Being a seminary student this year everyone is always expecting a lot from us. To grow, to change, but mostly to expand our knowledge of Torah, and the biggest test is coming up in one week, Seder night. Their assumptions may be correct or incorrect, but regardless the importance of understanding our Seder and sharing Divrai Torah is crucial. Therefore, this year I bought the Hegyonai Halacha Haggadah by Rabbi Yitzchak Mirsky, so far it has proven to be excellent in advancing my knowledge of the Seder and learning beautiful ideas and concepts. The Dvar Torah I’m sharing today is from this book.
We know the 2nd part of the Seder, Urchatz, is the washing of the hands. Some may wonder why we do this if were not going to eat bread. However, we are aware of the Gemara in Pesachim which tells us that any food dipped in liquid requires us to wash our hands before eating. Nowadays, it has been decided to ignore this ruling of Gemara. This should confuse us, if were ignoring the ruling of the Gemara then why all of a sudden on Pesach night do we decide to take it upon ourselves? What makes this night special?
According to the Taz, it’s nothing but sheer inconsistency. However, the Levush explains this seemingly unnecessary custom by staying that because on the Seder night the dipping of the food is the mitzvah itself it is treated more stringently, adhering to rules more strictly than the all around year norm. The Aruch Hashulchan also gives a short explanation of this practice, explaining it is simply another custom done to arouse curiosity and questions among the children.
Rav Mirsky then gives his opinion, which I found to be awesome. The Gemara in Sotah tells us that anyone who isn’t careful in the washing of the hands before eating (including dipped foods) will be uprooted from the world. To take that one step further, the Ba’ar Hetev extends this punishment even to those who only disregard the Halachah once. But why is there such an intense punishment for this rabbinical prohibition? The Maharal of Prague explains that there is much more symbolism to this process than we know. Hands, represent the beginning of the human body because when a person stretches out his hands, it is his hands that reaches to the top of the body. Naturally, the beginning of any action we do influences what will happen then on. For example, a sin that is committed with your hands, no matter how minor it may be still is seen as severe because a faulty start will lead to a flawed conclusion. This is why we especially meticulous on Pesach. Pesach is the beginning of it all, according to the Maharal it’s the beginning for all that exists at all times. At this very point that is our beginning and renewal of what is to follow we strive for perfection and remind ourselves of the importance of a proper beginning by washing our hands.
To extend this idea further it can be connected to all aspects of life. Firstly, just to bare in mind the hidden holiness our hands have, it starts us off. Furthermore, it’s important that we make sure that whatever we choose to do at any time is the right choice because it influences our choices from there on. We always need to think before doing what we may want to do as to what is right to do. Thank you and have a wonderful Pesach!
Student studying in SFW