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Friday, January 31

The Weekly Shtikle - Bo

Moshe tells B'nei Yisrael (12:26‑27), "And it shall be that when your children say to you...and the people bowed." Rashi, quoting the Mechilta, states that they bowed in appreciation of three things: the forthcoming exodus, the eventual entrance into Eretz Yisrael and the kids they were going to have. What is bothersome about this Rashi is that in the Hagaddah, we refer to this passage when discussing the four sons. But it is the wicked son who makes this statement! Why then were B'nei Yisrael bowing in appreciation of being told of the wicked sons they were going to have?


The sefer Rashi HaShalem writes in the name of Tosafos HaShalem that the designation of this passage as the one referring to the wicked son comes only in comparison to the other three passages. But this passage, standing alone, does not insinuate wicked children. So, being that the other three passages had not yet been related, they had what to appreciate from this passage. This explanation teaches us a very special lesson in chinuch. Indeed, as we see in the Hagaddah, it is important to be aware of the outside influences to guard and protect our children from the negative influences and guide them along the proper path. However, when it comes to the appreciation we have of and for our children, it is not a time to be comparing to other children. Our children must be appreciated for who they are and we must show appreciation to HaShem for the gift of children regardless.


What I think might be the simple, pshat answer, though, is that there is indeed a machlokes in the Mechilta on the previous pasuk. One opinion is that is referring to the wicked son but one is that it is referring to sons in general. This passage quoted by Rashi seems to be only according to that second opinion.


Or perhaps there is even a deeper message here – similar, but slightly different than what was expressed above. We are given many gifts from HaShem. Very often, things do not necessarily go as we would like. But that should always be seen as a challenge, more than a setback and in no way is that a reason not express gratitude to HaShem for those gifts. For example, we thank HaShem for the gift of Eretz Yisroel. With the many wars and constant threats of terrorism from all directions, there have certainly been many trials and tribulations associated with this gift. But that should not get in the way of our expressions of gratitude towards HaShem. Likewise, raising children is an endeavour that is constantly full of challenges even with the most angelic and righteous children, how much more so with ones that are less so. But they are a gift either way and B'nei Yisrael show us here that we must express gratitude for this gift, no matter what challenges it may bring.


Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

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