Today is the day of burning Chametz. The latest time to do so (this year 5777) in Jerusalem is until approximately 11:20 AM and in New York City until approximately 11:35 AM.
The Torah states, “And each woman shall borrow from her neighbor and from the dweller of her house silver and golden vessels and garments.” This means that before the Jewish nation left Egypt, they were commanded to borrow gold and silver vessels among other expensive articles so that when they left Egypt, they would leave with great wealth, as Hashem promised. The question becomes: How is it that the Jewish nation took these valuable objects from their neighbors as if they meant to return them after using them when they actually had in mind to take these objects forever?
Although in the times of Alexander the Great, the Egyptians claimed back all of these valuable objects from the Jewish nation and Geviha ben Pesisa (one of the great sages of the time) proved to them that this was only a small fraction of what the Jewish nation was owed for their labor in Egypt for over two-hundred years (see Sanhedrin 90b), nevertheless, the above question still stands: Why did they have to lie about this and tell the Egyptians that they were borrowing these objects as opposed to merely saying that they were taking this as payment?
Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l asks yet another question: How is it that the Jewish nation lied to Pharaoh by telling him that they intended to leave Egypt only for “a journey of three days” after which they would return to Egypt when they knew that Hashem would take them out of Egypt forever, enter the Land of Israel, and never again return to Egypt. If so, what right did they have to lie to the Egyptians?
Maran zt”l answers this based on the words of Hagaon Rabbeinu Yosef Haim zt”l (in his Ben Ish Hayil, Volume 1, page 37c) who illustrates this idea with a parable: Once, a man broke the law and the king sentenced him to death. The custom in the kingdom was though that before being taken out to be executed, the accused would be brought before the king to ask for his final request from the king.
When this man was brought before the king, the king asked him, “What is your final request before you are taken to your death?” The man took a crystal bottle full of wine from the king’s table and replied, “I wish to drink all of this wine while sitting on the roof of the palace gazing into the breathtaking view. However, I am afraid that I will be killed by one of the king’s guards before I have a chance to do so and thus, I request that the king swear to me that I will not be killed until I drink all of the wine in this bottle calmly.” The king swore to him as he had requested and he commanded that this man be brought up to roof of the palace as they agreed.
On his way up the stairs to the roof of the palace, the man made it look as if he tripped and the bottle fell out of his hands and shattered with of the wine spilling all over the floor. The guards brought the man back down to the king to see what he would say. When the king wished to bring him another bottle of wine to drink, the man said, “Bring me the wine that was in the original bottle and I will drink it.” The man continued and told the king, “Your highness, you must now exonerate me from all punishment, for you swore to me that you would not kill me until I drank all the wine in the bottle and since this wine is no longer existent, how will you fulfill your oath?” The king agreed and he pardoned the man and sent him home.
What this parable refers to is that Hashem knew that the Jewish nation would not be returning to Egypt to be enslaved, for after they left Egypt, Pharaoh and his entire army would chase after them and they would all drown in the Red Sea as punishment for how they would drown the Jewish baby boys. Since Egypt would be annihilated, they had no one to return the gold and silver vessels to and likewise, they had no nation to return to in Egypt after three days of travel since all the Egyptians would die at the Red Sea in any event similar to the broken bottle and the spilled wine.
At this point, the Halacha Yomit team would like to wish all of our regular members and the entire Jewish nation a joyous, healthy, and kosher Pesach holiday. May you all be successful in all of your endeavors amid much peace, tranquility, and Nahat. We would likewise like to extend our appreciation to the international rabbinical staff of Halacha Yomit for all of their hard work and effort they invest into this project, including Hagaon Harav Yaakov Sasson Shlit”a, founder of this website and Rosh Kollel in Bet Shemesh, Israel, Hagaon Harav David Pittoun Shlit”a, rabbi and Posek in France, Hagaon Harav Yitzchak Fadda Shlit”a, rabbi and Dayan in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Hagaon Harav Meir Gavriel Elbaz Shlit”a, rav and Posek in the Sephardic community of Great Neck, New York. May Hashem repay them for their holy work and may we all merit eating from the Pesach offering in the holy city of Jerusalem, speedily and in our days, Amen!
Tizku Le’Shanim Rabbot Ne’imot Ve’tovot!