Monday, January 21, 2008

Parshas Bo - "BiRov Am Ceremony"

Quickie/Funfact: (Shemos 10:1) "Hashem said to Moshe, Come to Pharaoh, for I have made his heart and the heart of his servants stubborn so that I shall place these signs of mine in his midst."

Something seems rather peculiar as to the reasons for why Hashem hardened Pharaoh's heart. Granted that Pharoah was a true megalomaniac "at heart", but why was it that Hashem truly hardened Pharaoh's heart.

Rav Avigdor Nevintzahl Shlit"a, Chief Rabbi of the Old City of Jerusalem, answers by giving 2 reasons. The first can be seen in the Rambam (Hilchos Teshuva 6:3, Shmoneh Perakim Chapter 8) which says that Hashem hardened the heart of Pharoah, so that he could punish him for the evil dealings in which he inflicted on Klal Yisrael. The hardening of his heart forced Pharoah to continue in his evil ways and as a result more punishments were inflicted on him and his servants.

The Second reason as to why Hashem chose to harden the heart of Pharaoh, had nothing to do with Pharaoh or the Egyptians, but it was for Klal Yisrael. 10:2 "and so that you may relate in the ears of your son and your son's son that I have amused myself with Egypt and My signs that I placed among them – that you may know that I am Hashem." The essence of the mitzvah of, Sippur Yitzias Mitzraim, is the education of the generations that are to come.

(Shemos 10:9-11) "Moshe said, "with our youngsters and our elders shall we go…Not so, let the men go now…to serve Hashem"

The Chasam Sofer has a very interesting and captivating way of learning the discourse between Moshe and Pharaoh. He observed that the early philosophers, as a mission to try to achieve complete nirvana and closeness to G-d, would flee from their metropolises and the confusion of society and dwell in nature.

The Torah however dictates the opposite. The Torah tells us that the essence of true closeness to Hashem only comes when one is with a group! (Gemara Pesachim 91.) For this reason we see that one cannot slaughter the Korban Pesach, for a single person.

Now that we understand the ways of the philosophers and the ways of the Torah, we can better understand the discourse that happened between Moshe and Pharaoh.

Pharoah was telling Moshe, that it was ok for the men to go into the wilderness in order to offer sacrifices and to introspect, but the woman and the children had no need to go with them!

Moshe Rabbeinu however responded in 10:26 "And our livestock, as well, will go with us - not a hoof will be left…to serve Hashem." This is because through having the multitudes of men, women, children and animals (BiRov Am Hadaras Melech!) together Is the most appropriate way to serve Hakadosh Baruch Hu.


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