Every single day of our lives we are commanded to remember the exodus from Egypt. This is a separate obligation than the one we have on the seder night, when we are obligated to relate the story of our exodus from Egypt.
Every single day of our lives we are commanded to remember the exodus from Egypt. This is a separate obligation than the one we have on the seder night, when we are obligated to relate the story of our exodus from Egypt. There are many differences between remembering the exodus daily and the retelling of the story on the seder night. For example, to remember it daily, all one has to do is simply mention it as we do in the third paragraph of the Shema prayer. However, on Passover, the story of the exodus must be told in a question and answer style. Another difference is that when telling the story we must start by telling the negative aspects in the beginning of the story, such that our ancestors worshipped idols, and end with the praise and good tidings of the exodus, when Hashem took us out of Egypt. We do not have this obligation in the daily remembrance of the exodus. Why do we have to tell the story in this particular order, from the negative aspects to the positive ones?
The Maharal, one of the seminal figures of Jewish thought in the last five centuries, provides us with an interesting answer from which we can learn a tremendous lesson. If one is a middle-class man, and is taken and made into a prince, he will be happy. However, if someone is a poor man, with nothing to eat, taken out of a box that he calls his home, and made into a prince, he will more fully appreciate the impact and have much more gratitude to the one who raised his status and reversed his misfortune. We can apply the same principle regarding the telling of the story of the exodus. If we just mentioned that Hashem took us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and did many miracles for us, that would be very nice. However, when we relate how our forefathers were worshipping idols, were slaves to Pharoah, and were at the 49th level of impurity, and then were taken out by Hashem with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and given the Torah, we can feel a much deeper sense of gratitude. Only now, that we know the beginning of the story, can we see so clearly how kind and merciful Hashem was to us, and how much praise and gratitude we should have for Him.
We can derive a great lesson from this. By and large, we live a relatively comfortable lifestyle. We live in nice homes, have food on the table, and do not have to worry about our next meal. We are not really oppressed or discriminated against all that much. The Jews are in control of the land of Israel for the first time in almost 2,000 years. However, we must not forget the source of all of our comfort. It is all from G-d, who is so kind to His nation. We have to think back to our people's history: the destruction of the Temples, the crusades, the Inquisition, the pogroms, and most recently, the Holocaust.
We have to look at how terrible of a situation our people were in and how Hashem has saved us and done so much good for us. One cannot just sit back on the couch with a glass of lemonade, simply enjoying his portion in life. One has to think about from where or whom his good fortune is coming. We have to look at the big picture of history and see G-d's hand guiding us from place to place. Only then can we realize that we are obligated to give tremendous amounts of gratitude to the One who has graciously placed us in our present situation, at the heels of the complete redemption which will hopefully come speedily in our days. As the Passover Haggadah so eloquently states, "In every generation they stand up against us to destroy us, and the holy One, blessed is He, saves us from their hands."
Mitchell Scher, who hails from Atlanta and is an alumnus of Yeshiva Atlanta, is studying at Yeshivat Sha'arei Mevaseret Zion in Israel.
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