Parshat Va’era- The Five Geulot?

Printer-Friendly Version: Vaera 73

(‘והבאתי אתכם אל הארץ” (ו’:ח”

Reading פרשת וארא, a סדרה filled with a lot of interesting stories including the first seven מכות that Hashem smote onto Egypt and other miracles, we very often forget about a very interesting revelation at the beginning of the פרשה,  one which has huge implications for the גאולה of יציאת מצרים, and even our eventual גאולה:

לָכֵן אֱמֹר לִבְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֲנִי יְהוָה, וְהוֹצֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם מִתַּחַת סִבְלֹת מִצְרַיִם, וְהִצַּלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם מֵעֲבֹדָתָם; וְגָאַלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם בִּזְרוֹעַ נְטוּיָה, וּבִשְׁפָטִים גְּדֹלִים. וְלָקַחְתִּי אֶתְכֶם לִי לְעָם, וְהָיִיתִי לָכֶם לֵאלֹהִים; וִידַעְתֶּם, כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם, הַמּוֹצִיא אֶתְכֶם, מִתַּחַת סִבְלוֹת מִצְרָיִם.

[Therefore] say to B’nei Yisrael, I am G-d: I will bring you out from the burdens of Egypt, I will save you from your bondage, I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and great judgments. And I will take you to be My people, and  I will be for you a G-d, and you will know that I am G-d who took you out from Egypt. (שמות ו’:ו’-ז’).

According to the גמרא ירושלמי in פסחים י’:א’, these four “גאולות,” these four expressions of the Exodus, are the basis for the four cups at the סדר.

In his חומש תורה תמימה, Rav Baruch Epstein, quoting this ירושלמי, asks a very interesting question: Why do we have four cups of wine at the סדר if they are all representive of one redemption: יציאת מצרים? Why does the ירושלימי call these four separate “גאולות” if there is, in reality, only one גאולה? Surely not because of four different words used to describe the Exodus!

Rav Epstein answers that the ירושלמי calls these phrases גאולות because they represent 4 separate steps towards the Exodus, and each of them was in-it-of-itself a גאולה:

  • “והוצאתי אתכם…”- The first גאולה was the Egyptians making the Jewish slave’s work easier, after the beginning of the plagues
  • “והצלתי אתכם מעבדתם”- The second גאולה was the Egyptians stopping the Jews’ work, though the Jews remained servants of פרעה.
  • “וגאלתי אתכם…”- The third גאולה, the actual יציאת מצרים, was the Jews’ exit from Egyptian servitude, but the Jews were still not a nation yet.
  • “ולקחתי אתכם…”- This final גאולה represents מתן תורה, when we became a nation, with השם as our G-d.

So, we see that these ארבע לשונות גאולה are actually four individual גאולות, each as significant as the next.

Rav Epstein continues to ask; in the next פסוק, there is another verb which is in the same parallel language as the previous four: “וְהֵבֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ-And I will bring them to the Land [of Israel].” Why wasn’t this included as one of the גאולות? If והבאתי wasn’t included because it isn’t considered to be part of the גאולה, then why would lesser parts of the Exodus (“ולקחתי”) be included? Shouldn’t והבאתי be the biggest גאולה, since it elevates בני ישראל’s status among the nations by giving them a land?

Rav Epstein answers very strongly that we do not consider והבאתי to be part of the ד’ גאולות because as of “now” (the time of the writing of the תורה תמימה), the land is not in our hands, it’s in the hands of the גוים, the Nations. How could we possibly raise our glasses to that?! Therefore, we established the כוס של אליהו, because we hope that one day, he’ll come, revive our land, and return us there. This idea explains the reading that we say during the סדר after we open the door for אליהו הנביא- “שפוך חמתך על הגוים”- Spill out Your anger onto the גוים, who have taken away the final and fifth לשון גאולה that you promised משה רבינו before יציאת מצרים! Complete our גאולה.

There is a very interesting הלכה in the Rambam (הל’ חמץ ומצה ח’:י’) which has some very significant implications of the תורה תמימה’s idea, in more recent times. רמב”ם writes that there is a מנהג in some הגדות that after we drink the fourth cup of wine after הלל, we fill a fifth cup, say Hallel Hagadol (“הודו לה’ כי טוב”), David Hamelech’s great praise of the גאולה, then drink that cup. The reason for this fifth cup, he teaches, is since we already control our ancestral homeland, we have fulfilled “והבאתי,” and since we have a fifth לשון גאולה, we should also have a fifth cup of wine at the סדר. Rambam concludes this thought by saying that the fifth cup is a “רשות,” and is not part of the obligation of the ד’ כוסות.

While most Jewry does not hold like the רמב”ם on this הלכה, the symbolism behind it is nevertheless very important. We are in the אתחלתא דגאולה- this is not even a question among most Religious Zionist גדולים. The only question is when will the conclusion of the גאולה come? When will we experience the גאולה?

With all of the campaigning and publicity, both positive and negative, for the upcoming election in Israel, it’s a little easy to forget the novelty and the blessing of having a election in the Jewish State. For those of us who’ve become a little jaded about the process, here’s an interesting religious perspective of the magnimity of the elections of the Jewish government in Israel:

On 25 January 1949, Rav Shimon Leib Alpert, a yeshivaish settler in the newly-declared Jewish state, voted in the first Israeli election. His attitude, however, was very different from the modern Hareidi/Yeshivaish attitude. In his journal entry for that day, Rav Alpert writes:

After drinking our morning coffee, we dressed in our Sabbath attire in honour of this great and sacred day, “ki zeh hayom asah Hashem Nagila veNismecha vo” (because this is the day G-d has made to be happy and rejoice). Because after thousands of years, or more of exile, that since the six days of creation, we have never been blessed with such a day, to be able to go and vote in a Jewish state, and “baruch she’hecheyanu ve’kiyimanu ve’higianu la zman hazeh.”… And at 6:23 the voting began… I would be the first to vote. With a shiver of holiness, I passed my identification card to the head of the committee, who read out my name from the card. … Then I experienced the holiest moment in my life, a moment that my father and grandfather were not privileged to experience. Only I, in my lifetime, was privileged to be at such a holy and pure moment. Ashrei li ve-ashrei helki! I made the shehecheyanu blessing and I deposited the envelope in the ballot box. Yom Chag Gadol.

(Originally printed in קול העיר)

Rav Alpert, realizing what most Religious Zionist Jews throughout the ages have realized, understood the significance of having an Israeli government with Jewish leaders. For him, having a Jewish state is something special, and election day was a יום חג גדול- he even dressed up in Shabbat clothes to vote and blessed שהחיינו on dropping his vote. His attitude towards  the State of Israel is an embodiment of the lesson of the תורה תמימה and the רמב”ם, that מדינת ישראל’s existence is a fulfilment of “והבאתי,” the officially unofficial 5th לשון גאולה, the fifth, final step of the Redemption.  With Hashem’s help we will should be zoche to continue to have the Jewish people continue to stream into the Holy Land so that very soon during the חג of פסח, hopefully this coming one, we will all be in ירושלים for the סדר, drinking five cups of wine with the קרבן פסח and singing “לשנה הזה בירושלים.” Shabbat Shalom