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Thought for the Day: Even the Children's Rhymes are Important and Deep at the Seder

My oldest granddaughter (now between 10th birthdays on Jewish and slave calendars) asked me to explain to her about shmura matzah.  I did... and she suddenly had an insight: "Oh! שמורה from the root שמר... watched or guarded!"  I was very proud of her.  I told her mother later that night who laughed and said, "Actually she said that she pointed out the relationship between שמורה and שמר to you."  If it gets her excited about learning Torah, I am not going to disabuse her of that thought.

Later that evening, she did asked excitedly if we could learn Torah.  I was all too happy to acquiesce.  We decided (after some urging from her daddy) to learn haggadah.  I rarely get to sit down and actually learn the haggadah (too busy before the seder, too involved with fulfilling the mitzvos during the seder, too tired after the seder...), so I really welcomed the opportunity.  For those same reasons, I don't often buy a new haggadah.  I have plenty to learn from the ones I have.  I have one that I particularly like, because it has the haggadah text first with minimal explanation, then oodles and oodles of right on simply meaning explanations at the back.

We started with the opening rhyme, "קַדֵּשׁ וּרְחַץ... מגִּיד רַחְצָה".

I saw an interesting question, why is "washing" -- which we do twice -- written two different ways; first וּרְחַץ, second רַחְצָה.  I asked my granddaughter and she proposed, "Maybe they are different because we don't wash for one and not for the other?  Since we do different things, we say the words differently?"  Actually... that was the second explanation they gave!  I was impressed!

Their first explanation was awesome in its simplicity and forthright nature of this haggadah, and why I like it so much.  Ready?  Because it fits the rhyme.  Awesome.  Right on target.  וּרְחַץ matches/rhymes with יַחַץ,  Then רַחְצָה matches/rhymes with מַצָּה.  But... of course, we all know that there is more depth than that, so they gave the second explanation; a conclusion reached also by my awesome granddaughter.  Their third answer was noting that the difference was a ה attached to the once that referred to washing with a bracha.  ה has a numerical value of 5, and washing with a bracha has five requirements: appropriate food, appropriate vessel, appropriate water, must be poured directly by a Jew, appropriate quantity of water.

I (yes, sometimes I notice things also) noticed that וּרְחַץ is the only word in the rhyme that is connected to the previous with a conjunction.  I (yes, sometime I also have novel thoughts) wonder if this connection to קַדֵּשׁ is on purpose. That first washing is not something that is done all year, but is done on seder night when we are striving to bring a heightened level of holiness to even our most mundane actions.

Now you see why one haggadah's worth of explanations can last me for a good long time.


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