Moshiach in Torah Readings of Passover

Written by Rabbi Immanuel Schochet Posted in Holidays

The first days of Pesach emphasize the exodus from Egypt, Israel’s first redemption. The last days of Pesach emphasize the ultimate redemption by Moshiach.

The latter can be seen from the Torah-reading of the seventh day of Pesach, when we read the shirah (song) which was sung by Israel after they crossed the sea. The shirah refers to the ultimate redemption in both its beginning and its conclusion.

It begins “az yashir” (Beshalach 15:1), which, grammatically, is a future tense: “Then will sing.” This is an allusion to the Messianic era when the dead shall be resurrected, for then Moses and the Israelites will sing once again. And in its conclusion the shirah speaks of “The Sanctuary, which Your hands, G-d, have established” (Beshalach 15:17). This refers essentially to the Third Beit Hamikdash: it, unlike the first two, is built by the Almighty Himself-for the Messianic era, which is described by the next verse as the time when “G-d will reign forever and ever.”

Likewise the haftarah of the seventh day of Pesach is the “Song of King David” (II Samuel, ch.22) from whom Moshiach is descended and with whom Moshiach is identified. The haftarah of the eighth day of Pesach-Isaiah, ch. 11-has the most explicit description of both Moshiach and the utopian conditions of the Messianic Era.

In truth, however, the first days of Pesach also relate to the ultimate redemption. For just as all later exiles are rooted in the Egyptian exile, so, too, the redemption from Egypt is the comprehensive root for all later redemptions, including the Messianic one. In fact, this ultimate redemption is in many respects similar to the one from Egypt, as it is written, “As in the days of your going out from Egypt, I will show them wondrous things” (Michah 7:15). Indeed, the very purpose of relating the story of the exodus from Egypt is to awaken and strengthen the faith of Israel in general, and faith in the coming of Moshiach in particular. For this faith itself will bring about the actual redemption, just as it happened originally that “Our ancestors were freed from Egypt by virtue of (their) faith.”

Consideration of our present condition, noting the ever-increasing darkness and troubles of the galut of each day seeming worse than the preceding one, may lead to becoming despondent and to lose faith, Heaven forbid. That is why we begin the Hagadah (the recitation of the story of the exodus) with the paragraph “This is the bread of affliction...,” in which we state: “Whoever is hungry, let him come and eat; whoever is in need, let him come and celebrate Pesach...” By reciting this, we are not only inviting strangers, but also addressing ourselves:

The Almighty, as it were, begs each one of us to sense our state of “hunger” and “need” in the great darkness surrounding us, and to ask G-d for relief. In turn, G-d assures us that He will then provide us not only with the substance to “eat” but also the possibility to “celebrate Pesach,” thus to be led (as stated in the conclusion of that paragraph) to the “Land of Israel” and to become truly “free people”-very speedily indeed!

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