One of the differences between the Paschal offerings brought in Egypt and subsequent Paschal offerings is that those brought in Egypt were sacrificed by each family within their homes, while the later Paschal offerings had to be sacrificed in the Mishkan or Beis HaMikdash.1

That the offerings in Egypt were brought by each family in its own home was not only permissible, but obligatory: each domicile was obligated to have its own offering. Only when the number of individuals within one dwelling was not enough to consume the entire offering in one night was it permitted to join another family that lived nearby.2

Why did the Egyptian Paschal offering differ from all subsequent Paschal offerings?

The Prophet Yechezkel calls the exodus from Egypt the Jewish nation’s birth.3 It follows that the offering brought in association with this Exodus is related to the birth of the Jews as a people and their mission in this world.

The Midrash informs us4 that “G‑d earnestly desired a dwelling in the nethermost level,” i.e., in this physical world. This was primarily accomplished, according to the Midrash, when the Mishkan was built, as the verse states:5 “And you shall make for Me a Sanctuary and I shall reside among them.”6 Comment our Sages:7 “It does not state [‘I shall reside] in it,’ rather, ‘in them,’ that is to say, within each and every Jew.”

Since all verses are first and foremost to be understood in their plain sense,8 it follows that our Sages are telling us that in addition to the primary Mishkan and Beis HaMikdash, each Jew should seek to make his own personal Mishkan and Beis HaMikdash so that G‑d will reside within him.

Since the verse states “in them” and not “in it,” it follows that the personal Mishkan and Beis HaMikdash is of great importance.

The reason is as follows: Although the degree of holiness that resided in the Mishkan and Beis HaMikdash far surpassed the holiness that could be contained within any individual Jew as a result of his spiritual service, the physical Mishkan and Beis HaMikdash alone could not fulfill G‑d’s desire for “a dwelling in the nethermost level.”

For the Mishkan and Beis HaMikdash were confined to specific sites, with most of creation existing outside these areas. It was thus necessary for the G‑dliness within the Mishkan and Beis HaMikdash to reach beyond their confines and emanate to the outside world.9

However, it is by drawing down the sanctity of the Mishkan and Beis HaMikdash within his own home, thus causing his own dwelling to become a domicile of holiness, that a Jew fulfills G‑d’s intent — the transformation of the entire world into a dwelling fit for Him.

This is why the Jews were to offer the Paschal offering within their own homes in Egypt, for since this took place at the time of the nation’s birth, the purpose of that nationhood had to be stressed — that, through their personal spiritual service, they would have G‑d dwelling within each one of them, transforming their individual homes into a dwelling place for G‑d.

Once the Mishkan and Beis HaMikdash were built, however, the Paschal offering had to be brought there, for it was there that the highest degree of holiness resided.

Thus, the order of things changed: G‑d first dwelled in the Mishkan and Beis HaMikdash, and as a result of that indwelling He came to reside — through the Jews’ service, “in them” — within each and every Jew, and within the world as a whole.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXVI, pp. 77-84.