Thursday, March 29, 2007

Haggadah Insights 2007

To view last year's Pesach Torah, click here.

More to follow...

These were adapted from this shiur given by R' Shalom Rosner from YU.

Ha Lachma Anya

At the end of the "Ha Lachma Anya" paragraph we conclude with the phrase "Next year in the land of Israel." This is also something we say at the end of the seder, when we say "Lishana Haba'ah B'Yirushalayim." When one thinks about it, it makes more sense that we say it at the end; we're done our seder, and we're saying that next year's seder should be in Yerushalayim. Why the need to mention it earlier as well? R' Menachem Genack in his Gan Shoshanim answers this question by answering another question: how can we really pretend to act like "Bnei Chorin/free people" (as it says at the end of Ha Lachma Anya)? Sure, we have many freedoms, but at the end of the day, we're still in Galus. Furthermore, we're not too far removed from a period of time in which being Jewish in a large part of the world was as good as a death sentence - with all of this, how can we act like "free" people? He answers this question with a beautiful mashul. Let's say you have a guy who's sitting in jail for 20 years, and then one day the warden comes up to him and tells him that he is being released the next day. Even though he isn't technically getting out of jail until the next day, mentally, he's already free. However, if you have a guy that's currently living in society but is to be sent off to jail the next day; while, he's technically free to do whatever he wants until the following day, he's mentally incarcerated. We see from this that what defines "freedom" and "incarceration" isn't the necessarily the physical space that one occupies; rather, it is the vision and direction that defines these terms. This is precisely the reason that we mention Eretz Yisrael here - to tell us that if we know that our goal and our vision is to end up in Israel, then mentally we're already free, even if we're technically living in a time where we aren't "Bnei Chorin."

4 sons – Rasha

We all know that the punishment handed down to the Rasha, the wicked son, is to knock out his teeth. As mentioned last year, this is an interesting punishment. Of all of the things that we can do, we knock out his teeth? Furthermore, I assume that punishment should he doled out for a rehabilitative purpose; how is knocking out his teeth going to teach the Rasha to do right? The Koshnitzer Rebbe says that the Rasha spoken about in the Haggadah isn't totally wicked. He believes that through Talmud Torah and Tefillah, one can get closer to Hashem. However, what he doesn't grasp is how one can serve Hashem through the mundane parts of his life, like eating and drinking. We respond to him, bascially, that G-d wouldn’t have created teeth unless he wanted that we should serve him through them; so that we can use food and drink as we do at the Seder to become closer to G-d. To make the Rasha appreciate this idea we knock out his teeth, like we are saying to him, "See how well you can serve G-d now."

4 Sons – Tam
When taking a look at the four sons, if we were to rank them in order from "best" to "worst", the Tam, the simpleton, obviously wouldn't be at the top of the list. However, we know that Yaakov Avinu was known as an "Ish Tam"/simple man. Is this to say that Yaakov Avinu's service to Hashem was lacking something? Rav Moshe Feinstein explains the difference between our Tam and Yaakov Avinu as a Tam (Rav Moshe's words are: "Yeish Tam, v'Yeish Tam".) He explains that the simpleton of which the Haggadah speaks is a person who is simple by virtue of the fact that he lacks knowledge - he just doesn't know anything. However, this was not the case with Yaakov; he was known as a Chacham/wise person, certainly someone who's service of Hashem was not lacking. So what made Yaakov simple? It was the child-like manner in which he served Hashem. If you look at a child at, let's say, age 4, he/she is very obedient. Sure, the child may put up hissy-fits, but at the end of the day, what the parent says goes. This was the way Yaakov approached service to Hashem; Hashem said something, Yaakov did it. Very simple. Had this been the simpleton that our Haggadah refers to, perhaps he would be at the top. However, one that is simple merely by virtue of the fact that he lacks knowledge is not looked upon as favorably.

Avadim Hayinu

It says in "Avadim Hayinu", that even if we were all wise, all understanding, and all knowing of the Torah, we would still be obligated to discuss the exodus from Egypt. The implication from this is that there may be a time when those who are wise, knowing of the Torah, and understanding are actually exempt from certain commandments. The Minchas Asher wonders when we find such a case, where the Torah leaders are exempt. Why does that thought even enter our minds? He says that we all have the obligation of Zechiras Yetzias Mitzrayim (REMEMBERING the exodus) every day in Shema, and we may think that Sippur Yitzias Mitzrayim (TELLING OVER the story of the exodus) is the same. What's Zechirah/remembering? All it entails is the knowledge that this event occured in history. We may think that Sippur is the same idea of just basic historical knowledge and since those who are wise, knowing of the Torah, and understanding of it are on such a high level and have vast amounts of this knowledge, they are exempt from the Sippur. That is why we may have thought that these Torah leaders would be exempt, and that's why the Haggadah has to tell us that even they are obligated, as Sippur isn't only about historical knowledge. Rather, it's more about a deeper feeling and emotion to the exodus, and this is something that not even all of the Torah in the world can teach.


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