Is there anything we can do as individuals and as a community to remedy this situation? Is there any way we can bring Jews together as one?
Should we just give up and say, “This is the way it is, this is galus”? Or should we be proactive and try to bring Jews of all persuasions together so that we can achieve the brotherhood and achdus that are prerequisites for the ultimate geulah when we will one day merit to eat the Korban Pesach in the rebuilt third Beis HaMikdash?
The answer to this may lie in a deeper understanding of the Korban Pesach. Let us analyze some of the laws of the Korban Pesach and the profound lessons for today that can be gleaned from them.
The Torah does not specify the punishment that is incurred if one fails to perform any of its positive commandments, with the exception of two. One of those two is the Korban Pesach. If one fails to bring the Korban Pesach he is subject to the punishment of kareis.
What exactly is the penalty of kareis? We derive from the Nefesh Hachaim (Gate 1, chapter 18) that Kareis means a breaking of the bond between a person and Hashem and by extension between a person and the rest of Am Yisrael.
When a person is in such a manner detached, he cannot connect with his fellow Jews. He is, as it were, excommunicated from Klal Yisrael. Being cut off like that from the collective tree of the Jewish nation is a horrible sentence. The person becomes like a rootless tree being blown by the wind, with nothing to keep it attached to its source.
Chazal instruct us (Avos 2:1), “Calculate the loss of a mitzvah as compared with its reward.” Rambam (ibid.) explains this to mean that whenever the Torah reveals that one incurs a severe punishment for failing to observe a commandment, we can infer that the reward for its observance is truly great.
In this case, if the punishment for failing to bring a Korban Pesach is that one’s soul is cut off from its spiritual roots and distanced from his fellow Jews, then conversely a person who fulfills this mitzvah certainly must receive a reward that is the opposite of the punishment for failing to fulfill it.
Clearly, a person who brings the Korban Pesach is rewarded by achieving a deeper connection to his own spiritual roots, which in turn brings him closer to Hashem and immeasurably strengthens his bond and sense of oneness with Hashem’s Nation of Israel.
Why is the reward so great? What is it about a Jew bringing a Korban Pesach that is so great that Hashem gives him an unequalled reward? And why is the punishment so severe for someone who does not bring the Korban Pesach?
One of the unique halachas of Korban Pesach is that it must be performed as a chaburah, in a group together with others. A possible reason for this is that the Korban Pesach symbolizes the sacrifice marking the passage of Bnei Yisrael from slaves of Pharaoh to servants of Hashem.
At Har Sinai Jews stood “as one man, with one heart” and began to serve Hashem as a single unit. The first time they ate the Korban Pesach, they were commanded to eat it together, as a chaburah, with achdus, because achdus was a prerequisite for them to make the giant leap from slaves of the king of Egypt to servants of the Creator of the universe.
The fact that the punishment for not bringing the Korban Pesach is the extremely stringent one of kareis teaches us how important the Korban Pesach and its message of chaburah and achdus is for the redemption of Klal Yisrael. If the transgression is kareis, the proper fulfillment of the mitzvah can bring about the greatest degree of closeness to Hashem.
About the Author: Rav Dovid Hofstedter is the author of the “Dorash Dovid” seforim on the Torah and Moadim. He is also the founder and nasi of Dirshu – a worldwide Torah movement dedicated to accountability in Torah learning among all segments of Klal Yisrael that has impacted more than 100,000 participants since its inception fifteen years ago.
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