This week we conclude the ten plagues with the plagues of locusts, darkness and the death of the first-born. The laws of Passover are presented, followed by the commandment to wear tefillin, consecrate the first-born animal and redeem one’s first born son. The Torah tells us that at some time in the future your son will ask you about these commandments and you will answer: “With a show of power, God brought us out of Egypt, the place of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us leave, God killed all the first-born in Egypt, man and beast alike. I, therefore, offer to God all male first-born (animals) and redeem all the first-born of sons. And it shall be a sign upon your arm, and an ornament between your eyes (Tefillin), for with a strong hand the Almighty removed us from Egypt.” (Ex. 13:15)
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based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
In this week’s portion the Almighty gives the first commandment to the Jewish people as a whole — to decree the beginning of the Jewish month. This is important for setting the date of each Jewish holiday. It is so important that when the Greeks were persecuting us at the time of the Hanukah story, they forbade the Jewish court to decree the beginning of the new month. The Torah states:
“This month shall be for you the first of the months (referring to the month of Nissan when Pesach occurs. The new year of the reign of king starts with the month of Nissan. The new year for the creation of mankind starts with the month of Tishrei)” (Exodus 12:2).
What lesson for life can we learn from this verse?
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein commented that the month of Tishrei is the month of the creation of the world. The month of Nissan is the month of the exodus from Egypt. Both months are lessons in our awareness of the Almighty’s power.
The first lesson is that the Almighty is the Creator of the universe. The second lesson is that of hashgacha pratis, Divine Providence. The Almighty controls the events of the world and therefore He is the One Who enslaved the Children of Israel and He is the One Who freed them. The Torah is telling us in this verse that the lesson of the Almighty’s guiding historical events is even more important than the lesson of the creation of the world.
One can believe that the Almighty created the world and this might not make any difference in a person’s behavior and attitudes. However, once a person is aware of the supervision of the Almighty in daily events, he will improve his behavior. Moreover, his trust in the Almighty will free him from worry. The month of Nissan is the first month of the year and by remembering this we remember all that is symbolized by the Exodus. This will have a major effect on what we do and think.