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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays The Seder Night

Seder Night

The story of the Exodus must be told in a spontaneous manner, bursting out of the depths of the heart. One should attain a renewed sense of that feeling experienced by the Children of Israel, as if it were happening here and now.
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The sages teach us, "In every generation, a Jew is obligated to regard himself as if he personally had gone out of Egypt."
In other words, the story of our Exodus from Egypt is not a mere recounting of an event that happened to our forefathers once upon a time. Rather, it is an event the impact of which continues to be felt by every Jew in every generation throughout history.

When one sits down on Seder Night and tells the story of the Exodus to his children, he must feel as if he is recounting an event that happened to he himself. The reason for this is that the Exodus from Egypt did not merely free us from physical bondage - it freed us eternally ("Cherut Olam"). The Exodus from Egypt served to infuse us with a new, free soul, deeply affect by the Divine nature. All of the souls of Israel for all generations left Egypt for eternal freedom. This concept is reminiscent of the idea that, according to our sages, all of the Jewish souls of all the generations were present at Mount Sinai for the giving of the Torah.

What’s more, every single year, on the holy night of Passover, Seder Night, the Divine illumination which was present during the original Exodus from Egypt is renewed. This illumination, though, is very inward, and very deep, and unfelt by the senses. The mind cannot identify this inner manifestation; emotion cannot sense, concretely, the greatness of that which is being revealed. Only special people with deep spiritual capacities truly understand and experience for themselves the same kind of rejuvenation which took place then with the Exodus from Egypt.

The sages therefore teach, "In every generation, a Jew is obligated to regard himself as if he personally had gone out of Egypt." Indeed, deep inside, in the depths of the Jewish soul, a lofty illumination emanates forth in such a way that it acts upon him and elevates him.

According to some authorities, this is the reason that we do not recite a blessing before reading the Haggadah. Just as there is a blessing before every commandment, so too there really ought to be a blessing like, "Blessed are You Who has commanded us to tell the story of the Exodus" over the recital of the Haggadah. It is explained that, in essence, the commandment is fulfilled by identifying, feeling, having an inner experience. In other words, the most important thing is what transpires in one’s heart, and when it comes to things that take place in the heart there is no need to pronounce a blessing.

The commandment to recall the Exodus from Egypt is unlike other commandment. It is not like the precept of Torah study which one fulfills even if he does not understand what he is reading. The same goes for the commandment of hearing the reading the Scroll of Ester or reciting the Hallel prayer of thanks - one need not understand what is written therein.

When it comes to the Passover Haggadah, the true point of the commandment is to understand, to know, and to make an effort to feel as if one had himself exited Egypt. This is the opinion of Rabbi Yehudah Liva, the Maharal of Prague. The story of the Haggadah must be told in a spontaneous manner, bursting out of the depths of the heart. One should not restrict himself to the formal confines of the Haggadah but should attain a renewed sense of the same feeling experienced by the Children of Israel, as if it was happening here and now. This is the essential goal of Seder Night.


Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh Yeshiva of the Bet El Yeshiva, was the head of the Yesha rabbis board and rabbi of Bet-El, founder and head of Arutz 7.
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