We have now returned after a nice vacation period where students were able to visit family, reunite with freinds, and take a little time off to see the country and clear their minds. This week we resumed learning and volunteer work and enjoyed a nice trip down south. We are getting back into daily routine.
God wants the Mitzrim to see how great He is, so that they experience Him and in turn recognize His people, but does Hashem really want us to talk to our children about how powerful and amazing He is? Furthermore, why specifically talk about how God brought frogs out of the Nile, inflicted disease and disaster on the Egyptians, passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians, sparing our homes (12:27)? There are so many other, perhaps greater, illustrations of God’s power – for instance the creation of the world, the fact that He made something out of nothing, ex nihilo or the great flood that wiped out the world. What is so unique about this particular event?
There must be a much deeper reason for God wanting us to talk to our children, one which explains also why there are so many words of the same meaning used: “Ul’maan tesaper” (to relay) (10:2), “V’amartem” (You shall say) (12:27), “V’higadeta l’vincha” (you must tell your child) (13:8), and “V’amarta” (you must answer) (13:14).
All the talking, saying, confiding, and answering is for us, the Israelites, as a nation. Bnei Yisrael need therapy. They need a healing that will free them mentally and enable them to truly worship God. This requires talking about what happened – about the slavery they endured, their suffering, the plagues, the saving of their lives during makat bechorot, the dramatic escape from Egypt, etc. The more they talk about it the more they will cure themselves. Scripture uses synonyms for the words “tell” and “say” for a reason. God commands them to talk about their experiences and traumas so they can vent. They are ordered to relay, communicate, convey, transmit, and impart their experiences. And what better place to start then with the family members who lived through it all with them together?! If there are skeptics among them, they should be encouraged to ask their questions. For those who do not know how to inquire, engage them with the history and in that way let them in so they do not drift apart from the family and eventually from the greater family of Am Yisrael.
V’higadeta l’vincha, tell your children, connect them to you and to Jewish history, to give them the freedom to express their questions, disbeliefs, traumas, and life experiences. May we be zocheh to continue talking, telling, and teaching, thereby perpetuating continual freedom and providing healing and resolution to all.
Rabbi Yossela Ote.