Is פסח an expression of "jumping" or "caring"?

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    QUESTION: Major yasher koach to Major Rabbi Steinberg! I majorly enjoyed your articles, because “absent-mindedness” and “second chances” are both prominent themes in my life… This is the first time I read it in BOTH languages, if you call English a “language” in the same sense as לה”ק.
    Anyway, I left several lengthy comments on your first post, but just thought of another question: is it possible that Rashi’s first definition for פסח (from Targum Onkelos) ל’ חמל, maybe also reflects the idea of diversion, that הקב”ה diverted His מדת הדין and instead had רחמנות on the בנ”י, and He diverted or deflected (?) from original decree of 400 years to just 210 years. Compassion implies removing judgment. What do you think?

    Rabbi Michoel Green

    ANSWER: Sure, it is another mechanism of salvation, out of an infinite variety that the Omnipotent One can and does employ, per the verse Rashi cites in Bo: כְּצִפֳּרִים עָפוֹת כֵּן יָגֵן ה’ צְבָאוֹת עַל יְרוּשָׁלִָם גָּנוֹן וְהִצִּיל פָּסֹחַ וְהִמְלִיט (ישע’ לא:ה), this verse mentions four such devices. Interestingly, in his commentary on that verse Rashi uses a different word than he uses in Bo: פסוח – דילוג ויש עוד לפותרו לשון חייס. The Aramaic word Rashi uses there, “chais” is the word used both in the Targumim and in the Mechilta, which leads one to wonder why he chose to use the Hebrew word “chamal” in his Chumash commentary.
    The answer is that the biliteral chet-samech (the root of chais according to Menachem) has two meanings: 1. Mercy 2. shelter. Rashi wished to clarify that the intention is in fact the former, which is, after all the reason for any salvation He would choose, so to speak. Aside: notice that chet-samech is a permutation of samech-chet, and both diversion and shelter are potential instruments of deliverance, as mentioned (for another take on this, check out Rabbi Klein’s article “Jumping for Passover” (part 1, part 2).

    Rabbi Yehoshua (Jeremy) Steinberg

    COMMENT: Interesting. I never thought of shelter and diversion in the sense of being instruments of deliverance. Also, it’s interesting how shelter is itself a diversion of sorts, as the shelter diverts the rain and delivers me from the elements. Chais (חס) is a hard word, because I use it often without even thinking what it means. Makes sense that chas v’shalom (חס ושלום) or chas v’chalilah (חס וחלילה) mean to spare or shelter us, as opposed to forbearance or mercy.

    Rabbi Michoel Green

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