The sign on the doorpost—the birth of the Jewish home
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You see, before Hashem would take us out of Egypt, we had to be willing to take Egypt out of ourselves. The reason we celebrate Pesach on the night of the tenth plague when we were still in Egypt, is because it was on this night that we took a stand and set ourselves free. This tremendous act of faith was the first step in the long process of the Jewish path to freedom. It was easy for G-d to take the Jews out of Egypt. It was much harder to take Egypt out of the Jews. On that night every Jewish family was ready to place a sign on their doors, and to make the statement: through this doorway the gods of Egypt will not pass. The beginning of our emergence as a free nation was the birth of the Jewish home.
G-d did not spare the Jews by virtue of seeing the sign on their doors; the Jews saved themselves by declaring themselves, for the entire world to see, worthy of their redemption.
And this is the essence of the mitzvah of mezuzah. It is not an accident that the mezuzah is placed in the doorway; it is a sign that you are entering a Jewish home. And this is our challenge: what really makes each of our homes a Jewish home? What influences do we bring in to our homes from the world, and what message do we carry from it when we go out into that same world? Are we proud to be Jews? Are we ready to define ourselves as such for the entire world to see?
Three millennium ago, a people, written off as one more culture that was about to disappear, began an incredible journey. Against all the odds, defying every rule of history, the Jewish people began their odyssey to make a difference.
3,200 years later, the beginning of that journey, the Jewish home, is still the secret both to why we are still here, as well as to what we have to offer the world.
Wishing you all a happy and meaningful Pesach.
Rav Binny Freedman, Rosh Yeshivat Orayta in Jerusalem’s Old City is a Company Commander in the IDF reserves, and lives in Efrat with his wife Doreet and their four children. His weekly Internet ‘Parsha Bytes’ can be found at www.orayta.org