Thursday, May 3, 2012

321 - Pesach (Explanations on the Haggada)

"In the beginning our forefathers were idol worshipers, but now Hashem brought us near to Him." Rav Wolbe asks why the text states, "now Hashem brought us to His service", for did this not occur more than three thousand years ago at the time of the redemption from Egypt? He answers that the celebration during Pesach is not merely a remembrance of what occurred in the distant past. Rather, at the time of the redemption there was a Heavenly spiritual illumination that was felt by Bnei Yisroel. Every year on the night of the Seder there is a re-occurrence of that exact spiritual illumination. If we tap into this illumination, we too can feel the feelings of those who actually left Egypt on this very night thousands of years earlier. It is with this aim that we recite the Haggada on the Seder night.

"The Torah speaks about four sons" - Rav Wolbe comments that if the Torah felt it imperative to write four separate pesukim to parallel the four different sons, it implies that every child must be spoken to in a language that he can understand. Even the wicked son must be answered with a response that is hand tailored to his personality.

"Regarding the son who doesn't know how to ask, you begin to speak to him" - Rashi explains that for such a child one should tell aggadic explanations that draw his heart. Rav Wolbe explains that the Seder Night is aimed at opening the hearts of our children. The Korban Pesach is referred to as "avodah", for through its performance Bnei Yisroel began their avodas Hashem. True avodas Hashem can only be achieved when one internalizes in his heart that there is a Creator Who took us out of Egypt, and we are His servants.

"A person is obligated to perceive himself as if he went out of Egypt" - Rav Wolbe points out that the Haggada revolves around each individual person. Thus we say, "Each person is obligated to perceive himself as if he left Egypt"; "Hashem acted on my behalf when I went out from Egypt," and so on. Rav Wolbe goes on to explain: The Seder Night is set up in question-answer form because a question stems from one being aroused to ask. The Gemara explains that when King David is described in the pasuk as one who "knows how to make music," it means that he knew how to ask questions properly. The correlation between making music and asking questions is that they both are borne out of hissorirus - being aroused. The questions in the Haggada were designed to arouse us to delve more deeply into the events of Yetzias Mitzrayim and their implication to our avodas Hashem. Only once one is aroused, can he feel as if he himself left Egypt.

"If He had brought us to Har Sinai and not given us the Torah it would have sufficed for us." The obvious question is, "Wasn't the entire reason that we stood by Har Sinai just to receive the Torah? If so, what would have been the purpose of standing by the mountain without receiving the Torah?" Rav Wolbe explains that the revelation at Har Sinai was an end unto itself. At that time Bnei Yisroel reached the zenith in spiritual comprehension. However, with time these awesome feelings would inevitably begin to wane. Therefore, the Torah was given to them that it act as a "thermos" to keep this awesome moment "warm". The Torah is the conduit whereby we can relive the closeness to Hashem that we experienced during this momentous occasion.

"The Pesach sacrifice that our fathers ate when the Bais Hamikdosh was standing; for what reason? Because Hashem passed over the houses of our fathers in Egypt." Rav Wolbe explains that throughout the entire year we must be careful not to leap and jump in our service of Hashem, lest we fall flat on our faces. We must serve Hashem on a level that is appropriate for our spiritual standing. However, on Pesach we have an opportunity to grow by leaps and bounds. 

Rashi (Shemos 12, 11) explains the reason Bnei Yisroel in Egypt were commanded to eat the Pesach sacrifice in a hurry: "Just as Hashem jumped and skipped over the houses of Bnei Yisroel when He slew the firstborn, so too, you should "jump and skip" (hurry) in your service of Hashem (eating the Pesach sacrifice)." Through experiencing the aforementioned spiritual illumination connected with the Seder night, we can "jump" in our level of service of Hashem in a manner that is not possible on any other day of the year.

"Because of this (the Pesach, Matzah and Maror) Hashem acted on my behalf when I went out from Egypt" - Rashi explains that we were redeemed in order to perform His mitzvos. Rav Yeruchom Levovitz would say that people think that because they want to eat they must therefore make a bracha. However, the opposite is true. The reason we were created with the need to eat is so that we should have the opportunity to say a bracha. Likewise, we do not perform these mitzvos because Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim, rather, the purpose of Yetzias Mitzrayim was to give us the opportunity to perform these mitzvos.

Chag Kasher V'Sameiach!

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