SALT - Thursday, 22 January 2015

  • Rav David Silverberg

            We read in Parashat Bo of the instructions which Moshe conveyed to Benei Yisrael in preparation for the night of the Exodus, and the command to observe the ritual of the korban pesach (paschal offering) each year henceforth, even after entering the Land of Israel.  Moshe then told the people that when their children ask about the meaning behind the offering, they should tell them about the miracle that occurred on the night of the Exodus, when God delivered a plague upon the Egyptian homes but spared the homes of Benei Yisrael.  The Torah concludes this section by relating that upon hearing Moshe’s instructions, the people “kneeled and bowed” (“va-yikod ha-am va-yishtachavu” – 12:27).


            Rashi comments, “‘The nation kneeled’ – for the news of the redemption, for entering the land, and for the news of the children which they would have.”  According to Rashi, when the people kneeled, they were expressing gratitude to God for the three pieces of information regarding the future which they had just learned: that they would soon be redeemed from slavery, that they would be entering Eretz Yisrael, and that they would have children.


            One might, at first glance, wonder why the third of these predictions – that they would have children – is included in this list.  The first two promises are blessings which have been denied to Benei Yisrael for centuries – freedom from foreign oppression, and the privilege of living in their homeland.  It is readily understandable that upon hearing from Moshe that these dreams would be realized, they bowed in appreciation to the Almighty.  But why did they suddenly express gratitude to the promise of children?  Benei Yisrael seemed to continue reproducing throughout the period of Egyptian bondage, and in fact, the Torah emphasizes that the Egyptians’ effort to curb Benei Yisrael’s population growth through a program of persecution failed (“kein yirbeh ve-khein yifrotz” – 1:12).  Why would they now express gratitude for hearing that they would have children?


            It would seem that Rashi’s comment seeks to convey the lesson that we must not lose sight of the “ordinary” blessings in our lives even at times when we experience extraordinary events.  As Benei Yisrael expressed gratitude to God for their imminent redemption and upon learning of their eventual settlement in their homeland, they did not forget to thank Him as well for the “normal” blessing of children, with which they had been blessed all along.  Even as they reflected upon the miraculous, historic process which was unfolding before their very eyes, they did not lose sight of the everyday blessings which they enjoyed.  Rashi’s comment thus teaches us to be mindful of even the “simple” blessings of life which we can easily – and too often do – take for granted, and to feel grateful not only for the remarkable and extraordinary events, but also for our “ordinary” day-to-day blessings.