What Can We Accomplish at the Seder

by | Oct 31, 2006 | 0 comments

Maybe it was the Seder that shook up the Heavens and gave us the Modern State of Israel.

“Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarphon were conducting a Seder in Bnei Brak.

They were discussing the Exodus all that night, until their students came and told them: “Rabbis! It is time for the Morning Prayer “Shma!” (Haggada)

What were these rabbis doing in Bnei Brak? Rabbi Akiva lived in Bnei Brak but the rest lived in Lod, Yavneh, and Pek’in, which were in very different parts of Israel!

Why weren’t these Rabbis making a Seder with their families – fulfilling the mitzvah …”and you shall teach your son on that night”?! Why were they sitting in Bnei Brak?

The early commentaries explain: The Jewish people had just experienced the heartbreaking disaster of the Destruction of the Second Temple. The Land of Israel was controlled by the Romans. Jerusalem was not in our hands. Rabbi Akiva had an idea. He called a Pesach night meeting of all the leaders of the generation to see if they could save Eretz Yisroel. They sat in hiding all night, in the caves of Bar Kochba (where they couldn’t see daylight) to praise G-d for the past, present and future. By showing gratitude to G-d, Rabbi Akiva hoped he would evoke the loving mercy of the Almighty and let us keep Israel. On one level the plan was unsuccessful. According to the Arizal, when the students came to say it was time for the Shema the students were saying to their rabbis: Our Rabbis! The time for Kiddush Hashem has arrived!
On a historical level though, today we are back in Israel. Maybe it was that Seder that shook up the Heavens and gave us the Modern State of Israel.

I have a strong feeling that the more we appreciate Eretz Yisroel and express our gratitude to G-d, the more secure Eretz Yisroel will be. We can accomplish something at the Seder! We can take a few minutes to thank G-d for the modern gift called Israel. We can use the time to express appreciation for the miraculous rebirth of Judaism throughout the world. We can use the opportunitty of the Seder to contemplate the many miracles that have occured in our own lives and articulate gratitude to God for helping us get through some very difficult times.

Let the theme of this Pesach be an appreciation of God, Eretz Yisroel, our survival and our relationship with the Master of the Universe.

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Rabbi Yaacov Haber has been a leading force in Jewish community and Jewish education for over forty years. He lived and taught in the United States, Australia and in Israel. He is presently the Rav of Kehillas Shivtei Yeshurun, a vibrant community in the center of Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel, and serves as the Rabbinic guide to many of its wonderful organisations.


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