Thought of the Week: Pesach - 5772

First Day of Passover

When the Jew sits down at the table on Passover night and, while reclining, declares that this is the Zman Cherutainu, the season of our freedom, he must not only utter it as an historical fact but must actually feel that he is going through the process of redemption. We read in the Haggadah; "Bechol Dor Vador Chayav Adam Lirot et Atzmo K'ilu Hu Yatza Mimitzrayim." “In every generation an individual must envision himself leaving Egypt.

”The Rambam, in the seventh chapter of the Laws of Leaven and Unleavened, has a subtle yet profoundly different version of this text. He writes:

“B'chol dor vador chayav adam liharot et atzmo, k'ilu hu b'atzmo yatza ata, mishibud Mitzrayim...”

“In every generation an individual must demonstrate for himself as if he himself is leaving Egyptian servitude right now..." implying that one must do various acts to demonstrate the feeling of yetzi’at Mitzrayim. The Seder night is a time of show and tell!

Rav Chaim Friedlander (mashgiach of the Ponovezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak; died 1986) remarks that the entire Haggadah was formulated in a manner to illustrate the events of Yetziat Mitzrayim. The charoses is a thick mixture to simulate the texture of the clay that the Jews worked with. The cinnamon sticks represent the straw that they put into the bricks, and the red wine is a reminder of the spilled blood of the Jews. The salt water represents the tears that the Jews shed because of the Pharoh’s oppression. We eat maror to feel the bitterness of the slavery, and we recline as a symbol of freedom. There is also a minhag of placing the afikomen on one’s shoulder to commemorate the dough that was on the Jews’ shoulders when they left Egypt.

A successful Passover night is one that makes an impression on the soul and leaves the person with a feeling and emotion of spiritual liberation.

Wishing you a kosher and happy Pesach.