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Parshas Shemini - Where Do We Go From Here?

By BJLife/Reb Dovid Fink

Posted on 04/13/18

So Pesach has passed.  Another beautiful YomTov where we stop our regular lives to focus on a particular event in our history and engage in some unique Mitzvos of the Chag.  Peasach is different than the other Yomim Tovim in that at the Seder there is a requirement that we feel like we ourselves were taken out from Mitzrayim.  During the whole year there is a Mitzvah to “remember” Yitzias Mitzrayim[1], but at the Seder there is an additional Mitzvah to tell over the story of Yitzias Mitzrayim (Sipur).  What then do we leave with when the last Matzah is eaten and the dishes are put away?  Do we engage in this extra Mitzvah of Sipur Yitzias Mitzrayim only at the Seder and then return to the mundane as soon as Yom Tov is over.  Are we now relegated back to “remembering” Yitzias Mitzrayim twice a day in Kriyas Shema?


Perhaps not.  In this weeks Parsha we are given the halachos of what we are and are not permitted to eat.  The animals, birds and fish which are Kosher and permitted and those that are not.  (Shmini 11:1-43)  Immediately following the instruction of what is permitted to eat the Torah tells us what appears to be the “reason” for these commandments.  “Because I am Hashem your G-d and you should sanctify yourselves and be holy because I am holy” (Shmini 11:44) In the very next Pasuk, The Torah tells us that “I brought you up from Mitzrayim to be your G-d and you should be holy because I am holy.” (Shmini 11:45)  It really is that simple.  Hashem instructs us on multiple occasions to emulate his middos, to enlighten the world as to the way to live one’s life. 


We really are what we eat. We are forbidden to eat predatory creatures and for the most part are permitted to eat the more docile animals.  And then the connection is made.  That is why Hashem brought us up from Mitzrayim.  Not to simply remember the day and mark the occasion but rather for it to become part of who we are.  When Pesach is over we are not to return to business as usual.  Rather, we are to remember why we were brought up – to sanctify ourselves and be Hashem’s ambassadors in this world.  Indeed, the days after Peasach are marked by the counting of the Omer which leads to Shavuos and Kabbalas Hatorah.   By remembering our role and our charge we can begin the necessary aliyah to reach Matan Torah. 


 Peasach is more fundamental to us than any of the other Yomim Tovim.  Yitzias Mitzrayim is the reason given for everything.  It is obviously the reason for Eating Matzah and Korbon Pesach but it is also the reason for keeping Shabbos (Vaeschanan 5:15); the reason for lending without interest (Behar 25:37) and so much more.  It is at the core of who we are – Hashem’s chosen people.  It is why we were brought out.  Today should be anything but mundane.







[1]  It’s actually unclear if “remembering” Yitzias Mitzrayim all year is a Mitzvah.  The Rambam cites Rashi for the proposition that we are supposed to “remember” twice a day in Shema but strangely omits this “remembering” in his enumeration of the Mitzvos.  Some explain that the Rambam held that remembering is simply a function to remind us why we do the mitzvos, but is not a mitzvah in and of it self.