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Friday, March 30

The Weekly Shtikle - Leil Seder

As we get started with the maggid portion of the Haggadah, we discuss four different types of children, the questions they might ask and the responses we should provide for them. This is an appropriate exercise since the Haggadah – although relevant and mandatory for all regardless of age – is very much an exercise in chinuch.
Immediately following, we have a short paragraph discussing the appropriate time for the mitzvah of teaching one's children about the Pesach story. I might have thought it would begin on Rosh Chodesh, or perhaps the day before Pesach. However, the appropriate time is only when matzah and maror are placed in front of us. On the surface, this is simply a study of the halachic nuance of the mitzvah. But perhaps, at the same time, the Haggadah is teaching us some important lessons in chinuch.
In parting with the actual flow of the pesukim that discuss the questions and answers in the Torah, the Haggadah uses the same pasuk for the answer to the rasha and the eino yodeia lish'ol. This just so happens to be the pasuk that is expounded upon to establish the proper timing of the mitzvah. The rasha and eino yodeia lish'ol would seem to be the two more challenging characters in this set of children. We might want to devote extra attention to them – the rasha in order to steer him towards the proper path and the eino yodeia lish'ol because he is just getting started and needs help in order to ask the right questions. We might even be inclined to start early. But this paragraph in the Haggadah teaches us that presenting our children with the theory without the practice is not sufficiently effective. In order to properly imbue them with an appreciation of our heritage and the mitzvos that reflect it, they need to see it in action. Therefore, the appropriate time to educate them about yetzias Mitzrayim can only be while we have the matzah and maror in front of us, ready to eat. The chinuch challenge on seder night is not merely about saying. It is about saying and doing.

Have a good Shabbos and Chag Kasher ve'Sameiach!

For a collection of previous seder night shtikles, please check out my archive of past Seder shtikles.

Eliezer Bulka

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