Have you ever wondered why Pesach is called Pesach? We know why.... Pesach is from the word pasach - passed over, that Hashem passed over the Jewish houses when the tenth plague struck Egypt. But is this enough of a reason to name the entire festival Pesach?! The other plagues also didn't happen to the Jewish People....when all of Egypt was dark the Jewish areas were light. When all of Egypt's water turned to blood, the Jews were drinking filtered mineral water. When the whole of Egypt had boils, the Jews were being asked to be models for Dove skin moisteriser. Why is it such a milestone that this plague was done only to the Egyptians, while the Jewish houses were 'passed over' by Hashem, and not afflicted by the same plague?!

To add to the question, the main them of Pesach is: Freedom. We are celebrating the fact that we went out of Egypt and received the Torah and Mt Sinai, and came to the Land of Israel. We are celebrating that we became a nation with a unique role and relationship to Hashem. Pesach should be called The Festival of Freedom, or Independance Week, or the Festival of Escape....or something! Why Passover?!

To summarize: Why is it such a big deal that Hashem passed over the Jewish houses when Egypt was struck with the plague of the firstborn?

The midrash tells us that all the other miracles that were performed during the Ten Plagues were done by Hashem, but not directly. He sent a messenger to do them for Him. However, if you look in the verses where Hashem tells Moshe about this final plague, that will really reveal His strength and finally cause Pharoah to release the Jewish people from slavery, Hashem says: And I will pass through the land of Egypt on this night, and I will strike every firstborn in the land of Egypt, from man to beast, and all the gods of Egypt will I judge, I am Hashem.

You see that it's all first person. The midrash says that Hashem is saying that this plague is done by "ani v'lo acher". Me and no other. Hashem did the tenth plague Himself, directly. This plague was much more powerful than any of the plagues preceding it. Without going into the depth behind it, this plague was one that was decreed upon the entire land of Egypt. It did not discriminate between the Jews and Egyptians like the other plagues did. A bullet can discriminate between people or places, but a nuclear bomb cannot, to use a crude analogy. It destroys a whole city indiscriminately. It fell on the entire land of Egypt, taking the life of every firstborn without discrimination. So how was it that the Jewish firstborn were not killed? Why did Hashem 'skip over' the Jewish houses?

We can see find our answer in the directions that Moshe gave the nation just before the plague: Moshe called to all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Draw forth and take for yourselves one of the flock for your families, and slaughter the pesach-offering. You shall take a bundle of hyssop (I think this is something similar to parsley) and dip it into the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with some of the blood that is in the basin, and as for you, you shall not leave the entrance of the house until morning. Hashem will pass through to smite Egypt, and He will see the blood that is on the lintel and the two doorposts; and Hashem will skip over the entrance and He will not permit the destroyer to enter your homes to smite. You shall observe this matter as a decree for yourself and for your children forever."

It is very clear that it was this mitzva that they were given on that night, of making a korban (sacrifice) to Hashem, is what saved them in Egypt and protected their homes. It's interesting to note that they were only protected in their homes! Hashem is very particular that they should not leave their homes, and that they should mark their homes with the blood of their sacrifice.

And here we begin to find some answers to all the questions we have been asking. When the Jews took a sheep from their flock that night, the exact animal that the Egyptians used to worship as a god, and instead of bowing down to it, used that animal to serve Hashem in the same way that their children would later do so in the Temple in Jerusalem our holy city, they turned their homes into little temples. They turned their homes into a shule. Into a mikdash me'at - a little temple. They put the blood of the sacrifice on the doorpost to mark at the entrance that 'this home is not just a room - it's a temple of G-d. It's a sanctuary in which we can connect to Hashem.' The Gemara (in Masechet Brachot 8a) discusses that shules throughout the world are considered to be the Land of Israel. Just like, for example, every U.S embassy in the world is considered to be U.S soil. If the Israeli army invades the U.S embassy in Tel Aviv it is an act of war. It's as if they have just invaded Washington. That's considered for them U.S. soil. A shule is an embassy of the Land of Israel as well. When we served Hashem in our homes on that final night in Egypt, the concept of the Jewish home was created as a place that is an embassy of Hashem.

Those homes were not in Egypt that night. They were in the Land of Israel. Of course they were not struck by a plague that was decreed upon the entire land of Egypt. Hashem saw the blood on the doorpost, and passed over. Not simply by choice, but because the plague did not apply to that house - it was not in Egypt. It was an embassy of Hashem, a holy place, linked to a holy land that had nothing to do with Egypt.

Why is Pesach called Pesach and not the festival of Freedom? Perhaps because this is the biggest lesson of our whole journey from Egypt - that our homes are embassies of Hashem. They are places through which we can connect to Him. Most of the mitzvot that we have are based in the home: Shabbat candles and meals, kashrut, all the festivals.... We do much more at home than at shule! Because the only way for us to survive is to connect to Hashem in our homes. That's our base. Our ancestors in Egypt put up the first ever mezuza to mark their houses as a sanctuary of Hashem that was not linked to the depravity and imorality around them. They marked their houses as oasis's of sanctity and kedusha, and in doing so were saved from the downfall of the misguided people around them.

Let's hear the lesson of the festival of Pesach and realise how important it is to make our homes sanctuaries in which we can connect to Hashem, and anchor ourselves - at home more than anything else - in our tradition and heritage, so that we don't get lost in the world around us.

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