Our Parasha opens with Hashem commanding Moshe:(10:1-2) ‘Come to Pharoah, for I have made his heart and the heart of his servants hard so that I can put these signs of Mine in his midst; and so that you may relate in the ears of your son and your son’s son that התעללתי: I made a mockery of Egypt and My signs that I placed among them - that you may know that I am Hashem.’
Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl comments:’The passuk seemingly commands that, in addition to relating the ten plagues, there is an obligation to separately relate the mockery Hashem made of the Egyptians; and yet, on the face of it, the two things are one - the relating of the ten plagues, in itself, surely reveals that Hashem made a mockery of Pharoah and his servants!
‘Yet, from the passuk, it appears that this mockery is a separate matter, and, therefore, it is incumbent on us, to learn what this mockery was, that is so important we pass on to all future generations - and, equally important, the necessity for it.’
Rav Yosef Salant similarly posits:’From this passuk, we learn that it is a Mitzvah, to relate to our children the mockery Hashem made of Egypt, as it says:’So that you may relate’ it in the ears of your generations.
‘We therefore need to know what this mockery was, that Hashem made of them’.
Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch clarifies: ‘The word התעללתי: made a mockery of, does not mean a single action, but a שרשרת: a chain, a sequence, of consecutive events’, meaning: through the chain of the plagues that Hashem inflicted on Pharoah and the Egyptians, we learn that Hashem mocked the Egyptians.’
The Alshich Hakadosh expounds this ‘chain’:’The mockery can be found in the sequence of several of the ten plaques, which, guided from Above, had the effect of making fun of the Egyptians, as several plagues, each in its turn, gave false hope to the Egyptians, and, in the end, made a mockery of them.
‘The mockery was, that when we wonder why the ‘swarm of wild animals’ did not totally consume all, it was so that some crops remained, on which the pestilence, which followed, was able to take effect; and it, too, did not consume all, as then there would not have been any crops left for the hail to afflict; and, the warning to shelter their animals before the hail was brought, left these animals alive, so that they, as our Sages relate, could to be drowned, at the Splitting of the Sea.
‘In short, the mockery was , that, in each of these plagues, Hashem gave the Egyptians false hope, that, as not all was lost, they could continue in their refusal to send Bnei Israel, from their servitude.
‘In fact, this ‘mercy’ was intended for the very opposite end: its purpose was to then enable the bringing of further plagues on the Egyptians, till the full cup of the punishment they merited, could be inflicted on them.’
Rav Yosef Salant adds:’This measured punishment, to give the Egyptians false hope, was measure-for-measure repayment for the false hopes that they had given Bnei Israel, for having promised, that if plagues were removed, they would send Bnei Israel free, and reneged, once the plague was ended.
‘Just as Bnei Israel had their joy at such promises, dashed, so too, the Egyptians were ‘disappointed’ by their false hopes.’
Rav Salant proffers several other instances of the mockery, which Hashem inflicted on the Egyptians:’It can be seen, in that, after Pharoah had sent away Moshe and Aaron from his presence, after the warning of the locusts, and so too, after the plague of darkness, he was forced to call for them, and to plead that they intercede for him; after the plague of the first-born, in the late hours of the night, he had to leave his bed, and plead with them that he be spared- could there be a greater mockery and humiliation?!
‘Similarly, our Sages relate that the Egyptians lamented:’What have we done to send Israel from serving us?- this, after having earlier set them free, ‘before we all perish’.
‘They now said:’Had we been afflicted, and not set them free- well and good; had we been afflicted, and they had not taken all our wealth, also, well and good - but we were afflicted, AND we set them free, AND they took all our wealth.
‘Not only did they leave with all our wealth, but we gave it to them - and, in our haste to be rid of them, when they asked for one item, we pushed them to take two - and all this because we, of our own volition delayed setting them free.
‘Could there be a greater humiliation than this, that they brought on themselves?!’.
The Chatam Sofer offers a different answer:’Is it not a wonder that the Divine One, in His hashgacha, turned from ‘all His affairs’, to raise Egypt to greatness, and to them, alone of all nations, bring all the wealth of the world, to bring famine to all other lands, so that all the wealth of these other peoples would flow to Egypt, to pay for food; and were this not enough, to cause ‘the beautiful fruit’, The righteous Yaakov and all his family, to descend to Egypt, and to be enslaved and subjugated there, and for their male babies to be drowned with nary a word of protest from any quarter - and all this during the reign of a succession of Pharoahs, during which so many generations of the Jewish people lived, and suffered, till they came to believe that the gods of Egypt ruled the world.
‘Only now, at the end, did the depth of Hashem’s Intention become apparent: that He caused all of this to occur - to enrich Egypt -so that Bnei Israel should depart from Egypt with great wealth - and, through this, come to ‘believe in Hashem, and Moshe, His servant’.
‘We thus find, that all the bounty, and the famine were intended to deceive Pharoah, and to mock him, as he was the instrument to enrich Bnei Israel and reinforce their belief in Hashem.
‘This is the meaning of ‘I made a mockery of Egypt’, by giving them their ‘hour of glory’, only for they to be the instrument of causing belief in Hashem.’
We can now savor the answer of Rav Nebenzahl, to the questions that he raised, and which we brought at the outset:’Perhaps it can be said: the fact that Hashem inflicted on the Egyptians a total defeat, and afflicted them with the ten plagues, proved conclusively that He was mightier than them and their gods. This proves that that they had no chance whatsoever, against the One ‘by Whose word the world was created’ - that even the might of Egypt had no chance whatsoever against the unlimited might of Hashem.
‘But is this a true depiction of the situation? Was there, in fact, truly a battle between two forces? Clearly not, neither Egypt, nor any other force in the world, can be a rival to Hashem, because He created all that exists!
‘Thus, even an accurate description of the ten plagues is based on a basic misapprehension, that is liable to mislead the son to whom the episode is related.
‘And it is this point, that there is need for the mockery. Its purpose is to preclude the possibility of this misapprehension. Its purpose is to emphasize the total hopelessness of the Egyptians, and that there was no ‘effort’ whatsoever from the Creator, in what He wrought on the Egyptians; that the plagues, and indeed the whole of creation are as nought and none-existent, before Hashem.
‘This is the message that we are commanded to transmit to our generations, through relating to them the story of the disdain with which Hashem mocked the Egyptians.’
The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh concludes:’These two elements: the mockery that Hashem made of Egypt, and the singular plagues with which Hashem afflicted them, when we relate them to our generations, will cause them ‘to know that Hashem is our G-d’, and that there is none other than Him.
‘This is why we find, that when He spoke to us at Har Sinai, He said:’I am Hashem your G-d’, and this is to you the sign:’Who took you out of Egypt’.
‘This is why He said, in our Parasha:’And you will know that I am Hashem’, because here you saw, that this was true, for what Hashem did for us here, no other people merited.’
לרפואת נועם עליזה בת זהבה רבקה ונחום אלימלך רפאל בן זהבה רבקה, בתוך שאר חולי עמנו.