Azrieli Haggadah Companion

ON THIS NIGHT WE ARE ALL TEACHERS Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education


Our gratitude to Sharon and David Rauch for sponsoring this edition of On This Night We Are All Teachers


In honor of our children and grandchildren SHARON AND DAVID RAUCH

Pesach 5783—A Salve for Living in Dangerous Times P reparing the Azrieli Haggadah companion begins well before Pesach, and as I reviewed the components and began to write this year’s introduction, the media filled with warnings about the impending “National Day of Hate” scheduled for Shabbat, February 25. While, thankfully, the day seems to have passed with no injuries, the murder of our brethren in Israel at the hands of terrorists reminds us that the world continues to provide us with evil. The reality that generations after our Egyptian slavery, or the near escape from Haman in Persia, or the most recent attempt at our destruction during the Holocaust, we are still confronting hatred, antisemitism, and terrorism can be crippling. I believe Passover, and in particular the Haggadah segment on which we focus this year provides a potent antidote. There are many segments of the Haggadah that I find powerful and moving, but when we come to— בכל-דור ודור חיב אדם לראות את-עצמו כאלו הוא יצא ממצרים —In each and every generation, a person is obligated to see himself as if he left Egypt, my eyes invariably tear up. I feel the power of the story of our people from Avraham to Moshe, and I feel the greatness of Hashem’s redemption. But the true antidote to today’s traumas and worries comes as the Haggadah continues: והגדת לבנך ביום ההוא , and you should teach your child that day. Teaching the next generation is an act of unbridled optimism and emunah . Inspiring young minds through the telling of the Pesach story, and the miraculous story of the Jewish people is life-affirming. Our modern world may seem filled with pain and suffering; it may, at times, seem to mirror the struggles experienced in Egypt. But as we continue the Jewish story beyond today; as we educate and inspire the next generation of Jewish living, learning and leading; we celebrate the true blessing of freedom. I feel extremely fortunate to work in a growth industry. At Azrieli, I listen to and work with passionate educators who are themselves growing in Torah and learning, so that they can nurture their students’ growth. I am surrounded by Jewish educational professionals dedicated to continuing our Jewish story and to ensuring that b’chol dor v’dor , in every generation, the glorious redemption of Pesach, the enduring love of Hashem for the Jewish people, and the blessings of freedom, will be celebrated around seder tables and well beyond. With many thanks to the contributors to this edition, and to Sharon and David Rauch for their generous sponsorship, and with wishes for a Chag Pesach Sameach.

Rona Milch Novick, PhD Dean, Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration



Preschool Learners: From Slavery to Freedom




The Passover obligation to see yourself as if you were personally redeemed from slavery into freedom may be easier for preschoolers than for adults. When young children ed play at being teacher, doctor, parent, they become that role, mimicking language, mannerisms, and behaviors. Preschoolers regularly blur the line between current reality and their imagined worlds, telling us “I’m a butterfly”, or “I’m Moshe Rabbenu”. Abstract concepts like slavery, redemption and freedom, however, are difficult for young children to understand. Our sages wisely filled the hagaddah with concrete actions, leaning while we eat, dipping in salt water, to interest youngsters and help them understand the Pesach story. Recognizing the sensitivity of preschoolers to negative and traumatic events, the three activities provided offer a non-traumatizing way to understand slavery and experience the contrasting wonder and blessings of freedom. Families can use any one or all three activities at the seder, or continue the learning with these activities any time during Passover. l TEACHING TIP : Preschoolers learn best by doing. When teaching about things that happened long ago or that are abstract, acting out the story helps make it real. Many families use props such as robes or a mock red sea. A creative teacher xeroxed different types and sizes of footprints to help her students “stand in the shoes” of others.



Free So I Can _________________________ Hashem did not just take us from Egypt, he took us from slavery to freedom. We are very thankful that Hashem gave us freedom, and now, as free people, we can do wonderful things, all kinds of mitzvot. Let’s each say why Hashem took us out of Egypt and gave us freedom. GIVE AN EXAMPLE: I would say Hashem took me out of Egypt and gave me freedom so I could celebrate the holidays, like Rosh Hashana and Sukkot! Or Hashem took me out of Egypt and gave me freedom so I could visit people in the hospital PROMPT THE CHILD, ASKING: Hashem took you out of Egypt and gave you freedom so you could ____________________________________________. (Allow the child to fill in the blank.)

WHAT IS A SLAVE? Let’s imagine that you are a slave and I am the master—you must do everything I tell you, no matter what. Ready? Give the child a rapid succession of commands, without saying please/thank you, often changing your mind. For example, you might say: Bring me the salt, get the kiddush cup for me, no not that cup, I don’t like that one, bring me a different cup. Stand still. Stand on one foot. Now hop over to the end of the table. Keep hopping. Get a napkin. Drop the napkin on the floor. Pick up that napkin! Ask how it felt to have to do whatever some- one else wanted. What if they wanted to play, rest, or daven? RACE TO FREEDOM Hashem told B’nai Yisrael that they should be ready to leave Egypt quickly. Imagine we had to get ready to leave our home and we could only take a few things with us. We are going to play a game called Race to Freedom. Give each child an empty pillowcase or paper bag. When I say go, you can run to any place in the house and choose any 5 things you want to take with you on a trip to freedom. You have to move quickly and be back here with your sack/bag filled before I count to 10. Ready, set, go! Count to 10 slowly. Ask children to show what they selected and explain why they chose each item.

After the child offers their own response, invite them to ask another Seder participant: Why did Hashem take you out of Egypt and give you freedom?



Elementary School Aged Children: Being Slaves/Being Free/Acting in Hashem’s Image




Elementary aged children best understand concepts when they can apply them to their own lives and experiences. The Haggadah’s requirement to see oneself as a slave in Egypt who is then redeemed can therefore be very helpful in promoting children’s understanding. But beyond this directive, the Haggadah does not offer guidelines on how to achieve this transformative experience ourselves or how to guide our children to reach this goal. The first activity below offers children some concrete ways to explore the experience of the Jews under Pharoah’s rule, and to consider how different the experience can be understood in hindsight, after one is free. The second activity focuses on Hashem’s care for B’nai Yisrael, and how we embody the idea of “b’tzelem Elokim” when we care for others. The final activity provides children an opportunity to put their feelings and ideas into words, joining with others at the table to perform a poetry slam.

PICTURE YOURSELF Show children the picture above and ask them to imagine they are one of the Jewish slaves in the picture. Tell them you are going to interview them for your TV or radio show. Ask them the following questions: What is your name? What are you doing? Do you like it? How do you feel? Why don’t you stop? What do you wish, hope or dream will happen? Have each person at the table (including the children) share one or two things they would miss, or how they would feel, if they were a slave. l TEACHING TIP: A great way to engage learners is with activities that mimic familiar, real-life experiences, but with a twist. Asking questions and giving answers can be boring. But pretending you areba talk show host, complete with a fancy introduction and your best “radio voice,” can transform the same question/answer model into anbexciting activity.



Each person responds I would help, number who is letter by what you would do to help

I’M GOING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE Hashem took us out of Egypt and led us to freedom, showing how much he cared for B’nai Yisrael. We were all created in Hashem’s image, and when we care for others, we are like Hashem, and we make the world a better place. In this activity, children will imagine how they can help others by paying attention to their feelings and needs. Taking turns, each person choses a number from 1–8 and a letter from A–H, without looking at the lists below. For younger children use the first list and for adults and older children use the second list.

For example, if number 3 and letter E were chosen, I would answer I’m going to help my brother (someone in my family) who needs to learn something new by making flash cards and quizzing him. Consider having each person share their answer and repeat (with help from seder participants) all responses before them. Shorten the activity by having only the children provide answers and adults repeating all previous responses.

For younger children 1. Pet

A. Feeling sick

2. Friend

B. Lost something or is missing someone

3. Someone in my family

C. Hungry—needs food

4. Neighbor 5. Teacher

D. Is lost, doesn’t know where to go E. Needs to learn something new

6. Stranger from far away

F. Needs a place to be safe

7. Older person 8. Classmate

G. Feels sad or angry

H. Feels lonely

For older children/adults 1. Ukranian refugee 2. Someone new at school

A. Is ill, not feeling well

B. Lost something they value or is missing someone C. Doesn’t have enough food or place to cook

3. Earthquake victim

4. Someone who has ill family member 5. Someone who has been bullied

D. Is lost, needs directions E. Has difficulty learning

6. Neighbor

F. Doesn’t feel safe G. Feels sad or angry

7. Friend

8. Elderly person

H. Feels lonely

Slavery to Freedom Poetry Slam A poetry slam is a group performance of poems, rhyming or not, sometimes to an accompanying beat. Invite children to create a poem independently or with others. This can be a truly collaborative effort, perhaps with the child creating one line and seder guests each adding the next line. Give any of the following as a potential opening line or prompt: • I was a slave in Egypt and it was no fun • I’m thankful for my freedom, no two ways about it • When I journeyed from slave to free • Because we were slaves in Egypt, we can always feel • Celebrating Pesach, slavery and hatred might seem far away



Tween/Teen Learners: Ideation vs. Experience




בכל דור ודור חייב אדם לראות את עצמו כאילו הוא יצא ממצרים

In the Haggadah we note that in every generation we are obligated to see ourselves as if we personally left Egypt, not just our forefathers. The Rambam has a different text in his Halachic work, the Mishneh Torah, reading: “ חייב אדם להראות ” one must present himself as if he left Egypt. More than simply seeing ourselves as having left Egypt, we actually have to act as if we did. The Rambam is teaching us a fundamental idea. It’s not easy to imagine yourself in a completely different time, culture, and circumstance—it’s hard to imagine what it must have been like to be a slave in Egypt, enduring backbreaking labor and suffering, and then emerging via the plagues and the exodus to the greatest revelation humankind has experienced. That was truly a one-time event! How can one accomplish this great feat of seeing ourselves as if we left Egypt? The Rambam basically tells us: “fake it ‘til you make it!” This fits with the idea expressed by the Sefer Hachinuch, who writes (Mitzvah 16—quite fittingly in the laws of Pesach) that our beliefs don’t just exist on their own—by changing our actions we can change our beliefs. The Rambam teaches us that if we present ourselves as if we left Egypt— if we actually act it out—we can come to experience a bit of the reality that the Jews in Egypt may have experienced, and this will inculcate an appreciation of our redemption. l TEACHING TIP: Tweens and teens seek authenticity, and the idea of “pretending” may have a negative connotation. Explaining that both Torah wisdom and modern psychology validate that actions, even when they feel less than real or genuine, can produce changes in feelings, attitudes and beliefs, may help tweens and teens be more comfortable with “acting” like slaves redeemed to freedom.



FAMILY HISTORY Consider a family story in your life that you’ve heard over and over but happened before you were old enough to know about it. Your grandparents coming to America? The story of how your parents met? A trip you took as a baby? Reflect on how the telling of that story takes place in your family. Are there specific pictures you look at? Do certain people tell one part of the story and others another part? Are there any special informative techniques surrounding when and how this story is told? Compare how you relate to family history with how we relate to the communal history of the Jewish people? Are there similarities? Differences? How do the stories in the Haggadah differ from stories you tell about things that have actually happened to you? WHERE ARE YOU GOING? We are told to view ourselves as if we have been redeemed from Egypt ourselves, but the prooftext the Haggadah brings states: “And He took us out from there, in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He swore unto our fathers.” This indicates that it’s important not only to see ourselves has having left Egypt, but we have to think about where we were going. There was a purpose to leaving Egypt beyond escaping slavery and hardship. Name two situations in which you experienced hardship or difficulty that ultimately ended. It probably felt good when those difficulties were over. But what happened afterward? Did you “enter” a better situation? Was there a goal to your “exodus” or did you just return to your humdrum, everyday life? Think about how having a purpose may help people cope with adversity—are there ways that you can conceptualize your purpose in life to help you get through hard times?

TEACHING IT REAL Think about the following prompt: “My family and I make the exodus story real by…” What can you do to make the Exodus real for your younger siblings? What aspects of the exodus would you emphasize to help them feel as if they themselves actually left slavery in Egypt? Are there questions you would ask, or games you would play? How might they act out the exodus in a way that drives home the experience? l TEACHING TIP: It is more powerful to verbalize a response, not simply to think it in one’s head. However, teenagers can be especially self- conscious about articulating their thoughts in a group or in public. Remind all the seder participants that actually saying things out loud helps clarify and crystalize your thinking, enhanc- ing your understanding ideas. Since this is the night להראות , we need to speak up and express ourselves. Minimize self-consciousness and anxiety about responding. Let everyone know that after asking a question you will wait at least 20 seconds before soliciting responses.



Adult Learners: Using Our Heads on Seder Night


MENTAL IMAGERY The Alter of Kelm, Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv, notes that usually when the Sages use the term obligated ( chayav ) we tend to treat it as a full-fledged obligation. Yet, for some reason, when we read in the Haggadah “In every generation one is obligated ( chayav ) to see himself as though he had personally come out from Egypt,” people don’t take it seriously (Chochma U’Mussar 2:140). Perhaps we assume it isn’t meant to be taken literally. Perhaps we aren’t very good at using our imagination. Perhaps we are uncomfortable closing our eyes in silence while we envision the exodus. Whatever the reason, it can be impactful and trans- formative to tap into this mental power at the Seder. I offer three perspectives from modern commentaries. Discuss and explore the merits of each and consider which might help you accomplish the goal of seeing yourself leaving Egypt?

ENACTMENT “How can I remember an event that took place long before I was born? The answer given by the seder service on Pesach is: through re-enactment, by reliving the events of ancient times as if they were happening now… At the beginning of the seder, by lifting the matzah and declaring, ‘This is the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt,’ we make a leap across time and turn ‘then’ into ‘now’. ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt’ (Exodus 13:8). In these words, tradition heard the continuous present, the past that lives on, the event that speaks to me in the first person singular.” — Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ Haggadah, pp. 29-30



PERSONALIZATION “‘In every generation, we are obligated to see ourselves as if we left Egypt.’ How do we actualize this outlook? This is not a passive perspective, but an active one. The redemption only started when we left Egypt. It continues and advances in each generation, until the final Redemption.” — Olat Reiyah by Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook, translation from HaMizrachi Pesach Edition, 2020, p. 44 “According to Rav Kook, each and every person must feel that he or she has a contribution to make to the overall perfection of the nation of Israel and of the world. Each individual has a unique part to play in his or her own generation. This, says Rav Kook, is the meaning of the phrase: “In every generation we are responsible for seeing ourselves as if we had left Egypt.” Egypt was only the beginning of the process; God’s “outstretched hand” continues to guide us. That is why each and every one of us is responsible for finding our place and bringing the Redemption closer each day.” — The Night that Unites by Rabbi Aaron Goldscheider, pp. 171–172 l TEACHING TIP: Novelty is a wonderful way to engage learners. Yet the seder is steeped in tradition, with beloved rituals and routines revisited each year. Families can balance between tradition and novelty by adding something new alongside the traditional. The Soffer family uses celery traditionally, but each year unveils a surprise alternate–last year French fries.

IMAGERY “It is mandatory that one experience the exodus personally. This is not as difficult as it sounds. Our

imaginations are very creative, as evidenced by how vividly we can dream in our sleep, and how vividly we can daydream when we are awake. Our ingenious minds can create three-dimensional scenes in rich color, and we can see ourselves fully participating in these scenes. Being familiar with the story of the exodus one should meditate and create the various scenes in one’s mind. One should see oneself in the straw pits, clearing the straw, mixing it with mud, and baking it into bricks in the tropical sun. One should hear the scolding of the Egyptian taskmasters, and feel the lashes of their whips on one’s back. One should then visualize the various plagues and the panic of the Egyptians. Then one should see oneself as part of the throng leaving Egypt, following Moses into the barren desert. Finally one should be standing at the edge of the Red Sea, and hear the thunder of Pharaoh’s chariots approaching, feel the terror of being trapped, and then see the glory of God as the waters of the Red Sea divide. Exercising one’s imagination in this way is mandatory. The sweet taste of liberty cannot be appreciated as long as oppression is only an abstraction. The acceptance of the omnipotence of God is incomplete unless one has seen the many miracles with one’s own eyes.”

— From Bondage to Freedom by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.



Adult Learners: Reconciling Disparate Verses


At the conclusion of birkhot hashachar , it is customary to recite the b’raita of Rabbi Yishamel, enumerating his 13 hermeneutical rules ( middot shehatorah nidreshet bahen ), the last of which describes how to reconcile two conflicting Torah verses by resort to a relevant third. Somewhat of a conflict exists regarding the recollection of our exodus from Egypt. Here are the pertinent sources:

Moses said to the people, “Remember this day on which you went out from Egypt, from a place of enslavement, for the Lord brought you out from this place with [his] might, so eat no leavened bread.”

Eat no leavened bread with it [the Pesach sacrifice]. For seven days, eat matzot , the bread of affliction, with it, for you left Egypt in haste; in order to remember the day of your exodus from Egypt all the days of your life. A seeming contradiction exists concerning the frequency with which the exodus must be recalled. The verse in Shemot calls for an unspecified recall—reminiscent of the similar imperative to “Recall what Amalek did to you,” which, from a strict Torah perspective, can be fulfilled through a “once in a lifetime” recollection and, by force of rabbinic tradition, is maintained through an annual recall (i.e., parashat zakhor) . The verse in Devarim, on the other hand, explicitly invokes a daily, lifelong recollection. I submit that the passage in the Haggadah that we are focusing on this year provides a resolution to this ostensible conflict. In each and every generation, one is obliged to regard oneself as though one left Egypt, to wit: “You shall tell your child on that day, saying: On account of what the Lord did for me when I Ieft Egypt.” In other words, if one regards the exodus merely as an historical event, something that transpired but once in the hoary past, then a once-in-a-lifetime recollection (alternately, an annual one) is both appropriate and sufficient. However, once one views the exodus as a recurring phenomenon, something that is as vivid and vital today as it was over 3,000 years ago, then even a daily recall hardly seems adequate to the task. n For suggestions on how to make it vivid and vital, see the companion piece by Mordechai Schiffman on page 8.



In each and every generation, a person is obliged to see himself as if he left Egypt, as it is stated (Exodus 13:8); “You shall explain to your son on that day: For the sake of this, did the Lord do [this] for me in my going out of Egypt.” Not our ancestors alone did the Holy One, blessed be He, redeem, but He redeemed us together with them, as it is stated (Deuteronomy 6:23); “He took us out from there, in order to bring us [here], to give us the land which He promised to our fathers.”

With many thanks to the contributors to this edition, and to Sharon and David Rauch for their generous sponsorship,

and with wishes for a Chag Pesach Sameach.



About the Contributors

Rabbi Eliezer Barany , MS High School Rebbi at Posnack Jewish Day School and Azrieli doctoral fellow at Azrieli. My family and I make the exodus story real by asking questions and gleaning new insights each year. By learning more about the magical experience of the exodus and gaining a greater understanding of the role Hashem plays in the world, we can relate to the praises of the evening on a personal level. Wendy Devorah Gerson , EdD Preschool Director at Yeshiva Darchei Torah, Far Rockaway, NY and Azrieli doctoral graduate. My family and I make the exodus story real by having company for Shabbos meals. We enjoy each other’s company discussing parsha, relaxing and singing Shabbos songs, as free people! Moshe Krakowski , PhD Professor and Doctoral Program Director, Azrieli Graduate School My family and I make the Exodus story real by having a Pesach Seder . We eat marror to remind us of the bitter times and Matzoh to remind us of the lechem oni and how we left Egypt in haste. Most importantly, we make the Exodus real by having parents tell their children what happened in Egypt, turning regular history into family history.

Rona Milch Novick , PhD Dean, Azrieli Graduate School, Raine & Stanley Silverstein Chair in Ethics. I make the experience of slavery and redemption real at the seder by allowing myself to get emotional. My voice always cracks when I read B’chol dor v’dor , and I get teary-eyed. The emotion is genuine, and we feel it together at the seder table.

Rabbi Jordan Soffer , MA Head of School at Striar Hebrew Academy in Sharon, MA; Rabbinical Mentor for DSLTI, and doctoral candidate at Azrieli Graduate School. My family and I make the exodus story feel real by asking many questions throughout the seder, and inviting all guests to imagine themselves as present throughout the night. Moshe Sokolow , PhD Associate Dean, and Fanya Heller Gottesfeld Chair, Azrieli Graduate School I make the exodus come alive by recalling the several times I have visited Egypt and looking at photos taken there.

Elana Riback Rand Doctoral Fellow at Azrieli Graduate School.

My family and I make the exodus story real by having the children present all of their Pesach projects from school. They enthusiastically talk about the story while expressing their creativity. Rabbi Mordechai Schiffman , PsyD Assistant Professor, Azrieli Graduate School My family and I make the exodus story real by taking a moment to close our eyes and think what it would be if we were together expe- riencing the story


Ann D. Koffsky , Author and illustrator of UNDER THE SEA SEDER (Apples and Honey Press). My family and I make the Exodus story real by imagining (and joking!) about how the ancient story would play out if it happened today. Complete with Tweets by Pharaoh.



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