Rashi introduces this parashah with the statement that just as
man was created after all of the animals, so the laws pertaining
to man are discussed (in this and future parashot) after the laws
of the animals (which were discussed in last week's parashah and
those preceding it.)
R' Shlomo Yosef Zevin z"l (1890-1978; editor of the
Encyclopedia Talmudit) notes that there are two possible reasons
for why the last element in a list might hold that place. The
last thing may be the "end," and everything preceding it, the
means to that end. Alternatively, a thing may be the last on a
list because it is incomplete without what came before.
Chazal give two reasons why man was created last in the order
of creation. If man acts properly, we say to him, "The entire
world was created before you so that everything would be ready
for you when you arrived on the scene." In this case, man is the
"end" and all other creations are the tools which serve man.
On the other hand, if a person is not worthy, we say to him,
"Even the puny gnat was created before you." In such a case we
may say that man is incomplete; only if he learns humility from
the gnat that came before him does he redeem and "complete"
himself. (Latorah U'lemoadim)
"She shall bring a sheep within its first year for an olah-
offering, and a young dove or a turtledove for a sin-
offering . . ." (12:6)
"But if she cannot afford a sheep, then she shall take two
turtledoves or two young doves, one for an olah-offering and
one for a sin-offering[.]" (12:8)
R' Yaakov "Ba'al Ha'turim" (14th century) observes that the
Torah ordinarily mentions turtledoves before doves (as in the
second verse quoted above). Why is the first verse quoted above
In most cases (again, as in the second verse) a bird sacrifice
consists of two birds. However, when a person brings only one
bird (as in the first verse), one should preferably not bring a
turtledove because that species of bird mates for life and mourns
for its mate when it dies. Therefore, the turtledove is
mentioned last in that verse. (On the other hand, when one
brings two and this concern does not exist, one should bring
turtledoves because they are bigger than doves.)
(Ba'al Ha'turim, as elaborated upon in Shai La'Torah)
"Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains; Your
judgments are like the vast deep waters." (Tehilim 36:7)
The gemara (Erachin 8b) states that the first part of this
verse refers to tzara'at which afflicts a human, while the second
part refers to tzara'at which afflicts houses. Rashi (in his
commentary there) explains that G-d's kindness is more evident in
the former type of tzara'at than in the latter. The reason is
that the period of "hesger" (the initial quarantine before a
final "diagnosis" is made and a full quarantine begins) is only
one week for a human but is three weeks for a house.
Is it then good that the hesger period ends and the full
quarantine begins? asks R' Isaac Sher z"l (Slobodka rosh yeshiva;
died 1952). Furthermore, of all the acts of kindness that Hashem
does for us, why is tzara'at singled out as evidence of G-d's
"righteousness [which] is like the mighty mountains"?
R' Sher answers: when a person speaks lashon hara and is
stricken with tzara'at, this demonstrates two things. On the one
hand, it demonstrates that Hashem loves every Jew and defends his
honor. Indeed, this is why lashon hara is prohibited. Every
individual is beloved to Hashem like a child, and just as a
father does not approve when someone speaks ill of his child, so
G-d does not approve when someone speaks ill of His "child."
On the other hand, the fact that a person is stricken with
tzara'at demonstrates Hashem's closeness to that person himself.
Today, no one gets tzara'at because we no longer are close enough
to Hashem that we can expect such a clear sign of His displeasure
with us. It is in this sense that tzara'at is a sign of G-d's
greatness and His kindness, for He lets us now when we have
fallen so that we can repent. This is also why a shorter period
of hesger is a greater kindness; the person to whom Hashem shows
His displeasure sooner is presumably closer to Hashem.
(Lekket Sichot Mussar I p. 246)
"In every generation, one is obliged to regard himself as
though he himself had actually gone out from Egypt."
(From the Pesach Haggadah)
R' Avraham Shaag z"l (1801-1876; Hungary and Yerushalayim;
rebbe of R' Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld z"l) explained in his Shabbat
Hagadol derashah in 5622/1862:
One must regard himself as if he is on a continual journey out
of Egypt. After all, the Exodus was supposed to be the Final
Redemption, except that our ancestor's "rebelled under the
chuppah," i.e., they sinned in the desert. Thus, as long as the
Final Redemption has not taken place, the Exodus is not over.
In this light, says R' Shaag, we can obtain a new understanding
of the wise son's question and the haggadah's answer to him. The
wise son asks: "What are the testimonies, statutes and laws that
Hashem our G-d has commanded you?" What do we answer him? "One
may not eat anything after eating the Pesach sacrifice."
The wise son's question is as follows: Certainly the mitzvot
are eternal. They will be performed even after the Final
Redemption occurs and they must be relevant to that time as well.
Yet, presumably, we will no longer remember the Exodus after the
Final Redemption because the miracles of the Final Redemption
will far surpass the miracles of the Exodus. (Precisely this
issue is discussed earlier in the haggadah in the paragraph
beginning "Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah said . . .") What role does
the Korban Pesach play in the future?
We answer him: One may not eat anything after eating the Pesach
sacrifice. Rather, halachah requires us to eat the Korban Pesach
after the meal, when we are satiated. This symbolizes that the
Exodus, which the Pesach sacrifice represents, will not be
complete until we are satiated with the miracles of the Final
The Talmud Yerushalmi (Pesachim Ch. 2) states that the ideal
maror is the vegetable known as "chazeret." Just as the chazeret
starts out sweet but becomes bitter as it grows, so it was for
our ancestors in Egypt. First it says (Bereishit 47:6), "In the
best part of Egypt settle your father and your brothers." Later
it says (Shemot 1:14), "They embittered their lives . . ."
Why is it important to recall this aspect of our stay in
Egypt? asks R' Eliyahu Hakohen z"l (the "Shevet Mussar"; Izmir,
Turkey; died 1729). He answers that one's gratitude at being
rescued from suffering is significantly greater if he once knew
wealth and happiness than if he had suffered all his life. To
remind ourselves of what we once had, we use chazeret for maror.
With this is mind, we can understand a perplexing verse in
Eichah (1:11): "Look, Hashem, and behold what a glutton I was."
Is this a reason why Hashem should redeem us? Yes, answers R'
Eliyahu, for it makes our suffering in exile that much more
(Aggadat Eliyahu: Pesachim)
A Pesach Parable
We say in the Haggadah: "If He had drowned our oppressors in
[the Sea], but had not provided for our needs in the wilderness
for 40 years, it would have sufficed for us." Nevertheless, says
R' Abdallah Somech z"l (1813-1889; Baghdad; teacher of the "Ben
Ish Chai"), the fact that Hashem did provide for our needs in the
wilderness for 40 years demonstrates His intentions in redeeming
us from Egypt. He explains:
Once a nobleman's son was kidnapped by a duke and held hostage
in the dungeon of the latter's manor. The king sent the duke a
warning to release the boy, but the duke refused. Moreover, the
duke sent a belligerent message back to the king.
The king was incensed and he sent a battalion of troops to
destroy the duke's home and free the nobleman's son. And so it
was. People wondered, however, "Did the king do this because he
was concerned about his friend's son or because he was angry at
the duke?" How could they tell? If the king's troops destroyed
the duke's house and left the former prisoner on his own, then it
would be apparent that the king's primary concern was the duke's
disrespect. On the other hand, if the king's soldiers carried
the boy home triumphantly and also brought him to the king's
palace, then all would know that the king was interested in the
When Hashem first sent Moshe to Pharaoh, Pharaoh responded,
"Who is Hashem that I should heed His voice?" As Chazal
understand it, Pharaoh was asking, "Why hasn't Hashem sent me
gifts like other foreign kings do?"
Later, when Hashem brought about the ten plagues, one could
legitimately wonder whether Hashem's true motivation was
Pharaoh's disrespect or the welfare of the Jewish people.
However, the fact that Hashem did provide for our needs in the
wilderness for 40 years demonstrates that His real interest was
(Quoted in Haggadah Shel Pesach Sha'arei Armon p. 129)
Danny and Yonina Kaplan and family
in honor of David's engagement
to Sonya Hadlington
(both of Toronto, Canada)