Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Elements of Creation

Pesachim 115 states that matza is called “lechem oni” because it is a type of bread over which we recite many things (the haggadah.) The Shem M’Shemuel zt”l of Sochatchov asks: since the haggadah is actually recited over the pesach and the marror as well as the matzah, why did Chazal tie it in to the matzah alone?

The answer lies in the nature of the lechem oni. Only three of the four essential elements that make up the universe are present in the physical matzah: earth is represented by the wheat itself, water is combined with the flour, and fire is the heat of the baking. Air, however, is absent. The four elements parallel the four letters of Hashem’s Name, but without air, the matzah lacks an essential ingredient. When we raise our voices in the recitation of the haggadah, however, we incorporate the element of air “into” the matzah, making it complete.

It is brought down that, as the Chasam Sofer zt”l grew older, he adopted the practice of uttering his prayers in barely a whisper, focusing instead on building inner fervor in the most astounding way. His laser-like intensity was turned completely inward, rendering his tefillos all the more powerful.

But even during those latter years, he would change his normal custom on the first two nights of Pesach. At the sedorim he would recite the haggadah with a fiery enthusiasm, in a voice that thundered loud enough for people to hear him throughout the city!

He taught: “Seder night is when we fulfill the mitzvah of ‘vi’higadita l’vincha’—‘and you shall tell it to your children.’ Certainly saying it out loud is preferable!”


Spiritual Dan said...

I may have to recite my haggadah quietly this year, regrettably... I have family coming and they want to start early (before nightfall). What is the halacha? Does the night start at shkia, and therefore one can be lenient, or does the 15th start only at nightfall?

Micha Golshevsky said...

If you can't say it in a loud voice that's not so bad as long as you recite it with longing and joy.
It comes out of what Rebbe Nachman said,that saying something intensely is also an aspect of saying it out loud. (We see this from the "silent scream" discussed in hisbodedus.)
I am sorry but you can't start kiddush before actual nightfall- tzeis hakochavim.
Adding on to Yom Tov doesn't help here since we learn that the hagaddah must be said when one can eat the matza etc. Since this is only at nightfall, even Kiddush may not be said before tzeis hakochavim.