Pesach is here once again! One of the most important and anticipated holidays of the year, as well as one of the most fun! Tonight at the Seder, we will discuss in-depth the story of how we left Mitzrayim through the reading of the Hagadah. The Hagadah is one of my favorite books to study, and as we do every year, let’s take a look at a piece of the Hagadah and see what deeper meanings we can uncover.
We open Maggid with the paragraph of “Ha Lachma Anya.” It consists of us pointing out the matzah as the bread our forefathers ate while they were in Mitzrayim and inviting others to join in the Seder with us. A question struck me this year: Why do we open the Seder by pointing out the matzah? By placing it first, we are labeling it as the main idea for the remainder of the Seder; but what about the Korban Pesach, the Makkos, the Splitting of the Sea, the Marror? The matzah doesn’t have a greater place in the story of leaving Mitzrayim or in the Hagadah than these other items; how come it gets a more prominent place in the ceremony?
The commentaries all discuss this idea of formally inviting people to the Seder, something not done by any other holiday. While we invite people all the time, it is not a formal part of the holiday (or Shabbos) ceremony. Why do we do this on Pesach? They explain that on the holiday of Pesach there is a special focus on tzedakah.
The Chasam Sofer has his own explanation for this idea. He asks why do we make a big deal out of leaving Mitzrayim? While we may have been free then, nowadays we are still in Galus; why should we make a big deal out of once having been free if we are no longer so?
He explains that there is a fundamental difference between the galus in Mitzrayim and our galus nowadays. By Mitzrayim, Hashem made a deal with Avraham that his children would go into exile and upon leaving they would become the Chosen People. The deal was that they would be in exile for 400 years and there was nothing they could do to change it. Only Hashem could take us out earlier than that (and he did; we were only in Mitzrayim for 210 years). Also, the limit was set at 400 years; it wouldn’t have gone on any longer.
The galus we currently struggle with is the exact opposite. There is no limit on this galus; it’s been going on for 2000 years and it could go on for many more, chas v’shalom. But at the same time, it can end today! It’s entirely up to us! How can we make it come sooner? By doing Torah and mitzvos; however, certain mitzvos can bring the geulah faster than others. According to the gemarah in Bava Basra (10a), one of these mitzvos is tzedakah.
Says the Chasam Sofer, this is what we are doing at the Seder. We hold up the matzah, the symbol of our galus, and invite others to join us, we do tzedakah. We tell each other, “Yes, we may be in galus, but by joining together we can bring the geulah very soon!” This is why we focus on the matzah, we want to point out that we may still be in galus, but by inviting others to join us we can change that very quickly. And this is why we can make a big deal about leaving Mitzrayim even though today we remain in galus, because we have the power to change this galus into geulah.
Even though we only have one Seder (or two), the entire week of Pesach is the holiday of geulah. Let’s keep this message in mind over the entire holiday, and who knows, by the end of the week we could be celebrating in the Beis Hamikdash!
Chag Kosher V’Sameach!
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