A stressful visitor on erev Pesach
Pesach is an interesting and stressful time of the Jewish year. There are so many unique mitzvot that have to be performed, so much food that has to be cooked and eaten (which is never really such a problem), and many guests to entertain.
The good news is that this pre-Pesach stress isn’t new to us. Many of us can recall how our parents and grandparents slaved away in the kitchen. And many of us remember how many times we were chased out of the very same kitchen when we were only trying to help (yeah right). In fact, this stress is encoded into our DNA, and actually goes back generations to when the Jews were preparing to make their way out of Egypt. They had a lot more stress. Picture it: it was just before the last plague – the death of the first born – when Hashem commanded the Jews to smear the blood of the slaughtered lamb on their doorposts. The reason for this commandment was, as the Torah tells us, for the Angel of Death to be able to identify that the house belonged to a Jew and Passover (pun intended) the house.
This explanation adds even more stress to our Pesach, since in the Haggadah, it says, numerous times, that Hashem in His Glory, smote (I think that means killed) all the Egyptian first born – alone – without the help of a messenger, seraph, or angel. If that was the case, why did we have to wipe that blood on our doorposts? Why, if Hashem was doing the job solo? Hashem, who knows the inner thoughts of every individual, surely knew where the Jews and Egyptians lived? Also, why does the Torah make reference to the presence of the Angel of Death? Pesach is stressful enough.
The answer is that every day, the Angel of Death has his list of people to bring to the next world by the command of Hashem. The last plague was no exception. Hashem commanded the Jews to wipe blood on their doorposts to stop the Angel of Death’s usual routine. Hashem didn’t want any Jew dying on that night, even by natural causes, so that the Egyptians wouldn’t be able to say that the Jews suffered the same plague. This answers our question: the Torah is talking about the daily job of the Angel of Death, while the Haggadah is talking about the final plague that was sent on the Egyptians.
Our question is answered, and now at least we have one less stress to worry about.