Thursday, May 21, 2015

471 - Pesach

Chazal tell us, "Every person is obligated to perceive himself as if he left Mitzrayim" (Pesachim 116b). The Gemara cites the pasuk in parshas Bo as the source of this obligation: "You shall tell your son on that day [when he inquires about the korban Pesach], 'It was with this intention [of performing His commandments] that He redeemed me from Mitzrayim'" (Shemos 13:8). This is the standard answer given no matter what generation the child asking belongs to: one is to feel as if he himself left Mitzrayim.

Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash, Parshas Bo 13:8) notes that a similar idea can be found in the Ramban's explanation of the Aseres Hadibros (Shemos 20:2). The Ramban writes that the Ten Commandments were all said in singular form lest one think that as long as the majority performs the mitzvos, the individuals who fail to perform them will be spared from retribution. Hashem was informing us that the Ten Commandments are directives to each and every individual, and the failure of a single person to comply with them will incur punishment. Moreover, the Meforshim tell us that even though everybody heard the same words emanating from Hashem, nevertheless, each individual perceived those very words with a unique explanation distinct from anyone else. While the Torah was given to the entire Klal Yisrael, the focus remains on the individual. 

This Alter of Slabodka (Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt"l) writes that this is an idea which is built into the very foundations of Creation. On the one hand it appears as if each individual is part of a single large world. Yet, on the other hand Hashem, created an entire world for each and every one of the trillions of individuals who would populate the earth over the course of time. This idea was demonstrated during the makkos in Mitzrayim. While the Egyptian sat motionless due to the thick darkness, in the very same room the Jew strolled around in complete daylight. Two people living in two totally different worlds but in extremely close proximity of each other!

The Mesillas Yesharim begins his sefer by exhorting the reader to be cognizant of "his obligation in his world." If Hashem created an individual world for each and every person, and He spoke individually to each of them when He gave the Ten Commandments, it follows that everyone has their own unique connection with their Creator and hence their own unique hand tailored obligations.

This idea was the focal point of Yetzias Mitrayim, and it is the fundamental aspect of the Seder Night. We are instructed to inculcate into ourselves and impart to the next generation, the idea that Hashem is personally involved with not just the world as a whole but in each and every one of our lives. When imparting this idea to our children let us not forget to give over its beauty as well. While this knowledge obligates us to a great degree, it should inspire us to an even greater degree! Can there be anything better than a personal connection with the Omnipotent Creator of the world Who loves you more than a father loves his child?

Chag Kasher V'Sameiach!

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