As we are approaching the month of Nissan, the Yom Tov of Pesach, or Passover, is right around the corner. Our sages understood that in no uncertain terms can one approach such a profound and multi-faceted holiday without some preparation. (Of course, the more one prepares himself, the more meaning there will be, nevertheless, the minimum requirement must never be overlooked.)
Preparation is always in order
We can see from the Torah reading itself how important preparation is. Hashem told Moshe – on Rosh Chodesh Nissan to tell the Jews on the 10th of Nissan to slaughter the Korban Pesach on the 14th of Nissan. This shows us that one cannot just fall into a mitzvah. It requires time to put oneself in the right atmosphere and frame of mind. We will therefore attempt to offer a little thought that might be appropriate, although there is much more to it.
My “first-born son”
Let us try to understand and appreciate the significance of the Korban Pesach that is the main theme of the Krias HaTorah. Up until then, no one ever dared to eat from a Korban that has been brought for Hashem. Now things changed. The Bnei Yisroel received the title בני בכורי ישראל – my first-born son. A child eats at his father’s table not because he earned it, but because he is entitled to it by the mere virtue of being a son. Similarly, Bnei Yisroel acquired the right to partake in a Korban like a son, as it is known – משלחן גבוה קא זכו – they merited from the “High Table”. The Meshech Chochmah with his always-poignant insight adds that although every child has the quality of being a child, it is the first-born child who makes the father a father.
In addition, Bnei Yisroel acquired protection rights, like a parent is expected to protect their child solely for the reason of parenthood. This message is stated in the Torah and is clearly pointed out in the text of the Passover Haggadah. “Why do (or did) we eat the Korban Pesach? Because Hashem passed over the houses of the Bnei Yisroel when he smote the Egyptian house and rescued ours.”
Protected now and forever
This didn’t happen only in Egypt; Hashem is always rescuing his beloved nation from their enemies that surround them on all sides, like a pack of wolves around a lost lamb.
This theme is highlighted and repeated again and again in this week’s haftorah, especially in the words recited aloud. “This month is the first for you, to pass over you, to be sanctified amongst you.” Then again, “To you it is the first, you the nation that is protected like the pupil of the eye.”
Rejoicing for being Hashem’s Chosen People
Therefore, the work of the month of Nissan is to rejoice and thank Hashem for the fact that we are His chosen people. When Hashem contemplated the creation, He foresaw everything. All that would occur from the time of its inception until the very end of days was clear to Hashem. And it was for the sake of the Jewish people that He decided to create the world. Not just because of the Avos or Moshe Rabbeinu, the Tannaim, the Amoraim, and the great sages of the ensuing generations. It was for the sake of every single Jew. Hashem foresaw the life of each and every Jew – until this very day and beyond, and He desired them! It was because of each individual that He decided to actually create the world! True, it is mind-boggling. However, this is a basic thesis of our emunah! It is because of us as well – simple Jews of the year 5783 – that Hashem decided to create the entire universe.
When we internalize the depth of what it means to be Hashem’s Chosen People, it will arouse in us immense joy and gratitude to Hashem. This joy is the greatest preparation possible for the upcoming Seder night.
Parshas Vayakhel-Pekudei | Submitted by Rabbi Gavriel Lamm