April 10, 2024
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Geulah: The Beginning and the End

First Day of Pesach

In a very real sense, this first day of Pesach celebrates not only the beginning of the redemption, but its completion as well. The exodus from Egypt which is marked today was only the beginning of the redemptive process, as the Ramban points out in his introduction to Sefer Shemot. That process was completed only forty years later with Israel’s entry into the land. Although is true that these events did not occur on the exact same day (the fifteenth of Nisan) the respective dates are, however, close enough (the Israelites entered the land on the tenth of Nisan) to see them as completing a logical course of events, one with a starting point and a fitting closure.

Today’s Torah reading relates to us the very first korban Pesach, Paschal sacrifice, one that was offered in Egypt just some hours before the exodus itself. In a similar fashion, today’s haftarah relates to us the very first korban Pesach that was offered in the Land of Israel, just some days after the entry of Bnei Yisrael into Eretz Yisrael. (Note: There was no mitzvah to offer the korban Pesach in the desert. That mitzvah was to be fulfilled only upon entering Eretz Yisrael [see Shemot 13:5] which is why Hashem had to command the special observance of korban Pesach on the one-year “anniversary” of yetziat Mitzrayim [see BaMidbar 9:2]). In the Torah we read how the Israelites were told to start preparing the korban Pesach on the tenth of Nisan, and it was on the tenth of Nisan that, 40 years later, Hashem reminds Yehoshua to prepare for the korban Pesach by circumcising all those were not circumcised, so that they could participate in the Paschal offering. (In fact, Rashi contends that the Israelite males in Egypt were also circumcised right before korban Pesach, on the day before they left Egypt).

Therefore, it is not surprising to read of a familiar scene at the closing of our haftarah, when Hashem reveals Himself to Yehoshua (through an angel) and tells him to remove his shoe because the ground upon which he stood was holy ground. This scene, of course, is reminiscent of God’s revelation to Moshe at the burning bush, the very beginning of the story of the exodus. But more striking is the fact that the exact same words are used in both stories, with the only exception being that Moshe was asked to remote both shoes, “shal n’olecha,” while Yehoshua was told to remove one shoe, “shal na’al’cha.”

The striking parallels awaken us to the fact that our entry into Eretz Yisrael was not simply the beginning of a new era, but the closing of a past one. It was a reminder that Hashem promised not only “v’hotzeiti, v’hitzalti, v’ga’alti, v’lakachti,” to remove and save us from bondage, to redeem us and make us His nation, but also “v’heiveiti,” to bring us into the land he pledged to our forefathers. And with that alone, the final stage of redemption was completed.

And as this was true in the past, so it is true today as well!


Rabbi Neil Winkler is the rabbi emeritus of the Young Israel of Fort Lee and now lives in Israel.

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