Pesach 2018: Why Have “Second Days”?
The Yom Tov of Pesach is an incredible time to build ourselves as Jews. One way we can do this is to take the time to express our gratitude to Hashem for everything that He constantly does for us.
Pesach is divided into two parts with two days of Yom Tov each celebrating and commemorating extraordinary miracles Hashem did for our people. The first two days of Yom Tov commemorate the freedom from bondage under Pharaoh’s reign. To celebrate this we observe the Yom Tov with a seder in which we tell in great detail the story of our exodus and sing Hashem’s praises through Hallel (additional prayers in the morning service). Then, the holiday comes to a close with last two days where we reflect on splitting of the Sea and yet another salvation for our people.
The “second days” of Pesach (as they are known) are very simple. We continue to eat matza and observe the laws of Yom Tov. When we read from the Torah at Shul we hear the parsha with the Sea Splitting.
The Meorei HaShanah asks, “Wasn’t the miracle at the sea included with the other miracles of the Exodus and commemorated (on the first days of Pesach)?” Why do we have two separate dates to celebrate events of the same story?
Pesach has two Yomim Tovim because there were actually two steps to our salvation process. First Hashem had to save us, and then He had to destroy our enemies.
At Krias Yom Suf (Sea Splitting) the panic-stricken nation, faced with water in front of them, and raging Egyptian soldiers charging from behind, they had nowhere to turn but up (to Hashem in Heaven). Hashem split the sea, crossed the people through on dry land, and then drowned the remaining Egyptians in sea.
Every generation gives rise to new enemies of the Jewish people. As the Haggadah itself states, “B’chol door v’door, omdim aleinu l’chalkileinu…” But nevertheless Hashem protects us. Not only does He protect us from threats, anyone that conspires against us that we don’t even know about, He thwarts their plans as well.
This is truly something to praise Hashem for – constant protection and security from malevolence and harm.
Interestingly, we don’t recite the full Hallel on the concluding days of Pesach. This is because although we are thankful to Him for saving us and destroying our enemies, we are quite sensitive to the fact that Egyptian lives were taken.
When we read the encounter at the sea let our own hearts be uplifted and express gratitude for each and every time Hashem looks out for us both as a nation and as individuals.
Have a wonderful and meaningful Shabbos and Yom Tov!
Maverick V. Peters