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Tuesday, April 14

The Weekly Shtikle - Shevi'i Shel Pesach

The seventh day of Pesach fits perfectly into the scheme of the chag. We begin by celebrating the grand miracles of the actual exodus from Mitzrayim and we end by celebrating the miracles at Yam Suf. However, there is a bigger picture. Our counting of Sefiras HaOmer beginning on the second day of Pesach ties Pesach to Shavuos such that the 50-day period constitutes one long chag celebrating Yetzias Mitzrayim and the purification process which culminated in Matan Torah. How does Shvi'i shel Pesach fit in to this big picture? It is not Yom Tov of itself like Shemini Atzeres but it is a Yom Tov nevertheless. What was the necessity of the events that transpired at Yam Suf and what part do they play in the progression towards Matan Torah?

In parshas Vayeira we have discussed the purpose of the warning to Lot and his family not to look behind them when they fled Sedom and why his wife became a pillar of salt when she did so. It was not enough to leave Sedom. They had to leave and never look back. Looking back upon the destruction indicated Lot's wife's inability to truly remove herself from her environment.

We find that there was a similar problem with certain factions in B'nei Yisroel who still thought they were better off in Mitzrayim. This is made evident by the arguments presented as the Egyptians approached. B'nei Yisroel had physically left Mitzrayim but their past was still fresh in their minds, to the point that they were not convinced that they were currently in a better situation.

There is apparently excessive emphasis put on the destruction of the Eqyptians at Yam Suf. Moshe declares (14:13) "as you have seen Mitzrayim today, you will cease to see them ever again." And as the Midrash recalls, the dead Egyptians were washed ashore to make it clear to B'nei Yisroel that they had not survived the ordeal. It was seemingly insufficient for B'nei Yisroel to merely escape the clutches of the Egyptians to safety on the other side of the sea. The Egyptian army needed to be destroyed and B'nei Yisroel needed to bear witness to their destruction. Perhaps this was all necessary as a means of closing the chapter of Mitzrayim in our history. We left a nation which had been ravaged by the ten plagues and brought to its knees. But it was still a viable nation, one worth returning to if the situation were to necessitate it. But the complete decemation of the army at Yam Suf dealt the finally deathly blow, as if to say, "the Mitzrayim you once knew is no longer and there is no going back."

In order for us to properly and wholeheartedly look to the future, it was necessary for us to completely detach ourselves from the past, to know that we may never look back and must only look forward. This allowed us to spend the remaining days to build and to grow as we approach Matan Torah.

Have a good Yom Tov!

Eliezer Bulka


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