Points to Ponder  - Bo 5774

And he chased them from in front of Pharaoh (10:11) – after all of the Makkos and the semi-mutiny, how could he flippantly chase Moshe and Aharon away? Rav Chaim Shmuellevitz ztl. explains that when he saw the Mazal of Raah suggesting embarrassment for the Jews in the future, he thought that the Jews too were going to get it in the end. The idea that they would be embarrassed too, was enough for Pharaoh to be brzen enough to throw Moshe & Aharon out knowing that they too would experience the shame.

A heavy darkness (10:21)Rashi notes that this Makka affected the Jewish population as well. For during this time 4/5 of the population died—those who didn’t want to leave. Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky ztl. estimates the loss of life at above 2 million. This certainly must have impacted the Jews as well. Still, while we become troubled by Hashem’s challenges in the dark times, they can be a clear indication that we are quickly coming close to Geulah. The same can hopefully be said today…

But to the Jews there was light in their abodes (10:23)Rav Wolbe ztl. explains that we learn a valuable lesson from this experience – that two people can be in the same place and experience the experience through each of their unique world views. He calls this part of man’s obligation to state B’Shvili Nivra HaOlam. He questions how this was possible to have one person experience darkness and the other one next to him be a beacon of light – unless one only sees darkness while the other allows himself to BE a beacon of light.

And they will take a sheep for each household (12:3)Rav Elyashiv ztl points out that it is interesting that prior to Geulah families need to return to their roots and reconnect. Often, in the course of slavery, people lose familial connections. However, if Geulah will happen it requires whole families and then neighbors to create whole communities and a single united nation.

And you should eat it in haste (12:11) – why is the speed so significant to Pesach? After all, the Matza, the recall of the miracle and the Korban Pesach all have the recall of the speed of the Geula mentioned as essential  to understanding the Mitzva. Why? Rav Chaim Sabato Shlita answers that the Jews were on the lowest rung and Hashem had to take them out immediate so that they should not be lost forever. However in the process, He did not want a moment of their freedom to be influenced by the ideas of Egypt as the nation shed its self-image of the past. Hence, Hashem took them out speedily so as to totally distance the freedom of Bnei Yisrael from the former enslaved Egyptian influenced people. The haste reminds us of the turning of the page.

Tomorrow when your son asks “What is this?” You should tell him that it was with the strength of the Hand that Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim (13:14) – Rav Ovadiah Yosef ztl asks why we answer the Tam with this particular answer. He answers that different children need different connections to our heritage. Some children need to connect to the supernatural miracles in order to be drawn to Emunah and active Mitzva observance. This is likely the case with the Tam. Still, he adds, Lo HaMidrash Hu HaIkar Ela HaMaaseh – it is the Yad that got us out of Mitzrayim not the stories.

 Tefillin (13:16) – Rav Gedaliah Schorr ztl. notes that the Halachic requirement that Tefillin need a clean body is not that this is a separate Halacha. Rather part of the mitzvah of Tefillin is putting it on a Kosher, clean body. This is why one who does not wear Tefillin is of the Poshei Yisroel B’Gufo. It is also why one wearing Tefillin is not exempt from other mitzvos. The logic is simple – Tefillin isn’t what we do, it is an aspect of who we are.


Haftorah: “And you I shall not wipe out” (Yirmiyahu 46:28) – Maran HaRav Schachter Shlita notes that this is one of the unique Berachos for the Jewish people. Not only will the individual Jews not be wiped out, there will always be a Kahal (translated as minyan of Jews) in Eretz Yisroel to keep us connected to Hashem. Unlike the nations of the world whose stars (and Malachim) rise and eventually fall, our star just keeps on rising.