Sunday, April 23, 2006

Pesach over - now back to Mitzrayim!

The Midrash records Bnei Yisrael's post-shirah plans (Shmos Rabbah 24:2):

"R' Yehudah said - At that time Bnei Yisrael said, 'Hashem took us out of Egypt for 5 things: to give us the spoils of Egypt, to carry us on the clouds of glory, to split the sea, to exact punishment on the Egyptians, and for us to sing shira. Now, he already has given us the spoils of Egypt, carried us on the clouds of glory, meeted out punishment to the Egyptians, split the sea, and we sang shira, so let us return to Mitzrayim!' Moshe said to them, 'Hashem has said to me that you shall never see the Egyptians again as you have seen them this day'."

For me there are two challenges every Y"T. First is the obstacle going in, and I don't mean the cooking and cleaning, which is of course a challenge, but I mean the preparation in learning, machshava, halacha, etc. - to find some nekudah in this chag that I had not discovered before. Some of my kids each now have 3 or 4 haggados that they saved up from each year to the next and you can see how in pre-1A there is a lot of coloring and a few pages of text, while later years have a full haggadah and multiple divrei Torah - that is real growth! Obviously as one gets older the rate of growth slows, but in some way one should strive to find something new and meaningful each Y"T (if not each shabbos, but that is even harder) that one has not discovered before.
The Midrash is addressing what I think the second challenge is - how to preserve the spiritual energy we got from Y"T (and hopefully we did get some!) after the fact. The Y"T experience shouldn't be eat the matzah, eat the maror, Ok I was yotzei my 8 days, now back to business as usual, back to Mitzrayim! If you go through the experience of a Y"T, especially where "chayav adam liros es atzmo", it has to leave a "roshem" - in some way we are now different people than we were a week ago. I don't know how to formulate that in a halachic Brisker sense, nor do I have any easy suggestion on how to achieve it, but I think that is what Chazal were trying to tell us. Don't go back to Mitzryim when it is all over - become a different, better person from the experience.

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