Four Expressions of Redemption

מרן הגאב"ד שליט"א
  • הדפסה

לכן אמור לבני ישראל אני ה' והוצאתי אתכם מתחת סבלות מצרים והצלתי אתכם מעבודתם וגאלתי אתכם בזרוע נטויה ובשפטים גדולים.  ולקחתי אתכם לי לעם והייתי לכם לאלקים וידעתם כי אני ה' אלקיכם המוציא אתכם מתחת סבלות מצרים[1]

Therefore, say to the Children of Israel: ‘I am Hashem, and I shall take you out from under the burdens of Egypt; I shall rescue you from their service; I shall redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.  I shall take you to Me for a people and I shall be a G-d to you; and you shall know that I am Hashem your G-d, Who takes you out from under the burdens of Egypt.

 

Rashi and Rashbam write[2] that the four cups of wine we drink at the Pesach Seder parallel the four expressions of redemption: והוצאתי—I shall take you out, והצלתי—I shall rescue you, וגאלתי—I shall redeem you, and ולקחתי—I shall take you.

One is allowed to drink between the first and second cups of wine, as well as between the second and third.  But between the third and the fourth it is forbidden to eat or drink.  Why is this so?  There are people who think that the redemption is about the physical deliverance from bondage, freedom and liberation from the yoke of the oppressor.  For such people, the first three expressions of redemption are sufficient, והוצאתי, והצלתי, and וגאלתי, I shall take [you] out, rescue [ you] and redeem [you].  The fourth one,אתכם לי לעם והייתי לכם לאלקים  ולקחתי, and I shall take you to Me for a people and I shall be a G-d to you—they are willing to forgo.  Our Sages teach us that the first three expressions of redemption are not the most significant aspects of redemption, and this is why it is permissible to drink between the first, second and third cups of wine.  But between the third and the fourth one cannot eat or drink because the crux of redemption is the redemption of the soul, and it is this redemption for which we are grateful—the salvation of the soul and the closeness to G-d, receiving the Beis HaMikdash and having the Divine Presence rest among us.  This is the point of redemption, as the Ramban says[3] “The exile did not end until the day [the people] returned to their place and returned to the stature of their forefathers.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

הוציאנו מעבדות לחרות

From Bondage to Freedom

Slavery is a harsh experience.  Within the hardship of slavery there are differing layers of difficulty: there is one type of slavery In which a slave has an evil master with malevolence in his heart, who tyrannizes without mercy.  This slave is subject to hard labor, and physical and emotional difficulties as well.  There is a second form of slavery where the master is kindhearted, but the slave is nonetheless subjected to hard work and has no respite.  There is yet another form of slavery where the master is kind and does not work the slave too hard, but the slave is still a slave, required to do as the master desires.  While under this last type of slavery the slave does not work too hard nor suffer under tyrannical rule, he is still a slave, not free to do as he pleases.

                Pharaoh was an evil tyrant under whom Bnei Yisrael were subjected to terribly harsh decrees of death and annihilation, in addition to the laborious work they were forced to do.  This is why the passuk uses the four different expressions of redemption: אתכם מתחת סבלות מצרים והוצאתי, I shall take you out from under the burdens of Egypt, and Bnei Yisrael will no longer suffer the harsh decrees of Pharaoh.  But that is not all; והצלתי אתכם מעבודתם, I shall rescue you from their service, and you will no longer have to work for them.  And additionally,בזרוע נטויה ובשפטים גדולים  וגאלתי אתכם, I shall redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments, and you will no longer be enslaved but free people living contentedly.  G-d had to take them out from under Pharaoh’s tyrannical rule, rescue them from their servitude, and enable them to become truly free individuals.  But above all, ולקחתי אתכם לי לעם והייתי לכם ולאלקים, I shall take you to Me for a people and I shall be a G-d to you.

על שום שמררו המצרים את חיי אבותינו במצרים[4]

[This Marror which we eat symbolizes how the] Mitzrim made the lives of our forefathers bitter in Egypt

                It seems incongruous that at the Seder, a time when we are commanded to act in ways representative of freedom and redemption, we not only mention, but emphasize, the bondage and enslavement in Egypt.  Yet this seeming incongruity is there to teach us a profound lesson: that even that which appears in our eyes to be bad is actually good, for all G-d’s attributes are merciful, and כל מאן דעביד רחמנא לטב עביד[5], everything that G-d does is for the good.

                The passuk in Devarim states בנים אתם לה' אלקיכם לא תתגודדו ולא תשימו קרחה בין עיניכם למת[6], You are children to Hashem, your G-d—you shall not cut yourselves and you shall not make a bald spot between your eyes for a dead person.  Says the Ibn Ezra,          “He [G-d] loves you more than a father loves a son and therefore do not mutilate yourselves because of what He does, for whatever he does is for the good.  And if you do not understand what He does, [it is like] the small children who do not [always] understand their father’s actions but they trust him.  So too should you do.”

R’ Akiva exemplified this characteristic.  When calamity struck he would say כל מאן דעביד רחמנא לטב עביד[7].  The Gemara[8] describes how when R’ Akiva was caught by the Romans and was being executed for learning Torah, he rejoiced.  Elsewhere the Gemara[9] describes how R’ Akiva saw the good and kindness in the sickness and suffering of his great master, R’ Eliezer ben Horkanos.  R’ Akiva even saw G-d’s kindness in the exile of the Jewish people and the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash.[10]

I once heard from my teacher, the great Rebbe of Sanz  ZT”L, that the reason we cover our eyes when we say Shema is that at the moment we accept upon ourselves the yoke of heaven,[11] we state ה' אלקינו ה' אחד, Hashem our G-d is One; namely, the attribute of G-d’s mercy (represented by the name הוי'), and the attributes of G-d’s judgment (represented by the name אלקים) are really the same.  Even that which appears to us to be an act of judgment is really enveloped in mercy.  This is why we cover our eyes when we state ה' אלקינו ה' אחד.  We cover the eyes physically to demonstrate that we do not “see” the goodness that is inherent even in judgment, and that in fact כל מאן דעביד רחמנא לטב עביד, everything that G-d does is for the good.

"אל תירא מרדה מצרימה... ויוסף ישית ידו על עיניך[12]" do not fear going down to Egypt…and Joseph shall place his hand on your eye.  The Kol Aryeh explains in his preface that Yaakov was fearful of going down to Egypt, and G-d was telling him that even if initially the going down to Egypt appears to be a harsh decree, in the end it will be clearly revealed that it was for the good.  Just like the selling of Yosef, which at first appeared as though the attribute of דין had targeted Yaakov (his son being thrown into a pit and then sold to the Ishmaelites); in the end it became clear that G-d had sent Yosef down to Egypt to ensure their sustenance during the famine.  This is why the passuk says ויוסף ישית ידו על עיניך, and Yosef shall place his hand on your eyes, just like we do when we say Shema, to show that we are confident in our faith that inherent in the דין is abundant mercy—we just haven’t merited seeing the mercy as of yet.  The Zohar alludes to this and states on this passuk דא היא רזא דקריאת שמע, this [the story of Yosef being sold and Yaakov going down to Egypt] is the secret of Shema

The Kol Aryeh quotes the Chassam Sofer who explains the passuk "וראית את אחורי ופני לא יראו"[13] and you will see My back, but My face may not be seen.  He explains that it is not within our power to see the inner kindnesses of G-d, inherent in the judgment בראיית פנים, meaning, prior to the events happening.  But וראית את אחורי, you shall see My back, from behind, in hindsight, we and future generations  see clearly the extent of G-d’s goodness.

According to this, we can explain the following Gemara[14]:

Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav: When Moshe ascended to the Heavenly Heights [to receive the Torah] he found the Holy One, Blessed is He, as He was sitting and attaching crowns to some of the letters.  [That is, although the Torah was completely written, He was still adding tagin to certain letters,]  He [Moshe] said before Him, “Master of the Universe, who is holding you back from giving the Torah as it is?”  [G-d] said to him, “There is one man who is destined to exist at the end of many generations, Akiva ben Yosef is his name, and it is he who will expound upon each and every point heaps and heaps of halachos.”  [Moshe] said before [G-d], “Master of the Universe, show him to me!”   [G-d] said to him, חזור לאחריך   Turn around and see what is behind you.”  He found himself in R’ Akiva’s class.  Moshe went and sat at the end of eight rows of students, but as he listened to the give-and-take between R’ Akiva and his students, he did not understand what they were saying.  Disheartened, [Moshe’s] strength ebbed.  However, once they reached a certain matter that required a source, [R’ Akiva’s] students asked him, “Teacher, from where do you know this?”  [R’ Akiva] replied to them, “It is a halachah transmitted orally to Moshe at Sinai.”  Upon hearing this, [Moshe’s] mind was relieved.  He returned and came before the Holy One, Blesses be He. [Moshe] said before Him, “Master of the Universe, You have someone like this and You give the Torah through me?!  Give it through R’ Akiva!”  [G-d] said to him, Quiet!כך עלה במחשבה לפני  Thus has it arisen in the thoughts before Me; this is part of My greater plan to which you are not privy.”  [Moshe] said before Him, “Master of the Universe, You have shown me his Torah, now show me his reward.”  [G-d] said to him, חזור לאחריך  Turn around and see what is behind you.”  [Moshe] turned around and saw that people were weighing the flesh from [R’ Akiva’s body] in the butchers’ meat market in order to sell it.  [Moshe] said before Him, “Master of the Universe! This is Torah and this is its reward?!” [G-d] said to him, “Quiet! כך עלה במחשבה לפני, this is part of My greater plan to which you are not privy.”

When Moshe became enraged at the death of R’ Akiva, G-d said to him, I have already told you וראית את אחורי   you will understand things in hindsight, but ופני לא יראו, as things unfold you will not understand.  This decree of R’ Akiva’s death is מלפני and therefore you cannot understand it, so !חזור לאחוריך—in hindsight, you will understand, but not as it unfolds.

Based on the above, we can glean new meaning from the following Chassam Sofer.   The Mishna[15] lists five types of bitter herbs which are suitable for Maror at the Seder.  The Gemara there states that חסה (lettuce), alludes to חס רחמנא עלן, G-d have mercy upon us.  The Chassam Sofer writes that there is a mnemonic in the תמכא (wild lettuce/burdcok) as well.   תמכא is an acronym for תמיד מספרים כבוד א-ל, constantly declaring the glory of G-d.  The Chassam Sofer writes further that his Rebbe Rabbi Nosson Adler searched for a vegetable called כרפס and heard from the מהרי"ל that the כרפס is a vegetable known to them as אפיא.   אפיא is an acronym for א-ל פועל ישועות אתה, you effect salvations, O G-d.

 

It seems that the Chassam Sofer’s goal is not merely to find acronyms, rather that this is the purpose of eating Maror, namely, that we should declare the glory of G-d, even during the darkest days when the land is cloaked in darkness, even when we don’t openly see His kindness.  We should believe that He, at all times and forever, is a G-d who effects salvations, and brings about the cure from the affliction itself.



[1] שמות ו':ו'-ז'

[2] פסחים צ"ט ע"ב

[3] Ramban, in his introduction to Sefer Shemos.

[4] הגדה של פסח

[5] ברכות ס' ע"ב

[6] דברים י"ד: א'

[7]ברכות ס' ע"ב

[8] ירושלמי, ברכות ט':ה', סוטה, ה':ה'

[9] סנהדרין ק"א ע"א

[10] מכות כ"ד ע"א For further insight see the Introduction to Sefer Shemos, page XXX

[11] As stated in ברכות י"ג ע"א

[12] בראשית מ"ו:ג'-ד'

[13]  שמות ל"ג:כ"ג

[14]מנחות כ"ט ע"ב

[15] פסחים ל"ט ע"א