The Rebbe says:
1. In this week’s Parshah Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu (our teacher):
“The Jews should take a lamb on the tenth day of Nissan and slaughter it on the fourteenth day of the month of Nissan (Chapter 12, Verses 3 and 6). After the Jews slaughter the lamb they shall take some of the lamb’s blood and smear it on their doorposts (Chapter 12, Verse 7). The blood on their doorposts will serve as a sign (that the house is Jewish) and I will pass over their houses and you will be saved from the plague of the firstborn (Chapter 12, Verse 13)”.
2. The Rebbe now asks a question on this:
Why did Hashem tell the Jews to hold the lamb for four days? If they were supposed to slaughter the lamb on the Fourteenth of Nissan, why were they commanded to take the lamb on the Tenth of Nissan?
3. The Rebbe now answers:
A) Our Sages (in the Midrash) tell us that Hashem wanted the Jews to hold the sheep in their possession for 4 days before slaughtering it so that when the Egyptians ask them why they are keeping a sheep in their house the Jews should not be afraid of the Egyptians and tell them that they are going to slaughter the sheep for Hashem.
The Egyptian people worshiped sheep. We see this clearly when Moshe Rabbeinu told Pharaoh “Behold if we were to slaughter the abomination of Egypt in their (the Egyptians) sight, would they not stone us?” (Chapter 8, Verse 22). Rashi (an acronym for Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki) also tells us that the Egyptian people worshipped sheep (Rashi on Verse 5, Chapter 11).
Therefore when the Jewish people took sheep for themselves right in front of the Egyptians and then told the Egyptians to their face that they were going to slaughter the sheep, it was serious self sacrifice! The Jewish people were not afraid of the Egyptian’s reaction when being told that their G-d was going to be slaughtered. The Jews fulfilled Hashem’s command without any thoughts of the consequences.
B) Why did Hashem want the Jews to have this self sacrifice?
The Torah says that when the Jewish people left Egypt they were totally naked from Mitzvos (Ezekiel, Chapter 16, Verse 7). The Midrash (a majour collection of homilies and commentaries on the Torah) tells us that the attribute of “Judgment” came and complained to Hashem that the Jewish people do not deserve to be redeemed from Egypt. The attribute of “Judgment” claimed to Hashem that the Jewish people are no different from the Egyptians, “These people served idols and these people also served idols”.
Therefore Hashem gave the Jewish people the commandment/Mitzvah to go with self sacrifice and take the lamb and hold it for 4 days and then slaughter it. In order for the Jewish people to have a saving grace that would separate them from the Egyptian people and be able to be redeemed, Hashem told them to fulfill his command and have self sacrifice.
4. The Rebbe now tells us the lesson we can learn out from this:
With regards to our complete and final redemption from exile the Torah says, “Like the days that I took you out of the land of Egypt I will show you (also now) wonders” (Micah, Chapter 7, Verse 15). This teaches us that the actions which brought about our redemption from Egypt must be comparable to the actions which will bring about our final redemption.
Now we see that our redemption from Egypt came about through our fulfillment of Hashem’s commandments with total self sacrifice. Therefore we know that our final redemption now will also come about through our absolute self sacrifice for Hashem’s commandments. And since loving your fellow Jew is the foundation of the whole Torah (see Tractate Shabbos, Page 31, Side 1) we must make sure to put in all our efforts to love our fellow Jew with self sacrifice.
Translated and adapted by Shalom Goldberg. Taken from Likutei Sichos Chelek Gimmel, 1st Sicha.