Lockdown, quarantine, social distancing, isolation… Whatever you call it, we are experiencing a potential disaster unprecedented in our lifetime. In such times, it is natural to find remozim in the Torah of how this will lead to our final redemption. One of these remozim that has been publicized of late is a Baal Haturim (Shemos 12:8), who juxtaposes the geulah from Mitzrayim and the final redemption. Just as by Yetzias Mitzrayim we were commanded, “You shouldn’t go out from the door of your house until the morning” (Shemos 12:22), so too, at the final redemption, we will be isolated in our homes. What is the significance of remaining closed up inside?
We don’t have nevi’im to tell us exactly what the meaning of these events is. We are living in an age of tremendous hester ponim. But Hashem has given us the chachmei haTorah throughout the generations to guide us and explain what we must extract from the times we live in. Recently, I saw a maamar from Rav Avigdor Miller regarding this parsha that contains such clarity, a salve for the eyes and a balm for the soul.
Why were the Yidden commanded not to leave their houses on that fateful night of Pesach? Rashi quotes the Mechilta that it was dangerous to be out in the streets, for once permission is given to the destroyer to do his job, he does not differentiate between the righteous and the wicked. If they went out into the street, they would suffer the same fate as their oppressors.
But this doesn’t seem fair. Why should the Yidden who were innocent be subject to the same fate as their tormentors? And wouldn’t it be wonderful for them to be able to go out and witness the punishment of those who tortured them?
Rav Miller explains that this is a matter of common sense. If the mashchis would differentiate between the righteous and the wicked, it would be clear to all which path to follow and how one must conduct himself. If so, there would be no koach habechirah and no nisayon to do what is right. Therefore, in this world of hester, the destroyer does not make distinctions between the tzaddik and the rasha.
The Mechilta then quotes a posuk that gives new insight into staying in their homes. Hashem says, “Leich ami bo bachadorecha… Go, My people, and come into your inner chambers and lock your doors behind you. Conceal yourself for a little while until the wrath passes by” (Yeshayah 26:20).
The locking of the doors behind them represented something very significant. It was a demonstration, a declaration, that they were hereby disassociating themselves from the Egyptian culture. At that time, Mitzrayim was the superpower of the world. They had a booming economy, a powerful army, and were advanced in sciences. It was difficult not to be impressed by their culture and not to be a part of it. But the true mashchis was this very culture. It was laden with avodah zarah, sorcery, immorality and apikorsus. In order for the Yidden to be redeemed from that golus, they first had to quarantine themselves from those spiritual germs and disassociate themselves from that poison.
This is what Hakadosh Boruch Hu meant when He requested that the Yidden enclose themselves in their inner chambers, rejecting the culture of Mitzrayim that seemed so enticing to the rest of the world, but, in reality, was poison for their neshamos.
Rav Miller related that he remembered a couple who had escaped from Germany and were staying at his shver’s house. On the night of the goyishe festival, they were listening to the radio to hear all of the songs. With tears in their eyes, they were longing for the hymns of their old country. Leaving golus means cutting all ties with the secular culture.
It may very well be that this is the Baal Haturim’s comparison between geulas Mitzrayim and the final redemption. In order for us to go free, we will have to disassociate ourselves from the secular culture we find ourselves in. Now, most definitely, we must be grateful that we live in a country where we enjoy freedom in a way we’ve never experienced in centuries. At the same time, we must remember that we are an Am Segulah and that we have a special sanctity about us. For this, we must shut the door to the outside and keep the spiritual germs away until the morning of geulah arrives.
Our gedolim are constantly warning us about the dangers of modern technology and how we must be wary of overindulging in gashmiyus. Pesach, the time most mesugal for the geulah, is when we must isolate ourselves from these hazards.
Rav Chaim Brisker would relate a moshol that was said by one of the renowned maggidim of that day. A businessman hired a baal aggalah to take him to a distant city in Russia. It was a long trip and the nights were bitterly cold. So, to warm himself up, the passenger took out a bottle of schnapps and gulped down a few shots. He fell into a deep slumber. Since the days of the Russian winter were very short, when the man woke up, it was night again. Not able to handle the cold, he took out his bottle of schnapps again and took a few drinks. Once again, he fell asleep throughout the night and the next day, and he woke up at night. It seemed like the Russian night never ended. He commented to the wagon driver how agitating it was that the night was so long.
The baal aggalah explained to him that this was not the same night as when he started. Because of his drinking, he slept through one day and then a second and a third. What is the nimshol?
A prophecy regarding golus Edom: Klal Yisroel cries out to Hashem, “‘Watchman (Hashem who watches over us), what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?’ The Watchman said, ‘Morning is coming, but also the night. If you really desire it, repent and come’” (Yeshayah 21:11).
There have been numerous days, times that were mesugal for geulah. But we must make sure not to squander the opportunity by falling asleep as we are preoccupied with other matters. We must cry out to Hashem that He end the long and bitter night of golus and bring Moshiach bekarov.
Just a short closing vort. To the son who cannot ask, we say the posuk, “Ba’avur zeh asah Hashem li betzeisi miMitzrayim” (Shemos 13:8). The word li has two letters, lamid, which is the longest one, and yud, which is the smallest. Two letters so different, yet right next to each other. Similarly, the Almighty Hashem, who encompasses the entire world, brings a little Yid right next to Him.
Hashem cherishes every Yid, even one who is not capable of asking. Not only this, but a Yid shares power with Hakadosh Boruch Hu, being able to control world events with our Torah, tefillah and chesed. Let us utilize these powers and cry out to Hashem that He bring an end to our misery and bring the geulah sheleimah.
Chag kosher vesomeiach.