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Thought for the Day: Seder Lesson: HaShem and Only HaShem Is In Charge

The basic mitzvah of the seder night is to inspire the children to ask questions about the whole process and meaning of יציאת מצרים/the Exodus from Egypt and how it is relevant.  That's a mitzvah from the Torah folks.  As if that isn't enough, you are then supposed to answer their questions.  I actually find it difficult to do that, because my children -- and now grandchildren -- go to a Jewish day school.  They come to the seder armed with incredible hand crafted hagados, songs, and divrei Torah.  I am not complaining, mind you; just whining that my job is much harder.  They are so stuffed with knowledge -- ברוך השם -- that it makes my job that much harder.

Being American, I know that no problem is so hard that throwing money at it won't help.  So I told my grandchildren that they get one real dollar coin per year they are old for asking a question they never asked before and/or noticing something at they seder they never noticed before.  They can earn up to two dollars per year they are old.  It works!  They look forward to the dramatic counting out of their gold (and sometimes silver) dollars coins on the first morning of Chol HaMo'ed.  (They refer to it as treasure.)  For my part, I work hard to ensure that they never miss out on their full allotment of treasure.

I got much more than I bargained for this year.  When we got to "our ancestors worshiped idols", my nine year old granddaughter asked, "Why would HaShem put the idea of עבודה זרה into people's minds?  That's not fair."  Stunned, I told her she had really earned her treasure with that one and I needed to think of a good way to answer her question.  She was very pleased.  When we got to the makkos, my eight year old grandson asked, "But Zeidy, what did they learn from קריעת ים סוף that they didn't already know from the מכות; after all, the מכות showed them that HaShem ran the world."  Now floored, I told him he had definitely earned his treasure and I'd have to to some research.  They both needed to wait till the next day to get an answer that they deserved for such amazing questions.  We didn't get to חד גדיא before they fell asleep, but I was more than pleased with the seder.

Answers?  For the מכות/קריעת ים סוף question, I told them that the מכות certainly showed that HaShem created the world.  I pointed out to them that the first creation was "future", the second was "light", and the tenth was living creatures, but the first מכה was blood (taking away the life giving quality), the ninth was darkness (taking away light), and the tenth was slaying of the firstborn (taking away their future) -- that is, the מכות undid Creation.  They that was very cool.  But just because HaShem made the world doesn't mean I have to do what He says.  (Honda made their minivan, but Honda can't tell them where they can drive, after all.)  קריעת ים סוף, where the water didn't act like water at all showed that the entire creation works only by HaShem's Word, so we should also.

For the עבודה זרה question I reminded them that we had waiters bring us food (we were at a Pesach program) and we could ask the waiters for extra/missing things.  We would be silly to think, though, that the owners of the program didn't tell them to give us that food; they waiters only got the food and permission to give us extras from the owners.  If we made a mistake and thought we could get something we didn't deserve from the waiters, that would be our mistake, not because the owners misled us.  Similarly, HaShem has many servants.  HaShem never told anyone they acted on their own and should be worshiped, that would be a mistake that people made on their own.

I actually saw an explanation a couple of days later that traces the lessons learned from the קריעת ים סוף vs the מכות back to the original offerings brought by Kayin and Hevel.  We should explore that further.

Second seder?  I mean, how do you top that?  Granddaughter: Why did HaShem let Paroh kill the babies?  Grandson: We know that  everything HaShem does is for the good.  Yeah... I didn't answer that one right away, either...

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