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Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach

The Haphtarah of the “Dry Bones”, resurrecting the dead and the Zechut of Tefillin

From HaGaon Rav Yigal Krispal Shlit”a (debuting at “Halachah Yomit”)(translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds United Kingdom)

Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach
Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach

We find the following in the Gemara (Megillah 31a), Rav Huna said in the name of Rav, the reading for the Haphtarah for Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach is “The Dry Bones” [Yechezkel 37] and on Sukkot it is “On the Day that Gog Comes” [ibid. 38].

Rabbeinu Rashi z”l explains, why on the Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach do we read the vision of the dry bones, those that Yechezkel brought back to life? Because those bones were relevant to the Bnei Yisrael that came out of Egypt before the end [of the period of slavery], before the true Exodus from Egypt. But what does this mean?

The sourse of Rashi’s words is in the Gemara (Sanhedrin 92b) where it mentions the dry bones which came back to life during the days of Yechezkel and our chachamim dispute there as follows. Rebbi Yehudah ben B’teyrah stood on his feet and said, “I am from their descendants (those people who were dead that were resurrected during the time of Yechezkel) and these are the tefillin which my grandfather bequeathed to me from them”. Meaning that Rebbi Yehuda relates that he was descended from those dead people whom Yechezkel brought back to life and he even presented the tefillin which he inherited from them.

Our chacham further ask, who were the dead who Yechezkel resurrected? Rav said, “These are the sons of Efraim, who calculated the end and erred, and the men of Gat who were born in the land killed them. About them it states, ‘Efraim their father mourned [them] for many days’ (Divrei HaYamim 1 7:22)”. Meaning that the dry bones were bones of people from the tribe of Efraim who made a mistake and left Egypt too early and therefore they were killed by the people of Gat. Therefore it is appropriate to read about them during Chag HaPesach which is the times of the Exodus from Egypt of all Am Yisrael.

We find a further indication to what happened with the Bnei Efraim in Tehillim “The sons of Efraim, though armed archers, retreated on the day of battle, [because] they did not guard the covenant of Hashem, and they refused to follow His Torah” (78:9-10). The Bnei Efraim turned the back against Hashem’s mitzvot, as it states, “and they refused to follow His Torah”, and despite this they merited to a tremendous miracle, literally to the resurrection of the dead!

Rebbeinu the Tur (Rav Yaakov ben Asher z”l 1270-1340) quotes the words of Rav Hai Gaon z”l (939-1038) who explains that the reason for reading the vision of the dry bones on Chol HaMoed Pesach is because the resurrection of the dead will be on Chag HaPesach and the war of Gog and Magog will be during the month of Tishrei. This is the reason why on Chol HaMoed Sukkot we read the Parashah of Gog and Magog and on Chol HaMoed Pesach the vision of the dry bones.

We may add that herein lies a further message for us. On the first day of Pesach we begin praying “Morid HaTal” - “Who causes the dew to fall”, and so with those dry bones Hashem Yitbarach showers the dew of the resurrection of the dead. Likewise with all of us, after we have experienced Seder Night, the night of guarding, the spiritual influence, which is like the dew falling, it infuses into us, into our dry bones, a spirit of resurrection, as it states (Hoshea 14:6), “I will be to Yisrael like the dew”. So just like the drops of dew descend from above to below and ascend from below to above, likewise during Chag HaPesach there is an awakening from below and an awakening from above in order to invigorate our souls. However, in order to achieve this, we must awaken ourselves, to be worthy of that vivification, and after it also the real resurrection of the dead.

Let us consider, when Rebbi Yehudah ben B’teyrah sought to prove the veracity of the existence of the people from the episode of the dry bones, he stood on his feet and said, I am from their descendants, and these are the tefillin that I inherited from them!

What is so unique about these tefillin? It may be possible to say, that whilst the Bnei Efrain had sinned and they didn’t follow to Hashems’ voice, however when Rebbi Yehudah presented their tefillin, this was a clear sign, that the Bnei Efraim had the merit of tefillin, through its merit they indeed merited that their bones wove with skin and sinews, and they were brought back to life. For Chazal said that whoever doesn’t wears tefillin is considered “a rebellious Jews through his body” [see Rosh Hashanah 17a and Shulchan Aruch OH 37:1), the Bnei Efraim who observed the mitzvah of Tefillin  fulfilled the mitzvot of Hashem with their body and they were worthy to come back to life again through a miracle.

Shabbat Shalom U’mevorach and Moadim Lesimchah!


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