The purpose of recounting the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim in its every minute detail is to instill in us true faith and belief in our Creator. The ten makos teach us that not only does Hashem see all and has full control of everything in the entire universe but that He punishes those who dare not listen to Him tit for tat. This belief cannot just be an artificial or superficial one but must be visible in the way we act on a daily basis. While Avrohom was given ten tests to establish his great level of belief, we too are given far simpler tests on a daily basis. Sometime Hashem tests us to see how we deal with others in business matters. What is the ethical and moral level we have reached in the way we conduct our business? Do we open a store directly across the street from another such store and take away his customers? While there are times that halacha may permit it, it may still not be ethically and morally correct. The Gemarah says that the posuk “Mi ya’ale b’har Hashem u’mi yokum bi’mkom kodsho” refers to the person who did not infringe on another person’s business.
How honest are we with ourselves as well as with others? After a parent had given his son a lecture on how important it was to always tell the truth, he took his son for a bus ride. Before getting on the bus he told his son to tell the driver that he was under 12. When the bus driver asked the child when he was going to turn 12, the boy quickly responded, “As soon as I get off the bus.” Perhaps even more common is the father who asks his son to pick up the phone or answer the door and say that he is not home. While this may seem trivial, it leaves an indelible impression in a child’s mind.
How careful are we with our speech? Do we berate other products so that they buy only ours? Are we careful not to play the bait and switch game with our customers? Do we keep our word when closing on a business deal? Are we as careful and concerned with the mitzvos bein odon l’chaveiro as we are with those that are bein odom la’mokom? We are all human and therefore have our failures but are we ready to admit and correct them?
A story is told of a tightrope walker that prepares to start walking down a tightrope. He begins by asking the crowd, “Who thinks that I’ll make it?” The crowd thereupon starts cheering and shouts, “go, go, go!” After he walks across he now turns to the crowd and asks them once again, “Who thinks that I can do it backwards?” Again the crowd cheers wildly as he proceeds to walk across backward. Now he turns to the crowd and asks them, “Who thinks I can do it while riding a unicycle?” Once again there is great applause as he rides across on his unicycle. He now turns to his audience and asks, “Who thinks I can do it pushing a wheelbarrow?” Thereupon one old man calls out “Sure thing. I’m convinced you can.” Hearing his answer the tightrope walker challenges the man by asking him, “If you truly believe that I can do it, how about getting inside the wheelbarrow while I take you across to the other side?” The old man turned down the offer with a resounding “No way!” Unfortunately that’s where this man’s belief stopped. While it seemed as if he fully believed in him, he wouldn’t dare get into the wheelbarrow.
Unfortunately, sometimes our own belief stops there as well. We all believe that the more tzedaka we give, the more Hashem pays us back, yet you’d never know it by the amount of money we invest into stocks, CD’s or other ventures. We all believe thatMoshiach is about to come but you’d never know it by the mansions we build for ourselves in the USA.
A story is told of the man who was riding his motorcycle down a winding mountain road. He suddenly lost control and went flying down a steep cliff. As he went sailing through the thin air he shouts out: “God! Please save me!” Within moments his shirt gets caught in a protruding tree branch and he is left dangling hundreds of feet above the ground. Once again he shouts out to God to save him. “Do you trust Me?” calls a voice from heaven. “Yes, I certainly do” is his reply. “Okay, then,” says the voice. “Let go of the branch and I’ll catch you.” The man thinks for a moment, looks around, and calls out: “Is there anyone else out there to catch me?”
Unfortunately our faith and trust in Hashem can use an upgrade. This in fact is the reason and purpose of recounting the story of yetzias Mitzrayim in its every detail. “And even if we are all wise and old and know the entire Torah,” we can still upgrade our level of belief in Hashem. We must continuously ask ourselves (Tona D’bei Eliyahu Rabbah Perek 25:2) “mo’’sai ya’gia mi’si l’mis’ei avos’ai.” – When will we reach the level of our great avos who would jump into a burning fire to prove their level of belief in Him? Perhaps if we set very high goals, then we will at least make it up the first few rungs of the high ladder that reaches into the heaven itself. No wonder it is “V’chol ha’marbe, l’saper b’ytzias Mitzrayim harei zeh m’shuboch.”
“B’sho’oh Sh’yesh Matzah U’moror Munachim L’fonecha”
By Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum
The Torah tells us that we must recount the story of our exodus from Mitzrayim only when we have the matzo and marror placed in front of us. The story is far more meaningful and of greater significance when it is combined with the practical observance of amitzvah. It’s only when we have the matzah and morror placed right in front of us that our story takes on greater meaning. The visual reality of actually seeing the bitter herbs and matza makes it all seem more real and effective. While every single day of our lives we always mention our liberation from Egyptian slavery, on the night of Pesach we must not just recount it but be must try to relive it as well. This can only be done when one has the proper props on the table in front of him. Pictures make it come alive. Having a sample of the actual species in order to show us what it once looked like helps add realism to the story and help us experience it vicariously. That’s why we begin the Hagadah with “Ho lachma anya.” – This is the bread of our affliction. While the reason we eat the matzah is because Hashem took us out in a very big hurry as we explain later on, we begin the story of our exodus by pointing to the matzah that we ate during our slavery in order to remind us of what it was like being slaves in Mitzrayim.