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Aside for it being Carmello Anthony’s number, the number 15 has a lot of other cool things going for it in Judaism!
Passover always occurs on 15th of Nissan, our sages say it is specifically to teach us that just as the moon gradually grows from the 1rst of the month until the 15th - when it hits fullmoon status – so to the seder needs to be a night of growth as well. 15 always denotes moving up! There were 15 steps to walk up to the Temple. Elevation, my dear Watson!
We start with talking about lowly slavery in Egypt until we reach our high times of freedom (which after 4 cups of wine can get out of control – you know who you are). So enjoy this night of gradual growth to greatness with the #15! Step it up.
4 cups: What does 4 symbolize????
4 minim on Succos
4 chambers of the heart
4 wisdom teeth
4 movements in a symphony
Based on this, what does 4 represent to your Seder?
Anyone have a clue as to why we are washing our hands for vegetables?
We know what you are thinking. We have it on our minds as well: “When do we Eat?” knowing this from past seders, you may feel the need to munch down on as much Carpas as humanly possible. (Carpas Eating Champion Seder ’88-’89) but tonight you are a free man, you are not a slave. That includes being a slave to your stomach! So we push off our appetizer, and wash our hands first to demonstrate that we are not slaves to our impulsive eating habits! (R’ Richard Simmons) But Rav Nachman of Breslov says the Hebrew word “Rachitz” in Aramaic means “Trust”, because we should trust in Hashem, as we wash now, that no matter what our meal consists of - even if its just a little parsley twig - that G-d’s “got our back” when it comes to the nourishment and survival of the Jewish people, and there is more in store for us.
Why Wash our Hands? Why not just give out those nice hot facial towel you get at the end of a long flight?
The Maharal of Prague says that there is deep symbolism involved when one washes his hands for the purpose of a Mitzvah. Hands represent the beginning of the human body, for when one stretches out his hands to reach forward or above, it is the hands that are at the front or at the top of the body. The Maharal explains that that the way one begins an action greatly influences the direction and tone of all that follows from that point, and therefore, even a seemingly insignificant sin, but one involving the “bodily leader,” is particularly wrong, for a misguided beginning will lead to an incomplete and incorrect conclusion. On Pesach, the Maharal continues, we should be extremely careful in our observance of this idea, for Pesach is the annual point of beginning for everything that exists, in all times.
At this time of beginning and renewal, R’ Mirsky concludes, it is essential to remind ourselves of the importance of a correct beginning in any action and endeavor we undertake- something which is symbolized by the additional washing of our hands at the Seder. (R’ Matt Kreiger, Monroe, NY)
Why does someone else wash my hands, pour my wine, steal my jokes?
Like everything at the seder this has double symbolism too. On the one hand you are king tonight, so everything is taken care of you (including wine pouring, hand washing, joke making) On the other hand, you are a slave tonight as well, so you need to serve the person next to you as well! Freeman and Slave. A night of duality!
An interesting remembrance of dipping twice is to recall our coming and going from Egypt. Recall the first Jew to Egypt, Yosef, was sold by his brothers. They masked the sale to their father by dipping his coat in blood to appear that he was killed. It’s fitting then that we left Egypt with a second dipping: the hyssop branch into blood to spread on our doorways before the final plague to the firstborn. 200 years of History in a Double Dip!
Speaking of Yosef’s Technicolor Dream Coat...
Rabbi Pesach Krohn highlights that Rashi when describing the material of colorful coat that Yaakov gave to Yosef,“ uses the words “KARPAS utecheiles." Weird! How is a coat, a Technicolor dream coat, like a vegetable?! In order to remember why/how we were leaving Egypt, we must first remember why/how we got there in the first instance. It all started with the “ktonet pasim” the colorful coat that Yosef's brothers dipped in blood to trick their father that his son, their brother Yosef, was dead, while his brothers instead sold him into slavery. Yosef ended up a slave in Egypt, and the story of the Jews in Egypt begins... [please insert a little speech here about loving one another.] This is why we start the seder with KARPAS, we are essentially going in timeline order -- first the prequel and then it all begins...
The Alexander Rebbe (Yismach Yisroel) notes that Veggies are usually served as a side dish, but tonight – they are our most exciting main starter. (Don’t pretend like you aren’t devouring tons of parsley right now) Symbolizing that things and people which are so often written off as secondary can be elevated, just like the slaves of Egypt (R Shlomo Einhorn, NYC)
Springtime for Karpas
Q. Why is Passover in the springtime? This was no coincidence; in fact it was a blessing. G-d could have taken us out of bondage in the cold of winter or the heat of summer, but instead G-d took us out in perfect weather, Spring! The color green of karpas reminds us of this small detail, and helps us recognize that G-d went “above and beyond” in every aspect of our redemption, even the weather forecast.
Why do we break the Matzah?
• It’s the way of the poor man to store something for later – who knows where his next meal will come from? • Pieces of broken crackers – can it get any more “Poor man’s Bread?” • Rabbi Shlomo Riskin mentions one of the reasons the matza is broken is because we are celebrating only partial salvation- until our full
redemption to Jerusalem we will never have complete Matzah • Rabbi Meir Goldvicht mentions that the break here symbolizes the break historic between Yosef and his brothers! Ultimate lesson – a small
fracture in family can ruin generations - but let’s not forget we bring the piece back as our Afikomen (ideally, like the story of Joseph, a sweet ending – note: please add chocolate to your afikomen) so take a look at your family and see what can be repaired
Break it? WHY!!!!!!?
I don’t get it – most of my matzot come broken, so why do I need to break the ones that actually made it in one piece? The defining characteristic of matzah is that it didn’t have an opportunity to rise – it was ripped away from the stove before it could fully develop. Heck, without any yeast – it didn’t have much of a chance of becoming something big to begin with! Now bread, bread is all blown up and bloated – a fully developed specimen – it’s gone all the way. This distinction is no different than that of a child and an adult. Children are in the process of becomingsomething(matzah)whileadultsaresomewhatbloated,alreadyreachingtheendoftheirpotential(chametz). Pesachcelebratesthe beginning of our history, of our life, of our opportunity as a nation. It is a night that we ask question upon question – they way a newly speaking child asks Why this and What’s that – with renewed intrigue and enthusiasm. But we’ve all done it before. It’s rote. It’s the same. It’s boring. No! says Yachatz. Break that! Become a child again! Don’t start this night until you break some matzah, break some preconceived notions, get back to basics! (Geoff Dworkin, NYC)
Breaking Up is Hard to do
Yachatz means “Break apart”, Yachad means “Come together”, the only letter difference are the ending letters Daled and Tzadik, which makes sense, since that spells “Dates.” (Bangachuver Rav discourses)
Gemara in Brachos tells us the background of this quote. Rav Elazar ben Azaria, was actually an 18 year old Talmudic genius, and he had been chosen to become the Nasi (President of the Rabbinate). When he came home and told his wife, she tried very hard to dissuade him from accepting the offer because of all of the headaches associated with the gig. He then tells her: "Should one not drink out of a crystal glass for fear of it breaking?" ( yes, that is up there for the coolest Talmud oneliners of all time). Bottom line: You can't use the possibility of something going wrong as an excuse to not try it out. Which ultimately led his wife to say to him “But even so, how can you be the Nasi, you're beard isn't even white!”.. That night Hashem turned Rabbi Elazar Ben Azaryah’s beard white as indicated in the Hagaddah—“I am Like a man of Seventy Years old” Keshivim shana (he was only 18 but suddenly overnight he looked like he was 70). Remember this: You want something bad enough, nothing can hold you back, the Ribono ShelOlam makes sure of it. (Michael Parker, Los Angeles, CA)
Rabbi Eleazar ben Azaryah said...Talk about a non-sequitor! Here we are trying to get underway our mitzvah of sipur yitziat mitzrayim, telling the Exodus story, and with no clear reason, the author of the haggadah includes this somewhat irrelevant piece about the daily mitzvah of zechirat yitziat mitzrayim, remembering the Exodus. But perhaps there is some relevance. There are three components to the mitzvah of sipur yitziat mitzrayim (talking about it) that make it distinct from zechirah(remembering): 1) While reading to oneself may suffice for zechirah, sipur must be done in a question/answer dialectic; 2) while simply mentioning the end result – leaving Egypt – may suffice for zechirah, sipur requires a discussion of the process, particularly our passage from a miserable situation to a praiseworthy one; and 3) the various mitzvot of the night must be discussed in some detail (e.g., pesach, matzah, maror). Given these unique components of sipur, perhaps the function of Rabbi Eleazar ben Azaryah’s statement is to function as a prelude to performing the mitzvah of sipur. Every night an individual is required to remember the Exodus but tonight, the requirements have changed. We must revise our approach if we are to fulfill the mitzvah of sipur. And with the conclusion of this story, we are thrust right into the sipur dynamic: The four Sons (question / answer); In the beginning our forefathers served idols... and built for us the Beit Habechirah to atone for all our sins (process) and finally, Raban Gamlielel (discussion of seder night mitzvoth). Not too irrelevant after all. (Geoff Dworkin, NYC)
“Not until I heard the words of Ben Zoma...”
As mentioned above R’ Elazar Ben Azarya was only 18 when he was appointed head of the rabbinate! In our hagadah it describes how he learned the source of the mitzvah of mentioning the exodus at night comes from a teaching of a sage named “Ben Zoma”...but what’s also interesting about this seemingly arbitrary reference is that Ben Zoma is well known for another classical sagely teaching from Pirkei Avos: Ben Zoma Said: Who is Wise? One who learns from every man! It is possible that R’ Elaza Ben Azarya was actually crediting Ben Zoma for this sagely advice! As R’ Elazar Benn Azarya was certainly intimidated to take the responsibility of the nasi at such a young age. But once he learned the teaching of Ben Zoma, that wisdom has nothing to do with age, it’s one’s ability to learn from any situation and from any person that makes a wise man. This teaching may have inspired R; Elazar Ben Azarya to step up to the plate and achieve the greatness he’d been chosen for – to lead the Jewish people.
What flowers are best for the seder? U'rchids
Why do we have a Haggadah at Passover? So we can Seder right words.
Where do Seder- lovers Vacation? Cape Kadesh
What part of Passover do pirates love most? The sed-aarrrrrrrr
What do you call a very expensive Jewish wine? "Honey, I wannnaaa to go to Flaahridaah for passovaaaaaa!
When it comes to Karpas, who is the king of Passover? A. Elvis Parsley!!
If vegetarians eat vegetables, what do humanitarians eat?
Why did the matza baker rob the bank? He needed the dough.
What's the best cheese to eat on Pesach? Matza-rella.
What do actors wish each other before a big show on Passover? Break-a-Matzah!
Why did the matzah quit his job? A. Because he didn't get a raise!!
Can I ask you 4 questions? Ok, what's the second one?
Why did the Mortgage Crisis start on Passover? Too much leaning
What do you call someone who derives pleasure from the bread of affliction? A matzochist.
Who is behind Pharaoh's Evil Empire? Darth Seder
What was the name of the Secret Spy for the Jews in Egypt? Bondage, James Bondage
Who is the Celebrity Queen of the Seder? MatZsah Zsah Gabor
Chad Oh dear G-d! Ya