Yetzias Mitzrayin, the Essence of A Jew
Yetzias Mitzrayim, is the basis of Am Yisroel and the essence of the Jew. The purpose of many of the mitzvohs we observe every single day, every single Shabbos and every single Yom Tov are to remind us of Yetzias Mitzrayim and all that accompanies it.
This concept appears in the Ramban at the end of our parsha. It is appropriate to review this concept at all times, especially when reading this parsha. We will cite it here, in his language.
“Since Hakadosh Boruch Hu does not perform a sign or wonder in every generation in sight of every evil person and disbeliever, He commanded that we should have constant reminders and signs of what we saw in Mitzrayim and we should transmit it to our children [and progeny] throughout the generations. Hashem was stringent in this matter as we see from the strict penalties regarding eating Chometz on Pesach and neglecting the Pesach offering.
By the same token, we must write the osos and mofsim on our hands and between our eyes, and on the door posts of our homes in the form of mezuzos, and should remind ourselves of it orally, morning and night (Berachos 21a). “So that you shall recall the day of your departure from the land of Egypt, all the days of your life (Devarim 16: 3) and that we make a Sukkah every year and perform the other many other mitzvohs which are a reminder of Yetzias Mitzrayim.
“The purpose of all this is that there should be testimonies of the mofsim, so that they should not be forgotten, and so that a heretic will not be able to deny belief in Hashem. Because one who buys a mezuzah for one zuz and affixes it to his house, and focuses on its meaning, has already acknowledged the existence of the Creator and His Hashgacha, as well as the prophecy and his belief in all aspects of the Torah. In addition, he has acknowledged that the chessed of the Creator toward those who do His will is very great, and that He has taken him from slavery to freedom with great honor on the merit of his forefathers who desire to revere Him.
“There are also many other Mitzvohs which serve as a reminder of Yetzias Mitzrayim (Shabbos, Yom Tov, Pidyon Haben…) And all these Mitzvohs serve as a testimony for us through the generations regarding the wonders performed in Mitzrayim, that they not be forgotten and there will be no argument for a heretic to deny faith in Hashem.”
Later on, the Ramban writes about more aspects which one should be ingrain on his soul and which should be part and parcel of the essence of every single Jew. He writes:
“Through recalling the great miracles of Yetzias Mitzrayim, a person acknowledges the hidden miracles of everyday life which are the foundation of the entire Torah. For a person has no share in Torahs Moshe unless he believes that all our affairs and experiences are miracles, that there is no nature and ordinary course of the world regarding either the community or the individual. If one observes the Mitzvohs his reward will bring him success and if he transgresses them his punishment will destroy him. All is according to the Divine decree.”
Thus, every Shabbos, we mention the miracles in kiddush saying: ‘Techila le’mikroei kodesh, zeicher le’Yetzias Mitzrayim.’ In another place (Devarim 5:14) the Ramban explains that Shabbos observance isn’t only a testimony for the creation of the world, but also for Yetzias Mitzrayim, since Shabbos observance testifies to the fact that Hashem renews Creation constantly, and does everything as He wishes, since it is he Who created and fashioned all in “ma’asai Beraishis.”
By means of Shmiras Shabbos, we testify, then, about all our deeds during the weekday, and say that we don’t think that our efforts effect or change any situations, and that all incidents that occur to us are miracles and the idea that they are results of nature is wrong.
When a person adds on from chol to the kodesh, he is testifying even more, that he is giving up a period of time in which he could do melachos, and affirming that the truth is that everything is in Hashem’s Hands, and all that all our words and deeds are only functions of Hashem’s will.
This is another aspect of Tosefos Shabbos—a strengthening of emunah and ingraining in one’s heart, that everything is in Hashem’s hands. This is the root and foundation of Yiddishkeit, as the Ramban writes.