Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter On A Major Element Of The Seder
In the last sugya (topic of discussion) in the fifth perek of Gemara Pesachim it is mentioned that there was a unique manner in which people used to carry home the Korban Pesach from the Beis Hamikdash. They used to take the Korban, wrap it up in the hide of the animal and then sling the hide over their shoulders. Rashi comments in the Gemara that this was specifically reminiscent of the way that the Yishmaelim (Arabs) used to travel.
Rav Shlomo Kluger asks a fascinating question in his commentary, Yirios Dvash, which can be seen in Rav Yaakov Emdens siddur. Why does Rashi feel the need to mention that this was the way the the Yishmaelim used to travel? Is that really something noteworthy?
Rav Kluger answers that when we come to our Seder we spend much time discussing our traumatizing experiences in Egypt and our feelings of jubilation as we left Egypt, but we spend no time talking about how we got to Egypt (the Yosef story!). When Bnei Yisrael brought the Korban Pesach home, they were showing their families, that before one begins a recollection of history they first have to recognize, how it all began.
The question now rises, how do we give over this message at our Sedarim today (we no longer bring the Korban Pesach)? The answer starts with KARPAS. Rashi in Parshas VaYeishev says that Yosef's Kitones Pasim (the coat of many colors [dreamcoat]) was made out of KARPAS U'TICHEILES (some sort of fabric). Therefore today we specifically start off the seder with KARPAS to show that chronologically all journey down to Egypt all started with Yosef.
We need not only analyze the Karpas to reach Yosef, one can also examine the four cups of wine . It is often recorded that the four cups are a direct correlation to the four different types of redemption (Hotzeiti,Hitzalti,Goalti, and Lokachti). The Medrish as well as the Gemara Yerushalmi however answer differently. The reason for why we drink four cups is because of the four times the word "kos [cup]" is mentioned in the story with Yosef and Pharaoh.
Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter Shlit"a however, notes a different understanding of the message that we should take from Yosef and the 4 cups. We should recognize from the story of Yosef, the real story of redemption. Yosef lived a life of many ups and downs. He started off on top in his fathers house. He was then sold to Arab peddlers. He lived in Potifars house. He was thrown in jail. Only after years of uncertainty did he, with the help of Hashem, take the stead of the viceroyship.
The story of Yosef is not linear like the four geulas (Hotzeiti,Hitzalti,Goalti, and Lokachti) but it shows us, Klal Yisrael, that our redemption is a process. A complicated and painful process that requires time and belief. For this reason, we vicariously bring Yosef to our Seder table through the Karpas, the four cups, and the Korban Pesach.
We, as Jews, have experienced an interesting history. One of suffering and triumph. The Passover story reminds us that the road to salvation is jarring. It requires patience and belief. Only through them, with we experience the Geula
*As heard at a Shiur given in the Yeshiva University Beis Medrish by Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter Shlit"a 4/9/08