RAV DOVID FEINSTEIN, ZT”L, ON THE PARSHA
(as heard and adapted by Rabbi Aaron D. Mehlman)
"כִּ֥י חַג יְהוָ֖ה לָֽנוּ"
In this week’s Parsha we read of the ongoing, heated debate between Moshe Rabbeinu and Pharaoh regarding a Festival Hashem requested the Jewish People attend outside the confines of Egypt.
The repartee between these leaders concerned the children’s required attendance and also the participation of animals.
What was the nature of the quarrel?
Moshe argued the divine celebration demanded the involvement of the children and animals were needed for religious formalities.
Pharaoh countered that either it was an adult-oriented religious ceremony that required animal sacrifices - and children should not be involved, or it was similar to a children’s themed Chanukah party that only required toys to distribute to the kids, and so, animals were unnecessary!
"רַ֛ק צֹאנְכֶ֥ם וּבְקַרְכֶ֖ם יֻצָּ֑ג"
“Only your flocks and your herds shall be left behind.”
We can understand Pharaoh’s demand in the following manner.
Pharaoh wanted a “mashkin,” guarantee or surety, that the Jewish People would return to Egypt.
He understood that certain Jews valued their property above all else and would not easily surrender their valuables. These Jews would return to Mitzrayim after their celebration.
This is similar to the Children of Gad and Reuven, who declined to enter Eretz Yisroel as they wanted to grow their wealth on the other side of the Jordan.
But in the process, Gad and Reuven sacrificed the Torah education of their own children.
Because they resided outside the yishuv, they built “Day Schools” for their children instead of establishing authentic yeshivas, and in the process, their children paid the price of subpar chinuch habanim.
Pharaoh, by demanding the flocks of animals stay in Egypt, hoped to lure some of them back into his land.
Moshe vociferously demanded that even the smallest children attend the Festival, as this was analogous to the great mitzvah of Hakhel, where the entire Jewish People, including babies, would assemble and hear the reading of the Torah by the king of Israel once every seven years.
Indeed, even the youngest child would benefit from attending this Festival to Hashem.
The Gemara relates that the mother of Rav Yehoshua ben Chananya used to take his crib and place it in the Bais Medrash, so the baby could absorb the words of Torah.
The words of Torah heard by the young Rav Yehoshua and in the ears of all the small children during the Festival was the sweetest music in the world!
The melodious sounds of the Torah, and its rich, celestial music, would make an indelible impression on the children for the rest of their lives.
Of course, the children must come!