web analytics
August 31, 2014 / 5 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



The Message Of The Haggadah

YU-031513-Haggadah

It is commonly understood that Maggid means telling the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim. When we take a closer look at the actual text of the Haggadah, though, we find a surprising phenomenon. Directly following a one-paragraph answer to the Mah Nishtanah, we find ourselves meandering through ten paragraphs of various halachic discussions before we finally reach the story of the Exodus.

First we learn who has to perform the mitzvah of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim (even great Rabbis), how long we have to spend on it (the longer the better), and whether the obligation extends to every night of the year (it does). Then we learn how we have to fulfill this mitzvah in four different ways for different types of children, and we end by learning exactly when we are commanded to perform this mitzvah – not on Rosh Chodesh, not on the afternoon of Erev Pesach, but on the Seder night. This halacha shiur, replete with explorations of the different halachic opinions and the sources for each conclusion, is interrupted only by the paragraph ברוך המקום ברוך הוא, in which we praise Hashem for giving us the Torah – and make no mention of Yetzias Mitzrayim. We may well wonder why we spend so much time telling our children halachos, some of which do not even pertain to the Seder night, instead of the actual Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim.

Upon reflection, it seems that this is exactly the deeper message the Haggadah is trying to convey. Don’t rush into the actual mitzvah of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim, the Haggadah tells us, until you have learned all the halachos that pertain to it. If we look carefully, we see this message explicit in the answer to the wise son – אף אתה אמור לו כהלכות הפסח; we teach the learned son the laws of Pesach and not only the story of the Exodus. And while the five sages mentioned in the Haggadah spent all night engrossed in the story of the Exodus, the Tosefta (Pesachim 10:12) tells us that Rabban Gamliel and his colleagues stayed up the entire Seder night learning Hilchos Pesach. This is not just an insight, then, but an actual halacha – the mitzvah of סיפו Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim demands that we learn not only the story, but the halachos of telling the story as well. But now the question becomes even greater. Why should this be so? Why should the minutiae of halacha be considered a part of the story of the Exodus?

Perhaps we can suggest an explanation based on understanding the purpose of Yetzias Mitzrayim. We may have noticed that in Sefer Shemos, Moshe Rabbeinu asks Paroh time and again to let the Jews go, but he never actually asks him to set them free from slavery. Rather, he requests over and over that Paroh allow them to worship Hashem in the Sinai desert. Why didn’t Moshe just tell Paroh the truth, that the Jews wanted freedom?

Many answers have been suggested to this question, but perhaps the simplest answer is that he did tell Paroh the truth. Hashem’s reason for redeeming us from Egypt was not so that we could be free, but so that we could be free to accept the Torah at Har Sinai and serve Hashem. We tell the wicked son בעבור זה עשה ה’ לי בצאתי ממצרים – “because of this Hashem performed the Exodus for me.” Rashi asks the obvious question – because of what did Hashem redeem us? He answers based on the interpretation found in this section of the Haggadahבזמן שיש מצה ומרור מונחים לפניך. Because of the matzah and maror lying on the table, because of the mitzvos that we do, that Hashem knew we would accept on Har Sinai and would perform loyally to this very day, He took us out of Egypt. This is the answer to the wicked son, who wants freedom devoid of obligation, freedom without Torah and mitzvos. We tell him בעבור זה – the reason Hashem miraculously changed the course of history and redeemed us from slavery was not to give us more leisure time or economic mobility, but to grant us the opportunity to become deeper and nobler people, to grow spiritually and connect with the Divine, to realize our full potential as human beings by serving Hashem and performing His mitzvos.

About the Author: Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh is the Ruth Buchbinder Mitzner Chair in Talmud and Jewish Law at Yeshiva University-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Message Of The Haggadah”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
MK Hanin Zoabi, under the protection of the Israeli flag, speaks against Israel.
Zoabi Sings Palestinian Authority Anthem at Hamas ‘Victory’ Rally
Latest Judaism Stories
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

First, how could a beis din of 23 judges present a guilty verdict in a capital punishment case? After all, only a majority of the 23 judges ruled in favor of his verdict.

Of paramount importance is that both the king and his people realize that while he is the leader, he is still a subject of God.

Daf-Yomi-logo

Untimely News
‘A Mourner Is Forbidden To Wear Shoes…’
(Mo’ed Katan 20b)

Questions-Answers-logo

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Menachem
Via Email

When a person feels he can control the destiny of other people, he runs the risk of feeling self-important, significant, and mighty.

Needless to say, it was done and they formed a great relationship as his friend and mentor. He started attending services and volunteered his time all along putting on tefillin.

He took me to a room filled with computer equipment and said, “You pray here for as long as you want.” I couldn’t believe my ears.

On Friday afternoon, Dov called Kalman. “Please make sure to return the keys for the car on Motzaei Shabbos,” he said. “We have a bris on Sunday morning and we’re all going. We also need the roof luggage bag.”

On Chol HaMoed some work is prohibited and some is permitted. According to some opinions, the work prohibition is biblical; according to others, it’s rabbinical.

If there is a mitzvas minuy dayanim in the Diaspora, then why is there a difference between Israel and the Diaspora in the number of judges and their distribution?

Judaism is a religion of love but also a religion of justice, for without justice, love corrupts.

The time immediately preceding Mashiach’s arrival is likened to the birth pangs of a woman in labor.

Eisenhower understood that motivated men will fight much harder and longer than unmotivated men.

Who does not want to get close to Hashem? Yet, how do we do that?

More Articles from Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh
YU-030714

Sometimes, like the tamei individual who must stay away from the Mikdash, we have our limits and disabilities, and we must remember not to attempt those goals which are beyond our reach.

YU-031513-Haggadah

Hashem’s reason for redeeming us from Egypt was not so that we could be free, but so that we could be free to accept the Torah at Har Sinai and service Hashem.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/holidays/the-message-of-the-haggadah/2013/03/15/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: