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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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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