Hagaddah Shel Pesach – Preface

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Pesach is that extraordinary Yom Tov on which all the others are based. After all, don’t they all revert back to Yetzias Mitzraim ? Pesach night is that very unique time when we discuss the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim (redemption from Egypt), which led to the birth of our nationhood. We try our utmost to elicit questions from all participants in the hope of stimulating within them a desire to comprehend the meaning of Yetzias Mitzrayim to its very last detail. It’s the one special night when we strive to clarify and explain to our children and students the very essence of our emunah (faith) and the great miraculous ways in which Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim and made us into His nation.

In fact, the word Pesach itself also stands for opening. For it’s the night that we must open our children’s minds to the point where there are no more questions or doubts as to the basic tenets of our emunah. We must totally remove any question from their minds and hearts until they are completely immersed in the proper service of Hashem.

Even the Aseres Hadibros themselves starts with “I am Hashem who took you out of Mitzraim” rather than “Who Created heaven and earth”. This shows us the great importance given to yetzias Mitzrayim. The purpose of questions is, of course, to shed light and bring clarity to a difficult subject.

Over the many years of teaching I realize that I owe the greatest debt of thanks to my dear and treasured students who never failed to keep me on my toes with their wise and clever queries. There is nothing more enjoyable than having students that are ihbgf ktua (ask to the point) . For it’s their many tough questions that help clarify issues even to the Rebbi himself. This is certainly what our chachomim (sages) had in mind when they said that one learns more from his students than even from one’s own Rebbi. It’s their questions that have propelled me into taking pen in hand and putting down the answers that came to mind. Many of the answers came to me during the interesting discussions we shared. Unfortunately I never kept records and therefore don’t remember the names of the students who asked many of these simplistic but brilliant questions. I thank them all the same, for it’s their thought-provoking questions that stimulated me to think as well. I must admit, however, that many of their questions have stumped me, and I was not ashamed to say, I don’t know.

One must realize that many of their questions can probably be found in the Meforshim, and a variety of answers can be found in all four different parts of Torah, be it p’shat, remez, drush and sod. However, I’ve tried my best to answer them in the simplest manner possible in order to show them that their questions can be answered even on the very basic level.

I greatly appreciate my readers’ comments and certainly would like to hear your answers to these questions.