1. On Pesach, education of children has a prominent place. The Torah stresses the need to give children an explanation with respect to four matters:
    1. Eating matza and the ban on hametz: You shall tell your son(child) on that day, saying 'for this G-d did for me when I left Egypt’. (Exodus 13:8)
    2. Redemption of the firstborn sons: When your son asks you tomorrow, saying 'What is this?’ you are to say to him: 'G-d brought us out of Egypt with strength of arm’. (Exodus 13:14)
    3. The Pesach sacrifice: When your children say to you, 'What is this service of yours?’, you shall say: 'It is a Pesach offering to G-d ...’ (Exodus 12:26-27).
    4. All the other mitzvot of the Torah: When your son asks you tomorrow, saying, 'What are all the testimonies, laws and judgments that G-d our G-d has commanded you?’, you shall say to your son: 'We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and G-d brought us out of Egypt with a strong arm ...’ (Deuteronomy 6:20)
  2. This implies that adults are commanded to transmit to their children the story of the foundation of our people, and the purpose of the liberation from Egypt, viz. to observe the Torah and its instructions (mitzvot) in Eretz Yisrael, as Moses was told: you will serve G-d on this mountain (Exodus 3:12).
    The basic aim is to educate children in the way of the Torah. Moses even explained this to Pharaoh while still in Egypt: We will go with our young and our old, we will go with our sons and our daughters, with our sheep and goats and with our cattle, because we have G-D's festival. (Exodus 10:9)
    There is no festival without the young. Pharaoh himself realised that Israel's future was with the young, which is why he decreed that every son born you shall throw into the Nile! (Exodus 1:22). The Midrash goes further and says that, at the worst period of the slavery, they even built children into the walls of houses.
  3. ‘For (the sake of) this…’, at the time when matza and maror are set out in front of you (the text originally read: pesach, matza and maror). When the entire House of Israel is seated around the table, observing the mitzva of the Seder, they fulfil the condition on which G-d brought them out of Egypt. Hence G-d's command to Moses: When you bring the people out of Egypt, you shall serve G-d on this mountain! (Exodus 3:12), i.e. the condition on which you are to leave Egypt is that you will (subsequently) observe G-d's commandments. Mitzvot are therefore observed on the Seder Night for two reasons:
    1. so that we should remember all the wonders and miracles that G-d did for Israel in Egypt;
    2. So that we can demonstrate that we deserve to be free, by observing the mitzvot, since we are fulfilling the condition on which G-d brought us out of Egypt.

Key Words and Phrases

  Song Concept Symbols Customs Laws Prayers Names
Song 'Who knows one?’              
Eating matza              
Eating maror              
Four terms of liberation              
Four sons              
Four cups              
Four questions              
Rabbi Judah's mnemonic for the 10 plagues              
Ha lachma anya (This is the bread of affliction)              
Reclining (leaning)              
You shall relate it tell your child              
Washing without a blessing              
Shank bone              
Lettuce / horseradish              
Breaking the middle matza              
Elijah's cup              
Hillel's sandwich (korekh)              
Bread of affliction              
Seder night              
Night of Vigil (Exodus 12:42)              
Recounting (narration)              
Ma Nishtana              
Acceptance (nirtzah)              
Mnemonics for the Seder              
We were slaves              
Ten Plagues              
Pesach, matza & maror              
Afikoman (tzafun)              
Seder plate              
Washing hands with blessing              
Song of Songs              
The meal              
'Pour out your anger'              






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05 Jan 2006 / 5 Tevet 5766 0