שפעת האור הגדול ולכן נסתלק מהם תיכף הריבוי דאור הזה אחר יום א’ של פסח. כי היה הכוונה שימשכו מאז ולהלאה הכל רק ע”י מעשיהם. אמנם הנה נשאר בהם רושם גדול לעולם וכנודע מהמשכת המוחין אשר בכל ימי פסח והיה הכוונה שיחזרו להמשיך מעתה את כל אלו המוחין דגדלות שני למעלה ואור קדושתו ית”ש עליהם למטה הכל רק במעשיהם ובזכותם

 [8] רש”י על שמות פרק יט פסוק ד – על כנפי נשרים – כנשר הנושא גוזליו על כנפיו שכל שאר העופות נותנים את בניהם בין רגליהם לפי שמתיראין מעוף אחר שפורח על גביהם אבל הנשר הזה אינו מתירא אלא מן האדם שמא יזרוק בו חץ לפי שאין עוף אחר פורח על גביו לכך נותנו על כנפיו אומר מוטב יכנס החץ בי ולא בבני. אף אני עשיתי כן ויסע מלאך האלהים וגו’ ויבא בין מחנה מצרים וגו’ והיו מצרים זורקים חצים ואבני בליסטראות והענן מקבלם:

[9]  דברים פרק לב – (יא) כְּנֶשֶׁר יָעִיר קִנּוֹ עַל גּוֹזָלָיו יְרַחֶף יִפְרֹשׂ כְּנָפָיו יִקָּחֵהוּ יִשָּׂאֵהוּ עַל אֶבְרָתוֹ

רש”י על דברים פרק לב פסוק יא – כנשר יעיר קנו – נהגם ברחמים ובחמלה כנשר הזה רחמני על בניו ואינו נכנס לקנו פתאום עד שהוא מקשקש ומטרף על בניו בכנפיו בין אילן לאילן בין שוכה לחברתה כדי שיעורו בניו ויהא בהן כח לקבלו:

[i] This Gemarra of the fetus is actually very close to what takes place at Yetzias Mitzrayim. We are described in Egypt as a fetus in the womb that needs to be delivered. In addition, the Zohar HaKadosh says that the Chomer U’Lveinim, the mortar and bricks that we were forced to build are actually referring to the ways the Torah is learnt. Chomer is Kal V’Chomer, and Leveinim is the Libun-clarification- of Halacha. So in Egypt we are like a fetus who is studying the Torah. But as soon as we leave, we forget it, just as the Malach does that, and we now attempt to reconnect to it.

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