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והיה לך לאות על ידך ולזכרון בין עיניך

And it shall be for you a sign on your arm and a reminder between your eyes. (13:9)

Ohr Yehudah is a city in the Tel Aviv district of Gush Dan, Eretz Yisrael. A member of the community was in the restaurant business. In fact, he owned all the restaurants in Ohr Yehudah. This was not because no one else was interested in competing, but rather, because he was a coarse person who did not do well with competition. Whenever someone had the “courage” to open a competing establishment, he would send his hoodlums to pay the man a visit. They subtly reminded the would-be restauranteur that there could be only one restaurant franchise in Ohr Yehudah, subject…

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והגדת לבנך ביום ההוא לאמר בעבור זה עשה ד' לי בצאתי ממצרים

And you shall tell your son on that day, saying, “It is because of this that Hashem acted on my behalf when I left Egypt.” (13:8)

No religious ceremony focuses more on the inclusion of children as does the Seder meal. Cloaked in profound esoteric meaning, the Seder is brought down to an elementary level in order to engender youthful participation. Indeed, we have activities and traditions that cater to youthful imagination, all for the purpose of motivating a child’s questions and the adults’ reply. The reason for this display is that Pesach commemorates our liberation and the path to nationhood, which we embarked on at Har Sinai when we accepted the Torah. In order to ensure that Pesach and its eternal message remains an integral…

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לא ראו איש את אחיו ... ולכל בני ישראל היה אור במושבתם

No man could see his brother… but, for all Bnei Yisrael, there was light in their dwellings. (10:23)

During Makas Choshech, plague of darkness, the Egyptian people were overwhelmed with an opaque, fog-like condition that enveloped the country and extinguished all flames. Thus, even if an Egyptian could reach his lamp, any flame that he would kindle would immediately be extinguished. Horav Gamliel Rabinowitz, Shlita, says that the word b’moshvosam, in their dwellings, contains within it the letters which comprise the word b’shabbosam, in their Shabbosos, which he feels alludes to the notion that the reason the Jewish people were able to withstand the darkness of the Egyptian exile was that they observed Shabbos Kodesh. Indeed, Chazal (Shemos…

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מי ומי ההולכים

Which ones are going? (10:8)

Pharaoh seemed overly concerned with knowing whom Moshe Rabbeinu was taking to the “prayer retreat” in the wilderness. What difference did it make to him who went? Horav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Shlita, explains that Pharaoh could not accept that anyone other than Klal Yisrael’s gedolim, Torah leadership, would be involved in this trip. Hashem is Ram al kol goyim, above all Nations, His glory is above the Heavens. Why would He listen to the prayers of simple people – certainly not that of children? Pharaoh wanted to know who among the leadership of the Jewish People was leaving to pray. Moshe…

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והיה כי יאמרו אליכם בניכם מה העבודה הזאת לכם

It shall be when your children say to you, “What is this service to you?” (12:26)

The first question which was cited in our parsha is that of the rasha, wicked son. The second question which is to be found in Sefer Devarim is that of the chacham, wise son. On the surface, they appear to be asking the same question. The difference lay in the subtle changes in their relative vernacular. The wicked son does not ask; he states. His question, if anything, is rhetorical, since he has all the answers. He refuses to acknowledge that the service is Divinely mandated, and, since mitzvos are “man-made,” they are not binding on him. Conversely, the wise…

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שבעת ימים מצות תאכלו ... ושמרתם את המצות

For a seven-day period, shall you eat matzos … You shall safeguard the matzos. (12:15,17)

The association of our departure from Egypt and the prohibition against eating chametz, leaven, for seven/eight days, requires some explanation. Furthermore, the fact that a mitzvah d’Oraisa, Biblical commandment, obligates us to eat matzah (on the first night) begs elucidation in its relationship to the Exodus. The fact that we were compelled to rush out of Egypt, which precluded our ability to make leavened bread, is the obvious and accepted reason for eating matzah (for its commemorative value). Is there a deeper reason for negating leaven and replacing it with matzah? Horav Moshe Shapiro, zl, explains that when one mixes…

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ולמען תספר באזני בנך ובן בנך את אשר התעללתי במצרים

So that you may relate in the ears of your son and your son’s son that I made a mockery of Egypt. (10:2)

Relating the events preceding and surrounding the Exodus is more than a lesson in Jewish history. As the seminal event in world history, it demonstrates Hashem’s mastery over nature to all. Thus, it has become a lesson in Jewish theology and dogma. Hashem is the Creator of the world and the G-d of history. As He wrought the miracles in Egypt thousands of years ago, He continues to control and guide the events of the world (history) to suit Klal Yisrael. Nations have come and gone. We are still here and will continue to maintain our presence as long as…

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כי אני הכבדתי את לבו

For I have made his heart stubborn. (10:1)

Kveidus ha’lev, translated as “a hardening of the heart,” making it stubborn, is derived from the word, kaveid, heavy; a hardened heart is a heavy heart. Why is the heart the reference point, as opposed to any other organ? Horav Baruch Dov Povarsky, Shlita, explains that a human being is comprised of 248 eivarim, organs, which coincide with 248 mitzvos asei, positive commandments. Each individual organ is designated for a specific mitzvah. Thus, if a specific organ is flawed or defective, the mitzvah with which it coincides will likely be compromised. In other words, organs matter because of their relationship…

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והיה לך לאות על ידך ולזכרון בין עיניך

And it shall be for you a sign, your arm and a reminder between your eyes. (13:9)

The mitzvah of Tefillin – two boxes which each contain four short parshiyos from the Torah inscribed on parchment, and worn on the arm and the forehead – is one of the most important mitzvos of the Torah. One of the boxes is worn on the arm, opposite the heart, which is the seat of one’s emotions; the other is placed above the forehead, resting opposite the cerebrum. Thus, our attention is directed to the head, the heart and to the hand, thereby implying that our actions must be dedicated to Hashem in such a manner that we conjoin our…

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וישאל איש מאת רעהו ואשה מאת רעותה כלי כסף וכלי זהב

Let each man request of his fellow and each woman from her fellow silver vessels and gold vessels. (11:2)

Hashem asked Moshe Rabbeinu to make a special effort to impress upon the Jews the significance of requesting silver and gold vessels from the Egyptians, because, if they did not leave Egypt with a sizable financial portfolio, Avraham Avinu’s neshamah, soul, would have a “complaint” against Hashem. She’lo yomar oso tzaddik V’avadum v’inu osam – kayeim ba’hem – v’acharei chein yeitzu b’r’chush gadol – lo kayeim ba’hem; “So that the righteous person (Avraham) should not say, ‘G-d carried out in full measure the prophecy that his offspring will be oppressed, but not the companion promise that they will leave their…

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