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The Meaning of Kol Dichfin

At the beginning of the Maggid section of the Seder, we say כָּל דִכְפִין יֵיתֵי וְיֵיכֹל, כָּל דִצְרִיךְ יֵיתֵי וְיִפְסַח.

“Whoever is hungry, let them come and eat. Whoever is needy, let them come and celebrate Passover [with us].”

On the surface, it appears that we are repeating ourselves, and yet obviously this cannot be the case. We therefore must ask what is the difference between these two invitations?

Rav Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik, zt”l, in one of his Moriah shiurim, explains that there are, in fact, two completely separate issues being addressed by these invitations. The first invitation is to those who are hungry, those who do not have food to eat, let alone delicacies to make a seder. But is such a person not “needy”? Why is the second invitation required? What does it add to the Seder? As the second invitation is obviously not addressing people in need of food it must be that those referred to in the second invitation are in need of something other than mere sustenance. So, what is its purpose and to whom is it addressed?

The Rav, zt”l, explains that in the second invitation we are addressing those who may have an ample supply food but would otherwise be alone at the Seder. In other words, those who are lonely and in need of the company of other people. Anyone who has ever been in a situation where they had a Seder with only themselves can attest to the loneliness one can feel in solitude.

How does inviting other people to join one’s Seder correspond to and enhance the experience and the meaning of the Seder?

In Hilchos Shevisas Yom Tov (6:18), The Rambam writes, וּכְשֶׁהוּא אוֹכֵל וְשׁוֹתֶה חַיָּב לְהַאֲכִיל לַגֵּר לַיָּתוֹם וְלָאַלְמָנָה עִם שְׁאָר הָעֲנִיִּים הָאֻמְלָלִים. אֲבָל מִי שֶׁנּוֹעֵל דַּלְתוֹת חֲצֵרוֹ וְאוֹכֵל וְשׁוֹתֶה הוּא וּבָנָיו וְאִשְׁתּוֹ וְאֵינוֹ מַאֲכִיל וּמַשְׁקֶה לַעֲנִיִּים וּלְמָרֵי נֶפֶשׁ אֵין זוֹ שִׂמְחַת מִצְוָה אֶלָּא שִׂמְחַת כְּרֵסוֹ.”

“While eating and drinking, one must feed the stranger, the orphan, the widow, and other poor unfortunates. Anyone, however, who locks the doors of his courtyard and eats and drinks along with his wife and children, without giving anything to eat and drink to the poor and the desperate, does not observe a religious celebration but indulges in the celebration of his stomach”.

In other words, one who feeds only themselves and their own family while ignoring those in need should not confuse the temporal joy they are experiencing with the Simchah that comes from fulfilling a Mitzvah.

The above applies to any Yom Tov. How much more so it applies to the Leil HaSeder, the one night of the year when a person should not be lacking in anything. The Mishna in Maseches Pesochim (10:1) teaches וַאֲפִלּוּ עָנִי שֶׁבְּיִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא יֹאכַל עַד שֶׁיָּסֵב. וְלֹא יִפְחֲתוּ לוֹ מֵאַרְבַּע כּוֹסוֹת שֶׁל יַיִן, וַאֲפִלּוּ מִן הַתַּמְחוּי: that “even a poor person cannot eat until he reclines and he cannot lessen the four cups of wine even from the charity-plate”. It is the responsibility of the community to make sure that every person is provided with all the necessary provisions for the Seder, even from communal tzedokah funds.

The Rav teaches that this idea clarifies why it is necessary to extend this informal invitation at the beginning of the Seder. As is set forth in the Gemara in Pesochim (88b), “מַה שֶּׁקָּנָה עֶבֶד קָנָה רַבּוֹ!” “Anything acquired by a slave [does not become owned by the slave], [rather it is as if] it was acquired by his master”.

Legally, a slave lacks the ability to personally acquire and possess anything. Whatever a slave “acquires” is automatically transferred to his master. Once we reach the night of the Seder, the beginning of the Festival of Freedom, the person who was a slave in Egypt a moment before the Exodus is now capable of the exclusive ownership of a possession. It is immensely important, however, that we recognize that even though we escaped the bondage of Pharaoh, we are still slaves in the service of The Ribbono Shel Olam, as it is written in Vayikra 25:55, “כִּֽי־לִ֤י בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ עֲבָדִ֔ים עֲבָדַ֣י הֵ֔ם אֲשֶׁר־הוֹצֵ֥אתִי אוֹתָ֖ם מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם אֲנִ֖י ד’ אֱלֹקֵיכֶֽם׃” “For unto Me are the children of Israel servants. They are My servants, whom I took out of the land of Egypt. I am the L-rd your G-d.”.

We demonstrate the acknowledgement of our servitude to Hashem by recognizing that all of our personal possessions really belong to Hashem and that He is merely “lending” them to us. We do this by pronouncing that anyone who is in need should join and share our meal, comprised of provisions we have accumulated, because the elements that make up the meal really belong to HaKadosh Baruch Hu and we have no personal ownership over them.

On the night of the Seder, we are reliving the experience of the Egyptian exile. We are meant to relive how it felt to be a slave in Egypt and to suffer oppression at the hands of those who hate us simply because we exist. We experience yet again the sense of dread and the feeling of being abandoned that comes from being under attack from enemies who kill our people with gleeful abandon. It is precisely at this time that we open our doors and seek out those in need. We do so with the love and warmth that can only be felt by someone who has been there before or is there again. There is no better time to reach out to others and we do so before we begin the mitzvah of reliving the Exodus.

It is this sense of empathy and caring which is so emblematic of Klal Yisroel. A major theme of the Seder is to teach the next generation what it means to be a Jew, to share the experience of being a Jew. Transmitting the need for empathy for those who have less is an incredibly important lesson. It is not mere chance that the root of the word “צדקה” (charity) is “צ-ד-ק”, meaning “justice” or “righteousness”. The giving of charity is not simply a good deed, it is an act of justice and a fundamental part of being a member of Klal Yisroel. There are few more important lessons to be shared at the Seder.

May we always fully appreciate the gifts that HKB”H has bestowed upon us and seek out ways to empathize and share those gifts with others.

About the Author
Rabbi Benjamin G. Kelsen, Esq. is a rabbi and practicing attorney. He is active in local, national, and international Jewish communal issues.
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