No solution. How many times do we feel that we’ve reached such a point?
It may be a personal problem. A communal one. It could be a financial problem or a problem involving a relationship. It could be one in gashmiyus or ruchniyus.
Whenever one is confronted by that seemingly insurmountable problem I suggest taking a good look at the Maaseh Nissim (the Nesivos on the Haggadah) that can be found in the Otzar Hatefillos siddur.
The Nesivos (Rabbi Yaakov Lorberbaum) presents a creative solution to a difficult paragraph with which we begin Maggid at the Seder. The paragraph has three seemingly unrelated sentences. First we point to the matzah and announce, “Ha lachma anya di achalu avhasana b’ar’a d’Mitzrayim — This is the bread of affliction that our forefathers ate in the land of Mitzrayim.”
So far, so good. Since matzah is called lechem oni according to one pshat because it is “lechem she’onin alav devarim harbeh — bread upon which we recite many things,” it would be fitting to identify the matzah as the bread that our forefathers ate in the land of Mitzrayim, as we begin to tell the story of Pesach. (The word oneh means to recite or respond and the Haggadah is recited over the matzah at the Seder.)
Then comes a difficult second sentence. “Kol dichfin yeisei v’yeichol, kol ditzrich yeisei v’yifsach — Anyone who wants, come and eat; anyone who needs, come and participate in the korban Pesach.”
Problem. First of all, if we want to invite people to our Seder, the time to have done it was before Pesach or at least in shul after Maariv — before we come home and close our doors. We should have announced that anyone who still doesn’t have a place to eat, yeisei v’yeichol — let him come home with us and eat.
And what is the second part of that sentence about the korban Pesach? Unfortunately, we cannot yet bring our own korban Pesach. How are we inviting others to join in with us?
The third sentence also doesn’t seem to fit in at all with the other two. Hashata hacha l’shanah haba’ah b’Ar’a d’Yisrael. Hashata avdei l’shanah haba’ah bnei chorin — Now we are here, in the coming year we will be in Eretz Yisrael. Now we are slaves, in the coming year we will be free.” That is surely our hope and prayer and perhaps belongs at the end of the Seder when we sing “L’shanah haba’ah biYerushalayim.”
But what is it doing here as an introduction to Maggid?
The Maaseh Nissim explains that the composer of the Haggadah was confronting a serious problem. It is and was a problem that might extend for a long and rough period of time. He was preparing a Haggadah to recite at a Seder that is taking place in galus.
When we lived in Eretz Yisrael and possessed a Beis Hamikdash, we celebrated our exodus from Mitzrayim and our ability to serve Hakadosh Baruch Hu in His Mikdash on His Land. There was no question as to why we were celebrating — it was obvious. At that time we said “K’ha lachma anya — this matzah is a reenactment of the difficult times that we went through in Mitzrayim.” We took it as a symbol — to remind us of how our forefathers were once oppressed.
That was then. What are we celebrating now, though — in this difficult galus? Why do we celebrate coming out of Mitzrayim when we are back in Bavel or Rome or Auschwitz or even New York or an Eretz Yisrael that is under siege? Why are we celebrating the freedom to be close to Hakadosh Baruch Hu in His Land when we are so far from His Land and even in His Land unable to bring the korban Pesach?
The Baal HaHaggadah expresses that question with a statement: “Ha lachma anya.” This is the same poor bread that our forefathers ate in Mitzrayim. What is the celebration? If a man is put into jail and then released, it would be fitting for him to celebrate the anniversary of his release. If he is put back into jail, however, it is doubtful that in jail he would celebrate because he once was taken out of jail.
The Nesivos explains, though, that there is one exception. That is when the original release is the reason that one can be confident that he will be released again. When we left Mitzrayim it wasn’t just that we left. Hakadosh Baruch Hu announced to the world that we are His nation. We became eternally tied to Him and He became Hashem Elokei Yisrael — the G-d of the Jewish Nation. As such, even if we don’t deserve it, He ultimately will redeem us to protect His honor.
Each year when Pesach arrives we realize that Hakadosh Baruch Hu has the ability to redeem us and because His name is attached to us He definitely will. That is the reason to rejoice.
What kind of celebration does it deserve? A small kiddush among friends or a giant wedding party to which you invite all who would like to join?
It is such a great simchah that one should invite everyone, because although today we are here, the fact that Hakadosh Baruch Hu promised to take us out and proved on Pesach that He could take us out convinces us that next year we will be free in Eretz Yisrael.
The Baal HaHaggadah lets us know right at the beginning that all our trials and tribulations will have a happy ending. We have an All-Powerful Father in Shamayim who loves us and watches over us and is looking forward to the day that He can bring us back to His service. That certainly is reason to celebrate.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.