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Social Nation

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Parshas HaChodesh[8] details the laws of the Korbon Pesach brought upon the mizbayach just prior to the onset of the Yom Tov. The law is that the meat of the offering must be eaten with a group of pre-registered members. If a person did not register before the offering was brought, he could not partake of its meat. “Speak to the Assembly of Israel saying: On the tenth of this month, they shall take for themselves, every man a lamb, according to their father’s household, a lamb for a household. If the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor who is near to his house shall take, according to the number of people; everyone in proportion to his eating, shall you be counted for the lamb.”[9]

One of the underlying themes of the Korbon Pesach was fostering a sense of community. As the burgeoning nation made its final preparation for the mass exodus the following day, they were to sit together with their families and neighbors, not only in a display of freedom and fearlessness from their former captors, but also with a mood of camaraderie and closeness. They were not a band of freed slaves who would be leaving Egypt, but a proud nation.

In the eloquent words of Rav Samson Rafael Hirsch, “A people, a nation, a ‘social’ community, a state, should arise from this redemption, whose whole ‘social’ existence was to have its roots in G-d, to be built up by Him, rest on Him, be arranged and constituted by Him, and be dedicated to Him. With the Pesach offering, G-d laid the foundation stone of this edifice.”

 

A person can be surrounded by people, he can even be the center of attention, such as a professional athlete with thousands of people cheering for him, and yet feel completely alone. Conversely, a person may be physically alone – far from his friends and family – and yet feel very connected to something beyond himself.

The metzora who caused dissidence and strife among others must suffer the feeling of loneliness. He must leave, not only the physical borders of the community, but the psychological feeling of belonging and being connected.

On the opposite end of the spectrum was the Korbon Pesach. It promoted a feeling of connectedness – that every Jew, no matter where he is in the world, is part of a nation and a community, whose members genuinely care for each other and feel that they are inextricably bound to each other.

 


[1] For those readers who have a hard time understanding poetry (as I did when my eleventh grade English teacher gave this out to our class) this poem is about two conversing “friends” who obviously don’t really care about each other.

[2]13:46

[3] Quoting the Gemara Arachin 16b

[4] Last year I had the privilege to spend a week in Eretz Yisroel as part of the Orthodox Union’s Rabbinic Mission. It was the Shabbos of Parshas Tazria, and on Friday night after the seudah we had the pleasure of hearing some thoughts from Rabbi Jonathon Rosenblatt, rabbi of the Riverdale Jewish Center, who joined us on the tour. The basic idea presented here is based on that discussion.

[5] There is a discussion among the poskim whether metzoraim are allowed to be together in their place of isolation.

[6] Rabbi Rosenblatt noted that the insincerity of the “love” becomes apparent when funds run out. “Hey buddy, do me a solid and lend me on credit.” “No man, I need the cash!”

About the Author: Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW is the Rabbi of Kehillat New Hempstead in Monsey NY. He is also Guidance Counselor/Rebbe in ASHAR and Yeshiva Bais Hachinuch. His website is www.stamtorah.info. He can be reached at stamtorah@gmail.com.


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