Why do we call the night of Pesach the “Seder”?
The Hebrew word “seder”means “order.” Everything we do at the sederfollows a special order – kadesh, urhatz, etc. To be successful in anything in life, one must do things in an orderly fashion, ensuring to perform all our activities in the proper sequence.
What is the meaning of ‘Vehi She’amdah’?
The word “vehi”means “it” (in the feminine form), and refers here to the merit which has enabled the Jewish nation for generations to withstand the threats posed by enemy nations. To which precise merit do we refer, and why do we lift the cup of wine while reciting this passage?
a. As a safeguard against assimilation, the rabbis enacted a prohibition against drinking wine from a bottle that was opened and handled by a non-Jew. This prohibition has had the effect of preventing us from drinking and celebrating with practitioners of other faiths, and has thus protected against assimilation. At the seder, we lift our cups of wine to proclaim that it was this merit – the merit of ensuring to drink only Jewish wine – that has protected us and our ancestors againstthe threats posed to the Jewish Nation.
b. The Abarbanel explains the word “vehi”refers to the Berit Ben Habetarim– the covenant which Hashem made with Avraham. In fulfillment of His promise to our patriarch, Gd has protected the Jewish Nation throughout history from all those who have risen against us.
c. Finally, the numerical value of the word “vehi”is 22, which alludes to the 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet with which the Torah was written. It is this merit – the merit of Torah observance – that has always been our source of protection against our enemies. King David alludes to this concept in Tehillim when he writes, “Nagilah venismehah bach– We shall exult and rejoice with You.” Our sages explain this to mean that we rejoice bach– through the Torah, which is written with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, corresponding to the numerical value of the word “bach.”
How can we use romaine lettuce for marror, if the purpose of marroris to remind us of the “bitter” suffering of slavery?
Romaine lettuce tastes sweet when one begins to eat it, but then leaves a somewhat bitter aftertaste. Similarly, when Yaakov Avinu and his family first moved to Egypt, where they were cared for by Yosef, who ruled the country, the experience was “sweet.” Thereafter, however, the situation gradually became “bitter,” like the bitter aftertaste of Romaine lettuce.
What is the meaning of “Tzeh ulmad ma bikesh Lavan Ha’arami la’asot leYaakov Avinu“ – Go learn what Lavan the Aramean sought to do to Yaakov Avinu”?
Lavan wanted to eliminate the Jewish Nation in its entirety, whereas Pharaoh decreed death only upon the newborn baby boys of Beneh Yisrael.If the purpose of the seder on Pesach is to understand the dire plight of our ancestors in Egypt and the great miracle of the Exodus, then why does the Haggadahcontrast Pharaoh with Lavan, emphasizing the point that Lavan’s threat was far worse
a. Hashem has promised that even during periods of exile and persecution, He will never destroy us completely, or allow our nation to be obliterated (Vayikra 26:44). There are times, however, when Satanis given the power to eliminate significant portions of Beneh Yisrael, Heaven forbid. In this sense, Pharaoh’s decree was far more dangerous than Lavan’s scheme. Since Lavan set out to annihilate the entire nation, his plan could never have succeeded. Pharaoh, however, could have, potentially, succeeded in his plan to eliminate half the Jewish Nation.
b.By ordering the murder of all newborn Jewish boys, Pharaoh created a situation whereby Jewish girls would end up marring Egyptians. According to halachah, a child born from a union between a Jewish woman and non-Jewish man is Jewish. However, there is little or no chance that a child growing up in such a home will become an observant Jew. Thus it turns out that whereas Lavan planned the Jewish people’s physical annihilation, Pharaoh plotted their spiritual destruction, which is far worse. At the seder, we thank Hashem for saving us from the catastrophe that Pharaoh had planned for us.