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Pesach 5784        14 Nissan 5784

04/21/2024 11:26:13 PM


Every day that passes becomes history. Although something out of the ordinary may not occur, each and every day still becomes part of the history book of the world. History is being made and recorded throughout every segment, every part of the world that we may or may not know about. The world’s book of history is not a diary for the common individual; it is for God who sees it all day, every day.  Every nation, every people have a unique history. The Jewish people are not the exception; we may even be the rule. We have a long, storied history that dates to the beginning of civilization to our forefather, Avraham Avinu. But it was not until the Jews left Egypt as a people and became a nation that history took on a new book.

The history of the Jews as a people began three thousand three hundred thirty-six years ago in the Hebrew year 2448 when we left Mitzrayim. Pesach and the month of Nissan, the month in which Pesach falls, is associated with the greatest miracles the world has ever seen. Beginning with the ten plagues and the accompanying sub-miracles which took place in Egypt during this time, the stage was set for Pharoah to send the Jews out.  As we all know, these miracles were followed by the splitting of the sea, receiving of the Torah on Har Sinai, and the forty subsequent years that followed in the desert. We recite the words of dayeinu (it would have been enough) in the Haggadah on Seder night, recounting and proclaiming that each and every miracle by itself would have been enough. Those major events are documented as part of our long history. The early recordings of our history are meant to be lessons for all future generations, repeatedly reminding, retelling how we will fall, rise, fall and rise once again.

If I could take some poetic licenses, the last one hundred fifty years have been the most significant years of history for the Jewish people since the time we left Egypt. One might argue that the glorious days of the first Beis HaMikdash were the highlight of our existence. That may be true, but that was just the final component and completion for us as a nation to serve Hashem, having begun that process when we left Mitzrayim (Egypt). We did not witness the incredible Nisim Gluyim (open miracles) as we did in the old days, but the nisim nistarim (hidden miracles) are just as amazing. During the last one hundred fifty years, Hashem has given us the struggles of traveling through a desert, suffering affliction of the worst crimes against humanity and witnessing the great miracles which led us into Eretz Yisrael. 

With all that said, I recently read an incredible quote from Rabbi Shmuel Klein, who we were privileged to have as a scholar in residence. Rabbi Klein wrote about miracles based upon a statement of Rav Yakov Emden. The Siddur Rav Yakov Emden contains a fifteen-page introduction with an approximate font size of four, demonstrating the length and depth of the introduction. One of the goals of writing the introduction was to facilitate an understanding of how we stand in front of Hashem, Who is the undeniable King of the world, Master of the world, Creator of the world.  For the Jewish people to fully understand and contemplate God as God, we need to look inward at our history. Many contemporary speakers have mentioned how we, the Jewish people, are the Chosen nation. The words of these contemporary speakers are all recycling the same ideas discussed by Rav Yakov Emden, who lived from 1700 to approximately 1790. Those famous words retold how all of the civilizations, countries, nations  who were the mightiest at the time are no longer in existence. There is not a trace of the ancient Babylonians, Greeks, or Romans, yet the Jews are still around. Rav Emden took it a step further, explaining all the miracles that Hashem performed for the Jews were, in actuality, isolated events, isolated miracles. He triumphantly and emphatically writes that there is one greatest miracle of all miracles that has taken place for the Jewish people which is even more than leaving Egypt, more than the plagues inflicted upon Egypt, more than the receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, and more than the miracles of the Jews traveling in the desert. The greatest Nes (miracle) is the ongoing, continued existence of the Jewish people throughout history. The fact that we have survived, that we continue to survive and to thrive is THE greatest miracle of all history. We can deduce this from the famous words of the haggada: “V’Hi Sh’Amda” – “that in every generation there are those who seek to annihilate us, and God miraculously saves us as a nation again and again. Even so, we may ask, why? On what merit do we continue to survive?

Rav Elimelech Weisblum* of Lizhensk (1717-1787), known today because of his sefer Noam Elimelech, explains the verse in Shmos 10:2: "ולמען תספר באזני בנך ובן בנך את אשר התעללתי במצרים ואת אתתי אשר שמתי בם, וידעתם כי אני ה' "  :“You will then be able to confide to your children and grandchildren how I made fools of the Egyptians, and how I performed miraculous signs among them. You will then fully realize that I am God.” When Hashem decided to be merciful the very first time, He performed a miracle for His children. Through that one-time miracle, He took revenge against our enemies. There was an awakening of mercy that would continue to help the Jewish people throughout the future of generation after generation, for all generations to come. Whenever the Jews needed to rise up, to defeat any enemy who was persecuting the Jews, God protected his people and took His vengeance out upon those who seek their destruction. . Therefore, the reason God continues to create miracles for the Jewish people is based upon the initial feeling of mercy that Hashem put into motion for similar future situations. Therefore, we tell over the story on Pesach night to remind us of that initial mercy that will be there for us in every generation. Now we can understand the depth of joy when singing “V’Hi SheAmda”, proclaiming that Hahem continuously saves us in each and every generation. When we recite “V’Hi SheAmda”, we remind Hashem to bring out that original mercy and apply it now in our current situation.

This is an allusion to Rav Emden’s explanation that the miracle of Klal Yisroel’s continued existence from the time we left Egypt until this very day is nothing short of miraculous. We are told that during the seder we need to view ourselves as if we personally went out of Egypt. This concept becomes manageable because the mercy shown 3336 years ago has applied in every generation since. We hope and pray for the fulfillment of the well-known statement of Chaza”l: “In Nisan we were redeemed and in Nisan we will be redeemed”.        

Wishing you all a Chag Kasher V’Sameach

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

Fri, July 19 2024 13 Tammuz 5784