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Commitment and Continuity

As a first sampling of the fruits of Me'am Loez we turn to Parashat Bo and the final plagues and encounters between Moses and Pharaoh that set the stage for the exodus of b'nai Israel (people of Israel).

Halachic Clarification

In Exodus 12:4, specific laws governing the slaughter and eating of the paschal lamb allow that families might join to share a paschal lamb if they lacked the resources to each have an individual lamb. But Me'am Loez asks, what would one do if there was not enough room in one's home (or tent) for another family? One can still fulfill the obligation by providing the requisite food so that the family could perform the Pesach ritual in their own home (tent).

Aggadic Enrichment

Everything in the Pesach story must tell a secret story of Divine justice carefully measured out. The operating principle is midah kaneged midah, that good and evil deeds are paid back in kind. Sometimes the principle is helpful in explaining otherwise ethically suspect actions. So it turns out, according to the Me'am Loez, that the total value of the silver and gold the Israelites "requested" of the Egyptians as they fled Egypt equaled the salary Israelite slaves might have earned during their captivity.

Commitment and Continuity

A familiar concern of Jewish commentary on the book of Exodus involves the pharaoh with moral arteriosclerosis, hardened heart disease. The recurring question is whether God in hardening Pharaoh's heart is undermining other Jewish values of free will and teshuva (repentance). Culi raises another concern. What happens to Jews whose very liberation is dependent on a steady stream of violence and spilt blood?

In this context, Culi writes about the power of the mezuza:

It is obvious that a mere sprinkle of blood would not prevent the Forces of destruction from entering a home. If a person is born under Mars, he is destined to spill blood. But if such a person is worthy, he becomes a ritual slaughterer (shochet) or circumciser (mohel).

God does not reverse a person's destiny, but if one is virtuous God can bend it. God can take a person's destiny and work it out in such a way as to render it beneficial to all.

Reprinted by permission of the Cleveland Jewish News.

This dvar Torah is one of a series influenced by the Me'am Loez Sephardic Torah commentary. Read the introduction to the series.
Topics: Divrei Torah
Type: Dvar Torah