The Pesach Seder is one of the most memorable experiences in Jewish life. Who doesn’t look forward to that once-a-year opportunity to reunite with family and friends and get in touch with the history of our People? The warm glow of togetherness makes the Seder an event not to be missed.
But the Seder is much more than a family reunion or a history lesson. It is a unique opportunity for us to instill deeper levels of emunah (literally, “faith”) and closeness to Hashem in ourselves and our children. We leave the Seder different people than we were when we entered.
The Seder comes with a formula for achieving that transformation: telling the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim (the Exodus from Egypt) and fulfilling the mitzvos of the night, such as eating matzah and marror and drinking the four cups of wine. It’s through the Haggadah and the mitzvos of the Seder that we access the soaring levels of emunah within our reach on Seder night.
But how? The story of Yetzias Mitzrayim has grown old on us. The Haggadah itself seems a bit jumbled and disjointed. And though we all enthusiastically perform the mitzvos of the night, they seem more like obscure rituals than tools to build emunah. How is such a seemingly worn, stale ceremony supposed to arouse us spiritually?
Some try to solve this conundrum by spicing up their Seder with props or personal emunah stories. Others turn the Haggadah into a book of Halachic discussions and complex Torah thoughts. What they don’t realize is that doing so puts them in danger of losing the Haggadah’s essential message.
The pure, unadulterated narrative of the Haggadah is truly all we need to reach the night’s ultimate purpose — sincere singing of Hallel to Hashem. With the right guidelines and context, the Seder experience can be simple, straightforward — and literally life altering! Clarity is the key: if we gain a full appreciation for the structure and progression of the Haggadah’s story, we will be able to truly achieve the goal of the Seder — deeper emunah and connection to Hashem.
To better understand our Seder-night objective and why the Haggadah tells the story the way it does, this kuntres (booklet) offers a unique, profound approach to the subject of emunah and the underlying message behind the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim. The concepts presented here are based primarily on shiurim I heard over the course of nearly twenty years from my rebbi, Rav Reuven Leuchter, shlita, on the topics of emunah, the Haggadah, and Yetzias Mitzrayim. It is my hope that through this kuntres, the reader will access the great levels of emunah, ahavas Hashem, and commitment to Torah and mitzvos available to us on the Seder night.
Rabbi Levi Lebovits is the Director of the Vaad Project, Yeshiva Toras Chaim of Denver.