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Pesach Readings II

21-22 Nisan 5779


Exodus 13:17-15:26


When Pharaoh lets the Children of Israel go out from Egypt, God does not lead them by the more direct route through the land of the Philistines, lest they retreat to Egypt in the face of war.  Instead, He leads the people around by way of the wilderness at the Reed Sea.  The Children of Israel go up from Egypt organized for battle.  Moses takes the bones of Joseph with him to fulfill the promise that Joseph had obtained from the Children of Israel before his death (cf. Genesis 50:25).  They set out from Sukkot and encamp at Etham at the edge of the wilderness.  Constantly the Eternal shows them the way during the day with a pillar of cloud and lights the way for them at night with a pillar of fire, allowing them to travel both day and night without interruption.


The Eternal tells Moses to instruct the Children of Israel to go back and encamp facing Pi-hachirot and Baal-tsephon between Migdol and the Sea.  Pharaoh would then imagine the Children of Israel to have lost their way in the wilderness.  The Eternal would empower Pharaoh’s will to pursue them: “Thus will I gain glory through Pharaoh and through all of his army so that Egypt will know that I am the Eternal!” (14:4)  The Children of Israel act accordingly.

When the king of Egypt is told that the people has fled, Pharaoh and his servants regret having released Israel from serving them.  Pharaoh harnesses his chariot and takes all the chariots of Egypt, all commanded by officers, and among them 600 elite chariots.  His will empowered by the Eternal, Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and the Egyptians pursue the Children of Israel even as they depart determinedly.  They are overtaken at their encampment near the Sea, near Pi-hachirot facing Baal-tsephon, by all of Pharaoh’s chariot horses, horsemen and army.

Frightened at Pharaoh’s approach, “the Children of Israel cry out to the Eternal” (14:10).  Sarcastically, they blame Moses for risking their lives in the wilderness: “Were there no graves in Egypt so that you had to take us out to die in the wilderness?!” (14:11-12)  Did we not tell you at the time that we preferred Egyptian bondage to death in the wilderness?!  Moses entreats the people not to fear but to remain confident and witness “salvation by the Eternal which He will perform for you on this day!” (14:13)  Today will be the last day that you will see the Egyptians, for ever: the Eternal will fight on your behalf, and you, be quietly confident!


The Eternal says to Moses: “Why do you cry out to Me?  Tell the Children of Israel to proceed with their journey, and you, lift your staff and extend your hand over the sea, and divide it, so that the Children of Israel can march into the sea on dry ground!” (14:15-16)  I, for My part, will embolden the Egyptians to go after them.  Thereby shall I gain glory through Pharaoh, his army, his chariots, and his horsemen, and Egypt will know that I am the Eternal!

God’s angel who was going before the Israelite camp moves behind them, as does the pillar of cloud, coming between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel.  With the cloud together with the darkness, it casts a spell upon the night, so that one does not approach the other all that night.  Moses extends his hand over the sea, and the Eternal drives back the sea with a strong east wind all that night, He turns the sea into dry ground, and the waters are divided.  “The Children of Israel march into the sea on dry ground with the waters as a wall for them on their right and on their left.” (14:22)

The Egyptians follow them into the sea with all of Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots and his horsemen.  By the morning, looking down from a pillar of fire and cloud, the Eternal wreaks havoc upon the Egyptian camp.  He starts by locking the chariots’ wheels.  As the Egyptians find it difficult to drive their chariots, they realize that the Eternal is fighting against them on Israel’s behalf.  Now the Egyptians attempt to flee from Israel!

Then the Eternal directs Moses once again to extend his hand over the sea, the result being that the waters return upon Egypt and upon its chariots and horsemen.  By morning the sea returns to its full strength.  Although the Egyptians seek to escape it, the Eternal hurls them into the midst of the sea.  The returning waters cover all of them, all of Pharaoh’s army that marched after them into the sea.  Not one of them remained, while the Children of Israel had walked through the sea on dry ground between the walls of water on their right and on their left.


As the Eternal on that day saves Israel from the hand of Egypt and Israel sees the Egyptians lying dead upon the shore of the sea, Israel perceives the great power which the Eternal has wielded against Egypt.  They fear the Eternal, and they believe in the Eternal and in Moses His servant.

Moses and Israel sing this song to the Eternal:

Let me sing to the Eternal, exceedingly triumphant;
horse and rider has He cast into the sea!

The Eternal, my strength and my song, has become my salvation;
this is my God, whom I enshrine, the God of my father, whom I exalt.

The Eternal is a man of war:
Pharaoh’s chariots and army has He thrown into the Sea of Reeds.

Your right hand, O Eternal, majestic in power;
Your right hand, O Eternal, shatters the enemy.

With Your nostrils’ blast waters are piled up, rivers stand still like a heap;
The enemy thinks: I shall pursue and overtake, I shall divide the spoil!
You blow with Your breath, the sea covers them;
they sink like lead in the mighty waters.

Who is like You among the gods, O Eternal!
Who is like You, majestic in holiness,
praiseworthily awesome, working wonders!

You stretch out Your right hand,
the earth swallows them;
You lead Your redeemed people
in lovingkindness and strength
to Your holy abode.

Peoples have heard, they tremble;
terror grips the inhabitants of Philistia.

Then the chiefs of Edom are dismayed,
trembling seizes the heads of Moab;
all the inhabitants of Canaan melt away.

Terror and dread fall upon them;
before Your immense power they become dumb as stone,
until the people You have redeemed crosses over.

You will bring them and establish them
in the mountain of your possession;
You have created a foundation for Your dwelling, O Eternal,
the sanctuary which Your hands have established, O Lord.

The Eternal will reign for ever and ever!

Then Miriam the prophetess, sister of Aaron, takes the timbrel,
and all of the women go out after her dancing with timbrels.

Miriam sings for them:

Let me sing to the Eternal, exceedingly triumphant;
horse and rider has He cast into the sea!


Moses directs Israel’s journey away from the Reed Sea to the wilderness of Shur.  They go for three days in the wilderness without finding water.  When they arrive at Marah, which means “bitter,” they were unable to drink its water because of its bitterness.  The people complain against Moses: “What shall we drink?” (15:24)  Moses cries out to the Eternal, who teaches him about a certain kind of wood, which he throws into the water.  The water becomes sweet.

This is the place of statute and ordinance.
This is the place of trial.

The teaching continues:

If you obey the Eternal your God and do what is right by Him, heeding His commandments and His statutes, then I will not impose upon you any of the malady that I have imposed upon Egypt, I, the Eternal, your Healer.

Numbers 28:19-25

Bring a fire offering, a burnt offering, for the Eternal: two bulls of the herd, one ram, and seven year-old lambs without blemish, and their meal offering of fine flour mixed with oil, three-tenths of a measure for the bull and two-tenths of a measure for the ram and one-tenth of a measure for each of the seven lambs.  Bring also one goat as a sin offering to seek atonement for you.  Bring these on each of the seven days: food, a fire offering of pleasant aroma for the Eternal in addition to the regular burnt offering which is brought every morning and its libation.  The seventh day shall be a holy convocation for you: do not perform work of service.


Haftarah for the Seventh Day
II Samuel 22:1-51

David offered the words of this song to the Eternal
in the day that He rescued him
from the hand of all of his enemies
and from the hand of Saul:

The Eternal is my Rock and my Fortress:
I take refuge in Him,
He saves me from violence.

Praised is the Eternal,
who has saved me from my enemies!

The breakers of death
have surrounded me;
in my distress I call to my God, the Eternal;
my cry reaches Him in His temple.

His fiery response
shakes the earth
and causes the foundations of heaven
to tremble!
Consuming flames shooting forth from Him,
He emerges from heaven,
thick cloud under His feet,
He rides upon a cherub,
He flies upon the wings of the wind,
He makes darkness into booths around Him,
waters gathering,
clouds fill the sky,
brilliance before Him.

The Eternal thunders from heaven,
sends forth and scatters
His arrows of lightning!

The foundations of the world are revealed
by the breath, the wind, of His nostrils.
From on high He sends for me
and rescues me
from my strong enemy.

The Eternal rewards me
in accordance with my righteousness,
for I have kept His ways
and not wickedly
abandoned my God.

Kind are You to the pious,
and true to the upright hero.
You are a Savior to an afflicted people
and a Humbler to the arrogant.
You are my Lamp, O Eternal,
lightening my darkness.
Upon You do I depend
for the battle,
by my God do I scale the wall.

He is a Shield to all
who seek refuge in Him.

The God who is my strong Fortress
quickens my feet like the deers’
and trains my hands for battle.
I pursue my enemies,
they fall under my feet,
and You save me from
my people’s own disputes,
preserving me as chief of nations,
served by a people
whom I did not even know.

You bring me out from my enemies,
lifting me above
those who rise against me.

Therefore I give thanks to You,
O Eternal One,
among the nations.

A Tower of salvations for His king,
showing lovingkindness
to His anointed one,
to David and to his offspring
for ever.




The greatest of songs,
the Song of Songs,
belonging to Solomon:


Let him give me of his kisses—
for your love is better than wine;
your scent makes maidens love you!

Draw me after you, let us run—
were the king to bring me into his chambers,
our joy and happiness would still be in you,
we would remember your love above wine—
rightly do they love you!

I have been darkened by the sun,
O daughters of Jerusalem,
compelled by my brothers
to guard their vineyards,
thereby neglecting my own.

So tell me, love of my life,
where you shepherd,
where you lie down at noon,
for why should I be hidden from you
among the flocks of others?

If it is not known to you,
most beautiful of women,
venture out in the footsteps of the flock,
and pasture your kids
where the shepherds encamp.


I imagine you, my beloved,
as my very own mare
among the chariots of Pharaoh,
adorned with gold and silver,
your scent extending
as far as the king commands.

My beloved is my very own bundle of myrrh,
lodging between my breasts,
a cluster of henna
in the vineyards of Ein Gedi.

Most beautiful are you, my beloved;
your eyes are doves.

Handsome are you, my beloved,
and my pleasure.
Our couch is luxuriant;
the beams of our house are cedars,
cypresses our roof.


I am a rose of Sharon,
a lily of the valleys.

As a lily among thorns,
thus is my beloved among women.

As an apple among trees of the wood,
thus is my beloved among men.
Under him is my pleasure,
his fruit sweet to my taste,
his left hand under my head,
his right hand embracing me:
I am lovesick.

I adjure you,
O daughters of Jerusalem,
not to frustrate love,
but to allow it its pleasure.


The voice of my beloved approaches,
leaping over hills like a gazelle.
Now he stands outside our house,
looking for me through the windows:

Arise, my beloved, and join me,
for the rains of winter are past,
given way to the blossoming of trees,
the songs of birds, the ripening of figs,
and the sweet scent of vines.
Come down from your crags of concealment;
show me your face, let me hear your voice,
for your voice is pleasing,
and your face is beautiful.

Catch those foxes that invade our vineyards
when they are in blossom—
but my beloved is mine,
and I am his,
who shepherds among the lilies—
before the day is done
and the shadows are gone,
be you like the gazelle, my beloved,
upon the steep hills!


At night, from my bed,
I seek my beloved,
but I find him not.
I arise to search for him
through the markets and plazas of the city,
but I find him not.

I am found by the guards
who patrol the city:
Have you seen my beloved?
No, they continue their watch,
and then I find him!
I grasp him,
not letting him go,
until I bring him home,
to the room
where I was conceived.

I adjure you,
O daughters of Jerusalem,
not to frustrate love,
but to allow it its pleasure.


Who is she,
emerging from the desert
in a column of dust,
in a bouquet of perfume,
secure in Solomon’s palanquin,
surrounded by sixty of Israel’s protectors?
King Solomon made it himself
from the wood of Lebanon,
with columns of silver,
coverings of gold,
and a seat of purple,
lined with love
by the daughters of Jerusalem.

Now go out and behold,
O daughters of Zion,
Solomon wearing the crown
which his mother made for him,
for the happy day of his wedding!


Most beautiful are you, my beloved:
your eyes are doves
peering modestly over your veil,
your hair streaming brightly
like the wool of sheep descending Mount Gilead,
your teeth like the flock sheared and bathed,
each one perfectly matching.
Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
your mouth a comfort,
your pink cheeks like a pomegranate
hidden within your veil,
your neck alert
like the Tower of David.
Your breasts are like twin gazelles
that pasture among the lilies.

But before the day’s shadows have fled,
I shall retreat to the fragrant hill.
You are beautiful, my beloved,
with no blemish at all.


Come with me from Lebanon, my bride;
look out from the heights
of Amana, Senir and Hermon,
from the dens of lions and leopards.
Your love has conquered me,
my sister, my bride,
even only one of your eyes,
only one of your charms.
Your loving is sweeter than wine,
your scent more fragrant than any perfume.
Your lips drip with honey, O bride,
milk and honey are under your tongue;
the scent of your robe
is like the scent of Lebanon.

My sister, my bride,
is a locked garden, a hidden spring,
with sprouts of a multitude
of fragrant plants,
a fountain of fresh water
trickling from Lebanon.

Be roused, O winds,
from north and from south,
blow upon my garden,
spread its perfumes,
to bring my beloved to his garden
for him to enjoy
its excellent fruits!

I am coming to my garden,
my sister, my bride,
to pluck my fragrant flowers,
to eat my honeycomb and my date,
to drink my wine with my milk.

Eat, O lovers, and drink:
be drunk with love!


I am asleep, but my heart is awake.
My beloved’s voice is at the door:
Open for me, my sister, my bride,
my perfect dove,
for my head is full of dew,
my locks with the drops of night.

I have already undressed,
how shall I cover myself?
I have washed my feet,
how shall I soil them?

My beloved reaches through the window,
my stomach quavers,
I rise to let him in,
my hands, my fingers,
drop myrrh upon the bolt.

I open the door,
but my beloved has disappeared,
I myself away
with the sound of his speech;
I seek him out, calling to him,
but he does not reply.

The watchmen who patrol the city find me:
they beat me and lift my veil from upon me,
those guardians of the walls!

I adjure you,
O daughters of Jerusalem,
if you find my beloved,
tell him
that I am lovesick!


How is yours more beloved than another,
most beautiful among women?
How is yours more beloved than another,
that you thus adjure us?

My beloved is glowingly ruddy,
he stands out among the many,
with the brightness of gold
under his raven’s dark locks.
His eyes sparkle like doves
watered and bathed in milk,
set perfectly in their place,
his cheeks like a fragrant garden,
his lips flowers dripping myrrh,
his arms cylinders of gold,
his chest a plate of ivory,
his legs pillars of marble;
altogether his impression
is imposing as the cedars of Lebanon.
His mouth is sweetness
and altogether a delight.
This is my dear beloved,
O daughters of Jerusalem!

Where has your beloved gone,
O most beautiful of women?
Let us look for him with you!

My beloved has gone down to his garden,
to enjoy its fragrant beds
and graze among its lilies.


Your beauty, my beloved,
is as imposing as Tirzah or Jerusalem,
it overtakes me!
Turn your eyes away from me,
I cannot bear your beauty,
your hair like a flock of goats
winding down from Gilead,
your perfect teeth
like a flock of  bathed ewes,
your pink cheeks like a pomegranate
hidden within your veil.
Many are the queens and concubines,
but one is my perfect dove,
unique to her mother:
all of the other maidens
can but admire her!

Who is this
who appears as the dawn,
as lovely as the moon,
as intense as the sun,
as imposing as the bannered?

To the garden of nuts
I went down,
to see if the vine blossomed,
if the pomegranates were in bloom,
and before I knew it
my soul lifted me
upon a noble charioteer!


Turn, turn, O Shulammite,
that we may see you!

What shall you see
in this Shulammite
as she dances
about the camp?

How beautiful are your
sandaled feet,
noble daughter;
the turning of your thighs
with their hoops
is a work of artists,
your navel a perfect bowl for wine,
your belly a heap of wheat
surrounded by lilies,
your breasts like twin gazelles,
your neck like a tower of ivory,
your eyes as pools in Cheshbon,
your nose like a tower of Lebanon
looking towards Damascus,
the head upon you like Mount Carmel,
a king would be captured in your tresses!

How beautiful you are,
how fit for the pleasures of love:
you stand like a palm tree,
your breasts are its fruits;
I would climb up
and grab hold of them
and enjoy the apple scent
of the breath of your mouth!

Yes, it flows directly to my beloved
through my sleeping slips.
I am my beloved’s,
whose passion
is upon me.


Come outside with me,
my beloved,
to spend a fragrant night,
to see if the vine has blossomed,
if the blossom has opened,
if the pomegranates have flowered.
There I shall give you my love,
where all the fragrances about us
I have reserved for you.


Were you my brother,
having shared with me
my mother’s breasts,
I could kiss you in public
without disgrace,
I could bring you home
and learn to make you
spiced wine
from the juice
of my pomegranate—
his left hand under my head
and his right hand embracing me!

I adjure you,
O daughters of Jerusalem:
hinder not the pleasure of love!


Who is this,
coming up from the desert,
leaning upon her beloved?

It is I,
who stirred your love
under the apple tree,
where your mother
labored and delivered you.
Place me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm,
for love and jealousy its companion
are absolute,
like death,
the very fire of the Eternal,
and without price!


We have a young sister,
not yet mature,
but how can we protect her
when men begin to speak to her?
If she were a wall or a door,
we could build a barrier for protection.

But she says:
I am a wall
and can take care of myself.
I will bring you
peace of mind.

Solomon’s vineyard is large,
watched over by many,
each of whom brings in
a thousand pieces of silver.

While my vineyard
can be watched
entirely by me.

You can have your vineyard, Solomon,
with its thousands to you
and its hundreds to your watchers.

Now, my sister,
the men are beginning to notice you.
Notice me!

Quickly, my beloved,
like a gazelle,
or a hart,
over the fragrant hills!



Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17


Take a tenth (tithe) of all of your field’s produce each year—of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil—and consume it, together with the firstborn of your herd and your flock, in the presence of the Eternal your God in the place where He shall choose to establish His name, in order that you may learn to fear the Eternal your God always.  If your distance from the place is too great to transport the produce or the firstborn animal, as the Eternal your God will bless you, then exchange it for money and transport the money to the place to use it there, in the presence of the Eternal your God, for any of those things that your soul may desire.  There shall you consume them, and you shall rejoice together with your household.


Do not neglect the Levite within your gates, as he has no portion or inheritance with you.  At the end of every three years, lay out within your gates all of the tenth (tithe) of your produce for that year, for the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow who are within your gates, to satisfy themselves.  Thus may the Eternal your God bless you in every endeavor of your hand.


At the end of every seven years, you shall have a remission (shemitah), in which every creditor shall remit his right to collect a debt from his fellow, his brother, however not from a foreigner.  But there shall be no needy among you; rather, the Eternal your God shall bless you in the Land which He is giving to you as an inheritance to possess, as long as you obey Him and keep this commandment.  You will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow from them; you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you.

But if there should be among you in your Land, given you by the Eternal your God, one of your brothers who is poor, do not be callous towards him but open your hand to him and lend him what he needs, even if the year of remission is approaching.  I command you to open your hand to your needy brother for the poor shall never cease from your Land.  For this you will be blessed by the Eternal your God in all that you strive to accomplish.  Otherwise the needy will cry out to the Eternal against you, and you will be held guilty.


If your fellow Hebrew, male or female, should be sold to you, he shall serve you for only six years; in the seventh year you shall send him away free, but not empty-handed.   Supply him from your flock, from your threshing floor, and from your wine vat—from that by which the Eternal your God has blessed you.  Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Eternal your God redeemed you; therefore do I command you this today.  Moreover you should not be reluctant to free him because he has given you twice the service of a hired man for six years, and the Eternal your God will bless you in all that you do.

However, if he declares the preference not to go free out of his love for you and for your household, then you shall put an awl through his ear and into the door, and he shall become your slave in perpetuity.  This applies also to female slaves.


Sanctify to the Eternal your God every male firstborn of your herd and of your flock.  Eat it each year, you and your household, in the place that the Eternal shall choose.  Do not work your firstborn ox, and do not shear your firstborn sheep.  However, if the firstborn animal has a serious defect, if it is lame or blind, do not sacrifice it to the Eternal your God.  Instead, you, whether impure or pure, shall eat it within your gates, as is the case with the gazelle and with the deer.  But you may not eat its blood: pour it upon the ground like water.


Observe the month of Aviv and perform the Pesach to the Eternal your God in the evening at the setting of the sun, because the Eternal your God brought you out of Egypt at night at that time in the month of Aviv.  You shall sacrifice the Pesach to the Eternal your God from the flock or from the herd, not in any of your settlements but in the place where the Eternal shall choose to establish His name.  There you shall cook it and eat it.   Do not eat with it anything leavened.  Let none of the meat of your sacrifice remain overnight until the morning of the first day.  In the morning you shall head back to your tents.

From then for seven days you shall eat Matzot (Unleavened Bread), bread of affliction, as you left the land of Egypt in anxious haste—in order that you may remember the day of your leaving the land of Egypt all the days of your life.  Let no leaven be seen in all of your territory for seven days.  After eating matzot for six days, on the seventh day there shall be a festival of conclusion for the Eternal your God: do no work.


From when the sickle is applied to the standing grain, count seven weeks and hold a Festival of Shavuot (Weeks) to the Eternal your God of the fullest generosity that you can afford of the blessing provided you by the Eternal your God.  Rejoice before the Eternal your God—you and your son and your daughter, your male and female slave, the Levite within your gates, and the stranger, the orphan and the widow who are among you—at the place where the Eternal your God shall choose to establish His name.  Remember that you were a slave in Egypt, so shall you preserve and observe these statutes.


Observe for yourself the Festival of Sukkot (Booths), for seven days, when you gather in the produce of your threshing floor and your wine vat.  Rejoice in your festival—you and your son and your daughter, your male and female slave, the Levite, the stranger, the orphan and the widow, who are within your gates.  Celebrate a festival to the Eternal your God for seven days at the place that the Eternal shall choose, for the Eternal your God shall bless you in the fullness of your harvest and in all the work of your hands; you shall only enjoy!


Three times in the year shall each of your males appear before the Eternal your God in the place which He shall choose: on the Festival of Matzot (Unleavened Bread), on the Festival of Shavuot (Weeks), and on the Festival of Sukkot (Booths).  He shall not appear empty-handed but each with his own gift according to the blessing that the Eternal your God has given you.

Numbers 28:19-25

[See Maftir for Seventh Day]


Haftarah for the Eighth Day
Isaiah 10:32-12:6

The Lord, the Eternal of hosts,
shall cause the Assyrian to halt at Nob,
shaking his hand at the mount
of the daughter of Zion,
at the hill of Jerusalem.
The high ones shall be cut down,
and Lebanon shall fall by one who is mighty.

A shoot shall grow out
of the stock of Jesse,
and the spirit of the Eternal
shall rest upon him:
a spirit of wisdom and understanding,
a spirit of counsel and courage,
a spirit of knowledge
and fear of the Eternal.

He shall not judge
by the seeing of his eyes
or the hearing of his ears,
but he shall judge the poor
by righteousness
and shall strike the wicked
with the rod of his mouth.

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
and a little child shall lead them.
They shall not hurt nor destroy
in all My holy mountain,
for the earth shall be full
of the knowledge of the Eternal
as the waters cover the sea.

The nations shall seek the root of Jesse,
standing as a banner of peoples.
Again the Lord will apply His hand
to acquire the remnant of His people,
those who remain from
Assyria and Egypt,
from Pathros, Cush and Elam,
from Shinar, Hamath, and the islands of the sea.
He will assemble the dispersed of Israel
and gather the scattered of Judah
from the four corners of the earth!

Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah,
and Judah will not harass Ephraim.
But they shall fly down
upon the Philistines to the west
and together despoil the children of the east;
Edom and Moab shall feel the power of their hand,
and Ammon shall receive their direction.
The Eternal shall destroy the Sea of Egypt
and turn its River into seven streams,
which can be walked across
on dry ground.

There shall be a highway
for the remnant of His people
from Assyria,
as there was for Israel
on the day that it came up
out of the land of Egypt.

On that day:
I thank You, O Eternal One,
for though You were angry with me,
Your wrath is turned away
and You bring me comfort.

Behold God is my salvation,
I trust and fear not;
He is my strength and song!

Give thanks to the Eternal,
proclaim His name;
make known His deeds
among the peoples!
Sing of the Eternal,
that He has performed greatly,
as is known in all the earth!
Cry out and shout,
O resident of Zion,
for great in the midst of you
is the Holy One of Israel.


Exodus Rabbah 1:28

Rav Huna taught in the name of Bar Kappara:  There are four reasons why Israel was redeemed from Egypt.

First: Because they did not change their names.  They went down to Egypt as Reuben and Shimon, and they came up as Reuben and Shimon.  There is no indication that any of their names were changed, such as from Reuben to Rufus.

Second: Because they did not change their language.  A fugitive brought the news of Lot’s capture to “Abram the Hebrew” (Genesis 14:13), and still Moses and Aaron in Egypt said to Pharaoh, “The God of the Hebrews has appeared to us!” (Exodus 5:3)  Moreover, when Joseph sought to convince his brothers of his identity, he said, “It is my mouth that is speaking to you” (Genesis 45:12), meaning that I am speaking our ancestral language even though I have risen to power over Egypt!

Third: Because they did not engage in gossip.  The Eternal commanded Moses: “Tell the people that they should borrow from their (Egyptian) neighbors objects of silver and gold!” (Exodus 11:2)  Even though not every Israelite had an Egyptian neighbor with silver and gold objects to lend, and even though the Israelites knew that those borrowed objects would not be returned but would be permanent loans, no one let it be known even out of envy!

Fourth: Because (virtually) no one engaged in illicit relations.  The one exception is named: “There went out the son of an Israelite woman, and he was the son of an Egyptian man…the name of his mother was Shelomit daughter of Divri of the tribe of Dan.” (Leviticus 24:10-11)  By naming her and her father and her tribe exclusively, all other Israelite women are assumed to be pure.

Pesikta d’Rav Kahana 11:7

When Pharaoh let the Children of Israel go out from Egypt, the Egyptians cried, “Vay!” (cf. Exodus 14:5)  This means: “Woe! Alas!”  Said Rabbi Yose:  It may be likened to one who inherits an uncultivated but fertile field.  The lazy heir sells it for a price much lower than what it is worth.  The buyer digs and finds in it a spring, from which he develops gardens and orchards.  When the seller sees this, he feels like choking and says, “Vay! What have I lost!”  Thus, when the Children of Israel were encamped on the shores of the Sea, they seemed like the array of a royal army.  This made the Egyptians feel like choking, and they bemoaned their loss: “Vay! Whom did we let go from our land!”

Pesikta d’Rav Kahana 11:12

Two arks accompanied Israel in the wilderness.  When the nations of the world asked, “What is the purpose of these two arks?” the Israelites said to them: One of the arks contains the body of Joseph, and the other is the ark of the Eternal God!  The nations of the world then taunt Israel: What is the ark of the Eternal God doing alongside the ark of a corpse?!  Israel’s answer: The body that is lying in this ark fulfilled all that is written in that ark!

Yalkut Shimoni 164

A Tower of salvations for His king,
showing lovingkindness
to His anointed one,
to David and to his offspring
for ever.”
(II Samuel 22:51)

But another verse says:
Increases salvations for His king…”
(Psalms 18:51)

Rabbi Yudan explained: “Increases salvations…” because the salvation of a nation does not come all at once; it grows and increases over time.  “A Tower of salvations…” for when the nation has its anointed king as a great protective tower, as was said: “A Tower of strength is the name of the Eternal, to which the righteous runs and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)

Talmud Niddah 31a

“I thank You, O Eternal One:
for though You were angry with me,
Your wrath is turned away
and You comfort me.”
(Isaiah 12:1)

Rav Yosef taught: The verse alludes to competing traders, each of whom began on a venture which required ocean travel.  One was injured on his way to the ship so that he could not reach the port in time, while the other successfully boarded.  The injured trader cursed and reviled God for his ill fortune.  A while later he learned that the same ship was subsequently wrecked and that his competitor lost his life.  The injured survivor then uttered thanks and praises to God for the injury that saved his life.

But what should we think?

Said Rabbi Eliezer: “Give thanks to the One who performs great miracles to himself…” (Psalms 136:4)  Therefore the subject of a miracle may not recognize it as a miracle or understand it.

Targum Yonatan

I give thanks to You, O Eternal One, for since I sinned against You, Your anger was upon me, and were it not for Your mercy, I would not enjoy Your forbearance.


17-20 Nisan 5779


Exodus 13:1-16

The Eternal instructs Moses: Consecrate to Me every firstborn among the Children of Israel; the first issue of any womb, of man or beast, is Mine. (13:2)  Here is how Moses teaches the people:

Remember this day, when you went out from Egypt, the house of bondage, guided by the Eternal’s strong hand: no leavened bread shall be eaten.  Today you are going out in the month of Aviv.  When the Eternal brings you to the Land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which He promised to give to your fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall observe the following service in this month.  For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread—no leavened bread, no leaven shall be found with you in any of your territory—and on the seventh day there shall be a festival to the Eternal.  Explain to your child on that day that this service is “because of what the Eternal did for me when I went forth from Egypt.” (13:8)  Moreover, you shall have it for a sign upon your hand and for a reminder between your eyes in order that the Eternal’s teaching shall be in your mouth, and keep the statute itself at its set time from year to year.

When the Eternal brings you to the land of the Canaanites, as He promised you and your fathers, and gives it to you, transfer to the Eternal every one of your male first issue of the womb and of your male first issue of the young of beasts.  The first issue of an ass you shall redeem with a sheep; otherwise break its neck.  Every firstborn of man, among your children, you must redeem.  When, in the future, your child asks what this is about, say that with His hand’s great strength the Eternal brought us out of Egypt, from the house of bondage: when Pharaoh was obstinate in refusing to let us go, the Eternal killed every firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of man to the firstborn of beast.  Therefore I sacrifice to the Eternal every male first issue of the womb, and every firstborn of my children I redeem.  It shall be for a sign upon your hand and for a symbol between your eyes, for with His hand’s great strength the Eternal brought us out from Egypt.

Numbers 28:19-25

Bring a fire offering, a burnt offering, for the Eternal: two bulls of the herd, one ram, and seven year-old lambs without blemish, and their meal offering of fine flour mixed with oil, three-tenths of a measure for the bull and two-tenths of a measure for the ram and one-tenth of a measure for each of the seven lambs.  Bring also one goat as a sin offering to seek atonement for you.  Bring these on each of the seven days: food, a fire offering of pleasant aroma for the Eternal in addition to the regular burnt offering which is brought every morning and its libation.  The seventh day shall be a holy convocation for you: do not perform work of service.


Exodus 22:24-23:19

Do not treat “My people, the poor with you” (22:24), as a creditor would normally treat a debtor.  Charge no interest when you lend him money.  If he gives you his garment in pledge, return it to him before the sun sets because it is the only covering for his skin.  If he cries out to me, I will listen because I am compassionate.

Do not curse God.

Do not curse a leader among your people.

Do not be late in offering of the fullness of your fields or of your wine or oil.

Give to Me the firstborn of your sons.  This also applies to your cattle and to your flock: for seven days it shall be with its mother, on the eighth day you shall give it to Me.

Do not eat torn flesh of an animal in the field; throw it to the dogs.  You shall be holy people to Me.

Do not utter an unfounded report.

Do not join with the guilty to be a malicious witness.

Do not follow a multitude to do evil.

Do not pervert your testimony in a dispute to favor a party because he is mighty or because he is weak.

If you encounter the ox or ass of your enemy wandering, you must return it to him.

If you see the ass of your enemy lying under its burden, you must aid him in freeing it regardless of how you feel towards one who hates you.

Do not pervert laws which are meant to protect the powerless in their disputes.  Keep far from a falsehood, which might lead to the death of the innocent and the righteous, for I will not justify the wicked.  Do not accept a bribe, which blinds the clear-sighted and suppresses the candor of the honest.  Do not oppress a stranger, for you know the plight of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.

Farm your land for six years, then let it rest in the seventh.  The needy of your people may eat from its produce during the seventh year; whatever they leave may be eaten by the beast of the field.  The same applies to your vineyard and to your olive grove.

Do your work for six days, then observe a Sabbath on the seventh day, in order that your ox and your ass may rest, in order that your worker and the stranger may be refreshed.

Be careful to observe all that I say to you.  Do not mention the name of other gods, let it not be heard upon your lips!

Three times in the year shall you observe a festival for Me.  Keep the festival of unleavened bread for seven days by eating unleavened bread as I commanded you (cf. 12:15) , for the month of Aviv, when you went forth from Egypt, when no one should appear in My presence empty-handed; the festival of the first fruits harvest of what you have labored to sow in the field; and the festival of the last gathering of your labors from the field at the end of the year.  All of your males shall appear before Me, the Lord, the Eternal, three times in the year.

Do not offer My blood sacrifice (cf. 12:24 ff.) while there is unleavened bread present, and do not leave the fat of My festival sacrifice overnight until morning (cf. 12:10).

Bring the choicest of your first fruits to the House of the Eternal, your God.

Do not boil a kid in the milk of its mother.

Numbers 28:19-25

[See First Day of Chol Hamoed.]


Exodus 34:1-26

The Eternal tells Moses to carve two tablets of stone like the first ones, “and I shall write upon the tablets the words which were on the first tablets that you shattered.” (34:1)  Then, in the morning, you shall go up to Mount Sinai and be present to Me there upon the top of the mountain.  Let no one else come up with you, not even be seen in all the mountain, and let no flock or herd be pastured at the foot of the mountain.  So does Moses, taking up with him the two tablets of stone in his hand.

The Eternal descends in the cloud and stands with him there, proclaiming the name of the Eternal.  The Eternal passes over his face and declares, “The Eternal, the Eternal, God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth, preserving lovingkindness for the thousandth, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, but without acquitting, visiting the iniquity of fathers upon children and upon children’s children to the third generation and to the fourth generation.” (34:6-7)

Moses quickly bows down to the ground and prays, “If indeed I have found favor in Your sight, O Lord, let the Lord go in our midst,” offering the very reason of the Eternal’s previously-expressed demurral (cf. 33:3) as cause to grant his request for reconsideration: “For it is a stiff-necked people,” and therefore he asks directly, “forgive our iniquity and our sin, and accept us as an inheritance.” (34:9)

He says: I hereby make a covenant.  I shall perform before the people, in whose midst you are, awesome wonders that have not been created before.  Observe well what I command you this day!

Do not make a molten god.  I am expelling from before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.  Do not worship another, for the Eternal is a jealous God.  Take care not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of the Land that you may encounter, but break down their altars, shatter their pillars, and cut down their idols, lest they become a snare in your midst and you make a covenant with them and sacrifice to their gods and accept their invitation to eat of their sacrifices, or you marry your sons to their daughters and your sons are drawn to their wives’ gods.

Observe the festival of Pesach.  For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, for the festival of the month of Aviv, as in that month you went out from Egypt.

All that opens the womb is Mine.  Sanctify the firstborn males of ox and sheep.  Redeem with a lamb the firstborn of an ass, otherwise break its neck.  Redeem every firstborn of your sons.  Let them not appear before Me empty-handed.

Six days shall you work.  On the seventh day you shall rest.  You shall rest in ploughing and in harvest.

Observe for yourself the festival of Weeks, first fruit of the wheat harvest.

Observe the festival of Ingathering, at the completion of the year.

Three times in the year shall all of your males appear before the Lord, the Eternal, the God of Israel.  For I will drive out nations from before you and expand your territory, so that no one will covet your property when you go up to appear before the Eternal your God.

You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice while there is leavened bread, and the sacrifice of the festival of Pesach shall not remain overnight until morning.

The prime quality of the first fruits of your Land shall you bring to the house of the Eternal your God.

Do not boil a kid in the milk of its mother.

Numbers 28:19-25

[See First Day of Chol Hamoed.]



Numbers 9:1-14

In the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year of their exodus from the land of Egypt, the Eternal advises Moses that the Children of Israel should perform the Pesach at its appointed time: on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight.  Moses duly advises them, and the Children of Israel observe it in accordance with all that the Eternal had commanded Moses.

But there are people who, because of their impurity from contact with a  human corpse, cannot perform the Pesach on that day.  They ask Moses and Aaron why, because of their impurity, they should be prevented from bringing the offering of the Eternal along with their fellow Israelites at its appointed time.  Moses asks them to wait until he learns what the Eternal may command them.

The Eternal charges Moses to communicate to the Children of Israel His answer.  Anyone who is impure from contact with a human corpse or who is far away when the time comes to perform the Pesach, both now and in the future, should do it on the fourteenth day at twilight of the second month.  Eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, do not let any of it remain until morning, and let no bone of it be broken, in complete accordance with the law of the Pesach.

The soul of anyone ritually pure and not on a journey who fails to perform the Pesach shall be cut off from its people for neglecting to perform the offering of the Eternal at its appointed time.  Such a person shall bear his sin.

A sojourner among you who would offer the Pesach to the Eternal must offer it in accordance with every rule of the Pesach.  The law is the same for you, whether non-native or native of the country.

Numbers 28:19-25

[See First Day of Chol Hamoed.]



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