Friday, January 21, 2022

too much knowledge is a bad thing?

1. Just a quick follow up to the post yesterday on כֹּ֤ה תֹאמַר֙ לְבֵ֣ית יַעֲקֹ֔ב וְתַגֵּ֖יד לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃.  Rashi explains the difference between Beis Yaakov and Bnei Yisrael is a matter of gender.  The pasuk uses the term amira, which usually implies a soft tone, when it talks about speaking to the women, and the term tageid, which usually implies harsh language, when it talks about speaking to the men (Rashi, see Ibn Ezra).  The simple pshat (see R' Bachyei, Alshich) is that the women need to be approached in a more gentle manner and have things explained in more simple terms, but the men can absorb more.  Ksav Sofer says exactly the opposite.  Women are more righteous and don't need the fire and brimstone speech to motivate them.  It's enough to tell them gently what they need to do and they will get the message.  Men, on the other hand...

2. The R' Bachyei on this pasuk is a source for women davening for their children when they light Shabbos candles:

 ועוד שהאשה הטובה היא סבה לתורה שהיא יכולה להמשיך את בנה לבית המדרש לפי שהיא מצוייה בבית והיא מרחמת עליו בכמה מיני געגועין כדי להמשיך אותו אחר למוד התורה מנעוריו וגם כי יזקין לא יסור ממנה, ולכך ראויה האשה להתפלל לשם יתברך בשעת הדלקת הנר של שבת שהיא מצוה מוטלת עליה שיתן לה ה׳ בנים מאירים בתורה, כי התפלה יותר נשמעת בשעת עשיית המצוה ובזכות נר שבת שהוא אור תזכה לבנים בעלי תורה הנקראת אור שנאמר (משלי ו׳:כ״ג) כי נר מצוה ותורה אור, וכן דרשו רז״ל האי מאן דרגיל בשרגי הויין ליה בנים תלמידי חכמים.

3. Many meforshim explain the distinction between Beis Yaakov and Bnei Yisrael has nothing to do with gender, but rather the distinction is between the hamon am, the simple uneducated masses, and the educated elite.  

I have no idea what to make of this comment of the Bnei Yisascher (Sivan 2:18) which seems to indicate the for some people, remaining in a state of ignorance is a good thing:

כה תאמר לבית יעק' ותגיד לבני ישראל הנה כפל הלשון אמירה והגדה. בית יעקב ובני ישראל. הנה יתפרש הדבר. כבר ידוע אמיר"ה הוא כפשוטו. והגד"ה הוא המשך הדיבור להבין בחכמ"ה כמ"ש בזהר. וידוע ג"כ עפ"י פשוטו בי"ת יעקב הוא המון העם. ובנ"י ישראל בעלי מדריגה ת"ח גדולים המחבבים את התורה ומצותי באהבתה ישגו תמיד. וז"ש הש"י כה תאמר לבית יעקב. להמון עם. לא תפרש להם בהמשך פירוש שאפילו ח"ו לא יקיימו התורה כבר יש קיום לשמים וארץ ע"י הקבלה בלבד. דילמא עי"ז ח"ו יתעצלו ויתעצלו מלקיימה ומלעשותה. משא"כ להת"ח דהתור"ה חביבה עליהם ביותר אמר ותג"ד לבני ישראל. המשך הפירוש כי באלו אין חשש שהן המה רודפים אחרי התור"ה והמצות כל הימים ובאלה הדברים מובן מ"ש מש"ה:


Thursday, January 20, 2022

this time, Chavah comes first

 One of my favorite Midrashim is the comment in this week's parsha on כֹּ֤ה תֹאמַר֙ לְבֵ֣ית יַעֲקֹ֔ב וְתַגֵּ֖יד לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃.  The Midrash writes:

אָמַר רַבִּי תַּחְלִיפָא דְּקֵיסָרִין, אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא כְּשֶׁבָּרָאתִי אֶת הָעוֹלָם, לֹא צִוִּיתִי אֶלָּא לְאָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן, וְאַחַר כָּךְ נִצְטַוֵּית חַוָּה וְעָבְרָה וְקִלְקְלָה אֶת הָעוֹלָם, עַכְשָׁיו אִם אֵינִי קוֹרֵא לַנָּשִׁים תְּחִלָּה, הֵן מְבַטְּלוֹת אֶת הַתּוֹרָה, לְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר: כֹּה תֹאמַר לְבֵית יַעֲקֹב

The pasuk places "Beis Yaakov," the women, before "Bnei Yisrael," the men, because in Gan Eden when G-d gave the commandment not to eat the eitz ha'daas to Adam and he relayed it to Chavah, things did not work out so well.  This time around, G-d decided to loop in Chavah first.  

Whatever the deeper lesson of the Midrash here is, we should not lose sight of the plain meaning of what Chazal are saying.  Just because a husband or a father, the "Adam" of the family, goes to daf yomi every day, does not by osmosis cause Torah to pass on to his wife and family.  Gone are the days when just being raised in a frum home was enough to ensure that one was knowledgeable in hil shabbos, in kashrus, etc.  Chavah -- our wives, mothers, daughters -- need to hear the dvar Hashem directly, to know and study halacha and mussar and other areas, or we risk spiritual churban.  Those who misquote the Iggeres haGR"A and say tzinuyus for a women is what Torah study is for a man are mistaken -- it is not.  Tzniyus does not give one insight into what Hashem asks of us and wants to teach us.  Only Torah study does that.  

Going beyond the plain meaning, what Chazal I think are trying to tell us is that Torah cannot be studied via a kli sheni, so to speak.  G-d teaches Adam, Adam then teaches Chavah, and along the way in the game of telephone the message is lost.  You need to study text first hand.  There is no substitute for direct engagement with original sources.  The Maharasha was critical of the Shulchan Aruch being published because he thought it would become a substitute for study of the sugyos and Rishonim.  One can only tremble at what he would say in our time when ha'levay people would even open the Shulchan Aruch and not rely on other secondary and tertiary sources.  

Later in the parsha we read:

אַתֶּ֣ם רְאִיתֶ֔ם כִּ֚י מִן־הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם דִּבַּ֖רְתִּי עִמָּכֶֽם׃

לֹ֥א תַעֲשׂ֖וּן אִתִּ֑י אֱלֹ֤הֵי כֶ֙סֶף֙ וֵאלֹהֵ֣י זָהָ֔ב לֹ֥א תַעֲשׂ֖וּ לָכֶֽם

Unlike Ramban who learns that the latter pasuk prohibits avodah zarah b'shutfus (meaning there is some power in addition to G-d that controls things) , Netziv (based on Seforno) learns that it prohibits the worship of Hashem via an intermediary (meaning G-d is the only power, but He can be approached through some intervening medium).  Hashem tells Bnei Yisrael that He spoke with them directly at Sinai -- He did not communicate through an intermediary.  So too, when we speak to Hashem, when we study the dvar Hashem, it should be done directly, not through intermediaries.  Everyone has a direct connection.  

Friday, January 14, 2022

Netziv on who jumped into Yam Suf first: sheivet Yehudah or sheivet Binyamin -- and why it matters

There is a Netziv in parshas Zos HaBracha (Harchev Davar 33:12) that is relevant to our parsha that is worth taking a look at if you did not see it then or don't remember it.  Everyone seems to think that Nachshon was the first one to take the brave leap and jump into the Yam Suf, after which the waters split, but in actuality, Chazal (in Mechilta and Tosefta in Sota) have a machlokes whether sheivet Yehudah went in first or whether sheivet Binyamin jumped in first (see this post where I quoted the hesber of the Degel Reuvain to the mahlokes).  According to the view that Binyamin jumped in first, the gemara writes that the members of Yehudah began to toss stones at them --  how dare the youngest usurp the place of Yehudah!  Chazal give a mashal: a king asked his elder son to wake him at 9:00 in the morning, and also asked his younger son to wake him, but at sunrise.  When the youngest son went in to wake his father, the elder one tried to stop him.  "Father asked me to wake him only later!" he protested.  To which the younger son answered that he was also doing what the father told him to do, and to get out of his way.  Hearing the commotion and noise of the argument, the father woke up.  "Since you both wanted to do my bidding, you both get reward," he declared.  So too, Yehudah is given the reward of malchus; Binyamin is given the reward of Beis HaMikdash being built in his portion.

Why is it that Binyamin was so anxious to take the lead and did not defer to Yehudah, his elder brother?  And what does the mashal add to our understanding here?

Netziv explains that the nature of Binyamin's avodah was to live on the highest level of trust and bitachon in Hashem.  Life need not be constrained by the normal rules and expectations of derech ha'teva.  "Y'did Hashem, yishkon la'vetach alav..."  The Shechina is always close to Binyamin, as the Shechina is always close to a baal bitachon.  This is why Binyamin's bracha given by Moshe appears right after Levi's bracha, and this is why Binyamin was zocheh to have the Beis HaMikdash built in his portion.

Yehudah, on the other hand, accepted G-d's presence as manifest through derech ha'teva, finding G-d in the day to day normal activities of life.  "Yadav rav lo v'eizer mi'tzarav ti'hiyeh..."  You need to fight wars to defeat enemies; you need to take action to avert tzaros.  Don't just sit back and trust G-d to perform miracles.  It is not a lack of kvod Shamayim, but aderaba, it is the greatest kvod Shamayim to see G-d's presence within teva and not just above it.

There is no right and wrong in the choice between Binyamin vs Yehudah, and throughout the ages this same machlokes reverberates though Jewish thought.  If a person, or Klal Yisrael chooses, we can forget about the rules of teva, live as if Hashem's hashgacha will take care of everything, and if we truly believe it, then it will.  Or we can choose to live within the rules of teva and trust that that is the medium through which yad Hashem acts.  

When Shaul falls in battle, David cries a kinah, a lamentation  (Shmuel 2 1:17-18):

 וַיְקֹנֵ֣ן דָּוִ֔ד אֶת־הַקִּינָ֖ה הַזֹּ֑את עַל־שָׁא֖וּל וְעַל־יְהוֹנָתָ֥ן בְּנֽוֹ

וַיֹּ֕אמֶר לְלַמֵּ֥ד בְּנֵֽי־יְהוּדָ֖ה קָ֑שֶׁת הִנֵּ֥ה כְתוּבָ֖ה עַל־סֵ֥פֶר הַיָּשָֽׁר

Netziv asks: is this the time to talk about the need for Yehudah to learn archery?  What does that have to do with the death of Shaul?

He answers that David understood that when Shaul, who was from sheivet Binyamin, lead the nation, it was on that high level of expecting the miraculous, of trusting G-d to take care of everything.  With Shaul's death, that level of bitachon would be lost.  The passing of the mantle to Yehudah meant living within derech ha'teva, of needing archers and armies to fight wars, with G-d helping behind the scenes.  לְלַמֵּ֥ד בְּנֵֽי־יְהוּדָ֖ה קָ֑שֶׁת is symbolic of that shift in level of belief and shift in level of hashgacha.

This is the machlokes that took place at Yam Suf.  There was a בְּר֨וּחַ קָדִ֤ים עַזָּה֙ כׇּל־הַלַּ֔יְלָה (14:21), a wind building all night, gaining in intensity, that could have pushed the waters of Yam Suf aside -- a meteorological occurrence, just the way a scientist would explain the event away.  The only difference is that this occurrence was not freak chance, but had yad Hashem behind it.  Sheivet Yehudah was waiting for the wind to pick up enough to split the water and then they would march through.  G-d does not need to reboot teva, to override teva, to make his presence known.  Aderaba, it is a higher level to find G-d within nature and not just beyond it.  

Binyamin, on the other hand, did not want to wait.  Forget nature -- just jump in and the water will split.  If you believe, you don't need to worry about anything else.  That is the ideal.  

The machlokes betweeh shevatim was not just a matter of who gets the kavod of going first, but it reflected different philosophies in avodas Hashem.

Chazal used the mashal of waking the king to convey this idea.  Kings don't normally wake up at sunrise.  They sleep in until later in the morning.  Yehudah followed the derech ha'teva in their avodas Hashem; he is the eldest son who wanted to wake his father the king only at the normal time.  Binyamim wanted to jump the gun, to go outside the norm, as that was their derech in avodah.

Hashem's response is that both approaches have merit.  All that matters in the end is that both intend to be marbeh k'vod Shamayim.

Thursday, January 06, 2022

geulah is a chok that defies reason

 מִשְׁכוּ וּקְחוּ לָכֶם צֹאן לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתֵיכֶם וְשַׁחֲטוּ הַפֶּסַח

Rashi comments משכו ידיכם מעבודה זרה וקחו לכם צאן של מצוה

R' Moshe Tzvi Neriah writes that you can learn two lessons from this Rashi.  We learn from Rashi 1) how difficult it is to break old habits and resist temptation, as a person can be on the cusp of geulah and still require warnings and admonishments not to engage in idolatry; 2) and we also learn that even though a person might still be steeped in and tempted by avodah zarah, he can still be worthy of redemption.

It's worth noting (see hesber of Shem m'Shmuel 5675) that when Hashem gave Moshe the command to offer korban Pesach, He said only וְיִקְח֣וּ לָהֶ֗ם אִ֛ישׁ שֶׂ֥ה לְבֵית־אָבֹ֖ת שֶׂ֥ה לַבָּֽיִת׃.  It is Moshe who added  מִשְׁכוּ, meaning משכו ידיכם מעבודה זרה, when he transmitted it to Bnei Yisrael.  

וּפָסַ֤ח ה׳ עַל־הַפֶּ֔תַח.  We know that Hashem says "pischu li pesach shel machat," just give me an opening the size of the eye of a needle, let me into your heart just a little bit, and I will open gates for you that you can drive an 18 wheel truck through.  Sometimes, though, even an opening the size of the eye of a needle is too much to ask for.  וּפָסַ֤ח ה׳ עַל־הַפֶּ֔תַח, Hashem overlooked the need even for that smallest opening.  Hashem himself did not ask for the משכו ידיכם מעבודה זרה.  This was the amazing thing about the geulah from Egypt.  It is moments before geulah and Moshe has to still tell people to give up their idolatry -- they still were not 100% committed to Hashem or bust -- and still, Hashem redeemed us.

After this command to take the korban and shecht it, the Torah goes on to speak about sprinkling the blood on the doorposts to protect against the malach ha'mashchis, and then ends the section  וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֖ם אֶת־הַדָּבָ֣ר הַזֶּ֑ה לְחׇק־לְךָ֥ וּלְבָנֶ֖יךָ עַד־עוֹלָֽם.  Ramban and Ibn Ezra are bothered by the fact that this sprinking of the blood on the doorpost is not a mitzvah l'doros.  Where is the חׇק־לְךָ֥ וּלְבָנֶ֖יךָ עַד־עוֹלָֽם?  

(R' Berel Povarsky in his Bad Kodesh writes that there are 2 dinim in the zerikas ha'dam on the doorposts: 1) a unique din by pesach Mitzrayim that there had to be blood there to protect the house; 2) a din zerikas ha'dam like any other korban, as the doorpost was a substitute for the mizbeiach.  Nafka minah: if a person had multiple dwellings, then m'din zerikas ha'dam of the korban, he fulfilled the mitzvah as soon as he put the blood one one house and the korban is became permissible to eat, but m'din having blood on each doorpost of a home that needed protection, he needed to paint the doorposts of the other homes as well.  If so, maybe שְׁמַרְתֶּ֖ם אֶת־הַדָּבָ֣ר הַזֶּ֑ה לְחׇק־לְךָ֥ וּלְבָנֶ֖יךָ עַד־עוֹלָֽם is talking about the regular din zerikas ha'dam that applies l'doros by other korbanos.  Still a bit of a dochak.)

Ramban answers that you have to explain that this concluding pasuk is speaking only about taking and shechting the korban that had appeared earlier.  R' Shimon Sofer, however, explains that it is talking about the sprinkling of the blood.  "Halalu ovzei avodah zarah v'halalu ovdei avodah zarah," Bnei Yisrael had no merits to speak of to earn geulah.  How does a little blood on the doorpost warrant protection from the malach ha'mashchis when you have nothing else going for you?  The answer is that that's the  חׇק־לְךָ֥ וּלְבָנֶ֖יךָ עַד־עוֹלָֽם.  Geulah is a chok without reason.  There is no logic to explain how a person can still need a warning not to be an oveid avodah zarah and merit geulah, but that's how Hashem decided to make things happen.

There is perhaps another element as to why Moshe added the word מִשְׁכוּ here, which also connects to the idea of this parsha being לְחׇק־לְךָ֥ וּלְבָנֶ֖יךָ עַד־עוֹלָֽם something that should be transmitted for eternity.  Netziv comments as follows:

אבל לפי הפשט, באשר המצוה בפרשה הקודמת נאמרה לכל ישראל ליקח שה לבית אב, והיתה הדעת נותנת שיטפלו בזה האנשים הפשוטים בבית אב מי שרגיל למשוך טלה לשחיטה ולהפשיט, ולא מי שהוא גדול בבית אב ואין עסקו בכך, על כן קרא משה לזקני הדור והזהירם ביחוד ״משכו״ — אתם ״וקחו לכם צאן למשפחותיכם״ — בשביל כל המשפחה תהיו אתם המתעסקים בזה.

Had we just been given Hashem's command, we would have assumed that it should be the shleppers who do menial work who should go out and get the sheep and slaughter and butcher them.  Shlucho shel adam k'moso, so let them do the dirty work for us.  Moshe therefore added in his instructions מִשְׁכוּ וּקְחוּ לָכֶם, this is something you have to do for yourselves, not leave to the shleppers.  The mitzvah needs your hands-on from the first steps.

Why this should be the case is what the Torah is telling us in that last pasuk of שְׁמַרְתֶּ֖ם אֶת־הַדָּבָ֣ר הַזֶּ֑ה לְחׇק־לְךָ֥ וּלְבָנֶ֖יךָ עַד־עוֹלָֽם. No one in the household pays much attention to what the shlepper does, what the maid does, what the nanny does.  They are there to free up our time so we can carry on with the important things of life.  The Torah is telling us that if you want a mitzvah to be something your children take note of, something they will pass on to their children, then you can't delegate it -- you have to treat it like one of those important things in life, things that you make sure to take care of yourself.  

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

lost legacy

There is a lot written to try to explain Rashi's comment on  וָאֵרָ֗א אֶל־אַבְרָהָ֛ם אֶל־יִצְחָ֥ק וְאֶֽל־יַעֲקֹ֖ב that וארא אל האבות.  We know Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov are the avos.  Why is that relevant to pshat in this pasuk?

My son dealt with this question last week on his blog and quoted, among other ideas, the L Rebbe who explained that Rashi is highlighting the fact that Hashem appeared to Avraham not only because he embodied the midah of chessed, and to Yitzchak not only because he personified gevurah, and to Yaakov not just because he was an exemplar of tiferes.  Hashem appeared to them because they were avos, they were the forefathers of our nation, they passed those  midos down to future generations.  אבות מכלל דאיכא תולדות  (Bava Kama 2)  R' Meir Goldvicht in his shiurim always likes to say that maaseh avos siman la'banim means the maaseh avos are part of our genes, our spiritual DNA.  Hashem was telling Moshe that it was not time to deal with abstract questions about why the galus was so difficult.  He had to try to connect with the people in a more direct way, in a more emotional way, so that they would be receptive to his message.

It's interesting that the Sefas Emes (last piece in 5637) goes in nearly the opposite direction.  Rashi later in the parsha (pasuk 9) quotes from Chazal that these opening pesukim are a response to Moshe's question of why Bnei Yisrael had to suffer:

ורבותינו דרשוה לעניין של מעלה, שאמר: למה הרעתה וגו׳ (שמות ה׳:כ״ב). אמר לו הקב״ה: חבל על דאבדין ולא משתכחין. יש לי להתאונן על מיתת האבות, הרבה פעמים נגליתי עליהם בקל שדי, ולא אמרו לי: מה שמך, ואתה אמרת: מה שמו מה אומר אליהם

Simple pshat is that Moshe is being told that he is not on par with the avos.  Sefas Emes, however, interprets the point as speaking about Bnei Yisrael, that theywere not connected to the avos.   חבל על דאבדין ולא משתכחין -- the avos are gone and cannot be found because Bnei Yisrael failed to carry on their legacy and live up to it.  The spiritual DNA may be there, but it is not expressing itself.  Therefore, the galus is a harsh one.

Monday, January 03, 2022

yaaleh v'yavo vs tein tal u'matar

Chaim Brisker differentiated between yaaleh v'yavo and teil tal u'matar.  R' Chaim assumed that yaaleh v'yavo is *not* part of the definition of the bracha of avodah, but rather is recited because there is a separate chiyuv of mentioning me'ein ha'meora, what makes the day special, be it rosh chodesh or yom tov.  Nafka minah: according to this approach, if you forget yaaleh v'yavo at mincha today, you would not daven a tefilas tashlumin at night.  You already fulfilled your chiyuv of tefilah at mincha time, and once rosh chodesh is over you can no longer mention me'ein ha'meora, so you gain nothing by davening maariv twice.  Were yaaleh v'yavo part of the definition of the bracha of avodah, leaving it out would be like leaving out a bracha of shmoneh esrei and you would have to daven tashlumin at maariv.  

In contrast to yaaleh v'yavo, R' Chaim assumed that tein tal u'mater is an intrinsic part of the bracha of bareich aleinu.  Leaving it out is like missing part of a bracha in shmoneh esrei.

R' Tzvi Pesach Frank asked: The halacha is that if you miss saying tein tal u'matar, you can add it in the middle of the bracha of shema koleinu.  If mentioning tal u'matar is a separate chiyuv hazkara, like mei'ein ha'meora, this makes perfect sense.  You missed the hazkara in one spot, so you can add it in another spot.  But if tein tal u'matar is part of the bracha of bareich aleinu, then if you are missing part of one bracha, how can you make it up by sticking the words in another?

See R' Eliyahu Bakshi Doron's discussion here.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Moshe Derangement Syndrome

Pharoah's reaction to makkas barad is interesting.   וַיִּשְׁלַ֣ח פַּרְעֹ֗ה וַיִּקְרָא֙ לְמֹשֶׁ֣ה וּֽלְאַהֲרֹ֔ן וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֖ם חָטָ֣אתִי הַפָּ֑עַם. This time -- הַפָּ֑עַם -- he admits he got it wrong.  What's so special about this particular makkah?  Malbi"m explains that Pharoah was warned before barad to take the livestock in and seek shelter.  It's one think to refuse to release Bnei Yisrael from slavery; it's another thing to be so stubborn as to not even take precautions that can save lives and $.  Even Pharoah realized he had gone to far.  Pharoah clearly had MDS -- Moshe Derangement Syndrome. He rejected anything Moshe said, no matter that doing so was cutting off his own nose to spite his face.  R' Baruch Sorotzkin reads הַפָּ֑עַם as indicative of the approach of Pharoah and other reshaim to admitting guilt.  It's always only הַפָּ֑עַם, this one time, this one detail that is wrong. There is no consideration that the prat maybe is melamed on the klal, that being wrong this time may reflect a broader misconception.  That's why once the moment passes, it's back to the usual routine.  (See HaKsav v'haKabbalah who learns the pasuk as meaning exactly the opposite.)   

Moshe comes to Pharoah and tells him that although he knows Pharoah will return to his old ways, makkas barad will come to an end.  The Torah then gives what seems to be a damage report:

 וְהַפִּשְׁתָּ֥ה וְהַשְּׂעֹרָ֖ה נֻכָּ֑תָה כִּ֤י הַשְּׂעֹרָה֙ אָבִ֔יב וְהַפִּשְׁתָּ֖ה גִּבְעֹֽל

וְהַחִטָּ֥ה וְהַכֻּסֶּ֖מֶת לֹ֣א נֻכּ֑וּ כִּ֥י אֲפִילֹ֖ת הֵֽנָּה

And then continues and tells us that Moshe davened for barad to be removed.  

You would expect the damage report to come after the plague was removed, yet the Torah sticks it in before even telling us that Moshe davened for the plague to stop.  Why break up the narrative this way?  As we discussed once before, Ramban and Sadya Gaon explain that these pesukim are not third party narration, but rather are part of the dialogue between Moshe and Pharoah.  Moshe was telling Pharoah that the wheat crop has not yet been ruined, so if he repents now, he can salvage something.

R' Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi brilliantly explains that there was a symbolic message for Pharoah in these particular crops being spared.  Pharoah was stiff necked.  He refused to buckle to Moshe's demands.  He thought that remaining inflexible was the ultimate sign of strength and would lead him to prevail.  Moshe therefore told him to take a look at which crops remained.  Rashi explains כי אפילת – מאוחרות, ועדיין היו רכות ויכולין לעמוד בפני קשה.  Because the wheat crops ripen later, their stalk is not stiff and hard, and therefore, they were were not crushed by the barad.  Sometimes the ability to bend, to show flexibility and give a little, is actually a strength.