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Shabbat Parashat Emor 5777

Parashat Hashavua: Brit Bein Habtarim to Kriat Yam Suf The Connection to Yom Haatzmaut (part 2)

Harav Yosef Carmel

Last week we illustrated the similar language the Torah used to describe Kriat Yam Suf and the Brit Bein Hab’tarim with Avraham Avinu. Chazal, who saw this connection, instituted in Ma’ariv the following nusach to describe Kriat Yam Suf: “He who passed his children through the strips of Yam Suf”. Chazal used the word (gezarim) that is connected to Brit Bein Hab’tarim. Furthermore, we saw an explicit pasuk connecting these two events by describing the sojourn in Egypt for a period of four hundred thirty years, which was counted from Brit Bein Hab’tarim. 

After Hashem promised Avraham that he would inherit the land, Avraham asked: “How will I know that I will inherit it?” (Bereishit 15:8). The Torah commands to settle Eretz Yisrael as a positive commandment according to the Ramban. “And you shall conquer the Land and dwell in it, for I have given the Land to you to inherit it” (Bamidbar 33:53). The Ramban writes: “In my opinion this is a Torah commandment. He commanded that they live in the Land and inherit it, for Hashem gave it to them, and they should not despise it. If they contemplated to conquer the Land of Shinar or Assyria, a land not belonging to them, they would be transgressing a positive commandment…and this mitzva repeats itself numerous times, as it says: “Come and inherit the Land” (Devarim 1:8). But Rashi explained the pasuk: If you are able to remove its dwellers from there, then you will be able to settle it; but if you do not, you will not be able to settle it.”

Why did the Ramban prefer his explanation to Rashi’s? We suggest the following. At the time of Brit Bein Hab’tarim, Avraham was an important person in the Land and even conquered the four kings to free his nephew Lot. Nevertheless the true ruler of the Land was Pharaoh of Egypt, and local kings were his vassals, as is recorded in the letters of Tel el Amarana. Pharaoh even judged between kings when there was a dispute and protected them from foreign enemies.

Therefore Avraham asked Hashem: Even if my children dwell in this Land, they will still be subject to the Egyptian empire, with all its implications, meaning that a critical ingredient of national life will still be lacking. When will Am Yisrael finally be free to fulfill the mitzva of settling the Land in its full sense? When and how will they get an independent state?

Hashem answered Avraham that only after four hundred years from the time of the beginning of the covenant regarding progeny (i.e., Yitzchak’s birth), the brit will be re-enacted on a national level when Am Yisrael would walk between the strips of Yam Suf and the connection to Egypt would finally be severed. Until Pharaoh’s army was drowned, complete freedom was still in doubt.

The Ramban’s explanation may be based on the connection between the words “Irashena, Vhorashtem, Lareshet” and the pasuk after the giving of the Torah at Sinai where it is stated, “Come and “reshu” the Land that I promised to your forefathers ….” What was promised at Brit Bein Hab’tarim? This is the deeper spiritual connection between the seventh day of Pesach and Yom Haatzmaut, which is already hinted to in the “at bash” alphabetical code.


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