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In the future, years after the Exodus…
You are to tell your son on that day (Passover), 'It is because of what G-d did for me when I came out of Egypt.' It shall be a sign for you on your hand, and a memorial on your forehead so that the Laws of G-d shall be in your mouth. For G-d brought you out of Egypt with a mighty hand (13:8-9).
These words are strange in context. The Israelites were at the place of Sukkot, having barely completed one stage of the Exodus.
Yet there were no celebrations of freedom from slavery. There were no detailed instructions of the long march to the Promised Land through the desert. There was no talk of the military training the Israelites would need to deal with those who stood in their path on the way.
Instead, the instructions that Moses gave the Israelites were to seize the moment and make it permanent. This highlighted the miracles of divine intervention, from slavery to freedom. It was the Israelite shared experience of the immediate past.
It reminds of one teacher who would start his class with: "What did you learn last lesson?" It didn't matter what it was, whether it was mathematics or football. He always found a theme from the details of the last lesson that would link with the present one. If Manchester United beat Barcelona, he'd find some theme in Manchester or Barcelona to tie in with the agenda. And the class would comfortably merge from one to the other.
Similarly, with the Israelites. The force freeing the Israelites was the plague killing the Egyptian firstborn and sparing the Israelite firstborn. The agenda of the Israelites was that they would live according to the Revealed Laws of the Creator. But He had to start somewhere. The place was 'what they learnt last lesson'. That was 'For G-d brought you out of Egypt with a mighty hand'. That was translated into a commandment linking the Exodus with education towards the Revealed Laws of the Creator.
Thus the observance - the law - linking with what just happened: 'All firstborns…are Mine' (13:2). You shall eat matzot for the seven year period (13:7)
This came with the education and reinforcement: 'You are to tell your son on that day' (Passover) - link with what just happened - 'It is because of what G-d did for me when I came out of Egypt' (13:8).
But it should not be just mentally reinforced, but also physically reinforced: 'It shall be a sign for you on your hand, and a memorial on your forehead so that the Laws of G-d shall be in your mouth. For G-d brought you out of Egypt with a mighty hand' (13:9).
The Torah thus demonstrates a major principle of education. Link the opening presentation with the reality of the students. And it doesn't matter if you don't get through the lot, or even a great deal, at the first meeting. The rest can follow later… as He did with the Israelites at Mount Sinai.
For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/questions/ and on the material on the Haftara at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/haftara/ .
Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: email@example.com for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.
Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site: http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/archives/archives.htm
Also by Jacob Solomon:
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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