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 זכור את היום הזה אשר יצאתם ממצרים  יב:ג           Rashi explains that this pasuk is the source of the obligation to recall yetzias Mitzrayim (the exodus) every day. However, the Rambam maintains that the source for this obligation is the pasuk that says, L’maan tizkor es yom tzeischa mei’eretz Mitzrayim kol yemei chayecha (Devarim 16:3). The Rambam seems to simply be quoting a Mishnah that appears in the end of the first perek of Maseches Brachos. The Mishnah cites a dispute regarding the phrase kol yemei chayecha, which, according to Ben Zoma, indicates an obligation to remember yetzias Mitzrayim also at night; whereas the Chachamim maintain that the phrase indicates an obligation to remember yetzias Mitzrayim even in the times of Mashiach.

Regarding the pasuk, zachor es ha’yom ha’zeh, the Rambam holds that it is the source of the obligation to engage in sipur yetzias Mitzrayim (relating the story of the exodus) during the Pesach seder, on the night of the 15th of Nissan (Hilchos Chametz U’Matzah 7:1).

There seems to be a fundamental difference in understanding between the Rambam and Rashi regarding how to define the word zachor. The Rambam understands that the word zachor means to mention, whereas Rashi understands that the word zachor implies an act of remembering on an ongoing basis, as we see clearly from the way Rashi explains the word zachor in a different context.

On the pasuk, zachor es yom ha’Shabbos l’kadsho (Shemos 20:8), Rashi explains that the word zachor implies a mitzvah temidi, an ongoing mitzvah whose fulfillment is not bound by a specific time. Accordingly, explains Rashi, the mitzvah of remembering Shabbos requires one to be cognizant of Shabbos throughout the week. Rashi gives as an example the opinion of Shamai (Beitzah 16b), who says that whenever a person comes across a specialty food item, he must purchase it and set it aside for Shabbos. This way, his mind is occupied with an awareness of Shabbos the entire week. In a similar vein, the Ramban says that mentioning what day of the week it is, in relation to Shabbos, is a fulfillment of zachor es yom ha’Shabbos l’kadsho. We fulfill this obligation, continues the Ramban, every day when we say the shir shel yom, ha’yom yom rishon l’Shabbos etc. The Ramban steers clear of Rashi’s example because it seem to be choosing Shamai’s opinion over that of Hillel. Hillel’s way was that, since every day has its own blessing, whatever was bought should be used for the sake of Heaven on the day it was purchased, and should not be saved for Shabbos (editor’s note: see Sifsei Chachamim for a resolution to this kashya on Rashi).

Rashi’s explanation of the mitzvah of remembering Shabbos sheds light on the nature of the mitzvah of remembering yetzias Mitzrayim. They are both a mitzvah of zachor. Zachor means to be aware of something all the time. Just like there is a mitzvah to remember Shabbos the entire week, there is a mitzvah to remember yetzias Mitzrayim every day. The only difference between the two mitzvos is that the zechirah of Shabbos is mainly fulfilled in one’s mind, while the mitzvah of remembering yetzias mitzrayim must be verbalized.

Chazal make another derasha on the pasuk of zachor es yom ha’Shabbos l’kadsho that the Rambam brings (Hilchos Shabbos 29:1), and that is to declare the importance and sanctity of Shabbos on Shabbos. The mitzvah is to talk about Shabbos on Shabbos. The mitzvah is not just to remember Shabbos, but to verbalize shevach, praise of Shabbos, on Shabbos. (Parenthetically, the Rambam holds that havdalah is also included in the mitzvah of zachor es yom ha’Shabbos l’kadsho).

With this in mind, we can understand an ostensibly puzzling line in the Rambam. The Rambam, as mentioned, cites the pasuk of zachor es ha’yom ha’zeh as the source for the mitzvah of sipur yetzias Mitzrayim, and then elaborates by saying that it is akin to the mitzvah of zachor es yom ha’Shabbos. The Or Sameiach and others grapple with the question, in what way is the mitzvah of sippur yetzias Mitzrayim comparable to the mitzvah of zachor es yom ha’Shabbos?! However, based on the way we explained how the Rambam defines zachor, namely, that it indicates a mitzvah to talk about the day on that day, it fits perfectly. The Rambam is saying that the mitzvah of sipur yetzias Mitzrayim is to relate, on the night of the 15th of Nissan, what happened on the night of the 15th of Nissan. And, of course, this is very much like the mitzvah of kiddush which is to talk about Shabbos on Shabbos.

Reb Chaim Brisker is quoted as saying that, according to the Rambam, the mitzvah of reciting Hallel during the seder, is actually an integral part of the mitzvah of sipur yetzias Mitzrayim. This idea is also alluded to in the Rambam’s comparison of sippur yetzias Mitzrayim to Kiddush. Just as part of the zechirah of Shabbos is to declare the grandeur and greatness of Shabbos, so too, regarding the mitzvah to relate the account of the exodus, it is not simply a dry narrative that is incumbent upon us to convey. Rather, the mitzvah includes giving praise to Hashem for all the miracles that He did for us, and for taking us out of Mitzrayim, both physically and spiritually.

 

The Achronim ask why the Rambam doesn’t count zechiras yetzias Mitzrayim in the minyan ha’mitzvos (the list of the 613 mitzvos). Reb Chaim Brisker gave two answers. His first anwers is that the Rambam holds that remembering yetzias mitzrayim all year round is part of the mitzvah of Krias Shema. The Rambam in the beginning of Hilchos Krias Shema seems to hold that the recitation of all three paragraphs of Shema are a full-fledged d’Oraysah obligation. The third paragraph of Shema contains zechiras yetzias Mitzrayim. Therefore, the Rambam holds that it is not a separate mitzvah, but a part of the mitzvah of Krias Shema. Reb Chaim’s second answer is as follows. The Mishnah in Brachos says that Ben Zoma expounded on the words kol yemei chayecha the teaching that the mitzvah of zechiras yetzias Mitzrayim applies also to the nighttime, which is arguing with the Chachamim that darshened kol yemei chayecha to include the Messianic era. It would seem, then, that Ben Zoma does not agree with the Chachamim that there is a mitzvah of remembering yetzias Mitzrayim during the days of Mashiach. The Gemara explains Ben Zoma’s opinion as follows: since the miracles of yetzias Mitzrayim will pale in comparison to what will happen when Mashiach will come, those erstwhile miracles will be totally overshadowed, and we will no longer have an obligation to remember yetzias Mitzrayim. There is a general rule that mitzvos einan beteilos, meaning that mitzvos will never become null and void, and all mitzvos will be just as applicable following the final redemption as they are now. For a mitzvah to be included in taryag, the list of the 613 mitzvos, it has to be a mitzvah that will never become null and void. The Rambam paskens in accordance with the opinion of Ben Zoma that the mitzvah of zechiras yetzias Mitzrayim will not be applicable in the era of Mashiach, and therefore did not count it in taryag. (Audio recording)

 

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Quotables    “During the times of year when there is a long stretch without any Yamim Tovim, it is worthwhile to inject some excitement in to your avodas Hashem by engaging in a project. For example, you can spend a few weeks making a conscious effort to say brachos with greater kavanah.”

 

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Vignettes     I recall an occasion, towards the beginning of my marriage, that I burned the food that I cooked for a meal. Obviously, as a young wife, I was distressed about this. When I informed my husband, though, he reacted with aplomb. “Don’t worry about it at all,” he told me, “we Twerskys love burned food!” (Rebbetzin Twersky)

 

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