Incorporating the Message of Yetziat Mitzrayim Into Our Daily Lives

Parshat Bo tells the story of Bnei Yisroel’s departure from Egypt. This narrative forms the basis for the hagada that we read on Pesach.

At the conclusion of the story of yetziat mitzrayim, the hagada instructs:

b’khol dor vador chayav adam lirot et atzmo k’ilu hu yatza mi-mitzrayim

“in each generation, each individual must view himself as if he was personally liberated from Egypt.”

This command sounds like a tall order – yetziat mitzrayim is in the distant past. How can one truly relive the experience of yetziat mitzrayim so it feels like a personal liberation?

I would like to suggest that the command “lirot et atzmo” is not necessarily limited to personally reliving the exodus in the sense that we need to feel like slaves departing from our oppressors (though many of the Seder rituals do attempt to create this feeling). Rather, I submit that part of “lirot et atzmo” is developing an attitude that reflects the incorporation of the message of yetziat mitzraim into our daily lives.

Indeed, there is a reason why remembering yetziat mitzraim is not limited to the Seder, but instead is one of the 6 events we are instructed to remember daily, and is also referenced twice a day in the Shema – morning and night. Incorporating the message of yetziat mitzraim into our lives – “lirot et atzmo” - is clearly much more than simply retelling the Exodus at the Seder.

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Moving From Our Personal Sphere to Public Involvement

When the Torah introduces the counting of the Omer it states in Parshas Emor 23:15: “U’sefartem lachem mimacharat ha’Shabbat.”

Contrary to the interpretation of the heretics who claimed that the word "Shabbat" in that pasuk actually means Shabbat, our rabbis explained that the word “Shabbat” in this pasuk refers to Pesach – that is, we should start counting the Omer from the second day of Pesach.

The question is why does the Torah refer to Pesach as Shabbat? Why not just be direct and state that we should start counting from the second day of Pesach? That would have provided the clarity, and avoided this particular controversy with the heretics.

Perhaps the Torah intended to teach us something about the process represented by the counting of the Omer. 

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