Tuesday, May 24, 2016

524 - Pesach

Yetzias Mitzrayim was the event that took the numerous individuals who were all offspring of Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov and forged them into a single nation. This process of redemption not only turned us into a nation, but also demonstrated our uniqueness. While the water in the Egyptian's cup turned into blood, the Jew could drink from the very same cup and enjoy crystal clear water. The Egyptians endured extreme darkness and at the very same time the Jew enjoyed the radiance of daytime. The redemption demonstrated that the Jew was part of a Divine nation, and thus he merited a unique level of Divine Providence.

Chazal tell us (Medrash Tehillim 114) that the creation of the Jewish Nation was not a simple process. The Torah describes this event as, "taking out one nation from inside another nation." Accordingly, the Medrash compares the process to a cow experiencing difficulty giving birth to its calf. The shepherd must insert his hand into the womb of the cow, grab hold of the calf and pull it out of the mother. In a similar vein, Bnei Yisrael were so entrenched in the Egyptian society that they had to be yanked "from inside" the womb of the nation which enveloped them.

Rav Wolbe comments that this might very well be the reason why, as stated in the Hagaddah, the redemption was performed, not by an angel or any other intermediary, but by Hashem Himself. Had the purpose of the midnight revelation merely been to kill the firstborn, an angel certainly could have sufficed. However, there was another aspect that had to be accomplished: Bnei Yisrael had to be completely severed from their previous surroundings and only the Omnipotent One had the ability to accomplish this feat.

The exodus from Mitzrayim was not meant to be a onetime occurrence. Chazal tell us (Pesachim 116b), "In each and every generation a person is obligated to perceive himself as if he went out of Mitzrayim." Whenever and wherever the Jew finds himself, he must make an effort to free himself from the non-Jewish culture which has permeated every nook and cranny of our planet. This idea is hinted to in the Haggadah, for we declare, "Originally our forefathers were idol worshippers and now Hashem has brought us close to His service." What do we mean by "now" Hashem brought us into His service? Didn't Yetzias Mitzrayim occur more than three thousand years ago? Indeed, we left back then, but each and every year we must once again disengage ourselves from the nations around us.

The Seder Night affords us an opportunity to turn off the internet i.e. disconnect from the outside world, and spend a good few hours focusing on inculcating ourselves and our children with the beauty of being part of the Jewish Nation. We are supposed to experience our uniqueness, appreciate that we are very different from the nations around us and realize that Hashem intended it to be that way. While we live amongst the other nations we must ensure that we don't live "inside" of them. May we merit ridding ourselves of all non-Jewish trappings, thereby experiencing Yetzias Mitzrayim in its truest form!

Chag Kasher V'Sameiach!

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