.ב. הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם רֹאשׁ חֳדָשִׁים רִאשׁוֹן הוּא לָכֶם לְחָדְשֵׁי הַשָּׁנָה
2. This month shall be to you the head of the months; to you it shall be the first of the months of the year. (Bo 12:2)
The word beginning is used to describe the first month of the year and the beginning of the redemption for Yisrael. (M.R)
(Shir Hashirim 2:8) ’The voice of my beloved, behold this (time of redemption) has come’. Answers the beloved, ‘why have you come to this place of impurity’? Answers (the redeemer), get up my friend, my beautiful one, and go’.
Medrash Rabba (15:1) explains that the above Pesukim are a dialogue between Hashem and the nation of Yisrael. Hashem came to Yisrael and said, ‘behold the 400 years of exile is over, the redemption of Mitrayim is here’! To which Yisrael answers, ‘why have you come here? The 400 years of exile are not yet over’. In which Hashem answers, ‘your calculations are incorrect, for the 400 years are indeed over, get up and leave’! Immediately, the Leviim stand up and uncover their heads.
The Nechmad Lemareh goes wild on the above Medrash.
1) If someone is in jail and someone comes to pay his bail, does the inmate say I don’t want to leave my time isn’t up yet? What in the world is Yisrael saying to Hashem that we don’t want to leave because our time of exile isn’t up?
2) What is this argument between Hashem and Yisrael in regards to how long the time of the exile was supposed to last?
3) Why are the Leviim standing up and uncovering their heads?
There are four different ways of understanding how the 400 years of exile (which Hashem had told Avraham was going to have to happen) were completed.
a) Either they never were fully completed in Galus Mitzrayim and the exile would be completed at the end of the 4 exiles (ie until Mashiach comes);
b) They would be completed with the 40 years that we were exiled in the Midbar;
c) The exile of Mitzrayim was so difficult that in 210 years the 400 years was completed (meaning Mitzrayim was worked us so hard that we had the amount of 400 years of pain in 210);
d) The exile started from the time when Yitzchak was born for the Pasuk by the Bris Bain Habisarim (Be’er 15:13) says, ‘for your offspring will be strangers in a land that isn’t theirs’, your children starting with Yitzchak.
When Hashem came to Yisrael and said the time has come to leave Egypt, Yisrael became worried. They thought that perhaps the exile wasn’t over and Hashem was taking them out early. When was the exile supposed to finish? Either in the Midbar or during the next 3000 years during the four exiles. Yisrael said, ‘Hashem we don’t want to leave, we would rather finish the exile here in Mitzrayim and have the final Mashiach!’
The reason they felt that the exile must not have been completed is because: if the exile started at the time of Yitzchak then only the offspring of Avraham would merit to having the redemption. Yisrael was afraid that since they served idols, and stopped giving themselves bris milah (or doing Paruah of the Milah) they were no longer called the offspring of Avraham and would therefore not merit for redemption. In which Hashem answers that there is still a tribe that serves Hashem completely. Throughout all of the exile Shevet Levi never served idols, never assimilated and kept Milah. In fact Chazal say Shevet Levi didn’t do any hard labor, they sat and learned all day in the Beis Medrash. In Shevet Levi’s merit, all of Yisrael is called ‘the offspring of Avraham’; therefore the exile started at Yitzchak and the exile was over.
‘Immediately Levi gets up and uncovers their heads’. They thought the exile in Mitzrayim was because of the extremely hard labor which turned 210 years into 400. If that was the case then Levi didn’t contribute much to the redemption while their brothers had suffered greatly. Thus they covered themselves in shame. Once Hashem said that on the contrary, that Levi’s Torah learning was indeed the reason for the redemption, they immediately got up and uncovered themselves to let their Torah lead the way.