In the beginning our fathers served idols; but now the Omnipresent One has brought us close to His service, as it is said: "Joshua said to all the people: Thus said the L-rd, the G-d of Israel, `Your fathers used to live on the other side of the river - Terach, the father of Abraham and the father of Nachor, and they served other gods.
"And I took your father Abraham from beyond the river, and I led him throughout the whole land of Canaan. I increased his seed and gave him Isaac, and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I gave Mount Seir to possess it, and Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt."
Blessed is He who keeps His promise to Israel, blessed be He! For the Holy One, blessed be He, calculated the end [of the bondage], in order to do as He had said to our father Abraham at the "Covenant between the Portions," as it is said: "And He said to Abraham, `You shall know that your seed will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and they will enslave them and make them suffer, for four hundred years. But I shall also judge the nation whom they shall serve, and after that they will come out with great wealth.'"
According to the instructions of Rabbi Isaac Luria, the wine cup is now raised and the Matzot are covered.
This is what has stood by our fathers and us! For not just one alone has risen against us to destroy us, but in every generation they rise against us to destroy us; and the Holy One, blessed be He, saves us from their hand!
Put down the wine cup and uncover the Matzah.
Go forth and learn what Laban the Aramean wanted to do to our father Jacob. Pharaoh had issued a decree against the male children only, but Laban wanted to uproot everyone - as it is said: "The Aramean wished to destroy my father; and he went down to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; and he became there a nation - great and mighty and numerous."
"And he went down to Egypt" forced by Divine decree. "And he sojourned there" - this teaches that our father Jacob did not go down to Egypt to settle, but only to live there temporarily. Thus it is said, "They said to Pharaoh, We have come to sojourn in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants' flocks because the hunger is severe in the land of Canaan; and now, please, let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen."
"Few in number" as it is said: "Your fathers went down to Egypt with seventy persons, and now, the L-rd, your G-d, has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven."
"And he became there a nation" this teaches that Israel was distinctive there.
"Great, mighty," as it is said: "And the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, and multiplied and became very, very mighty, and the land became filled with them."
"And numerous," as it is said: "I passed over you and saw you wallowing in your bloods, and I said to you `By your blood you shall live,' and I said to you `By your blood you shall live!' I caused you to thrive like the plants of the field, and you increased and grew and became very beautiful your bosom fashioned and your hair grown long, but you were naked and bare."
"The Egyptians treated us badly and they made us suffer, and they put hard work upon us."
"The Egyptians treated us badly," as it is said: Come, let us act cunningly with [the people] lest they multiply and, if there should be a war against us, they will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the land."
"And they made us suffer," as it is said: "They set taskmasters over [the people of Israel] to make them suffer with their burdens, and they built storage cities for Pharaoh, Pitom and Ramses."
"And they put hard work upon us," as it is said: "The Egyptians made the children of Israel work with rigor. And they made their lives bitter with hard work, with mortar and with bricks and all manner of service in the field, all their work which they made them work with rigor." And we cried out to the L-rd, the G-d of our fathers, and the L-rd heard our voice and saw our suffering, our labor and our oppression.
"And we cried out to the L-rd, the G-d of our fathers," as it is said: "During that long period, the king of Egypt died; and the children of Israel groaned because of the servitude, and they cried out. And their cry for help from their servitude rose up to G-d."
"And the L-rd heard our voice" as it said: "And G-d heard their groaning, and G-d remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."
"And he saw our suffering," this refers to the separation of husband and wife, as it is said: "G-d saw the children of Israel and G-d took note."
"Our labor," this refers to the "children," as it is said: "Every boy that is born, you shall throw into the river and every girl you shall keep alive."
"And our oppression," this refers to the pressure, as it is said: "I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them."
"The L-rd took as out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, and with a great manifestation, and with signs and wonders."
"The L-rd took us out of Egypt," not through an angel, not through a seraph and not through a messenger. The Holy One, blessed be He, did it in His glory by Himself!
Thus it is said: "In that night I will pass through the land of Egypt, and I will smite every first-born in the land of Egypt, from man to beast, and I will carry out judgments against all the gods of Egypt, I the L-rd."
"I will pass through the land of Egypt," I and not an angel;
"And I will smite every first-born in the land of Egypt," I and not a seraph;
"And I will carry out judgments against all the gods of Egypt," I and not a messenger;
"I- the L-rd," it is I, and none other!
"With a strong hand," this refers to the dever (pestilence) as it is said: "Behold, the hand of the L-rd will be upon your livestock in the field, upon the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds and the flocks, a very severe pestilence."
"And with an outstretched arm," this refers to the sword, as it is said: "His sword was drawn, in his hand, stretched out over Jerusalem."
"And with a great manifestation," this refers to the revelation of the Shechinah (Divine Presence), as it is said: "Has any G-d ever tried to take for himself a nation from the midst of another nation, with trials, signs and wonders, with war and with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, and with great manifestations, like all that the L-rd your G-d, did for you in Egypt before your eyes!"
"And with signs," this refers to the staff, as it is said: "Take into your hand this staff with which you shall perform the signs."
"And wonders," this refers to the blood, as it is said: "And I shall show wonders in heaven and on earth.
When saying the following words "blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke," spill three times from the wine in the cup. Do not remove wine by dipping a finger, but by spilling from the cup itself, and do so into a broken/chipped dish. (Have in mind that the cup symbolizes the aspect of malchut which contains an aspect of "anger and indignation." By means of our faculty of binah (understanding) we pour out [that aspect of "anger and indignation" - by spilling from the wine in the cup into a broken dish which represents kelipah, i.e., that which is called accursed [the principle of evil]).
Blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke
Another explanation: "Strong hand" indicates two [plagues]; "Outstretched arm," another two; "Great manifestation," another two; "Signs," another two; and "Wonders," another two.
These are the Ten Plagues which the Holy One, blessed be He, brought upon the Egyptians, namely as follows:
Spill one drop of wine for each of the ten plagues:
Slaying of the First-born (Makat Bechoroth)
Rabbi Judah called the plagues by this mnemonic: Spill three drops of wine, one for each watchword: DeTZaKh ADaSH BeACHaB.
Rabbi Jose the Galilean said: How do we know that the Egyptians were smitten with ten plagues in Egypt, and with fifty plagues by the Red Sea? With regards to Egypt, it is written: " Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said." (Exodus 8:19 KJV/ Exodus 8:15 JPS)With respect to the Red Sea, it is written: "And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses." (Exodus 14:31) One finger for each plague on land: ten plagues. But at the Red Sea, the whole hand of God, five fingers ten times: fifty plagues.
Rabbi Eliezer said: How can we show that each and every plague the Holy One, Blessed be He, visited upon the Egyptians had the force of four plagues? It is told: "He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them." (Psalm 78:49) "Wrath" makes one; "indignation", two; "trouble" three; "sending evil angels" makes it fourfold. Thus, we can say that the Egyptians were smitten with forty plagues in Egypt, and with two hundred plagues by the Red Sea shore.Rabbi Akiva said: "Where do we learn that each and every plague the Holy One, Blessed be He, visited upon the Egyptians was equal to five plagues? It is written: "He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them." "The fierceness of his anger" makes one; "wrath", two; "indignation" three; "trouble" four; "sending evil angels" makes five times. Thus, we have ten times five, fifty plagues in Egypt, and five times fifty, two-hundred fifty plagues at the Red Sea.How many blessings God has given Israel.
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