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.

1 comment:

RS said...

Ralbag identifies the mode of eating korban Pesach ie eating it with belts tied, walking stick in hand it and with matza and marror, as being instrumental qua חִפָּזוֹן to the tachlit of extraction from their false beliefs. What is the relation of חִפָּזוֹן to this tachlit of extraction?

The false belief they needed to be extracted from was from a specific form of minnus keri Ralbag identifies as being intimately related to Mazal Tleh- Aries the sheep. What does that mean in modern language?
The concept, I believe is essentially that which we today associate with the Environmentalist movement. In this worldview, Aretz is a particular system endowed with a life producing force. Respecting this force is the prime value such people organize their lives around. So important is obedience to the dictates of Mother Earth that the more extreme environmentalists will kill to preserve one of her species from Earths enemy the evil man. To one degree or another everyone has this metaphor of a nurturing mother Earth however- we all have some notion of the unique ability of the Earth to sustain life that makes our ongoing reception of resources from the environment seem rational. For Egypt, this metaphor used to give Earths life giving quality coherence was not Mother Earth but Aries the sheep. The sheep was therefore related to the Life giving power of the sun and the power of fire the energy of all industry (see Seforno on Vayakhel why lo tivaaru Esh is a special issue).

Interestingly, all metaphors of Earth as ecosystem have the quality of leaving a vacuum of hashgachic purpose open for Pharoah to impose his design of yishuv. There is no moral limit upon man's freedom to create the yishuv of his choosing only an uneasy alliance with Mother Earth. There is always a sense therefore,that there is a limit on the Creation of yishuv imposed by the need to work within the ecosystem's metaphorical ways as we see in Global warming. The issue with global warming is not that we are wasting our lives upon pursuit of vain goods that are badui from our own hearts. The isssue rather is that we must pursue our badui within the limits of Mother Earths dictates.

The general idea of this fantastical notion of ecosystem is countered thru eating the korban itself. Rather than show subservience to the metaphor of the ecosytem we kill its life force representation and eat it.

The instruments involved in the mode of how we eat the korban differ based upon the level of mitzriyut of the eater. A substantial mitzri as Jews in Mitzraim, can only do the toar of readiness to leave as a demonstration of disbelief in the limits of sheep/Pharoah. The full understanding of bread as an artificial form imposed in rebellion against tikkun, would not be understood till Sinai. No longer were Jews imprisoned in the Minnus keri metaphors of the Mother earth kind. Olam ha-zeh the potentia for a complete apprehension of his kadosh Good in Olam haba rather than Mother earth the potentia for complete implementation of our own chosen good became our understanding of Aretz. It is then that a new concept of Oloam Hazeh giving new meaning to the zura giving taclit to the entire gamut of instruments of yishuv from bread to clothing tohouse to aretz is crystalized.Hatova hagedola lyishuv haolom hazeh kidei linchol chayyei ha-olam haba.

After Sinai, the significance of the speed of Geula embodied in the tzuras hapas of matza alone became nikkar. We therefore essentially demonstrate our understanding of the mode of eating the korban without the other toarim that point to a new yishuv in potentia and substitute the new Bread that is the first instrument of the new olam hazeh in actuality.