Shevii shel Pesach 5784


Songs of praise, or storytelling?[1]

אפילו כולנו חכמים כולנו נבונים כולנו זקנים כולם יודעים את התורה, מצוה עלינו לספר ביציאת מצרים
Even if we are all Sages, all of us are people of understanding, all of us are elders, all of us know the Torah, it’s a mitzvah for us to recount the story of the Exodus from Egypt[2]

On Seder night, we are commanded to recount the Pesach story to our children. This is seemingly different than the regular daily mitzvah to recall the Exodus from Egypt. Perhaps we can suggest two reasons for the once-a-year mitzvah of recounting the story: (1) It’s purely expressing and acknowledging to our children all of the miracles that Hashem performed for us. This approach fits simply with the verse: “When your child will ask you on that day….you shall recount to him”.[3] It sounds like the mitzvah is simply a response to the child’s curiosity. (2) It’s a form of song and praise to Hashem, not simply a retelling of the story[4].

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Pesach 5784


The bittersweet herb[1]

מרור זה שאנו אוכלים על שום מה? על שום שמררו המצרים את חיי אבותינו במצרים
This marror that we eat, it represents what? It represents the fact that the Egyptians embittered the lives of our forefathers in Egypt[2]

The Pesach Seder is a confusing night. There are these contradictory themes of freedom and slavery.  It’s a bit astounding that at the time that we’re demonstrating our freedom by eating matzah, reclining, and drinking the four cups, we’re also required to eat marror, the bitter herbs representing our enslavement. The reason for this, however, is that through this we can engrain in our hearts that even that which seems bad in our eyes, in truth, has good in it. All of Hashem’s attributes are merciful, and everything He does is good[3].

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Shemini 5784


Nullification priorities[1]

אל-תשקצו את-נפשתיכם בכל-השרץ השרץ ולא תטמאו בהם ונטמתם בם
Do not abominate your souls with all sorts of the creepy crawlies, and do not contaminate with them, nor become contaminated in them[2]

Our Sages teach us[3] that if we contaminate ourselves with forbidden foods [בהם], our end is to be contaminated in them [בם]. This seems a little redundant. As well, what’s the significance of the pronoun change from בהם to בם‏‎[4]?

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