Chag Sameach! On Monday night we will be taking part in a ‘Sedar night’ reliving the experience of the Exodus out of Egypt.
The Seder Night comprises of many parts; we will be drinking four cups of wine (Pesachim 108a), eating bitter herbs in memory of the bitter times in Egypt, eating Matzah, eating a large meal like aristocrats, reading over the Haggahah, singing exodus anthems and much more!
However a large chunk of the Sedar night is the stage of ‘Maggid’ in which we will be retelling the exodus experience out of Egypt. Here it goes!! If we cast our mind back all the way to Parshat Lech Lecha, in the book of Bereishit, Avraham was informed by Hashem that the Jews were going to be in exile in Egypt for 400 years (Bereishit 15:13).
In fact, these 400 years started off at the time of the birth of Yitzchak (Sanhedrin 92). The Jews finally came into Egypt many years later; after Yaakov experienced various troubles, including, his time working with the trickster Lavan, Esav’s Hatred, the violation of his daughter Deena and the torment over the suspected death of Yosef, The Jews entered the land of Egypt, as seventy souls, dwelling in the land of Goshen (as related in Parshat Vayigash (Bereishit 46:3)). With Yosef being appointed deputy of Egypt, the Hebrew descendants appeared in safe hands, however after the death of Yosef at the age of 110 years (Bereishit 50:22) and subsequently the death of Levi at the age of 137 years (Shemot 6:16), the Hebrews began to assimilate into Egyptian culture, however they kept their names (Shemot Rabbah 1:28) which was one of the reasons why they merited to be redeemed and they also all spoke the same language (Lashon Hakodesh) and wore the same clothing .
The Jews began to multiply at an ever increasing rate that disturbed the Egyptians greatly (Shemot Rabba 1:8), as they feared that if they were to go into war, the Jews would join their enemy and irradicate them.
However many strayed away from G-d, except the Levites, who became famous scholars of Torah. Pharaoh and the Egyptians put the Jews under strenuous back breaking labour (Sota 11), hoping to crush the Hebrew spirit and in turn reduce the awesome birth-rate, however this plan failed as the Jewish women were giving birth to 6 – 12 children at a time (Shemot Rabba 1:8)! Wow!!
Pharaoh’s astrologers foresaw the birth of the future Jewish redeemer, in turn; Pharaoh ordered that all the Jewish babies were to be drowned in the river. Moshe, the future redeemer was placed in a casket in the river, rescued by Pharaohs daughter, Batya (Shemot 2:6).
The moment he was placed in the river, the astrologers saw that the redeemer was dead and they annulled the decree (Sota 12). Moshe grew up in Pharaohs palace and was pained at the treatment of the Jews, he soon however, also had to flee from the Egyptians (Tiferet Zion) as he slayed an Egyptian man, who had violated a Jewish women and attempted to murder another man. However two talebearers, informed on him to Pharaoh, and he faced an unfair death penalty. Moshe fled and soon experienced an awesome sight, a burning bush that was not being devoured (Shemot 3:2). Hashem instructed Moshe to lead the Jewish people out of Egypt; however this would prove to be a patient process (Shemot 3:10), as Moshe suspected the Jews would not trust him (Shabbat 97a).
Moshe performed three wonders to the fellow Hebrews and Egyptians that would prove he was the redeemer; turning a staff into a snake, changing his flesh in to leprosy and converting water into blood (Shemot 4:17), However the Egyptian magicians will later on, through sorcery, repeat these wonders (Sanhedrin 67).
The Jews believed him and he soon appeared in front of Pharaoh, under Hashem's command, no longer fearing his life. Moshe warned Pharaoh of many plagues that was to be fall the Egyptians (Shemot 7:17).
The first five plagues that were visited upon Pharaoh were gruesome, despite him having the free will to let the Jews go free, he refused.
The last five plagues showed Pharaoh's arrogance. By the time the sixth plague arrived Hashem had hardened Pharaohs heart. The Plagues were Blood, frogs, lice, wild animals, pestilence, Boils, Hailstones, Locusts, Darkness and the final one, the slaying of the first born (Shemot 7:14/12:36).
Pharaoh had much to fear with the final plague, the slaying of the first born, with him being a first born himself, his life was at risk. G-d was able to distinguish each Egyptian first born from each household (Bava Metzia 61b). On the night of the slaying of the firstborn, the Jews slaughtered the Egyptian deity, the sheep and roasted it over fire (Pesachim 95a), much to the torment of the Egyptians.
The Jews then all partook in this meal, consuming the ‘Korban Pesach.’ Pharaoh finally set the Jews free; allowing the Egyptians to give them valuable presents on the way out (Berachot 9b), however only few days after letting the Jews go, Pharaoh and the Egyptians had a change of heart and set out to chase the Jews. Pharaoh led the chase, riding his chariot, the Egyptians finally caught up with the Jews by the Red sea (Shemot 14:10).
Moshe put his hands up in prayer, however Hashem wanted to see action, then enter Nachshon Ben Aminidav (Zevachim 9b), who heroically jumped in the sea and split it, the Jews marched through the split sea, with an upraised arm. The Egyptians then followed them into the sea, however the sea soon merged again at the side of the Egyptians, and destructive brutal waves crushed the Egyptians, with all of them reportedly suffering a brutal death (Sanhedrin 39b), this was a measure for measure punishment since they cruelly drowned the Jewish babies in Egypt (Sota 11a).
The Jews were escorted by the ‘Clouds of glory’ and soon sang the famous prophetic song ‘Az Yashir’ all experiencing awesome prophecy (Pesachim 117a/ Shemot 15:1). They then marched into the wilderness, only days later they received the Torah as related in Parshat Yitro.
The Sedar night is a time for the children to ask loads of questions about the exodus and keep them interested throughout the entire night, by telling them the story of the Exodus (Pesachim 115/116). We will be reciting Hallel, songs of praise for Hashem. We will be eating a lot of Matzah, including, the Afikoman. However it is a Mitzvah to be in a happy mood and actually get into the state of mind (Pesachim 109a), that we are actually leaving Egypt!! In Israel we have one Seder night and in countries outside of Israel there are two Seder nights on consecutive nights.
Hope you all have a fantastic Pesach! Chag Sameach! This Dvar Torah is dedicate to Harav Yaakov Chai Ben Margalit, a great Rabbi in Israel who is very ill, please everyone pray for him.