Posted on March 23, 2021 (5781) By Rabbi Label Lam | Series: | Level:

1. Kadesh – 2. Urchatz – 3 Karpas – 4. Yachatz – 5. Maggid – 6. Rachtzah – 7. Motzi – 8. Matzah
9. Maror 10. Korech – 11. Shulchan Orech -12. Tzafun – 13. Beirach – 14. Hallel – 15. Nirtzah – The 15 Steps of the Seder (As Outlined in the Pesach Haggadah)

Probably the longest part of the Haggadah and the Seder experience is the 5th step, Maggid. A five year old granddaughter who lives in Lakewood New Jersey came to us in Monsey for Chol HaMoed, after making their family Seder at home. When I asked her how the Seder was, her comment was, “Maggid was long like the Garden State Parkway!” It’s an in depth and involved telling of a story. What kind of story is it? What’s the purpose in retelling and reliving this ancient slice of history?

In Hebrew a Nagid, is a leader or a prince. A maggid is a leader with words. He tells inspirational stories. The Haggadah, from the same root word, is a coach, a guide, leading us to understand well our personal and national story.

One of the most important pieces of advice I ever received was initially very shocking to me. I was beginning a career project learning with doctors, lawyers, professionals, millionaires and billionaires, men of industry. So I asked a senior colleague who had been in this field for many decades which books I should be reading and which periodicals I should be subscribing to. He chuckled quietly to himself and said one thing, “Know your story!” That was it. I took it to heart and I went home and I started to write down in sequence the story of my life. Every time I would meet somebody new I would share some part of the story of my life. Where I came from and how I came to where I am now. Sometimes I tell the one minute elevator version and other times the epic tale. The writing down and telling over is one of the most therapeutic exercises I have ever engaged in. Why?

The stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves are the template for the experiences of our lives. If I am interviewing a new teacher I like to ask a few open end questions and then I listen to the story. “I see you worked here for a year then there for a year. Why did you change?” If the answer that this one messed me over and then that one messed me over, then I am alerted to the fact that I am being invited to be the next one to mess him over. I resist. When Hagar was running from Sara because she couldn’t take the heat in the kitchen, she confronted an angel. The angel asked her two questions, “Where are you coming from and where are you going?” Her answer was, “I am fleeing Sara…” The angel told her to go back and submit herself to Sara. What did he hear in that story? I know what I am running away from. I don’t know where I am going to. That’s a formula for a repeat performance.

If someone sees themselves as a victim and they are the victim in the telling of their life story, then mysteriously they will tend to re-experience victimhood. That’s the story!

If someone retells the story with a positive spin then everything changes. When driving a car the steering wheel turns the front wheels, which alters the direction of the vehicle. With a boat it’s just the opposite. I once took my whole family on a boat trip and I was made to be the captain, the pilot after a brief crash course. (I don’t know why they call it a crash course). I learned then that when we move the rudder which is behind the boat submerged in the past, the boat moves in a new direction.

Somebody came to a counselor and poured out their heart spelling out a life of woe, filled with suffering and pain and rejection, and loss. After listening carefully and validating their feelings, the counselor said to the client, “After having heard all of this, now I have two choices. I can either pity you or respect you. Which do you want?!”

If we look carefully at our story on Pesach, and this is the story we are telling now for 3333 years, we see a picture emerging that has stood for us in all generations. The story we tell about ourselves is, “We are incredibly resilient. We have a special and everlasting relationship with HASHEM. We have an important date with destiny in Jerusalem. With such a story each moment that passes and every move we make is another baby or giant step closer. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it!