Pesach is a reminder of our freedom from slavery, and the study and practice of Torah is the Jewish way of achieving and cultivating freedom. Torah and Pesach are both commanded in the scrolls contained in the tefillin.

Seven days, you shall eat matzah, and on the seventh day, there shall be a holiday to the Eternal….And you shall tell your son on that day, saying “Because of this, the Eternal did for me as I left Egypt.” And it shall be a sign on your hand and a remembrance between your eyes so that the Torah of the Eternal shall be in your mouth, for with a strong hand the Eternal took you out of Egypt. (Exodus 13:7-9)

The commandment to wear tefillin appears in the Torah for the first time in the text quoted above. Later, in verse 16, we see it again. There, Ramban comments:

And at the root of the commandment that we should place the scripture of the Exodus from Egypt on the hand and on the head, before the heart and the brain, which are the places where thought resides….And in the paragraphs ‘Shma’ and ‘Vehayah im Shamoa’ we are commanded to make the commandments into tefillin….and so we write those commandments also as tefillin, as they are the commandments to unify God’s name, and to remember all the commandments, along with their rewards and punishments, and the entire root of Jewish faith.”

Passover is only eight days long, but we are meant to remember it six days out of every week through the wrapping of tefillin. The Exodus itself is recalled twice as we say Shma. As the Hagadah reminds us, the third paragraph of the Shma contains the verse “I am the Eternal, your God, who took you out of Egypt to be a God to you.” The blessings immediately after the Shma, both the one said in the morning and the one said in the evening, recall the Exodus. Every morning, we sing the Song of the Sea.

Leaving Egypt, and the holiday that commemorates it, are to be in our thoughts every day of the year. We are to remind ourselves that we are the people who were saved by the Eternal from slavery in Egypt so that we may dedicate ourselves to the One that brings the world into being.

Tefillin and Torah study are linked by the verse “And you shall teach them to your children and speak about them as you dwell in your homes, as you walk by the way, as you lie down, and as you rise up. (Deut. 6:7)

Just as Pesach is a constant reminder of our freedom from slavery to other people, the study and practice of Torah are the exercise of that freedom, and the Jewish way of ensuring that we remain free as human beings. As Rabbi Nechunia Ben Hakanah is quoted in Pirkei Avot, 3, 6, “Whoever accepts upon themselves the yoke of Torah casts off the yokes of government and worldly burdens. And anyone who casts off the yoke of Torah takes upon themselves the yokes of government and worldly burdens.”

As we approach the end of Pesach, and take on the practices of Yom Tov at the end of the holiday, we can rededicate ourselves to doing what we can to ensure our freedom through the intellectual and spiritual cultivation that Torah study can bring.

Chag kasher vesameach!

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