Friday, March 22, 2013

Searching for the Historical Pharoah: Is it Obligatory?

5 Towns JewishTimes  By Rabbi Yair Hoffman

The Gemorah in Psachim (116b) informs us that, in each generation, we are obligated to view ourselves as if we actually left Mitzrayim. Indeed, in Michtav MeEliyahu, Rav Dessler writes that since time does not progress linearly, but rather travels in a carousel like circle, the 15th of Nissan of the year 2448 is actually the very same 15th of Nissan of our own year now.

This is one of our obligations on the night of Pesach. This being the case, that halachically we must view ourselves as actually leaving Mitzrayim, in our mind’s eye we should envision and picture the escape.

Let’s give it a try. Before us, standing at the water’s edge about to enter it, stands Nachshon Ben Aminadav. Behind us, on a chariot, Pharoah is leading his hordes of well-trained soldiers. They are rapidly catching up. Yes, it is Pharoah – the short, obnoxious leader of the Egyptians that dared to present himself as a god.

But who exactly was he? What was his name? What do we know about him? [...]

The halacha of envisioning us being there is not just theoretical. It involves physical action as well. The Rambam writes (Hilchos Chometz UhMatzah 7:6) based upon the verse in Dvarim 5, “And you shall remember that you were a slave in Mitzrayim” as follows: “In other words, as if you yourself were a slave and you left to freedom and you were redeemed.” The juxtaposition of this Rambam with the next halacha gives us remarkable insight. The Rambam writes, “Therefore when a person eats and drinks on this night he must lean in the manner of free men.” In other words, it seems that the obligation of leaning is a manifestation of this biblical obligation of imagining and visioning that it was actually us. So this Pesach let us go through the extra effort of picturing it with even more detail. A short, ugly Pharoah named Adikam Ahuz chasing us in a chariot.

1 comment :

  1. According to the Maharal the Gemara's description of a dwarf Pharaoh refers to his spiritual essence and not his physical appearance.


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