Mitzvas Sipur Yetzias Mitzrayim- Telling the story to one’s son, daughter, and family

Mitzvas Sipur Yetzias Mitzrayim- Telling the story to one’s son, daughter, and family:[1]

A father is obligated to tell the story of the exodus to his son [and daughter[2] who has reached the age of Chinuch[3], and wife and family].[4] This applies even if they do not ask him and questions on the exodus, as explained next. [Some Poskim[5] learn that the Mitzvah of Sipur Yetzias Mitzrayim can only be fulfilled through telling the story of the exodus to other people present, and if one is alone he is unable to fulfill the Mitzvah. Other Poskim[6], however, negate this assertion and rule that the Mitzvah can be fulfilled even if one does not have anyone else to tell the story over to.] For this reason, one is obligated to recite the Hagadah in a language that the women and children understand.[7] Likewise, one is obligated to begin the Seder right after Tzeis Hakochavim in order to perform the Seder while the children are still awake.[8] One is to elaborate on the story in accordance to their capability of understanding.[9] If they have a broad potential understanding, one is to explain to them everything.[10]

To whom: The father is obligated to teach his son [who has reached the age of Chinuch[11]] the story of the exodus, in reply to his questions [see next]. [This applies even if the son is already an adult, and is a scholar of his own right, nevertheless, the father is to tell him the story according to his own understanding.[12] This applies even if the son is a greater scholar than his father.[13]] One who does not have a son, is obligated to tell the story to his [daughter[14] and/or] wife. If he does not have a wife, he is to read the Haggadah together with a friend.[15] If he is alone, he reads the story to himself.[16]

 

Practical advice:

Being that every father contains the Biblical Mitzvah to teach his children the story of the exodus on the night of the Seder, one is to take the following suggestive steps to ensure that this is properly fulfilled:

1.       Have your children sleep on Erev Pesach so they will be awake for the Seder.

2.       Create a game plan. Getting a child’s attention for a lengthy period of time can be quite challenging. Review and prepare for the Seder beforehand, tailoring what you will say in a way that will captivate the little minds of your audience. One great idea that many use is to prepare a Pesach skit that will get everyone interested and involved.

3.       Remove distractions: The Seder should take place in an environment that will allow one to fulfill his Mitzvah. For this reason, it is not a good idea to join a public Seder or be with a lot of family if doing so will distract one, or his children, from being able to fulfil the obligation.

Q&A

Does a father fulfill his obligation if another family member, or individual, recites the story to his children?[17]

Yes. The father can appoint another individual to teach his children the story of the exodus, just as can be done throughout the year regarding his obligation of teaching Torah to his children. nevertheless, it is better for the father to be involved in teaching his children at least some part of the story, as Mitzvah Bo Yoser Mibishluchos [i.e. a Mitzvah is better fulfilled when done by the person himself rather than an emissary].

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[1] Admur 473:42; Rambam 7:2; Mishneh Pesachim 116a

[2] Admur 472:25

[3] Admur 472:25; Piskeiy Teshuvos 473 footnote 161

[4] The source: As the verse states “Vehigadeta Livincha Bayom Hahu.” [Admur ibid]

[5] Minchas Chinuch Mitzvah 21 “If no one else is with him, the Mitzvah is equal to that of the other nights”; Implication of Chinuch; Shevach Pesach; See Shut Harosh 24:2; Hagada of Rebbe on “Mitzvha Aleinu”

[6] Implication of Admur 473:40 as brought in Hagadah of Rebbe; Mechilta Derashbi “Between him and himself from where”; See Likkutei Sichos 12:43

[7] Admur ibid; Rama 473:6; Kol Bo 50

[8] Admur 472:1; Michaber 472:1

[9] Admur 473:42; Rambam 7:2; Mishneh Pesachim 116a

[10] Admur 473:42; Rashbam Pesachim 116a

[11] Admur 472:25; Piskeiy Teshuvos 473 footnote 161

[12] See Rambam 7:2

[13] Toldos Shmuel Mitzva 21:1; See Lehoros Nasan 9:9

[14] Aruch Hashulchan 473/21; Admur 472:25 that there is an obligation to educate the daughters just as the sons

[15] Admur 473:40 writes that after the friends ask each other Mah Nishtana, they are both to begin Avadim Hayinu.

[16] Admur 473:40 regarding the questions

[17] Betzel Hachochma 6:67; Teshuvos Vehanghagos 2:236Piskeiy Teshuvos 473:27

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