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The Pesach story



The story of Pesach start 400 years before the Exodus from Egypt
"…And G-d said unto Abram: Know of a surety that Your seed shall be a stranger in a land not is not theirs; and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years. And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterwards shall they come out with great substance."
(Genesis 15: 13,14

The 400 years of exile began when Isaac was born. When Isaac was sixty years of age his son Jacob was born, and at the age of 130 Jacob came to Egypt, that makes 190 years. In Egypt the children of Israel actually spent 210 years, that makes 400 years in all".
"When the end came G-d did not delay them even to the extent of a wink: On the 15th day of Nissan Isaac was born and on the 15th day of Nissan (400 years later) the children of Israel were liberated from Egypt."
(Midrash Tanchuma

In Egypt the slavery begins when Joseph and his brothers dies, and the children of Israel multiplied in the land of Egypt. Soon after King Pharaoh also died, and a new king ascended the throne. He had no sympathy and love for the children of Israel, and chose to forget all that Joseph had done for Egypt.
He decided to take action against the influence and growing numbers of the children of Israel. He called a meeting with his council, and they advised him to enslave these people and oppress them before they grew too powerful.
Pharaoh limited the personal freedom of the Hebrews, putting heavy taxes on them, and recruiting their men into forced labor under the supervision of harsh taskmasters.
The children of Israel were forced to build cities, erect monuments, construct roads, work in the quarries, and hew stones or burn bricks and tiles.
But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, and the harder became the restrictions imposed upon them, the more the children of Israel increased and multiplied.
Finally, when King Pharaoh saw that forcing the Hebrews to do hard work did not succeed in suppressing their growing numbers, he decreed that all newly born male children of the Hebrews be thrown into the Nile River. Only daughters should be permitted to live.
He hoped to end the increase of the Jewish population, and at the same time, to eliminate a danger which, according to the predictions of his astrologers, threatened his own life in the person of a leader to be born to the children of Israel.
The only group of Jews that escaped enslavement was the tribe of Levi. Levi was the last of Jacob's sons to die, and his influence over his tribe was great and lasting.
They had instructed the children of Israel in the knowledge of G-d and His holy teachings.
The tribe of Levy were occupied with spiritual matters and did not mix with the Egyptians, while many of their brethren had given up their old customs and way of life. Except for their language, clothing, and names, many of the children of Israel had become completely assimilated into the social and cultural environment of their Egyptian neighbors, and they were the ones to arouse the wrath of the Egyptians.
The children of Levi, however, were spared the slavery and oppression which the Egyptians imposed upon the rest of the children of Israel.
Levi's grandson, Amram, the son of Kehat, married Yocheved, and she bore him three children. Their first child was a girl by the name of Miriam, who was later to become a great prophetess of the Jewish people. The second child was Aaron, the highest priest of G-d, famous for his extraordinary love of peace.
Next to Moses, he was the greatest leader of our nation in his time. It was Amram's youngest son Moses who was destined to lead the children of Israel from Egypt and to receive for them the Holy Torah on Mount Sinai.

No longer could the children of Israel endure their terrible suffering and persecution at the hands of their cruel overlords.
Their cries for help, and prayers, coming from the very bottom of their hearts, pierced the heavens. G-d remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and decided to deliver their descendants from bondage.
Moses was eighty years old, and his brother eighty three, when they entered the palace of King Pharaoh. Pharaoh asked the two brothers what they wanted.
The message sounded like a command: "Thus had the Lord G-d of Israel said, `Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the desert.' "
Pharaoh refused, saying that he had never heard of the G-d of the Israelites, and that His name was not registered in his list of gods of all nations.
He further accused Moses and Aaron of a conspiracy against the government, and of interfering with the work of the Hebrew slaves.
At Moses' suggestion, Aaron then performed the miracles G-d had enabled him to perform, but Pharaoh was not impressed, for his magicians could do almost as well.
On the same day, Pharaoh ordered his supervisors to increase the demands on the children of Israel and to make their burden still heavier. If they had time to think of liberty and worship of G-d and similar ideas, quite unbecoming to slaves, then they must be getting too much leisure, Pharaoh thought.
Whereas they had been supplied with the raw materials heretofore, they now had not only to produce the same amount of labor, but in addition, they had to produce their own raw material for the bricks.
The children of Israel were physically unable to cope with such an a task, and they suffered even more than before.
Moses prayed to G-d. G-d consoled him and assured him that his mission eventually would be successful, but not before Pharaoh and all of Egypt would be smitten by terrible plagues, in order to be punished for oppressing the children of Israel.
The children of Israel would then see and recognize their true and faithful G-d.
When Pharaoh continued to refuse to liberate the children of Israel, Moses and Aaron warned him that G-d would punish both him and his people.
And so the ten plagues began:

דם Dam - First, the waters of the land of Egypt were to be turned into blood. Moses walked down with Aaron to the river. There Aaron raised his staff, smote the waters, and converted them into streams of blood.
All the people of Egypt and the king himself beheld this miracle; they saw the fish die as the blood flowed over the land; and they turned with disgust from the offensive smell of the sacred river. It was impossible for them to drink of the water of the Nile far-famed for its delicious taste; and they were forced to dig deep into the ground for water.
Unfortunately for the Egyptians, not only the floods of the Nile but all the waters of Egypt, wherever they were, turned to blood. The fish died in the rivers and lakes, and for a whole week man and beast suffered horrible thirst. Yet Pharaoh did not give in.
After due warning, the second plague came to Egypt.
צפרדע Tzefardea - Aaron stretched his hand out over the waters of Egypt, and frogs swarmed forth. They covered every inch of land, and entered the houses and bedrooms!
Wherever an Egyptian turned, whatever he touched, he found there the slimy bodies of frogs, the croaking of which filled the air.
Pharaoh now became frightened, he asked Moses and Aaron to pray to G-d to remove the frogs, promising that he would liberate the Jewish people at once.
But as soon as the frogs had disappeared, he broke his promise and refused to let the children of Israel go.
And so the third plague was brought onto Egypt
כינים Kinim - G-d ordered Aaron to smite the dust of the earth with his staff, and no sooner did he do so than all over Egypt bugs crawled forth from the dust to cover the land.
Man and beast suffered untold misery from this terrible plague.
Although his counselors pointed out that this surely was Divine punishment, Pharaoh remained relentless in his determination to keep the children of Israel in bondage.
ערוב Arove - The fourth plague brought onto the Egyptians consisted of hordes of wild animals roving all over the country, and destroying everything in their path. Only the province of Goshen, where the children of Israel lived, was immune from this as well as from the other plagues.
Again Pharaoh promised faithfully to let the Jews go out into the desert on the condition that they would not go too far. Moses prayed to G-d, and the wild animals disappeared. But as soon as they had gone, Pharaoh withdrew his promise and refused Moses' demand.
Then G-d sent:
דבר Dever - a fatal disease that killed most of the domestic animals of the Egyptians. How the people must have grieved when they saw their stately horses, the pride of Egypt, perish; when all the cattle of the fields were stricken at the word of Moses and when the animals upon which they looked as gods died smitten by the plague!
They had, moreover, the mortification of seeing the beasts of the Israelites entirely unhurt. Yet Pharaoh still hardened his heart, and would not let the Israelites go.
And so the sixth plague followed:
שחין Shchin -
G-d commanded Moses to take soot from the furnace, and to sprinkle it towards heaven; and as Moses did so, boils burst forth upon man and beast throughout the land of Egypt. These boils were very painful it struck the people of Egypt with horror and agony.
Once again Pharaoh asked Moses to pray to G-d to heal his people and he will let the Israelites go. However as soon as the Egyptians were healed, Pharaoh went back on his promise once again. God then brought on
ברד Barad. - Moses announced to the king that a hail-storm of unprecedented violence was to sweep the land; no living thing, no tree, no herb, was to escape its fury unhurt; safety was to be found only in the shelter of the houses. Some of the Egyptians took this counsel to heart; and brought their cattle into their sheds and they themselves stayed indoors. But the reckless and the stubborn left their cattle with their servants in the fields.
When Moses stretched forth his staff, the hail poured down with violence; deafening thunder rolled over the earth, and lightning rent the heavens, and ran like fire along the ground.
The hail did its work of destruction; man and beast who were exposed to its rage died on the spot; the herbs were scattered to the wind, and the trees lay shattered on the ground. But the land of Goshen, untouched by the ravages of the storm, bloomed like a garden amidst the general devastation.
Then Pharaoh sent for Moses and acknowledged his sins. "The Lord is righteous," he said, "and I and my people are wicked. Entreat the Lord, for it is already too much, that there should be no more thundering and hail; and I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer."
Moses replied: "When I am gone out of the city, I shall spread out my hands to the Lord; the thunder will cease, and neither will there be any more hail, that You may know that the earth is the Lord's." And it happened as Moses had stated: the storm ceased but Pharaoh's heart remained hardened.
The next time Moses and Aaron came before Pharaoh, he appeared somewhat relenting, and asked them who was to participate in the worship the Israelites wanted to hold in the desert.
When they told him that everyone without exception, young and old, men, women, and animals, were to go, Pharaoh suggested that only the men should go, and that the women and children, as well as all their possessions, should remain in Egypt.
Moses and Aaron could not accept this offer, and Pharaoh became angry and ordered them to leave his palace. Before leaving, Moses warned him of new and untold suffering. But Pharaoh remained adamant, even though his advisers counseled against further resistance.
ארבה Arbeh - As soon as Moses left the palace, he raised his arms towards heaven and an east wind brought swarms of locusts into Egypt, covering the sun, and devouring everything green that had escaped the hail and previous plagues.
Never in the history of mankind had there been such a devastating locusts as this one. It brought complete ruin upon Egypt, which had already been thoroughly ravaged by the previous catastrophes.
Again Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron, and implored them to pray to G-d to stop this plague. Moses complied, and G-d sent a strong west wind that drove the locusts into the sea. When relief came, Pharaoh's obstinacy returned to him and he refused to liberate the people of Israel.
Then followed the ninth plague.

Choshech - For several days all of Egypt was enveloped in a thick and impenetrable veil of darkness, which extinguished all lights kindled.
The Egyptians were gripped with fear, and remained glued to their places wherever they stood or sat. Only in Goshen, where the children of Israel dwelt, there was light. But not all of the Jews were saved from this plague.

There were a few who wanted to be regarded as Egyptians rather than as members of the Hebrew race, and who tried, therefore, to imitate the Egyptians in everything, or, as we call it, to assimilate themselves. They did not want to leave Egypt. These people died during the days of darkness.

Again Pharaoh tried to bargain with Moses and Aaron, bidding them depart with all their people, leaving only their flocks and herds behind as a pledge. Moses and Aaron informed him, however, that they would accept nothing less than complete freedom, for the men, women and children, and that they were to take all their belongings with them.
Now Pharaoh became angry and ordered Moses and Aaron to leave and never to return. He warned them that if they were to come before him again, they would die.
Moses replied that it would not be necessary for them to see Pharaoh, for G-d would send one more plague over Egypt, after which Pharaoh would give his unconditional permission for the children of Israel to leave Egypt.
Exactly at midnight, Moses continued, G-d would pass over Egypt and smite all first born, man and beast.
However the children of Israel, nobody was to die. A bitter cry would sweep Egypt, and all the Egyptians would be gripped with terror, lest they all die. Then Pharaoh himself would come to seek out the leaders of the Hebrews, and beg them to leave Egypt without delay!
With these words, Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh, who was seething with rage.
In the first day of the month of Nissan, two weeks before the Exodus from Egypt,G-d said to Moses and Aaron:
"This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak unto all the congregation of Israel saying:
In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household; and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at dusk.
And they shall take of the blood and put it on the two side posts and on the lintel, upon the houses wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; with bitter herbs they shall eat it... And you shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; but that which remains of it until the morning you shall burn with fire.
And thus shall you eat it: with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste it is the Lord's Passover.
And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and there shall be no plague upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
And this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and you shall celebrate it as a feast unto the Lord, throughout your generations.
"Seven days shall you eat unleavened bread, and put away all leaven from your houses. And it shall be when your children shall say unto you: What is the meaning of this service?
You shall say: It is the sacrifice of the Passover to G-d who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when he smote the Egyptians and delivered our houses."
Moses told all this to the children of Israel, and they did as G-d had ordered them through Moses and Aaron.
מכת בכורות Macas B'choros
Midnight of the fourteenth to the fifteenth of Nissan came, and G-d smote all first born in the land of Egypt, from the first born of King Pharaoh, down to the firstborn of a captive in the dungeon, and all the first born of the cattle, exactly as Moses had warned.
There was a loud and bitter wail, for in each house a loved one lay fatally stricken. Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron during that very night, and said to them:
"Arise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord as you have said; and take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and go, and bless me also." At last, then, the pride of the stubborn king was broken.
Meanwhile the children of Israel had been preparing for their hasty departure. With beating hearts, they had assembled in groups to eat the paschal lamb.
They stood at the midnight meal, arrayed as they had been commanded. The women had taken from the ovens the unleavened cakes, which were eaten with the meat of the roasted lamb.
The sun had already risen above the horizon when, at the word of command, the whole nation of the children of Israel poured forth into the cool, still, eastern morning.
But not even amidst their trepidation and danger did they forget the pledge given by their ancestors to Joseph, and they carried his remains with them, to inter them later in the Land of Promise.
Thus the children of Israel were liberated from the yoke of their oppressors on the fifteenth day of Nissan, in the year 2448 after the creation of the world.
There were 600,000 men over 20 years of age who, with their wives and children, and flocks, crossed the border of Egypt as a free nation.
Many Egyptians and other non Israelites joined the triumphant children of Israel, hoping to share their glorious future.
The children of Israel did not leave Egypt destitute. In addition to their own possessions, the terrified Egyptians had bestowed upon them valuables of gold and silver, and clothing, in an effort to hasten their departure.
Thus G-d fulfilled in every detail His promise to Abraham that his descendants would leave their exile with great riches.
Leading the Jewish people on their journey during the day was a pillar of cloud, and at night there was a pillar of fire, giving them light. These Divine messengers not only guided the children of Israel on their way, but also cleared the way before them, making it both easy and safe.
Quite the shortest route for the children of Israel to the Promised Land would have been through the land of the Philistines.
However, G-d wanted to give the newly born Jewish nation the opportunity to throw off the remnants of Egyptian influence, and to educate them in the new ways of a holy life, through the Divine Torah, which was to be given to them on Mount Sinai.
Pharaoh now regretted that he had permitted the Israelites to leave. He therefore mobilized his army and personally took the lead of his choicest cavalry and war chariots, in hot pursuit of his former slaves.
He reached them near the banks of the Red Sea and pressed them close to the water, in an effort to cut off their escape.
Some groups of the Jewish people were ready to fight the Egyptians; others preferred to drown in the floods of the sea than to risk defeat and a return to slavery.
A third group of frightened and feeble people began to complain against Moses, fearing that he had lured them out of the safety of Egypt to die in the desert. "Because there were no graves in Egypt," they exclaimed, "have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you done this to us, to lead us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, 'Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians?' For it is better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness."
But Moses, calm and firm in one of the most trying moments of his life, said: "Fear not, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will show to you today: for as you have seen the Egyptians today, you shall see them again no more forever.
The Lord will fight for you, and you shall keep yourselves quiet."
Moses led the Jewish People onwards until they came to the very borders of the Red Sea. The pillar of cloud now changed its position; for, retreating from the front to the rear of the Hebrew hosts, it floated between the two armies.
Then G-d spoke to Moses: "Lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it; and the children of Israel shall go into the midst of the sea on dry ground."
Moses did as G-d ordered him. He raised his staff, and stretched his hand over the sea; a strong east wind rose and blew the whole night. By that storm, the waters of the Red Sea were divided, and gathered into a wall on either side, leaving a dry passage in the midst.
The Jewish People marched at once along that dry path which extended from shore to shore, and gained the opposite side in safety.
The Egyptians continued their pursuit, without hesitation, in the same track. But the wheels of their chariots became clogged in the bed of the sea, and glided off. They were unable to proceed; and they felt that they were once more vainly struggling against the Lord.
They turned to flee, but it was too late; for at the command of G-d, Moses stretched forth his staff, and the waters resumed their usual course, closing over the chariots and horses and warriors, over the whole host of Pharaoh. "There remained not so much as one of them."
Thus G-d saved the children of Israel from the Egyptians on that day. Israel saw His great power; they recognized G-d and believed in Him and in His servant Moses.
Then Moses and the entire congregation sang this Song of Praise to G-d for their miraculous rescue:
"I will sing unto the Lord for He is highly exalted;
The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and song, And he is become my salvation; This is my G-d, and I will glorify Him; My father's G-d, and I will exalt Him.
The Lord is master of war, The Lord is His name.
Pharaoh's chariots and his army He cast into the sea, And his chosen captains are sunk in the Red Sea.
The deep waters cover them; They went down into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O Lord, is glorious in power, Your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.
And in the greatness of Your Excellency You overthrow those that rise up against You; You send forth Your wrath; it consumes them as stubble.
And with the blast of Your nostrils the waters piled up, The floods stood upright as a heap; The deep waters were congealed in the heart of the sea.
The enemy said: I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; My lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.
You blew with Your wind, the sea covered them; They sank as lead in the mighty waters.
Who is like unto You, O Lord, among the mighty?
Who is like unto You, glorious in holiness, Awesome in praises, performing wonders?
You stretch out Your right hand, The earth swallowed them.
You in Your love have led the people whom You redeemed; You guided them in Your strength to Your holy abode.
The nations have heard, they trembled; pangs of fear gripped the inhabitants of Philistia.
Then the chiefs of Edom were terrified; The mighty men of Moab, trembling took hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan melted away.
Terror and dread fell upon them; by the greatness of Your arm they are as still as stone; Until Your people pass over, O Lord, until the people pass over which You have acquired.
You bring them in, and plant them an the mountain of Your inheritance,
The place, O Lord, which You have made for You to dwell in, The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.
The Lord shall reign forever and ever."
"Sing to the Lord, for He is gloriously exalted; the horse and its rider has He thrown into the sea."


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