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יציאת מצרים

פ' בא, the third Parsha in Sefer Sh'mos, is significant in that it introduces many new mitzvos - a total of 20 (!), by the Rambam's count, including the very first one given to Bnei Yisrael as a people - as we have previously mentioned, Rashi even suggests that the Torah could have begun here.

But the main thrust of the Parsha is the description of the last three מכות (plagues) that Hashem brought on Mitzrayim, and the Jews' Exodus from Egypt (yetziyas Mitzrayim) which is a major part of our collective conscience and a basic tenet of our faith, and serves as the basis for many, many mitzvos - the Sfas Emes says it is mentioned 50 times, paralleling the number of weeks in the lunar year.

In fact, whereas the first time the Aseres ha-Dibros are listed, the reason given for Shabbos is כי ששת ימים עשה ה׳ את השמים ואת הארץ - "(to remember that) in six days God created the heavens and the earth", when it is repeated in Sefer Devarim, the Torah says וזכרת כי עבד היית בארץ מצרים - "and you will remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt".

The Talmud insists that we incorporate the theme of yetziyas mitzrayim into the text of kiddush. The Minchas Chinuch asserts that one would not fulfill the Torah obligation of Kiddush with tefillah alone, for nowhere in the Shabbos evening amidah of do we mention the theme of yetziyas mitzrayim.

What is the connection between Shabbos and the redemption from Mitzrayim?

Ramban explains that there are two aspects to our recognition of God that we are demonstrating through our Sabbath observance: one, that He created the world, and second, that He played and continues to play an active role in the ongoing history of the world.

In the Shabbos morning amida, we say ישמח משה במתנת חלקו "Moshe rejoiced in the giving of his portion". What portion are we referring to, and why mention it now? The Midrash says that when Moshe was a boy growing up in Pharaoh's house, he told the king that the Jews would work much more efficiently if they had a day off. Pharaoh agreed that it would be a good idea, and allowed Moshe to choose the day they would rest - and the day he chose happened to be Shabbos. This is the gift that he rejoiced in. However, when he was first sent by Hashem to take the people out of Egypt, and Pharaoh responded by saying "they are lazy, now they will need to gather straw and make bricks, in addition to their other work", he also took away their day off. It was only with the Exodus that they were once again able to have that respite.

Tosafos (Pesachim 117b) cite a Midrash that while in mitzrayim, the Jews were forced to work בפרך - "with backbreaking work". In א״ת ב״ש (At-Bash - a method of Gematria where the Aleph is exchanged for the Taf, the Bet for the Shin, etc.), פר״ך is equal to 39 - i.e. it was these 39 labors that they were forced to do as slaves in Egypt, and it was from these that they gained respite upon their redemption.

Perhaps this is why yetziyas mitzrayim is listed as the reason for keeping Shabbos in the second luchos, since that is where the Torah formulates the command as שמור - "Guard" - emphasizing the negative commandment representing the 39 prohibited Melachos.

Posted by joem on Jan 25, 2007 9:00 pm

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