Monday, March 26, 2007

Kol haMarbeh...

מִצְוָה עָלֵינוּ לְסַפֵּר בִּיצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם. וְכָל הַמַרְבֶּה לְסַפֵּר בִּיצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם הֲרֵי זֶה מְשֻׁבָּח

“There is a mitzvah upon us to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt; and all that increase in the telling of the Exodus from Egypt is praiseworthy.”

It is customary at the Seder to tell as many Divrei Torah as possible to fulfill that which is stated above. However, one can find many Talmudic sources that speak to the fact that in general, one should not be verbose. Rather, the preferred path is a “Derech Ketzara/a short path”, meaning that, when speaking, one should try to get his/her point across in as few words as possible. So, how do we reconcile the fact that we are supposed to elongate our speaking of Yetzias Mitzrayim while believing the preferred path in speech is one of brevity? Here are a few answers which I have heard:

Rav Yitzchak Elchanon of Kovneh (as in RIETS) gives a moshel involving a large ship at sea that has come under duress, but was then subsequently saved. The rich people on the boat are likely to be more thankful than the poor people on board, as they ostensibly enjoy their comfortable lives more than the poor enjoy their lives living in destitute. Therefore, we try to show praise by elongating our story of Yetzias Mitzyim to show Hashem that we, like the rich folk on the boat, are “Sameach b’Chelko/happy with our lot” that Hashem has given us.
Rav Shlomo Kluger says that one can tell how close someone telling a story is to that story by the amount of detail told over. When one has first-hand experience of a situation, when telling that situation over to others, he/she is much more likely to be more familiar with intricate details of the story than someone that only heard the story 2nd- or 3rd-hand. Therefore, we go into as much detail as possible to show that we believe that these events actually occurred to our ancestors and that they aren’t mere bubbamaises/tales that we are telling over.

One Talmudic source that speaks to brevity is that which is found on the Gemara in Brachos (33b) where R’ Chanina, instead of saying the normal praises in Shemonah Esrai of “hakeil, hagadol, hagibor, v’hanorah”, he continued to add his own praises of, “v’ha’adir, va’ha’izuz…etc.”. Those in his presence waited for him to complete his praises, and then said to him mockingly, “Are you done with all of this? Why do you say all of this? If the Men of the Great Assembly hadn’t decreed that one should say ‘hakeil, hagadol, hagibor, v’hanorah’, we wouldn’t even be allowed to say that!” Again, how can we reconcile this with our general rule of brevity? The Maharal says that when praising Hashem in the above manner, saying more is actually saying less. How so? When one goes through a detailed list of one’s praises, it makes it seem as though it is within that person’s abilities to quantify the praises of that person. Thus, by R’ Chanina adding his own praises, it was if he was claiming to have the ability to quantify the praises of Hashem, and it is for this reason that the onlookers spoke to him in a mocking fashion. However, when we just want to show Hakaras haTov/thanks (loose translation) to Hashem, we are allowed to go on for as long as we want.

Regarding Hakaras haTov, the famous question is asked as to why rain wasn’t created until man was created, and the simple answer given is that without man, nobody could’ve shown Hakaras haTov to Hashem for the gift of rain. When bestowing goodness upon us, Hashem enjoys the Hakaras haTov that we give him, and thus will continue to bestow goodness upon us. Therefore, while it may seem as though we are remembering and giving Hakaras haTov for that which happened in the past, it is only through this Hakaras haTov that we will merit goodness in the future.

1 Comments:

Blogger Soccer Dad said...

while not entirely related to your point the Malbim in his haggadah writes that maggid itself has a quality of "kol hamarbeh."

11:19 AM, March 27, 2007

 

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