Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Dvar Torah on Pesach 5776) Freedom to Serve!
Since I have been asked a few times recently, "What is the purpose
of the discussion of the exodus at the Seder?" I feel it important to
focus on. Our Exodus from Egypt was a monumental event. Never in
history has there been a nation enslaved in another country and been
miraculously freed in the awesome manner the Jews were freed from Egypt.
The One who orchestrated this event was G-d. When G-d spoke to the Jewish Nation at Mount Sinai, He proclaimed the first commandment saying, "I am Hashem your G-d who took you out of the Land of Egypt from the house of slavery."
G-d testified that it was He who generated our exodus and changed our status from being physical slaves of Pharaoh to becoming free and attached to the Almighty. The exodus and all the miracles that led up to it prove that G-d not only created the world, He also controls and is aware of all happenings.
Because of the importance of this belief, we are commanded to mention it twice daily in the Shema prayer. Our prayers are also replete with references of the Exodus. Our constant mention of the Exodus insures that we remember this monumental event.
On the Seder night, the anniversary of the Exodus, we are obliged to speak about the events of the Exodus with our children, family and guests. It's the meeting of minds. It is a time when a mere mention of the Exodus is not sufficient; we actually have to discuss it with our family through a give and take - question and answer. This dialogue exercise in our family unit is the instrument that keeps our common belief intact. Pesach is celebrated by not eating or having in our possession Chometz, by eating Matza, Morror, and in the time of the Temple with the Pascal lamb, and with discussion of the events. This exact format, which has been kept for 3328 years, is testimony that this G-dly devised system has endured the test of time - including some of the most difficult periods.
The Hagadah and the 15 steps of the Seder is the universal format to guide us through the many Mitzvos performed at the Seder. It is the only way we can achieve the objective of instilling this belief and clarity into ourselves and to the next generations.
A positive attitude towards anything we set out to do, by and large, produce good and favorable results. The Holiday of Passover is no different; the manner in which we approach this monumental experience makes all the difference in the world to what type of person and Jew we will be when we emerge from the holy Seder and Holiday of Pesach.
When we think about it, we will realize that when G-d redeemed us from our physical slavery from Egypt we attained freedom. However, it was not a freedom to do whatever we want without direction. It was a freedom from our physical enslavement to a tyrannical Pharaoh to a spiritual and physical dependence and service to the ultimate Master - G-d Almighty. The Master to whom we are beholden to and consider ourselves servants to, gave us a guide through His Torah how we can achieve the ultimate freedom. This is realized by choosing to follow His directives.
My father, Rabbi Boruch Saks in his recently published book quotes a beautiful Sfas Emes who says that normally, a slave wishes to be freed and emancipated from his enslavement. However, the Jewish people's service to the Almighty is quite different. In the Hallel prayer that we will recite each day of the Holiday, we quote King David, "Hallel-lukah - Give praise, the servants of G-d - Praise the Name of Hashem."
We consider our dependency on G-d as a unique opportunity to be connected, and we convey that we will always remain loyal to Him. The Passover commitment that we happily and eagerly display is an expression of this special inseparable relationship we have with Hashem and His Torah.
This year the first Seder coincides with the holy day of Shabbos. The Mitzva of Shabbos is listed in the Ten Commandments where it states, "Shabbos is a remembrance of our Exodus from Egypt." Just as G-d chose us to be His Nation and His representatives when He freed us from Egypt, so too, He chose us to be His representatives, to be the ones who observe the Shabbos and duplicate G-d's resting from creation on the Seventh day of creation. We do this by abstaining from the 39 categories of creative activities during the course of each Shabbos.
This year the remembrance of our Exodus is doubled with the co-observance of Pesach and Shabbos. May G-d double His compassion and send a speedy redemption. Our past and future Redemption is the focus of the Seder when we recite the blessing of Go'al Yisroel - the Redeemer of Israel at the end of the Magid - discussion part of the Seder.
It is of course up to us to make it happen!
Wishing you a most enjoyable and uplifting Pesach!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks & Family