A main point of the Pesach Seder is to remember the story of Yetziat Mitzrayim and to tell it to the children, as the Pasuk states (Shemot 13:8): “Vehigadeta Levincha Bayom Hahu,” “And you shall tell your son on that day.” The Seder is a good time to reflect on Hashem and Yetziat Mitzrayim and to appreciate everything that Hashem has done for us.
Rabbi Raphael B. Butler comments that it is interesting that the telling of the story begins with Avadim Hayinu, the slavery, and not the redemption. Why is the slavery the beginning of the story and not the redemption? It is true that learning about the slavery gives us many insights to Jewish life in Egypt; we discover facts such as that the Jews did not change their names to Egyptian names so that they would not assimilate into Egyptian culture. But should this be the central focus of the night? Isn’t the focus of the night supposed to be on the redemption?
Rabbi Butler then answers his question with the following thought. As the Sfat Emet teaches, on the Seder night, we are supposed to think about the reason for which Hashem sent us to Egypt in the first place. We need to begin our telling of the story of Yetziat Mitzrayim with the pain and slavery, because without the pain and slavery, we would never have become Hashem’s chosen nation. If we, living in the twenty-first century, would have been in Mitzrayim during the time of slavery, we probably would have yelled out to Hashem and asked why He caused us to be enslaved. What we would not realize is that the redemption has to start through pain and suffering.
A certain Torah scholar mentioned that he spends much of his time remembering his slavery and pain in Europe during World War Two. At his Seder, he always recalls the family that he built and the life that he continued from the ruins of Europe. It is important to dwell both on the suffering and the redemption, because it is only through suffering that we can have redemption. We needed Mitzrayim to have Yetziat Mitzrayim.