Among the laws unique to the first Paschal offering was the obligation that it be eaten “with your waist belted, your shoes on your feet and your staff in your hand.”1 This indicated the Jewish people’s readiness to leave Egypt and their belief in their impending freedom.2

Every detail in Torah serves as a lesson in a Jew’s life.3 This is especially so with regard to something as encompassing as remembering the Exodus, an “important fundament and a mighty pillar of our Torah and our Faith.”4

What lesson are we to derive in our own spiritual exodus from the above-mentioned law?

Among the most important elements in a person’s life are his achievements, particularly his spiritual and moral accomplishments.5 One should strive to attain these achievements in the most complete manner possible.

It goes without saying that in order to embark on this path, a person must first free himself from all his negative characteristics and tendencies — elements that hinder, or at least sharply limit, one’s ability to strive toward a life of spiritual and moral accomplishment.

There are three specific areas in which people strive for accomplishment, achievement and completion: with regard to oneself, with regard to one’s immediate environs, and finally, with regard to the greater world.6 The way to achieve success in all these areas is alluded to in the verse quoted above.

Spiritual and moral attainment with regard to a person himself encompasses one’s entire mode of conduct, both with regard to refraining from evil and to doing positive deeds, performing Torah and mitzvos to the best of his ability.

The verse alludes to this by stating “with your waist belted.” We readily observe that the mid-section keeps the entire body upright.7 In other words, the verse is telling us that we should always behave in a proper and upright manner.

The second area in the struggle for achievement and completion pertains to one’s relationship with his fellow man and immediate environs. The individual seeks to help all those with whom he comes in contact, seeking to enhance their lives, as well as generally striving to imbue his surroundings with holiness.8

This is alluded to by the words “your shoes on your feet.” It is specifically the feet that come in contact with the ground, which is rife with objects that may harm the one who treads upon them. Rugged protective garments are a must if someone is to walk in a place that may be fraught with danger.9

So too when a person leaves his own spiritually comfortable setting, his own spiritual “space,” and tries to influence his surroundings — surroundings that may seek to rend, tear and gouge his spirituality. In order to be sure that he effectively influences others and is not himself influenced to the contrary, he needs an extra spiritual protective layer10 — “your shoes on your feet.”

The third area in a person’s life pertains to that part of the world that seems so distant from him, either physically or spiritually, that he has no idea how to reach out to it. Nevertheless, “Each and every individual is obliged to say: ‘The entire world was created for my sake,’ ”11 i.e., one’s responsibility extends far beyond one’s immediate confines.

The way in which one extends his grasp and reaches out to the world as a whole is through the “staff in your hand.” This staff will be either the “staff of kindness” or the “staff of sternness,”12 whatever is most appropriate and effective. In all events, the staff is a symbol of dominion, whereby an individual extends his might and influence.

Although this task is daunting, the festival of Pesach, with its concomitant spiritual empowerment, enables us to succeed. We then merit that “I will satiate him with long days, and show him My deliverance,”13 with the speedy arrival of our righteous Moshiach.14

Based on Hagaddah Shel Pesach im Likkutei Taamim,
Minhagim U’Biurim
, Vol. II, pp. 775-784.