Don’t Settle | A Guest Post

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A guest post by Rabbi Aaron Fink (my father), Dean of Ateres Bais Yaakov on Monsey NY. Part of a weekly Dvar Torah (Torah “Thought”) series.

Parshas Achrei Mos – Erev Pesach
Don’t Settle

This year we are gifted with reading parshas Acharei Mos right before Pesach. One challenge in the parsha beckons our attention as we get ready for our sedarim. Its message is pivotal in striving to reach Pesach perfection.

We are told that Hashem Yisborach too Bnai Yisrael, Kmaasei Eretz Mitzrayimn asher yashavtem ba lo sa’asu….“Do not do as the people of Egypt where we once dwelled did.” One cannot help but wonder – why would they (or we)? With the maror, the bitter taste of servitude still fresh in their mind, with the Matzoh, the lechem oni still fresh on their palate, the gravity and power of the eser makkos freshly witnessed and the miracle of geula having miraculous unfolded in front of their eyes, could they have really consider wanting to be like their captors, the Mitrzrim who had so debasingly enslaved them? Even now, with the sipur yitzeas mitzrayim experienced at our Seder table annually, do we really need to be admonished to not be like them?

The commentaries ponder this very question. The approach of the Kli Yakar is one which is haunting, yet so vital in reaching the zenith of the Seder’s potential. The Kli Yakar takes us back to the conclusion of parshas Vayigash where we are told Vayeishev Yisrael beretz Mitzrayim…Vayeachazu bah. Klal Yisrael “settled-in” to Mitzrayim with gusto. Indeed, he writes, “kol Pasuk zeh bashmas bnei Yisreal…ki Hakadosh Baruch Hu gazar aleihem ki ger yihyeh zarachem, vheima bikshu lihyos toshavim! We were supposed to have been Geirim, strangers, mere visitors in Mitzrayim but instead, we “settled-in.” Says the Kli Yakar, it was Klal Yisrael’s “settling- in” to the Mitzri civilization that was their downfall. Golus begins when we forget where we belong. Geula begins when we realize we don’t belong!

This explains the Kli Yakar is what Hashem is saying to klal Yisrael, Kmaasei Eretz Mitzrayimn asher yashavtem ba lo sa’asu DO NOT repeat the error of “settling-in” to the various societies where you will dwell as you did in Egypt. Indeed, it will only consume you. It will only foster more golus and even greater hester panim.

This mantra is as critical today as ever before. Blessed with much freedom, tolerance and bounty in the malchus shel chessed of America we can begin (hopefully not more so) to really feel at home and “settled-in” here. But as we commence the Seder with our table bedecked in all its regal finery, we must remember the true goal of the seder experience is geula – redemption. And that can can only be achieved if we our committed to ridding ourselves of the golus. The first step in the geula process is remembering the golus is still here. Golus is, despite the superficial appearance, dark, cold and lonely. Clarity of Hashem Yisborach’s reality is hidden. And if we, too, are “settled-in” we are part of the problem. Happily, we can provide the solution by not allowing ourselves to stay “settled-in.” In fact, if we but recognize the golus can ignite our passion for geula. This recognition is the driving force in fulfilling the requirement of chayav Adaam liros atzmo kielu hu yatza mimitzrayim! Yes, by “settling-in” no more and recognizing golus and how it has crept into our lives we can become worthy of being delivered from sivlos Mitzrayim – our tolerance of Egypt as we set our sights on true freedom of Torah and Mitzvos.

Yehi Ratzon, that we alert ourselves to the dangers of being “settled-in.” In so doing may we merit to fully appreciate the smichas hapssukim – es mishpatay taasu ves chukosai tishmru laleches bahem … v’chay bahem! As we greet Mashiach tzidkeinu bimhara biyamenu amen.