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PARASHAT SHMOT 5757
The Jews were given a sign: if a purported liberator uses the term "Pakod Pakadti," he is a true savior. That is what Yosef meant when he said, "*Pakod Yifkod* Elokim Eschem (Hashem will *remember* you)" (Bereishit 50:24). As soon as Moshe mentioned these words, he was trusted." (Shmot Rabba 3:8; Targum Yonasan to Bereishit 50:24; cited by Rashi Shmot 3:18)
If it was known to all that the true redeemer would use the words
"Pakod Pakadti," what kind of a sign was it? Anybody could easily utter
these words and claim the Messianic title! (The Ramban and Maharal [Shmot
3:18] both deal at length with this question. According to Shmot Rabba
5:13, the sign was actually a secret, known only to Serach the daughter of
Asher. It is also possible that Moshe was trusted since he fled from Egypt
at the age of twelve (Shmot Rabba 5:2 -- see Rashi to Shmot 2:14). He was
still too young to have been taught by his father the secrets of the Jewish
People. However, the latter is in disagreement with Shmot Rabba 1:27,30,
where it is asserted that Moshe was 20 or 40 when he fled, and with Shmot
Rabba 15:26, which claims that Moshe was taught by his father the secret of
When Moshe wondered to Hashem why he wasn't cured of his slurred speech when he was charged with bringing His word to the people (a question dealt with by Ramban 4:10; Drashot Haran, Drush 3), Hashem replied to him, "Who gave a person a mouth and who can make a person dumb or deaf, able to see or blind? Is it not I, Hashem?" (Shmot 4:11). Moshe's defect served a very important purpose. Without it, he could not have proven through the clear enunciation of the words "Pakod Pakadti" that he was indeed the long-awaited redeemer. (Peh Kakosh, Shmot 4:11)
It may be added that the main element of the phrase "Pakod Pakadti," according to the Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni 64), was the doubled letter "Peh"; "It was with a double Peh that Israel was redeemed from Egypt, as it says, 'Pakod Pakadti'." Moshe *lips* were defective ("Aral sfatayim"), and as such he probably could not pronounce the letters which are produced by the lips: "B" "V" "M" and "P." He would truly have had trouble vocalizing the sign of the redemption. His proper pronunciation of the Peh's of Pakod Pakadti was the harbinger of freedom!
When Moshe shirked accepting his mission by saying, "I am imperfect of *Peh* (normally, "mouth")" (Shmot 4:10), he meant that he was unable to pronounce the letter Peh -- how could he be the redeemer? Hashem responded, "Who gave a person a mouth and who makes a person dumb or deaf, able to see or blind? Is it not I, Hashem!" When the time comes, Moshe, your speech will be perfect!
(Rabbenu Bachya (Shmot 4:10), it should be noted, mentions that
Rabbenu Chananel suggests an entirely different list of letters that were
hard for Moshe to pronounce -- those that are pronounced with the teeth and
Rav Frenkel explains that, as we have proposed, Moshe was "Aral
*Sefatayim*" and therefore could not properly pronounce the letter "V."
Moshe was asking Hashem to suggest a Holy Name to use other than the
Tetragramatton, which includes the letter "Vav." (When Moshe killed the
Egyptian he only pronounced the first half of the Tetragramatton, as the
Kabballists inform us, which does not include this letter.)
(2) The Maharal (Gur Arye to Shmot 3:18; Gevurot Hashem Ch. 26) offers another insight into these words. Every Hebrew letter can be spelled out using two or three Hebrew letters -- for example, the letter Alef can be written out as, Alef Lamed Peh. The letters that follow the first letter when the full name is written out (e.g. the Lamed and Peh of the above example) are referred to as the "hidden letters" of that particular letter of the alphabet, since they are not usually pronounced when that letter is spoken as part of a word. The hidden letters of the word "Pakod" are the Aleph of the letter Peh, the Vav Peh of the letter Kuf, and the Lamed Tav of the letter Dalet. These hidden letters hint to different aspects of the Jewish nation's Exile in Egypt, from which they were freed by the words "Pakod Pakadti."
Tav, Lamed (430) -- the hidden letters of Dalet -- refer to the total years of Exile decreed upon the Jews in Egypt (Shmot 12:41). Vav, Peh (86) -- the hidden letters of Kuf -- refer to the years of forced labor that the Jews suffered in Egypt (Shir Hashirim Rabba 2:11). The Aleph refers to the last and hardest year of the exile, a year in which Jewish babies were slaughtered by the ailing Pharaoh (Rashi 2:23). All of these torments ended with the redemption of "Pakod Pakadti"!
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