Shabbat Parashat Bo| 5765
The Covenantal UpdateHarav Yosef Carmel
Four sections in Parshat Bo focus on the mitzva of korban pesach, clearly emphasizing its importance. The mitzva of korban pesach is inherently connected to that of brit milah. There is no need to expound on the mitzva of milah’s special role among the 613 mitzvot. Suffice it to say that there are two indisputable facts about the mitzvot of korban pesach and brit milah that illustrate their significance and inter-connection. These are the only positive commandments that by failing to perform them, one is subject to karet, being cut off from the Jewish people and Hashem’s shechina. When Bnei Yisrael performed these two mitzvot, even those lodged in the 49th level of impurity merited their redemption. Mechilta D’Rabbi Yishmael, Bo 5 understands the phrase in Yechezkel (16:8) “b’damayich chayi- with your blood you will live,” which is repeated twice, to refer tothe blood of brit milah and korban pesach. Hashem wanted to fulfill His promise to Avraham to redeem his children. He gave Bnei Yisrael these mitzvot so that they would have some mitzvot with which to merit redemption.
What is the key to the central role these mitzvot play and the connection between them? A Jew makes two covenants with his Creator. Through a covenant, a servant may dedicate his life to the service of his master, which, in turn, obligates the master to ensure his servant’s subsistence. The first covenant Jews make with Hashem is brit milah, on the eighth day of life. In this covenant, etched in our flesh, we physically make a sign that we are His servants. A baby, however, is only a passive participant in his brit. Therefore, when he matures to the point of making thought out decisions, the Jew is obligated to renew his covenant with Hashem on a yearly basis by bringing a korban pesach. It is now clear why milah and pesach were chosen as prerequisites for yetziat mitzrayim (exodus).Through these mitzvot, BneiYisrael left their status as servants of Paroh and became servants of Hashem. Being servants of Hashem is the true redemption. As Chazal say: “… charut al haluchot- the writing is Divine writing, engraved on the tablets” (Shemot 32:16)- do not read it as “charut” (engraved) but as “cheirut” (freedom) (Mesechet Kalla Rabati 5:3).
By understanding korban pesach’s centrality, we can appreciate the harsh response to the rasha (wicked son) in the Haggada. The rasha asks, “what is this service (korban pesach) to you?” We respond that Hashem did the Exodus for us and not him. Because he removed himself from the general population, had he lived at that time he would not have been redeemed. Indeed, refusing to take part in the korban pesach meant not agreeing to be part of the covenant.
May we all pray that in the merit of the mitzva of milah, performed by such a large segment of world Jewry, we should merit to renew our yearly covenant, with the korban pesach, as part of the ultimate redemption.
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