Let all who are hungry come and eat, let all who are in need come and share the Pesach meal.
Platitudes, clichés, empty promises. Each year when we get to the Magid or storytelling section of the Haggadah, I find myself ruminating about this statement in the Ha Lachma Anya statement. The whole point of the Seder is to relive the Exodus from Egypt; to feel as if we ourselves were slaves and are now free. The message we are to take is that we know what it means to be slaves. We know what it means to be mistreated, and so we should not treat others in that same manner. When we get to this section of the Haggadah, we open the door and declare that all who are hungry should come and eat. Sounds nice; makes us feel good too. But do we really mean it? Are we prepared to let strangers into our homes for a hot meal? I don’t think the rabbis who wrote the Haggadah meant this statement to be a metaphor. In fact they base the seder custom on the practice Rabbi Huna of the Talmud had of opening his home this way to strangers every night that he prepared a meal. Take note that the text is in Aramaic which at the time it was written was the spoken language of the Jewish people. It was purposely written in Aramaic and not Hebrew so that anyone walking by when you opened your door and recited it would understand its meaning.
Are we ready to follow through with opening our homes? What are we willing to do to help the poor and less fortunate in our community? If all we are doing is going through the motions and simply reading the words of the Haggadah, then we are missing out on their true meaning.
This year at your Seder, pause for a minute when you get to Ha Lachma Anya section and ask each other what you plan to do this week, this month to fulfill this mitzvah of helping those in need.
Wishing you and all your family as Hag Kasher, v’Samayach, a happy and healthy Passover.
Rabbi Bradley Tecktiel has been Midbar Kodesh Temple's spiritual leader since August 2008. Rabbi Tecktiel was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in May of 1996. He holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one from List College and one from Columbia University. He also holds a Masters of Arts from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
You can follow him on Twitter @RabbiMKT.