Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

6 Nisan 5759 - March 24, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







Opinion & Comment
For the Sake of This G-d Took Me Out of Egypt!

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 purposes.

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 anticipation?

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 day.

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 behind.

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 truly liberating.

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