Reuven Spolter
Founder, The Mishnah Project

Before the Seder this Year, Call Single People, Old and Young

The Talmud (Pesachim 116a), commenting on the Four Questions, writes:

The Sages taught: If his son is wise and knows how to inquire, his son asks him. And if he is not wise, his wife asks him. And if even his wife is not capable of asking or if he has no wife, he asks himself.
And even if two Torah scholars who know the halakhot of Passover are sitting together and there is no one else present to pose the questions, they ask each other.

For many of us, we could not imagine a case where a person would be sitting alone for the Seder and would need to ask himself the Four Questions.

This year – there will be many people reading the Hagadah alone. Many senior citizens – certainly – but there are many singles who live alone and now find themselves facing the prospect of asking themselves the Four Questions. For them, the question “How is this night different than all other nights?” will have a very different, surely challenging meaning. In addition to the regular, usual Four Questions, they will be asking other questions as well:

“For on all other Passover nights we first pray in the synagogue. On this Passover, we pray at home. For on all other Passover nights, we celebrate with our grandparents, aunts and uncles. On this Passover, we celebrate alone.”

I am thinking about these singles – and you should too. Currently, there’s great discussion on the Internet about whether halachah permits the use of Zoom and other technologies during the Seder. This is an important discussion, but a great many single people – old and young, will simply not avail themselves of technology on Pesach.

We must offer them our support and encouragement as well. If we cannot have them over for the Seder, we surely can call them before, and surely can include them (if they wish) in our Pre-Pesach Zoom sedarim.

If you are fortunate enough to be celebrating the Seder with others, give some thought to how to share your joy with those who will not have that opportunity this year.

About the Author
Rabbi Reuven Spolter is the Founder of the Mishnah Project which spreads the study of Mishnah around the world. He is also the Director of OTS Amiel Bakehila, a division of the Ohr Torah Stone network, which sends delegations of educators, lecturers and artists from Israel to Jewish communities around the world. Rabbi Spolter also serves as the Shorashim Coordinator for English-speaking countries for Irgun Rabbanei Tzohar. In addition, he teaches Mishnah Yomit, teaching hundreds of students around the world Mishnah via the Internet at Raised in Silver Spring, MD, Reuven Spolter served as the rabbi of the Young Israel of Oak Park in Michigan until his aliyah in 2008. He then served as a Judaic studies instructor and Academic Coordinator of the Elkana Campus of the Orot College of Education from 2008 until 2018. A graduate of Yeshiva University with an MA in Secondary Jewish Education and Rabbinic Ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchonon Theological Seminary, he has taught and lectured to groups of all ages in communities around the world. Rabbi Spolter lives with his family in Yad Binyamin, Israel.