The Exodus from Egypt is a central theme in Torah Judaism. It is one of the main foundations of our service of G-d, as the verse states: “I am Hashem your G-d who brought you out of Egypt to be your G-d…” (Numbers 15:41). Those who were alive in that generation who experienced the miraculous events of The Exodus saw G-d’s providence, and His vengeance upon the Egyptians. They felt His presence, and knew beyond any doubt that there is a Creator of the universe who interests Himself in and has involvement in their individual lives.
On the other hand, subsequent generations have no first-hand recollection of experiencing The Exodus from Egypt. We must depend on the faithful recounting of the experience from the previous generations, and of course the Torah’s account of the events which our forefathers lived through. To this end the Torah actually directs us to recount the events of The Exodus to our children. “And in the future, when your children will ask you, saying ‘what is this?’ you should reply ‘G-d brought us out from Egypt with a strong hand from the house of servitude, etc.’.” (Exodus 13:14) We actually designate the first night(s) of the Holiday of Passover to recount and relive the events of The Exodus.
The Yalkut Lekach Tov quotes the Alter from Kelm who says that recounting the events is meant to plant a seed. Any given seed started out inside a fully grown, mature fruit, which grew on a tree, which originally started as a seed that had been planted in the ground. The new seed is the potential for all subsequent fruits and seeds that will grow from it.
When G-d brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt, He did it with great publicity in order to plant knowledge of G-d and His providence in their hearts. It was indeed very similar to planting – in the heart of the nation. Even though the “plant” eventually dies, and similarly did the actual generation with their experiential recollection of the Exodus, the “seed,” – the knowledge – is still there. A seed germinates and reactivates itself when nurtured in the proper environment. So too, reviewing and rethinking the events of the Exodus causes the “seed” to germinate and begin anew the process of bearing the “fruit” of this profound knowledge of our continuing historical relationship with G-d.
I believe that this is really the foundation of good teaching in general, and good parenting as well. When the expectation of results from subsequent generations manifests itself through pressure and intimidation, anger and exasperation, only empty actions result. The seed we hope to plant will not be planted in this way, and consequently, no fruit which bears the seeds we hope for in the future.The Torah teaches us that we must have strong beliefs, and demonstrate confidence in them. We should keep in mind that we are a link in a historical chain, and behave accordingly. We should convey expectations in a palatable way, and know that we are always planting seeds, and not always expect immediate results. Seeds are usually small, but redwoods grow from seeds. We should pay good mind to what seeds we are truly planting, and what fruit we should expect to reap from them. We are the “farmers” of the future generations. The “fruits” we reap depend on us.
Text Copyright © 2002 Rabbi Dovid Green and Project Genesis, Inc.