Doorposts of Love

A maelstrom was descending on Egypt.

That maelstrom would strike Egyptian homes and would kill all Egyptian firstborns. Jewish homes, though, would be protected. And the following pesukim explain why they’d be protected.

“And you will take the blood and paint it on the doorposts... and the blood will serve as a sign on the houses... Hashem will see the blood and skip over the house.”[1]

These signs, as the possuk notes, will let Hashem “see” which homes are Jewish. And that will make Hashem “skip” over those homes.

When you read these verses, you realize that they can’t be read literally. Reading these pesukim literally – that Hashem needs signs to know which homes were Jewish – insinuates that Hashem needs signs to know who lives where.

And such insinuations are expressions of apostasy.

Those pesukim must, therefore, be read differently. How, though, do we read them? What are these signs? And what did they show Hashem?

To answer this question, we must redirect our focus. Away from the actual signs. And on to where those signs were placed.

They are placed on the homes’ doorposts. And doorposts, the thresholds that separate homes from surrounding society, symbolize separation. That’s why painting – and, thereby, highlighting – doorposts is a statement that we’re separating ourselves from the surrounding Egyptian population. [2]

Such a separation differentiates our values and lifestyles from those that prevail in surrounding society. And if our values and lifestyles are different then our destinies will be different. And that means that plagues meant for Egyptians wouldn’t be meant for us.

Our “doorpost signs” were our commitments to “separate” ourselves from Egyptian society. The possuk about Hashem “seeing” separation” refers to Hashem accepting our commitment to separation and differentiating our destinies accordingly.

All of this explains why we painted those doorposts with two special bloods. One was blood from the Pesach offering that was slaughtered right before we painted our doorposts. And the other was blood from the mass circumcisions that also occurred right before we painted our doorposts.[3]

Why were bloods from those mitzvos used for doorpost paint? Perhaps because those mitzvos, like doorposts, were about separation. Bringing a Korban Pesach involved slaughtering a lamb, an Egyptian idol. Slaughtering that idol repudiated it and “separated” us from Egyptian ideology. It did that physically in how it differentiated us from uncircumcised Egyptians. And it did that morally because circumcision - which differentiates an organ that is prone to improprieties – is a statement about our different, higher moral standards.

What is true of ancient Egypt is also true of our current reality.

Like in Egypt, surrounding society’s values differ from ours.

Like in Egypt, separating ourselves - to some degree - from surrounding society will help keep our values intact.

But unlike in Egypt, today’s doorposts won’t provide that separation.

Why not?

Because we can no longer just shut our doors to the world at large. And that’s because, contemporary society’s values will, at least on some level, make their way past our doorposts and on into our homes.

Yes, we can limit the media’s ability to encroach on our homes. We can filter our computers and we can be judicious in what reading material we bring into our homes. Nevertheless, despite our best efforts, today’s powerful media will penetrate our homes on some level.

It’s the internet, of course. Even protected teens will, frequently, find their way to inappropriate internet sites. But it’s not just the internet. It’s the billboards, the ads, and the snippets of conversation. It’s the interactions with school friends and with work colleagues.

To fully shield children from today's world, we need doorposts that have powers that transcend the physical doorposts of yore.

And what would those powerful doorposts be?

They’d be doorposts of love.

Such doorposts are built when we encase our children with love. When our homes exude a positivism that makes our children want to replicate our lifestyles. When our communications with our children, spouses, and everyone else are thoughtful and respectful. When we instill our children with a self-respect that lets them rise above temptation.

Indeed, youth counselors note that children from positive, loving homes are less likely to stray from their home’s values. And those counselors also note that children will generally trust - and be guided by – positive, thoughtful, respectful parents.

Yes, positivism, love, and respect will create doorposts of love that encourage children to embrace parental values.

Such doorposts were important in ancient Egypt.

Such doorposts are even more important now.

[1] Shemos 12:7-12

[2] Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch Ad loc.

[3] Targum Yonason ben Uziel, Shemos, 12:13

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