Four in One

Rabbi Wagensberg
Parshas Va`eira
Four in One

In this week's parsha we have the famous four expressions of redemption: "Vihotzeisi" (And I will bring you out), "Vihitzalti" (And I will save you), "Viga'alti" (And I will redeem you)," Vilakachti" (And I will take you; Vaeira, 6:6-7). The Ba'al Haturim (Vaeira, 6:6-7) says that although the Exodus from Mitzrayim (Egypt) was just one redemption; nevertheless, Hashem expressed Himself with these four expressions because they correspond to the four future exiles that Hashem was going to rescue them from. The four exiles are: Bavel (Babylonian), Madai (Median), Yavan (Greek), and Edom (Rome). The fourth expression "Vilakachti" is connected to Galus Edom (the Roman Exile). The word "Vilakachti" is a strong term, implying that Hashem will have to "take us out with strength." This is because Galus Edom is harder and longer than the other three put together. Therefore, Hashem will have to "take us by force" from Galus Edom.

The Megaleh Amukos adds, that this explains why the four expressions are spread out over two verses in just such a way that the first three expressions are found in one verse, while the fourth expression is found in a second verse all by itself. This comes to teach us that the fourth expression, which corresponds to the fourth exile, is in a class all unto itself. The fourth exile is harsher than the other three combined.

We find the same pattern with the four animals that only have one sign of kashrus. The four animals are: the camel, the hyrax, the hare, and the pig (Parshas Shmini, 11:4-7). The Midrash (Vayikra Rabba, 13:5) says that these four animals correspond to the four exiles. The camel corresponds to Galus Bavel, the hyrax parallels Galus Madai, the hare links to Galus Yavan, and the pig is connected to Galus Edom.

In Parshas Re'eh (14:7-8), the first three animals are mentioned in one verse, whereas the fourth animal is mentioned in a different verse. One simple reason for this is that the first three animals share the same sign of kashrus. The first three animals have the internal sign of chewing the cud. Therefore, they are lumped into one verse. However, the fourth animal has the external sign of split hoofs. Therefore, it is found in its own verse.

However, on a deeper level, the reason why the first three animals are found within one verse is because they correspond to the first three exiles. However, the fourth animal corresponds to the fourth exile. As such, it is in a verse all unto itself to teach us that the Roman Exile is in a class all unto itself.

According to the Ba'al Haturim above, why are the four expressions of redemption mentioned in this week's parsha at all. This week's parsha discusses the Egyptian Exile. What does the Egyptian Exile have to do with the four exiles?

Speaking of the exiles, Chaza"l (Bereishis Rabba 2:4, Reish Lakish, based on Parshas Bereishis 1:2; Bereishi Rabba, 44:17, expounding on Parshas Lech Lecha 15:12) often refer to them as being specifically four: Bavel, Madai, Yavan, and Edom. Why don't Chaza"l ever include Galus Mitzrayim in the list? There should be five exiles, not four?

The Arizal (Likkutei Torah, Parshas Ki Seitzei) says that one reason why our sages speak in terms of there being specifically four exiles is because the Egyptian Exile was all inclusive, incorporating the other four exiles into one. Although we mentioned earlier that the Roman Exile was worse than the other three put together, the Egyptian Exile was worse than all four combined. This is because all of the compounded pain and suffering of the four exiles were experienced simultaneously by the Jews in Galus Mitzrayim.

Therefore, the sages only referred to four exiles because there were only four. Sometimes the four happened individually, but sometimes the four happened simultaneously.

The Simchas Haregel (Haggadah Shel Pesach, citing Chidah, Limmud 2) supports this idea by quoting the opening verse in Sefer Shemos which says, "And these are the names of the children of Israel who were "ba-im" (coming) to Egypt" (Parshas Shemos, 1:1) When they came to Egypt, the Galus began. But, they were not only going to taste Egyptian Exile, they were also going to taste the other four exiles. This is hinted to in the word "ba-im." This word is spelled with four Hebrew letters. They are: beis, aleph, yud, and mem. These four letters serve as the acronym for the four exiles, Bavel, Edom, Yavan, and Madai. This shows us that the Egyptian Exile was really all four exiles combined into one.

The Shvilei Pinchas says that this is the reason why the four expressions of redemption are mentioned in the story of Galus Mitzrayim. It is because the four expressions correspond to the four exiles. As such, they have everything to do with the Egyptian Exile which incorporated all four exiles.

It follows that the redemption from Galus Mitzrayim was tantamount to being redeemed from all four exiles simultaneously. The exodus from Egypt secured our being liberated from all of the future exiles. This is because if we were capable of surviving all four exiles at once, then we are certainly capable of surviving each individual exile, because each individual exile is only a fraction of what went on in Mitzrayim. Yetziyas Mitzrayim turned us into a nation of survivors. We survived the past, and we will survive the present as well as the future.

The Ohr Hachayim Hakadosh (beginning of Parshas Tetzaveh, quoting Zohar Parshas Bereishis, pg. 8, Rebbi ben Chalafta) adds that Hashem saved us from the first three exiles in the merit of the three Patriarchs. However, we will be saved from the fourth exile in the merit of Moshe Rabbenu.

It turns out that there is a huge connection between the Avos and Moshe Rabbenu. They all participated in redeeming the Jewish people from the exiles. In this way, Moshe Rabbenu completes the Avos and complements them.

This explains why Hashem sent Yirmiya Hanavi to wake up the Avos and Moshe Rabbenu right before He destroyed the first Beis Hamikdash. Hashem wanted them to cry in prayer and perhaps avert the harsh decree (preface to Eicha Rabbasi, #24). The reason why these specific four personalities were chosen is because their merits could save the Jews from destruction and exile.

The Shvilei Pinchas adds that this could be another reason why the fourth expression of redemption is found in a separate verse from the other three, and why the fourth non-kosher animal is found in a different verse from the other three. It is because the four expressions and the four animals correspond to the four exiles. We were redeemed from the first three exiles in the merits of the three Avos. Therefore, the first three expressions and the first three animals are in one verse because the Avos (in whose merits we were redeemed from them) are one unit. Only three are called Avos (Berachos, chap. 2, "Haya Korey", pg. 16b). Nobody else.

However, the fourth expression and the fourth animal are mentioned in a separate verse because they correspond to the fourth exile, from which we will be redeemed in the merit of Moshe who is in a class all unto himself. Moshe was the most superior prophet (Parshas V'zos Haberacha, 34:10). Just as the fourth Roman Exile is equal to the other three, similarly, Moshe is equal to all three Avos. This is why Moshe's exile gets a verse all to itself.

Perhaps this is why the Avos are even mentioned in this week's parsha. It is because the Avos are very much connected to Galus Mitzrayim, because the Egyptian Exile incorporated all four exiles. Therefore, in order to be rescued from Mitzrayim, we needed the compounded merits of four individuals, the three Avos and Moshe Rabbenu. Therefore, it is not shocking that Hashem would mention the three Avos to Moshe Rabbenu in this week's parsha. This alluded to the idea that we needed all of their merits to be saved from Egypt.

The Zohar (Parshas Mishpatim, pg. 120a) says that not only will we be saved from our current Roman Exile in the merit of Moshe, but, Moshe Rabbenu himself (not a gilgul - reincarnation) will be the Moshiach who will redeem us from Galus Edom. We find this hinted to in a verse in Koheles (1:9) which says, "Ma Shehaya Hu Sheyihiyeh" (Whatever has been is what will be). What happened in the past was that Moshe was the first goel (redeemer) from the first exile. Therefore, in the future, Moshe will be the final goel from the final exile.

Moreover, the first three words of that verse (Ma Shehaya Hu) have the acronym which spells "Moshe," teaching us that the same person who redeemed us in the past, will redeem us in the future.

In order to deserve the coming of Moshe, the Moshiach, we must strengthen ourselves in Toras Moshe. If we sin by wasting our time and not engaging in as much Torah study as we could, then Galus Edom gets stretched a little longer.

Since we are at the tail end of Galus Edom, hoping for Moshe Rabbenu to appear and deliver us from our tragedies, let us try to improve a little bit more by strengthening ourselves in our study of Toras Moshe. By increasing our Torah study for even one more minute than usual, we could tip the scales of redemption.

Torah study is not just an intellectual exercise, but the teachings we learn should also penetrate our hearts emotionally, our souls spiritually, and our bodies physically, so that we become even more refined people. The more we become like Moshe Rabbenu, the more likely it will be that he will come.

So, may we all be blessed with the strength to increase our Torah study so that we deserve to witness Moshe appear, and merit to hear Hashem speak to us in an expression of redemption, putting a stop to all of this most difficult bondage of pain and suffering that we experience at the hands of the swiny wild beasts found during Galus Edom, because then we will be in a class of compassion all unto ourselves.