8 Nissan 5766
by Rabbi Shlomo Borinstein
As we bring in chodesh Nissan, it’s important for us to focus on the lessons of this month so that we can gain from it as much as possible. Chodesh Nissan isn’t like all the other months. We’re told that it’s the month which is most ripe for a geula. Just as Klal Yisrael experienced their first geula back in Mitzrayim during this month so too may we be zoche to experience another geula this Nissan.
The Arizal writes that the word Pesach is actually made up of two different words, Peh and Sach, mouth and speak. In other words, on Pesach we were given a mouth to speak with. The obvious question is, what does that have to do with Pesach? What does speech have to do with yitzias Miztraim? Before we received the Torah we said Na’aseh v’Nishmah. But that was weeks after we left Mitzraim. How did speech play a part in our redemption?
Let’s start with a different question. How would you define the yetzer hara? Most would answer that it’s the evil inclination that entices a person to do bad things. A tzaddik is one who overcomes this inclination while a rasha is one who falls prey to it. In “Toras Avraham” Rav Avraham Grodzinski, may Hashem avenge his blood, has a different understanding of the yetzer hara.
The Gemara brings that the Roman emperor, Antinonis asked Rebbi when does the yetzer hara enter a baby: while the baby is still inside the womb or only after the birth? Rebbi answered that it enters while the baby is still in the womb. Antinonis countered that if this were true the baby would kick even harder than it does already to try and get out. The Gemara writes that Rebbi changed his mind and agreed with Antinonis. The question must be asked, why would the baby want to come out so badly? In the womb it has everything it could want: food, drink, warmth, protection, transportation. What’s it lacking that it would want to come out so badly?
Most of us, if not all of us, grew up in countries where we are given freedom to do almost everything. There’s freedom of speech and freedom of religion and freedom of press and freedom to live our lives in almost any fashion that we would like. Comes along the “Toras Avraham” and defines the yetzer hara as the freedom of choice. The greater a person feels he can choose to do whatever he desires the greater his yetzer hara. In truth, from a very young age we are taught that we don’t have freedom of choice. We can’t cheat and we can’t steal and we can’t pour our bowl of oatmeal on our brother’s head. We can’t do whatever we want. The greater the chinuch we are given the more our yetzer hara is minimized. This is what the baby inside the womb is missing. If the yetzer hara entered the baby before birth it would try to kick its way out so that it could choose for itself want it wants to do.
Now, if Hashem wanted to teach an entire nation to break it’s yetzer hara how should He go about it? Who’s the one person that has the least amount of freedom of choice? A slave. Therefore, in order to teach Klal Yisrael want it means not to have freedom of choice he made the entire nation a nation of slaves for 210 years. This will enable them to fight their yetzer hara and serve Hashem to the greatest extent.
At yetzias Mitzrayim Klal Yisrael is put to test. What kind of speech will they have? Will they talk about their desire to vacation at the popular tourist sites? Will they discuss which restaurant they’ll try next night out? Will they talk about the guys and the girls? Will their speech be a speech of chasing after all their freedom of choices or will they have learn their lesson and keep quiet and realize they really don’t have choices? This will determine if they’re ready for a redemption.
It’s up to us to make the right choices.