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Shabbat Parashat Tzav 5772

Parashat Hashavuah: The Secret of Saviors

Harav Yosef Carmel

Chazal have taught us in several interesting ways how the story of the warrior/judge, Gidon, is parallel to the story of the seder.

The navi (Shoftim 6:2-12) tells us that the Midianites were oppressively dominating Israel, who called out to Hashem for help. Gidon was, at the time his involvement began, dealing with the wheat in the field, when an angel appeared to him and called to him, “Hashem is with you, man of valor.” Gidon replied: “Hashem is with us?! Why did all of these events happen to us? Where are all of His miracles that our fathers told us about, when they told us that Hashem took us out of Egypt, but now He has forsaken us and given us over to the hands of Midian?” The angel responded: “Go with this strength and save Israel from the hands of Midian, for I have sent you.”

It is possible to look at Gidon’s words as chutzpa toward Hashem. However, Rashi does not look at it that way. He explains that it was Pesach, and Gidon said: “Last night, my father read for me the Hallel and I heard him say, ‘When Israel left Egypt …’ but now we are forsaken. If our forefathers were righteous, save us in their merit. If they were wicked, save us just as You did miracles for them [without merit].” Gidon’s reasoning changes the apparent complaints into a prayer to Hashem that He should save Israel. The midrash (Yalkut Shimoni, Shoftim 62) explains: “Since he spoke up in defense of Israel, Hashem decided to reveal Himself to Gidon and tell him that he should take this strength of defending Israel and save Israel with the merit of that trait.”

Chazal found another element of the story that is related to Pesach. Gidon snuck up on the enemy camp to hear what people were saying, as Hashem had suggested. He heard one telling of his dream, wherein a loaf of barley bread was rolling through the camp of Midian and overturning it (Shoftim 7:13).  The midrash says, on one hand, that Bnei Yisrael were bereft of righteous people. On the other hand, this loaf was referring to the mitzva of omer, which was a meal-offering of barley brought on the second day of Pesach. This mitzva had stood up as merit for the people. Note that barley is usually the food of animals, not people. Rav Kook explained that the korban omer represents the simplicity and natural belief that Bnei Yisrael possessed as ‘believers the sons of believers.’   

The two midrashim are two sides of the same coin. Even when there are no righteous people, one still has to defend Israel. Only one who can do this has the characteristics to be their savior.

Let us internalize this idea on the night of the seder. The path to liberation runs through the ability to find that which is good and speak up on behalf of Hashem’s dear children.

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