ADAR II, 5779
As in the gift of Manna, so it is in the memory of artifacts
After the exodus from Egypt, Hashem gifted the Jews with manna, ’heavenly bread’, to consume during their travels in the wilderness.
Hashem furthermore commanded Moshe:
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר משֶׁ֗ה זֶ֤ה הַדָּבָר֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר צִוָּ֣ה הֹ' מְלֹ֤א הָעֹ֨מֶר֙ מִמֶּ֔נּוּ לְמִשְׁמֶ֖רֶת לְדֹרֹֽתֵיכֶ֑ם לְמַ֣עַן יִרְא֣וּ אֶת־הַלֶּ֗חֶם אֲשֶׁ֨ר הֶֽאֱכַ֤לְתִּי אֶתְכֶם֙ בַּמִּדְבָּ֔ר בְּהֽוֹצִיאִ֥י אֶתְכֶ֖ם מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם
“Moses said, This is the thing that the Lord commanded: Let one omerful of it be preserved for your generations, in order that they see the bread that I fed you in the desert when I took you out of the land of Egypt.”
Like the saved Manna, the Torah is providing us with a template to preserve the meaning of the Holocaust artifact.
Rav Simcha Zissel Ziv Broida (1824–1898) was one of the foremost students of Rav Yisrael Salanter and one of the early leaders of the Mussar movement. He was the founder and director of the Kelm Talmud Torah and known as the Alter of Kelm (the Elder of Kelm).
The pasuk in this week’s parsha states:
כִּ֣י אֲנִ֣י ד' הַמַּֽעֲלֶ֤ה אֶתְכֶם֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם לִֽהְיֹ֥ת לָכֶ֖ם לֵֽאלֹקים וִֽהְיִיתֶ֣ם קְדשִׁ֔ים כִּ֥י קָד֖וֹשׁ אָֽנִי
"For I am the L-rd who has brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your G-d. Thus, you shall be holy, because I am holy."
Referring to this passuk, Rashi quotes a statement made by ר' ישמעאל - "Had Hashem only taken Klal Yisrael out of Mitzrayim in order that they not become impure through rodents as other nations do, that would have sufficed, as that in of itself exalts Klal Yisrael"
The Alter of Kelm asks the following: it would seem from this statement that leaving Mitzrayim was a requisite to prevent Klal Yisrael from becoming becoming impure from shratzim. However, why couldn’t Hashem have made that happen in Miztrayim as well?
The Alter explains with the following example. A person cannot eat rotten meat, as it would make him very sick. However, a dog can eat rotten meat without being affected. Similarly, in Mitzrayim it was customary to eat impure foods. As a result, all of those living in Mitzrayim were affected by those impure foods, including Klal Yisrael. In order to develop sensitivity to impure foods, Klal Yisroel had to physically leave this environment. This is the point that ר' ישמעאל was making. If the only thing that Klal Yisroel would have gained by leaving Mitzrayim was sensitivity to impure foods, that would have sufficed, as this alone already exalts them amongst the other nations.