Remembering the Exodus Every Day
Chag HaPesach is also called Chag Hageulah – The Festival of Salvation, and Chag Hacheirut – The Festival of Liberation. Our ancestors were released from Egyptian bondage to freedom and from physical labor to spiritual liberty.
For that reason, every member of the Jewish nation is obligated to remember the day of our liberation from Egypt all the days of his life (based on Devarim 16:3). This applies even though he himself was not there, for, had our fathers remained in Egypt, we would still be in bondage. Our ancestors’ redemption from Egypt means that we are spared the travails of being there.
This commandment raises several questions:
Why did the Torah command us to remember Yetziat Mitzrayim every day, instead of a few times throughout the year, as we do on the other holidays?
Why do we remember Yetziat Mitzrayim on every holiday? What’s the connection between the Exodus and the Yamim Tovim?
How can we compare our state of freedom and liberty to the situation of our ancestors, enslaved in a foreign land?
“It is a night of anticipation for Hashem; a protection for all the Children of Israel for their generations” (Shemot 12:42). The night of Pesach was not a night of protection only in Egypt, but for every generation.
However, this is only on condition that a person awakens himself to feel the slavery of our people in those days. He can truly feel the freedom if he puts himself in their place, enslaved to foreign taskmasters. As a slave he would not be able to keep Torah and mitzvot at all. Only upon liberation does he become a free man, able to develop a relationship with Hashem. By contemplating these things, he brings himself to appreciate the liberation from Mitzrayim.
But if one does not feel the slavery and all of its accompanying hardships, always seeing himself as a free man, what type of freedom will he experience on Pesach?
Therefore, we should make appropriate preparations before the holiday. We should put ourselves into the mindset of slaves, in order that we may feel the freedom. Even great tzaddikim are enjoined to make this type of preparation. The appreciation of freedom is aroused within a person only after he prepares himself as he should. One who does not do so will become even more enslaved and will not merit true freedom.
How does one prepare himself for true freedom? It is through exerting himself to the utmost before the festival. Through cleaning his house from any trace of chametz, he feels a real sense of servitude and drudgery. When Pesach finally arrives, he experiences the liberty which comes in the aftermath of hard physical and emotional labor.
Through emunah in the miracles of Pesach, he remembers Yetziat Mitzrayim. And even though he himself was not there, his mazal took part in it, rendering him a person who left Mitzrayim.
Before Pesach, a person prepares himself to feel the slavery. On Pesach, he feels the freedom from bondage. And after the holiday, the impression made by the Exodus from Egypt should remain with him. Without preparing oneself, he is unable to appreciate the miracle of our Exodus, lacking a basic tenet in our belief in Hashem.
How, indeed, can a free man feel as though he were enslaved and was now emancipated? He knows he was never in bondage. Is he meant to fool himself into thinking he was once a slave and now became free?
One who is a true servant of Hashem constantly examines those things which could hinder his Avodat Hashem. This, in essence, is the miracle of Pesach. We must realize that we were slaves to Pharaoh Harasha, the embodiment of the Yetzer Hara, and then became free from his control and subject to the authority of Hashem. After being set free, we were able to serve Hashem, something denied to us during our years in Egypt.
But one who views himself as a free man, never experiencing this feeling of kedushah, is unable to fulfill the injunction of Chazal that “in every generation, a person is obligated to see himself as though he left Egypt.”
The author of the sefer Ma’archei Lev writes, “One who views the time of Mashiach superficially, sees only that each person will sit under his grape vine and fig tree (an allusion to physical comforts) (based on Michah 4:4). But the truth is that the period of Mashiach will be a time of living on a spiritual plane.”
The Ramchal states that the tzaddik in galut lives as though Mashiach has already arrived. How is this? Just as in the times of Mashiach, all will live spiritually, likewise, the tzaddik lives his life on a spiritual level even in these days of exile.
With this in mind, we can say that by means of the physical labor which a person does in order to eradicate chametz, he can relate to the harsh conditions our forefathers experienced in Egypt. In order to savor the freedom, one must put himself through the exile. Only in this way can he truly appreciate becoming a free man!
How do we experience this feeling of complete servitude? The Gra states that wherever the word “obligated” is used, it refers to a literal obligation. The obligation here refers to searching out every last morsel of chametz in every crack and crevice. When one searches on his hands and knees to find every forgotten crumb of chametz, one truly feels like an indigent slave. Only afterward, at the Seder table, where he sits like a king, does he feel a real sense of freedom.
Based on this, we can answer our previous questions. It is specifically on Pesach that Hashem commands us to remember Yetziat Mitzrayim all the days of our lives. This is so that one should feel the slavery and the freedom every day, and constantly connect with Hashem.
Thus, all of the holidays are related to Yetziat Mitzrayim, for we are commanded to remember the Exodus from Egypt every day of the year.
Above all, this is the connection between those days and today. For, although we are free people, we must constantly remember the bondage of our fathers in Egypt, so that we might feel the freedom every moment of our lives. In this manner, we will merit the future
geulah, may it come speedily in our days, Amen.