Jeffrey Levine
Blogger, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist

Some Insights into the Pesach Seder — Based on the Teachings of Reb Shlomo Carlebach


Seder night, we begin with Kadesh (Kiddush). Everybody knows that holiness is the highest level a person can strive for. It takes a whole lifetime to really become holy. Seder night, we begin right on top. This is what our holy Rabbis teach us that even in exile, we can work our way up. Not to be in exile, to be free, means that I’m not afraid to jump on top, on the top of the top.

Seder night, our children feel so close to us, they are asking us all the questions. Why don’t our kids talk to us during the year? Because, sadly enough, we look at them with exile eyes. First, you go to cheder, then you go to yeshiva, then you go to college, then you get one Ph.D., and another one, and you marry a rich girl, and she pays for your third Ph.D. -you go slowly, slowly. This is all exile behaviour. The truth is, every child has it in him to reach right away, from the first, for the highest, for the deepest. Anyone who is around children knows that there are times when children understand more than adults. Children are on the highest level. So, Seder night, after we call out Kadesh, our kids say, “Okay, if this is the way you look at life, we can talk to you again.”

To be in exile means I believe in G-d, but it depends on me and I have to work hard to get anywhere. Seder night, everybody knows, Seder night is a different thing. Since it’s a gift from heaven, why not ask right away for the highest thing? Begin with the highest, begin with Kadesh.

What is the difference between asking a human being for a favour and asking G-d for a favour? When I ask a human being for a favour, I cannot have the chutzpa to ask them for everything. If I don’t have a single penny, I can’t go to Baron Rothschild and ask for two billion dollars. But, with the Ribbon Shel Olam, it’s the other way around. When I have nothing, that’s the time to ask for everything.

When we were slaves in Egypt, and G-d took us out, at that moment, we reached the highest level. “I, and not an angel, I am the Lord.” That was the highest, the most glorious revelation in the world. We treat our children in such a way that it takes so long for them to mature until we can talk to them. On Seder night, I know that everything can take just one split second.

Everybody knows, the way we came out of Egypt was not slowly, slowly but, it was actually in one minute from “adult lecherut”, from slavery to the highest level of freedom.

Maggid! (Saying the Haggada)

There is a strong Alexander Torah. It is very deep and so important for us today. The Holy Alexander asks, “Why doesn’t the Seder begin right away with questions? The children could ask questions and then we would answer.”

He answers that there are certain things which are so holy – so we don’t ask questions. Just take them the way they are. There are certain things in life you have no right to ask about because if you ask, you degrade them, you profane them. So, he says, when it comes to Kadesh (Kiddush), don’t ask. Urechatz (washing the hands), don’t ask. Karpas (vegetables), don’t ask. Maggid (saying the Haggada), then -you can ask. And, he says, the world is analysing everything in the world, and they don’t know when to stop. They are destroying everything holy, by asking questions about things one shouldn’t ask.

It’s so clear to me that we adults analyse everything our children say. Was it clever, was it good, and was it stupid? Then, the child is likely to say, I don’t want to talk to you. You destroy everything I say. But, Seder night, our children see that we know when to stop. We don’t tear everything apart. Our children say, Okay, I want to ask you a question. Don’t analyse it.

I’m sure it’s clear to you that our children ask the deepest questions and the truth is that we don’t have the answers. You can read the entire Haggada, but the questions are still questions.

When somebody asks me a question and I answer, then basically our relationship is over. But, if someone asks me a question and I say, you know, I have the same question, let’s make the question even deeper, then we become so close to each other.

I have a feeling that when Eliyahu HaNavi (Elijah the Prophet) comes in Tishbi Yitareitz Kushiot Ubaayot (He will answer all questions), he doesn’t say anything. He walks into the Seder and he doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t answer. Suddenly, the question is so deep, maybe it doesn’t need an answer.

We lose our children because we tell them we have the answers to everything. Our children know that it’s not true. They don’t want to talk to us.

Seder night, I tell my children, so, I’m a few years older than you. You think that I know more? Maybe I know the story a little bit longer, but I don’t know the answer. I don’t know the answer. Then, our children feel so close to us. So close.

How was your Seder?

You know friends, we are living in a world where the devil would like so much to take advantage of the great moments which we have. Seder night, every Jew wants to have a Seder. So, what does the devil do –he brings chicken soup, and kneidlach. Sometimes I ask people, how was the Seder? They say, oh, the food was unbelievable. When you ask about the Seder, they are not thinking about the Haggada, they are thinking about the food.

I was in India once. I asked one boy, he was a yogi who didn’t want to come back. I asked him what he knew about Yiddishkeit. He said, “Once a year my family got together for a Seder. The spokesman of the Seder was my uncle who told over all the dirty jokes he heard all year. One night, I got up and said, I don’t think this is what the Seder is all about. My uncle said to me,’Look who’s talking. You haven’t even finished Hebrew school yet. What do you know?’ So, I thought that if all Yiddishkeit can offer me is a night with dirty jokes and chicken soup, who needs it, who wants it?”

When my daughters’ teeth hurt, I send for the best dentist. When my children are sick, I call for the best doctor. When it comes to Yiddishkeit, the soul of the soul, the eternity of all eternities of my children, would I subject them to the lowest people in the world, who don’t know anything?

Eliyahu HaNavi

Eliyahu HaNavi does not knock on doors. A lot of us are waiting to hear a knock at the door. Sometimes, one should wait to hear a knock on the door. But, at great moments, you have to open the door first.

One hippie asked me, “Seder night, Eliyahu HaNavi comes in and then we say, “Shfoch chamatcha al hagoyim” (spill out your wrath upon the nations who do not recognize you). Wouldn’t it be even more beautiful if, since Eliyahu is coming, we would say words of love and peace? This is a Torah of Shalom Bayis. Eliyahu HaNavi comes in and the truth is, the world needs a lot of cleaning. There is a lot of evil that has to be wiped out from the world. You know what I say to G-d? Please, can you do the cleaning by yourself? Shfoch chamatcha al hagoyim -can you do it? Right now, I am so high, I don’t want anything to do with cleaning. I just want to tell the world there is one G-d. I. But, when Eliyahu HaNavi comes in, it’s clear to me, Ribono Shel Olam, I don’t want to be your cleaning man anymore. The only thing I want to say now is Hallel. “Not for us, 0 Lord, not for us, but for Your Name do we sing praises.”

About the Author
Jeffrey is a Blogger, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist (we can only dream) living in Jerusalem. He is a young grandfather has five kids and four grandchildren. Jeffrey provides freelance CFO and Accounting services through He is looking to spread the message of Ahavat Yisrael and Jewish Unity through the music and stories through and blogging.
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