Avadim Hayinu

What do the words of Avadim Hayinu actually mean?

The Malbim Haggadah says that the first two words mean we were slaves. It appears that this is the beginning of what happens in the Pesach story. However, the story of Pesach actually begins with the paragraph מתחילה עובדי עבודה זרה. Which means in the beginning our fathers were idol worshippers. It means that the Pesach story actually begins at the time of Avraham's father.

The Haggadah Berura says, in Avadim Hayinu it is talking about how bad it was for the Jews when they were slaves in Egypt. Even the single word of פרעה shows how bad it was. The Pharaoh was a very evil and cruel King- it even says it in his name. The root פרע is used to mean wickedness and evilness in perek lamed bet pasuk kaf-hey. The words that describe it are פעול לה(evil doer) or פה רע( wicked mouth).

Now the last reason is found from the Yetzias Mitzrayim Haggadah. Another way that Avadim Hayinu shows how bad it was is the word “מצרים”. The Zohar says that מצרים was the lowliest nation in three ways. 1- They were originally slaves but Hashem gave them a kingdom only for the reason of Klal Yisroel. 2- They were very impure and did all sorts of bad things such as abuse to one another. 3- They did avoda zara and black magic, both of those things are evil.

The lesson of these dvar torahs is that you have to look deeper into what you are reading and really understand it.

haggadah Section: Maggid - Beginning