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Explanation of Rashi (Ex. 12:12) "I will pass" (and the difference in wording from the Mechilta). Difference between "I will go out into the midst of Egypt" (Ex. 11:4) and "I will pass". The miracle of  "I will ... skip over you" according to Pshat. Two aspects of G-d's "going" to Mitzraim according to Pnimiyut and the practical lesson for each person in bringing the hearts of Jews to their Father in heaven. (5752)


"Just Passing Through"

Rashi comments on the verse205 "I shall pass through Egypt on this night," and remarks that "I shall pass through" is to be understood "as a king who passes through from one place to the next; with but one pass and in but one moment all are smitten."

Rashi's comments raises a number of questions:

What question is Rashi trying to answer through his commentary?
What is the significance of the parable?
What is the meaning of "with but one pass...."?
Earlier on206 the verse states that Moshe said to Pharaoh, "at midnight I shall go out in the midst of Egypt, and every firstborn Egyptian shall die," while here, in speaking to the Jewish people, Moshe says "I shall pass through the land of Egypt." Why the different expressions? Additionally, what is meant by "I shall go out," a term that indicates something unique and requiring special "effort." G-d has no need to "go out," as whatever He desires effortlessly transpires.207
The phrase "go out" indeed refers to a special action, G-d's "going out of His way," as it were, to save and redeem the Jewish people. This is similar to the verse,208 "I shall descend to save him from the hand of the Egyptians."

Thus the verse "I shall go out" continues with the passive phrase "and every firstborn Egyptian shall die," rather than with the active phrase "I shall smite" or something similar. For G-d's "going out" was not to smite the Egyptians, but to save the Jews; merely, as a matter of course -- in order to save and redeem the Jewish people -- every firstborn Egyptian died.

But if so, why does the verse then state, "I shall pass through ... and smite every firstborn," which seemingly implies that G-d is passing through Egypt specifically to smite the firstborn?

Rashi addresses himself to this question, explaining that "passing through" is to be understood "as a king who passes through from one place to the next," i.e., G-d is not making a special passage for the purpose of smiting the firstborn, but is in fact like a king who is "merely passing through" in order to achieve another purpose. Here, too, the true purpose of G-d's passage was to save and redeem the Jewish people from Egyptian exile.

Hence the verse uses two different expressions, "I shall go out in the midst of Egypt" and "I shall pass through the land of Egypt." At midnight, when G-d slew the firstborn, G-d, as it were, appeared in two distinct guises: He "went out" to save the Jews and "passed through" with regard to smiting the firstborn.

Nevertheless, the fact that the verse goes on to say -- in the active form -- "I shall smite" (not, "shall die," as in the verse "I shall go out"), would seem to indicate that the death of the firstborn was achieved in a dynamic manner. Rashi therefore states, "(as a king who passes through from one place to the next;) with but one pass and in but one moment all are smitten."

Rashi thereby explains that not only did G-d merely pass through Egypt like a king merely passing through one place to get to his true destination, but since He smote them while He was merely "passing by" it, He smote them in a manner of "with but one pass and in but one moment all are smitten." Thus, the smiting itself was entirely secondary to the main task at hand, saving and redeeming the Jewish people.

This profound expression of love for the Jewish people, a love that caused G-d to "go out" in order to save and redeem them, also finds expression in the manner in which G-d "passed over the houses of the Children of Israel while smiting the Egyptians"209:

Rashi explains that "when a Jew was in an Egyptian home, I may think that he would be plagued just as the Egyptian was plagued, therefore the verse states, 'there will be no plague among you.'" Why would one think that just because the Jew was in an Egyptian's house he would be equally punished?

It is self-understood that a Jewish person who finds himself on a night such as this in an Egyptian home is of truly lowly spiritual stature. After all the Egyptians did to them, and after all the plagues the Egyptians had already received, this person still finds himself in the enemy's home, and on a night when he was commanded to bring the Paschal offering and warned by G-d not to leave his own home till the morning,210 no less!

The thought may therefore arise that an individual such as this be "equally punished," inasmuch as there is no discernible difference between him and the Egyptian in whom's home he chose to find himself on this night.

Nevertheless, G-d's great love for each and every Jew -- no matter who or where he may be -- is so great, that He Himself "goes out" and "descends" in the midst of Egypt, to save and redeem even such an individual from his Egyptian captors.

"Suffice it for a servant that he be as his master."211 Just as G-d descended into Egypt, the "abomination of the earth," to save even such a Jew, we, too, can do no less. We must all "descend" (understandably, in a Torah-permitted manner), with true love and unity, rescuing each and every Jew who for the time being is distant from G-d, and return him to his Father in Heaven, through furthering his study of Torah and observance of mitzvos.

(From http://sichos-in-english.com/books/chassidic-dimension-5/15.htm)


205. Shmos 12:12
206. Ibid., 11:4-5.
207. See Tehillim 33:9 -- "For He said, and it instantly transpired."
208. Shmos 3:8.
209. Ibid., 12:13.
210. Ibid., 12:22.
211. Berachos 58b; Tanchuma, Chayei Sarah 4



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