Friday, March 30, 2018

Dvar Torah & Podcast for Pesach 5778

       AIMeMTorah would like to wish all of our readers a Happy Pesach and a Chag Kosher V'Sameach!
       We have arrived once again at the holiday of Pesach and one of my favorite nights of the year, the Seder! As I say every year, the Hagadah is one of my favorite books to study and develop new ideas from. Every year, we try to examine a different part of the Hagadah and glean new insights. This year, we will focus on three paragraphs found in the middle of Magid, beginning with “רַבִּי יוֹסֵי הַגְּלִילִי אוֹמֵר“Rabi Yosi Haglili says”.
       These three paragraphs contain a machlokes between Rabi Yosi Haglili, Rabi Eliezer, and Rabi Akiva as to exactly how many makkos the Egyptians received from Hashem while in Mitzrayim and later by Krias Yam Suf. They all agree that the Egyptians received five times as many makkos while at the sea, but they disagree as to the exact numbers. Rabi Yosi says they received ten while in Mitzrayim and fifty by the sea. Rabi Eliezer says that each makkah in Mitzrayim was actually four different makkos; therefore, the numbers are forty and 200. Rabi Akiva says each makkah was really five different makkos, and therefore the numbers are fifty and 250. The whole argument is based on how exactly to learn out the meaning of a pasuk in Tehillim (78:49). (Rabi Yosi doesn’t learn out anything from this pasuk, instead relying on the pasuk in Shemos 14:31.)
       Several questions immediately come to mind after reading these paragraphs, but the one that stands out is what difference does it make how many makkos there were? What exactly are they arguing about here?
       The most common answer to this question comes from the Vilna Gaon. He quotes a pasuk which says, “כל המחלה אשר שמתי במצרים לא אשים עליך“(If you will listen to all Hashem tells you) Any of the diseases I placed upon Egypt, I will not place upon you” (Shemos 15:26). Hashem tells us that he will not do anything to us that He did to the Egyptians. Therefore, if the Egyptians only received ten makkos, there are only ten things we won’t receive. But if there were 250 makkos, we wouldn’t be able to receive any of those! So the more makkos there are, the better it is for us.
       Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon offers an explanation which adds on a beautiful piece to this GR”A. The makkos created a clear distinction between the Jews and Egyptians. While the Egyptian searched for water, choked on frogs, and scratched at his lice, the Jew sat calmly by watching it all happen in perfect comfort. It was very clear that Hashem was singling out the Egyptians for punishment as well as raising the Jews up out of love. Now, while it was certainly possible for this to be shown with just ten makkos, the more makkos there were, the more we can point out Hashem’s love for us. With every additional makkah, Hashem was showing His love for Bnei Yisrael that they were not evil like the Egyptians, that they deserved prominence instead of punishment. This is the argument between these Tannaim, and this is why it’s important to know how many there were.
       There is no better night for this discussion than the Seder, the night where we point out the direct hashgachah we receive in this world from Hashem. In fact, the very next paragraph in Magid is the song of Dayeinu, a list of every act of hashgachah from the time we left Mitzrayim until we entered Eretz Yisrael. May we all be blessed with this continued hashgachah, until it brings us to the true Geulah, speedily in our days!

Chag Kosher V’Sameach!

Click here for last year's Dvar Torah & Podcast for Pesach

Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts) 

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