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Passover/ The Seder Nights

Dedicated for a Refuah Shelemah for Shlomo ben Shoshana

Passover/ The Seder Nights

This Wednesday night begins the holiday of Pesach, when we are commanded to celebrate our freedom from slavery in Egypt over 3,300 years ago. We express our gratitude and dedication to Hashem for saving us and giving us the Torah, the greatest gift a nation could ever receive!

The first mention of this obligation is in Parashat Shemot where it says, “And it shall be when your children say to you, what is this service to you? You shall say, it is a Pesach feast offering to Hashem, Who passed over the homes of the children of Israel when He killed the firstborn of the Egyptians, but He saved our households (12:26)!” The parasha continues and says, “And it shall be when your son will ask you at some future time, what is this? You shall say to him, ‘With a strong hand Hashem removed us from Egypt from the house of bondage (13:14).’”

Linking the Generations

We will all gather with our families to celebrate the Pesach Seder meal. The word Seder means order and the word Haggadah means to tell over. We have an obligation from the Torah to tell our children the story of the Exodus from Egypt and how Hashem saved us from the hands of Pharaoh. There are four times that the Torah commands us to do so. These four symbolize the four ways that Hashem saved us and the four cups of wine that we drink on the Seder night.

The Torah brings up the four progressive stages of our redemption from Pharaoh and Egypt, which correspond to the four cups of wine that we are obligated to drink on the Seder nights. These four expressions from the Torah as explained by Rav Bahya are:

  1. Vehotzeti - I shall take you out. Hashem will remove the Jewish people from the burdens of slavery even before they were allowed to leave.

  2. Vehitzalti - I shall rescue you. Hashem will take the Jewish people out of Egypt.

  3. Vegaalti - I shall redeem you. This alludes to the splitting of the Red Sea, when Hashem's outstretched arm literally saved B'nei Yisrael while crushing Egypt’s army in front of a demoralized Pharoah.

  4. Velakahti - I shall take you. Hashem took the Jews as His people when He gave them the Torah at Har Sinai. That was the ultimate climax to our redemption and the purpose of the Exodus!

The Haggadah has 1,820 words describing how Hashem came down, and not a malach- angel to save us from the hands of the Egyptians. Hashem's name also appears in our Torah 1,820 times, whereas Moshe’s name is not even mentioned once in the Haggadah. On this night the spotlight belongs to Hashem.

The main part of the Seder is called Magid which comes from the same root as Haggadah. Both mean to tell over. The Seder is a process that we practice one time each and every year that links the generations! As Jews we have been following this practice from our fathers, who learned from their fathers and so on, going back over 3,300 years.

Before the eighth plague of locusts, Pharaoh finally told Moshe to “Go and serve Hashem,” but without the children, thereby creating a division between father and son. Pharaoh intentionally tried to disconnect the generations so the sons will not carry on their fathers’ beliefs. Once that connection from the fathers’ observance of Torah and mitzvot is severed, it would be quite simple to integrate the sons into the corrupt Egyptian culture. Before long, they would intermarry and eventually the name of Israel and the Jewish nation, has veshalom would be lost.

This was the ongoing theme of the nations throughout the ages, like the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Spanish, and the Germans. This theme has been repeated with the destructive objective of causing Judaism to become extinct. We read in the Haggadah, “Vehi she’amdah lavotenu velanu - And this [Hashem] stood firm for our fathers and for us.” It continues, “In every generation from that time on, there were those who would try and annihilate us, but the Holy One, Blessed is He, saved us from their hand!”

When we say this paragraph above, we cover the matzah and raise our wine glasses. This represents how we are supposed to approach difficult situations. When someone is going through a hard time, he should ‘cover’ his suffering, and not allow his suffering to take away from the way he raises his cup and praises Hashem for His infinite kindness. During this test of being quarantined and spending the holidays alone, we have to remember that Pesach is a time to arouse our faith in Hashem. Although it’s sad and heartbreaking, if we reinvigorate our emunah, Mashiah will be able to redeem us!

The Four Sons

The Haggadah presents Four Sons who represent four different types of Jews. The four sons are hacham - wise, rasha - wicked, tam - simple, and v'she’eno' yodea lish’al - he who does not know how to ask. The first letter of each one, put together, spells herut - freedom, which is the central theme of the holiday and another name for Pesach: Hag Herut.

The four sons also remind us that we have an obligation to teach our children in their own way and at their appropriate level. The hacham is opposite to the son who doesn't know how to ask, and the tam is the opposite of the rasha. Why? We learn that no matter what, they're all our sons, and even the rasha can make teshuvah! Why do we say echad hacham achad rasha etc.? This is to show that we have an obligation to teach each child in his own way and at his own pace that will help him reach his potential.

Emunah in Hashem

Rabbi David Sutton explains that the main focus of the Seder night is to strengthen our emunah in Hashem. The source of all our emunah is Yetziat Mitzrayim, as it’s stated in the Ten Commandments, “I am Hashem, who took you out of Mitzrayim.” The Ro’sh says that if a person doesn’t believe in Yetziat Mitzrayim, then that person doesn’t believe in Hashem!

There are many lessons to learn from Yetziat Mitzrayim. Two very important ones are:

Hashem can create something from nothing, which we learn when He sent the Ten Plagues to destroy Egypt.

Hashem’s involvement in each one of our lives is on an individual basis. It’s our job to recognize Him from both the open miracles, and the hashgacha peratit-Divine Providence that we all experience in our daily lives.

Emunah is not something intellectual. Rather, it must become instinctive and automatic. When a challenging situation arises in our lives, our reactions must be to have complete emunah and trust in Hashem! The goal of the Seder is to feel as though Hashem just saved each and every one of us from the bondage of Egypt, and now we are on our way to receive the Torah at Har Sinai!

One way we remember this is from the arba kosot - four cups of wine that we drink at the Seder. The gematria for the Hebrew word for cup-kos = 86.

Originally, the Jewish nation was supposed to be in Egypt for 430 years, but they actually only spent 86 years as slaves. With each time we raise a cup of wine, we are celebrating the deduction of 344 total years from galut (430-344=86). Each cup represents another 86 years. 86x4=344, which leaves us with 86 of the 430 years of hard labor while we were enslaved in Egypt.

We must learn to have hakarat hatov - gratitude to Hashem for everything that we have in our lives, because if not for Hashem, we would have nothing! We must look forward to the geulah to bring us and all of Klal Yisrael to the days of the Mashiah where we, along with the rest of the world, will recognize Hashem as the only one true G-d and the Jewish Nation as His people forever! Amen!

Do We Really Feel Redemption Today?

During the rest of the year we can eat hametz which is flour and water that's been left alone long enough to rise. Matzah, though also flour and water, must be watched. This exemplifies Hashem’s “hands on” approach, guiding us through every moment of our lives. We must ask ourselves if we really feel the redemption that our ancestors experienced so many years ago, while living as we with luxury and convenience. We have to be thankful for everything we went through in our pasts and feel confident that Hashem will continue to guide us for the rest of our lives.

With all the troubles the world is now facing, there is also a ray of hope. People are slowing down and reflecting, realizing what is truly important, how little we are truly in control, how much we depend on one another. How great is the resilience of the human spirit! As we prepare for the holiday of redemption, let us remember: While we need to be isolated, this is not a time for separation. Let us support one another in thought and prayer. May Hashem hasten our ultimate salvation. May we strengthen our emunah in Hashem and look forward to the coming of the Mashiah in our days! Amen!

Chag Kasher Ve Sameach and Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Amram Sananes as written by Jack Rahmey

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Anyone interested in Dedicating this Divre Torah L'ilui Nishmat or Refuah Shelemah or In Honor of someone, can email me at

Checks can be made out to “Mikdash Melech” for $101 and mail to 1326 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11230 (please put in the memo “Divre Torah Food for Shabbat”)

Anyone interested in past parshiot please go to the website

Anyone interested in Dedicating this Divre Torah L'ilui Nishmat or Refuah Shelemah or

In Honor of someone, can email me at

Checks can be made out to “Mikdash Melech” for $101 and mail to 1326 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11230 (please put in the memo “Divre Torah Food for Shabbat”)

Anyone interested in past parshiot please go to the website

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