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Geshmack Dvar Torah of the Week: Matza and Maror – chalk and cheese

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Matza and Maror – chalk and cheese

The Chiddushei Harim (biography here) wonders why Matzah is done in the seder before Maror. Matzah is meant to remember that we were redeemed with such haste that the Jews’ bread did not have time to rise, and  the Maror is meant to remember the bitterness of the slavery. Why don’t we reflect the way events unfolded, and do Maror first, and then appreciate the redemption with Matzah? He explains with a parable.

There was a king who had an only son, the prince. One day, the prince was drunk in the royal court and embarrassed the king greatly, for which he was banished. Day after day, and week after week, the king’s grief at what he’d done – he’d banished his only son! He sent his ministers out into the kingdom to find the prince and bring him back. A minister finds the prince, dishevelled and a wreck, in a barn in the middle of nowhere, with torn clothes and dirt everywhere.  The minister says, “my prince, the king has requested your immediate return to the palace, are you missing anything?”

“You, know, I really miss my jacket, I sold it to buy some food,” says the prince.

What’s the prince talking about?! He’s the PRINCE! He’s missing EVERYTHING – he is living in a barn! His entire life is missing, and he only wants his jacket?

The Chiddushei Harim explains to us the nimshal. We can’t understand how bad the slavery was until we’d experienced redemption. This is simple to understand – if you put your face an inch from this text you can’t read it, you can only see the word right in front of your face. To appreciate something, we need to be away from it. From darkness we understand light, and vice versa. Light is brightest coming in from the dark, and dark is darkest when the lights go out.

We need to start with redemption, as that teaches us that anything but that is what we are really lacking.

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