The final step of the Seder is “Nirtzah” in which we sing lyrical songs that extol the greatness of G-d and our exuberance in becoming His Chosen Nation. One of those songs is, “Echad mi yodea – Who knows One?” Prima facie, it seems like a children’s song, with little profundity. But after an entire Seder, replete with special mitzvos and a unique atmosphere, it is foolhardy to believe that we would conclude the glorious evening with children songs. What is the significance of this song?
A fellow once proposed the following question to Harav Gedalia Schorr zt’l: The Gemara (Chullin 89a) states: “Techeiles is similar (in color) to the sea, the sea is similar to the heavens, and the heavens are similar to the Throne of Glory.” Thus, the techeiles on one’s tzitzis are supposed to serve as a constant reminder to its wearer about G-d. Does any person really think in that manner – that the techeiles trigger images of the sea, which triggers images of the sky, which reminds him of G-d’s Throne?
Rabbi Schorr replied, “The Gemara (Avodah Zarah 20b) also states that it is forbidden to stare at colored clothing belonging to a woman because it may conjure up forbidden thoughts in his mind. That also seems a bit far fetched. But that point most people do seem to understand! Why isn’t that far-fetched? The reason is because we are easily reminded of things that we are focused on. That is the way our minds work. [For example, when a close friend/family member dies, G-d forbid, for some time afterwards anything can trigger a memory about the deceased.] When one allows himself to think about inappropriate things, even staring at certain clothing can trigger inappropriate thoughts. But one who is focused on G-d and His Service will be reminded of G-d when he sees the techeiles, even though it may be a far-fetched symbolism.”
The whole sequence and process of Seder night is to guide us to realize the direct involvement that G-d maintains over every aspect of our lives. By the time the Seder is over we have hopefully been emotionally and spiritually elevated and are able to see our lives and the world in a different light. Therefore, just prior to the conclusion of the Seder we start over. We go back to the most rudimentary level of learning that we are taught in our youth, i.e. the concept of numbers. But at that point the numbers take on new meaning. We do not see one apple, two giraffes, three buildings, and four airplanes. Rather, we see One G-d, two tablets, three Patriarchs and four Matriarchs. After eating the “food of faith,” consuming marror which reminds us that even the bitterness of exile is divinely ordained, after relating all of the events leading up to the redemption, and singing hallel to G-d with joyful bliss, everything takes on higher meaning.
Pesach does not end after the Seder is completed. The remainder of the holiday serves to instill within our psyche all of the lessons and levels we gained at the Seder, so that we can take them with us.
Pesach has come and passed, not passed by but passed through! Now we continue our trek towards reaccepting the Torah on Shavuos with a new view on life. After we ingrained within ourselves that there is but One G-d in the heaven and earth, and that we follow his mitzvos simply because He commanded them, we can focus on the ever integral question, “Und vos zugt Gott?”
About the Author: Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW is the Rabbi of Kehillat New Hempstead, as well as Guidance Counselor and fifth grade Rebbe in ASHAR, and Principal at Mesivta Ohr Naftoli of New Windsor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit him on the web at www.stamtorah.info.
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