Shabbos Parashas Bo

In this week’s parashah, Hashem tells us to designate the month of Nisan, the month in which the redemption from Egypt took place, as the first month of the year (Shemos 12:2): “This month shall be unto you the chief of the months; it shall be the first unto you of the months of the year.” The Midrash expounds (Shemos Rabbah 15:11):
Thus it is written (Tehillim 33:12): “Well established is the nation that Hashem is their God.” When the Holy One Blessed Be He chose His world, He established within it firsts of the months and the years, and when He chose Yaakov and his sons, He established [the month of Nisan] as the first of months in regard to redemption. In this month, the Jewish People were redeemed from Egypt and in this month they will experience the final redemption, as it is written (Micah 7:15): “As in the days of your going out from Egypt I will show you wonders.” In this month Yitzchak was born and in this month he was bound [upon the altar]. In this month Yaakov received the blessings [from Yitzchak], and Hashem indicated to the Jewish People that this month is first unto them for salvation, as it is written: “It shall be first unto you of the months of the year.”
The Maggid offers two interpretations of this Midrash, which we present below.
1. The Torah’s declaration that “this month shall be unto you the chief of the months” indicates a new development was taking place. The added phrase “unto you” is meant to stress that it was a new development specifically for the Jewish People, but not for Hashem.
To understand the import of this, consider a nation that is accepting a king to rule it. The new king is entering a new role as king, and the nation is entering a new role as the king’s subjects. Now, in the Nisan of the exodus, the Jewish People entered a new role as a nation under Hashem’s rule. But for Hashem the role of king was not new, for He already held this role. Hashem was King of the Universe from its very beginning – indeed, in the Adon Olam prayer we describe Hashem as the “Eternal Lord, who reigned before any being was created.” And Hashem was king over our forefathers, and He brought about many wonders for them, especially in the month of Nisan. The new development was that the Jewish People was entering the role of being Hashem’s nation, for whom He would also bring out wonders. When the Midrash quotes the verse in Tehillim stating that “well established is the nation that Hashem is their God,” the Midrash is highlighting the fact that our God is Hashem, the Eternal One, who was, is, and always will be, and that the exodus marks a new beginning for us but not for Him.
2. In Tehillim 94:14 it is written: “For Hashem shall not cast off His people, and His heritage He shall not abandon.” Similarly, in Yeshayah 54:10 it is written: “‘For the mountains may be moved and the hills may falter, but My kindness shall not be removed from you and My covenant of peace shall not falter,’ says Hashem, the One who shows you compassion.” The Midrash in Bereishis Rabbah 44:5 records the following exchange between Avraham and Hashem after Avraham’s victory against the kings:
Avraham said before the Holy One Blessed Be He, “Master of the Universe! You made a covenant with Noach that You would not wipe out his descendants. I arose and amassed more mitzvos and good deeds that he, and the covenant with me pushed aside the covenant with him. Perhaps someone else will come and amass more mitzvos and good deeds than I, and the covenant with me will be pushed aside by the covenant with him.” Replied the Holy One Blessed Be He: “From Noach’s descendants I did not bring forth righteous people as defenders, but from your descendants I will bring forth righteous people as defenders.”
We might think that Hashem’s love for us stems primarily from the day we received the Torah and accepted the yoke of His kingship. And we might therefore think that if we lapse in observing the Torah, Hashem will, far be it, nullify the covenant with us just as He nullified the covenant with Noach when Avraham came on the scene, as the Midrash describes. This notion is false, and indeed the prophet Hoshea was punished for suggesting to Hashem that He exchange us for another nation. In order to dispel this false notion, the Midrash we quoted from Shemos Rabbah presents a clear proof that we our relationship with Hashem will continue forever. The Midrash tells us that when Hashem chose Yaakov and his sons, He established the month of Nisan as the first of months in regard to redemption, and designated this month, in which we were redeemed from Egypt, as the month in which we will experience the final redemption. From this we see that our existence as a nation and Hashem’s connection with us will endure for all time.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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