Oct. 7 in thecontext of the Seder

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,

I feel it’s important to incorporate the events of Oct. 7 into the recitation of our family Seder this year and was hoping you could provide some guidance of how to do so in a way that’s appropriate with the spirit of the holiday and the Seder. It was such a sad event and Passover, I’ve always learned, is a time of joy, so is this possible and recommended?

Jake W.

Dear Jake,

This is an excellent question and I wholeheartedly agree with you that it is so appropriate to discuss current events which affect all of the Jewish people in the discussion within the context of the Seder.

The Haggadah says that “not in that generation alone, but in every generation they stand over us and attempt to annihilate us and Hakadosh Baruch Hu, the Holy One blessed be He, rescues us from their hands.”

This is the appropriate place to have the discussion of how, in our generation as well, they have risen up to destroy us. The wicked Hamas perpetrated an ugly massacre which punctuated that which they wrote in their charter and constantly fulfill; their purpose is to destroy the Jewish people in Israel and beyond.

Everyone wonders what stopped them from going further and killing all of the Jews present. Furthermore, it was later revealed that it was in their plans to proceed far beyond Gaza and continue their massacre in many nearby communities. They had the plans, the weapons and the strength to do it and the Israel Defense Forces (for some inexplicable reason) were not present to stop them. Why did they stop the carnage?

The Haggadah says, the Holy One blessed be He rescues us from their hands! Terrible things may befall us but, ultimately, out of G-d’s tremendous love for us He rescues us to continue our work in this world as His nation.

At that point of the Haggadah, called “Vehi she’amda,” we cover the matzos and lift the cup or wine. Why?

Matzo symbolizes open, revealed miracles and wine represents the hidden miracles in our lives. Often we know about the attempts to harm or annihilate our people, but more often we don’t know about the plots against us or that they were foiled. Our continued existence is a hidden miracle, so we recite it over the lifted cup of wine. The fact that so many were spared on Oct. 7 is a hidden miracle.

Now, in the Jewish month of Nisan (meaning miracles), my wife and I had the good fortune to participate in a quite open miracle in our time. Last night, from the window of the Jerusalem apartment we are staying in, we felt the apartment shake with loud explosions as the deadly missiles sent by Iran and its proxies were turned into fireworks outside our window. The fiery fury they unleashed at us had the power to decimate much of the country. Even with the best technology a small but quite significant portion pass through the Iron Dome and wreak the havoc intended by the senders. And despite the massive barrage of unprecedented magnitude, Israel escaped nearly unscathed! “Hakadosh Baruch Hu rescues us from their hands.”

Of course we need to cry bitter tears and lament over every precious soldier and hostage who have tragically lost their lives over this conflict. But at the Seder we focus on Jewish hope. We focus on the miracles of Egypt and the subsequent miracles of our survival, the greatest miracle of all, despite all those who have risen up to destroy us. Many of those nations no longer exist — and we are there to talk about it! We are the Eternal Nation. Am Yisrael Chai!

A wonderful Pesach to you and all the readers.

Next year in Jerusalem!

Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried is dean of DATA-Dallas Area Torah Association.

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