The Eternal Impact of the Exodus
by Rabbi Yehudah Prero
"Toschav V' Sachir Lo Yo'chal bo." "A foreigner and a hired servant shall
not eat of it (Shmos 12: 45)." From this verse, the Rambam (Maimonides)
learns that it is forbidden to feed a non-Jew any portion of the Korbon
Pesach, the Pesach offering. This prohibition, the commentators explain, is
obviously on the Jew that he is prohibited froom feeding as the Torah
does not set forth commandments for non-Jewws. The Torah (Shmos 12:43)
mentions a similar prohibition "ben neichar lo yo'chal bo," from which we
learn that there is a prohibition on feeding an apostate the Korbon. This
later teaching presents a difficulty. While the Torah clearly does not
establish commandments for non-Jews, and therefore the words "lo yochal
bo," "shall not eat from it," refer to the prohibition of feeding
nnon-Jews, an apostate, while non-believing, is still a Jew. Yet, according
to the Rambam, the prohibition by an apostate is feeding him the Korbon.
Why, if the Torah is applicable to all Jews, is the verse to be read in
this way that is clearly outside of the simple meaning?
The Rambam (Hil. Melachim 9:1) writes that originally, Adam was given six
commandments. Then, when Avraham came, he was given the commandments of
circumcision and he prayed Shacharis the morning prayer. The Rambam
continues this chain throough the forefathers, and arrives at Amram, the
father of Moshe. In Egypt, Amram was given other commandments, until Moshe
arrived, and though him, the entire Torah was completed. Rav Yitzchok
Hutner zt"l explains that there should really be no difference in status
between the commandments Amram and Moshe received. Both of them received
commandments in Egypt. However, only those told to Moshe had the
imprimatur; they were the commandments that "completed the Torah." Why this
difference in distinction?
Through Moshe being given commandments in Egypt, the foundation was set for
the exodus. The people in Egypt started their metamorphosis from children
of Yaakov to the nation of Israel. The giving of the commandments to Moshe
enabled the people to emerge from the exodus as a united nation, and they
are therefore referred to as "those that completed the Torah." There is an
inextricable connection between the commandments given to Moshe and to the
departure from Egypt, and this bond, of course, has eternal effects.
If a person, in the days when the Korbon Pesach was offered, violated the
commandments concerning its consumption, he was liable for the punishment
of Kares, death at a young age. However, this was not true the first year
the offering was brought in Egypt. We know that in thhat year, the
"Mashchis," the "destroyer," that the Torah (Shmos 12:23) speaks about,
smote all who did not bring the offering. Therefore, no punishment of Kares
was needed. Any apostates in Egypt never made it out, thanks to the
Destroyer. Yet, we know that the commandments given to Moshe have a bond to
the exodus, and therefore had to have been applicable to those that left
Egypt. The prohibition relating to an apostate's consumption, therefore,
has to relate to someone who indeed left. It is for this reason, Rav Hutner
says, that the Rambam learned that the prohibition vis a vis an apostate is
on feeding an apostate the offering, not on the apostate himself eating.
This explanation does not merely serve to elucidate adifficulty in the
logical analysis of a law. It illustrates that all we do on Pesach not
eating chometz, eating matzo,, reclining at the Seder, etc. relates
directly back to a pivotal mmoment in our nation's history. The Exodus is
of such primary importance to the formation of the nation of Israel that
the commemorations we have of that time reflect the actualities of that
time. If we are capable of truly feeling like we have departed from Egypt
through our dedication to performing these commandments and rituals to
their proper perfection, we have then fulfilled the words found in the
Hagadah In every generation, a pperson is obligated to feel as if he left
For questions, comments, and topic requests, please write to Rabbi Yehudah Prero.
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