Pesach All Year Round?

When reading the Parshiot which deal with the plagues and the Exodus, one may wonder why it is necessary to hear the story now and then again on Pesach.


Actually, the mitzvah of remembering the Exodus from Egypt is performed every day when we recite the end of the Shma (Bamidbar 15:41) “I am your God who removed you from the land of Egypt to be a God to you”, when we recite the words immediately leading up to the Shemoneh Esrei, “From Egypt you have redeemed us, Hashem, our God, and from the house of slavery you liberated us…” as well as when one wears Tefilin or posts up a Mezuzah.


Parshat Bo ends with a question familiar to us from the Hagaddah (Shmot 13: 14, 16) “When your son asks you at a later time saying ‘What is this?’ You should say to him, “With a strong hand God brought us out of Egypt from the house of slavery…It shall be a sign on your hand and Totafot between your eyes, for with a strong hand God brought us out of Egypt”.


Ha’amek Davar explains that the observance of Pesach and the telling the story of the Exodus to our children is not sufficient. You must therefore be reminded with a daily remembrance. It can be compared to the case of a father who tells his child a story to illustrate an important moral lesson, and subsequently reminds him of it daily, by a brief allusion, till the year comes round again and he once more repeats the story in full. Similarly, God commanded to tie knots every day on the hand and on the head

(Tefilin) as a remembrance of the Exodus, on the place indicating the subjection of the heart and mind.


Nehama Leibowitz brings up Rav Kook’s view that the Exodus was not just the deliverance from political subjection to freedom. Rather, the Exodus was a deliverance from spiritual subjection, from being sunk in the mortar of a gross material existence.


Each day, we are still fighting the battle between materialism and spirituality. The events that have taken place over the past few months (economic downturn, misuse of funds, the war in Gaza) remind us of what is really important.


Each time a mall is built in Israel there are complaints about the country becoming too materialistic. During the war, we saw a different side of the shopping malls. Stores were collecting full boxes of toys to be sent to the bomb shelters and supermarkets were selling food that would go into care packages for soldiers fighting in Gaza at half price (and free delivery!) With the proper focus, materialism was transformed into spirituality.


Let’s try to bring some of the messages of Pesach (aside from the cleaning part)

into every day of our lives!