Haggadah Shel Pesach Thoughts 5772

(The following are the unedited notes from the Haggada Shiur from 5772)

Invitations to the Seder – Rav Dessler is quoted as to pointing out that he did not accept invitations to the Seder. In his opinion, the Seder was not something you went to “someone else’s” for. According to Rav Dessler, a Seder is a transformative experience for each of the participants – no one is a guest at someone else’s seder. We all must be active and make whatever Seder we attend, our own.

SheHechiyanu:  Rav Avigdor Miller used to note that the Beracha of sheHeChiyanu—to be alive, is a source of Great Simcha in of itself. Compare to the work of Professor Tal Ben Shahar who notes that we do not take enough time in life to offer gratitude for that which is in front of us. One of the great messages of the Seder is Hakaras Hatov (Dayeinu comes to mind as an overt proof). So we begin – SheHechiyanu.


U’rechatz: Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach used to note that the reason we call it Richatz (as a command) is precisely because we don’t usually do it. Things that we are normally lax about all year round, we need a little extra push when they become a mitzvah.

Karpas: Rav Schorr (Lekach V’HaLibuv) notes that Karpas has the same Gematriya as Shas. We dip into salt water to show us that we need to study Shas with diligence (Kach He Darka Shel Torah…)



Yachatz: Rav Avigdor Miller notes that the main part of our efforts (the bigger part) should be devoted to Olam Haba. Yachatz reminds us to separate time for bigger missions (Rabbi Pinchas Shapiro recently told me that we daven to Hashem for Parnassa Kdai SheUChal la’asos Ritzoneicha V’laasok B’toraseicha We need to do ours and in good measure– same idea.)


HaShata Hacha, Hashata Avdei: The Malbim compared the situation to a prince who sinned against his father the king and he was exiled. The king worked him overtime in back-breaking labor and the young man cried out for the king’s mercy and it was received. A while later, the prince sinned again, and was exiled again. This time, the king decided to test the young man’s desire to return to his good graces. Hence, he set him up with comfort in the exile, without the backbreaking work. Thus, we will see if he wants to return to the palace or merely get out of the work. The Malbim explains that this is the case with the Jews as well. When the Jews were in Mitzrayim, they worked hard, they were redeemed but later sinned again. This current Galus, is still away from Hashem albeit without the slavery. To this we remind Hashem, Hashata Avda, We hope to be free to serve you again.

Eilu Lo Hotzee – Imagine a trip to Cairo, lowest degenerates of society. Today, we’d BE them if not for Hshem’s great Chessed in taking us out.  In This regard, Rav Avigdor Miller notes, Hashem has taken us down from degradation in many countries. V’avAvditem BaGoyim – to be lost and assimilated has not happened – for that Mitzva Aleinu L’Saper.


Bnei BrakAruch Hashulchan points out that they all went there in order to receive inspiration after the Churban. Rabbi Akiva was the man of inspiration. The Slonimer Rebbe points out that when a Jew cries, he cries a cry of hope, not one of despair.

Baruch HaMakom: The name Makom is used often throughout the Haggada as a means of identifying Hashem. Why? Rav Soloveitchik used to explain based upon a comparison in the Talmud (Chagiga ) compares the Nevuah style of Yeshiyahu and Yechezkel. Concerning the former, who offered Nevuah in the temple times, the nature of Divine presence was apparent. Therefore he would declare “M’lo Kol HaAretz Kevodo.” Yechezkel received his nevuah from the Golah – he closes his nevuah with Baruch Kevod Hashem Mimkomo – from his hidden place. Makom Hashem is a reference to the times when the presence of Hashem is hidden (hence HaMakom Yinachem or HaMakom yirachem). Thus, in the Seder which was written for Galus times, we highlight the Makom aspect.

Rasha’s question: The Yalkut Shimoni (Bo 208) notes a difference of opinion as to whether this question implies that Torah will be forgotten (a bad implication of the possuk) or whether it will be a good sign – that there will be children and grandchildren. HaGaon HaRav Eliyashiv shlita asks how having children and grandchildren asking heretical questions can be interpreted as a “good thing” according to the Midrash? He answers that Torah itself can never be forgotten. After all, we are told Kee lo tishachach MiPee Zaro. However, a generation that will ask the question “What are you doing <Mah Haavdah HaZos Lachem> and uses these questions to LEAVE the path of religious observance will have the next generation ask THEM the same question – what are YOU doing and will return to authenticity.



Yachol Mei Rosh Chodesh: Rashi at beginning of Torah – Torah could have started with HaChodesh HaZeh Lachem. How and why? Wouldn’t we lose all of the inspiration of the Book of Beraishis? Rav Dovid Kviat ztl (Sukkas Dovid) explains that Rosh Chodesh is, in of itself inspiring in that it brings one to Yediyas Hashem and Emunah. See Sanhedrin (42a) that Chiddush HaLevana is should inspire recognition of the Michadeish Chodoshim. Attention to that should inspire Emunah. <I wanted to add that this might be the hint to Yachol M’Rosh Chodesh – see Ramban to Anochi Hashem Elokeicha that Yetzias Mitzrayim is the core of all of Emunah. That core is developed already from the action of Rosh Chodesh. Hence Yachol M’Rosh Chodesh.>


Ba’avur Zeh Lo Amartee Ela B’Shaah Sh’Yeish Matza U’Maror Munachim Lifaneicha – Why recite the Haggada when these symbols of Slavery are apparent? Shouldn’t the ideal time to recite the Haggada be after these items are consumed? Rav Shimon Schwab used to note that “Ba’avur Zeh” started while the Jews were already still in mitzrayim. It was in the merit of following the Mitzva to eat Matza and Maror while still in Mitzrayim that we were let out.

VaEten l’esav Et Har Seiyir LaReshet – Why do we care what Esav got? Rabbi Lamm used to note that the fact that Esav was not in Mitzrayim made it that he had no right ot Eretz Canaan/Eretz Yisroel. Rav Hirsch notes this in his pirush to Tehillim 22 – not Lamah azavtanee but rather L’mah – what meaning and purpose does this anguish and suffering have for me/ What am I to do with it?


V’he She’Amda: The Rokeach in his commentary to the Haggada tells about the dispersal of a mob hell-bent on Jewish blood in exchange for a young woman who fell in to a well in Minchenberg in 1185 as his example of proof that Hakadosh Baruch Hu Matzil. However, the events of Tolouse, of Israel, and Riverdale in our times highlight that we need to be diligent. To those who say this paragraph highlights Jewish paranoia and hysteria, Rabbi Wein quotes Nixon who used to say “you’d also be paranoid if the whole world were against you.” While hoping for a better tomorrow, we need to be realistic in the world today. This is the message of V”He She’Amda.

Hava Nischacma Lo: Why didn’t Pharoah simply massacre the Jews? The Ramban notes that to do so would have caused a huge uproar in the country when a nation, brought into Egypt BY THE KING is massacred by another king. Therefore he decided to massacre them in a way they wouldn’t notice. Taxes. Hidden edicts like the ones with the Miyaldos. Let anyone with a claim come and bring proof. In this manner, Pharoh convinced the Egyptians that they could destroy the Jewish nation and still be “ethical.”  Rav Simcha Zissel Broide of Yeshivas Chevron (Sam Derech, Shemos) notes that this lesson highlights the need to tie ethics closely to the torah. Where the Torah is not at the center of the ethical teachings (Mussar) then those teachings are merely superficial – lacking the complete honesty of ethics.  Such superficial “ethics” leave room for decrees, progroms and murder periods. Rav Broide notes that when we follow such a crooked path, we will follow in the ways of Egyptians: at the beginning, merely with taxes – leaving the people on.  Afterwards by murdering babies until ultimately, anarchy exists and Egyptians were coming into the home to murder people indiscriminately.

Ani V'Lo Malach: Only Hashem has expansive picture (Rabbi Baruch Simon) at hand. Also explains why we say Chad Gadya at end – after all, it is the blue print of Jewish History.

Tzlach (Pesachim 50) – While in Olam HaZeh we say HaTov V'HaMeitiv and Dayan HaEmes but in future say only HaTov V'HaMeitiv - what does this mean? After all, It says  “Odecha Hashem Kee Anafta Bee” ? Rather in Olam HaBa, we will have  the broader vision of Yetzias Mitzrayim. (Chasam Sofer (p. Ki Tisa -- Only understand Hashem in retrospect <Rav Schachter - U'Panai Lo Yeirau>). Rabbi Simon wanted to explain that this is why we highlight Bnei Brak – Barkai and explains Laila KaYom Yair.

U’b’Osos Zeh HaMateh – See Yalkut Shimoni who traces the development of the staff from its genesis on the original Erev Shabbos Bein HaShmashos to Moshe’s time.  HaGaon HaRav Eliyashiv Shlita asks where it is today? Wouldn’t such a power be something quite beneficial in the world we live in? He answers that the power is not in the staff but rather in the joining of the staff to the hands of the right person to possess it. It only works for someone worthy of holding it.  It is like the LaHat Cherev HaMishapechet. Today we all sorts of power in the world that is used the same way.

Rav Lamm used to note that we spend too much time looking for the Matteh—the magic wand-- instead of realizing that it is B’Yadeicha that makes it work. If we are worthy…


Dam tzefardeiya:  Rabbi Lamm pointed out the divine irony in the Maakos. The Egyptians worshipped the Nile for its ability to provide for them and it threatened to kill them. They worshipped frogs for their fertility and the frogs grew so fast, that the people went out of their minds. Rav Lamm added that we too, tend to put our faith in foreign elements (science etc.) and need to know that behind it all is Hakadosh Baruch Hu.



Kama Laku B’Etzba—HaGaon Harav Belsky Shlita points out that a finger and a hand are different. The Finger is used to point something out, the hand is used to strike. The same was true in Mitzrayim – the Makkos were to point out the errant ways of Egypt. Once this was not learned, then on the Yam, Hashem really fully struck at them.



B’Chol Dor VaDor: How can we relate to the Seder as if WE left Mitzrayim? It seems impossible! We weren’t there? Rav Shimon Schwab used to answer by noting that in a human being there are thousands of cells. The cells present at the time of birth are likely all dead by the time one has hit adulthood. Still, people have no problem pointing to an arm or a leg and referring to it as the arm or leg “I broke way back then” even though the arm is, on a cellular level, a different one. This is because it is the same arm connected to one body. The same is true about Bnei Yisroel. The individuals may change but to those who pledge allegiance to the team, the experiences relate to US. Maybe that is why the Rasha is removed – since he does not include himself, he would not have joined in order to get out.


Galus (Hotzeeyanu Miyagon l’Simcha; Me’Avel L’Ym Tov etc.): Why the three descriptions?  The Nesivos Shalom notes that Galus is experienced by different Jews in different ways.  Shevet Levi did not do the Avoda – but were still in the darkness of Egypt enslaved. Similarly today some of us are enslaved to life – doomed to work endless hours with no real point in the work. When we get to the purpose that will be Heirus. Some are enslaved to the Yetzer HaRa – That is Shibbud – no real personal goals. The antidote is Geula. Some lack the ability to see where they are and how to persevere – their redemption comes with the Ohr Gadol. Each piece is a different type of Geulah and worthy of expression but only after Daas – awareness that the antidote comes from Hashem.


Asher Kideeshsnu B’mitzvosav:   Rav Wolbe (Daas Shlomo) noted that we are surrounded by magnetic fields in this world. Money is magnetic, desire, is magnetic, Kavod and status are all magnetic issues in our world. They pull us away from our focus and drag us in many different directions – often against our will. Torah and mitzvos repel the magnetic pull. They allow man not to be compelled but rather place him in control of his destiny to be able to direct how and where s/he wants to utilize all of that which exists in his/her power – toward a higher divine purpose. Food, drink, etc don’t become that which I “Have to do” or “need” but rather become tools to be used in the service of Hashem.

Afikomen:  Rabbi Wein notes that Afikomen food is eaten after a satisfying meal. This is because we do not eat it out of hunger – rather out of holy responsibility to the word of Hashem.  He tells the story of a Holocaust survivor who bought an apartment in Israel prior to the war which he sparsely furnished in comparison to the large home he had in Hungary. However, when the war came and he was in the concentration camps, the survivor survived by regularly concentrating on that apartment and furnishing and refurnishing it in his mind. That was the Afikomen he would “hold on to” no matter the cost of the exercise.  Afikomen reminds us to have a taste that stays will us and lasts a lifetime.


Chad Gadya: The Talmud Berachos (5a)notes that one who feels he is losing in his battle against the Yetzer HaRa should remind the Yetzer of the day of death.  Why does this work? Rav Evli Passveller (Ga’Avad Vilna) used to note that the Satan, Yetzer HaRa and Malach HaMaves are all the same thing. By calling him out on the carpet and recognizing what he tries to do and where he ends up driving us, it stops us from going all the way. (cognitive labeling technique)


V'anisa v'Amarta: Why do we use Mikrah Bikkurim as the basic text for the Haggadah? Ohr Sameach notes that the goal for the seder night is the global picture of Hashgachas Hashem. That's why we say V'aneesa


Rav Moshe Schapiro (YU Library): That's why we start the Hagadah with the Simanim -- kaddeish 'rechatz etc. Stating the global and then going to the Specific.

Chasam Sofer (Derasha): That's why we end with Beracha because you cannot see Geulah until get to the end

Beis HaLevi: I sinned with M'Az, now I will praise you with Az. Beis haLevi asks what the sin of Az was? He was saying that the Avdus was a bad thing. Now that see Az --was necessary. This is Odecha Hashem Kee Anisanee.