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Haggadah-Random Thoughts & Ideas III

I found these ideas in a notebook. They are not mine, and I have no idea whose they are; but they are wonderful: Life in Mitzrayim is basically described in the prophecies of Yechezkel and in Tehilim- the psalms of David. The Jews were completely integrated; they had become an integral part of the Egyptian economy. They had come from Canaan-a land of shepherds – to a great society, perhaps the greatest of the world at that era. Consequently, there was degeneration and assimilation. However, they did not give up their identity!


The people were taught that generations ago there was a father Abraham who made a covenant with G-d, and that at some point in time a mysterious redeemer would appear and would pronounce the words, ‘pakod pakadity etchem” (I will certainly remember you). Jacob gave them these words, a password, so that they shouldn’t believe a usurper whose name they didn’t know.

Again, we find a correlation between Jacob and Israel, for physically they were Jacob, enslaved, but spiritually they were proud and independent, Israel. Thus, Moses found the people ready to listen; Jacob had prepared the people.

Why did Jacob refuse to be buried in Egypt? It was motivated by one thought, one which had great importance. There is a tendency to come closer to parents as one gets older, to come closer to the roots. It was thought that their real identity was rooted far from Egypt. Jacob emerged as a spiritual giant, for he defeated the assimilation.

It was the first time that a minority refused to shed its identity! Reuven and Shimon entered Egypt, and Reuven and Shimon emerged! “Vayakrivu y’mai Yisrael lamuth” (and the days drew near for Israel to die). It is symbolic that Israel will live.

In teaching, it is felt that the younger the student and the older the teacher the better the results. It is important not only to teach the facts, but to teach the emotions and the experiences.

Of course, the word zakain (elder) is symbolic because ripeness in years is not necessarily a qualification for transmitting ideas. However, an older individual who actually “experienced” can relate better.

Jacob transmitted the tradition to Ephraim and Menashe prior to giving his blessings to his own sons because he desired to hand down directly to the third generation, not via Joseph (the second generation). Of course, the age difference was very great. And, he gave priority to Ephraim because he was even younger.

Thus, Jacob desired to prove that tradition could be handed through many generations, even skipping generations. Jacob proved that a man 3500 years ago can address himself to a person living today. Jacob proved that an old man from ancient Canaan could communicate with young children (Ephraim and Menashe), born in Egyptian aristocracy without the mediation of Joseph. 

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