AND IT SHALL BE FOR A SIGN.
The lessons of the Torah are not to remain in the mind. “And you shall know (VEYADAATA) today and bring it DOWN TO YOUR HEART that HaShem is the G-d in the heavens above and on the earth below, there is none other” (Deut. 4:39). The Exodus was the greatest ever revelation in history so far of DAAS — the “knowledge” that G-d governs this world. The institution of the religion founded upon this event is marked in our parashah with the giving of the first practical commandments through which we keep this knowledge alive from generation to generation and make it palpable and literally tangible in our lives.
The highly tangible act of eating the Pesach sacrifice (or celebrating the Seder night) from year to year keeps the memory of the Exodus alive, stimulating questions from little children, giving the adults the opportunity to hand down the tradition and grow themselves in the process. A farmer’s cow or sheep gives birth to a first-born, which he presents to the priest in memory of the saving of the Israelite first-born. A first-born boy is born and must be “redeemed” from the priest. First thing in the day, the Israelite takes leather straps, symbols of bondage, and uses them to bind himself to G-d and literally bind G-d’s words and wisdom to his very body, with the Tefilin. “And it shall be for a sign on your hand and for frontlets between your eyes that with the strength of hand HaShem brought us out of Egypt” (Ex. 13:16, closing words of the parashah.) Through practical acts of devotion, we bring the knowledge of G-d into our hearts. This is our part in displacing Pharaoh.
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