Thursday, April 16, 2009

Shevii Shel Pesach

Shevii Shel Pesach 5769
Tonight is Shevii Shel Pesach. What is the significance of Shevii Shel Pesach? In a simple sense, Shevii Shel Pesach is the day that the Jewish People crossed the Yam Suf and Hashem drowned the Egyptians. The Jewish People sang Shirah, praise to HaShem, and that song became a part of our daily prayer service. Yet, considering that Shevii Shel Pesach is viewed somewhat as a separate holiday from Pesach, we must understand its deeper significance.
Rabbeinu Bachye (Devarim 16:8) writes that Shevii Shel Pesach is referred to in the Torah as Atzeres because the Jewish People gather on the festivals to the synagogues. Additionally, Shevii Shel Pesach is referred to as yesod, foundation. What does Rabbeinu Bachye mean that Shevii Shel Pesach is the foundation? It would seem that the first days are the foundation and the last days of Pesach would be the pinnacle of the foundation. Why is Shevii Shel Pesach referred to as the foundation?
Perhaps the answer to this question is that the Sfas Emes (Pesach 5641) writes that Pesach is essentially comprised of two components. The first aspect of Pesach is the redemption from Egypt, and the second aspect of Pesach is the deliverance of the Jewish People at the Yam Suf. The Sfas Emes writes that the first aspect of redemption corresponds to Yaakov and the second aspect of redemption refers to Yosef. It is well known that Yosef represents the attribute of yesod, which means safeguarding sanctity. The Sfas Emes writes that at the Yam Suf the Jewish People rectified the sanctity of Bris Milah, circumcision. In truth, the Jewish People were sustained in Egypt in the merit of Yosef, who resisted the temptations of the wife of Potiphar.
Thus, it was fitting that the culmination of the redemption was in the merit of Yosef, as the Medrash (Medrash Tehillim §114) states that the Sea saw the bier of Yosef and split. Yosef resisted the overtures of his mistress, and in his merit the Sea resisted its natural instinct and split before the Jewish People. With this explanation we can better understand our approach to Shevii Shel Pesach. The Zohar states that all sevens are holy and cherished, and it follows that the Seventh Day of Pesach is also holy and cherished. The holiness and the endearment of this day is that it reflects the attribute of Yosef, who was the forerunner of safeguarding the holiness of the Jew.
As we ourselves soon take leave of the festival, we should bear in mind that the holiness of Pesach allows us to remain spiritually strong throughout the year. We now understand why Shevii Shel Pesach is the yesod, as Shevii Shel Pesach is truly the foundation of all our future spiritual achievements. Hashem should allow us to delight in the last days of Pesach and emerge strong in our resolve to ascend to great spiritual heights and to witness the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkienu, speedily, in our days.

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler

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