Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Dynamic Leil HaSeder

There is an article in today's Jerusalem Post by Heb Keinon entitled Pessah passages

He writes that he misses the enthusiasm of his kids when they were younger. How they needed to be dragged away from the biur chametz bonfire on Erev Pesach and now they can't wait to leave before the pitta has even turned brown. He writes how he misses the time when every question his kids asked at the Seder could be answered with "to get the children to ask questions". He complains that his Seder no longer holds the magic and wonder it once had.

Maybe I'm stating the obvious but perhaps Herb should think about changing his Seder by learning new persushim that will be sufficiently deep and insightful enough to bring that magic and wonder back? Isn't that the message of The Arba Banim (The Four Sons)? To adapt your commentary to the level of your children?

There is a difference between following the family minhagim of the Seder every year and not making the effort to make the Haggadah fresh, exciting and dynamic each year. The Seder should develop at the same rate as your kids do. This involves having to learn new perushim every year and buying a new Haggadah to gain different incites. Sometimes the "she aino yodaiah lishal" the son who does not know how to ask, is actually the cleverest one there. He doesn't ask any questions because he thinks he knows all the answers or even worse, he assumes that his father has no other answers other than the ones he gave last year and the year before, especially if the answer is "to get the kids to ask questions"! Yes, that is what Chaz"al say but that doesn't mean that this is the answer you give the kids. They need to be answered with something meaningful.

Instead of being melancholy for the simple no effort Seder you used to have with your young children, try next year to be excited about having to prepare a Seder which is at a higher learning level with deeper perushim.

Why not try giving your grown up kids sections of the Haggadah for them to prepare. You might be amazed what perushim they come up with.

This is exactly what we did this year at our Seder. I asked my grown up kids to choose at least two sections from the Haggadah, coordinating with themselves and I would fill in the gaps. The perushim were lively and full of discussion. I didn't leave our 9 year old out of the picture, making sure to tell him lots of Leil HaSeder stories and jokes. We didn't start eating the Motzi Matza until 12:30am and missed the time for Afikoman by about an hour and a half. Never mind, if the kids want to take their time then why rush through the Seder? Think about it. The mitzvah of "vehigaditah Levincha" is a mitzvah Deorisah where as eating that last piece of matzah before chatzos is a minhag.

Nothing I've said is anything new. In fact the Haggadah itself summarises everything I've said in one simple sentence:

וַאֲפִילוּ כֻּלָנוּ חֲכָמִים, כֻּלָנוּ נְבוֹנִים, כֻּלָנוּ זְקֵנִים, כֻּלָנוּ יוֹדְעִים אֶת הַתּוֹרָה, מִצְוָה עָלֵינוּ לְסַפֵּר בִּיצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם. וְכָל הַמַּרְבֶּה לְסַפֵּר בִּיצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם הֲרֵי זֶה מְשֻׁבָּח

"And even if all of us were wise, all men of understanding, all elderly, all of us knowing the Torah, there is still a Mitzvah upon us to tell about the Exodus from Egypt. And whoever elaborates on it is praiseworthy."

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