Making Seder of the Seder – Part II

After the first two cycles of questions, presenting the “gnut” or humiliation of the Exodus story, completed each time with praise of Hashem, discussed in Part I, we then come to “.והיא שעמדה”

What role does והיא שעמדה play at this point?

If you look closely at the words of this short paragraph you notice a new dimension to the Seder is now being introduced.  You see here the Baal Haggadah is beginning to make the themes of the Seder relevant to us in our times. “והיא” or the brit between Hashem and Am Yisrael has perpetuated for our fathers and for us.  In every generation there are nations of the world that try to annihilate us and Hakadosh Baruchu saves us for their hand.

After introducing this new stage of relevance, which we will return later, we then introduce the longest, most drawn out section of the Hagadah – .ארמי אבד אבי  At this point we read/study the expositions of Chaza”l on the verses from the Parshat Bikkurim – Dvarim chapter 26.  This detailed retelling of the story is geared toward the most advanced student at the Seder. This would be the time for the adults to share or discuss Divrai Torah about these verses or Yitziat Mitzrayim in general, on a sophisticated level.  In this account, we say the “Ten Plagues” in various forms and quote different opinions of the Rabbis of exactly how and when the plagues manifested themselves.  Once again, we take notice of the elaborate form of the presentation. We glean from this section of maggid that details on this night are important to recall.  To fully help us understand and internalize the depth and fullness of the story, the recalling of the details serves an important role.

That brings us to Dayenu.  What is Dayenu? This poem is once again a “praise” of Hashem at the end of the section.  Our 3rd praise of maggid, is the most intricate and detailed expression of extolling God. Compare Dayenu to the previous sections of praise and you will find a vast difference in their style and form.  Dayenu praises God for specific parts of the Exodus story and beyond.

Together ארמי אבד אבי and Dayenu comprise another round of humiliation and praise.

We then arrive at Rabban Gamliel.  This perhaps is the climax of the maggid section.  We take the major symbols of the night, Pesach, matzah and maror and we raise them up.  We describe their meaning and significance and explain the role they played in the Exodus story.  They represent our bondage and freedom from slavery; they represent our story.  They are our “living museum.”  We are meant to interrelate and connect with them.  These images and symbols help us to further internalize the story.

In total, Maggid involved retelling the story three times, on different levels, with different stimulants and forms of praise.  We have emphasized the miraculous nature of the story and connected to the three primary symbols which intensify our Yitziat Mitzrayim experience.

We can then state clearly that which we are meant to deeply comprehend and consciously feel, “In every generation a Jew is obligated to see themselves as if they left Egypt.”  The cognitive experience of maggid is meant to be so powerful that we should feel that the “Exodus story” happened to us.  Yitziat Mitrayim is not just relevant to us as we indicate in והיא שעמדה, Yitziat Mitzrayim is our own story as we state in בכל דור ודור.

It follows that we should be filled with הלל והודיה לה’, an emotional and sincere outburst of song to our Redeemer.  The first part of hallel caps the Maggid section of the Haggadah.

The Pesach Seder is a brilliant arrangement of stages in effort to fulfill the Mitzvah of Sippur Yitziat Mitzrayim.  However, it is only the core skeleton.  There is plenty of room for creativity.  Our job as families and as individuals is to add teachings, ideas, stories, songs which personalize Seder Night even further.  In this way we fulfill Chaza’l’s guiding instruction וכל המרבה לספר ביציאת מצרים הרי זה משובח.

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