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7th Pesach

Both Sukkos and Pesach are extended holidays. They each contain an entire week in which the people visiting Jerusalem could offer their sacrifices, then each culminates with an additional Yom Tov.

The culminating holiday after Sukkos is a separate festival: Shmini Atzeres. It has little connection to Sukkos: no blessing is said on the Sukkah, the lulav/palm branch is no longer taken. Because it is an entirely new holiday, the blessing "Shechechianu" is again recited. The opposite is true of the final days of Pesach: The final festival appears mainly to be an extension of Pesach. The same matza is eaten; the same leaven is forbidden. No new "Shechechianu" is recited.

Still, the question needs to be addressed: Are the last days of Pesach merely a continuation of the first days, or do they commemorate an additional aspect of the Exodus? The issue is discussed at length in the Nisan 1984 issue of Hadarom, in an article entitled "Atzmuso shel Shvi'i shel Pesach," by Rav M. Rokeach.

Rashi tells us that the Splitting of the Sea occurred on the night of the seventh day of Pesach. In the morning, the Israelites sang in unison at the sight of the incredible miracle.

In Parshas Shlach, the Torah describes the commandment of the Tzitzis -- the strings at the corners of the talis garment. Rashi, quoting the Medrash, explains that there are to be eight strings corresponding to the eight days from the beginning of Pesach until the Israelites sang at the sea.

The Medrash there clearly indicates that the splitting of the sea occurred on the eighth day. Maybe this is so, but it contradicts what Rashi himself had said, that the date was the seventh from Pesach...

The Gur Aryeh of the Maharal answers that the "eight days from the beginning of Pesach until the Israelites sang at the sea" do not begin from Pesach itself, but from "Erev Pesach," from the time of the slaughtering of the Paschal lamb. Eight days later would be the seventh day of Pesach. Indeed, we find that the prohibition against leaven begins at noon on Erev Pesach -- the same time that the period for the offering of the Paschal lamb begins.

What is the logical connection that would make eight strings correspond to eight days from Erev Pesach?

Rav Rokeach explained that the idea of the passover -- the denial of the idolatrous worship, began actually at the time of the slaughtering of the lamb, the day before Pesach. The lamb had been worshipped by the Egyptians. The denial of idolatry was not complete, yet...

In relation to the miracle at the sea, the Torah states: Exodus 14:2 "Let them return and encamp before Pi Hachiros, between Midgal and the sea, before Baal Tzafon..."

This was a great test of faith for the Israelites -- they were commanded to head backwards toward Egypt, in order to entice the Egyptians to pursue them. But, further, Rashi explains that the terms 'Pi Hachiros' and 'Baal Tzafon' refer to idolatrous entities!

"Pi Hachiros (lit. the mouth of freedom):" is the same as Pisom. Here it is called "Pi Hachiros" because they had become free... (It actually refers to) two tall rocks, and the mouth between them is called "the mouth of the rocks."

The commentaries explain Rashi's meaning. There had been an idolatry in that place, which (it was thought) did not let anything past. Therefore it had been called Pisom, meaning: "closed mouth." Now that the Israelites had passed it, they referred to it as "Pi Hachiros" -- "the mouth of freedom."

"Baal Tzafon:" It alone remained of all the idolatries of Egypt -- in order to trick them -- that they should say that their god was still powerful.

It is clear that idolatrous belief still remained. Only at the showdown at the sea would it be clarified that the idol would do nothing to save or help. The demonstration of faith began with the slaughtering the idol of their masters and becoming circumcised at G-d's command. This demonstration would become complete at the sea, when they would head back towards Egypt, and, without fear, walk into the water with the Egyptian Army trailing behind! There, the verse says, "They believed in G-d and Moshe His servant." The eight strings of the tzitzis remind us of faith -- "you will see them and remember, and not turn astray after your heart and your eyes..."


 
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