Saturday, March 31, 2007

Pesach: Salvation from Mitzrayim and Salvation from Lavan


At the Pesach seder, we recite the passage from the Torah dealing with Lavan's sinister plan of wiping out our forefather Ya'akov, including Ya'akov's children, his own grandchildren he claimed to love so much. The phrase we quote is as follows:

" Aramean [intended to] destroy my father, and he descended to Egypt, and he (Ya'akov) lived there with a small population, and he became a great, mighty, and numerous nation." (Divarim: 26; 5)

RaSh"I comments on the above that Lavan, at the point in time that he overtook Ya'akov (Bireishis: 31; 23), he intended to "uproot everything" that would become the Jewish People, however, due to HaShem's kindness toward us, He did not allow Lavan to carry out his evil intentions. The pasuk states that " Aramean destroyed my father (Ya'akov)...", for the evil intentions of the gentiles are considered as if they had actually been carried out.

We know that Lavan and Paroh both intended to wipe out the Jewish People (or what would become the Jewish People), only to be stopped in their evil designs by HaShem. However, there is more of a connection between the incident involving Lavan's pursuit of Ya'akov and Paroh's pursuit of the Jewish People, than may meet the eye at "first glance" during the seder.


Ya'akov's exodus from the "House of Lavan":

"And Ya'akov arose and he lifted his children and his wives onto the camels. And he led all of his flocks and all of his property that he acquired, that which he acquired through [the sale of] his flocks which he acquired in Padan Aram, to come to his father Yitzchak, to the Land of K'na'an... And he (Ya'akov), and all that which belongs to him, fled and he arose and he crossed the [Euphrates] River... And it was told to Lavan on the third day, for Ya'akov had fled. And he (Lavan) took his brothers with him, and he pursued him, [covering a] path [equivalent to] a seven day journey and he (Lavan) overtook him at the mountain of Gilad... And Lavan said to Ya'akov... "...There is within my power to act with evil against you, and The G-d of your (pl.) father, last night, said to me saying, 'Guard yourself from speaking from good to evil with Ya'akov." (Bireishis: 31; 17 - 18, 21 - 23, 26, 29)

The Children of Israel's Exodus from Mitzrayim:

"And it was told to the King of Egypt, for the Nation [of Israel] had fled, and the hearts of Paroh and his servants changed, concerning the Nation [of Israel], and they said, 'What is this which we have done, for we have sent Israel away from serving us. And he (Paroh) harnessed his chariot, and he took his nation with him. And he took six-hundred choice chariots, as well as all of the chariots of Egypt, and officers over all of them. And HaShem hardened the heart of Paroh, the King of Egypt, and he pursued after The Children of Israel, and The Children of Israel were leaving with a high hand (with great and a public display of strength). And Egypt pursued after them, and all of the horses, chariots, horsemen, and army of Paroh caught up with them [while they were] encamped at the Sea [of Reeds]... And The Children of Israel raised up their eyes, and, behold, Egypt was pursuing after them, and they greatly feared, and The Children of Israel cried out to HaShem... And Moshe said to the Nation [of Israe], 'Do not fear, stand up and see the Salvation of HaShem, which He will perform for you today, for just as you see Egypt today, you shall not continue to see them again, forever. HaShem will fight for you, and you shall be silent." (Shmos: 14; 5 -10, 13 - 14)


1. Paroh and Lavan caught up with The Children of Israel and Ya'akov, respectively, on the seventh day.

2. They both intended on wiping out what would become the Jewish People.

3. Ya'akov and the B'nei Yisrael left the servitude of their "masters" (Lavan and Mitzrayim, respectively), for whom they had no obligation to continue working for.

4. HaShem miraculously saved Ya'akov and The B'nei Yisrael from destruction at the hands of their enemies.

5. Ya'akov was shepherding for Lavan, separated from him by a three day journey, and Paroh told the B'nei Yisrael that they could journey into the desert for three days to worship HaShem.

6. Amalakite messengers informed Lavan of Ya'akov's departure. Amalakite messengers informed Paroh of the B'nei Yisrael not wishing to return to servitude in Egypt.

7. On the fourth day after the respective departures of Ya'akov and the B'nei Yisrael, Lavan and Paroh began their pursuits of their former laborers.

8. Ya'akov crossed one river on his journey from Lavan prior to being overtaken and one river afterwards. The B'nei Yisrael crossed the Nile River prior to being overtaken by Paroh and his army and crossed the Yam Suf after being overtaken.

9. Ya'akov and The B'nei Yisrael were being pursued on their way to Eretz Yisrael - to a Land of freedom from oppressors, and, most importantly, improvement in spiritual growth and the service of HaShem.

10. Lavan and Paroh, wanted Ya'akov and The B'nei Yisrael, respectively, to stay with them, because HaShem blessed these risha'eem due to the presence of the righteous progenitors of The Jewish People who were living in their midst.

11. The gimatria of Arami (in the haggadah, this word is used in reference to Lavan) + Paroh (ארמי + פרעה) = The number 606, the equivalent number of commandments that The Jewish People have over the seven Noahide laws
the rest of world 606 + 7 = 613. These evildoers, by their pursuit of the future Jewish People, wished to prevent us from attaining the additional 606 mitzvos. They came armed with their weapons - כלי זין - with which they wished to destroy us. Lavan wished to destroy us with his witchcraft, using his mouth, and Paroh came with his army, employing the use of physical weapons. The pronunciation of the word for the letter "zayin" - "ז", is the same as the Hebrew word "זין", which means "weapon". The letter "ז" also resembles a sword in appearance, having two "handles", with a long line protruding from it. Thus, not only did Lavan the Aramean and Paroh wish to prevent the future Jewish People from obtaining the additional 606 mitzvos, but they wished to deny the Seven Noahide laws from them by destroying them. If Lavan or Paroh would have been "successful" in their missions to wipe out the future Jewish People, they would have denied the entire world the performance of its Seven Noahide Laws, for the world would have discontinued to exist. This is the case, for HaShem created the world on the condition that The B'nei Yisrael would accept The Torah, if they would not accept The Torah, the world would cease to exist. We learn in The Zohar that HaShem looked into The Torah and created the world from it, The Torah being the blueprint of the world. Therefore, by protecting the progenitors of The Jewish People from destruction at the hands of their enemies, HaShem saved the entire world from destruction. (Note: Our Rabbis expound that Roos, the convert to Judaism, from whom King David and the Mashiach are descended, accepted 606 additional commandments upon herself with the acceptance of The Torah Way of Life. This is hinted to in the gematria of Roos' name - רות = 606. The above teaching somewhat resembling this one.)