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Rosh Hodesh Nissan Torah Essay

Zahava Moskowitz

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Since we were children we were always taught that we eat matzah on Pesach because the Jewish people left Miztrayim “bechipazon”. In its simplistic form it seems that we were being chased out by the Egyptians. Other mefarshim explain that had we not gotten out then, even more of us would have perished than the 4/5ths of Jews that died during makkot choshech. However, I hope to analyze and discover that there is something unique about the exact time of the geulah.

In his sefer, “Hegyonei Halacha”, Rav Yehudah Mirsky asks a seemingly obvious yet overlooked question on the pasuk, “ki bechipazon yazata meeretz Miztrayim”. Why did Hashem have to take out the Jewish people in haste to begin with? What was the purpose of us being rushed out, instead of at our own leisure now that Egypt feared us? The answer many mefarshim provide is that it was because B’nei Yisrael had stooped to such a low level of tumah – impurity. This was a process of spiritual decline that occurred slowly over time since we came down to Egypt. Right before yetziyat Mitzrayim, we had reached the fortieth level of impurity, and had Hashem waited another minute, we would have perhaps sunk to the fiftieth level as a nation and been irredeemable. The problem with this answer is that it doesn’t fully suffice. If Hashem was worried about B’nei Yisrael reaching such a low spiritual state, why not take us out at level thirty-seven, or thirty-eight? The question of why Hashem waited until what seemed like the last minute to redeem us still stands. Rav Mirsky explains that this issue can only be solved by deepening our understanding of what galut and geulah really are, and for this he refers to the Maharal.

According to the Maharal, every existence in this world must be preceded by a lack of something else. Take for example the dark void of night before the day. On a larger scale, Sefer Bereshit explains that Hashem created the universe after describing it as “tohu vavohu”. A beautiful example given to further this idea can be seen in Masechet Temura on the study of how baby chicks grow. According to the Gemara, a chick begins to develop in the egg, “lechi misrecha”, when the inside of the egg begins to slightly rot. It’s at that crucial time the egg must be protected by the mother or incubated manually for growth to take place. Although we may not be used to thinking of it in this way, the Maharal explains that Galut and geulah work in the same vein. Our exile not only serves as the lack and void before the redemption, but moreover it is an essential step in bringing it about.

However if one waits too long to incubate the egg, it will begin to rot completely, killing any chance life has to develop inside it. In this way the Gemara in Temura demonstrates two crucial ideas. Firstly, that chicks serve as a small representation of the process of growth that can only occur from their first being void and decay.

The second idea is that the creation of anything is extremely time sensitive. After a vacuum is made there is a very short window of time allotted for the next phase to occur to ensure development. This holds true for many other things which require careful watch and planning to grow, such as plants, fruit or a couple trying to conceive. It’s for this reason Hashem had to allow B’nei Yisrael to reach the fourth-ninth level of tumah. That decay was a necessary step for us to reach as a nation, in order to allow for the geulah to take place. However, once we reached the second-to-last level of impurity Hashem acted “bechipazon” to avoid us reaching permanent decay and missing the window of opportunity to take us out of Egypt.

The past few weeks for the world dealing with the Coronavirus have been mixed with much confusion, worry and the harsh realization of our lack of control. It is strange to say that amidst the madness of quarantine, lockdown and feeling isolated from our fellow Jews and community, I found comfort in two things. The first, that I am part of an am which strives to not only find positivity and strength in such difficult times, but who uses it to uplift one another as well. The past few weeks my social media has been filled with alerts of live-streamed concerts to give chizuk and spread simcha, Torah lectures and creatively humorous images and videos (which were very necessary as well!). It has truly made me stop and think, “mi k’amcha Yisrael”. The second notion I find comforting settled in after learning this idea proposed by the Maharal. At this time when it feels like the world is shutting down until further notice, there is a tremendous sense of decay and things going awry. However, my hope is that the difficulties we face now, not just as a people but the entire world, is Hashem gearing up again for another geulah. For the final geulah.

May we each be zoche to have a chag kasher v’sameach filled with health, b’sorot tovot and redemption this Pesach.

Zahava Moskowitz

Zahava Moskowitz

Zahava is from West Hempstead, NY. She received her BA in history from Queens College and her Masters Degree in Jewish Education and Administration from Azrieli. She has worked the past four years at North Shore Hebrew Academy middle school, teaching Navi, tefillah and organizing student programming.