A 60 Year Old Hagada

Friday, 18 April, 2014 - 6:44 am

I hope you had a nice Seder.

With thanks to G-d, we had a very successful Community Seder. A wonderful Pessach atmosphere in the air. And the amount of participants, which was close to 100 added a lot to the wonderful experience.
I would like to share with you two inspiring moments which I experienced during the Seder.

Before we started, a local Jew, who is a holocaust survivor, and with his family has spent many holidays together with us, showed me a very old Haggada which he received from the American soldiers after being freed from the camps in April 1945.
I asked him for permission to read from it during the seder, to which he agreed.
When we came to the paragraph where we start reading the answer to the Four Questions: “Avadim Hayinu Le’Pharo be’Mitzrayim – we were slaves to Pharao in Egypt…”, I held this special Hagada in my hands and read the paragraph from it out loud, and was filled with emotions. Suddenly, I didn’t have to just imagine how the Jewish people felt and looked like when they left Egypt more than 3000 years ago. I just looked at the Haggada in my hands and lifted my eyes to look at the special Jew who was sitting at our Seder together with his son, daughter in law and granddaughter, in a place which is true freedom for him. For me, this was a moment of truly internalizing what leaving Egypt means.
Another inspiring moment was when during the Seder a young woman shared with me her own explanation to the famous Four Sons who are mentioned in the Haggada: the Wise son, the Wicked son, the Simple son and the son who is unable to ask.
The following is her interpretation:

“My great grand parents who came to America from Europe, were the Wise son, the grew up in the Shtetel and lead a full Jewish life.

My grandparents who grew up in America unfortunately turned into the wicked son. They knew better, but decided to throw it all away and didn’t keep any traditions.

My parents are the “simple son”, they remembered some things from their grandparents but really just didn’t know much about Judaism and the beautiful tradition.

I was supposed to be the fourth son, who is unable to ask, the little bit that my parents still knew, even that I wasn’t supposed to have experienced.

But here Chabad came into the picture, they made sure that me and many others with similar background, Jews, who according to the chain of history were supposed to be so disconnected from Judasim, should have the opportunity to learn and experience, and today I consider myself back at the level of my great grand parents, “the wise son”.
Wishing you all a continuation of a true personal holiday of freedom,
Rabbi Chaim 

Comments on: A 60 Year Old Hagada

Edgar Fochtamer wrote...

Our Family experienced "Leaving Egypt", that was leaving home where your children were born, a country of beauty with nice people (mostly). But the activities and machinations of one "pharao" and his system supporting people let you feel unwanted.
The beloved profession you exercise is only possible to do in "slavery". So we came to switzerland and now we know what true freedom is. And we feel how the King in heaven leads the right way to the one who listens. Although we are not jews, we believe in the One not needing mothers, sons, ghosts or saints in between. We are thankful every day and although our story is far beyond that of the holocaust survivor, we experience a glimpse of that special kind of thankfulness to the creator for being showed a path that changes your life from negative to positive. Baking a wonderful challah from the recipes collection was this years' "special" for us to remember the symbols of pessach for everyone.
My personal resume is to tell others to watch out for "pharaos" and not support them in any way even staying in such a country. Never repeat faults of generations before and not try to fight as a minority. Let your seed grow in friendly fields.