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The Passover Hagadah

Introduction to Maggid

by Rabbi Yehudah Prero

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, Medrash, 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 "Zechiras Yetzias Mitzrayim" - remembering our departure from Egypt, on Pesach from any other day. (These differences can be inferred from Rambam - Mishnah Torah, Hilchot Chometz U'Matzah, Chap. 7.) They are: 1}The obligation to tell others;2}The obligation to relate the chain of events; and 3} the obligation to explain the reasons behind the mitzvos. This is explained as follows:

  1. On every other day during the year, a simple Zechira, or "reminding one's self" 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 Sh'mos 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, even with a telling over does not suffice on this night, as it would the rest of the year.
  2. On the Seder night, there is an obligation to tell about and explain the chain of events that began with our descent to Egypt and ended with our redemption.
  3. We do many mitzvos on this night in commemoration of our experience in Egypt. On the Seder night, we are obligated to explain the reasons behind these mitzvos. 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.... It is these three things that distinguish the mitzvah of remembering our departure from Egypt on this night from any other day during the year.

According to Harav Avrohom Pam, shlita, 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 Hagadah mentions in the passage of Rabi Elazar ben Azarya that there is an obligation of remembrance throughout the year. Then, the Hagadah begins to demonstrate the uniqueness of the mitzvah on this night.

  • A) We see from the "Four Sons" that the Hagadah should be told to others, in question and answer form.
  • B) Beginning with the passage of "M'tchila", the Hagadah relates the chain of events which culminated in our redemption.
  • C) After we have finished relating the history, we explain the reasons behind the mitzvos 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.

    Check out all of the posts on Pesach and the Hagadah! Head over to http://www.torah.org/learning/yomtov to find the newly redesigned YomTov Home Page, and click on the holiday you are interested in to find all of the archived posts on that topic.

    backUrchatz, Karpas, Yachatz      Maggid - Part I next


    For questions, comments, and topic requests, please write to Rabbi Yehudah Prero.


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