Like a Lamb
If we were to point to one act as the moment of the birth of our nation, it would be thekorban Pesach undertaken by our ancestors more than three thousand years ago. The words conveying this instruction are, in Rav Hirsch’s words, the Magna Charta of Israel, setting forth the foundational elements of Jewish nationhood.
The way in which the people were counted for this service (highlighting the prominence of the family unit), the permission of one individual to act on behalf of his brethren (declaring that all are equal before
The korban Pesach was the foundation of not only the communal and social structure, but also of the individual’s relationship to
Indeed, our daily Temple service of one sheep in the morning and one sheep in the afternoon would symbolize this relationship — the way in which Israel was to present and dedicate itself to
This Jewish lamb, however, is not a meek, sad creature, that allows itself to be led to the slaughter without offering resistance. The Paschal lamb was “complete, male, in its first year” — whole in body, with manly vigor and fresh with eternal youth. Complete and independent, but vis-à-vis
Both sheep and goats were fit for the korban Pesach. A goat characteristically shows greater independence toward the outside than does the sheep. Thus the word for goat — ez — denotes stiff resistance. While the goat assumes an outward posture of defiance, showing his horns to every stranger, to the shepherd he is obedient and pliant, as the sheep.
- Sources: Commentary Shemot 12:3-6