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Shabbat, 8 Shevat 5777 / February 4, 2017

Shabbat: For the Children

Shabbat: For the Children

Seventh Reading: Exodus 13:1–16

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G‑d then told the Jews that they must celebrate the anniversary of the Exodus every year as the holiday of Passover. A central feature of this celebration would be the retelling of the story of the Exodus to the children.
For the Children
וְהִגַּדְתָּ לְבִנְךָ בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא לֵאמֹר וגו': (שמות יג:ח)
You must tell your child on that day. Exodus 13:8

Interestingly, the commandment to retell the story of the Exodus – which is the source for the annual Passover Seder – is given in the context of describing “the child who does not know how to ask,” the most immature of all the four types of children to whom we must tailor our description of the Exodus. This teaches us that our duty to retell the Exodus applies mainly to this uninitiated child. We must find the words to inspire even this type of child with gratitude to G‑d for liberating us from Egypt and from all past, present, future, personal, and collective Egypts.

This is so because the Exodus from Egypt was absolute: not one Jew remained in Egypt. Since the Exodus was so all-encompassing, the transmission of its message must also encompass each and every individual that can possibly understand it, even if this takes extraordinary effort.

By ensuring that even “the child who does not know how to ask” understands the meaning of the Exodus, we ensure that the other children will understand it, too, much as lifting up the bottom of any structure automatically raises the rest of the structure, as well.1

Footnotes
1.
Sefer HaMa’amarim 5734–5735, pp. 347–353.
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson (11 Nissan 1902–3 Tammuz 1994) became the seventh rebbe of the Chabad dynasty on 10 Shevat 1950. He is widely acknowledged as the greatest Jewish leader of the second half of the 20th century, a dominant scholar in both the revealed and hidden aspects of Torah, and fluent in many languages and on scientific subjects. The Rebbe is best known for his extraordinary love and concern for every Jew on the planet, having sent thousands of emissaries around the globe, dedicated to strengthening Judaism.

Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky is a scholar, author and anthologist, and is editor-in-chief at Chabad House Publications of California. He is the author and translator of Apples from the Orchard, gleanings from the writings of the Arizal (Rabbi Isaac Luria, 1534–1572) on the Torah, and is the author and editor-in-chief of the Kehot Chumash produced by Chabad House Publications, featuring an interpolated translation of the Torah with commentary adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
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