The Kol HaMarbeh Haggadah
Rabbi Neil Fleischmann
Rabbi Neil Fleischmann
Introduction - On The Books
(THOUGHT) The Haggadah is a book. The Seder night is major in our calendar and it features a book, which proves that reading is key to serious thinking. Do Western people today value reading? It seems to me that contemporary man doesn’t read books enough.
(QUOTE) Rav Nachman Kahane says that while some buy paintings and antiques, Jews buy books. A Jewish home is traditionally full of books, because that's a major Jewish value. Decorating the house with sefarim (books) is appropriate, even if they aren't learned in full. And according to many authorities by buying books we fulfill our obligation of writing a Torah scroll.
(STORY) A woman was walking her young stroller aged son. They passed by a building which she pointed to - "That's a library", she said, "We'll go there sometime". "Library." What's a library? he asked. "That's a place where you borrow books", she explained. "Borrow books? You mean buy books." - Her son replied, confused. "No, no", she assured him, "you go there and take the books out to read and then bring them back when you're finished". He looked at her, confused, and she was at a loss, wondering how to successfully explain this. After a moment's pause she said - "Like DVDs", she said. "Oh", he immediately replied, "that sounds nice, let's go one day".
Karen G. R. Roekard writes in her essay THE EVOLUTION OF THE PASSOVER HAGGADAH: “If a measure of Jewish affection for a book were to rest with the number of versions there are of it, then clearly the Passover Haggadah is the most popular Jewish book of all time. In the 16th century there were approximately 25 printed versions. This figure rose to 37 in the 17th century and then jumped to 230 versions in the 18th century. In the 19th century the numbers rose by another 1250 and estimates for the 20th century are that there are now over 3000 versions of Haggadah.
[(Extra Credit) Can you name the Jewish book that holds second place for most published versions?]
Main Body - The Haggadah
Kadesh U’Rechatz, Karpas
(THOUGHT) Rabbi Shlomo Kahn in From Twilight to Dawn cites the following homiletical interpretation. When we contemplate Kadesh and Rechatz (holiness and the preparation it entails) it would suit us to consider the Karpas. A vegetable starts out buried and down trodden. Eventually it evolves into a beautiful food that finds its place at a set table and is even part of a mitzvah. Farfetched as it may sound, these words can serve to remind us of the development we are all capable of achieving.
Kadesh - This refers to Kiddush and I find Rabbi Abraham Twerski's words on this to be appropriate :(QUOTE)(From From Bondage to Freedom - Rabbi Abraham Twerski)"There are people who approach the royal Seder table with no advance spiritual preparation. They may think, "I don't really belong here. If anyone knew the real me I certainly wouldn't be invited. Therefore, we begin the Seder with the Kiddush, in which we state "Mikadesh Yisrael," G-d sanctifies each Jew. There is an element of intrinsic sanctity in every individual. Even though we may not feel worthy and deserving at this point, we have to take G-d's word for it. Each person is holy, sanctified, and unique."
(THOUGHT) The Torah Temimah stresses that the four cups represent not four languages of redemption, but four redemptions. Each step along the way formed it’s own redemption, leading to the next level. This is an important point to remember, that redemption is a process. This is an important lesson for our own lives. Wine is used to represent the four stages of freedom. Wine represents change. It comes about through a transformation. It also affects us by changing our state of being. Thus wine is a fitting vehicle to symbolize the process of redemption. U’Rechatz - Hand washing for eating a wet vegetable, a halachic hand washing (Pesachim 115a).
(THOUGHT) If we were to stretch ourselves up as high as we could in the standing position unique to man, we would lift our hands high to the sky. Thus hands are the top, starting point of man. One reason for hand washing is to accentuate our holiness by according proper respect to our starting point, which is what everything else follows. If one neglects the starting point it's a bad sign, an indication of neglect of the whole. And thus the Rabbis have very harsh words for one who is neglectful regarding this mitzvah of Netilat Yadayim (saying that one who neglects this mitzvah will be uprooted from the world). On Pesach night, a night which marks the beginning and formation of the Jewish People, we give particular care to hand washing which also acknowledges the special respect due the beginning of a special thing. [MaHaRaL].
(THOUGHT) Some point out that this washing is phrased as a command (Rechatz; “you must wash”), as opposed to the later washing which is described more passively. This is because washing at this point is unusual and therefore we need to be instructed to observe it. The later washing is well known and therefore referred to simply as Rachtah; The Washing. Karpas - Vegetable dipped in saltwater.
(THOUGHT) The saltwater reminds us of our sweat and tears in Mitzrayim. The vegetable eaten is to cause the kids to ask questions (i.e.; to be interested. As the saying goes, if there is no question there can be no answer). To increase the curiosity factor it was the custom of Rabbi Pinchas Teitz to use a banana for this!
(HALACHA)The authorities all point out to have in mind the Maror when saying the brachah on the Karpas. But why is this necessary, being that the Maror comes after we said HaMotzi, isn't it covered as part of the meal? The Aruch HaShulchan explains that since the Maror is eaten as the fulfillment of a specific mitzvah it does not count as a real part of the meal.
(THOUGHT) The Best To Come
It is customary to use the bigger half of the Matzah that is broken in two as the Afikoman. Why is the bigger half set aside for the end of the meal? The Sfat Emet says that the piece of Matzah which is put away as the Afikoman represents the redemption (Geulah) yet to come. The bigger piece is put aside for the end of the Seder because the Geulah to come will be bigger than the one that we celebrate on Pesach.
Brachot 12b quotes from Yirmiyahu (23:7-8): “Days are coming when people will no longer swear ‘as G-d lives who brought the children of Israel up from the land of Egypt,’ but rather, ‘as G-d lives who brought up and brought back the offspring of the House of Israel from the land of the North and from all the lands wherein He had dispersed them.’”
According to the Chachomim even though the pasuk in Yirmiyahu seems to say that Yetziat Mitzrayim will no longer be remembered or mentioned after Kibutz Galuyot, it actually means that the future Geulah will be so great that it will be the one we primarily remember, but Yetziat Mitzrayim will still be remembered as well. This fits with the explanation of the Chachomim that the command to remember Yetziat Mitzrayim “all the days of our life,” includes an obligation to verbally remember Yetziat Mitzrayim even in Yemot HaMashiach; While Mitzrayim will be recalled, the Geulah of Mashiach will be more primarily remembered.
The Gemorah uses Yaakov to prove that when a pasuk states that something will no longer be said it really means that it will no longer be the primary point mentioned, not that it won’t be referred to at all. Yaakov is told by Hashem that he will no longer be known as Yaakov and will from now on be called Yisrael. But Hashem himself does still use the name Yaakov after this time. (Perhaps this example of Yaakov/Yisrael is more than just an example, as the names Yaakov and Yisrael respectively represent the people that went down to and were redeemed from Mitzrayim and the Jewish People that will ultimately be redeemed.)
The Gemorah gives the example of a man on the road that is saved from a wolf and tells everyone of the miraculous incident. Then he is saved from a lion, and then a snake. With each new salvation the previous incidents pale in comparison. Similarly, Bnei Yisrael's future Geulah will make Geulat Mitzrayim secondary in status.
The above cited ideas fit with the idea that we focus on the bigger half of Matzah because the ultimate Geulah is what everyone will talk about. There is a beautiful thought (suggested by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach) that adds on to this: Why is the hidden Afikoman brought back specifically by children? This represents the idea that children will be the ones who bring the ultimate redemption.
This connects to Shabbat 119b, which says that "Al Tig'u bi'Mshichai" refers to the learning of young schoolchildren (hevel tinokot shel Beit Raban). Reish Lakish quotes Rabi Yehudah HaNasi as saying that the world is maintained only because of the learning of young children. Abayei adds that the Torah of children is more powerful than the Torah of adults because their mouths have not yet sinned. Reish Lakish adds that the learning of small schoolchildren should not be interrupted even to rebuild the Beit HaMikdash. Perhaps this can be understood to mean that there is no more potent way to bring the Geulah than through the merit of children. May that time come speedily in our days.
(This is my re-editing of ideas that I assisted a student with for a limited edition (200 copies) Haggadah.
(STORY) Rav Elchanon Wassermann was asked by the people he was hiding with from Nazis in a house in Germany - "Why?" He told them the following -"Imagine, " Rav Elchanon told them, "the following:" "Someone has never seen bread, and a man volunteers to teach him." The teacher takes a little seed, and the disciple assumes that the seed is bread. So he's shocked when the man takes this "bread" and buries it in the ground. Then, a pretty plant grows and the man assumes that must be bread. And he's shocked again when the other man cuts down this "bread". Then the teacher takes the plant and picks off the kernels. The spectator thinks that the pile of kernels is what's called bread. But then the other guy throws these pieces in the air and smashes them. The other is again confused. Then the kernels are ground and mixed with water. And then they're shaped into a mound, which looks pretty nice. So, now the guy figures THIS is bread. So he's REALLY shocked when the other man turns up the oven and throws this final product of so much work - to be burnt, destroyed, after all. But as the moments pass as the air fills with a scent that causes the stranger's mouth to water, he begins to suspect that something good is on it's way. And soon he's eating a fresh slice of delicious hot bread with butter on it. And he understands."
"HA LACHMA'ANYA" - This IS the bread of affliction.(STORY) The Maggid of Dubno addresses this phrase with a moshol: A poor man returned home nightly with a sack over his shoulder filled with the junk he scavenged throughout the day. Dressed in rags he brought home just barely enough to provide for his family. One day his fortune changed and he became a rich man. He now returned home each evening dressed in a fancy suit and bought his wife and children the best of everything. And then one day he came home dressed in rags. And his wife's face fell, as his children cried. They were sad until he explained - "It's one year since we became rich and I'm only dressing this way to remember. And he reached outside the door where he had special gifts for all. And they celebrated on that day for many years to come. And then one day he came home dressed in rags, and his kids wanted to know where the presents were and how a year had passed so quickly. They were happy until he explained - " It's not an act this time. I've last the money, we're poor". So too, the Maggid of Dubno explains why we say this IS the bread of affliction instead of saying this is LIKE the bread of affliction. Until our ultimate redemption we are living incomplete lives. We don't think so. That's part of the problem But it is so. The Matzah is not just a reminder of afflictions of the past and redemptions that came but a sobering reminder of the imperfect present and the redemption still to come.
"KOL DICHVIN YEITEI VEYEICHOL" - Anyone that's hungry should join us and eat.
(THOUGHT) "On a night when we pray for the ultimate Redemption, even though we may not be meritorious enough to deserve it, we say, 'Let all who are hungry come,' without exception. If we do not discriminate, then we can expect that G-d will not be too discriminating with us." - Rabbi A. Twerski
(STORY) The Ba'al Shem Tov would have a special Shalosh - Seudos sitting surrounded by his closest students. One time a poor, bummy looking fellow wandered into Shul at Shalosh-Seudos time. The Ba'al Shem Tov invited the man in and sat him at the head table. Later his students asked why he sat the head table and didn't stop at inviting him in. He told them, "When I arrive in heaven at judgment time, I'm going to want to sit up front and I'm afraid I won't deserve it. I hope Hashem will remember my putting this man up front and that He will seat me up front as well." [Ethics From Sinai, I. Bunim]
MAH NISHTANA - If a person is alone, he asks himself.
(STORY+THOUGHT) - 1981 marked the first visit of Rav Noach Weinberg, the pioneer of outreach work, to Yeshiva University for a student organized "schmooze". One of the things that he said in that special talk was that the Mishnah in Avot which states, "Know what to answer" has a dual meaning. On one level it simply means to know how to answer the other. But on a deeper level it means know how to answer the questioner inside yourself.
"HAD NOT THE HOLY ONE BLESSED BE HE TAKEN OUR FATHERS OUT FROM EGYPT, THEN WE, OUR CHILDREN, AND OUR CHILDREN'S CHILDREN WOULD HAVE REMAINED ENSLAVED TO PAR'OH IN EGYPT."(THOUGHT)
How do we know?!! How do we know that if G-d hadn't taken us out that we wouldn't have freed ourselves eventually? The reason is because we didn't aspire to be free. Before G-d freed us from Egypt He freed us from our own self inflicted slavery of complacency, and lethargy. We felt stuck, and didn't want to even bother trying to get out because we felt that all we had in Egypt was all we'd ever have. The lesson for us is to look and see if our lives are less than we want them to be. As Rabbi Twerski puts it, the question we need to ask ourselves is, "Is it possible that I may be in a rut, but similar to my enslaved ancestors, fail to recognize it?" We need to take this Pesach as a time to answer this question and try to free ourselves from the myriad of things that enslave us.
Mitzrayim can be seen as a metaphor for all that enslaves us. (The word can be read as metzarim, meaning straights). Had G-d not given us a hand and pulled us out of Mitzrayim, we would today be doomed to choosing easy animal comfort over difficult Divine pleasure.
(STORY) A man who had recently died appears to his friend in a dream. The friend asks him what he does all day. He says, " I eat whenever I want and sleep whenever I want and fulfill my every desire whenever I want." His friend says, "That's great! Who’d have guessed that you'd go to heaven!" He replies, "I'm not in heaven. I've been reincarnated as a cow in Nebraska!"Though often mistaken for a dirty joke, this is actually a very deep story: Our specialness, our pleasure, is not in our animal passions, but rather in what makes us human - the ability to work for and achieve the greatest pleasure possible, that of closeness to G-d.
"THE MORE ONE SPEAKS OF YETZIAT MITZRAYIM, THE MORE PRAISEWORTHY HE IS."
(THOUGHT) If the fact is that we are again eating "bread of affliction" because the independence we acquired didn't last, why is the narration of Yitziat Mitzrayim so important today? The answer is that the spiritual growth, the connection with a Power higher than ourselves, that we established by rejecting the pagan beliefs of Egypt and accepting the Torah remains with us. The praiseworthiness of dwelling on this story is predicated upon the fact that it reflects our valuing spirituality over materialism.
(SEQUEL STORY) Even though the man lost his wealth, he continued (as best as he could) to celebrate the day on which he had become rich. His family asked him why he kept up this practice and he replied that while the money was gone the knowledge that he gained from the experience remained. So too, we are again in exile, but remember the lessons and feel hope based on our redemption in the past.
The Four Sons
(THOUGHT) You might expect that on this night which marks the establishment of a bond between G-d and the Jewish People we would focus exclusively on the relationship between us and G-d. What's fascinating about the Seder is that it includes a tremendous focus on our relationship with other Jews. The four sons represent all types of Jews with all types of attitudes and approaches. And we want them all at the Seder. These are the people that we invited and embrace, without checking IDs. As we commemorate our beginning as a People we immediately adapt a dual focus - exerting energy not only on our relationship with Hashem, but also working hard on reaching out to our fellow Jews. [Lubavitcher Rebbe]
Four Sons/Four Generations
(THOUGHT) It has been suggested that the four sons parallel four generations of American Jewish life. The Chacham represents the old school piety of generation of the forties and fifties. The Rashah is strikingly similar to the rebellious sons of The Fifties and Sixties who rejected their father’s Judaism with the rhetorical question “what is all this ritual of yours?” The Sixties eased into the disinterested, isolated seventies, the “Tam” generation. And then there’s the oblivious generation that doesn’t know how to ask. Rabbi Shlomo Riskin adds that today there is the fifth son who sadly does not attend the Seder at all.
"Knock His Shin"
(THOUGHT) Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach quotes a Belzer tradition that interprets this line in a homiletic vein: The advice given as to how to respond to the Rashah is to knock out his teeth. The actual word used is "shinav," which can be interpreted to mean "his Hebrew letter ‘shin.’" The letter shin’s three prongs represent the three pillars of the Jewish nation: Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov. Every day in our prayers we beseech G-d while referencing the merit of our forefathers. We do not only mean to remind G-d of their goodness, but we are reminding Him and ourselves that the attributes of our forefathers are our values. Their essence lives inside us. A father is instructed to shake the three pronged values of our ancestors, the traits of Torah , Avodah, and Gemilut Chasadim out from within even the child that’s called "wicked."
"IN THE BEGINNING OUR ANCESTORS WERE IDOL WORSHIPPERS"
(STORY) Two men were having a debate, one being secular and "modern", and the other being a traditional, observant Jew. The former berated the latter calling him old fashioned, and questioning why he adhered to ritualistic Judaism. The "frum" Jew responded that in fact his friend was the one who was old fashioned, citing this line from the Haggadah. As it says here, the Jews worshipped foreign values in the past, and only now in "modern times" did G-d bring us close to His service.
This is something worth thinking about at the Seder: What is Avoda Zara? Are we guilty of it today? Who is modern and who is old fashioned?
"EISAV INHERITED HAR SEI'IR, BUT YA'AKOV AND HIS DESCENDANTS WENT DOWN TO EGYPT"
(THOUGHT) Q - Why is it included in the Haggadah that Eisav inherited Har Sei'ir? And if it's going to be so detailed, why not include Yishmael rather than going from Terach (the forefather idol worshipper mentioned above) to Avraham, then mentioning only Yitzchak, and then specifying both Eisav and Yaakov as Avraham's sons?
A - The Brisker Rav answers by citing the pasuk in which Hashem tells Avraham that his genealogy, his nation, will be through Yitzchak ("KI BEYITZCHAK YIKRA LECHA ZERA"). He did not, however, specify to Yitzchak which of his sons would be the progenitor of this chosen nation. But, He gave him a sign: The sign was that the son that was the father of the nation would be exiled into a strange land and suffer there for some time. So, the fact that Eisav settled peacefully into his inheritance, while Yaakov and his children went to Mitzrayim and spent years of servitude there is quite significant. This detail is necessary proof that Yaakov and not Eisav's family (i.e. us, not the Arabs) are the chosen nation promised to Avraham!
(THOUGHT) Unlike Edom (EISAV) who's name betrays his true nature, Lavan's name paints a deceptively pure, white picture of an evil man. While the Haggadah describes Lavan as wanting to totally destroy the Jewish People, the Torah is lacking in any overt reference to such a desire. And that's just the point. We as a nation (as well as we as individuals) have enemies that dress in white, feigning diplomacy and niceties. And we also have enemies like Eisav, who come openly wanting blood. We must be on the look out for enemies of all types, especially the Eisavs. As the Chovot HaLevavot writes, in regard to some, our attitude should be “Respect and Suspect" (Chabdeihu VeChashdeihu).
(THOUGHT) The one line here that seems to receive the most attention, because it doesn't seem to make sense, is -IF HE WOULD HAVE BROUGHT US TO HAR SINAI AND NOT GIVEN US THE TORAH IT WOULD HAVE BEEN ENOUGH(THOUGHTS) How's that!?! Why would being brought to the mountain and then not receiving the Torah have been worth anything? ONE ANSWER to this question is that the aura of the Shechina would have affected us positively, and that itself would have provided sufficient reason for being brought to the mountain, Sinai.
ANOTHER ANSWER is that the Jews, for once, were unified (KE'ISH ECHAD BE'LEV ECHAD), and that is something amazing that would have made the trip to Sinai worthwhile. A unique, creative, and deep (and also dangerously easily misunderstood) answer to this question is that what we're saying is that if G-d would have brought us to Har Sinai but not given US the Torah even though he gave us the Torah - it would have been enough. The point is that we're here thanking G-d for placing the Torah under our auspices, in our control, rather than giving it to us to obey, but maintaining it Himself. This idea is illustrated by the following story:
(STORY) One Amora was disagreeing with several others. He was sure that his view made sense, but couldn't convince the others. Finally, he used signs to prove he was right (first a tree tilted, then a stream flowed backwards, then the walls caved in). The Rabbis were unimpressed. So, he asked for a voice to resound from heaven announcing he was right. It happened. But the Rabbis insisted that "It is not in heaven" (LO BASHAMAYIM HEE) and they did not accept his view. And the end of the story is that G-d was very pleased with how all this went.
(The JOKE version of this is: 3 Rabbis were arguing against 1 Rabbi. The 1 Rabbi gets G-d to say that HE agrees with him. G-d does. The other Rabbis remain unfazed, "Fine," they say, "Now, it's 3 against 2!")
Another point of note in this song is the fact that it goes way past the leaving of Egypt all the way up until the building of the Beit HaMikdash in Yerushalayim. This indicates the strong connection between leaving Egypt and not only the receiving of the Torah, but the culminating event of the Temple’s construction and use.
RABAN GAMLIEL SAYS THAT ANY ONE THAT DOESN'T MENTION THREE THINGS...
(THOUGHT) Rav Noach Weinberg points out that G-d carried the show, did all the work, when it came to getting us out of Egypt. However, the one thing we had to do was repudiate their values ( by publicly displaying lamb blood as a signal to G-d to come and save us ). If we want to speed up the redemption still to come, and want to insure our inclusion in it, we must be brave enough to clearly and openly signal to G-d that we reject the alien values of today's culture.
(THOUGHT) The Midrash says that when G-d passed over our homes, 2 bloods intermingled: the blood of Mila and the blood of Korban Pesach. Mila takes place at the start of life, when a person is basically all future. Korban Pesach is a mitzvah that was facilitated by the head of the household, the family's patriarch, and this means it comes after time, when a person already has a past that has led him to the achievement of the place that he presently calls his. A major challenge we constantly face, and a challenge represented by the mixing of the blood of these 2 mitzvot, is to combine the freshness of youth that focuses us on the future with the experience of middle age and the years that surround it that has binds us with our baggage from the past. [Lubavitcher Rebbe]
MATZA - Conventional Torah wisdom has it that Chametz represents haughtiness, an over emphasis on our own ego. While Matzah represents humility, subservience to G-d. Reflective of this is the sole letter which is different, and only slightly so in the Hebrew word "Chametz" and the Hebrew word "Matzah". The CHET of Chametz is self contained, tightly sealed, representing an attitude of "I can do it all myself". The HEH of Matzah represents an opening to a Power other than ourselves, higher than ourselves. Like a pressure cooker's escape valve that protects it from exploding, the human psyche needs to have an opening, a portal in order to survive and thrive.
(THOUGHT) Matzah reminds us that G-d took us out of Mitzrayim quickly. Tradition has it that we were on the 49th level of impurity and had we fallen to the 50th level we would have been irredeemable. So G-d had to take us out quickly, before it was too late. But the question is that G-d did not truly "have to" take us out quickly. Unlike human beings, G-d does not procrastinate. It would seem that He could have taken us out when we were on the 48th, or 47th, or 10th, or even 1st level of impurity! The real reason why he took us out when we'd already fallen to level 49 is that the falling was a necessary preparation for the redemption.[MaHaRaL as cited in Hegyonei Halacha]
(STORY- MOSHOL) What happens inside a chicken's egg is a process of putrification, of rotting. Just when it is about to pass the point of no return - the chick emerges from the egg. If you were to break it open early - the chick wouldn't live. If you were to seal the egg so that the chick couldn't break out at the right moment, the chick would die. Similarly, Galut is part of the redemption process. The falling was necessary. This is important to remember today - the deterioration and suffering that we see and feel is all a necessary part of the process of redemption presently taking place. [Ibid.]
(THOUGHT) G-d told Avraham that his descendants' slavery would last for 400 years. Yet, we were released after only 210 years. The reason most often given for this is that 210 very difficult years of concentrated slavery were the actual equivalent of 400 years of average intensity slavery. The Vilna Gaon points out that the musical notes under the words in the Torah - "And they made their lives bitter" (VAYIMORERU ET CHAYEIHEM) are the notes called KADMA VE'A ZLA which means to precede and to go, in other words to go earlier. So the notes clearly substantiate the theory that the intense bitter slavery was cause for an early redemption.[The Vilna Gaon as cited by R Shlomo Kahn in From Twilight to Dawn]
May it be G-d's will to hasten our redemption again due to terrible suffering we endured in the Holocaust.
(QUOTE) "May we not hopefully assume that the unprecedented holocaust of Nazi Germany led to a hastening of the messianic redemption in the establishment of the State of Israel?" - Rabbi Shlomo Kahn
IN EVERY GENERATION A PERSON MUST SEE HIMSELF AS THOUGH HE WENT OUT OF EGYPT
(THOUGHT) If you think about it the hardest mitzvah of the night is this one. How can we possibly imagine that we left Egypt? Rabbi Mayer Twersky explains that Jewish holidays do not simply commemorate historical events. The theme of the day precedes the holiday. This helps explain this obligation. It is because of the energy of the day, which was present even before The Exodus that we can be expected to feel like we left Mitzrayim by tapping into the energy of the day.
There are two aspects to the Jewish people: each of us has a potential role to fulfill both as an individual and as part of a nation. This is symbolized by the 2 images that G-d projects to Avraham that his descendants will resemble: sand and stars. Though both are myriad in number, the difference between these two entities is that grains of sand all mesh together, while stars can be individually distinguished.
On this night when we focus on our creation as a nation, we run the risk of forgetting our value as individuals. We must never lose sight of G-d's singular love and concern for each one of us. Yitziat Mitzrayim was not only a communal experience , but something that every Jew at the time went through. And we owe it to ourselves and to G-d today to recognize that each of us have our own Mitzrayim to overcome, and that G-d is with each of us - carrying us out of our Mitzrayim. G-d loves each of us.
This is why Purim is celebrated in the second Adar during a leap year: so that the redemption of Purim connects to the redemption of Pesach. So says the Gemorah. I believe that the true meaning of this is that Pesach is about an open, spectacular, communal miracle, while Purim more overtly serves to remind us of G-d's involvement in each of our individual lives. Purim should be kept nearby to help us not miss the point of Pesach - that our lives are collections of small, personal miracles.
Regarding what other holiday is there a guide book to walk us through the miracle? Regarding what other holiday is there a multiple choice list of how to explain it to different types of Jews. Regarding what other holiday to we have to go through a list of questions and answers about the day, even if we sit alone? Regarding what other holiday are we addressed as individuals and told, if any one Jew neglects to mention the major themes of this miracle, then you don't get credit for the celebration. All this substantiates the idea that we all have a personal lesson, our own specific work to accomplish on this night. [Rabbi Neil Fleischmann]
(STORY) There is a beautiful and pretty story called Footsteps. (I once double checked if this was a Jewish themed story and was told that it certainly is.
A man sees all the scenes of his life flash before his eyes. In each scene he sees 2 sets of footsteps, one clearly is G-d's and the other is his own. However, when he sees the most difficult scenes of his life, there is only one set of footsteps. He feels that G-d abandoned him when he needed Him most. He asks G-d for the explanation and G-d tells him - "During the hardest times in your life, I was carrying you"
(STORY) A girl that went through 12 years of Jewish schooling, later left Judaism and adapted Christianity. When she met a Rabbi from her past, and he asked her what had attracted her to Christianity. She told him that at a hard time in her life she was approached by a Christian missionary in a bus station. The missionary told her, "G-d loves you." She told the Rabbi the following tragically sad words: "Despite all my years of Jewish education and Jewish upbringing that was the first time that I was ever told that G-d loves me."
4 CUPS - (THOUGHT) The Vilna Gaon and others list the 4 redemptions of which the four cups of wine serve as a reminder: 1. Work was decreased. 2. We were totally saved from having to work as slaves at all.3. G-d declared us to be His People. 4. We were actually taken out of Egypt. (This fits with the translation of each of the 4 phrases).EGGS - After a long wait for real food, Jews around the world eat too many hard boiled eggs.(THOUGHTS)An egg is the only thing that's born, and then reborn. Similar to the chick, The Jewish People were taken out of Egypt, but then we were re-redeemed when we received the Torah.
Unlike other foods, an egg becomes harder the more it is cooked. So too the Jewish People survive and thrive even after continuous persecution.
An egg is a reminder of the circle of life and thus of mourning. It is yet another indication of the deep connection between the redemption from Egypt, and the life we were granted in Israel. We look on this night towards the ultimate redemption being granted to us speedily in our time.
Shulchan Orech -
Enjoy Your Meal. (FROM THIS POINT ON YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN)
Leshanah Habaah BeYerushalayim HaBenuyah!