Pessach 5762 – Gilayon #232
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I ADJURE YOU, O
MAIDENS OF JERUSALEM, BY GAZELLES OR BY HINDS OF THE FIELD: DO NOT WAKE OR
ROUSE LOVE UNTIL IT PLEASE!
(Song of Songs 2:7)
The Pledge of Love, the Redemption from Egypt, and
the Future Redemption
"I adjure you, O
maidens of Yerushalayim" – What shall you tell him? That I am faint with love. Just as this
sufferer awaits healing, so the generation in Egypt awaits redemption.
HaShirim Rabba 5)
"I adjure you, O
maidens of Yerushalayim… love" – Which is the love? It is Yerushalayim; The Holy One, Blessed Be He,
said to Israel: You built the Temple, and it was destroyed; you shall not
rebuild until you hear a voice from heaven, in fulfillment of that which is
written "When a flag is raised in the hills, take note; when a ram's
horn is blown, give heed!" (Isaiah 18:3)
"By gazelles or by
hinds of the field" – Should you rebel against the kingdoms, your
blood shall be as that of the gazelle and the hind" (Shir Hashirim Zuta, 2) Said Rabbi Yosi bar Haninna: Why three
adjurations [why does the phrase "I adjure you" appear three times in
the Song of Songs]? One – The Holy One, Blessed Be He, adjured Israel not to
ascend the wall; one – He adjured Israel not to rebel against the nations; one
– The Holy One, Blessed Be He, adjured the nations not to enslave Israel too
Rabbi Levi said: Why these six
adjurations [if we count the double phrase "Do not wake or rouse"]?
Three – as enumerated above; the others – not to reveal the end, not to force
the end, and not to reveal the secret of intercalation.
(Yalkut Shimony, Shir Hashirim 2, 981)
A KOSHER AND HAPPY
PESACH TO OUR READERS AND TO THE ENTIRE HOUSE OF ISRAEL
MAY WE, IN THE FESTIVAL OF OUR FREEDOM,
MERIT LIBERATION FROM SLAVERY,
THAT WE ABLE TO THANK GOD
FOR OUR REDEMPTION AND OUR SALVATION
GENERATION ONE MUST LOOK AT HIMSELF…"
of the central passages which we will recite on Seder night, taken from Mishna
Pesahim (10:5), reads: "In every
generation one must regard himself as though he had gone out of Egypt".
Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Hametz and Matzah
7:8), following this mishna, rules as follows:
"In every generation, one must show
himself as though he himself has just exited the slavery of Egypt as is
written "And He took us out of there…" (Devarim 6:23). Regarding this, the Torah
commanded "Remember that you were a slave" (Devarim
5:14; ibid., 15:15; ibid., 16:12; ibid., 24:18; ibid., 24:22), meaning,
as if you yourself were a slave, and went out to freedom and were redeemed."
From the mishna and the subsequent ruling of
the Rambam, we learn that the mitzvah of relating the story of the exodus from
Egypt has a goal: it is to sense anew every year the experience of the
liberation, of the passage from slavery to freedom.
The Talmud (Bavli, Pesahim 116a) recounts
an interesting conversation between Rav Nahman and his servant, Darro:
Said Rav Nahman to his servant Darro: "A
slave who is freed by his master, who gives him gold and silver, what must he
say to him?" He replied: "He must thank and praise his master."
He said to him: "If so, you have released us from the obligation of
reciting the "Ma Nishatana" questions." He began to recite "Avadim
Imbuing this story with actual and relevant
significance presents a serious challenge. True, we are commanded to remember
the exodus from Egypt at frequent intervals (in the Shabbat Kiddush, in the
Tephillin parashiyot, in the Shema, in the prohibition against cheating the
stranger, etc.), but the commandment "to relate" applies only on the
evening of the 15th of Nissan – "when matza and the bitter
herbs lie before you" – and it differs in essence from the mitzvah of
then, is the relevant significance of the Exodus narrative?
reading of the entire above-mentioned Mishna reveals two controversies:
Regarding the recitation of the Hallel on Seder eve,
before the eating of the matzah, marror, and the meal, Bet Shammai says: Until
what point does he recite? Until "the mother of the sons rejoices"
(i.e., until the end of the first chapter). Bet Hillel disagrees: Until "water
from the rock" (i.e., the end of the second chapter). There are
different explanations of this controversy, but the Yerushalmi explains that
Bet Shammai is stringent regarding remembrance of the exodus from Egypt
(appearing in the second chapter – "As the Children of Israel left
Egypt") after midnight, time of the beginning of the redemption; Bet
Hillel opines that there is no need to wait for midnight, because in any case
the exodus from Egypt began only in the morning.
Rabbi Tarphon is of the opinion that the recitation of
the Hallel ends with "who redeemed us and redeemed our fathers" – sans
any concluding benediction. He disagrees with Rabbi Akiva , who adds the
passage relating to the future "So, may our God and God of our fathers
bring us to other festivals and appointed times which approach us, in peace,
rejoicing in the building of your city, and delighting in your service, and
that we shall eat of the offerings and of the paschal sacrifice…"
concluding with the benediction: "Blessed are you, God, who redeemed
The Tosafists explain Rabbi Tarphon's
position, saying that it was his custom to be sparing with requests.
Here, too, he makes do with thanks for that which already happened, the
redemption which already occurred. Rabbi Akiva was wont to request at length,
and therefore he concludes the Hallel with a request relating to the future geula.
Rabbi Tarphon was careful, in certain
instances, to rule in conformity with Bet Shammai (Mishna
Berachot 1:3), because he had studied in his academy. Therefore one can
find a common denominator between the two controversies:
Bet Shammai's view, reliving the past experience demands that we wait until
that hour when the event occurred. Perhaps we can compare Bet Shammai's
position in this case to his stand on the lighting of the Hanukkah candles
(lighting less each night). His religious consciousness is based upon that
which has already occurred and which is occurring now (past and present). But
according to Rabbi Akiva, it is permissible to praise and laud for a past geula,
even if the exact hour in which it occurred has not arrived.
Tarphon's religious consciousness, too, relates to that which has already
happened and to the current significance of that event, but his religious
consciousness does not include the future. Rabbi Akiva, however, the "optimistic"
believer, relates to prophecy due to materialize as though it had already
materialized (See the story of the fox which emerges from the Holy of Holies,
at the conclusion of Tractate Makkot).
Rambam rules that we must tell the story of
the exodus and to experience in our lives, here and now, the experience of
liberation, but together with this – in his version of Hagaddah – he rules like
Rabbi Akiva (and Bet Hillel), integrating the request expressing our
anticipation for the future geula into the benediction which concludes
the first portion of the Hallel.
awareness based on memory of the past and upon internalization of the moral
messages which flow from this memory, can create an attitude of empathy towards
all who are enslaved, just as we were in Egypt. But when this awareness does
not include an aspect of hope for, and belief in, a better world, it may result
in despair and depression.
in his commentary on the Hagaddah, observes that religious consciousness based
on faith in the future, can infuse hope into situations in which we undergo
again the experience of slavery. This was also the greatness of Rabbi Akiva,
who, in a period of destruction, merited hearing his despairing friends say "Akiva,
you have comforted us." Occasionally, however – and this happened to Rabbi
Akiva – there exists the danger that an overabundance of anticipation of the geula,
will result in dechikat ha'ketz ("forcing the end"), in
messianic interpretation of historic events. Along with this danger, there
exists another danger, no less serious than the first: the belief that our
redemption can be attained at the expense of others.
Only proper balance between the two
consciousnesses can advance us, some day, to the complete geula. In the words of the
of Kings 12:7-8)
7. The prophets and the Sages yearned for the
days of the Messiah not that they may rule over all the world, and not that the
have dominion over the nations, and not that the nations exalt us, and not in
order to eat and drink and be merry: but in order that we be free for the Torah
and its wisdom, and they will have neither oppressor nor one to keep from study
of Torah, but so that they merit life of the world to come, as we explained in
the Laws of Repentance.
At that time, there will be neither hunger nor war nor jealousy and competition
– there will be an abundance of goodness, and all delicacies will be as
commonplace as dust. The world will be engaged only in the knowledge of God.
Therefore will there be great wise men, and those who know the deep and hidden
knowledge; they will achieve knowledge of their creator according to human
ability, as is written "For
the world will be full of the knowledge of God, like the waters which cover the
Pinhas Leiser, editor of Shabbat Shalom, is a psychologist
THE EDITOR'S DESK:
In The Margins Of The Debate On Shammai Leibowitz's
Letter (Shabbat Shalom, Tetsaveh-Zachor)
of Shammai Leibowitz's letter in Issue no. 227 was an exceptional step on our
part. Our policy is not to deal with clearly political issues; we try as much
as possible – often in contrast to what is acceptable in other "ideological"
papers – not to mix Torah with politics.
We published the letter, despite its loaded
content and its political context, and despite the fact that it does not
express our position, for the reasons we mentioned in our prefatory note.
It is important that the discussion over the moral price being paid for rule
over another nation take place; despite the difficult situation in which we are
found, we cannot – as a religious public – shut our eyes and ignore the moral
aspects of the terrible blood feud. This with no connection to the question of
responsibility for the outbreak of the conflict or preferred political solution.
We published the letter believing that it is
important to deal not with refusal itself – which is a symptom – but with the
roots of the ordeal in which our soldiers find themselves when they are ordered
to confront a civilian population. We received many reactions, and, in earlier
issues, we published some of them. The overwhelming majority represent the
sentiments prevalent among our readers who disagree with the content of the
A large proportion of those who expressed their
reactions related to the question of the legitimacy of publishing the
letter – even within the movement there were reservations about it – others
took issue with its content. The feedback we received is most important
to us; we feel it is important not to forgo the dialogue, even when the topic
is a loaded and complex issue, and even when it seems that there is in this
case – as expressed by some readers – "a crossing of red lines."
On the other hand, many writers presented
positions rejecting refusal as a legitimate expression of the coping with the
moral difficulty deriving from our rule over another people. These writers do
not ignore the difficulties attendant on the situation in which we are found,
but they suggest other ways, in their eyes more proper, which seek the balance
between commitment to "Do not stand by while your brother's blood is
being spilt," and the supreme moral edict which obliges us to make a
distinction between the righteous and the sinner – as with "And Yaakov
was fearful and he was distressed: – lest he be killed or lest he kill
others." Other writers reacted to the connection between Parashat Zachor
and the publication of the letter, and hyperbolized with comparisons to Amalek,
whose memory we are commanded to eradicate in every generation. Heaven forbid
that we make sweeping comparisons to another nation in our times. The
tremendous difficulty in these trying times – when people are killed and
wounded daily – to overcome feelings of revenge, presents an important moral
challenge; the alternative is to turn thi severe political conflict into a
jihad which we must not be drawn into. As expressed in the wonderful words of
Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, the mitzvah to wipe out the memory of Amalek today
is fulfilled by the reading of Parashat Zachor and the Megilla, so that "Amalekism"
not infect us. Our being drawn to disregard for human life will be a victory
for Amalek, heaven forbid.
We cannot shut our ears to the distress which
evolves from basic moral sensitivities. In the words of HaRav Kook, zt"l (Orot Hatorah 69-71):
"Natural morality, in all the depth of
its glory and power, must be locked into the soul and must be a seedbed for
those great influences which derive from the power of Torah. All words of
Torah must be preceded by derekh eretz. That which conforms to intelligence
and natural honesty, must move on the straight path, in the inclinations of the
heart and the agreement of the pure will ingrained in man. The Torah was given
to Israel in order that the gates of light be brighter, wider, holier, than the
gates of light of the natural understanding and of the spirit of natural
morality of man – that these gates be open to us, and through us, to the entire
world. If we shut our ears to the simple voice of God which calls with force via
all the gates of the natural light which are possessed by every man, because we
think that we will find the light of the Torah in a Torah torn away from the
light of life spread throughout the world, in man's inner being and soul in its
glory, then we do not understand the value of Torah, and this is what the Torah
refers to by "people foolish and not
put it simply: One cannot be a Jew who observes Torah and Miztvot without first
of all being a moral person.
Pinchas Leiser, Editor
blessings to our member, Professor Uriel Simon, a founder of OzVeshalom and
Netivot Shalom, and long-time member of the the Directorate, on the
occasion of the publication of his book "Bakesh Shalom Veradefeyhu" –
"Seek Peace and Pursue It" – Current Issues Seen Through The Prism Of
The Bible, The Bible Seen In The Light Of Current Issues, in the series "Judaism
Here and Now" published by Yedioth Aharonot.
Editorial Board of Shabbat Shalom
Oz Veshalom – Netivot Shalom
The Executive, the Moetza, and the
Editorial Board: Pinchas Leiser (Editor), Miriam Fine (Coordinator), Itzhak
Frankenthal and Dr. Menachem Klein
Translation: Kadish Goldberg
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