By HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh
The Todah Sacrifice has a unique element, that it includes bread which is chametz, in spite of what is written in general, “No leavening and no honey should be offered as a sacrifice to G-d” [Vayikra 2:11]. Another unique aspect of the Todah is noted by the sages: “All the sacrifices will cease to exist in the future except for the Todah Sacrifice” [Vayikra Rabba 9].
“The purpose of the Todah Sacrifice is to acknowledge the good things that take place after bad beginnings have been overturned” [Rav Kook, Ein Ayah, Berachot Chapter 1, 62]. Our sages taught us that in the future we will bless the coming of bad things just as we bless good things. But what does this mean, isn’t it true that there will be no bad in the future? The answer is that in the future our viewpoint will change, and what appeared to be evil (and for which we recited the blessing, “Dayan Ha’Emet ”) will be recognized as part of a process of good. We will then retroactively recite the blessing “Hatov V’Hameitiv,” thanking G-d for the good. “In the future, G-d’s hand will show us that everything was for the good, and that all the evil was involved in setting the framework for true good.”
When life flows properly and everything goes as planned, we do not notice this principle. However, when something bad happens we fall into deep shock, and a person can begin to feel that there is no true justice in the world. But in the future, when everything will be clearly seen as leading to absolute good, the belief in Divine guidance will be strengthened. And this is the essence of the Todah Sacrifice, and therefore “the Todah will still exist, because it is only through the Todah can we recognize the fact that evil is necessary in order to arrive at perfect good. And that is why this sacrifice includes chametz, as opposed to all the other sacrifices, since chametz signifies something bad and spoiled.” And that is why the Todah will not cease to exist in the future. Just the opposite – it will remain in order to teach us this vital principle, that the reason for all the evil is to strengthen and perfect the good when its time comes.
A classic example of this principle is the exile in Egypt. While the events were taking place even Yaacov did not understand the ramifications. He therefore scolded his sons: “Why did you do bad to me, telling the man that you have another brother?” [Bereishit 43:6]. the sages teach us that this was the only erroneous statement that Yaacov ever made. “The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: I am busy arranging for his son to be a royal power in Egypt, how does he still say, ‘Why did you do bad to me?’ That is the meaning of, ‘Why should you say, Yaacov, and speak Yisrael, my path is hidden from G-d?’ [Yeshayahu 40:27].” But in the end, everybody recognized the Divine guidance. And that is what Yosef said to his brothers: “You thought evil against me, but G-d meant it for good” [Bereishit 50:20]; “You did not send me here, G-d did” [45:8].
G-d did not only send them to Egypt to rescue them from the famine, but rather for them to pass through the melting pot and to fashion them into a cherished nation. “And He took you out of the iron furnace” [Devarim 4:20]. And that is why on the night of the Seder we thank Him not only for taking us out of Egypt but even for bringing us down to there. And that is why “whoever tells more and more about the redemption from Egypt is worthy of greater praise” [Haggadah]. This is not only in order to expand the time of telling deep into the night, but also in order to broaden the limits of the event. We begin the story not only with “We were slaves in Egypt and He took us out,” but rather further back, with “At first, our fathers were idol worshippers.” This explains why we thank G-d for the exile itself, for its role in ridding us from the impurities of idol worship.