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(Al Sporer) "B'chol dor vador...in every generation, chayav adam...each person is enjoined, lir'ot et atzmo...to see him/her self, k'eeloo hu yatzah mi'Mitzrayim...as if s/he emerged from the 'narrow place' ". It is a mitzvah for us, tonight, to relive a dramatic event - our emergence from slavery to freedom; our birth as a people. Tonight we are not the audience in this drama we are its actors. Tonight, we let our heart surprise our head, and we let our head inform our heart. The drama of our birth as a people is related in fragmentary elements much like a dream recorded after awakening. Words alone are inadequate to relate a dream, yet that is all we have. To assist us in reliving the drama of this dream the seder provides us not only with words but with guideposts: midrash, symbols, melodies and pictures to connect the words in the drama. This drama we attempt to relive tonight is not only about our ancestors, it is not even about us, it is us. Our ancestors lived and, now, we live the dream. They wrote, we are writing and our children will rewrite the dream of our birth and our lives as a people. Our task is to fill in the spaces between the dream and the reality of our lives. When we engage in the task of making ourselves whole we become our own midrash. And now let us begin our task. The Talmud teaches that it is not our responsibility to finish our task but it is our responsibility to begin it. "Hineni muchan um'zuman...here am I ready and prepared l'kayem et mitzvat asey... to fulfill the mitzvah of doing.
(When the Afikoman is found, the following is an alternative or supplementary reading on the part of all Seder participants:) "Tonight we read together: Lo! This is the bread of poverty that our ancestors ate. Let all who are hungry come and eat! Let all who are in need share in the hope of Passover! This year we all are slaves, Next year may we all be free. Tonight, to redeem the Afikoman: We renew our commitment to help all who are hungry round the world, So that next year we may all be free.
(To be recited after opening the door for Elijah) On this night of the Seder we remember with reverence and love the six million of our people of the European exile who perished at the hand of a tyrant more wicked that Pharaoh who enslaved our fathers in Egypt. Come, said he to his minions, let us cut them off from being a people, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more. And they slew the blameless and pure, men and women and little ones, with vapors of poison and burned them with fire. But we abstain from dwelling the deeds of evil ones lest we defame the image of God in which man was created. Now, the remnants of our people who were left in the ghettos and camps of annihilation rose up against the wicked ones for the sanctification of the Name and slew many of them before they died. On the first day of Passover the remnants in the Ghetto for Warsaw rose up against the adversary, even as in the days of Judah the Maccabee. They were lovely and pleasant in the lives and in their death they were not divided. They brought redemption to the name of Israel throughout all the world. And from the depths of their affliction the martyrs lifted their voices in a song of faith in the coming of the Messiah, when justice and brotherhood will reign among men. "Ani ma-amin be-emuna sh'layma b'viat ha-mashiach; V'afal pee she-yit-may-mayah im kol ze ani ma-amin." I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah; and, though he tarry, none the less I believe."
THE FIFTH CUP - IN THANKFULNESS FOR ISRAEL
By Eliyahu Kitov
Within the space of a single verse, the Torah twice refers to the night of the Seder as leil shimurim, a night that is guarded: It is a night that is guarded by G-d to take them (Israel) out of Egypt, this night remains to G-d a night that is guarded throughout the generations (Exodus, 12:42). Our Sages offered a number of explanations of this phrase. A night that is guarded: a night of anticipation and waiting, for G-d guarded and anticipated this night when He would fulfill His G-d guarded promise to take them out of the land of Egypt (Rashi). A night that is guarded: a night that is specially set aside for a two-fold redemption: for G-d and for His nation. [This explanation is based on the use of the plural shimurim.] We see that throughout the period of bondage, it is as if the Divine Presence were also enslaved in Egypt. Moreover, we find that whenever Israel went into exile, the Shechinah went with them in their exile (Yalkut Shimoni, Exodus, 210). A night that is guarded: a night that is reserved for the future redemption. Why is the word shimurim repeated in this verse? Because on this night, in other times and places, G-d did great things for the righteous, just as He had done for Israel in Egypt. On this night He saved Chizkiyahu from Sennacherib and his armies; on this night He saved Chananyah, Misha'el, and Azaryah; on this night He saved Daniel from the lion's den; and on this night Elijah and Mashiach are made great (Shemot Rabbah 18). This is why the verse ends with the words: It is a night that is guarded for all Israel for all their generations. A night that is guarded: a night on which there is protection from harmful elements. For this reason we do not recite the entire Shema and the other prayers asking for G-d's protection that are usually said before going to sleep. We read only the first paragraph of Shema because on this night we enjoy special protection from G-d (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 481). The Talmud (Pesachim 109b) notes that though we are enjoined to drink four cups of wine at the Seder, and this has a potentially deleterious effect, we may do so because this is a night that is guarded. Ma'aseh Roke'ach notes that he heard of a great Sage who would never lock the doors of his house on this night. He adds that it has become customary to leave the doors open so that we may go out to greet Elijah without delay, for it is written that Israel is destined to be redeemed on the night of Passover. It is a night that has been guarded and reserved for redemption, ever since Creation. Magen Avraham, quoting Maharil, writes that while one should not bolt the doors, he may close them since a person should not rely on a miracle for protection. A night that is guarded: Ibn Ezra writes that this means a night of guarding, of wakefulness, for it is customary to refrain from sleeping so that we might occupy ourselves with praises of G-d and relate His mighty deeds when He brought us out of Egypt.
(“Pass Me By”) I’ve got me four big questions preying on my mind: Questions that are old, With answers you can find…. And during this Seder I’ll drink four big cups of wine. Celebrating, drinking can be fascinating! Fill your glass and join the revelry, Pesach is a happy time! I’ll tell the whole darn world if you don’t happen to like it, Waste no time, thank you kindly, pass the wine. Pass the wine! Pass the wi-I-ine! If you don’t happen to like it, pass the wine. I’ve got a lively family, all of whom are good, Some I’ve got by marriage, some I got by blood, And ev-er-y year we gather, Seder-praying time, Laughing, smiling, mounds and mounds of nachas piling. Let’s hope we all meet again next year, Breaking matzah with good cheer! I’ll tell the whole darn world if you don’t happen to like it, Waste no time, thank kindly, pass the wine. Pass the wine! Pass the wi-i-ine! If you don’t happen to like it, pass the wine.