LEAVING OUR OWN PERSONAL GOLUS
The meaning of the posuk “kimei tzeischah mei’eretz Mitzrayim arenu niflaos, I will show you miracles like the day you left Mitzrayim,” is explained by the Imrei Emes as follows:
As much as the Yid goes out of his own golus Mitzrayim on the holy seder night and exits his personal golus, so will he merit to witness the wonders of the geulah hoasidah.
MATONOS L’EVYONIM ON PESACH?
The Toras Emes explains, “On Pesach night, the Ribono Shel Olam gives His children lofty emotions and the capacity to reach great spiritual heights. Not only spiritually elevated people, but simple people can also reach these heights.
“Therefore, the halachah is that ‘even a pauper shall not eat until he reclines,’ meaning that even a Jewish spiritually poor person should eat with a spirit of cheirus because on Pesach, all of Klal Yisroel are truly free.”
A BROCHAH AFTER THE HAGGADAH
Why don’t we make a brochah on Sipur Yetzias Mitzrayim before we begin the mitzvah?
The halachah is that a ger makes the brochah on his geirus after the tevilah, and not before. Why? Before the tevilah, he has the din of a gentile, and cannot make the brochah of “asher kidishonu b’mitzvosov.”
And since we say, “In every generation, one is obligated to visualize himself as if he left Mitzrayim,” we must view ourselves as if we have just become members of Klal Yisroel. As we read in the haggadah, “In the beginning, our ancestors served idols.”
Thus, we act as fresh converts and do not say the brochah of Goal Yisroel before relating the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim, only afterwards, when we have become reborn and close to our Father in Heaven.
A BRAND NEW SEICHEL
Rav Michel of Zlotchov was a pauper who barely had enough to eat. One year, as he sat down to the seder and the poverty of his home cried out of every corner, he said, “Ribono Shel Olam, even the poorest of the poor can afford a new beged for yom tov. And I have received nothing? Even my children have nothing to wear.
“Therefore, Hakodosh Boruch Hu, I beg of you, at least give me a new seichel!”
NOTHING LEFT OVER
A chosid once asked Rav Meir of Premishlan, “We put moror on the seder plate as a remembrance of how the Egyptians embittered our lives. The charoses is an allusion to the backbreaking work, and matzah is a remembrance of the lechom oni. However, why don’t we have a remembrance of the great wealth that Klal Yisroel took out of golus?”
To which Rebbe Meir replied, “The moror is a remembrance of the avodas perech, which we still have today. However, of the rechush godol which we received in Mitzrayim, there is nothing left over…”
WHY THE ROSHA TOOK SECOND PLACE
Rav Michel of Sambor repeated in the name of his illustrious uncle, Rav Tzvi Hirsch of Ziditchoiv, “Why did the Ba’al Haggadah put the rosha near the chochom, and not after the other sons?”
“Because if the rosha would be situated near the tom or the she’eino yodeia lishol, he would have had an influence on them,” the Ziditchoiver replied.
SHE’EINU YODEIA LISHOL
The haggadah says, “for the she’eino yodeia lishol, the one who does not know how to ask, you begin by telling him, vehigaditah l’vinchah…ba’avoor zeh osah Hashem li. And you shall tell your children, because of this, Hashem did for me.”
As explained by the Bnei Yissoschor, the she’eino yodeia lishol cannot talk; his power of speech is mute because of his lack of intellect. Tell him, “ba’avoor zeh,” we, too, were in the same situation, we could not either speak from pain and suffering, and the Ribono Shel Olam rescued us from golus. Our Pesach was truly a “peh sach,” a mouth which speaks.
FROM GOLD, SILVER, OR GLASS?
The Sefer Kaf Hachaim mentions that one should use goblets from silver, because silver alludes to chesed.
The sefer Neziros Shimshon mentions that one should not drink in a golden goblet, but only in a vessel of glass. In the siddur of Rav Shalom Sharabi, it is also mentioned that the goblets should be either silver or glass.
The Divrei Chaim of Sanz used only glass goblets for the seder, and the Komarna Rebbe used crystal dishes to adorn his seder table.
The Munkatcher Rebbe used a silver becher for the first of the arba kosos, and used a special glass vessel, which he had inherited from his zeideh, the Lanzuter Rov, for the other three kosos.
PROTECTING THE DIGNITY OF THE GANEV!
One year on Pesach night, when the seder table was set with the finest goblets, a thief entered the home of the Beis Halevi. He tiptoed into the dining room, gathered the goblets into a sack and ran out the door. In his hurry to get away, the thief nearly bumped into the Beis Halevi coming home from shul. Reb Yoshe Ber immediately realized what had transpired.
“Nu, you are probably coming to pawn these items instead of a loan,” said the Beis Halevi tactfully. “If so, you can leave them here, and on chol hamoeid you will G-d willing receive the loan.”
The confused thief dropped his bundle and ran.
THE REMEDY BEFORE THE CURE
Once year, the Shpoler Zeideh traveled around the villages surrounding Shpole and gathered all the wheat, placing it in a special storehouse. Three days before Pesach, a fire broke out and burned all the wheat fields.
The Shpoler Zeideh then distributed the wheat he had hoarded, and everyone in Shpole and its environs had matzos for Pesach.
THE APTER REBBE’S OLAM HAZEH….
One year, when the Apter Rebbe sat at the seder table, which was bedecked with a snowy tablecloth and the finest silver goblets, the Rebbe said, “Rashi tells us that Hakodosh Boruch Hu asks, ‘Is it not enough for tzadikim that I give them olam habo? Do they still need olam hazeh?’”
With these words, the Apter Rebbe cried, “Ribono Shel Olam, I am mochel the olam habo. I am satisfied with the olam hazeh You have given me. However, what is my olam hazeh worth, what is such a seder worth without the korbon Pesach?” and the Rebbe burst into bitter tears.
These words, uttered in purity, made a tremendous impact in Shomayim.
“HESEV” BED (RECLINING COUCH FOR THE SEDER)
An elderly chosid of Rav Yehoshua of Belz had the merit of preparing the hesev bed, a special reclining couch, for the Rebbe. After the Rebbe’s passing, he continued doing the same for the Rebbe’s son, Rav Yissochor Dov. When Reb Mordechai, the elderly chosid, passed away, Rav Yissochor Dov called his son Elazar and asked him to take over the task that his father had done.
Before the first seder night, Reb Elazar exerted himself to fulfill all his father’s minhagim to the best of his ability. In the morning, a sholiach came to summon him to the Rebbe.
Rav Yissoschor Dov asked, “I don’t know what happened. When your father prepared the bed, it was done to my liking. But this time, I did not enjoy it. Don’t you know how to prepare the bed?”
To which Reb Elazar truthfully replied that he had tried to follow his father’s instructions to the best of his ability.
The Belzer Rebbe said to his chosid, “I will teach you what to do. Rav Hirsh Rimanover would prepare the hesev bed for his rebbe, Rav Mendel of Rimanov, who insisted that only Rav Hirsh prepare the bed, because he shed copious tears during the process.”
Reb Elazar understood. That night, when he prepared the hesev bed, it was accompanied by tears and tefilos. In the morning, the Belzer Rebbe told his chosid that the hesev bed had been prepared to his liking.
A simple villager once brought the Belzer Rebbe, Rav Yissochor Dov, a sack of carrots which were hand grown in his field, to be used for karpas. On the morning of erev Pesach, the chassidim were shocked to see the Rebbe burning the carrots together with the chometz, yet no one had the chutzpah to ask the Rebbe about it.
A few hours passed. Late in the afternoon, the villager burst into the Rebbe’s home, panic stricken.
“Holy Rebbe! I just found out the carrots are chometz. My housemaid told me that she poured beer over the plants to help them grow larger. As soon as I heard, I saddled my horse and rode to the Rebbe to prevent him from eating chometz.”
The Rebbe calmed the distraught chosid and told him that he had burned the carrots already. All the chassidim were impressed with the Rebbe’s ruach hakodesh.
With his typical humility, Rav Yissochor Dov explained, “I did not know that the carrots were chometz. I knew only one thing: We may not deviate from our father’s minhagim. Since we never used carrots for karpas, I knew that there must be something wrong with them.”
THE REMA DIDN’T LET HIM MAKE KIDDUSH
The Mezritcher Maggid had the minhag of distributing matzos and wine to his chassidim for the Pesach seder. They joined him for the seder, but brought their own dishes.
One of his talmidim, Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi, was very poor and owned only one drinking glass. Before Pesach, the Ba’al Hatanya debated whether to kasher the glass to use for the arba kosos, or to beg for tzedokah to buy a new glass. He decided to use the old glass rather than depend upon others.
The seder night arrived. The Maggid sat at the head of the table, surrounded by his chassidim. As the Maggid stood up to say kiddush, he announced, “I smell a scent of chometz.” He turned to his talmid Rav Mendel of Vitebsk, asking him to go around the room and detect the source of the scent. Rav Mendel went around the room three times, but could not detect any chometz.
“What can I do?” said the Maggid. “The Rema is standing before me with an angry face, and does not let me make kiddush.”
Rav Shneur Zalman spoke up. “Now I understand the problem. I kashered my drinking glass, which is against the p’sak of the Rema, who rules that one must buy a new glass. I did this because I did not want to depend upon tzedokah.”
The Maggid kissed his star disciple and said, “You must have a great merit because the Rema came down on your behalf.” During that seder night, the Ba’al Hatanya drank wine from the Maggid’s silver goblet.
MATZOS AND A HORSE
Rav Dovid of Lelov was accustomed to leave his home every erev Pesach and personally buy the matzos for yom tov. One year, as he walked to the bakery, engrossed in his thoughts, he met a Jew sitting and crying bitterly.
“What happened?” asked Rav Dovid, concerned.
“Oy, my horse, my horse!” sighed the man. “My source of income has just died. How will I support my family?”
Rav Dovid did not hesitate. He withdrew the satchel of money designated for matzos, gave it to the man, and told him to buy a horse. Then he headed for home.
“Where are the matzos?” asked his family members.
Rav Dovid replied, “The posuk says, ‘And you shall guard the matzos.’ Chazal say, ‘Do not call them matzos, but mitzvos. Just like matzos are not allowed to become sour, so is one not allowed to let mitzvos become sour. If a mitzvah comes into your hand, do it without delay. Don’t wait for another mitzvah to present itself.’ I took the first mitzvah opportunity, which was giving the poor man money to buy a horse.”
A BITTER PILL TO SWALLOW
Reb Chaim, an elderly Dinever chosid, suffered from severe asthma attacks and difficulty breathing. The most prominent professors and doctors examined him and said there was no cure. Chaim traveled to the famous doctors in Vienna, who warned him that since his lungs were clogged with mucus, he must follow a special diet and may not eat any sharp or bitter foods.
On his way home from the doctors, Reb Chaim stopped in Sanz to visit the Divrei Chaim. Since Pesach was not too far away, the chosid wanted to know if he was exempt from eating moror, which would inflame his lungs.
To his surprise, the Divrei Chaim said, “Moror will not harm you. You can eat it without fear.”
Reb Chaim was surprised at these words, and wondered if the Divrei Chaim was perhaps mistaken. After all, the doctors had warned him that he was endangering his health. Reb Chaim decided to eat only a bite of bitter herbs without a brochah, so as not to put his life in jeopardy. On the seder night, when it was time to eat the moror, Reb Chaim took a little bit of moror and swallowed it gingerly.
As soon as it reached his gullet, he felt an intense burning sensation, as if he was being choked. As he writhed in agony, the chosid rationalized that he was dying anyway, so he might as well fulfill his final mitzvah b’shleimus. He grabbed a kezayis of moror made a brochah, and swallowed it in one gulp.
Now the true suffering began. Reb Chaim’s face turned a fiery red, and he began screaming in pain. Suddenly, he began to vomit. He disgorged all the matzah he had eaten, and the accumulation of pus in his lungs came out as well. Exhausted, Reb Chaim fell into a deep sleep, his family members hovering over him. He slept for a long time. When he awoke, his lungs were clear, and his asthmatic symptoms were gone. The sharp fumes of the moror had been the bitter pill, the instrument of his salvation.
HE CAME WELL PREPARED
When Rav Yonoson Eibshutz was a young child, he plotted to steal the afikoman during the seder. Young Yonoson waited until the middle of maggid, and then he secretly reached out and took the afikomen, putting it in a secure hiding place.
When Shulchan orech was over, Yonoson’s father reached into his matzah holder to remove the afikomen, but there was nothing there.
“Who stole the afikomen?” he cried.
Yonoson grinned slyly. “I did, Tatteh. Here it is.” And Yonoson quickly removed the afikomen from its hiding place. “I only agree to return it if Tatte buys me a new silk bekishe.”
“A silk bekishe? Hmm…” said his father, deep in thought. “That is a very expensive gift. Can I give you anything else instead? A sefer, perhaps?”
But Yonoson stood his ground. As it was nearing chatzos, his father saw he had no choice and capitulated. Yonoson returned the afikomen, and his father handed out pieces of matzah to everyone at the table, except for Yonoson.
“Tatte, where is my afikomen?”
His father smiled. “I will only give you your portion if you agree to forego the bekishe,” he replied.
Yonoson was unperturbed. He reached into his pocket and removed a tiny piece of the afikomen.
“Where did that come from?” asked his father.
“I cut off a piece of the matzah, just in case Tatte would not give me from the afikomen. I wanted to take care of myself first,” Yonoson cleverly replied.
AFIKOMEN ON TIME
Rav Yechiel of Alexander was very careful to eat the afikomen before chatzos. One year, it nearly chatzos, and his family was yet in the middle of Shulchan orech. Rav Yechiel ate quickly and swallowed the soup in a hurry. However, the rest of the family could not eat the soup yet, as it was still boiling hot.
When asked how he could eat such hot soup, Rav Yechiel replied, “What is the problem? Am I not allowed to suffer a burned tongue for Hakodosh Boruch Hu’s sake, to eat the afikomen on time?”
On the seder night, during Shefoch Chamoschah, the Kotzker Rebbe motioned to a chosid to open the door for Eliyohu Hanovi. The chosid went to the door with anticipation, but returned with a disappointed look on his face, since he did not merit gilui Eliyohu.
“Fool!” said the Kotzker. “Eliyohu does not come through the door; he comes through the brain.”
NEXT YEAR IN YERUSHALAYIM
What is the meaning of “L’shonah haboah b’Yerushalayim”? Why don’t we say “This year in Yerushalayim”?
Said the Satmar Rebbe zt”l, “The month of Nissan is the first month of the year, since it is the month of geulah. However, when Moshiach will come, it will be an even greater simcha, and the neis of Yetzias Mitzrayim will take second place. When Moshiach will come, the day of his arrival will be a true yom tov.”
The Rebbe explained, “The Gemara says that when a king becomes a melech on the 29th day of Adar, a day later, on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, it is considered as if he had been king for a year. Since Moshiach’s arrival is even greater than Pesach, that day will be the dawn of a new year. Thus, if Moshiach would come tomorrow, it would already be next year!”
May we merit the geulah sheleimah speedily in our days.