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Rabbi Yizchak Ibn Abuchav ZT’L ZY’A entered the Rabbinate latter in life and drawing from Maimonidies’ example compiled an anthology of Rabbinic teachings organized by topic. The rabbi had intended to compose a handbook of sermonic source material. Rabbi Abuchav’s work, Menorath HaMeor enjoyed such popularity that the standard Vilna 5635 edition has an extensive Yiddish translation accompanying the text.
Rabbi Ibn Abuchav begins his discussion about Passover by reciting the practice of studying and inquiring about the laws of Passover for the prior 30 days. By way of introduction Rabbi Abuchav explores the underlying basis for the exile, servitude and redemption. Rabbi Abuchav points to Bereshith 15:7- 21 which is classically known as the Brit bein HaBetarim, the Covenant between the Pieces. G-d in response to Avraham’s concerns about inheriting the Land of Israel calls upon Avraham to perform a unique rite symbolic of the the relationship G-D wishes to initiate between Himself and Humanity. 15:12 “And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, a fear of great darkness fell upon him” according to Midrash Rabbah (Bereshith :43) alludes to the Four nations who through history will persecute and subjugate Jewry. Nachmonides observes the exiles are associated with Iraq, Iran, Greece and Rome were contingent upon Jewry’s remaining fully faithful. However, Nachonides notes the prophecy revealed in 15:13-16 about being a wanderer in a land not your own is a separate prophecy. Apparently what Jewry experienced in Egypt was not contingent on faith and fidelity but was preparatory and apparently necessary to the nation’s formation.
Rabbi Elimelch Weisblum of Lizhensk ZTVK’L ZY’A (Noam Elimelech end of Lech Lecha) casts Avraham Our Father’s question in 15:8 “ . . . Lord God, how shall I know that I shall inherit it?” not as a wavering of faith but rather as asking how will I know the promise of the Land of Israel is for all generations? The Rebbe Reb Elimelech explains how the sacrifices offered related to G-D’s promise to Avraham that the Land of Israel shall remain Avraham’s descendents (see Bereshith 21:12) for all times. However , in the Haggadah the prophecy in 15:13-16 is seen as a preparation for redemption
The Holy One, blessed be he, predetermined the time for our
final deliverance in order to fulfill what He had pledged to our
father Abraham in a covenant, as it is written: "He said to Abram,
Your descendants will surely sojourn in a land that is not their own,
and they will be enslaved and afflicted for four hundred years; however,
I will punish the nation that enslaved them, and afterwards they shall
leave with great wealth."
Rabbi Ibn Abuchav like the Haggadah seem to assume the Noam Elimelech’s understanding of 15:8 in his reading of 15:13-16. Rabbi Ibn Abuchav makes two observations concerning exile. First the decree exile includes a promise of redemption. The implication is Jewry being in a state of exile is not normal, it is an aberration, exile is temporary. Further citing Megila 29a Rabbi Ibn Abuchav notes that wherever Jewry is sent to exile the D-vine presence, Shechina accompanies them. The Marasha ZT’L ZY’A explains that even though G-D’s presence is everywhere Jewry enjoys a special intense relationship with G-D. That relationship experienced in the Land of Israel is possible in the diaspora just like Moshe our teacher A’H was able to receive prophecy in Egypt as well as being able to call out to G-D. Similarly throughout history the righteous Zaddikim were able to connect with G-D in an intense manner akin to the intensity of the D-vine presence situated in the Land of Israel. The implication of the D-vine Presence coming in to the exile with Jewry is He has not abandoned His people.
Maybe the enduring lesson of Egypt the lessons that remain for eternity are not to accept the status quo of exile and actively yearn for redemption, during exile never to lose hope of redemption and that even in the depths of exile G-D is with His people.How else to preface the lesson of Passover? The central teaching is one of faith born of experience a lesson for all times.