BS"D || Rabbi Geier
Haggadah as a Duty
The variety of values of the Passover holiday is enormous. Let's choose one to take with us on this Kabbalat Shabbat prior to Pesach.
One of the first concepts that comes to mind has to do with freedom. The history of the Haggadah and the Torah itself takes us back to that. And that awareness, which the Hag invites us to carry out these nights, this week, has to do with the colossal phrase "Each human being in each generation must feel as if he himself had left Egypt." Feeling, experiencing, weighing and evaluating this concept of being liberated—and then feeling that something changed in our lives for our own liberation.
Our custom as the Jewish People is to have a critical view of the past, and of course also of the present. It is not just eating or singing or being together; the value of being liberated must be present. And how do we make it present? With questions.
As I already mentioned in the last Temple Times article, it is not just about the Ma Nishtana that we dedicate to the little ones. Of course not. It continues with the questions of “Passover, Matza or Maror” and their answers, as well as with the rereading of the Haggadah and the story that we must repeat even if we are wise or scholars of the Torah and already know it by heart, just as the Haggadah tells us:
“Vaafilu kulanu chachamim, kulanu nevonim, kulanu zkenim, kulanu yodim et haTorah, mitzvah aleinu lesaper biYetziat Mitzrayim; vekhol hamarbe lesaper biYetziat Mitzraim, harei ze meshubach”.
Therefore, even if we were all endowed with intelligence and knowledge and we were all Torah-knowers, it would still be our duty to narrate the Exit from Egypt, and everyone who increases their effort in this story of the Exit from Egypt is worthy of praise.
It is told of 5 rabanim: Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Tarfon, Rabbi Eleazar ben Azaria who were discussing the Exodus from Egypt all night, until their students approached them to warn them that they should stop their discussions and head to morning prayer...
How much could rabbis of the stature of these doubt or have to review about the text of the Haggadah or the Exodus, being all of them so scholarly?
We are a people of questions rather than answers. Talmud discussions are all about questions and cross-questions, some of which we may never be able to answer.
Today, in each Seder, we must ask ourselves, but above all, generate in our families the curiosity and warmth to be able to bring forth the questions that lead our tradition, our people and our Judaism, at the level of observance that each family and each individual wants to commit to keep looking for answers—or, perhaps, to keep producing new and interesting questions.
May our tradition invade our homes and our hearts. May the memory of our Sedarim of our childhood, or youth, or of our adult life will be with us and may we once again achieve the best of freedoms, which is to continue questioning and asking ourselves to improve our being and that of those around us.
Shabbat Shalom veHag HaPesach kasher vesameach. May we achieve the best and most important of the mitztvot: that of transmitting.