Sharing Torah Insights

הקדמה לליל הסדר

Posted on ט״ז בניסן ה׳תש״ע (March 31, 2010) | in Pesach | by

When a Jew sits down at the table on the night of the Passover Seder, he engages in an endeavor to answer key questions about his life: Who is he, and why is his life lived as it is? This is primarily an exercise in memory—his own and that of his people—as he must ask further: Where do I come from? so that he will also be to answer the question: Where am I going, and why? For this reason, our journey tonight begins by remembering our past, with the words “…”.עבדים היינו לפרעה במצרים “We were slaves to Pharaoh in the Land of Egypt…” Close your eyes and imagine for a moment a situation of life and death, any experience in your life where you sensed or saw with your own eyes an immanent danger. Then imagine the moment when the danger passed; when you reached out to save another or they did so for you. Now remind yourself of where you come from, of your parents, your grandparents, and their parents—as far back as you can remember. Now realize that all of you are slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, in danger, under oppression, imprisoned in a land that belongs to others. Imagine the cries of the oppressed, the tortured, and the dying. Our sages called the enslavement in Egypt a ,כור הברזל a ,צרופה and a הפרצת דם—an iron vice, a trial by fire and by blood. Suddenly, a voice, the word of the G-d of your fathers, cries out “בדמיך חיי!”—“By your blood you shall live!” Your bleeding is a sign of life! Your covenant with your Creator, your encounter with history and destiny is forged not only if the blood of slavery, but also in the blood of the commandments of circumcision and the Pascal lamb. “שה לבית”—G-d says—“a lamb for each household they shall take.” Out of nothing, there is something; out of darkness, light. Your Creator has returned to you possession. “שה לבית אבות”—“a lamb for each family, according to its forebears.” He has returned to you family—”ושחטו כל קהל עדת ישראל”—“And all of them shall slaughter it, the entire congregation of the House of Israel.”—and heritage. “ולקחו מן הדם ונתנו על שתי המזוזות ועל המשקוף על הבתים אשר יאכלו אתו בהם”—“and let them take from the blood and place it on the doorposts and across the lintel of the houses in which you shall eat it.” He has given you the gifts of privacy, of identity. “והיה הדם לכם לאת על הבתים אשר אתם שם וראיתי את הדם ופסחתי עלכם ולא יהיה בכם נגף למשחית בהכתי בארץ מצרים.” “And the blood will be a sign for you on the houses which you are in and I will see the blood and pass over you, and there will not be among you an opening for destruction as I smite the Land of Egypt”—the honor of distinction and the promise of protection.

In one night, a horde of slaves is transformed into a great nation, as G-d promised Abraham—in one night everything has changed. You are now free, you are safe, you’ve been saved from death and given life and freedom; you, your parents, your children, your whole family and your entire people. Therefore, our Torah says, “והיה היום הזה לכם לזכרון וחגותם אתו חג לה’ לדרתיכם חקת עולם תחגהו” “This day shall be for you as a remembrance and you shall celebrate it as a holiday before G-d for all your generations. As an eternal injunction you shall celebrate it.” Its description of this night is a “ליל שמורים”—“night of protection” on which the mystical commentary the כלי יקר says: “ליל שמורים הוא לה’: לפי שאמר הקב”ה לישראל נרי בידך ונרך בידי. שמור לי ואשמר לך ,שמור נר מצוה ואני אשמר נר אלקים נשמת אדם שבידי” ‘A night of protection unto G-d’—because the Holy One, Blessed is He, said to Israel, ‘My light is in your hands, and your light is in Mine. Hearken to Me, and I will watch over you. Guard the light of My commandments and I will guard the ‘light of G-d, which is the soul of man’ that is in My hands.’ ”

“והיא שעמדה לאבותינו ולנו…” And so it is in every generation that our enemies rise up to destroy us and a period of darkness envelopes us—only to yield to victory and the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness. Our G-d shows us the value of life, the preciousness of peace, and the dignity of purpose, for us to capitalize on and teach to our children, our neighbors, and the world. “בכל דור ודור חייב אדם לראות את עצמו כאילו הוא יצא ממצרים” “In each and every generation, one is obligated to see himself as if he personally left Egypt.” Every year we are commanded to both remember the Exodus from Egypt as the story of our people and to relive that experience, now, in our own lives.

Let us begin.

TAGS: , , ,

Facebook comments:

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts

What’s your goal on Seder night? What are we actually trying to do on Seder night? What is the goal of...

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Support myDvar