פסח – תשע”ה
Volume 8, Issue 3
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
וחגתם אותו חג לה’ לדרתיכם חקת עולם תחגהו
“And you shall celebrate it as a festival to Hashem, you shall celebrate it as an everlasting law for all your generations.” (12:14)
The words “a festival to Hashem” underscore the true meaning of Pesach.
A person living in modern times who views Yetzias Mitrayim, the Exodus from Egypt, merely as an ancient tribe’s attainment of freedom from physical bondage may justifiably wonder why it is important to celebrate an event from the distant past. On the other hand, if he understands that the Exodus represents a spiritual transformation of an entire nation from a state of impurity to sanctity, from the mundane to the timeless, then he will truly rejoice, regardless of the times or circumstances under which he lives.
This is what the verse is telling us. If we celebrate it as a festival to Hashem, in its spiritual sense, then we will celebrate it as an everlasting law for all our generations. (Meshech Chochmah)
ולא יתן המשחית לבא אל בתיכם לנגף
“And He will not permit the destroyer to enter your homes to smite.” (12:23)
QUESTION: The Haggadah of Pesach explains the passage, “I will smite every firstborn in the land of Egypt” (12:12) to mean “Ani velo seraf” – “I and not a fiery angel.” Why was it necessary to make a sign for the destroyer, since the plague of the firstborn was inflicted by Hashem Himself?
ANSWER: In Egypt there lived a few million Jews and millions of Egyptians. In such a populace, it is normal that some people die each day. If the malach hamavet (Angel of Death) had killed a Jew during the night of the plague of the firstborn, Pharaoh would not have agreed that a miracle had taken place. He would have claimed that there was an epidemic which claimed Egyptians and Jews alike. Therefore, it was the will of Hashem that the destroyer (malach hamavet), not kill even one Jew on that night. (Vilna Gaon)
וילכו ויעשו בני ישראל כאשר צוה ה’ את משה ואהרן כן עשו
“And the Israelites went and did as Hashem commanded Moshe and Aharon, so they did.” (12:28)
Rashi comments that, “so they did” refers to Moshe and Aharon. They also did as the Almighty commanded about the Paschal Lamb. The Torah tells us this as a lesson to anyone who wants to have a positive influence on others. It is not enough just to tell others to do good deeds. Your own behavior should serve as a model for them to follow. Action is much more difficult than words. The best way to influence others is to be the type of person you wish others to be. (Growth Through Torah)
ליל שמרים הוא לה’ להוציאם
“It was a vigil night for Hashem, for bringing them out…” (12:42)
The initial letters of הוא לה’ להוציאם it was for Hashem, for bringing them out, combine to form the word הלל, Hallel, alluding the fact that Hallel is recited on the night of Pesach. There are four nights that are special to Hashem: The first was when Hashem revealed Himself to create the world. Before that time the earth was empty and void, with darkness on the face of the deep (Bereishit 1:2), after which Hashem created light. This was considered the first night ever to exist. The second special night was when He revealed Himself to Avraham at the Bris Bein HaBesarim, Covenant between the Parts. The third night was the eve of the 15th of Nissan when Hashem revealed Himself in Egypt, killing all the firstborn Egyptians, but sparing all of Bnei Yisrael. (Maharal)
וספרתם לכם ממחרת השבת
“And you shall count for yourselves from the day after Yom Tov.” (23:15)
QUESTION: Why do we count Sefirah between Pesach and Shavuot?
ANSWER: The ultimate purpose of leaving Egypt was to receive the Torah on Mount Sinai. Every Jew is required to occupy himself as much as possible with the study of Torah, but unfortunately people waste much time that could be used for Torah study because they do not appreciate the value of time. Counting Sefirah before Shavuot is a preparation for kabbalat haTorah and it emphasizes the importance of time and its value. It serves as a reminder what we should use every free moment for the study of Torah. (Likutei Sichot)
QUESTION: Since Sefirah is a mitzvah which is not performed throughout the entire year, why don’t we recite “Shehecheyanu” when we begin counting?
It cannot be answered that it is because in our times Sefirat Ha’Omer is only rabbinic, since we do recite “Shehecheyanu” on the reading of the Megillah, which is also rabbinic.
ANSWER: The Torah connects the mitzvah of Sefirah to the offering of the Korban Omer on Pesach. Since we no longer have a Beit HaMikdash and cannot bring the Korban Omer, when we count Sefirah we are saddened and recite a special prayer: “May the Merciful One restore for us the service of the Beit HaMikdash to its place.” A “Shehecheyanu” is only recited when one is in a happy and joyous mood. (Yalkut Yitzchak)
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