Musings of an Orthodox Jew

Thoughts on Torah and the Jewish world today.

Parshas Bo- “This is what Hashem did for me…”

Every year at the Pesach Seder we read about the four sons.  The wise son, the wicked son, the simple son and the one too young to ask.  The first two sons are directly answered straight out of our prasha.  When it comes to the wise son and he asks why we do the things we do, we point out each of the observances and laws and discuss them.  To the wicked son we say- “This is because of what Hashem did for ME when he took ME out of Egypt.”

This of course brings up the point- is the wicked son not Jewish?  Would he not have been part of the redemption from Exile?  To understand this we need to go back to before the start of the plagues.  Moshe has performed his miracles before the Elders of Bnei Yisrael and before Pharoah, and the response was Pharoah adding to their burden.  Moshe complains to Hashem who again tells him that he will redeem Bnei Yisrael and make them into his nation as promised to the patriarchs.  Moshe repeats this to Bnei Yisrael who do not listen due to their hard labour and “shortness of spirit”.

So what is this shortness of spirit?  In the midrash it indicates that this refers to the fact that Bnei Yisrael in Egypt had become idol worshiper.  In fact, there is a commentary that states that just as there are 49 levels of kedushah (holiness) before reaching the ultimate level, there are 49 levels of degradation before becoming totally lost.  Just prior to the redemption from Egypt, Israel had descended those 49 levels, and if they had dropped to the 50th level, complete debasement, they would not have been redeemed.    Now, the sacrificing of the lamb was a proof that they had dragged themselves out of that pit of degradation.  It was a blatant physical sign that they rejected the gods of Egypt- they slaughtered one of the Egyptians gods (the lamb) and made it publicly known by smearing its blood on the doorposts- showing every Egyptian that they rejected their false gods.

Did every member of Bnei Yisrael perform this action?  No.  There are always those who are assimilated into the general populace and prefer to remove themselves from klal Yisrael for the more comfortable and easy life amongst the other nations.  Rav Moshe Feinstein points out in his commentary (I read this in Haggadah Vayigash Moshe compiled from his various commentaries related to Pesach) that the wicked son always find a reason to reject Judaism.  When times are good he will say that the exodus would have happened anyway, that the life of plenty and comfort is unrelated to the episode of slavery.  In times of oppression he will state that we were not redeemed since we are still oppressed.  The wicked son always sets himself apart, seperating himself from klal Yisrael.

So we see Moshe commanding the people- when you perform the Korban Pesach and you explain it to your children and grandchildren- point out that this is what Hashem did for ME.  After all, the redemption was for Jews for all time- those that did not rise to the occassion remained behind in Egypt to be forgotten and to dissapear over time.

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January 30, 2009 - Posted by | Parshah, Torah

1 Comment »

  1. […] to? (Fro a discussion on where this is found oin the prashah more complete info on my blog here: https://marcl1969.wordpress.com/2009/01/30/parshas-bo-this-is-what-hashem-did-for-me/ […]

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