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The Passover Hagadah

Magid - The Obligation of Telling to Others

by Rabbi Yehudah Prero

Question: Why, before we start with the four sons, which illustrates our obligation of telling to others, do we bless Hashem in the passage of Baruch HaMakom?

Answer: This section really begins with the Four Sons. Before we discuss the four sons, the Hagada blesses Hashem and his Torah in Baruch Hamakom. The reason for this, the Ritva explains, is because all that we know about the four sons does not come from one location in the Torah. It comes from three different verses, Pesukim, which are located in different parts of the Torah. Yet, we see that the Torah does contain all that is to be said on this subject, and therefore we bless Hashem for giving us a complete Torah, Torah Shelaimah.

The second son mentioned is the Rasha, the wicked son. When asking his question, the Rasha excludes himself from being part of the nation of Israel. Therefore, our response to him is that if he had been in Egypt and had been redeemed for this very reason. If one looks closely at the verses used to answer the four sons, one would notice that the same verse is used to answer both the Rasha and the She'aino Yode'a Lish'ol - the one who does not know how to ask. However, by the She'aino Yode'a Lish'ol, the negative and exclusionary implications are not present. Why is this so?

The Sifsei Chachamim notes that in Egypt, Hashem only performed miracles for the righteous, who knew and observed the Torah. The ignorant were saved and redeemed only in the merit of the righteous. The wicked, however, were not to be taken out at all. The merit of the righteous could not save them. Therefore, the response to the Rasha and the She'aino Yode'a Lish'ol are the same: The miracles were performed for me -Li- and not for you. For the Rasha, this meant dying in Egypt. For the She'aino Yode'a Lish'ol, this meant redemption in the merit of the righteous. It is for this reason the exclusionary implications of the verse are only mentioned by the Rasha.

The third son that is mentioned is the Tam, the simple son. The Abarbanel comments that if one examines the context of Parshas Bo , from where the answer to the Tam was taken, one can tell what motivated the question. The verse says V'haya ki yish'alcha bincha..., "and it will be when your son asks you by saying 'What is this?' and you will say to him 'Hashem took us out of Egypt with a mighty hand." The Tam was asking his question with a pure heart, innocently, without any evil implications. He wanted to know "What is this?" The only thing holding the Tam back from understanding the mitzvah is his simplemindedness.

The verse quoted as the answer to the "She'aini Yode'a Lish'ol is "Ba'avur Zeh...". Rashi says the meaning of the verse is "Because I will keep the mitzvos such as Pesach and matzo, Hashem took me out of Egypt." This understanding seems odd. One would think we do the mitzvos of Pesach, matzo, and maror BECAUSE we were taken out of Egypt. Rashi, however, seems to say that we were taken out of Egypt because of the mitzvos. How can this be?

Reb Yerucham Levovitz answered this question. He explained that one must truly understand why miracles are performed. In the case here, Hashem performed miracles for us so that we would be able to fulfill the mitzvos of Hashem. The fact is not that we were taken out and therefore we perform mitzvos. We were taken out of Egypt because and in order for us to do mitzvos. Hence, we were taken out of Egypt because of the mitzvos of matzo and maror. Our departure was a means to an end.

This section of Maggid concludes with the source of the obligation of Sipur Yetzias Mitzrayim, telling about our departure from Egypt, in conjunction with V'higadita L'vincha, telling your son Rashi explains that one might think he has to speak to his sons about the departure at least by Rosh Chodesh Nissan. This is because of the fact that in reality, we have an obligation to discuss the laws of Pesach, Sho'alin V'Dorshin, 30 days beforehand. This would hold true if the verse had only said V'higadita L'vincha. With the addition of the words Bayom Hahu, on that day, we might say that from the time on that day we become obligated to bring the Korbon Pesach, the Pesach sacrifice, we also have an obligation of telling to our children. Therefore, the Torah adds the words Ba'avur ZEH...: you are not obligated to tell your son the Hagada until you are visibly able to show him Matzo ZU, Maror ZU, THIS matzo and THIS maror. This is only when they are sitting before you at the Seder. Hence, this is the only time the mitzvah of V'higadita L'vincha applies.

After demonstrating the first difference in the Mitzvah of telling over about the redemption from Egypt tonight, that being the obligation to tell others, the Hagada will continue ( as we will in the next posting) with the second difference: the relation of the chain of events leading to our redemption

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



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