Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig
e-mail yosil@MNSi.net

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The Steps Of The Seder Are :

1) Kaddesh - make Kiddush;
2) Ur'Chatz - wash hands (without a Bracha;
3) Karpas - eat a vegetable dipped in salt water;
4) Yachatz - break the middle Matzah (for the Afikomen);
5) Maggid - tell the story from the Haggadah;
6) Rachtza - wash hands (with a Bracha) for the Matzah;
7) Motzi - make the Bracha over Matzah;
8) Matzah - make the special Bracha for eating Matzah;
9) Marror - make the Barcha for eating bitter herbs;
10) Korech - eat the sandwich of Matzah and Marror;
11) Shulchan Orech - eat a festive meal;
12) Tzafun - eat the Afikomen; 13) Barech - recite the Grace;
14) Hallel - sings praises to Hashem;
15) Nirtzah - we hope that Hashem has accepted our prayers.


The first step of the Seder is Kaddesh, in which we recite the Kiddush over wine, sanctifying the night and the holiday. What is the significance of beginning the night with this step?

The step of Kaddesh, the sanctification of the holiday, is something that the nation of Israel can do only when they themselves are sanctified and holy. What is this sanctity and holiness?

Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk, the "Or Sameach" connects the sanctity of Israel and the holiday to a statement of our sages, Cha"zal. Cha"zal have told us that the four cups of wine we drink on the Seder night are representative of the four expressions of redemption, the "Arba L'Shonos Shel Ge'ulah" that Hashem uttered regarding our redemption. R' Meir Simcha notes that we see a connection between Kedusha - holiness, and separation from illicit relationships - Arayot, from the Torah. This is true, as the portion dealing with Arayot is placed next to the portion known as "Kedoshim," which begins with a statement saying how the nation of Israel is to be holy and sanctified. As the B'nai Yisrael strictly adhered to the laws regarding these relationships while in Egypt, they were considered holy and sanctified. This "allowed" Hashem to utter the first expression of redemption - "V'hotzeisi" , "and I will take you out", as only a nation of sanctified people could be taken out of Egypt to then receive the Torah and Mitzvot.

As we are holy on this night, we can therefore proceed with the sanctification of the night, a step which itself symbolizes our holiness and sanctification. This first cup which we drink is that of Kiddush. The first expression of redemption which is represented by this cup was uttered because of our holiness. As we, the nation of Israel are holy, we were taken out of Egypt, and given this night, this holiday to sanctify. After we perform this sanctification, we are set to perform the Mitzvot of the Torah that we were commanded to do on this night.

Why, if we thank Hashem for taking us out of Egypt on this night, do we not also bless Hashem for performing the accompanying miracles for "us" as we do on other occasions?

As part of Kaddesh, we do recite the blessing of She'he'cheyanu, "Who has 'brought' us to this time," as we do on all holidays. Reb Amram Gaon explained that we do not say the blessing of She'Asa Nisim , "who performed miracles" as we do on Chanukah and Purim because on the night of Pesach we have the Haggadah, in which we relate the miracles that occurred to us from the time of our bondage to the time of our redemption. This telling over of the miracles make a blessing for them unnecessary. Only on Purim, when we do not have Kiddush, a sanctification of the holiday, and a Haggadah, containing a recitation of all the miracles, do we say this special blessing.

This question, concerning the blessing of She'Asa Nisim, is also dealt with by the Aruch HaShulchan. The Aruch HaShulchan in Orech Chaim, 473:2-3 asks as follows: "The Tur writes 'that we do not make the Bracha of She'Asa Nisim by the Seder because we will say it later in the Haggadah...' meaning that just as we make the Bracha on Chanukah and Purim, its obvious that we should on Pesach as well, but because of the fact that in the Haggadah we discuss all the miracles and wonders and then we make the Bracha of "Asher Ge'alanu" at the end of Maggid, this is like making the Bracha of She'Asa Nisim, and there is no need for two Brachot. However, this reason is not enough, as by the Megillah (the story of the miraculous turn of events which Purim commemorates), we make the Bracha of She'Asa Nisim before reading the Megillah, and another Bracha after the Megillah, so if we can say two there, why can't we say two here? "

The Aruch HaShulchan firsts mentions an answer offered by the Maharil. The Maharil said one only makes the Bracha of She'Asa Nisim on a Mitzvah D'rabanan, a Mitzvah of Rabbinical origin, which means that we would make the Bracha on Purim and Chanukah, but not on Pesach which is D'Oraita - Scriptural in origin. The Aruch HaShulchan writes that he does not understand this answer, so he offers what he thinks is the true answer. The Rabbanan, who instituted and formulated the Brachot, only established Brachot when we are blessing Hashem for commanding us to do a specific Mitzvah, such as eating Matzah, sitting in the Sukkah, or blowing Shofar. They did not make Brachot out of the Mitzvah itself. As we are commanded in the Torah to tell about the miracles of the night, and this is the Mitzvah of the night, if we had a Bracha which would in fact amount to fulfilling the same obligation (remembering and mentioning the miracles) it would be a Bracha composed of a Mitzvah D'Orayta. The Rabbanan did not make this type of Bracha. Only by a Mitzvah D'rabanan could they formulate such a Bracha.

The next three steps of the Seder - Urchatz, Karpas and Yachatz - all share a common goal: to inspire the children to ask questions so that they will stay awake for the answer which will be discussed in the step that follows - Maggid.

Urchatz, Karpas

How does the step of Karpas ( and Urchatz, which is essentially a "Halachik" preparation of our hands for performing Karpas, and therefore, really a "part" of Karpas) accomplish the task of inspiring children to ask questions?

The Maharal of Prague explains that there is disagreement as to how the step of Karpas is accomplishes this. The fact all agree on is that it is unusual for a person to dip food on two different occasions during one sitting for a meal. The item of contention is which of the two dippings we do tonight is "unusual" : the one before the main meal has begun, or the one during the course of the meal? { We know that during the Seder, we dip the Karpas in salt water before the meal (Shulchan Orech) has begun, and the Marror in Charoset after we have already eaten the Matzah, which is considered during the meal.} If the dipping before the meal is unusual, when the child sees it he will then be inspired to ask "Why are we doing something out of the norm; We never do this by our meals at any other time during the year?" If the dipping during the meal is unusual, the child will ask the question then.

The Maharal feels that dipping during the meal must be the unusual one. Otherwise one could just dip before the meal, and accomplish the goal of piquing the child's curiosity. Another dipping would be superfluous. Yet, the Ma Nishtana contains the observation that what makes this night different is the two dippings. It must be the second of the two which is unusual and therefore inspires the child to ask. Therefore, we must dip as normal before the meal, so when during the meal we dip the Marror, the child will ask why we are doing so, to which we respond "Because of the special Mitzvah of eating Marror which we have on because we were slaves in Egypt....Hence, we see how extensive our planning is, and how important it is to keep the children involved.


As, according to the Maharal, the above dipping is not out of the ordinary, we do something that will be effective now. During Yachatz, we break the middle Matzah and place it aside. We perform this unusual action to pique the child's curiosity, to inspire the child to ask questions now and throughout the next section of Maggid, and to keep the child awake throughout the entire Seder, in anticipation of finding out what is done with this Matzah which we hide away.

Why do we hide this second piece of Matzah? If the goal of our breaking the Matzah was merely to pique the curiosity of the children etc., wouldn't breaking the Matzah and leaving both pieces untouched on the table until later be enough of a diversion from our normal course of action to accomplish the same goal?

The Vilna Gaon gives a reason why we hide the piece of Matzah that will be used for the Afikoman and remove it from the table until after the meal. He says that the reason is very similar to the one given for why we cover the Challah when we say Kiddush, that being to prevent the "embarrassment" of the Challah which is being passed over in favor of the wine. {Normally, bread is considered the most distinguished food, and the blessing before consuming it comes before the blessing before consuming anything else. On Shabbat, we need to make Kiddush over wine before we begin the meal. Therefore, we cover the Challah bread, so it will not be "ashamed" that a blessing is being made on another food before it.} Similarly, when we later make the Brachot on different pieces of Matzah, we cover and remove the Afikoman from the table, to prevent it from embarrassment as it is being looked over, as it is not eaten until after the meal.


The main portion of the Seder is the portion of Maggid. The topics in Maggid range from the events dealing with our enslavement to those dealing with our departure, with many others in between. When looking through Maggid, one might notice that it is filled with passages from the Gemora, Midrash, as well as other Talmudic sources. A question that arises immediately upon reading through Maggid is concerning the order of all the passages: What was the rationale behind the placement of the passages in the order that we have them?

Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik, before beginning his Seder, used to explain the Mitzvah of Maggid by asking the following question: It appears (from the Gemora in Brachot 12b) that there is a Mitzvah of remembering our departure from Egypt every day. Therefore, it would seem that there is no less of an obligation on this Seder night than any other day. What makes the Mitzvah of remembering our departure from Egypt different on the Seder night?

Reb Chaim would answer that there are three elements that distinguish the Mitzvah of "Zechirat Yetziat Mitzrayim" - remembering our departure from Egypt, on Pesach from any other day. (These differences can be inferred from Rambam - Mishnah Torah, Hilchot Chametz U'Matzah, Chap. 7.) They are: A) the obligation to tell others; B) the obligation to relate the chain of events; and C) the obligation to explain the reasons behind the Mitzvot. This is explained as follows:

A) On every other day during the year, a simple Zechira, or "reminding one's self" about the departure suffices. However, on the Seder night, not only is there a Mitzvah to remind one's self, but there is also a Mitzvah to tell others, in a question and answer format (See Shemot 13:8, 14). Furthermore, we see in the Gemora (Pesachim 117a ) that if a person has no one to relate the story of our departure to, he should tell it to himself as if he was telling others. Remembering alone does not suffice on this night, as it does the rest of the year.

B) On the Seder night, there is an obligation to tell about and explain the chain of events beginning with our descent to Egypt and ending with our redemption.

C) We do many Mitzvot on this night in commemoration of our experience in Egypt. On the Seder night, we are obligated to explain the reasons behind these Mitzvot. This is clearly seen from the passage of "Rabban Gamliel Omer - Kol shelo amar shlosha devarim b'Pesach, lo yatza y'dei chovaso..." - "Rabban Gamliel said 'All who do not say about three things on Pesach do not discharge their obligation...."

These three elements are what distinguishes the Mitzvah of remembering our departure from Egypt on this night from any other day during the year.

According to Harav Avraham Pam, this answer of Reb Chaim sheds some light as to the placement of the passages contained in Maggid. Maggid begins with an introduction. This introduction consists of an invitation to join in the Seder, and the posing of the Four Questions, whose answer sets the theme for the evening. After this introduction, the Haggadah mentions in the passage of Rabi Elazar ben Azarya that there is an obligation of remembrance throughout the year. Then, the Haggadah continues and begins to demonstrate the uniqueness of the Mitzvah on this night.

A) We see from the "Four Sons" that the Haggadah should be told to others, in question and answer form.

B) Beginning with the passage of "M'tchila", the Haggadah relates the chain of events which culminated in our redemption.

C) After we have finished relating the history, we explain the reasons behind the Mitzvot of the evening, starting with "Rabban Gamliel Omer."

Once we have completed demonstrating how the Mitzvah of remembering our departure differs tonight, we are then prepared to sing praises to Hashem, a Hallel, which begins with "L'fikach," which concludes the section of Maggid.

Part I : Introduction

Why do we begin the step of Maggid with Ha Lachma Anya, which begins with a statement about Matzah?"

In order to understand the answer to our question, we have to look at what we are saying carefully. The Haggadah begins with a declaration about the Matzah which we have before us. "This is the bread of affliction..." the Haggadah tells us, "that our forefathers ate in the land of Egypt". This passage is somewhat puzzling. If one looks in the Torah, the only mention of Matzah that will be found is in conjunction with our departure from Egypt. The reason why that Matzah was eaten was because our departure from Egypt was in such haste, that our dough did not have enough time to rise. Where do we find this Matzah "that our forefathers ate in the land of Egypt"?

The Vilna Gaon answers that our forefathers most definitely ate Matzah during the time of their bondage in Egypt. However, the Torah only mentions Matzah in conjunction with our departure, which was a Simcha, a joyous occasion. Matzah, and particularly that which we are referring to now, symbolizes as well the hardship we, as slaves, suffered in Egypt.

It is clear that Matzah has a dual symbolism, representing both slavery and freedom. These two themes of slavery and freedom, although contradictory, appear throughout the course of the Seder. We begin Maggid by mentioning the Matzah, which epitomizes the contradictory themes of the evening, thereby setting the tone for the evening.

After we make the declaration about Matzah and its dual symbolism, we extend an invitation to all those who are in need of food or a Korban Pesach. The Ya'avetz, Rav Ya'akov Emden, writes that the invitation that we are extending to all those who are in need of food is directed towards non-Jews. This must be the case, Rav Emden says, as there is a custom to take care of the sustenance of the Jewish needy before Pesach (Maot Chittim/Kimcha D'Pischa). We extend this invitation to the non-Jews not because they have any Mitzvah relating to Pesach. We do this in accordance with the Gemora in Gittin -" Mefarn'sin Aniyay Akum Im Aniyay Yisrael Mipnei Darchei Shalom," that we are to sustain the non-Jewish poor with the Jewish poor in order for there to be peace (between the Jews and non-Jews). Once we have provided sustenance for our own poor before Pesach, we offer assistance to the non-Jewish poor in order to foster peace. At the same time, we invite all Jews who are unable to perform the Mitzvah of Pesach by themselves to come join us at our Seder.

The Vilna Gaon adds that it is due to this very fact, that we are inviting the poor, that we conclude this paragraph with "Hoshata Hacha, L'shana Haba'ah...." Our poor brethren are not self reliant, and are depending on us for their meal. This may cause the poor and needy to feel bad about their situation on this night of celebration. We therefore try to comfort them by illustrating how in reality we are all equal. Right now, "hoshata hacha, hoshata avdei" - we are all here together and we are all slaves. Next year, we will all be in Jerusalem together as free men.

Ha Lachma Anya - This Is The Bread Of Affliction Ha Lachma Anya is composed of what appears to be three separate thoughts:

1)The declaration about the Matzah being poor man's bread;
2) Extending an invitation to the needy;
3) Declaring our present status as being in exile, and that next year we will be free in Jerusalem.

The Aruch HaShulchan, Rabbi Yechiel Epstein, in his Haggadah Leil Shimurim, offers an explanation as to how these thoughts are connected. He notes that our departure from Egypt occurred in a "super-natural" way, "L'ma'ala min hateva." We were slaves who had to eat a poor man's bread. Yet, because of the miracles of Hashem, we are now free. At this point in the Seder, before we truly begin, the compiler of the Haggadah wanted to comfort the destitute and poor, as well as strengthen their trust in the divine intervention of Hashem. He wanted to stress that the poor ( as well as those who are not) should trust in Hashem , that He will provide, even though at this moment in time it seems so far from likely that the status of the poor person will change. However, as we know that Hashem is the one who dictates what is to occur, and is not bound by what we may call the laws of nature, the salvation of the poor can occur at any time.

We therefore say to the poor "See this bread that we ate in Egypt. We were destitute, we were downtrodden! Yet we were STILL freed from the enslavement because Hashem performed miracles for us. Hashem will perform miracles for you, too. Go ahead, all those who are needy, eat from other people's table and do not be depressed about your situation. Go share in someone else's Pesach, and do not feel bad that you have to turn to others for help at this time. Just lift your eyes to Hashem in prayer, so that he will save you personally as well in a way that may seem super-natural, not according to what we call nature. Hopefully, out of the kindness of Hashem, your prayers will find you in a better situation, and will result in all of Israel being in a better situation, as free men, in Jerusalem!"

Mah Nishtana - the Four Questions

After we conclude the invitation contained in Ha Lachma, the Mah Nishtana, the Four Questions, are asked. The Aruch HaShulchan, Rav Yechiel Epstein writes that these four "questions" should not be asked or intoned in an inquisitive manner. Rather they are to be said in a tone of wonderment (as we see in the Pasuk of "Mah Gadlu Ma'asecha Hashem - How great are your works, Hashem! ). We are saying "Look how different tonight is from other nights: We eat only Matzah, we dip our food twice, we eat Marror, and we recline!"

According to the Malbim, the Ma Nishtana does not contain the questions we expect the children to ask. Each child, according to his or her level of comprehension, will ask questions when unusual events crop up during the Seder. What the Ma Nishtana does do is present a clear contrast of the two themes running throughout the Seder - slavery and freedom. The first two questions deal with the symbols of slavery on this night - Matzah and Marror, and the second two deal with symbols of freedom - dipping and reclining. This contrast allows us to realize how much we owe Hashem for allowing the latter part - our freedom - to occur. Hence, with this feeling of gratitude now swelling up inside us, we are now fully aroused and prepared to continue with the telling of the story of our departure with the proper feeling and emotion. This is why one must say the Mah Nishtana even when alone at the Seder.

The Abarbanel comments as well that the Ma Nishtana is drawing our attention to this very important point. Tonight, we act in ways that represent both slavery and freedom. Our eating of the Matzah and the Marror commemorates the harsh and bitter slavery, from which we suffered greatly. Only moments after performing these commemorative actions, we dip our foods and recline while eating. These are signs of nobility and dignity. These are actions which represent our status as free men, servants only to Hashem. The resulting question of "Why on this night do we act in ways which are contradictory" yells out, begging for an answer.

Avadim Hayinu - We Were Slaves

The answer to this question is Avadim Hayinu L'Pharoah B'Mitzrayim, we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt. However, on the same night that we begun as slaves, Hotzi'ainu Hashem Elokienu Misham, Hashem took us out from there, and we became a nation of free men. One night in history, we were both slaves, and free men. Contradictory actions on this night are very appropriate.

Rav Ya'akov Emden notes that there are also two contradictory elements contained in our enslavement. We were "Avadim L'Pharoah," slaves to a king. A certain level of dignity existed as our enslavement was to a king, and not the Egyptians themselves. In fact, we see that the tribe of Levi was accorded respect, in their not having to perform labor. This is cause for a remembrance of our enslavement which is positive.

However, we were also slaves "B'Mitzrayim," in Egypt. Mitzrayim was descended from Cham, one of the sons of Noah. Because of the lack of disgrace and respect that Cham showed towards Noah, he was cursed. This curse was that Cham and his descendants were to be eternal slaves. This meant that the B'nai Yisrael, by being slaves in Egypt, were slaves of slaves. This is a great level of lowliness and degradation. For this, we also have a remembrance. Because of these two aspects, it is fitting to have contradictory symbols during the Seder.

Rav Eliyahu Dessler in Michtav Me'Eliyahu explains that there were two dimensions to our liberation from Egypt. On one hand, it was a physical liberation. We were no longer in Egypt as slaves. This liberation could have occurred through the deceptively natural workings of politics rather than with the outwardly supernatural and miraculous rescue by Hashem. Yet, if that had occurred, the results could have been devastating. We could have been forever indebted to those people who appeared to be instrumental to our release. We could become overconfident in our own prowess and forget that it is Hashem that truly caused our freedom. We would become blinded by that which appears as natural in the workings of the world. We would become ensnared by this trap which has eternally misled mankind. Only the openly divine intervention of Hashem could make us truly free from the impurity of Egypt. Only the openly divine intervention of Hashem through a miraculous display of His power would allow us to see the truth: Hashem controls all, and only Hashem can help us. Only because of that are we free.

The K'sav Sofer points out that the Haggadah says "We were slaves in Egypt." This statement is in accordance with the requirement that a person is obligated to view himself as if he himself was taken out of Egypt, which we will see explicitly stated later in the Haggadah. However, there is a part of the paragraph of Avadim which is inconsistent with this approach. Later in the paragraph, we state that "If Hashem had nor redeemed our forefathers...we would still be in Egypt." According to the approach that we are to take this evening, and as evidenced earlier in the paragraph, this sentence should have stated that if Hashem had not redeemed us, we would still be in Egypt. Why is there this inconsistency?

The Ksav Sofer answers that the answer lies in how we translate the words in this sentence. The Hebrew words are "V'eilu lo hotzei HaKadosh Baruch Hu es avosainu." The translation of this passage that we had been using of "and if Hashem had not taken out our forefathers..." does not translate the word "es," which frequently has no meaning of its own. However, there are times when the word "es" means "with." If we interpret the words according to this definition, we not only understand how there is no inconsistency, but we also gain an important insight into the kindness of Hashem. The sentence would now read "If Hashem had not taken (us) out with our forefathers...we would still be in Egypt." If Hashem had not begun counting the promised 400 years of our exile with our forefathers, and hence, not taken us out with (the reckoning starting from the time of ) our forefathers, we would still be in Egypt. Why would we still be there? During the time the nation of Israel was enslaved in Egypt, they sank to what is termed by our Sages as the 49th of 50 levels of impurity. If they had sunk to the 50th level, they would have never been redeemed. Had Hashem not started the 400 year clock running as early as He did, the nation of Israel would have definitely sunk to the 50th level, and therefore not been redeemed.

Towards the end of Avadim Hayinu, we say that even if we were all wise and understanding, the obligation to engage in the Mitzvah of Sipur Yetziat Mitzrayim, telling about our departure from Egypt, remains. This implies that even if you are not arriving at any new insights or interpretations from that which you have said previously, there is a Mitzvah to increase your telling. Rav Avraham Trop was puzzled by this. What is so special about repeating what was said previously; what is the gain; why is this so important that it is called a Mitzvah?

He answers by quoting the Gemora in Pesachim which says "Bechol dor vador, chayav adam..., "In every generation, a person is required to view himself as if he went out of Egypt." If a person truly felt that he was taken out of Egypt, Hashem performed miracles for him, and that he was released from bondage and brought to freedom by Hashem, he would definitely want to repeat the story. The nature of man is such that he enjoys recounting those adventures and miraculous happenings in which he was involved. Telling the story over would give the person pleasure. Therefore, in order for us to demonstrate that we truly feel as if we were taken out of Egypt, we increase our telling over of the story. This demonstration is so important that there is a Mitzvah in increasing our telling over about our departure from Egypt.

Ma'aseh - It Happened The last line of Avadim Hayinu and the passage of Ma'aseh b'Rabi Elazar which follows it stress the same point: the telling about our departure from Egypt on this night is the Mitzvah we are to be focusing upon. The Haggadah tells us that all who increase their telling about our departure above and beyond that contained in the Haggadah are praiseworthy. The Vilna Gaon says that this is true no matter the intellectual capacity of the person. We see from the incident with Rabi Elazar that the sages we so engrossed in their discussion about our departure that a student had to summon them in the morning and inform them that it was time to recite the morning Shema. These sages were on a very high level of intellect and comprehension. Therefore, their discussion continued throughout the night and into the morning. However, any person who, according to his own capacity, continues his discussion, is praiseworthy.

Amar Rabi Elazar - Rabbi Elazar Said The introduction concludes with the source for the Biblical commandment of Zechirat Yetziat Mitzrayim, remembering our departure from Egypt, year round. Rabi Elazar ben Azaryah tells us that he did not merit knowing the allusion made to this Mitzvah until Ben Zoma spoke about it. The Rambam explains that in reality, Rabi Elazar was a youngster. However, due to his increased diligence in learning, he physically weakened and signs of old age set in. It is for this reason he said "I am like seventy years old." Rabi Elazar is telling us that although he joined himself in the company of sages and toiled and exerted great effort in learning to the point that he aged, he still did not merit knowing this allusion until Ben Zoma said it.

The Vilna Gaon explains the allusion and the debate surrounding it. The passage which is the focus of the debate is that of "Kol Yemai Chayecha," "All the days of your life." The word Kol, all, in this passage can have two possible implications: Constantly, which means throughout the entire day but not necessarily every part of the day; and every day, without interruption, and not referring specifically to today. Ben Zoma felt that the meaning of the word Kol was the "entire" day, and therefore something additional was needed to teach us about the obligation at night. The Chachomim felt that the meaning was every day, and therefore something additional was needed for that which it will lead to: the days of Mashich.

With this explanation of the Mitzvah of Zechirat Yetziat Mitzrayim, the Haggadah concludes its introduction. The Haggadah continues with the demonstration of how the Mitzvah tonight is different.

PART II: The Obligation Of Telling To Others

Why, before we start with the four sons, which illustrates our obligation of telling to others, do we bless Hashem in the passage of Baruch HaMakom?

Baruch HaMakom - Blessed Is The Omnipresent

This section really begins with the Four Sons. Before we discuss the four sons, the Haggadah blesses Hashem and his Torah in Baruch HaMakom. The reason for this, the Ritva explains, is because all that we know about the four sons does not come from one location in the Torah. It comes from three different verses, Pesukim, which are located in different parts of the Torah. Yet, we see that the Torah does contain all that is to be said on this subject. Therefore we bless Hashem for giving us a complete Torah, a Torah Shelaimah, which contains all these lessons.

The Four Different Types Of Children

There are four different types of children that the Torah speaks about in reference to the Mitzvah of telling about our departure from Egypt.

Chacham - The Wise Son

The first one mentioned in the Haggadah is the Chacham, the wise son. The Chasam Sofer finds the dialogue between the Chacham and his father a bit confusing. The Chacham asks "What is this testimony ....that Hashem commanded us?" The father responds "...one is not permitted to eat after the Afikoman has been eaten." Regarding the question of the son, nowhere do we find that the Hebrew term "Aidus" , "testimony", is used in conjunction with our actions on Pesach. Why then is the Chacham asking "What is this testimony?" Furthermore, how does the father's response answer the question?

The Chasam Sofer answers by explaining that the Korban Pesach, the Paschal sacrifice, is a unique offering. Anytime a regular sacrifice is brought, parts of the animal are waved by the Kohanim who perform the service, and parts are given to them to eat as well. This makes the animal easily identifiable as a sacrifice even after the ritual has been performed. However, after the Korban Pesach is slaughtered, it just sits before us, in its entirety. This makes it very difficult to distinguish this animal as one which has been sanctified. What does distinguish this offering from all other unsanctified animals is how it is to be eaten. In the tractate of Pesachim there is a Tosfos which tells us that we must be satisfied after eating the Korban Pesach, as it is not fitting that "one should leave the table of their master hungry." This requirement, that we be satisfied after eating the Korban Pesach, is a definite sign that this animal we are eating is not ordinary, but it is an animal to be consumed with a lofty and spiritually elevated eating.

The Chacham is asking "what is the testimony that we have on the laws that Hashem commanded us to do on Pesach? This animal we are eating seems no different from any other animal we eat all year round. How do we know that this animal is sanctified and holy?" The father answers back "One is not permitted to eat after the Afikoman (the Pesach offering)." The fact that we must eat this animal and we must be satisfied after doing so is a good sign and proper testimony to the sanctity of the animal we are to eat tonight as the Korban Pesach.

The Rasha - The Wicked Son

The second son mentioned is the Rasha , the wicked son. When asking his question, the Rasha excludes himself from being part of the nation of Israel. Therefore, our response to him is that if he had been in Egypt at the time of the redemption, he would not have been redeemed for this very reason. If one looks closely at the verses used to answer the four sons, one would notice that the same verse is used to answer both the Rasha and the She'aino Yode'a Lish'ol - the one who does not know how to ask. However, by the She'aino Yode'a Lish'ol, the negative and exclutionary implications are not present. Why is this so?

The Sifsei Chachamim notes that in Egypt, Hashem only performed miracles for the righteous, who knew and observed the Torah. The ignorant were saved and redeemed only in the merit of the righteous. The wicked, however, were not to be taken out at all. The merit of the righteous could not save them. Therefore, the response to the Rasha and the She'aino Yode'a Lish'ol are the same: The miracles were performed for me -Li- and not for you. For the Rasha, this meant dying in Egypt. For the She'aino Yode'a Lish'ol, this meant redemption in the merit of the righteous. It is for this reason the exclutionary implications of the verse are only mentioned by the Rasha.

The Tam - The Simple Son

The third son that is mentioned is the Tam, the simple son. The Abarbanel comments that if one examines the context of Parshat Bo from where the answer to the Tam was taken, one can tell what motivated the question. The verse says V'haya ki yish'alcha bincha..., "and it will be when your son asks you by saying 'What is this?' and you will say to him 'Hashem took us out of Egypt with a mighty hand." The Tam was asking his question with a pure heart, innocently, without any evil implications. He wanted to know "What is this?" The only thing holding the Tam back from understanding the Mitzvah is his simplemindedness.

The Shae'aino Yode'a Lish'ol - The Son Who Can't Even Ask

The fourth son is the Shae'aino Yode'a Lish'ol - the son who does not even know how to ask a question. The verse quoted as the response to the She'aino Yode'a Lish'ol is "Ba'avur Zeh...". Rashi says the meaning of the verse is "Because I will keep the Mitzvot such as Pesach and Matzah, Hashem took me out of Egypt." This understanding seems odd. One would think we do the Mitzvot of Pesach, Matzah, and Marror because we were taken out of Egypt. Rashi, however, seems to say that we were taken out of Egypt because of the Mitzvot. How can this be?

Reb Yerucham Levovitz answered this question. He explained that one must truly understand why miracles are performed. In the case here, Hashem performed miracles for us so that we would be able to fulfill the Mitzvot of Hashem. The fact is not that we were taken out and therefore we perform Mitzvot. We were taken out of Egypt because and in order for us to do Mitzvot. Hence, we were taken out of Egypt because of the Mitzvot of Matzah and Marror. Our departure was a means to an end.

Yachol - One Might Think

This section of Maggid concludes with the source of the obligation of Sipur Yetziat Mitzrayim, telling about our departure from Egypt, in conjunction with V'higadita L'vincha, telling your son. Rashi explains that one might think he has to speak to his sons about the departure at least by Rosh Chodesh Nissan. This is because of the fact that in reality, we have an obligation to discuss the laws of Pesach, Sho'alin V'Dorshin, 30 days beforehand. This would hold true if the verse had only said V'higadita L'vincha. With the addition of the words Bayom Hahu, on that day, we might say that from the time on that day we become obligated to bring the Korban Pesach, the Pesach sacrifice, we also have an obligation of telling to our children. Therefore, the Torah adds the words Ba'avur Zeh....: you are not obligated to tell your son the Haggadah until you are visibly able to show him Matzah zu, Marror zu, this Matzah and this Marror. This is only when they are sitting before you at the Seder. Hence, this is the only time the Mitzvah of V'higadita L'vincha applies.

After demonstrating the first difference in the Mitzvah of telling over about the redemption from Egypt tonight, that being the obligation to tell others, the Haggadah will continue with the second difference: the relation of the chain of events leading to our redemption.

PART III - Relating The Chain Of Events

Mitchila - From The Beginning

The Kol Bo writes that starting with the passage of "Mitchila," "From the beginning," ... we begin the true telling, the true Haggadah of the evening. This telling, as we will see, begins with our disgrace, G'nai, and ends with praise, Sh'vach.

The Haggadah starts the chain with the fact that our forefathers started out as idol worshipers. Only later did Hashem bring us close to him and his service. The nation of Israel was told this fact by Yehoshua, Joshua, in a statement which the Haggadah brings down: "Originally, Avraham, his father, and brother worshiped idols. However, Hashem took Avraham and led him through Cana'an. He was given Yitzchak as a son, who in turn had Ya'akov and Esav. Har Seir was given to Esav as an inheritance, and Ya'akov and his family went down to Egypt."

The Chasam Sofer notes that a distinct use of expressions are apparent in the above passage. We know from the Torah that the land of Cana'an was to be the inheritance of the nation of Israel. The inheritance for the descendants of Esav was to be Har Seir. In the above passage, however, only by Esav does it say that an inheritance was given. By the inheritance of Israel, the passage merely says "and I led him through Canaan." No mention is made of the ultimate inheritance of the land of Cana'an by the nation of Israel. The choice of words here was deliberate, so that it would remind us of an important aspect of our lives on this earth. When Esav and his children were given their inheritance, it was given with finality: that was all they were getting. However, the giving of the land of Cana'an to Avraham and his children was not a final giving. Rather, it was "and I led him through," a giving for a person to be led through the land of Israel to a place higher than it. The giving was to be used as a stepping stone to reach higher levels of spirituality and eventually achieve the ultimate inheritance, the World to Come.

Baruch Shomer Havtachato - Blessed Is He Who Keeps His Pledge

After we mention this initial stage in our history, we thank and bless Hashem for keeping his promise made with Avraham, that being of releasing us from Egypt at the proper time. Hashem told Avraham that his children will be strangers in a land which is not theirs, and they will be oppressed for 400 years. However, the nation which oppressed them will be judged. Afterwards, the nation of Israel will depart with great wealth.

If one examines the actual amount of time the nation of Israel spent in Egypt, from the time that Ya'akov arrived with his family to the time of the exodus, one will find that the time is short of 400 years by almost 200 years. Rashi explains that the 400 years is to be calculated beginning with the birth of Yitzchak, and ending with the exodus. When Hashem said that Avraham's children will be strangers in a land which is not theirs, He did not day this meant specifically Egypt. In fact, we see that the Torah indicates that we should calculate the 400 years from Yitzchak's birth. The Hebrew word for stranger is "ger." From the time that Yitzchak was born, the Torah, when trying to convey where one of the forefathers dwelled, used the expression "Va'yagar," "and he wandered." We find the use of this word by Avraham, Yitzchak, Ya'akov, and the Twelve Tribes. We see that the Torah is conveying the message that from the time Yitzchak was born, the exile of 400 years began.

The Rambam explained why Pharaoh and his nation were deserving of the great punishment on the account they enslaved B'nai Yisrael. As Hashem made a decree of "Ger Yihyeh Zaracha...", "Your offspring will be strangers in a land that is not theirs...", it would seem that Hashem wanted the B'nai Yisrael to be enslaved to a nation. All the Egyptians did was take the role of that nation. Why, therefore, were they punished?

The Rambam answered that it was because of this very point that they were punished. All that was decreed was that the B'nai Yisrael would be in a land "that was not theirs." Never was Egypt mentioned as being this land. Any nation was able to fill the role. Therefore Egypt did not have to enslave the B'nai Yisrael. It was a task that was "Efshar al yedai acher", possible for someone else to do. But, as Pharaoh chose himself and his nation to be the ones who would fulfill the decree and enslave the B'nai Yisrael with back breaking labor, he and his nation got their just reward.

Vehi Sheamda La'avotaynu - He Stood By Our Ancestors

Before we continue relating our history, we make a declaration, of Vehi Sheamda. We declare that the promise that Hashem made to our forefathers, to redeem them, holds true even for us. In every generation there have been those who have sought to destroy us. However, Hashem always rescues us from their hands. Rashi comments that this declaration of Vehi Sheamda is the reiteration of the promise that Hashem made to Avraham of "V'gam as hagoi asher ya'avdu, dan anochi..." The nation that enslaves you will also be judged by Me..." This promise, which has stood for our forefathers, stands for us as well. Anyone who comes upon us, Hashem judges them and saves us from their hands.

Tzeh Ulmad - Go And Learn

We now continue with the forefather whom with our exile in Egypt began, Ya'akov. The Haggadah tells us that Ya'akov's father-in-law Lavan was unlike Pharaoh. Lavan attempted to destroy Ya'akov and all of the B'nai Yisrael, while Pharaoh only wanted to destroy the males of the B'nai Yisrael. Ya'akov's dealings with Lavan not only led to our eventual descent to Egypt (as will be explained), but, according to the Shevilai Leket stresses the point of "B'chol dor va'dor..." "In every generation, they arise against us to destroy us..." just mentioned in Vehi She'amda . The Vilna Gaon carries this point further by saying that from Ya'akov, we also see Matzilainu Miyadam - that Hashem saves us from the hands of those who attempt to destroy us, as after Ya'akov left the house of Lavan, he did not realize that Lavan pursued him with evil intentions. However, Hashem came to Lavan and told him to stop.

Arami Oved Avi - An Aramean Attempted To Destroy My Father

The Haggadah then quotes Devarim 26:5, which is the verse that connects the actions of Lavan to our descent to Egypt. The Alshich explains the connection between Lavan's dealings with Ya'akov and Ya'akov and his family going down to Egypt in the following manner: Rachel, not Leah, was supposed to marry Ya'akov. If this had happened, Yosef would have been the B'chor, the firstborn. This did not happen because Lavan tricked Ya'akov by giving him Leah to marry first. As Yosef was not the firstborn, the other brothers resented the special treatment he received. This resulted in the sale of Yosef, and ultimately the descent of Ya'akov's family to Egypt.

This passage of Arami Oved is said as part of the confessional that one recites when bringing Bikurim, consecrated first fruits, to Jerusalem. Rav Y.Z. Soloveitchik wondered what the connection is between the contents of the passage and Bikurim. Furthermore, one we mention in this passage the troubles that Ya'akov suffered at the hands of Lavan, why do we not also mention the troubles Ya'akov suffered at the hand of Esav?

He answers that when a person recites this confessional, he is relating how Hashem has steered us to where we are today. At one time we were enslaved, we were then redeemed, given the land of Israel and hence we are now able to bring Bikurim. Because this is the theme of the confessional, we can only speak about the servitude that Ya'akov was freed from, that being the servitude to Lavan. The servitude to Esav, however, will not end until we are redeemed in the time of the arrival of Mashiach. Therefore, Esav was not mentioned in this confessional which speaks about both our enslavement and redemption.

When the Pasuk says "Vayagar sham" , "and he sojourned there", the Haggadah tells us that this teaches us that Ya'akov did not intend to settle down in Egypt. Rather, his stay was to be temporary. The Pasuk in Bereshis 47:4' demonstrates this to us. The sons of Ya'akov requested permission from Pharaoh to stay in Goshen, as they needed a place to let their flocks pasture, only because there was a hunger in Cana'an.

The request of the brothers seems a bit odd. Hashem's main decree of hunger was issued on Egypt. It would seem highly unlikely that there would be any grazing land in Egypt, especially if there was none in Cana'an. So, why were the children of Ya'akov asking permission to graze their flocks in Egypt?

The Rambam gives two possible explanations for the request. It is possible that there was grazing land in Egypt, as in Cana'an people had to resort to eating grass due to the hunger. Therefore there was nothing left for the animals. However, in Egypt, there was produce stockpiled for the people to eat, and therefore grazing land was left. It is also possible to say that there was grazing land in Egypt due to the many fertile areas there, such as swamps and areas near the rivers.

Pirkei D'Rabi Elazar explains that the children of Ya'akov were drawn to Goshen for a specific reason. When Avraham came with Sarah to Egypt, Pharaoh, thinking that the two were actually brother and sister, intended to take Sarah for a wife. Out of his love for Sarah, Pharaoh wrote in their marriage contract that all of the land of Goshen as well as all of the silver and gold in Egypt was to be given to Sarah. Even through Pharaoh was not able to carry out what he intended because of the divine intervention of Hashem, a spirit of holiness was nevertheless drawn to the land of Goshen. The city was later sanctified by having Ya'akov, his sons, and eventually the entire nation of Israel live there.

The Haggadah continues its explanation of the verse. When the verse says "B'msai me'at" it refers to the mere seventy people who went down to Egypt. Now, however, the population of the nation of Israel is as numerous as the stars in the sky. The verse "Vayehi sham ..." tells us that this exponential growth began in Egypt. The Haggadah tells us that this verse teaches us another lesson as well. The Haggadah tells us that we see from the verse that the Jewish people in Egypt were distinguishable from the Egyptians. Rashi explains that we see from the choice of words that the Haggadah used for "distinguishable" indicates why the nation was distinguishable. The word that the Haggadah used was "metzu'yanim." This word connotes a grouping together, a gathering. The Haggadah is telling us that the Jews in Egypt were not interspersed throughout the nation of Egypt. Rather, they were all gathered together, living in one place. For this reason, they did not appear as assimilated and indistinguishable from the Egyptians, but rather they maintained a recognizable Jewish identity. The fact that the nation of Israel was able to remain unified in one place was a miracle of Hashem, as normally dispersion goes hand in hand with exile. However, out of the kindness of Hashem, the Jews were able to stay together, to give each other support and assistance.

The B'nai Yisrael were distinguishable from the Egyptians by the fact that they had many children. Previous to the bondage in Egypt, women had one child at a time. However, the Jewish women in Egypt had six children at one time. This was a factor which made the Jewish women unique. This factor of multiple births led to them being great in size and number, Atzum. The Haggadah brings a Pasuk to show this: "U'vnei Yisrael paru va'yishritzu vayirbu vaya'atzmu b'm'od m'od, vatimalei ha'artez osam," "And the children of Israel were fruitful and numerous, and they increased and they became very strong, and the land was filled with them."

The Haggadah compares the great number of people in the nation of Israel ("Va'rav") to blades of grass. The Leil Shimurim explains that this comparison is alluding to the importance of Achdus, unity. Individual blades of grass have no value. Only with the combination of countless blades is there any significance to the grass. The same is true with the nation of Israel. The greatness of the nation of Israel is their unity. No one individual can equal the importance and level of the group working together.

The Ritva explains the comparison in a different manner. The B'nai Yisrael were like the grass in the manner of their growth . Just as the more frequently grass is cut, the more it grows than previously, so too by the Jews. The more people tried to "cut them down", the larger and stronger they grew.

The next Pasuk that the Haggadah analyzes in the chain of events is "Va'yareinu osanu HaMitzrim vayi'anunu, vayitnu aleinu avoda kasha"- that the Egyptians treated us badly, afflicted us, and placed upon us hard labor.

Va'yareinu Otanu - And They Did Evil To Us

The Pasuk that the Haggadah cites in reference to "Va'yareinu Otanu" is "Hava nischachma lo, " the verse which discusses the advice given to Pharaoh about enslaving the Jews. The Gemora in Sotah tells us that Pharaoh had three advisors: Yisro (Jethro) , Bilam and Iyov (Job). Bilam, because he gave the above advice, was punished with death. Iyov, who did not respond to the advice but kept quiet, was punished with suffering. Yisro, who fled in protest of the advice was rewarded by having his descendants serve in the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish court. The Gemora where this is related was discussing the concept of reward and punishment being Mida K'neged Mida, that the reward or punishment fits the deed. Rav Y. Z. Soloveitchik was puzzled by this. One can understand why Bilam, who advised persecution, was punished with death. But why was Iyov, who remained silent, punished with suffering, and Yisro, who fled, was rewarded with his descendants serving in the Sanhedrin ?

Harav Soloveitchik answers that the reason why Iyov was silent was because he thought any protest which he may voice would not be listened to, and therefore not help. This may have been the case, but Iyov still had a responsibility to protest against this evil plan. Because he didn't, he was punished with suffering, as one who suffers cries out, even though he knows that the cries will not remove the suffering. As Yisro protested, he was forced to flee from the palace life (which he had by virtue of the fact he was a royal advisor). Because of this, his children merited serving in the Sanhedrin, which met in the Lishkat HaGazit, part of the Beit Hamikdash, the Holy Temple complex, the "ultimate palace life." We now see how all three of Pharaoh's advisors were dealt with Mida K'neged Mida.

Vanitzak El Hashem - We Cried Out To Hashem

The next Pasuk the Haggadah cites is: "Vanitzak el Hashem Elokei avoseinu...". "We cried out to Hashem, the G-d of our forefathers and Hashem heard our cry, and saw our affliction, our burden, and our oppression."

The Pasuk that the Haggadah brings down in reference to "Vanitzak" is "Vayehi bayamim horabim haheim..." "And it was in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died and the children of Israel groaned because of the servitude and cried; their cry because of the servitude rose up to G-d."

The Haggadah cites that the cries because of the servitude rose up to Hashem. Rabeinu Bachaya comments on this verse that we learn from here that there is no "tefila shelaima," complete prayer, like that of a person who is praying out of pain and suffering. This prayer is more readily accepted before Hashem than others. However, we see from the Sages that in regards to teshuva, repentance, the repentance that comes out of pain is not as accepted as that which stems from love. A person should not be "forced" in to repenting. What is the difference between the two?

Harav Henoch Leibowitz explains that prayer has an intrinsic difference from repentance. Prayer is Avoda Sheb'leiv, service from the heart, as we pour out our hearts to our Father in heaven. The essential factor to prayer is Kavana, concentrative intent. The prayer which stems from suffering tends to be said with more Kavana, as the dire situation forces the person to pour out his heart with full concentration. Therefore, as there is more Kavana, the prayer is more readily accepted before Hashem, even more than prayer out of love. However, as sincerity is the essential factor to repentance, repentance is more readily accepted when it is self inspired sincerity, not motivated by dire circumstances.

One infliction which the Haggadah relates to the Pasuk is the killing of the male new-born children. Rashi writes that on the day Moshe was born, Pharaoh's astrologers told him that the redeemer of the Jews was to be born on that day. They did not know if this child was a Jew or an Egyptian. They did know, however, that the savior's demise was to come through water. Therefore, Pharaoh decreed that all males born," Kol habein hayilud", and not just the Jewish born, were to be cast in the river. However, they did not know that Moshe's demise was because of the incident by Mei Merivah , when Moshe hit the rock instead of speaking to it, and not their efforts.

Vayotzi'ainu Hashem Mi'Mitzrayim - Hashem Brought Us Out Of Egypt

The next Pasuk the Haggadah cites is: "Vayotzi'ainu Hashem Mi'Mitzrayim..., "Hashem brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great awe, with signs and wonders:"

The Vilna Gaon asks a question on the explanation of the Haggadah on this Pasuk. The Haggadah writes that in the Pasuk of "Vayotziainu" , the stress is on the word "Hashem" - that Hashem took us out of Egypt himself, "Bichvodo Uv'atzmo" and not through an angel, "malach, saraph, shaliach". If that is the case, the Vilna Gaon asks, what was Hashem referring to when he told Moshe that he would not send the "Destroyer", the "Mash'chis", to kill the Jews during the tenth plague, Makas Be'choros . This implies that Hashem himself did not carry out the plague, but rather the Destroyer did, and that this is what the Jews were protected from.

The Vilna Gaon answers that during the course of the plague, there would have been two types of death: the death of the first-born, due to the plague; and the normal death which the Angel of Death takes care of when a person reaches the end of his years. In a nation of 600,000 men, there were most certainly people destined to die that night. However, if even one of the Jews had died, the Egyptians might have said that the deaths were due to the same plague that was affecting them. Therefore, the Torah tells us that Hashem said that he would not send the "Destroyer" - that even the Angel of Death was forbidden by Hashem from making his normal rounds that night.

The Haggadah continues in its explanation of the Pasuk and explains that the Yad Hachazaka, the mighty hand mentioned is the fifth plague, Dever (death of cattle). Rav Moshe Feinstein points out that nowhere in this Pasuk is Makas Bechoros, the final plague, alluded to as being a contributing factor to our departure from Egypt. Yet, Dever is. The reason why Dever was considered a contributing cause to our departure is because the main fear of death which fell upon Egypt arrived with the plague of Dever, and the warning of Hashem beforehand (Shemot 9:15). The Egyptians vividly saw that Hashem did have power over life and death at this point. However, they mistakenly concluded that this power was restricted to animals (as demonstrated by Dever). However, when the last plague occurred and the Egyptians saw the first born dying, they now knew that Hashem had the power of life and death over man as well. At this point, the fear of Hashem's power of death which had set in at Dever prompted the Egyptians to release the Jews.

The Haggadah brings down another allusion from the Pasuk. It says that each attribute that Hashem associated with the departure alludes to ten plagues, thereby alluding to the ten plagues which Hashem brought on Egypt.

The Ten Plagues

Immediately following the enumeration of the Ten Plagues, the Haggadah brings down a disagreement amongst the sages as to the exact number of plagues that occurred. The Vilna Gaon asks why the sages found it necessary to expound the exact number of plagues that occurred, and to dispute regarding how large that number was.

The Vilna Gaon explains that we see in Parshat B'shalach that Hashem promised the Jews a great good: "Kol Hamachala asher samti B'Mitzrayim lo asim alecha," any affliction brought upon the Egyptians will not be brought upon the Jews. ( A similar statement can be found in Parshat Ekev). The reason the Sages wanted to know the number of plagues is so that they would be included in "all of the plagues which I brought on Egypt." Therefore, as Hashem will save us from that which afflicted Egypt, those plagues will not be brought on us. The reason for the increase in number follows the same reasoning: the more plagues that affected Egypt, the less that will affect us.

Dayanu - It Would Have Sufficed Us

The Haggadah continues with the enumeration of all the kindnesses Hashem bestowed upon us, starting from our departure from Egypt to the building of the Bait Hamikdash, the Holy Temple. Rashi tells us that the reason why we thank Hashem for giving us Shabbat is because Shabbat is a sign between Hashem and the Jews. This sign was given to the Jews before they went to Har Sinai and received the Torah, and therefore shows the closeness that existed between Hashem and the nation of Israel even before the Torah was given.

The Haggadah has now concluded relating the chain of events, the second factor which makes the Mitzvah of telling about our departure from Egypt unique tonight. The Haggadah now continues with the third difference - explaining the reasons behind the Mitzvot of the evening.

Part IV:. The Reasons Behind The Mitzvot

Rabban Gamliel Haya Omer - Rabban Gamliel Used To Say

The third section of the Haggadah begins with an introduction. This introduction stresses the seriousness of our requirement of telling about the Mitzvot. Rabban Gamliel tells us that we must mention the Korban Pesach, the Matzah, and the Marror. If we do not, we have not fulfilled our obligation of "remembering" our departure from Egypt.

The Kol Bo explains that Rabban Gamliel is telling us that even though a person may have eaten the Korban Pesach, Matzah, and Marror, he still has not fulfilled his obligation without an Amira V'Haggadah, a telling, about these Mitzvot.

The Beis HaLevi wondered what we are accomplishing when we ask what the reason is for the Mitzvot of Pesach, Matzah, and Marror. Why are we trying to explain the Mitzvot of the Torah? He answers that we must understand that the world was created using the Torah as a blueprint. Because the Torah tells us to do or not to do a certain action, when the proper action is done, it sustains the world's existence. The world works in accordance with the Torah.

In reality, we are not giving the true reason for the Mitzvah, as that is impossible. There is no way that a person could understand or fathom the true reason for the Mitzvah which Hashem established, and created the world in accordance with. However, when we are giving the reasons now, we are giving a reason for the Mitzvah on our level of understanding, so we can "relate" to the Mitzvah on a very superficial level. We must realize that this in no way is the true and absolute reason for the Mitzvah.

Pesach - The Paschal Sacrifice

The first Mitzvah the Haggadah mentions in that of the Korban Pesach, the Paschal sacrifice. There are eleven separate Mitzvot regarding the Korban Pesach:

1) To slaughter the Korban is its proper time.
2) Not to slaughter it while any Chametz is in one's possession.
3) Not to allow the night to pass without offering up the specified parts of the animal on the altar
4) To eat the sacrifice with Matzah and Marror on the eve of the 15th of Nisan.
5) Not to eat the sacrifice partially roasted or cooked in liquid; it must be totally Tzli Aish, roasted over fire.
6) Not to remove the meat of the sacrifice from the group of people who joined together to eat that particular animal.
7) The sacrifice should not be eaten by a Mumar, one who knowing acts against the ways of the Torah.
8) The sacrifice should not be eaten by a non-Jew, a Toshav V'sachir
9) The sacrifice should not be eaten by an Arel, one who is uncircumcised.
10) The bones of the sacrifice should not be broken.
11) Remnants of the sacrifice should not be left over until morning.


The next Mitzvah that the Haggadah discusses is that of Matzah. The Tiferes Yisrael explains that just as the B'nai Yisrael were redeemed before the actual set time, (as we should have been in Egypt for 400 years, yet we were redeemed after 210 years) similarly, we are commanded to eat Matzah, which the B'nai Yisrael ate before its fitting time (meaning that the bread was eaten before it was "bread").

Marror - Bitter Herbs

The third and final Mitzvah that the Haggadah discusses is that of Marror. The Baruch She'amar is bothered by this Mitzvah. Seemingly, the reason behind eating Marror is not comparable to the reasons behind the eating of the Korban Pesach or the eating of the Matzah. The eating of the Korban Pesach and the Matzah are in remembrance of our salvation: Korban Pesach - because Hashem passed over the houses of the B'nai Yisrael at the time of Macas Bechoros, the final plague ; Matzah - because this symbolizes the speediness of our departure. But Marror does not symbolize salvation, but rather it symbolizes the worry and pain and bitterness of life in Egypt. So, why then do we have this remembrance, and feel thanks because of this, as we say next in the upcoming paragraph of L'ficach?

Truthfully, there is a reason to have feelings of thanks. As we see in Parshat Lech Lecha, the exile was set at 400 years, and the Midrash explains that the hardship and the bitterness of life in Egypt caused the Jew's freedom 190 years early. Therefore, Hoda'ah, thanks, also applies by the Marror, which quickened our departure from Egypt.

B'chol Dor Va'dor - In Every Generation

We conclude this section by saying that in every generation, we are required to view ourselves as if we actually left Egypt. Therefore, we are obligated to sing praise to Hashem for taking us out. Rav Y. Z. Soloveitchik explains that there are two types of Hallel - The Hallel which we are required to read on the 18 established days ( such as on Shavu'ot, Succot, etc); and the Hallel which is said as Shira, songs of praise, which one says when rescued from a tzara, a peril. The difference between the two is that the latter may only be said by the individual who experienced the salvation, while the former is said by all. The Hallel which we are about to say at this point in the Haggadah we are saying as Shira. Therefore, we must preface this by saying B'chol dor va'dor..., that we are obligated to view ourselves as if we were saved from Egypt, and if that is the case, ...L'fichach anachnu chayavim, we are obligated to say Hallel on our salvation.

The third section of the Haggadah, and hence our minimal obligation of telling about our departure from Egypt, has ended. In conclusion, we now express our thanks to Hashem for taking us out of slavery in Egypt, to now serve Him, our sole master.

Part V: Expressions Of Thanks And Praise To Hashem

The purpose of this section is explained by the Kol Bo. After we have just finished saying that we feel like we ourselves were redeemed from Egypt, we have an obligation to sing Shira to Hashem, just as our forefathers did.

Halelu-ka - Praise

The Meam Loez explains that once we have arrived at the point of praise, the Haggadah then clarifies four points regarding praise: Who is to praise Hashem, as not all are fit to do so; Who are we to praise; When are we to praise; and where is He praised. The answers are shown to us through the selection of Psalms that we say at this point in the Haggadah: We say "Halelu avdai Hashem" - only those who cling to Hashem like a slave to his master are worthy to praise Hashem; We must realize that we cannot praise Hashem and his greatness like we would a human king, as we cannot comprehend His greatness. Therefore, we can only praise His name "Halelu as shaim Hashem"; Until the generation of the Jews in Egypt, no person said Hallel or Shira to Hashem, as nobody recognized the ability of Hashem to perform miracles contrary to nature. With Makas Bechoros this ability was demonstrated and therefore we now are able to praise Hashem from now and forever - Yehi shem Hashem Mevorach me'ata v'ad olam ; Hashem rules and has control everywhere and over everything, and therefore we see Hashem has control over all nations, can raise the poor to riches, make the barren have children, etc. - "ram al kol goyim.....mi'kimi me'afar dal...moshivi akeres habayis..."

We conclude our praise of Hashem with a blessing. In it we make the request that we should be able to eat from the sacrifices, whose blood is placed on the walls of the altar. Reb Y. Z. Soloveitchik asks why we make such an unusual request, one which we do not see elsewhere.

In Zevachim 26b, we learn that if the blood of a sacrifice was not sprinkled on its proper place on the altar, one may not eat the sacrifice, but one does achieve atonement. In regards to normal sacrifices, atonement can be achieved without proper blood sprinkling, and atonement is not affected by the fact that one can not eat the animal. However, by the Korban Pesach, the sacrifice had to be eaten "L'sova", with satisfaction. This is accomplished by the eating of the Korban Chagiga, also. Both of these sacrifices NEED to be eaten to fulfill their purpose. Therefore, we ask Hashem that we should merit to have the Holy Temple returned to us. As the Holy Temple is absolutely necessary for the bringing of the Korban Pesach, as the altar is needed for the sprinkling of the blood, the ending of our exile is not enough. We need the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, so we can bring the sacrifice in a way we will be able to eat it.

Rachtza, Motzi, Matzah, Marror, Korech

During the following steps in the Seder, until we reach Shulchan Orech, the meal, we perform the Mitzvot of the evening. The Chasam Sofer explains that the Seder was organized so that we would perform most all of the Mitzvot of the evening before the meal with good reason. By delaying the meal, we are demonstrating to the youngsters, our children, how we are to perform the service of Hashem and how we are to desire the redemption. We show that the service of Hashem comes first, before our needs. We further show that we wait patiently for our redemption, that we are patient while waiting for the end to come. This is unlike the B'nai Ephraim, a group of Jews who the Midrash tells us, who left Egypt on their own, as they became impatient waiting for Hashem to release us. For this lack of patience, they met with their death.

Rachtza, Motzi, Matzah

The Chasam Sofer points out that the prohibition of eating Chametz on Pesach differs from many other prohibitions. By Chametz, there is no minimal size that must be consumed in order for one to have transgressed the prohibition, as is the case by other prohibitions. Rather, any amount consumed, no matter how small, will result in transgressing the prohibition. The reason for this difference lies with a feeling we are supposed to have on Pesach. We have said in Maggid that we are supposed to feel as if we, ourselves, were in Egypt and then redeemed. In Egypt, the Jews had not yet received the Torah; they had to keep all laws like a Ben Noah, a gentile, would. The concept of measurements in Jewish law was not introduced until after the Torah was received. If we are to truly be like the Jews in Egypt, we cannot eat any amount of Chametz, as that would have been the standard in Egypt.

Marror, Korech

We have the step of Korech so we can fulfill our obligation of Matzah and Marror according to all sides in a dispute regarding the performance of the Mitzvot at the time when we had the Holy Temple. The Maharal explains that Hillel held that we should eat the Pesach, Matzah, and Marror all together as the Pasuk says "Al Matzot U'mrorim yochlu'hu," "you should eat it (the sacrifice) on Matzah and Marror." The Sages, however, held that each one was to be eaten, but separately. Therefore, we do both. However, lest one say that the Halacha is in accordance with neither opinion, as we do both, we make sure to proclaim "Zecher L'mikdash" , that this that we are doing like Hillel is only a remembrance of how Hillel used to perform the Mitzvah. We make sure that we eat the Matzah and Marror separately first because Matzah is a Mitvza of scriptural origin, a D'Oraita, and Marror, nowadays, is only a Mitzvah of Rabbinic origin, D'rabanan. If, we were going to perform these Mitzvot for the first time together, the taste of the Marror would cancel out the taste of the Matzah, the more important of the two. Therefore, first we eat the Matzah and then Marror separately, and then we eat them together.

Shulchan Orech

The Ma'ainah Shel Torah says in the name of the Admor M'Gur that one may wonder how we can split the Hallel we say into two parts (one part at the end of Maggid, and one part as the step of Hallel), with a meal in the middle. Isn't the meal considered a "hefsek", an unpermitted interruption?

The answer lies in how we conduct ourselves during this meal. As our eating of the meal is to be made into a spiritual as well as a physical experience, the meal can be considered further praise to Hashem. Hence, there is no interruption in our "saying" of Hallel.

The Chasam Sofer points out that by other festivals mentioned in the Torah, there is an explicit commandment of Simcha, rejoicing. However, one will not find such a commandment by Pesach. The reason for this lies with the meaning of Simcha. In Moed Katan 9b we are told that "Ain simcha ela b'achila ushitiya", there is no rejoicing without eating and drinking. On the other holidays, the main Mitzvot are purely spiritual, leaving a person with a spiritual high. However, we see that for rejoicing, one needs physical pleasure as well. Therefore, the Torah adds a special commandment of Simcha , so that the rejoicing will be complete, on both physical and spiritual planes. However, Pesach is different. Pesach by nature is a time of happiness and rejoicing, as we were released from slavery. Furthermore, eating and drinking, the essentials of rejoicing, are themselves the Mitzvot we are to perform. Therefore, no special directive of Simcha is needed for Pesach.


The splitting of the Matzah, and the time of each piece's use, have important significance. The Chasam Sofer tells us that each piece alludes to half of the Seder. The half that we ate already alludes to the first half of the Seder. In the first half of the Seder, we thanked Hashem for our redemption from Egypt. However, we are still in exile now, and further redemption is needed. In the second half of the Seder, we ask Hashem for this redemption. The piece of Matzah we eat now symbolizes this. Just as this piece of Matzah was hidden away, so is the date of our final redemption.


When there are three or more men over the age of thirteen who participated in the same meal, they are obligated to say Birkat HaMazon, Grace after Meals with Zimun, a special invitation to say Birckat HaMazon. Rashi explains that this means that all are invited to together say a blessing to Hashem. On this, both the Abudraham and the Kol Bo say that the reason we have this invitation and unified blessing is to increase the praise and greatness of Hashem. We announce together, after we have finished our meal, how we praise Hashem, and to thank him for the abundance of goodness he has bestowed upon us.


The Maharal explains that Hallel and Nirtza are not two distinct steps of the Seder. Rather, it is one step, known as Hallel Nirtza. He explains that those who say Nirtza is a step of itself explain the meaning of the step as being "if one conducted his Seder this way, it is desired (Nirtza) before Hashem. However, if this were the meaning of Nirtza, it would not be explaining what we are doing in this step, but rather it would be referring to what we did in all previous steps. This is unlike the title of every other step, which refers to what we do in that step. Therefore, the true name of the step is Hallel Nirtza, referring to the second time we are saying Hallel tonight. The first time we said Hallel tonight, it was a plain Hallel. We were thanking Hashem for all the miracles of Egypt. Now, we are praying to Hashem that we should have a complete redemption. We request in this Hallel that it should be pleasing (Nirtza) before Hashem to perform wonders and miracles for us as well. Hence, this is a Hallel Nirtza.

The Ma'ainah shel Torah writes that the Avnei Ezel explained the reason we say Hallel, praises of Hashem, now by means of a parable. A father was greatly angered by his son to the point where forgiveness was unlikely. The son greatly wanted to get back on his father's good side. Therefore, when a large group of people were gathered around, the son began singing the praises of the father extensively, in front of everyone. When the father saw that his son, who could very well have been upset at him as well for not forgiving him, not only sang praises, but in front of a large group, he weakened and found favor with his son. By saying Hallel now, we do the same thing. We, who may have upset Hashem, will not hold back in our singing of praises to Hashem until we reach the point of Nirtza- that Hashem finds favor in us.

Before we actually begin saying the Hallel Nirtza, we begin by opening the door and saying Sh'foch Chamascha. The Maharal explains that purpose of this Hallel Nirtza is to arouse the mercy of Hashem so that we should merit pleasing him and that He should find favor in us so that we are granted complete redemption. Therefore, we are obligated to make known to our children and publicize a principal belief which we have received from the prophets. This belief is that Eliyahu HaNavi will arrive right before our redemption to announce the impending arrival of Mashich. As we are now praying for this redemption to occur, we open the door for Eliyahu, the one who will announce our redemption, and pour him a special cup of wine, a Kos Yeshuos, a cup of salvation for the future redemption. The opening of the door at this point is solely because we want to welcome Eliyahu, the announcer of the redemption that we are about to pray for. It is not connected to the saying of Shfoch Chamascha . We precede our Hallel with the request of Shfoch because it is a fitting preface to the first passage of the Hallel we are about to say, Lo Lanu. The Maharal says that we are familiar with the fact that Chazal have told us we are to make sure to pray before tzaros, troubles, happen. We know that the war between Gog and Magog will occur before Mashich and our redemption comes. As the gates of heaven are now open and we are praying for our redemption, we say first that Shfoch Chamascha- Hashem should take His wrath out on the nations that don't recognize Him, for they have persecuted us. Then, in Lo Lanu, we continue and say that none of this wrath should be taken out on us - Lo Lanu - even though we may not be worthy to this on our own merit. Even so, we ask that Hashem should do it for the honor of his name - Kavod shimecha.

The Leil Shimurim also connects the saying of Shfoch to Lo Lanu, which follows. We ask Hashem to pour out his wrath on those who do not know Him and who do not call in His name. This is because those nations did two evil deeds - they devoured Ya'acov (the nation of Israel) and laid waste to his dwelling place (the holy temple). The decree that Hashem issued on the Jews was only that the Holy Temple would be destroyed. The murder of the nation of Israel was not in that decree. This is something the nations took upon themselves to do. We therefore, in Lo Lanu, ask Hashem to spare us, as we give His name reverence.

The Abarbanel adds that this nation that "did not know Hashem" are the nations that are like Egypt, who saw the greatness of Hashem, but still refused to acknowledge him. We ask that if Hashem poured out his wrath on Egypt, he should pour out his wrath on nations that do worse to us, that consume us, and destroy the Holy Temple. Even though we may not be deserving of this special treatment, we ask that Hashem do it so that the nations of the world will know His true power and recognize Him.

We state in the first paragraph in Hallel, Lo Lanu, that Hashem should make our enemies, who worship idols, just like their objects of worship: incapable of speaking, seeing, hearing, walking - all sensory perception, and hence incapable of harming us. We conclude that Hashem is the one that we should all trust in, because He is our shield and where our help comes from. The Maharal states that next paragraph of Hallel, Hashem Z'charanu, is a logical progression from this first paragraph. Once we have concluded that our enemies can not harm us because Hashem protects us, and we believe that Hashem will protect us, we then ask that Hashem should add on further blessings to this blessing of protection. We say that the G-d who has remembered us and protected us will bless us, with blessings that constitute far more than our physical protection from our enemies.

After the paragraph of Hashem Zecharanu and Ahavti, in which we express love for Hashem because he listens to our prayers and helps us, we have the passage of Mah Ashiv. In this paragraph, we start by saying "How can I repay Hashem for all His kindness to me? I will raise the cup of salvations and will invoke the name of G-d" The Chasam Sofer explains the connection between these two lines by means of a parable: An officer of a king wanted to honor the king by doing something special and unique for him at a banquet. The problem he was faced with, however, was that the king lacked nothing - the king had every possible delicacy at his table on a regular basis. The officer had an idea: He prepared a meal like that of a pauper, with simple foods, in a simple setting, using the utensils that a pauper would use. This type of banquet was such a novelty for the king, that he got great pleasure from it and was honored by it in the way the officer intended.

We, the nation of Israel, sing praises to Hashem every day. There is very little we can say or do to properly convey the special feelings of respect, love, thanks, and honor that we have towards Hashem. Therefore, we resort to the type of praise a "pauper" would offer: instead of a spiritual thanks, via prayer and praises, we praise Hashem through an earthy thanks - we lift our cup of wine, in a toast of sort, to Hashem, and we have a meal which we eat, all in a unique and novel praise of Hashem.

After we conclude the passages that constitute the Hallel that is normally recited on the special occasions, we continue with what is known as "Hallel HaGadol," "The Great Hallel." The reason why this is called the Great Hallel, the Pnai Adam explains, is because the prayer is inclusive of all praises of Hashem. It speaks of Hashem's creation and Hashem's maintenance of the existence of the world, which at times appears to be a "natural" process. It speaks of the awesome displays of Hashem's power and of the miracles He performs, those events we might term "supernatural." As Hashem's display of power can be "categorized" into natural and supernatural, and the praises we are saying now are inclusive of both categories, the Hallel is therefore called the Great Hallel. The reason why it is recited tonight, specifically, is because among the displays of power which we praise Hashem for in this Hallel are those related to the nation of Israel's departure from Egypt, events which are commemorated on this night.

Hallel HaGadol has its own unique structure. After each praise, we say "Ki L'Olam Chasdo," "For His kindness endures forever." For example, we begin Hallel HaGadol by saying "Give thanks to Hashem for He is good - for His kindness endures forever." The Pnai Adam explains why we have this particular refrain in Hallel HaGadol. He writes that we know that everything that Hashem does and will do for us is what is the very best for us. Furthermore, Hashem acts towards us with the attributes of kindness and mercy, and not solely with the more "strict" attribute of judgement. It is because Hashem treats us with kindness and mercy that we are the constant recipients of blessings and goodness. If we were dealt with solely on a basis of what we deserve - the attribute of judgement - we obviously would not be the recipients of the unbounded good that Hashem provides us, but rather we would be the recipients of well deserved punishment. Because Hashem has done so much for us, after every praise and event that we enumerate in Hallel HaGadol, we say "For His kindness endures forever." It is clear that these events would not have occurred if not for the kindness of Hashem, and it is therefore incumbent upon us to recognize the kindness of Hashem evident in these events.

After we conclude Hallel HaGadol, we continue on to the prayer of Nishmas, which the Gemora calls "Bircas HaShir," "The Blessing of Song." The Pnai Adam writes that we say this prayer because it is a "song" which has two components that make its recitation appropriate for this evening. First, it is full of expressions of great praise and thanks to Hashem. Second, it contains praise specifically regarding the fact that Hashem took us out of Egypt and redeemed us.


After we make the blessing on the fourth cup of wine, we arrive at the "song" part of Hallel Nirtza, or what is commonly referred to as the step of Nirtza. The first song that we sing as part of this final step in the Seder discusses events that happened at midnight and events that happened on Pesach. The Pnai Adam comments that the Seder night is referred to as "Leil Shimurim," a "Night of Protection." This song illustrates that since the time of the creation of the world, this night has been one set aside for the purpose of redeeming and saving the nation of Israel. As many miracles occurred to our forefathers on this night, it is only fitting that we elaborate on them, as a further demonstration of our praise and thanks to Hashem for the protection He has afforded our nation throughout time.

Pesach Kasher VeSameach,

Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig

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