Tzei Ulemad by Rabbi Yosef Adler


The Mishna in Masechet Pesachim formulates some of the guidelines of the Seder to enable us to perform the Mitzva of telling the story of Yetziat Mitzraim.  One instruction states, “Vedoresh Parshat Arami Oved Avi,” that one is to read the Parsha of Mikra Bikurim with its accompanying Midrashic commentary.  Our Hagada begins with the phrase, “Tzei Ulemad Mah Bikesh Lavan Ha'arami La'asot”.  Two questions emerge.  Why begin with the word Tzei, which literally means go out?  Learning generally takes place within the home and not outside.  This is particularly true during the Seder night when we were told V'ish Lo Tetzei Mifteach Beito, man was not to leave his house in Mitzraim.  Rav interprets the phrase “Ein Maftirin Achar Hapesach Afikoman” as “Shelo Y’akru Mechaburah Lechaburah,” that one should not leave his group after consuming the Korban Pesach (Pesachim 119b).  Why, then, would we begin the paragraph with the directive Tzei?  Second, why do we insert this paragraph immediately following “V'he She'amdah Lavoteinu V'lanu?”

We find the word Tzei used in Parshat Noach following the flood.  Hashem instructs Noach, Tzei Min Hatevah, Leave the ark. Why was it necessary for Hashem to instruct Noach to leave the ark?  One would have expected that once the water receded Noach would have left the ark even without a command from Hashem.  Apparently, Noach contemplated the option of remaining in the ark.  Having witnessed an entire world destroyed as a result of moral corruption, Noach doubted whether it was worth investing the effort to rebuild the world.  If the world is going to be destroyed a second time, why bother rebuilding it?  Hashem had to implore Noach to leave the ark and begin the reconstruction of the world.  A similar theme emerges in the context of the Seder.  We have just stated “Shelo Echad Bilvad Amad Aleinu Lichloteinu.”  Not only did Paroh rise and attempt to destroy us, the Spaniards, the Poles, and the Germans all have tried to eradicate Am Yisrael.  Many have regrettably said, Be a Jew at home and a general citizen when interacting with society.  Yaakov may have felt this way when he was about to encounter Esav having just escaped the clutches of Lavan.  But Yaakov responded, I lived with Lavan, but I kept the 613 Mitzvot.  Go out to the world and make a resounding statement that with the assistance of Hashem we will repel each challenge and to remain a vibrant, unique people dedicated to the word of Hashem.

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