Shabbat Pesach| 5765
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Drasha for Pesach - 5713 - Based on Drashot Liy’mei Hapesach, pp. 102-104
When Avraham questioned the tidings that his offspring would inherit the land to which Hashem brought him, it was not out of doubt that Hashem could follow through on His promise. Rather, he had difficulty seeing how his offspring could maintain the Land with the prospect of an independent state that they would have to control. The problem would not be so much the physical challenges, but the ability to integrate a life of Torah and spirituality with the practical considerations of statehood. Is it not easier to live a Torah life in the Diaspora, where agriculture is in the hands of non-Jews and the Jews are involved in “easy and clean professions”? How can one maintain an army and also keep up the ideal Torah education we strive for? Is it possible to have governmental responsibilities and not have secularism pervade them?
We have a few examples in our early history where our forefathers promoted the thesis that the spiritual and physical pursuits cannot be jointly held. Yitzchak did not think that Yaakov could be entrusted with the physical blessings and keep up his spiritual level, which was to be his legacy. He wanted to separate the sectors and entrust the physical one to Eisav and the spiritual to Yaakov. But that was not the Divine Will, and Yaakov received both blessings. When Yaakov saw in his dream angels, representing the nations of the world, going up and down, he was afraid. Because he was afraid to take on the challenge of standing up to Eisav, he ran to exile (see Hoshea 12:13). But he found that in exile it was not any easier to raise his family, and he returned.
How did Bnei Yisrael’s second exile come about? It started with the brothers’ jealousy toward Yosef. Yosef was the ben z’kunim, who sat and learned Torah with his father. But he was also talented in statesmanship, as would be so apparent later. When the brothers became aware that he was planning to rule over them, they objected. How could the one who was to be dedicated to the realm of Torah try to incorporate with that statesmanship and leadership in the physical world? They felt he was haughtily overstepping his bounds, and, as a result of their reaction, the exile in Egypt came about.
What messages are we left with from that exile’s end? The mistake of thinking that things are better when non-Jews run the country was uncovered. It is impossible to maintain either a proper physical or spiritual existence among the nations. These two ideas are symbolized in the mitzvot of seder night. The maror reminds us that in Egypt we were subjugated to tremendous, physical hardships. The matza reminds us that we were entrenched in a dangerous atmosphere of spiritual impurity and needed to be extricated from there without waiting even a moment longer. The third lesson of the night is connected to the Korban Pesach, that reminds us that Hashem was directly involved in our liberation (and passed over- pasach- our houses). Bnei Yisrael’s liberation is a Divine process and we must, therefore, answer His call and not try to avoid it.
Rabban Gamlilel teaches us that without incorporating these three elements of the mitzvot of the day we do not fulfill our obligation on Pesach.
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