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The Passover Hagadah

Rachtza-Schulchan Orech

by Rabbi Yehudah Prero

Rachtza, Motzei, Matza

During the following steps in the Seder, until we reach Shulchan Orech, the meal, we perform the Mitzvos of the evening. The Chasam Sofer explains that the Seder was organized so that we would perform most all of the Mitzvos 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'nei Ephraim, a group of Jews who the Medrash 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

The Chasam Sofer points out that the prohibition of eating Chametz on Pesach differs from many other prohibitions. By Chamentz, 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 Noach, 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.

Maror, Korech

We have the step of Korech so we can fulfill our obligation of Matzo and Marror according to all sides in a dispute regarding the performance of the Mitzvos at the time when we had the Holy Temple. The Maharal explains that Hillel held that we should eat the Pesach, Matzo, and Marror all together as the Pasuk says "Al Matzos U'mrorim yochlu'hu," "you should eat it (the sacrafice) on Matzo and Maror." 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 Matzo and Maror separately first because Matzo is a mitvza of scriptural origin, a D'oraisa, and Maror, nowadays, is only a mitzva of Rabbinic origin, D'rabanan. If, we were going to perform these mitzvos for the first time together, the taste of the maror would cancel out the taste of the matzo, the more important of the two. Therefore, first we eat the matzo and maror 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 inpermissable 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 mitzvos 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 mitzvos we are to perform. Therefore, no special directive of Simcha is needed for Pesach.

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



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