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:
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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|Urchatz, Karpas, Yachatz || ||Maggid - Part I |
For questions, comments, and topic requests, please write to Rabbi Yehudah Prero.
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