The Seder – A Shared Experience

Passover is a time of joy and celebration. Experiencing it in the warm embrace of family and friends makes it even more meaningful and memorable.

My first memory of a Seder was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1957. My aunt Shaindel, of blessed memory, hosted it in the storage shed, at the back of her grocery store. We sat on wooden milk crates, around a jerry rigged table made by resting a plywood sheet of wood on other milk crates. The table was covered with a white tablecloth and adorned with all the traditional symbols of Passover, including Matzo, Marror and Charoset. I was attired in the new suit my dad, of blessed memory, had made for me. He had studied tailoring at an ORT school in Italy, while recovering from the horrors of the Holocaust and Auschwitz. The suit consisted of a riding jacket and breeches. I also wore my favorite cowboy boots from Sears and sported toy six guns in dual holsters around my waist.

It was a glorious experience. Yet today, I can’t help but marvel at the extraordinary resilience and determination of my father to carry on, despite all the suffering he had endured. What’s more, he motivated himself to build a family in a strange new land and re-establish a traditional Jewish household.

Dad was so happy at the Seder, reciting the Kiddush, reading the Haggadah out loud, singing the melodies he had heard at home and introducing us to all the Jewish rituals and traditions he remembered from his own childhood. He had a strong and beautiful voice. When he sang, I remember my mom, aunts and uncles tearing up, as they too remembered how life had been in the old country. Their childhoods had been ripped away by the Nazis and their cohorts. Each had a miraculous tale of survival. In that intimate setting, I too felt how grateful they were to be alive, together with us, celebrating the Holiday of Passover at the Seder. As we clung to each other, the warmth of the moment enveloped us. It is a memory I will always treasure.

What is it about Passover that makes it so special? It brings out so much good in people. In our times, the Seder is often associated with luxurious surroundings, bountiful food and good wine; but this has not always been the case. It was not so long ago that Jews in Nazi concentration camps celebrated Passover, even as they were starved, beaten and all but worked to death. There are reports of those who bravely conducted a Seder in the camps, by each reciting those parts of the Haggadah they remembered. There was no food, let alone Matzo to eat. How to explain that kind of grit and determination to carry on an ancient tradition that seemed so remote from their circumstances? How were they able to sing about the miraculous redemption from Egypt, despite being slave laborers and in the face of near certain death?

This was not the first time that the Jewish people celebrated a Passover Seder under exceedingly dire circumstances. The Haggadah speaks of a Passover Seder that was located in Bnei Brak. It likely occurred during the time of the Hadrianic persecutions, when circumcisions and the study of the Torah had been outlawed[i], prior to the Bar Kochba revolt[ii]. The attendees[iii] included Rabbis Eliezer, Yehoshua, Elazar ben Azariah, Akiva and Tarfon, each a distinguished Sage, leader and outstanding personality. Although, Rabban Gamliel was the designated leader of this esteemed group of elders, he was not among those listed. It is suggested this was because he had already passed on by that time[iv].

This intrepid band of extraordinarily talented, capable and accomplished individuals succeeded in establishing the spiritual infrastructure, which enabled the Jewish people to cope and even thrive in the post-Temple period and to date. This included fixing the Shemoneh Esrei prayer[v] in place of the sacrificial service in the Temple[vi] and the very way we continue to celebrate the Passover Seder to this day, when there is no longer a Paschal offering.

They were often in each other’s company. Whether it was a diplomatic mission to Rome[vii] or visiting the ruins of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, they would tackle difficult problems together, as an elite team[viii]. A group of them traveled together on a ship voyage[ix] around the time of Passover[x], as well as, at Succoth time[xi], paid a Shiva call to Rabbi Yishmael[xii], visited Rabbi Eliezer when he was sick[xiii] and then assembled together after he passed away[xiv]. There were also social occasions, such as when Rabbis Elazar ben Azariah and Akiva went shopping for meat with Rabban Gamliel, for his son’s wedding feast[xv].

Of course this does not mean that these Sages didn’t have any disagreements on a variety of Halachic, political and philosophical issues[xvi]; but this did not keep them apart. For example, Rabbi Akiva fundamentally disagreed with how Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai dealt with Vespasian[xvii]. Nevertheless, this did not mean Rabbi Akiva couldn’t join and fully participate in the Sanhedrin, established by Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai in Yavne.

Rabban Gamliel also often sought accommodation with the Romans. Under his leadership, the Land of Israel remained an island of relative calm, even as upheavals were occurring in the Diaspora Jewish communities of Cyrenaica, Egypt and Cyprus[xviii] that were brutally and ruthlessly suppressed by the Roman General Kitos[xix] and his legions. An incident reported in the Midrash[xx] is illustrative. The Roman Emperor Hadrian made an extraordinary offer to Rabban Gamliel, to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. In those heady days, Pappus and Lilianus of Lud set up tables, from Acco to as far as Antioch, to provision those returning from the exile. The offer to rebuild the Beit HaMikdash turned out to be extremely short-lived. The Midrash describes how nefarious forces were at work almost from the inception of the newly proposed building project. They advised Hadrian that building the Temple would cause the Jewish people to revolt. They counseled him to test their thesis by insisting on a minor modification to the building plans of the Beit HaMikdash. They knew it violated the strict Halachic measurement requirements for the layout of the Temple; but they connived to precipitate a revolt, which they ruthlessly calculated would lead to the destruction of the Jewish people. They very nearly accomplished their goal.

The Sages acted quickly to quell any uprising, by dispatching Rabbi Yehoshua to Lud to talk to those who were about to revolt. Rabbi Yehoshua was magnificent. He asserted there was only an issue if proceeded with building the Temple, in accordance with the faulty plans. If there was no building then there was no issue to fight about. Why then, with certainty, die for a cause that was baseless? Why not just refrain from building the Temple? It was a brilliant argument and it convinced most everyone to stand down[xxi]. An impending disaster was temporarily averted. Unfortunately, it did not stop Hadrian’s continuing provocations that could not be so deftly solved and which inevitably led to the revolt of Bar Kochba.

The matter of Bar Kochba was also the subject of a serious debate among the Sages. Rabbi Akiva, an early supporter of Bar Kosiba, the leader of the revolt, characterized him as a messianic figure and renamed him Bar Kochba[xxii]. However, Rabbi Yochanan ben Torta and Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi[xxiii] demurred.

Rabbi Akiva also had a fundamental disagreement with Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah about the very nature of the Seder observance. Rabbi Akiva asserted the Paschal offering could be consumed all night. Hence, by extension, he recounted the story of the miraculous Exodus the entire night, until daybreak[xxiv]. Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah held both obligations only extended until mid-night.

The Haggadah[xxv] itself records a disagreement between Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah and the Sages. He declared he was like a seventy-year-old man, but he could not win the debate with the Sages about reciting a remembrance to the Exodus from Egypt at night, until Ben Zoma derived it from a Biblical verse[xxvi].

Yet, despite all their disagreements about law and other matters, they didn’t take it personally. They all gathered together for the Seder in a display of genuine comradeship. It was symptomatic of the resilience and flexibility that characterized the enduring relationships among these giants of Torah. It enabled them to face Rome and the acute challenges of how to recreate Jewish life after the destruction of the Second Temple, together.

We can learn much from the way they respected each other, despite any heartfelt differences of opinion. This is illustrated in the incident reported in Kallah Rabbati[xxvii], when Rabban Gamliel and Rabbis Yehoshua, Akiva and Elazar ben Azariah traveled together to an interior kingdom to visit a philospher. The philosopher took notice of the respect they showed Rabban Gamliel, as they urged him forward, so that he would be greeted first upon arrival. These are not the actions of people who allow disagreements about ideas to degrade into clashes of personalities. They are examples of how great people love, respect and treasure each other, despite their differences.

The Seder, post the destruction of the Second Temple, was no longer centered on bringing the actual Paschal offering and eating it together with Matzo and Marror. It was now all about telling the story of the miraculous Exodus from Egypt[xxviii]; linked to speaking out loud the three fundamental symbols of Pesach[xxix], Matzo and Marror, which Rabban Gamliel himself promoted as essential to the observance[xxx]. We figuratively experience the Exodus from Egypt, by recounting the miracles G-d performed to free us, visualizing the scene as if we were there too. It is a most propitious time to inculcate the children with this experience so that they too appreciate this essential element of our faith[xxxi]. As children of Holocaust survivors, my wife and I are acutely aware of the miracle of deliverance in each generation. With the passing on of both our fathers, of blessed memory, we feel duty bound to communicate their personal stories of miraculous deliverance, as a part of our Seder ritual.

It all started at the very origin of our people, on that first Passover in Egypt[xxxii], more than 3,400 years ago. It was then that we first began to experience the authentic traditions, known as the Mitzvot. The first commandment[xxxiii] was to fix the month in which the event known as Passover was to occur. Everyone was to join in groups of family and friends. Each group was to slaughter a sheep and consume it communally, as a prelude to the Exodus from Egypt.

Consider the trepidation the Jewish people must have felt. Sheep were revered and worshiped as idols by the ancient Egyptians[xxxiv]. Yet, the Jews were to corral these venerated sheep and set them aside for slaughter and personal consumption, days in advance of the celebratory event. Imagine the fervent atmosphere. There was a very real fear that a pogrom might break out[xxxv], had the Exodus not timely occurred. The tension was further enhanced by the commandment to use the blood of this original Passover offering to mark the lintel and doorposts of each Jewish home. What an inviting target? Nevertheless, the Jewish people were commanded to set themselves apart from the prevailing mores and customs, put themselves at risk and trust in G-d to deliver them[xxxvi].

As they sat closeted in their homes, enjoying that first Passover Seder with family and friends, a maelstrom surrounded them. It was at this time that G-d visited the final climactic Tenth Plague on their Egyptian oppressors. Then, they were ordered to leave Egypt, en masse. The experience must have been exhilarating. They had taken a chance, trusted in G-d and, as promised, were saved. They were even rewarded for their faith[xxxvii].

However, not every Jew had been willing to throw in their lot with their brethren[xxxviii]. Many were fully acculturated and integrated into the fabric of Egyptian society. Life in ancient Egypt presented some of the same challenges we face today. It was a superpower, which attracted many talented people from around the world. It boasted a cosmopolitan, permissive society, steeped in art, science and the pursuit of pleasure. Not everyone was a slave[xxxix]. Indeed, the Midrash[xl] records that some Jews benefited from Egyptian patronage and rose to prominence. These individuals were wealthy and well respected. Assimilation was prevalent and the Midrash[xli] reports only approximately 20% of the Jewish people left Egypt, as a part of the Exodus. The rest didn’t and were all but forgotten by history.

Has much changed since that original Passover Seder experience? It would appear we are facing many similar challenges today. Unfortunately, anti-Semitism is again rearing its ugly head. Whether it expresses itself as BDS, anti-Zionism or the plain old-fashioned variety, it’s all the same; the issue is not a new one. There are also the problems of assimilation. Indeed, the Midrash’s statistics differ little from a 2013 Pew study[xlii] of Jewish life in America. Yet, over 3,400 years later, we’re still here and, as the Pew study noted above also found[xliii], 70% of the Jewish Americans surveyed responded they attended a Seder. To put this figure in perspective, it is significantly more than those who said they fasted for all or a part of Yom Kippur[xliv] and more than three times as many as said they attended religious services at least monthly[xlv] or usually lit Sabbath candles[xlvi].

What then makes the Passover Seder so compelling? It is believed one of the most endearing aspects of the Seder experience is that it’s typically shared with others. This camaraderie was an intrinsic part of its original observance, when eating groups had to be formed to bring the Passover offering[xlvii] and it is a feature of the Seder depicted in the Haggadah. The tradition continues to this day, in our custom to invite people to the Seder.

Sharing the Seder with family and friends creates a whole other dimension of experience than just sitting alone and going through the motions of a labored reading of the Haggadah, in anticipation of consuming a meal. This is particularly poignant because loneliness has been recognized as a genuine problem of epidemic proportions, with profoundly negative consequences[xlviii].

Is it any wonder that the Seder ritual begins with the announcement that all are welcome to join in the festive meal? We are bound together by shared experiences and values with our brethren. This includes belief in the original miraculous Exodus and faith in the ultimate redemption, as well. The Seder and the stylized re-telling of the Exodus in the Haggadah reinforce these bonds.

The experiential effect of being fully engaged with others in relating the story of the origin of the Jewish people and the miracles G-d performed, including interacting with eager children anxiously anticipating their chance to offer their own insights, is incomparable. The effect is amplified by everyone’s participation in the Socratic methodology of the Four Questions, as scripted in the Haggadah. It is designed to start a conversation, among all those present at the Seder, no matter their background. It also encompasses a diversity of roles, which encapsulate the full spectrum of human experience. Interestingly, the Jerusalem Talmud[xlix] changes the order of responses and adds a further lesson that is most cogent. It recites how a person should not leave the originally designated eating group, for the Paschal offering, to join another. It’s not a time to go party hoping. It’s about mindfulness and being in the moment, so as to reinforce the bonds that bind us, like family, friendship and being a part of the Jewish people.

The Seder is also a time to take pride in all the efforts of the young children attending the Seder, which make it so much more meaningful. It is pure joy to hear them chant the Four Questions and offer their insights during the reading of the Haggadah. Their unabashed identification as Jews and sincere interest in understanding the meaning of the Seder rituals is inspirational and infectious. It often engenders animated discussions among the people, of all ages, attending the Seder.

In modern times, it’s not unusual to have three and perhaps four generations, sitting together at the Seder in celebration of Passover. Good feelings and emotions are often generated, to the great and enduring satisfaction of those participating in the Seder. What an incredible setting to recite praises to G-d and joyfully join together to sing the traditional melodies, found in the Haggadah. There is no denying that the feelings experienced at the Passover Seder transcend those of an ordinary meal. I daresay it’s something spiritual; but at the very least it’s a wonderful energizing experience that still feels awfully good even after it’s done. Indeed, we look forward to renewing the experience year after year. Few who have experienced it want to miss out when it next occurs.

It does, however, take effort. Most things worth doing are worth doing well. Conducting a Seder in a watered down fashion just doesn’t compare to performing it fully, in the authentic manner originally intended. Preparing for the Seder, including baking or buying the Matzo, preparing the Marror and Charoset, studying the laws of Passover and reviewing the many sources detailing the story of the miraculous Exodus, serve to deepen the experience. So does the obligatory cleansing of any Chometz. Perhaps, the effort to find the tangible remains of Chometz might also be applied to the spiritual variety, as well, in order to cleanse our souls too. Man-made schemes and rationalizations that puff up a person are no substitute for the humble observance of the Mitzvot and faith in G-d[l].

The Mitzvah of hospitality, intimately linked to the traditional observance of the Seder, also takes on a special meaning in this context. As Avot D’Rabbi Natan[li] reports, in a world where we no longer have the Temple and sacrifices to offer for atonement, Gemillat Chesed serves this same important function. The Talmud[lii] expresses a similar concept, by noting so long as the Temple stood, the sacrificial Altar facilitated atonement for the Jewish people. Now, a person’s dining table has taken the place of the Altar in the Temple and it provides atonement through the Mitzvah of feeding the poor[liii] or guests[liv]. What better place to offer genuine hospitality than at the Seder table?

The Passover Seder, welcoming guests[lv] and hospitality are fundamental aspects of the traditional Jewish experience. Treasure them, because they’re priceless. Let’s all spread the good cheer and joy of Passover by sharing the wonderful Seder experience with family and friends and may we all merit the ultimate redemption.

[i] Babylonian Talmud Tractate Brachot, at page 61b and Midrash Bereishit Rabbati, Parshat Lech Lecha 17:1. See also Historia Augusta, Hadrianus 14.2, The Legislation of Hadrian and Antonius Pious against Circumcision, by E. Mary Smallwood and Justinian’s Digest XLVIII, Tit. 8. Concerning the Cornelian law relating to assassins and poisoners, Section 4. Ulpianus, On the Duties of Proconsul, Book VII. However, it should be noted that there was also an exception for Jews set forth in provision 11. Modestinus, Rules, Book VI, below in the same section of Justinian’s Digest. This provision may have either been suspended at the time or been a later addition to the laws. As Edward Gibbons reports in Chapter 16 of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, at page 206, Antonius the Pious, who reigned after Hadrian, once more granted the Jews permission to circumcise their children. Reference should also be made to Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Yevamot, at page 72a and Tosefta Shabbos 16:6, which note that many were circumcised during the time of Bar Kochba.

[ii] Rav Yechiel Michal Epstein (the author of the Aruch HaShulchan), in his Leil Shimurim commentary on the Haggadah, suggests the Bnei Brak Seder occurred at a time of Roman persecution, after the destruction of the Second Temple.

[iii] Passover Haggadah, Section of Magid. See also Maimonides, Hilchot Chometz U’Matzo 9:5.

[iv] See Toldot Tanaim V’Amoraim Volume I, at page 318, by Aaron Hyman, which describes how Rabban Gamliel passed away a few years prior to the Revolt of Bar Kochba. This was after Hadrian had first granted authority to rebuild the Beit HaMikdash and then rescinded it and adopted decrees against the Jews. See also Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Eruvin, at page 41a, which notes Rabbi Yehoshua survived Rabban Yochanan and a similar account in Tosefta Ta’anit 2:6. Rabbi Yehoshua was a contemporary of Rabban Gamliel and student of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai (Avot 2:8). Rabbi Yehoshua was also a teacher of Rabbi Akiva (Brachot 62a).

[v] Including the 19th Bracha of V’LaMalshinim.

[vi] See Babylonian Talmud, Tractates Megillah (page 17b) and Brachot (page 28b).

[vii] See, for example, Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Makkot, at page 24b.

[viii] Literally, Elders.

[ix] Mishna Tractate Ma’aser Sheni 5:9. See also Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Kiddushin, at pages 26b-27a. There is also a similar report in Tractate Bava Metzia, at pages 11a-b, as well as, in Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Ma’aser Sheni 5:4, at page 31b..

[x] I make this assumption because at issue was the immediate need to take Ma’aser, which is a requirement at harvest time, which coincides with the Holiday of Passover.

[xi] Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sukkah, at page 41b, Tosefta, Tractate Sukkah 2:13, Sifra Emor 16:2 and Yalkut Shimoni, Remez 65:12

[xii] Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Moed Katan, at page 28b.

[xiii] Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin, at page 101a. See also a parallel account in the Sifrei, Devarim 32:17, which does not use the term Zekeinim, but identifies the same parties, as noted above. See further the parallel accounts in the Yalkut Shimoni on Nach 246:1 and Mechilta D’Rabbi Yishmael 20:20,both of which first use the term Zekeinim and then identify the same parties, as noted above.

[xiv] Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Gittin, at page 83a and Sifrei Devarim 269:7.

[xv] Babylonian Talmud, Tractates Chulin, at page 91b and Makkot, at page 14a.

[xvi] See Maimonides, Introduction to the Mishna 28:3, where he notes that the Talmud reports disagreements between and among Rabbis Akiva, Eliezer and Yehoshua, as well as, between Rabbi Akiva and Rabbis Tarfon and Elazar ben Azariah and, similarly, between them and Rabban Gamliel. See also, for example, Mishna, Tractates Rosh Hashanah 2:9; Zevachim 9:1; and Ketubot 1:6-9; as well as, Babylonian Talmud, Tractates Rosh Hashanah (page 25a); Brachot (pages 27b-28a); Kiddushin (page 75a); Beitzah (page 24a); Eruvin (pages 41a and 43a); Sanhedrin (page 34a); and Bava Kamma (page 74b); as to disagreements between Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabban Gamliel. See also Tractate Brachot (page 27b) describing Rabban Gamliel being deposed by the Sages at Yavne and then (page 28a) his restoration, as a part of the reconciliation that occurred. See also the description of the touching reconciliation between Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Yehoshua in Tractate Rosh Hashanah (page 25b). In this regard, it is also important to note the efforts made respectfully to treat Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah, as an integral part of this process. See also, for example, as to disagreements between Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah, Tractates Peaschim (page 120); Pesachim (page 96a); Menachot (page 89a); Bava Batra (page 81b) and, similarly, parallel texts in Chullin (page 131b), Ketubot (page 26a), as well as, Yevamot (page 86a); Zevachim (page 57b); and Brachot (page 9a).

[xvii] Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Gittin, at page 56b.

[xviii] Cassius Dio’s Roman History, Volume 5, Book 68, Paragraph 32.

[xix] Also known as Quietus.

[xx] Midrash Rabbah, Genesis 64:10.

[xxi] However, it appears this did not save the brothers Pappus and Lilianus. They were said to have been killed by Turanius (as set forth in Ta’anit below) or Turnus Rufus (as recorded in Ecclesiastes Rabbah below). Some translate the name as Trajan, Hadrian’s immediate predecessor, as Emperor of Rome; but that would create an historical anomaly. Turnus Rufus was a Roman governor in Judea at the time. The coincidence of two people with the same names, being involved in this Midrashic report of the matter and the separate incident of their demise also occurring in Lud, is too compelling to ignore. Perhaps, they were the same individuals, as described in Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Ta’anit, at page 18b and Rashi commentary thereon, as well as, Sifra, Emor, Chapter 95 and Ecclesiastes Rabbah 3:17. See also Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Pesachim at page 50a, as well as Ecclesiastes Rabbah 9:10.

[xxii] Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Ta’anit, at page 24a.

[xxiii] Eichah Rabbah 2:4.

[xxiv] Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Zevachim, at page 57b (see also Mishna and discussion at pages 56b-57b).

[xxv] See also Mishna,Tractate Brachot 1:5.

[xxvi] Ben Zoma did this by interpreting the reference to “All” in the verse ‘All the days of your life’ (Deuteronomy 16:3) to mean including the nights. The Sages disagreed, arguing the phrase ‘days of your life’ meant the present world and prefacing it with the word “All” was intended to include the era of the Messiah, as well. The Talmud (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Brachot, at page 12b) goes on to report the response of Ben Zoma to the Sages. It is particularly poignant in the context of the Haggadic Seder. He disagrees with the Sage’s interpretation and asserts (based on Jeremiah 23:7-8) that the memory of the Exodus from Egypt would be supplanted by the recognition of G-d’s ingathering of the exiles from all over the world, in the Messianic era.

[xxvii] Babylonian Minor Tractate, Kallah Rabbati 7:3.

[xxviii] See Mishna Pesachim 10:4-5. See also Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Pesachim, at page 70a-b, as well as, Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Pesachim, at page 116a.

[xxix] The Paschal offering.

[xxx] See Mishna Pesachim 10:5., as well as, Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Pesachim, at page 116a-b. See also Maimonides, Mishne Torah, Hichot Chometz U’Matzo 7:5.

[xxxi] See, for example, Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Pesachim, at page 109a. See also Maimonides, Sefer HaMitzvot, Mitzvah Aseh 160: Sefat Emes, Leviticus, Passover 1:3; Minchat Chinuch, Parshat Bo, Mitzvah 21; and Aruch HaShulchan, Orach Chaim 472:2.

[xxxii] See Exodus 12:33-43 and 13:3-10.

[xxxiii] See Exodus, 12:2 and Rashi commentary thereon, as well as, the description of the observance in Exodus 12:3-51.

[xxxiv] See Exodus 8:22 and Rashi, as well as, Ibn Ezra commentary thereon. See also Genesis 43:32 and Rashi commentary thereon.

[xxxv] See Midrash Rabbah, Exodus 16:3.

[xxxvi] Maimonides, Guide to the Perplexed 3:46.

[xxxvii] See Exodus 12:35-36, as well as, Rashi, Ralbag, Rashbam and Chizkuni commentaries thereon.

[xxxviii] See Rashi commentary on Exodus 10:22. See also Pesikta d’Rav Kahana 11:11, as well as Shir Hashirim Rabbah 2:13.

[xxxix] See Meshech Chochma, Parshat Vayera 8 and Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Rosh Hashana 3:5, at page 17a.

[xl] Midrash Rabbah, Exodus 14:3.

[xli] See Rashi commentary on Exodus 13:18 and 10:22, as well as, Mechilta d’Rabbi Yishmael on Exodus 13:18, Mechilta d’Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai 13:17, Pesikta d’Rav Kahana 11:10 and Midrash Tanchuma, Beshalach 1:4. See also Ezekiel 20:8-9 and Radak commentary thereon.

[xlii] Pew Research Center-A Portrait of Jewish Americans dated October 1, 2013.

[xliii] Ibid and see also Attending a Seder is Common Practice for American Jews, by Michael Lipka, Pew Research Center, dated 4/14/14.

[xliv] 53%

[xlv] 23%.

[xlvi] 23%.

[xlvii] This formal procedure continued at least until the destruction of the Second Temple (and, possibly, for some time thereafter-see Babylonian Talmud, Tractates Sanhedrin, at page 11b and Chiddushe HaRan thereon: Pesachim at page 74b: and Zevachim at page 107b). It’s also dramatized in the Jerusalem Talmud’s version of the Haggadah, as noted above.

[xlviii] See The Loneliest Generation: Americans, More Than Ever, Are Aging Alone, by Janet Adamy and Paul Overberg, in the Wall Street Journal, dated 12/11/18; Loneliness: An Epidemic?, by Hannah Schultze, in Science and the News, Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, dated 4/16/18; Loneliness Might Be A Bigger Health Risk Than Smoking Or Obesity, in Forbes, dated 1/18/17; and Loneliness Rivals Obesity, Smoking as Heath Risk, on WebMD, dated 5/4/18.

[xlix] Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Pesachim, at page 70b.

[l] See Netziv, HaEmek Davar commentary on Leviticus 2:11.

[li] Avot D’Rabbi Natan 4:5.

[lii] See Babylonian Talmud, Tractates Brachot (page 55a); Chagigah (page 27a); and Menachot (page 97a).

[liii] See Maharsha commentary on Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Brachot, page 55a.

[liv] See Rashi and Tosafot commentaries on Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Menachot, at page 97a.

[lv] Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabbos, at page 127a.

About the Author
Leonard Grunstein, a retired attorney and banker, founded and served as Chairman of Metropolitan National Bank and then Israel Discount Bank of NY. He also founded Project Ezrah and serves on the Board of Revel at Yeshiva University and the AIPAC National Council. He has published articles in the Banking Law Journal, Real Estate Finance Journal and other fine publications.
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