SIPPUR YETZIAT MITZRAYIM- PART II
III. SAY WHAT?
We now begin the real challenge - understanding how the Magid section of the Haggadah is structured. Two main questions will guide this inquiry. First, based on our conception of the commandment of Sippur Yetziat Mitzrayim, what parts of Magid actually fulfill that mitzva? Is saying "Avadim Hayinu" enough? Is saying everything in our current text enough? (content question)
The second big question is what does the gemara mean when it says that we must "begin with the shame and end with the praise"? What is the shame? What is the praise? How do the varying opinions on each not only find their way into our Haggadah but also how are they placed in relation to each other and to other elements of the Magid section? (structure question)
Let us begin with figuring out what should be included in our fulfillment of Sippur Yetziat Mitzrayim. The simplest approach would seem to be that we are enjoined to tell over the actual story of our enslavement in Egypt and the redemption that ensued. This idea is bolstered by the story of the five Rabbis in Bnei Brak, and perhaps also by the inclusion of the mishna of Rabi Elazar ben Azariah. As we noted last week, he is speaking not about Sippur Yetziat Mitzrayim, but rather about the "other" mitzva, namely the daily commandment to remember the Exodus. Nevertheless, the presence of that mishna in our Haggadah may point to the fact that the special commandment of Sippur is, in a sense, merely an expansion of the daily commandment, and thus the real focus on this night is to relate the Exodus story.
However, we must also consider the other option for what our focus should be. Near the end of Magid, we read the mishna of Rabban Gamliel (Pesachim 116b), who states that one must mention the three main commandments of this night - the Pesach-sacrifice, the matza, and the maror. Here the focus seems to be not as much on the story as it is on the mitzvot themselves. This may be highlighted by a line in Pesachim 116a. In discussing the need to ask the four question, the gemara says that if one has no son or wife, he asks the questions to himself. The gemara then states that "even two wise men who are well-versed in the LAWS of Pesach must ask the questions." While the Haggadah (in "Avadim Hayinu") says "even if we know the entire Torah, we are still commanded to talk about the Exodus," the fact that the gemara focuses on these laws may imply that they are a focus.
This focus on the laws has various other advocates. TheShibbolei HaLeket links the entire mitzva of Sippur to the other mitzvot of the night, and claims that for this reason we raise up the matza and maror when we speak about them. Rambam has perhaps the clearest formulation of this idea when he states "One must say Pesach, matza, and maror, and that is what is called Haggadah," seemingly hanging the entire mitzva of Sippur on its connection to the other mitzvot (this may be consistent with his use of "V'Higadeta L'vincha" as a source for this commandment - that verse appears in the context of the commandment for us to eat matza and not to eat chametz during Pesach - see Shemot 13:6-8). Bach claims that ideally the Haggadah should be said in the presence of the matza that will be used for the mitzva, and thus we begin with "Ha Lachma Anya" - a reference to the matza. We should also note, as we did last week, the view that Sippur is so connected to the other mitzvot of the night that it only applies as long as the mitzva of matza applies, and thus there is only a commandment to tell over the story of Pesach until midnight.
(As a postscript to this idea, we should note that Rav Yoseif Dov Soloveitchik claims that the five Rabbis in Bnei Brak were discussing the mitzvot of Pesach, and were not just telling stories).
As it turns out, we satisfy both views in our Haggadah - we say "Avadim Hayinu" as well as "Arami Oveid Avi," both of which recount the story of the slavery and redemption, and we also recite the mishna of Rabban Gamliel, thus focusing somewhat on the mitzvot themselves. However, we should also note that these two views are not necessarily mutually exclusive.Meiri notes that the three things in Rabban Gamliel's mishna are a part of telling the story. How is this so? One possible viewpoint requires us to pause and remind ourselves of what Rabban Gamliel really demands of us. He does not insist that we merely mention these three commandments, but that we explain them and give full detailed accounts of why we are performing them. If one takes this seriously, he will inevitably wind up telling the story with all of its minutiae and nuances. Following Rabban Gamliel thus achieves the beautiful result that we "jump off" from his mishna, satisfy both views of what Sippur Yetziat Mitzrayim is, and manage to make the mitzvot of eating matza and maror, which could very easily be done by rote, into meaningful and living aspects of our celebration of Pesach.
IV. A METHOD TO THE MADNESS
Now that we understand a small part of why we have so many varied elements in Magid, we will now try to offer an insight into the composition of the Haggadah. As mentioned above, we have to first understand what is meant by "shame" and "praise."
Rambam has a most interesting, and somewhat confusing, approach to this issue. He states "We begin with shame, which is 'Terach the father of Avraham' and end with praise, which is the true faith. We also begin with 'Avadim Hayinu' and end with the miracles that Hashem did for us, which means learning the exegesis on the verses of 'Arami Oveid Avi.'" What is Rambam talking about? What does the "true faith" refer to in the context of our Haggadah? What does he believe is the shame? What is the praise? Does his second statement offer an alternative to his first, or is he being sensitive to the fact that the mishna tells us both to "begin with the shame and end with the praise" as well as to "learn the verses of 'Arami Oveid Avi'"?
However we explain Rambam, the current arrangement of the Haggadah is somewhat difficult to fit into his view. He sees our reference to Avraham as being a beginning point and Arami Oveid Avi as being an ending point. However, they come next to each other in our text. If we were really following Rambam, it would seem to make sense to fulfill each of his statements separately, as opposed to overlapping them!
I would like to suggest that what we really have is a "Haggadah within a Haggadah" (you can call it chiastic if you want, but I do not plan on getting too sophisticated at this point). There are two keys to this point. The first is the double Hallel that occurs within Magid. One is the two chapters of Tehillim (113 and 114) that we conclude this section of the Seder with, which we generally refer to as Hallel. The second one is Dayeinu, which is also a form of Hallel - it is sung "l'hallel u'l'hodot" - to praise and to thank Hashem for all that he did for us when he took is out of Egypt. Why do we need two different Hallels? If we look at the view of Tosafot Rid, we find that he says that saying Hallel is the fulfillment of the gemara's demand that we "end with praise." If this is true, then by saying Hallel twice, that would seem to imply that we discharge our duty to "begin with shame and conclude with praise" not one, but two times during the course of Magid.
The Shibbolei HaLeket makes an interesting comment which may help us to further understand this issue. He claims that "Avadim Hayinu" comes as a direct answer for the question about why we lean, and the answers to the other questions are deferred until the very end, when we recite the mishna of Rabban Gamliel. If this is true, then the beginning and end of Magid may be able to be viewed as forming bookends to what comes in between. We begin with the four questions, we give the initial answer of "Avadim Hayinu," we answer the other questions with Rabban Gamliel, and then we say Hallel. This mini-structure alone fulfills just about every requirement that we have for the Seder - it is done in question-and-answer form, it both tells the story and discusses the mitzvot, it goes from shame to praise, and it includes Hallel.
Within that structure, we have the meat of Magid. The "internal Magid" begins with two introductory paragraphs about the mitzva of Sippur Yetziat Mitzrayim (the five Rabbis and Rabi Elazar ben Azariah). We then say "Baruch HaMakom," which some view as being the blessing on the commandment of Sippur Yetziat Mitzrayim. Having made the blessing, we begin fulfilling the commandment. Instead of simply asking four questions, we discuss four types of sons and their questions. We then begin our answer by mentioning "V'Higadeta L'vincha" - stating our obligation to tell over the story on this night (and mentioning the need to relate the story to the other mitzvot). From there we recount Jewish History, beginning with our idolatrous ancestors, proceeding to Avraham's discovery of Hashem and Hashem's promise to him that his descendants would be enslaved but would ultimately be freed, and finally learning the Midrash on "Arami Oveid Avi" as a way of telling over many of the details of our enslavement in Egypt and Hashem's salvation of us. We end all of this with Dayeinu.
What should be clear is that the "internal Magid" is a near-copy of the "external Magid," albeit more detailed. Why do we do this? It would be much simpler to have one, continuous progressive text! I would like to suggest that in arranging itself in this manner, the Haggadah stresses the entire point of this mitzva. The "external Magid" is an extremely basic fulfillment of Sippur Yetziat Mitzrayim. It fulfills all of our requirements, but does so in the most general way possible. The "internal Magid" plays off of the general structure of the external one, but gets even more detailed. As such, the internal Hallel, Dayeinu, is very specific in what it praises Hashem for, while the external Hallel is more general in its praise. Perhaps the editor of the Haggadah is reminding us that even the text that we have is not enough. True, we can fulfill our obligation by reciting only what is contained in the "external Magid," but we must strive to step it up a level and recount the story of the Exodus in the manner of the "internal Magid." Beyond that, even the internal section is not sufficient - just as the Haggadah surpasses itself in its execution of this commandment, so too are we encouraged to surpass the text of the Haggadah in our telling of the story. The Haggadah should serve not as the central point of our Seder, but as the basic point of departure for much greater discussion
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