Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!


Back to Home -> Bo ->

קדש לי כל בכור... ויאמר משה אל העם זכור את היום הזה אשר יצאתם ממצרים... והיה כי יביאך ד'

Sanctify to Me every firstborn… Moshe said to the people, “Remember this day on which you departed from Egypt… And it will come to pass that Hashem shall bring you.” (13:1,2,4)

Rarely does a mitzvah receive such a hakdamah, foreword, prior to presenting the actual mitzvah to Klal Yisrael. Apparently, the mitzvah of kiddush b’chorim, sanctification of the firstborn, is tied directly to the story of the Egyptian bondage and the ensuing exodus. First, we note that unlike for the b’chor of an animal whose kedushah is pronounced by the declaration, Harei zeh kadosh, “This is sanctified,” this declaration does not suffice for a human firstborn. It is critical that we expend much effort in raising the infant b’chor to achieve Heavenly kedushah. This is the idea behind prefacing the mitzvah…

Continue Reading

ולא יהיה בכם נגף למשחית בהכתי בארץ מצרים...ואתם לא תצאו איש מפתח ביתו עד בקר

There shall not be a plague of destruction upon you when I strike in the land of Egypt. (12:13)…You shall not leave the entrance of the house until morning. (12:22)

The Jews were warned to stay home during the destruction that Hashem was wreaking in Egypt. What about the Jew who left his house? Did he perish together with the Egyptians? Rashi alludes to such a situation when he comments concerning the pasuk, “There shall not be a plague of destruction upon you.” If a Jew happened to be in an Egyptian home during the plague, was he smitten together with his Egyptian host? No. This was Hashem’s promise: “Jews will not die.” Mishnas Rashi wonders why there is a question that a member of the Jewish People would suffer…

Continue Reading

והיתה צעקה גדלה בכל ארץ מצרים אשר כמהו לא נהיתה וכמהו לא תסף

There shall be a great outcry in the entire land of Egypt, such as there had never been and such a there shall never be again. (11:6)

Moshe Rabbeinu warned of the impending plague of makkas bechoros, smiting of the firstborn. He added that the cries of grief would supersede any cries that had been and any cries that would ever be. These are strong words coming from the individual who was the medium for the last nine plagues that had devastated Egypt. One would expect that such words would have shaken up the Egyptians to their very core. The Midrash HaGadol, however, relates a dialogue that ensued between an elderly Egyptian woman and Moshe. The woman screamed, “You are a false prophet! An old woman who…

Continue Reading

ויאמר אליהם... מי ומי ההלכים... ויאמר משה בנערינו ובזקנינו נלך... כי חג ד' לנו

He (Pharaoh) said to them, “Which ones are going…” Moshe said, “With our youngsters and with our elders we will go… because it is a festival of Hashem for us.” (10:8,9)

Pharaoh finally showed a crack in his armor. He was prepared to allow some Jews to leave, and he was willing to negotiate concerning who may leave and who must remain. Moshe Rabbeinu replied that he had no room for negotiation, no juncture for compromise. They were all leaving. Pharaoh countered, saying that he would allow the adult men to go. Moshe said it was insufficient, “We will go with everyone – from our youngsters to our elders.” They were at an impasse, with Moshe insisting on including the young children and even feeble elders, and Pharaoh contending that this…

Continue Reading

זכור את היום הזה אשר יצאתם ממצרים מבית עבדים כי בחזק יד הוציא ד' אתכם מזה ולא יאכל חמץ

Remember this day on which you departed from Egypt, from the house of bondage, for with a strong hand Hashem removed you from here and, therefore, chametz may not be eaten. (13:3)

Zachor, remember, is written in the infinitive form which implies that yetzias Mitzrayim, the exodus from Egypt, should be remembered constantly. Thus, we recite the remembrance with the recitation of the third paragraph of the Shema. Interestingly, the Exodus is the only such miraculous episode which the Torah commands us to remember daily. It is certainly not the only miracle that we, as a nation, experienced. Our history is replete with miracles. Why does yetzias Mitzrayim take center stage, such that we must constantly reiterate it. Furthermore, the Torah is addressing the miracle of the Exodus. Why is the prohibition…

Continue Reading

קדש לי כל בכור פטר כל רחם בבני ישראל באדם ובבהמה לי הוא

Sanctify for Me every firstborn of Bnei Yisrael, of man and animal, they are Mine. (13:2)

The mitzvah of Pidyon HaBen, redeeming the firstborn, is directly connected to yetzias Mitzrayim, the Egyptian exodus. Hashem refers to the bechorim, first born: Li hu, “They are Mine.” Rashi explains that Hashem smote the Egyptian firstborn and spared their Jewish counterparts. He acquired the Jewish firstborn. The decree was solely directed towards the Egyptian firstborn; makas bechoros, the plague of the smiting of the firstborn, was the coupe de grace of the ten makkos, plagues, with which Hashem struck the Egyptians. What does it have to do with the Jews? Horav Shlomo Wolbe, zl, cites a Novoradok (Yeshivas Bais…

Continue Reading

וראה את הדם על המשקוף ועל שתי המזוזות

And He (Hashem) will see the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts. (12:23)

We have two contrasting reasons for our nation’s redemption from Egypt. Rashi (Shemos 12:6) cites the Mechilta which attributes their release to their involvement in the mitzvos of: Korban Pesach, the Pesach offering; and Bris Milah, when they circumcised themselves. They smeared the mingled blood on the doorposts and entrances of their homes as a sign of their unwavering commitment to Hashem. In the same Mechilta, Rav Huna quotes Bar Kappara, who asserts that Klal Yisrael merited the Exodus due to their adherence to four staples of Judaism: they kept their Jewish names; they maintained their language; they did not…

Continue Reading

ושמרתם את המצות

You must be vigilant regarding the matzos. (12:17)

Rashi comments: She’lo yavo’u liy’dei chimutz, “So that they do not become leaven. From here Chazal say (Pesachim 3:4), ‘If the dough has begun to rise (if you see a part of the dough is about to become chametz), pat it with cold moisture.’ (The coolness prevents it from rising further and becoming chametz.)” Horav Zalmen Sorotzkin, zl, explains the concept of chimutz, leavening, with regard to part of the dough beginning to rise. Leaven is a sign of separation, dissolution of a relationship, whereby a part of an entity splits from the rest to “do its own thing.” One…

Continue Reading

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…

Continue Reading

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…

Continue Reading

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

You have Successfully Subscribed!