Kenneth Cohen

They Left Egypt ‘Armed’

The Torah tells us that the Jewish people went out of Egypt, חמושים, Chamushim. There are many interpretations to this word חמושים.

The standard explanation of this word is that they were armed with weaponry. This was in case they would be attacked and be forced to fight battles. Often at security stations, we are asked if we are “Chamush.” The security people are asking us if we are carrying a weapon.

Even according to the opinion that we are dealing with weapons, our commentators explain what the true armor of the Jewish people is. Some say that perhaps our secret weapon is prayer and Torah. When these are combined with physical weaponry, we are invincible. This, G-d willing, is why we will soon see a great victory over our enemies.

Some explain that חמושים, is a reference to חמשה חומשי תורה, the five books of the Torah. We are to be scholar warriors. As King David wrote, “A double edged sword in one hand, along with singing praises to Hashem.”

There is one more interesting explanation of the word, חמושים. This is a reference to the opinion that only one fifth of the Jewish people left Egypt. Four fifths were considered unworthy and perished in the plague of darkness.

At one point not too long ago, it looked as though only one fifth of the Jewish population would merit being able to live in Israel. Thankfully, this proved not to be true. Today, there are more than seven million Jews living in Israel. And it looks as though many more Jews are waking up and have made the wise decision to make Aliya.

It is our hope and prayer that all of the Jewish people come home, “Chamushim,” with faith, Torah, and Mitzvot.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at