Bo - Patience, Waiting and Redemption

It says in this week's parsha:
"There was a night of vigil for G-d, [preparing] to bring them out of Egypt. This night remains for G-d a vigil to the Israelites for all generations." (Shmot 12:42)

The verse mentions a night of vigil two times. The second time it mentions that this is a night of vigil also for all generations.

Why mention night of vigil (ליל שמרים) twice in the same verse, and why the difference in the latter half of the verse to add 'for all generations'?

First, we should note how Rashi approaches this verse.
"The night of vigil, that Hakodesh Baruch Hu keeps and expects to fulfill his promise to take them out of Egypt."
"This night remains for G-d, this is the night that He told Avraham, on this night I will redeem your children."
"A vigil to the Israelites for all generations, protected from the harmful agents."

What is Rashi referring to in explaining A vigil to the Israelites for all generations? The Siftei Chachamim raises this question, and provides the answer as 'every night like this, every year will be protected from harmful agents.'

So the two mentions of night of vigil (ליל שמרים) are represented very different. The first instance focuses on expectations and fulfillment of past promises, while the latter instance emphasizes protection and promises to the future.

The Rashbam, in his typical style focusing on the plain meaning of the text, explains the first instance of 'night of vigil' as a language of waiting - like "and his father suspended judgment" (Breisheit 37:12). Meaning, like a father, Hashem waits patiently, keeping that which he wants to give. The redemption that He holds the ability to provide, he keeps safe, and waits for the right time to give it.

How long has Hashem been waiting?

"[G-d] said to Avram, "Know for sure that your descendants will be foreigners in a land that is not theirs for 400 years. They will be enslaved and oppressed. But I will finally bring judgment against the nation who enslaves them, and they will leave with great wealth." (Breisheit 15:13-14)

Waiting 400 years? No actually the final wait was even longer.

"They settled in Egypt for 30 (שלושים) years and 400 years." (Shmot 12:40)

The Rashbam explains this verse by referencing the original promise in Breisheit, describing the accounting for the years. He says that the original accounting was to cover 4 generations, and the Rashbam brings a verse from parshah Yitro, 'Where my enemies are concerned, I keep in mind the sin of the fathers for their descendants, to the third (שלושים) and fourth [generation]' (Shmot 20:5)

Here we see that Third generation, and 30 years are written the same. And we see that third and fourth generations are made equivalent. The Rashbam emphasizes the significance of this period for 'perhaps the children will repent - do tshuvah'

This is the effort of divine waiting. We see how broad is G-d's mercy, and to what lengths he stretches to find merit. But still why wasn't the 400 years enough? That was already 4 generations?

The Kedushat Levi explains that at the time of the Exodus, the Israelites had few merits that made them worthy of redemption. He adds that G-d says that He has mercy and kindness for only one nation, for the nation of Israel.

Here we can see this preservation of special kindness towards Israel and the act of divine waiting, this can be explained by the Rashbam's answer. It is the anticipation of seeing the people of Israel repent, and do tshuvah. G-d waited as long as he could before they would be unredeemable, before implementing his promise.

The latter part of our verse This night remains for G-d a vigil to the Israelites for all generations, has practical ramifications in halachah. We learn, as Rashi explained, that this is a night of ultimate protection, where the usual dangers are neutralized (Pesachim 109B). The Mishna Brurah explains that on the night of the 15th of Nissan, the night of vigil (ליל שמרים) you do not need to recite the sections of the bedtime Shma, after paragraph of V'ahavta - from the paragraph of Yeshev B'Seter Alyon. These sections deal in beseeching G-d for his protection, and in the practical sense, this night is protected inherently from G-d's promise.

To conclude, I think it is good to see how the Or HaChaim approaches our verse. He says that the verse (Shmot 12:42) alludes to 5 amazing miracles that took place on this night, and we see that for all generations is both following The Exodus and proceeding it..
  1. (Breisheit 14:15) In the days of Avraham
    "And he divided himself against them by night, he and his servants, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus."
    This was a battle where Avraham was far outnumbered, yet nevertheless was completely victorious, showing another divine miracle.
  2. (Shmot 12:29) The Exodus from Egypt
    "And it came to pass at midnight, that the L-RD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the first-born of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the first-born of cattle."
    Following this episode, the miraculous exodus from Egypt finally, actually began.
  3. (Kings II 19:35) The confrontation of Hizkiyahu and Sancheriv
    "And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the L-RD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred fourscore and five thousand; and when men arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses."
    Hizkiyahu had said that night is conducive to miracles.
  4. (Esther 6:1) The restless night of the king
    "On that night, the king's sleep was disturbed, and he ordered to bring the book of the records, the chronicles, and they were read before the king."
    The miracle of the saving of Mordechai, and ultimately the Jewish people, the verse states specifically 'this' night.
  5. The ultimate redemption
    It says in our verse This night remains for G-d a vigil to the Israelites for all generations, meaning until the very last generation - that being the generation of the Moshiach, please in our days.
 So we see that through our own efforts and working on improving our actions we can influence the absolute course of history. G-d is essentially patient with us, and waiting, anticipating and looking forward to granting us the ultimate redemption, when we are truly deserving of it.

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