5 Nisan 5782 | ה' ניסן ה"תשפ"ב
|"Don't Be a Slave" — Source|
(Read the whole compilation HERE. Emphases mine. -HDG)
IT IS A curious thing. Each year we sit down to make a Pesach Seder to commemorate an event that the vast majority of the world thinks is fictitious. But we do it anyhow, even Jews whose lives reflect their disbelief in the very origin of this time-honored tradition.
We are not the only people to do this. Various different religions and cultures also continue to celebrate long-ago historical events, the spirits of which are often contradicted by the present-day lives of their celebrants. That’s the power of tradition: it can keep alive even that which, for all intents-and-purposes, is actually dead.
Is it hypocrisy? A lot of times.
Perhaps this is part of what is bothering the Evil Son. He’s the main antagonist in the Haggadah because he dares to ask the question: “What does this service mean to you?”
And though we break his teeth for asking such a question, and wag a proverbial finger at him saying, “Had you been there, you certainly would not have been redeemed!” his question is indeed a good one. In fact, it is one the Haggadah each year asks us all to answer by the end of the evening, for the right answer is not only liberating, it is freedom itself.
The problem with the Evil Son is not his question; it is his answer. His question is his answer because for him it is rhetorical. He may have phrased his words as a question, but he was really making a statement: Though this service may have made sense back in the days of Egyptian slavery, it is meaningless today.
Okay. For making fun of tradition we break his teeth, metaphorically-speaking. However, if he is in agreement that once-upon-a-time all of this was necessary, then why do we tell him that had he been in Egypt at the time of the redemption, he would have been one of those who did not go out?
Because he has missed the point of the Haggadah, of the Pesach-Offering, of the entire concept of redemption.
Sure, we no longer worship Egyptian gods, and therefore no longer have to parade through the streets with lambs to prove that we do not fear them or adhere to their religious values.
But that was not the entire story of the Korban Pesach, just a part of it. After all, when Kayin and Hevel brought their offerings to God (Bereishis 4:3), it was on the fourteenth day of Nissan. They had brought Pesach Offerings. And, as the Brisker Rav points out, Avraham Avinu ate matzah on the fifteenth of Nissan, hundreds of years before there was even an Egyptian exile!
This begs the question: Do we eat matzah because there wasn’t enough time to bake bread, or was there not enough time to bake bread so that we would eat matzah? Because, contrary to the Evil Son’s thinking, mitzvos are eternal. They supersede our daily reality and are never the result of circumstance. If anything, they make circumstances possible, such as the leaving of Egypt in Moshe’s time, and the leaving of exile at the End-of-Days.
It is the Chacham, the wise son in each generation who understands this. Hence, the Haggadah’s response to his question is the opposite of the one given to his evil brother:
You, in turn, shall instruct him in the laws of Pesach, [up to] “one is not to eat any dessert after the Pesach lamb.”
The Wise Son is the person who understands one of the most important ideas of Creation, and yet one of the least-known: Redemption is a de facto state of existence. To understand this, it is important to first understand the concept of exile.
When we think of the first exile, we think of the Jewish people in Egyptian bondage. However, the Egyptian exile was really the result, and in many respects, a replication of the original exile of all of mankind. In the beginning, man was created into a state of redemption. Immediately after being formed by God, Adam HaRishon was placed in the Garden of Eden where he lived an idyllic existence. The life of the first man is the one that we all dream of living if we merit to make it to Yemos HaMoshiach—the Messianic Era.
Eating from the Aitz HaDa’as Tov v’Ra—the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil—changed all of that. The bottom line is that within one day of being created and placed into Paradise, mankind was forced to leave it, and the question is, why? The answer is, the transformation of man:
The creation of Heaven and Earth and their components was with the Supernal Light, and they existed on a very elevated and awesome level, specifically man who was higher than all of them. However, after the sin of the Tree of Knowledge and Good and Evil, he and everything else descended and was transformed from skin made of light to human skin.
(Hakdamos uSha’arim, Sha’ar 6, Ch. 10)
Though man has always consisted of a body and soul, before the sin they both existed on a much higher spiritual plane. A human body once more closely resembled a soul than the body we now have, made of divine light rather than of opaque skin. Sin resulted in skin, and the distancing of man from God. That is the very definition of exile, and the Pesach Seder comes to reverse that. To be continued…
Rabbi Pinchas Winston
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So do we need Mashiah NOW??? Most certainly, YES!!!