The Passover Hagadah
Maggid - Part 1: Beginning with Matza
by Rabbi Yehudah Prero
Question: Why do we begin the step of Maggid talking about Matzo (In "Ha Lachma
Answer: In order to understand the answer to our question, we have to look at what
we are saying carefully. The Hagadah begins with a declaration about the
Matzo which we have before us. "This is the bread of affliction..." the
Hagadah 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
Matzo that will be found is in conjunction with our departure from Egypt. The
reason why that Matzo was eaten was because our departure from Egypt was in
such haste, that our dough did not have enough time to rise. So, what is this
Matzo "that our forefathers ate in the land of Egypt"?
The Vilna Gaon answers that our forefathers most definitely ate Matzo during
the time of their bondage in Egypt. However, the Torah only mentions Matzo
in conjunction with our departure, which was a Simcha, a joyous occasion.
Matzo, and particularly that which we are referring to now, symbolizes as well
the hardship we, as slaves, suffered in Egypt.
It is clear that Matzo 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
Matzo, which epitomizes the contradictory themes of the evening, thereby
setting a certain tone for the evening.
After we make the declaration about Matzo and its dual symbolism, we
extend an invitation to all those who are in need of food or a Korbon Pesach.
The Ya'avetz, Rav Yaakov 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 (Maos 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 Acu"m Im Aniyay Yisroel 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. At the same time, we invite all Jews who
are unable to perform the MITZVA of Pesach by themselves to come join us at
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
Ha'ba'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
showing how we are all equal, in reality. Right now, "hoshata hacha, hoshata
avdei" - we are all here and we are all slaves. Next year, we will all be in
Jerusalem as free men.