The Turning Point When B’nai Yisrael Became Baalei Tshuva (Returned to Judaism)

In Parshat Bo, we learn the laws that applied to the first Pesach which took place in Egypt.


In Shmot 12:21 we read: “Moshe called to all the elders of Israel and he said to them, “Draw out (mishchu) and take (ukchu) for yourselves lambs according to your families and slaughter the Pesach offering.”


Why does it have to say “draw out” and “take”?


Ramban’s explanation is that both words are needed to explain the full physical process of how they got the lamb.


According to Ramban, first they had to go all of the way to Goshen to get the lamb (draw out) and then they had to bring it home (take).


Rashi brings the Mechilta to explain why both words are needed since each one refers to something else: If you have a sheep, then use it (draw out), if you don’t have a sheep then go and buy one (take).


The Mechilta also brings a second, more spiritual explanation: Leave your idol worship (draw out) and take for yourselves (take) a sheep which is a god of Egypt and sacrifice it for the Pesach offering.


Before moving on, one must do Tshuva (repent) for what we have done wrong in the past and commit to not repeating that behavior again.


Rabbi Yaakov Zvi Mecklenberg, HaKtav v’Hakabla states:

The Israelites themselves were responsible in part for deferring their own redemption. First they had to be purified and show by some outstanding act of self-sacrifice that they had repented of their ways. If they were willing to place their lives in danger in order to carry out the wishes of God then, that would be a true token of their love for Him. Consequently, God commanded them to slay the Egyptian god under conditions of the widest publicity. First they had to procure the lamb, lead it through the streets without fear of Egyptian reaction, second, to slaughter it family by family, in groups and finally they had to sprinkle its blood on the doorpost of every Egyptian passer-by to see, braving the vengeance of their former persecutors. Their fulfillment of every detail of this rite would be a proof of their complete faith in God. In the words of the Sages, the blood would be taken “to you” and not to others.


Once B’nai Yisrael completed this Tshuva process, they were ready to observe the mitzvot.


Converts to Judaism and Baalei Tshuva (newly observant Jews) face the difficult challenge of putting their pasts behind them and committing themselves to become religious Jews. Their challenges are just as difficult as the challenges that B’nai Yisrael faced when the left Egypt. We must give them as much help and support as possible to help them on their spiritual journeys.


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