Audio: TTA Pesach Special: Not Less Important Than Matza

What's just as important as matzva for the Passover seder? Tune in and find out in this Pesach podcast special.
4/11/2014, 9:03 AM

A7 Radio's "Torah Tidbits Audio" with Phil Chernofsky
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Not Less Important Than Matza

The mitzvot of the Seder include two Torah level mitzvot, one former and future d'Orayta that is temporarily only a d'Rabanan in commemoration of the time of the Beit HaMikdash, (a Torah command that we currently do not fulfill), and a few Rabbinic mitzvot. Four cups of wine is d'Rabanan. So is Hallel. Maror will be restored to its d'Orayta level when the Korban Pesach is restored. The two mitzvot of the Seder that are mitzvot from the Torah are Matza and Hagada. Not only is Matza a d'Orayta, it is also a mitzva that requires careful and serious preparation. Some people bake their own matzot, and many more participate (sometime in token manner) in the baking of their matza. Most people allow others to do the preparation and take over by buying matza. That too is a preparation. Whatever the level of involvement in bringing matza to your Seder table, the mitzva is prepared for and fulfilled. Hagada.

The mitzva to tell the story of the Exodus and about the mitzvot that are connected to Y'tzi'at Mitzrayim, is also a d'Orayta. It requires fulfillment and it requires preparation. And just like matza which is baked fresh for each Pesach, our preparation and fulfillment of the mitzva of Hagada needs to be fresh each year. You don't want to fulfill the mitzva to eat matza with a stale sample - you shouldn't want your Seder to be a "been there, did it" experience for your family, for your guests... for yourself. The challenge is with us every year, and it only gets harder with time and experience.

Get yourself a new Hagada or two. There are plenty to be had. Take a new look at some of the Hagadot that you've accumulated over the years. Put some serious time into preparing for your Seder - whether you are a Seder leader or a participant. Jot down some questions that you'd like to share at the Seder table. Jot down some answers to questions that others might ask. Prepare games for the children that interest them and stimulate them to ask and to want to hear answers.

There is a lot available in this direction in the stores and a lot that can be culled from the internet. And even from your imagination. Don't just go through the motions. Get excited and infect your Seder- mates with that excitement. If you are leading a Seder, let your children and grandchildren and guests be actively involved. Remember that women as well as men are commanded to eat matza and are commanded to tell the story of the Exodus and its mitzvot. Let every male and female above the age of mitzvot be part of V'higadta, and all to have a meaningful Seder.

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Phil Chernofsky is the educational director of the Orthodox Union's OU Israel Center in Jerusalem and editor of the Torah Tidbits parsha pamphlet. Since 1998, he has hosted Torah Tidbits Audio, a shiur on the weekly parsha with witty insights. It airs every Thursday from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Israel time and is downloadable as a podcast on Israel National Radio. Phil made Aliyah to Israel over 30 years ago. He is the author of the newly released book And Every Single One Was Someone, a tribute to victims of the Holocaust.
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