Questions and Answers
"The festivals of G-d, which you shall proclaim them to be holy convocations, these are My festivals" (23:2)
Why does the listing of the festival start with Pesach?
In parshas Emor the holidays of the year are listed. By knowing which day of the week Pesach begins, one can figure out on which day of the week most holidays of the year will take place.
A means of remembering this is the letter substitution system of Ot Bosh (In which "alef" interchanges with "tav", "bet" interchanges with "shin", "gimel" with "reish", etc.).
- Aleph -- The day of the week on which the first day of Pesach, takes place, will also be the day when Tishah Beav occurs.
- Beit -- The second day of Pesach, will be the day when Shavuot falls out.
- Gimel -- The third day of Pesach, will be the day when first day of Rosh Hashanah takes place.
- Daled -- The fourth day of Pesach, will be the day of Kriat HaTorah, which is Simchat Torah, when we conclude the annual cycle of Torah reading and start again from the beginning.
- Heh -- The fifth day of Pesach, is the day of Tzom, fasting of Yom Kippur.
- Vav -- The sixth day of Pesach, is the day on which Purim has taken place a month earlier (Adar). It is necessary to know what day Purim took place the month before, in order to calculate on what day Lag BaOmer will be. Lag BaOmer and Purim always fall out on the same day of the week.
"They journeyed from Ramseis in the first month...on the day after the Pesach-offering...the Children of Israel journeyed from Ramseis and encamped in Sukkot." (33:3,5)
Why does it repeat that they journeyed from Ramseis, only mentioning the encampment in Sukkot the second time?
Describing Hashem's loving care of the Jewish people, the Torah says, "You have seen what I did to Egypt and that I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to Me" (Shemot 19:4). What did Hashem mean when He said "And brought you to me"?
According to Targum Yonatan ben Uziel (ibid.), on the night of Pesach when the Jews were to eat their Pesach-offering, Hashem took them on clouds from Ramseis and brought them to Mount Moriah, where the Beit Hamikdash was to be built, and there they ate their Pesach-offering.
Immediately afterwards, He returned them to Egypt and the following morning they left Ramseis.
Consequently, the Jews journeyed twice from Ramseis. The first was a short trip, after which they immediately returned to Egypt, and after the second departure from Ramseis, they encamped in Sukkot.
The word "Seder" means order. Everything we do tonight, must be done in proper order. The Holy revelations on Pesach night are similar to the Divine revelation at the time of Yetzias Mitzraim. Hashem wants the Kedusha to permeate our lives. The Seder - order - spells out every small detail we have to do to merit this great Kedusha.
According to the nusach of the Alter Rebbe which is based on the Ari z"l, there are 15 words in the simonim for the seder. (This does not include the word "nirtzah" which is a promise and not an act which we do.)
What is the significance of the number 15?
The number 15 is the numerical value of the letters "yud" and "hey," the first two letters of Hashem's name. "Yud" represents chochma - wisdom, and "hey" is binah - knowledge. The elaboration and expansion of the original spark of wisdom.
These two are the concept of Mochin - intellect.
According to the Rebbe, the number of the simonim (15) teaches us that though the essence of Pesach is faith and Kabolas Ohl - submission to Hashem, still we must use our intellect and try to understand the meaning and significance of everything being done.
What is "shmura" matza?
"Shmura" means guarded. We guard the wheat from any moisture from the time of harvest till the end product-the baked matza. Some are careful to also watch the finished product as well, that no water come in contact with the matza. They are afraid that a small amount of the flour may not be well mixed and the moisture will make it chometz. Though this is highly unlikely, on Pesach we go to great lengths to avoid the most remote possibility of chometz. This concern is known as "ge-brokes." These people are careful not to "brok," break up and dip matza in any liquid foods.
Why on the eighth day of Pesach do we uncover the matza, dip the matza in wine, soup or other liquid?
Years ago the Beis Din in Eretz Yisroel declared Rosh Chodesh based on testimony of a witness who saw the new moon. Messengers would be sent to Jewish communities informing them the day of Rosh Chodesh and thus they knew when Yom Tov would be.
In distant communities, where the messengers would not arrive by the 14th of the month, because of doubt a day was added to the Yom Tov.
Today, we have a calendar and everything is pre-calculated. Regardless, our Sages said that we still should observe an extra day, because when Moshiach comes the Beis Din in Eretz Yisroel will reinstate the establishing of Rosh Chodesh based on witnesses.
According to the Torah, the eating of Chometz is prohibited only seven days. In view of the fact that not eating Chometz on the eighth day is only a Rabbinic ordinance, we are not as stringent.
On the Seder plate we place three matzos. They are called: Kohain, Levi, and Yisroel. In the Rebbe's Haggada, he writes that we first put in the bottom matza (Yisroel), then the Levi in the middle, and finally the Kohain on top.
Why this order and not the reverse?
The three matzos, from top to bottom are called Kohain, Levi, Yisroel. If you place the top matza first, they you have the word "Kli", which is an acronym of Kohen, Levi Yisrael. This indicates that you are a vessel for receiving the Kedusha of the seder. If one places the bottom matza and then the others on top Yisroel, Levi, Kohen, the acronym is Yelech - which means to go, or travel. This indicates that the seder is not only intended to make one a vessel to receive Kedushah, but prepares him to propel himself to higher heights of Kedushah, till he ultimately reaches the level of complete spiritual redemption.
At the conclusion of the seder, we proclaim: "Next Year in Yerushalaim." This is a serious statement that should not be treated lightheartedly. Thanks to the seder we conducted, we are going much closer to Yerushalaim, which means the highest level of Yiras Shomayim (Bereishis Rabbah 56:10).
The traditional announcement for "Kaddaish" is, "When the father comes home from shul he should quickly make Kiddish, so that the children should not fall asleep."
In the city of Shpola, the melamed felt that this declaration was too elaborate and taught his students to simply announce, "Now it is time to make Kiddish." When the Shpola Zeida heard of this, he called the melamed and admonished him. "What right do you have to change the traditional declaration? Everything connected with the seder has deep meanings. "It is known," the Shpola Zeida said, "That all the mitzvahs that Hashem commands us He, too, fulfills them."
Hashem also makes Kiddish, He recites it over His beloved Jewish people, who are the "wine" of the world. Thus, in reality we are saying to our father, Hashem, "When you, father, come home from shul, you must quickly make Kiddish over us, show the world our greatness and bring Moshiach speedily, before we, your children, fall asleep in Golus."
Kiddush is recited every Shabbos and Yom Tov. Why on Pesach, is Kiddish emphasized as one of the Simonei HaSeder - orders of the seder?
On Pesach there is an obligation to drink four cups of wine, and Kaddaish is the first of these. Kiddush of Pesach is different from all other Shabbosim and Yomim Tovim in the following ways:
- This Kiddush must be made over wine, it cannot be on matza as on other Yomim Tovim and Shabbosim.
- Everyone must drink a cup of wine and cannot be included with the one who recited the Kiddush.
- On Pesach, Kiddush must be made after nightfall.
According to the Shelah HaKodosh, the four cups represent the four matriarchs: Sarah, Rivkah, Rochel and Leah.
- The first cup represents Sarah, who together with Avrohom, converted and brought many people close to Hashem. over this cup we recite Kiddish and say "Who has chosen us from among all nations."
- The second cup represents Rivkah, who rose to spiritual heights, regardless of her family of idol worshippers. Over this cup we relate in the Haggada about the confrontation of Lavan and Yaakov (Rivka's brothers).
- The third cup represents Rochel. Over this cup we recite Birchas Hamozon. It was her son, Yosef, who supplied everyone with food in Mitzraim.
- The fourth cup represents Leah. Over this cup we say Hallel. She was the first to give thanks to Hashem (Brochos 7b). Upon giving birth to Yehuda she declared "This time I will offer praise to Hashem" (Bereishis 29:35).
The four cups also represent the four expression of Geulah-redemption.
Each expression represents a phase of the Geulah.
- the phase of leaving Mitzraim.
- all labor stopped half a year before leaving Mitzraim
- no longer were they under control of Paroah and the Egyptians.
- becoming an honored people, servants of Hashem.
"This is the bread of affliction"
Why is the opening statement of the Haggada said in Aramaic?
When a Jew prays to Hashem there are angels - Malachim in heaven who become his representatives to bring his prayers before Hashem. The Gemora Shabbos 12b says the Malachim do not understand Aramaic. Therefore, a person should not beseech for his needs in Aramaic. However, when one is sick, he may pray in Aramaic because the Shechina is over his bed. Thus, he can talk directly to Hashem without the intervention of Malachim.
The Zohar (Shmos 40b) says that Hashem comes personally on Pesach night to hear the Bnei Yisroel relate the story of Yetzias Mitzraim. Since the Shechina is with us, and we do not need Malachim to represent us we therefore speak in Aramaic.
"Whoever is hungry let him come and eat, whoever is in need let him come for the Pesach"
What is the meaning of these two announcements, and why aren't they made in Shul before we go home to our seder table?
According to the Halacha, the Korbon Pesach had to be eaten like dessert, at the end of the meal. A person should not be fully stuffed with food, nor should he be very hungry, before eating the Korbon Pesach. The head of the household is addressing the members of his family, as well as all the guests he previously invited. He tells them that tonight we will have to eat the Korbon Pesach, or the Afikoman which is in place of the Korbon Pesach. Therefore, - whoever is hungry - should first eat a meal so that they will not eat the Korbon Pesach on an empty stomach. Those here tonight who are not hungry, but have place for another little bit of food let them join us in the eating of the Korbon Pesach or Afikoman.
Where in the Haggada is the answer to the four questions?
An answer to a young child's question has to be concise and clear. Otherwise, he will remain with his query and become more perplexed. The opening statement "We were slaves to Paroah in Mitzraim and Hashem took us out from there with a strong hand," briefly answers the four questions. The father is telling his child that the four things you are asking about are done to remind us of two important things that happened to us: 1) We were slaves. 2) Hashem freed us. Therefore, we dip our food because that reminds us of our slavery. The Karpas is a hint for the 600,000 who were enslaved, and the salt water represents their bitter tears. The charoses resembles the mixture that was used to make the bricks. We eat matza to commemorate the fact that when we were freed, we did not have enough time to let the dough rise, so instead we quickly made matza. Morror reminds us of the bitter days of slavery. And we eat in a leaning position like free people.
"We were slaves to Paroah in Egypt...had Hashem not taken out our parents, we and our children..."
We are talking about our slavery and our redemption, why suddenly do we mention, "our parents?" It would seem appropriate to say, "If not for the redemption, we and our children and grandchildren would have remained in Mitzraim"?
The Jews were to be in Mitzraim 400 years. In actuality, we were there only 210 years. To make up the additional 190 years, Hashem counted Golus Mitzraim as though it started at the covenant He made with Avrohom - or the birth of our patriarch Yitzchok. Thus, the 400 years refer to Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov. Were it not for the fact that Hashem dated the Golus back to them, we would have been short many years and "We, our children, and grandchildren would have to be in Mitzraim to complete the 400 years.
"Had Hashem not taken our parents from Egypt then we, our children and our children's children would have remained enslaved to Paroah in Egypt."
Bnei Yisroel were to be only 400 years in Mitzraim. Why, if Hashem would not have taken out our fathers, would all future generations have remained enslaved to Pharoah?
The word "Meshubadim" can also mean indebted. If the Jews would have remained in Egypt the entire 400 year period and then Paroah would have set them free, many Jews may have felt an everlasting indebtedness to Paroah. Now that it was Hashem who took us out, against the will of Paroah, we only owe praise to Him, and we have absolutely no obligations to Paroah.
What is the benefit from going into great length in retelling the story of Yetzias Mitzraim?
Through relating the story of Yetzias Mitzraim, we enhance our knowledge of Hashem and faith in Him, as it says in Shmos (10:2), "So that you will place the story in the ear of your children" - "And you will know that I am Hashem." Thus, through elaborating on Yetzias Mitzraim we gain insight and better realization of the greatness of Hashem.
Among valuable stones and gems, there is one known as sapphire. This stone is very bright and emits much light. The Haggada is telling us that by retelling the story of Yetzias Mitzraim, we "brighten up" the darkness of the Golus. Later on in the Haggada, we read about the Chochomim who were retelling the story of Geula at night. In view of the above, it can be explained that they dispelled the darkness (night) of the Golus, and for them the period shone like the brightness of the sapphire.
"It happened that Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Elazar Ben Azarya, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarphon were reclining at a seder in Bnei Brak"
Why are the names of the Rabbis mentioned in this order?
Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua were the teachers of Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Elazar Ben Azaria is mentioned before Rabbi Akiva because he came from a prominent family and was a Nosi - leader of the generation. Rabbi Akiva is mentioned before Rabbi Tarphon because the occurrence took place in Bnei Brak, where Rabbi Akiva was the chief Rabbi (Sanhedrin 32:2). Even though Rabbi Tarphon was also Rabbi Akiva's teacher, Rabbi Akiva later became his colleague (Kesubos 84:2) and is, therefore, mentioned last.
Another reason is because Rabbi Elazar Ben Azaria, being the head of the Jewish community was considered the most honorable, and was seated at the head of the table. On his right sat Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua, who were the teachers of Rabbi Akiva. On his left, sat Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarphon who were younger. Thus, the Haggada is relating in the order how they were seated around Rabbi Elazar Ben Azaria.
"Rabbi Elazar Ben Azaria said: I am like a man of 70 years old"
Why did Rabbi Elazar Ben Azaria say, "I am like 70 years old?"
Once there was a dispute over a halachik issue between the Rabbonim and the Nosi, Rabban Gamliel (Brochos). The Rabbis were upset with the way Rabban Gamliel handled matters and decided to demote him and make Rabbi Elazar Ben Azaria the Nosi. Rabbi Elazar Ben Azaria was hesitant to accept the position because he was only 18 years old, and his beard was black. Overnight, a miracle happened and his beard became filled with streaks of white hair. Therefore, he said, "I am like a man of 70 years old."
Some say his neshoma was a reincarnation of the neshoma of Shmuel HaNovi. Being that Shmuel lived only 52 years, and Rabbi Elazar Ben Azaria was now 18 years old, therefore, he said, "I am like a man of 70 years old."
"All the days of your life includes (literally/to bring) the era of Moshiach"
When something is learned from an extra word in a posuk, the expression is usually "To add". Why here, is the term "To bring" used?
The Haggada intentionally uses this expression to convey a very important lesson. The goal of every Jew - "All the days of your life," should be "To bring the Jewish people closer to the coming of Moshiach. " This is accomplished through learning Torah and doing mitzvos.
"Praised be Hashem for He calculated to do (bring about) the end of the bondage"
What calculation did Hashem make?
The Jews were destined to be enslaved for 400 years. In actuality, they left Mitzraim after being there only 210 years. The word ketz has the numerical value of 190. We praise Hashem for calculating the 190 as though actual work.
The reason we received credit for 190 years was because Hashem considered the extra hard labor which the Mitzrim forced the Jews to do, is equivalent to 400 years of normal slavery.
"Your children will be strangers in a land that is not theirs"
The words, "In a land that is not theirs," seem redundant?
When Yosef took over the management of food distribution in Mitzraim, and the people ran out of money, they bought food with their land. Yosef then transferred the Mitzrim from one end of the country to the other (Bereishis 47:21). By doing this, Yosef accomplished that no Mitzri had ownership to his land. Hashem was telling Avrohom, "Your children will be strangers, but the Mitzrim will not be able to make them uncomfortable because the land in which they will be living does not belong to the Mitzrim.
"The days of the Moshiach"
Who is the Moshiach?
In the Gemora (Sanhedrin 98) there are four opinions as to what will be the name of Moshiach. Some say Menachem, others say Shilo, a third opinion is Yinun and a fourth view is Chanina. The first letter of each one of these four names spells Moshiach. We are all eagerly awaiting the revelation of the redeemer who will lead us out of Golus. Not knowing for sure what his name will be, we call him Moshiach which is an acronym of the four different names for the redeemer.
One may think that the discussion of Yetzias Mitzraim must be from the first of the month. The Torah, therefore, says "because of this", to teach that it is only when the Matzo and Morror are before you.
What is wrong with starting from Rosh Chodesh?
The Haggada teaches parents an extremely important lesson in how to educate their children. It is not sufficient to merely tell and instruct your child about Torah and mitzvos. They must first see your own commitment, and then you can endeavor to convince them. One cannot just say to his child, "Go to shul or take a sefer and learn." He must be a living example for him to emulate.
"The sea saw and it ran" When the Jews approached the sea, it refused to split for them, saying, "I am older than man, you all should honor me and not want me to split for you." (Oceans and seas were created on the third day of creation, and man was created on the sixth day.)
When the sea saw the coffin of Yosef, it agreed to split its waters.
What lesson did the sea learn from Yosef HaTzaddik to drop his argument and split for the sake of the people?
Yosef was one of the youngest of Yaakov's sons. Yet all the brothers gave him all the honors befitting a first born. The brothers were convinced that Yosef was fit to be their King, because of the high level of kedusha he maintained while living in Egypt. Even when he became the viceroy to Paroah, he remained a Tzaddik. The Yam Suf, seeing the coffin of Yosef, realized that quality is more important than age. Therefore, he split his water for the Jews being that they were enroute to receiving the Torah and starting to do mitzvos.
"Rabban Gamliel said, Whoever did not say these three things on Pesach'"
In the Torah, the Yom Tov is called Chag HaMatzos. Why do we call it Pesach?
Reb Levi Yitzchok of Bardichev explains it in the following way. The word Pesach indicates what Hashem did for the Jewish people. He skipped over our homes when He plagued the Egyptians. Matzo shows the praise worthiness of the Jewish people. They had absolute faith in Hashem and left Mitzraim in a rush. They did not wait for the dough to rise, and were satisfied with simple matzos. In the Torah, Hashem refers to the Yom Tov as Chag HaMatzos because He wants to emphasize His praise of the Jewish people. We call the Yom Tov with the name Pesach, to accentuate our praise of Hashem for saving our lives and redeeming us from Mitzraim.
"And this is what has stood by our fathers and us.."
What does the word "Vehi" - "And this", refer to?
The word Vehi is an acronym for:
In the merit of learning Torah and believing in Hashem, we outlive all nations who try to destroy us.
- Vov = The six sections of Mishnah
- Heh = The five Chumashim
- Yud = The ten commandments
- Aleph = Hashem who is the only one blessed be He.
"And the Holy one blessed be He, saves us from their hands"
The word Miyadam - "from their hands" seems extra. "And G-d saves us" would be sufficient?!
Hashem performs miracles and constantly rescues us from annihilation. He does it in such that our oppressors alone bring about our salvation. In Mitzraim, Paroah planned the enslavement of the Jewish people, and the redeemer Moshe was raised in his palace and with his assistance!
In the days of Achashveirosh, when Haman planned the destruction of the Jewish people, it was he who advised the killing of Vashti and, thus, made it possible for Esther to become Queen. Thus, His method of saving us is "Mi'yadam" through the work of their hands.
And they placed over him task masters"
In lieu of "over him" in singular, it should have said "over them" in plural?
"Over him", refers to Paroah. In the beginning, the Jews refused to permit the Mitzrim to enslave them. They argued that it is below their dignity to do such arduous labor. In order to trick the Jews into working, Paroah too, began to work. The Mitzrim told the Jews, "You have no excuse not to work. If it is not below King Paroah's dignity to do work, you could surely work." (Gemora Sota)
"Had He brought us close to Mount Sinai and not given us the Torah, it would have been sufficient"
Of what value is the being close to Mount Sinai?
When the Jews camped at Mount Sinai, the Torah tells us "They rested before the mountain" . It says Vayichan - He rested - written in singular, and not Vayachnu in plural, to emphasize that they were united like one person with one heart (Rashi). Consequently, at Mount Sinai, the Jewish people experienced the highest level of unity and Ahavas Yisroel.
"One is wise, one is wicked, one is simple and one does not know how to ask."
We find the word Echad connected with each of the four sons. Generally, the word Echad expresses the oneness of Hashem.
Why is the word Echad connected to the Rosha if he is saying that he wants no part of Hashem and the Torah?
The Haggada is telling us that every Jew, no matter what he openly claims, still has the Echad of Hashem in him. Therefore, we should spend time with him and bring him closer to Hashem. We place the Rosha next to the Chochom for he is obligated to work with him and help bring to the surface his "Pintele Yid."
"In the beginning our fathers served idols but now the Almighty has brought us close to His service"
Why does the Haggadah emphasize our past and present status?
In the early 1930's an unobservant Jew traveled on a train. The conductor informed him that a Rabbi known as the Chofetz Chaim was in the last car. Eager to see him, the gentleman hastened to this car. The Chofetz Chaim was engrossed in a sefer and did not pay any attention to his observer. Upon lifting his eyes, he noticed the man and asked if there was any way he could help him. The gentleman apologetically said, "I only came to see what you look like." With a pleasant smile, the Chofetz Chaim questioned, "And what did you see?" The man responded, "Frankly, I am very disappointed. I expected to see a well groomed person, dressed in the most modern style, and you are garbed in the old style. You do not meet my expectation s in any way."
The Chofetz Chaim looked up at him and replied, "If anything, it is I who is in accordance with the latest style and you are the one who is not with the times." The gentlemen arrogantly said, "Rabbi, on what grounds did you make your statement, my wardrobe is of the latest style, yours is antiquated!
The Chofetz Chaim responded, "In the Haggadah we read, 'In the beginning our fathers served idols'. This was the ancient style. However the present style is being close to Hashem's service. The ultra religious Jew who is serving Hashem with all his heart and soul is the one who is truly in accordance with the latest style.
"And he who discusses the exodus from Egypt at length is praiseworthy"
Why is the emphasis on the praise worthiness of the individual and not on the manner the mitzvah is being performed?
When one witnesses an unusual event it is common for the observer to recount it to his friends. As time passes on, there is a decline in his enthusiasm, till he finally no longer repeats what he has seen. However, if someone personally experienced a miraculous occurrence, he will talk about it his entire life. In addition, he will convey it to his children and they too will relate the episode which occurred to their ancestor. In contemporary times if one still discusses Yetzias Mitzraim at length he is praiseworthy because it is an indication that he is a descendant from those who were in Mitzraim and not a member of a family who joined Judaism at a later date.
"Rabbi Elazar Ben Azaria said: I am like a man of seventy years old, yet I did not succeed in proving...until Ben Zoma explained it"
What did Ben Zoma explain?
At this time, though he appeared like 70, Reb Eliezer Ben Azaria was only eighteen years old. For quite some time, he endeavored to obtain the approval of the Rabbis to mention the exodus from Egypt at night, and was unsuccessful. Reb Eliezer Ben Azaria attributed his lack of success to the fact that he was very young in age. Ben Zoma says "Who is wise? Who learns from every person." (Pirkei Avos 1:4) When Ben Zoma's teachings became popular and accepted, the Sages changed their attitude towards Reb Elazar Ben Azaria and regardless of his age, and listened attentively to what he had to say.
"One is wise, one is wicked, one is simple, one does not know how to ask"
Why is the word Echad mentioned next to each of the four sons?
A teacher experienced extreme difficulty with a child in his class. Frustrated and exasperated, he told the principal, "He must be removed from my class!" The principal calmly replied, "Before you throw him out, think of him as the only student in your class. Thus expelling him would also mean the end of your position in our school, would you still want him taken out?" The teacher reconsidered and decided to give the child another chance. The Haggadah is teaching parents and educators to treat every child as though he was the one and only child they have. With this approach, even the most difficult child who tentatively may G-d forbid be in the category of Rasha will ultimately be transformed into a Chacham and bring much Yiddishe Nachas to his parents and the entire Jewish people.
"By excluding himself from the community he has denied that which is fundamental"
How does excluding himself prove he is a Rasha? Perhaps it is because of his modesty that he does not like to talk of himself.
The Gemora Gittin 56b relates that the wicked Titus was one of the generals assigned to lead the Roman armies to conquer Jerusalem and destroy the Beis Hamikdosh. When he entered the Beis Hamikdosh he stuck a sword into the Paroches.
Miraculously, blood began to flow from it. The Gemora says "He imagined that he had killed Hashem." In view of the fact that he excludes Hashem from his statement, the Haggadah draws the conclusion as to what category he belongs.
"This is what has stood...."
Why do we raise the cup of wine upon reciting this passage?
In order to avoid assimilation our sages instituted certain ordinances. Among them is the prohibition to drink wine which is handled by a non-Jew. Throughout history the world has endeavored to physically annihilate us. Many efforts have been made to detach us from Hashem and Torah and thus destroy us spiritually. We lift the cup of wine to indicate that thanks to our adherence to the command of not mingling with the world by "drinking wine" in their company, we averted their every effort to destroy us.