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Bo - And We Were There
By Rabbi Yisroel Ciner

This week's parsha, Bo, which tells of the exodus from Mitzrayim {Egypt}, instructs us as to how the holiday of Pesach {Passover} should be observed each year. "And you shall tell your son on that day saying: 'For the sake of this (the observance of the Pesach sacrifice, matzo and bitter herbs) Hashem did (all the miracles) for me when He took me out of Mitzrayim'. [13:8]"

This is a concept that arises throughout the fulfillment of the Pesach holiday. We are obligated to feel that we ourselves were taken out of Mitzrayim. We don't simply commemorate this incredible event that occurred­we llive it and try to re-experience it.

The Talmud [Pesachim 116:] teaches this as an actual obligation: In each and every generation one is obligated to feel as if he himself left Mitzrayim. This is derived from the abovementioned passuk {verse}. This works its way into the Haggadah when we pronounce that it wasn't just our ancestors that were redeemed by Hashem but rather, we were redeemed.

This seems to be a pretty tall order. How can we, people born in the 1900's, feel that we ourselves were enslaved and subsequently redeemed from that slavery?

Rav Shimon Shwab zt"l offers a beautiful explanation.

The human body is comprised of cells. These cells multiply by splitting a certain number of times and then die. As such, we are almost completely different than we were at an earlier point in our lives. Hardly any part of our body is the same as when we were younger. Those cells have died and have been replaced. We are in fact totally new beings.

Nevertheless, in a conversation with one of my classes today about the foolish decisions that young people sometimes make, I showed them my pinky that is forever bent. I had broken it playing basketball in eighth grade and a splint was put on. The problem was that I had a big game scheduled for that Sunday and the ball kept slipping off the side of my hand. Having been an enterprising young man, I bent my metal splint so it would fit perfectly around the ball and I was thus able to play my Sunday game. I showed my class how my pinky is now forever bent to fit around a basketball. I showed them the finger I had broken, even though, as we said before, hardly a single cell of the finger I showed them was the same as when I had broken my finger.

That is the way we view a body. Even though it is constantly changing, we view its parts as though they haven't changed.

Rabbi Shwab writes that the same applies to the 'body' of the Jewish nation. The life of this body extends from the time we left Mitzrayim until the arrival of the Moshiach {Messiah}. Throughout the generations, older 'cells' die and newer ones comprise this 'body,' but they are all the same body.

As such, we can say that we were there when we left Mitzrayim. We are a part of that very same body that experienced that earth-shattering event.

As with many things in life, this is an incredible gift that carries along with it a tremendous responsibility. We are literally a part of the nation that was miraculously taken out of Egypt and will be ultimately redeemed by the Moshiach, and therefore must live our lives in a way that is befitting such a nation.

This Thursday is the yahrtzeit {year anniversary of the passing} of my father, Dr. Oscar Ciner, Asher Chaim ben Tzvi, z"l. My siblings and I also have had an incredible gift that carries with it a tremendous responsibility. We've had warm, loving guidance as to how one's life should be lived. We've had the year to try to internalize that which we've learned from him. We hope to now live our lives in a way that's befitting for the children of such a man.

Good Shabbos,

Yisroel Ciner

These thoughts are dedicated to the merit and memory of my father, Asher Chaim ben Tzvi, z"l. TNZB"H

Copyright © 2002 by Rabbi Yisroel Ciner and Project Genesis, Inc.



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