Goals and Messages: Focus on Education and Children

On Pesach, education of children has a prominent place. The Torah stresses the need to give children an explanation with respect to four things:

  • Eating matzah, and the ban on hametz
    (You are to tell your son on that day, saying, 'for this G-d did for me when I left Egypt' Exodus 13:8.)
  • Redemption of the firstborn sons. (When your son asks you tomorrow, saying,
    'What is this?', you are to say to him, 'G-d brought us out of Egypt with strength of arm...' Exodus 13:14.)
  • The Pesach sacrifice.
    (When your sons say to you 'What is this service of yours?', you are to respond, 'It is a Pesach offering to G-d...' Exodus 12:26-27.)
  • All the other mitzvot of the Torah.
    (When your son asks you tomorrow, saying, 'What are all the testimonies, laws and judgments that G-D our G-d has commanded you?', you are to say to him, 'We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and G-D brought us out of Egypt with a strong arm...' Deuteronomy 6:20.)




This implies that the adults are commanded to pass on to our children the story of the foundation of our people, and the purpose of the liberation from Egypt, viz. to observe the Torah and its instructions (mitzvot) in Eretz Yisrael, as Moses was told:

"You will serve God on this mountain" (Exodus 3:12).

The basic aim is to educate children in the way of the Torah. Moses even explained this to Pharaoh while still in Egypt:

"We will go with our young and our old, we will go with our sons and our daughters, with our sheep and goats and with our cattle, because we have G-D's festival." (Exodus 10:9).

There is no festival without the young.

Pharaoh himself realized that Israel's future was with the young, which is why he decreed that

"every son born you are to throw into the Nile!" (Exodus 1:22).

And at the worst period of the slavery, they even built children into the walls of houses!




'For (the sake of) this...', at the time when matzah and maror are set out in front of you [originally 'Pesach, matzah and maror']. When the entire House of Israel is seated around the table and observing the mitzvah of the Seder, they fulfil the condition upon which G-d brought them out of Egypt. Hence G-d's remark to Moses:

"When you bring the people out of Egypt, you will serve G-d on this mountain!" (Exodus 3:12),

i.e. the condition on which you are to leave Egypt is that you will (subsequently) observe G-d's commands. Observing mitzvot on the Seder night is therefore for two reasons:

  • So that we should remember all the wonders and miracles that G-d did for Israel in Egypt;
  • By observing the mitzvot we demonstrate that we deserve to be free, since we are fulfilling the condition upon which G-d brought us out of Egypt.

 


 

 

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20 Jul 2005 / 13 Tamuz 5765 0