4/16/2006

The Terutz is Better than the Kushya

In shul, I was reading a pamphlet of divrei Torah produced by a particular American Yeshiva, which included a rather lengthy and, ultimately, thought-provoking essay from the Rosh Yeshiva. However, one thing caught my attention right at the beginning. He asked why Kiddush on Shabbos invokes Yetzias Mitzrayim. He understands why it would on the 3 festivals, but not Shabbos. Granted, he writes, all mitzvah observance is predicated on the Exodus and the subsequent giving of the Torah, but then that reason would apply to all mitzvoth, even those like treif and tefillin (his examples) which are not considered commemorative of the Exodus. The rest of the d’var Torah is an explanation of the connection between Shabbos and Yetzias Mitzrayim in that they both represent the ability of rejuvenation to overcome entropy, ve-acamo”l.

A few things really baffled me about his question. We invoke Yetzias Mitzrayim in Kiddush because the Torah does (Devarim 5:13-14), and it also is pretty obvious about the ‘connection’ between a weekly cessation of labor for all, including slaves, and the Exodus from Egypt. His examples of mitzvot that are not considered commemorative of the Exodus are, in fact, both explicitly considered commemorative of the Exodus. Tefillin in Shemot 13:9 and 16, and ‘treif’ in Vayikra 11:43-45. I wonder how many other readers caught these? I mean, these aren’t kashyas based on some Tosafos in Kodshim. It’s PARSHA (this week’s Parsha, no less) for cryin’ out loud! EVERYBODY who read this should’ve had these questions.

I’ll give this RY the benefit of the doubt that whoever transcribed or wrote this essay simply missed the boat (which is why on the VBM is a shiur is transcribed, it will always indicate whether the written version or translation had been reviewed by the maggid shiur). I can’t figure out what he really was trying to ask, or if the ‘question’ at the beginning is just a rhetorical device to get into what he really wants to get into. In that case, if I had been in the shiur, it may have gone something like this:

RY: Why do we say zecher le-yetzias Mitzrayim by Kiddush on Friday night?
AR: Because the Torah, in the retelling of the aseres hadibros, says that Shabbos is zecher le-yetzias mitzrayim.
RY: Eh, ok, ken zayn, but I have another terutz…
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