By Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder

Rabbi Yossi Hagalili, Rabbi Eliezer and Rebbe Akiva now engage in a seemingly superfluous argument over just how many plagues happened to the Egyptians, either in Egypt or by the Sea. This is the most skipped-over section of the entire Hagaddah.

But it is not at all superfluous.  They are actually discussing the subtleties of experience.  Each rabbi shows a more refined sensitivity that the last to the different layers of suffering within each plague.  Rebbe Akiva was able to tune into the deepest layer of pain inflicted by the plagues, with each plague having five facets.

So what?  Each plague was simultaneously a blow against the Egyptians and a healing for Israel. Therefore, each layer of devastation for the Egyptians was another layer of illumination for the Jews. And sensitivity to the layers of devastation is directly related to sensitivity to layers of illumination.  The more aware we are of the subtleties of that pain, the more we can be aware of redemptive joy when we experience it. 

This is Rav Kook's understanding of the benefit of having been slaves in Egypt. We learned so much─about feeling, about building, about serving. And when those capacities are plugged in to proper, healthy goals, they are redemptive and satisfying.  So, too, sensitivity is sensitivity regardless of what is applied to, and it is a skill that we need to refine.

Can you feel different aspects of freedom tonight?  Can you name them?  

haggadah Section: -- Ten Plagues
Source: original