Rabbi Avi Weinstein

The Sefat Emet A Modern Chasidic Master Teaches Us How to Get Real with our Passover Seder

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2009 at 2:49 pm

For many who take Passover Seders seriously it is either an opportunity to have children to take over and display their knowledge, or an opportunity for lively discussions relating to the ritual at hand. Both of these approaches choose pedagogy and discourse over piety. The Sefat Emet Rabbi Yehudah Aryeh Leib Altar(1847-1905) challenges us to believe that there is more to Pesach than a ritualized reenactment, it is a connection that is meant to transcend time. The power of believing that can make a seder magical. Quoting the Maharal of Prague, Rabbi Yehudah Loew (1525-1609) he says:

…as a group everyone was actually present at the Exodus, but it as individuals everyone has to see himself “as if he went out”. (Maharal, Gevurot HaShem Chapter 61). It would also seem that the way one enters the group is through believing that he went out from Egypt. For certainly, the Exodus from Egypt was the original Israelite point from which life is drawn to every person in Israel, and this is something that we are obliged to believe.

We are to believe that our very lives as Jews not only depend on the Exodus in the past, but that through this reenactment we remain connected as if it is happening now, and in fact, there is always an Egypt that we are trying to leave, it is only the characters that change. For the Sefat Emet in translation and a scorchin commentary, click here.

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  1. My 6-year-old (firstborn) woke up crying last night. She had a dream that it was midnight, and the 10th plague was at hand and she couldn’t remember whether or not we had properly put the blood on our door.

    Part of me was very excited about this dream, despite the anxiety it was causing my poor child.

  2. That is such a profound anxiety dream, to live the reality and to assume the responsibility of the parent who is the one who should be anxious about the first born. So, it’s true, the oldest child is the one who viscerally bears the burden of the family. Good for you, less good for her.

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