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Dvar Torah - Parsha Bo

We are often confronted with points of ambiguity, difficult stories which can be interpreted in one way or another. Most of us would acknowledge that our own biases are crucial to the interpretation we eventually choose. However, we are less aware that often those interpretations then feed into our identity and set us more firmly on the path that we were already on, or occasionally change it. This feature of the human mind, the ability to interpret and incorporate external stimuli is a crucial element in how we interact with the world around us.

We have a good example of this principle in the Parsha this week. The Torah tells us that "it is for this that Hashem did for me when he took me out of Egypt”. What is "this" referring to? The simples answer is offered by Ramban, among others, and states that it is for the Torah and its observance that Hashem took us out of Egypt. However, Rashi and Ibn Ezra both state that it refers to the Pesach, Matzah and Maror present on Seder night. This is very strange and even circular. Why would Hashem take us out of Egypt just so we could continue performing acts to remember that He had done so?

An answer lies in the Pesach sacrifice itself. We are accustomed to view the price of bringing the Pesach sacrifice as merely "the price of admission”. G-d wanted something from us before he would deign to take us out. This is not the case. Instead of this transactional picture of the Exodus, we are instead left with the people who were responsible for our sense of who we are. The Pesach sacrifice was the beginning of the journey ultimately fulfilled at Mt Sinai.

Since then, the Pesach sacrifice and its accompanying foods have been not merely a delicious wrap. They have also represented recommitting to and deepening our relationship with our Jewish identity. May we all take our cue for this important mitzvah.

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