Parshas Shemos - Early Exit and Birth Lessons

By Rabbi Yosef Tropper
Posted on 12/27/18

 1) Early Exit

Avraham was foretold at the bris bein habesarim that his descendents were going to be in ‘eretz lo lahem, exile’ for 410 years. Rashi brings down the calculation of 410 years is from the time Avraham was told this. Avraham was in pain to know that his children were going to be in shibud, and that pain actually counted towards the galus. This is a lesson in it of itself. The pain and energy we invest in our children makes a difference and is noticed by Hashem. We will develop this further below.

Vilna Gaon (Kol Eliyahu) explains, “Vayimariru es chayeiyhem”. The Egyptians embittered the lives of the Jewish people. The trop on those words  is kadma v’azla which literally translates as, “they (the Jews) got out early’. He reads it as, “vayimariru es chayeiyhem”, because the Egyptians embittered the Jewish lives so much, with “avodah kasha” hard work, thus, the Jews were able to leave early without being in Egypt for 410 years.

Kadma, they got up early. V’azla, and they left. Says the Gra: The cantillation marks are telling us that which Chazal say: Why did the Jews get out early?  They were only in Egypt for 210 years and not 410? Because “vayimariru es chayeiyhem” because it was so bitter, therefore, the koshi hashibud, difficulty of the subjugation to the Egyptians, allowed the Jews to go out earlier.

Increased Population

Rav Tzvi Hirsch Frumber of London, wrote a p’shat that he says that he heard in the name of the Gra. It’s found in his Sefer Keren HaTzvi on Hagaddah shel Pesach. The same trop found on “vayimariru es chayeiyhem”, the kadma v’azla, is also found in Shemos 10:9, a little later on. It says, “B’vaneinu u’vnoseinu”, with our sons and daughters we’re going to leave Egypt and that’s also kadma v’azla. Gra explains that it was because of the koshi hashibud, which we just talked about, that the Jews got out early, but it was also because of the ribbuy habanim v’habanos, because of the increase of children, the Jews had 6 children at once, that allowed them exit sooner. The increased population made up for the time of the shibud and allowed the nation to exit early.

2) More Collective Pain

I want to develop two ideas here. The simple reading of what the Gra is saying is that there are more Jews that were born, six babies at one time. Thus, with the increased birth rate, there were more Jews to get the brunt of pain decreed in Egypt and thus they exited faster. We see the preciseness of Hashem. He was gozeir the exact amount of pain that has to be suffered.  Perhaps the 410 years were a gezeira for the typical birthing rate of how much collective pain the Jews had to have, but now, since there were multiples of children and because the shibud was so much more painful, therefore, that amount of pain contributed and was equaled to the four hundred years of pain condensed into the two hundred and ten years, and, therefore, they went out early. That’s one p’shat.

Parental Feelings

A second idea here that is worth considering is the pain which the Jewish parents experienced watching their children in servitude. Their own pain of physical strain paled in comparison to the suffering incurred in watching their children suffer. Thus, an element of koshi hashibud was experienced in seeing their children suffer so much. This expedited the Exodus. This explains why the trop of “kadma v’azlah’ is found on the words, “b’vaneinu u’bi’vnoseinu”.

3) Care For Children

I’ve spoken about this in the past from Ramban. He’s mentioned this a few times that it’s not common for the Torah to talk about daughters. Usually it says, “baneinu” which would translate as, not just sons, but children.  It doesn’t usually specify daughters, and whenever it does there’s a reason, and we need to explore that, and figure out why.  And, in this case, it’s very obvious that the Jewish people cared very, very deeply about both their sons and daughters.  Perhaps, they were even more concerned with their daughters.

Priority of Klal Yisrael

An interesting idea that emerges is that the kadma v’azla is saying something else as well.  Moshe was telling Pharoah that we are absolutely leaving Egypt. Pharoah said: Well, leave the children here, and Moshe said to him: No, you don’t understand.  This is our future.  This is klal Yisrael. Not only are we not just trying to secure our own freedom, but, kama v’azla, our priority for who’s going to leave is our children.  Our children come first, and that’s our priority.  And, that’s what Moshe was telling him, we are absolutely not leaving our children here.  Our children are the most important!

4) Early Departure

There’s another p’shat brought down b’sheim the Gra regarding the words, “vayimariru es chayeiyhem”. The gematria of those words itself are 190. The Jews went out of Egypt 190 years early. They were only there for only 210 out of the 400 years. This all ties into the same there. Because of the difficult work comprised of “vayimariru es chayeiyhem”.  There was a kadma v’azla, they went out early. How early? One hundred and ninety years.  It’s literally in the words itself. It’s so beautiful when you read through the Torah.  You see “leka midi dlo r’mizi b’oraisa”.  Everything is there.

5) Shifra and Puah

Gra explains “vayomer el hamiyaldos” (Shemos 1:16). Pharaoh decreed, “B’yaldechem es habriyos”, he told Shifra and Puah to kill the boys. According to the gemara in Sotah, we know for sure that Shifra was Yocheved, the mother of Moshe, and we know that Puah might have been either Elisheva, her daughter-in-law, who married Aharon or it was Miriam, which is what Rashi in Chumash seems to bring down as a more simple p’shat which is what we’ve been taught.

Pharoah said, when you see them on the birthing stone, kill the boys. The Egyptians historically were one of the originators of the birthing stone. They discovered that while sitting on a stone, in a crouching position, it was easier to birth. It’s interesting how modern medicine has finally caught onto that. I saw, a very fascinating study of Egyptian hieroglyphics that there’s actually pictures of this birthing stone, and it’s described in a number of caves. It was the technique clearly used by Shifra and Puah as well.

6) Three Times “Ure’isem” Appears

Gra says that there’s three times, the mesorah brings down that there’s three time that it says “u’re’isem”. Here in the pasuk it says, “U’re’isem al avnayim.”  When you see the children on the birthing stone. Talking about birth.  “U’re’isem es ha’aretz” which was the instructions that Moshe gave to the meraglim. You shall spy out the land. And, “re’isem oso”, which is the instructions Hashem gave to look at the tzitzis and remember Hashem and the mitzvos. What’s the significance?

Corresponds to the Mishna

Gra says that this is me’rumaz, this hints to the mishan in Pirkei Avos (3:1). “Histakeil b’shlosha devarim”, look at three things. Incidentally, “histakeil” doesn’t just mean to look; it means to stare. Even in halacha, histaklus means to stare and to concentrate on.  So, concentrate on these three things.  “V’ein atah bah lidei aveirah,” and it will not come to sin.  “Dah mei’ein bas”.  Where are you coming from.  You come from a tippah serucha.  “L’an atah holeich?”  Where are you going?  “L’makom rima v’toleiah”.  We’re all going to a place of rot. “Mi atah asid litein din v’cheshbon?”  You’re going to give a din v’cheshbon in front of the Rebono Shel Olam. 

Says the Gra, that’s what’s going on over here. That these three times are “u’re’isem al ha’avnayim” is birth. A person should always think about: Where did you come from?  Tippah seruchah. That’s birth.  That’s the first hint.  The next, “ure’isem es ha’aretz” is: Look at the land.  That’s where you’re going. 

Incidentally, that land was referring to Eretz Yisrael, where the spies were sent to search out. It’s an interesting remez because there’s an inyan to be buried in Eretz Yisrael.  Of course, Rav Yaakov Kaminetzsky and many other poskim, Rav Moshe himself, as well, all held that a vital calculation for being buried in Chutz Le’Aretz should be in order to be near one’s family. But, nonetheless, there’s “v’chipear admaso aretz”, there’s an inyan that the land brings forgiveness and that a person should be buried in Eretz Yisrael.  A whole topic of discussion not for now.  But, the point is, “U’re’isem es ha’Aretz” that’s where the person is going to be buried.

Lastly, “ul’an attah holeich”. That is hinted to by  “u’re’isem oso, u’zechartem es kol mitzvos Hashem”, that’s who you’re going to give a din v’cheshbon in front of Hashem.  And, like the gemara says that you look at your tzitzis and you see the techeiles which reminds you of the sky, which reminds you of the kiseih hakavod, which reminds you of Hashem. What a profound hint in so many ways.

Three Holy Lessons

To explain deeper, I believe that what the Gra is saying is that the Torah is teaching us that how your eyes are supposed to work.  “U’re’isem oso.”  You know what the paradigm is?  The Torah teaches us how to use our bodies.  What are our bodies supposed to see when you look? You know what you’re supposed to see?  You’re supposed to see these three things.  That’s what your eyes are supposed to look at.  The Torah is teaching us how a Jewish person looks at the world, looks at life.  Yeah, there’s plenty of things that the eye can see.  “Ha’ayin roeh, ha’leiv chomeid.”  Right?  And, the body fulfills the desires, but how does a Jew train his body to look?  At these three holy things.

Carried Through Life

What’s fascinating is “u’re’isem al ha’avnayim”, is the woman that gave birth.  That one is me’rumaz to that’s where a person comes from.  He comes from that place, and the woman invested in him, davens for him. The Midrash Tanchuma (Parshas Tazriya) says , “Isha ki tazriya”, when a woman gives birth she screams a hundred screams of death, thinking that she’s going to die. Her last scream is a scream of life!  The baby has been born.  What does that mean? 

Some women scream much less.  Some women scream much more.  But, it means, says Rav Shimshon Pincus zt”l that a woman davens and davens for her child.  Please, let him be successful, let her be healthy.  Let her be well.  And, those screams and those cries of fear and pain, carry this child to life, carry this child throughout their life.  However many years the Rebono Shel Olam is gozeir, and those tefillos of the Jewish mother and a Jewish father are invested in the child, and that could be some of the remez of “u’re’isem”- that when it said in feminine, “u’re’isem” that it’s hinting to the investment that the mother puts into the child, and that carries them throughout life.

Torah’s Depth and Beauty

Our goal here is to show the Vilna Gaon’s beauty of Torah  and when we look at things and we see how Chazal come alive and “im reik hu mi’kem”: If something seems not animated and not interesting, then it’s mi’kem.  It’s because of us.  But, if we look at it and we understand the beauty and the depth here, there’s tremendous inspiration to be gotten


Rabbi Yosef Tropper is a rabbi and psychotherapist. Subscribe at