Monday, March 27, 2006

Pesach Mitzrayim and Matza II

The following are my thoughts which are either based on or are in response to RS's comments (please forgive my sloppy presentation):

The mitzvot related to חִפָּזוֹן were only for the pesach of Mitzrayim. Ralbag posits that matza and marror were also done because of חִפָּזוֹן, if so then why would matza and marror remain for all generation and the other mitzvot fall away if they are all done because of חִפָּזוֹן? In truth all the mitzvot of korban pesach that were done in Mitzrayim were done for different reasons then the mitzvot of the post-Har Sinai korban pesach. This is because the purpose of pesach mitzrayim is different from the purpose of pesach l'dorot.

Four things must now be clarified: A) What was the purpose of pesach mitzrayim? B) Why did pesach mitzrayim require חִפָּזוֹן? C) What was the purpose of pesach l'dorot? D) Why is pesach l'dorot eaten with matza and marror?

The entire procedure of the korban pesach in Mitzrayim, culminating with its consumption, was to demonstrate the rejection of Mitzri idolatry. In order to demonstrate their absolute conviction that Hashem would immediately redeem them they ate it with חִפָּזוֹן. The חִפָּזוֹן itself was a blow to the false power structure of Pharoe. One would think that even if Pharoe were defeated it would still be necessary to go through the slow diplomatic process of arranging the release of the Hebrew slaves - nothing can happen overnight in politics; certainly some negotiations would have to occur. The geula from Mitzrayim was different - it did not occur through any know causal structure - it did not occur by playing to a pompous bureaucracy. This is the meaning of "lo al y'dei malach" - not through any know causal system - it was HaKadosh Bar'chu:
וַיּוֹצִיאֵנוּ ה מִמִּצְרַיִם--לֹא עַל יְדֵי מַלְאָךְ, לֹא עַל יְדֵי שָׂרָף, לֹא עַל יְדֵי שָׁלִיחַ, אֵלָא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בִּכְבוֹדוֹ: כְּמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר "וְעָבַרְתִּי בְאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם, בַּלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה, וְהִכֵּיתִי כָל בְּכוֹר בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם, מֵאָדָם וְעַד בְּהֵמָה; וּבְכָל אֱלֹהֵי מִצְרַיִם אֶעֱשֶׂה שְׁפָטִים, אֲנִי ה" שמות יב,יב
The entire power structure of Mitzrayim was reduced to rubble. The immediacy of their exodus further demonstrated this breakdown. B'nei Yisrael demonstrated their absolute trust in Hashem - that he would take them out of Mitzrayim immediately as a direct result of eating the korban pesach.

Yitziat mitzrayim was the ultimate demonstration of Hashem's absolute dominion and the utter fantasy of human power. The enslavement made absolutely clear where the fantasy of human power must lead - tyranny and oppression. Tyranny can only occur when man believes that all is happenstance - keri - and matter for man's dominion. Before Sinai B'nei Yisrael had rejected the power of Mitzrayim but could not fully accept the yoke of heaven until Har Sinai.

What was the new significane of the korban pesach post-Sinai? Rabban Gamliel says:
פֶּסַח שֶׁהָיוּ אֲבוֹתֵינוּ אוֹכְלִין בִּזְמָן שֶׁבֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ קַיָּם, עַל שֵׁם מָה--עַל שֵׁם שֶׁפָּסַח הַמָּקוֹם עַל בָּתֵּי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ בְּמִצְרַיִם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר "וַאֲמַרְתֶּם זֶבַח פֶּסַח הוּא לַה, אֲשֶׁר פָּסַח עַל בָּתֵּי בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּמִצְרַיִם, בְּנָגְפּוֹ אֶת מִצְרַיִם, וְאֶת בָּתֵּינוּ הִצִּיל; וַיִּקֹּד הָעָם, וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲווּ" שמות יב,כז.
We must focus on how our households were saved in Mitzrayim and we were not afflicted with the plague of the first born. We no longer eat the pesach to reject the Mitzri idolatry - it becomes an instrumentality of our ever deepening recognition of and gratitude for Hashem's hashgacha. In this framework matza and marror must take on a new significance. Before Sinai B'nei Yisrael had rejected the power of Mitzrayim but could not fully accept the yoke of heaven until Har Sinai. The post Sinai matza is the bread of subserviance to Hashem's dominion. The eved Hashem is not preocuppied with the form of his bread - he is not interested in its pleasure producing characteristics. As one reflects on Hashem's hashgacha while eating the pesach the bread of subservience to Hashem's design is eaten. The purpose of the marror requires further thought.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Pesach Mitzrayim and Matza

Why were b'nei yisrael in Mitzrayim commanded to eat the korban pesach with matza (see Sh'mot 12:8)? It can not be because they left quickly and were unable to let their dough rise (12:34, 39) because that event only occured after they ate their korban pesach in the evening (see 12:22 they were not allowed to leave their houses until the morning). In fact the command to have a chag hamatzos seems to have come only after they left Mitzrayim (check out Leibtag's essay for more).

So why were b'nei yisrael commanded to eat the korban pesach with matza? The Ralbag has an interesting approach. In Sh'mot 12:11:
יא וְכָכָה, תֹּאכְלוּ אֹתוֹ--מָתְנֵיכֶם חֲגֻרִים, נַעֲלֵיכֶם בְּרַגְלֵיכֶם וּמַקֶּלְכֶם בְּיֶדְכֶם; וַאֲכַלְתֶּם אֹתוֹ בְּחִפָּזוֹן, פֶּסַח הוּא לַָה.
In Ralbag's biur of 12:8 and later in the third toelet he suggests that the korban pesach was eaten with matza because of the need for חִפָּזוֹן.

In his biur on 12:11 the Ralbag explains the reason for חִפָּזוֹן.
...they ate it בְּחִפָּזוֹן and quickly in the manner of people who are planning to go on a journey in order to arouse them to the notion that Pharoe would definitely send them out this time - even though his heart had been hardened in all the previous makkot; in this way their belief in Hashem would increase when they would see that what Hashem promised was fulfilled; this is because the entire purpose was to remove them from their false beliefs and to bring them to the true belief - in this manner they would fully attain true human felicity and be fit to inherit the land, as was previously discussed. It is clear that this command was only in regards to the pesach of Mitzrayim.
The Ralbag seems to be saying that the reason for the חִפָּזוֹן was to increase the peoples trust in Hashem. This answer seems incomplete. חִפָּזוֹן would certainly explain why they had to have their belts tied and their walking stick in hand etc. but not why they ate it with matza and marror. As the Ralbag himself points out the mitzvot related to חִפָּזוֹן were only for the pesach of Mitzrayim. Why would matza and marror remain for all generation and the other mitzvot fall away if they are all done because of חִפָּזוֹן? I do not think the Ralbag answers this question. Further thought is required.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Ahavat Hashem

On Shabbos I was discussing the mitzva of ahavat hashem with DE. He had a very interesting insight into the Rambam's mashal in the last chapter of Hilchot Teshuva.
וכיצד היא האהבה הראויה: הוא שיאהוב את ה' אהבה גדולה יתרה רבה, עזה עד מאוד, עד שתהא נפשו קשורה באהבת ה', ונמצא שוגה בה תמיד--כאלו חולי האהבה, שאין דעתם פנויה מאהבת אותה אישה שהוא שוגה בה תמיד, בין בשוכבו בין בקומו, בין בשעה שהוא אוכל ושותה. יתר מזה תהיה אהבת ה' בלב אוהביו, ושוגים בה תמיד, כמו שציוונו, "בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך" (דברים ו,ה; דברים י,יב; דברים ל,ו). והוא ששלמה אומר דרך משל, "כי חולת אהבה, אני" (שיר השירים ב,ה); וכל שיר השירים משל הוא לעניין זה.

There the Rambam compares the absolute preoccupation that the ohev hashem has with his ahava to the preoccupation a love sick man has for his beloved woman. DE wanted to extend the implication of this mashal and said that when one falls in love with a woman it is a singular experience. There are no emotions that one can compare that experience to. For the love-sick man the beloved is the fulfillment of deeply rooted psychological needs and yearnings; the experience of love is all consuming and singular. So to, the ahava that one has for Hashem is singular; there is no experience one can compare it to but for a different reason - the love of Hashem is not the fulfillment of a bodily/psychological need it is the fulfillment and actualization of the nefesh. The ahava experience is in the psyche - "בלב אוהביו" - but on account of its radically different object the experience is quantitatively greater - "יתר מזה" - than the love of a woman.

At the end of the fourth chapter of Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah the Rambam says:
בזמן שאדם מתבונן בדברים אלו, ומכיר כל הברואים ממלאך וגלגל ואדם וכיוצא בו, ויראה חכמתו של הקדוש ברוך הוא בכל היצורים וכל הברואים--מוסיף אהבה למקום, ותצמא נפשו ויכמה בשרו לאהוב המקום ברוך הוא; ויירא ויפחד משפלותו ודלותו וקלותו, כשיערוך עצמו לאחד מהגופות הקדושים הגדולים, וכל שכן לאחד מהצורות הטהורות הנפרדות מן הגלמים, שלא נתחברו בגולם כלל. וימצא עצמו, שהוא ככלי מלא בושה וכלימה, ריק וחסר
What does it mean to be macir all the creations and see chakhmato in all of them? The mashal would be to an orchestra. When one hears a beautiful symphonic movement one does not assume it occurred by happenstance, at first one is impressed by the great skill of the musicians but then one realizes that the real praise goes to the conductor. Without the conductor's masterful orchestration, no matter how skilled the musicians, the result will only be cacophonous. Hashem's creation is not composed of individuals, but of a vast array of systems that all function harmoniously together. To be macir the creations is to see the beautiful function of each system (the sections of musicians: violins, cellos, violas, bases). To see chakhmato in all of them is to apprehend the beautiful orchestration and the chakhma of the great Conductor (Hashem Tz'vakot, M'lo Khol HaAretz K'vodo)

This kind of knowledge is more that of the generalist than the specialist. It does not seem that one would need advanced degrees in physics to have this kind of knowledge. It does imply a kind of approach to studying creation which is not common but was beautifuly described by Einstein:
But the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation...His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection. This feeling is the guiding principle of his life and work, in so far as he succeeds in keeping himself from the shackles of selfish desire. It is beyond question closely akin to that which has possessed the religious geniuses of all ages. ("The Religiousness of Science", The World As I See It, The Citadel Press, Secaucus, NJ, 1934, p.29)

It sounds like Einstein was reading the Rambam.