Chapter 2: Insights on the Haggadah & Exodus

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Chapter 2: Insights on the Haggadah & Exodus


The history of the Haggadah:[1]

The first mention of the Seder of the Haggadah can be found in the Mishneh Pesachim chapter 10, Mechilta Parshas Bo, and the Bavli and Yerushalmi on that Mishneh. The first actual Seder Haggadah can be found in the Siddur Rav Amram Gaon and Siddur Rasag, as well as the Rambam[2] and Machzo Vitri.


Prints of Haggadahs:

Today, there exists thousands of prints and editions of Haggadahs. A search on Otzer Hachochma reveals that there exists 778 Haggadahs in their library. There are likewise hundreds of editions of Haggadahs on


The name Haggadah:[3]

The name Haggadah comes from the words “Vihigadeta Livincha,” and hints towards the Mitzvah of telling over the story of the exodus. It also stands for the word “To tell” as in it one relates the miracles that Hashem performed. Some say the word is to read Aggadah versus Haggadah.


Who formulated the Simanim of Kadesh, Urchatz etc?[4]

In Machzor Vitri it states that it was organized by Rashi. Other sources, however, state that it was established by one of the Baalei Hatosafus, Rav Shmuel Plaisa.


Not to add to the Nussach of the Haggadah:[5]

The order and paragraphs of the Haggadah are exact according to tradition and are hence not to be manipulated or changed. This applies even against adding new material to the Haggadah. This especially applies to adding material that is contrary to the spirit of the Haggadah and exodus.



 1. Purpose of Pesach: [6]

The celebration of the Passover Holiday is a great pillar and foundation within our Torah and in our faith. The Exodus was a nature breaking miracle and wonder. It was in Egypt that we saw G-d’s eternal powers revealed; His ability to override nature and do as He sees fit. It was the one time we witnessed as a nation the works of the supernal primordial Being. It is thus no wonder that Passover serves as an awakening of these memories which strengthen our faith and trust in G-d above.


 2. The meaning of Matzah:[7]

Michla Dihemnusa:[8] The Zohar[9] calls Matzah Michla Dihemnusa, food of faith. The reason for this is because the eating of Matzah strengthens one’s faith in G-d. This means that it helps internalized are belief in G-d’s existence to the point that His existence becomes part of our very reality and natural instincts. The Matzah helps take the encompassing faith of Makif and brings it inwards into Penimiyus, into comprehension and understanding, into Chabad. Just as the eating of grain has ability to help a toddler begin calling his father and recognizing his role, so too the eating of Matzah, which is Mitzvah grain, has ability to strengthen our belief in our Father in Heaven. Although in truth we are commanded each day to leave our personal Egypt and break the barriers between our faith and mind and instinct, nonetheless, during Pesach a special power is imbued within the G-dly soul so it be able to refine the animal soul and set within it this faith in a permanent unbending manner. This is accomplished through eating Matzah.

Gives Bittul to all seven Midos:[10] Matzah is a food of Bittul which gives Bittul to all the seven Midos, and prepares one for Matan Torah. However, only the Matzah eaten on the first night has this ability.


3. The redemption of holiness-Why must a convert celebrate the redemption?[11]

When the Jewish people were enslaved in Egypt, the entire side of holiness was submersed within the impurity of Egypt, and hence the redemption redeemed also the soul of the convert. Accordingly, the soul of the convert was also in slavery in Egypt and the redemption helped redeem his soul as well.


 4. Why Hashem Himself had to take the Jewish people out of Egypt?[12]

The verse states that Hashem Himself had to take the Jewish people out of Egypt “Ani Velo Malach.” The reason for this is because Egypt was so immersed in impurity that not even an angel could be successful in breaking this impurity. Therefore, Hashem Himself had to come to redeem the Jewish people.


 5. Why did G-d send us into Egypt in the first place-The secret mission of refining the sparks:[13]

Although it seems that the Jewish people’s slave labor in Egypt was a punishment, indeed it involved a secret Divine mission, and as with any secret mission, it entailed its disguised hardships. Since creation, and the sin of Adam, there exists Divine sparks of Holiness which require elevation and purification from their mangling with Kelipos. These sparks are scattered all over the world, and it would require a lengthy period of time for the Jewish people to properly elevate all these sparks in all these localities. Therefore, G-d arranged out of His kindness for there to be famine in the world and have the money from all the lands enter Egypt in the times of Yosef. These monies carried with them the sparks hidden in those lands. The Jewish people were then enslaved in Egypt which caused them to exit Egypt with much wealth. The wealth that they took out from Egypt contained these Divine sparks, and were later elevated by the Jewish people.

The amount of sparks redeemed:[14] The verse states that the Jewish people emptied Egypt. The Sages [Pesachim 119a] interpreted this to mean that they made it like an ocean that had all of its fish removed. This means that the Jewish people in Egypt removed all of the holy sparks of Tohu that had fallen into Egypt until it became like an ocean without any fish. They did not leave even one spark in Egypt. Upon leaving Egypt, we redeemed 202 sparks out of the 288 sparks that fell from the world of Tohu. These sparks became elevated and reincorporated within G-dliness, thus being called “Tzivos Hashem,” as the sparks are now part of the name Havayah, which was their original source and root. This is the inner meaning of, “We emptied Mitzrayim” and “a great multitude left with them”, as this refers to the Divine sparks that were elevated and reunited with their source in Kedusha.


 6. The purpose of the plagues and wonders:

Based on the above explanation, one can now understand the purpose behind the miracles performed in Mitzrayim. The purpose of the miracles was so that Mitzrayim would “know that I am G-d”. The word “know” [ידעו] in Hebrew can also mean to break. The purpose of the Makkos was to break the Kelipos in Mitzrayim and release the sparks so they would once again become nullified to G-dliness. Once the Kelipa would be broken, the sparks could once again become attracted to Elokus and incorporated within it. This is the meaning of the verse, “The horse and its rider were elevated into the sea.” The rider, which was the Kelipa, was destroyed, and this allowed the horse, which was the spark, to be included in the sea of G-dliness. This is also the intrinsic meaning of, “And Mitzrayim will know that I am G-d.” This verse is puzzling because as the Egyptians all perished, who remained to “know that I am G-d”? The explanation is that the word “know” in this verse refers to the breaking of the Kelipos, which then allowed the sparks found within Mitzrayim to be freed and return to G-dliness, and these sparks would once again know G-d in a literal sense. This was also the purpose of the ten Makkos, to break the Kelipa of Mitzrayim. These miracles were only necessary for the Egyptians and not for the Jewish people, as the Jewish people are believers, the son of believers. [It is for this reason that the Jewish people did not experience the plagues in the same way as the Egyptians.]


 7. Pesach is Ratzo-Electric passion of the G-dly soul:[15]

On Pesach, we experience the Divine service of Ratzo, while on Shavuos we experience the Divine service of Shuv. Literally, Ratzo means “to run,” while Shuv means to sit, two opposite states of man. We left Egypt in a state of Chipazon/hurry, being rushed to exit without enough time to even leaven our bread. This physical occurrence was a result of the spiritual exodus that we experienced when we left Egypt. At the time of the Exodus, upon leaving Egypt, Hashem Himself was revealed to us. This caused a revolution within our spiritual state. Our souls and revealed consciousness went from a state of complete distance from G-d, having been entrenched within the 49 gates of impurity of sin and idolatry, to a state of ecstatic love and passion for G-d. In moments, we leaped from the state of a sinner to the state of a Tzaddik, which culminated seven days later with the experience of prophecy by even the maidservants of the nation. This is the spiritual state of Ratzo, the spiritual exodus to instantly escape evil without any dialogue or twelve-step programs.  


 8. The daily Yetzias Mitzrayim-Exodus from Egypt:[16]

The exodus from Egypt plays a major role in our spiritual duties and commandments today. We are commanded to remember the Exodus daily and perform many Mitzvos in memory of the Exodus. The reason for this is not just in order to remember G-d’s kindness, but mainly to serve as a message that in truth the Exodus has not yet come to a closure, and in fact we are obligated to daily perform our own spiritual exodus and escape the concealments and setbacks caused by our animal soul. This is directly noted in the saying of the Sages that, “In every generation one must view himself as if he left Egypt”, as in truth each day we must re-experience the Exodus. How is this accomplished? Through the Divine service of prayer, in which one contemplates G-dly matters and arouses within his heart a passionate fire of attachment to G-d. In truth, a Jew is able to reach a state of love and passion for G-d that is fierier than any relationship imaginable, including the relationship between a man and woman. [In the Rambam’s words [Teshuvah 1/3]: “What is the befitting love of G-d? That one love G-d with a great and powerful exploding love, to the point that his mind is not free for any other matter. He is constantly involved in his feeling of love for G-d, similar to a man that is infatuated with the love of a certain woman, and he constantly thinks of her wherever he goes and throughout whatever he is doing. When he eats, she is on his mind and heart, when he sleeps, she is on his mind and heart. All the more so is one able to reach an infatuation for the attachment to Hashem, as it says in the verse, “Bechol levavcha/With all your heart.” On this love, King Shlomo stated, “I am sickly in love”, and as an expression of this infatuation he authored the song of Shir Hashirim.”] This feeling lays dormant within the Jew throughout the day and can only be aroused through deep concentration and vivid contemplation on G-d’s greatness, which brings him to this state of ecstatic feelings of love. This is experienced during prayer, upon reciting the words in the Shema prayer of Bechol Levavcha Ubechol Nafshicha. This is called Yetzias Mitzrayim, as one leaves the constraints and concealments that the animal soul causes to those feelings, and now fully expresses them, breaking through all the barriers and obstructions.   


 9. External lowliness but with internal refinement-The lesson for our times:

The exodus from Egypt is a fundament of our faith which is Biblically required to be remembered daily. After slight contemplation of the Jews during the times of the Exodus, an interesting picture unfolds which relates to our very times. In Egypt the Jews were found within the 49 depth of evil. We served idolatry and forgot the great fundament of our forefathers which included the belief in one G-d.[17] Even one moment longer in Egypt would have left the Jews in the 50th level of impurity from which there was no return or salvation. G-d out of his great love for us, did a great miracle and took us out before it was too late.[18] It would appear then that we certainly were a group of great sinners during our stay in Egypt and were on a very low spiritual level. On the other hand, it states[19] that specifically the servitude and slavery in Egypt is what refined us enough to be able to receive the Torah, which is a merit that even our forefathers did not receive. Until the slavery in Egypt we had too much evil mixed into our souls which prevented the Torah from being given. The slavery in Egypt served as a refinery that removed the waste and evil from the good and holy. Thus, we find ourselves in a paradox; were the Jewish people in Egypt great sinners or people that were reaching the spiritual heights of becoming G-d’s chosen people? This paradox can be answered as follows: One cannot judge based on external actions. Yes, externally the Jewish people were great sinners while they were in Egypt. They denied the greatest fundaments of our faith and lost the foundation of Judaism. At the same time, however, an inner elevation was occurring that was not visible to the naked eye; a refinement of the soul that allowed the Jews to be on a level to receive the Torah. The same applies in today’s generation: Although we are spiritually lower in our observance, love, fear and dedication to G-d, than previous generations, nevertheless the good actions that we do perform are worth so much that they are even considered an elevation of level in comparison to previous generations.


 10. The question of the wise son:[20]

The Torah[21] states that the wise son asks, “What are these laws that our G-d has commanded you.” And is to be answered that Hashem took us out of Egypt and commanded us these laws for our benefit. It is understood from the question that this son is unaware of the laws of the Torah and why we keep them. If so, why is this son called wise at all? In truth the wise son is addressing a deep issue relating to the effect of our Mitzvos. He is fully aware of the concept of Mitzvos and that we must keep them. He however is asking how physical Mitzvos have the power to draw down G-dliness, in contrast to the Avoda who draw down G-dliness through their spiritual Avoda. The father replies to his son that through the servitude in Egypt we merited to receive the Torah on Sinai, which gave us the power to draw down G-dliness through performing physical Mitzvos.



[1] Rebbe in Haggadah Shel Pesach [new] p. 11

[2] One of the earlier Nusschaos of the Haggadah can be found in the Rambam Hilchos Pesach chapter 8

[3] Abudarham; Kaf Hachaim 473:131; Rebbe in Haggadah Shel Pesach [new] p. 11

[4] See Haggadah of Rebbe p. 7

[5] Likkutei Sichos 22 p. 288, printed in Shulchan Menachem 2:349

[6] Chinuch Mitzvah 21

[7] Regarding the two levels of Matzah that exist, Matzah of the first night until midnight, and Matzah of the other days of Pesach-See the first two Mamarim on Peach in Likkutei Torah Parshas Tzav

[8] See Derech Mirtzvosecha Mitzvas Achilas Matzah p. 44

[9] Vayeitzei 157

[10] See Likkutei Torah Parshas Pekudei p. 5 Letter 7

[11] Or Hachaim Hakadosh Behalosecha 9:14; Birkeiy Yosef 473:17; Shaareiy Teshuvah 473:27; Kaf Hachaim 472:138; See Haggadah of Rebbe p. 5

[12] Likkutei Imrim Maggid 102 [old edition]

[13] Likkutei Imrim Maggid 102 [Kehos Edition]

[14] Torah Or p. 112 and 120 Mamar Vayomer Hashem and Mamar “Betzem Hayom Hazeh Yatzu Kol Tzivos Hashem …”

[15] Likkutei Torah p. 35“Usifartem Lachem.…”

[16] Likkutei Torah p. 35“Usifartem Lachem.…”

[17] Rambam Hilchos Avodas Kochavim 1:3 [This was with exception of the tribe of Levi-ibid]

[18] Rambam ibid

[19] Torah Oar Yisro 74a

[20] Mamar Ki Yishalcha Bincha of Admur Haemtzai Vayikra 1:57; Yud Alef Nissan 5738 [printed in Melukat 4:213]

[21] Vaeschanan 6:20

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