Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh

Elaborating upon Yetziat Mitzrayim

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By: Rav Zion Luz


We say in the Haggadah:

Even if we are all wise, we are all intelligent, we all know the entire Torah, it is mitzvah for us to tell about Yetziat Mitzrayim. Whoever elaborates in telling about Yetziat Mitzrayim is praiseworthy.

At first glance, what is added by saying, "even if we are all wise?" Where do we find that wisdom, intelligence, or knowledge of the Torah exempts one from mitzvot? Furthermore, "Whoever elaborates in telling," how much is there to tell that the Tanaim, "were sitting in Bnei Brak, and were telling about Yetziat Mitzrayim that entire night," and even that did not suffice?

There are those who think that the intention is to get involved in Torah about the topic of Yetziat Mitzrayim, in resolving difficulties and explaining the Haggadah. However, this does not seem to be the intention of what the Rambam writes, "Whoever elaborates upon the events that occurred and were is praiseworthy."

The achronim pose a well-known question: How is the night of the Seder different from all the other nights in regards to this mitzvah? Every night there is a mitzvah to mention Yetziat Mitzrayim, as we say in the Haggadah, "All the days of your life -- to include the nights." Many answers are given to this question:

Some answer that for mentioning, it is sufficient the think in one's heart, whereas on the Seder night one has to utter verbally, "Say to your son." (Pri Megadim) Others say that on the Seder night one has to tell the story at length, and it is insufficient to merely mention it. (Netivot Hamishpat, in "Ma'aseh Nisim") Another answer is that on the Seder night the story has to be told in a manner of question and answer. (Minchat Chinuch) R. Chaim Volozhoner (in his Chiddushim on Shas) adds other distinctions: On the Seder night one begins with degradation and ends with praise. Also, on the Seder night one has to mention the reasons for the [korban] pesach, matzah and maror, and this is part of the mitzvah of saying the Haggadah.

It seems that all of the above answers have one common denominator. On the Seder night we are required, through telling the story of Yetziat Mitzrayim, to create the experience as if we actually left Egypt. All of the details that were mentioned (uttering verbally, question and answer format, telling at length, mentioning pesach, matzah and maror, placing them in front of us at the time of telling, as well as reclining, the four cups, and more), are intended to arouse the feeling as if we are leaving Egypt.

"In each and every generation, a person is obligated to see himself as if he let Egypt." The purpose of mentioning Yetziat Mitzrayim every night is so that we should know in our mind; the purpose of telling on the Seder night is so that we should feel in our hearts, and not just in our minds. If it were merely a matter of the mind and knowledge, there would have been room to take into account the intellectual knowledge of the wise men. However, this is an experiential requirement which is demanded even of the wise. For this experiential requirement there is no limit or boundary. The goal is to reach the maximum level of emotional identification with those leaving Egypt. Whoever elaborates in telling is praiseworthy, and certainly one night is not enough!

What is the reason for all this? Yetziat Mitzrayim instilled within Israel, who was saved from an awesome distress, a wonderful feeling of unity as one nation, turned entirely towards one joint goal. This feeling reached its peak with receiving the Torah. "Yisrael encamped there -- As one man with one heart." Intellectual knowledge about the need and importance of national unity does not necessarily bring about, in terms of action, the desired result. Only an emotional feeling, and an inner sense of togetherness and national unity is a guarantee for the success of our nation. Intellectual knowledge does not guarantee anything, as everyone can see from our own lives.

The Torah seeks to arouse within our inner hearts each and every year on the Seder night, through experiencing many times, this wonderful feeling that was aroused at Yetziat Mitzrayim, lest we forget in our hearts our joint beginning and destiny!

Shiur ID: 4041

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