This is a paper I said would change the world. I am a pedantic prat as it is my own paper. For the first time I am making it public. Sorta. Please don't steal it. I want to change the world in my name. Also bear with me and its length and tell me what you think.
בכל דוֹר ודוֹר
In EVERY Generation
mjr2004 AT columbia.edu
Development of Jewish Holidays
Rabbi David Weiss-Halivni
Pesach is the holiday of eternity. More than any other holiday, it is a link to the past and a beacon to the present and future. It reassures us of the providence of the Lord. God has saved us from
The Torah commands us multiple times to instruct our children on the matters of Passover annually in the middle of Nisan. In many of our rituals, specifically the Kiddush of the Sabbath, Festivals, and even of Rosh Hashanah, "זכר ליציאת מצרים", that these should all act as reminders of the Exodus from Egypt, the event which is the quintessential moment that epitomizes Judaism. More specifically, we hold Seders annually, reenacting our Exodus from bondage and explaining everything ad nauseam. The Rabbis in the Haggadah expound at great detail. Examples include a handful of Rabbis who have expounded upon Passover minutiae until morning, their students interrupting them to tell them that it is time to say the morning Shema. However, we curtail our explanation in order to finish by midnight (or 1 AM Daylight Savings Time), as the middle of the night is when God killed the firstborn of Egypt; if we didn’t have a fixed time to end it, we might go on forever, just as the Rabbis might have done had it not been for the intervention of their students. The Rabbis really pore over everything said in the Bible and in early rabbinic texts, even arguing over how many plagues struck
We are commanded in the very heart of the Seder, "בכל דוֹר ודוֹר חייו אדם לראוֹת את עצמוֹ כאלוּ הוּא יצא ממצרים" “In every generation, one is obligated to see himself as if he himself left
“The reason that the miracles of the Exodus are seen through this personal lens is that it is not the miracle of being liberated, in physical terms, from Egyptian bondage that is celebrated on Pesach, but the result of this liberation – God’s taking of the Jewish nation as his chosen people, giving them the Torah and the gift of Eretz Yisrael, which imbued them with permanent sanctity. Regarding this high level of sanctity, there is no difference at all between our ancestors and us. Thus it is only on Pesach that we are expected to identify with the miracles of the past on a personal level – because the state of holiness that was bestowed upon our ancestors at that time affects us in an equally strong manner today – if only we make ourselves aware of it” (Chofetz Chaim, 115-116).
This is a very powerful statement which equates us with our great ancestors, who, though sinned and went astray at times (and it would be hypocritical to say that we haven’t as well at times), had communion with God and witnessed supernatural miracles, the Hand of God. If our ancestors hadn’t left
Although some of the words are exceedingly somber, we lift our glasses and joyously proclaim: “והיא שעמדה לאבתינוּ ולנוּ”. “And this that has sustained our ancestors and us”. “שלא אחד בלבד עמד עלינוּ לכלוֹתינו”. “That it was not just one, (the Egyptians), who stood up against us to destroy us”. “אלא שבכל דוֹר ודוֹר עוֹמדים עלינוּ לכלוֹתינוּ”. “Rather, it is in every single generation that people rise up to destroy us”. “והקדוֹש ברוּך הוּא מצילנוּ מידם”. “And the Holy One, Blessed be He, saves us from their hands”. This is one of the most powerful and clairvoyant statements in the entire Haggadah. This statement was written well before the Crusades, the pogroms, and the Holocaust; it is written in Mishnaic and Tanaitic jargon, likely written sometime between 200 BCE and 200 CE, and yet it sees that one of the world’s oldest continual professions is Anti-Semite and will continue to be a popular profession. Indeed, it has almost certainly gotten worse since this was written. How could these rabbis predict that it would be correct that in every generation people will seek to destroy us? This was certainly indicative of a trend of hatred of Jews which unfortunately continues. And yet, we still survive as probably the oldest continual people on the face of the Earth. Our oppressors fall and we still endure due to the loving-kindness and providence of God to his Chosen People.
Speaking of the very first word of this paragraph, what is “והיא”, “and this”, which is spoken of? One theory which is offered is that of the gematria (Hebrew numerology) of each of the letters treated singularly evokes some significance. Vav equals six, the six orders of Mishnah and Talmud (Sha”s); Hey equals five, the five books of the Torah; Yud equals ten, the Ten Commandments, that which was revealed at Sinai, and Alef, the singularity of God. These four things, the Covenant which ties them all together, this has sustained our ancestors and us. והיא should rather be reckoned as an acronym: והי"א has supported us: serving and trusting in God and keeping his Laws has kept and sustained us. Rabbi Menachem M. Kasher, in his pivotal work Haggada Shleyma, says that “והיא” is the Covenant of the Parts (circumcision and the special animal sacrifices which surrounded the very first instance of such a surgery) which was made between God and Abraham, mentioned in the previous paragraph of the Haggadah. Rabbi Joseph Elias writes in his Haggadah, “He [Abraham] was told about the Egyptian exile and the deliverance – but at the same time he was shown all later oppressive regimes under which the Jews would suffer (represented by the animals that were cut up) and the survival of the Jews (represented by the dove that was not divided)” (Elias, 98).
One of my Rabbis, Ed Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom in
Ever since the time God put his rainbow into the sky, swearing he would never again destroy the world (Genesis 9:8-17), man has sought to destroy the Jews: Nimrod, the nine warring Canaanite kings in the time of Abraham, Pharaoh in the time of Avraham, Esau, Lavan, Pharaoh in the time of Moshe, Amalek, Balak, Bilam, Sihon, Og, the Caananite Kingdoms, the Philistines, Agag, Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, Haman and Zeresh, Antiochus IV and the Greek-Asyrians, Titus and the Romans, the Holy Roman Empire, the Goths, the Crusaders, Torquemada and the Spanish, Chmelnitzky and the Cossacks, Hitler and the Nazis, and everyone in between; and even today there exists a very real danger to our brethren who have made Aliyah to Israel, every single one of them is a target.
Passover is the Festival of Freedom, and yet we are obligated to diminish our joy numerous times throughout the week of the holiday. We spill wine for the plagues God was forced to visit upon the Egyptians in
“There exists a different version in an ancient Haggadah manuscript: ‘yesterday we were slaves and today we are free, today we are here and next year in Eretz Yisrael.’ This version would seem to fit well with the view of Rashbam that this passage was recited by our forefathers in
“Generally, however, it is thought that this part of the Haggadah was composed either after the destruction of the
Since the destruction, we have been under foreign oppression. There is no true freedom without the freedom of independent governance or the ability to freely worship. Our ancestors in the desert and in the
We are commanded on this night to eat Pesach, Matzah and Maror. We cannot eat the Pascal Lamb and still suffer because of the loss of our
We remember the Pesach with a longing to be able to taste again the roasted meat of the lamb as our fathers did on the eve of the release from slavery. Just as we are saddened by no longer being able to witness the עבוֹדה of Yom Kippur or the שמחת בית השוֹאבה of Sukkot, both events referred to by Rabbinic tradition as times of great joy at the time but now “sadden the eye” to live without them, we also are deeply distraught over the inability to enjoy, with great gusto, the registered sacrificial lamb prescribed for Passover. The Omer that is called for the second day of Pesach and onwards leading to Shavuot seven weeks later brings nothing but sadness; not only are we unable to bring the new grain to the Beit HaMikdash, but our sages were destroyed by plague for not respecting one another; what was once a time of great joy is now a time of mourning.
It is highly remarkable that the Passover offering is the only offering that possesses a make-up date. It is probably the only rite in Judaism that if you were טָמֵא, especially with טֻמאת המת , you had a second opportunity to perform, exactly one month later, on the fourteenth of the month of Iyar. Whether Israelite or Priest, today all of us are suspected of being defiled by human corpses. Without a red heifer to purify, and a Holy Temple in which to offer (since the Josianic Reforms (II Kings 23), which limited the offering and consumption of the Pascal offering to the environs of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount we are impure. Prior to the righteous King Josiah’s reforms, the Pesach was offered on any high place with an altar and a priest, but the King localized it), without these two elements it cannot be offered. As we reenact the original sandwich, that of the sage Hillel (who lived just prior to the Destruction of the
When narrating the Exodus from Egypt, the Torah remarks in Exodus 12:42, "ליל שמרים הוא לה' להוציאם מארץ מצרים הוא הלילה הזה לה' שמרים לכל בני ישראל לדרתם.", “That was for the Lord a night of protection to bring them out of the land of Egypt; that same night is the Lord’s, one of protection for all the children of Israel throughout the ages”. This night was that of protection not only for the Jews in the Exodus from
The final thing we do during the Seder is sing a popular and fun allegorical song (which everyone without exception loves to sing) intended to pique the interest of children who have been suffering through a Seder they can’t begin to understand, as well as adults who are honestly bored by the whole process. Chad Gadya, “a single goat” and the rest of the cast of characters, who eat, bite, burn, extinguish, and kill their predecessor, symbolize those nations which came against the Jews. Finally, the Holy One, Blessed be He, saves us from the renegade Angel of Death. This is a song which many today perform with various animal noises, hand movements, and puppets. As most Jews tend to be secular, it is the last thing most Jews will see of Judaism until the High Holidays six months later. It therefore leaves an indelible impression as the last thing they see and therefore a symbol of Judaism as a whole. They sing of God coming to their aid when all seems lost to this helpless goat. Many sing it in the vernacular (my family sometimes included) if they do not understand the Aramaic, utilizing the local language translation on the opposite side of the last page of the Haggadah. Needless to say, this is a very important and influential song. The Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, etcetera, have oppressed the Jewish people, but the Holy One, Blessed be He saves us in the end and redeems us. Hopefully these people derive from this song that God protects his people.
Passover is the only Major Festival which deals with our victory over oppression. The minor festivals, Hanukkah, Purim, and Yom Haatzmaut/Yom Yerushalayim, also deal with this, but those are outwardly effected by the hands of men, perhaps motivated by God, but only mentioning mighty human heroes such as Mordechai and Esther, Matthias the Hasmonean Priest and his sons the Maccabees, or the Armed Forces of the modern State of Israel, all of whom all beat overwhelming odds to their unlikely victories. However, God’s Miracles, His Mighty Hand and his Outstretched Arm are obviously orchestrating all the events of the Passover story, from the forced labor of the Jews, to the influence on hardening Pharaoh’s heart, to the awful and awesome plagues leveled on the Egyptians to the miracle at the
The only part of the Torah which is mandated that all must hear annually is that of Zachor Amalek, the Rememberance of Amalek, read at the Sabbath prior to Purim. Amalek was the nation which was first to attack us after we had crossed Yam Suf. They attacked from behind; those in the back were women, children, the elderly, the infirm, and stragglers. Amalek fought a cowardly and unfair battle against the weakest members of the House of Israel. God and the Celestial Host, as well as the Children of Israel will be at war with Amalek for all generations forever, our Torah says. We are commanded doubly, both positively and negatively: remember! Don’t forget! Amalek seeks to destroy us in every generation. Haman son of Hamdata the Agagite was of the stock of Amalek, and according to modern tradition, Adolf Hitler was also a descendent from the children of Esau. Thus, even today we are dealing struggle against evil incarnate, the scion of Amalek, those alluded to in והיא שעמדה.
"בכל דוֹר ודוֹר חייו אדם לראוֹת את עצמוֹ כאלוּ הוּא יצא ממצרים". We have to look at ourselves as if we ourselves were rescued from
Passover has been a “family holiday” since its inception. When the
In addition to Passover being the most celebrated of all the days of the Jewish year, it seems that the text of the Passover Seder, the Haggadah is more produced and has more unique editions than the prayer book. In the Jewish Theological Seminary Library, which is host to the largest collection of Judaic texts in the
Passover is indeed the favorite of all holidays, the Festival of Our Freedom, in which we recline and lounge about as free people, and yet there is a rigidity, in both ritual and the holiday prohibitions. If one did not partake of the ארבע כוֹסוֹת (the four cups of wine), the כרפס, the מצה, and even the כורח, Hillel’s sandwich, in a reclining position he has not discharged his obligation. Conversely, if he has reclined whilst eating the מרוֹר, he must eat it again for he has not properly fulfilled the mitzvah. All this, steeped in ancient ritual serves to teach a greater lesson. Passover, as the holiday of celebrating our freedom, is not the be-all-end-all. There is no freedom without law, and we count up seven weeks from the second night to the holiday celebrating the Revelation of God’s Laws, Shavuot.
פסח מצה וּמרוֹר. Though we are free, we still must partake in the sorrow of so many generations through the Bitter Herbs. There has been pain and suffering, not just through our enslavement in
NOTE: This report is a scholarly report on many primary texts and a few secondary texts. The primary texts, which may include the Tanach, Mishna, Gemara, Shulchan Aruch, and Mishna Berurah, the standardized Ashkenazic Passover Haggadah (which, although ever changing especially with modern interpretation, maintains its general shell in the generally accepted additions) as well as other codified and canonized Hebrew or Aramaic legal and legend (halachic and aggadic) material, are cited as coming from these universal texts, and are therefore only cited as coming from these general texts and not from a specific publisher. For example, a biblical verse may be cited as (שמוֹת יז:טז), and a gloss from the Shulchan Aruch I make every attempt to provide the author of the gloss (ie: מהרי"ל )as well as the fullest citation possible citation (ie: (שלחן ערוך אורח חיים סימן תעו מנהג אכילת צלי בליל פסח. סעיף ב'). I did, however, utilize electronic sources (copy and paste) for many of the Hebrew and Aramaic texts, using the programs interchangeably. These programs were:
"DavkaWriter 2000”. CD-ROM. Vers. 2.0.0. David Kantrowitz: Davka Coorporation and Judaica PressMultimedia, 1996-2000. (I used this mainly for Tanach and texts from the Mishnah)
“Judaica Classics Library”. CD-ROM. Vers. 2.2. David Kantrowitz: Institute for Computers in Jewish Life, Davka Coorporation, and/or Judaica Press, 1991-2001. (I used this for Talmud, Shulchan, Orech, and Mishnah Berurah)
Also unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own. Some concepts are those which I have learned in the past (such as certain Midrashim) and do not recollect where exactly they came from. I also apologize for the formatting of some of the Hebrew text. The technology for formatting of right-to-left along with left-to right text is limited.
Chofetz Chaim, The. “Haggadah Berurah”. Edited. Rabbi Hanan Minkowich. Shaarei Meir Publications:
Elazar, Daniel J. “How Religious are Israeli Jews?”
Elias, Rabbi Joseph. “The Haggadah: Passover Haggadah / With Translation and a New Commentary based on Talmudic, Midrashic, and Rabbinic Sources”. Mesorah:
הרב מנחם מ. כשר. "תוֹרה שלמה: הגדה שלמה". חמד: ירוּשלים, 1967 (Kasher, Rabbi Menachem M. “Torah Shleyma: Haggadah Shleyma”. Chamad:
The Dvar Torah about the breath sounds was given by my Rabbi, Rabbi Edward M. Feinstein at Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue in
 למשל: "וְהִגַּדְתָּ לְבִנְךָ בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא לֵאמֹר בַּֽעֲבוּר זֶה עָשָׂה ה' לִי בְּצֵאתִי מִמִּצְרָֽיִם" (שמוֹת י"ג:ח')
 וַיְהִי | בַּֽחֲצִי הַלַּיְלָה וַֽה' הִכָּה כָל־בְּכוֹר בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבְּכֹר פַּרְעֹה הַיֹּשֵׁב עַל־כִּסְאוֹ עַד בְּכוֹר הַשְּׁבִי אֲשֶׁר בְּבֵית הַבּוֹר וְכֹל בְּכוֹר בְּהֵמָֽה: (שמוֹת יב:כט)
 "ואלוּ לא הוֹציא הקדוֹש ברוּך הוּא את אבוֹתינוּ ממצרים הרי אנוּ ובנינוּ ובני בנינוּ משעבדים היינוּ לפרעה במצרים" (הגדה (פסקה "עבדים היינוּ...").(
 “Another explanation suggests that והיא שעמדה, can be translated, ‘the Torah has stood by us’, והיא being an allusion to the Torah (the ו' refers to the six sections of the Oral Law; the ה', to the five books of the חוּמש; the י', to the ten commandments; and the א', to the One and Only Lawgiver). Therefore, God always saves us, even though many enemies threaten us” (Elias, 100).
 וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו קְחָה לִי עֶגְלָה מְשֻׁלֶּשֶׁת וְעֵז מְשֻׁלֶּשֶׁת וְאַיִל מְשֻׁלָּשׁ וְתֹר וְגוֹזָֽל: וַיִּֽקַּח־לוֹ אֶת־כָּל־אֵלֶּה וַיְבַתֵּר אֹתָם בַּתָּוֶךְ וַיִּתֵּן אִישׁ־בִּתְרוֹ לִקְרַאת רֵעֵהוּ וְאֶת־הַצִּפֹּר לֹא בָתָֽר: וַיֵּרֶד הָעַיִט עַל־הַפְּגָרִים וַיַּשֵּׁב אֹתָם אַבְרָֽם:[...] וַיְהִי הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ בָּאָה וַֽעֲלָטָה הָיָה וְהִנֵּה תַנּוּר עָשָׁן וְלַפִּיד אֵשׁ אֲשֶׁר עָבַר בֵּין הַגְּזָרִים הָאֵֽלֶּה: בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא כָּרַת ה' אֶת־אַבְרָם בְּרִית לֵאמֹר לְזַֽרְעֲךָ נָתַתִּי אֶת־הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת מִנְּהַר מִצְרַיִם עַד־הַנָּהָר הַגָּדֹל נְהַר־פְּרָֽת: אֶת־הַקֵּינִי וְאֶת־הַקְּנִזִּי וְאֵת הַקַּדְמֹנִֽי: וְאֶת־הַֽחִתִּי וְאֶת־הַפְּרִזִּי וְאֶת־הָֽרְפָאִֽים: וְאֶת־הָֽאֱמֹרִי וְאֶת־הַֽכְּנַֽעֲנִי וְאֶת־הַגִּרְגָּשִׁי וְאֶת־הַיְבוּסִֽי: (בראשׁית טו:ט-יא,יז-כא)
 והיא: אותה הבטחה של בין הבתרים ( הגדה שלמה: פירוּשים, עמוד ל"א, סימן 342)
 וַיְהִי הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ לָבוֹא וְתַרְדֵּמָה נָֽפְלָה עַל־אַבְרָם וְהִנֵּה אֵימָה חֲשֵׁכָה גְדֹלָה נֹפֶלֶת עָלָֽיו: וַיֹּאמֶר לְאַבְרָם יָדֹעַ תֵּדַע כִּי־גֵר | יִהְיֶה זַֽרְעֲךָ בְּאֶרֶץ לֹא לָהֶם וַֽעֲבָדוּם וְעִנּוּ אֹתָם אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת שָׁנָֽה: וְגַם אֶת־הַגּוֹי אֲשֶׁר יַֽעֲבֹדוּ דָּן אָנֹכִי וְאַֽחֲרֵי־כֵן יֵֽצְאוּ בִּרְכֻשׁ גָּדֽוֹל: טו וְאַתָּה תָּבוֹא אֶל־אֲבֹתֶיךָ בְּשָׁלוֹם תִּקָּבֵר בְּשֵׂיבָה טוֹבָֽה: וְדוֹר רְבִיעִי יָשׁוּבוּ הֵנָּה כִּי לֹֽא־שָׁלֵם עֲוֹן הָֽאֱמֹרִי עַד־הֵֽנָּה: (בראשית טו:יב-טז)
 הגה: נוהגים בקצת מקומות לאכול בסעודה ביצים זכר לאבלות ונראה לי הטעם משום שליל תשעה באב נקבע בליל פסח ועוד זכר לחורבן שהיו מקריבין קרבן פסח ויש נוהגין שלא לאכול שום טבול בלילה רק ב' טבולים שעושים בסדר )מהרי"ל ((שלחן ערוך אורח חיים סימן תעו מנהג אכילת צלי בליל פסח. סעיף ב')
 אִישׁ אִישׁ כִּי־יִֽהְיֶה טָמֵא | לָנֶפֶשׁ אוֹ בְדֶרֶךְ רְחֹקָה לָכֶם אוֹ לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם וְעָשָׂה פֶסַח לַֽה': בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִי בְּאַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר יוֹם בֵּין הָֽעַרְבַּיִם יַֽעֲשׂוּ אֹתוֹ עַל־מַצּוֹת וּמְרֹרִים יֹֽאכְלֻֽהוּ (במדבר ט:י-יא)
 ותאמר אסתר להשיב אל מרדכי, אמרה לו לך כנוס את כל היהודים הנמצאים בשושן וצומו עלי ואל תאכלו ואל תשתו שלשת ימים אלו הן י"ג וי"ד וט"ו בניסן, שלח לה והרי בהם יום ראשון של פסח, אמרה לו זקן שבישראל למה הוא פסח, מיד שמע מרדכי והודה לדבריה הה"ד ויעבר מרדכי ויעש ככל אשר צותה עליו אסתר, תמן אמרין שהעביר יום טוב של פסח בתענית ועל אותה צרה (מדרש רבה אסתר פרשה ח סימן ז).
 ונוהגים שלא לקרות על מטתו רק פרשת שמע ולא שאר דברים שקורין בשאר לילות כדי להגן כי ליל שמורים הוא מן המזיקין: (שלחן ערוך אורח חיים סימן תפא שלא לשתות אחר ארבע כוסות. סעיף ב')
 ועברתי בארץ מצרים בלילה הזה - אני ולא מלאך. והכיתי כל בכוֹר בארץ מצרים - אני ולא שרף. ובכל אלהי מצרים אעשה שפטים - אני ולא השליח. אני ה' - אני הוּא, ולא אחר. (הגדה)
 וְעַתָּה אִם־תִּשָּׂא חַטָּאתָם וְאִם־אַיִן מְחֵנִי נָא מִֽסִּפְרְךָ אֲשֶׁר כָּתָֽבְתָּ: (שמוֹת לב:לב)
 זָכוֹר אֵת אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂה לְךָ עֲמָלֵק בַּדֶּרֶךְ בְּצֵֽאתְכֶם מִמִּצְרָֽיִם: אֲשֶׁר קָֽרְךָ בַּדֶּרֶךְ וַיְזַנֵּב בְּךָ כָּל־הַנֶּֽחֱשָׁלִים אַֽחֲרֶיךָ וְאַתָּה עָיֵף וְיָגֵעַ וְלֹא יָרֵא אֱלֹקים: וְהָיָה בְּֽהָנִיחַֽ ה' אֱלֹקיךָ | לְךָ מִכָּל־אֹיְבֶיךָ מִסָּבִיב בָּאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר ה'־אֱלֹקיךָ נֹתֵן לְךָ נַֽחֲלָה לְרִשְׁתָּהּ תִּמְחֶה אֶת־זֵכֶר עֲמָלֵק מִתַּחַת הַשָּׁמָיִם לֹא תִּשְׁכָּֽח: (דברים כה:יז-יט)
 בקשו מלאכי השרת לומר שירה, אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא: מעשה ידי טובעין בים ואתם אומרים שירה? (תלמוּד בבלי: מגילה י עמוּד ב)