I'm beginning this sicha with an apology. Since this sicha is mainly about Pesach, I should have really posted it way before Pesach, certainly not after. However, due to the lack of time right before Pesach, I did not find it feasible. But as you will see it's never too late, because these lessons are eternal. If you want, you can say that I'm posting it real early for next Pesach.
First I would like to explain what a Seder is. In order to do this I will first tell you what it is not.
In the Overwiew of the Artscroll Haggadah, Rabbi Joseph Elias, writes: (I highly recommend this Haggadah-in fact- it's the one I use most at the Seder).
"Amidst the unspeakable horrors of Nazi death camps, Jews risked all chance of survival for a brief and pitiful Seder. In homes far adrift from traditional Jewish life, families still gather on Pesach night in response to some deep inarticulate yearning. The observance of Pesach- and, in particular, of the Seder- is rooted in the uttermost depths of the Jewish heart.I have already explained in the "Sefiras Haomer Sicha" about the true understanding of what Jewish Holidays are:
Why? What is the meaning of the Seder? Can it be meant merely to commemorate events from the dawn of our history, through a burdensome array of prayers and Biblical texts, rituals, and customs? That is how the Seder is usually understood, even while its Haggadah is recited and its wine drunk. Yet this is a gross misconception . . .
How little we do justice to the challenge of Pesach if we merely sit at the Seder table perfunctorily reciting the Haggadah! The goal of this night is not the recitation of the Haggadah, nor is it a scholarly or inspirational comment on this word or that passage. The goal is nothing less than a grasp and a sense of participation in the Haggadah's awesome ideas."
"It is important to point out that although we received the Torah over 3300 years ago, Kabolas HaTorah repeats itself every year on that same day. In "The Haggadah", (published by Mesorah publications) Rabbi Joseph Elias quotes;I usually start off my seder with a story that I heard from my Rebbi."Any achievement that was attained, any great light that radiated at a certain time - when that time comes around again, the radiance of that light will shine again, and the fruits of that achievement will be received, for whoever is there to receive them." (Derech Hashem)
"Each season of our year thus contains its unique emanations of holiness; through the cycle of the year we can seek to relive the great of happenings of our history, and - entering into their spirit - draw from them strength and inspiration for the future." (S'fas Emes)
There was a very interesting meeting at the NASA Space Center. They were discussing a plan to explore outer space (like "Star Trek"). The only problem was that it would require a mission of a few hundred years, and nobody lives that long. The idea was suggested that they should send two married couples into space. Then they would have children in outer space. One would have a boy and one a girl. Those children would marry each other and then have children. Consequently, there would be three generations in space and they would be able to complete the mission.
However, another problem arose. They realized that the first generation that started from Earth would be all enthusiastic in doing the mission. But their children, who would be born in space, would not realize what Earth is and how important their mission was. It wouldn't be so bad as their parents would teach them the importance. The trouble, however, will be, when the first generation dies and the second one has to teach the mission to the third one. Since the second generation would not be so enthusiastic in the first place, they would no able give it over properly. Consequently, the third generation may lose interest and abort the whole mission.
To solve this problem, a resolution was advised. Send up Jewish couples. Their whole religion is based on the Tradition of Mesorah- father (or Rebbi) giving over, the Tradition from Moshe Rabeinu on Har Sinai, to son (or Talmid)-son to his son-. . . This has gone on for 3300 years. They apparently know how to do it.
This is the main purpose of the Seder; to give over our "Tradition-Mesorah" to the next generation (and reestablish it for ourselves). Not a family reunion where you talk about everybody's sicknesses or discuss the upcoming summer plans.
The first thing we have to realize is that Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim and we became "free". We didn't obtain just physical freedom, but also spiritual freedom, as we received the Torah 50 days later. Furthermore, the spiritual freedom was the main purpose of yetzias Mitzrayim.
This can be seen clearly in the Sefer Hachinuch, (as I mentioned in the Sefiras Haomer Sicha).
In mitzvah 306 the Chinuch brings the mitzvah of Sefiras HaOmer. We start counting the days from when the Omer was brought until Shavuos, a total of 49 days. He explains the root by stressing the point that the main purpose of the Jews is only the Torah. Because of the Torah, Heaven and Earth were created as it says in the Posuk "If not for my covenant (of Torah) day and night, I would not have established Heaven and Earth" (Yirmiyahu 33:25).[When Rav Shlomo Brevda quoted this point of the Sefer Hachinuch, he referred to the famous sefer, "Nefesh Hachaim" from Rav Chaim Volohzhiner, the great talmid of the Vilna Gaon. He says in Sha’ar 4 Chapter 11 that the constant existence of the World is totally dependent on Torah. If it would happen that in the entire World there was not even one person learning, then G-d Forbid the world would be destroyed. (I once heard from my Rebbi that this could be the reason why Hashem made different time zones around the world. When it's night in Israel, it's day in America, and vice versa. If it was night all over the world at the same time, there could be a time when everybody was sleeping and nobody would be learning. Hashem prevented this problem by making it that when people are sleeping in Israel, there are people up and studying Torah in America, and vice versa.)
Rav Brevda also mentioned another point of the "Nefesh Hachaim". "The amount of people learning will proportionately affect the QUALITY OF LIFE." This means that if only one person in the world would be learning then the world would exist, but the quality of life would not be good. It would be a world of problems and fights. The more people learning, the better the quality of life in this world. (All of this should make us realize how important and indispensable our Kolel people who learn Torah most of the day are. We should not criticize them and call them "parasites" who just "kvetch debank"- sit and learn and don't do anything for society. I always compare it to the Greek mythological Atlas who was sitting and holding up the earth. Can you imagine someone asking him why he was just sitting there, why doesn't he do anything for society?].
So too, the main purpose of us coming out of Mitrzayim was not merely "FREEDOM" to be able to do whatever we want. The main intention was the imminent receiving of the Torah (kabolas haTorah) on Har Sinai (see Sh'mos 3:11,12) fifty days later. Many years ago one of my Pirchei Leaders Rav Eliezer Weinstein, pointed out to me, that the phrase quoted from the Torah on behalf of Soviet Jewry; "Let My People Go", (which incidentally is also quoted on the 10 Shekel bill) is missing the main point. The possuk (Sh'mos 7:16) says "Let my people go v'ya'avduni" - So They May Serve Me.
Every year we count these same days in anticipation of that great moment of receiving the Torah, to show that we just can't wait till it happens. The Sefer Hachinuch compares it to a slave who counts the days in anticipation of his liberation. (We can relate to this when we count the school days remaining before our summer vacation begins).
This can also help us understand the concept of Pesach. The author of "The Hagadah Treasury" questions; How was it possible to celebrate Pesach as a time of Freedom, during the Holocaust? What kind of Freedom was this? The same can be asked about the Crusades and about any time that the Jews were persecuted.
He answers with a Moshol.
"A poor fellow buys a lottery ticket and wins a lot of money. He uses the money for good things and hires a Rebbe to teach him Torah, soon becoming a Talmid Chochom himself. Every year on the anniversary of the day that he won the lottery he makes a special party, and thanks Hashem for all that He gave him. One year unfortunately he lost all of his money and found himself once again a pauper. He nevertheless still made a big party like he made every year, but not as lavish. This seemed absurd. “Why celebrate winning the money, when none of it remained", he was asked. He answered, "The main thing I gained was not the money, but rather the wisdom of Torah that I gained through the money. I still have that wisdom"."Likewise, Pesach commemorates our spiritual accomplishments which resulted from yetzias Mitzrayim, not just physical freedom. The Torah, which we received upon our exodus from Mitzrayim, is still with us, despite all the persecutions. Nobody can take it away from us. This is the main celebration of Pesach, and it can be celebrated even during the darkest periods of our history.
Rav Shlomo Brevda in his Sefer on Pesach ,"Leil Shimurim" mentions and elaborates on the two main goals of the Pesach Seder
1) "We have to know that when Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim, the purpose was for US TO BE HIS SERVANTS as it says (Vayikra 25); "They are My servants that I took them out of Eretz Mitzrayim". We must understand many wonderful things concerning the debt and obligation of the creation to his Creator and a servant to his Master. We should also know that the only true freedom is to be a servant of Hashem.We may ask on the first point. What kind of freedom is this? Till now we were slaves to Pharoh and now to Hashem, we just changed masters?
2) One of the main purposes of relating the story of yetzias Mitzrayim (exodus from Egypt), is to be one who shows appreciation and gratitude with all of our hearts for the goodness that Hashem has bestowed upon us. And to see that all of our service to Hashem is dependent on this trait of showing gratitude."
To answer this, I will first quote a Mishna in Avos (6:2);
". . . For you can have no freer man then one who engages in the study of Torah. . ." The Tiferes Yisroel so eloquently explains,Consider the following example that I saw in "Passover Survival Kit", by Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf (Leviathan Press).
". . . And this is the [real] Freedom that his soul is not enslaved to the bodily desires [as a result of his learning Torah], only this is the true freedom and not when his desires are liberated and his soul is enslaved to the desires."
A young prodigy enters the prestigious Juliard School of Music. Her teachers give her a strict schedule of practicing many hours a day. They also warn and forbid her against certain things that may weaken her talents. The young girl follows her teachers' instructions and in a matter of years becomes an accomplished musician.
Was she FREE?? Being under such a rigorous regimen, can that be FREEDOM?
The answer is , OF COURSE!!
If a dictator (like Pharoh or our Yetzer Haro-evil inclination) puts you under his strict rules for HIS BENEFIT ONLY, not for yours, this is slavery. The slave learns to despise his master, and wants to escape his slavery. But he cannot shake off the shackles that his master has chained him with.
But when a beneficial teacher (like Hashem and His Torah, our Yetzer Tov-good inclination-or L'Havdil the Juliard Music Teacher) wants to help you bring out your talents and potential FOR YOUR BENEFIT ONLY, then it is a lot different. The student realizes the only way to accomplish his perfection is with this strict regimen of doing what may seem hard and staying away from certain things that he desires. The student learns to love his teacher who is helping him manifest his true potential.
Imagine how a boxer, who is training for a championship bout, feels towards his trainer. The trainer keeps working him hard for many hours. He even warns him to stay away from drugs, alcohol, and certain foods. Then comes the clincher. The trainer gives him a whole sicha that he has to learn how to focus and concentrate only on his boxing. He can't let any other deterrents enter his mind as they would ruin his chances of success. Yes, that means stay away from the opposite sex!
If the boxer has any brains in his head (if they weren't knocked out of his head in his previous fights), he will love and respect his trainer. He will see the sagacity of his wise words. He certainly wouldn't call it slavery. On the contrary, he will realize that he is a master over his desires and not a slave to them.
Even, l'havdil, the Pope said,
"Freedom is not the ability to do what you want, rather the ability to do what you ought".Consider the difference between the "freedom" of Rav Moshe Feinstien, z'tl, and l'havdil Sir Winston Churchill.
Everyone knows that Churchill was a genius. He always knew what to say, even when he was drunk.
I once read that he was once at a party and had imbibed a bit too much. A woman reprimanded him and said, "Sir Winston, you're drunk!" He immediately responded, without missing a beat, "I know, and you're ugly, but tomorrow I'll be sober".
Despite his ingenuity, he had a terrible temper. Whenever someone did something that wasn't to his liking he would go into in a tirade.
I read, in his biography, that once his butler had irked him so, that he even started to hit the butler. When the butler hit Sir Winston back, he was appalled.
"How dare you hit me!", Sir Winston exclaimed.
"Well, you hit me first", replied the butler.
"Yes, but I am a great man".
The author concluded that everyone knew as well as the butler, that Churchill was right.
When I read this I was sickened. This is the freedom and privilege of the great "Gedolim" of the Goyim. He can hit and scream at anybody not as great as he.
Now listen to the freedom of Rav Moshe Feinstien z"tl.
(This amazing story is found in "Love Your Neighbor," by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin and in "Bastions of Faith" by Rabbi Avraham Fishelis.)
Rav Moshe was getting a ride from one of his talmidim to the yeshivah. When the talmid closed the door of the car he accidentally closed it on Rav Moshe's finger. Much to the surprise of the other talmidim present, Rav Moshe did not utter a word during the ten minute ride. Only after he arrived at the yeshivah and with the driver long gone, did Rav Moshe rush to sink to wash his fingers. The talmidim asked him why he didn't say anything to the driver as soon as it happened?
Rav Moshe responded, "He was nice enough to do me a favor and drive me, how could I embarrass him"?!
I once personally witnessed the other type of "freedom" where one is so free that he becomes addicted to it . He can't stop even when he wants to.
A certain fellow who strayed off the Torah path wanted to return. My Rebbi, who knew the fellow from long ago, invited him to our yeshivah for Shabbos. He arrived Friday afternoon by his car. However, when Shabbos morning came his car was gone, and the fellow was nowhere to be seen.
My Rebbe gave a sicha about "freedom" and explained what happened.
Friday night the fellow went into his room to sleep. He couldn't sleep and was pacing the floor. The Rabbi who lived next door heard it and came in to speak with the fellow. The fellow said that he didn't want to desecrate Shabbos, but he had the urge to do it. He couldn't remember the last time that he didn't go for his "Shabbos ride". The Rabbi calmed him down a bit and left the room. A while later, the Rabbi heard the door close and a few moments later a motor started and he was gone.
"Is this freedom or slavery??," the Rabbi exclaimed.
"The fellow is begging not to desecrate the Shabbos, but he's so addicted and enslaved with his 'freedom' and non-conformity that he can't break the shackles that force him to be 'free'".
I'll tell you one more story about the real freedom.
Rabbi Henoch Teller tells this one in his book , "Storylines".
There was a Rebbe in Nicholsburgh known as Reb Yissoschar. When he passed away, Reb Shmelka took over and was given Reb Yissoshor's house.
When he arrived at the house, he discerned the fragrance of Gan Eden emanating from it. He wondered what special deed Reb Yissoschor must have done to merit such a thing. People were trying to tell him stories about his deeds, but the Rebbe was still convinced that it must have been something else.
Finally, a gentile woman approached him and related the following anecdote.
Just before Pesach she joined the Rebbe's household as a maid. It was Erev Pesach and everybody was out getting the Pesach delicacies. The children awoke and were crying for food. She looked all over the house but the cupboards were bare. Finally, she discovered some "large round crackers" in the bottom of the Rebbe's closet. (I hope you recognize them as what is better known as "matzohs".) She gave them to the children to satisfy their hunger. When everyone arrived they were preparing the table for the Seder. Suddenly there was a scream, and people were running to and fro frantically looking for something.
When it dawned upon her that they might be looking for the "crackers" she told the Rebbe what happened. When the Rebbe heard this, he realized that nothing would be gained by anger, so he didn't get angry. He simply told his wife to bring the regular matzohs for the Seder. (Of course they were also Kosher for Pesach, but many times Rebbes have special Matzohs made just for the Seder. Sometimes, they are baked on Erev Pesach after "chatzos").
Reb Yissoschor, then turned to the gentile maid and said, "Thank you for taking such good care of the children".
Reb Shmelke then realized that Reb Yissoschor truly merited the fragrance of Gan Eden.
Halevay, (If only) that we merit to reach even one iota of such freedom.
Even Paroh understood this. The Medrash says that when Paroh told the Jews to leave he proclaimed, "Leave my nation. Till now you were slaves of Paroh, from now on you are servants to Hashem. At that moment the Jews recited the first chapter of Hallel (Tehilim 113) "Praise G-d, Give praise you servants of Hashem. . ."
In light of this concept of true freedom, Rav Brevda explains Rabban Gamliel's famous law mentioned in the Haggadah.
"Rabban Gamliel would say that anyone who did not say these three things (and their meanings) on Pesach did not comply with his obligation: Pesach, Matzoh, and Morror. . ."
According to the Rambam this means that one didn't comply with the obligation of "Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim" (Telling the story of the Exodus of Mitzrayim). The question is; Why not?
Rav Brevda replies that we are showing that we are not just philosophers who like to talk about high ideas without bringing them to action. Rather we conclude that we are His servants ready to do His Mitzvos. Since this is the main point of Sippur yetzias Mitzrayim, then one who omits it has not complied with his obligation.
This also explains why we tell the rosho that if he were there then he wouldn't have been saved. Since the main goal was to serve Hashem and he doesn't want to have any part of it, then he would not have merited to be redeemed.
The second goal of the seder stressed by Rav Brevda is; to show appreciation to Hashem for all the miracles he did in taking us out of Mitzrayim.
The Netziv of Volozhin asks the obvious question. (This is based mainly on the "Lekach Tov Haggadah p. 44).
"Why should we thank Him, if He is the one that put us in there in the first place? Imagine a fellow who comes and breaks our legs. Then he announces that he is an orthopedic surgeon and he "does us a favor" by fixing our legs. Does he deserve any gratitude?? Of course not, so why is this different?"
The Netziv explains that we have to alter the moshol slightly. (This moshol I heard from Rabbi Mandelkorn zt'l and Yibodel L"Chaim, Rabbi Zev Leff).
Imagine a fellow who comes and breaks our legs. He explains that he has been working on a certain crippling disease and is the top authority on it. The only way to cure this disease is to break the legs and reset them. This has to be done before the development of the legs reaches a certain degree. After a certain degree there is no hope. The person will be crippled for life. He could see by the way we walked that we had the disease and we were too close to the point of no return. By breaking our legs at that moment he actually saved us from a worse fate of being crippled for life. Does this person deserve any gratitude? Of course he does.
So too, we stress that our forefathers were idol worshippers and that it defiled us also. Even though Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaccov were able to come to the realization of the falseness of idols on their own, not everyone was strong enough to do it. If we would not be operated on we would have slowly become crippled for life.
Hashem did us a favor and cured us by bringing us to Mitzrayim and taking us out. He showed us the vanity and worthlessness of the Egyptian gods and how only Hashem runs the world.
Mitzrayim is called a "Kur Habarzel" - (a smelting pot) which takes gold with its impurities and purifies it by fire. The result is pure unadulterated gold. That is what Hashem did for us in Mitzrayim. He burned out our impurities so that we can come out pure.
Rav Brevda asks an interesting question on the Haggadah.
We know the Chazal teach us in many places the advantage of silence over speech. In Megilah 18a it says, "The best medicine is Silence. . . If a word costs a selah ( a monetary denomination) then silence costs two".
Yet on Pesach night we are taught "V'Chol Hamarbeh Lesaper Harei Zeh Mshubuch-The more one talks about Yetzias Mitzrayim it is praiseworthy."
In fact we find in the famous paragraph of "Dayeinu" (It would have be sufficient) that we thank Hashem for each individual miracle that he did for us. He mentions the Malbim’s explanation; "Dayeinu" does not mean that if Hashem would have done only one of the miracles, and not the others, it would have been sufficient. Rather we are saying that each miracle alone would have been sufficient enough of a reason to praise and thank Him.
The problem is that we mention almost all of the miracles twice in the main paragraph. Then we sum up at the end "Al Achas Kamah V'Kamah-Certainly" we should thank Him for doing all the miracles and we list them all a third time.
Why are we so verbose and repetitious?
He answers this with a very moving parable.
A very poor weak and sick holocaust survivor made it to the shores of the United States. There he was greeted by his uncle who treated him with great love. He took him into his house and gave him food. He outfitted him from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. He spent much time and money to take his nephew to the best doctors until he was cured. He taught him English and how to run a store, eventually buying him one to manage. Afterwards, he got him a suitable wife and bought him a house and furniture and all the household items that he would need. The young couple was blessed with boys and girls.When it comes to being makir tov - showing appreciation, we shouldn't be skimpy with our words. On the contrary, the more we say, repeat and stress the immensity of the goodness that Hashem has given us it is meritorious. The more we talk about how bad off we were, the more we'll understand the vast goodness of Hashem. The more we stress that we can never thank Him properly, no matter how long we live, this is praiseworthy.
Then the day came, many years later, that the nephew was marrying off his oldest son. Naturally, he invited his uncle among the honored guests. In the middle of the lively dancing, around the Choson, the nephew whispered in his uncle's ear, "My dear uncle, I wish thank you for all the goodness that you have bestowed upon me".
His uncle grabbed him away from the dancing and brought him to one of the corners of the hall. "Is this the way that you show appreciation for the multitudes of goodness that I have done for you"? He asked.
Startled, the nephew asked, "How then should I do it?"
His uncle responded, "You should say like this, 'My dear uncle, Only I remained from my family, lonely, weak, sick, poor, naked and without a roof. With your great mercy, you brought me here at great expense. You fed me, clothed me, took me to big and famous doctors, etc. etc. etc. All that I have, you gave me to this very day. If I live a thousand years, I would not be able to thank you properly. . . . 'This is the proper way to show appreciation."
Rav Brevda quotes the Mesilas Yeshorim (Chapter 8), who explains that showing appreciation will help us adhere to the Mitzvos.
". . . What can arouse a person [to adherence to the Mitzvos] is to observe all the goodness that Hashem does for us at every moment. . . from the day he is born until his last. The more one observes and contemplates about these things, the more he will feel a tremendous debt of gratitude to Hashem, his Benefactor. This will be the impetus that will keep him from being lax and weak in his service [to Hashem].These words are echoed in Yad Yechezkel (p. 49) who quotes Rav Yechezkel Levenstien, zt"l (Mashgiach of Mir and Ponovez):
[He will realize], since there certainly is no way to actually repay Hashem, the least he can do is to praise His Name and adhere to His Mitzvos.
There is no person, in whatever situation he may be in, whether poor or rich, well or sick, that will not see wonderful things in his situation.
The rich and well, obviously have to thank Hashem for their wealth and health. The poor person, has to thank Him for giving him sustenance in miraculous ways, and not letting him die of starvation. The sick person, for not letting him succumb to his illness. . . Until there is no person that shouldn't feel a debt of gratitude to the Creator.
When one reflects on these goodness’ that he receives from Him, this certainly will arouse him to be zealous in his service [to Hashem]. . ."
"One who has the trait of showing appreciation, feels the existence of the Creator, May He Be Blessed. Because Hashem bestows so much good to him always. Hashem created him, gave him everything, and sustains him.The Chovos Halevovos (Duties Of the Heart) Gate 3 explains how all Avodas Hashem-Serving Hashem is dependent on the trait of showing appreciation."
. . . He realizes all this, and wants to reciprocate for what he has received. Even though there is no way to pay back to Hashem Yisborach, for all that he received, nevertheless, he will do what is in his power to do.
Unfortunately, our Yetzer horo persuades us to lack appreciation. The term for this is "kofuy tov"-an ingrate. Literally, it means bending the goodness.
My Rebbi explained this with the following story. Rabbi Yeruchum Levovitz, Mashgiach of Yeshivas Mir, Poland, was visiting an army base. A soldier with wounds all over his body was brought in. A doctor was summoned and he ordered to bring enough dressing to roll around all of his wounds. Reb Yerucham expected to see a truckload of bandages brought in. To his surprise, the doctor used one small roll, small enough to fit in his pocket. The doctor unwound it till it covered the soldier's whole body.
Reb Yeruchum’s lesson was, that it's possible to take something that is very big and fold it over and over, until it appears very small. With this he explained what "bending" a goodness, means. One can take a goodness which is immense and be an ingrate by bending it and minimizing its size.
On the other hand, my Rebbi told another story which stresses the opposite, taking an apparent small goodness and magnifying it, showing that there's more than what meets the eyes.
There were two young men in the Mir Yeshivah, Poland. One of them had to go out on a "shidduch" date with a prospect of matrimony. It was a freezing cold winter and he had no gloves. The winter there was much colder than what we experience, and gloves are an extreme necessity. Without them, a person's hands could freeze. This young man borrowed a pair of gloves from his friend, and returned them after his date. When he returned them he told his friend,
"Thank you very much for the gloves."
His friend responded, "You're welcome."
The first fellow continued, "You don't know what I mean. I don't just mean that your gloves kept my hands warm. Do you realize that without your gloves my hands would have frozen and I would have been an invalid. Thank you."
"Wait, you still don't know what I mean. If I wouldn't have your gloves and would have become an invalid, what kind of shidduch would I have gotten? Probably also a cripple. Your gloves will enable me to get a good shidduch. Thank you."
"Wait, you still don't grasp the full meaning. Without your gloves, I would have gotten a cripple as a wife, then what kind of children would we have? Your gloves will help me have good children. Thank you."
"Wait, there's still more to your gloves. Without them, my children wouldn't be good so what kind of shidduchim would they get, and what kind of children. . . . . Thank you very much!!"
My Rebbi concluded, that this is being makir tov - showing appreciation. Taking a goodness which seems apparently small and unraveling it and showing how magnanimous it really was.
My Rebbi then applied this point to bringing Bikurim- (The mitzvah of bringing the first fruits to the Beis Hamikdosh and giving them to the Kohen.)
The Torah tells us (Dvorim 26:1-11), that when one brings his bikurim to the Beis Hamikdosh, he makes a special declaration. He thanks Hashem for His goodness’ that He has bestowed upon us. We start all the way from when Yaccov was harassed by Lovon. Then we were tortured in Mitzrayim and Hashem listened to our cries. He took us out and brought us to this land (Eretz Yisroel) which is flowing milk and honey. Now I have brought my first fruits. . . .
The question arises, why so much talking? Just thank Hashem for the fruits.
Rashi (posuk 3) says, "[to show] that you are not a kofuy tov-ingrate." This is the key, We realize and declare that there is more than just mere "fruit" that we have to be thankful for. There was a long hard road that Hashem led us on, till we eventually got the fruit. We must thank Him for all of that.
A major portion of "Maggid" is based on the possukim of the "Declaration of Bikurim". This can explain why. These possukim teach us how to have a proper hakoras tov.
The Lekach Tov Haggadah, brings a beautiful Moshol (from the "Eil Hamiluim") to explain the purpose of saying "Ho Lachma Anya-This is the Bread of our Affliction" (It's also in Lekach Tov Vayikra p. 70-71).
He tells of a King who was walking in the forest and met a young shepherd. The King spoke to him and was impressed with his wisdom. He even took him to his palace and made him one of his ministers. The shepherd showed his competence and eventually he became Minister of Finance, in charge of the King's Treasury.
Naturally, this aroused a jealousy in the other Ministers, and they made a plot against the shepherd. They persuaded the King that the shepherd was using the King's money to buy fancy things for his house. They even got the King to make a surprise inspection of the shepherd's house. However, when they arrived, they only found simple furniture. When they were about to leave, the King came upon a locked door. He asked the servant what was in there. The servant said that this is his master's private room, which no one was allowed to enter. Only his master, the shepherd, had the key.
At once, the King demanded that the shepherd open the room. The shepherd begged the King not to have to open it, as it would be very embarrassing to him. The King persisted and the shepherd opened the room. To everyone's amazement, all they saw there was a chair, the shepherd's stick, pouch and flute.
Now the King demanded an explanation of this strange collection which is safeguarded in a locked room.
The shepherd reluctantly explained, "From the day the King brought me from the pastures to his palace I was afraid of becoming haughty. In order to remind myself that I'm nothing more than a mere shepherd and, by the Grace of Hashem, I have found favor in the King's eyes, I made this room. Every morning, before I come to the palace I sit here and play my flute. I remind myself constantly of my lowly beginning and of Hashem's goodness that has brought me here.
After this the King and his officers realized what a fine person he was, and they made peace with him.
With this we can understand why the recitation of Yetzias Mitzrayim (Maggid) begins with "Ho Lachma Anya".
Lest we should mistakenly think that our Exodus was due to our great and mighty army, we right away correct this mistake. We show how we were weak and poor slaves who just had the bread of affliction. It was only with Hashem's infinite Mercy, that He took us out of Mitzrayim.
I will conclude with a beautiful story from Lekach Tov- Vayikra, p. 59 about Rabbi Yisroel Salanter.
The Ramban , at the end of Parshas Bo, says the following:
". . . The great miracle is evidence of a Creator Who created and runs the world. . . . Since Hashem will not do miracles in every generation to the eyes of every wicked person and atheist, He commanded us that we should always make a remembrance and a sign for what our eyes have seen and give this over to our children and they to theirs to the last generation. "The Lekach Tov brings this lesson to life with the following story from Tenuas Hamusar, p. 318.
On one of Rabbi Salanter's travels he arrived at the inn that he usually went to. It was owned by a fine Jew. However, this time Rav Salanter saw that the innkeeper was not as observant as he used to be. In fact he belittled the Mitzvos.(The simple answer that I saw is that if Hashem would constantly show miracles it would take away our Bechira-Free Will.)
Rav Yisroel asked the innkeeper why he changed?
The innkeeper explained that not too long ago a certain heretic came to the inn. He gave a whole "sicha" denying Hashem, Divine Providence, Reward and Punishment. In fact, he proved his point with a convincing demonstration. He took a piece of unkosher food and proclaimed, "If there is G-d Who sees everything and punishes, then let Him make me choke on this unkosher food!" The heretic ate the unkosher food without mishap and concluded that this clearly proves his claims of heresy.
Since then, I have had many doubts about Judaism. Rabbi Salanter went to his room without replying.
Some time later the innkeeper's daughter returned from school with a special Certificate of Excellence in Music. Rav Yisroel called the young girl to his room and asked her to demonstrate her musical talent, to prove that she really deserves her Certificate. The girl refused. Rav Yisroel sent for the innkeeper and told him that his daughter did not have proper middos and she refused to perform for him.
The innkeeper demanded an explanation from his daughter.
She explained, "It's not proper etiquette and manners to perform for someone, other than the prescribed times and place, just to show my talents. Is it logical to perform for people, every time they doubt my talents? If I would do that I would be considered insane. It is for this reason that I received a Certificate, and if you doubt its authenticity there will be performances in special places when you can see for yourself its validity."
The innkeeper agreed with his daughter's response.
Rav Yisroel sent the girl out of the room and turned to her father.
"Your daughter's response is also the answer to your previous question about Divine Providence.
Hashem already showed His Divine Providence to the Nations by His Obvious Miracles of Yetzias Mitzrayim. We have a Certificate attesting to the this-our Holy Torah.
He later showed Divine Providence by Eliyahyu Hanavy and the Prophets of the Baal, when the whole Jewish nation bowed down and proclaimed, 'Hashem Hu Ha'Elokim' (Melochim I 18).
Likewise, He showed what He can do by Mordechai and Esther (Purim), the Chashmonaim (Chanuka), and by other historical events where they saw the Hand of Hashem.
Is it logical that for every fool who says that he doesn't believe, Hashem should change the laws of "Nature" (which He made), just to remind him that there is a Judge?
There would be no limit. Everyday another fool will challenge Hashem with all kinds of different miracles that he wants Hashem to perform. One who wants to know Hashem can find proof in our Eternal Certificate-our Torah which was certified in front of the whole world. We don't need any further proofs."
These are only a few of the lessons that we can learn from Pesach.
Hashem should help us to learn all of the lessons, keep them, and give them over to others.
I conclude with that fervent prayer that we end the Seder with, "Chasal Siddur Pesach. . ." We should merit the true Geula-Redemption and be able to "Do the Korbon Pesach" in the Beis Hamikdosh , in Yerushalayim Habenuya with Moshiach Tzidkenu Bimheira Beyomenu, Amen.
List of Rabbi Price's sichot
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