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Shabbat Parashat Tzav| 5767
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Notes from Drasha for Shabbat Hagadol - Based on Drashot L’y’mei Hapesach, pp. 83-85
The commandment of the Korban Pesach begins: “Speak to the elders of Israel … draw to you and take for yourselves one of the flock for your families” (Shemot 12:22). It continues with: “… for an eternal statute for you and your sons” (ibid.:24). It concludes: “… as Hashem commanded Moshe and Aharon, so they did.” Rashi comments that “so they did” refers to Moshe and Aharon, that they too performed the mitzva.
These stresses in regard to the first mitzva given to Bnei Yisrael as a nation tell a lot about Judaism’s approach to the service of Hashem and the centrality of the chain of tradition. We view each member of the nation as a complete unit and every household unit as something that can stand in and of itself. The instruction “you shall tell your child” is repeated many times. The main obligation to continue the national memory is one of father to son. There are not special social classes that enjoy special privileges. “My servant, Moshe” was entitled to teach the Torah only because of his great dedication to it. He and Aharon were as obligated as everyone else - not more, not less. The Pesach seder is such a glorious sight. It is the family gathering where the intermixing of the different links in the chain is clearly seen.
Hashem told Moshe: “This is the sign for you… when you take the nation (singular) out of Egypt, you (plural) will serve. The pasuk starts with nation in the singular and completes it with “you” in the plural. It is because everyone as an individual has to serve Hashem completely. People look with awe at the great achievements of the Egyptian architects who planned the pyramids and the wise chartumim who were privy to great secrets of the world. However, that was only a small group within their people. For us, we strive for “we are all smart, we are all wise.” Just as Moshe arrived at greatness through his dedication, so too all can reach heights through dedication. It is the fact that all will be involved in the Korban Pesach which gives it the character of a public offering, with the command: “You cannot bring the Pesach in one of your gateways.”
Bnei Yisrael were commanded to smear the blood of the Korban Pesach on the lintel and the two doorposts. The midrash (Shemot Rabba 17) relates the lintel to Avraham and the two doorposts to Yitzchak and Yaakov. “I have certainly remembered (pakod pukadti)you” was a tradition they held onto from Yosef that this would be the phrase used in their liberation. So is the case throughout history. Not only are the obligations apply to the whole nation, but the experiences of the revelation and liberation are passed down through families. Each new generation receives the traditions with a freshness.
The order of the Pesach seder (the word means, order) is not just in the order of the procedures of the night but also in the order of the nation which is based on the concept of “the house of Israel.” Indeed, in every house the Divine Presence is found. Although Israel stands as a beggar before world powers trying to obtain tanks, which protect soldiers from bullets shot outside, we should realize that the real chamber of protection is the Jewish home. The pasuk describes the Jewish firstborns’ survival of the night of makat bechorot as “our homes he saved” (Shemot 12:27). The homes were the fortresses.
“The nation believed” - in the virtue of that belief they were redeemed. As far as their actions are concerned, they too were idol worshippers (see Shemot Rabba 21). However, when Moshe told them that the G-d of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov appeared to him, it had a great impact on them. Their acceptance of the Divine message was not due to a great job of explaining the message. Rather, it was as descendants of the forefathers, they carried a family belief that could never be erased.
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