Thursday, April 5, 2007


We recite in the Haggadah: The wicked one, what does he say? "What is this service to you?!" He says 'to you', but not to him! By thus excluding himself from the community he has denied that which is fundamental. You, therefore, must blunt his teeth and say to him: "'It is because of this that G-d did for me when I left Egypt';'for me' — but not for him! If he had been there, he would not have been redeemed!"

The commentators ask: How are we so certain that he would not have been redeemed? Weren't there evil people in Egypt that were redeemed; the most famous being Dasan and Aviram?

We mention in the Haggadah: Had the Holy One Blessed Be He not have taken our ancestors out of Egypt, we and our sons and our grandchildren would still be subjugated to Pharaoh in Egypt. The commentaries question as to how we can make such an assertion. Surely the Jewish people would have left Egypt sometime in the future? Perhaps they may have been released? Or eventually the Egyptian empire would collapse or be overthrown?

The Shulchan Aruch writes that one should put his best and most ornate vessels on the table for the Seder. The Maharil had expensive ornamental vessels that he had accepted as collateral from the non-Jews to whom he lent money. He kept these vessels in storage for most of the year. For the Seder night, though, he would set them up in the dining area so as to make the Seder table appear extremely nice.

Most commentators explain the Maharil only to mean that the table was set with these utensils; they could not use them since that would be regarded as stealing.

The Chasam Sofer, however, offers a novel approach. When it came time for the Jews to depart from Egypt, they were commanded to ask their Egyptian neighbors for utensils of silver and gold, in fulfillment of Hashem's promise to Avraham Avinu many years earlier - that his descendants would leave Egypt with great wealth. the Chasam Sofer cites the words of Chazal that the Egyptians offered them more than they asked for. Why was this? It is well known that eating with utensils from a non-Jew that were not properly immersed in a ritual bath can result in grave danger and causes impurity to the one who eats from food cooked with these utensils. The Jews could not immerse the utensils that they borrowed from the Egyptians because they did not belong to them. The angel appointed on the Egyptians knew this and intended that the Jews should use these utensils and become spiritually impure. The abundance of sanctity that Hashem poured on the Jews on the night they departed from Egypt nullified the impurities contained in those utensils and they were able to use them without endangering themselves.

This level of sanctity returns every year on the night of the Seder. The intense desires displayed in the telling over of the exodus from Egypt accomplishes that no impurity can effect us and it is therefore permitted to set up the Seder table with the utensils from the non-Jews and even use them without any fear regarding the impurities contained in those utensils.

Yaakov said to his father, "I am Esav, your first-born; I have done as you have told me." Rashi explains: Yaakov did not lie; rather, he said I am who I am, Esav is your first-born. The Chasam Sofer states that even that explanation is inconsistent with what Yaakov Avinu stood for. He was the pillar of truth; how could he utter words that would appear to be an outright lie? He answers: It was only because of the influence he received from wearing the garments of Esav. One who dresses like a non-Jew talks like one,as well. It was only because that this occurred on the night of Pesach, the sanctity of that night protected Yaakov, and he was able to express himself in a manner that could be interpreted as the truth and because of that, he was able to receive the Blessings from his father Yitzchak.

(One should be extremely careful in regards to the clothing that he or she wears. Clothes that are considered 'goyishe' clothes should not be worn. Besides the fact that the halacha mandates that they are forbidden to wear, one will become effected by those clothes; he will begin to speak like a goy, think like a goy and eventually act like one too. Clothes that are against halacha can be regarded as clothes of a non-Jew.)

It is written [14:3]: Pharoah will say to the Children of Israel: they are wandering in the land and the desert closed in on them. Rashi explains that it means that he will say it about them because he could not possibly say it to them since they already left. Yonasan ben Uziel interprets this passage literally, explaining that Pharoah will tell Dasan and Aviram, who had remained in Egypt, that their fellow Israelites are lost. Dasan and Aviram did not leave together with the rest of the Jewish people. They stayed behind according to this interpretation.

Dasan and Aviram are a testimony to what would happen if the Jewish people would not have left at that precise moment. When Dasan and Aviram left soon afterwards, they witnessed the splitting of the sea, the drowning of the Egyptians, the giving of the Torah and many other miracles in the Wilderness. How could they not believe in Hashem and in Moshe, His servant? How could they have remained in such a wicked state? The answer is because once they sunk to the fiftieth level of impurity, there was no climbing out of that. Witnessing all the miracles could not have any effect on them. They were not capable of becoming inspired through the receiving of the Torah.

The Jewish people who did leave Egypt at that time merited the special sanctity of that night. Hashem instilled in them an abundance of sanctity in order to overcome their lack of spirituality and this enabled them to become inspired when witnessing the splitting of the sea and eventually prepared them for the ultimate prize, the receiving of the Torah.

This is what the Haggadah is informing us and this is what we tell the wicked son. If he would have been in Egypt, he would not have been redeemed together with the rest of the Jewish people. That would result in his sinking to the fiftieth level of tumah, a state which one cannot climb out of.

The lesson to us is a simple one: Seize the moment! Become inspired before it is too late.

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