Hagada Points to Ponder
Updated: Apr 23
Harav Yonah Burr
1) This is the bread of affliction that our forefathers ate in the land of Egypt. All who are hungry should come and eat.. what is the connection between these two statements? Is this an invitation? Why after kiddush? The Rambam writes that this statement is said in Aramaic because it was first introduced in the diaspora, Babylonia. What is the significance of this piece?
Answer: we are really asking, ‘why are we still celebrating the Exodus if we find ourselves back in exile? Does a man still celebrate his redemption if he is back in jail’? To this we declare, ‘although we are again eating the same bread of affliction, i.e. we are back in exile, we still rejoice and celebrate, because the redemption from Egypt included an inherent guarantee that we would be redeemed from all future exiles, as will be explained below.
2) The four questions: matza, maror, dipping, leaning. The commentaries say, that part of the obligation to relate the story of the exodus is to explain the reasons behind the Mitzvos; this is because the very reason why Hashem redeemed us was so that we should serve Him and perform His mitzvos. We discuss the mitzvos, because this is the whole reason for our redemption!
3) We were servants to Pharoh in Egypt, and Hashem redeemed us with a strong Hand and outstretched arm. How does this answer the child’s questions?
Answer: we are emphasizing that although we will attempt to explain some reasons for the mitzvos, the actual reason we perform them is because Hashem said so-He redeemed us, and we are His servants. We emphasis the concept of the ‘Outstretched Arm’ because Hashem redeemed us publicly, in full view. He could have just placed the idea into Pharaoh’s head, to free us without the need for fanfare-the purpose of the miracles was to show the nations of the world that we were becoming His nation- this eternally bound Him to us, to forever redeem us, as to not create a Chillul Hashem. this is why we celebrate the exodus every year! This is why no matter how familiar we are with the Pesach story, we have a mitzva to delve deeper and deeper; to understand the great kindness inherent in every open miracle, that was purposely done in order to eternally bound us to Hashem!
4) Says Rabbi Eliezer the son of Azariah- I did not know the source of the mitzva to mention the exodus every day, twice a day, until Ben Zoma explained it- why do we discuss the every day mitzva of mentioning the exodus, if tonight there is a distinct mitzva to elaborate on the entire story?
Answer: The fact that we discuss the exodus tonight is self-understood; tonight is the anniversary of the exodus. But the fact that we mention it every single day highlights the fundamental importance of the exodus. If it would just be simply another kindness that Hashem performed for us, it would almost be disrespectful to single it out every day. The fact that we do, shows how it is the foundation of us becoming Hashem’s nation. The parable is, imagine if a family would adopt an orphan, take him into their home, and care for all his needs. Once, the family bought him a suit, for some specific occasion. If the orphan would only discuss the suit, and only thank for the suit, it would almost negate everything else that the family does. But to thank them for accepting him into their home, this includes everything that they do, for this is the foundation of the good.
5) Originally our ancestors worshipped idols, but Hashem brought us close to His service. The gemara tells us that we must begin the story with our humble beginnings, and conclude with our present level. Why is it necessary to mention that our ancestors worshipped idols? Answer: we are coming to explain why we needed to go to Egypt to begin with? Because becoming Hashem’s nation, getting the Torah, entering Eretz Yisroel, are all things that are so special, it requires a purification before we are eligible-it really is showing how special all the gifts we received really are. Our Sages teach us, that although the Avos were so great beyond out comprehension, and they themselves went through a process of purification before they had children, we still needed to go through further purification to be perfected before the Torah and Eretz Yisroel could be given to us.
6) Blessed is Hashem who guards his promise- for He calculates the end, when to bring the redemption. What do mean by ‘He calculates the end’?
Answer: if a person promises something, if he is responsible, and wants to make sure that he is able to fulfill his promise, he will plan ahead, taking all the necessary steps to make sure he will be able to deliver. But a great king, who has all the country’s resources at his disposal, does not really need to plan ahead. He knows he will be able to deliver when the time comes. All the more so , Hashem, the King of kings, certainly can be sure that He will be able to deliver when the time comes. Nevertheless, Hashem constantly calculates the time, and keeps it in mind, not because He needs to, but rather out of the love that He has for us. And this love is what preserves us through all the trials and tribulations that we must go through.
7) והיא שעמדה לאבותנו ולנו
My Rosh Yeshiva, he should live and be well, used to share a parable. Imagine if we would know that every day, a great righteous Tzaddik has us in mind, and davens to Hashem on our behalf- imagine if the Chofetz Chaim zt”l would have us in mind and daven for us! How much blessing that would bring! Certainly, if Hashem Himself constantly has us in mind, and is planning for our redemption, all the more so can we rest assured that we will be taken care of, and constantly cared for!
May we have the ultimate redemption speedily in our days!