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Providing for Others on Pesach 

By Rabbi Arye Sufrin

 

At the Seder, one the most exciting parts is during עניא לחמא הא when we verbalize and invite anyone who does not have a Seder to come and join. Additionally, the Rambam notes in Hilchot Yom Tov (6:18) that one who closes his door to the indigent on Chag and worries only about his own Simcha (joy), is not m'kayeim Simchat Chag, since his Simcha is not for the sake of Heaven, but rather for his own physical pleasure. This beautiful Rambam that shows the importance of caring for those that are less fortunate makes עניא לחמא הא a bit perplexing. If there is a clear focus to provide for the poor on every chag, why is it only at Leil HaSeder that we verbalize this with the Kol Dichfin?

                              

The famous 18th century commentator, Vilna Gaon, explains that the obligation to provide for the poor on Pesach is different than that obligation on all other holidays.  He learns this from a very odd combination of verses in Parshat Bo.

 

The pasuk in Parshat Bo (יג פרק) states:

 

ו שִׁבְעַת יָמִים, תֹּאכַל מַצֹּת; וּבַיּוֹם, הַשְּׁבִיעִי, חַג, לַיהוָה. ז מַצּוֹת, יֵאָכֵל, אֵת, שִׁבְעַת הַיָּמִים; וְלֹא-יֵרָאֶה לְךָ חָמֵץ, וְלֹא-יֵרָאֶה לְךָ שְׂאֹר--בְּכָל-גְּבֻלֶךָ.

 

The Vilna Gaon asks, it seems odd that the Torah mentions eating Matzot in back-to-back pesukim. And what is the difference between תֹּאכַל מַצֹּת and  מַצּוֹת, יֵאָכֵל. ?

 

The Vilna Gaon answers that the first verse is an obligation on every individual to eat his required quota of matzah throughout the 7 days of Pesach. The second verse teaches that every Jew has a requirement to ensure that matzot are available for the rest of Klal Yisrael. In effect, there is a separate mitzvah to ensure those less fortunate have matzah and fulfill their obligation as well. This is in addition to what the Rambam stipulated  - that we must ensure the poor have food for their chag.

 

Rav Moshe Shternbuch adds that throughout Pesach, and primarily at the Seder, there is a requirement to act and carry oneself in a royal manner. On this night we were redeemed from Egypt and became the Mamlechet Kohanim, like kings and princes. A king is never able to say he doesn’t have enough money to give a couple dollars to the poor, since a king’s treasury is infinite. During the year and on other holidays we have a right to worry about ourselves first, but on Pesach, if we are truly try to act like kings, we must make the extra effort to make sure that those less fortunate have food, simcha, and matzah. The Vilna Gaon and Rav Shternbuch teach us that in order to achieve true royalty, we must put ourselves in a position to help and assist everyone less fortunate, and not just focus on our own well being.

 

It is truly this concept that makes me so proud to be part of Beth Jacob and the Young Professionals community. With the leadership of Rabbi Topp, we are blessed to be part of a shul that goes above and beyond to help others in times of need and assistance, both locally and globally. Sometimes it is done publicly for us to see, and many times it is done with humility and in private. I am proud to say that I am part of the Beth Jacob community that lives like true kings throughout the year the way we all strive to do at the Seder table. May this be a year of blessing and true royalty for ourselves, our community, and all of klal Yisrael.

 

 

 
Shabbat starts Friday: 4:52PM
Shabbat ends Saturday: 5:53PM
Thu, January 17 2019 11 Shevat 5779