Rabbi Weiss “Statement by the Chief Rabbi of Montreal”
The traditional name of the Chag we celebrate on the 15 day of Nissan is Pesach, although in the Torah it is called Chag Hamatzos. The source for the name Pesach is the Posuk stating that “Hashem ‘passed over’ the Jewish houses when He struck the Egyptians, and our houses were saved”, and “Hashem went to strike the Egyptians, and He saw the blood on the lintels and doorposts, and He ‘passed over’ the door….”, hence the name Pesach – Passover.
It begs explanation why is it that the Torah stresses that Hashem ‘passed over’ the Jewish houses and that the houses were spared, when the real miracle was that the Bnei Yisroel themselves were saved, regardless where they were located. The Torah also requires that each household bring together a Korban Pesach. Why the emphasis on the households? We also have a very unique Mitzvah at the Seder; to elaborate on the miracles of Yetzios Mitzrayim, with the focus being our children. There are even specific questions tailored to their various levels of understanding.
So why is it so important that the children take a central role in the performance of these Mitzvos, when in reality all members of the family were equally saved by the miracles of Yetziat Mitzrayim.
To understand all of the above we have to contemplate the enormous dangers our ancestors faced in Egypt, both physical and spiritual. The Bnei Yisroel were in Egyptian bondage for more than two centuries. Although they were blessed with children and the “the land was filled with them”, there was a serious threat that the children might be influenced by the decadent and corrupt Egyptian culture. This concern was even greater considering that the Jewish people had not yet received the Torah and Mitzvot to act as a counterbalance.
The only way Klal Yisroel was able to preserve the traditions and legacy of their forefathers and ensure transmission to future generations, was by strictly protecting the sanctity of their homes. Figuratively standing guard at the doorposts; preventing infiltration by foreign ideologies and mannerisms that might affect the holy souls of their offspring. And like the Mezuza which protects our homes today, they too had the Mitzvah of applying the blood of the Korban Pesach to the doorposts to symbolize this concept.
That is why the Torah tells us that Hashem ‘passed over’ the houses and doorposts”, to teach us the true reason why Klal Yisroel persevered and were worthy of salvation from Mitzrayim.
At the Seder we are not only commemorating the historical Exodus from Egypt. We are also striving to emulate, in our day and age, those virtues that generated the miracles of our ancestors.
This is the reason why we are obliged to engage the children in the celebration of the Chag. To show them the beauty and sweetness of the Torah, while strengthening their connection to Hashem. All that, by bringing the whole family together on this auspicious day, in the sanctity and safety of the Jewish home.
Let us hope and pray that the words of Moshe Rabeinu be fulfilled in our time, “Binoreinu Uvizkaneinu Neilach, Ki Chag L’Hashem Lonu”, – “We Shall Go With Our Young and Old, for it is a Chag for Hashem”, with the final Redemption and the coming of Mashiach Bimheirah Veyameinu, Amen.
Rabbi Y. B. Weiss