Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Wednesday's Matza Crumbs - the Rasha

I recently heard a great shiur from Rabbi Mansour on Pesach which I would like to share. The shiur can be found on and is called Pesah/The Rasha/Timeless Misvot. Same ground rules as always apply. Any perceived inconsistencies are the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Mansour.

R' Mansour asked the famous question about why the Rasha is criticized for asking "what is this service for you" and the hagaddah responds to the Rasha - tell him that "because of this Hashem took us out of Egypt" --referring to the Karban Pesach.

R' Mansour asked - how does this answer the question? The Rasha is not uneducated and he knows that there is a Karban Pesach. So how does pointing to the Karban Pesach answer the question?

R' Mansour began the answer by quoting the Ibn Ezra who asks - what came first - the mitzva of eating Pesach, Matza and Marror or the Jews being in Egypt? The answer that we give the Rasha is literally - because of the mitzva of the Karban Pesach, Hashem took us out of Egypt, which implies that the mitzva pre-existed the time in Egypt.

R' Mansour then quoted the Beis HaLevi who expanded on the Ibn Ezra. He explained that the Rasha had been in yeshiva, but turned to the apikorsim because he was looking for reasons for the mitzvos. Why is this problematic? Because they try to find reasons when they are not given and then once the reason is no longer relevant, they believe that the mitzva does not apply anymore either.

R' Mansour then digressed to discuss the reason for the Karban Pesach. He noted that the zodiac sign for the end of the month of March and beginning of April (in which Nissan often falls) is Aries which is a sheep. The zodiac views this month as the first of the months of the year and as such the Egyptians worshiped the sheep as the mother of all symbols. Furthermore, the constellation was at its greatest on the 15th of the month. And Hashem took the Jews out of Egypt on the greatest day of the Egyptian's greatest month, after the Jews took the sheep on the 10th of the month, slaughtered the sheep on the 14th and ate it on the 15th.

[R' Mansour noted parenthetically that we call the season Aviv because it is the father of the twelve (Av of yud bet)].

After the Jews left Egypt they continued to observe the Karban Pesach as during the time that the Beis Hamikdash was standing, the Jews would bring the Karban Pesach there on the 14th and then eat it at the seder on the 15th.

R' Mansour now returned to the Beis HaLevi's discussion of the Karban Pesach. The Rasha sits at the table and asks - why is there still a Karban Pesach? We needed it when we left Egypt to show that the sheep that the Egyptians worshiped is not in control - so we needed to slaughter and eat it. But now, you (the "lachem") - why do you need to keep doing this, its not relevant to us anymore. We live in America and are not under control of the Egyptians. There it was important to show that we were not under the control of the idol worship, but now no one worships idols, so why do you need to keep observing the Karban Pesach?

The Beis HaLevi explains that the answer to the Rasha's question is to ask him - which came first the chicken or the egg, or more to the point, which came first, the Karban Pesach or the Jews time in Egypt? The answer is that the Karban Pesach came first. The gemara discusses that the reason that Ya'akov went to get two goats for Yitzchak on the day that he received the berachos was because it was Pesach and Yitzchak ate one as the Karban Pesach and one as the Karban Chaggiga. Similarly, Rashi explains that the reason that Avraham asked Sarah to knead "cakes" when the angels came to visit is that it was Pesach and she was making matzos to give them.

The Beis HaLevi then sums up the answer to the Rasha - the mitzvos are timeless and existed both before and after the event that they are related to. The mitzvos preceded the creation of the world and the reason that we eat matza is because Hashem commanded us to do so. How do you explain that Avraham ate matza and Yitzchak ate the Karban Pesach before there was an exodus in Egypt? Because Hashem commanded us to observe these mitzvos. Thus you tell the Rasha - because of the mitzva of Karban Pesach which existed before there was an exodus in Egypt, Hashem took us out of Egypt. This mitzva is not because of Egypt and is not linked to the event, so regardless of which event occurred, the mitzva still exists.

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