Part II

Part I of this week's shiur discussed the flow of 'parshiot' in Shmot chapter 12, focusing on when the laws of Chag Ha'Matzot (i.e. 12:15-20) were first given, and their connection to the laws of korban Pesach. In Part II we focus on another set of laws concerning korban Pesach, presented towards the end of chapter 12 and better known as 'Chukat Ha'Pesach.' Our analysis will help us better appreciate the conceptual and halachik connection between Brit Milah and korban Pesach.

We begin Part II of our shiur by reviewing the progression of 'parshiot' in chapter 12, as discussed in Part I. See Board #4. As you study the chart, notice that immediately after the conclusion of the story of the Exodus (see 12:42-43) we find an additional 'parshia' (E) concerning the laws of Korban Pesach:

"And God said to Moshe and Aharon: These are the laws of the Pesach - anyone not circumcised may not eat from it ... Then Bnei Yisrael did just as God had commanded Moshe and Aharon, so they did." (12:43-50)
To our amazement, this entire 'parshia' is out of chronological order! These laws command Bnei Yisrael to perform "brit milah" before offering the Korban Pesach, and they therefore must have been taught before Bnei Yisrael left Egypt. Why then does the Torah record it after the story of the Exodus? Shouldn't this 'parshia' have been included together with all the other laws of Korban Pesach (see 12:2-14 and 12:21-28)? (See Board #5.)

Add this question to our discussion in Part I (that 12:15-20 really belongs with 13:2-8), and we find that something very peculiar is happening in chapter 12. The laws of Chag Ha'Matzot (12:15-20), which belong after the story of Yetziat Mitzrayim, are recorded beforehand, while the laws of "chukat ha'Pesach," which should have been recorded earlier, are recorded later (i.e. after the story of the Exodus). Therefore, to put this chapter back into its correct 'chronological order,' we would simply have to swap these two parshiot (b and E).

Nevertheless, the Torah prefers to record them 'out of order,' and the obvious question is: Why?

Thematic Order
These questions are just one example of the phenomenon in Chumash known as "ein mukdam u'muchar" - the parshiot in Chumash do not necessarily follow chronological order. However, this does not mean that Chumash follows a completely random sequence. Rather, even though the Torah usually does follow chronological order, it occasionally prefers to place a certain 'parshia' in a different place in order to emphasize a thematic connection. [One could say that this is the Torah's way of saying: "dor'shey'nee"!]

Therefore, by presenting these parshiot in this manner, the Torah calls upon us to find a thematic connection between:

In Part I we discussed (a); now we must discuss (b).

Let's begin by taking a closer look at the concluding psukim of Yetziat Mitzrayim:

"...And the settlement of Bnei Yisrael in Egypt was thirty years and four hundred years. And it came to pass after thirty years and four hundred years, on this day, all of God's hosts left from the land of Egypt..." (see 12:40-42)
Clearly, these psukim focus on the completion of four hundred years; but when do these four hundred years begin?

Brit Bein Ha'Btarim and Chukat Ha'Pesach
The commentators all agree that the four hundred years must relate in one form or other to God's promise to Avraham Avinu concerning the 'bondage of his offspring in a foreign land,' as promised in "Brit Bein Ha'Btarim." [See Breishit 15:13-14.]

Therefore, we can safely conclude that the 'parshia' of 12:37-42 (D) informs us that the Exodus from Egypt marks God's fulfillment of His promise to Avraham Avinu at "Brit Bein Ha'Btarim." (See Board #6.)

With this in mind, let's take a look at the 'parshia' that follows (E):

"And God said to Moshe and Aharon: These are the laws of the Pesach - a son of a non-Jew may not eat from it ... and if he owns a servant, then he must circumcise him, and then he may eat it ... and if a stranger lives with you and wants to offer a korban Pesach, first he must be circumcised ... and anyone not circumcised may not eat from it." (see 12:43-48)
Note how the primary mitzvah and focus of this "chukat ha'pesach" section is the requirement to perform Brit Milah before offering the Korban Pesach (note 12:43,44,48).

Recall once again that the final psukim of the story of the Exodus (12:40-42) relate back to the theme of Brit Bein Ha'Btarim! Therefore, this juxtaposition points once again to a fundamental connection between these two central covenants of Sefer Breishit. (See Board #7.) [See last week's shiur on Parshat Va'eyra.]

One could suggest that as Chumash completes the story of Yetziat Mitzrayim (by informing us that God has fulfilled His promise of redemption in Brit Bein Ha'Btarim), we are reminded of our duty to fulfill His covenant of 'Brit Milah" - to accept Him as our God ("l'hiyot lachem l'Elokim" - see Breishit 17:7). This requirement of circumcision before offering the Korban Pesach serves as a reminder that one must first accept his commitment at a personal and family level, as reflected in Brit Milah, before he can proclaim his affiliation at the national level, as reflected in Brit Bein Ha'Btarim.

For Further Iyun
Review 12:14 in Parshat Ha'Chodesh - the pasuk that bridges between the first section - Korban Pesach - and the second section - Chag Ha'Matzot:

"And this day shall be for you a day of remembrance, and you shall celebrate it as a holiday for all future generations."
Its apparent ambiguity notwithstanding, this pasuk clearly emphasizes the eternal nature of the mitzvah of the Korban Pesach. First of all, it forms the logical conclusion of 12:2-13, which describes the 'one-time' mitzvah of Korban Pesach in Mitzrayim. Furthermore, the law to observe "Chag Ha'Matzot" for all generations is already stated in 12:17. There would be no reason to repeat that law twice while not mentioning Korban Pesach for later generations even once! Finally, in 12:21-28, when Moshe actually conveys these laws of Korban Pesach to Bnei Yisrael, he includes God's commandment to observe Korban Pesach for all generations (see 12:24-27) - just as God commanded him in 12:14.

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