FROM THE RABBI’S DESK – TZAV-SHABBAT HAGADOL:
Rashi, at the beginning of his commentary on this week’s Torah reading of Tzav refers to the need for Aaron and his children to be careful and deliberate in the performance of the mitzvah of preparing the sacrifices. Diligence, however, is not simply reserved for Aaron and his sons.
Diligence is mandatory to ensure that the dough of the five grains, wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt does not leaven. It is further mandated that the laws of the consumption of the Passsover sacrifice be carefully fulfilled within a specific time frame, lest it become invalidated. Equally, diligence is a necessary ingredient in ensuring that not only this generation, but future generations, to paraphrase Rashi, benefit from the teachings and instructions of previous generations.
The whole concept of the seder is based on diligence, in terms of how it is conducted and in what sequence the elements of the seder are observed. Diligence also requires that the prayers of the Haggadah be recited with fervor. In addition, the seder leader must engage those sitting at the table in detailed and in depth discussion of what transpired in Egypt and how those events affect us today.
The other day, I came across a website dealing with the intriguing proposition of ensuring that the seder master asks the “right questions”. It is not simply a matter of preparing the appropriate foods for the seder, but also engaging in a process where the right questions are also prepared in advance to promote a discussion among participants with the goal of demonstrating the relevance of the Haggadah to our lives.
It is therefore perfectly logical for the Haggadah to admonish the reader to demonstrate that he or she personally left Egypt, which translates itself as a call to the seder participants to discover the modern day relevance of that which we read these first two nights of Passover in the Diaspora. That discovery requires effort and diligence.
Rivka, Judith, Tani and I wish you and your families a Chag Kasher Vesameach.