Pesach 2013

I would like to wish everyone a holiday that is joyous, festive, and inspiring.   Mazel Tov to Daniel and Chayala Glenner of the birth of a son, and to Menachem Mendel and Shoshana Janowski on the birth of a son.  Daniel and Chayla named thier baby Yehoshua Nissan, after Chayala’s great – grandfather and a great-great grandfather.  Menacham Mendel and Shoshana’s baby’s Circumcision should, God willing, take place on Shabbos, 3/24/13.

(Mazel Tov – the baby’s name is Itamer Yaakov.  This is indeed a great Simcha and the name Itamer Yaakov is after my father-in-law, Itamer Yaakov Janowski.)

Mazel Tov to Yossi and Elisheva Chase on the birth of a daughter, this past Tuesday.  The baby naming and Kiddush is this Shabbos at Bais Chaim Dovid East, Rabbi Menachem Fine.

Yesterday, Thursday, March 21st, I went to the gravesite of the Younge Bubi, Alta Henya Rivkah Sklar.  She passed away on the first of Iyar, 1933, April 27, 1933.  This is Zedi Sholem Sklar’s mother.

This year I purchased four new Haggadahs for Pesach (Passover).  I consider myself a student of each of the four leaders represented in these Haggadahs.

  1. The Avnei Neizer Haggadah – The Avnei Neizer was a son-in-law of the Kotzker Rebbe.  Rabbi Avrohom  Bornstein, mentioned in my post for 2012 about the Kotzker Rebbe’s Seder.
  2. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s Haggadah.  I consider myself a Talmud of Rabbi Sacks.  Martin Brody is a Talmud Muvhuk of Rabbi Sacks and through my closeness with Martin Brody, actually my best friend, I am a student of Rabbi Sacks.
  3. The Haggadah of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.  The Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Torah is magnificent.  Every Jew is a Chosid and student of the Lubavitcher.
  4. Exalted Evening.  Torah of Rabbi Joseph B Soloveichik, edited by Rabbi Menachem Genack.  Although I never heard Rabbi Soloveichik speak, I was fortunate to hear classes by his students; Rabbi Genack, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovici, Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, and Rabbi Ben Sugerman at BRS, refer to my post, Yeshiva Week.  Of course I learned by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveichik’s brother, Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik, was Kulo Torah, he lived and breathed Torah.

I offer the following Torah thoughts on the Haggadah.

The Haggadah talks about the four sons.  As translated by Chabad.org:

The wise one, what does he say? “What are the testimonies, the statutes and the laws which the L-rd, our G-d, has commanded you?” You, in turn, shall instruct him in the laws of Passover, [up to] `one is not to eat any dessert after the Passover-lamb.’

The wicked one, what does he say? “What is this service to you?!” He says `to you,’ but not to him! By thus excluding himself from the community he has denied that which is fundamental. You, therefore, blunt his teeth and say to him: “It is because of this that the L-rd did for me when I left Egypt”; `for me’ – but not for him! If he had been there, he would not have been redeemed!”

The simpleton, what does he say? “What is this?” Thus you shall say to him: “With a strong hand the L-rd took us out of Egypt, from the house of slaves.”

As for the one who does not know how to ask, you must initiate him, as it is said: “You shall tell your child on that day, It is because of this that the L-rd did for me when I left Egypt.'”

Questions:

  1. The first son is the wise son.  We interpret this to mean the righteous son, as contrasted to the evil son.  Why does the Haggadah call him a wise son and not a Tzaddik – righteous son?   The answer normally given is that a righteous person must be wise.   Okay, but we can do better than this answer.
  2.  The wise son uses the word “you” similar to the evil son?
  3.  The Hebrew language used by the Haggadah is awkward.  The above English translation from Chabad.org cleans it up.  Translated literally it says, “and you should also” tell him “like” the laws of Passover, one does not eat any dessert after the Passover lamb.”  If you read the line without the words in brackets, it makes more sense.
  4.  The answer to the evil son is to contend with him; “blunt his teeth”.  However, a more effective response is silence, ignore the evil son and that is the biggest rebuke.  Employ the power of silence.

I discussed these questions with Rabbi Ezriel.  He gave me some nice insights and I have expanded on them. Rabbi Ezriel told me that the language of  “and you should also tell him” means that  in addition to the answer given in the Torah, Deuteronomy 6, verses 20-24, also tell him the laws of Passover.

My answer to the reason why the Haggadah uses the term ‘wise son’ and not ‘Tzaddik’ (righteous) is: The Haggadah is not talking about a Tzaddik.  The Tzaddik is giving the Seder.  The wise son referred to in the Haggadah is a very smart son, and we do not know where he stands, is he God fearing or not. We do not know as the wise son employs words, “us and you.” We start with telling him the magnificence of the Exodus as spelled out in Deuteronomy, and then we observe how he behaves in his overall life. Is Religion important to him, does it permeate. When he is challenged does he do the right thing religiously? This is the meaning of “like the law of not eating dessert after the Passover offering” Does the Passover offering (religion) linger inside him or does he go on to dessert, satisfying himself and forgetting the Passover offering.  An example is, if he has to be in the hospital where there are TVs that are always on. etc.  does he watch TV on Shabbos?

Rabbi Ezriel answered my last question with an answer from the Gra, which I will slightly modify. The Vilna Goan says that father is not answering the evil son. Answering him will get you nowhere, because the evil son thinks he has all the answers. The evil son is actually an ignoramus and has no feelings for others; he is generally narcissistic. When the Haggadah says, “You, therefore, blunt his teeth and say to him”: The “him” is not the evil son, it is to the Simpleton. You do not want the evil son to influence the simpleton and for that matter all of the sons. You turn to the other sons and discuss the power of Exodus.    This is the blunting of the teeth. You ignore the evil son; you do not respond to him, you treat him with silence. And this is the biggest blunting of the teeth.

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