Faith and EthicsHolidaysPesach

The Blood in the Basin

In an article for Bo 5774, Rabbi Cherki discusses the unique aspects of the sacrifice brought on the night of the Exodus.

The laws of the Pesach Sacrifice differ from those of the other sacrifices. The Pesach Sacrifice is the only one brought by an individual that also has some of the characteristics of a public sacrifice. Like public sacrifices it is brought on a specific date and it therefore takes precedence over Shabbat, and it is eaten in a large group of people, by the crowds of the many pilgrims which come to Jerusalem on the holiday. This duality is a result of the fact that the holiday marks the great event of the birth of the nation as a political entity. At that moment a unique act of kindness could be felt, and a portion of the soul of the entire nation appears within every individual. At that moment, every individual had an added value as part of the entire group.

The idea above leads to another unique element. Even though in general an individual cannot decide to leave behind the general fate of the nation (that is, a person can never decide to stop being a Jew), at the time of the Exodus every person had the opportunity to decide whether to join in the history of Israel or not. This indeed is what we say to the “Evil Son” in reply to his question in the Pesach Hagadda, when he attempts to leave the community of Israel: “If he had been there he would not have been redeemed.” At that point in time it was possible for a person to decide not to be redeemed. But the present is here and now and not anyplace else, and we therefore have a sacred duty to fulfill the destiny of the nation of Israel and not to reject it.

The first Pesach, in Egypt at the time of the redemption, revealed another unique benefit. When the Jews have an Altar for atonement and a Temple, the blood of the Pesach Sacrifice is sprinkled on the sides of the Altar. But in Egypt the people were commanded to dip a hyssop in the blood in the basin (where the blood of the sacrifice was collected), and to spread it out over the entrance to the house. This is clearly symbolic – the house takes the place of the Altar, and the lintel and doorposts play the role of the sides and corners of the Altar. Thus, this is the only time that the flesh of the sacrifice is eaten not outside the confines of the Altar but rather within the area of the Altar itself. We thus see that in the very beginning of our national history the exalted status of the Altar was revealed in our action of eating. This will eventually be understood as the concept of sanctity embedded within nature, something that will be elucidated by the generation of the footsteps of the Messiah, as was explained by Rav Kook (Orot Hakodesh volume 2, Hakodesh Hakelali, page 23).

The Pesach Sacrifice is a lamb, the god of Egypt, and it is eaten by the Children of Israel. The act of eating this lamb on the eve of the Exodus leading to freedom symbolizes the internalization of the values of Egypt which were worthy of being redeemed through the redemption of Israel. These are the sparks of sanctity which exist within the framework of the general culture of the world, and they are absorbed as part of the formation of the identity of Israel, which includes an abstract of all the forms of humanity. As is written, “He set the borders of the nations to be equal to the number of the Children of Israel” [Deuteronomy 32:8].

The Pesach Sacrifice is brought when the moon is full, in the month that marks the beginning of spring. This is the time of rejuvenation, and it is the most appropriate time for the greatest renewal in the history of all mankind: the creation of the nation of Israel.

The word for basin is “saf,” which can be expanded into “sefel,” a cup.

The basin, in which the blood of the sacrifice was transformed into the Will of G-d, can also be seen as “saf,” a borderline, serving as the beginning of the coming historical process which will lead to the mending of the entire world.

Source: “AS SHABBAT APPROACHES” – a biweekly column in Shabbat B’Shabbato, Bo 5774, Volume 1506. (Zomet Institute) See:

Rabbi Oury Cherki

Rav Oury Cherki was born in Algeria in 1959 and grew up in France, and he made Aliyah in 1972. He studied at Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, which was founded by Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook. He performed his military service in the artillery branch of the IDF. He studied with Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, Rav Yehuda Leon Ashkenazi (Manitou), Rav Shlomo Binyamin and Achlag. Rav Cherki heads the Israeli department of Machon Meir, and he is the Director of Brit Olam - the Noahide World Center. He teaches in many places throughout Israel. Rav Cherki is the spiritual leader of the "Beth Yehuda" community in Kiryat Moshe (Jerusalem). He has written many books on Jewish thought and philosophy.

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