Immediately after Hashem commands Moshe Rabbeinu to go down to Mitzrayim and tell Pharaoh to send Yisrael out of their bondage, the Torah lists off the children of Reuven Shimon and Levi. Why did the Torah feel it necessary to bring the yichus – lineage of these three Shevatim in relationship to Yetzias Mitzrayim? Secondly, in the plague of Frogs, Chazal tell us that according to one opinion there was one gigantic frog that emerged from the Nile and the Egyptian hit it and with every hitting smaller frogs came out from it thereby creating the plague. Why did the plague have to come about in this particular fashion when it could have just appeared with hundreds of thousands of frogs emerging from the Nile? This fashion would have paralleled the other plagues lice, wild animals, hail, locusts which appeared all at once as individuals and not from one giant of the particular species followed with a massive breakdown.
Let us talk about the topic of yichus. By the Jewish Nation yichus plays a major role in many different levels. The Ramban in Parshas Naso writes that Sotah is the only mitzvah in the Torah that is based solely upon a miracle. The mitzvah is to give the suspected woman of infidelity the potion subscribed by the Torah which serves both as a lie detector test and the punishment of death which she receives if found guilty. The Ramban explains that this mitzvah above all other mitzvos possesses a supernatural fulfillment because it clarifies the lineage of a born child whether he was fathered by her husband or someone else. Hashem is willing to change nature in order to prove יחוס. An allusion to this is that סוטה including its four letters is gematriah יחוס.
In Parshas Shmos we find that Hashem rewards Yocheved and Miriam for saving the newborn Jewish males from death at childbirth with בתים. Rashi explains that these “houses” were special situations of yichus: Kohanim, Leviim, and Kingship. The midah keneged midah was that the Egyptians strategy for killing only the males was to destroy the yichus of Am Yisrael which can only be transmitted and passed on through Jewish males. Jewish woman who were impregnated from Egyptians will still make the child born Jewish. Yocheved and Miriam were credited with not only saving the lives of the newborn males but also with saving the Yichus of Am Yisrael and were therefore rewarded with yichus.
The role of one’s yichus can be understood in many levels? Only Reuven Shimon and Levi did not receive outright berachos from Yaakov as the other Shevatim, but rather admonishment because of their inappropriate actions. One might think therefore that they have lost their status of Shevatim and their relationship with Hashem has been compromised to the point of no return. It is for this reason that the Torah rewrites the yichus of these three and their descendants in order to testify that their connection to Hashem can never be uprooted nor their status as Shevatim. With teshuvah, their everlasting bond can once again become intimate and vibrant as before. Their offspring past the seventy mark, likewise, even though in galus they strayed away from their heritage and roots of their forefathers, are nevertheless also connected in a very deep way to the Avos and therefore are worthy of redemption even in such a compromised state.
This explanation can be supported by the passuk (Shmos 6,13) ויצום אל בני ישראל ואל פרעה מלך מצרים, Moshe and Ahron were commanded to tell Pharaoh and Am Yisrael להוציא את בני ישראל ממצרים to take Bnei Yisrael from Mitzrayim. The command to Pharaoh to allow Yisrael to leave is understandable. However what is the meaning of the command to Yisrael להוציא את בנ”י ממצרים? Another question is the repetition of mentioningבני ישראל a second time which seems superfluous when the passuk could have just said להוציאם to take them out of Mitzrayim.
The deeper meaning here is that by speaking to Pharaoh the commanding words להוציא את בני ישראל מארץ מצרים Moshe and Ahron were sending a message to both Pharaoh and Am Yisrael. Don’t think that because Yisrael is steeped into Galus and bondage, their connection to Hashem exists no longer and they are unredeemable. Not so! The second mentioning of בני ישראל is referring to Yaakov who was named Yisrael. Yisrael expresses the holy spark called the Pinteleh Yid that forever resides in every Yid and remains undefiled and deeply connected to Hashem in all circumstances. As we mentioned above סוטה which is the only miraculous mitzvah is gematriah יחוס. The Pinteleh Yid is our miraculous yichus with Hashem (see interpretation of Ohr Hachayim on the passuk ויקח קרח how Yaakov represents the Pintelleh Yid).
Rashi interprets this command to Yisrael of ויצום אל בני ישראל that it is referring to a commandment other than להוציא to “take the children of Yisrael out of Egypt”. Rather it means to lead them calmly and to be patient with them. According to Rashi there are two entirely different messages one to Pharaoh and one to Yisrael. However, we can say that ויצום אל בני ישראל also means to tell AmYisrael that they are redeemable from bondage because they still retain the connection to Yaakov who is called Yisrael. It is therefore that Moshe must arouse within them the Pinteleh Yid and their true worthiness for geulah because of the Pinteleh Yid that never went into servitude. Because of this he must be patient and calm with them and remove from them the fear of not being redeemed at their present state.
Concerning the Sotah Chazal say אין אדם חוטא אלא נכנס בו רוח שטות One does not sin unless a spirit of foolishness entered within. The letters of שט is interchangeable with סט from the word סוטה. The opposite of שטות is דעת. Realizing one’s connection to his yichus inwardly directs one to make decisions of moral choices with דעת the opposite of שטות. Just the thought of asking oneself what would my zaidy have done in this situation can push one to choose correctly. Why do people hang pictures of their great grandparents in their home? They want to be reminded and inspired by how religious they looked and what kind of spiritual life they lived even amongst their many hardships This is why we find that the spelling of יחוס with only its inner letters יוד חת ואו סמך and the kollel add up to דעת and its three letters. When one truly contemplates on his yichus he infuses דעת and strength to make the right choices. If we would think that we contain the DNA of our three Avos and that they are constantly davening for our success, we would fall less into the רוח שטות that plagues us daily.
The first passuk of Shmos says הבאים מצרימה את יעקב they descended into galus with the constant thought that they are connected to Yaakov and that is the reason why the 70 souls that descended did not lose their spirituality. They did not look at themselves as a separate entity and existence but rather an extension of a spiritual giant that contained all the neshamos that were to come into the world throughout the coming generations.
The Zohar writes that the second plague צפרדע represents דעת as the word צפרדע is צפור דעה . What reflects the דעת of the frog? Chazal say when creatures come to drink water from the pond they first seek the opinion of the frog to inform them if the water is drinkable. In the beracha of דעת of ShemonehEsrai we say Havdalah because דעת is the faculty of separation between darkness and light, holiness and tumah what is dangerous to you and what is safe and beneficial.
We suggest that the plague of Frogs came upon Mitzrayim to punish them for their intent of removing from KlalYisrael their yichus as we explained above. Without yichus, Yisrael would be missing their spiritual directors and leaders their kings such as Dovid and Shlomo, their kohanin and Leviim שפתי כהן ישמרו דעת. All three are the דעת of Am Yisrael that aid them in making the correct decisions and restrain them from falling into שטות. This answers why the plague came about specifically as the appearance of a giant frog which when hit by the Egyptians transformed into millions of frogs. This scenario displays yichus. Every frog came from one giant body that possessed them all just like Yaakov Avinu possessed all the neshamos of the future Am Yisrael. Mitzrayim strove to break that connection of את יעקב which paralleled the symbol of the gigantic frog of דעת that smote Mitzrayim מדה כנגד מדה.
Every Yid has to take and contemplate on his yichus very seriously. Chazal tell us that a Yid is married to the Torah and to Shabbos. One cannot get a better shidduch than these two. If you get so excited about landing a esrog which so מיוחס that you are willing to spend so much money to buy and flaunt it, how much more should we be excited to land such an incredible shidduch as these two. We alone are called בנים to Hashem and no other nation possesses such an incredible relationship. Do we cherish it enough? We have the DNA of the Avoshake doshim. Is it appreciated and exciting as much as the yichus one has with being related to the Baal Shem Tov or the Vilna Gaon? Every Shemoneh Esari which begins with the mentioning of the Avos should be mouthwatering and with shining smiling eyes when we mention their names and realize that they are our most important yichus.
– Rav Brazil