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Therefore say to the children of Israel: I am Hashem, and 1) I shall take you out from under the burdens of Egypt; 2) I shall rescue you from their service. 3) I shall redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 4) I shall take you to me for a people and 5) I shall be a God to you; and you shall know that I am Hashem your God, who takes you out from under the burdens of Egypt 6) I shall bring you to the land about which I have raised my hand to give it to Avraham Yitzchak and Yaakov and 7) I shall give it to you as a heritage – I am Hashem. (Shemos 6:6-8)
Chazal teach us that the four cups of wine that we drink at the seder correspond to the four expressions of redemption. If we take a careful look at the posukim where these expressions appear we will note that there seem to be more. Indeed, some commentators explain that the cup we pour for Eliyaho Hanavi corresponds to the fifth expression of “I shall bring you to the land.” We may thus ask, why did chazal count only four? The answer is that chazal were only counting expressions that relate specifically to the holiday of Pesach. The remaining expressions correspond to events that occurred after the Exodus, namely matan Torah and thereafter.
We may note that the posukim mention seven expressions of redemption. They are: 1) I shall take you out, 2) I shall rescue you, 3) I shall redeem you, 4) I shall take you to me, 5) I shall be a God to you, 6) I shall bring you to the land 7) I shall give it to you as a heritage. What is the significance of these seven expressions?
In the sefer Moadei Yisroel, Harav Shlomo Goren z”l notes that in our twenty-four sifrei hatanach it is recorded that the Jewish people as a whole offered the karbon pesach seven times. They are as follows: 1) During the actual Exodus (Shemos 12:28). 2) Exactly one year after the Exodus as the Jewish people encamped in the desert (Bamidbar 9:1-3). 3) In the era of Yehoshua, after the Jewish people entered Eretz Yisroel and encamped in Gilgal. (Yehoshua 5:5). 4) In the era of Shaul Hamelech as he prepared the Jewish people for war against Amalek (Shmuel I 15:4, see Targum Yonason). 5) In the era of Chizkiyahu Hamelech (Divrei Hayamim II 30:5). 6) In the era of Yoshiyahu Hamelech (Divrai Hayamim II 35 1-13). 7) In the era of Ezra, as the Jewish people inaugurated the second Beis Hamikdash (Ezra 6:19-22).
It goes without saying that all the years that the Jewish people occupied Eretz Yisroel the karbon pesach was certainly offered. The posukim need not teach us this for Tanach is not a history book. Tanach records only significant ethical and moral lessons in history. Thus, if Tanach chose to emphasize specifically these seven incidences when the Jewish people offered the karbon pesach, obviously there is special significance.
Let us suggest that the above seven expressions of redemption correspond to the seven times the Jewish people celebrated the pesach offering in Tanach.
The first expression of redemption is “I shall take you out of Egypt.” This clearly corresponds to the actual Exodus where the Jewish people offered the karbon pesach on the eve of leaving Egypt.
The second expression is “I will save you.” This correspond to the karbon pesach that the Jewish people offered in the desert. Here, for the first time the Jewish people actually felt that they had been saved from their oppressors. In the previous year as they offered the karban pesach in Egypt they still felt the danger of their enemies. Now a year later after the sea of reeds spit out the dead Egyptians, the Jewish people were assured that their enemies were dead. Now they could truly consider themselves saved. In addition, we may suggest that at this point the Jewish people completed their first full year of miraculous survival in the desert. Thus, they offered the karbon pesach with the feeling of appreciation that they were saved from the great dangers of the desert.
The third expression is “I shall redeem you.” This correspond to the karbon pesach that the Jewish people offered as they entered Eretz Yisroel. In parshas behar the word geulah is used extensively in reference to redeeming land and property that one sold or has ancestral claims to. Eretz Yisroel is our ancestral land. Hashem promised the land to our forefathers Avraham Yitzchak and Yaakov. When the Jewish people entered Eretz Yisroel and took possession of Eretz Yisroel the concept of geulah was realized in its fullest meaning. Thus when the Jewish people offered the karbon pesach as they entered Eretz Yisroel in the time of Yehoshua, it was with a true sense of “I shall redeem you.”
The forth expression is “I shall take you to me for a people.” This expression corresponds to the karbon pesach offered in the time of Shaul Hamelech. The Gemara teaches, “There is no such thing as a king without a people.” Conversely, we may say that there cannot be a people without a king.” The Gemara teaches that the kingdom of the earth has the likeness to the Kingdom of Heaven. Shaul Hamelech was our first king and his sovereignty advanced the Jewish people as a nation. The relationship between a human king and his nation is only a reflection of the relationship between Hashem and his people. Shaul’s sovereignty highlighted our relationship with Hashem as His people. Thus, the karbon pesach offered this time was offered with a feeling of “I shall take you to me for a people.”
In addition we may suggest that this karbon was offered at the time that the Jewish people prepared for war with Amalek. Amalek is described in the Torah as the first nation. This is interpreted to mean a powerful nation. At this time we offered the karban pesach with the awareness that we are the nation of Hashem and thus have no need to fear even the first nation.
The fifth expression is “I shall be a God to you.” This corresponds to the karbon pesach offered in the era of Chizkiyahu Hamelech. Ever since the time when the kingdom of the Jewish people was divided between malchei Yehudah and malchei Yisroel, the ten tribes of Malchei Yisroel were not permitted to ascend to Jerusalem and offer sacrifices. As for a replacement for the Beis Hamikdash, Yeravom ben Nevat constructed his own altar and offered sacrifices upon it, not according to halachah. During these years it seemed as though there were two gods for the Jewish people. One, for the followers of Malchei Yehudah and another for the followers of Malchei Yisroel. Chizkiyahu Hamelech unified the kingdoms. He demanded that the ten tribes of Malchei Yisroel reunite with Malchei Yehudah and offer together the karbon pesach in Jerusalem. The Karbon was offered with a feeling of “I shall be to all of you as a God.” We may note that the posuk does not say “to you” in the singular but in the plural. The posuk conveys that the time will come when all the various factions of the Jewish people will reunite and Hashem will be a God over all as during this era.
The sixth expression is “I will bring you to this land.” This corresponds to the era of Yoshiyahu Hamelech. The Gemara (Arachin 33a) teaches in the name of Rebbi Yochanan that Yermiyahu Hanavei restored the ten lost tribes and Yoshiyahu Hamelech ruled over them. The commentators explain this to mean that Yermiyahu restored only part of the ten lost tribes as we have a tradition that they will not be restored. Nevertheless, a significant number of those who had been exiled returned to the land. Certainly during this period the Jewish people offered a karbon pesach accompanied by a feeling of “I will bring you to the land.”
Finally the last expression is “I shall give it to you as a heritage.” This corresponds to the karbon pesach offered during the time of Ezra. In the era of Ezra the Jewish people re-captured Eretz Yisroel and rebuild the Beis Hamikdash. The Gemara teaches, according to one view, that the sanctity of the land during the era of the first Beis Hamikdash was not permanent. The land only retained its sanctity while the Jewish people occupied the land. When the first Beis Hamikdash was destroyed and the Jewish people went into exile the sanctity departed. However, the sanctity bestowed to the land with the second conquest was permanent and did not depart even with the destruction of the second Beis Hamikdash and our exile. Just as an inheritance is permanent and not subject to change, likewise it was during the second conquest that Eretz Yisroel received its permanent status of holiness and its character of an inheritance. Thus, we may assume that during the time of Ezra, the karbon pesach offered was accompanied with a feeling of “I shall give it to you as a heritage.”
The Exodus is not limited to the actual story of our emancipation from Egyptian bondage. The Exodus is a recurring theme in Jewish history. Every generation has its obstacles and challenges. When we as a nation overcome our hardships, we are reliving the Exodus. This is highlighted by the offering of a karbon pesach at seven critically challenging moments in our history. Indeed, we recite in the haggadah, “In every generation they stand up to destroy us but Hashem saves us from their hands.” Let us note that the word “they” is not limited to our enemies but also to the Yezer Harah, particularly its destructive impact on interpersonal behavior. Hashem gives us the strength to overcome these destructive tendencies.
It is noteworthy that the seven expressions of redemption are sandwiched between the repetition of the phrase “I am Hashem.” What is the significance of this?
The first two attributes of mercy are “Hashem, Hashem.” Chazal were troubled as to how the same name of Hashem can refer to two separate attributes of mercy. They explained that the first “Hashem” relates to the attribute of Hashem’s mercy before we sin. Due to Hashem’s knowledge of future events, our future sins are revealed before Him. The attribute of Divine Justice demands that we be punished in advance for the sins that we will commit. Nonetheless, Hashem has mercy on us and does not hold us responsible in advance. The second “Hashem” correspond to Hashem’s mercy after we sin. Even after we sin and are surely deserving of punishment Hashem still has mercy and withholds punishment.
Just as the repetition of Hashem’s name is interpreted as referring to His mercy with relation to the past and the future so too we may suggest this applies to the seven expressions of redemption. The repetition of the phrase “I am Hashem” signifies that as we read about the past seven expressions of redemption, we must believe that all seven expressions of redemption will occur again in the near future.
© Efraim Levine 5761/2001