By Shalom Olensky
This week in the Torah:
Before freeing the Jews, G-d commands them to take a sheep into their houses, to be slaughtered as a sacrifice on the eve of Redemption, four days later.
Why was it necessary for the Jews to watch the sheep at home for four days prior to the sacrifice? Rabbi Masya ben Charash was oft to say to this: G-d said, “The time came to redeem the Jews but they lacked Mitzvos with which to earn it.” Hence G-d gave them two Mitzvos, the Pascal blood and the blood of circumcising themselves that night. They were steeped in idolatry, so G-d told them “Draw and take a sheep”, i.e. draw your hands away from idolatry and take for yourselves a sheep as a Mitzvah.
a.How does the answer of Rabbi Masya ben Charash answer the question as to the necessity of watching the sheep for four days prior?
- Why does Rashi make special mention of the name of the Rabbi who gave this answer?
- Why the number 2 specifically, i.e. two Mitzvos. Was one not enough? Were more not necessary?
Indeed the Jews were missing two fundamental things, which would make them, ready for Redemption: Holy proactivity and negation of evil. They were told to enter into G-d’s covenant through circumcision and this was proactivity. They were told to slaughter a sheep, for the main idolatry of Egypt was sheep – this negated their evil ways of idolatry. This then is the significance of the number 2.
The four day involvement in the slaughtering of the sheep was to completely eradicate the inclination for idolatry that had developed through repetitive transgression.
To better explain why such a scenario of Mitzvah observance in an idolatrous Egypt was necessary for the Exodus, Rashi cites Rabbi Masya ben Charash, who led the biggest Yeshivah of his time, in none other than Rome, the capital of Jewish Exile. He “was oft to say” this aforementioned teaching as a comfort to his students who had to travel to Rome for Yeshivah. Rabbi Masya told them that indeed, finding a Jew in Exile and giving him a Mitzvah to do, this is the very thing that the final Exodus with Moshiach depends upon.
Just as in Egypt the Jews had to first achieve spiritual accomplishment in themselves and in each other, so too in our times, waiting for Moshiach, we must seek to connect every last Jew with Torah and Mitzvah observance. The final Redemption will not be fully here until each and every Jew is accounted for.
(Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. 16, Bo)