The Brisker Rav, and many other commentators, say that the most difficult Mitzvah of Pesach, is the injunction of our Sages (Pesachim 16:), which is also brought in the Haggadah: ‘In every generation חייב: it is one’s duty to regard himseld as though he personally had gone out of Egypt, as it is written:’You shall tell your son on that day:It was because of this that Hashem did for me when I went out of Egypt’. It was not only our fathers whom Hashem redeeemed from slavery; we too, were redeemed’.
The Abudraham comments that the obligation is to see ourselves as if we are slaves who have now been freed.
Rav Yitzchak Mirsky points to the obvious difficulty in doing so:”it is very difficult for a person, after thousands of years have elapsed, to have this feeling ‘from himself’.
“Therefore”, he says, “there are those who say that the Haggadah, and the story it relates, and its question and answer format, is the means by which we are aroused, and can envisage in our hearts, a clear picture of a slave now being freed”.
Might we not offer a different understanding as to how to fulfill this Mitzvah?
Our starting point is a wondrous Midrash, which is brought by several Rishonim.
Says the Ra’n:’After Moshe Rabbeinu told the people that, after they left Egypt, ‘they would serve Hashem on this mountain’, they asked him: ‘When will this service be?’; he answered:’Fifty days after you leave Egypt’. They began counting the days, as they left Egypt, to that yearned for day’.
Our Sages expound: This ‘service’ was the acceptance of the Torah, on Har Sinai.
If then, we are obliged to regard ourselves as if we are tonight leaving Egypt, should we not, as did our ancestors when they left Egypt, also see our objective as the acceptance of the Torah?
Expounds Rav Chaim Friedlander:”The purpose of Hashem taking us out of the bondage in Egypt, was that we should accept the yoke of Torah and Mitzvot, out of a sense of הכרת הטוב: gratitude, for the miracles He had wrought for us, so that we were able to be free of the yoke of slavery, to Pharoah.
“This sense of a debt of gratitude to Hashem, is essential to achieve the objective of Hashem taking us out of Egypt.
“The Ramban expounds on the first of the Dibrot: ‘I am your G-d who took you out of Egypt, from the house of bondage’: because of this redemption from your slavery to Pharoah, you are now obligated to accept Me as your G-d, and to serve Me, and accept all my Mitzvot”.
Concludes the Rav:”Thus the foundation of all the Mitzvot, is the redemption from slavery in Egypt, and the foundation of the redemption from Egypt- הכרת הטוב: gratitude to Hashem”.
How are we, after all the years that have elapsed, to feel this sense of gratitude? Answers Rav Friedlander:”By knowing all the details of the good that Hashem did. We are therefore commanded to relate the story, not just of the exodus, and the wondrous miracles that Hashem wrought for us.
“This would have sufficed had the objective been ‘only’ to strengthen our emunah. This is why the Haggadah starts with the גנות: the less than illustrious beginnings of our people, starting with ‘being idol worshippers’, and whom ‘An Aramean attempted to destroy’, and, finally, ‘to being slaves to Pharoah in Egypt’.
“Only after we read that Hashem saved us from these dangers, do we read that ‘Hashem took us out of Egypt’, and ‘brought us to His service’.
“The Haggadah relates all of this, because the greater our knowledge of our lowly beginning, the greater is our obligation of gratitude to Hashem. And this, too, is part of our obligation ‘to regard ourselves as if we are coming out of Egypt’, because the more we ‘feel’ the terrible nature of the slavery in Egypt, the more will we be eager to accept the yoke of Hashem with complete submissiveness, which is the foundation of the whole Torah”.
The Ktav Sofer adds:”This is the purport of Hashem’s answer to Moshe Rabbeinu’s question:’How am I to go to Pharoah, and to tell him to release my people?’: answers Hashem: ‘Because I will be with you’.
“In other words, true, you by yourself would not succeed, but nevertheless I am sending you, and this is ‘the sign that I am sending you’, the reason being that had I sent someone with no speech impediment, he may have, with his glib tongue persuaded Pharoah to send the people; by sending you, and Pharoah releasing the people, they will know clearly that their release could only have come from Me- from Hashem.
“And this is the meaning of:’This is to you a sign that I sent you, that when you take the people out of Egypt, they will serve Hashem on this mountain’: because they will know clearly that I took them out of their slavery by miraculous means and performed great chessed for them, and they will therefore feel themselves obligated to accept the Torah, because ‘I took them out of Egypt’”.
A parting thought: Our Sages chose the appellation אדם, to describe he who is obligated ‘to regard himself as if he has left Egypt. This appellation, say our Sages, describes man in his noblest form.
We thank Hashem, in the Haggadah, that He ‘has stood by our fathers and us..in every generation’ our enemies ‘rise against us to annihilate us, but the Holy One rescues us from their hand’.
How could we merit the appellation of אדם, if we were not full of gratitude to Hashem, not only for the redemption from Egypt, but also for His priceless gift of Torah - and what more appropriate way to show our gratitude than by accepting, on our Chag, to ‘re-accept’ the Torah with the same zeal and appreciation ,as our ancestors, on leaving Egypt, did.
לרפואת נועם עליזה בת זהבה רבקה ונחום אלימלך רפאל בן זהבה רבקה, בתוך שאר חולי עמנו.