Larchmont Temple Chevra Torah

Questioning faith in the parsha


Jan. 8, 2011/3 Sh’vat 5771
Modern Author: Alfred Kazin
“A Walker in the City”

REMEZ…Dialogue of the Centuries—Reclaiming Culture/Connection

v.14  This day shall be to you one of remembrance: you shall celebrate it as a Festival to the Lord throughout the ages….

RASHI…  But at this point we have not yet heard which day is the day of commemoration. To clarify, the verse says “Remember the day on which you departed.”[13:3]   On this basis we can clearly say that the 15th day is the day of the Festival, for on the night which precedes the day of the 15th they ate the korban Pesach, and in the morning, they left. 

v.15  Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread; on the very first day you shall remove leaven from your houses,for whoever eats leavened bread from the first to the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.

CHIZKUNI“seven days”—A quarter of a month, the same amount of time each plague lasted.

R’S.R.HIRSCH… When the time of deliverance approached, the Children of Israel had to wait for their freedom. They did not go out and fight for it.  Their freedom was attained by devotion to God; sacrificing the Pesach lamb and eating it together with matzah and bitter herbs…And when the time finally came, matzah became an eternal testimony to the Divine nature of our exodus.

IBN EZRA…Eating unleavened bread is a remembrance of all that happened to our ancestors, so whoever eats leaven is, as it were, denying the exodus from Egypt.  Thus the punishment of karet is decreed against him.

SARNA…There are 36 instances of this formula in Torah….this punishment peculiar to ritual texts…Torah gives no definition, and no analogy for it exists in Near Eastern sources…Karet is not a penalty enforced by the courts but a punishment left to divine execution.  Such is the understanding in rabbinic literature, where it specifically means premature death and, according to many, childlessness.

v.17  You shall observe [the feast of]Unlevened Bread, for on that very day I brought you out from the Land of Egypt.

RASHI… You shall guard the matzot” so that they do not become leavened. R’ Yoshiyah says: Do not read the word alone as matzot, but rather mitzvot. [spelled the same in Hebrew!] In this sense, the verse teaches that just as people do not let matzot become leaven, so they may not allow the commandments to become leavened, by leaving opportunity for their performance unattended. [cf. MECHILTA] 

ETZ HAYIM… “Guard the Matzot”  Traditional post-biblical interpretation takes this to mean that one should supervise the process of making matzah to ensure that no leavening occurs at any stage.

v.43   This is the Law of the Pesach [offering]; No foreigner shall eat of it…

RASHI… “Ben Ney-char”—This includes one whose deeds have become alien to his Father in Heaven;

Both a non-Jew and a Jew who becomes an apostate, thereby alienating himself from the community of Israel

RALBAG…This refers not to someone from another nation, who can convert to Judaism, but someone from another faith, even if he is a Jew.

v.46    It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any meat outside the house, nor break a bone of it…No uncircumcised person may eat of it.  …There shall be one law for the citizen and stranger who dwells among you.

RASHI…   “B’Vayit Echad…” In one house, that is, in one group, so that those who are signed up for the lamb do not divide into two groups and split up.

R.ALTER… Circumcision is the mark of belonging to the covenantal community, and so a pre-requisite to participation in the community-defining Passover ritual.  But the mention of circumcision also brings a symbolic overlap between this blood, the blood of the lamb on the doorposts, and God’s saving Israel from the bloodbath of Egypt to make them His people.

MUNK…  “nor break a bone of it”  That is, hurriedly, to suck out the marrow…Discussing the prohibition of breaking bones, SEFER HaCHINUCH points to a fundamental principle of Jewish education.  Our spirit and emotions are affected, for better or for worse, by our actions…The mitzvoth of Torah regulate our outer and inner lives.  It is not enough that we share together in eating, but how we dine that matters…No bone was to be broken, showing that our hunger was fully satisfied.


One response to “Bo

  1. leigh levitt January 13, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    great site…thanks for posting it

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