A Negah Upon Mitzrayim

The Re'em (Rabbi Eliyahu Mizrachi, 15th-16th century) notes a powerful point found within parshat Metzorah. We find the word k’negah is used, meaning that a person should tell the kohen that he “estimates” that there is a negah, a spot of leprosy, but with a lack of certainty. The Re'em says that this should be a person’s attitude in life, that he can only estimate the facts, living with humility and knowing that only G-d is perfect.

The last makkah upon Egypt, makkat becohoros, is called a negah, a fascinating designation. If we contrast the language of negah by tzara’at and the negah by the Exodus from Egypt, we find that Moshe says G-d will smite the firstborn ka’chatzot ha’lailah, about midnight. Moshe expresses an estimation as well, though in this case, the purpose being so that the astronomers of Egypt wouldn’t call G-d a liar, as it might not happen exactly at chatzot. Of course, G-d knew the exact time of chatzot, as the verse later says that G-d came at chatzot. But true to the Re'em’s point, man can only make estimations.

The question can be asked, why was makkat bechoros the final negah to come upon Mitzrayim before redemption? Rabbi Yaakov Harari sheds light on this aspect with great profundity. When discussing taking the Jews out in the beginning, G-d refers to the Jews as beni bechori, "My firstborn." G-d loves Israel as his bechor, the greatest expression of love.

Throughout the history of the Jewish people, the bechor always symbolized the highest level of kedushah. Yaakov received the designation, which set the stage for our destiny, and he lives on by the kisei hakavod.

As bechorim to G-d, our uniqueness comes by the way of the power of the tzibbur. The korban Pesach must be brought in a chaburah, with others. Our greatness as a whole and unified nation is what crowns G-d’s glory.

In these tumultuous times, we have the great gift of teshuvah to always come back to the Creator. Using the themes of Passover, such as an exhaustive search into our ways and breaking our own borders of experience, we can meet G-d’s glory at the pinnacle of heights. As King David enunciates, we can always admit our sins and then we are forgiven. We find in Gemara Kiddushin that if a rasha proposes to a woman on the condition that he is righteous, it is a valid kiddushin, because he can do teshuvah in a moment, just as we all can.

Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, recently discussed the onslaught from Iran. He said these were open miracles that no loss of life occurred. It was also recorded that on that night the number of times that Psalms was Googled was one of the highest ever. Such a beseeching from G-d is in tune with the Gemara in Sotah that says that in the end of days we can only rely on G-d. As G-d’s bechorim, we are His beloved, and surely the Creator wants every Jew to take advantage of this beloved relationship.