Connection to the Past by Eli Lehman


On the night of the Seder, the core of Maggid is Chazal’s analysis of the recounting of Yetziat Mitzraim in Sefer Devarim.  The Pesukim we read talk about “the declaration over the first fruits.”  A farmer would bring his Bikkurim, his first fruits, to the Beit HaMikdash and give it to a Kohen.  He would then say these Pesukim which describe the Egyptian exile and subsequent redemption.  Out of the many sections in the Torah which describe Yetziat Mitzraim, why do we choose these pesukim as the main point of Maggid?

Rav Mordechai Elon (in his Haggadat Techeilet Mordechai) answers that the Pesukim in Devarim were spoken to the children and grandchildren of the Jews who were enslaved in Egypt.  The people who brought Bikkurim and recited these Pesukim did not experience the burden of the Egyptian enslavement.  However, the Pesukim are written in first person.  The descendants of the Jewish slaves speak as if they themselves experienced the exodus, yet it was actually their ancestors who did so!  How can we explain why the Pesukim are in first person?  The answer is that when bringing Bikkurim, one is supposed to feel as if he himself lived through the exodus and consider himself a slave in Egypt.  When one speaks about the exodus, he should speak as if it happened to him.  This is the reason we choose this as our basis for the discussion at the Seder.  When recalling the exodus at the Seder, we should not view it as what happened to our ancestors but as what happened to us ourselves.

On Pesach, we have to make the past into the present.  Klal Yisrael was born on Pesach as a nation which bounds to the past and can relive previous events, regardless of any changes that have occurred until now, such as the Holocaust.  We come to the Seder knowing what happened in the past, to our ancestors, and how it affected us.  This is to remind us that whatever we do will have an impact on future generations.  May we be Zocheh to perform many Mitzvot and good deeds which will have an impact on the future, and may it be Hashem’s will that soon Mashiach will come BeMeairah BeYameinu, Amen Selah.

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