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Not Just an Exodus

By Rabbi Aharon Gabbay

“And they should be a sign…that with a mighty hand Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim”. The Parsha is referring to the Tefillin that we wear everyday. Contained within them is a sign for the Jewish people that we should remember that Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim. In fact, it is evident that while performing many Mitzvot we refer to Yetziat Mitzrayim: Shabbat, Yom Tov, Mezuzah. Leaving Mitzrayim may be a very eventful time for the Jewish people, but there are seemingly more appropriate events to refer to: the giving of the Torah, entering Israel – the promised land, or even creation itself. It would appear that there are other events that take precedence over Yetziat Mitzrayim. Furthermore, earlier in the Parashah, the Bnei Yisrael say “because of this, Hashem did for me in the going out of Egypt” the Bnei Yisrael are referring to the Mitzvah of eating the matsa and Korban Pesach. How can it be that all the agony, pain and death that was experienced in Egypt is worth a matsa shawarma sandwich!

The Ramban explains that at that period of time there was much controversy as to whether there was one being who ruled the world. Some suggested that there was no existence of G-d, while others insisted that despite the fact that G-d does exist, he plays no intervention in our lives. So Hashem showed wonders and miracles giving first class proof of complete rule and intervention. Yetziat Mitzrayim was testimony to this. All nations of the world heard and felt Hashem’s might and rule and it was clear that he is the source of all power that ever was and ever will be. The Ramban continues that Hashem does not need to perform major miracles every several generations in order to prove the point, however, it is necessary to install into the Jewish people a ׳זכר׳ – remembrance, that links us back to this one event and so in many Mitzvot we implant the words זכר ליציאת מצרים to serve as a reminder of the greatness and oneness of Hashem. Such an idea is fundamentally important and a foundation in our religion that we must rehearse it frequently more than any other event in history.

However, there is more to the event of the exodus.

The Gemara in Shabbat (89b) says that when Moshe Rabenu went to receive the Torah the angels challenged him and said to Hashem “for 974 generations before the world was created you’ve had the Torah on display in a showcase and now your going to give it to man!”. The Torah had been around for centuries before the sun even burst into existence. The famous words of the Zohar are “Hashem looked into the Torah and created the world”. This means that the written Torah, as we have it today, was used as a blueprint to manufacture the world. Rav Yerucham Levovitz explains that, contrary to popular belief, the way Hashem created the world was that it was written in his Torah a Mitzvah and so Hashem created based on that mitzvah. For example, there is a mitzvah of respecting one’s father and mother, and so Hashem fabricated a system that the creation should have a father and mother. Based on this, our complete makeup is completely Torah orientated and everything we are and do is projected through Hashem’s Torah and Mitzvot. When the Bnei Yisrael said “because of this, Hashem did for me in the going out of Egypt”, Rashi explains that they were referring to Matsa and Korban Pesach which are classic examples of mitzvot. The Bnei Yisrael were saying because of Hashem’s Mitzvot, which are the fundamental blueprints of the world, that is why we came out of Egypt.

Yetziat Mitzrayim leaves a mark in the heart of the Jewish people. There are many lessons that can be brought out of significant events in Jewish history. However, the exodus is for sure one of the main organs that keep the Jews alive. It dictates the importance of Hashem and his Torah in order for it to be implanted into us for many generations to come.

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