Hagadah 5771

(The following is an unedited transcript of the Haggada Shiur of Rav schwartz from 5771)

Kaddeish – what is the significance of the 4 cups at the seder?  The Vilna Gaon explains that the 4 cups represent the four worlds: Olam HaZeh, Yimos HaMoshiach, Techiyas HaMeisim, and olam Haba.  Kiddush is recited on the first cup because it represents Olam HaZeh, we’re in one must sanctify himself.  The second cup represents yimmos HaMoshiach so therefore we recall the story of the exodus from Egypt Based on Ki’mi Tzeischa M’Eretz Mitzrayim Areinu Niflaos.  The third cup is drunk immediately after the meal, corresponding to Techiyas HaMeisim and the Seudas Leviyasan.  The last couple refers to Olam Haba when we recite Hallel HaGadol (5771).

4 cups – Rav Shlomo zalman Auerbach asked why we drink 4 cups of wine as opposed to any other drink.  The reason, he explained, is that when someone drinks the entire drink, he might finish the entire first cup enjoying even the last drop.  He manages to finish even a second cup but by the time he gets to the third cup he is sick  of the drink and the fourth cup he is not willing to touch.  Wine, has the opposite effect.  Each cup is better than the first.  This is similar to the Leshonos of Geulah, represented by each cup, -- each one expresses a level of Geulah that is greater than the one before it.  (5771)

U’rechatz – The Sefer Divrei shalom brings down the idea that Urechatz comes from the word “Beh Ana Rachitz” in other words many times people to mitzvos and don’t experience a sense of holiness, of Kiddusha.  Therefore, the Haggadah tells us “Kaddeish” sanctify yourself by doing things that inspire Kiddusha and then rely on god.  In other words, our job is to make our Hishtadlus.  The Sfas Emes (Terumah 5631) notes that included with the responsibilities of Bitachon is a personal bitachon in one’s actions and in his mitzvah observance – Betach BaHashem V’Aseh Tov” .  Therefore at the seder, an experience that inspires Bitachon, we open with a reminder that once actions on this night have an effect –and by taking initiative one can wipe away even the evil actions of the past. (5771 – Rav Shor, Lekach V’HaLibuv).

U’Rechatz -- I saw an interesting thought relayed by Rabbi Avrohom Shorr (Lekach V”HaLibuv) who noted that the word Rechatz comes from the word for bitachon -- as in “Beih Ana Rachitz” because many times a person will do mitzvos and  good deeds and will not feel a sense of holiness at that time.  For that reason we begin the seder with Kaddeish -- wherein we are told you take care of yourself -- doing the things that promote kedusha - and then Rechatz – have Bitachon that hashem will do his share as well. (5771.


Karpas -- in the Sefer Yismach Yisroel it is noted that throughout the year, Karpas is often the vegetables that lack Chashivus -- they are the side dishes -- never the Ikkar.  Notwithstanding, on the seder night the karpas takes center stage in the leadoff spot to teach us that even someone who is in a lowered an impoverished state throughout the year, tonight s/he can achieve great spiritual levels (5771).


Karpas – why do we dip the Karpas in salt water?  And why do we follow it with yachatz?  According to the Abarbanel the exile in Mitzrayim began as a result of selling Yosef.  At that time the brothers through him in a pit and dipped his Kesones Pasim in blood.  Our dipping, reminds us of how the brothers dipped the coat in blood, starting the Galus off.

Rav Meir Goldvicht explained but this is also why we break the matzo right after we eat the karpas.  The breaking of the matzo represents the breaking up of the family of  Yaacov.  Right after we represent that breakup, we try to fix the rupture by doing and saying things that express our togetherness.  This includes demonstrating our love for all four sons, and our patience for questions. (5771).


Hashata Hacha – why are we so thankful that we were taken out of Egypt if we now find ourselves in a longer and more bitter Galus?  The Chasam Sofer explains that the exile of egypt’s was decreed for a set period of time and the Jewish nation was powerless to hasten the redemption.  On the other hand, Torah present exile has no specific minimum length of time it’s me is controlled entirely by our actions hits for this reason that we’re thankful to be in a position where we can bring V redemption through our mitzvos and kind deeds. (5771)


Beracha on Haggadah – the Chasam Sofer once asked why we wait until after the Maggid to recite a bracha on Sippur Yetzias Metzrayim.  He noted that the central text of the Beracha is the idea of V’Nodeh Lecha Shir Chadash” which can only be recited in the correct place and in the proper state of mind – that of Cheirus.  Thus we must wait until we hit that point in the seder. (Compare to Ger and Tevila when Ger makes Beracha) (5771)


Mah Nishtana -  it has been pointed out that this section contains both questions and answers.  The overarching question is why is this night (a reference to the current galus) different than longer than the ones that preceded her.  In the other exiles at times we had wealth (chometz) and at times poverty (Matzo).  This one contains only poverty.  Other exiles had vegetables-- a mix of bitter and sweet-- this one is only bitter.

Like a jew, who answers the question with the question we answer with two questions as well. This exile we dip twice-- are dependent on our desires.  We are therefore punished with Maror -- an experience without any moment of peace and serenity.  To the question about matzo, we respond tonight because we lack humility.  When one lacks humility he is punished with the lowered status  of matzo. (5771)


Mah Nishtana – why do children get such a important role in the proceedings of the cedar?  Why we prompt them to ask questions at the seder more so than any other time during the year?  According to some commentaries, the children are given such a significant part at the seder, because when we remember the suffering of our ancestors in Egypt, we see that the children were involved with so many of the terrible decrees.  To mention a few:  killing the baby boys, throwing them out children into the Nile, the midrash of Pharoh’s bathing in baby’s blood, the use of the children instead of bricks, the separation to prevent them from having too many kids, Moshe’s promise that we’d take our children into the desert (5771).

Avadim Hayeinu – if god loves the Jewish people so much, why did he subject them to the exile in Egypt?  Some commentaries explain that all of the ways of Hashem are Middah K’negged Middah.  Before they went to Egypt, the sons of Leah and Rachel did not give the proper honor to the children of the handmaidens.  This distressed Hashem greatly, for all of the tribes were equal in his eyes.  To rectify the situation, god made all of them slaves.  Later on, they would all be able to declare avadim Hayeinu – establishing the importance of harmony among the Jews. (5771).


Ben Zoma and the Chachamim -- why did the sages maintain that we will mention the exodus from Egypt, which wasn't in complete redemption and was followed by many catastrophes, even after the arrival of Mashiach?  Why refer to the inferior redemption once the superior one has been achieved?  The Lubavitcher Rebbe once explained that the Egyptian exodus symbolizes a Jew who is distant from god but makes a sincere, concerted, effort to come closer.  While in Egypt, the Jews may have been steeped in idolatry that the trusting god and left. Yimos HaMashiach represents the jew who is close to god and finds it easy to serve him. This begs the age old question : Who is greater?  He was spiritually compromised who tries hard to beat better or the person who is already enthralled with the worship of Hashem. There is no simple answer.  So both types of Jews have their own irreplaceable contribution to make.  And thus, in the future when one


Ben Zoma- why didn’t the Chachamim accept the position of Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah until Ben Zoma concurred with it and supported it with his own Derasha?  Some commentaries explain that Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah was actually the one who came up with the Derasha but since he was so young, the Chachamim to normal listen to him.  When Ben Zoma thought his critical lesson – Eizeihu Chacham HaLomed Mikol HaAdam, then they thought to accept the words of the young man. (5771)


Rasha – the Ksav Sofer points out that the question of the Rasha is why do you do all of the preparations for the Korban Pesach by yourselves – why get involved with the menial tasks of slaughtering  and roasting?  The Torah’s answer is clear: BaAvur Zeh Asah Hashem Lee – hashem too, got involved in the menial specifics.

Rav Zalman Sorotzkin pointed out that a Rasha considers any type of worship of Hashem to be an Avodah – the cumbersome burden. (5771).


MeeTechila Ovdai Avodah Zara – The Leil Shimurim notes that if the exile would not have been for our benefit, we would not be obligated to think hashem for the redemption.  The passing of generations has caused imperfections and impurities in all people including the children of Avraham.  When HaShem wanted to choose one nation – Bnei Yisroel – to be his chosen ones, he needed to clean all of their impurities.  This was the purpose of the exile.  Thus we note, MeeTechila Ovdai A”Z  -- because we have impurities in our past we were sent to exile to be purged of Sin.  Because of this, we were able to be drawn closer to god.  Therefore it is fitting to thank Hashem, for sending us into the exile (5771).


MeTechila – the Brisker Rav once noted that it was Abraham we refer to as originally being an idol worshiper (See Rambam Hil. A.Z. 1:3).  For if this paragraph refers to Terach –why do we refer to him as our forefather?  I believe that we learn a valuable lesson from here.  No matter where one begins,  it is possible to develop nito something Great – all you need to do is take the first step (5771).

MeeTechilah – the Mishnah (Pesachim 116a) notes a debate between Rav and Shmuel as to what Genus means – But why must we start at the low point in any event? The Ohr HaChaim answers that since it says “v’Higadita” and the word “L”Haggid” implies a strong type of speech, we start the story in a Harsh place. The Malbim adds that we start in a harsh place in order to make the sweetness of success more profound. (5771)

V’Achrei Kein Yetzu B”Rechush Gadol – the Talmud (Sanhedrin 91a) tells the story about the time the Egyptians approached Alexander the Great to ask for reparations for what happened when the Jews took the gold and silver from Egypt. Geviha Ben Psisa responded to the charges by asking for 210 years of wages times the 600,000 men who worked.  However, why make the Egyptians pay?  After all will we not slaves just to pharaoh?  Why charged the whole country? Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk (Meshech Chochma, VaYigash) explains that pharaoh owned all the people and all the wealth in Egypt.  So whatever the people and belong to him and would need to be paid off first. (5771)


Lavan tried to ruin it all -- the commentaries ask where we find a reference to this idea in the Torah?  Furthermore, why do we note Arami oveid Avi VYered Mitzrayima – what is the connection between those events? Rav Chaim Kanievsky (Taama D”Kra) noted that in Sefer HaYashar it is written that after Lavan and Yaakov parted, Lavan sent messengers to Esav telling him to go kill Yaakov. The Midrash HaGadol notes that the reason Eisav didn’t kill Yaakov was that he was informed that if Yaakov didn’t go down to Egypt, he – Esav – would have to. This is the Arami Oveid Avi we refer to – he tried to make it so that Yaakov would be killed – and Eisav insisted that it be Yaakov to go to Egypt in his stead. (5771)

Baruch Shomer Havtachaso L’Yisroel – Why is this even here? The chayeii Adam explains that when one hears about how Eisav got Har Seir and Yaakov and company went to Mitzrayim, s/he might learn that it is better to be a Rasha (Compare to B’Shuvo Me’Har HaMoriah Haya  Avraham Miharher). To this we answer – no – Yaakov and company left B’Rechush Gadol (5771).



VaYered Mitzraimah Anus --  Rav Schachter likes to remind us (See Pninei Rabbeinu  p. 92) that Yaacov was faced with a dilemma.  If he were to leave the land of Israel on his own, he would lose his merits to the land just as his brother Eisav did.  Rav Soloveitchik would explain that when Yosef was Viceroy he couldn’t leave the land of Egypt.  Thus Yaacov had a choice:  go to Egypt with his sons and promote harmony or stay in the land of Israel and strengthen the settlement. Yaacov felt he had only one choice – that unity trumped even the right to the land of Israel. (5771).


Mitzuyanim Sham – Rashi explains that the Jews didn’t assimilate into Egyptian culture but rather lived all together as one nation in one city. The Abarbanel adds that the assimilation was profound considering the fact that it lasted for 210 years.  Yet, the Jews did not change their names, language, religion, or clothes in order to prevent this type of assimilation.  The Midrash comments in the name of Rav Huna (B”shem Bar Kappara) that the fact that the Jews did not tell Lashon Hara was one of the merits that was used to take them out of Egypt. The Shelah asks how this is possible if we know that Moshe was worried that there were gossip mongers among the Jews at the time that he killed the Egyptian?  (5771)


Metzuyanim Sham – why is it that the Jews chose to be separate when living in Egypt? Rav Shach once explained that there is a Midrash which tells the story of how the Jews were able to be off on Shabbos. Rav Shach wondered what the significance of keeping such a Shabbos could possibly be? What would that Shabbos be different than if it were a Tuesday?  He answered – based on the Talmud (Yoma 28b) that their Shabbat was spent studying all the different prophecies from the time of Adam and onward until their times. This was passed through from generation to generation – keeping the people close and avoiding assimilation (5771).


VaNitzak El Hashem -- Rav Pinkus tells a story about the time Rabbi Shmuel charkover was very sick.  The students at his yeshiva, Beis HaTalmudwere recting Tehillim around the clock. Rav Leib Mallin, the other rosh yeshiva, caught Rav Pinkus in yeshiva’s office calling to other schools to ask them to say tehillim as well. Rav Leib told him “you don’t need a telephone to say Tehillim.” Rav Pinkus tried to explain to him that he was on the phone trying to arrange Tehillim.  Again, he was told “you don’t need to speak on the phone, you need to say Tehillim.” He repeated the same idea a third time. Rav Pinkus noted that he learned a valuable lesson from this exchange.  There are times for programs but then there is time for crying.  Once a gezaira has already been decreed, one needs to recognize that the problem is not with the adversary but rather with god and it is to him that we must turn to, to change the situation. (5771)


V’Es Amaleinu Eilu HaBanim  -- Hayiora Tashlichuhu – at the time of Kriyas Yam Suf, the malachim wanted to say Shira. Hashem told them this was strange – Maaseh Yadai Toivin BaYam V”Atem Omrim Shirah? But why is it so bad for the maalchim to sing praise at the destruction of the wicked? Furthermore – Tovim BaYam seems to imply at the hands of others – who drowned them? Rebbe Shemlke of Nicksburgh once noted that a the angels wanted Egyptians to hear their voices singing as this would hasten their death – similar to what happened at the destruction of Sancheireb (See Sanhedrin 95b).  Hashem responded  “my handiwork were drowned in the sea (the Yior) for which I must punish the Egyptians Midda K’Negged Midda. You want them to die via singing? (5771)


Lo Al Yidei Malach --  doesn’t the Possuk state that “Lo Yiten HaMashchis” implying that there WAS a Malach that did the work? The Ritzba explains that Hashem was the one who destroyed the Egyptian firstborn. However the Mashchis wasn’t allowed to work at all --- he could not allow a single Jew to die on the night of Yetzias Metzrayim. (5771).


Eelu Kervanu Lifnei Har Sinai – Rav Pinkus wanted to know why it was so important to we brought close to Har Sinai and then not received the Torah?  He answered that even if we would have entered a covenant with god, without receiving Shabbat or the Torah – it alone would have symbolized the idea of living together with god for which we would’ve been obligated to offer praise and thanksgiving to Hashem.  For that we say Dayeinu (5771).


Ram Al Kol Goyim Hashem – there are two words that both imply height in the Hebrew language – Ram and Gavoha.  Rav Pinkus cites his father who noted the difference between the two words. Ram refers to something that exists only on high totally detached from the world underneath it. Gavoha refers to something whose height is measured from the bottom – like a tower.  When one considers the nations of the world, God is Ram – they think that he is totally detached from their day to day lives. We note that he is Magbehe  LaShavet – and pays attention and care to everything going on in our world (5771).


Koreich – Hillel is the one who teaches us in Pirkei Avos – Heveh Mi’Talmidav Shel Aharon – Oheiv Shalom v’Rodef Shalom.  His entire personality was to combine everything together.  Thus, it is only fitting that Hillel is the one who would combine the bitter and the good – the Matzo, marror and Korban pesach (5771).