Israel Forever

For the week ending 1 April 2006 / 3 Nisan 5766


by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

“We begin by recalling our shame and conclude by remembering our praise.”

This is the pattern that our Sages set for the very beginning of our Haggada on the night of Pesach.

One opinion of the Sages is that this refers to our transformation from the idol worshiping generation preceding our Patriarchs to a nation of monotheistic believers.

A second opinion is that the reference is to our transformation from slaves in Egypt to free men.

Why, it may be asked, is it necessary to recall our shameful past on the night we celebrate our freedom?

It has been suggested that when a person is exposed to a negative environment and survives its influence he develops an immunity to such spiritual illnesses. Because Avraham grew up in the home of his idol-manufacturing father and saw the absurdity of idol worship, he developed the spiritual strength of the classic iconoclast. Because our ancestors were exposed to the spiritual corruption of Egypt they were capable of developing the resistance to evil, which qualified them to be the receivers of the Torah.

There is a Chassidic insight in regard to the above-mentioned pattern. Even if one begins the Seder night on the level of shame arising from his spiritual shortcomings, he will be worthy of praise by the time the Seder ends.

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