Pesach, Matzah and Maror - From a Crisis to Growth and Redemption

Parasha in the everyday life- Pesach- Shabbat Chol Hamoed - Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald 5780

On Seder night, we mention the Mishnah:

בְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת עַצְמוֹ כְאִלּוּ הוּא יָצָא מִמִּצְרַיִם

“In every generation a man is obligated to regard himself as though he personally had gone forth from Egypt” (Mishnah Pesachim 10:5).

Each year we need to find out what the exodus from Egypt means to us, to our special, personal and general situation. The upcoming Seder night will be different and unique in relation to all the 'Sedarim' we knew.

Passover is the 'holiday of liberty' and for this reason we eat matzah, and when the Temple was still existent also from the Passover offering, both of which express freedom. But why do we also eat bitter herbs -Maror? Why should we mention the bitter and tragic taste of exile after we have been allowed to leave it?!

At the beginning of the Mishnah we mentioned:

רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל הָיָה אוֹמֵר, כָּל שֶׁלֹּא אָמַר שְׁלֹשָׁה דְבָרִים אֵלּוּ בְּפֶסַח, לֹא יָצָא יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ, וְאֵלּוּ הֵן, פֶּסַח, מַצָּה, וּמָרוֹר.  פֶּסַח, עַל שׁוּם שֶׁפָּסַח הַמָּקוֹם עַל בָּתֵּי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ בְמִצְרַיִם. מַצָּה, עַל שׁוּם שֶׁנִּגְאֲלוּ אֲבוֹתֵינוּ בְמִצְרַיִם. מָרוֹר, עַל שׁוּם שֶׁמֵּרְרוּ הַמִּצְרִים אֶת חַיֵּי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ בְמִצְרָיִם.

“Rabban Gamliel used to say: whoever does not make mention of these three things on Pesah does not fulfill his duty. And these are they: the pesah, matzah, and bitter herbs. The pesah because the Omnipresent passed over the houses of our fathers in Egypt. The matzah because our fathers were redeemed from Egypt. The bitter herb because the Egyptians embittered the lives of our fathers in Egypt.

From his words we learn that this remembrance is a must! And those who did not say did not fulfill their duty on the Seder!

The Rishonim asked whether 'he did not fulfill his duty' at all! Or did he not fulfill his duty 'properly', but in retrospect did fulfill his duty? (HaMeiri Psachim 116, Ritba Sukah 28:1, Rambam, Zebach Pesach-L’Abarbanel on the Haggadah and more).

And they also questioned what mitzvah were they referring to when it said did not fulfill his duty. Was it the duty of the ‘Biblical commandment’-Mideorayta of eating the Passover sacrifice, matzah, and maror? Or did he not fulfill the ‘Biblical commandment’-Mideorayta of telling the story of the Exodus from Egypt if he did not "say" what the meaning is of Pesach, matzah and maror, since they are the essence of the "story". Hence, the minimum required for the mitzvah is the statement of Rabban Gamliel.

To the opinion of 'not fulfilling his duty’ by eating, a question is raised: "We did not find in the rest of the commandments that a question is asked about them: For what? In the rest of the Mitzvot is enough to say the Bracha to fulfill the mitzva!" (From the Chidushei Agadot on Pesachimמהרש"א  שמואל איידלס).

Although the Tosafot have already answered the question.

From the Pasuk: וַאֲמַרְתֶּ֡ם זֶֽבַח־פֶּ֨סַח ה֜וּא

 “you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice” We learn that it is a unique mitzvah that must "be said" and also learn from this inference about matzah and the bitter herbs (ibid).

Why does this uniqueness exist precisely on the Seder night?

The interpretation of Rabbenu Manoah (a Maimonides commentator) may be significant to us on this year’s Seder night: "whoever does not make mention of these three things...” Meaning that you have to say it and explain it. Because all the commandments have a reason. And knowing the reason of the mitzvot is a big part (to keep them), etc.

In all the commandments it is important to know the reason, and the reason of the commandments on Passover even more! Because when you remember, the person will be awakened to believe with complete belief that in that redemption Hashem revealed to all Israel and to everyone else. (During the Seder we deal with the foundations of faith. Mentioning the Passover, Matzah, and the bitter herbs reinforces this faith). ( Sefer HaMenucha on Mishneh Torah Leavened and Unleavened Bread 7:5)

He later referred to the religious meaning of the Maror: And we say afterwards: “In every generation a man is obligated to regard himself as though he personally had gone forth… etc. and in this remembrance there will always be “Fear of Heaven” as it was in Israel and never let his heart out of it. And if he kept his time very confidently, in the hope that Hashem would be Israel’s Savior in times of trouble, and just as the Egyptian exile was a reason to benefit from later, so all the troubles of this exile are a reason for Israel to be saved forever" (ibid).

Eating the bitter herbs for generations is meant to take in the consciousness that, thru the process of bondage and suffering, a process of redemption and change is undergoing underneath the ground. In "real-time" it cannot be seen, but when the underground process ripens, it bursts into reality. Therefore, the Maror is an integral part of the Seder and there is no Passover and Matza without the Maror!

The Prime Minister quoted to the nation (in the name of the Rabbi) the explanation statement of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook zt’’l to the Pasuk:

וְעֵֽת־צָרָ֥ה הִיא֙ לְיַֽעֲקֹ֔ב וּמִמֶּ֖נָּה יִוָּשֵֽׁעַ׃

It is a time of trouble for Jacob, but he shall be delivered from it.” (Yirmiyahu 30:7)

-It is not the intention that the trouble will end and there will be a salvation, but that the process of the trouble is what creates the salvation.

We pray for a speedy end to the world corona epidemic and the hardship and suffering it entails. But on the eve of the Seder, the insight grows sharper; during which a dramatic change in the world order is made. And we pray that it may be for the better. And

כִּימֵ֥י צֵאתְךָ֖ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם אַרְאֶ֖נּוּ נִפְלָאֽוֹת׃

“I will show him wondrous deeds as in the days when You sallied forth from the land of Egypt. " (Micah 7:15).

The Sukkah - as an ideal model for unity among the people of Israel

Sukkot 5780- Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald

Is there a connection between Chag Sukkot and the ideal model for bridging the gaps between the various streams in Israeli society, between religious and secular, between right and left and between immigrants and veterans, etc.?

The Gemara in Masechet Sukkah (27b) contains the following discussion concerning the requirement to sit in a Sukkah “And the Rabbis say: Although they said that a person does not fulfill his obligation on the first day of the Festival with the lulav of another, he fulfills his obligation with the Sukkah of another, as it is written: ‘All the homeborn in Israel shall reside in Sukkot’ (Vayikra 23:42). This teaches that all of Israel are fit to reside in one Sukkah. In other words, the sukkah has the potential of unifying all streams of people of Am Israel, and how?

Some advocate a pluralistic approach - a belief in tolerance and liberality. According to which, everyone has his own truth and everyone is right, because there is no "objective truth", and in any case no one can claim that the truth is only his. In principle, this approach should not create tension between the different streams because everyone has legitimacy to adhere to his or her own truth, provided he does not hurt others!

Does this approach stand the test of reality, has it managed to diminish the gaps - after all, the controversial questions between the sectors are questions of life and death and each approach sees its rival- as the root of evil and the source of all our disasters?!

Many years ago, someone made a coin "Long live the unifying blur!" And he meant that in blurring the differences between the streams, we can create a sense of unity?! Was he right? Is it possible to ignore the polar approaches of different sectors to the most fundamental questions?!

On the other hand, there were those who supported the creation of a broad common denominator and a "status quo" by mutual concessions. Each stream will, for its part, give up a maximum of distinguishing and separating principles, thus creating as wide a common denominator as possible which will create the unity between the streams! But is this the real solution, requiring every stream to give up the truth that guides their life and what they believe in?!

"The One Sukkah" teaches us a way to create unity despite the disparity, without blurring the differences.

The Sukkah - a memorial to the Sukkot of the “Clouds of Glory” by which they were sheltered in the desert. The “Clouds of Glory” was a major Sukkah that encompassed all of Israel as one. Everyone was there for their tribes. Each tribe – with its special character and its special flag and all were assembled as one man in "צילא דמיהמנותא "The Shadow of Faith” -“Tzila Demhimanutha" under the wings of the Shekinah.

There, the unique identity of each tribe was not blurred. On the contrary, each tribe was a pillar of the complete Am Israel. The joint and infringing stay had the potential of mutual dialogue and complementary projection, each affecting their uniqueness to one another.

Also, in the future "He will give the righteous the merit to sit in the Sukkah of the skin of Leviathan." Each righteous man with his own special way connects to his fellow under the wings of the Shekinah.

Nowadays, the Sukkah is the model for true Israeli unity. Into this “all of Israel” Sukkah, all the citizens of Israel enter, anyone with a link to the people of Israel, its destiny and fate. Anyone who wants the benefit and success of the people of Israel.

To the Sukkah, he is supposed to come when his view has a nucleus of truth. Even if it is to emphasize the difference and uniqueness of the view and approach. The basic nucleus, is a core of truth.

At the entrance to the Sukkah the basic approach must be that there needs to be acceptance of the different ideologies, they all have a truth that is necessary for the complete mosaic of opinions, and through dialogue it can be placed in the mosaic at the right place and weight. It is precisely because of its diversity that it is an essential pillar for the complete building of the ideas and opinions and approaches and practices that build the House of Israel. We should not give up on anyone.

The Sukkah is a temporary building. It can easily crash. At the entrance to the Sukkah, everyone must understand that our national building is fragile, and if we do not act carefully and act as if we have an insurance certificate forever, it may indeed collapse.

Come, brothers, to the Sukkah - all of us!

And we will find the way to bridge and take advantage of each other’s differences.

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