>> Torah portion
United We Stand
Passover Chol Hamoed Shabbat:
Exodus 33:12 34:26, Numbers 2t1:19-
25; Ezekiel 37:1-14.
RN, BSN, CCM, CRRN, ABDA
ah Nishtanah is the high-
light of the seder for many
a child — a time to ask the
Four Questions that set the stage for
the "order" of events to come.
"On all other nights, we don't even dip
one time, but this night of Pesach, we dip
twice!" One dip of the karpas (parsley) in
saltwater and one of the bitter
herbs in the charoset (sweet,
The obvious purpose of
this question is to bring out
how, at the seder, we are
doing things that remind us
of the slavery in Egypt. The
saltwater reminds us of the
tears shed by the Jews as a
result of the anguish and suf-
fering as slaves to Pharaoh.
The charoset reminds us
of the cement that the Jews
used in their backbreaking labor build-
ing the cities Pitom and Raamses.
Our sages teach us a second and deep-
er meaning behind these two dippings,
which correspond to two other occur-
rences of dipping in the Torah.
The first occurrence is in the sale
of Joseph into slavery by his brothers.
When the brothers sought to cover up
his disappearance, (Genesis 37:31) "...
they took the coat of Joseph, they slaugh-
tered a goat and dipped the coat into the
blood:' When they showed the blood-
drenched coat to Jacob, he concluded
Joseph was eaten by a ferocious animal.
The second occurrence takes place on
Passover eve. (Exodus 12:22) The Jews
were instructed to slaughter the pascal
lamb and to dip a bundle of three hys-
sop stems into the blood and touch the
blood to the two doorposts and lintel.
When God would see this blood, He
would pass over the house and not kill
the firstborn within.
These two dippings represent the
beginning of our exile and the secret of
our redemption from it
In the first instance, the dipping
was the result of disunity in the Jewish
nation. Disunity is our "Achilles heel" —
the beginning of the end of our greatness
that we went down to Egypt into exile
The slavery in Egypt provided the
antidote to this disunity. The Jewish peo-
ple in Egypt came to the realization that
they needed to band together to support
each other, otherwise they would perish.
Our sages tell us in the midrash that the
Jewish people made a pact
with one another that they
would do kindness and sup-
port each other to hold on to
their Jewish identity.
This is what the dipping
of the bundle of three hyssop
stems represents. A hyssop is
a very small and weak plant.
It grows low to the ground,
symbolizing humility. One
weak hyssop probably
couldn't have been dipped
three times into the blood
and touched to the doorposts and lintel.
But binding it with two others represents
how the Jewish people in Egypt humbled
themselves, put their own troubles aside
and joined forces with the other Jews to
help them in their difficulties. This was
the secret of the redemption.
Our sages tell us that ultimate
redemption, the coming of Mashiach
(Messiah), is also dependent on this
same secret. When we are divided, we
are vulnerable to every slight breeze that
comes along. But when we put our petty
differences aside and create a pact of
kindness with all our Jewish brothers, we
will bring forth the redemption just like
our ancestors did in Egypt.
Let us take this opportunity on this
joyous and special holiday of Pesach,
the holiday of our freedom, to put seri-
ous thought into how we can increase
peace within our Jewish community.
In this, may we all merit the coming
of Mashiach Tzidkeinu (Messiah of our
Righteousness) speedily in our day. ❑
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Rabbi Avi Cohen is director of the Jean
and Theodore Weiss Partners in Torah
program of Yeshiva Beth Yehudah in
• Why is Jewish unity important to God?
• What can I do to increase this unity?
• Give examples of where we are acting in the proper, unified way.
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April 17 • 2014