Once again we prepare for Pesach. Do we think there is no
point to read the Haggadah again and again? Do we yawn
at the thought of discussing Pesach, matzo and morror for the
tenth or the thirtieth or the fiftieth time?
Are we bored with the budding bushes? Are we tired of the
spring flowers? Have we seen enough blossoming trees, heard
enough of the songs of the birds, to last us a lifetime?
The works of G-d are endlessly fascinating, and are a
renewable resource that never fail to inspire and exhilarate.
This applies to the vegetable and animal creations and all
the more so to the Torah and mitzvos which we have been given
by the Creator of the Universe -- in part for those
Just to repeat the Haggadah with its resonance of
thousands of years of Jewish history all focused on this one
night, to feel that we say the same words, written by some of
the finest and greatest people to walk this earth, gathered
around our tables with family, friends and guests -- is this
not something to look forward to with the eager
And there is always new insight, new guidance and new wisdom
for us. It is truly the wise, the understanding, the ones who
know Torah well, who have the easiest and best time
fulfilling the commandment to tell as much as they can fit in
about the exodus from Egypt that took place so long ago but
still liberates each and every one of us today and every
HaRav Uziel Milevsky, zt'l, found an original
interpretation of the Four Sons as the paradigm of the most
acute expression of our current exile: the rampant
assimilation. He pointed out that, seen as a series, the sons
represent the progressive stages of progressive Judaism. The
first, wise son is the religious ancestor; the second is his
child who threw off the unfashionable observance of Torah and
mitzvos; the third son (the simple one) is the offspring of
the second, who has vague but positive memories of his
grandparents' observant home and still feels enough
connection to ask about what is going on but himself does
very little; and the fourth (son of the third), grew up so
far from the faith that he is completely alienated from it
and does not even bother to ask. The next generation -- the
fifth son -- is not part of the Haggadah anymore
because, if this progression is allowed to run its course, he
is no longer Jewish at all.
Where are we today?
Outside of Israel there are not too many of the second
generation, and they have little influence. The "third sons"
were long dominant in general Jewish life in chutz
la'aretz but they are increasingly giving way to fourth
and fifth sons who insist that they have the right to speak
in the name of the Jewish people.
In our communities, "[e]very house represents a link in the
chain that extends around the world. One simultaneous
concept, one simultaneous festive meal, binds them
together. Spiritually, all of [us] are united, and the One,
Eternal Founder is present in every house." (HaRav Shamshon
Raphael Hirsch, Collected Writings, Vol. I, p. 68)
Even as we are refreshed and inspired by the experience of
geula, we must not forget the darkness that still
surrounds us, and those who have lost their way therein.
We must proclaim: "It is because of this, because of the
basic principles of our faith, because of our acceptance and
observance of Torah and mitzvos, because of our commitments
and our families, that G-d took us out of Egypt."
To those who ignore us, we have nothing to say. We just
affirm and remind ourselves that as they are now so evidently
far from G-d and the Jewish people, even in those days, when
redemption was in the air, they would have been left
But to those who will listen, we say: Please hear our
message, and you are welcome to join us. Please experience
the freedom and consecration that make us one people. Listen,
taste, heed the call and you will see that it is sweet and