Parshas Bo
Exodus 10:1 - 13:16

Tradition ©
A Discussion on Pesach and Pesach Preparation

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mr. Mordechai and Mrs. Augusta Litman, may they rest in peace.

Hashem said to Moshe, "Go to Pharaoh for I have made his heart stubborn and the heart of his servants... [Why?]...for the purpose of establishing a sign of these [great miracles that I performed] amidst [B'nei Yisroel]. And for the [explicit] purpose that you [carefully] recount [these great miracles] in the ears of your children and your children's children, [especially] how I made a mockery of Mitzriam with great signs and how I ostracized them that you know that I am Hashem." Exodus 10:1,2

This instruction teaches us that we are to learn from our parents... that our children are to learn from us and from our parents... that our parents are to teach us ... that we are to teach our children ... that our parents are to teach our children... This is the Torah method of continuing Judaism from one generation to the next and the next. We call this TRADITION!

In addition this instruction teaches us that Hashem established a signal... a sign. That sign was the ten plagues... the Sea of Reeds splitting... Kal Yisroel crossing this sea on dry ground without even one casualty... Pharaoh's army drowning in the Sea of Reeds... Hashem performed these great miracles for us, B'nei Yisroel.

In addition this instruction teaches us that we are to carefully recount these great miracles. Why do we need to recount these great miracles? Why do we need to be careful in recounting them? SO THAT EACH OF US WILL KNOW WITHOUT QUESTION THAT "[HE IS] HASHEM!"

So now we arrive at a most important point. That point is the breakdown in our tradition. How can a Jew from an assimilated family carefully recount what was not passed down? What can a Jew recount from generations of assimilation? Holy reader, one can see from this that assimilation is a most dreadful problem attacking our future. It is for this very reason that Hashem established these great miracles. That is why Parshas Shemos, Va'eira, Bo, Beshalach and Yisro carefully recount our deliverance from Mitzriam. See Exodus 1:1 - 20:23. This is why the Torah records the story of our deliverance. This is why we call the first evening's Pesach meal and the second evening's Pesach meal the first Pesach "seder" and the second Pesach "seder". The word "seder" means order. There is an order to recounting the story of Pesach! We use a Pesach Haggadah to carefully recount the story of Pesach. Haggadah means 'telling'. The Haggadah was written for those of us who have this huge black hole of assimilation as part of our past. Our great grandfathers of many generations ago wrote stories recounting the miracles of Pesach for us, their distant grandchildren. We can observe this mitzvah of learning, of teaching, of recounting through the use of a Pesach Haggadah. We can restore what was lost to us through generations of assimilation.

Holy reader, the Pesach seder is a most special meal that is to be lavished. Naomi and I reserve our very best for Pesach. Our finest china... our finest gold rim glasses... our finest silverware... our best stainless steel cookware... etc. WHY ?? Why reserve our very best for just eight days of the year? Again, dear reader, as we gaze on some of these very special pieces in our china cabinet throughout the year it is a powerful reminder of Pesach. It is a reminder of the miracles. It is a reminder of Hashem's command to carefully recount His great signs!

For years Naomi and I have with such love and pleasure carefully, meticulously added fine items to our Pesach table. We both come from extreme assimilation so for us it is such a joy each year to restore a little of what was lost over generations of assimilation. We are not wealthy in the sense of being able to purchase the finest items in one Pesach. In our own methodical way we continue on the path of replacing what was lost, forgotten or discarded... And for this we thank Hashem!!

Once some of our assimilated relatives visited us for Pesach. We thought maybe if we bent the rules some that we could all enjoy a seder together as a family. Well, IT WAS A MISTAKE! A sincere mistake. We didn't break Pesach! However on the first seder we did use a Haggadah that one of our relatives selected. It was NOT the Haggadah of our choice. It did not carefully recount our deliverance from Mitzriam. We were disappointed! Even though our seder meal was pleasant it lacked recounting in the fullest sense. We did not make an issue of this yet we determined that we would be very careful not to let this happen again. We were not trying to be mean spirited about this but the recounting is extremely important! It should take time! It should carefully cover every detail! As observant Jews we were dissatisfied. From this we learned a great and valuable lesson. First we should be careful who we invite for our seder. Second our guests should understand in advance our complete intentions including our Haggadah of choice, the seder conversation, and the length of our seder.

Now, holy reader, a great part of preparation for Pesach is CLEANING! In fact it is not too early to begin Pesach cleaning immediately after Shabbos. Pesach is only nine weeks away. At the Belk Mishpacha, we have to clean and secure one room a week. WHY? Another lesson that Naomi and I have learned is that when we enter Pesach we truly need to be fresh. If we are worn threadbare from long hard hours of Pesach cleaning and preparations before entering Pesach then we will simply be too tired to carefully fulfill the mitzvah of carefully recounting. Like many of our friends we begin weeks in advance with Pesach cleaning.

I truly believe that recounting the story of our deliverance at Pesach is extremely
I-M-P-O-R-T-A-N-T! When we do this properly we strengthen our Jewish heritage. When we fall short, G-d forbid! we may damage our future and the future of those we dearly love. Pesach is one of our greatest examples of Jewish tradition. Pesach was established by Hashem as a tradition for us His people. Fulfilling this tradition properly is so very important. Please remember that "the [explicit] purpose [of Pesach is] that [each of us carefully] recount [these great miracles] in the ears of [our] children and [our] children's children." It is very important that we carefully carry the tradition of Pesach on to the next generation!!

Hashem emphatically stated that each of us "[Especially observe] how [He] made a mockery of Mitzriam with great signs and how [He] ostracized them." When we do this we will have a future as Jews. We will carry our most valuable tradition forward. We will be the recipients of the great and valuable knowledge... the message "that you know that [He is] Hashem."

May Hashem bless us as we begin turning our thoughts and actions towards Pesach cleaning and preparation. May we receive abundant joy for the Festival of Freedom!

Good Shabbos,

Dr. Akiva  G. Belk

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